« ՆախորդըՇարունակել »
Serm. by the single eye, is meant the virtue of fimIII. plicity, without reserve or hesitation heark
ning to, and following the pure voice of conscience, not using any artifice, colouring, or. false disguise, nor suffering any biass or prejudice to rest on the mind whereby it may be imposed upon, or misled. The evil
The evil eye is a disease of the mind, very malignant, and extremely dangerous; what less can be meant by total' and inost deplorable darkness ? but it is a voluntary contracted distemper, which, I think, may be fairly infer'd from the text itself. Our Saviour here describes a very
difmal spiritual state, full of guilt, horror, and misery; it imports a fundamental error in morals, and in the way to true happiness, than which, what can be said or thought more wretched in the condition of a rational creature ? It is darkness, the emblem of ignorance, vice, and unhappiness ; a total dark.. ness, without any remains of useful light; and if the light that is in thee be darkness, how great is that darkness ? Surely this is not the natural fiate of any intelligent being, nor can be incurr'd without a wilful and criminal perversion of its own capacities. God made man upright, and put him in the straight way
to happiness ; * But they have fought out manySerm. inventions. Again, farther to explain our
III. Saviour's intention, we may consider the connexion of the text ; our blessed Lord had in the immediately preceding verses insisted on the most important and comprehensive of all duties, which he describes by laying up for ourselves trensures in heaven ; that is, that we should first of all fix to ourselves our true ultimate end, with a resolution constantly and invariably to adhere to it, and pursue it vigorously and diligently by all proper means: the plain meaning of which is, as appears from his foregoing discourse, that we shou'd propose for our end the moral perfection of our nature, and the imitation of God by the fervent love and assiduous practice of true righteousness and goodness; that, I say, we should fix this as our last end and principal business, preferably to all the pleasures, profits, and honours of this world, which are vain and
perishing things. It is here that the declaration in the text is introduced, and therefore it is plainly intended to teach us, that we are not only capable, but in danger of such fatal darkness, or ignorance and practical error, as to make us in senible of our highest interest,
* Eccles. vii. 29.
SERM. and to 'miscarry in the main business of life. Ill. This is very astonishing, and yet certainly
true, that men should be able so to impose upon themselves, as to mis-judge their principal concern and duty, at least so darken their minds as not to have an affectionate influencing dircernment of it, and practically to err, wholly by their own fault, in such a capital point, and which of all others is the plainest.
My present design is to explain this subject for our necessary caution, that we may avoid fuch pernicious mistakes which we may be sure it is always in our power to avoid ; or, that we may not fuffer the state of our minds to be such as that the light in them Mall be darkness. In pursuance of this intention, what I have farther to say, Thall be reduc'd to a few cbservations, tending to convince us of the danger, and lead us into the causes of this destructive self-deceit and practical error in the affairs of religion, and our happiness, that so we may be the better instructed to escape them.
First, there are plain declarations of fcripture, clearly intimating that men are apt to fall, and often do fall into fuch mistakes, and particularly, that they often mis-judge the state of their own
? The Causes and Danger of Self-Deceit. 61 minds, and their deliberate actions. SolomonSerm. says *, The ways of a man are clean in his own
III. eyes ; not that he disguises them to the world, and affects to throw a veil over their infirmities, which he himself in the mean time, is inwardly conscious of; but they are pure in his own judgment, he sees them in a wrong light; by a strange infatuation he imagines them to be innocent, at least, not so criminal as to forfeit his integrity and his acceptance with God, which is a most pernicious mistake, amounting to a thorough, or a total judgment concerning the true nature and character of our ways, or the course of our deliberate works. Thus, I say, men often judge concerning their own ways, which will, then appear to be wrong, when a superior and more impartial judge shall pronounce fentence upon them, as is clearly insinuated by the facred writer referred to in the following Clause of his proverb, but the Lord weigheth the spirits. Again the prophet, of denounces a woe to them who call good evil, and evil good; that put light for darkness, and darknefs for light; that put sweet for bitter, and bitter for sweet; which certainly is to be un
SERM.derstood in a moral sense, fignifying that some III. have so perverted their judgment, concerning
the effential difference between right and wrong as to mistake the one for the other ; which is an amazing error in creatures constituted as we are, having the work of God's law fo deeply engraven on our hearts. This is directly the case of the text in the highest degree of it, when the judgment of moral differences is so corrupted as to mistake the one for the other; not that I think it possible the knowledge of the distinction should be altogether erased, but the mind may be fo blinded thro' prejudice and vicious affection as in particular instances not to discern it. The same doctrine, I think, is taught by our Saviour, in his excellent parable of the virgins *, where the professors of christianity, the formal and the fincere, are represented as living together promiscuously in one society, and one external state, which is a state of expectation that their Lord will return and pronounce judgment upon them, according to their works. And as this expectation is commion, so the parable represents their hopes of acquittal; for the foolish virgins, the infincere christians, go out with the rest to
* Mat. xxv.