Page images

a man's

prayer; if it moves upon the feet of an abated appetite, it wanders into the society of every trifling accident, and stays at the corners of the fancy, and talks with every object it meets, and cannot arrive at heaven; but when it is carried upon the wings of passion and strong desires, a swift motion and a hungry appetite, it passes on through all the intermedial regions of clouds, and stays not till it dwells at the foot of the throne, where Mercy sits, and thence sends holy showers of refreshments.*


Any zeal is proper for religion, but the zeal of the sword and the zeal of anger; this is the bitterness of zeal, and it is a certain temptation to every man against his duty; for if the sword turns preacher, and dictates propositions by empire instead of arguments, and engraves them in men's hearts with a poniard, that it shall be death to believe what I innocently and ignorantly am persuaded of, it must needs be unsafe to try the spirits, to try all things, to make inquiry; and yet, without this liberty, no man can justify himself before God or man, nor confidently say that his religion is best. This is inordination of zeal; for Christ, by reproving St. Peter drawing his sword even in the cause of Christ, for his sacred and yet injured person, teaches us not to

* On Lukewarmness and Fear. Seim. xii. part 2.

use the sword, though in the cause of God, or for God himself.

When Abraham sat at his tent door, according to his custom, waiting to entertain strangers, he espied an old man, stooping and leaning on his staff, weary with age and travail, coming towards him, who was

a hundred



He received him kindly, washed his feet, provided supper, caused him to sit down; but observing that the old man eat, and prayed not, nor begged for a blessing on his meat, he asked him why he did not worship the God of heaven. The old man told him, that he worshipped the fire only, and acknowledged no other God. At which answer Abraham grew so zealously angry, that he thrust the old man out of his tent, and exposed him to all the evils of the night, and an unguarded condition. When the old man was gone, God called to Abraham, and asked him where the stranger was ? He replied, I thrust him


because he did not worship thee. God answered him, I have suffered him these hundred years, although he dishonoured me; and couldst not thou endure him one night ?*


Hope is like the wing of an angel soaring up to heaven, and bears our prayers to the throne of God.

* Liberty of Prophesying.


As a

opens his

worm creepeth with her belly on the ground, with her portion and share of Adam's curse, lifts up its head to partake a little of the blessings of the air, and opens the junctures of her imperfect body, and curls her little rings into knots and combinations, drawing up her tail to a neighbourhood of the head's pleasure and motion ; but still it must return to abide the fate of its own nature, and dwell and sleep upon the dust: so are the hopes of a mortal man; he

eyes and looks upon fine things at distance, and shuts them again with weakness, because they are too glorious to behold; and the man rejoices because he hopes fine things are staying for him ; but his heart aches, because he knows there are a thousand ways to fail and miss of those glories; and though he hopes, yet he enjoys not; he longs, but he possesses not, and must be content with his portion of dust; and being a worm and no man, must die down in this portion, before he can receive the end of his hopes, the salvation of his soul in the resurrection of the dead.*


[ocr errors]



1. Marriage compared with single life.

* Funeral Sermon on the Archbishop of Armagh.
+ Sermon xvii. p. 122.

2. Marriage considered by itself. 1st. As it relates equally to husband and wife.

1. Caution requisite in marrying :-2. They ought, when newly married, to avoid offending each other: -3. They should be careful to avoid little vexations :—4. They should abstain from those things from which they are respectively averse :-5. They should

avoid nice distinctions of mine and thine. 2dly. As it relates to the husband and wife

separately; and, 1st, To the husband.-Nature of his power ;–His love ;-He should şet a good example to his wife ;–His chastity should be unspotted. 2dly, To the wife. -Obedience ;-Compliance.


MARRIAGE is a school and exercise of virtue ; and though marriage hath cares, yet the single life hath desires, which are more troublesome and more dangerous, and often end in sin; while the cares are but instances of duty, and exercises of piety; and therefore if single life hath more privacy of devotion, yet marriage hath more necessities and more variety of it, and is an exercise of more graces.

Marriage is the proper scene of piety and patience, of the duty of parents and the charity of relations ; here kindness is spread abroad, and love is united and made firm as a centre; marriage is the nursery of heaven. The virgin sends

the num

prayers to God; but she carries but one soul to him: but the state of marriage fills up bers of the elect, and hath in it the labour of love, and the delicacies of friendship, the blessing of society, and the union of hands and hearts. It hath in it less of beauty, but more of safety than the single life; it hath more care, but less danger; it is more merry, and more sad; is fuller of sorrows, and fuller of joys : it lies under more burdens, but is supported by all the strengths of love and charity, and those burdens are delightful.

Marriage is the mother of the world, and preserves kingdoms, and fills cities, and churches, and heaven itşelf. Celibate, like the fly in the heart of an apple, dwells in a perpetual sweetness; but sits alone, and is confined and dies in singularity; but marriage, like the useful bee, builds a house and gathers sweetness from every flower, and labours and unites into societies and republics, and sends out colonies, and feeds the world with delicacies, and obeys their king, and keeps order, and exercises many virtues, and promotes the interest of mankind, and is that state of good things to which God hath designed the present constitution of the world.


They that enter into the state of marriage cast a die of the greatest contingency, and yet of the greatest interest in the world, next to the last throw for eternity. Life or death, felicity or a

« PreviousContinue »