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God. How many irregular appetites may we discern in children? how soon do the vices of pride, envy, covetousness, anger and revenge, display themselves? Indeed all persons are not equally prone to evil : as some are b 4 with a more healthful constitution of body than others; so likewise with a more happy disposition of mind. All have not the same passions; and even in those who have, they do not exert themselves with equal violence. But this I say, that there are none who are. perfectly free from all inclination to evil, or in whom there is not. a tendency to some vice or other in some degree.
As great a man as the apostle Paul complains of a law in his members warring against the law of his mindx and bringing him into captivity to the law of fin which was in his members, Rom. VII. 23. And in his epistle to
"in her hand, which contains a portion of ignorance "and error: this cup she presents unto every one at "their first coming into the world; and they all drink, "some more, some less. Jamblicus complains, that "our mind is held by bends and chains, even from our "infancy. Tully gives a lively description of the corf* rupt state os human nature, Tufiu/. quœjl. lib. iii. f( mitip.
thcGalatians he speaks of the Jlejh lusting againji the spirit, and the spirit against the flesh: which phrasee, if they have any meaning at all, must, I think, denote some corrupt principle within us, which rebels against the reason of our minds. The heathens were sensible of the depravity of human nature, and deeply lamented it; but were very much puzzled to give an account of the cause of it. However, many of them had too great a reverence for their maker, to ascribe it to him as the author; and therefore they attributed it to the foul's being united with the body, into which they supposed it to be sent by God, as into a prison, there to suffer punishment for sins committed by it in a state of præ-existence. But we are not left to such wild conjectures: the scripture opens to us the source of our defilement: there we are told, that through one man sn entred into the world. Our first parents sinned against God, and * thereby brought corruption and weak-? ness upon themselves. No wonder therefore, that their posterity are infected therewith : for that which is born of the flesh is fe/h; and none can bring a clean thing out of an unclean. Who can say, I have made my heart clean, I am pure from my fin? hath not the best of us sometimes been apt to murmur against the law of God, as too strict and severe; and to wish, that he would abate a little of the rigour of his precepts, and indulge us in this or the other vanity?
Now from what hath been said upon this head, I might argue the necef-, sity of a supernatural aid, or a divine enlargement, to make us run the way of God's commandments. But I wave that for the present, because I shall* do it with greater advantage when I have considered the other causes which I mentioned of the difficulty of religion. The argument will be much stronger, when taken from all of them together, than from any of them alone. Proceed we therefore,
2. To take a view of those temptations which assault us from without, and are so great a hindrance to our progress in religion. » \
(i.) The world is a never failing source of temptations: the pleasures, riches and honours of it, have a natural tendency to divert men from the care of their souls, and the business of religion. Our Saviour, in the parable of the sower, speaks of some, who when they have heard, go forth and are choaked with cares, and riches, and pleasures of this life, and bring no fruit to perfection; Luke VIII. 14. Many are forced to labour hard for obtaining the necessaries of life ; and therefore think they may well be excused from the concerns
%of religion. These they leave to men who enjoy more ease and leisure, and
( who being already sufficiently provided with the good things of this life, have nothing else to do but to secure the happiness of a future: but as for themselves, since the necessities of the present life press so hard on them, they are principally concerned to make provision for their comfortable subsistence in this world,. and either wholly cast off the care of another, or else defer it till they come within a nearer prospect of .it. Thus they labour for the meat which -perifoes, to the loss of that which endures to everlasting life. So that a state of
. poverty is not the most friendly to religion; because it obliges men to spend the greatest part of their time in secular employments, and leaves but little for religious exercises. But this is not
all all the inconvenience of it: for besides that it has a tendency to divert men from the duties of religion; it is also a temptation to the practice of several vices, as theft, envy, and infidelity. . . It is a temptation to theft : for when men are grievously pinched, and have nothing of their own to help themselves, no wonder if they endeavour to get possession of that which is another man's, especially if they can do it with secrecy. Therefore Agur pray'd against poverty, hjl he Jhould steal; Prov. XXX. 9.
Again: Poverty is a temptation to envy: for most men have a good opinion of themselves, and are not easily persuaded, that their neighbours are better or more deserving than they: and therefore when they see their fellow creatures abounding in riches, whilst they themselves are in want, they can't help fretting, and secretly wishing that there was a greater equality in the distributions of providence; and that something were taken from their wealthy neighbour's stock, and added to their own. And men are more easily tempted to envy than to theft; because envy is a secret vice which lies concealed from