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SERM. that which it aimeth at.

Self-commendation is so far

LXIII. from procuring a good opinion, that it breedeth an evil


Men have a prejudice against what is said, as proceeding from a suspected witness; one who is biassed by self-love,

2 Cor. x.18. and bribed by self-interest to impose upon them. Not he that commendeth himself is approved.


Pewv nav-
2 Cor. xii.

2 Cor. x. 13. It is fastidious, as impertinent, insignificant, and insipid; *xì à μ- spending time, and beating their ears to no purpose; they теа наихи Cóusda. take it for an injury to suppose them so weak as to be moved by such words, or forced into a good conceit.

It is odious and invidious; for all men do love themselves, no less than we ourselves; and cannot endure to see those who affect to advance themselves and reign in our opinion.

It prompteth them to speak evil of us; to search for faults to cool and check us.

It is therefore a preposterous and vain way to think of gaining credit and love: men thereby infallibly lose or depress themselves.

Of all words those which express ourselves and our things, I and mine, &c. are the least pleasing to men's ears.

It spoileth conversation; for he that loveth to speak of himself, doth least love to hear others speak of themselves, and so is not attentive.

If a man have worthy qualities and do good deeds, let them speak for him; they will of themselves extort commendation; his silence about them, his seeming to neglect them, will enhance their worth in the opinion of men. Prating about them, obtruding them upon men, will mar their credit; inducing men to think them done not out of love to virtue, but for a vain-glorious design. Thus did Cicero, thus have many others blasted the glory of their virtuous deeds.

3. Supposing you get the belief and the praise you aim


2 Cor. xi. at, to have complacence therein is bad or dangerous; it is


a fond satisfaction, it is a vicious pleasure; it puffeth up, it befooleth.

4. It is against modesty. It argueth the man hath a SERM. high opinion of himself; if he believe himself what he LXIII. saith, he hath so; if not, why would he persuade others to have it?

Modesty cannot without pain hear others speak of him, nor can with any grace receive commendations; it is therefore great impudence to speak of himself, and to seek praise.

5. We may observe it to be a great temptation to speak falsely. Men, when they affect commendation, will gladly have it to the utmost; are loath to wrong themselves, or to lose any thing; they will therefore at least speak to the extreme bounds of what may be said in their own behalf; and while they run upon the extreme borders of truth, it is hard to stop their career, so as not to launch forth into falsehood: it is hard to stand upon the brink, without falling into the ditch.

It is therefore advisable in our discourse to leave ourselves out as much as may be; never, if we can help it, to say, I, mine, &c. never seeking, commonly shunning and declining occasion to speak of ourselves; it will bring much convenience and benefit to us.

Our discourse will not be offensive; we shall decline envy and obloquy; we shall avoid being talked of; we shall escape temptations of vanity; we shall better attend to what others say, &c.

If we will be speaking of ourselves, it is allowable to speak sincerely and unaffectedly concerning our infirmities. and faults; as St. Paul does of himself.

There are some cases wherein a man may commend him- 2 Cor. xii. self; as in his own defence, to maintain his authority, to 5. xi. 30. Plut. πῶς urge his example, &c. so doth St. Paul often. He calleth it folly to boast, (because generally such it is,) yet he doth ini.

τις ἑαυτὸν

it for those ends.

Let another praise thee, and not thine own mouth; a Prov. xxvii. stranger, and not thine own lips.



Thinking of ourselves with glee and pleasure; this is a great nourisher of immoderate self-love; for the more they


SERM. indulge to a gazing upon themselves with delight, the more they grow in love, the more passionately they come to dote on themselves.

It is good to reflect inward, and to view our souls; but we should do it so as to find a wholesome displeasure 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 inperfection 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 todote 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 self-denial, their patience, &c.) how can we but in comparison despise and loathe ourselves?

If we consider the blessed angels and saints in glory and bliss; their purity, their humility, their 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 SERM. our opinion concerning ourselves, and consequently dimi- LXIII. nish 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 self-love.




ROM. xii. 17.

Provide things honest in the sight of all men.

SERM. THE world apparently is come to that pass, that men comLXIV. monly are afraid or ashamed of religious practice, hardly daring to own their Maker by a conscientious observance of his laws. While profaneness and wickedness are grown Isa. iii. 9. outrageously bold, so that many declare their sin as Sodom; piety and 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.

Such proceeding is built on divers very fallacious, absurd, and inconsistent grounds or pretences; whereby men

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