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ment, and it shall delight in the union; for S E R M. there shall be no perfection in the soul but XXII. shall have a correspondent beauty in the body; V and it shall be more perfect and glorious than when it first came out of the hands of God. Call up therefore all the

your minds, and set to the work. The weakest person that hears me hath this image of God, this spark of heaven within him; and it is not worldly wisdom, but the divine grace that must be your assistance: Make it therefore your business to trim this lamp, and supply it with oil, that it may burn clear at the appearing of the lamb.

And I pray God your body, and foul, and spirit may be preserved blameable, unto the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ : To whom with the Father and the Holy Ghost, the holy ever blefied and glorious Trinity, be all honour, and glory, and praise, and thanksgiving, adoration and worship, now and to all eternity. Amen.

SERMON

SERMON XXIII.

The duty of plucking out the eye

explained.

MARK İX: 47, 48.
And if thine eye offend tbee pluck it out : It is

better for thee to enter into the kingdom of
God with one eye, than having two eyes to be
caft into bell fire ; where their worm dieth
not, and their fire is not quenched.

SERM

HESE words of our Saviour are reXXIII. cited, as spoke upon

two occafions : In w the sth of St. Matthew they are an application

to what he speaks concerning the purity and chastity of the mind, which is equally necessary with that of the body. Here, and elsewhere, they follow our Saviour's discourse, concerning giving offence to weaker christians, and discouraging any beginnings of christianity in others, out of spiritual pride and fondness for our own opinions. In one place is fignified,

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our being drawn into fin ourselves ; in the Serm. other, the being the occasion of fin to others. XXIII.

Now whether the text is an answer to any objection expressly made, as some think ; or whether they were spoken to obviate the thoughts of mens minds, upon hearing of precepts which had so much appearance of difficulty, is much the fame thing ; it is plain they suppose precepts he had been giving of the chastity of the very eye, and the fincerity and humility of the mind, by cherishing all degrees of religion and piety in others, in con tradition to their own opinions and worldly interests, might look like a heavy yoke, and were hard sayings, and degrees of virtue too refined for flesh and blood. If people must not transgress with a look themselves, nor be any way the occafion of fin to others, though by doing what is innocent and lawful in itfelf; who then can be saved ?

But in the words of my text he lets them know, thật these degrees of virtue are both necessary and possible ; and therefore, that they are difficult is no objection; for what ought not men to do to gain heaven, and avoid the everlasting torments of hell? If men will endeavour as much for the preservation of their fouls, as they ordinarily do for the health of their bodies, they will surely gain their point, and overcome the strongest temptations: If thy hand or foot offend thee cut it off; and if thine

eye

offend thee pluck it out; it is better for thee to enter into the kingdom of

God

SER M: God maimed, or with one eye ; than having XXIII.

two eyes to be cast into hell fire.

The word to offend or scandalize is metaphorical, and taken from walking : So that it fignifies any thing, such as a stone, or block in our way, which may make us trip or stumble; from thence it is used to express any thing which may let or hinder us in our christian course, and make us stumble or fall into fin; and therefore if our eye offend us, or be any occasion of fin, if all other ways fail ; we are bid to pluck it out.

As to that expression of entering into the kingdom of God with one eye ; the meaning is, that it is better for us to want one of our eyes while we are in this world, and go to heaven at last ; than to keep both our eyes here, and by that means be cast into hell hereafter. A form of speaking very agreeable to what we find in other places; as where our Saviour says, that the publicans and harlots enter into the kingdom of Heaven before them; (i. e.) those who had been publicans and harlots.

Nothing is less intended here, than that people should use any violence to their bodies, by wounding or maiming themselves any way, and disabling it for any the actions of life this is contrary to the laws of God and nature; we are never to do any thing for religion and virtue that is unnatural or unreasonable. But the whole is a figurative way of speaking; by our eyes, is signified any thing that is near and

dear

dear to us; and by plucking them out is Ser M,
meant, the removing them from us, and de- XXIII,
nying the gratification of any inclination of them
body, or desire of the mind which betrays us
into fin. The force of the argument is in
this; it is highly prudent and advisable to quit
fome present pleasure or advantage, though
with great uneasiness and reluctance, than lose
a greater good hereafter, and undergo a great-
er evil ; it is a piece of prudence that common
sense suggests to every one; it is no other than
what men practise every day in the concern-
ments of life: And nothing is more usual
than for people to have their fesh sear’d, and
their limbs cut off to preserve the rest of their
body; they undergo a present pain, though
very acute and violent, for future health and
eafe. This is what he adviseth men to in re-
ligion ; and though they feel much uneasiness
and hardship, in denying their lusts and viti-
ous inclinations; and find the attainment of
virtue and holiness ever so difficult; yet, let
them act by the same rules and principles of
prudence in this, that they do in other things;
and let the expectation of those advantages
they shall procure by it hereafter, prevail on
them to undergo chearfully the hardships and
difficulties ; and let the prospect of hell flames
on the other hand, make them forego those
sinful pleasures which will surely bring them
to that miserable end.

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