Henry Craik, ed. English Prose. 1916. Vol. III. Seventeenth Century
Fools make a Mock at Sin
By Edward Stillingfleet (16351699)
From Sermon preached before the King, 1667
IS the chair of scorners at last proved the only chair of infallibility? Must those be the standard of mankind, who seem to have little left of human nature but laughter and the shape of men? Do they think that we are all become such fools to take scoffs for arguments, and raillery for demonstrations? He knows nothing at all of goodness, that knows not that it is much more easy to laugh at it than to practise it; and it were worth the while to make a mock at sin, if the doing so would make nothing of it. But the nature of things does not vary with the humours of men; sin becomes not at all the less dangerous because men have so little wit to think it so; nor religion the less excellent and advantageous to the world, because the greatest enemies of that are so much to themselves too, that they have learnt to despise it. But although that scorns to be defended by such weapons whereby her enemies assault her (nothing more unbecoming the majesty of religion than to make itself cheap, by making others laugh), yet if they can but obtain so much of themselves to attend with patience to what is serious, there may be yet a possibility of persuading them, that no fools are so great as those who laugh themselves into misery, and none so certainly do so, as those who make a mock at sin.