Imágenes de páginas
PDF
EPUB

plunged in unawares. So that there is no way to be fafe and innocent, but to keep an habitual guard and restraint upon the appetite. And, together with these considerations, there must be frequent and earnest prayer to God, that he will preserve upon the mind a lively sense of them, and graciously afford such supplies of grace and strength, as he sees needful, to prevent those evil habits, and to give an effectual check to all such acts of irregularity and excess, as naturally lead to them.

V. When christians have taken all these methods to avoid intemperance in meat and drink, they will be con- s. vinced, that neither long custom nor engaging com- ceflity of the pany will be able to resist the more powerful grace drink, of God working in a repenting heart. Who would not refrain drinking by the advice of a physician, when he tells us it would endanger life? and can it be supposed that the dread of death eternal, pronounced against great drinkers, is not sufficient to reclaim them, that duly consider their great danger? for although persons in this condition may be brought to acknowledge, that it had been happy for their body and soul, if they had fallen at first into a sober and regular course; yet now, as custom has made such indulgences necessary, and nature can hardly subsist without them, they think that they may innocently go on, and that to part with them is to part with life. To these I would observe, that although custom is very powerful, yet it has not force enough to make that necessary to nature, which of itself is destructive to nature ; as all excess most assuredly is, whether with or without cuftom. So that what they say is necessary to preserve life is in truth only necessary to quiet a craving and inordinate appetite; the gratifying of which is at that very time the direct and immediate means of destroying life. And as to the present uneasiness, it is no wonder that an appetite unaccustomed to denials, andwhich has long been gratified to the full, should be so uneasy under the first check and restraint. But if there is steadiness and resolution enough to maintain the restraint for a little time, the appetite by degrees will grow more patient and quiet; and they will find far greater pleasure in governing, than ever they found in indulging it.

Whoever

Whoever sincerely thus applies his heart to forsake and The eficacy avoid this sin, cannot fail of a conquest. The imof these possibility therefore of breaking off a long habit of means, if drunkenness is no excuse, but a proof of a false not hindered by the love heart, that rather chuses to continue in sin, than of the fin. to be at any pains to overcome it.

SUNDAY XVI. I. Of time, how to be spent. II. Of sleep, jbewing its end and

rules; and the mischiefs of Noth. III. Of recreations, how and when allowable; of religious chearfulness; the danger of melancholy; and of the fin and danger of common gaming. IV. Of temperance in apparel, mewing the use of apparel, and the danger and folly of fasliions. V. Of CHRISTIAN fortitude or patience ; the comfort of a good conscience; and its necessity and usefulness in all states and conditions of life. VI. Of self-denial and mortification. VII. Of zeal both in a good and a bad sense, and how to be practised. THE time, which God has given us, for working

out our salvation, is more valuable than can be exce pressed; for on the spending thereof depends our Of time.

**** happiness or misery to all eternity: which consideration should put us upon all those methods, whereby we may employ it to the best advantage of our souls. There is little of it at our disposal; what is past is slipped from us: the future is uncertain; the present is all we can call our own, which is yet continually passing away : in which tho' the season of working is so very short and uncertain, we have an affair of the greatest consequence to secure, that requires the whole force and vigour of our minds, the labour and industry of all our days, and not to be dispatched with any tolerable comfort upon a sick bed, nor in the evening of our lives, when our strength and our reason are departing. Therefore, if we persist in an obstinate neglect of all the repeated tenders of God's grace, the things that belong to our peace may be hid from our eyes ; so that all the time we can reserve from the necessities of nature, and our worldly affairs, which those necessities engage us in, ought to be ap

plied to the noblest purpose, the glory of God and the good and salvation of mankind; assigning to all our actions their proper seasons, and such a portion of our time on- How to be ly as may be necessary for them ; whereby time spent. will never lie upon our hands, nor sting us with remorse when it is gone. We are naturally active beings, that must be einployed one way or other: we have a mind within us that will be always in motion; and this being the state of that active principle, that conititutes us men, we had need take great care to keepiternployed about what is honest, juít, and good. The foul will find something or other to work upon, and, if it be not emploved about what is honest and lawful, it will quickly divert the current of its motion, and exert its activity upon dishones and unlawful things. Since the fall of man, God hath placed the generality of inen in such circumstances, that some honeit calling, with diligence and industry therein, is indispenfably neceffiry to their comfortable maintenance; and he hath to taken care to intercept our minds that they may not Ay off from the pure acts of religion into their contraries, and that, when they are not better, they may be innocently employed; and hath skena wise course to confine and bound the soul from making incursions into finful and prohibited actions: yet cadere not obliging us to be fo industrious, as to denyour- dny us refelves moderate refreshments or recreations, which frijbonent. are not only useful, but sometimes neceílary to our spirits, after they have been stilled in a croud of business.

II. Therefore we shall now consider the third part of TEMPERANCE, which is SLEEP. This is to be

Of sleep. measured by the rule of God's ordinance, who gave us sleep to refreth and support our minds and bodies, when wearied with toil and labour, to repair the decay, and to enable them the better to perforin their religious duties., So that it must be always remembered, that this gifs of God is for us to profit thereby, and not to make us idle and flothful. Consequently,

Though it is not possible to describe the limited time every person may sleep; because, as meat and drink, fo fleep muit be proportioned to the constitution of every body; yet let no

сс

one

in.

!, one fall into the crime of Solomon's sluggard, who And the rule

* after a seasonable refreshment cries, A little more rance there- sleep, a little more slumber, a little more folding of

the hands to sleep. Because It draws us into several other lins, as waste of time, filling The many the body with divers diseases, and dulling the fafins thai fol- culties of the soul; and fo crosses the end of our low the tranførellen creation, which is to serve God in an active obeof it. dience, or a constant discharge of our duty in that ftate of life we are placed in by his providence. And,

Befides the sinfulness of sloth, it will cover a man with Oller mil rags : let him be in what state of life foever, pothiefs of verty will overtake him, till he is destitute of conflorbo venient cloathing. And as sleep is a kind of death, he that indulges himself therein to excess may properly be faid to lay violent hands on himself, and to anticipate God's appointed time. Thus also,

* III. To what has been said of sleep, we may add a fourth of tenter part of TEMPERANCE in RECREATIONS; for we rance in re- must not turn our phyfick into food, and make creations. that our business, which should be only our diversion: For though a serious christian may sometimes, and at some seasons, use the common games, for the relaxation of his mind, and to oblige and divert his company; yet every sober mən is to take care that this liberty does not exceed the bounds of an innocent recreation; for inCautions to stance, that he do not set his affections too much be observed upon it, or play, with such concern as to be put in them. into a passion at his bad success; that he fit not too long at it, nor come to it too frequently; that he always prefer his necessary business before his diversions; that he to order his recreations of this kind, as that they render him the more fit to spend his other time the more usefully; and lastly, that he play not for money, but for diversion; at least for no more money than what he can very well lose, without the least discomposure of mind, and without the least prejudice to his family or estate. Thus far, I say, and with these restrictions, to use play is innocent enough. Our recreations also must be short, and refreshing, and must never

3

be

be permitted to steal away our minds from the duties of our calling and election in Christ Jesus. For so far as our sports exceed the measures necessary and convenient for our bodies, they are unwarrantable incroachments upon our religion and calling. But

Here is the misery: there is a sort of men who even make a trade of gaming, whenfoever they can find out

The fin and company to their purpose; but whosoever makes Lange

danger of this his way of living has a sad account to make to common gaGod Almighty. Can there be a worse consump- ming. tion of our time, or a greater abuse of our talents, than to put both of them to no greater use than throwing a dye, or turning a pack of cards, especially when it is attended with indecent and impetuous passions of all sorts, execrable oaths, imprecations, lyes, cheats, cozenages, and brutish quarrels and contests? and, as if damning their souls were not enough, How many thousand eitates have been broken and ruined ? How many families, wives and children, hath it reduced to the extremest degree of poverty and contempt? nay, to an untimely end; whether by poison, or a quarrel, or the gallows? And here it may be observed, that, of the several kinds of gaming, the lowest and most vulgar seems to be that of laying wagers; and it is not only low and vulgar, Of laying but too frequently dirty and knavish. Whenamat- wagers. ter of fact is disputed, laying a wager upon it may indeed serve to make an impertinent man pay the penalty of his ignorance; but a generous good natured man (much more a chriflian) will always scorn to take such an advantage. When neither party has any certainty of what they dispute about, then a wager is folly in both: and when it is about events that depend either on providence, or what is ignorantly called chance, it becomes a kind of presumption bordering on madness.

And as we are not to propose any other end to our recreations, than a bare relaxation of our tired spirits by Undue ends moderate refrefoment ; so our great care in them of sports. must be always to use them only at such times when they cannot properly be said to fall in with any part of our duty to God, or our neighbour; because time is given us, in the first place,

« AnteriorContinuar »