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all Times provided against defiring infatiably and grieving immoderately, and being angry unreafonably; at all Times prepared against all Accidents, and armed against all Temptations by long Confideration, much Refolution, and great Experi ence. And fo we proceed,
II. To confider fome of the Benefits and Advantages of ruling our Paffions in this Manner. The wife Man has a very remarkable Proverb; He that has no Rule over his own Spirit is like a City that is broken down, and without Walls; a City in this Condition will be liable, at all Times, to be furprised by the Enemy: And, in like Manner, as long as we live in this World, there will be Provocations, Temptations to Luft, and Revenge, and Envy; there will be Croffes and Difappointments; there will be doubtful and fufpected Sayings; there will be Fewel for our Paffions administered in great Abundance, wherever we converse, or have any Business to tranfact: And therefore for a Man to have no Rule over his Spirit is to be exposed to the perpetual Torment either of furious Wrath, or gnawing Envy, or bitter Sorrow, or miferable Fear, or impatient Defire, &c. which, befides the Uneafinefs they give to the Mind, do feldom fail to fhake the Conftitution of the Body; to waste the Flesh, and four the Blood, and poison the Spirits; and by that Means impair the Health, bring on Diseases, and shorten the Compass of Man's Life. But well were it for us, if the Confequence of unruly Paffions were only felt in this Life: The fad Confideration of all is, that, by the Influence of thefe, we contract a vast Heap of Guilt, and are liable to the angry Justice of God, whofe Authority we all the while contemn, and whose just and holy Precepts we break: For every Excess of Paffion, and every wrong Ufe of our Affections, are fo many Violations of the Laws of
of God, which, without a fincere and timely Repentance, will make all that are guilty of them endlessly miferable in the World to come.
On the contrary, he who has got the Rule and Dominion over his Paffions and Affections is like a City whofe Walls are compleat, and fo regularly fortified that they despise the rudest Assaults of the most desperate and enraged Enemy; or, rather, is like the Steadiness of a Rock, which holds its Place, and is immoveable, though never fo violent and boisterous Waves beat furiously against it, The Blandishments of Sense are no Allurements to him; because he has learnt that external Pleasures are short and tranfitory, leave no agreeable Reflection, and are no Manner of Advantage to us when they are paft, The Disappointments of Life make no uneafy Impreffion upon him, because he remembers that all Things of this Nature are under the Appointment of wife Providence, which in other Respects has been abundantly bountiful to him, and shall we receive Good at the Hand of God, and not receive Evil? The Apprehenfion of Pains fits light upon him, because he confiders, that, if they be violent, they will probably be fhort; if not, they are mixed with long Intervals of Eafe, and that, when they are quite paft, they leave no unpleasant Reflection: Nay, the very Profpect of Death, of a violent and unnatural Death, for the Sake of Righteousness, lofes its Terror, upon Thoughts of the Honour and Approbation to be expected from God and good Men, as well as their own Confciences, if they continue firm; and, on the contrary, the Remorfe, Shame, and Fear of future Punishment, if their Hearts fhould fail them when they come to the Conflict, and have not Courage enough to refift unto Blood.
Thus is the Man, who, by Reafon and Reflec tion, has taught himself the Art of ruling his Paf
fions, to all the Temptations, both of Pleasure or Pain, that do every-where furround him, inacceffible. And, if we proceed to the more immediate Offices of Religion, we fhall find, that the Thing which occafions the Practice of Virtue and Piety to be fo uneafy and irksome to us, is not fo much their Contrariety to the Temper of our Minds, as the ill Ufe we have made of our natural Powers, and their Pre-engagement to Vice: Because, when we are once come to ourselves, and have reduced our Affections to their natural Order, Religion then will become agreeable to us, and the Service of God our perfect Freedom. For how plain and smooth will our Way then lie before us, and what inconceivable Delight fhall we take in walking in it, when, by the Grace of God, and the Affiftance of his good Spirit, we are come to that happy Pafs as to have no Errors or Extravagancies in our Paffions and Affections, but find all their Motions regular and right! When we fhall admire and love, defire and hope, for nothing with great Earneftness, but to be like God, and his Divine Son, our bleffed Redeemer, in Purity and Holiness bere, that fo we may become capable of the blissful Enjoyment of them hereafter: And, in the mean Time, rejoice in nothing fo much as in the Teftimony of a good Confcience; hate nothing fo much as Sin, which indeed is the greatest and most destructive Evil; dread nothing fo much as to be surprised and overcome by it in any Instance; and find ourselves never so deeply affected with Sorrow and Compunction of Spirit, as when we have been fo unhappy as to be betrayed into it: When our Paffions, I fay, are brought into this Course, they will flow filently and fmoothly on, and bring us to the Enjoyment of our fupreme Good; which we fhall then purfue without any Perturbation. Therefore.
III. To lay down fome Rules for the Acquifition of this good Government of our Paffions, one of our principal Cares must be to refift them in the Beginning, before they become inordinate; to check and rebuke all malicious and revengeful, all unclean and lafcivious, all covetous and repining Thoughts, at their firft ftarting up in our Minds; because there is no dallying with corrupt and impure Imaginations, nor any knowing how great a Fire, a fmall Spark of this Nature, when let alone, may be able to kindle. To the fame Purpofe it may be adviseable to inure ourselves to cross our Paffions when there is no Danger, and to reftrain our Appetites fometimes from ordinary and lawful Enjoyments, that we may do it with more Eafe when dangerous Temptations shall affault us : And withal it will be neceffary to fly all Occafions that may incense the Paffion whereunto we are naturally inclined: For can a Man take Fire in his Bofom, and his Cloaths not be burnt? Or, if he willingly goes into the Company of infected Perfons, can he blame any but himself, if he falls into their Diseases? Our more particular Vigilance muft therefore be employed against that Sin which does fo eafily befet us; against that Paffion which we must have leaft in our Power, because it arifes moft from our Complexion; always remembering to make it our ardent Supplication to God, that he, who giveth Wifdom liberally, and upbraideth not, would teach us the Wisdom of governing our Paffions, and, by the Strength and Assistance of his bleffed Spirit, give us the Victory over them; that, paffing our Lives in all Peace and Quietnefs, we may, in the Conclufion of them, be found meet to be Partakers of the Inheritance of the Saints in Light, and to be conducted into that happy Place where the War between the Law in our Minds and the Law in our Members, between the Dictates of our Reafon and the
the Propenfities of our Paffions, will expire in an everlasting Peace.
F all the Paffions that God has implanted in our Nature, that which occafions the greatest Perturbation, and is therefore more peculiarly called Paffion, is Anger. Anger however, as we had Occafion to obferve before, is not always culpable: It is only fo indeed when it either arises from an unwarrantable Cause, or proceeds to an exceffive Degree; and this the Evangelical Grace of Meeknefs is defigned to restrain: For Meeknefs is that Temper or Disposition of Mind whereby a Man so moderates and commands the Paffion of Anger, as not to be carried to any fuch Excefs of it as may either difcompofe himself or injure his Neighbour. After therefore we have, 1. Shewn the Nature and Reasonableness of this Duty, we fhall, 2. Suggest fome Confiderations that may be of Ufe to inforce the Practice of it.
I. Among all our natural Paffions there is none wherein both our own and our Neighbour's Happiness is so often and fo much concerned as in that of Anger: So often, because it is a Thing of daily Incurfion; and fo much, because it endangers the Strength and Stability both of private and publick Peace; and, confequently, fuch a due Moderation of this Paffion as may fecure both, is a very confiderable Inftance of that Charity which the Apoftle tells us is the fulfilling of the Law. The Jewish Law indeed, which admitted of a Retaliation of Injuries, made little or no Provifion for this Virtue, which was equally excluded from the Syftem of Heathen Morals; but our blessed Saviour, who came to advance human Nature to its utmost Perfection, makes Humility and Meeknefs the two R 3 great