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The third grand instance of the same mischievous influence of words and names falsely applied, with reference to the interests and concerns of private persons in common conversation; being the fourth and last Discourse from those words in Isaiah v. 20.

ISAIAH v. 20.

Woe unto them that call evil good, and good evil, &c.

I MUST beg your pardon that I here resume the prosecution of a subject, which I have formerly discoursed of in this place, and for some reasons since intermitted, in the courses immediately following.

The discussion of these words I first cast under these four heads.

First, To give some general account of the nature of good and evil, and of the reasons upon which they are founded.

Secondly, To shew, that the way by which good and evil commonly operate upon the mind of man, is by those respective names and appellations, by which they are notified and conveyed to the mind.

Thirdly, To shew the mischief which directly, naturally, and unavoidably follows, from the misapplication and confusion of these names. And,

Fourthly and lastly, To shew the grand and principal instances, in which the abuse or misapplication of those names has such a fatal and pernicious effect.

The three first of these I despatched in my first discourse upon the words, and in my second made 266 some entrance upon the fourth and last, to wit, the assignation of those instances, which I shew spread as far and wide as the universe itself, and were as infinite and numberless as all those various ways and accidents, by which a man is capable of being miserable. To recount all which in particular, since it was impossible, and yet to rest in universals equally unprofitable, I found it necessary to reduce those fatal effects of the misapplication of these great governing names of good and evil to certain heads, and those such as should comprehend and take in the principal things, upon the good or bad estate of which the happiness or misery of human societies must needs depend.

Which heads were three.

1st, Religion, and the concerns of the church.

2dly, Civil government. And,

3dly, The private interests of particular persons.

Now the first of these three, to wit, the concerns of religion and the church, I fully treated of in my second discourse, and that with particular reference to the state of both amongst ourselves, where I shew, that our excellent church had been once ruined, and was like to have been so again, only by the mischievous cant and gibberish of a few paltry misapplied words and phrases; five of which I then instanced in. As,

1st, A malicious calling the rites, ceremonies, and religion of the church of England, popery.

2dly, A calling the schismatical deserters of it, true protestants.

3dly, A calling the late subversion and dissolution of our church, reformation.

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4thly, A calling the execution of the laws in be half of the church, persecution. And,

5thly and lastly, A calling all base, trimming compliances and half conformity, moderation.

All which five I then insisted upon at large, and shall not now trouble you with any further repetitions.

After which, the second general head to be treated of was civil government; under which I had designed to shew, how our admirably well-tempered monarchy had been once shook in pieces by the faction, under the best of monarchs, king Charles I. and was in a fair way to have run the same fate under his son, king Charles II. both of them princes of glorious and happy memory. And all this by the same villainous artifice of a few popular, misapplied words; by the senseless, insignificant clink and sound of which, some restless demagogues and incendiaries had inflamed the minds of the sottish mobile to a strange, unaccountable abhorrence of the best of men and things, and to as fond and furious an admiration of the very worst. Of which sort of words we may reckon these four following.

1st, Their traducing the best of monarchies and the easiest of governments by the odious name of arbitrary power.

2dly, Their blackening the king’s ablest and best friends with the old and infamous character of evil counsellors.

3dly, Their setting off and recommending the greatest enemies both of prince and people, under the plausible, endearing titles of public spirits, patriots, and standers up for their country. And,

4thly and lastly, Their couching the most malicious, 268 selfish, and ambitious designs, under the glorious cover of zeal for liberty and property, and the rights of the subject.

Which four rattling, rabble-charming words, I say, arbitrary power, evil counsellors, public spirits, liberty and property, and rights of the subject, with several others of the like noise and nature, being used and applied by some state-impostors, (as scripture was once quoted by the Devil,) I undertook to prove, were the great and powerful tools, by which the faction, having so successfully overturned the government once, was in full hopes to have given it as effectual a turn once more. The prosecution of all which, (as well as I was able,) I gathered into one entire discourse by itself.

But since all discourses in behalf of the government, partly through the guilt of some, and the false politics of others, have seldom any other effect but to recoil upon the person who makes them, I shall wave and pass over mine, and thereby escape the vanity of a thankless defence of that which is so much better able to defend itself.

And so I now come to the third and last of these three general heads; which is, to shew the mischievous influence the abuse and misapplication of those mighty operative names of good and evil has upon the private interests of particular persons. And here also I am sensible how boundless a subject I should engage in, should I attempt to give a particular account of all those names or words, by the artificial misapplication of which, men promote or ruin the fortunes of one another. The truth is, I might deal them forth to you by scores or hundreds, but I shall single out and insist upon only 269some few of the most remarkable and mischievous. As,

1st, An outrageous, ungoverned insolence and revenge, frequently passing by the name of sense of honour. Honour is indeed a noble thing, and therefore the word which signifies it must needs be very plausible. But as a rich and glistering garment may be cast over a rotten, fashionably-diseased body; so an illustrious, commending word may be put upon a vile and an ugly thing; for words are but the garment, the loose garments of things; and so may easily be put off and on, according to the humour of him who bestows them. But the body changes not, though the garments do.

What is honour but the height and flower, and top of morality, and the utmost refinement of conversation? But then every ruffian and drunken sot is not a competent judge of it; nor must every one who can lead a midnight whore through the streets, or scoff at a black coat or clergyman, or come behind a man and run him through, and be pardoned for it, have presently a claim to that thing called honour; which is as much the natural result, as it is the legal reward of virtue. Virtue and honour are such inseparable companions, that the heathens would admit no man into the temple of honour, who did not pass to it through the temple of virtue. It is indeed the only stated, allowed way; it is the high road to honour, and no man ever robs or murders upon that road.

And yet, in spite of nature and reason, and the judgment of all mankind, this high and generous thing must be that, in whose pretended quarrel almost 270 all the duels of the world are fought. Oh! my honour is concerned, says one. In what? I pray Why, he gave me the lie. That is, he gave you what perhaps was your own before. But as truth cannot be made falsehood by the worst of tongues, so neither can a liar be made a true man by forcing a coward to eat his words, or a murderer become an honest man by a lucky (or rather unlucky) thrust of a lawless sword. Ay, but he spoke slightly and reflexively of such a lady: that is, perhaps he treated her without a compliment, and spoke that of her which she had rather a great deal practise than hear or be told of. In short, he might represent her in her true colours; and surely there is no reason that such should be always their own painters; and while they live by one measure, describe themselves by another. What right have the votaries, or rather slaves of pleasure, to wear the badge and livery of strict and severe virtue?

Princes indeed may confer honours, or rather titles and names of honour. But they are a man’s or woman’s own actions which must make him or her truly honourable: and every man’s life is the heralds office, from whence he must derive and fetch that which must blazon him to the world; honour being but the reflection of a man’s own actions, shining bright in the face of all about him, and from thence rebounding upon himself.

And therefore, what plea can the bully and the hector, the champion of the tavern or the stews, have to this divine and ennobling character? And yet who is it, who so often, so zealously, and so implacably claims it? But the truth is, the name must 271serve such, instead of the thing; and they are therefore so highly concerned about the one, because they know themselves wholly void of the other.

But such a quarrelsome, vindictive impatience of every injury or affront, is not properly sense of honour; for certainly sense of honour does not take away sense of religion; and that, I am sure, teaches us much other things. It teaches a man not to revenge a contumelious or reproachful word, but to be above it. And therefore it was greatly spoken by Caius Marius, a man of another sort of mettle and valour from our modern town blades: Me quidem ex animi mei sententia laedere nulla oratio potest; quippe vera, necesse est, bene praedicet, falsam vita moresque mei superant. He said, he valued not what men could say of him; for if they spake true, they must needs speak honourable of him; if otherwise, his life and his manners should be their confutation. And doubtless it is a truer and nobler vindication of a man’s honour, to clear off and confute a slander by his own life, than by another man’s death; to make his innocence and his virtue his compurgators, and not to fight, but live down the calumniator.

And therefore this duelling practice (what thoughts soever some may have of it) proceeds not from any sense of honour; but is really and truly a direct defiance and reproach to the laws and justice of a government, as if they could not or would not protect a man in the dearest concern he has in the world, which is his reputation and good name, but left every slandered person to carve out his own satisfaction, and so to make himself both judge in his own case and executioner too. To prevent which, and to strip this insolent practice of all shadow of excuse, 272 it must be confessed, that no government can be too strict and cautious, even to the degree of niceness, in setting a fence about men’s good names; and that in order to it, it were better a great deal to cut the tongue out of the slanderer’s mouth, than not to wrest the sword out of the dueller’s hand.

But it is to be feared, that even our law itself is something defective in this particular. For if the slandered person comes to that, to right him against the slanderer, What damages, says the law, have you sustained by the slander? Prove how far you have been endamaged, and so far you shall be repaired. To which I answer, that it is impossible for any man living to know how much he is endamaged by a slander; for, like some poisons, it may destroy at two, five, seven, ten, or perhaps twenty years distance; and the venom of it, in the mean time, lie festering and rankling in the mind of some malicious grandee, whose malign influence upon the slandered person, like a worm lying at the root of a tree, shall invisibly wear, and waste, and eat him out of his greatest interests and concerns all his life after; and the poor man all this while never know from what quarter this fatal blast which consumes him blows upon him. And therefore I affirm, that if the law would assign a punishment commensurate to a slander, according to the true proportions of justice, it must take its measures, not from the mischief which the slander is known actually to do, but from the mischief which, according to the nature of the thing, it may do.

This I thought fit to remark, being desirous to cut off all excuse from duellers, and to take from those sons of shame their usurped pretences of honour. 273And indeed, when I consider how we are ridiculed abroad, as making ourselves apes, or rather monkeys to the French, by a fond imitation of their fashions, it may justly seem strange, that in all this time, duelling, which has been proscribed amongst them, should not have grown out of fashion amongst us: especially since it is too, too manifest, that these pests of government cast a greater blot upon it by the blood they shed, than it is possible for them to wash off with their own. And thus much for the first mischievously abused and misapplied word, viz. honour, or sense of honour.

2. Bodily abstinence, joined with a demure, affected countenance, is often called and accounted piety and mortification. Suppose a man infinitely ambitious, and equally spiteful and malicious; one who poisons the ears of great men by venomous whispers, and rises by the fall of better men than himself; yet if he steps forth with a Friday look and a lenten face, with a Blessed Jesu! and a mournful ditty for the vices of the times, oh! then he is a saint upon earth; an Ambrose or an Augustine; I mean not for that earthly trash of book-learning; for, alas! such are above that, or at least that is above them; but for zeal, and for fasting, for a devout elevation of the eyes, and an holy rage against other men’s sins. And happy those ladies and religious dames, characterized in 2 Tim. iii. 6, who can have such self-denying, thriving, able men for their confessors! and thrice happy those families, where they vouchsafe to take their Friday night’s refreshments! and thereby demonstrate to the world what Christian abstinence, and what primitive, self-mortifying 274 rigour there is in forbearing a dinner, that they may have the better stomach to their supper.

In fine, the whole world stands in admiration of them; fools are fond of them, and wise men are afraid of them; they are talked of, they are pointed at; and as they order the matter, they draw the eyes of all men after them, and generally something else.

But as it is observed in greyhounds, that the thinness of their jaws does not at all allay the ravening fury of their appetite, there being no creature whose teeth are sharper, and whose feet are swifter when they are in pursuit of their prey; so wo be to that man who stands in the way of a meager; mortified, fasting, sharp-set zeal, when it is in full chase of its spiritual game. And therefore, as the apostle admonishes the Philippians, Phil. iii. 2, to beware of dogs, so his advice cannot be too frequently remembered, nor too warily observed, when we have to deal with those who are always fawning upon some and biting others, as shall best serve their occasions.

3dly, Some have found a way to smooth over an implacable, unalterable spleen and malice, by dignifying it with the name of constancy. There are several in the world (and those of no small note for godliness too) who take up disgusts easily, and prosecute them irreconcileable; not by way of revenge, (though even that is utterly contrary to Christianity,) for revenge, in the nature of it, supposes an injury first done; whereas this generally has nothing of retaliation in it, but commences entirely upon humour, fancy, and false apprehensions, and the man in the whole course of his spite is perfectly the aggressor.

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And in this case, when once his boiling rancour has by error and misapprehension created itself an object to work upon, then presently to work it goes; and no civilities shall be able to mollify such an one, no respects shall gain him, nor obligations take him off; but his spite being fed by a perpetual fountain, is also carried out with a perpetual motion, raging and raving without end or measure; so that if the man himself could be immortal, his malice would certainly be so too. Nay, and some such have been known to take the sacrament every week, with this diabolical ferment working and fuming in their breast, eating the body and drinking the blood of Christ with a mind ready to suck that of their neighbour.

And if these wretches, in the prosecution of their malicious rage, chance to find themselves (as they do very often) mistaken in their main ground and first motive of it; yet, rather than own a mistake, and not seem infallible, as well as implacable, they will be sure to follow their blow, and the injury must still go on, till it becomes infinite and unmeasurable. And this some call constancy, greatness, and firmness of mind, and a kind of approach to unchangeableness; thus in effect clothing a devilish quality with a divine attribute. For it would sound but scurvily to say in plain terms, “That such an one is a person of an obstinate, inexorable, impregnable malice; take heed of him, have nothing to do with him.” And therefore it strikes the ear much softer and better to say, “He is one of great constancy and steadiness, always like himself, and not apt to change or vary from the rule which he has once pitched upon to act by.” Though the 276 real, naked truth, which lies under all this disguise of words, is, that the person so set off is a kind of devil incarnate, void not only of religion, but humanity; his ignorance first apprehends and makes in juries, and then his malice pursues them.

And thus you see Samuel’s mantle cast over the Devil, and, according to the apostle’s phrase, a long and large cloak provided for and fitted to maliciousness. Not that this ill thing does yet so wholly tie itself to this convenient sort of garment, but that some times it can wear a gown as well as a cloak, that being often found both to keep it warmer, and to conceal it better. But wo unto the souls of those Pharisaical hellish hypocrites, if the God, whom they pretend such a peculiar relation to, and who is indeed unchangeable in his nature, should borrow some of their constancy, and shew himself such in his wrath also!

The schoolmen, speaking of the state of the fallen angels, or devils, say, that they are confirmati in summa malicia; which, according to the notion now before us, you may, if you please, interpret constancy. And our Saviour, describing the torments of hell and the punishments of the damned, expresses them by the worm that dies not, and the fire that is not quenched. So that here is another sort of constancy also. And surely, if we compare them both together, and so pass a right judgment upon the whole matter, there seems to be all the reason in the world that such as practise the constancy of the former, should at length be rewarded with the constancy of the other.

4thly, A staunch, resolved temper of mind, not suffering a man to sneak, fawn, cringe, and accommodate 277himself to all humours, though never so absurd and unreasonable, is commonly branded with, and exposed under the character of pride, morosity, and ill-nature; an ugly word, which you may from time to time observe many honest, worthy, inoffensive persons, and that of all sorts, ranks, and professions, strangely and unaccountably worried and run down by. And therefore I think I cannot do truth, justice, and common honesty better service, than by ripping up so malicious a cheat, to vindicate such as have suffered by it.

Certain it is, that amongst all the contrivances of malice, there is not a surer engine to pull men down in the good opinion of the world, and that in spite of the greatest worth and innocence, than this imputation of ill-nature; an engine which serves the ends and does the work of pique and envy both effectually and safely; forasmuch as it is a loose and general charge upon a man, without alleging any particular reason for it from his life or actions, and consequently does the more mischief, because, as a word of course, it passes currently, and is seldom looked into or examined. And therefore, as there is no way to prove a paradox or false proposition, but to take it for granted; so such as would stab any man’s good name with the accusation of ill-nature, do very rarely descend to proofs or particulars: it is sufficient for their purpose that the word sounds odiously and is believed easily; and that is enough to do any one’s business with the generality of men, who seldom have so much judgment or charity as to hear the cause before they pronounce sentence.

But that we may proceed with greater truth, equity, and candour in this case, we will endeavour to 278 find out the right sense and meaning of this terrible confounding word ill-nature, by coming to particulars.

And here, first; Is the person charged with it false or cruel, ungrateful or revengeful? Is he shrewd and unjust in his dealings with others? Does he regard no promises, and pay no debts? Does he profess love, kindness, and respect to those, whom underhand he does all the mischief to that possibly he can? Is he unkind, rude, or niggardly to his friends? Has he shut up his heart and his hand towards the poor, and has no bowels of compassion for such as are in want and misery? Is he insensible of kindnesses done him, and withal careless and backward to acknowledge or requite them? Or, lastly, is he bitter and implacable in the prosecution of such as have wronged or abused him?

No, generally none of all these ill things (which one would wonder at) are ever meant, or so much as thought of, in the charge of ill-nature; but for the most part the clean contrary qualities are readily acknowledged. Ay, but where and what kind of thing then is this strange occult quality called ill-nature, which makes such a thundering noise against such as have the ill luck to be taxed with it?

Why, the best account that I or any one else can give of it is this; that there are many men in the world, who, without the least arrogance or self-conceit, have yet so just a value both for themselves and others, as to scorn to flatter and gloss, to fall down and worship, to lick the spittle and kiss the feet of any proud, swelling, overgrown, domineering huff whatsoever; and such persons generally think it enough for them to shew their superiors respect with out adoration, and civility without servitude.

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Again; there are some who have a certain ill-natured stiffness, forsooth, in their tongue, so as not to be able to applaud and keep pace with this or that self-admiring, vain-glorious Thraso, while he is pluming and praising himself, and telling fulsome stories in his own commendation for three or four hours by the clock, and at the same time reviling and throwing dirt upon all mankind besides.

There is also a sort of odd ill-natured men, whom neither hopes nor fears, frowns nor favours, can prevail upon to have any of the cast, beggarly, forlorn nieces or kinswomen of any lord or grandee, spiritual or temporal, trumped upon them.

To which we may add another sort of obstinate, ill-natured persons, who are not to be brought by any one’s guilt or greatness to speak or write, or to swear or lie as they are bidden, or to give up their own consciences in a compliment to those who have none themselves.

And lastly, there are some so extremely ill-natured, as to think it very lawful and allowable for them to be sensible when they are injured and oppressed, when they are slandered in their good names, and wronged in their just interests, and withal to dare to own what they find and feel, without being such beasts of burden as to bear tamely whatsoever is cast upon them, or such spaniels as to lick the foot which kicks them, or to thank the goodly great one for doing them all these back favours. Now these and the like particulars are some of the chief instances of that ill-nature, which men are more properly said to be guilty of towards their superiors.

But there is a sort of ill-nature also that uses to be practised towards equals or inferiors; such as perhaps 280 a man’s refusing to lend money to such as he knows will never repay him, and so to straiten and in commode himself only to gratify a shark; or possibly the man may prefer his duty and his business before company, and the bettering himself before the humouring of others; or he may not be willing to spend his time, his health, and his estate, upon a crew of idle, spunging, ungrateful sots, and so to play the prodigal amongst an herd of swine; with several other such unpardonable faults in conversation, (as some will have them,) for which the fore-mentioned cattle, finding themselves disappointed, will be sure to go grumbling and grunting away, and not fail to proclaim him a morose, ill-conditioned, ill-natured person in all clubs and companies whatsoever; and so that man’s work is done, and his name lies groveling upon the ground in all the taverns, brandy-shops, and coffee-houses about the town.

And thus having given you some tolerable account of what the world calls ill-nature, and that both to wards superiors, and towards equals and inferiors, (as it is easy and natural to know one contrary by the other,) we may from hence take a true measure of what the world is observed to mean by the contrary character of good-nature, as it is generally bestowed.

And first, when great ones vouchsafe this endearing elogy to those below them, a good-natured man generally denotes some slavish, glavering, flattering parasite, or hanger-on, one who is a mere tool or instrument, a fellow fit to be sent upon any malicious errand; a setter or informer, made to creep into all companies; a wretch employed under a pretence of friendship or acquaintance, to fetch and carry, and to come to men’s tables, to play the Judas there; and in 281a word, to do all those mean, vile, and degenerous offices, which men of greatness and malice use to engage men of baseness and treachery in.

But then on the other hand, when this word passes between equals, commonly by a good-natured man is meant, either some easy, soft-headed piece of simplicity, who suffers himself to be led by the nose, and wiped of his conveniences by a company of sharping, worthless sycophants, who will be sure to despise, laugh, and droll at him, as a weak, empty fellow, for all his ill-placed cost and kindness. And the truth is, if such vermin do not find him empty, it is odds but in a little time they will make him so. And this is one branch of that which some call good-nature, (and good-nature let it be,) indeed so good, that according to the wise Italian proverb, “It is even good for nothing.”

Or, in the next place, by a good-natured man is usually meant, neither more nor less than a good fellow, a painful, able, and laborious soaker. But he who owes all his good-nature to the pot and the pipe, to the jollity and compliances of merry company, may possibly go to bed with a wonderful stock of good nature over-night, but then he will sleep it all away again before the morning.

5thly, Some would needs have a pragmatical prying into and meddling with other men’s matters, a fitness for business, forsooth, and accordingly call and account none but such persons men of business; a word which of late years carries with it no small character, though the thing really in tended by it most commonly imports something mischievous, and justly to be abhorred. To be fit for business is no doubt a just commendation to any man; 282 but then let it be the business which a man’s station, condition, or profession, properly calls him to; that is, in other words, let it be his own business, and not another man’s.

As for instance: what has a divine to do to act the part of a courtier or a merchant, and much less of an informer or a solicitor? Is the court, or the exchange, or every man’s house, except his own, the fittest place for him to study and bestow his time in? And yet many both value themselves, and are valued by others, only for such preposterous, absurd, unbecoming practices; too just an apology (God knows) for the sacrilegious incroachments of the late times of confusion. For why might not laymen and mechanics then invade the pulpit, as well as men of the pulpit at any time intrude into the secular employments of laymen? And I cannot see how that sly, specious (but now stale and silly) pretence of doing good (though set off with never so much devotional rapture and grimace) can warrant any man to spend his time there where he has nothing to do. For though philosophy teaches that no element is heavy in its own place, yet experience shews, that out of its own place it proves exceeding burdensome. And this observation will be found to reach something further than the four elements, which the peripatetics affirm the world to be composed of.

But to return to our men of business. There are some, whose restless, insinuating, searching humour will never suffer them to be quiet, unless they dive into the concerns of all about them; they are always outward bound, but homeward never; they are perpetually looking about them, but never within them; they can hardly relish or digest what they eat at 283their own table, unless they know what and how much is served up to another man’s; they cannot sleep quietly themselves, unless they know when their neighbour rises and goes to bed; they must know who visits him, and who is visited by him; what company he keeps; what revenues he has, and what he spends; how much he owes, and how much is owed to him. And this, in the judgment of some, is to be a man of business; that is, in other words, to be a plague and a spy, a treacherous supplanter and underminer of the peace of all families and societies. This being a maxim of an unfailing truth, that nobody ever pries into another man’s concerns, but with a design to do, or to be able to do him a mischief. A most detestable humour doubtless, and yet, as bad as it is, since there is nothing so base, barbarous, and dishonourable, but power joined with malice will sometimes make use of it, it may, and often does, raise a man a pitch higher in this world, though (it is to be feared) it may send him a large step lower in the next.

But what says the scripture to this meddling, inquisitive, way-laying temper? Why, St. Peter gives his judgment of it plainly enough in 1 Peter iv. 15; Let none of you (says he) suffer as a murderer, or a thief, or an evildoer, or as a busybody in other men’s matters. But what? Does this great apostle range these men of business, the great probationers for all that is honourable both in church and state, amongst thieves and murderers? Certainly this shews that St. Peter was neither a man of business himself, nor ever desired to be so; and yet, for all that, Christ thought him nevertheless qualified for the work and business of an apostle.

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But whatsoever St. Peter’s judgment or St. Peter himself was, it is certain that the pharisees were men of business, and that in a very eminent manner, as appears by their behaviour both in the court of queen Alexandra, and afterwards in the court of Herod; where, by their tricks and trinketing between party and party, and their intriguing it with courtiers and court ladies, they had upon the matter set the whole court together by the ears; according to that blessed account and character given of them by Josephus, chap. 3. of his 17th book of the Jewish Antiquities. And there seldom wants a race of such meddlesome vermin in the courts of all other princes, so exactly like those men of business, their true ancestors, the pharisees, that could they be but contemporaries, and live together, it would be hardly possible to distinguish which were the copy and which the original.

And thus I have given you a small specimen of those artificially misapplied terms, by which crafty and malicious men word others out of their interests and advantages, and themselves into them. I say, it is but a specimen or taste of those numerous, or rather innumerable instances which might be produced; two of which especially I had thought to have spoken something more fully to; namely, the calling covetousness, good husbandry; and prodigality, generosity. According to the first of which, Psalm x. 3, it is made the very mark and description of a wicked man, that he speaks well of the covetous, whom God abhorreth; that is, he speaks well of a thief and an idolater; for so the scripture calls the covetous man, who makes his money his god, and his neighbour too; a wretch, who, under 285the mask of frugality, scarce ever has a penny ready for the poor, though never without his hundreds and his thousands of pounds ready for a purchase.

And no less is the abuse in surnaming the prodigal person generous or liberal, while he is spending and borrowing, and borrowing and spending, and never considering that it is the height of injustice, as well as folly, to affect to be generous at other men’s cost.

There is also another notable abuse of words, and that of so contagious an influence, that according to the prophet’s expression, Amos vi. 12, it turns judgment into gall, and righteousness into hemlock; and that is, the calling of justice, cruelty, and cowardice, mercy; a fatal and pernicious confusion of the very best of things certainly, by which the two main pillars and supports of government and society, of policy and morality, to wit, justice and mercy, are made utterly useless and ineffectual, nay, rather contrary and prejudicial to those high and noble purposes.

These things, I confess, might be further insisted upon, and many more such instances alleged; but I shall stop here, it being so easy a matter for every man to multiply particulars from his own observation.

And therefore now to recollect and sum up all that has been delivered upon this vast and even immense subject; I suppose we have seen enough to deserve the wo or curse mentioned in the text over and over; a wo which cannot possibly surmount the guilt of the persons and practices which it stands denounced against, which is so foul, that it justly draws after it all the vengeance of God in the next 286 world, and the utmost hatred and detestation of men in this. For as it is in Prov. xxiv. 24, He who says to the wicked, Thou art righteous, him shall the people curse, nations shall abhor him. And I suppose the same curse belongs to him who robs a man of his innocence, and says to the righteous, Thou art wicked. All or most of the miseries and calamities which afflict mankind, and turn the world upside down, have been conceived in, and issued from, the fruitful womb of this one villainous artifice.

For cast your eyes upon the affairs of religion, and you shall see the best, the purest, and most primitively ordered church in the world, torn, and broken, and sacrificed to the rage and lust of schism and sacrilege, only by being libeled and misrepresented, under the false guise of formality, popery, and superstition. You shall see the ruin of it effected under the notion of reformation; the laws of it made odious and ineffectual by the name of persecution; and lastly, the whole constitution of it baffled and betrayed by a company of treacherous, trimming, half conformists, acting under the vizard of moderation.

From the church, cast your eyes upon the state, and see the best, the mildest, and most religious prince that ever swayed a sceptre, butchered, and weltering in his own blood, before the gates of his own royal palace, by the barbarous hands of his in finitely obliged, but infinitely cruel and ungrateful subjects; and this by misreporting him to his people, as a designer of popery and arbitrary power, things as contrary to his gracious nature and principles as light to darkness: and yet under this character he 287was pursued with fire and sword, violence and rebellion, and at length doomed to death by a sentence as black and false as hell itself, pronouncing him a tyrant, traitor, murderer, and public enemy.

Next to this, see the faithfullest of his friends torn from him and destroyed, under the notion of evil counsellors; and the same trick offered at again in his son’s time, by an endeavour to strip him of his friends too, under the name of pensioners.

And then, as a consequent of all this, see the vilest of men aspiring to, and grasping at, the sovereign power, by endearing themselves to the rabble under the plausible affected titles of public spirits, standers up for their country, and for the liberties, properties, and rights of the subject; while inwardly they were ravening wolves, made up of nothing but tyranny and atheism, covetousness and ambition.

From hence cast your eyes and thoughts upon the concerns of private families and persons, and there oftentimes you shall see husband and wife irreconcileably divided, parents estranged from their children, and children enraged against their parents; and all this tragical consuming flame generally kindled and blown up by the foul breath of some lying, tale-bearing wretch, throwing all into a combustion by feigned stories.

You may also see the hope and support of many a flourishing family untimely cut off by the sword of a drunken dueller, in vindication of something that he miscalls his honour.

Another you may see wasted and undone by law suits, and that through the false arts of his unconscionable, 288 greedy counsel, colouring over crazy, unsound titles with fallacious, encouraging pretences.

Again, if at any time you see old and long acquaintances broken off with immortal, inextinguishable feuds, it is a thousand to one odds but it has happened by the base offices of some devilish tongue which has passed between them.

And lastly, you may see others bereaved of the favour and countenance of those whom they have deserved best of, and so crushed in all their interests, only by being misrepresented by secret whispers and false informations.

But it would be endless to recount all particulars: and therefore in one word. Do but cast over in your minds all the schismatical contrivances against the church; all the seditious attempts upon the state; all the disturbances of families; and lastly, all the practices that have passed upon particular persons; by which the wicked have been encouraged, and the good oppressed; and you may lodge them all within the compass of this one comprehensive, boundless common-place, as being directly derivable from, and naturally resolvable into this one, church and state, and family-confounding practice, the calling good evil, and evil good.

Now to God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Ghost, be rendered and ascribed, as is most due, all praise, might, majesty, and do minion, both now and for evermore. Amen.

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