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of God, by which we are fealed unto the day of redemption.
I have now done with this argument, and what I have faid concerning immodeft and unchafte words, is of equal force against lafcivious books, and pictures, and plays; all which do alike intrench upon natural modefty, and for that reafon are equally forbidden and condemned by the Chriftian religion; and therefore it may fuffice to have named them. I fhall only speak a few words concerning plays, which, as they are now ordered among us, are a mighty reproach to the age and nation.
To fpeak against them in general, may be thought too fevere, and that which the prefent age cannot fo well brook, and would not perhaps be fo juft and reafonable; because it is very poffible they might be fo framed, and governed by fuch rules, as not only to be innocently diverting, but inftructing and useful, to put fome vices and follies out of countenance, which cannot perhaps be fo decently reproved, nor fo effectually expofed and corrected any other way. But as the stage. now is, they are intolerable, and not fit to be permitted in a civilized, much lefs in a Chriftian nation. They do most notoriously minifter both to infidelity and vice. By the profanenefs of them, they are apt to inftil bad principles into the minds of men, and to leffen the awe and reverence which all men ought to have for God and religion: and by their lewdnefs they teach vice, and are apt to infect the minds of men, and difpofe them to lewd and diffolute practices.
And therefore I do not fee how any perfon, pretending to fobriety and virtue, and efpecially to the pure and holy religion of our bleffed Saviour, can, without great guilt, and open contradiction to his holy profef fion, be prefent at fuch lewd and immodeft plays, much lefs frequent them, as too many do, who yet would take it very ill to be fhut out of the communion of Chriftians, as they would most certainly have been in the first and pureft ages of Chriftianity.
To conclude this whole difcourfe; let us always remember that gravity and modesty in all our behaviour and converfation, in all our words and actions, are duties indifpenfibly required by the Christian religion, and
the great fences of piety and virtue; and therefore ought, with great confcience and care, to be preferved and kept inviolable: and when thefe fences are once broken down, there is a wide gap made for almost any fin and vice to enter in. Immodeft words do naturally tend to corrupt good manners, both in ourselves and others.
There is none of us, but would reckon it a very great infelicity to be deprived of that noble and useful facul-ty of speech, which is fo peculiar to man, and which, next to our reafon and understanding, doth most remarkably distinguish us from the brute beafts: but it is a much greater unhappiness to have this faculty, and to abuse it to vile and lewd purposes. The firit may be only our misfortune: but this can never be without great fault, and grofs neglect of ourfelves; and much better had it been for us to have been born dumb, than thus to turn our glory into fhame and guilt, by perverting this excellent gift of God, to the corrupting
ourfelves and others.
This, I hope, may be fufficient to restrain men from this vice, which I have all this while been fpeaking againft; at least to preferve thofe which are not yet infected, from the contagion of it; and, I hope, to reclaim many from fo bad a practice. And if any be fo harden ed in their lewd courfe, that no counsel of this kind can make impreffion on them, what remains, but to conclude in the words of the angel to St. John, Rev. xxii. 11. He that is filthy, let him be filthy ftill: and he that is holy, let him be holy still.
The true remedy against the troubles of life.
JOHN xiv. 1.
Let not your heart be troubled: ye believe in God, believe alfo in me.
The firft fermon on this text.
N which words our bleffed Saviour does, upon a particular occafion, prescribe an univerfal remedy againft trouble. And the particular occafion of this confolatory difcourfe, which our Saviour here makes to his difciples, was this: he had often told them of his fufferings: but the conceit which they had entertained of his temporal reign, would not fuffer them to admit any thought of fuch a thing, as the fufferings or death of the Meffias; and therefore it is faid, that these things did not fink into them, and that they understood them not; men being generally very flow to understand what they do not like, and have no mind to. At laft our Saviour tells them plainly, that how backward foever they were to believe it, the time of his fufferings and death was now approaching, and that he should fhortly be betrayed into the hands of men, and be crucified and flain. At this his difciples were ftruck with great fear, and exceedingly troubled, both in contemplation of his fufferings, and of their own invaluable lofs. To comfort them upon this occafion our Saviour directs his difciples to that courfe, which was not only proper in their prefent cafe, but is an universal antidote and remedy against all trouble whatsoever, and will not only ferve to mitigate our trouble, and fupport our fpirits under the fear and apprehenfion of future evils, but under prefent afflictions and fufferings; and to quiet and com
fort our minds under the faddeft condition, and forest calamities that can befal us. Let not your heart be troubled: ye believe in God, believe alfo in me.
He does not only forbid them to be troubled, and counsel them againft it; fuch advice is eafily given, but not fo easily to be followed: but he prefcribes the proper remedy against trouble, which is truft and confidence in God the great Creator and wife Governor of the world; and likewife in himself, the bleffed Son of God, and Saviour of mankind. Ye believe in God, believe alfo in me.
The words are variously tranflated: by fome indicatively, re do believe in God, and ye do believe in me, therefore be not troubled; by others imperatively, Be-. lieve in God, and believe likewife in me; and then you can have no cause of trouble. Or else the first clause may be rendered indicatively, and the latter imperatively; and fo our tranflation renders the words, Te do believe in God, believe alfo in me ; as you believe in God the Creator and Governor of the world, fo believe alfi in me the Son of God, and the Saviour of the world., But which way foever the words be rendered, the fenfe comes all to one; that faith in God, and in our blessed, Saviour, are here prefcribed as the proper and moit powerful remedies against trouble. Let not your heart be troubled: ye believe in God, believe alfo in me.
In the handling of these words I fhall do these two things.
First, I fhall confider what fort of trouble is here forbidden, or with what reasonable limitations this general prohibition of our Saviour is to be understood, Let not your heart be troubled.
Secondly, I fhall endeavour to fhew what virtue and force there is in the remedy here prefcribed by our Saviour, to mitigate and allay our trouble, and to fupport and quiet our minds under it.
First, We will confider what fort of trouble is here forbidden, and with what due and reasonable limitations we are to understand this general prohibition of our Sa viour to his difciples, Let not your hearts be troubled. And this we fhall beft find out by confidering the various objects of trouble, together with the feveral caufes
or grounds of them. And thefe may all be ranged under thefe three heads; evils paft, prefent, or to come. For the ground of all trouble is fome evil, either really and in itself fo, or what is apprehended by us under that notion and the feveral kinds of trouble, are either the reflection upon evils paft, or the fenfe of an evil that is prefent, or the fear and apprehenfion of fome future evil which threatens us and hangs over us.
I. For the firft, The trouble caufed by reflection upon evils paft, this muft either be the evil of affliction or fin. The former of thefe, when it is paft, is feldom any caufe of trouble, the rememberance of paft fufferings, and the evils which we got over, being rather delightful than grievous; fo that it is only the evil of fin, the reflection whereof is troublefome. And this is that which we call guilt, which is an inward vexation, and difcontent, and grief of mind, arifing from the confcioufnefs that we have done amifs, and a fearful apprehenfion of fome vengeance and punishment that will follow it; and there is no trouble that is comparable to this, when the conscience of a finner is thoroughly awakened.
Now upon this account our hearts ought to be troubled, and we can hardly exceed in it, provided our trouble do not drive us to defpair, but to repentance: but there can be no fufpicion that this comes within the compafs of our Saviour's prohibition.
II. As for the troubles caufed by the fenfe of the prefent evils, either of lofs or fuffering, though this do properly enough fall within the compass of our Saviour's prohibition, Let not your heart be troubled, yet it admits of feveral limitations; therefore in order to the fixing of its due and proper bounds, I fhall briefly fhew, what trouble for prefent evils and afflictions which are upon us, is not forbidden, and what is.
1. We are not here forbidden to have a just and due fenfe of any evil or calamity that is upon us; because this is natural, and we cannot help it; for there is a réal difference of things in themfelves; fome things are in their nature good and convenient for us, and agreeable and delightful to our fenfes; and other things are in themselves evil, that is, naturally difpleafing and