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SERM, ever seemeth to judge, and accordingly to act; and thence LXII. is the state of things visibly so bad and calamitous; thence so little honesty in dealings, thence so little settlement in affairs are discernible. But how false that judgment is will appear if the case be weighed in the balance of pure reason; and most foolish it will appear, being scanned according to the principles of religion.
In reason is it not very absurd that any man should look upon himself as more than a single person; that he should prefer himself before another, to whom he is not in any respect superior; that he should advance his own concernment above the public benefit, which comprehendeth his good, and without which his good cannot subsist? Can any man rationally conceive that he can firmly thrive or persist in a quiet and sweet condition, when he graspeth to himself more than is due or fitting, when he provoketh against himself the emulation, the competition, the opposition, the hatred, and obloquy of all or of many other per
May not any man reasonably have the same apprehensions and inclinations as we may have? may not any man justly proceed in the same manner as we may do? will they not, seeing us mainly to affect our private interest, be induced, and in a manner forced, to do the like? Thence what end can there be of progging and scrambling for things? and in the confusion thence arising, what quiet, what content can we enjoy?
Again; Doth not nature, by implanting in our constitution a love of society and aversation from solitude, inclinations to pity and humanity, pleasant complacencies in obliging and doing courtesies to others, appetites of honour and good esteem from others, aptness to approve and like the practices of justice, of fidelity, of courtesy, of beneficence, capacities to yield succour and benefit to our bre thren, dictate unto us, that our good is inseparably connected and complicated with the good of others, so that it cannot without its own impairing subsist alone, or be severed from the good of others; no more than a limb can without suffering and destruction be torn from the whole?
Is there not to all men in some measure, to some men in SERM. a higher degree, a generosity innate, most lovely and laud- LXII. able to all; which disposeth men with their own pain, hazard, and detriment, to succour and relieve others in distress, to serve the public, and promote the benefit of society; so that inordinately to regard private interest doth thwart the reason and wisdom of nature?
The frame of our nature indeed speaketh, that we are not born for ourselves; we shall find man, if we contemplate him, to be a nobler thing than to have been designed to serve himself, or to satisfy his single pleasure; his endowments are too excellent, his capacities too large for so mean and narrow purposese. How pitiful a creature were St. Paul. man, if this were all he was made for? how sorry a faculty were reason, if it served not to better uses? he debaseth himself, he disgraceth his nature, who hath so low conceits, and pursueth so petty designs.
Nay, even a true regard to our own private good will engage us not inordinately to pursue self-interest; it being much hugged will be smothered and destroyed.
As we are all born members of the world, as we are compacted into the commonwealth, as we are incorporated into any society, as we partake in any conversation or company, so by mutual support, aid, defence, comfort, not only the common welfare first, but our particular benefit consequently doth subsist; by hindering or prejudicing them, the public first, in consequence our particular doth suffer; our thriving by the common prejudice will in the end turn to our own loss. As if one member sucketh too much nourishment to itself, and thence swelleth into an exorbitant bulk, the whole thence incurreth disease, so coming to perish or languish; whence consequently that irregular member will fall into a participation of ruin or decay so it is in the state of human corporations; he
Nec sibi, sed toti natum se credere mundo,
Subrepsit, partemque tulit sibi nata voluptas.
SERM. that in ways unnatural or unjust (for justice is that in huLXII. man societies, which nature is in the rest of things) draweth unto himself the juice of profit or pleasure, so as thence to grow beyond his due size, doth thereby not only create distempers in the public body, but worketh mischief and pain to himself; he must not imagine to escape feeling somewhat of the inconvenience and misery which ariseth from public convulsions and disorders.
So doth reason plainly enough dictate; and religion with clearer evidence and greater advantage discovereth the same.
Its express precepts are, that we should aim to love our neighbour as ourselves, and therefore should tender his interests as our own; that we should not in competition with the greater good of our neighbour regard our own lesser good; that we should not seek our own things, but concern ourselves in the good of others; that we should not consult our own ease and pleasure, but should contentPhil. ii. 4. edly bear the burdens of our brethren: Look not every man to his own things, but every man also to the things of
1 Cor. x. 24. others; Let no man seek his own, but every man another's Gal. ii. 6. wealth: Bear one another's burdens, and so fulfil the law 1 Cor. xiii. of Christ; Charity seeketh not its own: these are apostolical precepts and aphorisms; these are fundamental rules and maxims of our holy religion.
It chargeth us industriously to employ our pains, liberally to expend our goods, yea (in some cases) willingly to expose and devote our lives for the benefit of our brethren.
It recommendeth to us the examples of those who have underwent unspeakable pains, losses, disgraces, troubles, and inconveniencies of all kinds, for the furthering the good of others; the examples of our Lord and of his Apostles, who never in any case regarded their own interests, but spent and sacrificed themselves to the public welfare of mankind.
It representeth us not only as brethren of one family, who should therefore kindly favour, assist, and grace one
another, but as members of one spiritual body, (members SERM. one of another,) compacted by the closest bands of common LXII. alliance, affection, and interest; whose good much consist- Rom. xii. 5. eth in the good of each other; who should together rejoice, 1 Cor. xii. and condole with one another; who should care for one Rom. xii. another's good as for our own; looking upon ourselves to 15. gain by the advantage, to thrive in the prosperity, to be refreshed with the joy, to be graced with the honour, to be endamaged by the losses, to be afflicted with the crosses of our brethren; so that, If, as St. Paul saith, one member 1 Cor. xii. suffer, all the members suffer with it; if one member be honoured, all the members rejoice with it.
These which I have already handled are the principal kinds of vicious self-love; there are farther some special acts of kin to them, sprouting from the same stock; which I shall touch: such as Vain-Glory, Arrogance, Talking of One's Self, Thinking about One's Self. Of these I shall treat more briefly.
OF VAIN-GLORY, ARROGANCE, TALKING AND
2 TIM. iii. 2.
For men shall be lovers of themselves, &c.
SERM. WHEN a regard to the opinion or desire of the esteem LXIII. of men is the main principle from which their actions do
proceed, or the chief end which they propound to themselves, instead of conscience of duty, love and reverence of God, hope of the rewards promised, a sober regard to their true good, this is vain-glory. Such was the vain-glory of Matt. vi. the Pharisees, who fasted, who prayed, who gave alms, who did all their works that they might be seen of men, and from them obtain the reward of estimation and applause: this is Phil. ii. 3. that which St. Paul forbiddeth; Let nothing be done out
&c. xxiii. 5.
of strife or vain-glory.
When men affect and delight in praise from mean or indifferent things; as from secular dignity, power, wealth, strength, beauty, wit, learning, eloquence, wisdom, or
Psal. xlix. craft: as, There are many, saith the Psalmist, that boast themselves in the multitude of their riches. Nebuchadnezzar was raised with the conceit of having built a palace for the glory of his majesty, Herod was puffed with applause for his oration, the Philosophers were vain in árs the esteem procured by their pretence to wisdom, the vai Pharisees were elevated with the praise accruing from external acts of piety, (fasting twice a week, making long
Rom. i. 22.