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It is good to reflect inward, and to view our souls; SERM. but we should do it so, as to find a wholesome dis- LXIII. pleasure and regret in beholding ourselves so foul and impure, so weak and defectuous, so ugly and deformed: if we do thus, we shall not over-love ourselves.

Some general Remedies of Self-Love. 1. To reflect upon ourselves seriously and impartially, considering our natural nothingness, meanness, baseness, imperfection, infirmity, unworthiness; the meanness and imperfection of our nature, the defects and deformities of our souls, the failings and misdemeanours of our lives. He that doeth this cannot surely find himself lovely, and must therefore take it for very absurd to dote on himself. He will rather be induced to dislike, despise, abhor, and loathe himself.

2. To consider the loveliness of other beings superior to us, comparing them with ourselves, and observing how very far in excellency, worth, and beauty they transcend us; which if we do, we must appear no fit objects of love, we must be checked in our dotage, and diverted from this fond affection to ourselves. It cannot but dazzle our eyes and dull our affections to ourselves.

If we view the qualities and examples of other men, who in worth, in wisdom, in virtue, and piety, do far excel us; their noble endowments, their heroical achievements; what they have done and suffered in obedience to God, (their strict temperance and austerity, their laborious industry, their selfdenial, their patience, &c.) how can we but in comparison despise and loathe ourselves ?

If we consider the blessed angels and saints in

SERM. glory and bliss; their purity, their humility, their LXIII. obedience; how can we think of ourselves without

contempt and abhorrence ?

Especially if we contemplate the perfection, the purity, the majesty of God; how must this infinitely debase us in our opinion concerning ourselves, and consequently diminish our fond affection toward things so vile and unworthy?

3. To study the acquisition and improvement of charity toward God and our neighbour. This will employ and transfer our affections; these drawing our souls outward, and settling them upon other objects, will abolish or abate the perverse love toward ourselves.

4. To consider, that we do owe all we are and have to the free bounty and grace of God: hence we shall see that nothing of esteem or affection is due to ourselves; but all to him, who is the Fountain and Author of all our good.

5. To direct our minds wholly toward those things which rational self-love requireth us to regard and seek : to concern ourselves in getting virtue, in performing our duty, in promoting our salvation, and arriving to happiness; this will divert us from vanity; a sober self-love will stifle the other fond selflove.




Rom. xii. 17. Provide things honest in the sight of all men. THE world apparently is come to that pass, that serm. men commonly are afraid or ashamed of religious LXIV. practice, hardly daring to own their Maker by a conscientious observance of his laws. While profaneness and wickedness are grown outrageously bold, so that many declare their sin as Sodom; piety and Isa. iii. 9. virtue are become pitifully bashful, so that how few have the heart and the face openly to maintain a due regard to them! Men in nothing appear so reserved and shy as in avowing their conscience, in discovering a sense of their duty, in expressing any fear of God, any love of goodness, any concern for their own soul. It is wisdom, as they conceive, to compound with God, and to collude with the world; reserving for God some place in their heart, or yielding unto him some private acknowledgment; while in their public demeanour they conform to the world, in commission of sin, or neglect of their duty; supposing that God may be satisfied with the invisible part of his service, while men are gratified by visible compliance with their ungracious humours.

SERM. Such proceeding is built on divers very fallacious, LXIV.

absurd, and inconsistent grounds or pretences ; whereby men egregiously do abuse themselves and would impose on others; namely these, and the like.

They would not, by a fair show and semblance of piety, give cause to be taken for hypocrites; whereas, by dissembling their conscience, and seeming to have no fear of God before their eyes, they incur an hypocrisy no less criminal in nature, but far more dangerous in consequence, than is that which they pretend to decline.

They would not be apprehended vain-glorious for affecting to serve God in the view of men; whereas often at the bottom of their demeanour a most wretched and worse than pharisaical vain-glory doth lie; they forbearing the performance of their duty merely to shun the censure or to gain the respect of the vilest and vainest persons.

They would be deemed exceedingly honest and sincere, because forsooth all their piety is cordial, pure, and void of sinister regards to popular esteem; whereas partial integrity is gross nonsense; whereas no pretence can be more vain, than that we hold a faithful friendship or hearty respect for God, whom we openly disclaim or disregard; whereas also it is easily discernible, that although their piety is not, yet their impiety is popular, and affected to ingratiate with men.

They would be taken for men of brave, courageous, and masculine spirits, exalted above the weaknesses of superstition and scrupulosity; whereas indeed, out of the basest cowardice, and a dread to offend sorry people, they have not a heart to act according to their duty, their judgment, their best SERM. interest.

LXIV. They would seem very modest in concealing their virtue; while yet they are most impudent in disclosing their want of conscience; while they are so presumptuous toward God, as to provoke him to Isa. Ixv. 3.

Jer. vi. 17. his face by their disobedience; while they are not viii. 12. ashamed to wrong and scandalize their brethren by their ill behaviour.

They would not be uncivil or discourteous in thwarting the mind and pleasure of their company; as if in the mean time they might be most rude toward God in affronting his will and authority; as if any rule of civility could oblige a man to forfeit his salvation; as if it were not rather most cruel discourtesy and barbarous inhumanity to countenance or encourage any man in courses tending to his ruin.

They would not be singular and uncouth, in discosting from the common road or fashion of men ; as if it were better to leave the common duty than the common faults of men; as if wisdom and virtue were ever the most vulgar things; as if the way to heaven were the broadest and the most beaten way; as if rarity should abate the price of good things; as if conspiracy in rebellion against God might justify or excuse the fact; as if it were advisable to march to hell in a troop, or comfortable to lie there for ever among the damned crew of associates in wickedness.

They cannot endure to be accounted zealots or bigots in religion ; as if a man could love or fear God too much; or be over-faithful and careful in serving him; as if to be most earnest and solicitous


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