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mental to a virtue, and is an imperate action. Thus to invite rich men to a feast may be done prudently and without scruple; but he that does so and no more, shall have no reward in heaven for it; but yet to invite rich men to a banquet may minister to friendships or peace, or it may obtain relief to a poor oppressed brother; and then it may be a good instrument of that virtue, to which, by accident or the personal intention of the man (not the natural order or intention of the thing), it does minister. By the serious observation of this difference of acts we may be guided in many cases of conscience, and in the interpretation of some of the laws of our religion.
When any Thing is forbidden by the Laws of Christ, all those
Things also, by which we come to that Sin, are understood to be
forbidden by the same Law. 1. In this, there is one great difference between positive and negative laws. When any thing is commanded or enjoined, to take or use any instrument to it is left to our choice, and is matter of prudence and not duty: as when we are commanded to mortify the lusts of the body : we are not commanded to lie upon the ground, or to masticate rhubarb, or to go barefoot, or to put on St. Francis's girdle upon the bare body: as we find these actions aptly instrumental to the duty, and fitted to the person, so we may use them: but if the fear of hell, or the hopes of heaven, can mortify us sufficiently to all the purposes of the Spirit,-or if he who is married, be not tempted,-or he who is unmarried, be by nature abstinent, or by disease and imperfection,-these instruments are out of use, as to these purposes. For here nothing is under command but the duty itself; and if, by any good instrument it be done, it is all one as to the law. But in negative precepts, the case is otherwise : for the crime is not only to be abstained from, but every instrument of it, every path that leads to it, whatsoever can begin or promote it: and the reason is, because all these things are of the same nature with the sin; and therefore although every thing
that is or may be good, is not commanded, yet every evil is forbidden. “ One fly can spoil a pot of ointment.” But this we are plainly taught by our blessed Saviour's sermon on the mount; where he expounded the precepts of the an. cients, not only to signify the outward act, but the inward desire: and in this our blessed Master's law is much more perfect than the digest of Moses ; for although there also God forbade concupiscence, yet it was only instanced in the matter of covetousness; and was not extended to the other instances of duty ; but in Christ's law, 'non concupisces' is the apex juris ;' it is the conservatory and the last duty of every commandment. .
Nam scelus intra se tacitum qui cogitat allam,
Facti crimen babel b. He that thinks a lustful thought, hath broken a commandment; and if the eye be full of adultery, or the mouth be impure, or the hand be unclean,-the whole man is polluted before God, and stands guilty of the breach of the main law. “ Exercetur, atque aperitur opere nequitia, non incipit.” The deed tells the heart, and opens the shop of crimes; but they begin in the heart, and end in the outward work.
2. But in this there is no difficulty: for God being lord of all our faculties, and the searcher of hearts, and the judge of our thoughts, he must be served by all ; and he searches, that he may judge all,—and judges, that he may punish or reward all. But the rule is only thus to be limited; thạt in those sins, whose being criminal is wholly relative to persons with whom we converse,-every thought is not a sin, unless that thought also be relative. As he sins not that thinks a lie, if he resolves not to abuse any body with it,—and a man may love to please himself with false news, and put on a fantastic confidence and persuasion of the truth of what he would fain bave to be true; though to his reason it seem improbable. In this there is some folly, but no malice : but to lie is a relative action; and if he have but a thought or purpose to abuse the credulity of any one, then that thought or purpose is a lie ; that is, it is of the same nature with a lie ; and, therefore, of the same condemnation. The case is the same in all things, which are forbidden only, because they
are uncharitable or unjust to my brother, but are permitted, when they are otherwise.
3. (2.) But the intention of the rule is more : for it means, that all the addresses and preparations to criminal and forbidden actions are also forbidden. Thus because Christ gave a law against fornication, he hath also forbidden us to tempt any one to it by words, or by wanton gestures, or lascivious dressings; and she fornicates, that paints her face with idle purposes.
4. (3.) It is also meant concerning temptations to a forbidden instance ; for they also are forbidden in the prohibition of the crime: which is to be understood with these cautions :
5. (1.) If the temptation be in a natural and direct order to the sin, it is forbidden, where the sin is. Thus because lusts of the flesh are prohibited, it is also our duty, that we do 'not make provision for the flesh to fulfil the lusts of it.' Eating high and drinking deep are actions of uncleanness, as well as of intemperance: and in the same proportion also is every thing, that ministers directly to the lusts of the lower belly, though in a less degree; as lying soft, studying the palate, arts of pleasure and provocation, enticing gestures : with this caution ;
6. (2.) If the effect be observed in these less and lower instances, then they are directly criminal: for whatsoever did bring a sin and is still entertained knowingly and choosingly, is, at least by interpretation chosen, for the sin's sake : but first and before the observation, it may enter upon another account ; which if it be criminal, to that these instances are to be reckoned, and not to that sin to which they minister unknowingly.
7. (3.) Every temptation is then certainly to be reckoned as a sin, when it is procured by our own act; whether the temptation ministers to the sin directly or accidentally : for if we can choose it, it can have no excuse: “ tute hoc intristi, tibi omne exedendum est ° :" and unless the man be surprised, his choosing of an instrument to sin withal, is not for the sake of the instrument, but for its relation: and this is true, although the usual effect does not follow the instrument. For there is sometimes a fantastic pleasure in the re
Terent. Phorm. act. ii. 1. 4. Schmieder, pag. 334.
membrances of sin, in the approaches of it, in our addresses to it: and there are some men who dare not act the foul crime, who yet love to look upon its fair face; and they drive out sin as Abraham did Ishmael, with an unwilling willingness (God knows), and therefore give it bread and water abroad though no entertainment at home, and they look after it, and are pleased with the stories of it, and love to see the place of its acting :
Hic locus, hæc eadem, sub qua requiescimus, arbor,
and they roll it in their minds : now they that go but thus far, and love to tempt themselves by walking upon the brink of the river, and delight themselves in viewing the instrument of their sin, though they use it no further, they have given demonstration of their love of sin when they make so much of its proxy.
8. But there are others, who have great experience of the vanity of all sin, and the emptiness and dissatisfaction that is in its fruition,-and know as soon as ever they have enjoyed it, it is gone, and that there is more pleasure in the expectation than in the possession ;-—and therefore they had rather go towards it than arrive thither; and love the temptation better than the sin: these men sin with an excellent philosophy and wittiness of sinning; they love to woo always and not to enjoy, ever to be hungry and sitting down to dinner, but are afraid to have their desires filled: but if we consider what the secret of it is, and that there is in these men an immense love to sin, and a perfect adhesion to the pleasure of it, and that they refuse to enter lest they should quickly pass through,—and they are unwilling to taste it, Jest they should eat no more,—and would not enjoy, be. cause they will not be weary of it ; and will deny any thing to themselves, even that, which they most love, lest for a while they should loath their beloved sin ;-we shall see reason enough to affirm these men to be the greatest breakers of the laws of Jesus Christ ; though they only tempt themselves and handle the instruments of sin, and although these instruments serve nothing but the temptation, and the temptation does not serve the sin, whither in its own nature it is designed
9. (4.) If the temptation be involuntary, then it is not imputed; and yet this is to be understood with this provision; that it be neither chosen directly, nor by interpretation; that is, that it be not entered into by carelessness, or confidence, or choice. If it be by choice, then it is directly against that law of Christ, which forbids that sin whither the temptation leads ; but if it enter by carelessness or confi. dence, it belongs not to this rule ; for although every temptation is against the laws of Christ, yet they are not under the same law, by which the effect is prohibited,-but unlawful, because they are against Christian prudence and Christian charity.
The suppositive Propositions with the supervening Advices of our
blessed Saviour, are always equivalent to Matter of Duty,
and are, by Interpretation, a Commandment. 1. This rule is intended as an explication of the precepts of prayer, alms, and fasting : all which our blessed Saviour, in his sermon upon the mount, expressed by way of supposition; which way of expression although it be not a positive and legal expression of a commandment, yet it either supposes a preceding law, or a confirmed practice; or, at least, that those to whom such words are directed, are willing and loving and obedient people, understanding the intimations and secret significations of the divine pleasure, “ When ye give alms, do not blow a trumpet,” said our blessed Saviour: “When ye pray, stand not in the corners of the streets; when you fast, do not disfigure your faces." Now concerning prayer and alms there is no difficulty, because our blessed Lord and his apostles have often repeated the will of God in express commandments concerning them; but because of fasting he hath said much less, and nothing at all but these suppositive words, and a prophecy, that his disciples should fast in the days of the bridegroom's absence, and a declaration of the blessed effects of fasting ; this hath a proper inquiry and a special difficulty, whether or no these words have the force of a commandment.