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are less fatal, we will observe the same method on this occasion. Doubtless the most dangerous way to obtain a contempt for the pleasures of the world, is to get an experimental knowledge of them, in order to detach ourselves more easily from them by the thorough sense we have of their vanity. We hazard a fall by approaching too near, and such very often is the ascendancy of the world over us, that we cannot detach ourselves from it though we are disgusted with it. Let us endeavor then to preserve our imagination pure; let us abstain from pleasures to preclude the possibility of remembering them; let retirement, and, if it be practicable, perpetual privacy, from the moment we enter into the world to the day we quit it save us from all bad impressions, so that we may never know the effects, which worldly objects would produce in our passions. This method sure and effectual is useless and impracticable, in regard to such as have received bad impressions on their imagination. People of this character ought to pursue the second method we mentioned, that is to profit by their losses, and derive wisdorn from their errors. recollect sin, you may remember the folly and pain of it. Let the courtier, whose imagination is yet full of the vain glory of a splendid court, remember the intrigues he hath known there, the craft, the injustice, the treachery, the dark and dismal plans that are formed and executed there.
I would advise such a man, when his passions solicit him to sin, to call in the aid of some other idea to strike and affect his imagination. Let him make choice of that out of the truths of religion, which seems most likely to impress his mind, and let him learn the art of instantly opposing impression against impression, and image against image; for example, let him often fix his attention on death,
judgment, and hell ; let him often say to himself, I must die soon, I must stand before a severe tribunal, and appear in the presence of an impartial judge ; let him go down in thought into that gulf, where the wicked expiate in eternal torments their momentary pleasures; let him think he hears the sound of the piercing cries of the victims whom divine justice sacrifices in hell ; let him often weigh in his mind the chains of darkness that load miserable creatures in hell ; let him often approach the fire that consumes them; let him, so to speak, scent the smoke that rises up for ever and ever ; let him often think of eternity, and place himself in that awful moment, in which the angel will lift up his hand to heaven, and swear by him that liveth for ever and ever, that there shall be time no longer, Rev. x. 5, 6. and let the numerous reflections furnished by all these subjects be kept as corps de reserve, always ready to fly to his aid, when the enemy approaches to attack him.
In fine, to heal the disorders, which the passions produce in the heart, two things must be done. First the vanity of all the creatures must be observed ; and this will free us from the desire of possessing and collecting the whole in order to fill up the void, which single enjoyments leave. Secondly we must ascend from creatures to the Creator, in order to get rid of the folly of attributing to the world the perfection and sufficiency of God.
Let us first free our hearts from an avidity for new pleasures by comprehending all creatures in our catalogue of vanities. I allow, inconstancy, and love of novelty, are in some sense rational. It is natural for å being exposed to trouble to choose to change his condition, and as that in which he is yields certain trouble, to try whether another will not be something easier. It is natural
to a man, who hath found nothing but imperfect pleasure in former enjoyments, to desire new objects. The most noble souls, the greatest geniuses, the largest hearts have often the most inconstancy and love of novelty, because the extent of their capacity and the space of their wishes make them feel, more than other men, the diminutiveness and incompetency of all creatures. But the misfortune is, man cannot change his situation without entering into another almost like that from which
Let us persuade ourselves, that there is nothing substantial in creatures, that all conditions, beside characters of vanity common to all human things, have some imperfections peculiar to themselves. If you rise out of obscurity, you will not have the troubles of obscurity, but you will have those of conspicuous stations; you will make talk for every body, you will be exposed to envy, you will be responsible to each individual for your conduct. If you quit solitude, you will not have the troubles of solitude, but you will have those of society; you will live under restraint, you will lose your liberty, inestimable liberty, the greatest treasure of mankind, you will have to bear with the faults of all people connected with you. If heaven gives you a family, you will not have the trouble of such as have none, but you will have others necessarily resulting from domestic connections ; you will multiply your miseries by the number of your children, you will fear for their fortune, you will be in pain about their health, and you will tremble for fear of their death. My brethren, I repeat it again, there is nothing substantial in this life. Every condition bath difficulties of its own as well as the common inanity of all human things. If, in some sense, nothing ought to surprize us less than the inconstancy of mankind and their love of novelty, in another view, nothing ought to astonish us more, at least there is nothing more weak and senseless. A man, who thinks to remedy the vanity of earthly things by running from one object to another, is like him, who, in order to determine whether there be in a great heap of stones any one capable of nourishing him, should resolve to taste them all one after another. Let us shorten our labor. Let us put all creatures into one class. Let us cry, vanity in all. If we determine to pursue new objects, let us choose such as are capable of satisfying us. Let us not seek them here below. They are not to be found in this old world, which God hath cursed. They are in the new heavens, and the new earth, which religion promises. To comprehend all creatures in a catalogue of vanities is an excellent rule to heal the heart of the disorders of passion.
Next we must frequently ascend from creatures to the Creator, and cease to consider them as the supreme good. We intend here a devotion of all times, places, and circumstances; for, my brethren, one great source of depravity in the most eminent saints is to restrain the spirit of religion to certain times, places and circumstances. There is an art of glorifying God by exercising religion every where. Whether ye cat or drink, or whatsoever you do, do all to the glory of God, i Cor. x. 13. Do you enjoy the pleasures of sense ? Say to yourself, God is the author of this pleasure. The nourishment I derive from my food is not necessarily produced by aliments, they have no natural power to move my nerves, God hath communicated it to them; there is no necessary connection between the motions of iny senses and agreeable sensations in my soul, it is God, who hath established the union between motion and sensation. The particles emitted by this flower could not necessarily move the nerves of my smell, it is God who hath established this law; the motion of my smelling nerves cannot naturally excite a sensation of agreeable odor in my soul, it is God who hath established this union; and so of the rest. God is supreme happiness, the source from which all the charms of creatures proceed. He is the light of the sun, the flavor of food, the fragrance of odors, the harmony of sounds, he is whatever is capable of producing real pleasure, because he eminently possesses all felicity, and because all kinds of felicity flow from him as their spring. Because we love pleasure we ought to love God, from whom pleasure proceeds;' because we love pleasure we ought to abstain from it, when God prohibits it, because he is infinitely able to indemnify us for all the sacrifices we make to his orders. To ascend from creatures to the Creator is the last remedy we prescribe for the disorders of the passions. Great duties they are : but they are founded'on strong motives.
Of these St. Peter mentions one of singular efficacy, that is, that we are strangers and pilgrims upon earth. Dearly beloved, I beseech you as strangers and pilgrims, abstain from fleshly lusts, which war against the soul. The believers to whom the apostle wrote this epistle, were strangers and pilgrims in three senses—as exiles—as christiansand as mortals.
1. As exiles. This epistle is addressed to such strangers as were scattered throughout Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia, and Bithynia. But who were these strangers ? Commentators are divided. Some think they were Jews, who had been carried out of their country in divers revolutions under Tiglath Pileser, Salmaneser, Nebuchadnezzar, and Ptolemy. Others think they were the jewish chris