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SERM. pable of so rich and noble a purchase : a slothful perL.
son may be conceited, yea needs must be so; but he Prov. xxvi. can never be wise: A sluggard, saith Solomon, is
wiser in his own conceit than seven men that can render a reason. This conceit of wisdom is a natural issue of his ignorance; and it is indeed no small part of his folly that he doth not perceive it; being no less stupid in reflection on his own mind, than in considering other matters : being always in a slumber, he will often fall into such pleasant dreams; and no wonder that he should presume upon abundance of knowledge, who not listing to take any pains in the search or discussion of things, doth snatch the first appearances, doth embrace every suggestion of his fancy, every conceit gratifying his humour, for truth.
What should I speak of learning, or the knowledge of various things, transcending vulgar apprehension? Who knoweth not that we cannot otherwise reach any part of that, than by assiduous study and contemplation? Who doth not find that all the power in the world is not able to command, nor all the wealth of the Indies to purchase, one notion ? Who can be ignorant that no wit alone or strength of parts can suffice, without great industry, to frame any science, to learn any one tongue, to know the history of nature or of Providence? it is certainly by Horace's methods,
Multa tulit, fecitque puer, by much exercise and endurance of pains, that any one can arrive to the mark of being learned or skilful in any sort of knowledge. 8 Qui cupit optatam cursu contingere metam,
Multa tulit, fecitque puer, sudavit et alsit. Hor. de Art. Poet.
But further yet, virtue, the noblest endowment SERM. and richest possession whereof man is capable; the glory of our nature, the beauty of our soul, the goodliest ornament and the firmest support of our life"; that also is the fruit and blessing of industry; that of all things most indispensably doth need and require it. It doth not grow in us by nature, nor befall us by fortune; for nature is so far from producing it, that it yieldeth mighty obstacles and resistances to its birth, there being in the best dispositions much averseness from good, and great proneness to evil; fortune doth not further its acquists, but casteth in rubs and hinderances thereto, every condition presenting its allurements or its affrightments from it; all things within us and about us conspire to render its production and its practice laborious.
It is ('tis true) a gift of Heaven, and cannot be obtained without a special influence of divine grace; but it is given as children are, (of whom it is said, Lo, children are an heritage of the Lord: and the Psal.
cxxvii. 3. fruit of the womb is his reward,) not without sore travail and labour of the mother, not without grievous difficulty and pangs in the birth. In our conversion to embrace virtue God doth guide us; but to what? to sit still ? No, to walk, to run in his ways: grace doth move us, but whereto ? to do nothing ? No, but to stir, and act vigorously; The Rom. viii. Holy Spirit doth help our infirmities: but how harbáricas. could it help them, if we did not conjoin our best, Rom. ii. 10.
Acts x. 35 h Τη μεν κακία ηδονή, τη δε αρετή συγκεκλήρωται πόνος. Chrys. in Joh. Or. 36.
Κακία μεν γαρ αυτοδίδακτον αρετή δε συν πόνο κτάται. Sen. de Provid. 2.
Heb. xii. 4. L.
SERM. though weak, endeavours with its operations ? To
what doth it ouvaytınapsáveiv, or cohelp us, but to strive against sin, to work righteousness, to perform duty with earnest intention of mind, and laborious activity ? God, saith St. Chrysostom, hath parted virtue with us, and neither hath left all to be in us, lest we should be elated to pride, nor himself hath taken all, lest we should decline to slothi
Indeed the very nature and essence of virtue doth consist in the most difficult and painful efforts of soul; in the extirpating rooted prejudices and notions from our understanding; in bending a stiff will, and rectifying crooked inclinations; in overruling a rebellious temper; in curbing eager and importunate appetites; in taming wild passions ; in withstanding violent temptations; in surmounting many difficulties, and sustaining many troubles; in struggling with various unruly lusts within, and encountering many stout enemies abroad, which assault our reason, and war against our soul : in such exercises its very being lieth; its birth, its growth, its subsistence dependeth on them; so that from any discontinuance or remission of them it would soon decay, languish away, and perish.
What attention, what circumspection, and vigilancy of mind, what intention of spirit, what force of resolution, what command and care over ourselves
1 Εμερίσατο προς ημάς την αρετήν ο Θεός, και ούτε εφ' ημίν αφήκε το πάν είναι, ίνα μή εις άπόνοιαν έπαιρώμεθα, ούτε αυτός το πάν έλαβεν, ένα ren els øgduulav årekniswuey aña', &c. Chrys. tom. 5. Or. 28.
Ουδέ γάρ ή περί τα καλά των ανθρώπων εγχείρησις δίχα της άνωθεν βοηθείας τελειωθήσεται» ουδε η άνωθεν χάρις επί τον μη σπουδάζοντα παραγένοιτ' άν, αλλ' εκάτερα συγκεκράσθαι προσήκει, σπουδήν τε ανθρωπίνην, και την διά πίστεως άνωθεν καθήκουσαν συμμαχίαν εις τελείωσιν αρετής. Bas. Const. Mon. cap. 15.
doth it require, to keep our hearts from vain thoughts SERM. and evil desires; to guard our tongue from wanton, unjust, uncharitable discourse; to order our steps uprightly and steadily in all the paths of duty ? Kai Chrys. in
Joh. Or. 36. Tá củK ÊTÍTOVOV Tūv tñs åperñs; and what, as St. Chrysostom asketh, of all things belonging to virtue is not laborious? It is no small task to know it, wherein it consisteth, and what it demandeth of us; it is a far more painful thing to conform our practice unto its rules and dictates.
If travelling in a rough way!; if climbing up a steep hill; if combating stern foes, and fighting sharp battles; if crossing the grain of our nature and desires; if continually holding a strict rein over all our parts and powers, be things of labour and trouble, then greatly such is the practice of virtue.
Indeed each virtue hath its peculiar difficulty, needing much labour to master it: Faith is called 1 Thes. i. 3. epyou Tiotews, the work of faith ; and it is no such easy work, as may be imagined, to bring our hearts Johu vi. 29. unto a thorough persuasion about truths crossing our sensual conceits, and controlling our peevish humours; unto a perfect submission of our understanding, and resignation of our will to whatever God teacheth or prescribeth; to a firm resolution of adhering to that profession, which exacteth of us so much pains, and exposeth us to so many troubles.
Charity is also a laborious exercise of many good works; and he that will practise it must in divers ways labour hardly; he must labour in voiding from his soul many dispositions deeply radicated therein
2 Thes. i. II.
Της αρετής ιδρώτα θεοι προπάροιθεν έθηκαν
Acts XX. 35
'Axàivñ. Heb. x. 23
36. vi, u, 'Ενδείκνυσθαι σπουδήν. .
SERM. by nature, opinion, and custom ; envy, frowardness,
stubbornness, perverse and vain selfishness; from
whence wrath, revenge, spite, and malice do spring Gal. vi. 10. forth. He must labour in effectual performance of
all good offices, and in catching all occasions of doing Thes: i. 3. good; he must exert that kórov åyánns, that labour of Eph. iv. 28. love, whereof St. Paul doth speak; he must (as that
holy apostle directeth, not only in precept, but by his own practice) work with his own hands, that he may supply the wants of his neighbour.
Hope itself (which one would think, when ground
ed well, should be a no less easy than pleasant duty) Thes.i,3. doth need much labour to preserve it safe, straight,
and stable, among the many waves and billows of
temptation assaying to shake and subvert it; whence Heb. jj. 6,
a patience of hope is recommended to us; and we so often are exhorted to hold it fast, to keep it sure, firm, and unshaken to the end.
Temperance also surely demandeth no small painsm; it being no slight business to check our greedy appetites, to shun the enticements of pleasure, to escape the snares of company and example, to support the ill-will and reproaches of those zealots and bigots for vice, who cannot tolerate any non
conformity to their extravagances; but, as St. Peter 1 Pet. iv. 4. doth express it, think it strange, if others do not
run with them to the same excess of riot, speaking ill of them for it.
What should I speak of meekness, of patience, of humility, of contentedness? Is it not manifest how laborious those virtues are, and what pains are necessary in the obtaining, in the exercise of them?
14. 2 Pet i. 10.
η Πάντες εξ ενός στόματος υμνούσιν, ως καλόν μεν η σωφροσύνη τε και δικαιοσύνη, χαλεπόν μέν τοι και επίπονον. Ρlat. de Rep. 2.