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of God, by which we are sealed unto the day of redemption.
I have now done with this argument, and what I have said concerning immodest and unchalte words, is of equal force against lascivious books, and pictures, and plays; all which do alike intrench upon natural modelty, and for that reason are equally forbidden and condemned by the Christian religion ; and therefore it may suffice to have named them. I shall only speak a few words concerning plays, which, as they are now ordered a. mong us, are a mighty reproach to the age and nation,
To speak against them in general, may be thought too severe, and that which the present age cannot so well brook, and would not perhaps be so just and reafonable ; because it is very posible they might be so framed, and governed by such rules, as not only to be innocently diverting, but instructing and useful, to put some vices and follies out of countenance, which can. not perhaps be so decently reproved, nor so effectually exposed and corrected any other way. But as the stage now is, they are intolerable, and not fit to be permit. ted in a civilized, much less in a Chriftian nation. They do most notoriously minister both to infidelity and vice. By the profaneness of them, they are apt to instil bad principles into the minds of men, and to lessen the awe and reverence which all inen ought to have for God and religion: and by their lewdness they teach vice, and are apt to infect the minds of men, and difpose them to lewd and dissolute practices.
And therefore I do not see how any person, pretende ing to sobriety and virtue, and especially to the pure . and holy religion of our blessed Saviour, can, without
great guilt, and open contradiction to his holy profef Lion, be present at such lewd and immodest plays, much less frequent them, as too many do, who yet would take it very ill to be shut out of the communion of Christians, as they would most certainly have been in the first and purelt ages of Christianity
To conclude this whole discourse; let us always remember that gravity and modesty in all our behaviour and conversation, in all our words and actions, are duties indispensibly required by the Christian religion, and
the the great fences of piety and virtue; and therefore ought, with great conscience and care, to be preserved and kept inviolable : and when these fences are once broken down, there is a wide gap made for almost any fin and vice to enter in. lmmodelt 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 faculaty of speech, which is so peculiar to man, and which, next to our reason and understanding, doth most re. markably distinguish us from the brute beasts: 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 gross neglect of ourselves; and much better had it been for us to have been born dumb, than thus to turn our glory into shame and guilt, by perverting this excellent gift of God, to the corrupting ourselves and others.
This, I hope, inay be sufficient to restrain men from this vice, which I have all this while been speaking an gainst; at least to preserve those which are not yet infected, from the contagion of it; and, I hope, to reclaim many from so bad a practice. And if any be so harden. ed in thcir lewd course, that no counsel of this kind can make impression 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 still : and he that is holy, let him be holy still,
S E R M ON CCXV.
The true remedy against the troubles of life.
JOHN xiv. 1. Let not your heart be troubled : je believe in God, be
lieve also in me.
The firft sermon on this text.
IN which words our blessed Saviour does, upon a
particular occasion, prescribe an universal remedy I against trouble. And the particular occasion of this consolatory discourse, which our Saviour here makes to his disciples, was this : he had often told them of his fufferings : but the conceit which they had entertained of his temporal reign, would not suffer them to admit any thought of such a thing, as the sufferings or death of the Messias ; and therefore it is said, that these things did not link into them, and that they understood them not ; men being generally very low to understand what they do not like, and have no mind to. At last our Savi. our tells them plainly, that how backward foever they were to believe it, the time of his sufferings and death was now approaching, and that he should hortly be betrayed into the hands of men, and be crucified and fain. At this his disciples were struck with great fear, and exceedingly troubled, both in contemplation of his sufferings, and of their own invaluable loss. To coinfort them upon this occasion our Saviour directs his disciples to that course, which was not only proper in their present case, but is an universal antidote and remedy against all trouble whatsoever, and will not only serve to mitigate our trouble, and support our Spirits under the fear and apprehension of future evils, but under present afflictions and sufferings; and to quiet and comfort our minds under the saddest condition, and forest calamities that can befal us. Let not your heart be troubled : ye believe in God, believe also in me.
He does not only forbid them to be troubled, and counsel then against it; such advice is easily given, but not so easily to be followed : but he prescribes the proper remedy against trouble, which is trust and confidence in God the great Creator and wise Governor of the world, and likewise in himself, the blessed Son of God, and Saviour of mankind. Ye believe in God, believe also in me.
The words are variously translated : by some indicatively, re do believe in God, and ye do believe in me, therefore be not troubled; by others imperatively, Believe in God, and believe likewise in me ; and then you can have no cause of trouble. Or else the first clause, may be rendered indicatively, and the latter impera. tively; and so our translation renders the words, re do believe in God, believe also in me; as you believe in God the Creator and Governor of the world, so believe ali i in me the Son of God, and the Saviour of the world., But which way foever the words be rendered, the sente comes all to one; that faith in God, and in our bleiload, Saviour, are here prescribed as the proper and most powerful remedies against trouble. Let not your heart be troubled: ye believe in God, believe also in me.
In the handling of these words I shall do thesc two things.
First, I shall consider what sort 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 shall endeavour to shew what virtue and force there is in the remedy here prescribed by our Sa. viour, to mitigate and allay our trouble, and to support and quiet our minds under it.
First, We will consider what sort 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 disciples, Let not your hearts be troubled. And this we shall beit find out by considering the vari. ous objects of trouble, together with the several causes or grounds of them. And these may all be ranged under these three heads; evils past, present, or to coine. For the ground of all trouble is some evil, either really and in itself so, or what is apprehended by us under that notion : and the several kinds of trouble, are either the reflection upon evils palt, or the sense of an evil that is present, or the fear and apprehension of some future evil which threatens us and hangs over us.
1. For the first, The trouble caufed by reflection upon eyils past, this must either be the evil of affliction or fin. The former of thefe, when it is past, is seldom any cause of trouble, the rememberance of paft sufferings, 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 troublesome. And this is that which we call guilt, which is an inward vexation, and discontent, and grief of mind, arising from the consciousness that we have done amiss, and a fearful apprehenfion of some vengeance and punishment that will follow it; and there is no trouble that is comparable to this, when the conscience of a sinner is thoroughly a. wakened.
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 despair, but to repentance : but there can be no suspicion that this comes within the compass of our Saviour's prohibition.
II. As for the troubles caused by the sense of the present evils, either of loss or suffering, though this do properly enough fall within the compass of our Saviour's prohibition, Let not your heart be troubled, yet it admits of several limitations; therefore in order to the fixing of its due and proper bounds, I shall briefly shew, what trouble for present 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 sense of any evil or calamity that is upon us ; because this is natural, and we cannot help it; for there is a real difference of things in themselves ; some things are in their nature good and convenient for us, and agreeable and delightful to our senses; and other things are in themselves evil, that is, naturally displeasing and