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is so much the more perfect, by how much it is the more actual.
39. To conclude this inquiry, we must pray often, but we must repent always : and it is in these affirmative precepts as it is in the matter of life and eating; we must eat at certain times and definite seasons, but we must live continus ally. Repentance is the new life of a Christian ; and therefore we must no more ask when we are bound to repent, than when we are by nature required to breathe. The motion must return speedily, or we die with strangling.
Because the Laws of Jesus Christ were delivered in Sermons to
a single Person, or a definite Number of Hearers, we are curiously to inquire and wisely to understand, when those Persons were only personally concerned, and when they were Re
presentatives of the whole Church. 1. This rule I learn from St. Austino; “ Erit igitur hoc in observationibus intelligendarum Scripturarum, ut sciamus alia omnibus communiter præcipi, alia singulis quibusque generibus personarum : ut non solum ad universum statum valetudinis, sed etiam ad suam cujusque membri propriam infirmitatem medicina pertineat:” “Some things are given to all; others but to a few; and some commands were to single persons and single states: God having regard to the wellbeing of societies, and to the health even of every single Christian.”—That there is a necessity of making a distinction is certain; but how this distinction is to be made is very uncertain, and no measures have yet been described, and we are very much to seek for a certain path in this intricacy. If we do not distinguish precept from precept, and persons from states of life, and states of life from communities of men, it will be very easy for witty men to bind burdens upon other men's shoulders with which they ought not to be pressed; and it will be very ready for scrupulous persons to take loads upon themselves which appertain not to them,
o Lib. 3. de Doctrina Christiana, cap. 17.
and very many will dispute themselves out of their duty, and say, ' Quid ad me?' 'I am not concerned here; -and the conscience shall be unguided and undetermined, while the laws of order shall, themselves, lie undistinguished and undis. cerned in confusion and indiscrimination. There must be care taken of this; or else, cases of conscience will extremely multiply to no purposes but those of danger and restless scruple. The best measures that I know, are these;
2. (1.) There are some precepts, which are, by all men, confessed to be general, and some are every where known to be merely personal; and by proportion to these we can be helped to take account of others. When Abraham, as a trial of bis obedience, was commanded to sacrifice his son, this was alone a commandment given to that man concerning that child, at that time, and to that purpose. So when he was commanded to forsake his country and go to Canaan, this was personal, and could not be drawn into example: and no man could think that if he should kill his son, or leave his country, he should be rewarded for his obedience. For the commandments given to persons are individuated as the persons themselves are, by time and place and circumstances, and a singular nature, a particular soul: so is the commandment also; it is made circumstantiate by all that is in and about it: and the reason of a man and his observa. tion are the competent and final judge of these things; and no man is further required to look after significations of that which is notorious. Others also are as certainly and confessedly general; such as were the ten commandments to the children of Israel; they were given to all the people, proclaimed to the whole nation, expressly spoken to them all, exacted of them all, and under the same reason, and upon the same conditions. Now here are some proportions, by which we may guess at others.
3. (2.) For whatsoever related wholly to a person, or was determined by a circumstance, or was the relative of time, that passes no obligation beyond the limits and definitions of those circumstances. Upon this account, all the ceremonial and judicial laws of the Jews have lost their obligation. The service, that related to a temple that is now destroyed, and was to be performed by a priesthood that is expired, can no longer be a law of conscience. Thus the command,
which Christ gave, that his brethren should follow him into Galilee after the resurrection, was wholly personal. The apostles were commanded to untie another man's ass, and without asking leave to bring him to Christ; the command was wholly relating to that occasion, and gives no man warrant to take another man's goods for pious uses without his leave. Circumstances are to actions like hedges to the grounds, they divide and defend, and assign every man's portion. And, in these cases, ordinary prudence is a sufficient guide.
4. (3.) Whatsoever precept was given to many, if it was succeeded to by another that is inconsistent, or of a quite differing nature and circumstance,- the former is, by the latter, declared to have been personal, relative, temporary, and expired; and nothing of it can be drawn into direct obligation. When our blessed Saviour sent out the seventytwo disciples by two and two, he commanded them to go without sword or shoes or bag, and that they should not go into the way of the gentiles. That these commandments were temporary and relative to that mission, appears by the following mission after Christ's resurrection; by which they received command, that they should go into the way of the gentiles, that they should teach all nations. Therefore besides the special and named.permissions in this second legation, as that they might now wear a sword, that they might converse with heathens,-it is certain that those other clauses of command, which were not expressly revoked, are not obligatory by virtue of the first sanction and commandment. And therefore if any man shall argue, ' Christ when he sent forth his disciples to preach, commanded that they should not go
from house to house, but where they did first enter, there to abide till the time of their permitted departure, therefore it is not lawful to change from one church to another, from a less to a greater, froni a poorer to a richer,' will argue very incompetently and inartificially; for all the commandments then given were relative to that mission: and if any thing were inserted of a universal or perpetual obligation, it is to be attended to upon some other account, not upon the stock of this mission and its relative precepts.
5. (4.) It is not enough to prove a precept to be perpetual and general, that it is joined with a body of precepts that are
so, though there be no external mark of difference. Thus we find, in the ten words of Moses, one commandment for resting upon the seventh day from the creation : it is there equally prescribed, but fortified with reasons and authority, more laboriously pressed, and without all external sign of difference to distinguish the temporary obligation of this from the perpetuity of the other; and yet all the Christian church esteem themselves bound by the other, but at liberty for this day. But then we understand our liberty by no external mark appendant to the sanction, but by the natural signature of the thing. The nature of the precept was ceremonial and typical ; and though to serve God be moral and eternal duty, yet to serve him by resting upon that day, or upon any day, is not moral; and it was not enjoined in that commandment at all that we should spend that day in the immediate service of God, and offices of religion: and it was declared by St. Paul, to be 'a shadow of good things to come;' and by our blessed Lord it was declared to be of a yielding nature, and intended to give place to charity and other moral duties, even to religion itself, or the immediate service of God. For though the commandment was a precept merely of rest, and doing no labour was the sanctification of the day,--yet that the priests in the temple might worship God according to the rites of their religion, they were permitted to work, viz. to kill the beasts of sacrifice, which Christ called profaning of the sabbath, and in so doing he affirms them to have been blameless. From hence, that is, from the natural signature of the thing commanded, and from other collateral notices, we come to understand that in the heap of moral and eternal precepts, a temporary, transient, and relative, did lie: and the reason why there was no difference made, or distinctive mark given in the decalogue, is because there was no difference to be made by that nation to whom they were given; but as soon as that dispensation and period was to determine, then God gave us those marks and notes of distinction which I have enumerated, and which were sufficient to give us witness. So that if a whole body of commandments be published, and it be apparent that most of them are general and eternal, we must conclude all to be so, until we have a mark of difference, directly or collaterally, in the nature of the thing, or in our notices from God: but when
we have any such sign, we are to follow it; and the placing of the precept in other company is not a sufficient mark to conclude them all alike. Thus it was also in the first mission of the disciples (above spoken of), in which the body of precepts was temporary and relative; but yet when our blessed Lord had inserted that clause, “ Freely ye have received, freely give,” we are not to conclude it to be temporary and only relating to that mission, because it is placed in a body of relative commandments: for there is in it something that is spiritual, and of an eternal decency, rectitude, and proportion; and we are taught to separate this from the other by the reproof, which fell upon Simon Magus, by the separate nature of spiritual things, by the analogy of the gospel, by the provisions which upon other accounts are made for the clergy and the whole state ecclesiastical, upon the stock of such propositions which provide so fully, that they cannot be tempted by necessity to suppose God left them to be supplied by simoniacal intercourses. If there be nothing in the sanction of the commandments or any where else, that can distinguish them, we must conclude them alike; but if there be any thing there or any where else, that makes an indubitable or sufficient separation, the unity of place does not make an equal obligation.
6. (5.) When any thing is spoken by Christ to a single person, or a definite number of persons, which concerns a moral duty, or a perpetual rite of universal concernment, that single person, or that little congregation, are the representatives of the whole church. Of this there can be no question; 1. Because as to all moral precepts they are agreeing to the nature of man, and perfective of him in all his capacities; and therefore such precepts must needs be as universal as the nature, and therefore to be extended beyond the persons of those few men. Now if it be inquired how we shall discern what is moral in the laws of God, from what is not moral, we may be assisted in the inquiry by the proper measures of it, which I have already described P. Those concern the matter of the commandment; here we inquire concerning the different relation of the commandment, when the sanction is the same with these which are of particular concernment; that is, here we inquire by what other distinction, besides the matter and nature of the thing, we are to separate, general
P Lib. 2. chap. 2. rule 5. num. 65.