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ance, when applied to spiritual things : every common object changes its nature and value * : the touch of a devout mind has a magical effect upon it, and turns it into gold; so that to live by this rule, and turn all objects to a spiritual use, is the next thing to living in a spiritual world.
There will be this further advantage, and a great one it is, that we shall find this sort of devotion our vest security against temptation. Good thoughts will keep out evil ones. The tempter makes use of all objects to corrupt our minds, and draw us into evil : the way of turning them to godliness, is directly contrary to his way of turning them to sin: and therefore it is the best remedy in the world against his devices; it may be used also, as a test to the mind, whether it be alive to God or not. If the Christian finds himself disposed to it, or if he does not, he may thence learn the state of his own soul, and discover, whether he is a carnal or a spiritual man; whether he is in the light or in the dark: if he feels no inclination to it, his own soul is then a thing of no concern to him. Satan may have it, for what he cares; this world has blinded his eyes : all the objects in it serve to wrong uses; it is a curse, and not a blessing to him, that he was hrought into it; and when that perishes, he must perish with it.
If a man sees nothing spiritual here, he will see nothing hereafter ; but if he looks at the things of this world with an eye of faith, and can make them the subject of some petition to God, he may then conclude, that his heart is alive ; and that, with the help of divine grace, he may so pass through things temporal, and make such an use of them, that they shall help him to pass on through them, to things eternal.
* If the reader wishes to know better this art of applying na. tural objects to sacred subjects; I would desire him to consult a small Key to the language of Prophecy, bound up with the third edition of the Book of Nature ; also, Lectures on the Figurative Language of the Scriptures. The Husbandman's Manual; with such other things as he can collect of the same kind : particularly a Treatise on Ejaculatory Prayer, by the Rev. Robert Cooke, late Vicar of Buxted, in Essex. All printed for Rivingtons.
Before I conclude, my beloved brethren, suffer me once more to look back to the subject of prayer
in general; of which I must always think, and will always affirm it, that it is the first practical duty of the Christian religion : on which consideration, I know not what to say of those Christians, who do not pray: they will pardon me, if I know not what to call them; I can scarcely cry out with the prophet, “ awake thou that sleepest, and arise from the dead.” To speak freely, I wonder how any family can look one another in the face, when they assemble together in the morning, to begin the works of the day, without a solemn invocation of Almighty God, for his direction, help, and blessing on all the affairs of this transient and dangerous state. I shall be thankful, if one single soul should be brought by what I have here said to a better mind.
THESE FILTHY DREAMERS DEFILE THE FLESH,
DESPISE DOMINION, AND SPEAK EVIL OF DIGNITIES. ST. JUDE, VERSE 8.
The people here described are every way reprehensible. They are compared to the men of Sodom for their wickedness; and to dreamers, for their absurdity and foolishness ; their thoughts, principles, and reasonings, having no more foundation in sense, than those of men in a dream. There always were such people in existence ; but of late, a new and abundant generation of them has appeared in the world; as if a swarm of locusts had lately issued out of the bottomless pit, with fire and smoke, to destroy all things. They are very busy in the work of turning the world upside down; and a considerable part of their work (the beginning on which all depends) consists in cheating the senses, and inflaming the passions of ignorant people. They are said to despise dominion, and speak evil of dignities. Dominion is the same with Government: these people despise the thing, and speak evil of those that exercise it: but their argumentation signifies no more than if they were talking in their sleep, according to the visions or the fancies with which the brain is then occupied.
This is as exact a description of some persons who now make a great noise in the world, as if the Apostle had seen them. But that is no wonder : folly and wickedness may find some new words; but they are no new things. What Satan does now in the children of disobedience, is so like what he did formerly, that we are not ignorant of his devices : and the delusions of men are after the old fashion, though they may find some new expressions.
The text requires us to examine, first, what the thing is which these people despise : secondly, how they proceed, when they would make others despise it.
The thing which they despise is Dominion. The word here used signifies lordship over others; and such lordship there must be in some persons or other, because the world cannot go on without it: there must be rulers below, as there are rulers above. The sun is said to rule over the day; and the moon and stars to govern the night: without them, nature would be all in confusion. The elements of the world are contrary tempers, and must be regulated by the powers of heaven, which keep them to their appointed course. The state of the natural world is, and will ever be, so long as it continues, a state of government.
The sun will be the lord and ruler of the day: and if any man should talk of improving the world, by setting the elements to rule themselves better without the sun, we should immediately pronounce that man to be in a dream. And the case is as clear with respect to human society. For no man comes into this world to have his own will; but to have somebody set over him, that he may not have it. And the reason is this; that if one man be born to have his own will, another will be born to have his; but this is not possible: for different men will very different things : two men want the same thing, where but one of them can have it. Their wills interfere in such a manner, that if
every man were to have his will, human society would be like the waves of the sea in a storm, dashing and breaking one another to pieces. They must therefore be under some law, some rule; and consequently there must be some Ruler to enforce it : for a law considered in itself is a speculation, and can effect nothing. Unless confusion is to prevail, the authority of some over others is as necessary to the world, as that God should govern the universe, and keep the elements in order. For this purpose He that certainly rules the natural world hath as certainly placed hiinself at the head of the active world: he hath made laws, to restrain the will of man, and keep it in subjection to himself. His ten commandments are an absolute check upon the unlawful will of one man, that it may not interfere with the lawful will of another, but may leave him in the quiet possession of every thing that is his; and in so doing God hath established the right of possession. And if there be a right of possession, and laws cannot execute themselves (for what can letters and papers and books do :) there must be persons to see that they are executed : in order to which, they must have power over those who wish to see them not executed. And who are they? Who, but the men that cry out for liberty ? Honest men want no liberty, but that of being secure and unmolested in their possessions ; for which end law and government were established in the world. Liberty and government, in the mouths of some men, are two opposite things, but they are in their nature the same. Laws may be mild and favourable to the people: but government must be government: there