xxi. 4. (4.) Sometimes Satan has driven people under con viction to this, suggesting to them that they have no right to these things. But as long as men live, though they have not a covenant-right, they have a common providential right to the means of life; and the command binds, Thou shalt not kill. It is a duty of this command, then, to take care of our bodies and provide them necessaries so far as we can: they are not ours, but God's.

6thly, Intemperance, when people keep no measure in sa tisfying of the flesh, Luke xxi. 34. They pamper the flesh, till the beast turns furious, and ruins itself, When God made man, he impressed an image of his sovereignty on him, made him lord over the beasts; but now, without the beasts, and within the affections, are turned rebels. This is a monster with three heads.

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

(1.) Gluttony, intemperance in eating. Man should eat to live; but some, like the beasts live to eat. The law of God will not allow people to cram their bellies, and sacrifice to a greedy appetite, Phil. iii. 19. It is a degree of selfmurder; for it cuts short people's days, which sobriety would prolong. There is a curse entailed upon it, which is often seen to take effect, Prov. xxiii. 20, 21. Be not amongst wine-bibers; amongst riotous eaters of flesh. For the drunkard and the glutton shall come to poverty: and drowsiness shall clothe a man with rags.' The glutton and the drunkard, in scripture-language, is equivalent to a ne'er-dowell in ours, Deut. xxi. 20, 21. It is a beastly sin. A heathen calls the glutton's belly a swines trough. A scavenger, whose occupation is to empty, is to be preferred to the glutton, who lives to fill a privy.

(2.) Drunkenness, intemperance in drinking, Luke xxi. 34. A sin that makes quick work for the grave, and has carried many thither ere they have lived half their days. Reason differences men from beasts, but the beastly sin of drunkenness takes away that, robbing men of reason. It is the devil's rack, on which while he has men, they will babble out every thing; for quod in corde sobrii, in ore ebrii. It is an inlet to other sins: for what will a man not do in his drunkenness, if he have a temptation to it? It destroysa man's health, wealth and soul; murders soul and body at once. The Lacedæmonians used to fill their slaves drunk, that their children, seeing the picture of drunkenness might loath it.


We have the picture of it, Prov. xxiii. 29, &c. (1.) It embroils men in quarrels Who hath wo? who hath sorrow? who hath contentions?" Many have wo and sorrow that cannot help it; but drunkards wilfully create them to themselves. When drink is in, wit is out. Thence proceed drunken scuffles; babling in scurrilous language; and from words they go to blows, wounds without cause. (2.) It ruins their bodies; redness of eyes, a sign of inward inflammation, through drink and watching, not through weeping and praying. (3.) It exposes them to uncleanness, ver. 33. Thine eyes shall behold strange women.' (4.) It makes their tongues ramble, speak contrary to religion, reason, common civility, yea, nonsense. (5.) It besots them; it makes their heads giddy, and they are fearless of danger, ver. 34. thou shalt be as he that lieth down in the midst of the sea, or as he that lieth upon the top of a mast.' (6.) Lastly, It is a bewitching sin. The man sees the ill of it, but his heart is hardened, he has no power to leave it, ver. 35. They have stricken me, shalt thou say, and I was not sick; they have beaten me, and I felt it not. when shall I awake? I will seek it yet again.' The curse of God is entailed on it, Isa. xxviii. 1, 2, 3, 'Wo to the crown of pride, to the drunkards of Ephraim, whose glorious beauty is a fading flower, which are on the head of the fat valleys of them that are overcome with wine. Behold, the Lord hath a mighty and strong one, which as a tempest of hail and a destroying storm, as a flood of mighty waters overflowing, shall cast down to the earth with the hand. The crown of pride, the drunkards of Ephraim shall be trodden under feet.'


(3.) Intemperance in any other sensual pleasure, Luke viii. 14. The pleasures of the senses are often chains to the soul, and scourges to the body; and intemperance in them will make them so. Too much pleasing the body may make mourning at last, Prov. v. 11. A man may sin against God and his own body in the intemperate use of any sensual pleasure whatsoever, though in itself lawful; and no doubt much guilt is contracted in the intemperate use of tobacco, and such like things, 1 Cor. vi. 12.

7thly, Immoderate labour and painfulness, Eccl. ii. 22, 23. Labour and exercise in moderation is like a sober wind that purifies the air, and is good for the body and soul too: but

[ocr errors]

immoderate labour and exercise is like a violent wind that throws down the house, and plucks up the tree by the roots.

Lastly, Exposing of ourselves to unnecessary hazards, Matth. iv. 7. To put ourselves in hazard where we have no call, is to sin against God and ourselves. And in this case, God desires mercy, and not sacrifice.

SECONDLY, We will consider this command as relating to our neighbour's life.

FIRST, Thou shalt not kill thy neighbour's soul. It is sin that is the killing thing both to our own and our neighbour's soul. And there are several ways how men fall into this guilt of murdering the souls of others. As,

1. By giving them an example of sin. God forbade to lay a stumbling-block before the blind; but the world is fill ed with these, and so ruined, Matth, xviii. 7. Men do ill things, and think that if they do ill, it is but to themselves. No; but thereby thou dost what lies in thee to ruin others,

Yea, example is not only ruining to others in evil things, but also, (1.) In doing what has the appearance of evil : therefore we should take heed to that, because others may take the appearance for reality, and so be ruined by us, (2.) By an uncharitable use of our Christian liberty in things indifferent. Thus the strong may ruin the weak, Rom. xiv. 15.

2. By co-operating directly to the sin of our neighbour, which is indeed the lending our destroying hand to ruin his soul, whereby his blood comes to be charged on us. It is the putting a cup of poison in his hand to dispatch himself, and a reaching of the sword to the madman, which whoso do are accessory to his death. Thus men are guilty,

1st, By commanding others to sin, as Jeroboam made Is rael to sin. So magistrates by sinful laws, and all superiors whatsoever, when they use their authority to oblige another to an ill thing; or whosoever commands another to do what is sinful.

2dly, By counselling others, to it, or advising them in it, The world is full of these murderers. So that, where a per, son is under temptation, there is often at hand one like Jonadab to give counsel to some ill course, 2 Sam. xiii. 5. Such counsel often has the force of a command. So drunk, ards murder one another's souls, Hab. ii. 15.

sdly, By joining with others in sin, Psal. l. 18. Going

alongst with others in their sin, ruins not only ourselves, but them too.

4thly, By provoking others to sin, 1 Kings xxi. 25 Thus people are many ways guilty, by a provoking carriage, by provoking words; and not a few so devilish that they take a pleasure to provoke others, that they may get something to laugh at. These are like them who stir up the fire to burn another's house, that they may warm themselves at it.

5thly, By soliciting and downright tempting to sin. Such agents the devil has in the world, who make it their business to draw others to sin, by an ensnaring carriage or plain words; so that it is evident they are gone out on the devil's errant, Prov. vii. 18.

6thly, By teaching of sin. When men call truth a lie, and lies truth, when they give out a sinful practice to be duty, and a duty to be a sinful practice, they contribute directly to the sin of others, and bring that woe on themselves, Isa. v. 20. Wo unto them that call evil good, and good evil; that put darkness for light, and light for darkness; that put bitter for sweet, and sweet for bitter."

By all these, two fall at once; for the sin of him that commands, counsels &c. does not excuse the other.

(1.) By consenting to the sin of others, countenancing them in it, and encouraging them in their sin, Acts ix. 1. We may countenance sinners in their duty, but by no means in their sin. These two are very different, but they are often confounded; and the confounding of them is the cause of much disorder in our church at this day.

3. By neglecting what we owe to our neighbour for the welfare of his soul. In not doing what we ought to preserve or recover his soul, we are guilty of destroying it, and so indirectly operate to his sin. As,

1st, By neglecting the means for preventing of sin in others, Ezek. iii. 18. When people do not teach, warn, and admonish, those whom they see to be in hazard, or generally neglect to restrain sin by all lawful means competent to them. Thus Eli sinned, 1 Sam. iii. 13. His sons made themselves vile, and he restrained them not.' Thus much guilt is contracted by ministers, magistrates, husbands and wives, parents, masters, &c.


2dly, By neglecting the means to recover those that have fallen into sin; suffering sin to lie on them, and not reprov

ing it, Lev. xix. 17; compare 1 John iii. 15; or reproving of them so imprudently, passionately, or weakly, as that it can do them no good. So did Eli.

3dly, By not compassionating the sinner, and mourning over his sin before the Lord, but hardening our hearts against him, and being careless what come of his soul, Ezek. ix. 4: O what guilt is contracted this way in shutting up our bowels of compassion! How many will exclaim against the sins of others, whose consciences witness that they never had a sore heart for the dishonour done to God, and the ill to the sinner's soul by it.

4thly, By being pleased with their sin. to be pleased with their ruin, Rom. i. ult. guilty,

This is in effect

Thus men are

(1.) By approving the sin of others, Psal. xlix. 13. This is to set our stamp on an evil way, that it may pass current. (2.) By rejoicing at it, and making a jest of it. It is devilish mirth that riseth from our neighbour's ruining himself. Yet much of this guilt is in the world, Prov. xiv. 9. SECONDLY, Thou shalt not kill thy neighbour's body unjustly. There are three cases wherein the life of our neighbour may be taken away justly. (1.) In the case of public justice, Gen. ix. 6. (2.) Of lawful war, Judg. v. 23. (3.) Of necessary self-defence, Exod. xxii. 2, 3. The reason is, because in these cases a man does not take, but God, the Lord of life and death, puts the sword in his hand; so that judgment in these cases is the Lord's. Unless in these cases, it is murder, an unjust taking away another's life. Now, there are two things here forbidden with respect to this.

First, The taking away of our neighbour's life unjustly. This is actual and direct murder. This was the sin of Cain, This is a horrible and atrocious crime, for which men's laws condemn the guilty to the gallows, and God's laws condemn them to hell, 1 John iii. 15. A sin so flat against nature, that even a natural conscience uses to kindle a hell in the bosom of the murderer; and a crime it is which Providence specially watches to bring to light. This is to be extended not only to what is commonly reckoned murder, but to these three cases.

1. The taking away of men's lives, under colour of law, and forms of justice, when the law is unjust, and there is no real crime; as in the case of Naboth, 1 Kings xxi. 12, 13,

[ocr errors]
« VorigeDoorgaan »