CHAP.  8.

The second sort of people to be reproved, which are sensualists. 
The first consideration to reform them.


II. A second sort, worse than the former, are such as are so far from treasuring up in this time of light and merciful visitation, soundness of knowledge, strength of faith, purity of heart, clearness of conscience, holiness of life, assurance of God’s favour, contempt of the world, many sanctified sabbaths, fervent prayers, holy conferences, heavenly meditations, days of humiliation, righteous dealings with their brethren, compassionate contributions to the necessities of the saints, works of justice, mercy, and truth, a sincere respect to all God’s commandments, a careful performance of all spiritual duties, a conscientious partaking of all God’s ordinances, a seasonable exercise of every grace, hatred of all false ways, a hearty and invincible love unto God and all things that he loves, or that belong unto him, his word, sacraments, sabbaths, ministers, services, children, presence, corrections, comings, &c. which are the ordinary provisions of God’s people against the evil day; —I say, they are so far from prizing and preparing such spiritual store, that they hoard up stings, scourges, and scorpions for their naked souls and guilty consciences against the day of the Lord’s visitation; 1 mean lies, oaths, blasplemies, adulteries, whoredoms, self-pollutions, variety of strange fashions, gamings, revellings, drunken matches, good-fellow meetings, wanton dancings, usuries, falsehoods, hypocrisies; plurality of ill-gotten goods, benefices, offices, honours; filthy jests, much idle talk, slanderous tales, scoffs, railings, oppositions to the holy way, &c. and that with greediness and delight. For they cry one unto another out of a boisterous combination of good-fellowship, with much eagerness and roaring, “Come on, therefore, let us fill ourselves with costly wine and ointments, and let no flower of the spring pass by us. Let us crown ourselves with rose-buds before they be withered. Let none of us go without his part of our voluptuousness. Let us leave tokens of our pleasure in every place, for this is our portion, and our lot is this. Let us lie in wait for the righteous, because he is not for our turn, and he is clean contrary to our doings. &c.” But alas! what will be the conclusion of all this, or rather the horrible confusion? Even all their jovial revellings, roarings, outrages, and sinful pleasures, which are so sweet in their mouths, and they swallow [[31]] down so insatiably, shall turn to gravel and the “gall of asps in their bowels,” to fiery enraged scorpions in their consciences; where, lurking in the mean time in the mud of sensuality and lust, breed such a never-dying worm, which if God think fit to awake upon their last bed, is able to put them into hell upon earth, to damn them above ground, to gnaw upon their soul and flesh with that unheard-of horror which seized upon Spira’s woeful heart, who protested, being fully in his right mind, that he would rather be in Cain or Judas’s place in hell than endure the present unspeakable torment of his afflicted spirit.

To beat them from this desperate course of greedy boarding up such horrible things unto themselves against their ending hour, let them consider: —

1. Besides the eternity of joys for the one, and of torments to the other, hereafter, the vast and invaluable difference in the meantime, in respect of true sweetness and sound contentment, between the life of a saint and a sensualist: a puritan, as the world calls him, and a good-fellow, as he terms himself; — let us for the purpose peruse the different passages of one day, as Chrysostom excellently delineates them and represents to the life. “Let us produce two men,” saith he, “the one drowned in carnal looseness, sensualities, and riotous excess; the other crucified and dead to such sinful courses and worldly delights. Let us go to their houses and behold their behaviour. We shall find the one reading the scriptures and other good books, taking time for holy duties and the service of God; sober, temperate, abstemious, diligent also in the necessary duties of his calling, having holy conference with God, discoursing of heavenly things, bearing himself more like an angel than a man. The other, jovial, a vassal of luxury and ease, swaggering up and down ale-houses, taverns, or other such conventicles of good-fellowship, hunting after all the ways, means, and men to pass the time merrily, plying his pleasures with what variety he possibly can all the day long, railing and roaring as though he were enraged with a devil, though he be really dead while he is alive: which is accompanied with murmurings of the family, discontent of the wife, chiding of friends, laughing to scorn of enemies,” &c. Whether of these courses now do you think were the more comfortable? I know full well the former would be cried down by the greatest part as too precise, and the latter would carry it by a world of men. But hear the puritan father’s impartial holy censure, quite cross to the common conceit and humour of flesh and blood. It is excellent and emphatical, arguing his resolute abomination of the ways of [[32]] good-fellowship, and infinite love and admiration of the holy path. Having given to the good-fellow his heart’s desire all the day-long in all kinds of voluptuousness and delight, yet for all this, “Who is he,” saith he, “that is in it’s right mind, that would not choose rather to die a thousand deaths, than spend one day so?” This peremptory passage would be held a strange paradox from the mouth of any modern minister, and so appears to the carnal apprehension of all those miserable men who are blindfolded and baffled by the devil to the eternal loss of their souls. But besides that it might be made good many other ways, it is more than manifest by comparing that three-fold sting that follows at the heels of every sinful delight, &c. (see my Book of Walking with God), with the comfortable contentment and secret sweetness which might and should attend all well-doing and every holy duty done with uprightness of heart. The very philosophers do tell us of a congratulation, a pleased contentedness and satisfaction in doing virtuously according to their moral rules. What true, solid, and singular comfort then, do you think, may be found in those godly actions which spring from faith, are guided by God’s word, directed to his glory, and whose bewailed defects and failings are most certainly pardoned by the blood of his Son? Now what an extreme madness is this, for a man to sell his salvation for a life of pleasures; abhorring the ways of God’s children as too precise and painful; whereas, besides hell for the one, and heaven for the other hereafter, in the meantime every day spent so sensually is a true purgatory, and every day passed in the contrary Christian course is an earthly paradise!