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his strength and life, in an act of defiance and rebellion against him that gave him both? Confequently, all arguments of human invention, to countenance fuch a wickedness, must be evafive and deluding; and to fear men more than God, is the most dishonourable mifapplication and degeneracy of fear, to be driven off from obedience, by the apprehenfions of being cenfured for the discharge of it; to be laughed or frighted out of neceffary duty, is the indication and property of a weak, little, and base fpirit; which is not able to fupport, but readily gives up, the most excellent accomplishments, when any feeble attempt is made thereon. Therefore, whoever engages in duels through fear of fuffering little feeming calumnies and reproaches, which in the judgment of the wifeft men are not really fuch, doth at once forfeit all juft pretenfions to true honour and generosity of mind, and all claim and title to eternal life. Moreover,
This precept extends, according to the interpretation of Christ and his apostles, to our words and fecret intentions. Our bleffed Lord exprefsly applies it to rent ways of the feveral degrees of caufelefs anger, breaking forth committing into contumelious and reproachful language; and in St John's account, hatred is murder, whofoever hateth his brother is a murderer, and ye know that no murderer hath eternal life abiding in him.
These intentions and defires which the gospel hath prohibited, are the immediate pollutions of the foul, and do render it obnoxious to the wrath of God, though no actual violence proceed from them; and 'tis through their communication that any outward act of violence becomes morally criminal. The fame action, which proceeding from vicious purposes and affections, becomes highly criminal, is perfectly blameless, when they are not the foundation of it, otherwife a man would not be pronounced innocent, who deftroys his neighbour's life, through ignorance, or his own in a fit of frenzy; and we ought to take the more diligent heed, to keep this fcripture in this refined and extenfive fenfe of it, for whilst we are free from all inward restraints, we easily flide into the tranfgreffion thereof. Such as have not fufficient degrees of natural courage, or want opportunities, actually to defile
defile their hands with blood, may yet facrifice their neighbour in their secret thoughts, and indulge their imagination in the view of those mortal wounds which they dare not give; and men who are afraid to handle the inftruments of death, may shoot out their arrows, even bitter words, and pierce the fouls of their brethren with the expreffions of cruelty, defpitefulnefs, and scorn: but they may juftly alfo fear that the blood thus shed in fancy and conception only, shall be laid to their charge, and that the rewards of the falfe or cruel tongue shall be, as of the iniquity itself, mighty and sharparrows with hot burning coals. For whofoever is angry with his brother without a cause, shall be in danger of the judgment, and whofoever shall say to his brother, Racha, fhall be in danger of the council; but whofoever shall say thou fool, fhall be in danger of hell fire.
Neither may we difmember, maim, or deface our neighbour's perfon; which fins, wilfully committed, if they are not a direct and effectual breach of the command, are at least a partial violation of it. The judgment of God has abundantly declared the guilt of fuch practices, wherein one of the flighteft inftances of these crimes, even in the cafe of a bond-fervant, the master's cruelty of ftriking out a tooth was the fervant's discharge from his fervitude, Exod. xxi. 27. Befides, these outrages have a natural tendency to the death of the party, which frequently follows, or difable the fufferer from getting his bread, which in the event may prove, a more lingring and tormenting death. And if we are accountable for the confequences of our actions to God, why not to our fellow-creatures. But there is no confideration more obvious and eafy, than to reflect what fentiments are raised in the minds of the fufferers by fuch treatment, and if we make the cafe our own, the judgment may be fafely trusted to the dictates of every man's confcience. This fcripture, by just interpretation, may be exBy woundtended to forbid all kind of injuries done to the boing. dy of our neighbours, fuch as wounds and stripes; for if mercifulness to the beast that perish be commanded, much more is this cruelty and unmercifulness to our fellowcreatures forbidden.
I. Of Covetousness, Riches, and Contentment. II. Of Charity. III. To the Souls of Men. IV. To their Bodies. V. Of Profecutions. VI. Of Almfgiving, and how to be practifed, in regard to the Object; in regard to our Circumftances; and in what Method and Proportion.
HE Scripture does not condemn a provident care, or a regular industry, or such a degree of love to the things of this world, as is confiftent with Covetoufthe love of God, and the care of our fouls, as any branch or degree of the fin of covetoufnefs; which confifts E chiefly in an immoderate craving and love of riches, and fhews itself in an eager defire after the things of this world, though we employ no indirect means to obtain them. But this is not to act like a Chriftian, if we use any dishonest ways to lay up treasure; if we are fordid, and cannot enjoy what we poffefs; or if we do, spend it upon our lufts, and never fuffer those who are in want to have a part thereof; or if we make gold our confidence, and truft in it as our bad effects. chief good. This draws the mind from God, and takes men off from the care of their fouls; ftops all those pasfages through which the confideration of religion should enter; is the parent of fraud and injustice, cruelty and oppreffion, falfhood and perjury in the world; makes men fail in the hour of temptation; and when they should quit all for the fake of religion they go away forrowful, because they are very rich. This is apt to blow us up with pride, and to make us over-value ourselves, and inclines us to contemn those who want the fame vouchsafements. This frequently administers to unlawful pleasures,and is inftrumental in gratifying irregular paffions that govern our defires; this is an endless and infatiable appetite, and can never attain that contentment and fatisfaction it proposes to itself. This pursues happiness by false measures, which does not confift in abundance; and though the luxury of life is boundless, yet the conveniences of it lie in a small
compass. Wealth is fo far from prolonging our lives, that it rather shortens them, either by labour in getting it, by anxiety in keeping it, or by vexation in lofing it; it neither makes us better nor wiser, but is dangerous to our virtue,and tempts us to play the fool with God and our own fouls. It cannot preferve us from contempt or misfortunes, from difeafes or pains; nor make our friends more faithful, nor our children more dutiful, neither can it afford us any comfort when we ftand most in need thereof, on the brink of eternity, when we Must be ac- muft give a strict account at the day of judgment, both how we have got our riches, and how we have laid them out. But the avoiding covetoufness in the open practice of it, in the getting, preferving and using the good things of life, will not fuffice without carrying our affections farther. Therefore
Danger of riches.
They are unprofitable.
He who has faid, thou shalt not kill, has faid Committed thou shalt not hate thy brother; he who has faid, by intention. thou shalt not commit adultery, has faid, thou fhalt not look upon a woman to luft after her. And fo here the fcripture, which brands the grofs acts of covetousness with the mark of idolatry, lays likewife a restraint upon our thoughts, defires and affections, fo that we must not covet or wish for amy thing which is our neighbour's due, to his prejudice. God's laws reach the heart, because he is the fearcher of hearts, and is the difcerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart. The uprightness of our actions and the fincerity of our words muft be crowned with purity of intention; the wandering of a fingle thought, with any defire of obtaining, must not dwell upon any thing that is my neighbour's, tho' it die in the heart that first conceived it. Purity of heart is in fuch favour and degree of acceptance with Chrift, that he hath pronounced a bleffedness upon it. Wherefore,
Let usemploy our chief care and folicitude about Heaven is the things of the next life; because great in themfelves and of perpetual continuance. Let us put our trust and confidence in God, who hath promised, if we feek his kingdom and the righteoufnefs thereof, all these things fhall be added unto us.
Let us be content with fuch things as we have, and rely upon providence in the use of juft and The duty of lawful means to increase them as he fhall think convenient.
Let us confider the uncertainty of riches, that they may make themselves wings and fly away; uncertain. and that we can by no human means fecure the enjoyment of them in the grave; that if we could fix them, yet that life is always upon the wing, and when we have heaped up riches we cannot tell who fhall gather them.
Let us be charitable in fome measure to the proportion of what we have received; to be rich in Given to be good works, and ready to diftribute; and we shall not only avoid covetoufness, but as in duty bound, we shall make our riches an acceptable facrifice to our bleffed Saviour, by making use of them to thofe ends and purposes, for which they were bestowed, in fupplying the neceffities of our families, and in making fuch decent provifion for our children, as becomes the station we are placed in; by fatisfying all our just debts, and not oppreffing our poor neighbours by delaying the payment of them: and particularly by taking care that the neceffitous, and those that want relief, always have their due proportion, which justice as well as charity giveth them a right unto; which brings us to confider what that charity is every one owes to his neighbour.
love and cha
II. Charity, or the love of our neighbours, is the of chriftian distinguishing mark of a good chriftian, the great peculiar command of Chrift,and confifts in doing all good offices and fhewing kindness towards our neighbour; who, if he be virtuous, it will make us efteem him; if he be honest, but weak in judgment, it will raise pity and fuccour; if he be wicked, it will incline us to pious admonition in order to reclaim him; if he receives good, it will make us rejoice; if he receives evil, which we cannot redress, it will make us take pity on him; if we can, it will make us relieve him by supplying his neceffities or by hiding his difgrace, if it be deferved, which is concealing our neighbour's defects; and by wiping it off, where it is not deserved, which is vindicating his reputation or good name. When he is our inferior, it will make us affable and courteA 2 2