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do it in ways contradictory to the appetites and designs of man, that it also might triumph over our weaknesses and imperfect conceptions. So God decreed to glorify his mercy by curing our sins, and to exalt his wisdom by the reproof of our ignorance, and the representing upon what weak and false principles we had built our hopes and expectations of felicity; pleasure and profit, victory over our enemies, riches and pompous honours, power and revenge, desires according to sensual appetites, and prosecutions violent and passionate of those appetites, health and long life, free from trouble, without poverty or persecution.
Vitam quæ faciunt beatiorem,
These are the measures of good and evil, the object of our hopes and fears, the securing our content, and the portion of this world, and for the other, let it be as it may. But the blessed Jesus, having made revelations of an immortal duration, of another world, and of a strange restitution to it, even by the resurrection of the body, and a new investiture of the soul with the same upper garment, clarified and made pure, so as no fuller on earth can whiten it;— hath also preached a new philosophy, bath cancelled all the old principles, reduced the appetites of sense to the discourses of reason, and heightened reason to the sublimities of the Spirit, teaching us abstractions and immaterial conceptions, giving us new eyes, and new objects, and new proportions : for now sensual pleasures are not delightful, riches are dross, honours are nothing but the appendages of virtue, and in relation to it are to receive their account. But now if you would enjoy life, you must die; if you would be at ease, you must take up Christ's cross, and conform to his sufferings ; if you would save your life,' you must • lose it;' and if you would be rich, you must abound in good works, you must be
poor in spirit,' and despise the world, and be rich unto God : for whatsoever is contrary to the purchases and affections of this world, is an endearment of our hopes in the world to come. And, therefore, he having stated the question so, that either we must quit this world or the other; our affections, I mean, and adherences to this, or our interest and hopes of the other : the choice is rendered very easy by the words of my
text, because the distance is not less than infinite, and the comparison hath terms of a vast difference; heaven and hell, eternity and a moment, vanity and real felicity, life and death eternal, all that can be hoped for, and all that can be feared ; these are the terms of our choice : and if a man have his wits about him, and be not drunk with sensuality and senselessness, he need not much to dispute before he pass the sentence. For nothing can be given to us to recompense the loss of heaven; and if our souls be lost, there is nothing remaining to us whereby we can be happy. • What shall it profit a man?' or,
What shall a man give ? Is there any exchange for a man's soul ? The question is an aitnous of the negative. Nothing can be given for an ávtárrayua, or ' a price,' to satisfy for its loss.
The blood of the Son of God was given to recover it, or as an ártárrayua to God; and when our souls were forfeit to him, nothing less than the life and passion of God and man could pay the price, I say, to God; who yet was not concerned in the loss, save only that such was his goodness, that it pitied him to see his creature lost. But to us what shall be the evtárrayua ? what can make us recompense when we have lost our own souls, and are lost in a miserable eternity ? What can then recompense us ? Not all the world, not ten thousand worlds : and of this that miserable man whose soul is lost, is the best judge. For the question is å durntixòv, and hath a potential signification, and means nova àv dúon that is, Suppose a man ready to die, condemned to the sentence of a horrid death, heightened with the circumstances of trembling and amazement, 'what would he give' to save his life? “ Eye for eye, tooth for tooth, and all that a man hath, will he give for his life.” And this turned to a proverb among the Jews; for so the last words of the text are, τί δώσει άνθρωπος αντάλλαγμα της ψυχής ; which proverb being usually meant concerning a temporal death, and intended to represent the sadnesses of a condemned person, our blessed Saviour fits to his own purpose, and translates to the signification of death eternal, which he first revealed clearly to the world. And because no interest of the world can make a man recompense for his life, because to lose that makes him incapable of enjoying the exchange, (and he were a strange fool, who, having no design upon immortality or
virtue, should be willing to be hanged for a thousand pounds 'per annum,') this argument increases infinitely in the purpose of our blessed Saviour; and to gain the world, and to lose our souls, in the Christian sense, is infinitely more madness, and a worse exchange, than when our souls signify nothing but a temporal life. And although possibly the indefinite hopes of Elysium, or an honourable name, might tempt some hardy persons to leave this world, hoping for a better condition, even among the heathens; yet no excuse will acquit a Christian from madness, if, for the purchase of this world, he lose his eternity.
Here, then, first, we will consider the propositions of the exchange, the “world and a man's soul,” by way of supposition, supposing all that is propounded were obtained, “ the whole world.” Secondly, we will consider, what is likely to be obtained really' and ' indeed' of the world, and what are really the miseries of a lost soul. For it is propounded in the text, by way of supposition," if a man should gain the world,” which no man ever did nor ever can; and he that gets most, gets too little to be exchanged for a temporal life. And, thirdly, I shall apply it to your practice, and make material considerations.
1. First, then, suppose a man gets all the world, what is it that he gets? It is a bubble and a fantasm, and hath no reality beyond a present transient use; a thing that is impossible to be enjoyed, because its fruits and usages are transmitted to us by parts and by succession. He that hath all the world, (if we can suppose such a man,) cannot have a dish of fresh summer-fruits in the midst of winter, not so inuch as a green fig: and very much of its possessions is so hid, so fugacious, and of so uncertain purchase, that it is like the riches of the sea to the lord of the shore, all the fish and wealth within all its hollownesses are his, but he is never the better for what he cannot get : all the shell-fishes that produce pearl, produce them not for him; and the bowels of the earth shall hide her treasures in undiscovered retirements: so that it will signify as much to this great purchaser to be entitled to an inheritance in the upper region of the air ; he is so far from possessing all its riches, that he does not so much as know of them, nor understand the philosophy of her minerals.
2. I consider, that he that is the greatest possessor in the world, enjoys its best and most noble parts, and those which are of most excellent perfection, but in common with the inferior persons, and the most despicable of his kingdom. Can the greatest prince enclose the sun, and set one little star in his cabinet for his own use, or secure to himself the gentle and benign influences of any one constellation ? Are not his subjects' fields bedewed with the same showers that water his gardens of pleasure ?
Nay, those things which he esteems his ornament, and the singularity of his possessions, are they not of more use to others than to himself? For suppose his garments splendid and shining, like the robe of a cherub, or the clothing of the fields, all that he that wears them enjoys, is, that they keep him warm, and clean, and modest; and all this is done by clean and less pompous vestments; and the beauty of them, which distinguishes him from others, is made to please the eyes of the beholders; and he is like a fair bird, or the meretricious painting of a wanton woman, made wholly to be looked on, that is, to be enjoyed by every one but himself: and the fairest face and the sparkling eye cannot perceive or enjoy their own beauties but by reflection. It is I that am pleased with beholding his gaiety; and the gay man, in his greatest bravery, is only pleased because I am pleased with the sight; so borrowing his little and imaginary complacency from the delight that I have, not from any inherency of his own possession.
The poorest artisan of Rome, walking in Cæsar's gardens, had the same pleasures which they ministered to their lord : and although it may be, he was put to gather fruits to eat from another place, yet his other senses were delighted equally with Cæsar's: the birds made him as good music, the flowers gave him as sweet smells; he there sucked as good air, and delighted in the beauty and order of the place, for the same reason and upon the same perception as the prince himself; save only that Cæsar paid, for all that pleasure, vast sums of money, the blood and treasure of a province, which the poor man had for nothing.
3. Suppose a man lord of all the world (for still we are but in supposition); yet since every thing is received, not according to its own greatness and worth, but according to
the capacity of the receiver, it signifies very little as to our content or to the riches of our possession. If any man should give to a lion a fair meadow full of hay, or a thousand quince trees; or should give to the goodly bull, the master and the fairest of the whole herd, a thousand fair stags; if a man should present to a child a ship laden with Persian carpets, and the ingredients of the rich scarlet; all these, being disproportionate either to the appetite or to the understanding, could add nothing of content, and might declare the freeness of the presenter, but they upbraid the incapacity of the receiver. And so it does if God should give the whole world to any man. He knows not what to do with it; he can use no more but according to the capacities of a man; he can use nothing but meat, and drink, and clothes ; and infinite riches, that can give him changes of raiment every day and a full table, do but give him a clean trencher every bit he eats; it signifies no more but wantonness and variety, to the same, not to any new purposes. He to whom the world can be given to any purpose greater than a private estate can minister, must have new capacities created in him: he needs the understanding of an angel, to take the accounts of his estate ; he had need have a stomach like fire or the grave, for else he can eat no more than one of his healthful subjects; and unless he hath an eye like the sun, and a motion like that of a thought, and a bulk as big as one of the orbs of heaven, the pleasures of his eye can be no greater than to behold the beauty of a little prospect from a hill, or to look upon the heap of gold packed up in a little room, or to dote upon a cabinet of jewels, better than which there is no man that sees at all, but sees every day. For, not to name the beauties and sparkling diamonds of heaven, a man's, or a woman's, or a hawk's eye, is more beauteous and excellent than all the jewels of his crown.
And when we remember that a beast, who hath quicker senses than a man, yet hath not so great delight in the fruition of any object, because he wants understanding and the power to make reflex acts upon his perception; it will follow, that understanding and knowledge is the greatest instrument of pleasure, and he that is most knowing, hath a capacity to become happy, which a less knowing prince, or a rich person, hath not; and in this only a man's capacity is capable of enlargement. But