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of meat and drink, wholesome food, as the Lord lays to our hands; to provide competent housing and clothing, to refresh our bodies with a competent measure of rest and sleep; to use moderate labour, exercise and recreations, and medicine for the removal of distempers. The use of these is necessary, and the immoderate use of them hurtful; therefore the moderate and temperate use of them is our duty.
3. Keeping our affections regular, subduing all inordinate and evil affections; for these are destructive to the body as well as to the soul. So that a patient disposition, a quiet mind, and a contented and cheerful spirit are duties of this command, as necessary for the welfare of our bodies; whereas inordinate passions are the ruin of them, Prov. xvii. 22. A merry heart doth good like a medicine: but a broken spirit drieth the bones.'
SECONDLY, This command requires, that by all lawful, endeavours we preserve the life of our neighbours. We may also take up this in two things.
FIRST, We must endeavour to preserve the life of their souls.
1. By giving them the example of a holy life, for that edifies and builds up, Matth. v. 16; whereas a scandalous walk is a soul-murdering practice.
2. By instructing, warning, reproving, and admonishing them as we have opportunity, where the case of their sin requires it, Jude 23; and comforting them in distress, 1 Thess. v. 16; and praying for them, Gen. xliii. 29. No man must say with Cain, Am I my brother's keeper?', We are required to watch over one another. If our neighbour's ox or his ass fall into the ditch, we must also help them out: how much more when his soul is in hazard of falling into hell?
SECONDLY, We must by all lawful endeavours preserve the life of our neighbour's body. Here God requires
1. To protect and defend the innocent against unjust violence, according to every one's power, as they have a fair call to exercise the same, whether it be in respect of their name, goods, or life, Psal. lxxxii. 3, 4. Prov. xxiv. 11, 12. And so it is a duty of this command to repress tyranny, whereof we have commended example in the interposition of the people to save the life of Jonathan, 1 Sam. xiv. 45.
"And the people said unto Saul, shall Jonathan die, who hath wrought this great salvation in Israel? God forbid: as the Lord liveth, there shall not one hair of his head fall to the ground; for he hath wrought with God this day. So the people rescued Jonathan, that he died not."
2 To give unto others the necessaries of life, when in want, according to our ability. For as he that feeds not the fire puts it out, so unmerciful people that shut up their bowels from the needy, are guilty of their blood before the Lord, Jam. ii. 15, 16.
3. To entertain such affections towards our neighbour, as: may keep us back from injuring of him, and him from doing harm to himself; such as, charitable thoughts, love, compas→ sion, meekness, gentleness, kindness. These are as water to quench fire in us which may burn up others, and as oil untos others to refresh them, Eph. iv. ult.
4. A peaceable, mild, and courteous conversation, Prov. xv. 1. in looks, speech, and behaviour.
5. Lastly, With respect to injuries, we ought to take all things in the best sense, 1 Cor. xiii. 5. 7. to avoid all occa sions of strife, yea, even to part sometimes with our right for peace, as Abraham with Lot; to bear real injuries, Col. iii. 12, 13; to forbear, and be ready to be reconciled, and for give injuries, yea, to requite good for evil, Matth. v. 44.
With respect to both our own life and the life of others. we are called to resist all thoughts, subdue all passions, avoid all occasions, temptations, and practices tending to the destruction of our own life, or that of others of soul' or body.
Who can understand his errors? What shall come of us, if God enter into judgment with us? Our omissions would ruin us, even in those things where we judge ourselves to be in the least hazard.
II. I come now to shew, what is forbidden in the sixth commandment. It forbids the taking away of our own life, or the life of our neighbour, unjustly, and whatsoever tendeth thereunto.
Here I shall consider this command' as relating to our own life, and the life of our neighbour.
FIRST, I shall consider this command as relating to our”
own life; and that, 1. With respect to our souls; and, 2. With respect to our bodies.
FIRST, Thou shalt not kill thine own soul. Our kind God forbids us to be self murderers and soul murderers. We become guilty of the blood of our own souls these ways:
1. By neglecting of the means of grace and salvation, Prov. viii. 34. 36. The life of our souls is a flame that must be kindled from above, and fed by means of grace. Whoso then neglect them, are guilty of their own blood. Consider this, ye prayerless persons, ye that are at no pains to get knowledge, slighters of public ordinances, private duties, reading, meditation, &c.
2. By opposing and fighting against the Lord's quickening work in the soul. They that murder convictions, murder their own souls, as if they were resolved that they should never stir in them, Prov. xxix. 1. Some, with Felix, put them off with fair promises; some, with Cain, with the noise of axes and hammers; which is in effect, they will not let their souls recover.
3. By continuing in sin impenitent. God calls by his word and providence to the man, as Paul to the jailor. Do thyself no harm.' But, as if he were resolute on his own ruin, he will not forbear these courses. Wilful impenitency is the grossest self-murder, because soul-murder, Ezek. xviii. 30, 31. His soul is standing under a decayed roof, tell him that it will fall on him; but he will not stir a foot; is not his blood then on his own head?
4. By unbelief, and not coming to Christ by faith, John v. 40. Many means are essayed to preserve the soul; but still it is ruined, because the main cure is neglected. Let a man use ever so many remedies for his health, if he will not use the main cure necessary, he is his own murderer. So resolutions, watchings, engagements, are tried; but if faith, and employing of Christ for sanctification, is not tried, he is still a murderer.
O sirs, consider this. Murder, self-murder, soul-murder, is a crying sin. What wonder the man perish who will perish? Will God spare the shedding of the blood of that soul, which the man himself is so liberal of?
And hence see that people not only may, but this command of God obliges them to seek the welfare and good of VOL. III. H
their souls. Fear hell, hope for heaven; and let this stir you up to duty: but do not rest there, go forward and make the love of God your main motive; and that of itself would be sufficient to stir you up to all the duties of a holy life.
SECONDLY, Thou shalt not kill thine own body. This is simply and absolutely forbidden. We may take away the life of others in some cases justly; but in no case our own, unless there be a particular divine warrant, which I suppose in Samson's case, which is not to be expected by us; for, therein he was a type of Christ: There are two things forbidden here.
1. The taking away of our own life, by laying violent hands on ourselves. This is the horrid sin of direct selfmurder; of which Saul, Ahithophel, and Judas were guilty; and many sad instances have been of it of late. The law of God utterly condemns it, and nature itself abhors it. It is the effect of a desperate envenomed spirit, rising from pride and impatience, a horrible leaping into eternity ere the call come from God. It is highly dishonourable to God, charging him with cruelty, and refusing to wait his leisure. It is the thing the grand murderer is seeking. Civil laws strike against it; with us self-murderers are denied Christian burial, their goods are escheated, that respect to their families may deter people from it: in other places they have hung them up on gibbets. And though we will not take on us to determine the case of all such to be hopeless for eternity, that is sufficient to scare us, 1 John iii. 5. Ye know that no murderer hath eternal life abiding in him.'
2. Doing any thing that tendeth thereunto. Men may be guilty of killing themselves indirectly many ways, all which are here forbidden. Here are forbidden, as tending to the murder of the body.
1st, All entertaining of any thoughts against our own life, that is heart-killing; wearying of our own life, and fretful wishing to be gone, as was Jonah's case, chap. iv. 3; all tampering with temptations of that sort, and not rejecting them with abhorrence, Job, vii. 15. Our life is a mercy, and not to be wearied off fretfully; for it is God's goodness that we are out of hell. And it is horrid ingratitude to account God's gift a burden.
2dly, Discontent, fretfulness, and impatience. It is a dangerous thing, Psal. xxxvii. 8. It was that which prevailed
with Ahithophel to make away with himself. It is like ink cast into a fountain, which makes all the water blackish. It unfits for society with men, and for communion with God; it destroys the soul and body too; for the fretful man is his own tormentor. We should study to be content with our lot, and easy whatever our circumstances be, Heb. xiii. 5; and that will set all our wrongs right, Prov. xv. 15; for then our spirit is brought to our lot; and the vulture preys no more on our liver.
3dly, Immoderate grief and sorrow, When we When we go into the waters of godly sorrow for sin, we are out again ere we are well in; but in carnal sorrow we will go over the head and ears, 2 Cor. vii, 10. How many have conceived that sorrow upon some cross which they have met with! something within their fancy has been balked, that has ruined their bodies as well as their souls. We should enure ourselves to a patient bearing of the Lord's hand; and not smo ther that fire within our breasts, but lay it out before the Lord and leave it there, 1 Sam, i. 18. and labour to please God and consult our own welfare by a holy and moderate cheerfulness, Prov. xvii. 22.
4thly, Anxiety, distracting carking cares about the things of this life. As men fearing that they shall not sleep, do thereby mar their own rest; so the body is often ruined by too much anxiety for it, Matth. vi. 31. Take no thought what ye shall eat, &c.' Gr. Rack not your mind.' When the mind is on the tenter-hooks, the body must smart for it. As the ape kills its fondling by hugging it, so do men kill themselves by indulging anxious cares. Let us labour then for a holy carelessness in these matters; let us use lawful means, and leave the success quietly on the Lord. Though anxiety will not add a cubit to our stature, it may through time take a cubit from it, Phil. iv. 6.
5thly, Neglecting of our bodies, Col. ii. 23. when we do not make a convenient use of the means of life and health; as when people deny themselves the necessary measure of food, sleep, exercise, recreations, physic, clothes, and hou sing. People may be guilty against their own lives this way, (1.) By a careless negligent disposition, Eccl. x. 18. (2.) From the plague of a covetous pinching humour, that they cannot find in their heart to use the gift of God to them, Eccl. vi. 2. (3.) By means of inordinate passions, 1 Kings