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Man is a fallen Creature, and not such as Serm.IV, he came, originally, out of the Hands of an infinitely pure and holy Being. Who can fay, I have made my Heart clean, I am pure from my Sin? Prov. xx. 9. IN MANY Things we offend all.
Into what can this universal Depravation, which prevails every where, more or less, among the Sons of Men, be resolved, but into an universal Cause, the inborn Corruption of Nature, and an original Taint, derived from our first Parents? Can it be resolved into Education ? Many Parents, after all the Care which they have laid out, in educating their Children virtuously, have Reason to expostulate, as God, the common Parent of us all, does in Isaiah, What could have been done more to my Vineyard, that I have not done in it? Wherefore, when I looked, that it should bring forth Grapes, brought it forth wild Grapes ? The only Way to educate Children rightly, is to teach them early to deny themselves the Gratification of those irregular Appetites, which Nature has implanted *. Self-Will,
* Vidi ego, & expertus sum Zelantem parvulum. Non. dum loquebatur, & intuebatur pallidus amaro Afpe&u colo lactaneum suum. Sancti Augustini Confel. Lib. 1. cap. 7.
Serm.IV.Stubbornness, and an Inclination to Things
forbidden, merely because they are forbido den, discover themselves even in our Infan, cy: Vice is the natural Product of the Soil; the more uncultivated the Mind is, the more it is overrun with it: But Virtue is the flow laborious Result of repeated Self-Denials, Hardships, and Difficulties.
If Mankind were in a State of Integrity, and primitive Uprightness; there could scarce be, one would think, so much Evil in the World, as there really is. :- A great Part of Mankind seems to resemble the Dæmoniac in the Gospel, who had been often bound with Fetters and Chains; and the Chains had been plucked asunder by him, and the Fetters broken in Pieces, and no Man could tame him. They are curbed and restrained by divine and human Laws, by temporal Penalties, and the Dread of eternal Misery; and yet one impetuous Passion breaks through all these strong Fences, just as, a Thread. of Tow is snapped alunder, when it toucheth the Fire. It argues a ftrange Ignorance of the World, to expect that Men should be swayed by calm rational Motives only, and by the Charms of Virtue. The very Necessity of Govern
ment is founded chiefly upon this, that Serm.IV. Men are not fit to be trusted with the Government of themselves, without any Check or Control upon them. And if any Man should attempt to govern a single Family only, by pure Reason, without exerting any Act of Authority; Experience would foon convince him, that he had been forma ing a visionary Scheme. How comes it, unless we are in a State of Degeneracy, that Reason, which was originally designed to be the governing Principle, , is so feeble ; and the Passions, which fould be subject to it, so headstrong ? .
Man was originally formed for the Knowledge of God, and Worship of him only : Yet, in all Countries. unenlightened by Revelation, Men were so far from knowing and adoring the true God, that they were universally immersed in Idolatry and Superstition. All the Nations even now, as well as of old, where Revelation hath not got Footing, bear Testimony to the Weakness of human Understanding. The Worship of God in Spirit and in Truth, was not discovered by us, it was revealed to us. And what Mankind did not ascertain for so many Ages, till the Propagation of
Serm.IV. Christianity; they probably would never
have discovered, to the End of the World, if left to themselves, without any Affiftances from Heaven. But these, you will say, were the Errors of the Gross of the Species : The Philosophers knew undoubtedly and taught better Things. So far from that, that they admitted as great Absurdia ties, only of another Kind : Some of them asserting God to be the Soul of the World, of which our Souls are so many Parts, and into which they were to be resolved, after the Diffolution of the Body; others of them maintaining, that the Æther, or empty Space, was God; others, the whole World; and fome few only contending, that he was an infinite Mind, which great Truth, however, they blended with very erroneous Notions,
Again, Man was formed for loving his Neighbour as himself. Yet the World is generally inclined to the ill-natured Side, flow to believe what is advantageous to a Man's Character, but ready to credit any blackening Reports. Are Men grateful in Proportion as they are resentful? Their Hearts burn within them with Resentment for an Injury received ; nay, some
times for a Favour refused : But do they Serm.IV.
Observe the Man, who makes Pretenfions to an exalted and disinterested Benevolence : Perhaps, after all his Pretensions an agreeable enchanting Form Thall make it's Way irresistibly to his Heart, and, at a Heat, in a Moment, ftamp upon his Mind more. tender and endearing Sentiments, and recommend the Person, who is the Owner of it, more powerfully to his Affection; than long tried and approved Wortb; and an uninterfupted Intercourse of friendly Offices, can another, who is deftitute of that Advantage. There is nothing so insignificant, by which we differ from one another, but about which we may differ likewise : Infomuch, that the Word Difference, which originally signifies, that Things are not the fame, is made Use of to express Discord
and Animosity. It is as well our Duty in - Point of Benevolence, though it be not so
much in Fashion, to encourage Merit and Ingenuity, as it is to relieve Distress. Yet, though Men of Merit are often preferred; how few in Comparison have been preferred merely, as Men of Merit without any other . 3