« VorigeDoorgaan »
20, 21, 22 X. 33.
SERM. conscience would permit) have conmonly in their manXXIX. ners of life followed not what in their retired judgment
they most approved, but what suited to the customs of their times and places, avoiding a morose fingularity, as
offenGive to others, and productive of disquiet to themEpift. ad selves f. You know how Cicero censured Cato for enAnt. lib. ii. deavouring, against the grain and predominant genius of
those times, to reduce things to a strict agreement with his private notions : Ille optimo animo utens, et summa fide, nocet interdum reipublicæ. Dicit enim tanquam in Platonis noditzia, non tanquam in Romuli fæce sententiam.
But a more clear and pertinent instance we have in St. 1 Cor. ix. Paul, who thus represents his own practice : I have made 29. myself a servant to all : Unto the Jews I became as a
Jew; to them that are without law, as without law : To
the weak became I as weak : I am made all things to all Vid. Acts men, that I might by all means save fome. St. Paul wisely
knew, that, by a prudent compliance with men's customs, and condescension to their capacities, he engaged to him, or at least did not alienate from him, their affections; and thereby became more capable of infusing good doctrine into their minds, and promoting their spiritual good. And the same course was generally taken by the primitive Christians, who in all things (not inconsistent with the rules and principles of their religion) did industriously conforın their conversation to the usual practices of men ; thereby shunning those scandalous imputations of pride and perverseness, which then rendered the Jews so odious to the world, as appears by divers passages in the ancient apologists for Christian religion : particularly Justin Martyr (in his Epistle to Diognetus) bath these words : Xplo. τιανοί γαρ ούτε γη, ούτε φωνή, ούτε έθεσι διακεκριμένοι των λοιπών εισιν ανθρώπων" ούτε γάρ πε πόλεις ιδίας κατοικέσιν, ούτε διαλέκτη τινι παραλλαγμένη χρώνται, ούτε βίον παράσημον ασκίσιν-κατοικούντες δε πόλεις Ελληνικάς τε και βαρβάρους, ως έκαςος εκληpáson, fv toīs éyxwpions ideolv åxoaotõytes, &c. The Christians
* Id agamus, ut meliorem vitam sequamur quam vulgus, non ut contrariam ; alioqui quos emendari volumus fugamus et a nobis avertimus.
Temperetur vita inter bonos mores et publicos, &c. Sen. Ep. 5.
neither in dwelling, language, or cusioms differ from the SERM. rest of men; they neither inhabit towns proper to them. XXIX. selves, nor use any peculiar dialect, nor exercise an uncouth manner of living ; but, as by chance it is allotted to them, inhabiting cities belonging both to Greeks and Barbarians, comply with the customs of the country. And much more bath be there; and much Tertullian likewise in his Apologetic, to the same purpose. Neither do we find in the life of our Saviour, that exact pattern of wisdom and goodness, that in any thing he did affect to differ from the received customs of his time and country, except such as were grounded upon vain conceits, extremely prejudicial to piety, or directly repugnant thereto.
And I cannot except from this rule the compliance with religious customs used in the worship and service of God: fince a wilful discrepancy from them doth much more destroy peace, and kindle the flame of contention, inafmuch as men are apt to apprehend themselves much more lighted and more condemned by a disagreement in those, than in matters of lesser concernment. And it cannot reasonably be imagined, that the God of love and peace, who questionless delights to see men converse in peace and amity, and who therefore in general terms enjoins us Rom. xiv, to pursue the things that make for peace, (whereof cer- 19. tainly in reason and to experience, following indifferent and harmless customs, not expressly repugnant to his law, nor to the di&tates of natural reason, is one thing, and not the least,) in our addresses to himself, (partly designed and mainly serving more ftri&ly to unite, not to dissociate men in affection) should disike or disapprove the use of this course so expedient and conducible to peace: especially fince he infinitely more regards the substance of the duty, and the devotion of the heart therein, than the manner, or any circumstantial appendages thereof: it is certain however, that St. Paul intimates a wilful departure from ordinary practice in such cases, to proceed from a contentious disposition : But if any man, faith he, have a 1 Cor. xi. mind to be contentious, (so doxeī piaóveix@ civo imports,) we 16. have no such custom, nor the churches of God.
SERM, But yet much more is peaceable conversation impeached XXIX. by disobedience to established laws, those great bulwarks
of society, fences of order, and supports of peace : which he that refuses to obey, is so far from living peaceably with all men, that he may reasonably be presumed unwilling to have peace with any man; fince in a manner he defies all mankind, vilifies its most solemn judgments, endeavours to diffolve those sacred bands by which its union is contained, and to subvert the only foundations of public tranquillity. He declares himself either to affect an universal tyranny over, or an abhorrency from society with, other men, to be unwilling to live with them upon equal terms, or to fubmit to any fair arbitration, to desire that strifes should be endless, and controversies never decided, who declines the verdict of law, the most folemn issue of deliberate advice, proceeding from the most honourable, most wise, most worthy and select persons, and involving in it the consent of the whole cominonwealth.
St. Paul, directing that prayers should be made for princes i Tim. ii. 2. and those in authority, assigns the reason, that we may
lead a quiet and peaceable life, in all godliness and honesty: and certainly if we are to pray for, we are also obliged to obey them in order to the fame end, which to do is absolutely in our power, and more immediately requisite to that purpose. For as no peace can be preserved without the influence of authority; so no authority can subfift without obedience to its sanctions. He that is desirous to enjoy the privileges of this happy estate of peace, must in reason be content to perform the duties enjoined, and bear the common burdens imposed by those who are the protectors of it.
Thus, as plainly as I could, have I described what it is to live peaceably, and what the means are that principally conduce thereto: I should now proceed to consider the object of the duty, and the reasons why it refpects all men; as also whence it comes, that sometimes we may fail in our endeavour of attaining this desirable condition: and lastly, to propound some inducements persuasive of its practice. But I must not farther encroach on your
patience, and shall therefore reserve these things to the SERM. next opportunity.
· XXIX. Now the peace of God, which paleth all understanding, keep your hearts and minds in the knowledge and love of God, and of his Son Jesus Christ our Lord; and the blesfing of God Almighty, the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost, be among you, and remain with you always. Amen.
OF A PEACEABLE TEMPER AND CARRIAGE.
Rom. xii. 18.
SERM. I HAVE very lately considered what it is to live peaceXXX. ably, and what are the duties included therein; and wbat
means conduce thereto.
II. I proceed now to consider the object thereof, and why the duty of living peaceably extends to all men, that is, why we are bound to bear good-will, and do good offices, and thew civil respects to all men; and to endeavour that all men reciprocally be well-affected toward us. For it might with some colour of reason be objected, and said, Why should I be obliged heartily to love those, that desperately hate me; to treat them kindly, that use me despitefully ; to help them, that would hinder me; to relieve them, that would plunge me into utter distress; to comfort them, that delight in my affli&ion; to be respective to, and tender of, their reputation, who despise, defame, and reproach me; to be indulgent and favourable to them, who are harsh and rigorous in their dealings with me; to spare and pardon them, who with implacable malice persecute me? Why should I seek their friendship, who disdainfully reject mine? why prize their favour, who scorn mine? why strive to please them, who purposely offend me? Or why should I have any regard to men, void of all faith, goodness, or desert ? And most