The New Whole Duty of Man,

The Faith as well as Practice of a Christian:

Made Easy For the Practice of the Present Age, As the Old Whole Duty of Man was designed for those unhappy Times in which it was written: and Supplying the Articles of The Christian Faith, which are wanting in that Book though Essentially necessary to Salvation.

Newly edited, 2015.

 

 

EditorŐs 2015 Preface

         This edition of the 21st century attempts to preserve the content and most of the wording of the 1828 printing, but omitting the Devotions at the end.  Only minor changes have been made to improve readability.  Especially, sentences that were a tangle of compound-complex structure with multiple dependent adverbial clauses have been broken into shorter sentences.  Nevertheless, the attempt has been made to preserve the tone of the work as previously published.  The use of generic English is retained so that ŇmanÓ can refer to both sexes.  Statements in support of antiquated and unjust prejudices and obsolete laws in England have also been retained as part of the authorŐs thought.  Those were never imposed by God upon any society as duties.

 

 

The Preface.

         The following reasons will justify the publishing of this Whole Duty of Man and, I trust, remove prejudices against it.  With the passage of more than a century since the publication of the Old Whole Duty of Man, readers are less affected by that work.

         The OLD Whole Duty of Man, as appears by Dr. HammondŐs letter, dated March, 1657, was first published under the usurpation of Oliver Cromwell, who had subverted the constitution both in church and state.  Dislike, I presume, is caused by the distance in time from the original writing.  Not only the words, but the manner of expression, and the ways and methods of treating such subjects are, and ought to be, very different now from what they were formerly.  Although a vein of sound learning and morality is visible throughout that book, and it was well adapted for those unhappy times of strife and confusion in which it was written, yet the people of the present age are never likely to be better reconciled to it.  ŇFor the case in reality was this: During the times of confusion, many of the preachers and writers had not only forborn to inculcate the duties of morality, but had laboured to depreciate them, to persuade the people that faith was all, and works nothing.  And therefore, in order to take off those unhappy impressions, the clergy found themselves obliged to inculcate with more than ordinary diligence the necessity of moral duties in the Christian life, and to labour to restore them to their proper share in the Christian scheme.Ó [See the bishop of LondonŐs second pastoral letter.]

         Besides, the subjects treated of in the Old Whole Duty of Man, are by no means so many, nor all of them so well chosen, as they might be for the use and necessities of the present age.  Our Church and Religion have another sort of enemies [Atheists, Deists, etc.] to contend with now, than the Solifidians of that time.  We now have men whose shocking impieties and tenets strike at the very foundation of Christianity itself.  The Old Whole Duty of Man was in opposition to the prevailing doctrine of those days, and is chiefly confined to the moral duties.  It cannot be well suited to the impious age we live in when the articles of our Christian faith are impudently attacked and condemned.  The Old Whole Duty of Man was indiscriminately put forth as a complete summary of our most holy religion, when at the same time the articles of the Christian faith were quite omitted in it.  This has in some degree contributed during such a course of years to produce that contempt which the Christian faith now labours under.

         It is certain that a man may be so struck with the beauty and excellence of MORAL duties as to be less concerned than he ought to be for a sound FAITH, and may make shipwreck of the one while he is too hastily and zealously pursuing the other.  The author of the Old Whole Duty of Man himself, conscious, it may be, of the defects of that treatise, speaking in his Lively Oracles of those things we are to believe, says, ŇThese are the excellencies of the doctrinal parts of scripture, which also render them most aptly preparative for the preceptive, and indeed so they were designed, the Credenda and the Agenda being such inseparable relations that whoever parts them forfeits the advantage of both.Ó  And as the Duty of Man was the first, and the Lively Oracles the last piece of that author (for so they are placed in his works), it may reasonably be presumed the Lively Oracles was intended to supply the defects of the said Old Whole Duty of Man.  The proprietors of those books, not thinking fit to print them together, the authorŐs intention, if such it was, has been rendered of little effect.

         Though fashionable nowadays, those men grossly impose upon themselves, who confine their religion within the moral scheme of the Old Whole Duty of Man.  They rest their acceptance with God upon the mere performance of the obligations of morality, even while slighting and ridiculing the Christian religion.  They foolishly deceive their own souls as described with such clearness and energy by the late archbishop Sharp, here given in his own words:

         ŇIt is not enough to entitle any man to everlasting salvation, that he practiceth the duties of natural religion, unless he also believe and embrace that religion which God has revealed by Jesus Christ, supposing he has opportunities of coming to the knowledge of it.  Bare morality or honesty of life, without a right faith, will not save a manŐs soul, supposing that the man hath opportunities of coming to the knowledge of that right faith.  And this consideration I seriously address to all those among us who think it so indifferent a matter what religion or what faith they are of, provided they are but honest in their lives.  They think nothing offends God but the open violation of those rules of morality which all the world must acknowledge themselves obliged to observe, and which it is scandalous not to observe.  But this is a grievous mistake and of most pernicious consequence.  It is certain that wherever God has revealed his will, and declared upon what terms he will bestow salvation upon mankind, there all men are, under pain of damnation, obliged to embrace his revelation, and to believe, and profess, and practice according to the doctrines of such revelation.  And it is certain likewise that God hath fully and entirely revealed his will by Jesus Christ and his apostles in the New Testament, and so revealed it as to exclude all men from the hopes of salvation who, having opportunity of knowing Jesus Christ and his doctrines, do not believe in him.  And therefore for any man to reject this method of God, and to say, I hope to be saved by another way than God hath appointed, is the extremest folly in the world.  Let everyone therefore among us, as they would not be undone to all eternity, endeavour to instruct themselves aright in the true religion.  All their pretended moral honesty will not in the least excuse them before God if, when having means to find the truth, they do not embrace it, but continue infidels or misbelievers.  If they had been born and bred in a heathen country, where they had no opportunity of coming to the knowledge of GodŐs revealed will, I know not how far their justice and temperance, and other good moral qualities, might avail them toward the procuring of GodŐs acceptance.  But to live in a Christian country, nay, and to be baptized into ChristŐs religion, and yet to be pagans as to their notions and opinions; not to believe in Jesus Christ, but to think to please God in the way of the philosophers; there is nothing in the world to be said in their excuse for this.  And they will at last find true what our Saviour hath pronounced, that this is their condemnation (and a heavy one it will be) that light is come into the world, but thy have loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds are evil.  For every one that doeth evil hateth the light, neither cometh to the light lest his deeds should be reproved.Ó [John, 3:19, 20.]

         Therefore, I have endeavoured to supply the foregoing defects of the Old Whole Duty of Man, even such defects as the said archbishop, as the above cited author himself of the Lively Oracles, affirms to be so fatal to every manŐs eternal salvation, by furnishing the age we live in with a Duty of Man much better suited to the Christian religion and the occasion of the present times.

         Here we may take notice of two sorts of men as (a) would gladly bring all religion into contempt, and (b) think nothing should interfere with public preaching from the pulpit.  As to the first, the age we now live in has produced many men who make light of the Christian religion and talk contemptuously of our Saviour and his doctrines.  But are we thence to conclude that there is no reason, no argument, no evidence to be offered for Christianity, nor to enforce its faith and practice, because these men, who are acknowledged to have wit and parts, make it their business to run it down?  No, this would be a very false and unjust conclusion.  And if you can imagine otherwise, you are strangely mistaken in your men.  They never much applied their minds to examine these things.  They have, perhaps, got some commonplace heads with which they think they can disparage Christianity, and it is likely they have wit enough to set off those things to advantage.  But as for serious thinking and putting things together, and making a solemn judgment of what is true or false to those matters, as in the presence of God, and as in a business whereon their everlasting salvation or damnation does depend Đ I say, as for this, you may assure yourselves these men never did it, nor are they capable of doing it.  By their nature they would not give themselves so much trouble as such a work will require.  Therefore, we may be sure their infidelity does not proceed from any want of evidence or arguments for the truth of the Christian religion.

         All our natural and civil duties are strongly tied upon us by virtue of our profession of Christianity.  It is very much to the honour of our religion that it is wholly taken up in providing for the security and benefit of mankind, even in this life.  Its general bent and tendency is to set men at ease and make them happy by securing to all the duties due from each other and from the want of which proceeds all the mischief in the world.  It does not leave men to be moved by such considerations alone as natural reason can suggest, but furnishes them with better.  Nothing can be more to the advantage of any man than that all the people with whom he has to do shall be commanded by God to show him mercy and to do him justice, and to do him all good offices, and to suffer none to do him injury.  Nothing, I say, is more likely to secure a manŐs peace and happiness than such a fence as this.  And yet this is the fence that Christianity provides for every single person in the world.  There never has been any religion ever framed to make men happy, even in this life, like that of Jesus Christ, if it were thoroughly pursued.  A man cannot possibly be made uneasy or miserable, or suffer any evil at the hands of another, without the violation of some Christian command which, if obeyed, would have secured him from it.  Let the world judge what reasons these men really have for slighting and ridiculing the Christian religion and the ministers thereof.  We cannot enter into the hearts of men to see upon what motives they act and under what influences they reason.  But when we consider the strength and clearness, or the evidences of Christianity, with the advantages and excellencies of the gospel institution, and the strict restraints it lays upon excess and uncleanness of all kinds, we cannot but see that it requires the greatest degree of charity to ascribe their infidelity to anything but the love of vice or the love of contradiction.

         There are those who are so tenacious of preaching as to oppose all written discourses.  Preaching is usually allowed the preeminence of written discourses.  Yet if men would hear or read them with due attention, they might be effectual to the same ends and purposes.  Much may favour the voice, the air, and the action of a preacher.  Still what is uttered with the voice passes off so rapidly.  Men of ordinary capacities are not able to judge of the soundness of it, and the exhortations to virtue often have little effect, because the rules and directions which we hear concerning it slip out of our memories.  Whereas written discourses are always with us.  We may have recourse to them whenever we please to recover what we have forgotten, or to examine and satisfy ourselves in anything we doubt of.  By leisurely searches and inquiries we may by their assistance attain to the knowledge of those sublime truths which would otherwise be too hard for us.

         It is a great though common mistake with some readers to think that written discourses cannot have their due praise, but there must be a design of degrading and undervaluing preaching.  But I declare the following discourses are by no means intended to hinder anyoneŐs attendance on divine service.  They are accommodated to such as cannot always be present at the public worship, and to the use of families and private persons who religiously keep the Sabbath and endeavour to spend their leisure hours in the improvement of their Christian knowledge.  Those who shall make use of them for such purposes, I hope, by GodŐs blessing, will greatly benefit at least their children and servants.  And I trust they may be useful to themselves to bring to their remembrance the most necessary directions for their Christian conduct in this life.

         To conclude: I am little concerned for those censures the men I have been speaking of may pass upon this performance, because the design of it, with well-disposed minds, will excuse many imperfections.  If I can in any degree promote a sense of religion, and due respect for, or improvement of, its ministers, I shall be much better pleased than to be an author of some account in the opinion of the greatest critic.

London, 1747

 

The Introduction; Enforcing The Necessity of Caring for the Soul.

I.  Man is composed of an immortal soul; and,  II. Of a mortal body.  III. Of the future state of the soul, and how it is determined.  IV. Persuasives to the care of the soul from the nature of the first and second COVENANTS; showing,  V. That it is in every manŐs power to take that care of the soul, which the gospel requires.

 

         I.  The intention of the ensuing Treatise is to instruct all ranks and conditions of men, even the understandings of the very weakest capacities, in a short and plain explication of those DUTIES which every one must believe and practice in this world, if they hope to be happy forever in the world to come.  I shall introduce the whole by drawing them to the consideration and care of their own souls which, being their first and general duty, ought to be preparatory to all the rest.  Whoso is not firmly persuaded of the necessity of this will never give attention to the doctrines and exhortations of the other duties.  What must I do to be saved? is an inquiry that deserves our utmost diligence and attention.  If we are ignorant of the will of God or, knowing it, will not follow or be led by that unerring light, but allow ourselves to be hurried away by our unruly passions in the pursuit of the things of this life, we are wretched and miserable, blind and naked, notwithstanding all our attainments.  And we shall one day sadly find that there is no folly like preferring things temporal to things eternal.

         Man consists of soul and body; a soul that never dies, and which, according to the care we take of it in this life, is designed to return unto God who made it, when the body shall return unto the earth whence it was taken.  And therefore he that is truly wise will consider that he has a soul as well as a body to take care of.  It is a spiritual and immortal substance which can never die but, when loosed from the body wherein it is now confined, must live forever, either in happiness or misery.

         The soul of man is an immaterial principle, distinct* from the body.  It is the cause of those several operations which by inward sense and experience we are conscious of to ourselves.  By the soul we (a) think and remember, (b) we reason and debate about anything, and (c) we freely choose and refuse such things as are presented to us.  It is so created by the divine wisdom and goodness as not to have in itself any principle of corruption.  It will naturally, or of itself, continue forever, and cannot by any natural decay or power of nature be dissolved or destroyed.  When the body falls into the ground, the soul will still remain and live separate from it and continue to perform all such operations toward which the organs of the body are not necessary, and not only continue, but live in this separate state so as to be sensible of happiness or misery.

      [*We learn from scripture (Eccles. 3:21) that a beast has a spirit distinct from its body, and that the said spirit is separated from it by death.  That beasts are not to be considered as mere machines and engines without real sensation is as evident to us, as that men have sensations.  For the brute beasts appear to have all the five senses as truly as any man whatever.  Nevertheless, it will not follow that their souls are immortal in the sense we attribute immortality to the souls of men because they are not capable of the exercise of reason and religion.  The immortality of menŐs souls consists not only in a capacity of living in a state separate from the body, but of living so as to be sensible of happiness or misery in that state of separation.  They are not only endued with a faculty of sense, but with other faculties that do not depend upon or have any connection with matter.  Therefore, although it should be allowed that the souls of brutes remain when separated from their bodies, yet being only endued with a sensitive principle, the operations thereof depend upon an organic disposition of the body.  Once that body is dissolved, they probably lapse into an insensible and inactive state.  Being no further necessary, they may return to their primitive nothing.]

         All which truths have great probability from the evidence of reason.  Natural arguments incline us to believe them.  The arguments from reason are taken from the nature of the soul itself.  We are all conscious to ourselves of those several actions and operations, such as liberty, or a power of choosing or refusing, and the several acts of reason and understanding.  They cannot without great violence be ascribed to matter or be resolved into any bodily principle.  Therefore we must attribute them to another principal different from matter.  Consequently the soul is immortal and incapable of corruption in its own nature.  Besides, when all men, though distant and remote from one another, and different in their tempers and manners, and ways of education Đ when the most barbarous nations, as well as the most polite, agree in a thing Đ we may well call it the voice of nature or a natural notion or dictate of our minds.  But it is evident from the testimony of many ancient heathen writers, and the consent of several credible histories, that they believed that men and women do live after death, and have an existence when separated from their bodies; and consequently that the soul is immortal.  Some few instances may be brought where some have denied this, but their opposition is no proof that this notion is natural.  Some few exceptions are no better arguments against a universal consent, than some few monsters and prodigies are against the regular course of nature.  Men may offer violence to nature, and debauch their understandings by lust, interest, or pride, and an affectation of singularity.

         Moreover, the sense of nature is very evident from the great number of wicked men in the world who, notwithstanding it is their interest that there should be no life after this, cannot overcome the fears of those torments in which the wicked are threatened to be punished for ever.  Again, this truth is confirmed by those natural notions we have of God and of the real difference between good and evil.  For the belief of a God implies the belief of his infinite goodness and justice.  GodŐs goodness, inclines him to make some creatures more perfect than others, and capable of greater degrees of happiness, and of longer duration.  Goodness delights in communicating its own perfections; and since in man are found the perfections of an immortal nature which are knowledge and liberty, he is endued with such a principle as in its own nature is capable of eternal life.  GodŐs infinite justice proves that he loves righteousness and hates iniquity.  But the dispensations of his providence in this world are very promiscuous.  Good men often suffer for the sake of righteousness.  Wicked men frequently prosper by means of their wickedness.  It is reasonable to believe the suitable disposition of rewards and punishments in a future state because, as there is a difference between good and evil founded in the nature of things, it is reasonable to imagine they will be distinguished by rewards and punishments not in this world, but in a future state.  There all things shall be set right, and the justice of GodŐs providence vindicated, which is the very thing meant by the immortality of the soul.

         Lastly, the natural hopes and fears of men cannot well be accounted for without the belief of the soulŐs immortality.  Such hopes and fears are common to all men.  What would it avail to be desirous to perpetuate a name to posterity, and by brave actions endeavour to purchase fame, if there was not a belief of an existence in another world to enjoy it?  Or, can it be thought that they, who by the virtue and piety of their lives, by the justice and honesty of their actions, and have endeavoured to seek the Lord, have not been raised to an expectation of rewards after death?  Again, how can any one account for that shame and horror which follow the commission of any wicked action, though covered with the greatest privacy and unknown to any but the offender?  Certainly it can be only the effect of nature which suggests to them the certainty of an after reckoning, when they shall be punished for their bad actions or rewarded for their good, and so fills the one full of hopes, and the other with fear and dread. [See the Reasonableness of a last Judgment in Sunday iv. Sect. vii. 2.]

         Our immortal nature will bear only such arguments as these because it has no evidence of sense nor of mathematical demonstration.  We should be content with these arguments and be persuaded that immortality as described is highly probable.  Our greatest assurance of it is the revelation of the gospel, whereby life and immortality are brought to light.  The gospel is the only sure foundation of our hopes and an anchor for our faith because the authority of God is above all reason and human knowledge.  The resurrection of Christ is not only a manifest proof of his divine authority, and that he was a prophet sent from God; but also that we shall rise again to be reunited with our souls.  And therefore we should prefer the interest of our souls before all the advantages of this life.  Securing the eternal welfare of body and soul should make us ready and willing to part with everything that is most dear to us in this world.  If we lose our own souls, all the enjoyments in this world can make us no recompense.  The fall of our first parents has made us all subject to death.  Our souls, when separate from our bodies, shall live in another state.  Even our bodies, though committed to the grave and turned to dust, shall at the last day rise again and be reunited to our souls.  And being so united, the whole man, body and soul, shall be made capable of eternal happiness or misery.

         II.  Since this is the case with all of us, men act inconsiderately in spending so much thought about the body.  It is the seat of pains and the most noisome diseases while it is alive.  Death (which the body cannot escape) renders it so intolerably offensive and odious that it must be buried out of sight?  To spend all our time and care about this vile part, the body, and to neglect the most valuable part, the soul, is the greatest degree of imprudence and stupidity.  The soul is of inestimable worth on account of its noble faculties, and is made after GodŐs own image, and is to exist to all eternity.  Therefore our greatest kindness for our body is to take care of our soul.  Consider whether we are able to live in the midst of everlasting fire!   If the burn of a finger or a small spark of fire be so intolerable to the least part of the body, who can endure the fire that shall never be quenched and whose torments after thousands and millions of years are no nearer an end than they were at the first moment they began?  Yet, this is the woeful and certain end of every one that neglects the care of his own soul.  We must not neglect our bodies, but that which promotes the interest of our souls must be preferred before any interest of the body which cannot live without the soul.          Every present and comfortable enjoyment may be lost.  Advantageous riches may make themselves wings and fly away.  How many are reduced in a few hours from plentiful circumstances to extreme necessity by fire or water?  If people, feeling secure in an inheritance, can observe that this cannot be absolutely depended upon.  Fraud and violence may turn a man out of his fortune or estate.  And where is the person that can depend upon a continued state of health?  The most confirmed constitution is not proof against the assaults of pain or sickness.  For every member of the body, every bone, joint and sinew, lies open to many disorders, and the greatest prudence or precaution, or skill of the physician, cannot many times prevent those disorders from coming upon us, much less ascertain to us health, which is the greatest of our outward enjoyments.  Again, we often see the highest honours exchanged for the lowest abasements and contempt.  So the rich man is frequently reduced to poverty, and the healthy man laid upon a bed of languishing.  All the pleasures the sinner can receive from the most careful gratification of his sensual appetites are but of the very same kind with those that brute beasts are capable of as well as he.  The only difference is that their enjoyments are more affecting and less allied to bitterness than his are.  But besides, they have far more uneasiness and trouble in them than of delight and satisfaction.  The covetous, the proud, the envious, the glutton, the drunkard, the whoremonger, the ambitious, the revengeful, can testify out of their own sad experience.  When they have summed up the matter, the contentment which they receive from the gratification of these several passions or appetites doth nowise countervail the pains and restlessness, the disturbances and disappointments, and the manifold evil consequences both to their bodies and souls, and good names, and estates, which they suffer upon the account of them.  Whence we may cry out with the Preacher, Vanity of vanities, all is vanity which does not tend to the care of the immortal soul.  Such gratifications are suited only to the body.  But the body itself is ever tending toward the dust and will soon be stripped of all sensation of worldly things.  It will entirely lose the relish of those things that once had been most agreeable to it.  No man is exempt from this debt.  We must all go down to the silent grave and can carry none of those things along with us.  All our pleasures and ease, if they should happen to last so long, must then have their end.

         III.  On the other hand, that which serves the interests of our souls is more lasting and is never taken from us, whose state hereafter will be determined by our behaviour in this life.  Heaven or hell, happiness or misery, will be our final portion.  Just as death finds us, as soon as death strikes, we either are in torments, on go to paradise; either become the companions of devils, or the associates of holy angels, so to remain to all eternity.  And therefore our greatest care should be to avoid the one and obtain the other.  We are often determined in the affairs of this life by the hope and fear of things to come.  All our pursuits and most of our actions are for the sake of something future and not yet in sight, either to prevent some evil feared, or to obtain some good desired.  Early in life people apply themselves to master some profession, or trade, or business in hopes of a livelihood or of service in retirement.  They are not sure they shall ever live to be masters of what they labour after, nor certain of success in the most prudent steps they can take to accomplish the end of their worldly expectations.  And of these we have far less certainty than of an immortal state.  Shall we be less diligent in the care of our souls, whose affairs are not so uncertain?  Though in life we act upon a future prospect, divine promise ascertains us of success in the way of the gospel of Jesus Christ.  Wherefore, though the benefit is future, that is no reason to abate our zeal in prosecuting it.  Reason does not prevail to slacken menŐs endeavours for their worldly gain.  Having the advantage of a better hope in their aims for another life, but neglecting the means to attain that happy state is unreasonable.  It can be no excuse for a man to say that he cannot comply with that self-denial, mortification, and other Christian duties, which are acceptable to God through Jesus Christ, and without which the soul languisheth, is sick and his faith is dead.  For he cannot be ignorant of that plain rule of wisdom, (a) to decline a present pleasure for one equal to it of longer continuance, or (b) to submit to a present inconvenience to prevent one more lasting, or (c) to obtain a more lasting good, though there should be no difference in the things themselves, but only in their duration.  A wise man will never refuse to go through a short course of medication in bodily illness in order to restore health.  Nor will he neglect to give a small sum of money in hand upon security of enjoying a good inheritance in a few years after.  And shall he neglect (a) to take proper care of his soul, (b) to cleanse it from all impurity, and (c) to prepare it for the enjoyment of that blessed state of eternal happiness which is promised to all those who love God and keep his commandments? Đ especially knowing that the most lasting things below bear no proportion to eternal happiness.

         If we measure them with eternity, they are as nothing.  A minute compared with our whole lives is no proportion in comparison of time and eternal duration.  Therefore whatever is temporal is incapable of giving full satisfaction because it may be taken from us.  When we pursue happiness, we find that earth says, ŇIt is not in me, for everything here is perishing, and soon ends.Ó  The continuance of happiness is its most satisfying character, and the eternity of misery is its most bitter ingredient.  It is impossible to be perfectly happy with the prospect of an end ahead.  This consideration would magnify inferior delights to think that we should never be deprived of them, and light afflictions with eternity written upon them could not be borne.  What then shall we think of perfect happiness and complete misery, both of the highest kind, and both eternal, and in one of which mankind must live for ever?  Then let us apply to ourselves the force and evidence of that question, What is a man profited, if he should gain the whole world, and lose his own soul! or, what will a man give in exchange for his soul?  Time bears no proportion to eternity.  The most exalted pleasures of this life, at best of short continuance, can never compensate for the loss of that happiness which God has prepared for them that love him.  Yet there are too many who make this sad choice.  Not that any one chooses evil for the sake of evil, or prefers misery before happiness.  As he who obeys the commandments of God chooses life, so he who transgresses them chooses death Đ that death which God has threatened to the sinner, even death eternal; for the wages of sin is, death.

         IV.  As the body at the last day must follow the condition of the soul, our greatest interest is the present state of human nature, and the only means by which it can be made happy.  If we neglect the disorders of the understanding, will, and affections, which are the parts of the soul, the flesh will ruin us just when it pretends to please us; and the devil will gain many opportunities to beguile us.  While the understanding is darkened and shut to good instructions, the will inclines to choose the evil, and the affections are bent after the pleasures of sin.  Truly man was made holy and upright by God.  But man, by his voluntary transgression and wilful disobedience, fell away from God.  He did then sank into a corrupt, degenerate, miserable, and cursed condition, both in respect of this life, and to that life which is to come.  The disobedience of our first parents involved their posterity, and entailed a depravity of nature upon their descendants.  That depravity is not a sin in us till the will closes with it and deliberately consents to it.  Yet it is certainly sinful in itself, and consequently is styled Original Sin.

         Therefore our church has rightly decreed that ŇOriginal sin standeth not in the following of Adam, but it is the fault and corruption of the nature of every man, that naturally is engendered of the offspring of Adam; whereby man is very far gone from original righteousness, and is of his own nature inclined to evil; so that the flesh lusteth always contrary to the spirit; and therefore, in every person born into this world, it deserveth GodŐs wrath and damnation.  And this infection of nature doth remain; yea, in them that are regenerated.  And although there is no Condemnation for them that believe and are baptized; yet the apostle doth confess, that concupiscence and lust hath of itself the nature of sin.Ó [See the 9th Article of Religion.]  By original sin, man is not only deprived of the image of God, but becomes liable to his justice; and, as such, God cannot take pleasure in him.  That man who dies before he is restored to his favour, must be separated from him and be forever miserable.  Man could not recover himself, nor raise himself out of his own ruin.  No creature was able to do it.  The mercy of God pitied our misery, and his wisdom devised this expedient to reconcile his mercy and justice, viz. that no man should on account of original sin be eternally miserable, except through his own fault.  GodŐs goodness resolved, that the Son of God should undertake this work, and satisfy the offended justice of the Almighty, and repair the ruined nature of mankind.

         Thus, God entered into a new covenant with man as the remedy for what was past and could not be undone.  The new covenant, as may be fully collected from the gospel, was to this purpose: That, on condition of manŐs steadfast faith, sincere repentance, and perfect obedience, he should (a) be restored through Christ to GodŐs favour; and (b) after death to that life and happiness which was promised to our first parents without tasting of death.  And the condition on GodŐs part of the covenant, the remission of sins, is always ready to be made good, if we fail not on our part of having worthily repented and reformed our lives.  Our Saviour has made full, perfect, and sufficient sacrifice, oblation, and satisfaction for the sins of the whole world.  He has suffered a cruel and ignominious death upon the cross for our sakes.  By his death and sufferings he has purchased this grace for us, that real repentance and sincere obedience shall be accepted instead of innocence.  Without this repentance and renewed obedience we shall not be accepted upon any terms.  The sacrifice which he offered upon the cross, although of infinite value, will be of no avail to us, unless in conformity to his death and resurrection, we die unto sin and rise again unto newness of life.  Nothing but a good life will entitle us to the favour and love of God.  Without his favour we are of all creatures the most miserable.  The condition of the gospel covenant is not a perfect unsinning obedience, but a sincere endeavour to obey all the commands of God to the utmost of our power.  These commands, in their general and most proper sense, are so far from being impossible to be observed, that on the contrary a man cannot easily transgress them without a hardened conscience and deliberate choice.  And whenever God requires more of us than we are naturally able to perform, he never fails to afford us proportionally great assistance to enable us to perform what he so requires.  Through the frailty and infirmity of our nature, if we be at any time surprised into the commission of sin, notwithstanding our sincere endeavour to the contrary, God accepts real repentance and a renewed obedience, instead of an uninterrupted course of holiness.  As the true and only design of the laws of the gospel is to make us holy and undefiled, so it is possible for us to be really holy according to the true intent and meaning of those laws.  As the excellent nature and design of our religion sufficiently recommend it to our judgment, so the possibility of obeying it powerfully encourages us to practice it earnestly.  As God requires nothing more of us than a sincere obedience according to the gracious terms of the gospel covenant, so he will not accept of anything less.  As it is possible for us to be holy and undefiled according to the true intent of the laws of our religion, so God has made it the indispensable condition of our happiness that we actually and in reality become such holy persons.  God and man are brought together again, and man is redeemed from a state of sin and eternal death to a state of holiness, and to the inheritance of eternal life.  This was the end for which the Son of God clothed himself with our flesh that, as man, he might suffer what our sins had deserved, and as he was the Son of God, he might make a full, perfect, and sufficient oblation and satisfaction to the divine justice for the sins of the whole world.  Christ, for the joy of delivering so many millions of souls from misery, endured the death of the cross, and all the afflictions of his bitter passion.  His was the perfect sacrifice whereby all mankind are restored to the favour of God and put into a state of salvation.  God, for his SonŐs sake, promised (a) to pardon all who shall repent and forsake their sins, and bring forth fruits meet for repentance, (b) to give his holy spirit to all such as shall sincerely pray for the same, (c) and after death to make them eternally happy Ń if during this short state of trial, designed to amend our corrupt and disordered nature, they endeavour to observe the rules revealed in his word, and which are absolutely necessary to make them capable of eternal happiness in the kingdom of heaven.

         Therefore, a good life attended with so many advantages will make us live happily, die comfortably, and at last entitle us, through the merits of our Saviour Jesus Christ, to an eternal inheritance in that kingdom which he has purchased for us with his most precious blood.  On the other hand, guilt is its own punishment in this world, and everlasting misery will most certainly be the lot and portion of the wicked and impenitent in the next.  What manner of persons ought we to be in all holy conversation and godliness?  How steadfast and immoveable should this make us in the ways of GodŐs laws, and in the works of his commandments?   With what indignation and abhorrence should we look upon sin?  With what speed should we fly from that dreadful enemy of our souls that would rob us of our present as well as future happiness?  How should we take heed lest there be in any of us an evil heart of unbelief in departing from the living God?  How steadfastly should we resolve (a) to have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, (b) to walk as children of light in the ways of true piety and holiness, and (c) not to delay for one moment the care of our immortal souls?  God is of infinite goodness and mercy, patient and long-suffering toward sinners, unwilling that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance.  He is also infinitely just, and will assuredly vindicate the honour of his laws.  All sin and wickedness is an abomination in his sight.  He is of purer eyes than to behold iniquity.  If his wrath be kindled, yea, but a little, what will become of the wicked and ungodly?  Nothing but a sincere repentance and amendment of life will be sufficient to secure them from the vengeance which he has threatened to pour down upon all obstinate and rebellious sinners.  True repentance will undoubtedly avert his anger.

         V.  To conclude with the sentiments of a devout and pious divine: The great plea that men generally make for the wickedness or carelessness of their lives is this: ŇIt really is not in their power to live up to such a state of holiness and virtue, as the law of God obliges them to.  Grace is in them too weak, and their natural corruptions too strong, for their ever being in a capacity, without more assistance from God, to live strict and religious lives.  Conversion is the work of God, and cannot be wrought by a manŐs self.  And therefore, till God shall please to come upon them with an irresistible power of his holy spirit, they must be contented to live as they do; nay, they must unavoidably live so.Ó  Granted, without GodŐs grace no man can do anything.  Likewise granted, circumstances may be such that it is not morally possible, unless they had greater strength and more grace than they have, suddenly to live as they ought to do.  Their bad principles are really more powerful than their good ones.  Yet in the mean time, we must tell them that they are not mere stocks and stones.  However much reason they have to complain of the infirmity or degeneracy of their natures, things they can do some things toward the bettering of themselves.  For instance, they cannot suddenly conquer the inward bent and inclination of their minds so as to hate all sin and to delight in virtue.  Yet they must confess that they have a power over their outward actions.  They can as well direct their feet toward the church, as to a house of gaming, or drinking, or lewdness.  Their eyes will serve them as well to look upon a bible, or a serious discourse about religion, as to read a scurrilous and profane book.  They are as able to hear the reasonable advice of their sober friends, as to hear the mad harangues of the dissolute company they keep.  These things they must acknowledge that they can do, if they will.  They can do more than this.  If they please, they may take time to consider and think of what they read, or what is said to them, or that their own experience or observation of things will suggest to their minds.  They can further consider their prayers to almighty God to direct them, to assist them, to strengthen them.  Though all this without GodŐs special grace will not be effectual for their regeneration and conversion, yet if they will do as much as this comes to, in time they shall have this special grace which they now lack.  In the same proportion that they use and employ those gifts and powers which they at present have, God will increase and enlarge them.  The truth of all this is confirmed to us by our Saviour, which we find in his mouth at several times, and upon several occasions: To him that hath, to him shall be given, and he shall have an abundance; but from him that hath not, shall be taken away even that which he hath.  Let it then, above all things, be our great and constant endeavour to make him our friend.  He is the best of beings, the sovereign good and happiness of all his creatures, and the fountain and foundation of all our comforts and enjoyments in this life, and of all our hopes and expectations in that which is to come.  Let us make religion the great business of our lives.  While we have time and opportunity, let us prepare ourselves by a life of virtue and righteousness, for that great account which we must one day give.  Let not the ephemeral pleasures and vanities of this world make us unmindful of the great and momentous concerns of eternity.  There shall in no wise enter into that holy place anything that defileth, neither whatsoever worketh abomination, or maketh a lie; but they which are written in the LambŐs book of life.  And those only are the good and virtuous, who have kept themselves from the pollutions of this wicked world, and have led a life of piety and renewed obedience toward God, and of love and charity toward their neighbours.

 

The Prayer

         O God, the protector of all that trust in thee, who was pleased to accept the death and passion of thy dear son Jesus Christ as an expiation for the sins of mankind, and a ransom of their guilty souls from the torments of hell; grant that I may duly weigh the efficacy of his merits, and faithfully improve the benefits of my redemption.  Let not the pleasures of sin betray me, nor the craftiness of Satan deceive me: but do thou guard and protect me with thy blessed spirit against all his spiritual temptations; and let me always have the danger and care of my soul before mine eyes, and, the torments of the wicked fresh in my memory, so that by contemplating upon the misery of others, I may hate their practices, and avoid their punishments, through the all sufficient merits of Jesus Christ, our Lord and Saviour.  Amen.

 

The First Part of the New Whole Duty Of Man

Containing Our Duty to God.

 

SUNDAY  I.

I.  Of true morality and of the duty of man, as taught by natural and revealed religion; containing the three great branches of our duty to GOD, to our NEIGHBOUR, and to OURSELVES.  II.  Our duty to GOD is to believe in him, and in his affirmations, commands, promises, and threatenings.  III.  To hope in him, without presumption or despair.  IV.  To love him for his excellencies and kindness.  V.  To fear him rather than men.  VI.  To trust in him in all dangers and wants.  VII.  To submit to his divine will, both in respect of obedience and patience, in all his commands and disposals.

 

         I.  The Christian religion is the means which God has appointed for the restoring of mankind to his favour and his recovery of the image of God.  Man had forfeited that favour and image by his willful disobedience.  In the Christian religion the Almighty gives us a new hope and title to that everlasting happiness for which man was at first created.  This is only to be hoped for on certain conditions, [See first part of Introduction.] namely, (a) our lively faith, and sincere and (b) hearty endeavours to obey his will.  On the performance or neglect of these depend our eternal happiness and misery.  Therefore it is of the greatest importance for us to inquire what Christian faith is, and what those several things are to which God requires our obedience.  But first, it will not be improper to consider what we are to understand by true morality.

         True morality in the largest sense consists in acting agreeably to those relations which we bear to our Creator and fellow creatures.  It takes in even our duty to our blessed Saviour and Redeemer Đ unless either gratitude be no part of morality, or that he, who was the author of our eternal salvation, be entitled to no gratitude from us.  Nothing is more common than to substitute some part of our duty for the whole.  Of this we have an evident instance in those whom the world miscalls mere moral men.  A mere moral man, in worldly language, is one who lives in a state of open disregard, or at least of fashionable indifference to religion in general.  He shall do some generous and good natured actions, and never be guilty of flagrant breach of honesty.  He shall condemn the man who fails in proper returns of gratitude and affection to his fellow creatures.  But he never condemns himself.  He continually receives and never acknowledges the favours he receives from the author of every good gift.  It is absurd to pretend a love for benevolence and yet to be regardless of God, the most benevolent being that is.  And it is likewise absurd to pretend to love him without a serious examination into his will, without a fair and impartial hearing of the evidences for the truth of it.  The world may bestow the title of moral men, yet an indifferent carelessness, and a willful neglect to examine into GodŐs will and pleasure, are no part of morality.  We must either do GodŐs pleasure, or we must unavoidably suffer his displeasure.  His will ought to be the uppermost consideration of every man.  Some may urge that there are people of strict probity, generosity, and worth, without the least tincture of piety.  To which I answer, those people have from their infancy associated the ideas of happiness and esteem, of misery and disgrace.  This makes them decline those actions which might entail infamy and disgrace upon them.  Instead they pursue actions which may beget an esteem for them, esteem being to them an essential ingredient of happiness.  Therefore, they pas upon themselves a favourable verdict.  Then they are impatient to have it seconded and confirmed by the approbation of others, and are unwilling to do anything that may lessen them in the opinion of their fellow creatures.  It is the desire of fame, not the love of virtue, which is their incentive to good actions.  If we look abroad into the world, we find it thus in fact.  Persons of this sort will scorn to do a little thing, because they abhor anything that may make them cheap and contemptible in the eye of the world.  But they will not scruple to commit a sin upon which the fashionable world had stamped a credit and given a sanction to.  A person who is ungrateful, much more ungrateful to his sovereign benefactor, must be void of everything which is great, glorious, and beautiful in the soul.  He may indeed be actuated by the love of applause, by caprice, by the prevailing mode and fashion of the age, in which he lives.  However, his mind is too narrow, contracted, and ungenerous, to be swayed by any fixed and determined principle of goodness.  You may wonder at this motley mixture in his character; but why should you expect a consistency of life and manners from a man who has no religious principle, and therefore no consistent one to act upon?  He who observes the rules of morality for the sake of temporal pleasures will never perform any act of duty that is highly distasteful to him, or forego any vice that is pleasant and palatable.  In the language of the world, this is the moral man.  In the language of reason, he is as immoral a man as can be conceived.  He lives daily in the uninterrupted practice of deep immorality, namely, ingratitude to his sovereign benefactor from whom he has received everything, and to whom he can return nothing but obedience and thanksgiving, the tribute of a grateful heart.

         What shall we think of this set of men?  It would be uncharitable to suppose them determined atheists.  Most likely it is that they imagine God will accept the social duties in lieu of piety.  And yet true substantial morality is inseparably connected with the highest regard to the Deity.  It is an unnatural divorce to part them asunder.  The only sure groundwork of morality is the prospect of heavenly bliss.

         It is certain, that the light of nature discovers to us the being of a God, and so much of his infinite perfection, as to teach us that (a) he is all good, and (b) hates everything that is evil, that (c) he loves those who avoid the evil and choose the good, and (d) will with severe justice punish the evildoers.  The light of nature searches out (a) the goodness and justice of God,  (b) manŐs duty and subjection to his Creator, (c) and disposes us to receive the perfect will of the Almighty.  This is called natural religion.  All men might know and should be obliged unto natural religion by the mere principles of reason, improved by consideration and experience, without the help of revelation.  They who live by it shall also be judged by it, their consciences accusing or else excusing one another.  Yet natural religion, or that religion which the light of nature dictates, is not sufficiently calculated for the generality of mankind.  Tracing numerous doctrines by the strength of unassisted reason up to the fountainhead from which they flow, and pursuing them to their remotest consequences, are tasks at least extremely difficult to men of letters, but impracticable to the ignorant.  Pure natural religion may perhaps have existed in the minds of some few recluse contemplative men, but it was never in fact established in any one nation from the foundation of the world to the present times.

         The dimness of this is cleared up by revealed religion, [See Sunday iii. Sect. i.] or that method by which God makes himself or his will known to mankind, over and above what he hath made known to us by the light of nature.  Hereby God did not mean to put out any part of that natural light which he had set up in our souls; but He gives a greater light unto men.  Therefore the possibility of revealed religion is evident from the nature of God, and the capacities of men, as well as from that proof which is produced to satisfy us concerning a missian from God.  An infinite Being, who created our souls capable of knowing him and loving him, can never lack power to communicate further light to our minds, and make brighter discoveries of his will and pleasure.  It carries no opposition to natural light that God should reveal his mind by some particular persons to the world.  The great ignorance and corruption of human nature, and that misery and guilt which mankind had contracted, made it both necessary and expedient for man.  Natural light ascertains the being of a Deity and shows us how reasonable it is to pay our adorations to the power that created and preserves us.  Yet it does not sufficiently direct us in the way and manner of performing it.  It gives us some hopes of pardon upon our repentance from the general notion of GodŐs goodness.  Yet it prescribes us no certain method for the obtaining of our reconciliation.  Revealed religion was necessary both (a) to relieve the wants of men in a natural state, and (b) to recover the luster and brightness of those principles which God originally implanted in them, though now sullied and impaired by the corruptions of mankind; and (c) to add such improvements as might draw human nature to a true sense of its own bad state and weakness; and (d) to instruct men in the method of obtaining pardon of their offended Creator.

         Those who would undermine Christianity are for carving out a religion for themselves instead of leaving that work to a Being of unerring wisdom.  The consequence of is that they always take up the maimed and defective morality.  They have no fixed and determined scheme of duties, complete in all its parts, and consistent upon the whole.  They are for contriving a religion that may sit easy upon them.  It suits their own vicious relish for things than the genuine standard of uncorrupted reason.  They are for doing what seems good in their own shortsighted eyes, dimmed by passion.  They resist acquiescing in the will of that Being who seeth not as man seeth, and hath at sundry times and in divers manners spoken unto the fathers by the prophets; but in these last days spoke unto us by his son Jesus Christ.  In which revelation are contained (a) articles of faith to be believed, (b) precepts of life to be practiced, and (c) motives and arguments to enforce obedience.  Knowledge of the holy scriptures is necessary to our eternal salvation.  These are the great and standing revelation of God to mankind wherein (a) the nature of God, and (b) his will concerning our duty, and (c) the terms and conditions of our eternal happiness in another world, are fully and plainly declared to us.

         There are some things in the scriptures which our reason and understanding cannot fathom.  Yet we are satisfied they are revealed by God who cannot lie, whose knowledge is infallible, and whose word is true.  Therefore, upon this higher and superior reason, we ought to yield a firm assent to the truth of them.  Some complain the Bible is not clear and determinate enough as to certain points.  Yet the main quarrel against it is that it is too clear and determinate in enjoining certain duties, and forbidding certain vices.  We meet therein with many precepts of life which our corrupt nature may be unwilling to put in practice.  Yet it is the Lord who commands them, and we must obey with the resignation becoming a child of God Đ Lord, not my will but thine be done.  By the mouth of his apostle God has expressly commanded us to live SOBERLY, RIGHTEOUSLY, and GODLY in this present world.  By the word soberly, we are to understand our duty to OURSELVES; by the word righteously, our duty to our NEIGHBOUR; and by the word godly, our duty to GOD.  Religion itself is that purity or that virtuous temper and disposition of mind which exerts itself in a constant endeavour of being like unto God, and of obeying his commands.  It is the principal distinction of men from the inferior orders of creatures, and upon which alone are grounded all hopes of life and happiness hereafter.  The great end and design of religion is, by the trial of menŐs virtue and integrity in the present world, to qualify them for the happiness of that which is to come.  Also that they, who have been faithful in a small and temporary trust committed to them here, may hereafter be put in possession of a never-fading inheritance which shall be their own forever.

         In a matter of so great importance, therefore, it is very wonderful that a man, who calls himself a reasonable creature, should be careless and indifferent Đ (a) careless whether he has any religion or none, (b) indifferent whether his religion, when he does possess any, be true or false; (c) careless when he has embraced the true religion, whether he makes any improvement in his practice answerable to it, or not.  The foundation of a ChristianŐs duty is a due regard (a) of God, (b) of our neighbour, and (c) of ourselves.  I shall treat in their proper order.

         II.  Our duty to God is to believe in him, to fear him, to love him with all our heart, with all our mind, with all our soul, and with all our strength; to worship him, to give him thanks, to put our whole trust in him, to call upon him, to honour his holy name, and his word; and to serve him truly all the days of our life. [See the second Answer after the Commandments in the Church Catechism.]  We are directed to believe and acknowledge (a) the being and self-existence of a God, that (b) he is from everlasting and world without end, that (c) he is a spirit whom no man hath seen, nor can see, that (d) he is the great creator and preserver of all things, the father of lights, in whom is no variableness, neither shadow of turning, clothed with the infinite perfections of power, wisdom, and goodness, from which all the other divine attributes do flow; and that (e) in the godhead there are three distinct persons, God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Ghost.  Therefore he who cometh to God, must thus believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them who diligently seek him.

         It is in vain to make profession of religion without being first well instructed and firmly persuaded of the being and attributes of God.  Though this knowledge is the foundation of all religion, it must not be a bare speculation, but a serious, practical, affecting impression, and deep sense upon the mind.  A Supreme Being created the world by his power, preserves and governs it by his goodness and wisdom, and will judge it with justice, mercy and truth.  The glory of such a supreme Being no eye can behold.  The majesty no thought can comprehend.  The power no strength can resist.  No swiftness can flee from the presence.  No secret can be concealed from the knowledge.  No art can evade the justice.  Every creature partakes of the goodness.  The duty of believing in God implies not only our believing (a) his existence, and (b) his being governor and judge of the world, but also that we have (c) worthy and honourable apprehensions of his nature and attributes.  Without belief in God there can be no religion.  Where there is such a belief in God, the scripture always in course supposes it accompanied with every other part of true religion.  I shall inform you what those parts are.

         Our first approach to God is by FAITH, without which it is impossible to please God.  Faith is a firm belief of things at present not seen.  Faith is a conviction upon the mind of the truth of the promises and threatenings of God made known in the scriptures.  Faith is also a conviction of the certain reality of the rewards and punishments of the life to come.  Such conviction enables a man, in opposition to all the temptations of a corrupt world, to obey God in expectation of an invisible reward hereafter.  Faith is also a sincere persuasion of the mind concerning the certainty or credibility of any truth or fact arising from anotherŐs testimony.  In the holy scriptures the reason of faith is strong and forcible because that is the testimony of God concerning those things in which are contained the means of eternal life, which may properly be reduced to these particulars: affirmations, commands, promises, and threatenings.

         First, of his affirmations: such are (1) the creation of the world, (2) the dispensations of providence in former ages, (3) and above all, the Son of God manifested in the flesh, (4) his life and death, and resurrection, and ascension into heaven, (5) the distinction of the blessed Trinity into Father, Son, and Holy Ghost, (6) the second coming of Christ, (7) the resurrection of the dead, (8) the last judgment, and (9) the rewards and punishments which will ensue upon it.  These affirmations of God are contained in scripture.  They are above our understanding, and not to be perceived by sense, nor to be seen through with the closest application.  Yet if we have faith and trust in his promises,  they become present unto us.

         The next instance by which we show our faith in GodŐs word is to believe that all his commands are true, just, fit to be commanded, and are the rule and measure of our obedience to show us wherein and how we must obey him.  Therefore our faith in his commands must be constantly shown by our sincere obedience.

         The third thing in scripture which demands our belief are GodŐs promises of (a) outward necessaries, (b) present ease and refreshment, and of (c) all the benefits of ChristŐs death and passion; the promise of (d) divine guidance to the weakness of our understandings and judgments, of (e) strength in tribulations, (f) grace under temptations, and of (g) acceptance and pardon upon our faith and sincere endeavours, which is always a necessary condition on our part.  The end therefore of our belief in GodŐs promises is to perform the conditions.  When we have done, we may justly apply the promises to ourselves, and expect our share in them.  Till then, how sure soever we believe these promises to be, we cannot hope for benefit from them.  We are not the persons to whom they were made until we have performed the conditions they require.

         We are also to believe that God is just and powerful.  He will and is able to punish sinners both with spiritual and temporal afflictions, and eternal destruction.  The terrors of the Lord are recorded (a) for our admonition and caution, (b) to preserve us from those sins to which these punishments are justly threatened, and (c) to recover us to repentance when we have fallen, or (d) to fortify us against compliance in the hour of temptation.  This is the object of faith fitted to work upon our minds on account of its certainty and importance.  From (a) the dictates of reason, (b) a general consent of mankind, and (c) the most credible revelation of these things in the gospel, we have all the assurance of the truth of these that we are capable of in this life.  How strange it is that some satisfy themselves with expressing zeal for the profession of the true religion, though they dishonour that profession by unrighteous works!  Others expect to obtain salvation by the strength of their faith, utterly mistaking the very meaning of the word faith.  They apprehend it to mean credulity, instead of fidelity, and expect they shall be accepted for being confident instead of faithful servants!  Some depend upon certain things that can be done for them by others Đ as if anything could, in the religious sense, be of advantage to any man that does not at all make him the better man!  Others rely upon the merits of Christ, deceiving themselves that Christ will rescue them from punishment, though they themselves reject all the motives by which the gospel proposes to rescue them from sin!  And as to the importance of this faith, the highest hopes and the greatest fears are sufficient springs of human actions.  What can concern us more than eternal happiness and eternal misery?  Faith in God, through Jesus Christ, includes our obedience to his laws, and produces in the heart of a sincere and true believer a humble hope in his promises.

         III.  A second duty to God is HOPE, which is (a) a strong reliance and dependence upon the truth and goodness of the Lord for his performance of those things promised on his part, and (b) which is also a condition of our acceptance with him.  So that a humble hope, the effect of faith, is a proper homage to God based upon his infallible truth that he neither can be mistaken himself, nor is under any temptation to deceive us.  Whatever he says must be true and accordingly claims our first hope and dependence.  We can have no other evidence for it beside his word.  Yet we should indeed be very careful that we have the word of God to support our hope, and that we have used the best means in our power to understand the true meaning of GodŐs word.  These are the only means to guard us against those two pernicious extremes, presumption and despair, which interrupt or destroy this duty.  Therefore, though the apostle has taught in general to hope all things, we must watch our own corruption and not rely too much upon our own strength.  For we are guilty of the great sin of presumption when (a) we neglect those means of grace established to enable us to perform our duty, (b) when we rashly run ourselves into temptations, presuming our own ability to encounter them,  (c) and even in those trials that the providence of God brings upon us, when we trust more to our own resolution than to his divine assistance Đ and consequently he who hopes for pardon of sins and eternal life without that repentance and obedience, to which alone they are promised, is a presumptuous hypocrite whose hopes shall perish.  For this self-confident temper often betrays us to undertake what we have neither capacity nor ability to perform.  It makes us neglect those previous measures which are necessary to accomplish what we design.  It teaches us by dear-bought experience the frailties and infirmities of our nature.  It frequently makes shipwreck of a good conscience, and provokes God to withdraw his grace, which we lay so little stress upon, in order to our preservation.

         To cure this sort of presumption, we should consider the weakness and frailty of human nature, and the frequent instances of it in our own conduct.  We are unable of ourselves to do anything that is good.  We should reflect upon those eminent examples that have been fatally betrayed by too great a confidence in themselves, and which are set up as so many marks for us to avoid those rocks upon which they split.

         We are not to be so borne down with our sins and mistrust the mercy of God as to fall into the contrary fault which is despair.  Though sin is the saddest slavery in the world, yet it must not break and sink menŐs spirits.  It must not make them so base and servile as to deprive them of that courage necessary to rescue themselves from it.  As long custom and continuance in sin deprives us of our strength, it discourages our hopes both of GodŐs grace and assistance, and of his mercy and forgiveness.  But, when this despair is the effect of religious melancholy, which is frequently an indisposition of body, then there is no such reason to be cast down.  Some complain of lack of improvement under the exercise of religious duties, and lack of a fervent zeal and love toward God.  This is only because they want warmth and affection in the performance of their duty, which duty they nevertheless do perform sincerely and carefully Đ and then there is no just ground for trouble of mind upon that account.  They must be taught to comfort themselves by considering that (a) the different degrees of affection with which different persons serve God depend much more upon the accidental difference of their constitution of body than it is any true measure of the goodness of their minds; (b) that in one and the same person there will unavoidably be different degrees of affection at different times according to (1) the present temper of his body, (2) the order or disorder of his spirits, (3) the natural passions and commotions of his mind, without any real change in his moral dispositions; and that (c) no man can at all times keep up an equal vigour of mind.  If after his best endeavours in a virtuous life, he cannot yet find in himself that passionate love of the supreme Good, which he finds some writers have described in an unintelligible manner, this is no just ground of uneasiness at all.  Whoever sincerely obeys the commandments of God, in the course of a virtuous and religious life, needs no other mark or proof of his love toward him.  It may be an apprehension that they may be excluded from mercy by some positive decree and fore-appointment of God.  To think that the infinitely merciful and good God should, for his own pleasure, and not for any wickedness of theirs, eternally decree any of his creatures to be miserable is absolutely contrary to the divine attributes.  There is no foundation in scripture for any such apprehension, whatever there may be in the writings of some unskillful interpreters.  Nor can there be any just reason of despair even to those whose minds are troubled at the remembrance of past sins.  These are, and ought to be such a trouble of mind as nothing but effectual repentance and amendment can remove.  Yet when amendment has really taken place, then the sorrow for what is past may reasonably be relieved by the assurance of pardon.  The great and principal promise of pardon is made indeed to unbelievers, at their conversion and being baptized.  Yet there is also sufficient encouragement given, even to relapsing sinners, to repent.  The despair we condemn is a disorder which consists in a settled, rooted persuasion that we shall never obtain mercy.  Let us do whatever we can, for it is no temper or state of mind worthy of blame to despair of mercy while we continue in sin.

         The hope we have in God through Christ Jesus is a remedy against this sin.  By despair the devil would persuade a sinner he can never obtain mercy.  God gives a certain hope of eternal glory to all that will seek for mercy by sincere repentance and obedience through Jesus Christ.  How then can a rational creature give up his reason so far as to give himself up for lost?  The God that made him, and is to reward or punish him, doth promise his mercy to as many as will change their evil course of life, and walk in his ways.

         IV.  A third duty to God is LOVE.  To love God is to possess our minds with such a due sense and estimation of the excellencies and perfections which are in the divine nature, as may (a) make us look upon God as our chief good, (b) make choice of him as the only proper object of our happiness, and (c) prefer his cause and interest before anything else that may come in competition with it.  Therefore our Saviour expressly declares it as the first and great commandment, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, with all thy soul, and with all thy strength, and with all thy mind.  That is, we are to serve God with all those faculties, which he has given us.  The love of God is not to be exclusive of all other loves but of all other rival affections.  Whenever the love of God and that of the world come in competition, the former ought to take place of the latter.  To love the Lord with all our heart means to love him with all sincerity, with an undissembled affection.  To love God is not merely to do what he commands, but it is to do it because he commands it.  To love God with all our soul means to serve him with the whole soul, with an unreserved obedience.  God is not to share a divided affection in our breast, an affection divided between piety and sin.  He is to reign unrivalled by any darling vice.  To love God with all our soul is to have respect unto all his commandments.  To love the Lord with all our strength is to put forth the active powers of the soul in loving and serving him.  It is to rouse ourselves from all supineness and listless idleness.  It is to quicken the wheels and springs of action that moved heavily before.  It is to do well without being weary of welldoing.  It is to lay out our endeavours that we may have a competent sense to discern, a sincere inclination to embrace, and a steady resolution to hold fast what is best and most pleasing to the Deity.

         We must love God sincerely and affectionately.  We must desire to please him, and to perform his will.  We must desire to be made acceptable to him, and to become partakers of his favour and rewards, not of the unreasonable pleasures of unrighteousness.  All the reasons for the loving any object or thing in the world do more forcibly recommend to us the love of God.  He is in himself most excellent, fit to be our chief happiness, and hath actually shown himself our best friend.  He has annexed a present as well as a future reward to a good life.  He has so interwoven our duty and happiness together, that while we are discharging our obligations to duty, we are at the same time making provision for happiness.  Upon all these accounts our best love is due to him.

         His goodness and excellency tarnish all the beauty and excellence of creatures.  There is none good but one; that is God.  He is good in such a sense as none can be acknowledged good beside.  He alone is perfectly, originally, necessarily, and unchangeably good.  He has every excellence in the highest degree: (1) almighty power, (2) unerring wisdom, (3) infinite goodness, (4) unblemished truth, (5) spotless holiness Đ everything fit to raise the wonder and engage the delight of men and angels.  His glory shines out in the works of creation and providence.  Power and wisdom may command dread and admiration.  Yet nothing but goodness can challenge our love and affection.  He gave us our beings.  In the whole course of our lives his goodness prevents numberless evils from falling upon us which, with all our reason and understanding, we could by no means either prevent or avoid.  When we were fallen from that happiness for which at first we were designed, he was pleased to restore us to a new capacity of it by sending his only Son into the world to die for us.  The benefits of his death and passion no man can lose but by his own fault.  He has endued us with reason and natural conscience to distinguish between good and evil, and to forewarn us of the certainty of a future judgment.  He has confirmed this natural conscience with the additional help of an express revelation.  With much long-suffering and forbearance, he defers the punishment of sinners so that they may, if possible, be brought to repentance.  If they do repent, he forgives and pardons them, as a father receives a returning child.  We cannot but love him, who is good, and does us good.

         If God vouchsafes to love us, we must also show our love of him by desiring both to please and enjoy him.  The first token of anyoneŐs love is doing what is thought most acceptable to the person loved.  A true love of God will show itself first in keeping his commandments.  That is its description by St. John.  Where this token is missing, there can be no love of God.  If anyone continues in a willful breach of a single command of his, he is deceived in thinking that the love of God abideth in him.  As the excellency and kindness of God is most transcendent, so our love of him must be most fervent and preferable to every other thing.  If our love of God be sincere, we shall have high and admiring thoughts of him, according to those discoveries which he hath made of himself.  We shall reverence him as the most perfect being, and give him the glory of his excellencies, as we turn our thoughts either (a) to the works of nature in our creation, or (b) to the wonders of grace in our redemption, or (c) to the prospect of glory in the world to come.  GodŐs mercy is over all his works.  The genuine tests and significant expressions of an undissembled love to God which will procure for us the blessed effects of that infinite love, and which, being stronger than death, disarmed death of its sting, and the grave of its victory, include the following: (1) acting in concert with him by showing mercy in all our works as far as we can, (2) conscientiously endeavouring to (a) discharge all the duties he has enjoined us without reluctance, and to (b) submit to all his dispensations, without murmuring, (3) addressing ourselves to him with that holy fear which awes the turbulent passions into composure but does not depress the spirit or beget an abject and unmanly way of thinking, (4) looking up to him with reverence as the great judge and lawgiver of the universe, chiefly delighting to consider him under the endearing characters of a creator, redeemer, preserver, and benefactor, (5) before sleep recommending ourselves to his almighty care, who neither slumbers nor sleeps, (6) recommending ourselves upon arising to his superintendence, who makes his sun to rise upon the just and unjust, (7) humbly desiring that, as that sun dispels the darkness night, so he, the great sun of righteousness, who arose with healing in his wings, would drive from us all evil, whether of mind, body, or estate, (8) committing all our concerns in general to his providence and fatherly goodness, (9) upon every extraordinary emergency making a more particular application to him for his direction who never faileth them that seek him.  Such a soul will say, I see that God alone can be my portion.  In his favour is my life.  Without that, though I had all the world, I should be destitute and miserable.  This love arises from the sense of benefits received.  It is like the filial love of a dutiful child to a tender and indulgent parent, upon a review of his care and kindness, in preserving him, providing for him, doing him all the good that lies in his power.  This love engages him to study to requite his parents in the best manner he can.  Such is the love of God found in a pious soul.

         Many enthusiasts pretend to feel in themselves that warmth of affection.  Others really love, and fear, and serve God in the course of a virtuous and religious life.  But they are afraid and suspect that they do not love God sincerely as they ought.  Let these be corrected by considering that there is no other mark so infallible of the goodness of a tree as the fruit which it brings forth.  It is not a religious mood or humour, but a religious temper.  It is not to be now and then pleased with our maker in the gaiety of the heart, when, more properly speaking, we are pleased with ourselves.  It is not to have a few occasional transient acts of complacency and delight in the Lord rising in our minds, when we are in a vein of good humour.  It is to have a lasting, habitual, and determinate resolution to please the Deity, rooted and grounded in our hearts, and influencing our actions throughout.  Living in obedience to the commands of God, they need no other evidence of the sincerity of their hearts toward him.  All other signs may possibly be erroneous, but this is the very thing itself signified.  Love of goodness, righteousness, and truth, is love of God, for God is goodness and truth.  He who loves these virtues, the moral perfections of the divine nature, therefore loves God most perfectly, because he loves those excellencies, for which God expects that we should love him above all things.

         The other fruit of love is the desire of enjoying.  This is the case of all men.  They desire the company of those they love.  He that sincerely loves God will be constant in prayer, meditation, hearing his word, and receiving the blessed sacrament of the LordŐs supper with cheerfulness and devotion.  He will also earnestly wish to be dissolved and to be with Christ in the glory of God the Father, with an entire resignation of this world and all its enjoyments, to GodŐs will and pleasure.

 

Sunday I.  Part II.

         V.  The fourth duty to God is FEAR.  Though love casteth out all servile fear, yet it doth not exclude such a fear as a dutiful son shows to a very affectionate, but a very wise and prudent father.  We may rejoice in God with reverence as well as serve him with gladness.  If not allayed and tempered with fear and the apprehensions of divine justice, love would betray the soul into a sanguine confidence and ill-grounded security.  Fear, on the other hand, if not sweetened and animated by love, would sink the mind into a fatal despondency.  Therefore fear is placed in the soul, as a counterpoise to the more enlarged, kindly, and generous affections.  There are two bridles or restraints, which God hath put upon human nature, shame and fear.  Shame is the weaker and hath place only in those in whom some virtue remains.  Fear is the stronger and works upon all who love themselves and desire their own preservation.  In this degenerate state of mankind, fear hath the greatest power over us.  It is the power by which God and his laws take the surest hold of us.  Our desire, and love, and hope are not so readily influenced by the representation of virtue and the promises of reward and happiness, as our fear is from the apprehensions of divine displeasure.  Though we have lost much of the true relish for happiness, yet we still retain a quick sense of pain and misery.  Fear is founded on a natural love of ourselves, and is interwoven with a necessary desire of our own preservation.  Therefore, religion usually makes its first entrance into us by this passion.  Hence Solomon more than once calls the fear of the Lord the beginning of wisdom.

         To fear God is to have such a due sense of his majesty, and holiness, and justice, and goodness that we shall not dare to offend him.  Each of these attributes is proper to raise a suitable fear in every considering mind: (a) his majesty, a fear lest we affront it by being irreverent; (b) his holiness, a fear lest we offend it by being carnal; (c) his justice, a fear lest we provoke it by being presumptuous; and (d) his goodness, a fear lest we forfeit it by being unthankful.  This fear of God is not the superstitious dread of an arbitrary or cruel being.  It is that awe and regard which necessarily arises in the mind of every man who believes and habitually lives and acts in the sight of an omnipresent Governor, of perfect justice, holiness, and purity.  God sees every thought, as well as every action and cannot be imposed upon by any hypocrisy. As certainly as there is any difference between good and evil, God cannot but approve the one and detest the other.  His government consists in rewarding what he approves, and punishing what he hates.  This fear of God is the foundation of religion.  The great support of virtue among men is the sense upon their minds of a supreme Governor and Judge of the universe, who will finally and effectually reward what is worthy of reward, and punish what is worthy of punishment.  Consequently fear brings us into subjection to GodŐs authority, and enforces the practice of our duty.  The fear of the Lord is to depart from evil.

         Regrettably, the fear of men, or dread not to provoke them, is too often stronger than the fear of God.  God is infinitely more to be dreaded than man.  This is the lesson we are taught by Christ himself, who says, Fear not them that can kill the body Đ that is, fear not men so much as God; fear him infinitely more.  It is very lawful for us to fear men, and to stand in awe of their power because they can kill the body, and death is terrible.  But when (a) the power of man comes in competition with omnipotence, and (b) what man can do to the body in this world with what God can do to the body and soul in the other, there is no comparison between the terror of the one and the other.  God can do all that man can do.  He can kill the body by an immediate act of his divine power.  He can blast our reputation, ruin our estate, and afflict our bodies with the sharpest pains, and smite us with death.  God doth all that with ease which men many times do with labour.  They use the utmost of their wit and power to do us mischief.  God can do all things by a word.  If he speaks, judgments come.  We are but a little dust, and the least breath of God can disperse it.  He hath all creatures at his command, ready to execute his will.  Whatever man or any creature can do, God can do also and infinitely more.  His power is not confined to the body, but he hath power over the spirit.  He can make body and soul miserable in this world, and also in the other, and not only for a few years, but for all eternity.

         The fear of men will not be a sufficient plea and excuse for men.  It will not be enough to say, (1) This I was awed into by the apprehensions of danger, or by the fear of sufferings; or, that (2) I chose rather to trust God with my soul, than men with my estate; (3) to save my life I renounced my religion, was ashamed of Christ, and denied him before men.  Our Saviour hath told us plainly, Whosoever shall be ashamed of me, and of my words, in this adulterous and sinful generation, of him also shall the Son of man be ashamed, when he cometh in the glory of his Father with his holy angels.  Thus they who offend God out of fear of men are guilty of this folly.  They incur the danger of a greater evil.  While they are endeavouring to escape the hands of men that shall die, they fall into the hands of the everliving God.  Do we fear the wrath of man, whose breath is in his nostrils, who can but afflict a little, and for a little while?  Is not the wrath of the eternal God much more dreadful?  As we are sinners, our fear is justly increased from the holiness of his nature, the justice of his government, and the threatenings of his laws.  As our offences respect men, we may transgress against them, without their knowing it.  One may steal his neighbourŐs goods or defile his wife, yet keep it so privately as not to be suspected and never be brought to punishment for it.  But this can never be done in regard to God, who knows the most secret thoughts of our hearts.  Consequently, though we sin ever so privately, he is sure to find us out, and will as surely, except we repent in time, punish us for it eternally.

         VI.  A fifth duty to God is TRUST.  The homage due to God in all our wants and dangers is to trust in him.  By trust we declare our constant dependence upon God (a) for the relief of all our wants and dangers, whether spiritual or temporal, and (b) to support us under all afflictions and temptations.  This trust is founded upon a persuasion of his all-sufficiency, and of his inviolable faithfulness to perform his word and engagements.  As far as I trust a man, I suppose him able to do what I trust him for.  He will have given me some encouragement to believe his willingness and not deceive me.  It must be so in any regular trust in God, who is able to do for us exceeding abundantly above all that we can ask or think.  But we have no expectation from God for things which he hath never promised.  Where he has been pleased positively to declare what he will do, we should firmly depend, whatever difficulties or discouragements may lie in the way of our hope.  Where his promises are made with a reserve for his own sovereignty, or the superiority of his divine wisdom Đ as he knows far better than we what is good for man in this life Đ there we should not allow ourselves to be positive in our expectations of particular events.  We should cast our care upon him in a more general manner, relying upon him that he will do that which upon the whole is best for us.

         In all conditions that befall us we must repose ourselves upon God in confidence of his support and deliverance, of his care and providence, to prevent and divert the evils we fear, whether spiritual or temporal.  We can rely on his gracious help to bear us up under such evils, and on his mercy and goodness to deliver us from them when he sees best; provided always we be careful to do our duty to him. [See Christian Fortitude and Patience in Sunday xvi. Sect. v.]  Every man who believes there is a God must believe this of God.  He will, therefore, earnestly and persistently beseech God to permit him to refer his affairs to him to undertake the care of them.  He will, without any demur or difficulty, give up himself wholly to God to guide and govern him and to dispose of him as to God should seem best.  If God hath prevented us herein, and without our desire taken this care upon himself, we ought to rejoice in it as the greatest happiness that could possibly have befallen us.  Without any further care and anxiety, using our own best diligence, and studying to please him, we should cheerfully leave ourselves in his hands.  We should have the greatest confidence and security that he will do all that for us which is really best.  We should have a firm persuasion that the condition and circumstances of life, which he shall choose for us, will be the very same which we would choose for ourselves, were we endued with equal wisdom.  Therefore, let it be considered how great a mischief we frequently do ourselves by loading our minds with a multitude of vexatious and tormenting cares when we may so securely cast our burden upon God.  Let us earnestly beg of God (a) that his watchful and merciful providence would undertake the care of us, (b) that he would fit and prepare us for every condition he hath designed to bring us into, and (c) that he would teach us to demean ourselves in it as we ought; (d) that he would consider our frailties and lay no greater load of affliction upon us than he will give us grace and strength to bear; (e) that if he sees it good to exercise us with afflictions and sufferings of any kind, he would make us able to stand in that evil day, and when we have done all, to stand.

         And let us be sure to keep within the bounds of our duty, trying no unlawful ways for our ease, preservation, and rescue from the evils which we fear and lie under.  We may assure ourselves that God appears for us when, out of conscience of our duty to him, we are contented to suffer rather than to work our deliverance by undue means.  Let us commit ourselves to him in welldoing, and do nothing that is contrary to the plain rules and precepts of religion.  We should follow the example of holy David.  That is, instead of vain murmurings, and complaints, and terrifying ourselves with fears of what may never happen, we betake ourselves to prayer.  By this means we engage the providence of God for our protection from evil, or for our support under it.  Thus we should certainly do much better for ourselves, and contribute much more than we can do any other way (a) to the prevention of any evil that we can fear, or (b) to the mitigating or shortening of it as to GodŐs infinite wisdom and goodness shall seem best.  To this we are directed by St. Peter, when he exhorts us to cast all our care upon God, who careth for us.  St. Peter had been taught by our saviour Christ, who in his divine sermon on the mount says: Take no thought for your life, what ye shall eat, or what ye shall drink; nor yet for your body, what ye shall put on: is not the life more than meat, and the body than raiment?  Behold the fowls of the air: for they sow not, neither do they reap, nor gather into barns; yet your heavenly Father feedeth them.  Are ye not much better than they?  Which of you by taking thought can add one cubit unto his stature?  And why take ye thought for raiment?  Consider the lilies of the field how they grow, they toil not, neither do they spin: and yet I say unto you, that even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these.  Wherefore, if God so clothe the grass of the field, which today is, and tomorrow is cast into the oven, shall he not much more clothe you, O ye of little faith?  Therefore take no thought, saying, What shall we eat? or what shall we drink? or wherewithal shall we be clothed? (for after all these things do the Gentiles seek ) for your heavenly Father knoweth that ye have need of all these things.  But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you.  Take therefore no thought for the morrow, for the morrow shall take thought for the things of itself; sufficient  unto the day is the evil thereof.

         But we are not to live at random, secure and careless of whatever may befall us.  We are to look into the consequences of our own or other menŐs actions, and endeavour to foresee and prevent approaching dangers.  We are to make some manner of provision for future events, to lay up something, and concern ourselves beyond what is present, and immediately before us.  Doubtless, sagacity in discerning and a prudent forecast toward declining evils, are not only allowable, but commendable qualities.  Frugality and diligence are certainly virtues.  Our SaviourŐs meaning is to forbid (a) such a care and concern for future accidents as is attended with uneasiness, distrust, and despondency, (b) such a degree of thoughtfulness, as takes up, defects, and distracts the mind.  We are not to pry too curiously into remote issues, nor to perplex and afflict ourselves with the forethought of imagined dangers.  We are not to guard against want by any eager anxious pursuit of wealth.  Nor are we to be so careful in providing supplies for the necessities of this life, as to forget that we are designed for another.  It is very unreasonable to disquiet ourselves about distant evils.  The presence of needs and evils themselves often suggests better expedients, wiser and quicker counsels to us, than all our wisdom and forethought at a distance can do.  The morrow (says our Lord) shall take thought for the things of itself; that is, it shall bring along with it a power and strength of mind answerable to its necessities, a frame of spirit every way suited to our circumstances and occasions.

         He that terrifies himself with the apprehension of future evils declares, in effect, that he doth not absolutely rely upon God for his ordering and disposing of them.  And he, who doth not absolutely trust God with all his concerns, has no right to his protection and defense, no reason to expect his support and assistance.  He is left to work out everything as well as he can, by the dint of second causes, by his own parts, policy, and prudence.  His case is wretched.  He has brought his affairs so to pass as to be deprived of his best and most faithful counsellor, his most kind and potent friend.  He lives, as it were, without God in the world.  It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God.  And surely, next to that, it is a fearful thing to take ourselves out of his hands.  When a man sets himself anxiously to take thought for the morrow, he is justly supposed to exempt himself from GodŐs care.

         Therefore, let us not by our rashness and folly provoke trouble and danger, and bring them upon ourselves.  Let us, according to our SaviourŐs counsel, be wise as serpents, and innocent as doves.  Let us use that care and prudence which is consistent with innocence and a good conscience.  And, when we have done that, let us be no further solicitous, but resign up ourselves and all our cares to the good pleasure of God, and to the disposal of his wise providence.  Let us leave it to him, who made the world, to govern it, for no doubt he understands it much better than we.

         The vain desire of knowing things to come beforehand is such a desire of the knowledge of secret things as is not consistent with our trust in God.  It is not permitted us by the present circumstances and condition of our nature.  Always those who have (a) least knowledge of God, and (b) least trust in his promises, and (c) least understanding, have the greatest confidence in groundless pretenses and unwarrantable methods of pursuing knowledge.  To pretend to know things by the stars introduces fatality and destroys religion .  Astrology is a distrust of the Almighty.  Witchcraft, fortunetelling, and all unlawful arts, either real or pretended, whenever they have any reality in them, are evidently diabolical.  When they have no reality, they are cheats and lying impostures, the works of him who was a liar from the beginning.  Therefore let me exhort you in the words of St. Paul: Be careful for nothing; but in everything, by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known unto God.

         VII.  A sixth duty to God is HUMILITY, or that lowliness of mind which is an entire resignation to the will of God.  It is a dependence upon him in all dangers that relate either to our bodies or souls.  It consists in the true knowledge of ourselves and the understanding of our own weak and sinful condition.  By humility we take to ourselves the shame and confusion due to our follies, and give God the glory of all the good we receive or are enabled to do.  For he who desires to be truly humble and clothed with humility must do nothing on purpose to draw the eyes and good opinion of men, but purely to please God.  He must receive from the hands of God all afflictions and trials without murmuring against his justice.  The submission of a Christian consists in a firm persuasion of mind (a) that nothing happens to us but by the will and permission of God, and (b) that we never presume too much upon the best of our works.  All our righteousness is as filthy rags; and when we have done all those things which are commanded, we are no better than unprofitable servants; [See this Doctrine explained by the 11th, 12th, and 13th Articles of Religion.]  And again (c) in being persuaded that God loves us better than we do ourselves, and knows the best methods of making us happy.  Such a submission as this will make us easy under the greatest afflictions.  Though God should visit us with the most intolerable disappointments and losses in this world, it will either (a) stop our mouths against providence because it is the work of God, or (b) it will enable us with courage to receive them with the resignation of good old Eli, It is the Lord; let him do what seemeth him good.

         Therefore, whenever he strikes with the rod of correction, we must bear it because we cannot avoid it.  To our patience let us add also our thanks because, having highly provoked his goodness, we are not by his justice given over to our own heartsŐ lusts, but are still preserved under the wings of his mercy.  Far from causing us to repine against God, it should raise in us an immediate reformation, repentance, confession, contrition, and full purposes of amendment with satisfaction.  Some of the greatest afflictions and calamities of life are not always real and positive inflictions of judgments from the hand of God, but merely (a) the original differences of menŐs state and circumstances, (b) the variety of GodŐs creation, (c) the different talents committed to menŐs charge, (d) the different stations God has placed men in for their various trials, and in order to the exercises of a diversity of duties.  The like may be said of (1) want of honour and power, (2) want of children to succeed in our estates and families, (3) weakness of body, (4) shortness of life, and the like, and even of (5) spiritual disadvantages themselves and (6) want of capacity and good understanding, (7) want of knowledge and instruction, (8) want of many opportunities and means of improvement which others enjoy.  None of these are any just ground of complaint against God, or any reason why we should not with all satisfaction acquiesce in his divine good pleasure.  All these things are only different distributions of such free gifts as he, not being obliged to bestow on any man, may therefore without controversy divide to every man in what measure and proportion he himself thinks fit.  We may depend upon this, that in such measure only will he exact our duty as he enables us to perform it Đ to whom little is given, of him shall not much be required.  This brings all the seeming inequalities in the world to a real equality at last.

         In all circumstances of life, therefore, we are not to be uneasy (a) that God has made us inferior to others, or (b) that he has set before us greater hardships and difficulties to go through, or (c) that he has given us less abilities and fewer opportunities than others.  We are to apply ourselves wholly with all resignation to the proper duties of that station, or of those circumstances, wherein God has been pleased to place us.  Even poverty is not an argument to envy the rich, but a strong obligation to study the duties of humility, contentment, and resignation.  Ignorance and want of capacity, meanness of parts and want of instruction are not reasons to murmur that God has not entrusted us with more talents.  They are an admonition to take care that we make a right improvement of those few that are given us.  Weakness of body is not a just occasion to repine against God for not giving us the strength and health wherewith he has blessed some others.  It is continual argument to us to exercise and improve such virtues as are more peculiar to the mind.  Lastly, the consideration of the uncertainty and shortness of life itself ought not to make us spend our time in fruitless complaints of the vanity and meanness of our state.  Instead it should cause us perpetually to consider that it is not of so great importance how long we live, as how well.  It ought to be a sufficient satisfaction to truly pious and religious persons, that God has reserved for them their portion in another life.  Therefore we should be content in every state and condition of life, whatever befall us, howsoever to our own inclinations, and how much soever they contradict those proposals of happiness and enjoyment which we have framed within our own breasts.

         Both which parts of Christian humility are perfected by a contempt of the world.  The contempt of the world is shown by looking upon (a) the best of our works to be full of infirmity and pollution, and on (b) all worldly enjoyments as little and inconsiderate in comparison of the purity and perfection of God and that happiness which God hath prepared for those that love him.  Contempt of the world is also shown in (c) being content with that portion of the good things of this life.  The wise providence of God hath allotted them to our share (1) without our purchasing the enjoyment of them by the committing of any willful sin, (2) without our being anxiously concerned for the increase of them, (3) or extremely depressed when they make themselves wings and fly away, (d) in a moderate use of all those lawful pleasures which relate to the gratification of our senses and fleshly appetites.  Moderation becomes persons who expect their portion, not in the pleasures of this world, but in the happiness of the next.  Unworldliness is also seen in a (e) low esteem of riches and honour, as we are ready to forsake them whenever they come in competition with the performance of our duty to God, in (f) bearing the afflictions and calamities of this life with patience and constancy, and (g) looking unto Jesus, as the author and finisher of our faith.

         This humble, resigned, and depending frame of mind is the proper disposition for devotion, and the parent of religious fear.  It is the seed plot of all Christian virtues.  It makes us ready to receive the revelations of GodŐs will to mankind, and as careful to practice what he enjoins.  It restrains the immoderate desire of honour, by teaching us not to exalt ourselves, nor do anything through strife or vainglory.  It opposes self-love, which is planted in our nature and, when indulged, will deceive us in the judgment we form concerning ourselves.  It also makes us ready to believe what God reveals, and to pay our due obedience to him (a) from the sense of our own weakness and his excellency, and (b) by removing the great hindrance of our faith, which is a vanity to distinguish ourselves from the unthinking crowd.  It makes us put our hope and confidence in God because, being weak and miserable of ourselves, without him we can do nothing.  It increases our love to God by making us sensible how unworthy we are of the least of those many favours we receive from him.  It teaches us to rejoice in the prosperity of our neighbour for infusing the most favorable opinion of his worth.  It disposes us to relieve those wants, and to compassionate those afflictions which we ourselves have deserved.  It makes us patient under all the troubles and calamities of life because we have provoked God by our sins.  And therefore neither prayers nor fasts will find acceptance unless they proceed from an humble mind.  Our best works will stand us in little stead if they are stained with pride and boasting of our own strength.

 

Sunday  II.

I.  Of the honour due to GOD, in his house or church.  II.  By reverencing and maintaining his ministers with tithes and offerings.  III.  By keeping the LordŐs day.  IV.  By observing the feasts, and  V. fasts of the church; whether public, private, or the fast of Lent.  VI.  In his word, the holy scriptures, or rule of faith; by catechizing and preaching.  VII.  In his sacraments, by receiving baptism, and performing the vows and obligations thereof.

 

         I.  A Seventh duty to God is HONOUR.  Honour is a duty owed to those that are in a superior relation to us.  Honour is therefore due much more to God who is infinitely greater than those whom we acknowledge to be our superiors upon earth.  By so much ought we to have a profounder regard and veneration for him.  They honour God who serve him in spirit and in truth, in all the ways of his appointed worship, and due obedience of his laws.  We are commanded not only to pay this honour immediately to himself, but to have a due esteem for his house, his ministers, his day, word, and sacraments, and for his name, as things that nearly relate or belong to him.

         First, we must honour God in his house, that is, in the church, so called for its peculiar relation to him, being solemnly dedicated and set apart for his public worship and service.  In the church is GodŐs peculiar presence in the administration of his word and sacraments.  The dedication of it to sacred uses makes it properly his own.  The praying to him, praising him, and celebrating the holy mysteries according to his appointment are demonstrations of his peculiar presence.  Consequently we ought to reverence GodŐs house (a) by furnishing it with all decency for the worship of God, (b) by repairing and adorning it, (c) by keeping it from the profane and common use and applying it wholly to the business of religion, (d) by offering up our prayers in it with fervour and frequency, (e) by hearing GodŐs word with attention and resolutions of obeying it, (f) by celebrating the holy mysteries with humility and devotion, and (g) by using all such outward testimonies of respect as the church enjoins and are established by the custom of the age we live in as marks of honour and reverence.  This bodily worship is recommended by Solomon when he charges us to look to our feet when we go to the house of God.

         This will correct any whispering or talking about worldly affairs, any negligence or light carriage.  This will suppress any provocations to laughter, or any critical and nice observation of others.  On the contrary this will excite in us sincere intentions of glorifying God and making his honour and praise known among men.  We acknowledge hereby our entire dependence upon his bounty, both for what we enjoy, and what we further expect.  We promote hearty endeavours of performing his blessed will, and of being in our lives and actions what we beg to be made in our prayers.  We ask that God will teach us to govern our outward behaviour by such measures as the church prescribes, which is to kneel, stand, or sit, as the rubric hath enjoined to be complied with in public.  All these different postures ought to be used with such gravity and seriousness, as may show how intent we are when engaged in the worship of God.  At the same time we avoid such behaviour as may disturb those that are near us and cause others to suspect us of acting a formal hypocritical part.

         If we come to church before service begins (which we should always endeavour to do), after we have performed our private devotions, we should seriously discharge the ensuing duties.  Discoursing about news and business is improper upon such occasions.  GodŐs house was never designed for the carrying on of worldly concerns.  While we are at our prayers, it is still more unbecoming to observe those rules of ceremony, which in other places are fit to be practiced toward one another.  When we are offering our requests to the great God of heaven and earth, our attention should be so fixed, that we should have no leisure to regard anything else.  To this end, when we put our bodies into a praying posture, with which leaning and lolling seem very inconsistent, we should fix our eyes downward that we may not be diverted by any objects near us.  At the same time we should not gaze about, whereby our eyes fetch in matter for wandering thoughts.  This attention will be much improved by silence.  Therefore, we should never pray aloud with the minister, but where it is enjoined, endeavouring to make his prayer our own by a hearty Amen.  Great care must be taken not to repeat after the minister what peculiarly relates to his office.  I mention this because I have frequently observed some people following him that officiates in the exhortation and absolution, as well as the confession.  If thoroughly considered, this must be judged a very improper expression of the peopleŐs devotion, because those are distinguishing parts of the priestŐs office.  Therefore, the best preparation of mind for our joining in the public prayers is (a) to abstract our thoughts as much as we can from worldly concerns, that we may call upon God with attention and application of soul, (b) to keep our passions in subjection, that none of them may interrupt us when we approach the throne of grace, (c) to possess our minds with such an awful sense of GodŐs presence, that we may behave ourselves with gravity and reverence, (d) to work in ourselves such a sense of (1) our own weakness and insufficiency as may make us earnest for the supplies of divine grace, (2) such a sorrow for our sins and (3) such a readiness to forgive others, as may prevail upon God, for the sake of ChristŐs sufferings, to forgive us, (4) to recollect those many blessings which we have received that we may show forth his praise, not only with our lips, but in our lives, by giving up ourselves to his service.

         II.  Secondly, the Almighty is also to be honoured in his ministers, by that love which is due unto them (a) as the stewards of the mysteries of God, and (b) as those that watch over our souls.  Therefore, we ought to show our love to those who administer to us in holy things (a) in being ready to assist them in all difficulties and (b) vindicating their reputation from those aspersions which bad men are apt to load them with, (c) in covering their real infirmities and interpreting all their actions in the best sense, (d) never picking out the faults of a few and making them a reproach to the whole sacred order.  Ministers are in a peculiar manner servants of God, to whose bounty we owe all that we enjoy.  Therefore, we should dedicate a part of what we receive to his immediate service as an acknowledgment of his sovereignty and dominion over all.  What makes this duty further reasonable is that, in order to be instruments in GodŐs hand in procuring our eternal welfare, they renounce all ordinary means of advancing their fortunes.  They surrender up their worldly interests, and therefore their laborious and difficult employment, purely for GodŐs glory and our salvation, should receive from us the encouragement of a comfortable and honorable subsistence.  Parents are to be encouraged to devote their children of good parts to the service of the altar, for it is not probable they will sacrifice an expensive education to an employment that is attended with small advantages.  Some persons have zeal enough to engage in the ministry without a respect to the reward of it.  Yet common prudence ought to lead us to methods most likely to excite men of the best parts and ability to undertake the sacred function, that the best cause may have the best management, and the purest religion the ablest defenders.  It is also necessary that their maintenance should bear some proportion to the dignity of their character, and should raise them above the contempt of those who are apt to be influenced by outward appearances.  Though wisdom is better than strength, nevertheless the poor manŐs wisdom is despised, and his words are not heard.  Further, by this means they may be better enabled not only to provide for their families, which is a duty incumbent upon them as well as the rest of mankind, but also to be examples to their flock in charity and in doing good, as well as in all other parts of their office and duty.

         The wisdom of our Christian forefathers thought those considerations of such force that the government has appointed for the maintenance of our ministers the house and glebe,* and the oblations which were the voluntary offerings of the faithful, very considerable in the primitive times.  Thus the necessities of the church were liberally supplied from the great bounty of the people when, upon the spreading of Christianity, a more fixed and settled maintenance was required.  Still, some ancient customs were retained in voluntary oblations beside tithes,** which are the main lawful support of the parish minister.  The reason of their payment is founded on the law of God, and their settlement among us has been by the ancient and undoubted laws of this nation.***  Therefore, such as by tricks or shifts keep back or refuse to pay tithes in whole or in part, or by any other means defraud the clergy of their maintenance, are guilty of that grievous sin of sacrilege.  To take what is set apart for the clergyŐs subsistence, to employ it in other uses, or to anotherŐs own particular profit is robbing God, as the prophet informs us: Will a man rob God? yet ye have robbed me; but ye say, Wherein have we robbed thee?  In tithes and offerings, saith the Lord.  So that here we are told, by God himself, that the withholding of tithes is a robbing of him: and what is gotten by such a robbery the prophet declares in the next verse, Ye are cursed with a curse; because of such sacred things God is the true and proper owner.  And accordingly we read in scripture of severe punishments inflicted on those that were guilty of this sin of sacrilege. [See the duty of the people to their ministers, Sunday, viii. Sect. iv.]

      [*These were the original endowments of a church, without which it cannot be supplied, and without which it could not be consecrated; and upon which was founded the original right of a patronage.  For it appears from lord Coke that the first kings of the realm had all the lands of England in demesne, and les grand manours and les royalties they reserved to themselves; and with the remnant they enfeoffed the barons of the realm for the defense thereof, with such jurisdictions as the court baron now hath; and about this time it was, when all the lands of England were the kingŐs demesne, that Ethelwulf, who died in the year 857, conferred the tithes of all the kingdom upon the church by his royal charter; which is extant in abbot Ingulf, and in Matthew of Westminster.]

      [**We do not read of tithes paid the apostles, because the zeal of Christians in their times was so great that as many as were possessors of land or houses sold them, and laid the price of them at the apostlesŐ feet.  The devotion of the following ages, even to the latter end of the fourth century, was so remarkable for the liberality of their offerings and oblations that their bounty to the evangelical priesthood exceeded what the tenth would have been, if they had paid it.  Thus there was no reason to demand tithes, when men gave a greater proportion of what they possessed; though even during those ages, there is no lack of testimonies from the fathers of those times that tithes were due under the gospel as well as before, and under the law, and that they were paid is plain from the apostolical canons which provide for the disposal of them.]

      [***We have shown upon good authority in the preceding note that (a) tithes were granted by the bounty and munificence of the first monarchs of this realm to the clergy out of all the lands in the kingdom, and (b) the perpetual payment thereof laid as a rent charge for the church on the same before any part thereof was demised to others.  Therefore, if perhaps some of the great men of the realm had then estates in absolute property Đ as it is certain there were very few, if any, that had Đ they charged the same with tithes by their own consent before they transmitted them to the hands of the gentry or any who now claim from them.  The land being thus charged with the payment of tithes came with this clog unto the lords and great men of the realm, and hath been so transmitted and passed over from one hand to another until they came into the possession of the present owners.  These must have paid more for the purchase of them, and required larger rents from their tenants if they had not been thus charged.  Whatever right they may have to the other nine parts, either of fee simple, lease, or copy, they have certainly none at all in the tithe or tenth, which is no more theirs, than the other nine parts are the clergyŐs.]

         III.  A third thing whereby we are to show our honour to God is to keep holy the sabbath day and all other times set apart for his service.  As God expects a part of our goods for the maintenance of the settled ministry in his church, so he requires us to honour and express our reverence toward him, by dedicating a particular part of our time to his immediate service.  Remember, says he, that thou keep holy the sabbath day.

         The sabbath was originally instituted, and its command renewed for the following reasons.  (1) That men might continually commemorate the works of creation, the original reason of the institution of the sabbath which is of eternal and unchangeable.  Another reason of this commandment is (2) that the poor labourer and the servant, and even the cattle may have a time of rest.  This reason, as well as that of commemorating the creation, is of a moral and perpetual nature.  And a third reason, which was added upon occasion of renewing this institution to the Jews, was (3) that they might commemorate their deliverance out of the land of Egypt, which to that people was as it were a new creation.  The man in the wilderness, who did but gather sticks upon the sabbath day, was by GodŐs especial direction commanded to be put to death.  That labour was a manifest contempt of this great deliverance, and a presumptuously willful despising of a plain command of God.  The moral part of the commandment concerning the sabbath is of perpetual obligation.  The ritual or instituted part, which had relation to the deliverance of the Jews out of Egypt, is abolished by the gospel.  Instead of the Jewish sabbath, there succeeded, by the appointment and practice of the apostles, the commemoration of our LordŐs resurrection.  As the resurrection occurred upon the first day of the week, the Christian LordŐs day was accordingly from that time kept on the first day of the week, which we call Sunday.  Therefore, one day in seven must be yielded unto the Lord, and set apart for the exercise of religious duties, both in public and private.

         We must not only rest from the works of our calling, but our time must also be employed toward the glory of God and the salvation of our own souls.  We must regularly worship God in the public assemblies, from which nothing but sickness or absolute necessity should detain us.  In public worship [See above, the worship of God in his house.] we are not to talk or gaze about us, but (a) to join in the prayers of the church, (b) hear his most holy word, (c) receive the blessed sacrament when administered, (d) and contribute to the relief of the poor, if there be any collection for their support.  We may thereby openly profess ourselves Christians, which is one great end of public assemblies in the service of God.  In private we ought (a) to enlarge our ordinary devotions, chiefly in thanksgivings for the works of creation and redemption, recollecting all those mercies we have received from the bounty of Heaven through the course of our lives, (b) to improve our knowledge by reading and meditating upon divine subjects. (c) to instruct our children and families, (d) to visit the sick and the poor, comforting them by some seasonable assistance.  If we converse with our friends and neighbours, we ought (e) to season our discourse with prudent and profitable hints for the advancement of piety, and (f) to take care that no sourness or moroseness mingle with our serious frame of mind.  Private worship is to be spent in works of necessity, charity, and in whatever tends, without superstition and without affectation, to the real honour of God, and to the true interest and promotion of religion and virtue in the world.  The extremes to be avoided are, on the one hand, that habit of spending great part of the LordŐs day in gaming, and in other loose and debauched practices.  To numberless persons these have been the corruption of their principles and the entire ruin of their morals.  On the other hand, we are to avoid an affected judaical or pharisaical preciseness, which usually proceeds from hypocrisy, or from a want of understanding rightly the true nature of religion.

         Hence we may collect the great advantages of a religious observance of the LordŐs day.  (1) It keeps up the solemn and public worship of God; which might be neglected if left to depend upon the will of man.  (2) It preserves the knowledge and visible profession of the Christian religion in the world Đ notwithstanding the great differences there are among Christians in other matters, they yet all agree in observing this day in memory of our SaviourŐs resurrection.  It is highly useful (3) to instruct the ignorant by preaching and catechizing, and (4) to put those in mind of their duty, who in their prosperity are apt to forget God.  Moreover, by spending this day in religious exercises, (5) we acquire new strength and resolution to perform GodŐs will in our several stations for the future.

         IV.  Beside this weekly day of the Lord, there are other principal times or days set apart by the church.  Some are for the remembrance of some special mercies of God such as the birth and resurrection of Christ, the coming down of the Holy Ghost from heaven, &c.  Others are in memory of the blessed apostles and other saints who were the happy instruments of conveying to us the knowledge of Christ Jesus.  They preached his gospel through the world, and most of them attested the truth of it with their blood.  These days ought to be observed in such a manner as may answer the ends for which they were first appointed, that (a) God may be glorified by an humble and grateful acknowledgment of his mercies, (b) and that the salvation of our souls may be advanced by (1) believing the mysteries of our redemption, and (2) imitating the examples of those primitive patterns of piety that are set before us.  Therefore we should be far from looking upon them as common days, or making them instruments of vice and vanity, or spending them in luxury and debauchery, intemperance, excess, and sensuality.  This is the manner of some who look upon a holiday as designed to loose their passions and unbounded pleasure.  Our greatest care should be to improve our time in the knowledge and love of God, and of his son Jesus Christ our Lord.  We should constantly attend the public worship and partake of the blessed sacrament, if it be administered.  In private we should enlarge our devotions and withdraw ourselves as much as possible from the affairs of the world, particularly expressing our joyfulness by love and charity to our poor neighbour.  If the holiday is intended for our calling to mind any mystery of our redemption or article of our faith, we ought to confirm our belief of it by considering all those reasons upon which it is built.  Then we may be able to give a good account of the hope that is in us.  We should from our hearts offer to God the sacrifice of thanksgiving, and resolve to perform all those duties which arise from the belief of such an article.  If we commemorate any saint, we should consider the virtues for which he was most distinguished, and by what steps he arrived at so great a perfection.  Then we should examine ourselves how far we fall short in our duty, and earnestly beg (a) GodŐs pardon for our past failings, and (b) his grace to enable us to conform our lives to those admirable examples which the saints have left for our imitation.

         V.  We are thus to express our thankfulness to God for mercies received, and the good examples set before us for our imitation.  With the same view of honouring God, we are to keep holy those fast days set apart by the church, by civil authority, or by our own appointment.  By acts of humiliation and repentance, we are to humble ourselves before God, in punishing our bodies and afflicting our souls toward a real repentance.  By outward tokens we testify our grief for sins past.  We use them to secure us from returning to those sins for which we express so great a detestation.  This must be done, not only by interrupting and abridging the care of our body, but also by carefully inquiring into the state of our souls.  In this we charge ourselves with all those transgressions we have committed against GodŐs laws and humbly confess them with shame and confusion of face, with hearty contrition and sorrow for them.  We pray that God will not suffer his whole displeasure to arise, and we beg him to turn away his anger from us.  Also we intercede with him for such spiritual and temporal blessings upon ourselves, and others, as are needful and convenient, (a) by improving our knowledge in all the particulars of our duty, (b) by relieving the wants and necessities of the poor, that our humiliation and prayers may find acceptance with God.  If the fast be public, we must attend the public place of GodŐs worship, always avoiding vanity and pride upon such performances.  Therefore, in our private fasts we must not proclaim them to others by any outward show.  We must not appear unto men to fast.  We must not despise or judge our neighbour.  It may be he hath not the same reason to tie himself up to such methods.  We must not destroy the health of our bodies by too great austerity, thereby making them unfit for the improvement of our minds, or for the discharge of our worldly employments.  Fasting must not cause us to grow morose and sour, peevish and fretful toward others.  That is so far from expressing our repentance, that it makes a fresh work for it by increasing our guilt.  Therefore, when thou fastest, be not as the hypocrites are, of a sad countenance, &c.

         The church of Christ has in all ages appointed solemn fasts to be observed by her members on particular occasions.  We still retain some of them.  The fast of Lent deserves our particular regard.  As to the limitation of time for this fast, the church had, I suppose, a respect to time wherein our Saviour fasted, forty days, as a proper penitential season.  As to the intention, end, or design of this fast of Lent, it is set apart as a proper season for mortification and the power of self-denial.  We are to humble and afflict ourselves for our sins, not by endeavouring to fast continually forty days, but by frequent fastings, as may be learnt from the practice of the church in all ages.  Also we are to punish our too often abuses of GodŐs creatures, by abstinence, and by forbearing the lawful enjoyment of them.  Further, we are to form and settle firm purposes of holy obedience.  We are to pray frequently to God both in private and public for pardon, and his holy spirit, to put us in mind of that sore trial and temptation which Christ then endured for our sakes.  Particularly we are to perpetuate the memory of our SaviourŐs sufferings, and to make, as it were, a public confession of our belief that he died for our salvation and, consequently, for fitting ourselves to receive the tokens and pledges of his love with greater joy and gladness.

         For which reason, Lent ought to be spent in fasting and abstinence according to the circumstance of our health and outward condition in the world.  Lent ought to be designed to deny and punish ourselves for past transgressions.  The ornament of attire may be laid aside.  The frequency of receiving and paying visits may be interrupted.  Public assemblies for pleasure and diversion should be avoided.  Our retirement should be filled with reading pious discourses, and with frequent prayer, and with examining the state of our minds.  The public devotion, and those instructing exhortations from the pulpit, which are so generally established in many churches in this season, should be constantly attended.  Besides, we should be liberal in our alms and very ready to relieve either the temporal or spiritual needs of our neighbour.  For the Lord says, by the prophet Isaiah, Is not this the fast I have chosen, to loose the bonds of wickedness, to undo the heavy burdens, and to let the oppressed go free, and that we break every yoke?  Is it not to deal thy bread to the hungry, and that thou bring the poor that are cast out to thy house; when thou seest the naked, that thou cover him, and that thou hide not thyself from thine own flesh?

 

Sunday  II.  Part  II.

         VI.  Fourthly, we are in a more special manner to express our reverence to God by honouring his HOLY WORD.  We honour his holy word by hearing, reading, and practicing what it contains for our comfort and instruction.  The word of God is commonly called by way of eminence the holy scriptures.  We are obliged to search them because they contain the terms and conditions of our common salvation.  Without the knowledge and practice of holy scriptures we can never attain eternal happiness.  Whatever is necessary for us to know and believe, to hope for and practice, in order to salvation is fully contained in those holy books.  This then is the rule of our faith.  Every doctrine that is there delivered we must believe.  As for any doctrine, however well recommended, that is not there plainly delivered, nor can be clearly deduced thence, we are not bound to believe that as an article of faith.  Therefore our church has decreed, that the ŇHoly Scripture containeth all things necessary to salvation: so that whatsoever is not read therein, nor may be proved thereby, is not to be required of any man, that it should be believed as an article of faith, or be thought requisite or necessary to salvation. [See the 6th and 7th Articles of Religion.]  In the name of the Holy Scripture we do understand those canonical books of the Old and New Testament, of whose authority was never any doubt in the church.  The Old Testament is not contrary to the New, for both in the Old and New Testament everlasting life is offered to mankind by Christ, who is the only mediator between God and man, being both God and man.Ó  The things declared in scripture to be the terms and conditions of salvation are (a) repentance from all wicked works, (b) faith toward God and our Lord Jesus Christ, (c) the belief of a resurrection from the dead, and (d) of a judgment to come, (e) and a life of virtue, or suitable obedience to our LordŐs express commands in the gospel.

         Those necessary things are there plain and clear.  They can be sufficiently understood by those who make right use of their reason, and read them with that respect and reverence which is due to the oracles of God.  They must be read (a) with humility and modesty, from a sense of our own weakness, and GodŐs perfection, and (b) with earnest prayer for the divine assistance.  Moreover, they who expect to reap benefit by reading the holy scriptures, must diligently consider (a) the design of the author of each book of scripture, and (b) what is the subject he chiefly handles, with (c) the occasion of his writing.  They must explain difficult places by those that are more clear, distinguish between literal and figurative expressions, and never have recourse to metaphors and figures.  When an absurdity arises from being taken in a proper and literal sense, readers must confine themselves to the natural significations of words, the usual forms of speech, and the phrase of scripture.  They must acquaint themselves with the common usages and customs of those times in which they were written, to which many expressions allude.  They must not make either side of the question in dispute the reason of their interpretation.  This would make it a rule of interpreting scripture, not a question to be decided by it.  Again, they must apply general rules to particular cases, it being impossible scripture should comprehend all special cases, which are infinite.  Where there is any difficulty, nothing adds greater light than consulting those primitive and faithful witnesses who learnt the true sense of scripture from the authors themselves.  Without some such means no author can be well understood.  It is for this reason that I exhort diligent and constant attendance to hear this word explained and enforced in catechizing and preaching.

         First, CATECHIZING is a method of teaching by question and answer.  It is adapted to the least capacities for their more ready instruction in the first and necessary rules or principles of our holy religion.  Catechizing is of very ancient date in the practice of the Christian church, and hath a particular advantage as to children because they are subject to forgetfulness and lack of attention.  Now catechizing is a good remedy against both these because, by questions put to them, children are forced to take notice of what is taught, and must give some answer to the question that is asked.  Also a catechism is usually short and contains the necessary principles of religion, thus being more easily remembered.  Again, the great usefulness, and indeed the necessity of it, plainly appears by experience.  For as Solomon observes, Train up a child in the way he, should go, and when he is old he will not depart from it.  It very seldom happens that children who have not been catechized have any clear and competent knowledge of the principles of religion ever after.  Therefore, they are incapable of receiving any great benefit by preaching, which supposes persons to have been instructed beforehand in the main principles of religion.  Besides, if they have no principles of religion fixed in them, they become an easy prey to seducers.

         Therefore, I recommend this way of instruction to parents and masters of families with respect to their children and servants.  For this work should not lie wholly upon ministers.  You must do your part at home. Always living with your families, you have better and more easy opportunities of fixing the principles of religion upon your children and servants.  Those who as have been so unfortunate as to grow in years without this instruction must not think they are exempt from it.  As soon as they are able to see their own danger and discover their own ignorance, they must apply in good earnest to this means of obtaining the first things to be known in the Christian religion.  Therefore, anyone of any age and condition who finds himself ignorant in his religion and service of God, or who lacks any part of necessary saving knowledge Đ as he loves his soul and would rescue it from eternal death Đ let him seek out for instruction, first, by the means of catechizing, and then he shall profit through GodŐs grace by the word preached.

         Secondly, PREACHING is not only a publication of GodŐs mercy, favour, blessings, grace, and promises to those, who love him and keep his commandments.  It is also a declaration of those threats and punishments recorded in the word of God against the obstinate and evil doer.  Its use is to put us in mind of our duty, and to exhort and assist us to withstand those lusts and temptations which set us at enmity with God.  Consequently we honour God by attending to his holy word, read and preached to us, with (a) a resolution of mind to perform what we shall be convinced is our duty; with (b) such submission of our understanding as is due to the oracles of God; and with (c) a particular application of general instructions to the state of our own minds, that we may grow in grace, and in the knowledge of God the Father, and of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ.  Therefore, at hearing the word preached, we should give our attention with great reverence, and take heed how we hear, lest our negligence be interpreted as a contempt of that authority which speaks to us.  We are not to be as some in church who place their public worship not in their hearts and knees, but in lolling, gazing, and unseemly gestures; and employ their ears, the channel by which faith is conveyed into our souls, not to hear their duty, but to find some unreasonable fault with their teacher.  For instead of improving the word of God preached for their instruction when they return home, their whole discourse turns upon the man, and not his sermon.  Such hearers never lack complaint against the preacher, that they may in some measure screen their own neglect of duty to God, their neighbour, and themselves.  Thus at one time they find fault with his memory because too short, or with his sentences because too long.  If he be young, they despise his youth, and say that he does but prate.  If he is aged, they regard his zeal for their souls and good instructions as the dictates of one in his dotage that knows not what he says.  Again, if he preaches in a plain style suitable to weak capacities, they call him a sloven, a bad master of languages.  If he is solid, then he preaches flat.  If he be not plain, then he is too witty; and, if not solid, he is certainly accused of levity, and ridiculing the word of God.  If he be unlearned, they justly say he is not worthy of so great a calling.  If he be endued with the qualifications of a good pastor and teacher, he is immediately proclaimed unfit for so plain and ignorant a people.  When the sermon must be confessed to be very excellent, then they say he preaches for gain.  If it be but ordinary, they cry they can read as good at home.

         What can be thought to be the end of such men?  God may justly give them up to a reprobate mind and withdraw that grace, which they have abused.  Then it is no wonder they turn the most serious things into ridicule, and hear the terrors of the Lord without the least sense of their own guilt.  Pray God that this may not be the case of many who stay from church under a pretense that they cannot benefit under such and such a minister!  And let not those, who constantly attend on stated days, to hear GodŐs word preached, and still continue in their habitual sins, think they have honoured God.  No.  The way to reverence God by honouring his word is not to imagine, when we have been affected with a sermon, that the great end of hearing is fulfilled.  We must apply those good instructions and exhortations to enable us to conquer our most secret sins.  Sins are the distempers of the soul, and God has prescribed this as a means of its cure.  No patient can hope for the cure of his bodily infirmities by talking with or only looking upon the physician and his prescriptions and medicines.  Neither can anyone hope to be released of his sins that never applies GodŐs word to enable him to eschew evil, and to do good.  The main matter of hearing a sermon is putting useful instructions into practice.  When God enlightens our minds, it is our business to walk as children of light.  We must never despair of conquering our evil habits, nor be discouraged in prosecuting the convictions of our own consciences.  A mighty resolution, with the assistance of GodŐs grace, will overcome great difficulties.  Let us therefore never measure our godliness by the number of sermons at which we are present, as if that outward mark of reverence to God was any sure mark of a good Christian.  Let us estimate our obedience to God, and reformation of our manners, by the quantity of the good fruit, which GodŐs grace has enabled us to bring forth through the ministration of the word.  Without this disposition of the heart, all our hearing will only draw the heavier judgment of God upon us because we hear and know our masterŐs will, and do it not.

         VII.  Fifthly, The great mark of a Christian duty to God is the honouring of him in his SACRAMENTS of baptism and the LordŐs supper.  These are outward and visible signs of inward and spiritual grace given unto us, ordained by Christ himself, as means whereby we receive such grace, and a pledge to assure us of that grace.  In order to constitute a sacrament, there must be (1) some visible sign of it apparent to our senses.  This sign (2) must represent some spiritual grace and favour vouchsafed us by God.  (3) That outward sign must be of ChristŐs own institution.  It must be (4) appointed by him as (a) the means of conveying to us this inward grace, and as (b) a token of assurance that he will bestow such grace upon those who do worthily receive the sacrament. [See the 25th Article of Religion.]  In the right use of the outward signs of water, and bread and wine, he will convey and confirm to the worthy receivers of baptism and in the LordŐs supper the divine grace signified, according to his own most true promise and engagement.  The conveyance is done by the power of his spirit, though in a manner unknown because not necessary to be revealed to us.  And therefore we must consider both these sacraments under those particular properties.

         By the sacrament of BAPTISM we are initiated into the profession of Christianity, and admitted to the terms of the Christian covenant.  Baptism delivers us from the vengeance of God (a) by cleansing us from the guilt and power of sin, (b) by taking us into a covenant of grace and favour with God, and (c) by infusing a principle of new life into our souls to enable us to live according to GodŐs laws, and to attain that everlasting happiness which is the free gift of God in Christ. [See the 27th Article of Religion.]  Or, as our church office explains it, ŇBaptism doth represent unto us our profession, which is to follow the example of our saviour Christ, and to be made like unto him; that as he died, and rose again for us; so should we who are baptized, die from sin, and rise again unto righteousness; continually mortifying all our evil and corrupt affections, and daily proceeding in all virtue and godliness of livingÓ.  Nevertheless, we must not dare to presume to exclude any from all hope of GodŐs mercy in extraordinary cases, as the lack of opportunity or capacity of receiving it.  To pronounce positively of their salvation we have no warrant.  The promises of salvation, as the gospel declares them to us (and we have no promises of salvation but in the gospel) are only made to those that believe in Jesus Christ and enter into his covenant by baptism.  On the other side, to pronounce of their damnation seems very harsh and uncharitable, nor are any in the scripture threatened with declination, but such as (a) reject the gospel after it is preached to them, or (b) dishonour their profession after they have embraced it, by a wicked unholy life; neither of which can be said of those we are now speaking of.  We ought therefore to leave them to the uncovenanted mercies of God.  The Judge of all the earth will do right.  He will not demand the tale of bricks where he hath allowed no straw to make them.  But as the Jews were obliged, under the severest penalty, to be circumcised, and keep the passover, so our guilt and danger will be proportionally great by not receiving baptism when it is in our power.  Baptism is of the highest authority.  It is the distinguishing badge of, as well as admission into, our most excellent profession.  We are the offspring of Adam, and consequently subject to death by his fall.  How can we be made partakers of that redemption which Christ hath purchased for the children of God, if we do not enjoy that method which is alone appointed by Christ for us to become members of GodŐs kingdom?  Jesus himself hath assured us, Except one be born of water and the spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God.  Therefore, it was the constant custom of the primitive church to administer baptism to infants for the remission of sins.  The administration had conditions, vows, or obligations, to which they were to consent, and according to which they were to endeavour to regulate their conduct through this world in their way to heaven.  This practice was esteemed to be derived from the apostles themselves.  It is therefore still retained and enjoined by our church, which obliges all persons coming to be baptized, either by themselves or sureties, to promise and vow, that they will renounce (a) the devil and all his works, (b) the pomps and vanities of this wicked world, and (c) all the sinful lusts of the flesh.  On the contrary, they are (a) to believe all the articles of the Christian faith, (b) to keep GodŐs holy will and commandments, and (c) to walk in the same all the days of their life.

         By the devil we mean all the fallen angels of which one is chief, prince, or head.  That great enemy of Christ and his church, having seduced our first parents, hath ever since had, through GodŐs permission, a great power in the world.  He still seeketh our destruction, by tempting us to sin and then accusing us to God for it.  The works of the devil are all wickedness and vices, but in particular all idolatry, witchcraft, fortunetelling, and dependence on the creatures.  The devil is principally guilty of crimes through which he tempts men such as pride, envy, murder in fact or in the heart, lying, deceiving, and misleading, especially in matters of religion.  When we renounce the devil and all his works, we reject and withstand that usurped power and dominion which he exercises in the world.  We resist his personal temptations, and engage in no way to be partakers of his crimes Đ we do not want to share in his punishment.

         The world which God hath created, or any of its natural enjoyments, are not evil.  In renouncing the pomps and vanities of this wicked world, the things to be renounced are the (1) evil customs of the world, the (2) vicious fashions, and the (3) corrupt practices, that prevail in it; all (4) methods of ambition and grandeur inconsistent with integrity and virtue; and all (5) diversions and entertainments as corrupt good manners.  The vanities of the world are riches (a) unjustly gotten or (b) vainly and profusely squandered away in riotous living, or (c) pursued with insatiable covetousness.  Coveting leads men into temptation and a snare, and into many foolish and hurtful lusts which drown men in destruction and perdition.  Thus Christians absolutely renounce the yielding of themselves up to all excess either in diet, sports, or apparel.  They renounce setting their hearts on the wealth and greatness of the world, or on those customs and practices of worldly men, which are in themselves sinful.  Christians renounce the honours and riches of the world so far as not to be ambitious of honour nor covetous of the riches.  Hereby they are debarred from having more than necessary to do with anything in the world which may prove an occasion of sin to them, or that may turn them from God and draw away their mind from the other world.

         The sinful lusts of the flesh are adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lasciviousness, idolatry, witchcraft, hatred, variance, emulation, wrath, strife, sedition, heresies, envying, murders, drunkenness, reveling, and suchlike.  Consequently to renounce all the sinful lusts of the flesh is to avoid adultery and fornication, rioting and drunkenness, and all filthiness of flesh and spirit which is inconsistent with Christian purity, rendering us unclean in GodŐs sight.  In their baptism Christians absolutely renounce all desires whatsoever which fasten upon any forbidden, unlawful object, so as never to give any indulgence, or consent to them, much less follow or be led by them to the commission of any sinful act.

         The articles of the Christian faith are all those doctrines of religion for which we have the authority of Christ and his apostles.  The fundamental points of the articles are summed up in the apostles creed.  Those sound words were mostly compiled in or near the time of the apostles and contain the points of the doctrine preached by the apostles.  To these we are to assent and to learn them, both as to the words and meaning of them.  We are strictly obliged by our baptismal vow to do this.  Our faithful assent must be sincerely from the heart, according to that saying in the eighth chapter of Acts, If thou believest with all thine heart, thou mayest be baptized.  It must (1) be active, and (2) work by love, and (3) steadfast without wavering; not only (4) believing the great benefits and promises of God to mankind, but also (5) gratefully accepting the same, by a (6) dutiful obedience, and (7) resignation to God through Christ.  Without this, it will little avail us to believe all the articles of the Christian faith.

         By the promise to keep GodŐs holy will and commandments, we are bound by vow to yield a universal obedience unto, and to keep as long as we live, our good resolutions.  These include not breaking but keeping the ten commandments of the moral law.  Baptism, and faith, and resolutions of obedience are nothing unless they produce the real fruits of a virtuous and good life.  The just shall live by faith: but, if any man draw back, my soul shall have no pleasure in him.  The meaning of that statement is not that men in this frail and mortal state can continue without sin.  Rather, they must press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus.  This means constantly endeavouring to keep all GodŐs commandments, under which are included all those particular precepts of the Old and New Testament, which are reducible to one or other of those heads.  As Jesus himself observes, on these commandments hang all the law and the prophets.  No one sin must reign in us.  The only true religion is to do whatever God commands.  We have received from him all that we have, and to him we owe all that we can do.  All other schemes open a door to confusion and licentiousness.  We must either follow GodŐs will and be determined by it, or we must set up our own headstrong self-will in opposition to his unerring wisdom.  How much then do they derogate from the honour of God, who represent religion as an unprofitable and unpleasant task.  It is plain to any man who considers things rightly, and is not under the prejudice of his lusts and passions, that the great design of religion is to make us happy here as well as hereafter.  It is also plain that all its rules and precepts are most admirably suited to this end.  There is nothing in religion but what (a) tends to make our lives easy, cheerful, and contented; nothing but what is (b) suitable to our natures, and agreeable to the dictates of right reason; nothing but what will (c) ennoble our minds, enlarge our understanding, and inspire us with a generous principle of universal love, and charity, and goodwill to mankind.  In short, the commands of God are not grievous, but his yoke is easy, and his burden light.

         Thus I have shown you the nature of the vows in baptism,  Except a Christian, when arrived at years of understanding, shall believe and do, as promised by his sureties in baptism, he will certainly forfeit (1) the gracious promises of pardon and forgiveness of sin upon our true repentance, (2) the assistance of GodŐs blessed spirit, and (3) the influences of his grace to enable us to work out our salvation, (4) the benefit of ChristŐs intercession in heaven, where he is an advocate for us with the Father, (5) a share in all those promises of care and protection made to the church, and (6) an inheritance incorruptible and undefiled, a crown of glory that fadeth not away.  The benefits promised by God in baptism are that part of GodŐs covenant with man, which we have no reason to hope we shall obtain, till we comply with our promises made to him in the sacrament.  This by GodŐs help we are always able to do, for God never commands or requires more of us than what he enables us to perform.  Therefore, both in justice and in regard of our own interests, we are bound to stand to his covenant which was made in our name by our godfathers and godmothers.  They promised no more than what is implied in the very nature of baptism.  All mankind are in the hands of GodŐs unlimited goodness.  His covenanted mercies are the peculiar lot and portion of Christians, the members of ChristŐs holy church, who honour God by a due discharge of those things promised in baptism.  That first vow obliges to renounce the devil and all his works, the pomps and vanities of this wicked world, and all the sinful lusts of the flesh.  Therefore let us now inquire what that faith is to which we give our assent when we profess to believe all the articles of the Christian faith.  We shall treat all the articles after I have laid down some instructions concerning divine revelation, and given some convincing reasons for its certainty.

 

Sunday  III

I.  Of divine revelation, and its difficulties, evidences, and excellency.  II.  Of faith in one God.  III.  The Father almighty, maker of heaven and earth.  IV.  Of GodŐs providence, and of chance, fortune, necessity, and fate.  V.  Of the Trinity, or three Persons in the Godhead, and why difficult  to be believed.  VI.  Of faith in Jesus Christ, our Lord; an objection against this faith answered.  VII.  The angelŐs message to the virgin Mary; and  VIII.  Of the incarnation and birth of Christ.

 

         I.  Concerning a divine revelation there are three proofs.  They may relate (1) to the person inspired, (2) to those that receive the matter revealed from the persons inspired, (3) to those that live remote from the age of the inspired persons, as is the case of all Christians since the time of Christ and the apostles.  If the Almighty makes a revelation, or manifests and discovers any truth or thing to a man of which the man was before ignorant, God will satisfy the person concerning the reality of it.  It cannot signify anything or have any effect upon the man unless he be satisfied it is real.

         The assurance of a divine revelation, as to the person himself, is most probably wrought by the great evidence it carries of its divine original.  GodŐs manifesting himself to the prophets was powerful on the part of the messenger of GodŐs will, and clearness of perception on the part of the person inspired, or to whom he was sent.  That power made abundantly good those phrases of vision and voice as described in scripture.  Sometimes there was added some sign of supernatural proof; for example, in the cases of Gideon [Judges, 6:21, and 7:13Đ15.] and Moses. [Exodus, 4:3, 6, 7.]  These examples show why a good man has that certainty which the deluded person lacks.  A good man, when he is inspired, reflects upon it, diligently considers the assurance which he finds in his mind, and can give a rational account of it to himself.  The deluded person cannot have such assurance.  His positiveness often arises from the great influence of pride and self-conceit.  More especially his positiveness arises from a disordered imagination or fancy which interrupts the operations of the mind.  A real inspiration will bear the tests of the prophetŐs reason and the peopleŐs examination.

         The truth of such a revelation may be judged from the following reasons.  On the following bases we ought to believe certain persons who claim inspiration.  Their known probity and approved integrity clear them from all suspicion of imposture.  Their prudence and understanding set them above being deceived.  Also we have the extraordinary evidence and testimony of miracles, and the prediction of future events.  Above all, the matter of the revelation, when it concerns mankind in general, must (a) be worthy of God as proceeding from him, and must (b) tend to the advantage, the satisfaction, and happiness of mankind to whom the revelation is made.  For justice, holiness, and goodness, are as necessary and essential to our thoughts of God, as power.  Consequently a revelation that contradicts those attributes cannot come from the Father of truth.

         The necessity and reasonableness of this evidence shows it to be a proof of the highest nature.  Every man who is master of sense and reason can judge it.  It is what every man ought to be determined by.  As in all other things which have been done at a great distance of time, it is necessary to have evidence to satisfy us of the truth, and to oblige us to believe that revelation to be sent from God by divers persons, and in divers manners.  Such evidence is the credible report of eye and ear witnesses concerning (a) the miracles that have been wrought, and (b) the predictions that have been foretold, to prove persons inspired, conveyed down to us in such a manner.  With such evidence as that, we have no reason to doubt of the truth of them.  Besides, the inward evidence of the Christian revelation confirms the outward evidence that was given to it.  As it excels all other forms of religion that ever appeared in the world, so it is every way worthy of God, entirely beneficial to his creatures, and agreeable to the best reason and sense of human nature.

         The scripture, though deep, is clear in every doctrine that tends to the glory of God, the good of mankind, and the benefit of our own souls.  So far God has gone; and further than this he needed not go, to answer the end of a revelation.  Some things in scripture are hard to understand, and a moderate application cannot clear them up.  They may exercise the abilities of the curious, but are not necessary to edify the bulk of mankind.  Any man, who diligently and impartially searches the scriptures, (a) comparing place with place, (b) interpreting the darker passages by the clearer, and (c) attending to the scope and design of the author, may furnish himself with an intelligible, consistent, and determinate rule of faith and practice.  He may derive thence hopes full of a blessed immortality.  He may find there that beautiful assemblage of moral truths, clear and unmixed, which lie scattered through the writings of all the philosophers, and are in them blended with pernicious errors.  Other writers took things in too high a key, and were proud to soar above the level of common apprehensions.  But the inspired writers stoop to the lowest capacities, at the same time that they enlighten the highest.  Whatever precept is briefly and in general terms delivered in one place is more clearly and distinctly unfolded in another.  Where there is the addition of any doctrine which natural reason could not discover, it is far from contradicting the plain and evident sense of mankind.  Upon consideration it appears highly useful to us in the state in which we now are.  The great fears and doubts of mankind concerning the way of appeasing the offended justice of God are removed.  The dishonour that was done to his justice and holiness are satisfied by the death of Christ.  A man may look into his Bible and see plainly there what will become of him, when the present scene is shifted as to his most important concern, a future state.  If he were left to himself, the more he considered the point on every side, the more he would find himself bewildered in doubts, without coming to any determination.  Happy are we, if we know our happiness, who have a revelation like its great Author, full of grace and truth.

         The Christian religion proposes a reward, excellent in itself, lasting in its duration, and clearly and plainly revealed.  The precepts for the direction of our lives comprehend all sorts of virtue that relate to GOD, to our neighbour, and to ourselves.  They have cleared what was doubtful by the light of nature, and have made the improvements of it necessary parts of our duty.  Christianity supplies us with (a) powerful assistance for the performance of our obedience, (b) light for our dark minds, (c) strength for our weak resolutions, and (d) courage under all our difficulties.  Above all, it sets before us an exact and perfect pattern for our instruction and encouragement.  The Christian revelation in itself, as well as the external evidence, proves its original to be from God.  Hence consider the great guilt of those who reject the Christian revelation.  They resist the utmost evidence that any religion is capable of receiving, both from its inward value and from the outward attestation.  God has been pleased to give it by miracles and prophecies.  Consequently, by this rejection of theirs, they condemn themselves.  They reject the only means of their salvation, though it is supported by all the faith of history and uninterrupted records.  This is all the evidence in such circumstances that can be presumed necessary, or can possibly be had.  This, therefore, is sufficient to inspire us (a) with the knowledge of God, and of his son Jesus Christ our Lord, and (b) with a thankful remembrance of all things they have done and promised to us, and (c) an abhorrence of all that should from scripture appear to be displeasing to the Almighty.

         II.  In the first ARTICLE of our Creed we profess a belief in one God, the Father almighty, maker of heaven and earth.  By this we declare that (a) we acknowledge him to be the Lord, that (b) he has revealed his will to guide us in the way of truth, and that (c) he has reserved some things to himself of which, as they regard not the creature, he hath made no revelation.  Such examples are (a) how there can be three persons in one God, (b) how the divine and human nature could be united in one person, Christ Jesus, or (c) how a virgin could conceive and bear a son without the knowledge of a man.  Therefore, when we say, I believe in one God, let it not be such a belief only as the heathens or those who only follow the dictates of nature have.  They collect from the things that are seen the eternal power and godhead.  Ours must be that Christian faith which believes there are three distinct persons in one God, Father, Son, and Holy Ghost.  He is the one only living and true God.  He exists of himself by the necessity of his own nature.  He is absolutely independent, eternal, omnipresent, unchangeable, incorruptible.  He is without body, parts, or passions.  He is of (a) infinite power, knowledge, and wisdom, (b) perfect liberty and freedom of will, (c) infinite goodness, justice, and truth, and (d) all other possible perfections, so as to be absolutely self-sufficient to his own infinite and unalterable happiness.  Before all ages, in an incomprehensible manner, by his almighty power and will, this same supreme self-existent Cause and Father of all things did beget or produce a divine person, styled the Word, or Wisdom, or Son of God, (a) begotten, not made, (b) God of God, in whom dwells the fullness of divine perfections, (c) the image of the invisible God, the brightness of his FatherŐs glory, and the express image of his person, (d) having been in the beginning with God, partaker with him of his glory before the world was, (e) the upholder of all things by the word of his power, (f) and himself over all, God blessed for ever.  In like manner, what has been said of the Son may with little variation be understood, very agreeably to right reason, concerning the original procession or manner of derivation of the Holy Ghost from the Father and the Son.

         As we believe God to be one, so we believe him to be in such a manner one that there cannot possibly be another.  All other things must derive their being from him.  Whatever being hath its existence from another cannot be God, but must be a creature.  This unity of God is of universal obligation to be believed.  By this belief we may be fixed as to the object of our worship, and place our religious adoration there only, where it is due.  We may give him that honour which is due to him alone, and have no other gods but one.  This is the ground of all religion: him only must we serve, because he only is God.  In him only must we trust, because he only is our rock.  To him only must we direct our devotions, because he only knows the hearts of the children of men.  Him must we love with all our heart, because he only has infinite goodness, mercy, beauty, glory, and excellence.

         III.  The same reason that demands our belief in one God obliges us to believe that one God to be the Father.  To us there is but one God the Father by creation, as a man is said to be the father, in respect of his (1) preservation, of him whom he educates.  Likewise in respect of (2) redemption from a state of misery to a happy condition.  He is the true Father whose word it is, even the Father of lights, who of his own will begat us with the word of truth.  Thus whoever believes that Jesus is the Christ is born of God, is GodŐs workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to good works.  Finally, in respect of (3) adoption.  Thus it is said that he hath predestinated us by Jesus Christ to the adoption as children to himself, and that we receive the spirit of adoption, whereby we cry, Abba, Father.  Yet still there is a higher and more proper notion of GodŐs paternity, in respect whereof he is the Father of Christ; by whom he is sometimes called the Father, sometimes my, sometimes your, but never our Father.  Christ is the beloved, the firstborn, the only-begotten, GodŐs own Son; and we are the children of God by faith in Christ Jesus.

         The perpetual obligation for us to believe that God is our Father is the ground of our filial love, fear, honour, and obedience.  It gives life to our devotions, assurance to our petitions which are, directed in obedience to our SaviourŐs commands, to God as our Father.  It sweetens our afflictions and his fatherly corrections.  The assurances of his love and pity to us imply the necessity of our endeavouring to imitate him, to be holy as he is holy, merciful as he is merciful, and perfect as he is perfect.

         When we say that he is almighty, we profess GodŐs absolute authority in respect to (a) making whatever he pleases, in such manner as best pleases himself, in respect of (b) possessing and governing all things so made by him.  That right is independent, as being received from none, and is the sole fountain of all such right in any other.  GodŐs authority is infinite in respect of (c) the object, as extending to all things in heaven and earth, in respect of (d) the fullness of it, as being absolute and supreme, far above what the potter hath over his clay, in respect of (e) its continuance as being all-powerful and eternal.  We must believe this dominion (1) to work in us an awful reverence of his majesty, and an entire subjection to his will, (2) to breed in us patience under our sufferings, and (3) to make us thankful for his mercies received.  They justly might have been denied us.  We have no right to claim them as a debt from our Creator.

         The whole world, both the heavens and the earth, and all things that are therein, were created and made by the same God, through the operation of his Son.  He is that divine Word, or Wisdom of the Father, by whom the scripture says that God made the world, and all things that are in heaven, and that are in earth, visible and invisible.  Whether they be thrones or dominions, or principalities or powers, all things were created by him, and for him.  He is before all things, and by him all things exist.  Without him was not anything made that was made.  All this likewise is very agreeable to sound and unprejudiced reason.  Neither the whole, nor any part of the world; neither the form, nor motion, nor matter of the world, could exist of itself, by any necessity in its own nature.  Such ability cannot be sufficiently proved from undeniable principles of reason.  Consequently, both the whole world and all the variety of things that now exist therein must of necessity have received both their being itself, and also their form and manner of being, from God, the alone supreme and self-existent cause.  They must depend upon his good pleasure every moment for the continuance and preservation of that being.  Therefore, the world evidently owes both its being and preservation to God.

         IV.  This all-wise and almighty Creator, who made all things by the word of his power, and upholds and preserves them by his continual help, does also by his all-wise providence perpetually govern and direct the issues and events of all things.  He takes care of this lower world, and of all (even the smallest things) that are therein.  He disposes things in a regular order and succession in every age, from the beginning to the end of the world.  He inspects, with a more particular and special regard, the moral actions of men.  We must not expect that GodŐs particular providence will interpose where our own endeavours are sufficient.  That would be to encourage sloth and idleness instead of countenancing and supporting virtue.  Nor ought we to expect to be relieved from difficulties and distresses, into which our own mismanagement and criminal conduct have plunged us.  But when without any fault of ours our affairs are so perplexed and entangled, that human assistance will be of no avail, then we must have recourse to God, that he would give us (a) wisdom to conduct us through all the labyrinths and intricacies of life, (b) resolution to grapple with difficulties,  and (c) strength to overcome them.  This is far more expressly, clearly, and constantly taught in scripture, than in any of the writings of the most learned men.  It is also highly agreeable to right and true reason.  A Being which is always present and infinitely wise knows everything that is done in every part of the world, and can with equal ease take notice of the very least things as of the greatest.  An infinitely powerful being must govern and direct everything in such manner, and to such ends, as he knows to be best and fittest in the whole Đ so far as is consistent with that liberty of will, which he has given to all rational creatures.  An infinitely just and good Governor takes more particular and exact notice of the moral actions of all mankind.  He notices how far men are conformable or not conformable to the rules he has set them.  All this is most evidently agreeable to sound reason.  What the vanity of science, falsely so called, has ascribed to nature or to second causes exclusively of the first, and what men vulgarly call chance or unforeseen accident, is in scripture resolved into the immediate will and providence of God.  Thus, when a person is slain by chance or accident, as men vulgarly speak, the scripture more accurately expresses it, saying, that God delivered such a one into the hand of him that slew him without design: Exod. 21:13.  And in all other instances the same notion is every where kept up in scripture.  It is not merely in a pious manner of expression that the scripture ascribes every event to the providence of God.  It is strictly and philosophically true in nature and reason that there is no such thing as chance or accident.  It is evident that those words do not signify anything really existing, anything that is truly an agent, or the cause of any event.  Rather, they merely signify menŐs ignorance of the real and immediate cause.  Very many, even of those who have no religion, nor any sense at all of the providence of God, yet know very well by the light of their own natural reason that there neither is nor can be any such thing as chance.  There is no such thing as an effect without a cause.  Therefore what others ascribe to chance they ascribe to the operation of necessity or fate.  But like chance fate itself is also nothing.  In nature there is no other proper cause of any event except (1) the freewill of rational and intelligent creatures acting within the sphere of their limited faculties and (2) the supreme power of God directing by his omnipresent providence, the inanimate motions of the whole material and unintelligent world.  This is the truest philosophy as well as the best divinity.  What is nature?  Is it an understanding being? or is it not?  If it be not, how can an undesigning being produce plain notices of contrivance and design?  If it be an understanding being who acts throughout the universe, then it is that great being whom we call GOD.  For nature, necessity, and chance, mere phantoms that have no reason, wisdom, or power, cannot act, with the utmost exactness of wisdom, powerfully, incessantly, and everywhere.

         V.  We believe the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost to be three distinct persons in the divine nature.  The holy scriptures in several places distinguish them from one another, as we use in common speech to distinguish three several persons.  This is recorded in the form of administering the sacrament of baptism, which is in the name of the Father, of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost.  It is also recorded in the solemn blessing with which St. Paul concludes his second epistle to the Corinthians: The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the fellowship of the Holy Ghost.  The three witnesses in heaven, the Father, the Word, and the Holy Ghost, prove that each of these persons is God.  The names, properties, and operations of God are attributed to each of them in holy writ.  It is plain from St. John that the names, properties, and operations of God are attributed to the second person in the blessed Trinity, the Son, the Word was God.  St. Paul says that (a) God was manifested in the flesh, that Christ is over all, God blessed for ever, and that (b) the word of God is sharper than a two-edged sword, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intent of the heart.  Eternity is attributed to him Đ The Son hath life in himself, he is the same, and his years shall not fail.  Perfection of knowledge Đ as the Father knoweth me, so know I the Father.  The creation of all things Đ all things were made by him, and without him was not anything made that was made.  We are commanded to honour the Son as we honour the Father, and the glorified saints sing their hallelujahs, as to God the Father, so also to the Lamb for ever and ever.

         We ascribe the same names, properties, and operations of God, to the third person in the blessed Trinity, the Holy Ghost.  Lying to the Holy Ghost is called lying to God.  Because Christians are the temples of the Holy Ghost, they are said to be the temples of God.  Plain characters of his divinity are: (a) his teaching all things, (b) his guiding into all truth, (c) his telling things to come, (d) his searching all things, even the deep things of God, (e) his being called the spirit of the Lord, in opposition to the spirit of man.  He is joined with God the Father (who will not impart his glory to another) as an object of faith and worship in baptism, and the apostolic blessing.  Blasphemy committed against him will not be forgiven, either in this world or the world to come.

         These plain texts show we are obliged to believe the doctrine of the holy Trinity.  Our church affirms, ŇThere is but one living and true God, everlasting, without body, parts, or passions; of infinite power, wisdom, and goodness, the maker and preserver of all things, both visible and invisible; and in the unity of this godhead there be three persons, of one substance, power, and eternity; the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost.Ó [See the first Article of Religion.]  The doctrine of the Trinity, though it is above reason in that we cannot comprehend the manner of it, is not contrary to reason.  Neither does it imply a contradiction to say, the Father is God, the Son is God, and the Holy Ghost is God; and yet there are not three Gods, but one God.  We do not affirm they are one and three in the same respect.  The divine being is that alone which makes God.  That can be but one.  Therefore there can be no more gods than one.  But the scriptures assure us of the unity of the divine, being, do likewise with the Father join the Son and Holy Ghost, in the same attributes, operations, and worship, as proved above.  Therefore they are capable of number as to their relation to each other, but not as to their being, which is but one.  Consequently the difficulty which some men find in the belief of a Trinity is the effect of their own presumption and ignorance.  They pretend to dive into the secret things of God by the weakness of human capacity.  Because they cannot unfold the depths of divine wisdom, they foolishly charge God with contradiction.  The truth of the case is this Đ our prospect is bounded by a very narrow horizon, our faculties limited within a very narrow sphere of activity.  Some people allege, without being able to prove, absurdities against the Trinity.  The greatest absurdity of all is that weak ignorant creatures should pretend to fathom an infinite subject with a very scanty line.  Lack of humility in points of so high a nature is always in some degree lack of sense.  There may be a bright and sparkling imagination, but without humility there can be no such thing as a well-poised judgment and sound sober sense.  Let us then proceed in our researches after truth with all due humility and modesty, and not stand upon terms with our Maker and lose the humble and meek Christian in the vain disputes of this world.  A clear discernment and an uncommon reach of thought may be very valuable.  Humility does not exercise itself in matters which are too high, and is undoubtedly far more amiable in the sight of that Being who, though he inhabits eternity, yet dwells with the lowly and contrite.  We then give the best proofs of the strength of our reason, when we own the weakness of it in the deep things of God, humbly content to see him through a glass darkly till we can see him as he is, face to face.

         This should teach us many things: (1) to submit our reason to the obedience of faith, (2) to believe this mystery, which we are sufficiently assured God hath revealed, though we cannot comprehend it, (3) to contain ourselves within the bounds of sobriety, without wading too far into abstruse, curious, and useless inquiries, (4) to admire and adore the most glorious Trinity as being the joint authors of our salvation, (5) to acknowledge (a) the extreme love of God toward us in giving his only-begotten Son, who was in the bosom of the Father from all eternity, to die for us sinners, and (b) the wonderful condescension of our dear Redeemer, the merits of whose sufferings were made of more value by the dignity and excellence of his person, (6) and never to grieve that eternal Spirit by whose gracious help we are made partakers of life everlasting.  The least grain of sand is able to baffle the finest understanding.  Yet we would pretend to sound the depths of the divine nature and counsels, never considering that Ňif what was revealed concerning God were always adapted to our comprehension, how could it with any fitness represent that nature which we allow to be incomprehensible?Ó  We do not need to ransack the scriptures for difficulties.  Everything about us and within us, above us and beneath us, convinces us that we are very ignorant.  If once we come to a resolution to quit what is clear (such are the proofs for Christianity) upon the account of what is obscure, we shall run into universal skepticism.

         To believe such doctrines of Christianity as we cannot comprehend does not destroy the use of reason in religion.  Nothing can be a greater reflection upon religion than to say (a) it is unreasonable, that (b) it contradicts that natural light, which God has fixed in our minds, and that (c) it declines a fair and impartial trial, and (d) will not bear the test of a thorough examination.  God enlightened man with reason to discover the grounds of natural religion, and inculcate the wisdom and prudence of acting according to them.  Reason shows the convenience of things to our natures, and the tendency of them to our interest and happiness.  We are thereby convinced, that piety toward God, and justice, gratitude, and mercy toward men, are agreeable to our natures.  It also discovers to us that these duties are good because they bring benefit and advantage to us.  By this reason the evidence and proof of revealed religion is to be tried.  The proper exercise of reason in a Christian is to examine and inquire whether what is proposed and required to be believed is revealed by God, and whether it comes with the true marks of his authority, and hath him really for its author.  Our acceptance of anything as revealed by God must be grounded upon evidence that it comes from him.  When by proper arguments we are convinced of the divine authority of the revelation, reason assists us in discerning the true and genuine sense of such a revelation, and helps us to apply general rules contained in it to all manner of special cases whatsoever.  When we are satisfied that a doctrine is revealed by God, though it is above the reach of our understanding, yet we have the strongest and most cogent reason in the world to believe it.  God is infinitely wise and all-knowing, and therefore cannot be deceived.  Because he is infinitely good, we may be sure he will not deceive us.  Thus we come to know that faith, peace, and holiness, without which no man shall see the Lord.  This is life eternal, to know thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom thou hast sent.

 

Sunday  III.  Part  II.

         VI.  We profess in the second ARTICLE of our Christian faith, that we believe in Jesus Christ his only-begotten Son our Lord.  As we believe in God, so we must also believe in Christ.  This is his commandment, that we should believe in the name of his son Jesus Christ, who shall save his people from their sins.  Therefore, believing in Jesus Christ our Lord imports being fully persuaded that he is that eternal Son of God, whom he declared himself to be, and that he is the true Messiah and Saviour of the world.  Further it includes our obligation and consent to obey all his commandments, who is our Lord and our King.  Also we put our whole trust in him alone for our obtaining eternal life, and all other intermediate blessings, only by his mediation for us with his Father.  Therefore, says the apostle, there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved.  We are absolutely obliged to believe this part of the Christian faith because we cannot be saved by Christ but by believing in him.

         When we give the title of the Christ or Messiah unto Jesus our saviour, then we profess to believe that Jesus is the person consecrated of God by the most sacred anointing to that high office of saving mankind.  Under the law in the setting apart of kings, priests, and prophets to their proper offices, anointing oil was used.  These offices were as types and shadows of the Saviour of all mankind.  Wherefore the prophet Isaiah, foreseeing this coming of the Son of God for our redemption, cries out in the person of the prophet Jesus, The spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he hath anointed me to preach the gospel to the poor.  That Jesus was anointed to the sacerdotal office appears from the Psalmist, The Lord sware, and will not repent, Thou art a priest for ever after the order of Melchisedec.  It also appears that Jesus was to be anointed to the regal office from the most ancient tradition of the Jews, and predictions of the prophets.  To this he was solemnly set apart, when God raised him from the dead, and set him at his own right hand in heavenly places, far above all principality, might, dominion, and power.  He exercises this office (a) by delivering his people a law, (b) and by his grace enabling them to walk in it, (c) by preserving them from temptations, (d) by supporting and delivering them under afflictions, and will at last complete all (e) by rewarding them in a most royal manner, (f) making them kings and priests unto God and his Father.

         If we believe him to be our prophet, we should hear, receive, and observe his word as being delivered by one whom God himself hath declared to be his beloved Son, and hath commanded us to hear.  Our belief in him as our priest should add confidence to that obedience, and give us boldness to enter into the holiest by the blood of Jesus.  Having a high priest over the house of God, we have confidence to draw near with a true heart, in full assurance of faith.  We may consider ourselves as bought with a price, and no longer our own, but bound to live only to him who died for us.  Our belief in him, considered as our king, should induce us to be his faithful subjects, and to honour him by a cheerful and ready obedience to his laws.  This is part of the seal of the foundation of God, that every one who nameth the name of Christ shall depart from iniquity.

         When we acknowledge Christ to be our Lord, it is not only in respect of his general dominion over all things.  More peculiarly it is also as having by his death conquered him to whom we had before yielded ourselves servants to obey.  By that death he purchased us by his blood.  Consequently, seeing that Christ is our absolute Lord and Master; since he has bought us, and has the sole right to the property and possession of us, we must remember that (a) we are not our own,  that (b) we ought not to do our own will, but his, and (c) neither live nor die to ourselves, but only to him.

         Some, who pretend to be guided by right and sound reason, seem to stumble at the dignity of the person, whom we believe to have given himself a sacrifice and propitiation for the sins of mankind.  They ask, How is it possible, that the only-begotten Son of God should be made flesh, and become man?  How is it conceivable that God should condescend so far as to send, and the Son of God condescend willingly to be sent, and do such great things for his creatures?  Above all, How is it consistent with reason to suppose God condescending to do so much for such frail and weak creatures as men who in all appearance seem to be but a very small, low, and inconsiderable part of this world?

         Without express revelation human reason would never have discovered such a method as this for making peace between sinners and an offended God.  On the other side, when once this method is made known, there no difficulty or inconceivableness in it to make a wise and considerate man reasonably call in question the truth of a well-attested revelation.  As to the possibility of the incarnation of the Son of God, whatever mysteriousness there confessedly was in the manner of it, yet as to the thing itself, there is evidently no more unreasonableness in believing the possibility of it, than in believing the union of our soul and body, or any other certain truth.  Mystery implies no contradiction in the thing itself, even though we cannot discover the manner how it is done.  It is not at all unreasonable to believe that (a) God should make so great a condescension to his creatures, and that (b) a person of such dignity as the only-begotten Son of God should vouchsafe to give himself a sacrifice for the sins of men.  It is no diminution to the glory and greatness of the Father of all things (a) to inspect, govern, and direct everything by his all-wise providence, through the whole creation, (b) to take care even of the meanest of his creatures, so that not a sparrow falls to the ground, or a hair of our head perishes, without his knowledge, (c) and to observe exactly every particle even of inanimate matter, in the universe.  The man who duly considers these cannot with reason think it any real disparagement to the Son of God  Đ though it was indeed a most wonderful and amazing instance of humility and condescension Đ that he should concern himself so far for sinful men, as (a) to appear in their nature, (b) to reveal the will of God more clearly to them, (c) to give himself a sacrifice and expiation for their sins, (d) and to bring them to repentance and eternal happiness.

         By these and suchlike considerations we arrive at the truth and excellence of the Christian religion, of worshipping and serving God, which was revealed to the world by Jesus Christ.  In the Christian religion are contained articles of faith to be believed, precepts of life to be practiced, and motives and arguments to enforce obedience.  The truth of this religion appears (a) from that full and clear evidence, which our Saviour and his apostles gave of their divine mission and authority, and (b) from the nature of that religion they taught, which was worthy of God and tended to the happiness and welfare of mankind.  It is not only universally acknowledged by Christians, but it hath also been owned by Jews and heathens who have writ of those times, That there was such a person as Jesus Christ, who lived in the reign of Tiberius Caesar.  That the same Jesus was crucified is affirmed both by the Jews and by the Christians, who, regardless of the disrepute they might thereby seem to bring upon themselves, worshipped him as God.  Also it is very probable there were public records of the whole matter at Rome, as the account was sent by the Roman governor from Jerusalem to Caesar.  Ancient Christians in their writings, in the defense of their religion, appeal such records.  They had too much understanding and modesty to have done so if no such account had ever been sent, or had not been then extant to be produced.  No history can be better established by the unanimous testimony of people very different from one another than the life and death of Christ Jesus.

         All the former prophecies which related to the Messiah were fulfilled in him alone.  He received the testimony of a voice from heaven several times, and he was endowed with the power of working miracles, particularly with the gift of prophecy proved and made good by the fulfilling of his predictions.  Nothing can be a greater evidence of a divine mission because it is the greatest argument of infinite power and wisdom.

         The miracles that he wrought prove him to be sent from God.  The power of working true, great, and unquestionable miracles, frequently wrought in public, is one of the highest evidences we can have of the divine mission of any person.  Upon this ground Nicodemus concludes that our Saviour was sent from God.  Our Saviour himself insists upon this as the great proof of his divine authority.  Resisting the evidence of his miracles he reckons as an aggravation of unbelief.  If I had not, says he, done among them the works which no other man did, they had not had sin.  Further, he tells us, such an obstinate resistance of the evidence of his miracles is the sin against the Holy Ghost.  The greatest enemies to him and our holy religion confess that our Saviour did many wonderful things, though they attributed them to the power of magic.  He healed all sorts of diseases in multitudes of people by a touch or word, sometimes upon those at a distance.  The most desperate diseases submitted to his power.  He restored sight to the man born blind.  He made the woman straight that had been crooked and bowed together eighteen years.  The man, that had an infirmity thirty-eight years, he bids take up his bed and walk.  He multiplied a few loaves and fishes for the feeding of some thousands.  He raised several from the dead, particularly Lazarus, after he had been four days in the grave.  All these miracles he wrought publicly in the midst of his enemies.  They were so public and undeniable that the apostle appeals to the Jews themselves, declaring that Jesus of Nazareth was a man approved of God among them by miracles, and wonders, and signs, which God did by him in the midst of them, as they themselves also knew.  But the great miracle that gave the utmost evidence of our SaviourŐs divine authority was his raising himself from the dead on the third day, a matter of fact which all Christians have not only believed, but esteem the great foundation on which they build the proof of their whole belief. [See this article treated of Sunday iv. Sect. iv.]

         Besides, the spirit of prophecy resided in him, and his divine authority was made manifest by the accomplishment of his own predictions.  Whenever the predictions have been plain and clear, and the event answerable, it has been always counted a sure proof of a divine mission.  The angel tells St. John that the testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy.  Thus our Saviour foretold (a) his own death, with (b) the manner of it, and (c) circumstances of his sufferings, (d) the treachery of Judas, (e) the cowardice of his disciples, and (f) St. PeterŐs denying him, (g) his own resurrection, and (h) the descent of the Holy Ghost in miraculous gifts.  He prophesied of the destruction of Jerusalem, which came to pass in forty years after his own death.  This was within the compass of that generation, as he had foretold.  The very foundations of the temple and city were destroyed, and the ground ploughed up so that there was not left one stone upon another that was not thrown down in accordance with our SaviourŐs prediction.  Indeed the signs that he foretold should forerun the destruction of that city, with the circumstances that came with it and followed after, exactly agree with that punctual and credible history of the fact related by Josephus.  He assured his disciples that (a) his gospel should be published in all nations, that (b) his religion should prevail against all the opposition of worldly power and malice, and that (c) the gates of hell should not prevail against it.  The fulfilling of such contingent and unlikely predictions argues a prophetic spirit in our Saviour and consequently that he was sent from God.

         If Christianity was an imposture, it was a strange imposture indeed Đ an imposture beneficial to the world, but destructive to the authors, in the nature and tendency of the thing itself.  Beneficial, I say, to the world since it forbad every vice, and enjoined every virtue that could make a man more happy in himself, more serviceable to the world, and more acceptable to God.  There are few or no other public actions but what a witty malice may put some sinister interpretation upon.  The best deeds in appearance may, and often do, proceed from a principle of vanity.  But the actions of Christ and his apostles will stand the test of the severest scrutiny.  The apostles could not act upon any indirect and interested views of worldly honour, ambition, or gain.  They must have been supported by a determined resolution of mind to bear the utmost pressures of misery and torment in the cause of truth founded upon a prospect of future happiness.

         Unless we believe this article, where is our faith and hope in the redemption that was wrought by the sacrifice of Christ Jesus?  That sacrifice could never have been performed by any person, but by him who is God as well as man.  He must have been a sacrifice of infinite dignity, and nothing less could bear any proportion to the infinite guilt of our sins which are committed against a God of infinite goodness and majesty.  By this belief we freely give to Christ that divine honour which is due to him.  If we ascribe that honour to him without being satisfied that it is his due, we cannot wholly free ourselves from that idolatry which is a breach of the first commandment.  By this faith also of the inward dignity of Christ, we may learn to raise our affections to the utmost pitch our nature is capable of, in the admiration of that wonderful goodness of the Father in sending his beloved Son to die for us while we were his enemies, rebels, apostate creatures Ń that wonderful love and condescension of the Son, in debasing himself so far for the sake of us, who deserved the most grievous vials of his wrath and indignation to revenge the breach of his covenant.

         VII.  The angel told the virgin Mary that (a) she should be the mother of Jesus Christ, that (b) her son should be great, and called the Son of the Highest, that (c) the Lord God should give unto him the throne of his father David, that (d) he should reign over the house of Jacob forever, and that (e) of his kingdom there should be no end.  These words contain an astonishing message, looking back to the prophecy concerning the Messiah.  The prophecy foretold that the government should be upon his shoulder, and his name should be called Wonderful, Counsellor, the mighty God, the everlasting Father, the Prince of peace.  Furthermore, the increase of his government and peace should have no end upon the throne of David, and upon his kingdom, to order it and to establish it with judgment and with justice henceforth even for ever.  The angelŐs description of the Messiah means that God would settle upon the Messiah a spiritual kingdom (of which that temporal one of David was but an imperfect representation), the absolute government of his church, that spiritual house of Jacob.  This kingdom of his should never be destroyed, as the kingdom of the Jews was to be, and which is now fulfilled.

         This declaration was preceded by the salutation made to the blessed Virgin by the same angel, in these words: Hail thou that art highly favoured, the Lord is with thee; blessed art thou among women.  The meaning of this was that the blessed Virgin was most excellently disposed to receive the greatest honour that ever was done to the daughters of men.  Her employment was holy and pious, her body chaste, and her soul adorned with all virtues, particularly with humility which is in the sight of God of great price.  She was to be the mother of a universal and everlasting blessing which all former ages had desired, and all future times should rejoice in.  Yet she resigns all this glory to him who gave it her and declares, whence she received it, that no other name but his might have the honour.  When she received this salutation, she was troubled at the saying of the angel, and wondered what manner of salutation it should be.  She judged herself unworthy of so great an honour, and was surprised with the strangeness of such an appearance.  When the angel positively affirmed that she should conceive and bring forth the Messiah, she inquired how that could be, since she knew not a man.  This implied in her no doubt concerning the thing, or any diffidence in respect to the issue of it.  Rather she felt admiration in respect to the wonderful manner of effecting it.  At most it implies her desire to be satisfied in the manner as well as in the matter of this mystery.  Therefore, the angel declared the wonderful manner how his message should be brought about.  The Holy Ghost should come upon her, and the power of the Highest should overshadow her.  The angel then furnished her with a similar example in her cousin, and referred her to the power of God to which nothing is impossible.  Upon this she demonstrated an entire faith and obedience in her reply: Behold the handmaid of the Lord, be it unto me according to thy word.  Then the blessed Virgin expressed her gratitude in that admirable hymn called the Magnificat.  Herein she showed a thankful sense of the great honour that was conferred upon her, and testified her humility and devotion, as well as the infinite power and goodness of God.  As she was highly favoured, she was also full of grace, and had a mind plentifully enriched with the gifts of GodŐs holy spirit.

         The only-begotten Son of God was conceived by the Holy Ghost, and took manŐs nature in the womb of the blessed Virgin, of her substance.  Two whole and perfect natures, that is to say, the godhead and manhood, were joined together in one person, never to be divided, whereof is one Christ, very God and very man.  He was seen and handled.  He was arraigned, condemned, crucified, and afterward laid in the grave Ń not indeed in his divine, but in his human nature, to reconcile his Father to us, and to be a sacrifice, not only for original guilt, but also for the actual sins of men. [See the 2d Article of Religion.]

         We profess that our saviour Jesus Christ was born of virgin Mary.  Before and after her espousal to Joseph, Mary was a pure and unspotted virgin.  We also believe that the virgin Mary, having by the immediate operation of the Holy Ghost conceived within her womb the only-begotten Son of God, did bring him forth after the natural time of other women.  The Saviour of the world was born of a woman, made under the law without any original corruption, so that he might deliver us from the guilt of sin.  For thus our church expresses it: ŇChrist, in the truth of our nature, was made like unto us in all things sin only excepted, from which he was clearly void, both in his flesh, and in his spirit.  He came to be a lamb without spot, who, by sacrifice of himself once made, should take away the sins of the world: and sin (as St. John saith) was not in him.  But we all (although baptized and born again in Christ) offend in many things; and, if we say we have no sin we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in usÓ. [See the 15th Article of Religion.]

         And he was born of a Virgin, of the house and lineage of David, that he might sit upon his throne, and rule for evermore.  The prophecies of the Old Testament foretold that the promised Messiah was to be born after this miraculous manner.  One says, the Lord hath created a new thing upon the earth, a woman shall compass a man.  Another says, behold, a virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel.  In consequence whereof his mother that bore him was a pure virgin, as appeared both from her own account and that of Joseph her reputed husband.  When Joseph doubted of her chastity, an angel was dispatched to clear her honour, and to assure him that what was conceived in her was not by man, but by the Holy Ghost.  And when she objected the impossibility of her being a mother, the angel explains it to her by the Holy Ghost coming upon her, and the power of the Highest overshadowing her.  This was so unquestionable to the apostles and primitive Christians that they universally and firmly believed it, and thought it a point of so great moment as to deserve a place in that summary of the Christian faith called the ApostlesŐ Creed.

         The place of our SaviourŐs birth was Bethlehem, whither Joseph and Mary went in obedience to the decree of Augustus to be taxed.  The providence of God made use of this conjuncture by verifying a prophecy to signify and publish the birth of the true Messiah.  The concourse of people to Bethlehem was so great that they could find no accommodation but a stable.  There the blessed Virgin brought forth her firstborn son, wrapped him in swaddling clothes, and laid him in a manger.  All the angels of God worshipped him, and published to the world the glad tidings of his birth.  As certain shepherds were keeping watch over their flocks by night, the angel of the Lord came upon them, and the glory of the Lord shone round about them.  The splendour of the appearance confounded their senses, and made them sore afraid.  But the angel quickly removed the terror that seized them with the tidings he brought of great joy to all people: Unto you is born this day, in the city of David, a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord.  Yet, lest they should expect a prince accompanied with pomp and magnificence, the angel described the meanness and obscurity of his circumstances as a token to guide them in the search of their newborn prince: This shall be a sign unto you; ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger.  Having this notice, the shepherds immediately went to Bethlehem; and, having found the account true, they returned, glorifying and praising God.

         The Jews were in a general expectation of the appearing of the Messiah at the time of his birth.  It appears from the ancient and general tradition that at the end of the second two thousand years the Messiah should appear.  Likewise from that particular computation of the Jewish doctors not long before our SaviourŐs coming, who, upon a solemn debate on that matter, determined the Messiah should come within fifty years.  This is confirmed from the great jealousy that Herod had concerning a king of the Jews, who was expected about that time to be born; and from the testimony of Josephus, who tells us the Jews rebelled against the Romans.  They were encouraged to rebel by a celebrated prophecy in their scriptures that about that time a famous prince should be born among them who should have dominion over all the earth.  It is evident from the famous testimonies of two eminent Roman historians that the heathen world was in expectation of such an appearance.  Suetonius says, there was an ancient and general opinion famous throughout all the eastern parts that the fates had determined that there should come out of Judea those that should govern the world.  These words seemed to be a verbal translation of that prophecy, Out of Judah should come the ruler.  Tacitus writes that a great many were persuaded that it was contained in the ancient books of the priests that at that very time the East should prevail, and that they who should govern the world were to come out of Judea.  The phrase that Ňthe East should prevailÓ refers to that title given the Messiah by the prophet, who says, He is called the man whose name is the East. [Though we translate it Branch, yet the Hebrew word signifies beds, and may be rendered the one as well as the other.]

         When our Saviour appeared in the world, he scattered and dispelled that cloud of idolatry, and that corruption of manners, which had fatally overspread it.  He became a light to lighten the Gentiles, as he was the glory of his people Israel.  Under the conduct of such a guide, we cannot fail of acquiring the knowledge of GodŐs will in this world, and the comfortable expectation of life everlasting in the world to come.  We consider the dignity and excellence of his person, the clearness and perfection of his precepts, and the brightness of his own example.  We also consider the gracious assistances and glorious rewards, which he hath promised to those in his service.  He, who lay in the bosom of the Father, and had the Spirit communicated to him without measure, in whom dwells the fullness of the godhead bodily, could not lack perfect knowledge of what was most agreeable to the divine will.  Consequently we have abundant reason to put our trust and confidence in that method of attaining salvation he hath discovered.  We cannot fail of success unless we are negligent to that method.  It (a) directs us to the true object of worship, (b) gives us rational and worthy notions of that Being we are obliged to adore, and (c) raises our natures to the greatest improvements they are capable of in this world.

 

Sunday  IV

I.  Of the sufferings, crucifixion; and  II.  Of the death,  III.  Burial,  IV.  Resurrection, and  V.  Ascension of JESUS CHRIST.  VI. Of his mediatorial office and sitting on the right hand of God; and VII.  Of his corning to judge the world at the last day.

 

         I.  In the fourth ARTICLE of our Christian faith we profess our belief that this same Jesus Christ, the eternal Son of God, begotten of his Father before all worlds, God of God, very God of very God, the Prince of glory, the heir of everlasting bliss, the promised Messiah, who taking the nature of man, yet being in that nature still the same person he was before, suffered under Pontius Pilate, was crucified, dead, and buried.  He was subject to all those frailties and infirmities, those outward injuries and violent impressions, to which mortality is liable.  His whole life was full of sufferings, from his birth in the stable to his death on the cross.  Particularly in his last bitter passion he suffered intense pains and torments in his body, inexpressible fears, sorrows, and unknown anguish in his soul.  He sweat drops of blood.  One of his disciples betrayed him, and he was denied by another.  He was apprehended and bound by the rude soldiers as a malefactor, accused by false witnesses, arraigned and condemned by that judge who declared he could find no fault in him.  He was buffeted, scourged, spit upon, derided and mocked by the people and the soldiers.  At last by the high priest himself, he was made the scorn, contempt, and sport of his insolent and insulting enemies.  He was hurried to death by the clamours of the rabble, who cried out, Crucify him, crucify him.  Accordingly he was nailed to the cross, on which, after having hung several hours, he gave up the ghost.  This way of putting to death was called crucifixion, a Roman punishment, remarkable for its severe pains and ignominy.  The torment of it appeared from the piercing with nails those parts of the body which are most nervous, and yet did not quickly procure death.  The shame of it was evident from those upon whom it was inflicted, being only slaves, and such as had run away from their masters.

         And that our Saviour also suffered in his mind, appears from those grievous agonies he felt:  (1) first, in the garden, just before his apprehension, when his soul was sorrowful, even unto death; (2) when he sweat as it were drops of blood, and prayed thrice with great vehemence to his Father, that if it were possible, that bitter cup might pass from him; and  (3) from that inconceivable anguish which he expressed upon the cross, when he broke out into that passionate exclamation, My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?  Thus evil to come tormented his soul with fear, and evil present with sadness, anguish, and sorrow.  Not that he suffered the torments of the damned; for as he knew no guile, consequently he deserved and could suffer no punishment.  But when we reflect Ń on (a) how perfectly the blessed Jesus understood the evil and guilt of sin, (b) how zealous he was of GodŐs glory, (c) how desirous of the salvation of mankind, and yet withal that he knew (d) how small a number would be saved, how (e) an ungrateful and rebellious world would frustrate the end of his death and the designs of his mercy Ń we may guess at that anguish which sunk and depressed him so much as made him say, My soul is exceeding sorrowful, even unto death.  We may imagine how much he, who loved us so well as to die to redeem us, might be grieved and afflicted when he foresaw that even by his dying he should not save us all from the damnation of hell.

         But here let it be remarked that our blessed Saviour suffered only in his human nature, or that nature of man which he took upon him.  Yet, since it was united to the divine nature, and that there was a most intimate conjunction of both natures in the person of the Son, there did thence result a true proper communication of names, characters, and properties.  The very eternal Son of God suffered whatever the man Christ Jesus endured in the flesh for sinners.  The properties of each nature separate may reasonably be affirmed of that person, in whom the two natures are united by the power of God.  And our Saviour suffered the painful and shameful death of the cross to deliver us from the wrath to come, and to purchase eternal redemption for us.  Thus our church declares, ŇThat the offering of Christ once made is that perfect redemption, propitiation, and satisfaction for all the sins of the whole world, both original and actual; and that there is none other satisfaction for sin but that aloneÓ. [See the 31st Article of Religion.]

         He underwent these sufferings so that (a) he might put away sin by the sacrifice of himself, that (b) he might be a propitiation for us through faith in his blood, that (c) he might redeem us from all iniquity, and purify unto himself a peculiar people, zealous of good works, and (e) to give us a perfect pattern of patience and resignation to the will of God, and of all those Christian virtues which are necessary to qualify us to receive the benefit of his satisfaction, (f) leaving us an example that we should follow his steps.

         By our sins we had justly incurred the displeasure of almighty God, and were liable to eternal misery.  Our blessed Saviour discharged the obligation.  By shedding his most precious blood as the price of our redemption, he made satisfaction to God for us.  He was contented to be offered a sacrifice for us, to bear our sins in his own body on the tree, and to atone for the guilt of our offences by the one oblation of himself once offered for us all.  He died not only for our benefit and advantage, but in our place and stead.  If he had not died, we had eternally perished without being able to escape the justice of an angry God.  Therefore, the blood of Christ, which was shed for us upon the cross, is called the blood of the covenant.  Thereupon God was pleased to enter into a covenant of grace and mercy with mankind.  He hath promised and engaged, for the sake of ChristŐs sufferings, voluntarily undergone upon our account, and in our stead, to forgive the sins of all those that truly repent and believe, and to make them partakers of eternal life in the world to come.

         The reason and necessity for our belief that Christ suffered appears from the assurance we thence receive that he was truly man.  If he were not, man could not be redeemed by him.  We are also hereby assured that satisfaction is made to the justice of God for our sins.  In his decree there could be no remission but by the shedding of blood.  We likewise learn from this faith that he is truly affected with the utmost compassion of our afflictions, and is a most faithful and merciful high priest,  He is touched with the feeling of our infirmities and therefore ready to succour them that are tempted.  Finally, this belief prepares us to receive with patience the sufferings of this life.  If God spared not his own Son, how shall he spare his adopted ones, whose best evidence of their being his children is their being under his fatherly correction?  Otherwise, as the apostle observes, we should be bastards and not sons.  If, when we suffer with him, we (1) also suffer like him and (2) follow the admirable pattern he has left us of (a) humility, (b) patience, and (c) absolute submission to the will of God, we then shall be made partakers of his divine holiness.  By his crucifixion our Saviour cancelled the obligation we were under to perform the whole law, and blotted out the handwriting of ordinances which was against us, which was contrary to us.  He took it out of the way, nailing it to his cross.  Thus, we ought to learn that, if we will be ChristŐs, we must crucify the flesh with the affections and lusts, and glory in nothing save in the cross of Jesus Christ crucified.

         II.  Although Jesus was both God and man, yet he did truly and properly die by an actual departure of his soul from his body.  In that union his life as man consisted.  This appears from the many plain texts of scripture which say that he died.  It also appears from those texts, Father, into thy hands I commend my spirit.  Having thus said, he gave up the ghost by the means of a violent death caused by the pains and tortures inflicted on him.  Such inflictions, without a miracle, could only dissolve that natural disposition of the body which is necessary to continue its union with the soul.  He voluntarily, I say, submitted himself to that violence which could not have been forced upon him without such a submission.  Therefore he says, No man taketh away my life from me, but I lay it down of myself, &c.  After he had so submitted himself, he could not by the course of nature avoid that death.

         After this view of the humiliation of our blessed Saviour, we can consider what effect his life, doctrine, and sufferings should have upon us, and remark by what steps he draws us to God.  We shall soon be convinced that his method to prevent our falling into sinful actions was to restrain our thoughts which lead to them, and to oblige us to govern our looks which give birth to our thoughts.  To obviate all those evils which proceed from an inordinate desire of riches, he hath shown us that admirable temper of mind distinguished in his gospel by poverty of spirit.  This attitude makes us even hold loosely to the good things we possess.  To keep us at a distance from the temptations of lying and detraction, he hath forbidden all idle words.  Care to avoid them might secure us from falling into those greater crimes.  To hinder the fatal effects of anger and revenge, he hath nipped these passions in the bud by commanding us to love our enemies, and to do good to them that hate us.  To facilitate the necessary virtue of patience, he hath manifested to us the treasures that are hid in adversity, and the advantage of being persecuted for his sake.  What the world calls misfortune and calamity often proves the blessed occasion of making us happy both in this and the next life: Blessed are they that mourn; blessed are they that are persecuted.  And to make us quiet and easy in ourselves, and gentle to others, he requires us to have a quick sense of our own weaknesses and defects, and readily condescend to the lowest offices for the good of our distressed brethren.

         All which commands he enforces by his example.  In his own person he hath recommended to us the most hard and difficult, as well as those that are most useful and serviceable.  To teach us piety and devotion, he frequently retired and spent whole nights in prayer.  From worldly occurrences he raised matter for spiritual thoughts.  He conformed not only to divine institutions, but to human appointments that tended to promote virtue.  This Prince of glory condescended to the poverty of a stable so that we might learn humility.  This Wisdom of the Father became dumb, and was reduced to the simplicity of an infant.  He spent thirty years of his life in retirement, subject to his parents, and unknown to the world.  The whole course of his life was employed in good works so that we might be ready to exercise universal charity to the bodies and souls of men.  He refused the offer of the kingdoms of this world and the glory of them so that we might suppress all ambitious desires.  When the people would have made him a king, he withdrew, and they knew not where to find him out.  So that we might be obedient to government, he paid tribute, though he was free from any such obligation and was forced to work a miracle to perform it.  He chose to have no part or share in the possession of the world, so that we might live above the world, the Son of Man not having where to lay his head.  He was perfectly contented in his mean circumstances that in all our sufferings we might be resigned to the will of God.  In his bitter agony he renounced the strongest inclinations of nature, and submitted to the appointment of the Almighty.  He made himself of no reputation so that a regard to the judgment of the world might not prevail upon us to transgress the laws of our God.  In order to do good to mankind,  he was contented to be esteemed one of the worst of men, a magician, an impostor, a friend and companion of publicans and sinners, and a seducer of the people.  For us to resist all temptation to anger, and preserve an evenness of mind under all provocations, he bore with the dullness and slowness of his disciples, both in their understanding and believing what he plainly taught.  He answered the sharpest reproaches of his enemies with calm arguments and modest silence, never bringing a railing accusation instead of a sound reason.  He prayed most earnestly for his, even when he felt the most cruel effects of their malice, and imputed it to their ignorance, so that we might practice that difficult duty of loving our enemies.  Father, says he, forgive them, for they know not what they do.  In order that we may perform our duty, he has offered pardon and forgiveness of what is past, and perfect reconciliation to God by the merits of his death and passion, provided we return to him by sincere repentance, faith and obedience to his law. [See the 18th Article of Religion.]

         He strengthens us at present and enables us to do our duty by enlightening our dark minds, by exciting our wills to that which is good, and by raising our courage under difficulties, dangers, and temptations.  He raises our fears by the threatenings of eternal punishment in the next life.  He encourages our hopes by the promises of everlasting rewards to the whole man, body and soul.  These rewards are the most powerful considerations to take men off from sin and bring them to goodness whereby they may obtain eternal life.

         It should be our greatest care to please him in the following ways.  We should obey his commandments and persuade others to do the same.  We should make daily progress in virtue and piety to be conformed to his likeness.  We should converse with him in prayer and meditation, in hearing his word, and receiving the blessed sacrament of the LordŐs supper.  We should be more offended to hear his holy name blasphemed than to hear any reproach that can be cast upon ourselves.  We should long for his glorious appearing that we may enjoy him without interruption to all eternity in the glory of God the Father.

         III.  Christ, being taken down from the cross, was buried.  This fact hath been typified by Jonah lying three days and three nights in the whaleŐs belly.  Also it hath been intimated by the Psalmist, My flesh shall rest in hope, &c., which plainly teaches that the body was to be buried, but not lie in the grave to see corruption.  Isaiah is more express, saying, He made his grave with the wicked, and with the rich in his death.  This part of our Christian faith should work within us Ń we are buried with him in baptism unto death, that, like as Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life, being raised from the death of sin unto the life of righteousness.  And, as Christ died for us, and was buried, so also is it to be believed, that he went down into hell.  [See the 3d Article of Religion.]

         The pious solemnities used in the burial of our Saviour, the honorable mention of the persons concerned in it, and of the woman who brake the box of precious ointment to prepare his body for it, have been in all ages thought sufficient grounds for the decent burials used in the Christian church.  This custom of the church is said to have had a great influence in the conversion of the heathens.  After Christianity had got possession of the Roman empire, it soon put an end to the old custom of burning the bodies of the dead.  Nature itself directs that some respect seems due to the dead bodies of men for the sake of the souls which once inhabited them, but much more to those which have been the living temples of the Holy Ghost, and, being bought by Christ, shall be one day made like unto his glorious body, according to that mighty working whereby he is able to subdue all things to himself.

         IV.  In the fifth ARTICLE of our Christian faith we profess to believe, that JESUS CHRIST on the third day arose again from the dead.  The beloved and only-begotten Son of God, who was crucified and died for our sins, did not long continue in the state of death.  On the third day, [He was buried three days, according to the common computation of days, both ancient and modern, and particularly in scripture computation.  So Lazarus is said to be four days dead, though the fourth day, whereon he was raised, was one of them.  Eight days were said to be accomplished for ChristŐs circumcision, but the day of his birth and circumcision too went both into that account.] by his infinite power, Jesus did truly revive and raise himself from death, and took again his body, with flesh, bones, and all things appertaining to the perfection of manŐs nature. [See 4th Article of Religion.]  He reunited the same soul to the same body that was buried, and so rose the same man according to the testimony of sufficient and credible witnesses thoroughly informed concerning the fact.  These witnesses were the pious women, who, thinking with sweet spices to have anointed him dead, found him risen.  The apostles, who conversed with him frequently after his resurrection, were satisfied he had a real body by his eating and drinking with them.  One of them searched the holes that the nails had made in his hands, and thrust his hand into his side.  All the other disciples testified the same, to whom he also appeared, even to five hundred brethren at one time.  Then he was seen of James, appeared to Stephen at his martyrdom and to Paul at his conversion in his way to Damascus.  The veracity of these witnesses cannot be doubted of.  The doctrine they taught forbad all falsehood upon pain of damnation.  Sealing the truth of this fact with their blood is a sufficient evidence of their veracity.

         In the preaching of the apostles the resurrection was the great article they insisted on.  St. Paul knew the weight of this article and the necessity of teaching it, when he said, If Christ be not risen, our faith is vain.  It is common for men to die for false opinions, but even in those cases their suffering is an evidence of their sincerity.  It would be very hard to charge men who die for the doctrine they profess with insincerity in the profession.  Mistaken though they may be, every mistaken man is not a cheat.  The sufferings of the apostles prove their sincerity, and they died for the truth of a matter of Fact which they had seen themselves.  Therefore, the objections usually brought against this article of our faith quickly vanish.  In doctrines and matters of opinion men mistake perpetually.  It is no reason for me to take up with another manŐs opinion, because I am persuaded he is sincere in it.  But when a man reports to me an uncommon FACT, in its own nature a plain object of sense, if I believe him not, my suspicion does not arise from the inability of human senses to judge in the case, but from a doubt of the sincerity of the reporter.  In such cases therefore there lacks nothing to be proved, but only the sincerity of the reporter.  Since voluntarily suffering for the truth is at least a proof of sincerity, the sufferings of the apostles for the truth of the resurrection is a full and unexceptionable proof.   There are many instances of men suffering and dying in an obstinate denial of the truth of facts plainly proved.  When criminals persist in denying their crimes, they do it often, and there is reason to suspect they do it always in hopes of a pardon or reprieve.  What are such instances to the present purpose?  All such men suffer against their will and for their crimes.  Their obstinacy is built on the hope of escaping, by moving the compassion of the government, or the spectators.  The apostles died in asserting the truth of ChristŐs resurrection.  It was always in their power to quit their evidence and save their lives.  Even their bitterest enemies the Jews required no more of them than to be silent.  But that it spread no further among the people, let us straitly threaten them that they speak henceforth to no man in this name, Acts 4:17.  Did we not strictly command you that you should not teach in this name?  And behold ye have filed Jerusalem with your doctrine, and intend to bring this manŐs blood upon us, Acts 5:28.  Others have denied facts or asserted facts in hopes of saving their lives when they were under sentence of death.  But these men attested the fact at the expense of their lives, which they might have saved by denying the truth.   Between criminals dying and denying plain facts, and the apostles dying for their testimony, there is this material difference: criminals deny the truth in hopes of saving their lives, but the apostles willingly parted with their lives rather than deny the truth.  We have the testimony of his very enemies to bear witness of this great truth.  Those soldiers that watched at the sepulchre, and pretended to keep his body from the hands of the apostles, felt the earth trembling under them and saw the countenance of an angel like lightning and his raiment white as snow.  Upon this sight they did shake and became as dead men, while he whom they kept became alive.  Even some of these came into the city and showed unto the chief priests all the things that were done when Christ rose from the dead.  The angels, that heavenly host which brought the glad tidings of his birth to the shepherds, bore evidence to the truth thereof.  One came and rolled back the stone from the door and sat upon it.  Two, in white, sitting one at the head, and the other at the feet, where the body of Jesus had lain, said unto the women, Why seek ye the living among the dead? he is not here, but is risen.

         He only appeared to his followers and not to the Jewish nation.  It was only of necessity that the first publishers of the gospel should have the utmost evidence and satisfaction concerning the truth and reality of ChristŐs resurrection.  If he had been obliged to have appeared to the Jewish nation, it might be pleaded that the whole Roman empire ought to have had the like manifestation, and that he should have shown himself to the unbelieving in all succeeding ages.

         It was necessary Christ should rise from the dead, to show the debt he died for was discharged, and that his satisfaction was accepted in heaven.  If Christ be not risen, ye are yet in your sins.   He rose to prove himself to be the Messiah, and to evidence the truth and divinity of his doctrine which he had enjoined to be observed by all men.  He had appealed to it as a sign of his being a true prophet.  God prescribed the Jews the way of trial, viz. the accomplishment of predictions.  Had he failed therein, he had appeared to be a false prophet; for if Christ be not risen, your faith is vain.  God having raised our Saviour from the dead, after he was condemned and put to death for calling himself the Son of God, is a demonstration that he really was the Son of God.  As the Son of God, the doctrine he taught was truth from God and is our guide to heaven.

         Again, the resurrection of Christ is an argument of our resurrection.  By his rising from the dead, he became the firstfruits of them that slept.  By this is secured our resurrection to eternal life.  He who hath promised to raise us up did raise himself from the dead.

         V.  In the sixth ARTICLE of our Christian faith we profess to believe that JESUS ascended into heaven, and sitteth at the right hand of God, the Father almighty.  Jesus finished his course upon earth with blessing his disciples.  By his own power he rose again for our justification.  For forty days he confirmed the truth of his resurrection by appearing several times to his disciples, discoursing with them, and speaking of the things concerning the kingdom of God,  While he was blessing them and they beheld and looked steadfastly toward heaven, he was taken up and a cloud received him out of their sight.  After Jesus ascended up into the highest heavens, two angels appeared unto the disciples.  They gave the comfortable promise that, as Jesus was taken from them into heaven, so he should return in a glorious manner again to judge the world.  All this was done to confirm the certainty and reality of this great mystery of our faith.  Here was need of eyewitnesses, which was not necessary in the act of his resurrection.  Whatever was a proof of his life after death was a demonstration of his resurrection.  The apostles were to be unable to see him in heaven.  It was therefore necessary they should be eyewitnesses of his act of ascending, so that they might be able to bear their testimony thereto.  Before the apostles saw our Saviour ascend, he had told them whither he was going and what power and dignity would be conferred upon him.  As an evidence of his exaltation on the right hand of God, he had promised to send down the Holy Ghost upon them in a sensible manner which they afterward received.  Then they had abundant evidence of his exaltation, namely, his ascension into the heaven of heavens, the presence of God, where his human nature is seated far above all angels and archangels, all principalities and powers, even at the right hand of God the Father.

         Our LordŐs ascension is of that great advantage to mankind.  Why he did not ascend in the sight of the Jews, that they, who had been deceived before at the time of his crucifixion, might have received a conviction of their error?  It was only absolutely necessary that they who were to preach the gospel should have the utmost evidence of those facts they testified.  GodŐs design was to bring the world to salvation by the exercise of faith.  Faith is an assent upon the testimony of another which is inconsistent with sight.  Moreover they who ascribed our SaviourŐs miracles to the power of the devil, and suborned the soldiers to say upon his resurrection that his disciples stole him away, might have called his ascension, if they had seen it, a phantasm and vain apparition of the spirit of some corrupt man.  But let the reason be what it will, God appointed it to be so.  It is not the business of the creature to ask the Creator his reasons for such and such acts of his omnipotence.

 

Sunday  IV.  Part  II.

         VI.  Christ, being now seated at the right hand of God, is become a perpetual patron and advocate in our behalf to plead our cause, to solicit our concernments, to represent our wants, and to offer up your prayers and requests to God by virtue of his meritorious sacrifice which he offered upon the cross for the sins of the whole world.  And this his sitting at the right hand of God is expressly foretold in these words, The Lord said unto my Lord, sit thou on my right hand, till I make thine enemies thy footstool.  And we are assured by the holy penmen, that our Jesus is actually there.  One tells us that he was received up into heaven, and sitteth at the right hand of God.  Another records that God raised him from the dead, and set him at his own right hand in heavenly places.  Such scripture phrases are not to be taken in a strict and proper, but in a figurative sense.  They are spoken in condescension to our capacities, after the manner of men, and by way of comparison to what belongs to mankind.  The sitting at a princeŐs right hand is esteemed a place of the highest honour.  The first import of this phrase seems to be that Christ is invested with the highest glory from God, and exalted to the highest dignity.  His infinite power may be signified by the hand of God.  This phrase may further import ChristŐs having received the highest power and dominion from God.  Where Christ is said to be sitting, we are not to understand that he is in a particular posture of body as is commonly meant by sitting.  He is sometimes represented as standing at GodŐs right hand, sometimes in general as being there, without expressing the particular manner of it.  By his sitting we are to understand (a) his secure and quiet continuance in that high glory, majesty, and judicature, (b) his full possession of dignity, and (c) perpetuity in retaining it.

         This confirms our faith.  It gives us a further proof of our SaviourŐs divine mission.  If he had not been sent into the world by God, God would not have approved of the message Christ delivered to man.  His visible ascension into heaven strengthens our hope.  By seeing our own nature thus advanced, we are assured that dust and ashes may thither ascend also.  The blessed Jesus being our head, as members of his body we may expect admission into that heavenly court where he sits in glory, since we have his word, which can never fail, that he is gone to prepare a place for us.  His ascension exalts our affections by putting us in mind that our treasure is above.  Therefore we ought not to set our affections upon such things as must perish in this world.  Heaven is the true and only happiness of a Christian.  Our great design in this world ought to be to fit and prepare ourselves for the enjoyment of a blessed eternity.  Our constant endeavours ought to tend toward the qualifying ourselves to be received into our SaviourŐs presence, to whom we have the greatest obligations of gratitude and duty.  By trampling upon our sins, and subduing the lusts of the flesh, we may make our conversation correspond to our SaviourŐs condition.  Where the eyes of the apostles were forced to leave him, thither our thoughts may follow him, even into the highest heavens.  We also have from this an assurance of the pardon of our sins, acceptance of our sincere, though imperfect obedience, and of protection and defense in our spiritual warfare.  We know that at last we shall be more than conquerors.  That knowledge raises in us a noble ambition of being made partakers of that glory to which Christ our head already is advanced.  He has promised that to him who overcometh he will grant to sit with him on his throne.

         VII.  The seventh ARTICLE states our belief that CHRIST will come again to judge the quick and the dead.  Here we declare that our Lord Jesus Christ shall at the end of the world descend from heaven in his human nature.  He shall be revealed from heaven with his mighty angels.  He shall descend with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, with the trump of God.  He shall come in his whole glory, and in his FatherŐs, and in that of his holy angels.  He shall sit upon the throne of his glory, and all nations shall be gathered before him.  He shall separate them the one from the other, as a shepherd divideth his sheep from the goats.  Those that sleep in the grave shall awake, and the dead in Christ shall rise first.  They that are alive shall be changed and caught up to meet the Lord in the air.  Which sufficiently shows the glorious appearing of the great God, and our saviour Jesus Christ, who shall then come glorious in the brightness and splendour of his celestial body.  He shall be supported by that authority which his Father had committed to him of universal judge.  He shall be accompanied with thousands of angels who shall attend, not only to make up the pomp of his appearance, but as ministers of his justice.  He shall be seated in that bright throne of glory from which he shall summon all mankind to appear before his dreadful tribunal, where they shall come upon their trial, and have all their actions strictly examined.

         In the scriptures we find that God hath given assurance unto all men that he will judge the world by Jesus Christ in that he hath raised him from the dead.  The method by which God will proceed with his creatures in that day is fully described by the judge himself in his gospel.  The apostle of the Gentiles declares expressly that we must all appear and stand before the judgment seat of Christ.  The apostle of the circumcision says that the day of the Lord shall come, in which the heavens shall pass away with a great noise, and the elements shall melt with fervent heat.

         The administration of judgment is committed by the Father to his Son Jesus Christ.  God will judge the world in righteousness by that man Christ Jesus, whom he hath ordained.  The Son of Man shall come in the glory of his Father with his holy angels, and then he shall reward every man according to his works.  The Father judgeth no man but hath committed all judgment unto the Son.  Christ commended his disciples to preach unto the people and testify that it is Jesus that is ordained of God to be the judge of quick and dead.  The tribunal is called the judgment seat of Christ.  Though the right of judging us belongs to God, whose servants and subjects we are, yet the execution of this power of judging is particularly committed to the Son of Man.  All men should honour the Son as they honour the Father so that (a) our blessed Saviour might receive public honour in that nature wherein he suffered; (b) that he, who for our sakes stood before an earthly tribunal, might therefore be constituted judge of the whole world; (c) that he, who was despised and rejected of men, might appear in the glory of his Father, attended with an innumerable train of holy angels; (d) that he, who was condemned and crucified to absolve us, might receive authority to absolve or condemn the whole race of mankind; (e) and because, being clothed with a human body, he will make a visible appearance which will be suitable to the other circumstances of that great day.  All will be performed in the sight of all the world.  Mankind being judged by one of their own nature, a man like themselves, touched with a feeling of their infirmities, greatly declares the equity of his judgment.  He understands all our circumstances, and whatever may influence our case, to lessen or increase our crimes.

         Not only men, but angels also, will be judged at the last day.  The fallen angels are reserved in everlasting chains under darkness unto the judgment of the great day.  The apostle says, Know ye not that we shall judge angels; or, sit with Christ, and approve that sentence against them which he shall then pronounce?  All men that have ever lived in the world, and those that shall be alive at our SaviourŐs coming, shall be gathered before him, who is ordained by God to be judge of quick and dead.  They shall all stand before the judgment seat of Christ, both small and great.  Neither riches, power, nor honour, shall deliver any great man from the hand of God.  Neither shall the poorest slave be excused for his meanness.  They are all the works of his hands.  Neither will he have regard to such qualities and circumstances of persons which do not appertain to the merits of the cause.  He will pass judgment upon all according to all things we have done in the body, whether they be good or evil.

         He will enter into a severe scrutiny how we have employed all those talents that he has entrusted us with.  Then shall be brought into our view and an account be demanded of (a) all the powers and faculties that have been given us, (b) all the favours and benefits we have enjoyed, (c) all the means and opportunities that have been afforded us for the living virtuously and holily, and thereby to bring honour and glory to our Master.  He will account with us for how we have employed our senses, whether (a) to the purposes they were given us for Đ the furnishing of our understandings, and the right governing of our bodies Đ or whether (b) we have made them only instruments of sin, and inlets to vanity.  He will account with us for how we have employed our reason and conscience, whether (a) we have done our best to improve them, and whether (b) they have been faithful guides of our actions, or (c) we have suffered them to be abused with folly and false principles, and to be led captive by our lusts and passions.  He will call us to account for how we have employed our memories, whether (a) we have been careful to treasure up in them such things as might be useful to our lives, or (b) have only made them the repositories of things idle, impertinent, and unprofitable.  He will call us to account how we have spent our time in this world, whether (a) we have employed it to good purposes in (1) an honest laborious pursuit of a lawful calling, (2) setting a due portion thereof apart for the more immediate service of God, and (3) spending the remainder innocently and wisely, (b) or whether we have squandered it away in idleness, in play, in reveling or in impertinent vicious conversation, in the neglect of our main business.  He will call us to account for how we have employed the good creatures he hath from time to time bestowed upon us for our support and refreshment, whether (a) we have used them thankfully and soberly, with temperance and moderation, or whether (b) we have abused them to luxury and excess, to gluttony or drunkenness, making therewith provision for the flesh, to fulfil the lusts thereof.  He will call us to account for how we have employed (a) our learning and intellectual accomplishments, (b) the advantages of our education, (c) our health and strength, (d) our wealth and riches, (e) our greatness, power, and reputation, and (f) all those special and eminent talents that he hath entrusted us with above others, whether (a) we have made them instruments of doing a great deal of good, and being eminently useful in our generation, or (b) whether they have only ministered to pride, and vanity, and self-pleasing, if not to the worst purposes of vice and wickedness.  Lastly, he will call us to account for (a) all the opportunities of grace and means of salvation that we have enjoyed, (b) all the good counsels and wise exhortations that have been given us, (c) the revelation of his Son that hath been made known to us, (d) the use of his word and sacraments, (e) all the motions, and suggestions of his holy Spirit within us, dissuading us from sin and alluring and soliciting us to a course of virtue and holiness.  We must account how we have employed them all these, whether we have improved them to the purposes for which they were given, as we should have done.  We must also account whether we have grown in grace, and brought forth fruit suitable to so many helps and advantages, or have been idle and unprofitable servants.  For these, and a great many other things which we now scarce think of, shall we be accountable to the Judge at that day.  Then shall the wisdom and justice of the divine Providence appear eminently to all the world, in rewarding every man according to his works.  Then what the upright man has done shall be vindicated and approved.  What he has suffered shall be abundantly made good.  Everything shall be perfectly laid open, and exposed in its true and proper light.  Plainness and sincerity shall then appear the most perfect beauty.  The craftiness of men who lie in wait to deceive shall be stripped of all its colours.  All specious pretenses, all the methods of deceit, shall then be disclosed before men and angels.  No artifice, no false colours, to conceal the deformity of iniquity shall then take place.  The ill-designing men of this world shall then with shame be convinced that (a) the upright sincerity which they despised and derided was the truest wisdom, and that (b) the dishonest arts which they so highly esteemed were in reality the merest folly.

         Notwithstanding we may collect from scripture that there is a particular judgment passed upon all men.  Good men, when they die, pass into a state of happiness, and bad men into a state of misery.  Yet all the declarations of our Saviour and his apostles concerning judgment, with the parables that relate to it, plainly refer to the last and general judgment.  It is only in that day that the whole man shall be completely happy or completely miserable.  It is in that day that the bodies of men shall be raised.  As they have been partakers with the soul, either in obeying or offending God, so shall they then share in the rewards and punishments of it.  Only in that day can the degrees and measures of their happiness and misery be adjusted.  Even after death the effect of menŐs good or bad actions may add to their punishment or increase their reward (a) by the good or bad examples they have given, (b) by the foundations they have established for piety and virtue, or (c) by the customs they have introduced to countenance immorality and vice.  In that day the reasonableness of GodŐs providence in relation to the sufferings of good men in this world will be justified.  His justice will be cleared by those severe punishments that shall be eternally inflicted upon the wicked who have forsaken the God of their salvation.  Therefore, this in a more especial manner is called the day of the Lord.  The exact time of this general judgment is one of those seasons which the Father has put in his own power.  It is not for us to know or pry into it.  Of that day and that hour knoweth no man, no, not the angels which are in heaven, neither the Son, but the Father.  The scripture assures us that it shall come suddenly, as a thief in the night, as the flood upon the whole world, or as the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah, when they were eating and drinking and suspected nothing.  It is also very evident that it is very near to every one of us.  How many ages soever the world will continue, yet to every particular person the time of his own death must determine the conditions upon which his sentence will depend at the general judgment.  Nevertheless, whatever be the time, how near or how distant soever, wherein the world is to end; it is the same thing to us.  Our particular concern in the general judgment will depend entirely on the state wherein we ourselves leave the world, which we are very sure we must speedily do.

         Nature itself shows us an essential difference between good and evil.  By the common consent of mankind rewards are affixed to good, and punishments to evil.  In respect to a future state menŐs hopes and fears are according as they govern their actions in relation to these real differences of good and evil.  A virtuous life is attended with present quiet and satisfaction, and with the comfortable hope of a future recompense.  The commission of any wicked action, though ever so secret, sits uneasy upon the mind, and fills it full of horror.  All this would be very unaccountable without the natural apprehension of future punishments and rewards.  This is why many of the heathens esteemed virtue and honesty dearer than life with all its advantages, and abhorred villainy and impiety worse than death itself.  Moreover, the dispensations of GodŐs providence toward men in this world are not confined.  Good men often suffer, even for the sake of righteousness.  Bad men as frequently prosper and flourish by the means of their wicked practices.  Wherefore, God who is not unjust, provides a future judgment for a suitable distribution of punishments and rewards. [See the Care of the Soul, page 4.]

         God will reward and punish in the next life in proportion to the good or evil we shall do in this our mortal state.  In that day the degrees of good and bad actions will be considered, as well as their nature and quality.  To whomsoever much is given, of him shall be much required.  He that soweth sparingly shall reap sparingly.  He that soweth bountifully shall reap bountifully.  So our Saviour plainly teaches us, by the parable of the talents, that men are rewarded according to the improvement they make.  He that had gained ten talents was made ruler over ten cities, and he that had gained five talents ruler over five Cities.  The apostle of the Gentiles expressly affirms that the glory of the saints shall be different at the resurrection.  Our Saviour informs us that in the day of judgment the condition of Tyre and Sidon, of Sodom and Gomorrah, shall be more tolerable than that of impenitent sinners who have heard and rejected the terms of salvation through Jesus Christ.  We are instructed to believe the justice and equity of GodŐs providence, and the reason of the thing.  Nothing more greatly promotes piety than considering that the least service shall not lose its reward.  The better any man is, the greater disposition he hath for the enjoyment of God.  The more hardened he is in his wickedness, the more susceptible he is of torment, and treasures up greater measures of wrath against the day of GodŐs vengeance, at the last and general judgment.

         Therefore, we should govern our lives with care, consideration, and due regard to the measures of our duty so that we may be able to give up our accounts with joy, and not with grief.  We should keep strict watch over ourselves by frequent examination so that our behaviour in this state of probation and trial may obtain the favour and acceptance of our Judge at his dreadful judgment seat.  We should restrain ourselves from committing the least sin because none will be overlooked at that day of general account for all the world.  Not by the greatest secrecy should we encourage ourselves to the breach of any of GodŐs holy laws.  All our actions shall then be exposed to public view, and known to the whole world, to our eternal infamy.  Neither should we be dejected by the slanders and calumnies of bad men.  Our integrity shall then be cleared by him who cannot err in the sentence he shall pass on us.  Let us improve all those talents the providence of God hath entrusted us with.  We are but stewards, and must give an account of them all.  Let us be sincere in all our words and actions because in that day the secrets of all hearts shall be opened.  Let us avoid all rash judging of others because he that judgeth another shall not escape the judgment of the Almighty.  Let us abound in such works as we know will particularly distinguish men at that day, as feeding the hungry, clothing the naked, etc.  Our labour shall not be in vain in the Lord.  Let us be humble and jealous over our own conduct.  Though we know nothing by ourselves, we are not thereby justified.  He that judgeth us is the Lord.  We should learn immediately to reconcile ourselves to God by a sincere and hearty repentance so that the terrible day of GodŐs wrath may not find us unprepared to enter into the joy of our Lord.

 

Sunday  V

         I. Of the Holy Ghost, his office, manner of working in us, our duty to him, and the sin against him.  II. Of the holy catholic church, and communion of saints.  III. Of the forgiveness of. sins; when and how to be obtained.  IV. Of the resurrection of the body, with answers to objections against it; and of the folly of atheism.  V. Of the life everlasting; in which GodŐs justice in punishing the wicked eternally is vindicated, and the inexcusableness of sin is demonstrated.  VI. The doctrines of Christianity cannot be amended; and are not affected by the wickedness of some peopleŐs lives, nor by religious disputes.  VII. That religion arose not from fear, education, or state policy; and the miseries of atheism.

         I.  In the eighth ARTICLE of our Christian faith we profess to believe in the HOLY GHOST.  Christ before his passion had promised to send to his disciples the Holy Ghost to guide them into all truth, to show them things to come, and to glorify him.  When the day of Pentecost was fully come, they were accordingly all filled with the Holy Ghost.  He is the third person in the most holy Trinity, distinct from the Father and the Son, and eternally proceeding from both.  He is called the Spirit of Christ, and the Spirit of the Son, as well as of the Father, and of one divine substance with them.  He is holy in respect of his own divine nature; for as the Son was so begotten of the Father as to be one God with him, in like manner the Holy Ghost so proceedeth from the Father and the Son that he is of one substance, majesty, and glory, with the Father and the Son, very and eternal God. [See the first Article of the Creed as explained Sunday iii. Sect. i. and also the 5th Article of Religion.]  His peculiar office, indicated by the title holy, is (a) to sanctify and renew our corrupt nature, and to restore it to its primitive perfection and dignity, and (b) to incline us to receive those truths which are only spiritually discerned, and are foolishness to a carnal or natural man.  He does these by opening our hearts, that we attend unto those things written by his inspiration and spoken by holy men as they were moved by him.  He works in us that faith which is the gift of God, and which no man can have but from the Holy Ghost.  Further, he gives us that new birth or regeneration without which we cannot see the kingdom of God nor enjoy the possession of GodŐs promises reserved for believers in the next world.  Consequently, it is this blessed Spirit which gives clearness to our faith, zeal to our charity, and strength and power to everything we think or do.

         Those helps and assistances are necessary for the performance of those conditions upon which our salvation depends.  They are bestowed upon us by this divine Spirit partly by (a) illuminating our understandings in our sincere and diligent inquiries after divine truth, and partly by (b) exciting our wills to that which is good, and (c) strengthening our vigorous endeavours in the prosecution thereof.  These are to be obtained by (a) humble, hearty, and fervent prayer; (b) use of the holy sacrament of the LordŐs supper; (c) reading and hearing GodŐs holy word, with the (c) use of all other likely means to attain those graces which we seek for at his hands.  All this we are to do as obedient members of the communion of saints, to whom alone Christ hath promised these influences of the Holy Ghost, which we must feel or know to work in us.  We must constantly humble ourselves as living members of that kingdom, which is not meat and drink, but righteousness, peace, joy in the Holy Ghost.  Then our conversation will be in heaven, our delight in God.  All our hopes, wishes, and desires will be fixed on things above.  We shall live that heavenly life here.  Its perfection will be our happiness hereafter, in the kingdom of God and of his son Jesus Christ.  The Father, Son, and Holy Ghost are represented to us as severally and in a distinct manner concurring to our salvation.  God so loved the world, that he sent his only-begotten Son.  Through him we are admitted by one Spirit to the Father.

         The necessity of this belief is found in the very form of baptism ordained by Christ himself.  Our belief in the Holy Ghost leads us to desire those gifts and graces that flow from him, that new birth from him which may wholly renew and spiritualize our souls.  Being always led by him, receiving supplies from him, and continuing in his holy fellowship, we may through him become temples of God that he will choose to delight and dwell in.  Therefore, we should endeavour to cleanse ourselves from all filthiness of flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God.  His will is our sanctification.  From the beginning he has chosen us to salvation through sanctification by the Spirit whom he sent to teach us his will, and to guide us in the way of truth.

         Therefore, our duty with regard to the Holy Ghost is to pray to God our Father continually for the assistance of this his holy spirit to enable us to overcome all the temptations of sin.  We are (a) to receive his testimony as delivered down to us in the writings of the apostles and prophets; (b) to obey his good motions; (c) ask to obtain his gifts and graces which are the habits of moral and Christian virtues; (d) and be careful above all things not to quench, grieve, and drive him from us, lest we do despite unto the spirit of grace.  To follow the guidance of the Holy Spirit is not to follow enthusiastic imaginations, but to be guided by that doctrine which the Holy Ghost inspired the apostles to teach.  We are to obey it in the practice of all moral and Christian virtues, which are the fruits of the Spirit.  The apostles were directed by a miraculous assistance of the Spirit upon every extraordinary occasion.  Now we have no promise of any such miraculous direction.  To obey the Spirit now is to obey his dictates as delivered down to us in the inspired writings.  To be a good man is now the only evidence of being full of the Holy Ghost.

         Every willful act of sin, especially in a Christian, is in some sense a sin against the Holy Ghost.  It is a grieving, a quenching, a resisting, and doing despite to the Spirit in scripture language.  Therefore, (a) all sinning against the clear conviction of our consciences, and the motions and suggestions of the Holy Spirit to the contrary; (b) all obstinacy in a vicious course of living, notwithstanding the motives and arguments of the gospel to persuade men to repentance; (c) all profane scoffing at religion, and making a mock of sin; (d) all abuse of the scriptures, and ridiculing the holy word of God; (e) all perverse infidelity, and malicious opposition of the truth, when the arguments for it are very plain and evident to every impartial mind, are crimes of a high nature and of a near affinity to this great and unpardonable sin.  To encourage the repentance of men, God has not declared them irremissible.  Yet, where they once get possession of a man, they so waste the conscience and corrupt the mind by degrees as to make it incurable.  They are, in short, great and grievous provocations to almighty God.  If they be long persisted in, we know not how soon he may withdraw his grace from us, and suffer us to be hardened through the deceitfulness of sin.

         II.  In the ninth ARTICLE of our Christian faith we profess to believe in the holy catholic church, the communion of saints.  Christ promised to erect a church when he said, On this rock will I build my church.  We find it mentioned as actually erected in that passage of the Acts, And God added to the church daily such as should be saved.  The church then consisted of the twelve apostles and other believers in Christ, continuing in their fellowship, hearing together the word preached, breaking bread from house to house, and joining in public prayers to the Almighty.  Therefore as many as embrace and obey the gospel may be said to compose one church.  We are members of the same body, and through one and the same Spirit united unto one head, which is Christ.  We, the Church, are built upon one foundation, the chief cornerstone whereof is Christ Jesus.  We profess that holy faith which is but one, and receive the same sacraments which are signs and badges of the people of God.  We, being many, are united by one baptism, and are one bread and one body.  Also we are one, as being all called in one hope of our calling.  We ought also to be one, as keeping the unity of the spirit in the bond of peace, and as united by one discipline and government, and guided by the same pastors into the way of eternal life.

         Through the weakness and perverseness of man or the wiles of the devil, the unity of the visible church may be defective in these last respects.  Yet all true and sincere believers are, and always have, and for ever shall be led by him the only good shepherd, their eternal high priest, king, and prophet, unto those heavenly mansions, where joy, peace, love, harmony, unity, happiness, and glory shall have no end.  Moreover, this one church hath a present existence.  It hath continued from the times of the apostles, and will continue to the end of the world.  Our Lord promises that the gates of hell shall not prevail against it, and that he will be with his disciples always, even unto the end of the world.  This whole Christian church also may be well termed holy, as being separated from the rest of the world by a holy calling, and having holy offices, instituted by God, administered among them.  The Church is more particularly obliged, by naming themselves by the name of Christ, to depart from iniquity and to obtain that holiness without which no man can see the Lord.  Its members are predestinate to be conformed to the image of Christ, and efficaciously called by God, elect, sanctified, and justified.  They shall be perfectly holy when they die.

         The primitive fathers at first understood, by the catholic church, no more than the church in general as composed of all particular churches.  Therefore, we call the epistles of Peter catholic because they were directed to the church in general.  Thus in succeeding ages they called those places of divine worship, wherein all persons of both sexes within a certain district met without distinction, Catholic churches, in opposition to such private chapels as were erected by monks and friars.  The word catholic is sometimes applied to particular national churches as professing the true faith with the rest of the church of God in opposition to schismatics and heretics.  The Christian church may be also called catholic as it is to be diffused into, and at last take in all nations.  It is not confined to one nation, as the Jewish religion was, nor to one place, as the Jewish sacrifices and other priestly ministrations were.

         God hath added to this church and will continue to add those that shall be saved.  None were saved from the flood but those only who were in the ark of Noah.  We have no reason to think that any shall be saved from the wrath of the last day, and receive the glory promised to the saints, who are not found within the Christian church. [See this explained under Baptism, Sunday ii. Sect. vii.]  Therefore, we ought to take the greatest care not to be excluded from it, either by justly incurring its censures by scandalous and incorrigible sins, or by falling into apostasy, heresy, or schism.  As this church is holy, it will be impossible for us to be living members of it unless we also are holy.  Without holiness our being outward members of it will be not only vain, but pernicious, and the highest aggravation of our crime.  The catholic church is the communion of saints.

         The larger sense of the word saints implies all those persons that are baptized into and profess the Christian faith, and are visible members of ChristŐs church.  As the wheat grows in the same fields with the tares, so the saint hath an external communion in the same church with the hypocrite.  Both are baptized with the same water and eat at the same table the bread and wine which the Lord hath commanded to be received.  They hear the same doctrine and openly profess the same faith, but they do not communicate in the same saving grace nor in that faith which works by love, nor in the renovation of the mind and spirit of sinful man.  Whenever we profess this belief of the communion of saints, it ought to excite us to endeavour after the greatest purity and sanctity of life we can possibly attain.  We must turn from the power of Satan unto God, or we can have no inheritance among them that are sanctified in Christ Jesus.  Moreover, this profession ought also to excite in all true believers the highest gratitude to God who hath admitted them to fellowship with himself, made them partakers of the divine nature, and chosen them for the places of his abode and mansions of eternal bliss.  This profession ought also to inflame all true believers with the highest affection toward one another.  If it be natural to love our brothers and sisters according to the flesh, how much more ought we to have the highest affection for those who are joined to us by a much nobler relation Đ who are (a) born again by the same spiritual birth with us, and (b) live the same spiritual life, and are (c) endued with the gracious influence of the same Holy Spirit?  Therefore, if we ought to do good to all men, surely much more so to them who are of the same household of faith, saints or members of the same communion, and partakers of the same privileges and promises with ourselves.

         III.  In the tenth ARTICLE of our Christian faith we confess a belief in the forgiveness of sins.  It will therefore be necessary to inquire into the nature of sin.  Sin consists in a man allowing himself to be drawn away by the enticement of some appetite, passion, or interest, (a) to do what he is sensible is not, in itself, fit and right, (b) to do what his mind feels to be contrary to the law of God, made known to him either by reason or revelation, (c) contrary to piety or godliness (d) contrary to sobriety or temperance, (e) contrary to truth, justice, equity, or charity.  Hence sin in its own nature, even separate from the consideration of its being an obstinate disobeying of the revealed will of God, is in itself utterly unreasonable and inexcusable.  Sin is acting (a) in opposition to the known reason and proportion of things; (b) contrary to that eternal order and equity which God hath established in the original constitution of nature; (c) opposite to the law of reason, the dictates of conscience, the unprejudiced judgment of our own minds, the agreeing opinion of all wise and good men, nay and even of bad men themselves too; (d) contrary to all our natural notions and apprehensions of the attributes and will of God; (e) destructive to the welfare and happiness of mankind, the health of our own bodies, the peace of our minds, and the support of our good name and reputation among wise and reasonable men.  Sin is a subjecting our reason to vile affections, inordinate and brutish appetites, disorderly and ungoverned passions which becomes a guilt or a debt to suffer such punishment as the iniquity of the offence deserves in justice from the lawgiver.  That punishment could never be forgiven but through the satisfaction of Christ.

         It is plainly proved from many texts of scripture that our sins are forgiven on account of this satisfaction offered by Christ.  Scripture tells us that (a) without shedding of blood there is no remission, (b) in the end of the world Christ once appeared to put away sin by the sacrifice of himself, (c) by his stripes we are healed, (d) his blood was shed for many for the remission of sin, and (e) we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sin according to the riches of his grace.  This cannot be inconsistent with those scriptures which make the love of God to men the inducement of his sending Christ into the world.  He loved and pitied them as his creatures and in misery.  He was offended with them as sinners.  It was a mercy worthy himself to find for them a sacrifice equal to his infinite justice and holiness.

         The great consolation of a Christian centers in the assurance that our sins are blotted out by the merits of Christ.  All have sinned, and come short of the glory of God.  God hath concluded all under sin; and unless he himself had shown us a way to happiness, we must forever have remained under perplexities from the sense of our guilt and fears of divine wrath.  On the contrary, this doctrine of forgiveness of sin gives all believers the highest comfort and the greatest sense of the goodness of God.  He has thus reconciled mercy to justice and freely has released those debts we should never have been able to have paid to the offended Deity.  We should by these considerations be inflamed with the most exalted love of our heavenly Father, who has given his Son to die for us.  This should raise in us the highest gratitude to the blessed Jesus who became the son of man to make us the children of God.  It should make us always remember that we are no longer our own, but are bought with a price no less than the blood of Jesus.  Yet Christ delivers no man from the punishment of sin who is not first delivered from the service and dominion of it.  Therefore, no man who continues in the service and dominion of sin can expect to be delivered from the punishment thereof.  Christ has indeed given himself a propitiatory sacrifice Đ a full, perfect, and sufficient oblation for the sins of the world.  Yet it is not the whole world, or that any particular persons, that should absolutely and unconditionally be thereby excused from the punishment of sin.  All those who by true repentance turn from sin and become righteous are to obtain remission and reconciliation with God.  He did not die that he might indulge men in sin, but that he might save them from it.  Christ has indeed brought life and immortality to light, and opened an abundant entrance into the kingdom of God.  Yet no unreformed and unrenewed nature is to be made partaker of that spiritual happiness, or be admitted to have a share in those pure and undefiled rewards.  Those who have broken off their sins by repentance, and their iniquities by righteousness, are to be entertained at the eternal supper of the Lamb.  It is impossible for God to cease to be holy, or for the purity of the divine nature to be reconciled to sin.  It is equally impossible for a wicked man to obtain remission while he continues wicked, or for a sinner to be admitted into the kingdom of heaven.  Be not deceived, says St. Paul; neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor abusers of themselves with mankind, nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners; that is, no unrighteous person, that continues in the practice of any known sin, shall inherit the kingdom of God.  God has promised us the forgiveness of our sins on no other condition but that of our sincere faith and repentance, and our forgiving the trespasses of our brethren against us.  Therefore, we must endeavour daily to die unto sin that we may live unto God.  As we expect forgiveness, we must be ready to forgive one another.

 

Sunday  V.  Part  II.

         IV.  In .the eleventh ARTICLE of our Christian faith we profess a belief in the resurrection of the body as a necessary and infallible truth.  As it is appointed for all men once to die, so it is also determined that all men should rise from death.  This doctrine is perfectly agreeable to right reason, and to our natural notions of the attributes of God.  The generality of the heathens of old and the infidels of latter times make this one of their great objections against Christianity upon the pretense of its impossibility.  The heathens think it contrary to the course of nature that anything should return from a state of perfect corruption to its proper form, or that a body perfectly dead should be again restored to life.  It is true that among the works of nature they could never observe any action or operation that did or could produce such an effect.  By natural light we cannot discover that God will raise the dead.  Depending upon the will of God, it can be no otherwise known than by his own declarations.  Yet this doctrine, when made known by revelation, evidently contains nothing in it contrary to right reason.  We are to consider the possibility of things, not so much depending on the power of nature as upon the power of the God of nature.  Whatever dark or imperfect notions the Jews as well as Gentiles had of a future state, it is certain that life and immortality are now brought to light by the gospel.  Our bodies shall be laid in the cold chambers of the grave, and there become the food of worms, and moulder into dust and rottenness.  Yet we may rest assured that it will not be long before this corruptible shall put on incorruption, and this mortal shall put on immortality.  God hath appointed a day in which he will judge the world in righteousness by that man whom he hath ordained.  By Christ he hath given assurance unto all men in that he hath raised him from the dead.  We must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ that every one may receive the things done in his body according to what he hath done, whether it be good or bad.  Then all that are in their graves shall hear his voice and shall come forth.  They that have done good, unto the resurrection of life; and they that have done evil, unto the resurrection of damnation.  It may be proved by the creation of the world out of nothing that it is altogether as easy for God to raise the body again after death as to create and form it at first.  It is a less effect of power to raise a body when resolved into dust, or wheresoever dispersed and destroyed, than to make all things out of nothing by a single command.

         I know there is a popular objection, which at first view may carry some difficulty in it against this article of our faith.  For example, how can bodies devoured by men-eaters, who live on human flesh, or bodies eaten by fishes and turned to their nourishment, and those fishes eaten by men, and converted into the substance of their bodies, recover their own bodies at the resurrection of the dead?

         Wherefore, to clear this difficulty, among many other sufficient proofs, it must be considered, that the body of man is a successive thing continually losing something of the matter it had before and gaining new.  Men frequently change their bodies, and the body a man hath at any time of his life is as much his own body as that which he hath when death separates body and soul.  Therefore, if the matter of the body which a man had at any time of his life be raised, it is as much his own and the same body as that which he had at his death.  This clearly solves the aforementioned difficulty.  Any of those bodies he had at any time before he was eaten are as much his own as that which was eaten.  In like manner in every grain of corn there is contained a small imperceptible seed or natural faculty which is itself the entire future blade and ear.  In due season, when all the rest of the grain is corrupted, it unfolds itself visibly into the form.  Likewise, our present mortal and corruptible body may be but the out-coat, as it were, of some hidden and at present imperceptible part of nature.  At the resurrection it shall discover itself in its proper form.  That way also in nature there cannot possibly be any confusion of bodies.  Therefore, it is with some weight that St. Paul made use of the same comparison, and that the same similitude is alleged by the ancient fathers of the church.  As we consider the things without us, the natural changes and chances in everything and person indicate the probability of our resurrection from the dead.  At night the day dies and rises with the next morning.  The summer dies into winter when the earth becomes a general sepulchre.  When the spring appears, nature revives and flourishes.  The corn lies buried in the ground, and being corrupted, revives and multiplies.  Can we think that man, the lord of all these things that die and revive for him, should be kept under the bands of death, never to rise again?  Though it appeared impossible to many of the heathens, yet some of the wisest of them have thought otherwise, as their works declare.  At the resurrection every man shall be as really and truly the same person that died, as in the morning he that awakes is the same person that went to sleep at night.

         In the scriptures, we shall find plainly from divine revelation that the resurrection of the body is clear.  God hath not only promised it, but in several instances exemplified it for our satisfaction.  I know, says Job, that my Redeemer liveth, and that he shall stand at the latter day upon the earth; and though after my skin worms destroy this body, yet in my flesh shall I see God, &c.  And the prophet Daniel tells us, that many of them that sleep in the dust of the earth shall awake, some to everlasting life, and some to shame and everlasting contempt.  Besides, if these proofs will not take place, let them hearken unto fact.  The ears of the Lord were open to the voice of Elijah, for the dead child of the widow of Sarepta.  When he prayed, the soul of the child came into him again, and he revived.  Elisha raised the child of the Shunamite from death.  Nor did that power he had die together with him.  When they were burying a man, they cast him into the sepulchre of Elisha; and when the man touched the bones of Elisha, he revived and stood upon his feet.  These are examples out of the Old Testament.

         In the gospels we find that remarkable argument of our saviour Christ himself, when he put the Sadducees to silence: As touching the resurrection of the dead, have ye not read that which was spoken unto you by God, saying, I am the God of Abraham, and the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob?  God is not the God of the dead, but of the living: which argument astonished the multitude, and silenced the Sadducees.  If it does not astonish and silence the infidels and Socinians of our days, they must be accounted more hardened in their unbelief than the Sadducees of old, who could not reply to so cogent a proof of the resurrection.  Christ cautions his disciples to fear him that can destroy both body and soul in hell.  If then the body is capable of torment in hell, it must be raised from the grave, and united to its soul again, before it can pass from the grave to that state of punishment.  He promises a recompense at the resurrection of the just to those that relieve the poor, the maimed, the blind, and the lame.  He positively declares in St. John that the hour is coming, in which all that are in their graves shall hear his voice, and shall come forth Ń they that have done good unto the resurrection of life, and they that have done evil unto the resurrection of damnation.  He calls himself the resurrection and the life.  We are told in the Revelation, that the sea shall give up the dead that are in it, and death and the grave deliver up the dead which are in them, in order to be judged, every man according to his works.  And St. Paul, defending himself before the Roman governor, openly professes his belief of the resurrection of the dead, both of the just and unjust.  To some of the philosophers this apostle also appeared to be a setter-forth of strange gods because he preached unto them Jesus and the resurrection.  St. Paul declares that we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, that every one may receive the things done in the body, according to that he hath done, whether it be good or bad.  He says that the Lord Jesus Christ shall change our vile body so that it may be fashioned like unto his glorious body.  The same apostle to the Thessalonians describes the manner of the resurrection.  The dead in Christ shall rise first.  With the Corinthians he argues from the certainty of ChristŐs resurrection to the necessity of ours.  These texts sufficiently prove that the resurrection of the body was delivered as a necessary article of faith from the beginning of Christianity.  It is still the expectation of the faithful.  If the dead rise not, Christians are of all men most miserable.  This doctrine was confirmed when our Saviour restored to life the daughter of the ruler of the synagogue and raised up the widowŐs only son that was dead.  Also he restored to life his friend Lazarus who had been dead and buried four days.  All these instances were exceeded in our SaviourŐs own resurrection which so infinitely manifested his power and divinity.  There can be no doubt of the truth of the resurrection from the dead.  It is certain that this resurrection will be universal.  All mankind that have laid down their own bodies and committed them to the grave shall receive them again.  There shall be a resurrection of the dead, both of the just and unjust.

         The folly of those who have no other hope to rest upon but that of atheism and infidelity is greater than can be expressed in words, or that can rightly be conceived by any imagination.  What is the state of such a person, when God taketh away his soul? can he be sure there is no God? or can he demonstrate to himself that there will be no future state?  The hardiest unbeliever never yet pretended to have demonstration in this case.  If he had, yet all the comfort, all the hope, that could be built even upon that would be but the hope of a beast, the expectation of perishing as if he had never been.  For what is the hope of the unbeliever when God takes away his soul?  I should say, when fate or chance takes away his soul? and on what ground can the confidence of the atheist rely?  His expectations at best are as thin as a spiderŐs web, and his hopes as the light chaff which the wind scattereth away from the face of the earth.  His prosperity and mirth can be but for a moment, and his adversity must of necessity terminate in despair.  For what relief is to be expected from fate or chance which has no understanding?  What support is that man capable of in the day of affliction who does not believe things are guided by a wise hand which can turn everything finally to our advantage?

         The bodies of good Christians, now liable to pains, diseases, and death, shall then die no more, but shall be equal unto the angels.  Like them, they shall become immortal in their duration, and consequently freed from all those troublesome accidents to which they are now exposed.  The reward being eternal, the subject of it must be eternal also.  Therefore, says the apostle, it is sown in corruption, it is raised in incorruption.  The bodies of good men, though now vile and corruptible, subject to filth and deformity by nature, shall be raised glorious, splendid, and bright.  They shall shine like the sun, and shall be fashioned like to the glorious body of our blessed Saviour.  Though now subject to weariness, to impotency, and to decay, they shall be raised nimble, strong, and active.  They shall be able to follow the Lamb wherever he goeth.  They shall be endowed with such strength and vigour as shall support them forever in the same state, without any decay or change.  It is sown in weakness, it is raised in power.  Though the body is now acted by vital spirits, it shall then be possessed and acted by the Holy Spirit.  It shall be refined, and become a proper instrument for the operation of our minds upon whom they must serve and depend.  It is sown a natural body, but it is raised a spiritual body.  Yet the bodies of the wicked will be fitted to that eternal punishment they have drawn upon themselves, wherein they will always suffer, without consuming, under that dreadful sentence, Depart, ye cursed, into everlasting fire.

         Therefore, this faith of the resurrection of the body should make us reverence ourselves and not pollute our bodies with sensual and brutish lusts.  By purity and sobriety we are to prepare them for that honour and happiness they are designed for.  Our faith should support us under those miseries and infirmities our bodies are subject to in this life.  When we take them up again, they shall be no more liable to pains or diseases, or to dissolution.  Death will be swallowed up in victory.  By this faith we are comforted upon the death of our religious friends and relations.  They are not perished, but fallen asleep, and shall awake again in greater perfection and glory at the last day.  This should influence us to promote not only our own, but the improvement of saving knowledge as far as lies in our power to curb vice and encourage virtue, especially among those with whom we have any friendship or authority.  This should arm us against the fear of our own death, since we are assured that, after our bodies are crumbled into dust, they shall be quickened at the general resurrection, and be changed and made glorified bodies by the mighty power of God.  And especially this should make us to keep our consciences void of offence, both toward God and man, so that we may not forfeit that blessed immortality of our whole man, body and soul which our blessed Saviour hath promised to all those that persevere in his service all the days of their mortal life.

         V.  In the twelfth ARTICLE of our Christian faith we profess to believe that there is a life everlasting, a life that comprehends an everlasting duration to which all shall be raised after death, the wicked as well as the righteous.  Therefore, when we read that the wicked shall be destroyed, perish, and forever die, we are to understand, not that they shall be turned into nothing, but that they shall forever lose the presence and favour of God.  They shall be condemned to a wretched, hopeless state of anguish, remorse, and despair; and be tortured with the worm that never dies, and in the fire that shall never be quenched.  But the righteous shall receive the utmost perfection of which their nature is capable.  They shall partake of the glory which the Father has given to the Son, and shall be one, as the Father and Christ are one.

         Christ hath brought to light life and immortality and hath promised it to all his faithful disciples.  Mortal life is a state of dullness and anxiety, trouble, affliction, disappointments, vexations, real grief, solid cares, and imaginary pleasures.  We shall be translated to an immortal state of true happiness and content, of manly and rational pleasures uninterrupted by sickness or any sad accidents, not dulled by being weary of them, nor cloyed with them, nor disturbed either by insults of our enemies, concerns for our miserable friends, or our own inequality of temper.  In that state all the powers and faculties of our souls will be advanced to the highest perfection they are capable of.  We shall live in perfect ease and peace, in perfect freedom and liberty, in the perfect enjoyment of ourselves.  Then our bodies that slept in the dust shall be raised again and united to our souls to live in the city of the great King, the heavenly Jerusalem, a paradise of pleasure, a country of perpetual light and bliss, where the glory of the Lord fills the place, and where every object adds a new beauty and contributes to our delight.

         To complete the whole, we are assured that (a) the inheritance we expect is incorruptible, and fadeth not away,  that (b) our house in heaven is eternal, and that (c) death shall have no more power over us.  There is no dispute concerning the everlasting happiness of the righteous.  God in his infinite bounty may reward the sincere obedience of his creatures as much beyond the merit of their own weak and imperfect works as he sees proper.  Yet the everlasting punishment threatened to the wicked has seemed to many a great difficulty, since it is certain, from our natural notion of the attributes of God, that no man shall be punished beyond the just demerit of his transgression.  But those who consider the nature of human actions must confess that God is just, and that every one who willfully offends him deserves eternal punishment.  A rational and moral man has in himself a power of acting which is in common to him with irrational creatures.  He also has a still higher principle or power of directing his actions with some determinate views and to some certain and constant end.  He has a power of judging beforehand concerning the consequences of his actions, concerning the reasonableness or unreasonableness of the end he aims at. He has a power of recollecting after the action is done, whether he acted with a good or an evil view.  He can follow the irregular motions of all his appetites and passions, as do the beasts that perish.  Or he can restrain and overrule his appetites and passions by attending to the guidance of a superior light of reason and religion.  A man can have some view and design in everything he does.  Even when he abandons himself most implicitly to the brutal guidance of mere appetite and passion, still he does it with some view, and with a consciousness which beasts do not have.  He knowingly and deliberately chooses to aim at some mean and unworthy end.  Hence arises that judgment of reflection which we call conscience.  By conscience a man either approves or condemns his own past actions, and apprehends that he shall accordingly be approved or condemned by God to whom he must finally give an account of himself.  If a man, in the general course of his life, accustoms himself to (a) consider these things beforehand, that is, if he (b) will behave himself as a rational creature; if he accustoms himself in all his actions to (b) consider the reason and equity of things, to (c) consider what is reasonable for himself to do or for him to expect should be done by another; to (d) consider what is agreeable to the will of God and likely to be approved by the impartial and all-seeing Judge: if this, I say, be his main directing principle constantly in view, his actions, generally speaking, will be virtuous and good.

         On the contrary, if a manŐs (a) principles be loose and atheistic; if he (b) has no sense of the reason and equity of things (c) nor apprehension of the righteous judgment of God; if (d) his views are only the satisfying of his appetites, the gratification of his passions, the pursuing his present interest, and pleasing his own unreasonable self-will, his actions will be generally immoral and vicious.

         There never was any person in any age or country upon earth but judged himself injured by any violence or fraud put by another upon himself.  The case is precisely the same whenever any fraud or violence is used by him toward another.  Therefore, the judgment passed by him in that case upon other men is in fact a judgment passed by him upon himself.  The same may be said concerning any other known instance of wickedness, concerning every kind of impiety, unrighteousness, or debauchery.  The person who commits the crime always condemns himself and is conscious that he deserves to be punished.  Men may turn their thoughts away from the unpleasing subject by variety of amusements and numberless vain imaginations.  They may flatter themselves as they please with objections against the unalterable and essential differences of virtue and vice.  They may say within themselves that they shall have peace though they walk in the imagination of their own heart.  They can never really be persuaded of this and merely add one sin to another.  Confidently and presumptuously they may dispute and argue in general that (a) all actions are naturally and originally alike, that (b) morality is but a fiction of speculative men, and (c) the notion of vice and virtue is only a creature of the laws or customs of nations.  Every wicked man necessarily and immediately makes a judgment concerning any particular unjust action of another by which he himself happens to suffer.  That judgment will forever convict him of knowing well the difference of moral good or evil which he is not willing to acknowledge, or which he is not willing to make the rule of his own behaviour.  This is what the apostle calls the law written in menŐs hearts.  By it they are a law unto themselves, as their conscience bears witness; and their thoughts the mean while accusing or excusing one another.  Therefore, it is certain men are naturally conscious of the difference of good and evil, and of the consequent desert of their own actions.  It is natural for them to apprehend that this judgment of their own consciences is the judgment that God also passes upon them.  The scripture very clearly affirms that it is so.

         The sense of guilt is necessarily uneasy upon the mind of man.  Even the most hardened sinners are perpetually endeavouring to shift off the blame of their wickedness from themselves, and to throw the fault upon whatever comes in their way.  Sometimes the reason of their wickedness is because God has not made them better than they are.  Who has resisted his will?  Sometimes it is the devil that tempts them.  How can frail men withstand so potent and so cunning a deceiver?  Sometimes it is the original corruption of their nature.  Who can alter the condition to which he was born?  Sometimes it is the general fashion and custom of the world.  And who can be singular in opposing so violent a torrent?  The apostle cuts off at once these and all other excuses.  Aggravations or extenuations of sin may or may not arise from external circumstances.  Yet sin in itself, the nature and essence of sin, consists entirely in the free choice of a manŐs own will.  His guilt is always just so much in proportion as his choice deviates from the dictates of his reason.  Though our conscience we become uneasy at the commission of any crime, and we discern the difference between good and evil.  Our conscience may be deadened by a long perseverance in vice.  Yet the light of our conscience can perhaps never be totally put out.  By its light we may by repeated endeavours, by degrees, subdue our vicious inclinations to our reason.  Every man is then only tempted when he is drawn away by his own lusts and enticed.

         During the state of trial, by willful and stubborn disobedience to their almighty Creator and most merciful Benefactor, and by habitual, unrepented wickedness, many have made themselves unfit.  It is not unreasonable that they should be entirely rejected and excluded from the enjoyment of that happiness which God has prepared for them that love and obey him.  In our present state of ignorance and darkness we cannot truly judge by the strength of natural reason what continuance of punishment is or is not consistent with the wisdom, justice, and goodness of the supreme Governor of the world.  We neither know the place, nor kind, nor manner, nor circumstances, nor degrees, nor all the ends and uses of the final punishment of wicked men.  The justice of God will abundantly vindicate itself.  All mouths shall be stopped before him.  They shall be forced to acknowledge the exact righteousness of all his judgments and to condemn their own folly and wickedness.  The degree or severity of punishments which shall be inflicted on the impenitent shall be exactly proportionate to their sins as a recompense of their crime.  No man shall suffer more than he has deserved by the evil of his ways.  For argument sake, let us suppose that men are to live here for ever, and that some of them were become abandoned and incorrigibly bad.  Would it be any unjustifiable severity (a) to confine them forever in prison so that they could not seduce or annoy the rest of creation, or (b) even to inflict positive punishments upon them in their confinement adequate to their offences in order to deter others?  The soul is in its own nature designed for an immortal duration.  Those who, by a continued course of sinning, are consigned to everlasting misery have disabled all the powers of the soul.  It is morally impossible for them, without the extraordinary grace of God, to cease from sinning.  If it be not injustice that every sinner should be a sufferer, there can be no injustice that every habitual, eternal sinner should be an eternal sufferer.  Suppose again that the outward acts of sin are temporary; yet, if we die in a state of impenitence, the defilement and habit contracted by a repetition of these acts are eternal.  As eternal ill habits are the source of eternal torments; it will follow that the impenitent have entailed upon themselves everlasting misery.  Finally, let those who insist so much that the punishment is disproportioned to the crime consider sin in all views, and in all its consequences.  This is the only way to form a true judgment of the malignity of it.  The punishment is not disproportioned to sin, habitual sin, if considered with all its numerous train of ill consequences.  The consequences if unrestrained would soon involve the whole world in one promiscuous ruin and desolation.  It is true, one man cannot do all this mischief.  But then one man who, for instance, acts unjustly contributes his part to the introduction of universal disorder and misery.  If all should act as unjustly as himself (and all have as much right as any one man), the foundations of the moral world would be quite out of course.  As a late Writer observes, ŇOne person robs another of a small sum of money.  He is taken and suffers death for the fact.  Now what proportion is there between the punishment and the crime; between depriving a man of what perhaps he could very well spare, and depriving the person who did it of his life and of his all in this world?  None at all, if we consider the crime in this light only.  But if we view it in all its tendencies, then the crime is adequate to the punishment, since it tends to render property, and what is valuable in this life precarious, and to subvert the peace of society.Ó  We know not, we cannot know, how far the consequences of any one sin may extend, how far the influence of our behaviour may affect all that lie within the sphere of our activity, those beneath us, and about us, our domestics, relations, and neighbours.  These again may spread the contagion further.

         Faith in a life everlasting should deter us from sin and excite us to repentance and holiness of life.  It should breed in us an awe of the great God, a jealous God, a consuming fire, a God who will not be mocked.  This should teach us to tremble at his word, at the fierceness of his wrath, and the dreadfulness of his vengeance.  We should set the highest value on the plenteous redemption wrought out for us by the blood of Christ, whereby all true believers are purged from their sins, and not only freed from eternal misery, but made inheritors of eternal happiness.  This should inflame our souls with earnest desires for those heavenly joys which flow from the vision of God, and stir up our pursuit of that holiness without which it can be enjoyed by no man.  This should teach us to condemn this world, and to set our affections on things above.  Forgetting the things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before, we may press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Jesus Christ.  This should encourage us to take up the cross of Christ, and make us cheerful under the sufferings of this life.  Those sufferings are not worthy to be compared to the glory which shall be revealed in us.  Our light affliction, which is but for a moment, worketh for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory.

         Therefore, hearken not to the suggestions of designing men.  Under a pretense of banishing your apprehensions of a future judgment, they will only dash your hopes, and weaken your expectation of a blessed immortality.  They will alarm those very apprehensions which they promised to remove.  They will add to your other terrors this new fear which will continually haunt you, a fear lest you have sinned in dismissing your first persuasion for very slight and frivolous reasons.

         VI.  There are difficulties in Christianity, but merely difficulties.  They may be seen by confirmed infidels, mere reeds shaken by the wind, with every blast of vain doctrine.  The Christian religion proposes no doctrine for our belief, but such as are discovered by revelation, and most agreeable to a sound and unbiased judgment.  The strictest scrutiny has been made, and every particular passage has been sifted.  No one material flaw has been discovered that has endangered the whole fabric.  Things which were thought insuperable objections against it have, upon a closer examination, been found illustrious confirmations of the truth of it.  All the load of objections and difficulties industriously raised, like so many weights tied about a body, cannot sink Christianity.  It must be upheld and supported by that energy of truth, which is stronger than all things and will prevail.  Many are the devices of a manŐs heart, but the counsel of the Lord, that shall stand.  Many have been the devices of menŐs hearts and heads against Christianity.  From its youth up have they fought against it.  It is the counsel of the Lord, and therefore has hitherto stood, and will maintain its ground.

         All the doctrines of our Saviour have a natural tendency and a direct and powerful influence to reform menŐs lives and correct their manners.  None of them were calculated for the gratification of menŐs idle curiosities, the busying and abusing them with airy and useless speculation.  Much less were they intended for an exercise of our credulity or a trial how far we could bring our reason to submit to our faith.  They were plain and simple.  By their agreeableness to the rational faculties of mankind, they highly recommended themselves to our belief.  They had an immediate relation to practice, and were the proper ground and foundation upon which all human and divine virtues were naturally to be built.  The present wickedness of Christians cannot be owing to any defect in the doctrine of Christ, nor be proof of the inefficacy of it toward rendering men holy.  There was a time when it had all the success of this kind that could be expected.  That was the time of its earliest appearance in the world.  Then the practice of the generality of Christians was a just comment on the precepts of Christ.  Then they could appeal from their doctrines to their lives and challenge their worst enemies to show any remarkable difference between them.  Then they were so far from injustice, wrong, and deception that converts said nothing was his own.  They had all things common and were of one faith, one worship, and one heart and one soul.  Now, if the efficacy and power of the Christian doctrine must be tried by its fruits, the gospel is the same now as it was then, equally the power of God unto salvation, equally mighty in pulling down of strong holds.  Therefore, that it doth not still produce the same effects must be owing, not to any defect in the means, but to other causes.  The gospel, the great instrument of holiness, can make holy only those who consider and weigh it, and fasten its holy rules upon their hearts and consciences by meditation and study.  Our faith is not answerable for the ill manners of those who do not in good earnest receive it.  It withstands those very men, grounded in loose and immoral lives, who press the objection most eagerly.  Consequently, religious opinions are to be examined by scripture and reason, not by the lives and practice of those who espouse them.  There will always be disputes about revelation, as there have been about everything else.  Is it any wonder men should dispute about religion, which is almost the only thing about which it is worth while to dispute at all?  If religion were set aside, would all disputes immediately cease?  No, there would be many more about things of less importance, about everything on which men had misplaced their esteem.  A serious sense of the Christian religion upon our minds prevents such unnecessary disputes.  The obscurity of scripture has not caused different opinions in material points.  MenŐs preconceived opinions have made them endeavour to obscure and darken the plain scripture.  There have been some intolerable corruptions of fundamental doctrines and of the main design of the whole Christian dispensation.  Nevertheless, the many differences and disputes about particular doctrines among Christians have not been like those among philosophers, concerning the whole scheme and system of things, but only concerning particular explications of particular doctrines.  Such disputes do not at all affect the certainty of the whole religion itself.  In reason they ought not to be a hindrance to the effect which the plain, weightier, and confessedly more important fundamental doctrines ought to have upon the hearts and lives of those who profess their belief in God, and acknowledge it their duty to obey his commands.  The principles of Christianity may be out of fashion; but what they lack in fashion, they make up in weight, solidity, and intrinsic worth.

         There are unhappy advocates of infidelity, who would gravely persuade the world that religion first arose from fear, education, and state policy, and that it is only a politic device to keep the ignorant people in awe.  Even their own objection admits that religion conduces very much to the support of government and order in the world.  Consequently it is very beneficial to mankind in general.  Where Christian duties and obligations are duly observed, religion gives to every man peace and tranquility of mind, and a firmness and resolution of heart.  These are utterly inconsistent with that groundless and unreasonable fear which is supposed to be the parent of religion.  We own that education and the prevalence of custom are great.  They must be compatible with our corrupt passions and affections, and not endeavour to restrain and control them.  What goes against the grain can never last long.  Therefore, religion, which gives a check to our depraved appetites, would have long ago been exterminated from the world, had it not laid such fast hold upon our natures that there is no shaking it off.

         Every age is apt to condemn the wisdom of those that preceded it.  Whether we stand upon our forefathers shoulders or not, we certainly think that we see further.  In so many ages as have passed, no person has been able to make such a discovery of the artifice of religion as to free mankind from its pretended slavery.  There were those who attempted it.  Efforts of this kind have been frequent, though always unsuccessful, and redounding to the greater confirmation of religion.  There were many ready to join in such a design.  All bad men wish there was no kind of religion.  What they wish for they are willing to effect if they could.  How comes it then, after all, that religion still prevailed, and the terrors of a Deity could not be shaken off Đ no, not by the greatest politicians themselves who thought they understood all the arts of government, as well as any that went before them?  If the principles of religion had been first introduced merely by a state policy, the politicians and governors of the world should have known something of it.  They should have known at least enough to be less subject to the anxieties of conscience, which the despising of such principles and living in opposition to them, generally creates.  On the contrary, in all ages the greatest of men, who have had nothing to fear from human power, have been as much affrighted by the secret terrors of religion, and have undergone as great agonies of mind, as the meanest mortals.  And, as the reason of the thing is sufficient to convince us that religion at first was no state juggle.  The records of antiquity show that the further we go backward, the stronger is our evidence against this suggestion.  The most ancient writings that are in the world without all controversy are those of the holy scriptures.  Among these, the book of Job is one of the earliest.  We may observe in Job not only the sense of the duties of the religion of the people in those days, but even the customary appeal to the tradition of former times concerning these matters.  Inquire, I pray thee, of the former age (says one of JobŐs friends) and prepare thyself to the search of their fathers: for we are but of yesterday, and know nothing.  But why does he thus appeal to the observation of former ages?  Those ages evince the bad condition of all that are not sincere in their religion. As the rush, says he, without mire, and the flag without water, wither before other herbs; so are the paths of all that forget God, and the hypocriteŐs hope shall perish.  In the earliest times we can read of, men had the same sense of religion and the same notions of GodŐs indignation against impiety that we now have.  No time or place can be assigned to give any reasonable ground for supposing that the first principles of religion were any human contrivance.  Therefore, we may without further arguments conclude that they were from the beginning.

         If religion had been an ancient trick and contrivance, it must necessarily have been found out and banished out of the world long before now.  Its enduring believability can be owing to nothing but the invincible reasons whereon it stands.  In every age wit and malice of profane persons have been plentiful to undermine and blow it up.  The foundations whereon religion is built are firm, stable, and have endured the violent shocks and secret attempts of many ages.  We have no occasion to doubt it will ever fail.  Were religion and the being of a God matters of mere speculation indeed, these men might trifle and sport with them as long as they pleased.  But they are made fundamental parts of every manŐs salvation and, therefore, are too great a hazard to deny.  These men cannot fancy things into being.  Neither can they make them vanish into nothing by the stubborn confidence of their own imagination.  What then can make them so foolhardy, and tempt them to be so desperate?  If you believe them, it is to set the world free from the prejudices of vulgar errors, and the slavery of conscience.  Ah wretched freedom! which, to deliver us from one imaginary evil, brings upon us a thousand real mischiefs.  Such freedom degrades the dignity of human nature, saps the foundation of all societies, opens a sluice to all kinds of wickedness, and takes away our only comfort in time of distress.  Man of himself is insufficient for his own happiness.  He is liable to many evils and miseries which he can neither prevent nor redress.  He is full of wants which he cannot supply.  He is surrounded with infirmities which he cannot remove, and obnoxious to dangers which he can no ways escape.  Where can he turn himself without a God, or where repose his anxious thoughts but in his divine providence?  In the day of adversity, especially when all other friends are apt to forsake him, how gloomy must everything look about him without a God!  An unhappy mortal deep sunk in miseries and misfortunes, and struggling with innumerable hardships here upon earth, and at the same time destitute of a protector and patron in heaven, is a condition not to be imagined without horror and trembling amazement.

 

Sunday  VI.

         I. Of the sacrament of the LordŐs supper, why it was ordained; and  II. Of the preparation before receiving it, by examination of conscience, repentance, faith, obedience, and making satisfaction.  III. Of those duties to be done at the time of receiving, and  IV. After receiving; and the benefit of frequent communion.  V. Of the honour due to GodŐs name; and of the sins against it, as blasphemy, swearing, including assertory, promissory, and unlawful oaths.  VI. Of perjury.  VII. Of vain oaths, or common swearing, cursing, and the sin of them; and  VIII. Of vows.

 

         I.  Having thus learned and resolved to believe All the ARTICLES of the Christian faith, our next duty is to partake of the LordŐs supper, which, as we are taught by the church, Ňis not only a sign of the love that Christians ought to have among themselves one to another; but rather it is a sacrament of our redemption by ChristŐs death; insomuch that to such as rightly, worthily, and with faith receive the same, the bread which we break is a partaking of the body of Christ; and likewise the cup of blessing is a partaking of the blood of Christ.  The body of Christ is given, taken, and eaten in the supper, only after a heavenly and spiritual manner: and the means whereby the body of Christ is received and eaten in the supper, is faithÓ. [See the 28th Article of Religion.]  And therefore this is justly reckoned one of the most important actions of our holy religion.  By the LordŐs supper we (a) repeat and renew the covenant we made with God in our baptism, (b) distinguish ourselves to be the disciples of the blessed Jesus, and (c) are admitted to the highest act of communion with his sacred person.  Therein our corrupt nature is purified by applying the merits of ChristŐs blood.  Our weakness is strengthened by receiving the influence of his grace which he has purchased for us by his death.

         But he that lives in the habitual practice of any known sin without repentance must not approach the holy table lest he be found to mock God, and condemn his authority.  Nevertheless the danger of unworthily receiving does not make it safest to abstain from receiving at all, or at least to receive but seldom.  The danger of neglecting a plain command of our Saviour is more hazardous to our salvation than performing it without some due qualification to make it worthy.  There can be no just bar to frequency of communion but the lack of preparation.  Men may remove this bar themselves if they please.  They should take off the impediment as soon is possible, and not to trust to vain hopes of alleviating one fault by committing another.  The danger of misperforming any religious duty is an argument of fear and caution, but no excuse for neglect.  God insists upon the doing it, and the doing it well also.  It was no sufficient plea for the slothful servant under the gospel that he thought his master hard to please and thereupon neglected his duty.  On the contrary, he ought to have been so much the more diligent in his masterŐs service.  Therefore, in the case of the holy communion, it is to very little purpose to plead the strictness of self examination, or preparation, by way of excuse either for a total, or for a frequent, or for a long neglect of it.  A man may say that he comes not to the LordŐs table because he is not prepared, and so far he assigns a good reason.  But if he should be further asked why he is not prepared when he may, then he can only make some trifling excuse or remain speechless.  The duty is necessary to be performed.  The danger of performing it unworthily should urge us to care and diligence in preparing ourselves for the due discharge of it.  We must never delude ourselves by false reasons to such a neglect as will certainly increase our guilt.

         There lies an obligation upon all Christians to receive the holy communion from the plain and positive command of our Saviour to do this in remembrance of him.  This makes it a necessary and perpetual duty incumbent upon all Christians.  To live in the neglect of a plain law of the author of our religion is nowise consistent with our character as disciples of Christ.  This worship is peculiar to the Christian religion.  By it, in a particular manner, we proclaim ourselves followers of the blessed Jesus.  The primitive Christians (in some places) never held their public assemblies without it.  The faithful, who joined in all the other parts of public worship, never failed in partaking of the communion of the body and blood of Christ. [And the laws of England have enjoined, That every Parishioner shall communicate at least three times in the Year; of which Easter to be one.  See the Rubric at the end of the Communion Service.]  Yet the church declares, that Ňthe wicked, and such as be void of a lively faith, although they do carnally and visibly press with their teeth the sacrament: of the body and blood of Christ; yet in nowise are they partakers of Christ, but rather to their condemnation do eat and drink the sign or sacrament of so great a thing.Ó [See the 29th Article of Religion.]  Before we can be qualified to participate of this holy sacrament, we must understand the nature and end of its institution, or we cannot offer an acceptable service to God.

         Therefore, remember that the sacrament of the LordŐs supper was ordained for a continual remembrance of the sacrifice of the death of Christ, and of the benefits which we receive thereby.  The Son of God made man, by suffering death upon the cross, made a full, perfect, and sufficient sacrifice, oblation, and satisfaction for the sins of the whole world.  He intercedes for us by virtue of this sacrifice in heaven.  Therefore, we on earth should commemorate this his sacrifice on the cross by offering bread and wine.  After consecration they become the representatives of his body and blood which in this sacrament are offered to God the Father that he may be favourable to us and give us his grace through the merits of the death of Christ.

         II.  As we ought not, and must not neglect coming to this holy sacrament, so nobody must dare to approach that holy table without a due preparation; carefully weighing what is necessary to be done, before, at, and after receiving the sacrament of the body and blood of Christ.

         First let a man examine his life and conversation by the rule of GodŐs word.  A life governed by the precepts of the gospel is the best preparation for this sacrament.  A Christian believer who constantly performs what our Saviour hath commanded has all the preparation to partake of this ordinance.  He ought, therefore, to receive when any opportunities present themselves.  This holy sacrament does not oblige us to new duties.  It enables us to make good those obligations which we in our baptism have promised and vowed to perform.  Let a man intensely examine himself, strictly fast, and fervently pray, if his life has not been pious toward God, just toward his neighbour, and sober in reference to himself.  Such duties before he receives, without effectual resolutions, will never be able to make a fit guest at GodŐs table.  They are indeed good preparative helps when they repair our souls.  Without steady purposes of amendment, they are of no value in the sight of God and will not qualify us for a worthy participation of the body and blood of Christ.  If our lives do not prepare the way for our offerings, we approach the holy altar in vain.  Hereby we should be deterred from receiving only out of customs or in order to qualify ourselves for some temporal or worldly employment.  Pious Christians who are sincerely wearied and grieved with the burden of their sins ought not to be discouraged in their duty.  Here they will find their proper remedy.  Here they will meet with that strength and assistance which is so necessary to lead that holy life ahead, beginning it with a strict examination of their own souls.  Concerning which take these directions:

         Recollect your baptismal vow, [See the baptismal vow, Sunday ii. Sect. vii.] and endeavour to rivet in your soul a just sense of those mercies promised on GodŐs part, and the particular duties to which you in common with all Christians are obliged thereby.  Our chief business at the LordŐs table is to renew our baptismal covenant with God.  Then inquire by your conscience, the candle of the Lord, how you have broken that covenant made in your baptism, either by thought, word, or deed.  We transgress by our thoughts, when we are contriving and compassing any forbidden thing.  Irregular thoughts, [See Sunday xiii. Sect. i. concerning the Government of our thoughts.] which spring up in our minds and are but little in our power, are neither sins nor matter of punishment.  They are not causes and principles of a sinful choice and resolution.  As we assent or dissent to those motions that are in our minds, so will our thoughts be virtuous or sinful.  But it is not enough to know what is sin.  We must also understand the true state and condition of our souls.  Without self-reflection a man may have every vice under the sun without knowing he has any, provided he has it not in a high degree.  For one that perishes without knowing his duty, there are numbers who are lost forever without seriously considering it and laying it to heart.  Our repentance must be full and complete and extend to all those particulars wherein we have transgressed the laws of God.  Until we discover all our follies and infirmities, we cannot amend or so much as watch against them. [For which purpose you will be greatly assisted by the heads of self-examination, contained in the New WeekŐs Preparation.]

         Our repentance may keep pace with our errors and failings when this examination is frequently repeated before the LordŐs supper.  Thus we may prevent the insupportable weight of the sins of a whole life falling upon us all at once.  At such a time we may neither have understanding nor leisure to recollect ourselves, much less to do any fit and proper acts of repentance toward God or man.  In this examination let us consider the sins that most easily beset our weakest part and by nature or custom are least defensible.  The devil, like a skillful general, will attack us where we lie most exposed, hoping, by gaining that post, to make the town quickly surrender at discretion.  Therefore, in surveying the state of our minds, we should examine those places that will least bear an assault, those appetites that most frequently occasion our fall from GodŐs grace.  We should consider the several aggravations of our follies: whether (a) committed against the light of our minds, with the (b) free consent of our wills, and (c) in despite of the checks of our own conscience; whether they (d) have been often repeated; whether (e) transient acts or habitual disorders.  We ought to observe all those previous steps that have made us transgress, which have been fatal to the corrupting of our innocence, and the occasions of betraying our virtue.

         A thorough knowledge of ourselves and our own corruption is of the greatest consequence.  We are driven to repentance as the only cure for that guilt which oppresses our souls, and for which we lie at the mercy of GodŐs vengeance.  We are disposed to humility, and gain a lively sense of GodŐs power and our frequent errors and miscarriages.  We keep our accounts clear and even, We advance toward Christian perfection by taking care for the future to avoid those faults which we have discovered in our former lives and conversations, not only through fear of punishment, but because we have offended so good and gracious a God.

         This duty should be accompanied with confession of sins to God.  Confession is the judgment a man passes upon himself, either of approbation or of condemnation, whenever he deliberately weighs his own actions.  It is the sentence which his reason suggests that God, the judge of all the earth, will pass upon him.  Yet it is not merely a repetition of our guilty faults to almighty God.  It is an acknowledgment of our faults accompanied with shame for them, with hatred to them, and with resolutions to amend them.  Confession of sins doth plainly include, first, contrition.  Contrition is (a) a holy grief from a lively sense both of the (1) punishment due to guilt, and of the (2) infinite goodness of God whom we have offended, and (b) a detestation of our sin and of ourselves because of it.  Secondly, this sense, sorrow, and indignation send us to God.  To him, with shame and confusion, we lay open our miserable condition before him and humbly and heartily beg his mercy and favour through the merits and intercession of our Lord Jesus.  This is that which is confession, in the precise strict sense of the word.  Thirdly, at the same time we become resolutely determined to amend what has been amiss in us, to live more carefully, more obediently to the laws of God henceforth.  In cases where we have been preserved from guilt, we must give glory to God and thankfully acknowledge that grace which hath restrained us from sin.  No man is qualified for the mercy of God that doth not devoutly confess his sins.  Confession is a thing which in the very nature of it must recommend us to God above all other things we can do.  By approaching to God with a hearty sense of our sins, and confessing them before him with truly contrite and penitent hearts, we make the best reparation we are capable of for the affronts and injuries which by our sins we have committed against his divine majesty.  The more particular our confession is, the better it is, and the more acceptable it will be.  This particular confession is an argument and an expression of the sincerity of our repentance.  It shows that (a) we have searched and examined our hearts to the bottom, that (b) we harbour no concealed affection to any particular sin whatever, but that (c) we are willing to destroy every enemy that speaks opposition to God and his laws.  Fourthly, when our sins have been not only against God but also against our neighbour, we must make him satisfaction. [See Sunday. xi. Sect. iii.]  We must restore whatever we have unjustly taken from him by fraud or force.  We must vindicate his reputation if we have blemished it by calumny and evilspeaking.  We must endeavour his recovery by making him sensible of such sins and dangerous errors as we have drawn him into, that he may be put into a way of pardon before the throne of divine justice.  We must from our hearts forgive those that have injured us, if we expect that God should forgive us our faults.  We rest in a sure confidence that GodŐs grace will be so effectually conveyed into our souls by this sacrament, as to seal GodŐs pardon of all our sins for ChristŐs sake, provided we perform our part in forsaking them and obeying his commandments in the future.

         If we do not strive after this temper of mind, it is impossible we should be fit guests at the LordŐs table.  This was the end of his death, which will deliver none from the punishment due to sin who do not make use of that grace he has purchased to overcome the power and dominion of sin.  How dare we pretend to commemorate our SaviourŐs sufferings, if we do not renounce and detest their cause?  How can we expect to be received by our Lord if we do not war against his enemies, nor prosecute those sinful lusts and affections which tormented and nailed him to the cross?  We must lay aside all resentment against those that have injured us when we go to commemorate that infinite love which took pity of us when we were enemies to him.  Such love should work us into a conformity.  That love should make us desire reconciliation with those that have offended us.  We should desire to be at peace with all the world, as we desire to be beloved and forgiven, and to be at peace with our Redeemer.  Can we scruple to forgive others who are undone ourselves unless we are forgiven?  Is it not in vain to ask pardon, when we find no inclination in our hearts to grant it to our neighbours?  Can we forbear giving what we are able to the poor when we go to commemorate so much bounty and liberality exercised toward us?  It is our duty to do good to all men because they are GodŐs creatures.  Christians in need must partake of our beneficence because they are members of the same body.  They are particular objects of the mercy and tenderness of our blessed Redeemer who has made it one of the marks of the sincerity of our love to God.  Whoso hath this worldŐs goods, and seeth his brother hath need, and shutteth up his bowels from him, How dwelleth the love of God in him?  The sincerity of our love to God can never be so well attested as when we are calling to mind the divine love displaying itself to us in the bleeding wounds of our saviour Christ.

         Prayer ought to have its due proportion in our preparatory exercises for this holy sacrament.  Prayer helps us to that temper of mind and spiritual thoughts which makes us welcome guests at GodŐs table.  Our thoughts of business and affairs must as much as possible be laid aside when we solemnly approach GodŐs presence.  Our thoughts should be applied entirely to such spiritual subjects as the Christian sacrifice naturally brings into our minds.  Prayer, in its own nature, takes off our thoughts from the things of the world and all sensible entertainment.  Prayer raises our thoughts to God and those things that concern our eternal life.  Prayer masters our evil habits by a lively sense of our duty.  It fortifies us against temptation by the strength it communicates to our souls.  Wherefore when we design to approach the holy table, we should prepare the way by devotion and by attending the prayers of the church in public.

         Whoever presumes to come to the holy table of the Lord without this wedding garment, must expect to be cast into outer darkness, where is weeping and gnashing of teeth.  Though God bears with such a sinner for a while, his damnation is sure, if not prevented by a timely repentance.  If he will continue either willfully to neglect his bounden duty or the means to receive it worthily, his punishment will be intolerable.  Who among us can dwell with everlasting burnings?  The church exhorts us to Ňrepent of our sins, or else not to come to that holy table lest, after the taking of that holy sacrament, the devil enter into us as he entered into Judas, and fill us full of all iniquities, and bring us to destruction both of body and soul. And because it is requisite that no man should come to the holy communion, but with a full trust in GodŐs mercy, and with a quiet conscience; therefore, if there be any person who by this means cannot quiet his own conscience herein, but requireth further comfort or counsel; then let him go to some discreet and learned minister of GodŐs word, and open his grief; that by the ministry of GodŐs holy word he may receive the benefit of absolution, together with ghostly counsel and advice, to the quieting of his conscience; and avoiding of all scruple and doubtfulnessÓ. [See the first Exhortation in the Communion Service.]

         The particulars necessary to qualify a Christian to receive the LordŐs supper are summed up in that short exhortation of the church: ŇYe that do truly and earnestly repent you of your sins, and are in love and charity with your neighbours, and intend to lead a new life, following the commandments of God, and walking from henceforth in his holy ways; draw near with faith, and take this holy sacrament to your comfort, and make your humble confession to almighty God.Ó [See the Communion Service immediately before the Confession.]  The next part of our duty concerns how we ought to behave at the time we approach the LordŐs table to receive this holy sacrament, and also after we have received the same.

         III.  Having duly reflected on our own unworthiness, and meditated upon the sufferings of Christ, his infinite love to mankind therein, his propitiation for sins, and our obligation to thankfulness, arising thence, we should receive the holy sacrament with great reverence and devotion.  We should accompany the minister throughout the whole office which expresses all those pious dispositions and devout affections that well-prepared minds ought to exercise upon such occasions.  These include (a) our repentance in the confession and absolution, (b) our charity in relieving our poor brethren, in praying for all conditions of men, and in forgiving those that have offended us, (c) our humility in acknowledging our unworthiness, (d) our resolutions of better obedience in presenting ourselves a reasonable, holy, and lively sacrifice unto God.  At the time of consecration, when you see the bread broken and the wine poured out, remember how Christ suffered for us: how his head was crowned with thorns, his back scourged at a pillar, his hands nailed to the cross, and the last drop of his blood spilt with a spear for our sins.  Look with an eye of faith on him who is the sacrifice once offered for the sins of the whole world, and beg of God the Father that he would accept of the satisfaction, and pardon of all our sins, and be reconciled to you for the merits of his beloved Son who died for us.  Consider what inexpressible thanks are due from us for all that he has done to reconcile us to God.  Think on those great agonies of his soul which drew from him that most disconsolate exclamation, My God, my God I why, hast thou forsaken me?  This will produce in your soul a most hearty and sincere thanksgiving, and teach you to admire the love of our Maker, who gave his only-begotten, Son to redeem mankind.  Should not such a love as this deter you from sinning any more?

         When you are about to receive, remember this sacrament is GodŐs seal to the new covenant in which we receive pardon of sins, grace to resist temptations, and a title to the inheritance of eternal bliss.  Only upon this condition do we also resolve to perform our part of the Christian covenant promised in baptism.  That resolution can be no better expressed than by a hearty Amen to that excellent form, when the minister gives you the bread and wine, saying, The body of our Lord, etc.  Conclude with praises and thanksgivings in the hymns and devotions after the sacrament is received.  While others are communicating, you may enlarge upon these subjects.  Always take care that your own private devotions be laid aside when the minister calls on you to join with him in the public form of prayer.  All these are particularly described in that devout treatise called the New WeekŐs Preparation [See near end of this book.].  The young communicant is there furnished with directions for his devout behaviour and beneficial joining with the minister during the office of administration.

         IV.  To guard against a relapse into sin by surprise, through our infirmities, or from more provoking facts, we need to resolve in our minds how our conduct should be stated, and our life steered, after a worthy receiving of the holy sacrament.  First we should privately pay God the tribute of fervent prayer and praise that we may walk in the same course all the days of our life.  This will be some guard and security to us that we do not over-hastily drench and mire ourselves in worldly affairs.  We ought to watch over our own hearts carefully to prevent departing from our well-grounded resolutions and deliberate vows.  Departure would render our last state worse than the first.  If we sin willfully after we have received the knowledge of the truth, there remains a certain search for vengeance and fiery indignation.  Then God is exasperated and our consciences raging or laid waste.  If we swerve from our duty, those pardons and graces, which have been vouchsafed to us, will rise up in judgment against us.  No lawful vow can ever be dispensed with, because God is a party, [See vows in Sunday vi.  Sect, viii.] and nothing short of divine revelation can be sufficient evidence that God will discharge any man from such a vow.

         Thus the frequent use of the holy sacrament is the most likely means to increase our veneration and respect to it.  Though familiarity with the best of men may be apt to diminish that respect which was paid.  Frailties and imperfections are sometimes mixed with very great virtues and are only discovered by knowing them well.  The oftener we converse with God in his holy ordinances, the more we shall admire his divine perfections, and the more we shall conform ourselves to his will and example.  An object of infinite perfection in itself, and of infinite goodness to us, will always raise our admiration, and heighten our esteem and respect, the more we contemplate it.  It is the discovery of some imperfection where we thought there was none that abates the value and reverence we had for anything or person.

         Frequent communion preserves a lively sense of religion upon our minds and invigorates our souls with fresh strength and power to perform our obligations.  This strengthens that intimate union which ought to be inviolable between Jesus and the members of the mystical body of Christ.  This is the proper nourishment of our souls, without which we can no more maintain our spiritual life than we can our temporal without meat and drink.  This raises in us love and consolation.  It becomes the greatest torment we can endure to offend God, and our greatest delight to do him pleasure.  This is the sovereign remedy against all temptation, by mortifying our passions, and spiritualizing our affections.  How can we love any sinful satisfaction which crucified the Lord of Glory?  How can we fix our hearts upon perishing objects when he only deserves the whole man, as he requires?  This ratifies and confirms to us the pardon of our sins.  It repairs those breaches which our follies have made within us.  This fortifies our minds against all those afflictions and calamities which are often the lot of the righteous in this miserable world.  It administers to us such comfort and peace of conscience as surpasses all understanding.

 

Sunday VI.  Part II.

         V.  We now proceed to the third commandment, or the giving GOD the honour due unto his NAME.  The highest reverence is due to the name of God in our thoughts, in our words, and in our actions.  Therefore, when we irreverently mention the word of God or any person or things which have a relation to his worship or glory, it is denying to honour God in his name.  What the honouring of his name is will be best understood by consideration of those particulars, whereby it is dishonoured.  Avoiding those things will be the best way to honour his holy name.

         The first is blasphemy or speaking any evil thing of God.  The highest degree of blasphemy is cursing him or those persons or things that have a peculiar relation to God, or indeed cursing of any of GodŐs creatures which are all the works of his hands.  This may not be committed in thought, word, or deed, without the utmost outrage and profanation.  The Psalmist reckons this in the highest degree of sins.  He distinguishes offenders in three several ranks: (1) the man that walketh in the council of the ungodly, (2) the man that standeth in the way of sinners, (3) and the man that sitteth in the seat of the scornful.  The third are those who neglect and scoff at religion, and make a mock at that which of all things in the world is of the greatest importance.  Thus David, speaking of GodŐs enemies, brands their cursing inwardly.  Cursing openly, or to the face, is the devilŐs suggestion against Job.  Thus St. Paul says, GodŐs name may be blasphemed by our wicked actions.  By breaking the law dishonourest thou God? for the name of God is blasphemed among the gentiles through you.  And the prophet Ezekiel says, Your fathers have blasphemed me, in that they committed a trespass against me.

         Secondly, we dishonour God by swearing falsely or rashly.  An oath is an invocation of God or an appeal to him to attest what we say to be true, whether the name of God be or be not expressly mentioned.  In all these cases a man does virtually call God to witness.  In so doing, he does by consequence invoke him as a judge and an avenger, if what he swears be not true.  There is indeed a great use and even necessity of oaths in many cases,  The necessity is so great that human society can very hardly, if at all, subsist long without them.  Government would many times be very insecure.  For the faithful discharge of offices of great trust, in which the welfare of the public is nearly concerned, it is not possible to find any security equal to that of an oath.  The obligation of an oath reaches to the most secret and hidden practices of men, and takes hold of them in many cases where the penalty of no human law can have any awe or force upon them.  It is especially the best means of ending matters in debate.  Mankind can never be fully satisfied, where their estates or lives are concerned, without the evidence being assured by an oath.  God himself requires in a lawful oath these three conditions: truth, judgment, and righteousness.  Hence the church declares, ŇAs we confess, that vain and rash swearing is forbidden Christian men by our Lord Jesus Christ, and James his apostle; so we judge, that the Christian religion doth not prohibit, but that a man may swear when the magistrate requireth, in a cause of faith and charity, so it be done according to the prophetŐs teaching, in justice, judgment, and truthÓ. [See the 39th Article of Religion.]  In this sense oaths are generally divided into assertory and promissory.  An assertory oath is when a man affirms or denies upon oath a matter of fact, past or present, when he swears that a thing was, or is so, or not so.  A promissory oath is a promise confirmed by an oath that always respects something future.  This kind of promise is called a vow if it be made directly and immediately to God, but only an oath when made to man.

         In every lawful oath there must be truth.  We must take great care when we are upon our oaths that we say nothing but what we know or believe to be truth.  There cannot be a greater provocation offered to almighty God, who is the God of truth, than to bring him in for witness and voucher to a falsehood.  To do this destroys the very end of taking oaths which is to bring truth to light.  Again, in every lawful oath there must be judgment.  We must not swear rashly and unadvisedly, but in cool and sober thoughts, having duly considered how sacred a thing an oath is.  Moreover, the occasion must be every way fit and deserving of so sacred a seal.  Finally, we must swear in righteousness.  We must set aside all bias of relation or friendship, and all other grounds whatever of favour and affection to any party concerned.  We must also set aside the considerations of interest or disadvantage that may happen to ourselves.  We must regard only the justice of the cause, whether it be that we give our oaths for the defense of the innocent, or punishment of the guilty.  We must take care that we swear not in a wrong case though it were our own, and though we should reap ever so great a benefit in carrying our point.

         From these three necessary conditions of swearing in truth, in judgment, and in righteousness, we see that an oath is an act of religious worship, a part of that glory which we are to give to God.  An oath is an open acknowledgment of his justice and truth, and that he (a) is everywhere present, (b) knows and sees all things, and (c) will avenge himself upon the ungodly, particularly upon those who break this precept of his law.  Wherefore it is not possible for men to lay a more sacred and solemn obligation upon their consciences than by the religion of an oath which binds our souls with a bond.  He that sweareth lays the strongest obligations upon himself and puts his soul in pawn for the truth of what he swears to.  This obligation of an oath can never be violated but at the utmost peril of GodŐs judgment and vengeance.

         VI.  This will lead us to a true sense of that dishonour done to God by the sin of perjury which is a solemn calling on God to witness the truth of that which we either know to be false, or do not know to be true.  Such an oath implies a curse upon ourselves.  It is a crime of so high a nature that no man can possibly be guilty of it who has any sense at all of religion remaining upon his mind.  He who knowingly and deliberately calls God to witness a falsehood in order to deceive or wrong his neighbour does openly disclaim the mercies of God, and challenges the Almighty to show him no favour.

         When a man asserts upon oath what he knows to be otherwise, or promises what he does not intend to perform, his oath becomes perjury.  In like manner, when a man promises upon oath to do something unlawful, because this oath is contrary to a former obligation, it is perjury.  When a man is uncertain in what he swears to be true, his oath is perjury in the act, though not of the same degree of guilt.  It is not so fully and directly against his conscience and knowledge.  Men ought not to swear at a venture, but to be certain of the truth of what they assert upon oath.  No man ought positively to swear to the truth of anything but what he himself hath learnt, or seen, or heard; which is the highest assurance men are capable of in this life.  He is guilty of perjury in the same degree who promises upon oath what he is not morally and reasonably certain he shall be able to do.  Men are likewise guilty of perjury, who answer equivocally and doubtfully, or with reservation of some thing on their minds, thinking thereby to solve the truth of what they say.  Oaths should be attended with calmness and simplicity.  The use of oaths is to assure the persons to whom they are made.  They must be taken in the sense of those that impose them.  So there can be no greater affront to God than to use his name to deceive our neighbour.  Nor can anything more directly overthrow the great end and use of oaths which are for confirmation and to put an end to strife among men.  Equivocation and reservation leave the thing in debate in the same uncertainty it was before.  Let not men, therefore, think by this device to save themselves harmless from the guilt of so great a sin.  They increase their iniquity by adding the imputed folly of mocking God and deceiving their own souls.  Men are also guilty of perjury after the act who having a real intention, when they swear, to perform what they promised, yet afterward neglect to perform their oath, not for lack of power (for so long as that continues the obligation ceases) but lack of will and due regard to the oath they have sworn.

         Deliberate perjury is acting directly against a manŐs knowledge, which is one of the greatest aggravations of any crime.  Therefore, it is equally a sin against both tables, the highest affront to God, and of the most injurious consequence to our neighbour.  By perjury the name of God is horribly abused, his judgment condemned, and his vengeance insolently held at defiance.  By perjury not only do particular persons suffer wrong, but human society.  The foundations of public peace and justice, and the private security of every manŐs life and fortune are overthrown.  The best and last way that the wisdom of men could devise for the decision of doubtful matters is defeated by perjury.  There is no threatening added to any other commandment but to this and the second.  That indicates that next to idolatry and the worship of a false God, perjury is one of the greatest affronts that can be offered to our Creator.  It may be accounted one of those sins that cry so loud to heaven, and speed GodŐs judgment upon the obstinate sinner, who will not hold him guiltless that taketh his name in vain.

         VII.  From this we learn the great sin of that indecent as well as wicked custom of rash Swearing in common conversation.  They who are guilty of it are in perpetual danger of the crime of perjury.  He who swears frequently and habitually will never be careful that what he swears is true.  They who are accustomed to this vice at all are apt to be most guilty of it when they are most provoked, and most suspect that what they affirm is not credible.  To call upon God perpetually as a witness to mean and trivial matters is a manifest lack of reverence, and of a just sense of God and religion.

         Cursing also is another part of the profanation of the name of God.  When men in common conversation use curses and imprecations against their brethren or themselves, as the Jews did when they answered Pilate and said, let his [ChristŐs] blood be upon us and on our children, it is either with an intention and desire that mischief may befall them.  This is malicious toward men.  It also makes light of the curse of God.  If it is without any such desire or intention, then it is profanely supposing God to have no regard to their behaviour.  They should recollect that the vengeance of God will find them out, not only for the evil deeds they commit, but for the profane folly (so frequent among us) of wishing that damnation to themselves, which they otherwise well deserve.  They who thus add the binding power of a curse to the guilt of their sins are doubly unpardonable.  They consent to their punishment as they before consented to their crime.  Their damnation therefore is every way just.  These faults are the more inexcusable because there cannot here be pretended, as in most other vices, any natural temptation.  There is no sensual pleasure in them because they are not found in the temper of the body.  No man, I think, is born with a swearing and cursing constitution, though it may be a man shall be naturally prone to anger and lust.  Besides, there is as little profit as pleasure in them.  The common and trivial use of oaths and curses makes them perfectly insignificant and is so far from giving credit to a manŐs word, that it rather weakens its credit.  Common swearing and cursing always argues in a man a perpetual distrust of his own reputation.  It is an acknowledgment that he thinks his bare word is not worthy to be taken.  Neither do oaths and curses adorn a manŐs discourse, for they highly offend and grate upon all sober and considerate persons who uneasily and impatiently hear God so affronted upon every slight account.

         Moreover, it is a crime for which men can plead no excuse.  They who pretend to do it ignorantly, without observing and knowing what they do, are inexcusable.  Certainly it is no extenuation of a fault that a man has got the habit of it so perfect that he commits it without thinking.  Neither is that any just excuse wherewith many deceive themselves when they swear by any other thing and not by their Maker.  This very precaution shows that they could as easily, if they were careful, avoid the sin wholly, as attend to a particular circumstance in the manner of committing it.  In reality it amounts to the very same thing.  In common speech that usual prayer, Heaven bless or reward a man, is evidently of the very same import as if it had more expressly mentioned God who dwelleth in heaven.  Swearing by any creature amounts to the same thing as swearing by the name of God whose creature it is.  The truth of the thing affirmed and the sincerity of intention can be appealed only to God.  This consideration should make men oppose the beginning of this vice, lest it grow into a habit very hard to overcome.  It must be a great charity that can find out a way to reconcile a common custom of swearing with a serious belief of the Christian religion.

         VIII.  The name of God is also profaned by careless and inconsiderate Vows when (a) the matter of them is either unjust, impossible, or unreasonable, or (b) the thing avowed be unprofitable, and of no tendency to promote true religion, (c) or the manner of making the vow be rash and irreligious.  Therefore, among Christians there is no use, no benefit, no encouragement given to making any vows at all.  Why should men needlessly bring snares upon their own souls, or entangle themselves in difficulties, where there is no command?  The vows mentioned in the Old Testament are all either parts of the Jewish ceremonial law which is now wholly abolished, or else they signify only general resolutions of serving and obeying God.  This latter can never too often or too seriously be renewed, as when Jacob vowed that the Lord should be his God; that is, that he would always continue steadfast in the true religion.  In the New Testament there is (I think) no one instance of any vow made by a Christian.  The vow of Aquila and that of the four persons with whom St. Paul purified himself were vows that had been made before their conversion to Christianity.  Baptism and the Lords supper are solemn vows of obedience to God, but they were our indispensable duty before.  Such solemn renewing our holy resolutions to do what is absolutely necessary to do is undoubtedly of great and perpetual use.  In other cases vows are nothing but needless snares upon men.  Generally they are of superstitious and unwarrantable practice.  What is fit to be done may be done without laying upon ourselves unnecessary obligations.  Such obligations can be of no benefit but needlessly involve men in snares and scruples.  Christians should never to entangle themselves in any other obligations at all, but only take care to keep those sacred vows and resolutions which they solemnly enter into at baptism and the supper of the Lord.

 

Sunday  VII

I. Of the WORSHIP due to GodŐs name; setting forth the several parts of PRAYER.  II. Of public prayer, in the church, in the family; and of our behaviour after public prayer.  III. Of private prayer.  IV. Of the necessary condition of prayer.  V. Of its only object; as also of its power and efficacy; with answers to objections against this duty.  VI. Of repentance, and the danger of delaying it; and  VII. Of fasting as a part of repentance.

 

         I.  The next duty we owe to God is Worship Đ a duty to God alone, and to be performed both by our souls and bodies.  At present therefore I shall only direct you to the duty of worshipping God in prayer which is the part performed by the soul.  The soul addresses itself to God, and the mind raises itself toward heaven by prayer.  Prayer has different kinds.  When we bewail our particular sins with sorrow and with full purposes of amendment, it is called confession.  When we implore GodŐs mercy, and desire any favour from him, that is petition.  When we pray for averting any evil, prayer is called deprecation or supplication.  When we beg anything for others, it is intercession.  When we express a grateful sense of benefits received, it is thanksgiving.  When we acknowledge and adore the divine perfections, prayer is praise.  In all these acts we have the great honour to be admitted into GodŐs presence, and to discuss with him those things which chiefly concern our own happiness or that of our neighbour.

         In the first place let us compose our spirits and gather in our thoughts from the mazes of the world.  Then let us begin our prayers with solemnly addressing ourselves to the Lord God almighty.  We declare, both by our inward composure and outward behaviour, our (a) full belief of his presence and (b) a holy awe and reverence of his majesty, and (c) an entire reliance on the Lord Jesus Christ alone for acceptance of our imperfect prayers before God the Father.

         Having thus given glory to God, we must humbly confess to him all our sins committed in thought, word, or deed.  We earnestly request pardon for our sins of omission and ignorance.  Thus confession is either a general or a more particular acknowledging of our sins before God.  A general confession is a necessary part of all our public prayers.  A particular confession is most proper in our private prayers only.  We cannot inform God of what he does not know.  As we truly sense our own simplicity, corruption, and wretchedness, we humble ourselves before the throne of his grace, and own ourselves liable to what punishment his justice shall condemn us.  Above all, we must be most heartily thankful to God the Father for his patience and longsuffering toward us, and for his readiness to be reconciled to us through Jesus Christ his only son.  We conclude with humble professions of sorrow and shame for sin, and firm resolutions of amendment, through the assistance of divine grace, to be better and do better for the time to come.

         The next part of prayer is commonly called petition.  It is the entreating of God to grant unto us all those things that are needful both for our souls and bodies.  We ought to be most afraid of our sins.  Therefore, let our confessions be always attended with petitions for (a) pardon and (b) forgiveness through the merits of Christ Jesus that he will (c) grant us his favour, blessing, and gracious repentance, that he will please to (d) grant us a comfortable sense of his pardon of us, that (e) we may abound in righteousness, hope, quietness, and assurance for ever through the power of the Holy Ghost.  We ask that God will please to (f) strengthen us with his grace against every evil thought, word, or deed, and all the temptations of the world, the flesh, and the devil, (g) directing our consciences, (h) showing us the way of our duty, and (i) making us wise and humble Christians.  We ask that he will (j) plant in us all holy principles and dispositions, and (k) increase every grace in our hearts, as faith, fear, love, charity, self-denial, humility, meekness, patience, contentment, and hope in God and Christ.  We especially ask (l) those graces which we most lack, and (m) a hope of eternal life prepared for such as love God and keep his commandments.  We also ask that he will (n) make us prudent and discreet, honest and sincere, active and diligent, resolute and courageous, pleasant and cheerful, and universally conscientious in every event of providence, every condition of life, and in every relation wherein we stand toward God or our neighbour.  Further, we ask that he will (o) make us wiser and better every day, and that he will (p) please to prepare us for a happy death that we may at length enjoy the mansions of eternal happiness.

         The kingdom of God and his righteousness being thus petitioned or sought for, we may have the boldness to beg that all other things, the necessaries, the comforts and supports of this world, may be added unto us so that we may enjoy the good things of this life, as well as be preserved from the calamities to which we are constantly subject.  Let all our petitions conclude with this humbleness of heart: Lord, thou hast given us many and exceeding great and precious promises, which are all certain in Christ.  Therefore, be it now unto thy servant according to thy word.

         The third part of prayer is deprecation, which is a praying to God that he will turn away from us some evil either of sin or punishment.

         We are to pray against the evil of sin, especially when we are in most danger of falling into it.  We are to pray against the evil of both spiritual and temporal punishment. We must be cautious to be earnest in our prayers so that God would not be angry with us, nor withdraw his grace, nor punish us with eternal damnation.  In temporal afflictions we must always pray with resignation to his divine will.  In this we have the example of our blessed Saviour who, when under the greatest afflictions, said, Not my will, but thine be done.

         A fourth part of prayer is intercession or praying for others.  The apostle appoints us to make supplications for all saints.  We ask God that (a) all men might be saved by the knowledge of the truth, that he will (b) convince and convert atheists, deists, infidels, and all others who are out of the way of truth, scoff at his word and ordinances, and disgrace Christianity by their vice and immorality, that he (c) will not forsake nor forget our nation in time of public danger and distress, that he will (d) continue among us the gospel in its purity and the means of grace according to his own holy ordinance, that he will (e) continue our outward peace and tranquility, liberty and plenty, that he will (f) prosper our trade, and (g) bless the fruits of the earth for our use, that he will (g) protect and preserve all those to whom we bear any relation, as our king, all his royal family, our parents, husbands, wives, children, friends, benefactors, etc., that he will (h) teach our senators wisdom and (i) give his spirit of wisdom, understanding, and justice to all that are employed in public affairs, or are appointed to execute justice, or to instruct others in the knowledge and love of God and of his son Jesus Christ, that he will (j) bless all sorts and conditions of men, whether young or old, setting out into the world, or in long possession thereof, whether rich or poor, those that are prosperous in this world, or such as are under afflictions, those that hate, as well as those that love us.

         In the last place, we must also gratefully acknowledge his goodness toward us.  Though it can add nothing to his glory, he is pleased to accept this acknowledgment, and reckons himself glorified by it if it comes from a heart that is humbly sensible of its own unworthiness to receive any favour from him.  He values the gifts and loves the giver of them all.  We must thank him for all his mercies both spiritual and temporal to us and all mankind in general, for all his goodness and loving kindness to us and to all men.  In particular we thank him for our creation, preservation, and all the blessings we have received at his hands, and above all for his inestimable love in the redemption of the world by our Lord Jesus Christ, for the means of grace, and the hopes of glory in the world to come.

         II.  Having thus given you the several parts of prayer, the next thing to be considered is, Where we ought to pray.  Here it will be found our duty to pray both in public and private.  Those prayers are most acceptable to God, and most necessary for us, which are offered in public assemblies.  God is most honoured and glorified by addresses above private devotions.  A sense of his majesty, somewhat suitable to his most excellent greatness and goodness, is maintained in the world when by outward signs and tokens we publish and declare the inward regard and esteem we have for his divine attributes.  Private prayer is only piety confined within our breasts.  Public prayer is piety exemplified and displayed in our outward actions.  It is the beauty of holiness made visible.  Our light shines out before men, and in the eye of the world.  It enlarges the interest of godliness, and keeps up a face and sense of religion among mankind.  Our Saviour promises his special presence to such assemblies and hath appointed a particular order of men to offer up our prayers in such places of worship.  We may expect greater successes when our petitions are made with the joint and unanimous consent of our fellow Christians, and when our devotions receive warmth and heat from the exemplary zeal of pious ministers.  Private religion never did in fact subsist except where some public profession of it was regularly kept up.  If public worship was once discontinued, a universal forgetfulness of God would ensue.  Remembering him is the strongest sense and preservative against vice.  If there were not stated days to call men off from the common business of this life to attend to what is the most important business of all, their salvation in the next life, the bulk of mankind would soon degenerate into mere savages and barbarians.  These considerations should make all good Christians frequently attend the public worship of the house of God.  Therefore, they who have opportunities and are not lawfully hindered should endeavour to regulate their time to be able constantly to attend on prayer at church.  As those who have leisure cannot better employ it, so they who neglect such opportunities of declaring and publishing his praise before men must have little concern for the honour and glory of God.  Public worship is the great instrument of securing a sense of GodŐs providence and of a world to come Ń the great basis of all social and private duties.  One thing more I beg leave to mention.  Though you should be a regular attendant on the service of the church, take care that your deportment out of church be correspondent to your behaviour in it.  Otherwise you will do religion more disservice than if you were its open and avowed enemy.

         The next Christian duty is family prayer.  Every master of a family is answerable to God for the welfare of those souls that are under his care.  A sense of religion cannot be maintained in a family without the exercise of daily devotion in it.  Families are but little societies, as societies are larger families.  Therefore religion is confessedly the best bond and cement of union both in states and larger communities and in little domestic governments.  It is therefore incumbent upon those who preside over a family to impress a sense of religion upon those who are beneath them.  By this method we are best able to confirm and establish children and servants in the practice of their Christian obligations.  If you want your children to be dutiful and your servants faithful, if you desire your small community here should join hereafter with the great congregation of men and angels in heaven, then teach them to look up to God in every step of their conduct, and impress upon them, and keep alive in them by repeated prayers, a manly, serious, and devout frame of mind.  If this is neglected, our defenseless youth, as soon as they launch out into the world, fall an easy prey.  Professors of iniquity go about seeking whom they may devour to make them proselytes from the best religion the world was ever blessed with, to no religion at all.  Consequently, those who should be the flower of the nation are too often the very dregs of it.  This devotion must be also remembered at our meals.  We ought to beg the blessing of God upon those good creatures provided for our use.  It is by the word of God and prayer that they are sanctified to us.  Natural religion itself teaches us thankfully to acknowledge the benefits we receive.  We have the example of Christ, his holy apostles, and all the evangelists declaring that our Saviour blessed and gave thanks before meat.  St. Luke relates of St. Paul, and even St. Paul himself speaks of it as the known practice of the church among Christians in his time.

         III.  This performance of public prayer does not excuse a man from the other duty of private prayer.  This is that praying to our Father in secret as commanded by our Saviour, and to which in particular he has promised a reward.  When a man thus approaches to God in private, he ought to be more particular according to his pressing necessities than it may be convenient for him to express himself in public.  God hath established this duty as a means, whereby we are to obtain whatever we want in relation to our souls and bodies.  We are to ask before it shall be given.  We must seek before we shall find.  We must knock before it shall be opened unto us.  The mind of man naturally affects independence.  To check this temper, God has obliged us to ask for the assistance of his holy spirit  Our being obliged to ask continually and unforgettably reminds us of the dependence we have on him for our spiritual as well as natural abilities.  If what we receive were a matter of strict debt, then we might say, Who is the Lord, that we should pray unto him?  But, as our enjoyments are the effects of his undeserved mercy, it becomes us to ask if we would receive.  What we could receive without petitioning for it, we would regard as entirely our own acquisition, excluding our Maker.  This seems to be why God has annexed the promises of his grace to the performance of this condition: that prayer might be a perpetual memorial of our reliance on him.  Prayer calls us to such a state of humility that, whenever we do well we should in the words of the Psalmist acknowledge, Not unto us, not unto us, O Lord; but unto thy name be ascribed the glory.  Whenever we do ill, we should in the words of Daniel confess, To thee, O Lord, belongeth righteousness; but unto us confusion of face.  He hath promised the assistance of his holy spirit to help us in the performance of our prayers.  He hath appointed his Son to intercede by virtue of his merits for their admission.  Therefore, it is absolutely necessary that we should live in the constant exercise of prayer.  In so doing we cannot fail to attain our soulŐs salvation.  None can be virtuous that live without praying.  Let people boast ever so much of the great effect of a good resolution.  They must at last confess that there is no getting such a victory over their lusts and corruptions, no living such a Christian life as the gospel requires of us without (a) the practice of earnest and ardent prayer to God, (b) a constant attendance to reading and meditation, and (c) other devout exercises.  We may have formed our purposes ever so strongly, and doubt not that we shall be able to resist every temptation.  Yet if we do not daily apply ourselves to the throne of grace for strength, influence, and support, we cannot make any great progress or advancement in Christianity.  On the contrary, such a neglect will bring us insensibly into a state of carelessness and indifference to these matters, if  not entirely to a worldly, sensual, or vicious life.

         Our whole duty is made up but of three things: that a man live (1) soberly with respect to himself, (2) righteously with respect to his neighbour, and (3) piously with respect to God.  Supposing now that a man takes care of doing his duty to himself and his neighbour.  If he makes no conscience of piety toward God, in what sense can he be said to have done his duty or to live virtuously?  Truly in no sense because as to one-third part of his duty he is a notorious offender.  Though he be not unjust, though he be not debauched, yet, lacking piety toward God, he is impious.  This will as certainly condemn him, as either of the other sins.  Therefore, there may be such virtue as will recommend us to God without piety, or there may be piety without ever praying to or worshipping God, neither of which I believe was ever imagined.  Or where there is no praying, there is no virtue, and consequently no salvation for such as neglect that duty.  Devotion is as necessary a means to preserve the union between the soul and God, in which our spiritual life consists, as meat and drink is to preserve the union between our souls and bodies, by which our natural life is supported.  We may as reasonably expect to keep our bodies alive without the constant and daily use of eating and drinking, as we can expect to keep our souls alive to God without the constant and daily exercise of prayer.  The proper time in which this duty ought to be more particularly performed must be regulated according to the leisure every one can find from the duty of his necessary business. or calling.  Yet this duty must never be neglected at morning and evening.  We may all lift up our hearts to God in every work throughout the whole day.

         Those who are mindful to say their prayers frequently and heartily, and continue so to do, though they be not good at the present, will not long to continue in bad habits.  They will at last certainly get the victory over all their lusts, and attain to the favour of God and their own salvation.  The benefits and advantages that accrue to us from praying are innumerable.  Prayer is the most proper means to ennoble, refine, and spiritualize our natures in the new birth.  If our daily converse with material objects were not balanced by prayer, it would make us wholly sensual, and flesh would destroy the works of the spirit.  Constant exercise of prayer is the best method to get the mastery of our evil inclinations, and to overcome our vicious customs.  By prayer we preserve a lively sense of our duty upon our minds, and are fortified against many temptations that continually assault our souls and bodies.  By prayer our souls are raised above this world, and spiritual objects are made familiar to us.  By prayer our affections are sanctified, and we are supported under the calamities and crosses of this life.  By prayer we are led gradually to the perfection of Christian piety, and preserved in a strict union between God and our souls, wherein consists our spiritual life.  Every vice is checked and every virtue kept alive by a fixed awakened sense of the Deity, by a due regard for and fear of him.  Without this we vainly pretend to discharge those duties that are incumbent upon us as Christians, or to prosper in our temporal affairs which must have GodŐs blessing to crown them with advantage to us.  Prayer secures the blessing of God upon our persons, labours, families, property, employments, and upon all that we do, have, or desire.  Prayer turns all the actions of our natural or civil life, however indifferent they be, into actions of religious worship.  By prayer everything that we have, or that comes to us, is made a blessing from God, which without prayer perhaps might have been an affliction and cross.  It is true, God will grant us what is fit.  It is equally true that it is not fit he should prostitute his favours upon those, who will not pray for them with a bumble sense of their dependence, and receive them with a grateful sense of his goodness. Prayer is that by which everything and every action is sanctified to believers.

         This duty requires no labour.  The feeblest and most dispirited body that can merely lift up a heart to heaven and direct wishes thither doth it as effectually as the most vigorous.  This duty doth not go against the grain of any natural inclination nor put the body to any pain or inconvenience.  This duty puts us to no charge or expense in the world, save that of our thoughts, which are hereby fixed on things in heaven.  This duty in nowise consumes our time.  We may attend this work when we are doing the business of our calling.  There is no objection against it.  It is one of the most easy, natural, and inoffensive duties that God enjoins his creatures.

         Besides, it is the most pleasant and delightful exercise of all the pleasures of the soul.  We may talk of pleasures and enjoyments, but no man ever truly found them till he became acquainted with God, till he became sensible of his love, partook of his spiritual favours, and lived in an entire friendship and communion with him.  This is chiefly, if not only, both expressed and maintained by prayer and other exercises of a devout and spiritual life.  The best reason for great neglect of this duty is either a lustful heart which confines its desires and hopes within the narrow bounds of carnal pleasures and the dross of a perishable world, or a want of practicing it or using thereof.  There are many things that seem uneasy at the first trial which upon custom become delightful.

 

Sunday  VII.  Part  II.

         IV.  Let our prayers be ever so frequent and fervent, they must be rightly qualified.  These requisites or conditions of prayer either concern the matter of our prayers or the things we are to pray for, or they concern the manner of our prayers or the qualifications with which they are to be attended.

         First, The things, which we ask, must be such as are lawful and agreeable to the will of God.  Whatever is not just is not agreeable to the will of God, and consequently ought not to be prayed for.  For example, to pray for revenge upon our enemies, to desire God to prosper us in our wicked courses and the like is not lawful.  Again, things may be very just in themselves but yet very unjust in us to ask them.  When we ask good things, but to evil purposes, then we ask and receive not because we ask amiss, that is, we ask that we may consume them upon our lusts.  Again, the matter of our prayers may be lawful in itself, and we may ask with honest and innocent designs.  Yet the things we ask may not be according to GodŐs will.  God perhaps sees they are not convenient for us, or he sees that some other things will better suit our circumstances of body or soul.  This is the case of all those worldly blessings, commonly so called.

         Secondly, we must ask in faith.  This is a condition ordered by our Saviour to his apostles.  All things (saith he) whatsoever ye shall ask in prayer, believing, ye shall receive.  This implies praying with a hearty belief both that God is able to grant the requests we put to him, and that for the sake of Jesus Christ he will do it.  But this also presupposes that it will be for his glory and our good, and that we perform all the conditions which are required on our part toward the obtaining what we ask.  To pray in faith is to pray to God with a full purpose of heart (let what will come) to believe and to live like a Christian.  It is not to use any indirect means, or to depart from the sincerity of our Christian profession, for the gaining even of the whole world.  These conditions must be accompanied with constancy and perseverance.

         Thirdly, our prayers should always be offered up with humility, acknowledging our own unworthiness.  The proud and those that are full of themselves are the most unfit for prayer and the most offensive to God.  When they make addresses to him in any manner, he resists them.  He beholdeth them afar off, as the scripture expresses it, with an eye of scorn: but he giveth grace to the humble; nor will he despise the broken and contrite heart.  We may put up our requests for any lawful thing, but it must constantly be with this condition, if God sees it fit for us, and it be agreeable to the will of his divine majesty.  We may peremptorily ask all spiritual blessings in particular, and we may be assured, if the other requisites of our prayers do concur, we shall obtain them.  At all times our great endeavour should be to dispossess all wandering thoughts at the time of devotion.  Prayer is drawing near to God with our lips when our hearts are far from him.  They that thus slight and despise the dreadful majesty of God will more likely bring a curse than a blessing upon themselves.  If this cannot be done perfectly, let not a few interruptions damp a truly devout prayer.  Considering the frame and constitution of our natures, and the close connection between soul and body, when we are at our prayers our thoughts may be diverted.  Our intentions may be interrupted by the impressions of study or business of this world.  This I thought necessary to observe, because some weak and confident men are apt to be elated because of those short-lived raptures and transient gleams of joy which they feel within themselves.  Others of a phlegmatic constitution are apt to despond because they cannot work themselves up to such a degree of fervour.  Nothing is more precarious and uncertain than that affection which depends upon the ferment of the blood.  It naturally ceases as soon as the spirits flag and are exhausted.  Men of this kind sometimes draw near to God with great fervency, and at other times are quite estranged from him.  A steady, regular, consistent piety is more acceptable to that Being, with whom there is no variableness, neither shadow of change, than all the passionate sallies, and short intermitting fits, of an unequal devotion.  Therefore, all we can do is (a) to watch and strive against those distractions, (b) to bewail this weakness, and (c) to compose our thoughts to all that seriousness our temper and circumstances will permit, (d) to recall our minds as soon as we perceive they run out upon other objects, and immediately (e) to throw away all such thoughts as are foreign to our devotions, and (f) to beg GodŐs pardon and assistance.  What makes these distractions criminal is our willing entertainment of them and thinking upon other objects without restraint Đ when we keep our unreasonable passions under no government, and take no care to compose ourselves into a serious temper by considering in whose awful presence we appear when at our devotions.

         Fourthly, our hearts must be possessed with a deep sense of GodŐs majesty which is infinite and incomprehensible.  We pray to no less a person than the sovereign Lord of heaven and earth, who was from everlasting, and is to everlasting, world without end.  In order to pray as we should, we ought more particularly to get our hearts possessed with a sense of his goodness.  That above all other things will put life and vigour into our prayers, will both stir us up to this duty and support us in praying.  He who cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is the rewarder of them who diligently seek him.

         Fifthly, we must get our minds seriously affected with a sense of our manifold shortcomings.  Otherwise it is impossible for us to heartily pray for redress and supply.  Therefore, if we desire to bring ourselves to a praying temper, we must often take an account of the state of our souls, and examine (a) what necessities we have to be supplied, (b) what sins to be pardoned, (c) what evil affections to be mortified, (d) what virtues and graces of the Holy Spirit to be attained for our strength and support.

         Sixthly, all these conditions must be accompanied with great fervour and constancy.  We must, in the most hearty, serious, and affectionate manner, put up our requests to God for his aid, and in so doing we must persevere to the end.

         Seventhly, for preparing and disposing us to put up our prayers as we should do, we must we purify our hearts from all actual affection to sins.  We must come to God without any of our wickednesses about us.  Therefore, we put them away from us at least in purpose and desire.  This is such a great necessity that there is no praying where it is lacking.  If I incline unto wickedness with my heart, the Lord will not hear me.  We know that God heareth not sinners; but if any man be a doer of his will, he will hear him.  Therefore, till we can seriously resolve to quit our evil courses, to forsake every known, willful, open sin that we know we live in, let us not think ourselves prepared and qualified to put up our prayers to God who will not be mocked.

         Lastly, to all those requisites we must add that bodily worship which is particularly exhorted by the royal Psalmist, where he says, O come, let us worship and fall down and kneel before the Lord our maker.  This necessarily implies that the just and devout meaning of our souls should be expressed by suitable, humble, and reverent gestures of the body in our approaches or prayers to God.  Therefore, St. Paul, knowing that this also is a tribute due from the body of a man to the Creator, commands us to glorify God in our body and in our spirit which are GodŐs.

         V.  Prayer is a duty we owe to God, but also it is a duty we owe to him alone.  No being in the world beside himself hath a right to be prayed unto.  Prayer is one of the principal instances of that honour and an expression of that dependence which we owe to the creator and governor of the world.  Certainly to be prayed unto is, and for ever will be, one of the rights and prerogatives of GodŐs sovereign majesty.  Prayer is never to be given to anything created.  Consequently, invoking or praying to any creature in areligious way, though it be the highest creature in heaven, whether angel or saint, not excepting the blessed Virgin herself, must be an affront done to God.  It gives to one of GodŐs creatures that honour which is only proper to the creator.  All idolatry naturally leads to other immoralities.  When men do not like to retain God in their knowledge, they are very apt to be given over to a reprobate mind.  Will-worship of what kind soever evidently derogates from the honour of God.  It distracts menŐs devotions and divides that affection and reliance of mind which ought to be placed upon God alone.  It always leads to superstitious equivalents instead of true virtue which alone can render men acceptable in the eyes of the all-seeing Judge.  Should any one pretend to say that sinful men cannot of themselves acceptably approach the supreme throne of God, we have by divine appointment a sufficient mediator and advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous, who sitteth continually on the right hand of God as our great high priest and intercessor to mediate for us, and to offer up our prayers unto the Father.  Through him we have access unto the Father.  Our LordŐs own direction is, Whatsoever ye shall ask of the Father in my name, he will give it you.  Prayer, therefore, is to be directed to God alone, through Christ alone.  As praying to false gods derogates from the honour of the one true God, so praying by or through the intercession of false and fictitious mediators derogates in like manner from the honour of Christ, the only true mediator.  As there is but one God, so there is also but one mediator between God and man, even the man Christ Jesus.

         As an encouragement for us to pray, David says, The Lord is nigh unto all them that call upon him in truth: he will fulfil the desires of those that fear him: he also will hear their prayers, and will save them: the eyes of the Lord are over the righteous, and his ears are open to their prayers.  And our Saviour says to his apostles, Whatsoever ye shall ask in my name, that will I do.  Again he repeats it, If ye shall ask anything in my name, I will do it.  Yet, if it should be thought that this promise was made to the apostles only and doth not concern us, let us hear what St. John writes to us: Brethren, if our heart condemn us not, then have we confidence toward God; and whatsoever we ask we receive of him.  Ask, says our Saviour, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you: for everyone that asketh receiveth, and he that seeketh findeth, and to him that knocketh it shall be opened.  Nothing can be more gracious, nothing more comfortable than this promise: What man is there among you, whom if his son ask bread, will he give him a stone?  Or if he ask a fish, will he give him a serpent?  If ye then, being evil, know how to give good gifts unto your children, how much more will your heavenly Father give good things unto them that ask him?  The holy scriptures contain many promises and assurances that God will hear our prayers, also afford us many instances of his making good those promises at all times, and to all persons, and in a most wonderful manner.  By prayer Moses quenched the devouring fire.  By prayer Elias brought down fire from heaven.  By prayer Elisha restored dead to life.  By prayer Hezekiah slew a hundred and eighty five thousand of the Assyrians in one night.  By prayer David stopped the avenging angel, when his hand was lifted up to destroy Jerusalem.  By prayer Jonah was delivered out of the fishŐs belly.

         Prayer is useful, advantageous, and necessary prayer.  God has declared absolutely, that we shall not have the good things that we stand in need of except we pray for them.  But there have been, and doubtless are still, some emissaries of the devil who pretend to argue against the duty and efficacy of prayer.  They found their sophistry upon the unchangeable decrees of God.  Devil-like, they quote scripture to support their own impiety.  Is it not, written, say they, that with God there is no variableness nor shadow of turning?  This is a mere fallacy.  GodŐs hearkening to, or being moved by, the prayers we put up to him doth not in the least clash with his unchangeable decrees.  We grant, when God is pleased to give us those things which without our prayers he would not have done, there is a change, but not in God.  God resolved that if we humbly and heartily beg such or such things at his hands, we should have them.  If not, we should go without them.  Therefore, when upon our prayers we obtain that grace or that blessing which we did not have before, it is not he that is changed, but us.  By performing the conditions he required of us, looking with another aspect to him, we do entitle ourselves to quite different treatment from him than we could claim before we were changed from our wicked course of life.  We made ourselves capable of receiving those benefits which before we were not capable of.

         When this objection has failed, then they rest upon GodŐs infinite and essential goodness.  We grant that the goodness of God is infinite, and that he governs the world in the best way that is possible.  Consequently he always will do that which is best though we behave ourselves ever so badly.  Yet from this doth it follow that we shall have all such things as we stand in need of, without praying for them?  No.  The same God that will do always what is absolutely best for his creatures knows that it is best for them that, in order to their partaking of his benefits, they should pray for them.  If they do not, he knows it is best that they should be denied such things.  The necessity of GodŐs acting for the best doth not in the least destroy the necessity of prayer in order to our obtaining what we stand in need of.  God will do always that which is best.  We are mistaken if we think it for the best that we should have our necessities supplied without the use of prayer.  Prayer is the means appointed by God to obtain them.

         VI.  To prayer it is necessary to subjoin the duty of Repentance, a duty which the apostle St. Paul particularly testifies to be due to God.  All sin being forbidden of God, we never transgress his commands, whether in regard to our neighbour or ourselves, without incurring his displeasure and dreading his justice unless we repent.  Wherefore, the church says, ŇThe grant of repentance is not to be denied to such as fall into sin after baptism.  After we have received the Holy Ghost, we may depart from grace given, and fall into sin, and by the grace of God (we may) rise again, and amend our lives.  And therefore they are to be condemned, which say, they can no more sin as long as they live here, or deny the place of forgiveness to such as truly repentÓ. [See the 16th Article of Religion.]  This repentance is an entire change of heart and mind which produces the like change in our lives and conversations.  To repent of our sins is to be convinced we have done amiss, whence follows hearty sorrow for having foolishly (a) neglected the most important concern of our lives, and (b) done what in us lies to make ourselves everlastingly miserable.  We have been ungrateful to our mighty benefactor, and unfaithful to our best friend.  We have affronted heaven with those very blessings we have received thence.  We have despised the riches of GodŐs goodness, forbearance, and longsuffering, which should have led us to a thorough change of our life and conversation.  This sorrow for our sins must be expressed by humbly confessing them to almighty God, with shame and confusion of face, (a) by an utter abhorrence and detestation of them, (b) by being heartily troubled for what we have done amiss, (c) by resolving not to do the like any more, and (d) by testifying the reality of our inward sorrow as in fasting, weeping, mourning, and praying.  It is very fit that, as the soul and body have been partakers in the same sins, so they should join together in the same humiliation and firm resolution of amendment.

         All sorrow for sin, and all purposes of amendment for the time to come, are not in all cases sufficient to be properly called repentance or a hearty contrition.  This sorrow and purpose of amendment might not arise from a pure love of God and a deep sense of our own foul ingratitude in offending so good and gracious a Being.  Instead it might arise only from a dread of his justice and fear of being punished for transgressions.  Then our repentance and good purposes, though they carry with them the appearance of ever so much truth and reality, ought justly to be suspected as insufficient.  The duty of repentance is therefore necessary and strongly enforced with the force of command when our Saviour declares, Except ye repent, ye shall all likewise perish.

         The best method to make such a resolution of amendment effectual is to extend it to all the particulars of our duty, having a respect to all GodŐs commands and to avoiding everything his law condemns.  True repentance must be pure, constant, and persevering in its effects.  It must put a man into such a state that he will not any more return willfully unto sin.  Therefore,  he that repents ought to be exceedingly fearful of relapsing into sin, as one that is recovering out of a dangerous and almost mortal sickness.  Whenever he willfully relapses, he makes his case worse than it was at first, and his disease more in danger of being mortal.  It becomes much harder for him to renew himself unto repentance, and much more difficult to procure pardon.  It is true, evil habits are not to be rooted out at once, nor vicious customs to be overcome in a moment.  So long therefore as a man does not return willfully and deliberately into the habit of sin, many surprises and interruptions in the struggle with a customary vice may be consistent with the progress of repentance.  Repentance only becomes complete and effectual when the evil habit is so entirely rooted out that the man thenceforward obeys the commandments of God without looking back and returns no more to the sins he has condemned.  Let no man therefore think that he has truly repented of any deadly sin so long as he continues to practice and repeat it.  He may fast and pray, and lament, and use all the apparent signs of repentance imaginable.  God will never esteem his repentance true, nor accept it as available to the forgiveness of sin, till he sees it pure, and constant, and persevering.

         Man has not the power of his own life.  Should he be cut off in the midst of his sins, he must be eternally punished.  It is mere delusion and unpardonable stupidity for man to delay this great and necessary repentance for the present, and defer it to some future opportunity, either till the heat of youth is over, or till sickness or old age overtake him.  Delaying until an uncertain, future time which we cannot be sure of, and deferring a necessary work to the most unfitting season of performing it, is the greatest folly.  It is highly wicked in that we abuse GodŐs patience, who gives us opportunity for it at present, and prefer the slavery of sin before his service. It is a contempt of GodŐs laws and of that wrath which is revealed from heaven against all unrighteousness.  Therefore, we may justly fear that such a proceeding may provoke God to withdraw that grace which will be needed to exercise our repentance, though he should give us time and opportunity for so great a work.  This is indeed a melancholy consideration.  What can I say to awaken men out of this fatal lethargy, and to inspire them with a just sense of their danger?  I can only entreat them to consider that unless they repent, they will certainly perish.  Through the times of ignorance God winked, yet now he commandeth all men every where to repent.  He hath appointed a day in which he will judge the world in righteousness by that man whom he hath ordained.  On that day sinners will in vain call to the mountains and rocks to fall on them and to hide them.  Then that dreadful sentence shall be pronounced, Depart from me, ye cursed, into everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels.  This is sufficient to show us the great necessity of denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, and of living righteously, soberly, and godly in this present world.

         From this we may conclude concerning the times and frequent returns of our repentance.  If we are daily guilty of any sin, we should repent every day, because sufficient unto the day is the evil thereof.  We may be instructed in this custom by the children of this world in the management of their temporal concerns.  They teach us that short reckonings are the safest means to a fair and unperplexed account.  We should repent before all solemn days, the blessed sacrament, etc.  The time of affliction is a strong call to repentance.  When sickness, or pains, or outward calamities, or a wounded spirit attack us, we are soon sensible of our own inability, and whither should we fly for refuge?  Break off thy sins by repentance, says Daniel, lest ye be punished with those who despise the chastisements of the Lord.  The approach of death is the most awakening season for repentance, and I fear that most menŐs repentance sets sail from this dangerous port.  Not that we pretend to set bounds to the goodness and mercy of that Lord, who declares that he wills not the death of a sinner.  Whenever a soul is raised from the sleep of sin, it must be ascribed unto the spirit of God calling her to repentance.  Consequently it would be rash and dangerous for us to assert the impossibility of a deathbed repentance.  Yet, it is certain that without the particular grace of God no man will be able to repent upon his deathbed.  It is nowise reasonable to expect these extraordinary influences, when the ordinary means of grace have been neglected all our life long.  He who long pursues a vicious course, and returns not till the latter end of his days, must never expect either to live or die in so great peace, or so assured a prospect of being happy in the other world, though he be ever so diligent and sincere in his religion, as he who begins early.  All his hopes will be mingled with sad fears of his condition.  The sense of the many grievous sins of his life, so long persisted in, will still be afflicting his conscience.  He will still be doubtful that he hath sufficiently repented of them, and that God hath received him to favour.  This is the unavoidable consequence of putting off the business of religion to our latter days.

         Wherefore, it is to be feared, and it is highly probable, that whoever defers it till that time, will never repent at all.  If he does, his penitential resolutions, founded upon such temporary principles as the fear of death, and the absence of temptation, will seldom prove strong and vigorous enough to produce a thorough reformation.  This is plain in the case of those that recover.  Among them there are very few that are true and constant to those purposes of amendment which they formed upon the prospect of approaching death.  Therefore, make no delay in this great and necessary work.  There can be no repentance in the grave.  We are taught by the church, that ŇThe Romish doctrine concerning purgatory, pardons, and invocation of saints, is grounded upon no warranty of scripture, but rather repugnant to the word of GodÓ.  [See the 22d Article of Religion.]

         Length of time will add strength to our evil inclinations, and weaken our good resolutions.  Can the man who has cherished sin all his life in his bosom, and willfully neglected, if not abhorred, God and his means of grace, ever hope to be so thoroughly changed in a moment as effectually to hate sin, and turn unto the God of his salvation with all his heart?  Or, again, what hopes can a man entertain that he shall find time and opportunity for this necessary duty?  The little remains of life are filled up with continual distractions and afflictions, which are the necessary effects of those diseases that commonly bring us to the grave.

         VII.  To this duty of repentance we commonly find the duty of Fasting joined in scripture.  Therefore, we shall act most prudently and safely to conform to that rule.  Fasting, in a strict sense, implies a total abstinence from all meat and drink from morning to evening; and then to refresh ourselves sparingly as to the quantity, and not delicately as to the quality, of the nourishment.  But in a large sense, fasting implies an abstinence from some kind of food, especially from flesh and wine, or a deferring eating beyond the usual hours.  The primitive Christians did this on their set days till three in the afternoon, to which hour in those days their public assemblies continued.  By this mortification some self-denial is designed to our bodily appetites.  No abstinence can partake of the nature of fasting unless there be something in it that afflicts us.  Nature seems to suggest it as a proper means to express sorrow and grief, and as a fit method to dispose our minds toward the consideration of anything that is serious.  All nations from ancient times have used fasting as a part of repentance and as a means to turn away GodŐs anger, as is plain in the case of the Ninevites.  It was a notion common to them with the rest of mankind.  And although our Saviour hath left no positive precept about fasting, yet he joins it with almsgiving and prayer, which are unquestionable duties.  The directions he gave in his admirable sermon upon the mount concerning the performance of fasting sufficiently evince the necessity of the duty.  If governed by such rules as our Saviour there lays down,  fasting will be accepted by God, and openly rewarded by him, when he judges us according to our works.

         Therefore, the ancient Christians were very exact both in their weekly and yearly fasts.  Their weekly fasts were kept on Wednesday and Friday because on the one our Lord was betrayed, and on the other crucified for our sins.  But no fast may be accounted religious unless it is undertaken (a) to restrain the looser appetites of the flesh, (b) to keep the body under subjection, (c) to give the mind liberty and ability to consider and reflect while it is actually engaged in, or preparing for, divine service or some solemn part of it, (d) to humble ourselves before God under a due sense of our sins and the misery to which they expose us, (e) to turn away his anger and (f) to supplicate for his mercy and favour, (g) to express revenge against ourselves, for the abuse of those good things God allows us to enjoy, and of which we have made ourselves unworthy by sinful excesses.  Fasting is used as a piece of self-denial to better command our fleshly appetites and as a means to raise in our minds a due valuation of the happiness of the other world, when we despise the enjoyments of this world.  Above all to make fasting acceptable to God, it should be accompanied with fervent prayer and a charitable relief of the poor.  We may the better guess at their miseries when we are bearing some of the inconveniencies of hunger, always taking care to avoid all presumption, never to fast under a supposition that we merit thereby, nor in such an extreme manner as may prejudice our health and indispose us for the service of God.  The church assures us that ŇVoluntary works, over and above GodŐs commandments, which are called works of supererogation, cannot be taught without arrogancy and impiety.  For by them men do declare, that they do not only render unto God as much as they are bound to do, but that they do more for his sake, than of bounden duty is required: whereas Christ says plainly, when ye have done all that are commanded, to you, say, We are unprofitable servantsÓ. [See the 14th Article of Religion.]

 

The Second Part of the New Whole, Duty of Man;

Containing Our Duty To Our Neighbour.

 

Sunday VIII.

I.  Of the duty of subjects to their prince; and  II.  Of the prince to his subjects.  III.  Of the duty to civil magistrates; and of their duty both to the sovereign and to the people.  IV.  Of the duty of pastors, and their superior education; of the kingŐs supremacy, etc. V.  Of the duty of children to their natural parents; to reverence, to love, and to obey them in all lawful commands, and in respect of marriage; and, IV.  Of going to law with parents.  VII.  Of the duty of parents to their children; to instruct them, to put them to business, and provide for them in the best manner they are able; and, VIII.  In what cases they may disinherit them.

 

         I.  Having gone through the duties of the First Table, I shall here just remark that the ten commandments were originally delivered to Moses by God himself in two tables.  The first table containing our duty to God consists of the first four commandments. :The first three direct whom we are to worship and in what manner.  The fourth appoints a particular time for that purpose.  The second table consists of the last six commandments which contain our duty to our neighbour.  The first four commandments set forth our duty to God.  The fifth teaches us the duty we owe to our superiors among men.  The last five declare our duty to all men in general with regard to the life, property, reputation of our neighbour, or whatever else may in any way affect him.

         We may now to consider our duty to our Neighbour.  It is observable, comparatively speaking, that the importance of every duty, and the malignity of every breach of our duty stand higher in the catalogue of virtues and vices, according to their rank and priority in the ten commandments.  Thus the sins of disbelieving God and worshipping idols, condemned in the first and second precepts, are more heinous crimes than taking GodŐs name in vain, and breaking the sabbath.  The sins against heaven, prohibited in the first four commandments, are more heinous provocations than the transgressions committed against man in the last six.  Again, the duties we owe to societies, or the relative duties, are fastened upon us by stronger ties than those we owe to single persons, by reason of the extensiveness of their influence and their general good.  We must at sight allow that murder is more criminal than adultery; adultery more criminal than theft; theft more criminal than slander; and slander worse than coveting.  From this reasoning I choose to assign the first rank to the fifth commandment when treating of the duties of the Second Table.

         The order of the commandments, the dictates of nature, and the ordinance of God, have placed the parental authority at the head of the second table, as containing the primary social and Christian duties which are most prevalent upon peace and piety, and consist chiefly of the civil, spiritual, and natural parents.  Therefore, I intend, first, to treat of the relative duties between the civil parent or prince, and the people.  We are commanded to submit ourselves to every ordinance of man for the LordŐs sake, whether it be to the king as supreme, or unto governors as unto them that are sent by him.  In particular kingdoms the king is the fountain of authority from whom all power descends upon lower magistrates.  So, in the universal monarchy of the world, God is the fountain of all power and dominion, from whom all authority and right of government descend upon princes.  Therefore, sovereigns are GodŐs vicegerents and reign by his authority.  They also have a right to be honoured and reverenced by their subjects, because they bear GodŐs character and shine with the rays of his majesty.  Consequently it is an affront to GodŐs own majesty for subjects to condemn and vilify their sovereigns, to expose their faults and uncover their nakedness, and lampoon and libel their persons and actions.  Therefore, never speak evil of the ruler of thy people.

         Since sovereigns are ordained by God for the common good, to protect the innocent, to avenge the injured, and to guard the rights of their people against foreign and domestic fraud and violence, they must hereupon have an undoubted right to be aided and assisted by their subjects.  Without the peopleŐs aid it will be impossible for them to accomplish the ends of their sovereignty.  SubjectsŐ refusal to aid their sovereign with their purses or persons when legally required, or by any indirect means to withdraw themselves from his assistance, whenever his or the countryŐs real necessities call for it, detains from him a just right that is owing to his character.  For this cause you also pay tribute, for they are GodŐs ministers attending continually upon this very thing.  Therefore, to all render their dues: tribute to whom tribute is due, custom to whom custom, fear to whom fear, honour to whom honour.  To this the apostle subjoins the tribute of your prayers: I exhort therefore, that first of all supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks, be made for all men; for kings, and for all that are in authority: that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and honesty.  For this is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Saviour.

         Moreover, they have a right to be obeyed in all things wherein they do not interfere with the commands of God.  In obeying them we obey God who commands by their mouths and wills, by their laws and proclamations.  He who refuses to obey the inferior magistrateŐs command, doth in so doing disobey the king himself unless he commands the contrary.  He who disobeys his sovereign, who is GodŐs magistrate, doth in so doing disobey God, unless it be where God hath commanded him to the contrary.  While he commands lawful things, he hath a right to be obeyed, because his commands are stamped with divine authority, and are thereby rendered sacred, never to be violated.

         II.  These are duties we owe to our sovereign; and there are others which sovereigns owe to their subjects.  Sovereign power has been ordained by God for a public good, to guard and defend the innocent, to shelter and relieve the oppressed, to fence and propagate true religion, to adjust and balance private rights and interests.  Every subject hath a right to be protected thereby, so far as can be, in his person and legal rights, in his just liberties and privileges, and sincere profession of the true religion.  That sovereign who doth not employ his power to these purposes, but through willful and affected error or ignorance imposes a false religion on his people, or betrays, oppresses, or enslaves them himself, or permits others so to do either out of malice or carelessness, is an injurious invader of the rights and properties of his people, and shall one day answer for it at the tribunal of God who is the king of kings.

         III.  In like manner there is a relation of judges and justices, governors of towns, cities, and provinces, and other inferior magistrates.  By virtue of that authority which is stamped upon them, they have a right to be honoured, reverenced, and obeyed by the people, according to the degree and extent of their authority and power,  Wherever it is placed, authority is a sacred thing, as being a ray and image of the divine majesty, and as such may justly claim honour and reverence from all men.  Whoever condemns the lowest degree of authority offers an affront to the highest.  He that resisteth the power resisteth the ordinance of God.  Whoever condemns the inferior magistrates, who are vested with the kingŐs authority, doth therein condemn the king.  We are not to evade our obedience under any pretense of the unworthiness or personal faults and defects of the magistrates in commission.  We ought to consider that their authority is a sacred thing, and as such, challenges our reverence and obedience by a right that cannot be dispensed with.  Therefore, for men to behave themselves frowardly, stubbornly, or irreverently, toward a lawful magistrate is to detain from him his due, and offer an unjust affront to his character.  Consequently, let a man be ever so good in other instances, such a rebellious behaviour will bespeak him highly dishonest and injurious in the sight of God.

         As we have seen the relation of inferior magistrates entitles them to the peopleŐs reverence and obedience, so the relation which the prince and people bear to them entitles magistrates also to their fidelity, vigilance, and justice.  Inferior magistrates are the kingŐs trustees for himself and his people.  In their hands he deposits the honour, security, and rights of his own crown and dominion, together with the safeguard and protection of the just and legal rights of his people.  Therefore, upon their acceptance of his trust, by which they engage themselves faithfully to discharge it, the king acquires a right to their faithful and vigilant care to see that (a) his authority be reverenced, (b) his laws obeyed, (c) his person, government, and properties secured.  The people acquire a right to be protected by them in their persons, reputations, liberties, and estates.  They should command without insulting, reprove with meekness, punish unwillingly, and never without manifest tokens of tenderness and compassion.

         Consequently, so far as they are willfully failing, either toward the king or the people, in any of these matters, they do unjustly detain the rights of the king or the people, or both.  They betray the trust committed to them, falsify their own engagements, and under the mask of authority are public robbers of mankind, and may and ought to be punished as such by those laws they have violated.

         IV.  A second distinguished branch of the parental authority, where the duties are mutual and reciprocal, is that of spiritual parents, or pastors and people.  These spiritual parents discharge the like good offices to our souls, which our natural parents do to our bodies.  Therefore, we proceed to inquire into the duty of the people to their ministers.  The Christians of the first ages always expressed a great value and esteem for their clergy.  They were sensible there could be no church without priests, and that it was by their means God conveyed to them all those mighty blessings which were purchased by the death of Christ.  Upon this account also should be founded our love of them.  We are taught by the apostle, who said to the Thessalonians, And we beseech you, brethren, to know them which labour among you; and are over you in the Lord, and admonish you; to esteem them very highly in love for their workŐs sake.  If then we are taught to honour and esteem our spiritual governors, pastors, or ministers, for their workŐs sake, we must treat them with respect.  We must consider them as those that bear the great character of ambassadors from Christ, as St. Paul calls them, and as instruments of conveying to us the great blessings we are capable of receiving, because they relate to our eternal salvation.  Consequently, we must regard them as commissioned by him to that holy function.  The authority they have received to preside over Christians, as governors of the church, must always be owned to come from God.  This religious regard to their divine mission must be expressed in the whole course of our conduct toward their persons.  We respect and reverence them by our words and actions, (a) expressing all the honour and esteem we have for their character, (b) treating their persons with great civility in conversation, (c) speaking all the good we can of them in their absence, and (d) throwing a veil over their infirmities.  We must never make them the objects of our light mirth, nor proclaim their failings in order to reproach their persons, because it may tend to debase their ministry.  We must not use any scurrilous words, or contemptuous behaviour toward them, because the disrespect cast upon them is an affront to their Master whose person they represent, according to what our Saviour told his disciples when he sent them out to preach the gospel, He that despiseth you, despiseth me; and he that despiseth me, despiseth him that sent me.

         Nor did people of ancient times rest in this outward behaviour.  They gave proof of a sincere and hearty love and esteem for their persons by maintaining [See Sunday ii. Sec. ii.] them liberally out of their shipwrecked fortunes, and cheerfully submitting to the severe discipline enjoined by them.  They did this also from a sense of that authority ministers have received from Christ, the great bishop of souls, and in pursuance of those precepts which our Saviour and St. Paul have left us for that purpose.  So we must obey our spiritual governors in what they declare to us out of scripture to be GodŐs commands, either by public preaching or private exhortations.  They are the messengers of the Lord of hosts, so long as their doctrines are agreeable to the word of God.  Likewise we must submit to that discipline they shall inflict, either to recover us from a state of folly, or to preserve us from falling into such a state.  We obey from a pure sense (a) of that right they have to command, entrusted to them by our Saviour, and (b) of that great penalty we are liable to by our contempt.  He that despiseth them, despiseth him that sent them.  We are accordingly charged to obey them that have the rule over us, and to submit ourselves.  They watch for our souls as they that must give an account.  We may be unable to do them any substantial service.  Yet it is in the power of the meanest of us all to pray for, or to address heaven in their behalf, (a) that they may be defended from the malice and ill will of bad men; (b) that they may have the countenance and protection of the great and powerful; (c) that their zealous labours in GodŐs vineyard may be attended with success; (d) and that they may turn many to righteousness according to the gospel of Christ.

         It is no diminution to greatness of birth, or any personal excellency, to be devoted to the ministration of GodŐs holy word and sacraments.  We speak here particularly of the Christian priesthood.  Priests are called (a) the ministers of Christ, (b) stewards of the mysteries of God, to whom he hath committed the word of reconciliation, (c) the glory of Christ, (d) ambassadors for Christ, in ChristŐs stead, (e) coworkers with him, (f) angels of the churches.  Because they act by commission from him, they are his officers and immediate attendants, and in a particular manner the servants of his house.  They are employed in his peculiar business, empowered and authorized to negotiate and transact for God, in all the outward administrations of the covenant of grace, or of reconciliation between God and man, by commission from Jesus Christ.

         Thus under the gospel they are instituted (a) to dispense spiritual food for the nourishment of Christians, (b) to feed them with GodŐs holy word and sacraments, (c) to speak the hidden wisdom that God ordained before the world, which is committed to their care to be preserved entire from being maimed or perverted, as the sacraments are to be rightly and duly administered to his people.  For which end and purpose priests were ordained by Christ himself, the great shepherd and bishop of our souls.  Christ did not glorify himself to be a high priest, but had his commission from God the Father.  After his resurrection he invested his apostles with the same commission his Father had given him before.  That commission evidently contains an authority of ordaining others, and a power of transferring that commission to others so long as the world endures.  Therefore, without his express commission no man ought to take upon himself, or communicate to others, a power to sign and seal covenants in the name of Christ.

         The apostles and their successors exercised this commission in all places, and even in opposition to the rulers that then were.  The church subsisted as a distinct society from the state till the fourth century.  A man may have exceeding good parts, and a great talent in speaking.  He may have likewise attained a considerable skill in the scriptures and other sorts of learning.  He may have all the other qualifications which are needful to make him a very useful minister of the church.  Still this alone, without a lawful call, doth not empower him to take that upon him.  If a man do not come in this way, he is not a lawful shepherd, but an intruder into ChristŐs flock, whatever natural or acquired abilities he may have to fit him for the employment.  Great purity of life is required of those that are invested with such an honorable character, whereby they may in some measure be qualified to administer in holy things, and by their example guide those they instruct by their doctrine, which is of Christ.  It is an argument of a profane temper to contemn those who are commissioned by God himself to that sacred office.

         Though they may be inferior to others in some human accomplishments, yet God hath promised particularly to assist them in the faithful discharge of their holy office.  He has blessed them with many personal qualifications to challenge our esteem and respect.  As long as (a) piety and virtue, learning and knowledge, have any credit and reputation in the world, and (b) men are concerned that others should be formed to the same valuable principles, that (c) their minds should be cultivated, and their manners regulated, then so long the clergy will have a good title to the honour and esteem of all those that are truly wise and good.  The method of their very education gives them great advantages for their improvement in all sorts of necessary and polite learning and raises them above the level of those with whom they are equal in other circumstances.  Because their constant studies are piety and religion, they live under more lively and stronger impressions of the other world than the rest of mankind.  The nobility and gentry of this kingdom are beholden to their care because those impressions of piety and knowledge are stamped upon their education, and diffused into their families.  Even in the most ignorant ages, what learning flourished was in their body, and by their care was conveyed down to us.  They have been in the most dissolute times the greatest examples of piety, and we have yet remaining many eminent monuments of their magnificent as well as useful charities.

         If it happens that the ministers of God act unsuitably to the dignity of their character, yet we must not contemn them.  Their character should certainly defend them from contempt, and the relation they have to God should secure them from ill treatment.  There is an inherent holiness whereby menŐs actions and affections are in some measure conformable to the laws of God, in which sense good men in all ages were esteemed holy.  So there is a relative holiness which consists in some peculiar relation to GodŐs service and which may be ascribed to things, times, places, and persons.  The tribe of Levi was called the holy tribe.  Those that are dedicated to the service of Christ under the gospel are called ChristŐs ministers.  They did not always walk before God in purity and piety or turn many from iniquity.  Too often they have gone out of the way, and caused many to stumble at the law.  They had a particular relation to God in the performance of that worship, which was then paid to him by his appointment.

         Many ministers are obnoxious for their wicked lives.  What then?  Does their wickedness void the ordinances of God?  No.  As the church teacheth, ŇAlthough in the visible church the evil be ever mingled with the good, and sometimes the evil have chief authority in the ministration of the word and sacraments; yet forasmuch as they do not the same in their own name, but in ChristŐs, and do minister by his commission and authority, we may use their ministry, both in hearing the word of God, and in the receiving of the sacraments.  Neither is the effect of ChristŐs ordinance taken away by their wickedness, nor the grace of GodŐs gifts diminished from such as by faith and rightly do receive the sacraments ministered unto them; which be effectual, because of ChristŐs institution and promise, although they be ministered by evil menÓ. [See the 26th Article of Religion.]  And this we may compare to a pardon passed by an immoral king, or a sentence pronounced by a wicked judge.  These are always looked upon as valid to all intents and purposes.  Their efficacy does not depend upon the qualification of those in commission.  It depends upon the sovereign authority whence they both receive their commission to do so.  Likewise, the advantages we receive by their ministrations, and the relation they have to God, should still preserve some respect for the persons even of bad ministers.  Therefore, as ministers are clothed with flesh and blood like other men, we ought not to be prejudiced against religion.  Some few are overcome by the follies and infirmities common to mankind.

         Thorough information of their scandalous lives leads to a better demonstration of Christian zeal by making proof of it before their lawful superiors.  Being found guilty, they may by just judgment be deposed.  This is better than, either by your words or actions, affronting or condemning them ourselves, or provoking others to do so.  Despising the persons and exposing the conduct of our pastors diminishes that credit and effect which their spiritual administrations ought to have upon the minds of men, and makes them less capable of doing that good which their profession obliges them to attempt.  As much as we lower the opinion of their piety and integrity, so much we lessen their power in promoting the interest of religion, whose fate very much depends upon the reputation of those who feed and govern the flock of Christ.  The enemies of religion, being very sensible of this, omit no opportunity of exposing their persons and representing their sacred function only as a trade whereby they procure an advantageous subsistence.  This is a mean insinuation and may be easily confuted by these considerations.  Is it not fit that they, who quit all other methods of procuring subsistence, should live of that gospel they preach? and though men may be swayed by interest, yet the truth and falsehood of things nowise depend upon it; and the measures of judging concerning them are quite of another sort.  Nothing but sufficient evidence should convince an impartial man concerning the truth of what is asserted.  They who make it their business to search into these matters should be best acquainted with the grounds of conviction and manner of settling such points.  Our value for the laws of the land and the art of physic is not diminished by the great advantages those make who follow the profession of either of them.

         From all these duties which we owe to the ministers of GodŐs holy word and sacraments, we learn that the contempt of the clergy generally proceeds from a contempt of religion, or, when it takes its rise from a more innocent cause, is very apt to lead to it.  A due regard to religion can never be maintained without a proportionable respect to the ministers of that religion.  It may pass for a current maxim among some that priests of all religions are the same.  Yet they of all religions who condemn the priesthood will be found the same both as to their principles and practices Đ skeptical in the one, and dissolute in the other.

         One proper method to increase our reward in the next world is to do all good offices to those that are dedicated to the service of the altar.  He that encourages and enables a prophet for his duty hath his interest in his work and, consequently, in the reward that belongs thereto.  Such as receive a prophet out of respect to his function shall receive a prophetŐs reward.  Our zeal to defend the right of the sacred order ought the more frequently to exert itself by how much more the faithful discharge of their function exposes them to the ill will and malice of wicked and unreasonable persons.  There is no better way to maintain the peace of the church and edify the body of Christ than by preserving a great respect for our spiritual governors, and by submitting to their lawful commands.

         Now, if what I have here said makes any impression upon menŐs minds, as it will most certainly, if calmly and seriously considered, it will startle the boldest sinner to find that in condemning this order of men he affronts his Maker.  In despising the ministers of the gospel, he despiseth him that sent them.

         God, knowing the hearts of men long before, did in his infinite wisdom invest another order or degree of men with a power to punish the evildoer, and for the praise of them that do well.  This order is known as the sovereign magistracy, whose supremacy consists in ruling all estates and degrees committed to their charge by God, whether they be ecclesiastical or temporal.  They are to exercise their civil power in ecclesiastical causes as well as over ecclesiastical persons, and in restraining with the civil sword the stubborn and evildoers.  Wherefore, all persons in their dominions, spiritual as well as temporal, are subject to their authority.  When men become ministers in the church, they do not cease to be subjects of the state to which they belong.  Every soul must be subject to the higher powers, which includes an apostle, an evangelist, or a prophet, as well as a tradesman, a gentleman, &c.  Thus the church declares that ŇThe kingŐs majesty hath the chief power in this realm of England, and other his dominions, unto whom the chief government of all states of this realm, whether they be ecclesiastical or civil, in all causes doth appertainÓ. [See the 37th Article of Religion.]  By virtue of the supremacy, the ministering of GodŐs word or of the sacraments is not given to princes.  They are not invested with, nor have a sovereign disposal of, the power of orders.  The power of the magistrate, when most full and absolute, does not extend either for themselves to use, or to communicate to others, those spiritual powers which Christ left only to his apostles and their successors in the church.  It would be therefore the greatest piece of presumption imaginable to pretend to sign and seal covenants in GodŐs name without receiving any power and authority from him for that purpose.  It would also be the highest insult to GodŐs power for ministers to plead that their attendance at the altar is an exemption from the cognizance of the civil powers.

 

Sunday  VIII.  Part  II.

         V.  A third great branch of the paternal authority relates to the mutual desires of natural parents and their children.  We are commanded to honour our father and mother; that is, to love, to reverence, to obey, to succour, and to support them.  Children must show respect to their parents, and must pay them external honour and civility.  As love comprises all kinds of honour, so it is an offence against natural decency to see children bear themselves at cross angles their parents, to answer them rudely, or to be wanting in respect in looks or gesture, in words or in deeds.  Hearken, says Solomon unto thy father that begot thee, and despise not thy mother when she is old.  Let such as neglect the practice of these and similar exhortations dread the threatening of this wise man.  He also declares that the eye that mocketh at his father and despiseth to obey his mother, the ravens of the valley shall pick it out, and the young eagles shall eat it.  Parents, through fondness or want of judgment, might take off the restraint and remove the bar that kept their children at a due distance.  Subsequently they often have reason to repent thereof.  If no misconduct ensue, it is not owing to their discretion, but to the grace of God working early in the childrenŐs hearts.  Cocker thy child, says the author of Ecclesiasticus, and he shall make thee afraid; play with him, and he shall bring thee to heaviness: bow down his neck while he is young, lest he be disobedient unto thee, and so bring sorrow to thine heart.  Children must not pry into the infirmities and failings of their parents, but conceal them.  It is partly in the parents power that children may discharge this part of their duty better.  They should be greatly careful not to misbehave in the sight of their children, nor set them bad examples.  Respect is founded upon some supposed excellence, worth, and superiority.  When parents admit their children to an equality, and make them privy to their indiscretions, follies, and miscarriages, they invite contempt.

         We show love to our parents when we take such courses as will increase our mutual affection, and decline all things that may lessen the same.  Love must be expressed by our endeavours to do them all the good in our power, abhorring whatever may seem to grieve or in any wise trouble them, and praying for them.  It is so natural and reasonable to love our parents, that few will admit the lack of it, even when they know they do not love them.  This love and affection will appear to be founded on the principles of common gratitude.  Parental love is constantly exerting itself in all the beneficial acts it can invent: it (a) supplies all the wants of helpless infancy, (b) secures from all the hazards of heedless childhood and unthinking youth, (c) shapes the body, preserving it straight and upright, (d) keeps the limbs in order, fitting them for their natural uses, (e) and bears with many troubles and hardships.  Though these matters appear so slight and are seldom thought upon, yet the miseries that arise where this love is abated are not inconsiderable.  Some of them have an influence on us as long as we live.  This affection (a) informs the mind and (b) regulates the manners, (c) trains up the reason, (d) exercises the memory, (f) instructs them to argue and understand their little affairs, and (g) educates and fits them for greater matters.  This brings them first to God in baptism, and keeps them after in the ways of religion (a) by instilling into them virtuous principles, (b) by reminding them of their several duties, (c) by encouraging them in good with favours and rewards, (d) by improving and correcting them when evil, (e) and by deterring them from vice.  These are the ways parents take to make their children happy; not to mention those endless and innumerable labours and troubles that confine their whole life, to make them happy with the good things of this world.  Therefore, if benefits can be the foundation of love in children, they must love their parents, who bestow so many upon them.  But supposing the parents endeavours after happiness should not succeed to their wishes, as very often they will not.  If there is no want of love, the obligation is the same on the child.  Therefore, how can we account for the wickedness of those children who dare curse their parents either openly or in their heart?  They who curse them to their face, should dread the sentence of the Lord, who says, He that curseth father or mother, let him die the death.  And whoever wishes the death of their parents, through impatience of their government, or covetous desires of their possessions, should dread to meet with an untimely death from an all-seeing God, as a punishment of so heinous a crime.

         The next duty that children owe to their parents is obedience.  Children, obey your parents in the Lord; for this is right and well pleasing unto the Lord.  This is a certain principle: while children lack understanding to direct their choice and will, they should have no will but that of their parents.  They should therefore obey till arrived at a more sound judgment.  Parents must be allowed to discern what is most proper for their children.  Though they be now and then mistaken, yet it is always safest to follow their commands and instructions whose main end and purpose is to do them good.  Nothing can be plainer than that parents love their children dearly and without design, and are older, wiser, more experienced, and therefore the fittest to command, and to be obeyed by their children.  For this reason God, to show us how fit it is to obey our parents, calls himself our Father, and from that relation calls for our obedience likewise.  Let then stubborn, headstrong children consider the ties they have to be obedient to their parents, and they will find both pleasure and security in being obedient.  The approbation of all, and the blessing of God goes along with obedience.  Nothing but trouble of mind, sorrow, shame, infamy, and the displeasure of almighty God attend disobedience to parentsŐ good and wholesome commands.

         But if the command of a parent is to do evil, or requires his child to lie, or steal, or to do any other act, by which the laws of God are broken, a child must prefer his duty to God.  We must obey God rather than man.  The commands of parents must not cause them to do what God our heavenly Father forbids, or to neglect what he commands.  The authority of God is first and greatest.  Nothing is to stand in competition with it.   Even in this case the commands of God must be plain and evident, not a doubtful or disputed thing.  Likewise, we are not to obey our parents when they command things contrary to the laws of the land.  The public good is to be preferred to private inclinations.  Even when we disobey, we must do it with great modesty and tenderness, not with upbraidings and reproaches, not with high and scornful refusals, but by declining and avoiding such commands, with all the gentle arts and methods of submission possible.  Even in a righteous cause, the language of children must be humble to their parents.

         As our obedience to parents is to cease where the authority of God or the government has laid a prohibition, so it is not required where the thing under command carries an invincible antipathy to our inclinations.  The common instance of this kind is in the state of marriage, a state and condition upon which the happiness or misery of life depends.  Marriage cannot be entered into with any hopes of felicity without a real affection on the one side, and a good assurance of it on the other.  A parent who overlooks all this might enjoin a child to marry upon mere motives of advantage, where there is no foundation of love, no prospect of content.  Such instances are not to be complied with.  Parents, indeed, are supposed to have a great hand in this affair.  The examples in scripture, as well as the laws of most nations, favour their direction in this case.  Therefore, they are (a) to take all due care to see their children well disposed of, according to their age, quality, and tempers, and (b) not let the prospect of fortune and estate overweigh all other considerations of form and favour, birth and education, virtue and good qualities.  When parents have done this, the children are to obey as far as possibly they can, and give up the little objections of fancy to the more mature deliberations of their parents.  Under the law the maid that had made a vow was not suffered to perform it without the consent of the parent.  It is expressly said that they shall honour and obey their parents.  Reconciling marriage against consent with honour toward parents is futile.  So is marrying against command with obeying parents when there is a just reason for the parentsŐ refusal.  When, on the contrary, parents offer to their children what they cannot possibly like, and what all considerate people cannot but disapprove, children may undoubtedly refuse.  If their refusal be made with decency and humility, it will not fall under the head of sinful disobedience.  If, the son would marry against the consent of the parent, or the father obtrude a match on the son, the plain resolution is in each case: the father and son have severally a negative.  Notwithstanding parents have a great authority, yet they may abuse it.  Then they are capable of doing injury to their children who are to be subject to their parents, but not slaves to parentsŐ passions.

         VI.  He that suffers wrong may also be righted.  The laws of God do not forbid this.  The laws of the land are free and impartial.  They make no difference of persons and know no relation,  Justice is, in this respect, to be blind.  A son or daughter may, without offence of GodŐs laws, appeal to the laws of the land against their parents in some cases, as for matters of contract, estate, inheritance, or money, when the child cannot live without it.  But for a light injury or a thing easy to be born, a child should not implead his parent.  The hardship must be near intolerable, the injustice great and pressing, when a manŐs conscience can permit him to go to law with his parent.  It should therefore be plain that the parent is much in the wrong, violating the laws of nature, and putting off the parental love and tenderness, before a child should seek for justice.  Nevertheless, this duty is somewhat altered in the case of mothers when they hasten to second marriages prejudicial to the children of the former husband.  The reason of going to law with them will appear more urgent than with fathers, or with mothers continuing in the state of widowhood.  They have translated their affection and interest to another family, and most of the comforts arising from such contested money go to strangers, to whom the children have no obligation of parental duty.  When a new affection intervenes, then the prospect is disturbed, and the new wife is supposed to make herself acceptable to her new choice by carrying with her all the advantages of fortune she can get.  In such cases she often forgets her children and former love.  In this case, when the reason is manifest and the occasion just, the suit may be commenced, but must be managed with all imaginable care and tenderness.

         Another instance of duty, which children owe their parents, is to minister to all their wants under the infirmities of body, the decay of understanding, and the poverty of their condition.  Supporting is a scripture-notion of honouring.  St. Paul distinguishes this duty of succoring parents under their necessities by the name of piety.  Let children or nephews first learn to show piety at home, and to requite their parents.  The refusal to provide for those of his own house is loaded with heavy guilt.  He hath denied the faith and is worse than an infidel.  The wicked Jews indeed made the word of God of none effect by their vows and traditions, and cancelling this duty.  On the contrary, God will cause dutiful behaviour to parents to recommend us to the good opinion of others.  Nothing makes men more acceptable to others than such obedient behaviour.  It is an ornament of a rich and noble child.  It is the best recommendation of the poor to favour, pity, and relief, to be known that they are helpful to their distressed parents.  The author of Ecclesiasticus, exhorting to be helpful to parents, tells the children they shall find their account in so doing: My son, help thy father in his age, and grieve him not as long as he liveth; if his understanding fail, have patience with him, and despise him not, when thou art in thy full strength: for the relieving of thy father shall not be forgotten, and instead of sins, it shall be added to build thee up; in the day of affliction it shall be remembered.  This ought to be a daily remembrance to those children who deny relief to their distressed parents and will not part with their own excesses and superfluities, which are indeed their sins, to relieve the necessities of those to whom they owe their very being.  Worse, in the midst of pride, they scorn to own their parents in their poverty.  This is such pride and unnaturalness as God will never let go unpunished.  No unkindness nor fault of a parent can discharge the child of this duty which God has commanded.

         VII.  Hence it is easy to understand that there is a duty also incumbent upon the parent to the child.  This duty is taught by nature and enforced by the strongest terms in the gospel.  It begins the moment the child is born, and never can be dispensed with so long as it lives, and is not lacking in its duty to its parents.  We see in the natural care of the very brutes for their young that the slothful, overnice, or unnatural mother must read her own conviction, neglecting or disdaining to nurse her own child when able.  The God of nature ordained that creature, who is blessed with a living offspring, to give the same its first nourishment.  Thus much nature demands on the very first appearance of the child.

         The newborn babe is full of the stain and pollution of sin which it inherits from our first parents through our loins (for man is conceived and born in sin, and before his age is a day long he is full of corruption).  Parents should, therefore, be diligent in bringing their children to baptism which was ordained by Christ (a) to wash away our original corruption, (b) to make us members of the church of Christ, (c) to give us a right to the adoption of the children of God, and to the reversion of the kingdom of heaven.  Whoever neglects this part of their duty are surely guilty of a great misdemeanor, and contempt of ChristŐs holy institution.

         As soon as the child can begin to learn, the parent must also begin to train him up in the way he should walk through every stage of his succeeding life.  Children have souls as well as adults.  They soon discover their capacity of reasoning and can learn the things of God and religion.  The great God therefore expects that little children should be taught to know and love and worship him.  He hath not bestowed their early powers in vain.  The child in baptism has promised to renounce the devil and all his works, to believe in God, and to serve him.  It is the parentsŐ duty to teach him, so soon as he shall be able to learn, what he has promised in that sacrament by his sureties: (a) to carry him to hear sermons, (b) to furnish him with an early knowledge of the Christian belief, LordŐs prayer, and ten commandments, and all other things which a Christian ought to know and believe to his soulŐs health; and (c) that he be Christianly and virtuously brought up to lead a godly and Christian life.  All those whom God shall esteem capable of duty and sinning must be answerable for their own personal conduct.  Only God knows how early he will begin to require this account.  Parents are entrusted with the care of their children in their younger years to furnish their minds with the seeds of virtue and happiness, as well as to provide for their bodies food and raiment.  Must the parent give him the best instructions he can in the affairs of this perishing life, and refuse and neglect it in things of everlasting moment and divine importance?  Is it not better that children should know and serve God, because their parents teach them to do it, than that they should be ignorant of God, and live in a stupid neglect of him and his service?  Can a religious parent satisfy himself with this philosophical pretense of not biasing the judgment of his children, and let them go on and die before they arrive at manhood, in a state of shameful ignorance and rebellion against their Maker?  Are children entrusted to the affection and care of parents by the God of nature for so deplorable an end as this?  Will the life and soul of the child never be required at the parentŐs hand?

         Surely, if parents had merely that just share of tenderness and affection for their children that nature requires, or the scripture enjoins; if they did but look upon them as little parts of themselves, they could not forbear to acquaint them with the things that belong to their everlasting welfare.  Many other arguments may accrue from experience and observation, to convince parents that it is their duty (a) to bring their children up in the Christian religion, (b) to teach them what they are to believe and practice, (c) to instruct them in the knowledge of God and of Jesus Christ, (d) to show them (1) in what condition they are by nature, (2) to what they are advanced by grace, and (3) to how much misery their being descended from so corrupt an original had reduced them, and (4) how their actual sins endangered them by exposing them to GodŐs wrath, and (5) what deliverance from them was wrought by Christ our Lord.  Where this is missing, neither wisdom, riches, nor honours, can make them happy.  Without this they will, with all the rest, be miserable.  Therefore, if parents would have children honour them and behave obediently, they must bring them up in the fear and nurture of the Lord.  They must furnish them with arguments both against error and vice.  They must teach them the Christian law, where they will see their duty and find such lessons of instruction, such encouragements and promises of rewards, as will secure their honour and respect, their service and obedience.  The way to educate children rightly is to teach them early to deny themselves the gratification of those irregular appetites which nature has implanted.  Self-will and an inclination to things forbidden, merely because they are forbidden, are revealed even in our infancy.  Vice is the natural product of the soil.  The more uncultivated the mind is, the more it is overrun with vice.  But virtue is the slow laborious result of repeated self-denials, hardships, and difficulties.  If parents take no care to inform their children of the duty they owe to God, they will quickly find that children will pay very little duty to their parents.  They will read their own crime of shameful negligence toward God in the rebellion of their offspring against themselves.  If care be taken to catechize them, they will in all probability prove the good ground that is spoken of by our Saviour.  When they come to years to choose for themselves, there is little doubt but they will voluntarily and heartily espouse the religion of Jesus Christ, and will find all the reason in the world to do so.  Therefore, if it pleases God to bless you with children, begin very early to instill into their tender minds the principles of virtue and religion.  Teach them to remember their Creator in the days of their youth, and bring them up in the fear and admonition of the Lord.  Set before them the example of a holy and religious life.  Endeavour to wean them from the pride and vanity of the world, and from those hurtful lusts and passions which tend only to make them miserable both here and hereafter.  Instruct them in that knowledge which is useful and profitable, which will give them a right understanding of themselves and of their duty, and make them wise unto salvation.  If no care be taken of them, and the weeds of vice be suffered first to possess the soil; that is, if their passions, and lust, and pride, and sensuality, and love of the world have once taken up their hearts, it is very doubtful whether they will afterward be fit for the kingdom of God.  It is very doubtful whether they will ever be prepared and disposed for eternal life.  It can only be an extraordinary providence of God that must make them so.

         Parents must take special care never, as is the manner of too many, to set their child a bad example.  While a child sees his parents give themselves up to drunkenness, swearing, or any other notorious breach of GodŐs commands, the child will too nearly copy after the parentŐs example and think himself ill-used if the parent shall curb or correct him for his misdemeanors.

         It is no less the parentsŐ duty, when they see their children falling into evil courses, to reclaim them and prevent their misery.  Though it anger them, they must not let their duty give place to the childŐs passion.  They must only regard what in likelihood will follow, and that is amendment, and not how it will be relished by their children.  Parents are forbid to provoke their children to wrath, yet to use restraint, reproof, and correction in reason.  Though it provoke them to anger and impatience, evil is not to be forborn by parents.  The laws of God and man have left the children to their parents.  Those laws will not punish parents for doing to their children what would be punishable if done to strangers.  Yet parents may not do anything truly injurious to children.  Nature gives them power to do them all the good they can, and only allows them the liberty of afflicting them for a time in order to their amendment.  Where the parentŐs conscience tells him that the affliction he is laying upon his child is not likely to do him good, it tells him he has no authority to do it, and that he is without natural affection.  Therefore, the parent must take care that he mistake not the silence of GodŐs word, and the liberty that human laws leave to parents in the management of their children.  He must not mistake these for the power and authority that nature gives him.  He may be unnatural to his children, (a) though GodŐs word prescribes him no rule how far he may proceed, and (b) though human laws will allow what he does, and (c) though his own temper incline him to inhuman courses.  A parent may be unnatural for all these, and will be punished by our common parent for cruel usage, which breaks the spirits so that they have no heart to set about anything.  When children perceive that all they say or do is ill taken, they have no courage to go on.  When they perceive their endeavours fruitless, when they do all they can to win the affections of parents and find them still morose and intractable, it is natural that they should be disconsolate and give up all endeavours for the time to come.  Such is the consequence of a severe and rugged treatment.  But it seldom stops here.  It produces a slavish and disingenuous fear of their parents, and such a fear puts children upon mean shifts to make their peace, or to avoid their sight.  They are never easy but at a distance.  They cannot please with truth and, therefore, try how they can succeed with falsehoods.  Love and kindness beget love.  So nothing is more likely to beget hatred than constant ill usage, the real fruit of hatred and ill will.  We can easily discern a difference between a sudden transient anger, and a settled disposition to severity.  When anger becomes habitual, and parents are not provoked, but always upbraid and punish, then it is natural for the children to despair of pleasing them, and to conclude they are the objects of their hatred and aversion.  This will naturally beget a coldness, mean thoughts, evil suspicions, disregard to their commands, and such an aversion as will quickly end in downright hatred and contempt.  Moreover, it is a point of the greatest folly for either father or mother, as it too often is the case, to support the children in contempt and disrespect to the other.  This ought never to be attempted.  It is indiscreet and unjust.  Neither parent has authority to absolve the children of their duty to the other parent.  It may be that one of them is of evil fame or bad example.  Yet that does not excuse the childŐs duty or respect, who must honour them when they cannot be loved, obeyed, or imitated by their children.  Honouring parents is always in childrenŐs power.  Consequently, though the case may be so hard that children shall not be able to pay obedience to the several or opposite commands of their parents; yet it can never happen so that they shall not always be able to pay respect to them both.  Of this they must never fail.  Neither parent can be injured by our courteous behaviour.  If one parent should be so unreasonable as to require the child to affront the other, the child would be safe in a respectful refusal.  No parent has a right to take away anotherŐs right, and each of them has an equal right to the respect of their children.  It must indeed be paid to both by all children.  It is a most wicked thing for either parent to command or encourage any undutiful behaviour of the children to the other parent upon any account whatsoever.

         If any parent who calls himself a Christian neglects to make to provision for his own children according to his understanding and abilities, he is really a bad man.  He denies the faith.  He withdraws himself from the obedience he owes to ChristŐs commands which enjoin all parents to provide for their children.  Especially when there is a necessity of sending them abroad from under the parentsŐ own wing, parents must make such provision for them, and dispose them into such circumstances of living, that they may both know how to spend their time innocently and usefully, and withal be obnoxious to as few dangers and temptations as their condition will admit.  He is so much worse than an infidel by how much he is more obliged than unbelievers are to make such provision for their children.  To determine the proportion of provision parents are to make for children, it will be necessary to have respect to their age, capacity, and condition.  Their age must he considered because their is a time when children are so helpless that all they want must be provided for them, and it can lie on nobody so well as parents.  Provision includes everything that children stand in need of.  As they grow in years, their condition, capacity, and abilities of body and mind, are to come into consideration, which call upon the  parent to inure them to labour and diligence.

         Parents are obliged not only to provide for their children money, lands, and houses.  They must also provide them with abilities of body and mind to preserve and use the benefits they intend to bestow upon them.  They must accustom them while young to application and attention to business, things necessary to poor, and rich.  Without them the rich will quickly become poor, and the poor will never become rich.  The poor can never discharge the duty of parents well to their children without inuring them to labour and hardship.  That is the provision they are only capable of making for them, and that is their obligation.  At first it seems doing them no harm to let them continue lazy and idle.  Many poor people are extremely guilty of this way of education, imagining it a piece of kindness to their children to bring them up in such an idle life that, when they should be able to provide for themselves by honest industry, they must rather beg their bread than labour for it.  This is a mistake not only mischievous to the commonwealth, but of pernicious consequence to their children.  Though it please them for the present, yet it entails perpetual misery, and often untimely death, by engaging them in wicked courses, the ready road to ruin.  Bringing them up to labour keeps them at least in a mean sufficiency, if not in plenty, and puts them into a capacity of rubbing through many difficulties and bettering their condition, of life, as Providence shall direct.

         The richer and better sort of people should never educate their children above the provision they are able to make for them.  Whatever provision they propose to make for them, they ought to inure them to as much diligence and industry, attention and application, as they are able to bear.  Every one may be serviceable to God and his country, some in one way, and some in another.  Therefore, here lies the great duty of those who have the care of youth, to place them in such circumstances as best agree with their natural temper and talents.  It is a ridiculous thing to train up him to learning who hath an aversion for a book, or to put him to trade or an active life that is made for study and retirement.  The genius, disposition, and capacity of every one is principally to be attended to and the education to be suited to them.  Then a calling is to be chosen which suits with both.  No worldly considerations ought to divert us from this proceeding.  The kindness parents express in heaping together vast estates for their children will not be so truly beneficial to them, unless they take care about their education to be diligent and industrious, to close application and attention to what they are to be employed in.  The best provision for children will sustain them in all conditions.  It will help them (a) to rise from meanness to sufficiency, (b) to improve a good estate to a better, and (c) to prevent a fall, or (d) to bear it well, and (e) to recover what has been lost.  To be well employed and full of honest business is a much greater security, inasmuch as it is better to be deaf to his call than to parley with the devil when he is trying to draw us from our duty.  He that does nothing will quickly learn to do evil.  Idleness is the mother of all mischief.  The richest parents living are guilty of a notorious fault in dealing too tenderly with their children, however well provided they leave them.  It is great cruelty in parents that are able to leave them little or nothing to leave them pride, laziness, and incapacity both of body and mind to do themselves any service.  Such effects are so remarkably bad, that it is a wonder men should need any caution to prevent it.  Thereby we find the male children fail into the meanest of servitude, the refuge of the idle or uninstructed part of mankind.  Or they betake themselves in despair to the wars abroad, or to robberies at home.  The women fall into the hands of wicked tempters through want of ability to employ themselves in honest courses, and an incapacity of maintaining their condition.  Their poverty makes them unfit for their equals, and their soft education makes their inferiors afraid to take them in marriage.

         In the next place, it is agreed on by all hands, that the children should succeed to their parents, and inherit their estate and goods.  No one hath a better right to them when we consider the labour of the parents in acquiring them, or their affection to the children of their own body.  They love nobody like their children, and have a right to the fruits of their own industry.  This love entitles the children best to their estates when the parents have done with them.  Therefore, the civil law gives to children the estates of their parents, though they die without a will, presuming that they, who make no declaration to the contrary, do always intend to go along with natural affection.  The proportion in dividing estates to children is unsettled.  When a child is born, the parent sees one succeed to his labours, and seeks no further for an heir to inherit his estate.  It then is natural this child should enjoy all the parent leaves and build up his family.  There is no one else to do it.  But after the parents have more children, then the necessity of the eldest succeeding grows less.  There are more children to answer the same end, and to build up the name and family, as well as the eldest.  The necessity is changed into other motives.  Decency prefers the elder to the younger, because he was before him and has done nothing to deserve being cast behind.  So far it is reasonable that he should succeed to advantages.  These considerations induce an obligation on the consciences of parents to make provision for their eldest children by leaving them the better part of their wealth.  They feel concern when they offend against this rule without such cause as wise and civil nations assign by their customs and laws.

         VIII.  Some of the causes justify parentsŐ disinheriting their children, such as the striking of parents.  Their is so much impiety in such violence, that one cannot hear of such an action without assenting to its punishment in the utmost degree.  Others are the contriving of their death by poison or other secret method; or laying snares to draw them into mischief.  Thus a child becomes unworthy to receive benefit from their parents.  Equally unworthy was he also who had been privy to any design of doing them mischief, not only to their lives, but to hurting them in body and fortune.  Other causes that justify the disinheriting of children are when they are negligent of their duty to a parent fallen into frenzy, or any disability; or when, if he is taken captive abroad, or imprisoned at home, the child neglects to make provision for him, or to get him set at liberty, if it be in his power.  These cases afford the parent, when he recovers his understanding and his freedom, just occasion of disinheriting such child.  The child was unnatural and deserves no favour from the parent to whom he showed no love and affection.  Wherefore it is fit that he should be so served when be could have hindered the parentŐs misfortune.  Not that thereby it is understood that children are obliged to discharge a parentŐs debt for which he has justly lost his liberty.  Sometimes the children are just able to live and have families to maintain.  If they should discharge their parentsŐ debts, they must contract new ones.  Some parents are so extravagant that there would be no end of paying.  When childrenŐs faults are scandalous, and reflect disgrace on the parents and family; when they are extremely wicked and give no hopes of reformation, but appear irreclaimable, they may be disinherited.  Vice and virtue are to be considered by laws as right and wrong in the preserving families and tribes.  It tends to the advantage of a state that virtue in children should have the encouragement of succeeding to their fatherŐs estate, and similarly discouragement should be given to a notorious vice.  Yet there is a difference to be made between an unnatural closeness that will part with nothing to children before death, and a profuse folly which will lay the parent at the mercy of the child.  In such a case the parent loses one of the most effectual means of keeping them virtuous and dutiful.  Often it is found that, when there is no more expectation from, there will be no more dependence on the parent.  Therefore, it is justifiable in parents to disinherit children whose immoralities cry aloud to heaven, reflect dishonour on the family, and exclude all hope of reformation.  By a parity of reason, if a daughter transgress the laws of honour and virtue, she is left to the pity of her parents, and cannot lay claim to any provision by either divine or human laws.  In all these cases we excuse the parentsŐ casting them off.  Their conscience reproaches them not of cruelty, or lack of natural affection to their children, whose offences dispense with the parentŐs duty.  Without these faults a parent will never be easy nor innocent in casting off the children of his own body.

         On the contrary, all parents who exercise this authority over their children without reason, and disinherit them for slight transgressions, are criminal.  Examples are (a) if their dislike is founded on no better ground than an ill shape, as if the parentsŐ fancy were to pass for judgment, and the children must be punished for what they cannot help; or (b) on a defect of parts and abilities, not such as would suffice for the plain and honest purposes of life, but such as are to render them accomplished.  These are often too near to vanity and confidence, and might be better spared.  Or (c) on some dislike which his really blamable.  Parents never must pretend hatred or aversion to their children.  The subject will not bear it.  Whenever parents feel it, they ought to suspect themselves of something much amiss.  Or (d) on small faults that might be pardoned to a tolerable good servant, and should be overlooked in children.  Again, children are too often dispossessed of their fatherŐs love and of hopes of succession by false suggestion.  They are even mistaken by the parents or accused by others.  The second wife is sometimes to make way to the inheritance of her own children by soft insinuations to the prejudice of the children of the first marriage, or by downright accusation of them.  Or (e) this ill province falls to the share of other relations whose prospect of succeeding is not very far off.  This is most malicious and wicked.  The least that a parent can do will be to consider whose friends they are that provoke him against the children of his own body.  Parents who consume their estate in gaming, drinking, riot, luxury, and sinful pleasures do no better discharge their duty to their children than they who, for little or no cause, anger, folly, or humour, disinherit them.  Though there is great difference between the minds and affections of these two sorts of parents; yet the effect to the children is the same, who are rendered as destitute and helpless by the oneŐs neglect, as by the otherŐs displeasure.

         Lastly, so that all other endeavours may prove effectual to the present and future happiness of children, let the parent not only recommend them to GodŐs care, protection, and blessing with daily and earnest prayer, but also strive by a just and virtuous discharge of his duty to engage GodŐs promise to show mercy to a thousand generations of his posterity that should love him and keep his commandments.  By prayer and example his seed may be blessed for ever, and not with good Josiah suffer the vengeance of GodŐs wrath, and be cast out of his sight for the impiety of his forefathers.  It should, therefore, be a parentŐs earnest care so to live in GodŐs favour, as to entail a blessing on himself and his children for ever.

 

Sunday  IX.

I.  Of the duty of natural and spiritual brethren.  II. Of the duty of a wife; consisting in obedience, meekness, fidelity, and love; also of dress, and securing the affections of the husband; and  III. Of her behaviour to an adulterous husband.  IV. Of the duty of a husband; consisting in love, faithfulness, maintenance, instruction, and prayer.  V. Of the chief consideration in marriage; and of unlawful marriages.  VI. Of the duty among friends; as faithfulness, admonition, and constancy.  VII. Of the qualifications requisite in friendship; and of the choice companions.  VIII. Of the duty of servants; consisting in obedience, faithfulness, silence, and diligence.  IX. Of the duty of masters; consisting in justice, admonition, and encouraging servants, in welldoing.

 

         I.  The next sort of relation in a family is that between Brethren which, in the strict meaning of the word, denotes those only who are descended from the same parents and are united in the interest of the same family. Their birth, education, and future subsistence cannot, according to the course of nature, be expected from any other fountain than their own house.  These ties are mutual, and the parent of them all should have the same unreserved and undistinguished love and regard for them all.  It is, therefore, the duty of such brethren to complete their common parentsŐ love by uniting their own hearts and affections.  Consequently, the good education and careful endeavours, by which their parents strive to promote their present and future welfare, may not be in vain.  How can brethren who curse each other hope to partake of their parentŐs blessing?  How can they, who in a special manner partake of each othersŐ substance, expect to live peaceably and quietly with strangers, those that are not of their own house, and with whom in the course of the world they must have to deal?  They cannot, if they be already so unnatural, so unfortunate in their own disposition, as not willing, much less endeavouring, to show bowels of compassion, tenderness, and affection to those who are united to them in the next degree to their parents.

         This love is not to vanish away in a strained complaisance or courtly civility.  It is not to be kept up in an outward show with a view perchance to please the common parent, or to stifle some jealousies, or to cover some inexcusable design in taking advantage of a sincere and undesigning brother or sister.  The love of such a brother is worse than hatred, and only waits the first opportunity, like JosephŐs brethren, to destroy those he pretends to love.  There are few families so well united in affection as to seclude all jars, wranglings, and debates among brethren.  Conflicts too often proceed from a secret envy, when one child is preferred unadvisedly in a parentŐs affections.  This is for the most part the cause of all differences among brethren.  This should be far from prompting us to break with our brother and sister.  We should rather be convinced thereby of the necessity there is for us to love them, to prevent the fatal consequences which too frequently follow such differences, to the ruin of the whole family.  We should convince our brethren that we neither quarrel with them, nor envy them any advantage, any more than one part of the body does envy another part of the same body.  Goodwill would provoke them to help forward the good of us all, as being members of the same body.

         As you have heard the duty and interest of love among natural brethren, give me leave to put you in mind of that spiritual brotherhood which subsists among all the members of ChristŐs church.  All Christians are brethren by adoption of Christ Jesus who has established love as the great mark of his disciples.  God so loved the world, that he gave his only-begotten Son to redeem us, to make us members of his body, the church, and children of God.  Thus the spiritual bond of religion should never fail to unite us in all love and charity, peace, and concord.

         It is not enough to say we are brethren in Christ because we are called in one baptism to partake of the promises through Christ.  We must approve ourselves brethren indeed by holding fast the profession of that faith once delivered unto the saints without wavering.  We must never through vain curiosity, or unbounded passion, or for any other unlawful means whatever, break communion with those who believe and profess all necessary truths.  Therefore, as a means to promote this Christian duty, it is necessary also that we should show forth our good conversation in Christ, and our love to his members, by communicating with them in all his holy institutions.  We must continue steadfastly in the apostles doctrine and fellowship, in breaking of bread, and in prayer.

         Such a Christian temper as this will induce those who are well grounded in the true faith to bear with, and not to despise the infirmities of such as are weak, who have been led from the truth by a too rash or mistaken judgment, or by an erroneous education.  In such cases as these let no man judge his brother.  Instead judge these, (a) that no man put a stumbling block, or an occasion to fall, in his brotherŐs way; (b) receive the weak in faith, but not to doubtful disputations, (c) teaching him that which makes for peace, and things wherewith one may edify another.  Nor must his weakness or error ever abate our Christian charity toward him, no not even if he be fallen into sin.  It was the great end of ChristŐs preaching to call sinners to repentance.  How can we be brethren of Christ Jesus, if we do contrary to his doctrine and example?  Therefore, if we see our brother commit sin, we are not to imitate the proud Pharisee, boasting of our own righteousness, and reflect on, or almost make a merit of our brotherŐs faults.  Instead we must follow Christ and his apostles directions to restore him that is overtaken in a fault, and consider ourselves lest we also be tempted.  We must admonish him, and endeavour meekly to recover him from the error of his way.  We must not be presumptuous of our own strength, but take care while we stand that we do not fall.  Otherwise while we seek the conversion of others, we ourselves might become castaways.

         And lastly, we must enlarge our affections so as to sympathize with all the faithful whenever they, as a church, or singly for ChristŐs sake, are brought into tribulation.  This is strongly urged by the apostle under the similitude of a natural body.  If one member suffers, all the members suffer with it.  Whoever is not so touched with the afflictions of the church he is a member of, as sincerely to pray with holy David, O be favorable and gracious unto Sion! and does not pity to see her in the dust, cannot be accounted a living member thereof.  Whoever shuts up his bowels of compassion from any afflicted brother in Christ, at the same time disowns himself to be a disciple of Christ, who has given this as a peculiar mark of his true disciples.  By this, says he, all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another.

         II.  The next relation is that between Husbands and Wives.  No number of people can subsist long together without observing their respective duties.  None will obey where all will command, and then mischief must be the end of all their actions.  Wherefore, the longer people live together, the greater is the necessity of subjection to each other.  There can be no unity where two parties contend for superiority, or such an equality as will not yield in particular and in different cases.

         What avails all the pomp and parade of life, which appears abroad if, when we shift the gaudy flattering scene, the man is unhappy, where happiness must begin, at home?  Whatever ingredients of bliss providence may have poured into his cup, domestic misfortunes will render the whole composition distasteful.  Fortune and happiness are two very distinct ideas.  However some, who have a false idea of life, and a wrongness of thinking, may confound them.  Better is a dinner of herbs where love is, than a stalled ox, and hatred therewith.  That is, it is better to have peace without plenty, than plenty without peace.  Quietness under oneŐs own roof, and quietness in our own conscience, are two substantial blessings.  Whoever barters them for show and pomp will find himself a loser by the exchange.  Abroad we must more or less find tribulation.  Yet as long as our home is a secure and peaceful retreat from all the disappointments and cares which we meet with in that great scene of vexation, the world, we may still be tolerably happy.  But if that which should be our main sanctuary from uneasiness becomes our principal disquietude, how great must our uneasiness be!  There cannot be a greater curse, than to have those of oneŐs own bosom our greatest foes, when we neither can live happily with them, nor must think of living apart from them.  Love is a tender plant.  It must be kept alive by great delicacy.  It must be fenced from all inclement blasts, or it will soon droop its head and die.  Indeed, in general we ought to be very tender as to what may affect another.  Otherwise we do we know not what.  No man can tell, unless he could feel for him, how much another may suffer by any unkind thing we say or do.  An angry word will give a deeper wound to some minds, than an injurious action shall do to others who are of matter too hard to have any impression made on them.

         This should convince wives who are going to make up a family that there is a necessity of government, which supposes subjection in themselves and superiority in their husbands.  It is necessary to the support of rule and order, and is rightly placed in husbands rather than in wives because, first, the apostle expressly commands the wife to show obedience.  Wives, says he, submit yourselves unto your own husbands, as it is fit in the Lord; and again, because the God of nature seems to have declared their sovereignty by blessing them with the greatest strength and abilities Ń where God has made the body and the mind fittest to undergo (a) toils and labours necessary to the wellbeing of the world, the carrying on of business at home, and trade abroad, (b) the defending of our country from foreign foes, and (c) the administering of justice.  We perceive God has qualified his creatures for these offices, which are so necessary, that the world cannot subsist in peace and order without them.  We may safely conclude that therein he designed to place the superior power of government.  Therefore, as God hath made men necessary for these works, he hath made them superior to such as are not able to do them.  Consequently the man is superior to the woman, yet not with a tyrannical authority, nor to use them like slaves and menial servants, but as friends and companions in all the state of wedlock.  There are some instances of women excelling in these particulars.  Yet they will not overthrow the visible design of God.  There are women superior to many men in strength of body and abilities of mind, in fineness of parts, greatness of capacity, soundness of judgment, and strength of memory.  Yet the number of such never was great enough to show that God intended to give that sex the superiority.  The apostle limits the authority of man over the woman, describes the manner of her subjection, and shows the cause thereof.  Husbands, says he, love your wives and be not bitter against them.  To the woman he prescribes these rules, Let the woman learn in silence with all subjection; but I suffer not a woman to teach, nor to usurp authority over the man, but to be in silence: for Adam was first formed, then Eve.  Again, the womanŐs subjection is fetched from Eve being first in the transgression.  She was deceived first, and then deceived her husband.  She was undone by disobeying God, and he was undone by following her.  She must rule no more.  It was part of her curse that her desire should to be her husband, and he should rule over her.

         Yet this power and obedience of husbands and wives must have their proper bounds.  The one may exercise power that belongs not to him, and the other refuse submission where it is due.  A wife owes no subjection to her husband, against the laws of either God or man.  No command of a husband will excuse a wife offending against a known law of God, or doing anything immoral.  She owes him no subjection in such matters.  He is himself a rebel to their common Lord and Master while commanding any unlawful action, and she is with him in the transgression.  In other matters their disobedience will be faulty where they cannot make their excuse by reason and discretion, allowed custom, decency, and good fame.  Some may ask, Who shall be judges in such a case?  I answer, Wives must not oppose their wills to their husbands, or reasons to reasons, unless they are plainly oppressed, lest they be found to contend for mastery.  If the will and reason of one be equal to the otherŐs, it is something beside that must determine who shall yield, and then we must recur to know who must obey.

         Therefore the apostle exhorts the women to adorn themselves with a meek and quiet spirit.  That is, women are not to put off their natural temper and be immediately changed, but so to govern themselves as to be meek and quiet upon all occasions.  By reason and consideration they restrain themselves from falling into bitterness, impatience, and clamour.  Many cross accidents will happen, and they must meet with many provocations and severe trials.  If they do not arm against them with a patient, prudent, spirit, their sufferings will be doubled.  They are not to be insensible or stupid under what befalls them, but to prepare that they may do nothing that misbecomes them.  Herein they are to exercise their reason and best abilities.  Matters are seldom mended by the noise and contention that is raised.  They are oftentimes made worse, but seldom better.  The folly or perverseness of men is not cured, nor any unlucky accidents remedied, by fury and impatience.  Those things by indiscreet management become too often the occasion of great mischiefs, which would otherwise have done little hurt.  Who can compare the provocations of their anger with the events and consequences, with any tolerable satisfaction?  Mischief and sorrow are in the midst thereof.  Therefore, they can find no comfort therein.  The learning people get by contention is commonly too dearly paid for.  They only find that they have weakly lost what they perchance may never recover again.  People who best ought to consider these things are far from inquiring where and when they must obey, and in what cases they are at liberty.  Consequently, they are evermore at liberty, and never in subjection at all, though in the most reasonable cases.  They forget their duty and their sex together.

         All wives must know that without a chaste conversation they are wives no longer Ń the band of wedlock is dissolved before God.  If the husband ask the assistance of the law, it may be dissolved before man also because this is a breach of the most solemn vow that can be thought on.  Wherefore, our Saviour says, though it be not lawful to put away a wife for every cause, yet in the case of fornication it may be done.  This is the first mark of her fidelity.  It must be always attended with a frugal management of the worldly affairs committed to her charge.  She must never apply her husbandŐs goods and money to any other purposes than he shall approve of, and to the real benefit of his family.  These considerations should deter from such dress as inclines to looseness and immodesty, because the design itself is so abominable by heating the fancies, inflaming the hearts of impetuous youth, and kindling those impure desires that will consume both body and soul.  A dress put on with this design is not only blamable but sinful.  Therefore, whoever dresses to make herself amiable or comely should ask herself what she desires that grace and comeliness for, and what use she designs to make of peopleŐs admiration.  According as that is better or worse, so will her adorning herself be more or less innocent in the sight of God.  Again, such a dress as takes up too much time may reasonably be deemed criminal because our time is given for better purposes.  Likewise, such costliness of apparel as exceeds the quality and ability of the wearer is an offence against decency.  Decency is that becoming order which the custom of all times and places have agreed upon as most convenient to differentiate people from one another.  In the matter of quality, decency prevents all disorders, confusion, and disrespect.  Costly dress unreasonably exhausts the gain and labour of the calling, when that which should maintain the house and children, and support the trade and credit of men, is trifled off in show and gay appearance, not only to the shame, but too often to the ruin of the husband and his dependents.  The very heart of industry is broken when its fruits are squandered so lavishly away.  It is a certain token of a bad wife when she goes beyond her husbandŐs abilities.  Women call marriage changing their condition.  They should then remember, among other senses of these words, that they change their former condition for that of their husband, be it better or worse; and that they must suit their minds to that which is the only way to thrive in that state. [See Temperance in Apparel, Sunday xvi. Sect. iv.]  They must also remember that their obedience is founded upon love.  This was the end for which woman was created, to be a help to her husband.  Neither health nor sickness, wealth nor poverty, nor any state of life in which the providence of God can place him, can in any wise discharge a wife from this duty.  Perfect love not only casteth out fear, but forbids all kind of sullenness, hardness, noise, scoldings, or unquietness, and leads to and cultivates a chaste conversation.  If that prevails, the wife has gained her point.  If not, she has the satisfaction of doing her duty and taking the courses that were likeliest to effect what she desired.  She is excusable both to God and man, and shall not fail of her reward at the last day.

         Sober married women rightly infer that they are obliged in common prudence to secure the affection of their husbands by putting on such good qualities of the mind as will render them acceptable to wise and sober men, even when their beauty is decayed.  Where men discern (a) the fear of God and a sense of religion in their wives, and see them (b) manage their affairs with wisdom and discretion, and (c) discharge the duties of every state, mother, wife, or mistress of a family, with diligence and prudence, they cannot resist such qualities as these.  Such virtues give their wives (a) grace and comeliness throughout, and render them (b) most lovely in the eyes of all, and will give them (c) grace and favour in the sight of God as well as man.  From the whole it then appears that the faults of a husband cannot excuse a wife from these duties, as well in regard to the commandment of God, as to her own and husbandŐs welfare.  Harsh or bad usage can never be supposed a proper means to reclaim a bad husband.  Therefore, says St. Peter, Likewise, ye wives, be in subjection to your own husbands.  If any obey not the word, they also may without the word be won by the conversation of their wives, while they behold your chaste conversation coupled with fear.  Let not wivesŐ adorning be the outward adorning of plaiting the hair, and of wearing gold, or of putting on of apparel.  Let it be the hidden man of the heart in that which is not corruptible, even the ornament of a meek and quiet spirit which is in the sight of God of great price.  After this manner in the old time, the holy women also, who trusted in God, adorned themselves, being in subjection unto their own husbands.  Such behaviour as this would lead to the quiet of families.  It is notorious that the contentious woman often drives a peaceable and good husband from his family.  His departure seldom fails to carry him into the bad habits of gaming, drunkenness, or some worse qualifications that may bring them to poverty and never after be reclaimed.

         III.  It is a proper question to ask, How is a woman obliged to behave herself when she is sure her husband wanders from her bed?  Or, how far is she to exercise a meek and quiet spirit on such ill usage?  This has been the subject of many inquiries.  We learn both from the laws of God and man that in such a case where it can be proved clearly, the laws of the land will, if she pleases, release her from her bands.  They will leave her at liberty.  But this liberty is not to be inconsequential.  If she again cohabit with her husband she is presumed to have forgiven his sin, and his former trespass will not be a just occasion for her leaving when she thinks fit.  This will prove her religion and discretion.  She is undoubtedly obliged to procure the conversion of her husband from his evil ways by all the methods she possibly can.  She is not obliged to hurt herself on this account.  As far as admonitions can bring him to a sense of his injurious usage and occasion his amendment, she will do well to endeavour it.  She may also engage sober people, spiritual guides, or grave relations to work his conversion, and never with secrecy and tenderness suffer sin when she can remove it.  Yet if she be properly assured that the man is of a churlish humour, that the very discovery of his wicked folly will harden him in his sin or provoke him to use her cruelly, she is not in that case obliged to endeavour to reclaim him.  So long as the prudent wife takes care that her connivance dissembled ignorance, her compliance and her silence, or her patience and submission, give no countenance to her wicked partner to prosecute his unlawful love, she is without blame.  She is not obliged to make herself miserable by endeavouring to make him good.  A wife may permit what she cannot prevent, and by such permission defend herself from wrongs.  She may lawfully enjoy all the advantage that living with her husband can afford her, and avoid the mischiefs that would attend a separation.  In this case they have need of a meek and quiet spirit.  Nothing can stand them in better stead.  Gentle usage wins most upon hardened minds.  Men are sooner persuaded by silence when it shows submission without sullenness, than by any arguments.  Superiority is claimed by man as his prerogative, which a meek quiet spirit will yield to him even while it disarms him.  Submission vanquishes without resistance, whereas one dispute begets another.  Meekness, patience, and forbearance are of that natural force as to remove all matter of contention.  They excite a sense of shame, gratitude, and honour, and leave the transgressor to consider the evil he has done.

         IV.  Our method now leads to recollect what that duty is, which the husbands owe to their wives.  The apostle having said, Wives, submit yourselves to your own husbands, as it is fit in the Lord, adds, Husbands, love your wives, and be not bitter against them.  He leaves it as much a duty on the husbands to love their wives, as on the wives to submit themselves to their own husbands.  Indeed, the husband first promises to love his wife, before she promises to obey him. [See the manŐs and the womanŐs promises in the office of Matrimony.]  Consequently, as his love is the condition of her obedience, he must blame himself for her disobedience if he has withdrawn his love.  Now love of husbands to wives is a kind affection to their persons.  This is what is so properly called love that nothing beside it is thought so.  It is absolutely necessary to making marriage easy and happy.  Nothing else can do it.  Religion, discretion, and good qualities, birth, education, and estate, are all to be considered in their several measures and degrees to make a married life lastingly happy.  Yet neither honour, nor respect, nor esteem, can make wives happy, but a tenderness of affection which they had rather have.  Without it, the rest are formality and insipid courtship, a sacrifice without a heart toward them.  Hence it comes to pass that many men are counted happy, and might indeed be so, in the good qualities and discretion of their partners.  Yet their wives are otherwise for want of this hearty affection which will supply many defects, and make amends for many failings, will cover many faults, and make family inconveniences lighter.  Therefore, considering how much the happiness of a man depends upon his choice, he cannot answer it to God, or man, or himself, that marries where he does not or cannot place his real affections.  No law obliges a man to marry, but he is obliged to love the woman whom he has taken in marriage.

         The apostle well advises the husband that, dwelling with his wife according to knowledge, he should give honour unto her as unto the weaker vessel.  That is, he should treat her with all lenity and softness, even as vessels of a weaker contexture are to be handled with greater caution and tenderness.  Let him consider to what extraordinary difficulties and sufferings God by his order and appointment has most unavoidably subjected and exposed the women above men, as well by their own natural frame and make as by a great many sad, but usual accidents.  He will be obliged in common pity to deal gently with wives, to sustain them under their infirmities, and by patience and forbearance to make their burden lighter.  Let him consider further, notwithstanding these disadvantages, (a) of what singular use and benefit a good and prudent companion is, in all the vicissitudes of life, (b) what solace in health, (c) what comfort in sickness, (d) what help in distress, (e) what security in trouble is occasioned by her means, and above all, (f) what labour and hardships, (f) what watchings and disquietudes, as well as the (g) many humble offices she is content to bear, with all the cheerfulness and delight imaginable, in (h) bringing up the children that are the delight of his eyes, and the strength of his old age.  He that considers this, I say, instead of taking pleasure in opposing and insulting the wife of his bosom, will find himself bound in gratitude, and by the mutual pledges of their love, to nourish and cherish her even as his own flesh.

         When men will not consider the imperfections of human nature, nor remember their own mistakes; if they will take advantages, and make ill-natured reflections on the weaknesses of their partners, and make them topics of upbraidings and revilings, there will be no love and mutual kindness.  All creatures are imperfect and stand in need of patience and forgiveness, especially in a constant conversation.  In the management of family affairs there will unavoidably arise occasions of disagreement.  If there be not a readiness to make the kindest construction of each otherŐs actions, the conjugal affection will vanish away.  When a man considers as he ought to do, that it is his interest as well as duty to love his partner, it is worthy his choice to be a good husband.  It is the wisest thing he can do for his present ease and satisfaction.

         Another duty is to prove the sincerity of his love by a strict faithfulness to the marriage bed.  A Christian marriage requires mutual fidelity, the performance of the promise made to forsake all other persons and to adhere closely to each other so long as they both shall live. [See fidelity, in the duty of wives, Sunday ix. Section ii, and the man and womanŐs promises is the office of Matrimony.]  This is supposed in all contracts; and verbally expressed and actually engaged for in all regular marriages.  To this fidelity the men are equally obliged with the women.  In the violation of it there is both injustice and perjury, because they break a solemn promise and do a great injury.  A man, perchance, may be so far gone in favour to himself as to think slightly of his own offences.  In this case let him consider whether he would not think his mother or daughter injured if their husbands should wander from their bed in pursuit of unhallowed pleasures.  As he judges they would resent the injustice of their husbands, let him imagine that his own wife resents his, and bears it with the same discontent.  Nor would I be thought to confine these reflections to the open and notorious.  The most concealed and secret frequenting of the company of lewd women will corrupt the hearts even of those that intend to be good husbands.  The virtuous affection declines as fast as the disorderly one gains ground.  It ends at best in formal cold civilities, but more commonly in hatred and aversion, in quarrel and contest, churlish or brutal usage, and sometimes in tragic events.  It is a vain mistake for any husband to think he shall live easily with his partner, be her affection ever so strong to him, while he is cold to her in this particular.

         Again, men should maintain their wives as becomes partners.  They are friends and companions to their husbands, not slaves, nor menial servants.  Wives are to be partners in their fortunes.  As wives partake of their husbandsŐ troubles and afflictions, it is just that they should share of their fortunes.  When a husband falls into decay or any sort of calamity, he involves his wife with him.  They are inseparable companions in misery and misfortune.  What can make amends for this but their partaking also in all their good fortune?  Does not a man expressly promise this in the matrimonial contract?  She is to have the use of things necessary, convenient, and delightful, and to be as happy as his worldly condition can make her in a married state?  He is unjust, as well as unkind, if he deny it.  She bargains for it upon her part, and he engages for it upon his.  Nor does this obligation cease with the death of the husband.  If the wife survives, he must provide for her so long as she lives, according to the quality and condition they have lived in, if there be ability, and according to the custom of the place where they are.  Not only churlish men are to blame who deny their wives, while living, what is convenient.  Even the best natured men who take no care of their support and maintenance in case they outlive them are properly bad husbands.  By their profuseness or idleness, by gaming and intemperance, they expose their wives to want and misery.  They leave their wives naked and unprovided for at the time of age perhaps when they are least able to help themselves.  It may be that wives are encumbered with a charge of children to be maintained out of the widowŐs small income or hand labour.  Such men pretend in vain to love and kindness who are careless in this particular and make no provision for their widowhood as they are able, but leave wives destitute and helpless.  The sorrows of their solitary state are sufficient to load them with trouble enough.  I blame not those men whose estate, calling, or industry, cannot completely furnish them with maintenance.  I blame such who carelessly, wastefully, or otherwise, when in their power, take no care to prevent it.

         Nor must it be forgot that the apostle lays it down as a duty of the husband to teach his wife what is for her eternal good and welfare, when he finds her ignorant of the means of salvation.  So much is implied in that command to the Corinthians, where St. Paul bids the wives learn of their husbands at home.  St. Paul also tacitly implies that a master of a family should endeavour after Christian knowledge in order to perform this duty of instruction to such as are under his care.

         But above all, it is the mutual duty of husband and wife to be instant in prayer to God for each other, and to strive together for their spiritual and temporal welfare.  They do these not only by exhortation to the performance of virtue, and avoiding and forsaking of vice, but also by constant example in the practice of every good work, both in their family and to every other object of pity and compassion.  Otherwise their love cannot be accounted perfect.  Love that can easily permit any one to run to their temporal or eternal ruin, when it is in their power to prevent it, is not grounded on virtue and religion.

         V.  Those who intend to marry should not so much regard the outward shape or beauty, wealth, etc. as the spiritual qualifications of the persons to whom they desire to be joined.  These will make that state of life truly holy, and serve to the great end of the soulŐs salvation.  Although a competency for the ease of life is to be regarded, yet a virtuous man or woman is of more value than all the wealth and honours the world can afford.

         Consider that solemn charge and declaration in the form of matrimony concerning those that, without regard to the laws of God and man, do rashly enter into that state.  Whoever has betrothed themselves by promise to any other person before, or knowingly takes such a person in marriage, committeth adultery.  In justice they belong to those to whom they had made their first promise.  Whoever marries within the degrees of kindred forbidden by God is guilty of incest so long as they live together.  They are not only sins at the time, but are evil in their effects.  Evil effects might be prevented if it were duly considered, as our church teaches, that marriage is an honorable estate instituted of God in the time of man s innocence; and therefore is not by any to be interpreted, nor taken in hand unadvisedly, lightly, or wantonly, to satisfy menŐs carnal lusts and appetites, like brute beasts that have no understanding; but reverently, discreetly, advisedly, soberly, and in the fear of God.  They must duly consider the causes for which matrimony was ordained; and that as many as are coupled together otherwise than GodŐs word doth allow, are not joined together by God, neither is their matrimony lawful. [See the ministerŐs exhortation before the office of Matrimony.]

 

Sunday  IX.  Pat  II.

         VI.  The next relation is between Friends.  Of all the relations wherein we stand toward one another, there is none more strict and binding, none more necessary and beneficial, than that of friendship.  Human nature is imperfect.  It has not fund enough to furnish out a solitary life.  The most delicious place barred from all commerce and society would be insupportable and make a man run mad with his own happiness.  There are very many adverse accidents attending us.  Without the communion of friendship, virtue itself is not able to accomplish its ends.  The best good man on several occasions often needs an assistant to direct his judgment, quicken his industry, and fortify his spirits.  When men have contracted friendship and espoused their souls and minds to one another, there arises a new relation between them beyond what common charity creates.  In this close and near relation, men give each other a property in themselves to be (a) guides and comforts in their doubts and sorrows, (b) monitors and remembrancers in their errors and oblivions, (c) shelters and refuges in oppressions and calamities, and (d) trustees to each others thoughts and deeds.  It is a mistake to think those are friends who are only companions in sin, or prompt us to offend God, defraud our neighbour, or pollute ourselves.  Certainly if the drunkard, the covetous and flattering companion, deserves the name and place of a friend, then the devil himself may claim in a much higher degree in the mistaken notion of friendship.  A true and sincere friend will discover himself chiefly by deterring us from vice, and setting us a pious example of virtue.

         True friendship will be proven by a faithful discharge of that trust reposed in any person.  A true friend can never be unjust in his dealings, nor betray the secrets of one that puts confidence in him.  He that takes advantage of his friendŐs credulity, or sincerity, or weakness, ought to be despised by all men.  These are the treacherous wounds, from which, Solomon tells us, every friend will depart.  The best way to convince any one of the sincerity of our friendship is to watch all opportunities (a) to serve him, (b) to be always ready to guide him with good advice, (c) to comfort him under anxiety of mind, (d) to relieve him, as much as is in our power, in his temporal wants,  and even (e) to run some hazards, if it be possible to secure him from trouble and danger.  This must be a continued unwearied friendship, neither to be dissolved by length of time, nor broken by some slight offences.

         The most certain way to convince anyone of the sincerity of our friendship is to exhort and encourage him in acts of piety, and with freedom to show and reprove him for all sinful and unbecoming behaviour.  Self-love is rooted in our nature.  We have that partiality to ourselves, that we do not see our faults, at least not in their true light.  Therefore, it is necessary that some charitable hand should make us sensible of them.  Moreover, all professions of friendship, without the use of such freedoms, will be apt to degenerate into flattery.  We pretend in vain to be willing to serve our friends when we neglect doing them that solid good to the soul.  That this practice of piety and friendship may have its desired end, great regard must be had to time and circumstances.  The occasion ought to be weighty and important.  We should take care that our reproof be free from passion or self-interest, lest any other motive beside doing good should appear.  The softest language and the most favorable circumstances ought to concur to make it of force.  The duties of friendship are eminently concerned in putting our friend in mind when he transgresses the laws of God.  We represent unto him his faults, with the aggravations and consequences that attend them.  By a seasonable warning he may be recovered to a right use of things, and be preserved from that ruin which otherwise threatens his soul and body.  In friendship we are not only obliged to admonish our friend of his fault, but also to take great care we do not fall into those crimes we have seen and blamed in him.  Thus we avoid becoming partaker of another manŐs sins.  Partaking of other menŐs sins before any wicked action is committed occurs when we knowingly aid and abet toward the committing of it.  Partaking after sin is committed occurs when we in any wise approve or justify it.  By either of these means we partake of other menŐs sins, though we are not the immediate actors in them.  At least at the same time we ought to condemn ourselves.  By exposing our own follies we may with better grace rectify those of others.  We ought to mix due praises with our reproofs.  Roughness of reproof may be abated by appropriate praise.  If we see our friend misled, we must more earnestly pray for him that God would bring him to a right knowledge of his duty, and crown him with comfort in this life, and happiness in the world to come.

         Nothing but breach of trust and incorrigible vice should ever break the unity of friends.  No one betrays a greater weakness and folly than such whose fickleness and lightness of humour deprive them of the benefit of an old friend.  A friend cannot be too old.  We cannot enjoy a sincere friend too long.  The very continuance of friendship, the constant experience of anotherŐs fidelity, assistance, and loving admonitions, must make it of greater value and esteem.  Therefore, says Solomon, Thine own friend and thy fatherŐs friend forsake not: no, though by perchance he offends thee in some little punctilio or light offence.  In such case reflect if you never gave him as much or more reason to cast you off.  Consider your own infirmities and how soon, possibly, you may give him more just reason to turn his back on you.  However, we are not so to bear with others, under a mistaken notion of friendship, as to maintenance any vice, or permit the omission of any virtue.

         VII.  Great care be taken in the choice of friends.  What qualifications should bind this agreement?  Solomon has long since observed that, He that walketh with wise men shall be wise; but the companion of fools shall be destroyed.  If we design any progress in virtue, we must frequent those who are eminent examples of it, and avoid those fools who mock sin.

         Let us choose company on the same bases as we choose friends.  That is, let us fix upon such as have virtuous and Christian principles, and who endeavour to show the effects of them in their lives and conversations.  Men without principles are unqualified for friendship because they have no foundation to support it.  Men that act contrary to their good principles give little proof of their sincere intentions.  Men skeptically inclined may endanger the firmness of our faith.  Wicked men may endanger the strength of our virtuous inclinations.  This main point being secured, and having fenced against the greatest danger of conversation, we ought to carefully regard the temper and disposition of those we may select for our constant companions.  If they have a great deal of passion, and a little share of sense, our freedom and friendship will expose us to vexatious troubles.  Guard as we might, a great deal of fire will sometimes heat us.  We may be provoked, and then we are the worse for such companions.  It is commendable to prefer those in our esteem whose learning and wisdom, quickness and vivacity, may justly challenge a regard.  When good men of mild tempers are the masters of such abilities, they must be very agreeable companions.  This concerns all good Christians.  When young men appear in the world, they ought to have a particular regard to it.  Their future happiness depends so much on the qualifications of those they converse with.  It may be they have received good principles in their education.  Yet they lack practice to confirm the habit of virtue and courage to resist the allurements of vice when enticed by wicked companions.  They are apt to catch at anything that indulges and countenances their inclinations  When they most need prudence, they have the least of it.  If they are not by degrees entirely corrupted, yet the horror they ought to have for sin is very much abated by their seeing it frequently practiced.  Consequently, fire may as well be taken into a manŐs bosom without burning, and pitch touched without defiling, as bad company frequented and delighted in without partaking of its bad effects.

         VIII.  The last relation is that between Masters and Servants.  The servant must submit to and do all his masterŐs lawful commands.  He owes his master no obedience against the laws of God or the laws of his country.  When he enters into service, he gives up his time and labour by agreement to his master for wages, keeping, and protection.  He must fulfil the conditions upon which he is admitted to serve.  According to the apostle, Servants, be obedient to them that are your masters according to the flesh; not with grumbling and stubbornness, but with fear and trembling; singleness of heart, and with goodwill doing service; considering that it is to the Lord, and not unto men.  Therefore, although a master may be churlish, and use his servants ill, they must bear with him and submit cheerfully.  The Lord has promised, and is also able, to reward them for the same.

         If a servant would be so unjust as to waste that time, and spare that labour which are none of his, let him recollect that they are his masterŐs by contract.  His master ought to have the advantage of them because sold unto him.  Therefore, it would be as just for a master to detain part of a servantŐs wages contracted for, as it is for a servant to waste or misemploy that time, and spare that labour, which were his masterŐs by contract.  A servant has no more right to his masterŐs money, than the master has a right to his servantŐs time and labour.  If the one does not stand to his bargain, he thereby sets the other at liberty on his part.  Moreover, the intention of all masters in entertaining servants is to assist them in their affairs, as they cannot do all things themselves.  Therefore, they trust others to do what is wanted.  Nor can they be always at home or abroad, where their business may require attendance.  Therefore, they entertain others to supply these defects.  Which ends are not answered where industry, faithfulness, and honesty are lacking on the servantŐs part.  The absence of the master is not supplied where the servant does not act as the master would if he were present.  The master stays at home to his loss if his servant abroad be false in any shape.  Nor must a servant be unjust in behalf of his master, nor impose upon the ignorance of those he deals with.  He must no more recommend himself to his masterŐs favour by overreaching others, than he must be unfaithful to those he serves.  His duty is to be as useful as possible, but not to be dishonest.  The servantŐs duty is to do all the good he can, and no mischief.  Therefore all waste and unnecessary profusion are so much damage to the master and consequently to be avoided.  It is so much injury done to those who should be profited by his service.  He must then, in the absence of his master, behave as carefully and industriously as he would in his presence.  To be frugal and industrious in the masterŐs sight, and in his absence to be profuse and idle, is not only eye service and hypocrisy, but also falsehood and dishonesty.  I wish servants were as much aware of this as they should.  Many think it well if they do not directly defraud their masters of their money or substance.  There is little difference between a profuse waste of their masterŐs goods or time, and defrauding them of something feloniously.  Do not their masters pay for their profusion?  If it be unreasonable, it is not much short of robbery.  Of all thefts, the worst is breach of trust.  Servants have given their faith to be just and honest.  Their villainy is therefore greater than that of others, who though they steal more, have not bound themselves as servants do, to be honest, and to secure their masters from others to the best of their abilities.  This is the reason of the law, which makes it treason for a servant to kill his master.

         Nothing is so necessary for servants as the reputation of being just and honest.  Nothing is more certain to undo them than a bad fame and the suspicion of false dealing with their masters.  They have nothing to depend upon but the hopes of lying concealed, and that their thefts will never be discovered.  Such hopes are often disappointed.  Very few who have for any time been guilty of this practice escape being found out, which ruins their character.  The reputation of servants is so valuable, that many masters will not charge them with dishonesty, though well enough assured that they are guilty.  Others have cause to suspect, but for prudential reasons will not accuse.  Others see it, but would not irritate too far, and make their servants desperate by the publication, hoping that they will reform.  Therefore, servants are deceived if they think that all are ignorant who are silent, and that they are unsuspected because not charged with dishonesty.  This is the rule that hired servants may measure their safety by.  Indulgence and forbearance would not be discreetly used by masters with respect to servants who are so moveable and fugitive as to be always wandering from place to place.  Such ought not to be bore with a moment in their wicked devices.  They are proper enough with respect to those of a better rank, who are tied by covenants for a term of time.  It may be these reasons may not be received.  Let such servants then consider that, whether this discovery be made to men or not, they are open to the eye of God.  Their consciences will be always burdened by their false practices.  The fruits of injustice may gratify some vain longing for the present.  When that is over, the mind is immediately disquieted at what is past, afraid of shame and discovery.  He knows that the fact must be repented of before it can be pardoned, which is much more uneasy than the denial of those desires could have been.  Thus a false servant drives a bad bargain when for so little profit he gives away the peace and quiet of his soul.

         Neither let a servant presume so much upon his own good qualifications as to dare to answer again.  This, in the apostleŐs determination, is adding to the crime of purloining.  St. Peter judges it so necessary that a servant should be patient and meek under the rebukes of a master, that he directs servants, when they suffer wrongfully, to bear it with patience, as a thing acceptable to God.  If they are punished or rebuked for a fault, it is not sufficient that they answer not again.  They must also amend their fault as a proof of their due submission to their masterŐs will for GodŐs sake.

         A servant must diligently attend on all the duties of his place.  He must avoid idleness, sloth, gaming, drunkenness, and every other irregular course that tends to the prejudice or neglect of his masterŐs business.  A negligent servant can never be accounted either faithful or obedient to his master.  Moderate labour has advantages that servants do not think on.  It makes their necessary service in time grow easy.  Repeated acts beget habits, and things habitual become easy and familiar to us.  Continued labours, if done with moderation when strength and pains are discreetly proportioned out, beget activity which cannot be long idle.  Thus industry is truly the servantŐs interest as well as the masterŐs.  Such as have served with diligence are secure of better credit and more success in their future life.  By this we may account why many servants, when they become masters, do not succeed well, notwithstanding their desires of thriving.  They do not have industry, and cannot take those pains that are necessary in their station.  Skill and good husbandry will not do without great industry in our several ways.  Industry will not come when called for, but must be laid up before by use.  The better servants are to their masters, the better they will succeed when they manage their own affairs.  These qualifications are attained by use.  When the mind is susceptible of impression, and the limbs will bend to their work, this is the time for making industry and labour easy to us.  All the care and pains they take is truly their own at the last.;  All the skill and understanding they get is a treasure for themselves, laid up till they have the greatest need.

         The state of servanthood is necessary by the appointment of the wise Creator.  The world cannot be governed and maintained without it.  They are to be instrumental to the public in that state of life.  This is no token of GodŐs displeasure.  He in nowise forbids them to use honest means to better their employment as soon as they can.  Only he commands them to behave as becomes their condition, with submission and humility, with obedience, diligence, and industry, with truth and justice, faithfulness and honesty.  It is true, servanthood is accounted the meanest of all others, but yet it is to be made easy.  Servants have more of the labours of life, but they have less of the cares.  Their bodies are more fatigued and exercised, but their minds are less perplexed.  They are only concerned in one matter, to do what lies before them, while others have a world of things to cumber their minds.  Their whole care is to their masters whereas, it may be, their masters must court and humour all they deal with.  They generally have themselves alone to provide for.  Their masters have wives, children, and relations.  Scarcity or dearness affects them not.  If public mischiefs oppress a nation, they feel little of them, though even the government should be changed.  Their contribution to the support of the public is very trifling.  They pay no taxes, lose no gainful employments, suffer not by the malice or insolence of parties, undergo no calumny or slander.  They are less distressed, suffer less hardships, than those who live in a higher station.  It is not possible for all men to be great, or possessed of places, nor for all men to be rich, governors and masters, or great traders, or remarkable in any faculty.  Yet all men may be honest, virtuous, and religious.  All men may live in GodŐs favour in this world and be happy in the other.  Therefore, it is a comfortable consideration for servants (however despicable their condition appears in the eyes of men) that in the sight of God, who understands the value of his creatures, they are of equal worth with the great and noble.  God has given them bodies as beautiful and useful, and faculties of mind as good.  He made them capable of being virtuous, and has redeemed them with the same precious blood of Christ.  For them he has opened the same gates of heaven, and prepared for them the same glory in that kingdom of everlasting bliss.

         IX.  Now on the other side, in reason, justice, and by GodŐs command, masters owe several duties to their servants.  Masters are as much obliged to perform their part of the contract, as the servants theirs.  Every relation is built on a contract, either supposed or actually agreed upon between the parties related.  Each party is obliged to perform his part of the contract upon which the relation stands.  Consequently, a master is faithless and unjust who suffers his servant to be ignorant or unskillful in his profession which he covenanted to make him understand.  He breaks his covenant by keeping back the skill that is necessary.  He that serveth is deceived, and loses the thing he bargained for, and for which he pledged his faith and service for a term of time.  Withholding the price and reward of service which has been bargained for is a foul practice.  The reward is the servantŐs due.  He has already paid for it.  To defraud him of it is to rob him.  It is injustice to deny what is the servantŐs due.  When servants cannot by legal courses obtain that due through the power of their masters, they are oppressed as well as wronged.  Such masters are often met with, though in a very faulty manner.  While the servants live with them, they commonly copy their masters vices, and, among others, injustice.  Living upon their masters, they pay themselves with interest.  Detaining the wages of poor men, who subsist by their daily labours, is still a greater hardship.  But the injustice is the same whether you bargain by the day or year in detaining their hire.  It is injustice to withhold either food, raiment, or any profit that a servant has contracted for.

         Nor must the master conclude that he has performed the whole of his duty, when he has justly complied with the contract agreed upon with his servant.  It is the masterŐs duty to admonish and reprove his servant for any neglect or injustice discoverable in his own worldly concerns.  If he finds him deceitful, telling lies, or otherwise offending God, the master must tell him of his fault, endeavour to reclaim him, and threaten with holy David that no deceitful person shall dwell in his house.  He that telleth lies shall not continue in his service.  The law of the land has provided for the convenient and better instruction of servants of all kinds.  All fathers, mothers, masters, and dames, shall cause their children, servants, and apprentices who have not learned their catechism to come to the church at the time appointed, and obediently to hear, and be ordered by the curate, until such time as they have learned all that is there appointed for them to learn.  [See the Rubric at the end of the Church Catechism.]

         Yet after all, without setting a good example from the master, it will be nearly useless to (a) give servants good advice, (b) afford them opportunities of serving God at home and abroad, (c) instruct them according to their leisure and abilities in the rules of honesty and justice, truth and faithfulness, (d) excite them to diligence and industry, and (e) encourage them therein.   Right principles will not be fixed in the mind, and a habit of virtuous practice in their manners cannot be formed by bad example, such as if, in the private life and conversation of those by whom families are to be directed, there appear profaneness, impiety, lewdness, debauchery, tyrannical oppressiveness, or violent and unreasonable passions.  Preachers of the gospel may give very affectionate exhortations.  Instructions given to young persons in schools or otherwise may be frequently repeated.  Yet, if the examples they find at home in the practice of common life be vicious, debauched, and altogether contrary to the precepts and admonitions given them in form, the effect of such instructions must be very inconsiderable.

         Again, moderation should always accompany a masterŐs commands and impositions.  He must not oppress his servants, but have a merciful respect to their capacity and strength.  The Lord instituted the Jewish sabbath partly that servants might be relieved and not consume a miserable life in continual labours without some intermission.  Though a master ought not to permit his servant to live in idleness, yet a servant is not to be consumed with toil, nor deprived of the benefit of serving God.  He is not presumed to consent to such a bargain, though his time and labour are his masterŐs property.

         Other care is fit to be taken of servants in health and sickness.  We are likely to make good servants if we encourage them in welldoing, as we ought to do, by using them with good nature and bounty, according to their faithfulness, diligence, and piety.  There is none so abject in spirit that he will not strive to make amends for kind treatment.  Thus it is written, Masters, give to your servants that which is equal and just, knowing that ye have also a master in heaven.  From him you expect the performance of those precious promises, which of his grace he had made to you.  From him you look for all the benefits temporal and spiritual that are fit for him to give, or you to receive.  He hath promised to be a bounteous master to all his faithful and obedient servants, and to show mercy to such as show mercy to others.  This is again enforced by what our Saviour says of himself: Behold I am among you as he that serveth; and this he said, not only to give his disciples an example of humility and condescension, but also to sanctify all conditions of life, and to show that God looks not with manŐs eyes.  God hath no respect to persons. He regards not birth and fortune, quality and title.  The meanest people in the world are acceptable with him, if they do his will.  It is virtue and religion which recommend men to his favour, of which servants are as capable as those masters that are rich and mighty and most honorable.  Wherefore, as God hath made servants partakers of the same grace here, and capable of the same glory hereafter, so he commands them to be treated with mercy and compassion.  Therefore, we should not use servants as we do our beasts of burden.  It is one of the worst ways in the world of showing our superiority by giving ill language and words which no man is deserving of.  If the truth was known, the service is not the better performed for upbraiding language.  Those servants that perform their duty do it better with good words, and live more comfortably.  Nor must masters be rigorous in punishments when servants are faulty, but inflict them mercifully and upon just occasions.

         In fine, we vainly seek for ease and happiness in liberty, and disengagement from our relative duties.  As the world was ordered, it is impossible to be at ease except by a faithful discharge of those several obligations laid upon us by the relations we contract among ourselves.  How can we possibly be happy when we cease to be good subjects, good magistrates, good Christians, good parents, good children, good brethren, good husbands and wives, good friends, good masters, and good servants?  As we are sociable creatures, we must have all the social virtues.  We cannot expect to receive any duty while we pay none to whom it is due from us.

 

Sunday  X.

I. Of negative and positive justice to our Neighbour and first to his soul.  II. Secondly, to his body, including murder, and of the several ways of committing it: as also of dueling; the heinousness, punishments, and strange discoveries of murder.  III. Of maiming, wounding, stripes, and fighting.  IV. In what cases it is lawful to shed blood.  V. Of self-murder; its infamy, causes, danger, and means to prevent it: and of melancholy persons, and prisoners that make away with themselves.  VI. Of justice toward the possessions of our neighbour; and first concerning his wife, secondly his goods; and of injustice and oppression.  VII. Of theft; including not paying of debts, bad securities, vexatious lawsuits, protections, frauds, not discharging bonds and promises, and breach of trust; and  VIII. Of stealing.

 

         I.  I come now to the remaining duties toward our neighbour, contained in the sixth and following Commandments.  They are, Ňto love him as myself, and to do unto all men as I would they should do unto me: to hurt nobody by word or deed: to be true and just in all my dealings: to bear no malice nor hatred in my heart: to keep my hands from picking and stealing, and my tongue from evilspeaking, lying, and slandering: to keep my body in temperance, soberness, and chastity: not to covet nor desire other menŐs goods; but to learn and labour truly to get mine own living, and to do my duty in that state of life unto which it shall please God to call meÓ. [See the third answer after the Commandments in the Church Catechism.]  The laws of God relating to the life of our neighbour are transgressed (a) by all the real mischiefs and lasting injuries whatever, done by one man to another, or brought by any man upon himself,  and (b) by all debaucheries whereby men destroy themselves, or which they draw others into, to the ruin of the health of their bodies and the reason of their minds.  They are also transgressed (c) by all willful frauds, and deliberate adulterations of things made use of either in food or medicine, and (d) by everything whereby any man receives detriment in his person.  Nor is it in any of these cases a sufficient excuse in point of religion and morality to allege that the evil which follows was not intended.  Every man is answerable not only for the evil he directly intended, but also for the accidental ill consequences of that action which it was his direct duty not to have performed.  As our duty to our neighbour is founded on Justice and Charity, I shall, for methodŐs sake, reduce all these particular duties we owe to our neighbour under these two general heads.

         Justice to our neighbour is to do no wrong or injury to anyoneŐs soul, body, possessions or credit, and to give every one their whole due or right.

         The soul of man is an invisible substance, and therefore cannot be hurt by any outward violence which the body is subject unto.  Yet it is capable of many impressions by which it is not only hurt and wounded, but even killed, if we consider it in a natural sense.

         The soul, in the natural signification is the heart or mind of a man.  All men know, had not Solomon taught us, the soul may be broken with sorrow and affliction.  Consequently, a malicious and spiteful man who vexes and grieves his neighbour without cause doth hurt and wrong his soul, and is guilty of a breach of justice.

         The soul, considered in its spiritual state, is that part of man which must live forever in an eternal state of glory or misery.  Under this consideration it may be hurt by sin in this world and punishment in the next, which is the consequence of sin.  That person who tempts another to sin is instrumental to drag him to punishment, and as much accessary to the hurt of that soul as a murderer is to the death of the body he has killed.  Sin is the direct opposite to that grace by which alone the soul is enabled to live forever in the sight of God.  Sin becomes the disease and wound of the soul.  This injury is given directly by every one who (a) orders any person under his authority to do an unlawful act, or (b) advises another to some wicked thing, or (c) entices others by either pleasure or profit to do any wickedness.  These means are much enhanced when men either help to contrive or to put their wicked devices in execution.  Injury is given indirectly (a) by giving bad example, especially by those that carry authority in their station of life.  Many are so void of grace as to copy other menŐs vices, as they do their dress for fashionŐs sake.  Injury can be given (b) by not showing a dislike to what we hear or see done in defiance of God and his laws, (c) by justifying and defending any evil or sinful act in themselves or others, (d) or making a mock at sin, and by (e) contemptuously deriding the faith of Christ through which alone we are to be saved.

         These are the means by which a person commonly injures the soul of his neighbour, by drawing him into intemperance, luxury, drunkenness, uncleanness, or some other vice.  It behooves every one to examine himself, how often and how many he has hurt by any of these particulars.  It is not sufficient to say, I have wronged no man by maiming his body, stealing his goods, or undermining his character.  Whomsoever we draw to sin, we have endeavoured to bring to eternal punishment.  This is as it were secretly killing the soul under the pretense of friendship.  This is much worse than a murder of that sort acted upon the body.  The soul is more preferable than the body, and eternal misery is more to be dreaded than death.  Such a murderer cannot hope to escape unpunished at the last day.  Christ declares, Whosoever shalt offend (or entice to sin) one of these little ones that believe in me, it were better for him that a millstone were hanged about his neck, and he were cast into the sea.

         Whoever is thus accessary to anotherŐs sin, becomes also subject to, and has reason also to expect, the same punishment Ń unless he begins early to judge and deeply regret all those things in which he has wronged his neighbour, and firmly resolves never to cast a stumbling block in his way for the future. He must endeavour all that he can, by admonition and good example, to reform him whom he had caused to sin.  So far negative justice regards the souls of men.

         II.  Now let us consider negative justice in regard to the bodies of men.  This forbids us to do wrong and violence, the highest degree of which is killing the body.  Such killing is the sin forbidden in the sixth Commandment, Thou shalt do no murder.  That is, Thou shalt neither (a) by open violence, in defiance of the laws of God and man, nor (b) secretly or treacherously, by the means of anotherŐs sword, nor (c) by false accusation, nor (d) by poison, nor (e) by any other private means whatever, take away the life of thy neighbour.  These are too often suggested by an old, grudging, or covetous, or ambitious heart, to satisfy a malicious passion, or to make way to some profit or preferment.  It is too often become the practice of loose women who kill their infants to hide their own shame.  Some entice others to drinking or other excesses, which bring on diseases and weaken the body.  They deprive them of health, the most valuable comfort of life, and also hasten the time of death.  They cannot hope to be clear from their blood in the sight of God.  Whoever excites or prompts another to such a pitch of anger and revenge, or promotes dissension between others, certainly cannot be guiltless.  He must expect part of the punishment if it ends in murder.

         Duels, or fighting in private quarrels, are often breaches of this commandment.  They are disallowed by divine authority.  Therefore, the guilt of murder is chargeable upon the persons engaging in duels.  The plea of self-preservation is utterly foreign to the conditions and circumstances of him who formally gives or accepts a challenge.  He adds to the sin of making an outrageous attempt upon his neighbourŐs life, by throwing himself unnecessarily into the utmost danger of losing not only his own life, but his soul also.  Those who die in such engagements go into the other world void of charity and glowing with warmth and fury.  When these qualities have the last possession of their souls, what society of spirits can that be which their souls are qualified for in the next world?  If they do not perish in the conflict, is it worth a manŐs while to run the hazard of suffering eternal misery for the sake of redressing an injury or resenting an affront?  Consequently, all arguments of human invention to countenance such a wickedness must be evasive and deluding.  To fear men more than God is the most dishonorable misapplication and degeneracy of fear.  There is nothing which religion does more severely forbid than this revenging of injuries in a private way.  There is nothing more strictly enjoined than forbearance and forgiveness, so strictly that we cannot, without hypocrisy, say our daily prayers unless we be in charity with all the world.  Therefore, whoever engages in duels through fear of suffering little calumnies and reproaches, which are not really such, forfeits all just pretensions to true courage, honour, and generosity of mind, and all claim and title to eternal life.

         This precept extends, according to the interpretation of Christ and his apostles, to our words and secret intentions.  Our blessed Lord expressly applies it to the several degrees of causeless anger, breaking forth into contumelious and reproachful language; and, in St. JohnŐs account, Whosoever hateth his brother is a murderer; and ye know that a murderer hath no eternal life abiding in him.  Such as do not have enough natural courage, or who lack opportunities to actually defile their hands with blood, may yet sacrifice their neighbour in their secret thoughts, and indulge their imagination in the view of those mortal wounds which they dare not give.  Men who are afraid to handle the instruments of death may shoot out their arrows, even bitter words, and pierce the souls of their brethren with the expressions of cruelty, despitefulness, and scorn.  They may justly fear that the blood thus shed in fancy and conception only should be laid to their charge.  The rewards of the false or cruel tongue shall be, as of the iniquity itself, mighty and sharp arrows with hot burning coal.  Whosoever is angry with his brother without a cause, shall be in danger of the judgment; and whosoever shall say to his brother, Raca, shall be in danger of the council; but whosoever shall say, Thou fool, shalt be in danger of hellfire.

         Taking away the guilt of this transgression from (a) the indignity offered unto God, or (b) from the injury done to man, (c) or from the punishment expressly denounced against it, (d) or from the anguish and horror which it is apt to leave upon the mind, would be among the loudest of crying sins.  The first instance of murder was followed closely by perplexity, oppression, and despair.  My punishment is greater than I can bear; or rather, mine iniquity is greater than can be forgiven me, says Cain, who slew his brother.  It follows, Every one that findeth me shall slay me: the whole creation must be alarmed, and stand ready to execute vengeance on me.  That weight of confusion, which natural conscience rarely fails to lay upon such sinners, must be increased by the expression of GodŐs indignation.  The Lord abhors the bloodthirsty, has expressly forbidden showing any mercy or compassion to a murderer, and will accept of no satisfaction for his life.  As he has declared by Moses, If a man come presumptuously upon his neighbour, and slay him with guile, thou shalt take him from mine altar that he may die.  When the sentence of death is pronounced upon him, this reason is subjoined, For in the image of God made he man.  There are special aggravations of the injury done to man, as well as the indignity thereby offered to God.  Other injuries may be repaired or admit of some satisfaction.  Murder is utterly irreparable.  Other injuries may rob a man of his estate or reputation, or of some particular advantages.  Murder is the summary of mischief, and deprives him once for all of every temporal satisfaction whatever.  This injury may prove fatal to the suffererŐs soul as well as to his body, and at once consign him to the first and second death by depriving him of that space to repent.  Repentance may be necessary, and might have been sufficient to the accomplishment of his salvation.  The injury might fall upon him under a state of impenitence, and press him down into everlasting destruction.  The weight of it, even in relation to this view of that eternal state, must fall heavily upon him.  Who can bear the thoughts of being thrown headlong into the other world, instead of moving thither through the common course of nature and providence?  Even the best of men would be glad of a few minutes at the last to review and mourn over their miscarriages and defects.  They would be glad to have a little time, in the conclusion of their lives, to prepare them for their appearance before the glorious and unspotted presence of God.  If these advantages be so desirable, how grating must that injury be which deprives men of them?

         Shall they then escape GodŐs justice, who thus dare to wrest, as it were, the power of life and death out of the hand of God?  You have read of the punishment of Cain.  Let the dreadful death of Jezebel and Ahab, which God sent upon them for the murder of innocent Naboth, deter every one from the worst of sins.  Other murderers perished miserably under the vengeance of God: Absalom, for the death of his brother Amnon; and Rechab and Baanah, who themselves were put to death by the very person they thought to please by the murder of Ishbosheth.  It is needless to multiply examples from sacred history or ancient times, when every age produces sufficient evidence that no murderer can escape the just wrath of God.  By the law of nature therefore, this crime was always judged worthy of the severest punishment.  The very barbarians reasoned among themselves that a murderer, whatever escapes he may make, should not live.  By the laws of all civilized nations in the world, murder has always been punished capitally, and sometimes with the most cruel kinds of death.  By the law of Moses, God commanded that no satisfaction should he taken for the life of a murderer, but the guilty person was to be taken even from GodŐs altar, that he might die.

         God hath armed every sensitive part of the creation against this wickedness.  A manŐs own conscience, which must be privy to the sin, from that time racks him, and becomes a punishment to him worse than death.  His conscience also frequently compels him to confess the crime, that justice may be executed on his body.  Too often it drives him unto the murder of himself.  The very brute creatures have frequently detected this unpardonable barbarity.  They therefore that duly consider this sin with its punishments should guard themselves from all the ways of committing it.  If we give way to passion, there is no security that it will not end in murder.  Anger is a madness which deprives us of our reason, so that we cannot tell what we do when influenced thereby.  If malice gets us into its power, or if covetousness, ambition, lust, or any other sinful desire get dominion over us, they will not stop at murder to serve their wicked purposes.  As intemperance will cut off the life of man, we must not only not entice a man to drunkenness, nor keep him company, but we must ourselves refrain from that vice.  Our example may draw others to do the same. Finally, let us neither encourage nor contribute to that contention which may take away life.  So shall our hands be innocent from blood that is shed against the commandment of God.

         III.  Neither may we dismember, maim, or deface our neighbourŐs person.  If such sins, willfully committed, are not a direct and effectual breach of the command, are at least a partial violation of it.  The judgment of God has abundantly declared the guilt of such practices, however slight.  Even in the case of a bondservant, for example, the masterŐs cruelty of striking out a tooth was the servantŐs discharge from his servitude.  These outrages have a natural tendency to the death of the party, which frequently follows.  They disable the sufferer from getting his bread, which in the event may prove a more lingering and tormenting death.  If we are accountable for the consequences of our actions to God, why not to our fellow creatures?

         Does not every one dread the loss of a limb?  Would we not do and suffer anything, and part with any of our worldly goods, to preserve it in time of danger?  Is that doing as we would be done by, if we attempt that to another which is so intolerable to ourselves?  The evil is highly aggravated where the injured person happens to be poor, who must labour for his living, and perchance is the only support of a poor family.  He then that deprives him of his limbs, by which he maintained himself, is a man of blood.  He that taketh away his neighbourŐs living slayeth him.  What satisfaction then can be made in such a case?  It is certain that we cannot restore the limb, but we must keep him if we are able.  If we are not able, we must relieve and support him by our own extraordinary labour.  Whatever new afflictions, or whatever sin this brings him into, we must answer for them before the judgment seat of Christ.

         This commandment by just interpretation forbids all kinds of injuries done to the body of our neighbours, such as wounds and stripes.  If mercifulness to the beasts that perish be commanded, much more is this cruelty and unmercifulness to our fellow creatures forbidden.  We must do justice to every man in public and in private.  We must do to others, as we would they should do to us: not what other people actually do to us, but what we want that they should do unto us.  Common retaliation with self-justification is to say, ŇSuch a man refused to do me a kind office when it was in his power.  Why should I serve him?  He treated me with rigour and severity, when he had opportunity.  Why should I not treat him in like manner?Ó  This is not doing as we would be done by.  It is the language of passion, and not of reason filled with the grace of God.  Can we be justified in doing what we condemn in another?  Shall that be a fault in him, and a virtue in us?  By the law of nature we are allowed to defend ourselves, but never to take vengeance.  Christianity teaches us not to measure our own by the behaviour of other men.

         Therefore, nothing but excessive pride and contempt of others can ever induce a man to wound someone of his same nature who can scarce bear, without the utmost discontent, the least reproachful word.  What excuse have those persons who take pleasure in the cruelties they exercise on their poor neighbours upon vain pretenses and without any mercy.  What excuse is there for those inhuman tempers that take pleasure in setting others to fight?

         The case of Abraham, in designing and attempting to sacrifice his son, does not fall under any of these reasons or observations.  It depends upon circumstances which were peculiar to his own person.  They never were nor ever can be drawn out into a precedent, or be a vindication of any private person who shall make an attempt upon his neighbourŐs life.  Abraham was called to this by a revelation from God and, therefore, must not be imitated by any one who cannot bring an undoubted proof of the same authority.  Wherefore, every private person who takes away or invades his neighbourŐs life is chargeable with the guilt of the sin of murder Ń that is, if the killer is (a) without a revelation from heaven, and kills not ignorantly or accidentally, but (b) knowingly and designedly, (c) without any necessity arising from the imminent, or otherwise unavoidable danger of his own destruction, (d) by open assault, or (e) secret contrivance, (f) in person or (g) by agreement with any other, (g) by command or persuasion, consent or consultation, suggestions or insinuations, bearing false witness, (h) or hiring others so to do, or by any other means but what has been already mentioned above.

         IV.  There is no law but will admit of mitigation.  Both passion and reason have endeavoured to find an exception to this commandment.  Passion strives to quiet a reproving conscience by various pretenses and false colours.  Reason clearly explains the true intention of GodŐs precept, showing in what case it is lawful to take away a manŐs life.  We may lawfully take away a manŐs life in the case of self-preservation.  This is certain and obvious.  It can scarcely admit of any mistake when the danger is manifest that we must unavoidably either give or receive the fatal stroke.  We may lawfully kill a man in battle if we are satisfied that such a war is undertaken by a state or kingdom to support and maintain its just rights, or even sometimes to preserve itself and its allies from utter ruin.  Magistrates are invested with a just authority to inflict capital punishments upon offenders.  It is just to cut off the corrupt members of the body politic, as well as natural for the preservation and benefit of the whole.  That person who, through pure ignorance or unforeseen and unavoidable accident, deprives another of his life is innocent.  An action which has no foundation in the will is not properly criminal.  The nature of every action, with regard to good and evil, is determined by the intention.  Where there is no intention of doing the action, there can be no morality or immorality in that action.  Therefore, under the Mosaic dispensation a sanctuary was, by divine appointment, provided for every one who was so innocently unfortunate as to kill his neighbour ignorantly and at unawares; lest the avenger of blood should pursue and slay him before his innocence should be sufficiently cleared up.  These are the cases wherein the lives of men may be taken away without sin.  For the sake of distinguishing these cases, the words of the commandments are thus rendered, Thou shalt do no murder.  Murder, therefore, is the killing of a man, (a) not by misfortune but with design; (b) not for our own defense and preservation in necessity, but out of malice and hatred toward our neighbour; (c) not as destroying a public enemy, but one with whom we ought to have lived under the natural ties of friendship and humanity, or at least of mutual forgiveness; (d) not as bringing a malefactor to execution for the preservation of the commonwealth, but as cutting off an innocent member to the hurt and loss of public society.

 

Sunday  X.  Part  II.

         V.  What has been said concerning the killing of another also applies to self-murder.  No man has a right to anticipate the call of God or to bereave the public of a member by destroying himself.  Every person who knowingly and willfully destroys his own life is guilty of murder.  God only, who gave us our life, has a right to take it away.  Consequently, everyone who offers violence to his own life manifestly invades the prerogative and usurps the right and authority of God.  There are many examples among the heathens who fell by their own hands upon some pressing extremities.  Their rules, laws, and reasonings forbid such practices.  Examples against rules are of no authority.  Men of loose principles have always had false notions of liberty, honour, and courage.  Though we live in an age when every extravagant and wicked thing is justified by some wretch or other, yet we should be loth to have posterity believe that this was the general sense and judgment of our age.

         Let us then consult the wise and the laws, the rules, and reasonings of the grave and governing part.  From them we shall learn that self-murder was an abhorred practice.  Whatever pretense is made to honour and courage, it was but cowardice, fear, and a mark of poor spirit, that sunk under the common calamities of nature.  Such a practice is to be abhorred and condemned with all our zeal, to be guarded against with all our care, reason, and religion.  We are to walk in the ways of God, and pour out our prayers for his preventing and assisting grace, that his fear may ever be before us, and the temptations to such impiety may never overcome us.  Considering the love of ourselves, the inhumanity of the crime, and dangers run by those who are guilty of self-murder, it is surprising how any person can resolve upon such a desperate self-condemning action.  They who murder themselves know and confess they are tied by the sixth commandment not to commit murder.  The letter and sense of the commandment will reach not only his neighbour, but himself also.  A man may be weary of life and seek for death.  He may desire ease of pain or rest from weariness of labour.  Yet it would be unlawful to give him the satisfaction he desired by killing him.  It would be murdering that single man.  Such a death would bring mischiefs upon his family.  Murder does not barely consist in the violence that is offered to one against his will, but also in taking away a life which he has no right to take away by laws human or divine.  As a man has no right himself, therefore he can convey no right to another to take away his own life.  But when men engage in wicked practices and find they are brought to shame or danger, their minds are not equal to their burden.  They can bear the guilt but not the shame which confounds and oppresses.

         Some persons have neither the fear of God nor their own salvation before their eyes.  They should consider what sorrow and confusion are unavoidably occasioned to the nearest friends they have in the world by parting from them in such a manner.  Neither poverty nor bodily afflictions are so hard to bear as the shame, reproach, or infamy, or even the apprehension of such a woeful death.  Will you entail on your kindred and family the reproaches and insults of an uncharitable world, with perplexing doubts and fears concerning your condition in the other life?  What ingratitude is this to do mischief and dishonour to those you love!  These considerations have hitherto had their weight with heathens.  Shall Christians break through all considerations of their own honour, interest and duty, and not be content to live till they can die without doing wrong or mischief to their friends?  A true Christian believes that the wrath of God is revealed against all unrighteousness; that without repentance sins cannot be forgiven; and that after death there is no repentance.  A man may have professed the faith of Christ crucified and covenanted with God in baptism to take up the cross and bear it, if need be, to death.  Yet, pressed by some calamity, he may in the impatience of his soul deliberately choose to throw his burden off by committing a sin of which he knows he never can repent, and venture the dreadful consequence to everlasting ages.  This is what nobody could ever reason themselves into the belief of if the frequent practice of unhappy people did not convince us it may be perpetrated.  Therefore, it may be an useful caution to have our minds prepared and affections subdued, that we may not be destitute of succour from reason, or give ourselves up to the guidance of present passion.

         Those who fall into such desperate resolutions meet with consequences.  Their passions are highly indulged and yielded to.  When grievous accidents befall them, they know not where they are, nor whither to turn.  They can bear no loss, nor fall from the condition in which they were.  They abandon themselves to despair of GodŐs help and mercy.  They place their whole happiness in possessing riches, enjoying honours, and in the praise of men.  When riches, honours, and dignities are lost, they know not how to breathe in any other air, nor to want the courtships and respects that were wont to be paid, not to their persons, but to their power and interest.  When they sink in their reputation, they are dejected to the lowest ebb.  They are afraid that every eye views them with contempt, and that every tongue is reproaching them.

         Can this be a sufficient plea for self-murder?  No.  The miseries men endure will end in death at last, which may come quickly.  The sins that brought them to that misery will be forgiven upon repentance, be they ever so great and many.  But seeking relief in self-murder is a sin that admits of no repentance.  It consigns them to eternal pains and sorrows, the punishment of murder in general.  They expose themselves particularly to the greater condemnation by some particular sentiments and dispositions which are commonly the root and foundation of this unnatural sin.  It is the same thing whether we consume ourselves by a slow lingering poison, or dispatch ourselves by an immediate death.  We are equally guilty of self-murder, whether we knowingly wear away the springs of life gradually, abandoning ourselves to wasting grief, or we cut at once the thread of it violently asunder.  Those men, who destroy themselves to avoid present sufferings, resolve that God shall not dispose of them as he pleaseth.  They will wrest their lives out of his hands, and not suffer him to prolong or continue them beyond the limits of their own will.  If this be their language, as by their actions it must be, what can be expected but that God would execute the fiercest of his vengeance upon their disobedience?  If pride, and envy, and ambition have so much power over their minds, that they will violently remove themselves out of the world because they are not advanced to a more advantageous situation in it, what can they reasonably expect or imagine, but that they should feel SolomonŐs observation in the most extensive sense of it, that pride goeth before destruction, and a haughty spirit before a fall?  What foundation is there for hope that God will forgive a flagrant sin without the sinnerŐs repentance for it?  Can a man repent of a sin, the commission of which he ends his life?  These are some of the many reasons against self-murder.

         When men come into these perilous hours, they are generally deaf to all reason, and listen only to the suggestions of their passions.  If they be not prepared beforehand to withstand such assault, they seldom do it when the danger approaches.  Wherefore, it is more in menŐs power to be innocent and out of difficulties and straits than, being involved, to deliver themselves from the distracted counsels and suggestions of their despairing minds.  Although they be such as all men would have startled at and abhorred, when free of such distractions, a man overwhelmed with misery is not inclined to ask, or capable of taking counsel when offered.  Therefore, it is safer to secure men from such principles as occasion these perplexing thoughts than retrieve them from the power and influence of them.  Let them consider that God is the best of beings.  A being absolutely and necessarily good can never intend anything unmerciful or cruel.  Few attempts of this kind are made till religion is mastered and its impressions effaced, or men are so misguided as to think these mischiefs may be done and religion be safe.

         Those unhappy people who lie under the dreadful apprehension of GodŐs anger, accounting themselves vessels of wrath, fitted for destruction, and unable to live under the torment of that thought to put an end to their miserable lives, are most to be pitied while alive, and spared when dead.  Nothing can look so like distraction, as that distemperature of brain which makes them act so strangely.  With them I would reason: If they are vessels of wrath, is this the way to ease them?  If they believe themselves consigned to misery in the other world, what do they get by throwing themselves into a place of torment before the time appointed?  This is to die for fear of death, and indeed a great deal more disastrous.

         And so, let me conclude with a word of advice to condemned criminals who sometimes attempt to prevent their legal punishment by dispatching themselves.  Do they think that they save themselves the shame publicly?  Vain imagination!  What can these wretches propose by falling into the hands of the living God sooner than they need to do, if they lived as long as God would let them live?  What can more resemble madness than, on the one hand, to believe that Christ died for such as repent and believe the gospel, and yet, on the other hand, to distrust he died for me.  In repentance I am so sorry for my sins that I would give the world (if it were mine), desiring that I never had offended God, willing rather (a) to lose all the world than commit the like any more, and (b) to purchase the favour of God with my blood, rather than have his displeasure rise against me.  This is repenting and believing, and yet this is the case of many unhappy souls.  What can be more like distraction than to believe and repent, to sorrow and amend, and yet conclude ourselves vessels of wrath under GodŐs vengeance?

         VI.  I have already shown how far and by what means any one injures his neighbour in his soul and body.  Now, in the next place, I shall declare in what manner a man may be wronged in his possessions, of which his wife may properly be said to be the chief.  Therefore I shall proceed to show the heinousness of a breach of the seventh Commandment where it is said, Thou shalt not commit adultery.

         Enticing a manŐs wife from her husbandŐs bed is injustice, doing wrong not only to the man but to his wife also.  She is thereby robbed of her innocence and deluded into the high road of eternal perdition.  She brings herself into the guilt of lust and perjury, and the discredit which such a blemish throws upon her character.  Adultery most certainly chills her proper affections toward her own husband, and that seldom fails to end in loathing, disgust, and a multitude of other evils, which of all others make the marriage state the most miserable.

         What greater injustice can be done to the husband than to rob him of the love and faithfulness which is due to him from the wife of his bosom, and overwhelming him (if it be found out) with the most anxious pains of jealousy?  This unjust world even adds to his sorrow by reproaching the injured man with scorn and contempt only because he is injured.  It is theft and robbery if the injured husband must provide for a spurious offspring of his wifeŐs adulterous practices.  Such a child would take from the legitimate and can never be satisfied without a restoration to the defrauded family of as much as such a provision has taken from it.  Under the Jewish law adulterers were to be stoned to death because, it is presumed, that no man can ever make a sufficient satisfaction for so great an injury to the soul and body of his neighbour.  Other ill consequences of this vice are (a) that it propagates sickness and infirmities both upon men themselves and their posterities; (b) that it is destructive of human society and of the public welfare; (c) that it separates the nearest relations; (d) lays the ground of inextricable confusions, and implacable dissensions in families; and (e) oftentimes occasions public contentions, murders, and seditions.  Hardly from any other cause have issued greater and more tragic events.  This should warn those who continue now in this crime, that they repent.  Though the Jewish law is abrogated, yet GodŐs justice is still the same.  His knowledge penetrates the most secret parts, and he will call men into judgment and punish them with death eternal for unrepented adulteries, which mast be lamented with a whole life of penitential exercises.

         Secondly, we must not injure our neighbour in his goods Đ that is to say, none of his possessions, whether houses, land, money, cattle, or anything that is his property and right Đ by endeavouring to hurt or damage, or to defraud, or in any wise get any of them for our own use which includes both malice and covetousness.

         The malice of this injustice appears where no interest or profit can follow to the person who takes pleasure to hurt, damage, or destroy the goods of a neighbour whom he hates.  Such action most nearly resembles the continual practice of the devil to undo others without doing himself any good.  It much exceeds the devil in wickedness, forasmuch as he only envies creatures of another nature, whereas the malicious man persecutes those of his own nature.

         Its covetousness is most notorious, which will be better understood when considered under the distinct heads of oppression, theft, and deceit.

         Oppression is an open violence, and force against our neighbourŐs goods, and a sin condemned by all.  Even those that practice it in some of its very criminal branches, where the halter is not about their necks, will cry aloud against it.  No state nor condition of men are secure from it.  Many rich, honorable and powerful Đ nations, princes and subjects Đ have been deprived of their rights, liberties, and estates by violence.  Gifts, bribes, grandeur, and authority have too often corrupted or overawed a judge, and taken the place of justice.  In which case all persons concerned Đ the lawyer that pleads and he that gives sentence Đ are guilty of oppression.  Different branches of the sin of oppression are exercised by extortioners: (a) whoever takes advantage of a poor manŐs needs and extorts too great a usury from him, pretending to supply his own pressing necessities; (b) a griping landlord who puts his tenants on the rack; (c) those who are entrusted with assessing, taxing, and rating their neighbours, and not only do it without justice and mercy, but too frequently lay hold of such opportunities to gratify some private pique or resentment.

         Let them remember the danger they risk.  The Lord has declared by the mouth of his prophet, that be who hath oppressed the poor, and hath spoiled by violence, shall surely die; his blood shall be upon him.  Therefore, take the advice of Solomon, who exhorts us not to rob the poor, because he is poor; neither to oppress the afflicted in the gate.  The Lord will plead their cause and spoil the soul of those that spoiled them.

         VII.  The second sort of this injustice is theft.  Theft is an unlawful taking, using, or keeping of our neighbourŐs property, either by force or fraud.  The extent of this sin is wide and deep.  It is revealed in defrauding our creditors, or withholding what is our duty to pay or return, and in taking from our neighbour what he already possesses.  All debts, stealing, deceit, or breach of trust, and deceit in traffic, are to be considered as parts of theft.

         He who lends to one man and gives him credit for money or commodities, or accepts of security for what he lends to another, acquires a right to be justly repaid according to contract.  The debtor hath only a right to use what be borrows for his present convenience or necessity.  The property remains in the hand of the creditor, who hath the same right to it as when it was in his own custody.  This obliges us to borrow no more than we have a fair prospect of repaying, unless he that credits us knows our inability, and is willing to run the hazard of the loss.  Whoever engages himself in debt beyond what he can reasonably hope to repay takes that from his creditor upon a promise of payment, which he knows he is never likely to restore him.  That is at least as high an injustice as if he had taken it by force or on the highway.  What then shall we say of those who refuse and deny it, or take indirect courses either to abate or avoid the payment of their lawful debts?  This deprives a creditor not only of the present use and possession of his money, but also of his property.

         The same is to be said of borrowing upon false or insufficient securities, such as bad mortgages, counterfeit pawns, or insolvent bondsmen.  He who takes up his neighbourŐs goods or money upon such securities, as he knows are incapable of repaying him, doth as manifestly wrong him, as if he had taken them by stealth or violence.  Our debts are our creditors rights.  If we would be just debtors, we must neither reckon what we owe to be our own, nor to dispose of it as to put it out of our power to restore it to the true proprietors.  In so doing we rob and injure our creditor.

         They ought to be no less careful to repay it upon the due demand, or according to contract.  As it is unjust to deprive a creditor of his money, so it is unjust to deprive him of the use and possession of it any longer than he consents and agrees to it.  Wherefore, such debtors who (a) put off their payments without their creditors consent, when it is in their power to discharge them, or (b) put them upon fruitless attendances, and make advantages of their money against their consent and beyond their contracts and agreements, fall into a degree of injustice next to that of robbing and despoiling them of it.  Consequently, by an indispensable rule of justice, every debtor is obliged rather to strip himself of all, and cast himself on the providence of God than, by denying his debts or indirectly shifting the payment of them, to feather his nest with the spoil of his neighbourŐs property.

         Therefore, when, (a) by refusing to pay what we owe, we force our creditors upon costly or troublesome suits to recover their own; or (b) by pleading protections, or sheltering ourselves in a prison, we avoid being forced to it by law; or (c) by fraudulent breakings, we necessitate them to compound our debts and accept a part for the whole; Đ whichsoever of these ways we take to deprive our creditors of their rights, we are inexcusably dishonest.  By knavish evasions we may force them to acquit and discharge us.  Yet we cannot force God in whose book of accounts our debts are recorded as well as in theirs.  There is nothing can cancel them there but only a full restitution.  If they are not cancelled there, all the tricks and evasions in the world will never be able to secure us from a dismal reckoning, and a more dismal execution at the bar of divine justice.

         The same justice calls upon everyone also to discharge those debts which, either through friendship for the debtor, or on any other account, they have made their own by being bound for another who is either incapable or unjust enough to refuse payment.  The case is hard with the bondsman to pay for what he has neither eaten nor drank for, and in likelihood will detriment his family, and perhaps bring him to the very brink of poverty.  But he cannot blame the creditor for these consequences, whose right to his money cannot be superseded by any act the debtor can do, or anything the bondsman can suffer, till the value received is duly and honestly restored.  Such misfortunes are severe cautions for us never to enter into such engagements rashly, or without good grounds of security to ourselves but no allowance for breaking them, on which the creditor placed his chief confidence.  Therefore, he must either be paid by that means, or he is cheated and betrayed.

         Of all debts, those of a manŐs own voluntary promise admit of the least excuse for nonpayment or willful withholding of them.  Does not David in his description of a just man command us, as it were, to pay those promised debts, though they had been made to our own disadvantage?  They include the wages of servants and the hire of the labourer.  Whoever delays to discharge them must remember the express command of God: Thou shalt not oppress a hired servant that is poor and needy, whether he be of thy brethren, or of the strangers that are in thy land within thy gates.  At his day thou shalt give him his hire, neither shall the sun go down upon it, for he is poor, and setteth his heart upon it: lest he cry against thee unto the Lord, and it be sin unto thee.

         Any of these offences committed in breach of trust Đ which is the case of servants and any others who are entrusted with other menŐs affairs Đ however the law may alleviate the punishment, in conscience is an aggravation and increase of the guilt because it is a breach both of justice and fidelity.  Nor is it any diminution of the crime, when it is the public that is wronged by any unjust act.  Though it is not so obviously and immediately apparent upon whom the injury falls, as in the case of private wrongs, yet the uncertainty, or the number of the persons among whom the damage may chance to be divided, alters not the nature of the crime itself.  Injuries of this kind in smaller instances are not, perhaps, immediately felt and complained of.  When the public come to be wronged by persons of large and extensive power, not only the crime itself but the effects of it also become greater and more apparent than in the case of private injustice.

         VIII.  When a man takes from another what is already in his possession, then theft is called stealing.  Thieves include (a) those most notorious rogues that rob upon the highway, (b) those that forcibly break up houses and carry off their neighbours goods or chattels, and also (c) those little pilfering thieves whose fingers cleave to every little thing they see in private.  Against these the law of the land has enacted the punishment of death, which few ever escape who make a constant practice of this injustice.  Nothing but timely and sincere repentance can secure them from the eternal punishment of GodŐs justice.  So dear is the price of their iniquity as to venture not only their neck, but also to barter their soul likewise for every little trifle they steal from another, or buy, or receive knowing it to be stolen.  Many, who seem to abhor stealing, are guilty in buying such things a little cheaper than at common price.  Nor must we conceal our neighbourŐs goods.  If we find a thing, know its right owner, and keep it for our own use, we cheat him and thereby are guilty of theft.  Young persons must especially take heed of the beginning of this sin, of being tempted to do wrong in smaller matters, in things that may seem at first of no great consequence, not very highly injurious to the person wronged, nor very shocking to the conscience of him that does the injustice.  This is of all others the greatest and most dangerous temptation.  Few sinners begin with the very highest crimes.  They are usually seduced at first into smaller transgressions, becoming hardened by degrees, till at length they run into the greatest and most capital offences.

 

Sunday  XI.

I. Of deceit in Trust.  II. Of fraud in trade, and of the rules in tree and bargaining; to use plainness, no extortion nor oppression, no unjust weights and measures, nor bad money; and of the advantage of fair dealing.  III. Of evil-gotten goods, disquiet of conscience, and the necessity of restitution.  IV. Of our neighbourŐs credit, or good name; including false reports, speaking evil of the e7ercil, censoriousness, false witness, public slander, whispering, despising and scoffing at infirmities, calamities, and sins: of tale-bearing, and reasons against these vices.  V.  Of positive justice; which requires truth, and condemns flattery, lying, equivocation, envy, and detraction.  VI. Of respect due to men of extraordinary gifts, rank, quality, wealth, and to the poor.  VII. Of gratitude to benefactors.

 

         I.  Next to stealing, follows the sin and injustice of Deceit; which I shall describe under the heads of trust and traffic.

         Breach of trust includes defrauding and promise breaking and is a great sin.  He who trusts another doth thereby unite him with a particular bond of society to himself upon a promise to be served so far as he trusts him.  If I accept the trust to be (a) an arbitrator in a cause, or (b) an executor of a will, or (c) a guardian to children, (d) a factor or assignee, or (e) a keeper of any pledge, I am admitted as a partner and representative in such matters.  My fidelity stands engaged for my behaviour in those several trusts.  Wherefore, if by my neglect I suffer any of his trusts to miscarry, I am dishonest and injurious to him.  I undertook to do for him all that I can suppose he would have done for himself, had he been master of my skill and capacity.  If I betray the trust he committed to me for a bribe, or convert it to my own advantage, I rob him more infamously than if I demanded his purse by open violence.  I abuse that trust to betray his interest, by which I was obligated to secure and defend it as if I had exchanged persons, and his interest were my own.  Therefore, to betray his interest for my own advantage, when he had made me next his own person in power, is perfidiousness and injustice.  This should be a caution to all those who have the kingŐs commission, all public and parish officers, as well as to stewards and servants, that they faithfully discharge their respective trusts.  In these frauds, where God or the poor are immediately concerned, as in all estates for, and legacies left in trust to, pious and charitable uses, the theft or breach of trust becomes sacrilege; the malignity of which crime is particularly condemned by the sentence of the Wise man, who says, It is a sin to devour that which is holy.

         II.  The second sort of fraud is in matters of traffic and bargaining, when either the buyer or seller receives any damage or loss.  Bargains in buying and selling are a voluntary exchange of interests.  We owe this duty one to another to deal honestly in making and faithfully discharging our engagements.  Deliberate or contrived fraud is in itself a crime of the deepest malignity, and of the most pernicious consequence.  It is a sin which tends to destroy all human society, all trust and confidence among men, all justice and equity, which is the support of the world, and without which no society of men can subsist.  Deliberate fraud is, of all other sins, one of the most open defiances of conscience, and the most willful opposition to right reason that can be imagined.  Then for a Christian Đ a man that professes a pure and more holy religion, a religion that commands not only common justice and equity, but singular love and goodwill toward our neighbour Đ to be guilty of a contrived and deliberate fraud, which the conscience even of a good heathen would abhor, is a greater aggravation of the crime.  The end of buying and selling is to furnish one another with the necessaries and conveniences of life.  Both buyer and seller have a right proper to them, so to buy and sell, as that the buyer may have the worth of his money, and the seller the worth of his commodity.  Otherwise, instead of mutually assisting, we must necessarily oppress each other.

         It may be a difficult matter to determine what the exact measure is, which in buying and selling ought to be observed between man and man.  Yet in all cases of dealing we must ask ourselves how we want to be dealt by in the same circumstances.  Our answer to that is our duty to those we deal with.  I know how I should expect to be used, if my neighbour and I had changed persons and circumstances.  I should think it reasonable to expect such measures from him, and therefore he hath reason to expect the same from me.  When I consult myself how I would be dealt by, those very passions which incline me to wrong others will instruct me to do them justice.  Consequently, no rule in the world can be pressed with fewer encumbrances, or darkened with less intricacy.  No rule can lie open to larger use, or be readier at present application, or more obvious to all capacities.  How then can men pretend to excuse themselves when their duty lies so plainly before them, or would not do their duty when they do understand it?

         Therefore, use plainness and simplicity in all your dealings.  Do not, by disparaging another manŐs commodity, or overvaluing your own, endeavour to draw on an advantageous bargain.  Neither ask far beyond, nor bid much below, what reason must inform you to be the real worth.  Do not say you cannot take less, or give more, when you know you may with sufficient profit to yourself.  Make no false pretenses nor cover what is true, but, so far as in you lies, fit your affirmations and denials to the understanding of the person you deal with.  Do not lie in ambush behind your words to trap and ensnare the person with whom you transact.  Not only that which is false, but also that which deceives, is unjust in bargains.

         Do not impose upon any manŐs unskillfulness or ignorance.  So long as you keep within the latitude of lawful gain, you may use your skill against another man in driving a bargain.  In an ordinary plenty of commodities there is an ordinary price, which those that deal in them know and understand.  When the contractors equally understand the price, there can be no deception or injustice in the contract, be it made ever so hard.  On the contrary, if he whom I contract with be ignorant or unskillful, I must not rate his want of understanding, or set a tax upon his ignorance, but use him justly, as one that reposes a trust in me, and casts himself upon my equity.  If I do not this, I am guilty of injustice.

         A man who takes unfair advantage of anotherŐs necessities is also guilty.  When a poor man is driven by his wants and forced to sell his wares to supply his necessities, give him the price you would have done if he wanted your money no more than you need his goods.  On the other side, if the poor man be forced to buy upon trust, increase your price no higher than what makes you recompense for the loss which by the rules of trade you sustain by the credit you give him.  He who makes unfair advantage of anotherŐs necessities adds oppression to misery.  This is not only injustice, but cruelty.  Neither must you take anything from the commodity or price for which you have bargained.  He who buys a commodity by weight and measure hath a right to as much as the common standard allows him.  Taking anything from the bargain by false weights, or measures, or adulteration, or by falsely weighing or measuring, is no less than theft.  He who sells a commodity hath a right to the money for which he sold it.  If the buyer knowingly pay him uncurrent coins or forcibly detain him from any part of the price, he also manifestly violates the indispensable rules of justice.  Moreover, be not guilty of engrossing, or buying all of a commodity into your own hands, with the sole view of selling it the dearer and thereby oppressing or distressing the public.  Neither let the people curse you for being the first that hath raised the price of goods.  Deal not in stolen goods, knowing or suspecting them to be such, for thereby you become as bad as the thief.  Neither let it be laid to your charge that you have taken any abusive advantage of the mistake or oversight of the seller.  Whoever takes more than he bought, or gives anything less than he bargained for, is guilty of theft.  Finally, never justify your deceit, when you are detected of a fraud, by adding lies to your unfair dealing.  A good and quiet conscience is to be valued above the greatest gain.  That man hath but little regard of his conscience who, to get a shilling more in a bargain, will venture to expose it.

         The usual bait of injustice is gain and profit.  This is the common mark that fraud and oppression aim at.  Usually they fly short or beyond it and, instead of enriching, do finally damage and impoverish men.  Unjust dealing may sometimes raise a manŐs fortune but tends to impair and ruin it.  By dealing unjustly a man makes it every manŐs interest to forsake him, and sets a cross upon his own door to warn all customers from entering therein.  Would anyone knowingly deal with a knave that always watches to trick him, with whom he can neither speak or act securely, but must be forced to stand upon his guard continually?  How can a man thrive when nobody cares to deal with him, when his house is haunted, and his frauds and tricks appear like sprites at his door to frighten all men from his shop?  Justice in dealing is necessary to menŐs thriving in the world.  Even they who are not honest are fain to seem so.  Seeming to be honest is nowise so secure as being really so.  Events will unmask and set out a dishonest man.  No man can be secure of privacy in an unjust action, let him carry it ever so demurely.  One accident or other will draw the curtain and bring to light the fraud and villainy behind.  However much a man may gain by a present cheat, if discovered he is sure to be a loser at the last.  Injustice is as great an error in politics as in morals and evidences a man to have as little wit as honesty.  In sum, he that in the whole course of his life acts sincerely and justly with a continual respect to reason and to the law of God, and who undertakes everything fairly and equitably, avoiding all frauds and deceits, all base and unworthy practices Đ this man takes the wisest and surest course to succeed in all his designs respecting either his present or his future happiness.

         III.  If a man should thrive by his fraud and injustice here, what comfort can he take in his ill-gotten wealth when every part of it awakens some sad reflection in his conscience!  Yet this is the case when all a man enjoys, when the very meat which he gorges, and the drink which he guzzles, the clothes which he flaunts in, shall thus upbraid him: O wretched man! we are the price of thy innocence, and thy eternal happiness; for us thou hast freely consigned thy immortal spirit to everlasting confusion!  When his bags and coffers cry, guilty! guilty! and everything he enjoys whispers some accusation against him, what comfort can he take in the purchase of his frauds, oppressions, and cruelties?  Yet this is commonly the fate of unjust possessors who, under the disguise of a cheerful countenance, too commonly wear woeful hearts.  The avenging principle within us will certainly do its duty upon any eminent breach of ours.  It will make every flagrant act of wickedness, even in this life, a punishment to itself.  Moral evil can no more be committed than natural evil can be suffered without anguish and disquiet.  Whatever doth violence to the plain dictates of our reason concerning virtue and vice, duty and sin, will as certainly discompose and afflict our thoughts as a wound will raise a smart in the flesh that receives it.  Good and evil, whether natural or moral, are but other words for pleasure and pain, delight and uneasiness.  The universal experience and feeling of mankind bear witness to this truth.  Did any of you ever break the power of lust, resist pressing temptation, or perform any act of conspicuous and distinguishing virtue, but that you found it soon turned to account to you?  Did not your minds swell with a secret satisfaction, at the moment when you were doing it?  Was not a reflection upon it afterward always sweet and refreshing, healthy to your very being?  On the contrary, did you ever indulge a criminal appetite, or allow yourself any practice which you knew to be unlawful, but that (a) you felt an inward struggle, and (b) strong reluctance of mind before the attempt, and (c) bitter pangs of remorse attending it?  Though no eye saw what you did, and you were sure that no mortal could discover it; did not shame and confusion secretly lay hold of you?  Was not your own conscience instead of a thousand witnesses to you?

         Injustice is a heinous sin.  When a man deals unjustly by another he must either resolve to undo his own act, or to run the hazard of being undone for ever.  The former is a ridiculous vanity, and the latter a desperate madness.  What a vanity is it for a man to do what he resolves to undo, to slander with a purpose to vindicate, and cheat with a resolution to refund; that is, to do any evil thing with a purpose to be never the better for so doing?  Every willful act of injustice binds men over to eternal punishment.  Nothing but restitution can release from that sad obligation.  He who deals unjustly by others without an intent to make restitution doth by his own act willfully oblige himself to endure eternal torments, and the loss of heaven.  For the same reason, justice and equity is necessary to be practiced by all.  Whenever any failure has been made in the practice of these duties, restitution ought to be made to the persons who have been wronged.  Repentance necessarily supposes a desire that the offence had never been committed.  The only possible evidence of the sincerity of that desire is the making of restitution wherever it can be done in reality and with effect.

         Before we can hope for pardon, we must resolve on restitution.  It is that part of justice to which a man is obliged by (a) some former contract, or (b) a foregoing fault by his own or another manŐs act, either with or without his will.  The borrower is bound to pay, and much more he that steals or defrauds.  In the case of stealing, there is an injury done to our neighbour, and the evil still remains after the action is past.  For this we are accountable to our neighbour.  We are to take the evil off from him, or else he is an injured person and a sufferer all the while.  That any man should be the worse for me, by my act and intention, is against the rule of equity, of justice, and of charity.  I do not that to others, which I would have done to myself.  I grow rich upon the ruins of neighbour.  If the wrong I do to another man be such as is repairable, I must resolve to repair it or to perish eternally.  He who does not repair an injury when he is able, does every moment continue and repeat it.  The first was transient, and died in the commission.  If it leaves a continual evil behind it upon the good name or estate of my neighbour, I am as much obliged to remove the evil from him, as I was not to bring it upon him.  While I neglect to remove it, I willfully continue the evil upon him and continue to do him harm.  When I rob or defraud a man of his estate, or any part of it, the sin does not cease with the act of stealth or cozenage, or violence, which ends or expires in the commission.  The sin continues so long as the damage or evil effect of it remains.  While he suffers in his estate by my act, and it is in my power to repair it, I continue injuring him.  Wherefore, our sin can never be pardoned till we have restored what we have unjustly taken or wrongfully detained, which we must really perform when we are able.  This doctrine, beside its evident and apparent reasonableness, is derived from the express words of scripture, reckoning institution to be a part of repentance, necessary in order to the remission of our sins.  ŇIf the wicked restore the pledge, give again that he had robbed, &c., he shall surely live, he shall not die.Ó  The practice of this part of justice is to be directed by these rules following: That person who is a real cause of doing his neighbour wrong, whether by (a) commending or (b) encouraging it, by (c) counselling or (d) commanding it, by (e) acting it, or (f) not hindering it when he might or ought, by (g) concealing it, or (h) receiving it, is bound to make restitution to his neighbour if without him the injury had not been done, but was done by him or his assistance.  By him his neighbour is made worse, and therefore is to be put into that state from which he was forced.  That person who intends a small injury to his neighbour and acts it, thereby accidentally bringing on a greater evil, is obliged to make an entire reparation of all that injury which he intended, and of that which he did not intend, though the latter was only consequential upon the former act going further than he at first proposed it.  His original mischief was the cause thereof.  Whoever hinders a charitable person from giving alms to a poor man is tied to restitution if he hindered him by fraud or violence.  Whoever refuses to do any part of his duty without a bribe is bound to restore that money which he has unjustly taken.  A man who by act, word, or sign, either fraudulently or violently, hurts a neighbourŐs body, life, goods, good name, friends, or soul, is bound, as far as is possible to be done, to make restitution in the several instances.  The adulterous person is tied to make provision for the children begotten in unlawful embraces, that they may do no injury to the legitimate by receiving a common portion.  If the injured person demands money, he must satisfy him with money.  A murderer is bound to restitution by allowing such a maintenance to the children or near relations of the deceased, as they have lost by his death, considering and allowing for all circumstances of the manŐs age and health.  The slanderer and backbiter hath really lessened the fame of his neighbour by fraud or violence.  He is therefore bound to restore the victimŐs good name by a confession of his own fault, giving testimony of the wronged personŐs innocence or worth, doing him honour, or making him recompense by money.  Whoever hath wounded his neighbour is tied to the expenses of the surgeon and other incidents, and to repair whatever losses he sustains by his disability to work or trade.  The same is the case of false imprisonment.  In these and all other cases, the injured person is to be restored to that perfect and good condition from which he had been removed by fraud or violence, so far as we are able.  A ravisher must repair the temporal injury done to the maid, and give her a dowry, or marry her if she desire it.  This restores her, as far as can be done, into that capacity of being a good wife, which by the injury was lost.  Anyone who robs a neighbour of his goods, or detains anything violently or fraudulently, is bound not only to restore the principal, but all its fruits and profits, which would have accrued to the right owner during the time he detained them.  Thus (a) the sacrilegious, (b) the detainers of tithes, (c) cheaters of menŐs inheritances, (d) unjust judges, (e) false witnesses and accusers; those that (f) do fraudulently or violently bring men to sin, that (g) laugh at and disgrace virtue, that (h) persuade servants to run away, or suddenly to quit their places, or commend such purposes; (i) violent persecutors of religion in any instance, and all of the same nature, are all in justice obliged to make restitution.  In like manner, he who has wronged so many, or in such a manner (as in the way of daily trade) that he is unable to know by how much or whom he has wronged, must redeem his fault by alms and gifts to the poor, according to the value of his wrongful dealing, as near as he can judge.  Whoever has contracted debts, must; as soon as he can, discharge them.  As we read that Jesus Christ pronounced salvation to the house of Zaccheus in the same day that he had made restitution, so, if we do likewise, we have the same hope that he will grant us his salvation.

         IV.  The fourth branch of negative justice concerns the Credit of our neighbour.  Every member of human society has a right to credit and a fair character, if deserving, among his neighbours and acquaintance.  Who will trust a man of lost reputation, or who would willingly have any society with one in whom he cannot confide?  There is nothing generally more valuable to men than their reputation or good name.  It is rather to be chosen than riches.  As a precious ointment, it perfumes wherever it spreads.  Therefore, the wisest and best men have been always very careful to preserve it in themselves.  Good Christians ought consequently to make great conscience of taking it wrongfully from others.  A manŐs ability to do good to himself, to his friends and neighbours, the success of his affairs, the comforts and interests, and most of the conveniences of life, and sometimes life itself, depend upon the credit a man has obtained among his neighbours.  Therefore, whoever is guilty of defaming his neighbour, does in effect the same thing as to defraud him of his property.  So much reputation is always so much power.  I shall therefore show the nature and extent of this sin.

         A manŐs credit is impaired and injured by false reports.  Such injury includes knowingly and maliciously spreading false reports concerning any person.  They may be spread for some private advantage to ourselves, or out of envy to him, or in way of revenge for some conceived affront.  Whatever the cause, this is a sin of the deepest die.  It is condemned among the most detestable crimes, where it is declared in scripture that all liars shall have their part in the lake that burneth with fire and brimstone.  Our Saviour, when the Pharisees spread false accusations against him, told them that they imitated their father the devil who, when he speaketh a lie, speaketh of his own; for he is a liar, and the father of it.  There are still lower degrees of this vice.  As they are less scandalous, so there is more danger of menŐs falling into them.  Examples are the carelessly spreading of accusations when we do not certainly know whether they be true or false; calumny, defamation, slander, evil-speaking, backbiting, tale-bearing, rash judgment, and the like.  Among things inconsistent with the profession of a Christian, the apostle reckons maliciousness, debate, malignity, whisperings, backbiting, wrath, strife, hatred, variance, emulation; envying, railing, evil-surmising, bitterness, auger, clamour, and evil-speaking.  The apostle declares that, if any man seem to be religious and bridleth not his tongue, but deceiveth his own heart, this manŐs religion is vain.  Our Saviour likewise admonishes us: Judge not, that ye be not judged.

         It may be asked, whether it be lawful to speak ill of the dead?  It must be either lawful in some cases and under proper restrictions, or we must condemn all historians (the sacred ones not excepted) who have transmitted the faults as well as virtues of the dead to posterity.  There is a tenderness due to the memories of those who can no longer speak for themselves.  Therefore, we ought to be very careful not to charge any crimes upon them without strong authentic proofs, either from personal knowledge or from persons of unsuspected veracity.  Where there is even a faint probability that the fact of which they are accused might be otherwise than it is represented, there we ought to be silent.  Where the facts are so notorious and undoubtable, so flagrantly bad with no aggravation, there is a curse denounced upon the wicked that their memories should rot.  Conversely, there is a promise to the righteous, that they should be had in everlasting remembrance, and their memories be embalmed.  It is wrong likewise to speak evil of the dead, for the sake of evil-speaking without a view to the information of the living.

         Also included here is the spreading censorious and uncharitable reports to the disadvantage of our neighbour, without knowing whether there be any truth in the accusation, or any just ground and foundation for the censure.  This is the mother of innumerable sorts of calumny, detraction, slander, evil-speaking, backbiting, tale-bearing, rash judgment, and publishing anything of our neighbour.  It can be really true, yet needless, and contrary to the laws of charity, declaring their neighbourŐs real faults to his disadvantage, without serving the purpose of any true benefit either to him or others.  This is against the express command, Thou shalt not go up and down as a talebearer among thy people.  The apostle ranks backbiters with those who are given up to a reprobate mind, and which in the judgment of God are worthy of death.  The apostle puts slanderers and revilers with those that shall not inherit the kingdom of God.  When he reckons up the sins of the last times, evil-speakers are in the list of that black catalog.  St. Peter joins evil-speaking with malice, hypocrisy, and envy, offspring of hell.  Notwithstanding the highest pretenses to religion, St. James assures us, that manŐs religion is vain who bridles not his tongue.  That failure is contrary to the wise dictate of nature, of doing to others as we would they should do to us.  It is an open violation of the Christian doctrine of charity.  It is a sign of a weak mind which is not able to bear the luster of merit and virtue.  Truly those who know a great deal of ill themselves are apt to suspect ill of every body else.  Thou thoughtest wickedly, that I was such a one as thyself.  Such is the character which the Psalmist gives of an immoral person.  They accuse people of wickedness, which they do not how to be true.  They censure people for their intentions which they cannot know to he true.  Their talk is a constant satire upon others, and their actions a living satire upon themselves.  Their foul language is the overflowings of a much fouler heart.  It is the mark of a mean and cruel temper, unworthy of a man, to delight in wounding our neighbour or widening those wounds which have been made by others.  If we have any talent for saying keen and satirical things, let us be superior to the talent we possess, by showing how little stress we lay upon it when it comes in competition with our good nature.  Let us have no recourse to low stratagems, at once to cover, and yet discharge our little spite.  Whatever pleasure we may feel in speaking ill-natured suggestions, there is a much greater pleasure in stifling them.  This frequently puts on the appearance of friendship, and is ushered in with great commendations, that the wound which is given may be deep and sure.  Nevertheless, let whatever false reasons be given for this practice, it is always a breach of the great duty of charity.  It is mark of false devotion to tear in pieces the reputation of those who oppose our designs, and to think to make an agreeable offering to God of what we sacrifice, either to our interest, revenge, or jealous tempers.  Except some instance of justice or charity requires it, we ought not to expose our neighbourŐs real faults, because we are not willing that all that is true of ourselves should be exposed to public view.  What commendation does he deserve who, at the same time that he has too much good sense to think well of the worthless, has too much charity to speak ill of them when there is no necessity for it?  It is contrary to that love we owe to our neighbour, which should make us ready to conceal all things that are defective in him, and which, if known, may tend to lessen that goon name and reputation he hath obtained.  Where a manŐs vices only hurt himself and terminate in his own person, we have no right to publish them.  We can answer no good end thereby.  Where they affect or may affect others, it is our duty to warn as many as we think proper, a due regard being had to our own safety.  Only let us take this caution along with us: before we endeavour to undeceive others, let us be sure we are not deceived ourselves.

         Let us therefore incline always to the favorable side when things are doubtful.  If you should be mistaken on the charitable side, God will overlook your mistake and accept your charity.  Endeavour to divert such discourse and to discourage such sort of conversation by all prudent means as to urge what we can in our neighbourŐs vindication.  If the matter is too evident to be denied, we may endeavour to diminish the guilt of it by imputing it to (a) ignorance or surprise, or to (b) the strength of temptation.  The best people might have found difficulties in such dangerous circumstances and temptations.  We must not show any pleasure or satisfaction in what is related to our neighbourŐs prejudice, lest we encourage the detractor and become partakers with him in his sin.  Nothing is more necessary, in order to master this reigning sin, than a firm resolution never to speak the least ill of any one.  Whoever freely publishes the evil he knows of another, and talks with pleasure of such faults though known everybody, may be likely to fall into real detractions.  Where the power and corruption of nature is strong, it is difficult to stop.  By indulging small neglects we fortify our evil inclinations.  By degrees we contract a habit of defamation, and exchange the amiable quality of sincerity for deceit and falsehood.  I do not know what pleasure men of this stamp may take, in supposing themselves to stand clear of those vices which they charge upon others.  Probably the same meanness and littleness of soul, which makes them so inquisitive to know, so glad to hear, and so industrious to spread any fault of others, would make them commit the very same if they had the same temptations and complexion.  Vice proceeds from nothing, but the meanness and baseness comes from a depraved soul.  To this class of ill-natured persons those must be reduced who enjoy speaking their minds upon all occasions; privileged talkers, affronting those above them, insulting those beneath them, and displeasing everybody.  If they will always speak freely what they think, they should first take care to think justly, as they ought, tenderly of others, humbly and soberly of themselves.

         This should be well considered also by those who make no scruple of bearing false witness against their neighbour in a court of justice, or wherever his person, property, or reputation may thereby be injured.  Such a one is the unrighteous witness that sells himself to work evil in the sight of the Lord.  His crime increases in proportion to the evil done thereby to his neighbour, and therefore was forbidden by God himself.  The offender is adjudged to suffer the same punishment he would have brought upon his neighbour by false witness and perjury.  If we are called to give public testimony, a sincere respect to truth will lead to a careful recollection before we give our testimony.  It will dispose (a) to lay aside affection on one hand, and prejudice on the other, and (b) impartially to speak the truth, without disguise or concealment.  We are not bound in every case to speak the whole truth.  Yet when a matter depends in whole or in part upon our evidence, we are bound not only to avoid all falsehood, but also not to omit anything which may give light to the true merits of the cause.  Such concealment has the nature of a lie because partial evidences may have the same evil effects as those evidences have which are directly false.  We are not obliged to bear no witness at all against our neighbour; we are only to bear no false witness.  This rule extends to giving testimonials and references of servants or candidates for any employment.  To give them no reference is, to all intents and purposes, the same as giving them a bad one.  To give them a good reference upon the whole, when they do not deserve it, is to be easy and good-natured at the expense of truth and justice.

         Those who are reluctant to bear false witness where they think their neighbour directly concerned in his life, property, reputation, or otherwise, but yet lightly violate truth in common conversation, and frequently aggravate their slanders with invidious railings and bitter reproaches, shall not escape the judgment of God.  This, no less than the preceding injury of bearing false witness, is threatened with the loss of heaven hereafter.  It also disqualifies them from the communion of ChristŐs church here upon earth.  If we hastily put, an uncertain story out of our power by making it public, we may prove false witnesses of a scandal to many who take it upon our authority, without having inclination or opportunity to examine the grounds on which we told it.

         We should guard against that too common sin of whispering or spreading any report to the disadvantage of our neighbour under a pretense of enjoining secrecy.  This, God knows, is not in regard to our neighbour, but to prevent ourselves from being discovered to be the authors thereof.  By that means of working in the dark, the slander like a secret poison becomes incurable before the injured person can discern it.  Therefore, false gossip it may justly be accounted one of the most incurable wounds of the tongue, undermining all society, and too frequently robbing families of their peace, and innocent persons of their good name.  It separates best friends.  Therefore, the tongue that is given to this wicked practice may be properly said to be set on fire of hell.

 

Sunday  XI.  Part  II.

         Thus I have given you the nature and extent of this sin.  I shall now show you some of the steps toward it, and the principal motives that should deter us from its commission.  It is said, were there no receivers, there would be no thieves.  If men did not encourage tale-bearing and whispering, there would be no slanderers.  If we, without prompting them, are yet ready to credit slanderous reports, we thus encourage the wicked person who intends to damage his neighbourŐs reputation.  Therefore, as such a oneŐs accusation is no just ground of belief in us, so we are guilty of injustice to our neighbour to believe the reported evil.  If we not only believe, but also publish a slander, possibly with some additions as a story that has been told us, we also incur the guilt and are liable to the punishment of the whisperer.  From the very nature and constitution of human society, there arises originally a strong argument why men ought to govern their words as well as their actions.  By the mutual dealings of both, human society is preserved.  Injurious speech and unjust actions destroy that general trust and confidence, that mutual charity and goodwill, on which depend the welfare and happiness of mankind.  The constitution of every human society bears some resemblance to the frame of the natural body.  In the natural body, all division, disagreement, and disunion of the members tend necessarily to the destruction and dissolution of the whole.  So, in proportion, in all communities and societies of men whatsoever, the contentions, animosities, disorders, and distractions, arising from slander, calumny, defamation, lack of charity, and other licentious speech, are inevitably of very pernicious effect.  It is often of mischievous consequence to the person himself that indulgeth his folly.  The wise authors of the books of Wisdom and Ecclesiasticus express themselves clearly on this: The ear of jealousy heareth all things, and the noise of whisperings is not hid; therefore restrain thy tongue from backbiting; for there is no word so secret that shall go for naught, and the mouth that belieth slayeth the soul.  He that can rule his tongue shall live without strife; and he that hateth babbling shall have less evil: rehearse not unto another that which is told unto thee; and thou shalt fare never the worse: whether it be to a friend or foe, talk not of other menŐs lives; and if thou canst without offence, reveal them not: for he heard and observed thee, and when time cometh he will hate thee: if thou hast heard a word, let it die with thee, and behold, it will not burst thee.  The natural punishment, therefore, of a licentious and unbridled tongue is the inconveniences it is very apt to bring, in the course of things, upon the persons themselves.  This is the natural ill consequence of this practice to the persons themselves who are guilty of it.  The sinfulness of it appears principally in the damage it does secretly to others.  Slander and defamation is a pestilence that walketh in darkness, and a secret stab against which there is often no possibility of defense.  Another more powerful motive for restraining licentious speech, is the consideration of its inconsistency with a due sense of religion.  Therefore, St. Paul severely reproves such persons as wander from house to house, being tattlers, and busybodies, speaking things which they ought not.  Another reason against calumny and detraction is the consideration of ourselves being all of us subject to error.  I speak not here of the ill character which is and ought to be given of all open vice and manifest unrighteousness.  Men who have different notions and apprehensions of things are very apt to cast reproach upon each other, not for their vices, but for their different understandings.  The same frailty, which in a man of the same sect or party shall be no blemish at all, shall in a person of a different party be the most unpardonable crime.  The greater and still more inexcusable degree of this partiality is when men cast reproach and contempt upon others for what is (a) truly commendable; for doing what perhaps was (b) their duty to do; for being (c) wiser, or (d) more charitable, or (e) more scrupulous and (f) conscientious than themselves.  Our Saviour forbids this censoriousness toward others under the penalty of being more strictly judged ourselves: Judge not, that ye be not judged.  Concerning opprobrious and reproachful language to a manŐs face, he says, Whoever shall say unto his brother, Thou fool, shall be in danger of hell fire: much more, against malicious backbiting and uncharitable detraction, would he have used the like severity of expression.  Such kind of detraction and defamation is really more injurious, and more difficult to be guarded against, and of more extensive effects than any other way of doing wrong to our neighbour.  I conclude, therefore, with this declaration of our Lord: I say unto you that every idle word (that is, every malicious word) that men shall speak, they shall give an account thereof in the day of judgment: for by thy words thou shalt be justified, and by thy words thou shalt be condemned.

         Therefore, let us avoid the more gross means of slander and also take care never to strike at a manŐs reputation, by despising and scoffing him.  Set no example for another to scorn and scoff injuriously at his neighbour, either on account of some human infirmities, providential calamities, or even for his very sins.  Perhaps most men feel more in the whole of their life from the scornful reproofs of the wealthy, the despitefulness of the proud, taunting sarcasms, and little instances of ill will, neglect, and contempt, than they do from the more solid evils of life.  When you scorn and make a jest of a man, as thinking him not of consequence enough to be hated, you certainly exasperate him.  Such is the nature of men.  They had rather be thought vicious than ridiculous.  They can bear your hatred of them for their vices.  But they cannot endure your ridicule of them for their follies.

         If we scoff at a man for the deformity of his body, disagreeableness of his face, the folly or weakness of his understanding, we lay that to his charge which he cannot help,  At the same time impeach the wisdom and justice of God, who thought good to deny him those excellencies of the body and mind.

         The same reason forbids us to reproach any person for those afflictions of body and mind, which are accidental to all men under the providence of God.  He corrects the children of men when and how he sees proper for wise, just, and good reasons.  Therefore, we ought not to judge what are his motives for so doing, but search our own hearts and repent, lest our sins may deserve the like punishment.  Instead of persecuting those whom God hath smitten, and by our talk grieving those whom he hath wounded, we should well consider how our Saviour reproves such evil practices: Suppose ye (says he to the censorious Jews) that these Galileans were sinners above all the Galileans, because they suffered such things; I tell you, nay; but, except ye repent, ye shall all likewise perish.

         Whatever we ourselves are subject to, we should not deride in another.  The very sins of our neighbours are no just excuse for our contempt and scoffing.  Instead of reproach they should excite our compassion.  Bear then with the faults of those about you, as you expect they should bear with yours.  They are faults which frail nature cannot well guard against, and which therefore good nature should overlook.  Be just to their merits, charitable to their failings, and tender to their misfortunes.  If we have not fallen into the same or the like faults, it is not our own strength but GodŐs more special grace that preserves us.  If a person, who in the main has led a good life, should uncharacteristically be guilty of some unaccountable weakness, it should teach us to be watchful and circumspect, lest we, who think we stand, should also fall.  The miscarriages of a good man, which give an ill-natured pleasure to little minds, suggest the melancholy weakness of human nature in general, but no spiteful or venomous reflection against his weakness in particular.  Therefore, upon the whole, he that would insinuate anything from such cases to his neighbourŐs disadvantage is guilty of great injustice to his credit.  It may be that he can never make a sufficient restitution.  We cannot take back our invidious speeches.  All who have heard our slanders before shall be unwilling to believe our public recantations.  It is therefore certain we can have no assurance of repairing the injury done to our neighbourŐs reputation.  We are obliged, by all the laws of God and man to do all in our power to restore that good name we have blasted.  Otherwise we cannot hope that God will pardon us, whose eyes are open to, and will punish, every wicked thought, as well as deeds and words.

         To conclude this point of negative justice, let me exhort you never to wish or think evil of your neighbour.  The same law that forbids us to hurt commands us to love, and not to hate, envy, or wish any evil, even to our enemies.  Even though we bridle our tongue and lend no hand in any violent oppression of our neighbour, we stand guilty before God of every malicious desire or pleasure we take at his misfortunes.  Keep thy heart, says Solomon, with all diligence; for out of it are the issues of life: because none but the pure in heart shall see God.

         V.  Having largely shown how a man may do an injury to his neighbour, I shall now proceed to what divines call positive Justice, or giving that to his neighbour which he of right can demand of us as his due.  Therefore, I shall consider this branch of justice, first as it regards all men in general, and then as it respects each in his proper station of life.

         Truth must take place in all our promises and engagements.  Where we were at full liberty before, promises oblige us and give our neighbour a right.  We should never allow ourselves to make them unless there be an intention to put them in execution.  Therefore, before anyone resolves, let him thoroughly consider the matter he resolves upon, and the arguments that may be urged for and against it.  Let him consider his own temper and humour when he doth resolve.  Let him make his resolutions as particular as may be, not only resolving upon the end, but upon the means of attaining that end.  Above all, let him be prudent in his resolutions, and not burden himself with unnecessary promises or engagements.  To engage to do a thing when we cannot accomplish it, or do not intend to do it, is really to injure our neighbour and to wrong our own souls in the last day.  As we promise what we are able to perform, and what is lawful, so, if it appears otherwise, we must repent of our rashness.  We must not add sin to sin by executing a rash unlawful act.  No promises can be made without future contingencies, nor can promises release a man from that which God makes much more his duty.  Our duty is to speak as we think, to do what we profess, to perform what we promise, and really to be what we would seem and appear to be to all about us.  This nowise implies that we are obliged to tell every man all our mind, but that we must never declare anything contrary thereto.  We may conceal as much of ourselves as prudence or any other good reason requires.  But we must not put on a disguise, and make a false appearance and empty show of what we are not, either by word or deed.  Most of that compliment which is current in common conversation is contrary to this virtue.  Mostly it is nothing but words to fill up the emptiness of discourse, and a kindly pretense of that esteem for persons which truly either we do not have, or have to a lesser degree that our expressions seem to import.  If done with design, it is flattery which is a very odious sort of insincerity.  It is worse because it abuses men into a vain and foolish opinion of themselves, and an ill-grounded confidence of the kindness and goodwill of others toward them.  Flattery is therefore sinful.  Civility is fit to be professed and practiced to all, but profession of respect and esteem is another thing.  When there is nothing to answer it, it is inconsistent with the candour and simplicity of a disciple of Christ.  Commendations given to men, which we think they do not deserve, or flattering them upon excellencies they do not possess, if now accepted as commonplace, will not pass so easily in the day of the Lord.  By throwing an undistinguished glare of praise on every object, we perceive no object in its just and genuine light.  He who commends every one, in effect commends no one.  An undistinguishing praise confounds the characters of men, as well as an undistinguishing censure.  It does not follow that we ought to speak well of everybody promiscuously and in general.  We ought to make a distinction where there is a difference.

         It has always been acknowledged by men of all conditions that our necessary and indispensable duty is that everyone speak the truth with his neighbour.  Heathens as well as Christians men of all ranks and professions, of all sects and religions whatever, have agreed in this.  There is an eternal obligation founded in the nature of things, to which every reasonable and conscientious man is sensible, that our words should be agreeable to our thoughts.  Such men have been sensible that lying or endeavouring to deceive each other is a base and mean practice, unworthy the dignity of a rational creature.  Also it is highly displeasing to God who has given us the noble faculty of speech to be the interpreter of our thoughts to each other.  The proper notion of a lie, therefore, is an endeavour to deceive another by signifying to him as true that which we ourselves think not to be so in the ordinary way of communicating our thoughts, even though they should be signified by nods and gestures.  Again, if a man thinks a thing not to be true, and yet declares it to another as certain, though in the event the thing should chance to prove true, yet since he knew it not, and believed it not to be so, his act is still the same and may properly be called a lie.  God expresses himself highly offended with those that practice lying and falsehood; and proclaims a detestation of them: Lying lips are an abomination to the Lord.  Put away lying, says the apostle; lie not one to another, but let every man speak truth with his neighbour.  We, who worship the God of truth, ought (a) to speak truth, (b) to use plainness and sincerity in all our words, (c) to abhor falsehood and dissimulation, and those more refined ways of lying by equivocation of words, and secret reservations of our minds on purpose to deceive the innocent.  That man who abandons moral duties, who makes no conscience of telling a lie or breaking his word, notwithstanding any badge or title he may have, cannot possibly be a true Christian, as it is equally impossible to reconcile the God of truth and the father of lies.  All untruths cannot be properly reduced under this sin.  It is no lie to repeat a known falsehood in the way of a narrative if a man mentions it not as his own sense, but declares it to be false at the same time.  If a sick person refuses a medicine likely to be of service to him, if he was acquainted with what it was, then a physician, a parent, or a friend, may lawfully endeavour to deceive him by any method consistent with truth.  Or, if a matter is entrusted with me as a secret, and another tries to discover it who has no right to know it; if by silence or by a partial but true account I can divert his inquiry, it will be no falsehood.  But it is not lawful to lie for God, or for the greatest advantage to our neighbours or ourselves.  Lying in any kind is a violation of truth which the best end cannot justify.  We must not do evil that good may come.  Therefore, though facetious lies may not be a direct breach upon charity, yet they are upon truth, and weaken menŐs regard for it.  Though such inventions may produce some mirth and entertainment for the company, yet they can give none in the reflection applied to ourselves.  Upon reflection they only gain us the reputation of impertinent liars.

         A man is scarcely to be found that speaketh the truth from his heart as if neither God nor man were able to find him out.  There are few liars who do not sometimes discover their own folly, and thereby become the contempt and reproach of all sober and well-meaning men.  No arts or craftiness can hide it from God, who seeth the heart, and knoweth our thoughts long before.  He, the God of truth, will certainly punish it as he has promised, with fire and brimstone.  If any one would live comfortably and creditably here, and avoid GodŐs vengeance hereafter, he must put away lying upon any account whatever.

         Not only truth, but courtesy, or good behaviour, is due to all men, from the highest to the lowest station of life.  A crabbed morose temper has more the resemblance of a brute than an indication of a rational creature.

         The proud and ambitious man, who looks down with a pharisaical disdain upon his fellow creatures and refuses common civility to other men, should remember that the Lord maketh us all, both high and low, rich and poor, and can humble him that exalteth himself.  I scarce know in any one instance where men so generally concur to execute GodŐs providence as in pulling down those mighty men who had used them contemptuously when God begins to visit them with adversity.

         We must also treat our neighbour with meekness.  Be patient, says the apostle, toward all men; never rewarding evil for evil, or railing for railing; no not in our zeal for the cause of religion; because meekness of heart is a condition, without which we cannot be admitted into the presence of God.

         Without this virtue there can be no peace, good neighbourhood, love, nor affection, in any state or family.  An angry brawling man can neither be a good friend nor companion.  Solomon advises us not to make friendship with an angry man, and not to go with a furious man; and declares, it is better to dwell in a wilderness than with a contentious and angry woman.  Whoever rightly considers what our Saviour says, that such a one is in danger of hell fire, cannot easily give way to this sin which is too often attended with horrid oaths, cursings, execrations, and blasphemies.  This is the language of hell, and they that use it cannot be fit for heaven.  Therefore take advice of the apostle: Let all bitterness; and wrath, and auger, and clamour, and evilspeaking, be put away from you with all malice.

         VI.  Excellence in anything or person is the gift of God and demands its proper praise and honour.  He who excels another hath a right to be preferred before him in the esteem and value of the world, to have his light reflected with more splendour, and his excellencies resounded with higher applauses.  He who conceitedly detains from a worthy person those acknowledgments that are due to his virtues, robs virtue herself of one of her fairest jewels, strips off her garments of praise, and buries her alive.  To rob a virtuous person of his honour and reputation is a great outrage to virtue itself, and must be highly unjust and dishonest.  Again, the great iniquity of detraction, and of lessening or debasing menŐs deserved praise and commendations through envy, is injurious to God, who may do what he will with his own.  This iniquity is a higher injustice to a man than to pick his pocket.  He that clips a manŐs honour, robs him of the best and dearest property.  While he sucks the veins of anotherŐs reputation to put colour into the cheeks of his own, he lives upon the spoils of his neighbour.  He is as injurious to him as if he had pulled down his house to build himself another by the ruins thereof.

         Nevertheless, this unrighteous practice is common, not considering that this envying of GodŐs kindness to others is in effect a murmuring against him.  One cannot oppose God more than by hating and doing evil to a man because God hath loved him and done well to him.  Nor in respect of the man can there be anything more irrational than to love him the less merely because he is endued with those qualities for which in reason and justice we ought to love him the more.  Yet this groveling serpent lurks almost in every hedge.  In all ordinary cases thankfulness is plainly our duty for what we have.  Nothing can be more unreasonable than discontent for what we have not.  We know not the deserts of others in comparison with ourselves.  We know not the various and wise designs of Providence in the unequal distributions of all temporary things.  We know not how much better, possibly, our present state and condition is for us, whatsoever it be, than any other state and condition which we through ignorance may be apt most earnestly to covet and envy in others.

         Therefore, we must not strive to lessen those excellencies in the opinion of others.  Nothing more truly reveals our murmuring and envy than to endeavour to ruin the credit of anything in anotherŐs esteem.  Yet this is the case of all those who would deny either the kinds or degrees of his neighbourŐs extraordinary gifts or graces (a) by speaking slightly of them, or (b) by clouding them with a malicious report of some other real or pretended infirmity of his.  Like dead flies, as the Preacher writes, this may corrupt the savour of the ointment.

         The folly of this sin of envy appears in the pain and torment it exposes a man to.  Further he is deprived by it of advantages which he might reap from his neighbourŐs extraordinary gifts, whether they be of wisdom, learning, piety, or virtue.  The folly of detraction is manifest because it seldom fails of being discovered.  Then the consequence is certain.  The detractor lessens his own character, and the neighbour he intended to injure obtains more esteem for those excellencies which were the object of the otherŐs envy.

         As for the several degrees of nobility, titles, and places of dignity, by which men are advanced above the vulgar class of mankind, they are so many marks and badges of honour.  It is true, by virtue of this titular dignity, we are no further obliged to reverence or esteem men than their wisdom or virtue deserves.  Yet we are bound to give them their due titles.  We are to demean ourselves toward them with that outward preference, observance, and ceremony, which their degree and quality requires.  Lawful authority has raised them to that state and condition of life.  Wherefore, as titular dignities entitle men to an outward respect and observance, so also does wealth and large possessions.  When God bestows on one a much larger fortune and possession than on another, he does thereby prefer and advance him to a higher sphere and condition.  When God has set him above us, it is just and fit that we should rise and give that place to him which is of GodŐs appointment.  A wise or a virtuous poor man may have more right to our esteem than a fortunate knave or fool.  Yet, forasmuch as in outward rank or condition God hath preferred the latter, he hath the right of precedency, and of outward respect and observance.  He ought to be treated with greater regard and obeisance.  This is a duty so incumbent upon all, that our church hath thought proper to teach it in her first rudiments of Christianity.  Children are taught to order themselves lowly and reverently to all their betters.

         Again, if our neighbour be in want of knowledge, comfort, counsel, advice, or reproof, or in want of our defense or assistance, we are according to our ability, which God has given us for that purpose, not only to demand their respect, but to assist others when they are ignorant, in affliction, drawn into sin, and under the defamation of an evil tongue.

         Thus also, when the necessities of the poor call upon us, we must relieve their bodily wants with a plentiful contribution of our purse, as due to them from that treasure which God hath committed in trust to our charge.  In all these cases we are GodŐs stewards and ought to dread the punishment of the unjust steward.  God may take abilities of wealth from those who do not faithfully employ them to the ends for which they are given.  Withholding from the poor more than is meet tends to poverty.

         Another qualification which makes anything we possess due to our neighbour is that degree of relation between debtor and creditor, whereby we are obliged to pay justly what we owe by bargain, loan, promise, or any kind of contract, more largely shown before.  [See Sunday x, Sect. vii.]

         VII.  He also who doth a good turn deserves and merits of him that receives it, and he hath a right to what he deserves.  Gratitude consists in an equal return of benefits if we are able, and of thanks if we are not.  Consequently every receiver is debtor to the benefactor, whether spiritual or corporal.  He must acknowledge the benefit received and pray to God for his benefactor.  Still he owes him, when he hath opportunity, a suitable return.  My benefactor may give me his benefit freely as having no need of it himself, or not so much as I, and therefore cannot legally demand a repayment of it.  Yet whatsoever he gives me, he deserves of me.  If ever circumstances change, and he hath my need, and I his ability, I am in conscience as much obliged to repay it, as if he had lent it me upon legal security.  In this case my ability is security for the benefit I owe him, and his need is a just demand of it.  Since what he hath merited of me is his due, I am unjust if I do not repay him so far as I am able when his necessity requires it.  If either I am not able to repay him, or he hath no occasion for it, I am in justice to express my gratitude in thankful acknowledgments and, by all the services I can render him, to express a willingness to make him a full return.  As a matter of debt he who cannot pay all must compound and pay so far as he is able.  In the matter of benefits he who cannot make him a complete requital is obliged in justice to make some composition, and pay as much as his ability extends to.  If he can do no more, he must give thankful words for benefits received, which generous benefactors esteem the noblest return.  He who receives benefits without some thankful acknowledgment acts the part of a swine that greedily devours the acorns, and never looks up toward the tree whence they drop.  He who requites benefits with injuries acts the part of Satan who would fain have thrown that blessed Being out of heaven who created and placed him therein.

 

Sunday  XII.

I. Of charity or love to our NeighbourŐs Soul and body, as it respects our affections, showing the effects, motives, and pleasantness of this duty; and,  II. As it respects our actions, showing in what cases, and how to admonish the vicious, and how to behave toward those that are sick, in prison, or persecuted, with a caution to those that prosecute an offender, go to law, or imprison an insolvent debtor.  III. Of charity to menŐs goods, including almsgiving; with the manner, object, proportion, and reward of that duty.  IV. Of charity to our NeighbourŐs credit and reputation, with rules to perform it; including, V. Peacemaking, going to law, and loving our enemies.

 

         I.  The second general branch of duty to our neighbour is Charity.  By Charity, I do not mean only almsgiving; for that is only one branch of it, and one outward expression of this duty.  I mean the most liberal sentiments and the most enlarged affections toward all mankind.  A charitable man will endeavour to see everything through the mirror of good nature which mends and beautifies all objects without altering any.  Far from surmising evil where there is none, he will rather think no evil where there really is, judging it better to err through a good-natured credulity than through an undistinguishing suspicion.  He will never hate any body or community of men, provided there be nothing immoral in their professions, even though he may very much dislike some individuals in it.  He will not pass a hard precipitate censure upon a whole nation or country.  Can anything good come out of Nazareth? was a low, confined, ungenerous thought.  Goodness is not limited to, or excluded from any place.  The good are diffused throughout all nations, all sects, all persuasions, all ranks and orders of men.  True charity ever dwells with a largeness of soul which takes in all mankind.  It sincerely wishes that all who are in any material error may embrace the truth, and all that embrace it may hold a pure faith in a pure conscience.  In short, true charity is to detest nothing but vice, and to despise nothing but contracted, illiberal notions.  Therefore, charity or the love of our neighbour consists in doing all good offices and showing kindness toward our neighbour both in our affections and in our actions.  Charity is a duty to which we are disposed by the frame of our nature and our inclination to society.  In charity there can be no pleasure nor advantage without mutual love and compassion.  This is the best expression of love toward God, since our neighbour is GodŐs creature, his image, and the object of his love and mercy.  This is the particular command our Saviour urged upon his disciples so earnestly, as if he required nothing else in comparison thereof: A new commandment I give unto you, that you love one another.  This is the proper badge and cognizance of the Christian profession by which the disciples of Jesus were to be distinguished from the disciples of any other profession.  In the beginning of Christianity this virtue was so well practiced that the very heathens did admire and say, Behold how these Christians love one another!  This commandment may be supposed to have some foundation in nature.  Yet it is by our Saviour much (a) enlarged as to the object of it having extended it to all mankind; so greatly (b) advanced as to the extent of it, even to the laying down our lives for one another; so effectually (c) taught, so mightily (d) encouraged, so very much (e) urged and (f) insisted on, that it may very well be called a new commandment.  Though it was not altogether unknown to mankind before, it was never taught in this manner, nor was so much stress laid upon it by any other appointment.  Therefore Christ says, By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another.

         The charity of our affections disposes us to love our neighbour in such a manner that, if he be virtuous, it will make us esteem him.  If he be honest, but weak in judgment, it will raise pity and succour.  If he be wicked, it will incline us to pious admonition in order to reclaim him.  If he receives good, it will make us rejoice.  If he receives evil which we cannot redress, it will make us take pity on him.  If we can, it will make us relieve him (a) by supplying his necessity, or (b) by hiding his disgrace, if it be deserved, which is concealing our neighbourŐs defects; and (c) by wiping it off, where it is not deserved, which is vindicating his reputation or good name.  When he is our inferior, it make us affable and courteous.  When he is our equal, it will make us candid and ready to maintain a good correspondence.  When he is our superior, it will make us respectful and submissive.  If we receive good from him, it will make us thankful, and desirous to requite it.  If we receive evil, it will make us slow to anger, easy to be entreated, ready to forgive, longsuffering, and merciful when we are justly angry.

         Charity toward our neighbours includes a desire to do all the good in our power to their souls, bodies, goods, and credit.  First this should make us concerned for the salvation of their souls, and put us upon means to recover them from a state of sin and unbelief.  The next branch of charity regards the bodies of men to which we are to wish all health and wellbeing.  Natural blemishes and defects, such as lameness or crookedness, the absence of our senses, or the disproportion of our parts or features, render our bodies lest useful, or less graceful and lovely.  They perhaps not only upbraid us to ourselves, but may create a contemptible opinion of us in the minds of others, the suspicion of which is apt to grieve and afflict our minds.  On the contrary, charity requires us not to condemn men, not to upbraid or reproach them, upon the account of any bodily infirmity.  We are to render them all respect which the graces and virtues of their minds are worthy of.  The body is not the man, but the immortal mind that inhabits it Ń the richest diamonds often wear the roughest coats.  Such natural blemishes are infelicities which men cannot prevent and rectify.  Therefore, to deride and expose them for any blemish in their composition is to fling salt into their wounds, to fret and inflame their miserable condition.  Further, whoever does not wish that his neighbourŐs goods and credit may thrive and prosper can never be said to love his neighbour as himself.

         When the love of God (a) secures our own duty; when it makes us earnestly concerned that (b) all the world should be influenced by the same divine flame, and that (c) our neighbours should become a fit object of infinite mercy; when we (d) are sensibly touched with the blindness and obstinacy of wicked Christians, and (e) endeavour by proper methods cure their ignorance, and to remove their great indifference as to the business of religion; when we are careful (f) to propose and establish the rules of piety in our families and among our friends and relations; when (g) our discourse and conversation are edifying; when we (h) recommend it by our own example and by our prayers for the conversion of sinners, and for the perseverance of the righteous; when we (i) conceal all things that may offend the weak, and publish whatever may tend to increase the love of virtue; when we take all occasions to (j) praise those that live well, to (k) honour them before the world, and to (l) give them the preference to those favours we are able to confer; when the civilities and liberalities we exercise and the friendships we contract aim at (m) recovering the soul from evil ways and improving it in what is good; when the comfort and relief we give to the poor, the sick, and the afflicted, tend to (n) make the design of GodŐs providence toward them effectual for their amendment if they are bad, or for their improvement if they are good, that (o) they may learn to adore the Author of their afflictions, and wisely fix their minds upon a good that is stable and permanent; then shall we be sure that (1) we act like disciples of Christ, and that (2) the Holy Ghost has added zeal to our charity, especially when it is observed to be dealt toward all men without respect of persons.  This principle of love, charity, and goodwill to mankind will not only render the mind quiet and easy, calm and composed, but also make a man happy in himself, and a blessing and comfort to all about him.  Consequently he will attract the love, esteem, and admiration of all those that see and feel the kind and benign influences of so divine a temper.

         This will not only cast out envy.  As the apostle says, charity envieth not, will not suffer us to grudge and repine at anotherŐs good.  It also conquers pride and a haughty mind.  Charity vaunteth not itself, is not puffed up.  Whoever therefore vilifies or disdains his neighbour breaks the command and forfeits his right to the discipleship of Christ.  Put on therefore, says the apostle, bowels of mercy, kindness, and humbleness of mind, with brotherly love, in honour preferring one another.

         It also casteth out censoriousness and rash judging.  Charity thinketh no evil of our neighbourŐs words or actions.  It believeth nothing but what is good of him, and hopeth all things for his welfare and credit.  The lack of this virtue maketh place for unmerciful censures and rash judgments.

         Again, charity is without dissimulation.  It disdaineth to speak to a man fair to his face and then contrarily injure him behind his back.  It despiseth all little arts and contrivances for private gain and advantage which must rise upon the injury of our neighbour.  Where this Christian virtue reigns, there can be no malice nor desire of revenge.  Charity beareth all things, let them be ever so injurious, opposing prayers and blessings to the hottest persecutors, and leaving the issue and vengeance to the Lord, with a full assurance that he will never suffer his servants to be rooted out.

         Now this duty of charity must be extended to the innocent and the guilty.  We must forgive those that offend us.  Forgiveness to enemies, peculiar to Christians, consists in bearing a sincere affection toward them, though they are malicious and implacable.  There are two kinds of love, which we must distinguish here: the love of approbation or esteem, and the love of benevolence or goodwill.  It may be impossible sometimes to pay the former kind of love in any great degree to our enemy.  When his vices far overbalance his virtues, we cannot love him with any considerable degree of approbation and complacency.  He then does not appear upon the whole lovely to our understanding.  We could not regard an immoral enemy with any love of approbation.  Still this would not excuse us from showing a love of benevolence and goodwill to him.  For instance a parent is far from approving a child who is stubborn, disobedient, and immoral.  Still his love of benevolence and goodwill shall continue in all its force and efficacy.  It is this kind of love which the scripture seems to require from us.  If our enemy hunger, we are to feed him.  If he thirst, we are to give him drink.  Christians deceive themselves if they think it is enough not to wish evil, and to do no harm.  We are obliged to be ready to forgive them, and to remove all misunderstandings.  Forgiveness is chiefly taken from abstaining from revenge.  We are to forgive our enemies even while they continue so.  Though they do not repent of the evil done to us, we must also pray for them and do them all kind and humane offices.  Forgiveness signifies a perfect reconciliation to those that have offended us.  It takes them again into our friendship; which they are by no means fit for, until they have repented of their hatred.  This is the meaning of that text of rebuking our brother if he trespass against us and, if he repent, to forgive him.  This is, according to St. PaulŐs direction, to forgive others even as God for ChristŐs sake forgiveth us.  We are enjoined by the express command of our Saviour, who hath made forgiveness of injuries the condition by which we are to expect pardon of our sins.  In his own person he hath set us a pattern of this virtue which he practiced to the height, rendering good for evil to all the world.  Moreover, it tends to the comfort and happiness of our lives.  Patience and forgiveness afford a lasting and solid pleasure, as they restrain tumultuous and unreasonable passions, and prevent many troubles which flow from a temper that is malicious and revengeful.  Our goodness is then perfected when we do kindnesses, not only without merit and obligation, but also in defiance of temptation to dissuade us from it.  By such a practice we (a) discover a great mind, (b) obtain the most valuable conquest over our own passions, and (c) show ourselves to be the image of that God who is affected toward those who are guilty of the greatest provocations against his divine majesty.  Therefore, considering all these motives, we ought to infer with the apostle: Beloved; if God so loved us, we ought also to love one another, especially as our pardon before God depends so much upon our forgiving our enemies.

         This is again enforced by the consideration of the difference of our sins against God, and of our neighbourŐs offences against ourselves.  In this comparison let us consider the infinite majesty of God, and the equality of human nature in every station.  We owe a perfect obedience to our Maker as the God of all power and might.  All powers among men are ordained of God.  All that we enjoy of the necessaries, comforts, or satisfactions of life, are out of the abundance of his goodness and mercy.  They that do not thankfully acknowledge his free gifts are guilty of the greatest ingratitude.  We never sin without breaking GodŐs commands and offending him.  The most envious and malicious person can never find those frequent opportunities to offend his fellow creature.  This disproportion of our offences against God and man is excellently described in the parable of that lord who forgave his servant ten thousand talents, and of that same servant who would not forgive his fellow servant one hundred pence.

         Those who are constant in the practice of this great duty feel a great pleasure.  Their delight may be discerned even at a distance by comparing it with the disgrace and uneasiness which its contraries, revenge and malice, constantly produce both to our bodies and minds.  They run manifest and dreadful hazard, never to be pardoned of God, when they forgive not those that have offended them.  God, who of his free grace sent his beloved Son to die for us his enemies, and (having brought us into a capacity of happiness) expects thankfulness as his love exemplifies and demands.

         These considerations will effectually take place in those minds where the first beginnings of rancour, malice, and revenge are opposed and stifled.  Without this care neither those nor any other motives to Christian charity can ever find a place in the heart.  Other motives rather serve to prevent than to cure the wound.  Let us therefore cultivate that love in which there is no torment.  A soul embittered with revenge is a perpetual seat of war.  Whatever disturbs the calm easy course of our passions must make us miserable.  The life of an angry revengeful man is all over storm and tempest.  He is like a troubled sea when it cannot rest, whose waters cast up mire and dirt.  He is a stranger to peace, and all the blessed fruits and effects of it.  With envy and strife there is confusion and every evil work.  His mind is continually restless and uneasy, agitated to and fro with the violent force of unruly passions, which lead him on from one evil to another, and hurry him many times into those that are of a very mischievous consequence.

         Thus I have done with that part of Christian charity which regards our affections toward our neighbour.

         II.  Next I shall discuss the Charity of our actions unavoidably coming from charitable and benevolent thoughts.  The man that has a hearty determined will to be charitable will seldom put off men with the mere will for the deed.  As St. James teaches in regard to faith, our cold love is dead and disapproved before God without such works of mercy as shall convince our neighbour that we sincerely desire the good of his soul, body, goods, and credit.  The soul of man has a natural signification.  The mind of man is in that sense understood, to which our good wishes are to extend.  Whenever our neighbourŐs mind is oppressed with any heaviness, we must endeavour to comfort and refresh him by all the Christian counsel and advice we are able.

         If the soul, in its more noble and spiritual acceptation, be downcast with dreadful or despairing thoughts, we are still more concerned to attempt our neighbourŐs support.  If our neighbour willfully runs into sin, we must do what lies in our power, in person or by other proper means, to reclaim him from the evil of his ways.  Though our efforts should all prove ineffectual, we must not cease to pray or even to weep in secret for him.  He keeps not GodŐs laws, and he will not know the things that belong to his peace.  Such a neglect of prayer is a sin.  Therefore, says Samuel, God forbid that I should sin against the Lord, in ceasing to pray for you, when he could not dissuade the people from their evil courses.

         The body must also partake of our charity.  As St. James likewise observes, If a brother or sister be naked, and destitute of daily food, and one of you say unto them, Depart in peace, be ye warmed and filled; notwithstanding ye give them not those things which are needful to the body; what doth it profit either the afflicted or your own soul?  Let that man, whose charity only shows itself in his lips, recollect that our Saviour requires the relieving of our neighbourŐs bodily wants as a necessary part of our duty.  He promises to make it a part of his inquiry at the judgment in the last day.  Upon those that willfully omit it, he has already pronounced that dreadful sentence, Depart from me, ye cursed, into everlasting fire.  Therefore, let us endeavour to escape those dreadful judgments by exercising our charity according to these general heads, at least, set down in the same chapter, by giving meat to the hungry, and drink to the thirsty, harbouring the stranger, clothing the naked, and visiting the sick and imprisoned.  We must lay hold on all opportunities to assist our necessitous brethren. With the good Samaritan we make no distinction of nation or party, but do all the good in our power, and look upon every object, as a call from heaven to put our pious intentions in practice.

         When we see an obstinate sinner, charity toward our neighbour requires us to give him seasonable reproofs and tender admonitions, to reclaim him from his evil conversation.  Yet this merciful work of admonition ought to be managed with caution. [See the duty of a friend, Sunday ix. Sect. vi, vii.]  There is a particular tenderness due to persons under a present affliction, that we may not seem to vex them whom God hath wounded, and persecute them whom he hath afflicted.  Also, men are more susceptible to resentment in proportion to the greatness of their distress.  If the person we reprove be out of our power, we ought to forbear him till his passion is down, till his mind is calm and easy.  Whoever reproves a man disordered by passion or intemperance preaches patience to the wind.  The more he endeavours to resist, the louder it will storm.  When one is fit to receive a reprehension, we ought to give it with the greatest privacy.  If he offended in public, where there are witnesses, unless the matter be highly scandalous, it is sufficient that we express our dislike of it by our looks and the seriousness of our behaviour.  Afterward we may show the folly and danger of his sin in private.  Reproving men publicly looks more like malice than mercy, especially till we have first made trial of private reproofs, and found them unsuccessful.  We ought not to mingle with our reproofs lightness or drollery, nor passion, nor upbraidings.  We ought to perform this merciful office with modesty, seriousness, and compassion.  To reprove a man lightly or passionately derides and reproaches him for his sin, but never reclaims him from it.  We ought not to reprove him for matters culpable, not to reprehend him for any innocent freedom, not for a very trifling indecency, but only for plain and unquestionable trespasses upon religion, lest he should look upon our reproofs as the language of a proud and ill-natured temper.  It is better to represent that a vicious state doth weaken and disable menŐs faculties, impair the health and vigour of their minds, and that for their recovery it is necessary that their thoughts should be fixed on a consideration of the evil and danger of their sins, and of the blessed hopes which God hath set before them to renounce and forsake them.  We see so many sorrowful instances every day among men, who in their sober thoughts will lament their follies and blush in the morning when they remember how their brains were set on float by the last nightŐs intemperance.  Yet, when the next temptation beckons them again, they return as greedily to it as ever.  They have repented of their sin and resolved against it.  Yet when they are tempted, sin again, and call themselves miserable, we in this case particularly are bound in mercy to recommend their condition to the God of all grace and compassion, to beseech him to take pity on their weakness, and with the outstretched arm of his grace to touch their dead souls, and raise them up into a thorough conversion.  Though, in all cases of misery, prayer is a proper work of mercy, yet there is none that so much needs our prayers as this.

         Charity requires us to render to our neighbours, friends, and acquaintances, who through sickness, imprisonment, persecution, or any other misfortune, have need of our assistance, such good offices as do conduce to their support and recovery.  If their sickness be such as will safely admit of conversation, we are obliged to (a) visit them, to (b) cheer their drooping spirits and sorrowful hours with godly conversation, and to (c) administer the supports and comforts of religion, to (d) awaken their minds into serious thoughts and purposes, to (e) resolve their doubts, to (f) comfort and support them with the hopes of glory, and to take all opportunities to (g) prepare their souls for a happy death.  Whether they recover or not, this sickness of their bodies may contribute to their soulsŐ health.  If they are poor and indigent, we are to supply them with such remedies as are necessary to their health and recovery.

         When a man is in prison, he is in a sort of captivity.  It is a calamitous condition for a man to be shut up in a close and unwholesome jail, to dwell with hunger and cold, confined to hard lodging and wretched companions, to be withheld from the conversation of friends, from the comforts of diversion, and from business and employment, and all opportunities of making provision for his family in distress.  Therefore, it is our duty toward these unfortunate men to (a) visit them in their uncomfortable imprisonment if they are our friends and acquaintance, and to (b) divert their sorrows, to (c) strengthen their hopes, and to (d) cheer them with assurances of friendship.  It is our further duty to endeavour to soften their adversaries, to vindicate their innocence, or to compound with their creditors if they are not able to discharge their debts.  Whether they are our friends and acquaintance or not, charity obliges us, as we have opportunity and ability, to relieve their necessities, to redress their injuries, and to contribute to their enlargements, that they may by honest industry make provision for those who depend on their honest endeavours.

         Those who are unjustly persecuted for conscience sake, who to secure their souls are forced to flee or to submit to spoil, plunder, imprisonment, famine, and death, are of all others the greatest objects of our mercy.  They suffer for our common Master, and in our common cause.  Therefore, if we have any compassion, our most suitable expressions of it are (a) a kind reception of those when they fly to us for succour, and (b) a liberal contribution toward their relief and subsistence, assisting those with the charity of our (c) prayers whom we cannot reach with the charity of our alms. (d) remembering those that are in bonds to pity and pray for them.  If it were in our power, we should (e) visit and (f) relieve them, as being bound with them, and also to (g) remember those that suffer adversity as being ourselves also in the body.

         It might sometime fall to us to prosecute an offender in a just cause.  Injuries do give us a right to punish the offender by course of law, or by our own power when at our own disposal.  Yet, because menŐs souls are out of the reach of human punishments, we can exact no other penalties of offenders, but such as affect their bodies with shame or pain, with loss of goods, with wearisome labour or confinement.  Such punishment is an act of mercy more than an act of revenge.  The conclusion of it is to do good, rather than to return evil for evil.  Therefore, seeing that the end of punishment is doing good, it ought to be executed with a kind intention.  It is not to discharge our rage or recreate our malice, but so vindicate our right as to reclaim the offender, or to terrify others by his punishment.  Consequently, in lighter injuries, suppose a man should give me the lie, or call me names, or abuse me with reproachful language.  Mercy requires me to remit and forgive the fault, and not to strike and wound him nor rigidly by a vexatious suit at law to exact the hurt of the offender for such trifling offences as do me no harm.

         If I have an insolvent debtor that owes me a great deal and can pay me nothing, and it is in my power according to the letter of the law to cast him into prison and to force him to languish away his wretched life, to what end shall I inflict this punishment?  I cannot hope to recover my own by this means.  A prison will pay no debts, as everybody must know.  Can I pretend to reform him by it?  No.  Prisons are fruitful nurseries of all evil.  Neither can I warn others by it.  What warning can oblige men to do that which is not in their power?

         Hence observe, that he is an unmerciful creditor who, rather than abate the least part of his due, will strip his poor debtor to the skin, and reduce him to the utmost extremity.  He is an unmerciful punisher that exacts to the full desert of the fault, and stretches his right of punishment to the utmost extent to make the offender miserable without any service to himself or to the public.  Mercy requires us to follow the great example of God, who in the midst of justice doth always remember mercy, who makes large abatements of his right to punish us, and never exerts the utmost punishment which our iniquities require.  Wherefore we are obliged in punishing others to mingle mercy with our severities, and proportionably to the offenderŐs penitence, or the pitiable circumstance of his fault, or the necessities of his present condition, to make a favorable allowance.

 

Sunday XII.  Part  II.

         III.  This Charity is to be shown toward the goods of our neighbour, whether he be rich or poor, by assisting and furthering him in all honest ways to improve and to preserve them.

         If our rich neighbour is like to suffer loss, we are not to permit it if it be in our power any way to prevent it.  We must take all opportunities to advance his profit when it does not lessen our own substance.

         If our poor neighbour calls upon our charity, we must freely part with our own to supply his necessities.  As St. John says, Whoso hath this worldŐs goods, and seeth his brother have need, and shutteth his bowels of compassion from him, how dwelleth the love of God in him?

         Our brother may have need, pinched with hunger, parched with drought, his hungry family crying for lack of bread and none to give them; children shivering with cold, and drooping with famine, and without any view of relief, while their pined carcasses are covered with rags, more destitute than the beasts of the field and birds of the air, lacking proper shelter where to lay their heads.  We are then obliged by charity to a tender sympathy, to be compassionate toward the wants of our poor brethren, and represent their condition as if it were our own.  Relief of the poor is declared by the apostle to be a sacrifice wherewith God is well pleased, and accepted by him.  Consequently, the church of Christ hath always joined it, as a proper part of a ChristianŐs duty, to the administration of the LordŐs supper where, among many other scriptural exhortations, we are commanded to do good, and to distribute forget not.  Though indeed, if we ourselves are poor and needy, we are not obliged to pinch ourselves or families, to relieve the necessities of others.  The desire of self-preservation being of all others the most vehement passion in our natures, God doth thereby not only warrant, but direct us to take care of ourselves, and not to sacrifice the means of our own preservation to the necessities of our neighbours.

         We are continually under great and numerous obligations to practice this duty.  It may be useful to distinguish them under their proper heads as they rise from the consideration either of God, our neighbour, or ourselves.  With respect to God, Is it not the thing that he has chosen, to loose the bands of wickedness, to undo the heavy burdens, and to let the oppressed go free, and that ye break every yoke?  Is it not to deal thy bread to the hungry, and that thou bring the poor that are cast out to thy house?  When thou seest the naked, that thou cover him, and that thou hide not thyself from thy own flesh?  Nothing is more agreeable to the nature of God, and renders us more conformable to the excellencies of that most perfect pattern, than the exercise of beneficence and goodness.  The divine nature is goodness itself.  His bountiful kindness extends itself perpetually over all his works.  This is the attribute which he principally delights to exercise, and in which, of all others, he most expects and requires we should imitate him.  Our Saviour in all his discourses proposes this example to us to follow.  He frequently repeats it, that hereby only we can truly become the children of our Father who is in heaven.  Some portions at least of what we enjoy are due to God as an acknowledgment of our dependence upon him for the whole.  Instead of costly sacrifices and burnt offerings to himself, he requires only that we be willing to relieve the necessities of men like ourselves.  In the wisdom of his providence he has made a very unequal distribution of the blessings of this life, so that we might have continual opportunities of paying this reasonable homage to him according to our respective abilities.  He undoubtedly designed the good things of this world, not for the gratification of a few of his creatures, but for the benefit of all.  He hath divided them unequally among us, not that one part of the human race should sink under misery and want, and the other look down with contempt upon them.  Instead his purposes are that (a) pity and gratitude should be mutually exercised, and the (b) pleasure of doing and receiving good felt among men.  The (c) poor should be serviceable to the rich.  The rich in return should (d) be kind to the poor.  Both should be (e) united in the bonds of mutual goodwill from a sense of their mutual dependency.  It is the return he principally expects from us for all the benefits that he has done unto us.  This he declares he will accept as the best expression of our love toward him.

         With respect to charity toward our neighbour, we are under many and great obligations.  Thanks be to God, we also have many and various inducements to relieve the miseries and promote the good of our fellow creatures.  Our hearts naturally incline us to it.  Our reason approves of it as right.  The more benevolent disposition we have, the truer peace we have within, and the greater capacity of social happiness, the sweetest part of the enjoyment of life.  Willingness to do good is always rewarded with the esteem of mankind.  Selfishness of temper is the constant object of everyoneŐs aversion.  In ourselves we frequently experience what suffering is.  Therefore, we are inexcusable if we overlook it in others.  We live in a world where, if it was not for the exercise of mercy and pity, the face of things would look dreadful with miserable objects.  The multitudes of persons driven to despair would make society unsafe.  We know the vicissitudes of human affairs, and we are to encourage by our example the spirit of goodness and compassion of which we may occasionally and easily come to have great need.  We are all partakers of the same common nature, and are therefore under the same ties of common humanity.  We are all subject to the same infirmities, all liable to fall under the same misfortunes, all obnoxious to the same wants.  Therefore, we all have reason to exercise that compassion which no man knows but he may stand in need of himself.  God has on the whole an equal regard to all his creatures, but in the present state has made an unequal distribution of temporal blessings.  One manŐs abundance should supply another manŐs lack.  This way there may be an equality, and the wants and the necessities of all may be proportionably supplied.

         We naturally feel an agreeable satisfaction and inexpressible pleasure of mind upon satisfying a hungry soul with bread, or clothing the naked with a garment.  They are naturally pleased with the sense of their being relieved from these natural wants.  After supplying our own necessities, and making reasonable provision for our families, what pleasure or benefit is there in the possession of surplus good things stored only to secure ourselves against future contingencies?  A reasonable provision of this kind is neither contrary to religion, nor inconsistent with charity.  Beyond this, an unbounded desire of heaping up great riches is by no means so advantageous as a charitable dispensing of them in wise proportions would be.  All temporal things are unstable, and no man can be ever so happy as to be out of the reach of misfortune.  Before God, the best of men are sinners.  There are very few whose conversations with men have been so inoffensive as not to deserve severe returns.  Howsoever prosperous a manŐs circumstances may be, the next turn of affairs may tumble him headlong into wretchedness.  Therefore, since every man may be miserable, what can be more just than dealing with them that are so, as we desire to be dealt with if we were in the same circumstances?  Consequently, it is highly reasonable that every one should give and ask by the same measures or allowances.  Because, as we are equal by nature, whatever is fit for one must be fit for another in the like condition.  It is either not fit that I should desire relief when miserable, or else it is fit that I should grant relief to others when they are so.  If I refuse, I condemn myself either for being unreasonable in desiring charity when I need it, or for being unjust in denying when I am asked charity by those whom I am able to relieve.  We know not how soon riches may be snatched from us by numberless unforeseen accidents.  We may as suddenly be taken from them, and our souls be required of us this very night.  In this case no other part of them will be really beneficial to us, but that part by which works of charity have been before lent to the Lord.  In the life to come he will repay it again.  Even in this present world, that which has been well laid out in doing good to mankind has a greater probability of turning to our advantage (considering the variety of accidents all human affairs are subject to) than that which may have been covetously treasured up.  If I should want relief, how can I expect it if I am deaf to the needs of the poor?  If I will show no compassion, I must take heed that I never need any.  It will be very unreasonable to expect it  By my unmerciful treatment of others I set an example against myself.  It would then be impudence in me to plead for mercy either in heaven or on earth.

         If we give alms out of mercy and compassion, we must do it cheerfully.  God loveth a cheerful giver.  By compassion we make others miseries our own.  By relieving them we relieve ourselves.  We are partakers with them in the comfort.  It is a great pleasure and delight to see the joy which a seasonable benefaction brings to one in distress.  When I see a man groaning under necessity, if I relieve him, I refresh my own bowels, and nature within me melts into compassion.  Therefore, when we unwillingly bestow our alms, it is not charity, but shame or importunity that moves, us.  There is no virtue in them, nor can we expect any reward.  Contributing toward anotherŐs relief because I am ashamed to do otherwise is rather paying a tax than giving alms.  When nothing can be wrung out of me but what is distrained by importunity, I give not for the poorŐs relief but for my own quiet, as he did who neither feared God nor man.

         Such a one in his works of mercy will undiscouraged by the vain and impious fear of impoverishing himself thereby.  He will abound more and more in charity, considering that although this hazard was ever so apparent, yet it is the command of God.  Do not men rest very well satisfied in their condition, and look upon themselves to be safe enough from want, if they have security given them by some wealthy friend, that he will always supply their need and support them?  Does not the charitable man have this security given him by God himself?  God bids men to trust in him and to do good with assurance that they shall dwell in the land and be fed.

         We must give seasonably.  All times may be thought seasonable to relieve the poor.  Yet there are particular seasons when their wants call louder, as times of (a) sickness, (b) scarceness of work, (c) dearness of provisions, or on (d) arrests, before the prison hath devoured them, or (e) after a great loss when their fortunes are dwindling away; (f) when children are young, and capable of work or instruction, and parents not able to dispose of them; (g) when the placing of them out to some honest calling may prevent their turning thieves or beggars, and render them useful to the world; (h) or when they are setting up trade with an insufficient stock, and a little help may encourage their diligence and advance them to a comfortable livelihood.  These are the more proper seasons of almsgiving.  By our helping hand, we may rescue many a poor wretch out of deplorable misery and render their future condition prosperous and happy.

         Whenever it is in our power to practice this duty of almsgiving, it ought to be performed with a merciful intention.  It is not to court the applauses of men, nor to serve any secular designs.  Almsgiving is to express our gratitude and duty to God, who has filled us with an overflowing plenty for that very reason, to do good therewith.  If we give our alms to serve a worldly interest, they proceed from self-love.  Such pharisaical alms are sordid traffic for applause and interest.  Our Saviour cautions us to take heed that we do not our alms before men, to be seen of them.  Otherwise we have no reward of our Father who is in heaven.  Neither are we to give that in alms which is none of our own, supposing it hath a rightful owner to whom we can make a restitution.  Where there is no visible owner, the property reverts to the hands of the supreme Lord of the world who hath settled it as a pension on our poor brethren.  Seeking and exacting unlawful gains, which we are justly obliged to restore to the rightful owners, make ourselves the thieves, and the poor the unlawful receivers to gather riches.  Giving away any manŐs right to supply anotherŐs necessity is not so much an alms as a robbery in the sight of God.  Debtors are obliged in conscience not to disable themselves from being just to their creditors by being merciful to such as are in need.

         The charitable man will prudently bestow his alms where they are most needed, doing the receiver the most good, and himself no injury.  If we do not manage our charities with prudence, we shall create necessities by supplying them, and multiply miseries by an unskillful endeavour to redress them.  It is with alms as it is with estates, where half doth consist in the discretion of the owner.  Charities distributed by a blind superstition, or a foolish pity, many times do more hurt than good.  What harvest can the world reap from this precious seed of our alms when they are scattered at all adventures without any distinction of the cultivated from the fallow ground?  The birds of prey, vagrants, drones, and beggars eat them up, while the modest, impotent, and laborious poor are utterly unprovided for.  We must not therefore be tempted by the importunities of idle persons to prostitute our alms to their intemperance and sloth.  What a pity it is, that these good fruits of our charity should be thus abused, to pamper a company of vagrants that wander from door to door, while many poor industrious families that have more mouths to feed than hands to work lie drooping under necessities and want!  The former are not to be altogether neglected when their needs are really urgent.  Yet prudence will direct our charity to such persons as have fallen from riches to poverty, and are less able to toil and drudge for bread; or to such as are worn out with labour, or disabled with sickness, or oppressed with a numerous family.  First we are obliged to relieve our relations, and in all cases to prefer the necessities of those who have any dependence on us.  Prudence will direct us to prefer alms which may serve for a constant provision and put one in a fixed way of living, rather than transient alms which merely hold him up from perishing for an hour, but do not take him out of the deep waters of affliction.  A prudent charity is to contribute to the building and maintenance of the public workhouses for the poor, where they and their children may be (a) provided with such works as they are capable of, (b) accustomed to industry, and (c) enabled to support themselves in some future state of life.  Prudent charity gives its alms in kind rather than in value; gives clothes to the naked, food to the hungry, physic to the sick, and books to the uninstructed.  The benefit of this charity to the souls of men appears at first sight.  By this means they are instructed in the great points of the Christian belief, and acquainted with the several branches of their duty which relate to God, their neighbour, and themselves.  When a book comes as a gift from their superiors, they are at first pleased with it as a mark of their favour which engages them to read.  Then, by the grace of God, the seriousness of the matter and the importance of the subject may seize upon their minds and make them pious Christians.  Therefore, persons of quality and estates, if they have hearts and dispositions to give good books to their servants and tenants, and the poor, particularly where their estates lie, are undoubtedly capable of doing abundance of good.  By this method they become preachers of righteousness, and secure to themselves a share with the authors in the reward of such performances.

         As to the proportion of our charity, it is certain that almsgiving ought to be performed liberally and bountifully.  Charity measures its alms, proportions them to the necessities it supplies, not only to rescue the miserable, but to render them happy.  Though I should give ten times less than one who hath ten times more, I should be as liberal as he, according to my ability.  So the widowŐs two mites were pronounced by our Saviour a more liberal alms than the rich man cast into the treasury.  He cast in of his abundance, but she of her penury.  It is impossible to determine the measure of our alms because the measure of our abilities is so various.  Charity exacts that we should be liberal in proportion to our circumstances.  Christ hath not indeed fixed the proportions of any kind of charity.  Circumstances vary so infinitely that general rules concerning such matters are impossible.  This latitude should not give anxiety to any good mind, for we serve a most equitable master.  Neither should it encourage bad minds to imagine that where nothing is ascertained, they may do just as little as they please.  God will expect from everyone what may be reasonably expected from them.  He hath left this matter at large, not that we may show our backwardness to serve him, but our zeal.  We may not be able to give alms to our necessitous brother.  Yet we may represent his necessities to others who are able to relieve him.  We may beg relief for him, which perhaps he is ashamed to do for himself.  Thus we can contribute to his support.  We stand strictly obliged to it by charity, and this will be as acceptable to God as the most liberal alms out of our own substance.  Where the deed is impossible, God accepts the will for it, and reckons all good works to our account, which he knows we would do if it were in our power.  When he furnishes us with means to relieve the necessities, he expects the deed.  He knows that we cannot sincerely will the deed if, when it is in our power, we do not perform it.  The necessity of the deed to show the sincerity of the will appears from this passage of scripture: Whoso hath this worldŐs goods, and seeth his brother have need, and shutteth up his bowels of compassion from him, how dwelleth the love of God in him?  Since God hath not determined anything concerning it, we must leave men, who best understand their own condition, to the guidance of their own conscience and discretion.  They are to consider what is requisite to the discharge of their several obligations.  Prudence doth not require of all the same proportion of charity, but of everyone according to their different circumstances and abilities.  Christian prudence will direct us not to be partial to ourselves in stretching our needs and conveniences beyond their just bounds.  Instead we will decently spare the needless expense of having too many servants, idle meetings, unnecessary feasts, chargeable apparel, and diversions.  We can lay aside the remains for charity.  Consequently, the poor will be more plentifully relieved, and we will be more able to do it.  We shall reap more pleasure and profit from laying out upon the poor than from wasting it on the pomps and vanities of this world.  When any miserable creature could borrow or beg of us, prudence will advise us not to turn him away with scorn, nor yet to remove him at a distance with disdain or violence.  If we see reason to grant his request, we will prudently do it with an open hand.  The freedom of our charity may raise the comfort of it, and leave no sting in the mind of the necessitous person.  We ought not to oppress the modesty of the humble, of those who have been wont to give and not to receive.  Nor ought we to respond to them with lofty looks, or angry words, or a severe behaviour.  We ought not to expose their poverty by publishing our charity, or conveying it to them in the view of the world.  We ought to hand our relief in such a secret and obliging manner that they may receive it with cheerfulness, without confusion and shame.

         Giving alms is a real expression of our love and gratitude to God and our saviour Christ.  The apostle tells us, God is not unrighteous to forget your work and labour of love, which ye have showed toward his name, in that ye have ministered to the saints, and yet do minister.  He may defer, but he never forgets.  You may safely reckon that so much as you have bestowed in works of charity, so much, with increase, you have secured in the hands of God.  He will either return it in temporal blessings or repay it with interest.  Think then what is incumbent on you in relation to these things.  There are but two reasons, and they are both very bad ones, that hinder men from being charitable according to their power.  Either covetousness makes them unwilling, or expensiveness makes them imagine they are unable.  If the former influences you, consider well that your happiness forever depends on doing your duty.  Your happiness even here doth not depend on enlarging your fortunes.  You may, if you will form yourself to it, enjoy great satisfaction in doing good.  What felicity can you possibly find, either in the consciousness of having, or the vanity of being known to have, excess wealth?  The enjoyment of manŐs life doth consist in the abundance of the things which he possesses.  Prudent charity does not diminish wealth and is often so blessed by heaven as greatly to increase it.   If it be expensiveness that withholds you from charity, remember for what purpose is it your Maker hath entrusted you Đ for vices and follies, or for pity and mercy?  You may indeed plead that luxury, by the numbers it employs, is perhaps the most extensive beneficence.  This is a poor pretense, evidently calculated to make yourself easy in acting wrong.  Undoubtedly Providence hath contrived that many, who will do no good in any other way, shall do some in this.  Then it is usually done to those who need it least.  A number of persons, well able to take care of themselves otherwise, are maintained partly in idleness, and partly in useless professions.  Meanwhile, the truly infirm and helpless are left unregarded to suffer and perish.  Luxury therefore contributes nothing to answer the intent of Christian charities.  Even those for whom luxury is pretended to provide are taught at the same time to ruin themselves by the imitation of it.  In proportion as luxury prevails, it destroys everywhere both virtue and happiness, public and private.  Therefore, let the frugal man consider what proportion his charity bears to his increase.  Let the expensive man consider what proportion his charity bears to his profusion.  Let both think of justifying themselves, not to the world, but to God.  Possibly it may seem a good reason to some, for their own neglect of the poor, that the law makes provision for them.  It is certainly an honour to the law that it doth.  It is no honour to us that it needs do it.  Besides, there are very many cases of great distress, to which legal provision is neither easily nor properly extended.  Also it cannot give so plentiful relief as should be given to most of those to whom it may extend.  Suppose the law capable of doing everything that needs be done.  What would be the consequence of leaving everything to it?  Then we should lose entirely the means we have now of proving to the world and to ourselves the goodness of our own hearts, and of making an undoubted freewill offering to God out of what he hath given us.  Persons of bad minds may indeed take occasion to neglect the poor, from our willingness to relieve them.  Thus by their fault the burden may fall heavier upon us than it ought.  God hath entrusted us, not only in conjunction with others to do our share, but separately by ourselves to do what we can.  He is not unrighteous to forget this our labour of love.  He will take abundant care that whatever we bear cheerfully on his account, far from giving us cause of complaint, shall assuredly bring great joy to us in the end.  We should not be so vain as to think we merit heaven thereby, nor may we presume to drive a bargain with God by putting our good works into the balance with an infinite and eternal reward.

         IV.  Our Charity must also extend to the credit or reputation of our neighbour, whether he be innocent or guilty.  Consequently, should our innocent neighbour be maliciously brought into judgment, it is our duty not only to vindicate him from false imputations in private, but also to offer our voluntary evidence before the court.  Though we know him to be guilty, if some other branch of charity or justice does not oblige the contrary, we must not take upon us to divulge his faults, nor to report them upon hearsay.  They are men and Christians, our neighbour and our brethren in Christ.  It is our duty not only to honour good men for their virtues, but also to pity the evil for their miseries, to relieve their needs, to conceal their defects, and to vindicate their injured reputation.  We are to pray for them, and to take such steps as may probably recover them to a true sense of their spiritual state.  Suspicions, imaginings, and putting the worst interpretations upon words and actions, hard censures and suppositions, are reigning sins among adversaries, too common among those who are otherwise serious and devout.  This is not only against particular persons, but on all hands against whole bodies and parties who, in anything relating to the times, are of different opinions and sentiments.  All which are contrary to the nature of charity, which is always inclinable to think the best, and leans to the side of favour both in judging and speaking of their deeds.  Besides, it is plainly contrary to our LordŐs rule, who warns us not to judge, that we be not judged, because with what measure we mete it will be measured to us again.  Dwelling upon an injury received, and harkening to evil tales, increase a fault, and the malice and unworthiness of him that is guilty thereof.  By these our resentment is heightened, and our minds become difficult to restore into temper.  If we did not give way to them, we should find ourselves much more easy to forgive.

         The best means to help us in the practice of charity is always to keep before our eyes that grand rule of loving our neighbour as ourselves.  The apostle makes this the sum of our whole duty to our neighbour.  Men are careless of their spiritual affairs so that they wish for no assistance.  But they are not thereby freed of charities.  The love of ourselves, the measure of love for our neighbour, is understood to be that reasonable love which men ought to have for themselves.  Therefore, though a man fail of that reasonable love he owes himself, yet his neighbour thereby forfeits not his right.  What we actually would that others should do to us is not in all cases a rule of our duty.  The lawfulness of the action is to be presupposed.  I may not do or forbear a thing to my neighbour merely because I am content or desirous that he should do or forbear the like to myself.  That desire of mine must first be known to agree with GodŐs commands.  A drunkard may be willing to be made a beast by another, but it is not the more lawful for him to do the like to his neighbour.  A man upon evil courses cares not to be disturbed in them by the reproofs of his friends.  But that does not lessen his obligation to be a monitor to other sinners, especially to those under his care and government.  Neither do we fulfil this rule by doing to others that which we might be glad they would do to us.  Charity consists in doing all that we can expect from them as a matter of duty and right.  A poor man might be glad that the rich person would give him a part of his estate, thus making his circumstances easy and plentiful.  The rich man, who is master of his own estate, may lawfully gratify such a desire, but he may as lawfully refuse to do it.  In like manner, the duty to love our neighbour as ourselves is not that we should love any neighbour with equal tenderness as ourselves.  That is hardly possible.  Nor is it that we should love every neighbour alike, an impossibility neither just nor natural.  Nor is it that we should do for our neighbour all that he now does, or that we in his circumstances might perhaps wish and desire to be done for own selves.  Such desires may be irregular or, if not sinful, yet unreasonable.  Charity is to do all that for him which, were our case his and his ours, we should in reason expect and be glad to have done to ourselves.  Human laws are often so numerous as to escape our memories, so darkly worded as to puzzle our understandings.  Their original obscurity is seldom improved by the nice distinction and subtle reasonings of those who profess to clear them.  Under these several disadvantages they lose much of their force and influence.  In some cases they raise more disputes than perhaps they determine.  But here is a law attended with none of these inconveniences.  The grossest minds can scarce misapprehend it.  The weakest memories are capable of retaining it.  No perplexing comment can easily cloud it.  The authority of no manŐs gloss upon earth can (if we are sincere) sway us to make a wrong construction of it.  What is said of all the gospel precepts by the evangelical prophet, is more eminently true of this.  It is a highway, and the wayfaring man, though a fool, shall not err therein.  It is not enough that a general rule, suited to all capacities, whenever represented to the mind is presently agreed to.  It must also come easily into our thoughts, ready for present use upon all exigencies and occasions.  The love a man bears to himself is always sincere.  The love to our neighbour should be equally sincere, not mercenary and designing, but selfless and hearty, intending the benefit of the party we express it to, without indirectly seeking our own profit or pleasure.  Whoever constantly aims at and steadily pursues this end will never greatly fail in the particulars of his duty.  He that loves his neighbour sincerely as himself, and is willing to do to all men as he desires they should do to him, thinks himself sent into the world on purpose to do good to others, and looks upon it as the sum and end of his duty to promote the universal peace and happiness of mankind, will certainly upon this principle regularly and uniformly perform all the parts of his duty toward men.  He will naturally treat his superiors with cheerful submission, his benefactors with gratitude and respect, his equals with affability and kindness, and his inferiors with gentleness, moderation, and charity.

         V.  Peacemaking is another great instance of charity.  Though it does not directly fall under any of the former heads, it frequently contributes to the practice and success of them all.  It will not report of neighbours anything false, nor anything true, which may tend to variance.  It will discourage eavesdroppers and talebearers, who out of malice, envy, or idleness, are busybodies.  A peaceable man will never sow the seeds of dissension.  If there be any dissension, a peaceable man will not inflame or widen a breach.  If men would behave with this prudence toward those that are at variance, it would shorten quarrels.  No person shall please us in everything, but we may find out something that may please us in every person.  A man is not fit to live in the world who does not see several things without seeming to see them, who does not see through the little by-ends and selfish views, which men may have.  He must use all the reality of caution and distrust against these attributes with as little appearance of it as possible, if he would preserve peace.  Human nature is not so bad as some represent it.  Most of the little strifes and contentions which happen would die of their own accord if ill-natured people (pretending to be friends to both parties) did not blow the fire and throw on fresh fuel.  As coal is to burning coal, and as wood to fire, so is a contentious man to kindle strife.  Where no wood is, the fire goeth out.  Where there is no talebearer the strife ceaseth.  Where the contention is hot and fierce, a lover of peace will incline both parties to coolness and good temper.  If thou blow the spark, it will burn.  If thou spit upon it, it shall be quenched.  Both these come out of thy mouth.  Quarrels proceed out of the mouth, by carrying tales, aggravating offences, or persuading revenge.  Damping them proceeds out of the mouth (a) by soft and gentle entreaties, (b) by representing the smallness of the things they quarrel about, (c) and by showing how inconsistent it is with peace to take offence at everything, or to interpret it in the worst sense.  When the passions are hot and inflamed on both sides, insuppressible by gentle words and entreaties, yet these may serve to cool them.  When a man, desirous to make peace, sees that they are resolved to fight it out, he will endeavour that their contention may be ended with as little hurt as may be.  He will persuade them to refer the matter in dispute to the judgment of some wise neighbour, where, with less charge and more satisfaction, the strife may be ended.  Though a lawsuit may determine a controversy, it commonly continues a breach of peace and charity among the contending parties. [See what hath been said on this subject in the duty of parents and children.  Sunday vii.  Sect. v.]

         A peacemaker must take care that he lives a remarkable peaceable life himself.  In contending parties one or the other will probably be angry at good advice, and endeavour to take off the weight of such admonitions as tend to reconciliation if the peacemaker be also given to contention.  Then it may be objected, as the Hebrew did to Moses, Who made thee judge over us?  Or at least he may be abruptly silenced with, Thou hypocrite, first cast the beam out of thine own eye.  Therefore, he that would persuade peace in another must be also peaceable himself.

         If it be possible, as much as lieth in you, live peaceably with all men.  To live peaceably with all men, in the strictest sense of the words, is a thing absolutely impossible and out of our reach.  It depends upon what we are not masters of Đ the dispositions and passions of other men.  Whatever care we take to prevent mistakes, they will sometimes arise.  With ever so much caution to avoid doing injuries, we cannot always avoid receiving them.  Where violent encroachments are made upon our fortune or good name, we not only may, but must, vindicate ourselves from them, though breach of peace and an open rupture with any man attend our doing it.  Slight affronts and small injustices we may put up with.  But when we are wounded to the quick, either in our estate or reputation, we are not at liberty to be silent.  Being upon our defense in such cases is a debt we owe to ourselves, our posterity, our relations, and friends, who have all an interest in us.  It is our duty to stand up and rebuke the spirit of treachery, malice, or profaneness when (a) the cause of true religion suffers from the tongues or pens of libertines and unbelievers; when (b) any open attempts are made by ill men on the constitution of that church or state whereof we are members; when (c) an absent friend is traduced by lying lips, or (d) the name of any good and virtuous man is vilified.  At such times the honour of God or the interest of virtue would be blemished by our silence and forbearance.  He that does not openly and heartily espouse the cause of truth will be reckoned to have been on the other side.  Then peace with men can never be eligible when it implies enmity with God.  The precept here given of living peaceably is easily understood.  It is so to demean ourselves in all the offices and stations of life, as to promote a friendly understanding and correspondence among those we converse with.  It is to prevent, as much as we can, all outward contention and strife, nay all inward mistakes and jealousies from arising, and to quench and allay them as soon as we can whenever they are risen.  It is to disagree openly with no man in things of an indifferent nature, and of no moment; and, where the point is of importance enough to deserve to be insisted on, there to do it with so much candour, modesty, and sweetness, as not to offend even those we do not agree with.  In a word, it is so to conduct our actions, discourses, and dealings, as to make ourselves and others as easy as possible.  Various are the instances of this duty.  They who (a) pay a due regard to the laws of their country, (b) express a due reverence to their superiors, (c) honouring them sincerely, (d) obeying them submissively, not rashly censuring their actions, but (e) putting the best and most candid construction upon them without being over-busy in matters that are too high for them and do not concern them, live peaceably with respect to the public.  They live peaceably in religious matters who (a) are contented to enjoy their own opinions (b) without arraigning their superiors in church and state for being otherwise minded, and (c) without disturbing the public peace in order to propagate their tenets and make proselytes, and who (d) do not by unjustifiable methods of severity force men into the profession of what they disbelieve; (e) whose zeal for their faith never makes them forget their temper, nor outrun the bounds of Christian prudence and goodness; who (f) make great allowance for the weakness of menŐs reason, and the strength of their prejudices, and (g) condemn not all as insincere, who are not so enlightened as they are, but leave them to stand or fall by their own master; (h) praying for them in the meantime that they may come to the knowledge of the truth, and (i) endeavouring by all gentle persuasive methods to reclaim them.  Finally, they live peaceably in matters of common life and daily practice who (a) take care to make their carriage inoffensive and obliging, who (b) are not ready to entertain ill reports of men, much less to disperse them, who (c) whisper about nothing to set friends and neighbours at variance, (d) who mind their own business without intermeddling much in the concerns of others, who (e) can take a slight affront or injury in conversation without resenting it, and even a great one without returning it.

         Men are apt to go to law for every trifle.  Because they have law on their side, they cannot be persuaded that they are to blame for so doing.  All lawful suits are not sinful.  A Christian may go to law to keep his rightful possession, or to recover what is wrongfully taken or detained from him.  Yet where there is no sin in the suit itself, there is often in the management of it.  It is a temptation and a snare, and every man should be cautious how he embarks upon so dangerous a bottom where justice and charity are in danger of being stranded or thrown overboard.  A man at least must be assured that he claims or defends his right.  Otherwise the lawsuit is vexatious or worse.  What we propose to get or keep should be of considerable value, or else it savours of a contentious spirit to hazard our own and our neighbourŐs peace for a trifle.  Not victory, but right, should be the motive.  Revenge should never mingle with our resentment.  Christ declares against this rigour of the Jewish law.  One of the great springs of lawsuits and contentions, such as verbal trespasses and injuries, will very rarely bear the weight of an action and acquit the conscience of him who appeals to the laws.  All our works are to be done in charity.

         Therefore, we must not only say that we forgive our enemies, but show the reality of our intentions by taking all opportunities to do them all the good in our power.  It is, I think, our duty to prefer compassion to an enemy, before a matter of mere generosity to a friend, when we cannot exercise both together.  The extreme necessity of even our enemies, much more of other persons, is to take place of the mere convenience of friends and relations.  We ought rather to relieve the distressed than to promote the happiness of the easy, however the practice of it be disregarded by the world.  Otherwise it may justly be feared that malice lurks still in the heart.  He that fulfills the command of doing good to them that hate him not only does his duty, and follows the example of our Saviour, but heaps burning coal on their heads to melt them into love and compassion, and consequently to a thorough reconciliation.  The great hindrance of the practice of this duty to our neighbour is that self-love which, being an immoderate love of our own worldly interests, is the foundation of all contention and injustice.  We thereby seek only to please ourselves, whereas we ought also to please our neighbour, for his good to edification.  Even Christ pleased not himself.

         To obtain perfect charity, we must not think it the whole of our duty when this obstacle is removed.  As every grace is the gift of God, we must pray to him earnestly to work it in us, and send his spirit to frame our hearts into a meek and peaceable temper.

 

The Third Part of The New Whole Duty of Man:

Containing Our Duty to Ourselves.

 

Sunday  XIII.

I.  Of Sobriety, consisting in a right government of our thoughts.  II. Of humility, and of its necessity and usefulness.  III. Of pride, its danger and folly, as it respects the gifts of nature, fortune, and grace.  IV. Of vainglory, its danger, folly, and the means to avoid and overcome it.  V. Of meekness, its advantages, and the means of obtaining it.  And, VI. Of consideration, its benefits, and of the danger of inconsideration.

 

         I.  We come now to those duties which in a particular manner regard Ourselves, and are summed up by the apostle in the word Soberly.  The word soberly in its native sense signifies (a) a soundness and firmness of mind, (b) governing and directing inferior appetites and passions, and (c) searching and regulating the whole frame of soul and body in our personal and private capacities.  In respect to the soul, sobriety is a right governing of our passions, affections, or appetites, which never can be done without a previous regulation of our Thoughts.  As the Wise man says, We must keep our hearts with all diligence, because out of them are the issues of life.  The goodness or badness of our lives doth altogether depend upon the attending or not attending to the thoughts, motions, and inclinations of our minds.  Therefore, it is a very proper question, How hath a man power over his own thoughts?  There is not indeed any single answer to be given to this question that will fit all men.  Some men by the very principles of their make and constitution are much better able to govern their thoughts than others.  Some that are naturally weaker have by long use and many trials obtained a greater power over their thoughts than others.  Again, the same persons that at some times have a greater power over the motions of their minds may at other times have a less command over them, according as their health, or their business, or a hundred contingencies of outward things, do affect them.

         In all cases the first motions of our minds are produced so quickly that there is not time enough given for reason to interpose.  When a manŐs mind is vigorously affected and possessed, either with the outward objects of sense, or with inward passions of any kind, he has little or no command of his thoughts.  His mind at that time will be in a manner wholly taken up with what it is then full of.  Nor will he be able to think freely of what he pleases till those impressions are worn off.  There are some cases likewise where a manŐs thoughts are in a manner forced upon him from the present temper and indisposition of his body.  So long as that habit of body lasts, he cannot avoid those kind of thoughts.  This is the case of some deeply hypochondriac persons, many of whom will be haunted with a set of thoughts and fancies that they can by no means get rid of, though they desire it ever so earnestly.  We may properly enough call such fancies their waking dreams, as their dreams are their sleeping fancies.

         We cannot always think of what we would.  We cannot hinder abundance of thoughts from coming into our minds against our will.  Yet it is always in our power to assent to our thoughts, or to deny our consent to them.  If we do not consent to them, but endeavour to stop, stifle, and resent them as soon as we are aware of them, there is yet no harm done.  Should we be haunted with blasphemous thoughts and cannot get rid of them, we must consider that our thoughts are no further ours than as we choose them.  All sin lies in the will, and all will implies choice.  Those thoughts, therefore, which are not our choice, which we reject with a settled aversion and abhorrence, will never be placed to our account.  Our thoughts, however indecent or irregular they may be, are rather to be accounted the infirmities of our corrupt nature than our sins properly so called.  If we close with any thought that prompts us to evil, so as to be pleased with it, to delight in it, to think of pursuing it till it be brought into action, in that case we are no longer to plead our original corruption.  In that very instant we become actual sinners, or actual transgressors of the law of God.  The mind is passive in receiving its notices of things, whether pure or impure.  But the mind is active in its determination whether to harbour or discard them.  As far as it is passive, it is entirely innocent.  As far as it is active, it is accountable.  It is certainly active when we dwell upon impure thoughts with complacency, when we strengthen ourselves in wickedness by cherishing the remembrance of past guilty joys, and laying scenes in our imagination for the entertainment of future pleasures.  Here then we see in what the government of our thoughts consists.  They are not criminal until they have the consent of the will.  The soul can withhold that consent, till it has sufficiently considered the whole case.

         If we would keep our hearts in a good frame and bend our thoughts to good purposes, our first and greatest care should be to rightly pitch upon our main designs, and to choose for the great business of our lives that which really ought to be so.  MenŐs heads are fruitful of evasions to reconcile their duty and their interest, when they come in competition.  Arguments are never lacking to make appear reasonable that which is agreeable or profitable to us, except where the case is very glaring and notorious.  He who earnestly wishes a thing was lawful has half consented that it is so.  Dishonesty has already crept into his heart, and the transition thence to the head is quick and sudden.

         The great concernment of all is to approve ourselves to that great God who made us and disposes of all our affairs.  Accordingly as we sincerely endeavour or not endeavour to serve him, he will make us either happy or miserable, both in this life and the other.

         They that would thus keep their hearts always in a good frame, must have a special care to avoid two things, idleness and loose company.  A wise man will never be at such a pass as to say, I have nothing to do; I do not know how to spend my next hour.  Idleness and having nothing to do is the mother of most of those vain and unprofitable and sinful fancies in which some men spend their days.  Whereas temptations do sometimes come into the way of other men, the idle man is forced to seek out temptations for the shipwreck of his virtue.  Loose and impertinent conversation is not much better than idleness.  Wherever it is much used, it will so emasculate a manŐs mind, and take off the edge and vigour of it as to serious things, that he cannot easily get it into a good frame again.  St. Paul says, Evil communications corrupt good manners.  Therefore, for those people employed in gadding up and down, in play, in merry meetings, in telling or hearing idle stories, and the like, it is impossible but their thoughts, inclinations, and the whole frame of their hearts will be suitable, but very light and foolish, not to say profane, wicked, and atheistic too, if the company they much converse with be of that strain.

         Let us be as attentive as possible to the first motions of our minds.  Whenever we find that they tend toward something that is forbidden, let us stop them as soon as we can.  For instance, perhaps you cannot prevent a sudden passion of anger from rising in your mind upon twenty accidents.  But as soon as you feel this passion, you can thus far stifle it.  You can seal up your mouth, so that the passion shall not vent itself in unseemly words.  If any indecent, impure fancies or desires should be excited in you upon any occasion, it was not perhaps in your power to keep them from coming into your mind.  It is in your power to withdraw from the temptation that causes them, and to endeavour to direct your thoughts to some other object, or at least not to proceed one step in any outward action toward the accomplishing of those desires.  Every check that you give to the first motions of sin makes the next assault of them the less furious.  If you constantly guard and watch over your heart, you will in time obtain a command over it.  Then you will not be troubled with a quarter of those irregular desires and passions which heretofore used to be kindled in you.  You may be able not only to keep bad thoughts out of your mind, but also to have a constant spring of good ones, converse with discreet and pious persons, read good books, especially the holy scriptures, and take times of meditation and recollection.  Above all, you will be able to offer fervent and constant prayers to God.

         With our diligence we must be careful to join discretion.  We must have a care not to extend our thoughts immoderately, and more than our tempers will bear, even to the best things.  The way to do that is not to put them too much, or too long, upon the stretch at any one time, but to relax them when there is occasion, and to let them run out and entertain themselves upon anything that comes next to hand so long as it is innocent.

         Another excellent rule for the good government of our thoughts is always to live under a constant sense of GodŐs presence and inspection.  He that made the eye, shall he not see?  If he do see, shall he not punish?  Hell and destruction are before the Lord!  How much more then are the hearts of the children of men?  If it be so much shame to disclose our wicked, presumptuous, vain, trifling, and vicious thoughts to our fellow creatures, as most men account it to be, lest they upbraid or punish them for it, how much more should they be ashamed and dread to admit such thoughts, which are criminal in the sight of God, when they believe he sees and is able to punish them?

         II.  Above all, it is of exceeding great use to be clothed with Humility.  It is not to be that fawning humility of outward expression and behaviour, which covers a false and proud heart.  Rather, it must be that humility present in the inward frame and disposition of the mind and in a mainly right judgment of ourselves.  Such humility retains a deep sense that God created us out of nothing, and that sin reduces us to a state worse than nothing without the mercies of God and the merits of our Saviour.  This humility admonishes a man of his own corruption and subordination, and duty to God and man, whose fruits are to be discerned best in a relative view.  With regard to our superiors in civil stations in the world, true humility consists in (a) obeying them willingly in all things just and lawful, in (b) submitting to the authority even of the froward and unworthy, in (c) not despising their persons, exposing their weaknesses, or insulting over their infirmities.  To our superiors in natural abilities, true humility consists not in submitting our understandings to them blindly and implicitly, but in (a) being willing and desirous to be instructed and informed by them, in (b) not envying them the advantages God has given them above ourselves, nor repining, but on the contrary (c) rejoicing at their being preferred or honoured, according to the proportion of their true merit and capacity.  To our superiors in religious improvements, humility consists likewise in (a) rejoicing to see the practice of virtue, and the advancement of the kingdom of God upon earth, not grieving, but (b) taking pleasure to find such persons highly esteemed in the world, and (c) proposing them to ourselves as examples and patterns for our imitation.  With regard to our equals, true humility consists in (a) civil, affable, courteous, and modest behaviour; (b) patiently permitting our equals (when it shall so happen) to be preferred before us, (c) not thinking ourselves injured when others but of equal merit chance to be more esteemed, (d) willingly and peaceably submitting to many things, within reason, though not of our best choice.  With regard to our inferiors in civil stations, humility consists in assuming to ourselves no more than the difference of menŐs circumstances, and the performance of their respective duties for preserving the regularity and good order of the world, necessarily required.  To our inferiors in natural abilities, or accidental advantages in the world, such as learning, knowledge, riches, plenty, and the like, humility consists in (a) considering that possibly they have some other gifts which may be lacking in us, and in (b) being willing to communicate to them the advantages we enjoy, that they may be the better for the things wherewith God hath blessed us.  The true humility of a rich man consists in being willing to assist them by relieving their necessities, endeavouring to make the condition of the meanest easy and supportable to themselves.  In like manner, the true humility of persons endued with more learning and knowledge than others consists in being willing to communicate what they know, and in sincerely desiring that all others may attain the same knowledge with themselves.  To our inferiors in respect of religious improvements, true humility consists in (a) being rightly sensible of our own many infirmities, even those of us who may be apt to imagine ourselves to have made the greatest improvements, and in (b) being sincerely solicitous for the welfare and the salvation of all men.  It consists in (c) endeavouring to influence men toward religion by meekness rather than by power, in (d) not affecting to gain the empty applause of men by an outward ostentation of greater piety than others, in (e) condescending to those beneath us, and not disdaining even to yield to them in indifferent things, in (f) bearing their infirmities patiently and without frowardness, in (g) forbearing to judge or despise those that differ from us in opinion, in (h) taking care not to offend by haughty and presumptuous behaviour such persons as by meekness might be prevailed upon to believe in Christ, or such as by kind treatment might be kept from departing into divisions, in (i) taking heed not to impose needless difficulties upon those under our power, for so our Saviour describes the pride of the Pharisees.  Finally, it consists in (j) using great gentleness even to those that have offended: Brethren, if a man be overtaken in a fault, ye, which are spiritual, restore such a one in the spirit of meekness; considering thyself, lest thou also be tempted.

         Without practicing humility toward superiors, there can be no government.  Without exercising it toward equals there can be no friendship and mutual charity.  With regard to inferiors, we are deterred from pride regarding every particular advantage we may seem to have over others, whether in respect of our civil stations in the world, of our natural abilities, or of our religious improvements.  Therefore, humility will keep us from despising any, and incline us to learn all we can.  Knowledge that is not attended with a suitable practice has no value.  All mankind are our fellow creatures, and to be esteemed as God has appointed.  By the law of nature we cannot comfortably subsist independent of our fellows.  Humility thus tempered will dispose one to the cheerful performance of the duties of humanity to all men.  If they are above him, he will cheerfully render them their duties: tribute to whom tribute is due, custom to whom custom, fear to whom fear, honour to whom honour.  If he stands in a superior rank, he will readily condescend to men of low estate.  Thus it is as great a contradiction to say anyone is a proud Christian, as it would be to say anyone is a wicked saint.  All the gospel, its precepts, its great examples, its glorious prospects, tend to humble the pride of man.  Whoever will come after Christ must in this respect deny himself.  It is possible that we may obtain the character of humble people with men from a modest outside, a condescending carriage, and lowly speeches.  God, who searches the heart, may see pride reigning there under these disguises, and that such plausible appearances are intended to support a haughty and overbearing heart.  Therefore, no single branch of goodness deserves more attention to judge of the state of our souls than humility.  If we grow in knowledge and are puffed up with pride, we lose more in goodness, than we gain in profit.  If we improve in other excellencies, and exceed in the conceit of ourselves, we make those things nothing in the sight of God, which would otherwise become valuable, offered up to him, by a humble, lowly, and meek spirit.

         Knowledge puffeth up.  He never knew himself rightly who never suspected himself.  We seldom have that charity which covers a multitude of faults in our neighbours.  Even less frequently do we lack that self-love which covers a multitude of faults in ourselves.  Many would sooner bear a reflection upon their morals than upon their understanding.  The serpent was early sensible that this was manŐs weak side, when he used that artifice to seduce our first parents.  If they would follow his counsel, they should be as gods, knowing good and evil.  The deceiver gained his point.  Man fell into disgrace with his God, and propagated sin and death to his posterity.  As a peculiar legacy the devil seems to have filled them with a vain conceit, that they enjoy the knowledge which he then promised.  Hence under this strong delusion no branch of pride more needs a curb, though none has less to support it, than conceit of our own abilities.  Consequently, to moderate the conceit of our own sufficiency, we must become aware of the imperfection of our nature.  It is true, there is a dignity in our nature in comparison of the lower creation, but the faculties given us are limited at the best.  Many things are above them which we cannot grasp, things too wonderful for us, and not to be attained by us.

         To a humble mind GodŐs word is a sufficient reason of faith.  We should not be wise above what is written in matters of pure revelation.  Nor should we venture to publish our own inventions to account how such things are, nor be positive in them.  Such things of God knoweth no man, any further than he has been pleased to make them known by his word.  This will make us confess our own liableness to mistake, even where we think we have formed a right judgment.  We must consider the power of prejudice, readiness to make hasty judgments, and the plausible colours that may be put upon error.  Then we have reason, in most judgments we form, to carry this cautionary thought: It is possible we may have overlooked something.  There is no person but must confess that he has actually been mistaken in former judgments, even in some in which he was very positive and sure.  This is a good reason why we should carry the thought of our fallibility about us in other cases.

         We should retain a moderate apprehension of our knowledge when we compare it with the attainments of others.  Every good man judges himself in the right in every sentiment he maintains.  If he was convinced it was an error, he would give it up.  It follows that he thinks those of a contrary judgment mistaken as long as he judges himself in the right.  Yet this should not puff him up above measure.  He only judges his own knowledge superior to those with whom he compares his own.  At the same time he confesses that in this life we all know but in part.  Though some know less, others know more than himself.  Though he may be better acquainted with some particulars, yet he grants that others may exceed in other parts of learning.  He may have made less improvement of greater advantages than they have made of fewer opportunities.  He owes it more to the providence or grace of God than to himself that he is distinguished from the most stupid and ignorant.  None are so apt to run into gross mistakes and infirmities, or so hard to be made sensible of them, as he that overvalues his own parts and wisdom.  He that has no patience to examine anything justly counts it a disparagement to suspend his judgment.  He understands all things at first sight, and by instinct.  If he judges rightly, he has good fortune.  If not, it is impossible to convince or reclaim him.  He is impatient of opposition, disdains counsel, and cannot bear the least contradiction, or endure to be gainsaid.  He scorns all instruction and rebuke, and takes it for an affront if you yield not to him in everything he advances.  He is swelled with an overweening esteem of his own abilities.  Therefore, he never even dreams it is possible he may be deceived and deluded.  Seest thou a man wise in his own conceit? there is more hope of a fool than of him.  Finally, this self-conceit hardens a man in his sins, and makes him deaf to instructions.  Meanwhile he thinks that even his defects are beauties, and he can excuse, if not commend, his own ugliness.

 

Sunday  XIII.  Part II.

         III.  Opposite to humility is the sin of Pride, which is the thinking too highly of ourselves.  It is an overweening conceit of our dignity, founded upon some real or imaginary superiority to our neighbours.  Men readily condemn others of the sin of pride, and easily excuse themselves through self-conceit or opinion of their own wisdom.  Our own pride is seldom the cause why we tax others with it.  Men, elated with the thoughts of their own sufficiency, are ever imagining that others are lacking in their regard to them.  Therefore, they aptly conclude that pride must be the cause why others withhold from them that respect, which in their own opinion they have an unquestioned right to.  Their character seldom escapes the brand of vanity belonging to those so accomplished as to make their detractors vain.  We cannot endure anyone to lay down, usurp, or force customs, humours, or manners, as if we had no judgment of our own to govern and order our affairs.  Pride springs from a partial view of ourselves, a view of the bright side only, without balancing against it our numerous imperfections and defects.  We fail to see how little good we can perform without the grace of God, and how little we actually do perform even with it.  Many, who call this pride in another, presume themselves wise enough to set patterns or give laws to everybody else.  Pride makes men foolish and void of caution.  This puts them upon doing things that bring them dishonour.  It makes men negligent, and improvident for the future. often throwing them into sudden calamities.  Pride makes men rash and peevish, obstinate and insolent.  Other menŐs vices and follies are always insupportable to those that are entirely devoted to their own.  The fuller of imperfections any man is, the less able he is to bear with the imperfections of his fellow creatures.  This seldom fails to bring down ruin upon them.  It involves men perpetually in strifes and contentions which always multiply sin, and are inconsistent with true happiness.  Pride disobliges menŐs best friends, and gives their enemies perpetual advantages against them, often drawing great inconveniences upon them.  Pride makes men vain, and lovers of flattery, rejecting those about them who would do them most kindness, and liking those best who do them the greatest injury.  This causes them to be insensible of their own disease till they suddenly fall under contempt.  It makes men impatient of good advice and instruction, and renders them incorrigible in their vices.  It fills men full of vainglorious designs, employing all their thoughts in self-confident imaginations.  This makes men incapable of religious improvements, and to have no relish of true wisdom.

         This makes men quarrel with God and his worship.  Every objection against the being of a deity and providence is raised by pride and an arrogant opinion of our own understanding.  It is as if nothing could be true or reasonable but what is within our sight and penetration.  Pride is that ruling quality which takes the fastest hold of us.  Proud and haughty scorner is his name, says Solomon.  A proud man is very hardly brought to digest the humble duties of the cross, or to admit a belief of the mysteries of Christianity.  The duties are too low for him, and he cannot stoop to the practice of them.  The mysteries are too high for his understanding, and he desires to be excused from entertaining any proposition as true which he does not perfectly comprehend.  If he cannot account in what manner and to what end God did a thing, he wisely resolves that he did it not at all.  If his idea of every term in an article of faith is not as clear as his understanding of those in a mathematical proposition, it is presently unphilosophical, absurd; and foolish.  The unclear idea, therefore, was invented by those whose interest it is to puzzle menŐs understandings, that they may have their wills and affections at their service.  The proud man pretends to see that some, who desire a more pure and demur show of religion than their neighbours, are really counterfeits, and mean nothing but their own interest.  Therefore, he resolves that all religion is, like theirs, a convenient trick.  To him religion is a pretense only invented by cunning men to keep silly people in awe, to make princes reign safely, and the priesthood live easily.  For himself, he knows better than to fall in with the herd or to be ridden by the tribe of Levi, the poorest and most contemptible tribe of the twelve, which had no lot, no inheritance among their brethren.  Levites lived upon the cheat of sacrifices and offerings, and upon driving a gainful traffic for the good things of this world, here paid down to them, by promising and preaching to those they dealt with a recompense in the world to come.  Then the proud man sets up openly for proselytes and a party.  He runs down all religion, and laughs piety and virtue out of countenance.  A good and honest man is sure to be his mark wheresoever he finds him, and the proud is ever shooting arrows against him, even bitter words.  Such persons cannot apprehend the usefulness of any part of the creation.  When their wisdom in confusion and disorder cannot discern the end, benefit, and design of events, they charge God with folly and ill contrivance, or banish him out of the world, and impute all to blind chance or unavoidable fate.  Being cautious and guarded in receiving doctrines, and not easily giving our assent to every tale that is told us, is a point of great prudence and very requisite to preserve us from error in the worldŐs multiplicity of opinions.  We may carry this point too far.  We may be so scrupulous and circumspect in admitting the testimonies of men, as to reject some good witnesses among several bad ones.  We may deceive ourselves oftentimes for very fear of being deceived by others.  A general undistinguishing suspicion is altogether as apt to mislead a man as a too easy and unwary credulity.  To this excess a proud scorner is naturally inclined.  He is so possessed with the notion of priestcraft and pious frauds, as to apply it indifferently to all religions, and to everything in religion.  He is so afraid of having his understanding imposed upon in all matters of faith, that he stands equally aloof from all propositions of that kind, whether true or false.  It is as if a man should refuse to receive any money at all because a great deal goes about that is false and counterfeit.  Or as if a man should resolve not to make a friendship or acquaintance with anyone because many men are not to be trusted.  Certainly this is a very great instance of folly.  In whatsoever breast it harbours, it cannot but indispose a man extremely for the study and entertainment of religious wisdom.  Extremity of suspicion in an inquirer after truth is like a raging jealousy in a husband, or a friend.  It leads a man to turn all his thoughts toward the ill-natured side, and to put the worst construction upon everything.  Consequently, for each time that he is really in the right in his guesses and censures, he will be many times and very much in the wrong.

         Debates proceed from pride while men (a) too highly value their own private judgments in things doubtful and indifferent, (b) think meanly of the determinations of their superiors, (c) and will rather sacrifice peace and charity than give up any trifling opinion they happen to espouse.  There will be no end of debates till we be come to think that governors may be wiser and know better than we what is fit and decent for the public good.  Therefore, nobody ought to make himself the standard of wisdom, nor expect that everyone should yield to his humours and deny their own inclinations that they may gratify his.  On the contrary, what is more graceful, lovely, and charming, than humility and modesty, a mean estimation of ourselves, and a willingness to yield and condescend?  Does it not render us acceptable both to God and men?  Does it not carry a singular agreeableness in itself?  Though humility may seem to expose a man to some contempt, yet it is truly the readiest way to honour.  On the contrary, pride is the most improper and absurd means for the accomplishing of the end at which it aims.  There are no other vices but do in some measure attain their end.  Covetousness usually raises an estate, and ambitious endeavours often advance men to high places.  But pride, insolence, and contempt of others, certainly defeat their own projects.  When the proud man aims at respect and esteem, he never attains it.  All mankind do naturally hate and slight him.  A proud and conceited temper of mind is very likely to run into mistakes.  Pride and fullness of a manŐs self do keep out knowledge and stop all the passages by which wisdom and instruction should enter.  It provokes God to abandon men to their own follies and mistakes, and to pursue them with extraordinary punishments in this or the next world.  Pride goeth before destruction, and a haughty spirit before a fall.  Every one that is proud in heart shall not be unpunished.  God resisteth the proud, but the meek will he guide in judgment.  He will give more grace and wisdom to the humble.

         Therefore, the way to avoid pride and to attain humility is to remember several things.  First, all the advantages we enjoy, either of body or mind above others, are not the effect of our merit, but of GodŐs bounty.  Second, those whom we are apt to condemn are valuable in the sight of God, the only fountain of true honour.  Third,: by having consented to sin we have committed the most shameful action imaginable, the most contrary to justice and right reason, and to all sorts of decency.  Fourth, as long as we are clothed with flesh and blood, we are still liable to the same offences against the majesty of Heaven.  We must suppress all proud and vain thoughts when they first arise in our minds, and especially never suffer them to take possession of our imagination.  We must keep a constant watch over our words and actions, so that we may check the first inclinations to pride and vainglory.  Whoever does not thus watch over his own heart will be in danger of falling into this sin.  While God is so good to bear with him in his folly, the proud man never thinks of repentance.  Mistaking GodŐs forbearance, he has the vanity to esteem himself a favourite of God.  When at last he is corrected by any manner of punishment from God or man, he is far from considering its justice, necessity, and his own just deserts.  Then he murmurs against God, and breathes out his blasphemous hatred against his divine justice.  Consequently he becomes much more reproachful to a neighbour who shall attempt to draw him to a true knowledge of himself.  Whereas, he that is of a calm and meek temper, is always ready to receive the truth, and holds the balance of his judgment even.  Passion commonly sways and inclines the balance against reason and truth.  Therefore, pride is a great hindrance to knowledge and the very worst quality that a learner can have.  It makes men refuse instruction out of a conceit that they are in no need thereof.  The sufficiency of their knowledge has hindered many from what they might have known.

         The folly of pride appears in that we value ourselves very frequently upon things that add no true worth to us.  They neither make us better nor wiser.  They are in their own nature perishable, and we are not owners of them but stewards.  Or, if the things be valuable in themselves, they are GodŐs immediate work in us.  Being proud of them is the surest way to lose them.  The folly of this sin appears by considering the three things whereof men are apt to be proud: the goods of nature, of fortune, and of grace.

         The goods of nature are beauty, strength, wit, etc.  It is folly to be proud of any of these.  We are apt often to mistake whether we really have them, and most of them are possessed by other creatures in a greater degree.  Is not the white and the red of the most celebrated beauty far surpassed by the whiteness of the lily and redness of the rose?  Is not the strength and swiftness of man greatly exceeded by the strength and swiftness of many other creatures?  Neither are they at all durable.  Frenzy, sickness, or old age certainly destroys them.  Whatever they are, we give them not to ourselves, but receive them from the hands of God.

         As for the goods of fortune, which are wealth, honour, etc., we have no reason to be proud of them.  They add no true worth to a man, and are in their nature perishable.  We have them but as stewards.  They are not owing to ourselves.  If they are gotten lawfully, it is GodŐs blessing.  If unlawfully, we have them on such terms that we have no reason to boast of them.  Are we proud of riches?  Riches cannot alter the nature of things.  They cannot make a man worthy who is worthless in himself.  The value of the estate may be very great, but the value of the man is not at all greater, if he does not employ his estate as the great engine to procure moral pleasures, and to do benevolent offices.  The judicious should consider things intrinsically, and think him the greatest who strives as much as in him lies to makes others happy by his benevolence, good by his example, and wise by his instructions.

         The goods of grace are those virtues men are endowed with.  It is a great folly to be proud of them.  Though they are things in themselves truly valuable, yet they are GodŐs immediate gifts to us.  Being proud of them is the surest way to lose them, and the consequence of such a loss is no less than eternal punishment.

         IV.  Another opposite to humility is the sin of Vainglory, which is an eager desire of the applause of men.  This sin prevents the admission of Christ into the heart and consequently sets us in the utmost danger.  All our safety and hope of salvation depends upon our being one with Christ and Christ in us.  Vainglory is also the high road to many more sins.  He that always courts the praise of men will readily commit the greatest sins when they are in fashion or may contribute to the gratification of his vainglory.  Yet this little air, which is no more than a blast or the breath of men, yields no real advantage.  It is no proof of my wisdom and goodness merely if another tells me I am wise and good.  If he tells me to my face, I must be an arrant fool to be pleased.  It is too often flattery.  There is as much folly to be pleased when applauded behind my back; because it neither brings me pleasure nor profit.  He that so eagerly pursues praise to the neglect of reason and conscience, and only does what may raise his esteem among men, yields himself a slave to every flattering and deceitful tongue.  He reaps to himself a painful and uneasy mind.  Such pain and uneasiness is much increased by disturbances, disquietudes, and tortures of mind in those who meet with unexpected reproach instead of praise.  In a Christian sense, this sin will be destructive of our prayers, almsgiving, and of every good work.  They who do good only to be seen of men must expect no other reward than the portion of those hypocrites that love the praise of men more than the praise of God.  This is a folly that not only deprives us of eternal joy, but hurries us into endless miseries.  In regard to some indifferent actions, vainglory not only endangers our eternal state, but also brings upon us the contempt of the wise and virtuous in this life.  That is sure to eclipse all other actions be they ever so deserving of praise.

         To avoid this sin of vainglory, examine carefully whether you have done any Christian duty for the sake of human applause.  Check and resist every eager desire thereof in your most indifferent actions.  Above all, let duty be the motive, and let reason always direct you to please God.  It is he who is able to reward you rather than man, from whose applause you can never reap any real good.  Let not your heart be too much exalted even at the just praise of your virtues.  They are the gift of God, and their glory belongs to him alone.  As for the praise given to indifferent and bad actions (the too common subjects of worldly praise) the former having no goodness in them, deserve no commendation.  Our bad actions should make us tremble and be constant in prayer, lest we incur that woe which our Saviour pronounces against all such who glory in sin when he says, Woe unto you when men speak well of you, for so did their fathers to the false prophets.  A total self-loathing, however, would be as great a fault as a clear and unmixed self-liking.  It would deaden all the powers of the soul, and sink it into a state of inaction.  There is a medium between a just sense of our abilities, and an exorbitant opinion of them.  A just consciousness of those talents with which God has entrusted us will give life and spirit to our undertakings.  This consciousness will be a powerful motive to actions which may make us truly glorious.  Modesty and discretion will be a bar to those attempts, which being above our sphere, may make us ridiculous.

         V.  The next Christian virtue, Meekness, implies a calmness and steadiness of mind, and a cheerful and absolute resignation to GodŐs providence, in opposition to fretfulness and murmuring against his appointments.  God may allow the complaints of nature under our burdens and exercises.  Yet he expects us to check and suppress all complaints of him, and every impeachment of his justice, wisdom, and goodness in his works.  The meek carefully restrain themselves and regulate their passions, reducing them within the bounds of reason and religion, and are of a sweet, courteous, and obliging carriage.  They will not take offence hastily and without just reason.  They will not be angry without a cause.  Neither will they rashly suppose that a provocation is meant.  They do not judge by appearances.  There may be the aspect but no design of affront or prejudice.  If so, what was not ill intended, should never be ill taken.  Therefore, we should not give way to suspicions which cannot be supported with evidence.  We should put the best construction upon words or actions.  Check all resentment till the grounds for it be well considered.  Such a precaution would prevent much passion.  Meekness will not resent higher than the merit of the offence given.  Supposing a real and a great provocation, a meek man will keep a strict guard upon his own spirit, that his mind be not inflamed by ill usage.  He will not allow other peopleŐs sins to draw him in to speak unadvisedly with his lips.  Meekness will make us careful not to render railing for railing, but to break the force of unreasonable anger by gentle answers.  Moderate replies turn away wrath.  It also will avoid rough methods to right ourselves even from considerable injuries.  Meekness will dispose us to try the mildest ways first, to try arguments before punishment, conference before law, and private admonition before we make a public example of our neighbour.  When at last our own security or the common good shall determine us to seek public justice against anyone, meekness directs that it should be done without hatred, and merely with a view to reach those ends which are lawful and commendable.  By this we shall readily reconciled when an offence is acknowledged and reasonable satisfaction tendered.  If he should persist in his ill mind, meekness will guard us against all malice, and make us ready to help the worst enemy in the common offices of life, if he need it.  We will heartily pray for him, especially for his repentance unto salvation.  Meekness will teach us to moderate our affections and passions, unwilling to give offence or to be overbearing in company, full of oneŐs self to the neglect of others.  Meekness teaches us to express civility to all, agreeably to their stations, out of a sense of our duty to God and love to one another.  By this those in stations of inferiority will be disposed contentedly to submit to the duties thereof.  The same excellent spirit will form persons in superior relations to a lowly and condescending temper, to which Christ has added a blessing and promised that they who possess it shall inherit the earth.  Meekness preserves a man from danger.  Unbridled passions make all about us our enemies.  He who will be outrageous against a man that walks harmless and blameless, and gives no offence, must be of a very brutish nature indeed.  At least the meek will be free from those vexations and troubles of life which hasty, froward people bring upon themselves as the fruits of their own ill behaviour.  GodŐs providence and promises secure to them as many good things of the earth as shall be for their real welfare.  If they meet with unjust and ungrateful returns, they may confidently rely upon God as their protector and avenger.  He is ready to rise in judgment to save the meek of the earth.   Whether they have a larger or less share of outward good, they are prepared by the mastery of their passions to enjoy more comfort in what they possess than those who interrupt their enjoyments by the tumults of their own thoughts.

         Therefore, let us seek after meekness in opposition to the folly and anger, and look upon it as a matter of necessity that meekness should ordinarily have dominion over passion and pride.  There may be much difficulty.  By keeping a careful guard upon our hearts, and observing the beginning of anger in ourselves, we are able to carry the conquest.  Anger is much easier to extinguish it in the first sparks, than when it has got head.  Let us fix a law to ourselves that we will make a short pause upon the first rise of a resentment.  This will stifle most passions.  If we would lower our inordinate esteem of ourselves and of this world and its affairs, we may remove the fuel of passion and pride.  Thinking often of (a) our own frailty and liableness to offend, and of (b) how many indiscretions and weaknesses others have to bear with in us, should help us cherish the spirit of meekness.  We should consider ourselves, lest we also be tempted.  We should often remember the indecencies and ill effects of passion.  He that is in a transport of passion appears to be in a fit of madness in everybodyŐs eye.  That is the glass in which we should see our own face.

         Passion produces innumerable mischiefs in the world.  The sins it causes are intolerable.  The shame and sorrow for our past follies, which attack us in our cooler hours, are most irksome.  He that has no rule over his own spirit is like a city that is broken down, and without walls.  A city in this condition will be liable at all times to be entered by an army.  As long as we live in this world, there will be provocations, temptations to lust, revenge, and envy.  There will be crosses and disappointments.  There will be doubtful and suspected sayings.  There will be fuel for our passions administered in great abundance wherever we converse or have any business to transact.  Beside the uneasiness they give to the mind, passions seldom fail to shake the constitution of the body, waste the flesh, sour the blood, and poison the spirits.  By these means passions impair the health, bring on diseases, and shorten the compass of manŐs life.  Most sadly, by the influence of these, we contract a vast heap of guilt.  We are liable to the angry justice of God, whose authority we all the while condemn, and whose justice and holy precepts we break.  Consequently, meekness, patience, humility, modesty, and such virtues of Christianity, do not in reason tend to dispirit men and break their true courage.  They only regulate courage and take away the fierceness and brutishness thereof.  Experience teaches that men of the truest courage have many times least of pride, insolence, passion, and fierceness, when they are swayed by the principles of the gospel.  Therefore, those naturally and more strongly prone than others to be warm or peevish should know that the duty of meekness is of perpetual obligation.  Though it be more difficult to govern their passion, yet this is absolutely necessary in the Christian religion.  They must take more pains with their own hearts, and be the more earnest in prayer to God for his assistance.  Their distemper is not incurable by the heavenly physician.  They will have one pleasure upon a conquest, and above those of milder tempers, it will be more evident that their meekness is not forced.  When evil consequences may be foreseen, they should rather have fortified us against the tide of passion, than passion be made use of afterward as a plea for its excuse.  A sincere Christian will rather consider those effects of his passion as aggravations of the sinfulness of it.  Therefore, he will be more watchful for the future and diligent to grow in meekness, which will be a preparation for heaven, where neither pride nor passion have any place, but all is calm and serene, peaceable, meek, and happy.

         VI.  Consideration is a duty we owe to our souls, by which our state and actions may be preserved from evil.  By the virtue of consideration, a man is deterred from all rash undertakings and considers the subject well before he fixes any resolution.  Consideration will prompt us to choose and pursue what the understanding represents as good and advantageous to us, and shun and avoid what is represented as evil and destructive to eternal happiness.

         This will teach us not to rest upon a bare faith that Christ died for our sins, or on a presumption that we are of the number of Gods elect, and are decreed to salvation.  This is rather the frenzy of a distempered brain, than the effect of a rational judgment founded on the word of God.  Consideration will call us to the law and the covenant by which we are to be tried at the last day.  It will convince us that our faith and all our hopes are vain which are not strictly conformable to the gospel of Christ.  He teaches us that whoever continues in the practice of any one sin, and in defiance of GodŐs commands, cannot ever hope to find mercy without timely repentance.

         Our life is no more than a gust of breath in our nostrils.  We cannot reasonably suppose ourselves to be in the favour of God till we are made sensible of our own weak and momentary state, and are thoroughly persuaded of the necessity to exercise ourselves in holy affections.  Examples are (a) love and desire of what is good, (b) hatred and detestation of what is evil, (c) sorrow, shame, and self abhorrence for having transgressed in any particular, (d) praise and thanksgiving for having been enabled in any tolerable measure to have done our duty, (e) adoration and imitation, (f) faith, (g) hope, (h) charity, and (i) resignation of ourselves to the Almighty.  If men would (a) frequently meditate upon death and judgment, (b) represent to their minds what a vast disproportion there is between time and eternity, and (c) consider that the pleasures of sin, at best, are but for a season, but that (d) its punishment is endless and intolerable Đ could men be brought to think of these things with any seriousness, such thoughts would in time have their proper effect.  These thoughts would so effectually convince them of the great folly and danger of sin as to make them in good earnest set about the great work of their salvation.  Consideration hath a universal influence upon the whole life of a Christian.  It is an admirable instrument to quicken our progress in all the graces of the Holy Ghost.  It illuminates our understandings with the knowledge of our duty, and stores our memories with all such arguments as are proper to excite us to the performance thereof.  This habituates our minds to spiritual objects, and raises them above the perishing things of this world.  This strengthens our holy purposes, arms us against temptations, and inflames all the faculties of our souls with earnest desires of attaining and enjoying our chief happiness.

         Lacking this consideration, men go on stupidly in an evil way and are not sensible of the danger of their present course.  They do not attend to the consequences of it.  Therefore, certainly if men would seriously consider what sin is, and what shall be the sad portion of sinners hereafter, they would resolve upon a better course of life.  Can it be thought that any man would live in the lusts of the flesh and of intemperance, or out of covetousness defraud or oppress his neighbour, did he seriously consider that God is the avenger of such?  In most men it is not so much a positive disbelief of the truth, as inadvertency and lack of consideration, that makes them go on so securely in a sinful state.  Consequently, if men would consider what sin is, and what the fearful consequence of it will be, probably in this world, but most certainly in the other, they could only choose to flee from it as the greatest evil that can befall them.

         We must consider our actions both before we do them and after they are done.  We must not be rash and headstrong.  Men need to take a serious and impartial view of their lives and actions.  They need to consider the tendency of a sinful course, and whither it will bring them at last.  If the vicious and dissolute man would look about him, and consider (a) how many have been ruined in that very way that he is in, (b) how many lie slain and wounded in it, (c) that it is the way to hell and leads down to the chambers of death, the serious thought of this would check him in his course, and make him resolve upon a better life for the future.  It is the desperate folly of mankind that they seldom think seriously of the consequences of their actions and, least of all, of such as are of concernment to them, and have the chief influence upon their eternal state.  None of those consider (a) what mischief and inconvenience a wicked life may plunge them into in this world, (b) what trouble and disturbance it may give them when they come to die, (c) what horror and confusion it may fill them withal when they are leaving this world, and passing into eternity, and (d) what intolerable misery and torment it may bring upon them for ever.  Therefore, if men would let their thoughts dwell upon these things, the generality could not lead such profane, impious, lewd, dissolute, secure, careless, thoughtless, and remorseless lives as they do.  Whether we consider it or not, our latter end will come.  All those dismal consequences of sin, which God has so plainly threatened, and our own consciences do so much dread, will certainly overtake us at last.  They cannot be avoided nor prevented by not thinking of these things.  Nothing is more certain than death and judgment.  Then an irreversible sentence will pass upon us according to all the evil we have done, and all the good we have neglected to do in this life.  Under the heavy weight and pressure of sentence we must lie groaning and bewailing ourselves forever.

         We must also consider our actions when they are past.  By their consequences we must judge whether they be good and according to the rules of the gospel.  Such a recollection as this is of great comfort and advantage.  If they appear to be good, they become the subject of our joy.  If they are found to be evil, they call us to immediate repentance and a thankfulness to God, who gives us time to reconcile ourselves to his favour.

         Hence we learn the great use of such a consideration.  As every sin must be particularly repented of before it can be pardoned, so the oftener we call our actions to mind, the better we shall be able to find them out, repent, and resolve against the like for the future.  Let him who dares to put this duty off, and lie down to sleep before he has done it, remember that dreadful voice, Thou fool, thy soul shall be required of thee this night.  What then will become of the unrepenting sinner!

 

Sunday  XIV.

I. Of contentedness, including its contraries, murmuring, ambition, covetousness, envy.  II. Helps to and the necessity of contentedness.  III. Of watchfulness against sin, which includes industry in improving the gifts of nature, fortune, and grace, and the danger of idleness, especially in tradesmen and servants.  IV. Of the power the devil has to tempt mankind, and the means to conquer temptations.  V. Of those duties which concern our bodies, as chastity, including the several degrees and sin of uncleanness and fornication; and of its mischiefs both to soul and body.  VI. Helps to chastity, and means to avoid uncleanness.

 

         I.  Another great proof of our obedience and resignation to the will of God is Contentedness, or contentment.  This is such an acquiescence of the mind in that portion of outward things we possess, the sufficiency of which makes us well pleased with the condition we are in.  It suffers not the desire of any change, or of any particular thing we do not have, to trouble our spirits or discompose our duty.

         This virtue, in which is founded the very ease and comfort of our souls, takes off all anxiety and murmuring against God and his wise providence.  Contentment includes a respect to divine providence in all our circumstances, and an humble submission to the disposal thereof.  Happiness is more equally dealt than we, in our melancholy hours, are apt to imagine.  It is certain that one part of the world are tolerably easy under such circumstances as would be insupportable to the other.  The poor envy the rich as exempt from the drudgery to which they are subject.  The rich may sometimes with more justice envy the industrious and temperate poor.  That very drudgery prevents that idle swarm of restless thoughts, that spleen, distaste, and lack of health, which high enjoyment of life, luxury, and inaction, sometimes breed in them.  After we have used a reasonable industry to attain the necessaries of this present life, without any further anxiety and solicitude about them we ought to rely on the providence of God for a continual supply of these things by his blessing upon our just endeavours.  We ought to be content with that proportion of them he is pleased to bestow upon us in the ways of righteousness.  If we fret, instead of helping ourselves, we increase our difficulties by making him our enemy.  Contented  reliance upon the providence of God is taught upon these words of our Saviour, Is not the life more than meat, and the body than raiment?  He that first gave us life and being, without our contributing anything toward it ourselves, will he not much more bestow upon us, in the ways of virtue and integrity, things necessary for the support and preservation of that life?

         Contentment is contrary to ambition, which is an unlawful desire of dominion and power, large possessions, and profuse living.  The contented person will with pleasure say, Though I have not so large a share as some others, yet I have enough to procure the necessaries of life.  Though I have not a provision for time to come, yet God hath hitherto given me my daily bread.  What occasion have I to distrust him in his promises?  Though I have not enough to gratify every random inclination, yet I have sufficient to supply real necessities.  Though some prosper more, yet the distress of others is greater.  Though I live more upon providence, yet have not goodness and mercy followed me?  Why should I doubt that in the way of duty they will follow me as long as I live?  Though I have not everything I wish for, yet I have more than I deserve at the hands of God.  Though I am really poor, yet poverty has not always the nature of an affliction or judgment from God.  It is rather merely a state of life, appointed by God for the proper trial and exercise of the virtues of contentment, patience, and resignation.

         Therefore, let us hence be instructed never to judge of GodŐs love or hatred to persons by the outward circumstances that befall them.  Let us not conclude, because we are more fortunate in this world than our neighbour, that therefore we are greater favourites with God than he.  Perhaps God meant that these happy circumstances, as we account them, should be trials of our virtue, and according as we use them, they should prove a blessing or a curse.  If we (a) bear ourselves with an even and composed mind, and (b) make use of those advantages we have above other men for doing more good in the world than other men, and in the midst of our prosperity (c) neither vainly please ourselves (d) nor despise others, but (e) walk reverently and humbly with our God in all our conversation, then these things are really a blessing to us.  On the other side, if our prosperity tempts us to (a) pride and (b) insolence, to the (c) forgetfulness of God and the (d) contempt of men; if we use the advantage of our power to (e) oppress the weak, and of our wit to (f) overreach the simple, and our wealth for (g) vice and luxury, to (h) fulfill the lusts of the flesh; then our great successes, by which we measure GodŐs love to us, are not a blessing but a curse.  See then the folly and madness of those that take not God for their strength, but trust to the multitude of their riches, and strengthen themselves in their wickedness, and think by these means to be fortified against the evils of this life!  There are numberless calamities from which wealth and power can never shelter us.  Therefore, when a man lets go his trust in God and takes sanctuary in the strength of his own wickedness, he will find himself miserably mistaken when the day of adversity comes upon him.  Our virtue is as much endangered by opulence, which administers numberless incentives to luxury and temptations to insolence, as it is by poverty.  Some, after acquiring an ample fortune, have soon wanted almost everything else to make them valuable.  The heat and warmth of prosperity has called forth those vices which lay dormant before under the rigour of poverty.  What numbers have shortened their days by abandoning themselves to all unmanly pleasures of a dissolute life.  If they had not been born to an affluent independent state, they might have made a distinguished figure in the world.  If they had not a fortune to support their follies and keep pace with their lewd desires, they might have thought it necessary to accrue moral and intellectual endowments.  Riches give us larger opportunities of doing good.  Several make this use of them and enlarge the common stock of happiness, their religion, like the altar that sanctified the gold, stamping a value upon and dignifying their fortune.  Unless we guard against criminal excesses, riches will, as the apostle expresses it, bring us into a snare, and into many hurtful and foolish lusts which drown men in perdition.  Such considerations as these are the happy fruits of contentment, and must necessarily exclude all ambition from the heart possessed with them.

         By contentment we are enabled also to make a necessary stand against covetousness, the inordinate desire to increase our own substance, tempting us to use fraud and deceit against our neighbour.  Be not eagerly and anxiously desirous of what the providence of God hath not thought fit to allot you.  Be not envious of what others enjoy.  Be not discontented with your own state and condition in the world.  Such a desire to increase our possessions as tempts us to defraud or encroach upon our neighbours is sinful.  It is wise to be easy, though we should compass no more than a subsistence; for covetousness is never satisfied.  We see men arrive at one enjoyment after another, which once seemed the top of their ambition.  Yet they are so far from contentment that their desires grow faster than their substance.  They are as eager to improve a large estate, as if they were still drudging for food and raiment which should be the bounds of our desires.  Thus the miser has so closely associated the ideas of happiness and money that he cannot part or keep them asunder even when near the concluding scene of his life.  At the same time that he grows more indifferent to every person in the world, he becomes more strongly attached to the things of it.  It was against this covetousness, or unbounded desire, that Christ said, Take heed and beware of covetousness; for manŐs life consisteth not in the abundance of the things which he possesseth.  Both reason and religion command a prudent care of our affairs.  A contented mind will not allow us to exceed herein.  We may also be excessive by engaging in more cares than we can manage with composure of mind, or by suffering any cares to run out into anxiety and discontent.  Those who from desire of gain drown themselves in such a hurry of business as is beyond their capacity to manage, defeat their own end and hurt their souls.  They do not have a reasonable time to attend their better interests.  Those unsatisfied with having acted a prudent part and leaving the event to God, instead tormenting and racking their minds about that which is not in their own power, take that thought for the morrow, which our Saviour has condemned.

         This virtue is necessary in opposition to covetousness.  Covetousness is contrary to God, our neighbour, and ourselves.  As our Saviour tells us, We cannot serve God and mammon.  A covetous man makes his gain the sole object of his desires, prefers his worldly business to the care of his soul, and will risk his very salvation by lying, cheating, and neglecting his duty to God in order to make what in the eye of the world is called a good bargain.  He stops at no sin to compass his ends. [See Sunday xi. Sect. ii.]

         In regard to our neighbour covetousness is a breach both of justice and charity.  He that makes no scruple to offend God and to neglect the great duties of religion in order to get money will never be afraid to trick his neighbour.  As the love of money is the root of all evil, so the man that is swayed with that love will not scruple to sacrifice both his neighbourŐs body, goods, and reputation to gather riches to himself.

         In regard to ourselves: Does he not sell his soul for those things which at last must perish with the body?  Yet this is the case of the covetous man, who either by unlawful means, seeks to heap up riches or, having this worldŐs goods, sets his heart upon his wealth.  This is the sentence of the apostle: He shall not inherit the kingdom of heaven.  He will scarcely allow his own body the necessary refreshments and conveniences of life.  Therefore, as we regard our present and future comfort and happiness, it is our duty to seek for the virtue of contentedness which will guard us against the sin of covetousness which brings our body and soul into misery.  Our duty to God and charity to our neighbours induce us to take pleasure in the welfare of others, whether we share in it personally or not.  Shall my eye be evil against my neighbour because God is good to him?  Contentment, as well as charity, envieth not.  Whoever is possessed with contentment will not allow himself under any inconveniences to venture upon the violation of his conscience to remove them.  He will not amend his circumstances by any acts of fraud or violence, or by making shipwreck of faith and a good conscience toward God and man.

         II.  Various mercies will strongly oblige us to be content.  Our circumstances are never so low and uneasy in this world without some mixtures of mercy and favour.  Though we lose some relations, yet others are left behind.  Though we meet with some disappointments, yet we are not quite stripped.  See if there be no instances of a condition more strait than our own.  Is it not ingratitude to God to overlook the advantageous parts of our condition?  Short life and the approaches of death (a) speak the reasonableness of contentment with our present station, and (b) view the finished misery of sinners. that have shot the gulf.  They have not so much as a drop of water to cool their tongues, then say, Wherefore should a living man complain?  Anxiety and uneasiness is not the way to amend our circumstances.  Discontent is not the way to the favours of Providence.  It does not lead to the proper steps for the obtaining of our desires.  Discontent provokes God to be contrary to us, and discomposes our souls.  It adds the weight of guilt to any burden.  It stops the enjoyment of the mercies we have, and our thankfulness for them.  Discontent is the parent of many great sins, and a discouragement to our Christian profession in the sight of all men.  They who are continually complaining of inconveniences seem capable of relishing anything but heaven, for which a complaining temper will by no means prepare them.  Whereas, not repining at inconveniences we have here may bring us to that only place where there are no inconveniences.  He who is not discontented with a slender portion of blessings, may have the greatest blessing of all, the Deity to be his portion for ever and ever.

         The apostle had learned to be content in whatever state he was.  This was not because he could choose his condition, but because by the grace of God he could be reconciled to any state.  Men misplace their discontent.  They are very well satisfied with what they are.  They are only dissatisfied with what they have.  The very reverse ought generally to take place.  The only desire which we ought to set no bounds to is that of increasing in goodness.  A slender allotment of worldly blessings will content an easy, modest, humble frame of mind.  No allotment whatever, no affluence how great soever, can satisfy an uneasy, restless, fretful temper, ever seeking rest and finding none, making to itself disquietudes when it meets with none, and improving them when it does.  Our natural needs are small, but in our imagination they are infinite.  If men would make their nature and reason the measure of their needs, they might always live next door to satisfaction.  People judge wrongly when they expect contentment if they could obtain a greatly desired comfort.  When they are gratified in their desire, a worldly mind will outgrow their attainments.  New wants will start up, and men will be as far from satisfaction as at their outset.  There are very few with whom we would completely exchange conditions.  We may regard someone to be in general very happy.  If we descend to particulars, taking into the account his age, his health, his person, his abilities, his temper, or his behaviour, we would rather continue as we are than make a thorough exchange.  Seeming inequalities are generally adjusted either by the real satisfaction which virtue gives, or by the false pleasures which conceitedness and vanity afford its votaries.  Variety of worldly goods will not produce contentment.  In a headstrong life a small uneasiness, appetite, or passion not gratified, will take away the relish of what is agreeable, unless a foundation be laid for it in the due regulation of our own tempers.  Even the most desirable state of life is attended with many peculiar disadvantages of its own.  We find several who have no considerable advantages of fortune, or honour, or power, and yet are contented and easy.  Several who possess all advantages are yet extremely discontented and miserable.  We even often think that others are happier than ourselves, and with whom, as to many things, we would willingly change conditions.  Are we engaged in a life of action and business?  How do we applaud the happiness of those that live in ease and privacy, and can command their own time!  Do we, on the contrary, live in retirement, and have but few affairs to mind?  Well, then our time lies upon our hands, and we complain for want of employment, and call only those happy who are men of business.  Are we in great and splendid circumstances above the rank of common men?  Then we feel the cares and burdens that this brings upon us, and only cry up the secure quiet state of those that live in a lower sphere.  On the contrary, are we in a low condition?  Then we envy the great men that carry the world before them!  Thus are we generally unsatisfied with our present condition and apt to like any other better than our own.  No earthly delight or comfort can please us long.  A rational way of thinking is, therefore, an essential ingredient of happiness.  We must apprehend things justly.  We must recognize that we wind up our imaginations too high, and things as they naturally are will never answer to fanciful ideas.  An undisciplined imagination may suggest, How happy should I be if I could compass such a situation in life!  Calm reason would answer, Just as happy as those that are already in possession of it, and that is perhaps not at all.  If we place our happiness in moderating our desires, we may be happy even now.  If we place it in enlarging our possessions, we should not be happy even then.  These imaginary needs are often more vexatious to the opulent, than real needs are to the poor.  If they are supplied, it is but vanity.  They contribute very little to their real enjoyments.  As soon as the gloss of novelty is worn off, they become tasteless and insipid.  If they are not supplied, it is a vexation of spirit, and a perpetual source of uneasiness.  Men cannot retrench their pomp and equipage, even when their fortune is considerably impaired.  They must, through an ambitious poverty, maintain the show when the substance is gone.  Their joys are pompous and visible, but false and fantastic.  Their cares are secret and concealed, but real and solid.  By making pleasure familiar, riches flatten menŐs relish for them, but give a keener edge to every pain which they must feel as well as other men.  Riches dull their enjoyments, outpoint and quicken the sense of anguish and affronts.  Therefore, let us labour to have our minds content in any state, and endeavour to suit ourselves to any condition which will not furnish occasions for discontent and uneasiness. [See Christian Fortitude and Patience, in Sunday xvi.  Sect. v.]  Above all, pursue religious courses.  It is written, Seek ye first the kingdom of God, but not so as wholly to exclude the care of other things.  That is impossible in this present life.  Pretending to it is but enthusiasm and hinders the spreading of true religion.  Seek GodŐs kingdom chiefly and in the first place.  Make this your principal and main care.  Suffer nothing to interfere or come in competition with it.  Do this above and before all other things, and yet other things need not be left undone.

         We cannot be religious without diligently pursuing virtue.  In the course of a Christian life there are many duties to be performed which require pains and care.  Temptations must be resisted, which will keep us continually upon our guard.  Scripture frequently calls us to work out our salvation with fear and trembling; that is, with great watchfulness and industry, giving all diligence to make our calling and election sure; following holiness, and pursuing it with great diligence.  This is why God ordained that there is no employment wherein a man may not perpetually be doing something for the honour of God, for the good of men, or for the improvement of the virtues of his own mind.  There is no business, no innocent diversion, wherein he may not act always like a reasonable man and a good Christian.  There is no state of life wherein he may not keep a constant eye upon a future state.  He may use the things of the present world so that all his actions may always respect the life which is to come.  We can get nothing on any other terms.  Without this no man shall ever reach the state of eternal bliss.  To which end therefore we must use watchfulness and industry.

         III.  Watchfulness requires a constant care of our lives and actions.  We must be always on our guard, that we resist the first beginnings of evil, and discover the first approaches of our spiritual enemy.  Thus we may neither be surprised by his snares and enticements, nor unprepared to encounter him whenever he attacks us.  In short, it consists in wisely foreseeing the dangers that threaten our souls, and then diligently avoiding the same.

         The consideration of our own weakness and frailty is an argument to promote our watchfulness.  We must also be watchful against the fickleness, treachery, and deceitfulness of our hearts.  Furthermore, the malicious devil is very inveterate, and his malice will make him diligent to watch all advantages against us,  His great design will be to shake our resolution.  He knows that if our resolution stands, his kingdom will fall.  He raises all his batteries against it, and labours by all means to undermine this fort.  Therefore, the necessity of this duty is visible from the nature of our condition in this world.  We are surrounded with variety of temptations.  There is no circumstance of life entirely free from some sort of assault or other.  All our ways are strewed with snares from the power and strength of the adversary.  He is prince of the air and lacks neither skill nor industry to work our ruin.  This is also visible from our own frailty and weakness.  We have no power of ourselves to help ourselves.  From the danger of our overthrow we become liable to the miseries of a sad eternity in a place of torment.  Consequently, unless we are very watchful, we shall unavoidably be made a prey.  Therefore, he that expects GodŐs grace and assistance to keep him steadfast to his resolution must not neglect himself.  He must keep his heart with all diligence, and watch carefully over himself.  God worketh in us both to will and to do.  Therefore he expects that we should work out our salvation with fear and trembling, lest by our own carelessness and neglect we should miscarry, and so become liable to the miseries of a doleful eternity.

         This will naturally lead us to Industry, and to improvement of our reason, understanding, and memory, which are the natural riches of the soul; and to cultivation of the special graces of God, which are given us for that purpose.

         The natural gifts of God are employed to promote the glory of God, our neighbourŐs good, and the salvation of our own souls.  This offers to our consideration two particulars.  First, man should never be idle, slothful, intemperate, brutish, nor profane.  Such are all those who (a) turn their wit to a bad use, (b) prefer their reason to GodŐs revelation, and (c) load their memories with wicked thoughts, or at least with frothy romances and idle tales.  Secondly, every person that (a) does good by faithful administration or by diligent discharge of his duty in any office he bears, or any place of trust he is called to; whoever (b) is serviceable to others with good counsel in doubtful and difficult cases relating to their souls, bodies, or estates; and (c) whoever is taken up in instructing the ignorant, or in any other such matters, which require the pains of the mind, is far idle.  He deserves not to be reputed as idle, or regarded as unworthy of a livelihood.  His labour is really the most difficult.  It is most useful and profitable to all, as may evidently appear from this reasoning on the contrary part.

         Whence proceeds so great an increase of the poor of this kingdom?  To what are their miseries owing, but to sloth and idleness?  To the neglect of parents who took no care to educate them, when they were young, in learning, labour, an honest trade or business in which they might employ themselves, when they were grown up, and be able to maintain themselves honestly.  Being grown up, they become what they really are, the very bane and pest of society.  They waste and devour the fruits of the diligent manŐs labour, robbing those who are truly poor of the charity which is their due, [See the duty of charity to the poor, Sunday xii.] and which would otherwise be afforded them.  Meanwhile, they do no service to God, their prince, or their country.  Still worse, they spend idle time in lying, swearing, drinking, and committing sometimes the most detestable crimes of theft, whoredom, and murder.  This should be a warning.  All parents and those entrusted with the care and government of youth must improve young minds with sound principles of religion and good morality, bringing them up to learning, or in some honest trade and employment. [See the duty of parents, Sunday viii. Sect.  vii.]  Thus when they are grown up, they may be able by their own skill and industry to provide a competent maintenance for themselves, and to afford some supply and relief to the real needs and unavoidable necessities of their neighbours.  Now, suppose a man was born to, or industriously obtained, so plentiful an estate that he could take his ease in sloth and luxury without danger of his falling into poverty.  In all probability he would thereby render his condition as unhappy as that of the meanest beggar.  He would even lose the taste and pleasure of worldly things by using them too frequently, and would most certainly endanger his health by an idle way of living.  It is known by experience that ease, sleep, and lack of exercise, are the chief causes of most bodily distempers. [See Time, Sunday xvi.  Sect.]

         The idleness of artificers or labourers is surely the most blamable.  They loiter away that time for which they receive wages.  This is a downright cheat upon those whose business they have undertaken.  It is robbing them of their money.  It may prove more injurious than common robbery, if the affairs they are entrusted with should miscarry through their carelessness.  God will not suffer the labouring man to be defrauded of his hire.  He declares that the cry of such injustice ascends up to him for vengeance.  But he equally abhors any fraud that is committed on the labourerŐs part.  The apostle therefore commands Christians that no man go beyond or defraud his brother in any matter.  Surely all servants and others who receive wages for their time, if they squander it away in idleness, are guilty of the greatest fraud: [See the duly of servants, Sunday ix.  Sect.viii.]  Let them consider what the apostle here adds, The Lord is their avenger.  What shall we say of those enthusiasts who neglect and abandon their domestic concerns, their families, their children or servants, or the employments by which they should get their livelihood, under a pretense of purer religion?  Such men certainly do not consider the nature of the Christian religion.  That nature is to make men holy in their persons and in their lives.  It does not take them off from their worldly callings, or from using those talents which God hath given them for the benefit of the country where they live.  Nor do they consider their obligation to the public society whereof they are members.  By idleness they are rendered useless to the commonwealth.  Also they do oftentimes a great deal of mischief to it by unsettling and subverting other men.  They and fill their heads with foolish notions and scruples in religion which are dangerous to government and to the public peace and happiness.  As for the better serving of God by thus leaving their callings, it is a mere pretense.  He serves God best who does most good in the world.  An honest and industrious labourer, who serves God by continual application to the duty of his calling and state of life, may have the comfort and great happiness of a good conscience.  He may depend entirely on the goodness of God, that he will always take care of him.  God will bless and prosper him in the work of his hands, and stir up the hearts of good men to assist and relieve him.  Whenever his strength faileth him, through sickness, old age, or misfortunes, let him not doubt but he shall be provided for in such a manner as shall be best for him.

         Yet there can be no certainty that God will bless us, except we also grow in grace.  Therefore, says the apostle, give all diligence to add to your faith virtue, etc. or improve the grace of God by an industrious and virtuous life, remembering that the more we improve the talent committed to our charge, the more abundance will be given unto us.  It is the gift of God for a man to eat and drink, and enjoy the good of all his labour.  Such a one reaps the fruits of his pains and industry with a quiet conscience, a pleasure which the cheat and oppressor are unacquainted with.  He is free from contention, from vexatious suits and disturbances.  The envy and ambition of others can have no designs nor take advantage against him.  He possesses no more than what he labours for.  He is no manŐs slave or dependent.  He is under no temptation to flattery or mean compliances.  He need not cringe nor sneak to the wealthy for his bread.  He can live upon his own, and is able in some measure to relieve others.  The greatest blessing of his continual employment keeps him out of the way of those numerous temptations and occasions of sin to which idle people are always exposed.  Let us endeavour to improve in all sorts of virtue and piety.  Whoever bend their minds upon heaven are always advancing in paths that lead thereto.  They do their duty and strive to perform it after a more perfect manner.  They take every opportunity of doing good to the bodies and souls of men.  They are upon their guard to keep their passions under good government, and ready to obey all the inspirations of the Holy Ghost.  We shall be answerable for the grace we have neglected, and for not improving what God hath blessed us with.  Let us not grieve the Holy Spirit who is the author of peace and joy, but surrender ourselves obedient to his call.  Certainly, if we understood the value of the least of his favours, and those good thoughts which pass unregarded, we should esteem them very highly and not render them of no advantage by stupid negligence.  Take care that every spark of a good thought be blown into a flame, that it may produce a suitable practice in our lives and manners  The Lord stands knocking at the door.  Do not refuse to open and let him into your heart.  God bestows his grace in proportion to our use thereof.  A right improvement of the first degree prepares us for a larger blessing from him.  To him that hath shall be given, and from him that hath not shall be taken away even that which he hath.

         We are taught that God justly may, and ought, to withdraw his grace when willfully neglected,  How then shall we escape?  When man is once deprived of GodŐs grace, he is delivered up to the power of the devil, banished from the sight of God, and bound over to eternal damnation.  Wherefore it is written, Cast ye the unprofitable servant into outer darkness; there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth.

         When there is an opportunity to practice an act of mortification, humility, charity, or patience, etc. we may falsely think that act of virtue cannot be performed at that time; that it is unreasonable, and, though good in itself, may be better adjourned to another opportunity.  Instead of complying with that holy motion, which solicits us to good, we are diverted from it by listening to the deceit of the evil one.

 

Sunday XIV.  Part II.

         IV.  The scriptures indeed teach us, that the devil is always ready to tempt men to sin.  Yet he can do nothing more than tempt us.  He has no power over our persons or our wills.  He can only set before us habits and allurements.  We cannot be hurt by them unless we yield to them and choose them.  The treachery and corruptness of our hearts within is much more dangerous than all the assaults of the enemy from without.  When he is tempted, let no man say, I am tempted of God.  As an excuse for sin, let no man plead that God permitted the devil to tempt him into it.  As God cannot himself be tempted with evil, so neither tempteth he any man.  Neither doth he permit the devil to tempt anyone further than by laying before him such allurements as it is in the personŐs power.  It is his duty, and it is the proper trial and exercise of his virtue, to resist.  Every man is then, and then only, tempted.  He is only effectually and sinfully tempted when he is drawn away by his own lust and enticed.  The enemy of manŐs salvation can do nothing more, but only (a) entice the covetous with the hopes of gain, (b) puff up the ambitious with expectations of honour, and (c) allure the voluptuous with prospects of pleasure.  Where the mind is not under the power of any of those corrupt affections, the tempter finds nothing in it.  His temptations can find no hold, and his power is at an end.  Resist the devil says the apostle, and he will flee from you.  Therefore, the apprehension that many melancholy pious persons have sometimes entertained of the great power of the devil is erroneous and groundless.  But it is a much greater fault in bad men to magnify the devilŐs power, as they are very apt to do in order to excuse their own crimes.  They say that, because the devil tempted them to do ill things, therefore the doing those ill things was a less fault in themselves.  This is an error arising from a very false notion of the devilŐs power of tempting men.  It is nothing more than wicked men tempting one another.

         We must not rely too much upon ourselves.  We must in cases of conscience apply to those who watch over our souls, the minister and steward of the mysteries of God.  We are all apt to be too partial to ourselves, and are too presumptuous when we lean too much to our own apprehensions.  The guidance of our pastor is one of the means God affords for our improvement.  His assistance is very necessary to preserve us from being imposed upon.  Remember that the careless and secure live in continual hazard of their own eternal loss.  If we would be saved, we must continually watch against all temptations.  The judge of eternal life and death declares, What I say unto you, I say unto all; watch.

         V.  Having considered those Christian virtues which in a proper manner respect our souls, let us now proceed to those virtues which in a more particular manner regard our bodies.

         The first of these duties is the virtue of Chastity or Purity.  The apostle declares, He that committeth fornication sinneth against his own body.  This virtue consists in abstaining from adultery, fornication, and from all other more unnatural sorts of it, committed either upon ourselves, or with any others.  It is a due government of those appetites, which God his planted in us for the increase of mankind, which must be confined within the bounds of lawful matrimony.  Any other method of gratifying them is contrary to that purity which the gospel enjoins.  Even in that state men are not to loose to their appetites like brute beasts which have no understanding.  Men are to keep themselves within the modest rules of a marriage state.  Marriage is ordained for (a) the begetting of children to be brought up in the fear of God, for (b) a remedy against sin, and (c) to avoid fornication, so as to keep ourselves undefiled members of ChristŐs body.  Nothing must be committed which may hinder the first reason for marriage.  They who prostitute that holy state to heighten and inflame their lust act contrary to the second reason, which only proposes marriage as the means to subdue lust, and to keep men from any sinful effects of it.  This is the will of God, even your sanctification, that you should abstain from fornication, that every one should know how to possess his vessel in sanctification and honour; not in the lust of concupiscence, as the gentiles, who know not God: for God hath not called us unto uncleanness, but unto holiness.  In seeing, hearing, and touching, many conclude themselves innocent, while free from the lustful deed, and indulge themselves in all liberties short of the last act of uncleanness.

         He that suffers his eyes to rove and fixes them upon a forbidden object will be apt to commit adultery, according to that observation of our Saviour, He that looketh on a woman to lust after her, hath committed adultery with her already in his heart.  We ought rather to cut off our hand than to be guilty of the least uncleanness therewith.  Neither must we suffer any evil communication to proceed out of our mouth.  He that indulges any of his senses so far as to excite any desire of forbidden pleasures defiles his soul therewith.  They that would preserve their innocence must keep their eyes, their ears, and their hands chaste.  That is, they must neither look upon, read, hear, nor touch anything that may inflame or dispose them in any manner to gratify their sinful passions.

         When lust is conceived, it brings forth sin.  When we are thus set upon a precipice, corrupt nature pushes us upon the ruin of ourselves.  The great neglect of chastity produces much of that irreligion which prevails in the world.  If early breaches of innocence had not been made by indulging sinful passions, menŐs minds would not be so averse from entertaining the principles of religion founded in the true reason and interest of mankind.  When the spirit is subdued by the flesh, the obligations of religion begin to lose their force.  The means of religion are first neglected, and then the principles of it begin to be questioned.  By degrees men are made such slaves to their lusts, that their recovery is desperate.  They are rarely awakened to a sense of their follies till the miseries of a sad eternity drive them, when it is too late, to repent.

         Sinning against our bodies, as the apostle calls it, exposes us to trouble and vexation of mind.  If the unclean sinner has not cast off the fear of God, a virtuous education, (a) GodŐs all-searching eye from which nothing can be hid, (b) a dreadful judgment which nothing can turn away, (c) a devouring fire which must be his portion to all eternity, will continually awaken him to repentance and fill him with the horror of his sins.  If he has even stifled the checks of his conscience, the eye of man must still be shunned and avoided.  As bad as the world is, vice has not the current stamp.  Measures must be concerted.  Opportunities must be sought for.  Our best friends must be imposed upon.  Every minute we must tremble for fear of being discovered in our vicious habit.  It can hardly be expressed what fears crowd upon young persons seduced by this passion, if there be the least remains of modesty and sense of honour left.  The anguish of some peopleŐs minds upon these occasions has risen so high, that they have done away with themselves to get rid of its torture.  The (a) acute and filthy pains and diseases it brings upon the body, the (b) shame and dishonour which is reaped among men, and (c) the base and dishonorable actions which are the too common supports of such crimes, may convince the sinner how dearly he purchases the forbidden pleasures of his lustful appetites.  They who are under the power of these evil habits know the force of them.  Notwithstanding their serious resolution at some times, the horror of their condition, their uneasiness from the expense that attends their extravagances, are not able to break their chains.

         To the former mischief we must add the judgments of God against this vice of uncleanness.  Some of the most extraordinary is the destruction of the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah with fire and brimstone from heaven.  The untimely death of Amnon, as also of Zimri, and Cosbi (who were slain in the very act) should deter the most vicious from the evil of their way.  God, who seeth all things, and hath made man to be the temple of his holy spirit, declares by his apostle, That if any man defile the temple of God he shall be destroyed.

         It is easy to infer the deplorable state of an unclean person.  Being cut off by the hand of divine justice, he is shut out of the kingdom of heaven.  Nothing impure can dwell therein.  He is consigned to the flames of hell to be punished for the lustful flames of his flesh.  Nothing, except for their actions, can be more brutal than the ill-bred and brutal talk of libertines.  Notwithstanding that, fornication is a crime.  It can never be for the good of the world that it should be universally done.  It is impossible that any particular practice should be warrantable, which, if it became general, would be introductive of disorder and confusion.  That is confessedly contrary to the laws of nature.  Those laws, if universally practiced, would interfere with the general peace and happiness of mankind.  In cases where one has as much right to gratify himself as another, if all men were to do whatever would be big with evils and productive of misery cannot, for that very reason, be lawful to any man.  Any man by so doing contributes his share to the introduction of that misery and disorder.

         VI.  Perhaps the first motions of our passions may not be under our government, and that we may not be answerable for them.  But it is in our own power to stifle and suppress them, and to reject them with horror and confusion.  We can apply our minds vigorously upon other objects which will certainly divert them.  The frame of our nature is not capable of dwelling at the same time entirely upon two things.  Wherefore, we must take care not to indulge any filthy fancies.  We must cast away every scene of lust that represents itself to us with indignation.  Here our security lies in flight rather than looking the temptation in the face.  As we must govern our thoughts by looking forward, so we must guard against obscene remembrances of what is past.  Some memories deliberately delight us with follies in which, it may be, we have been at first engaged by rashness and surprise.  The greatest sign of a corrupt heart is filthy and unclean discourse.  Therefore, we must take care that our speech does not betray the disorder of our hearts.  We must especially take care that our words be free from open lewdness and from any double meaning.  We must never make use of words capable of several senses, with a design to create any unchaste thoughts in those we converse with.  We must even avoid conveying any unchaste thought to our neighbour, though we can preserve ourselves from blame in the way of expressing it.  This manner of offending does most hurt.  The poison is gilded and made palatable, whereas downright filthy talk shocks at first hearing.  Being plainly contrary to natural modesty, it has not so bad an influence upon the hearers.  In reports also concerning others, we must not so repeat particulars as to offend Christian modesty.  By such offence we contract too great a familiarity with idle discourse.  We corrupt the minds of the hearers by entertaining them with such things which they should never learn, but should forget as soon as they chance to hear them.  Filthy conversation is most unbecoming in those who are advanced in years.  It argues a mind extremely depraved, and gives too great countenance to youthful follies.  They that resolve to keep their bodies in chastity must not pamper them, nor exceed in meat and drink.  Fasting has in all ages been made use of to restrain the looser appetites of the flesh.  It disposes us to sobriety and seriousness.  When we abate of the rigour of fasting, we should not forget to abstain from such food as is most nourishing to the body.  Feeding to the full betrays us to loose mirth, and pampers the unhappy disease of our nature, which it is our chief business to cure and overcome.  We must also divert our thoughts from dwelling upon forbidden objects.  We must do our duty in our proper callings.  When we are prosecuting any art or science, when we are employed in any innocent business or any lawful calling, we are not at leisure to entertain thoughts of pleasure.  As the appetites of our bodies frequently follow the bent of our minds, that which we most think of we are readiest to do.  Consequently, our great care ought to be to keep ourselves always employed.  If we are engaged in a calling, let us prosecute it with diligence and application.  If our condition and quality settles us above a profession, let the care of our own estate and the acquiring of serviceable knowledge challenge a great share of our time.  By being thus profitably busied, we shall leave no room for the unclean spirit to enter into our soul and tempt us.  The men of pleasure are in the number of those who know not how to spend their days.  Chastity can seldom maintain its ground in an idle soil, but is sacrificed to an enemy always within us and ready to betray us.

         Many men have been ruined by presuming upon their own strength.  They have run themselves into temptations, which they confidently thought they could easily master.  Sad experience has convinced them of their error.  Lack of caution has made work for repentance and petition for greater strength.  That man is happy who feareth always, but confidence is the portion of fools.  Natural corruption is great, and the violence of our appetites is strong.  If we give them all the liberty we lawfully may, they will quickly master us, and snatch at such pleasures as are unlawful.  Therefore, from a sense of our own weakness and of the power of temptation, keep at a distance from all such circumstances that may possibly corrupt innocence.  Trust not yourself in reading books that are framed to raise your passions, to gaze upon pictures that move your desires, to converse with company that delight to show their wit in obscene discourse.  Of all passions, love is the most dangerous and the hardest to be conquered.  Therefore, all kind of intimacies which may fire our passions are to be avoided.  They insensibly engage our affections.  When they are firmly bent to an object, they seek to gratify themselves by the enjoyment of that object.  Friendship, when founded purely upon virtue, merit, and the least supported by sense, may in the issue prove fatal and dangerous.  At first we are only charmed with the beauties of the mind, entertained with a good understanding, edified by a modest and virtuous behaviour.  Yet, by degrees, our admiration and delight in these accomplishments extends itself to the whole person.  The talents of the mind render the body more pleasing and agreeable.  What begins in the spirit, without care and the grace of God, may end in the flesh and the lust thereof.  Therefore, use frequent and fervent prayer.  This is the way to procure that grace of God which is necessary to preserve us from falling, or to recover us, if we fall.  Its frequency will fix our minds upon spiritual objects and fill us with a sense of GodŐs being present everywhere, a proper impression to keep our appetites under government.  PrayerŐs fervour will make worldly pleasures of less esteem in our affections.  Therefore, we must beg God that he would (a) create in us a perfect abhorrence of all impurity; that he would (b) cleanse us from all filthiness of flesh and spirit; that he would (c) set a strict guard on the senses, (d) turn away our eyes, (e) stop our ears, (f) bridle our tongues, and (g) restrain our hands from all uncleanness; that he would (h) give us grace to flee all temptations, or opportunities of corrupting our neighbour or ourselves.  When impure thoughts are the remains of a bad life and the punishment of evil habits we formerly contracted, we must endeavour to quench this fire with the tears of repentance for what is past.  We must confess before God the impurity of our former lives, and abhor ourselves for those follies whereby we have offended him.  We must beg him to strengthen our resolutions, and in his good time to cast out the remains of the unclean spirit.  We must look upon them as a just correction for our former disorders, and submit with patience and humility, saying with JosephŐs. brethren, We have deserved these things, because we have sinned.  We must the rather apply ourselves to this remedy of prayer, because through its power and strength all other means become successful and effectual. [See the duty of prayer, and its efficacy, in Sunday vii.]

 

Sunday XV.

I. Of temperance in eating, with its ends and rules.  II. Of temperance in drinking, with its proper ends and rules.  III. Of intemperance, and the false ends of drinking.  IV. Of drinking spirituous liquors, including the degrees of the sin of drunkenness, the great guilt of the strong drinker, the great mischiefs attending it, and the necessity and difficulty of forsaking it, with a caution to young people.  V. The excuses made by drunkards are no reason to continue in their sin.

 

         I.  The second virtue that respects the right of government of the body is Temperance in eating, drinking, sleep, recreation, and apparel.

         First, of Eating.  We must never indulge our appetites by eating beyond what God and nature has intended for the being and wellbeing of our bodies.  Life and health are the foundation of all other enjoyments and are, therefore, of greater value than all other possessions put together.  They are necessary for the enjoyment of those possessions.

         Therefore, the principal point of wisdom in the conduct of human life is to use the enjoyments of this present world so that they may not themselves shorten that period wherein it is allowed us to enjoy them.  If any part of knowledge deserves a steadier attention than another, and has been justly esteemed invaluable, it is unquestionably that knowledge by which, as the wise man expresses it, our days may be multiplied, and the years of our life may be increased.  Let us eat and drink, for tomorrow we die, was the reasoning of the epicure.  It was very false reasoning to make the melancholy consideration of the shortness of life an argument for debauchery.  That very debauchery is evidently the cause of making manŐs life still shorter.  Temperance and sobriety, the regular government of our appetites and passions, the promoting of peace and good order in the world, are the greatest instances of human wisdom, even without regard to any arguments of religion.  They are the most effectual means of preserving our being and wellbeing in the world, and of prolonging the period and enlarging the comforts and enjoyments of life.

         As to the preservation of life, it is certain no man can live without eating.  As physic is necessary to restore us to our former health, so eating is the proper means to cure the hunger that is natural to man, and which, if not prevented, would prove his mortal disease.

         Eating is necessary to preserve our bodily health.  Therefore whatever eating is agreeable to these ends of health and welfare of our bodies is also lawful.  Whoever eats with the sole view to please his taste, or, what is more sinful, to excite lust in his own body, acts against both his present and his future interest.  By surfeiting and drunkenness many fall into divers diseases and are brought to untimely deaths.

         Therefore, let nobody engorge himself so as to hurt his health, nor even indulge his appetite with niceness and luxury.  Whoever enslaves himself to his palate is sure to do himself hurt by what God gives him for his good.  Consequently, whatever we find hurtful to our health, or commonly makes our bodies heavy, is to be avoided.  What is fit to nourish some constitutions, would be hurtful to others.  Some require such a quantity to preserve their bodies in a regular state, which would draw others from their duty.  Most people may judge of this for themselves.  Temperance obliges every man to abstain from those supports of life, for quality or quantity, which hurt his constitution.

         They that indulge themselves either in the daintiness or plenty of provisions above their condition and state are guilty of intemperance, though it may not be so accounted in those that can afford it.  Who hath woe? saith Solomon, who hath sorrow? who hath contentions? who hath babblings? who hath wounds without cause? who hath redness of eyes?  They that tarry long at the wine.  They that go to seek mixed wine.  What sickness and diseases have some brought upon themselves merely by their excesses and debaucheries!  Diseases which have not terminated with their own lives, but have been entailed upon their unhappy posterity!  If men will run into those excesses which inflame and corrupt their blood, it is no wonder if fever, dropsy, or some more fatal distemper, proceed from such a disorder.

         How unreasonable then is it to risk the good of the whole man, body and soul, to please the palate!  They suffer by diseases and anxieties here.  Without timely repentance, they must be punished hereafter for their intemperance.  This sin is unreasonable.  Its short pleasure is nothing in comparison to its eternal punishment.  It is most shameful that Christians should ever be overtaken with this vice.  It levels them to beasts here, and torments them with devils hereafter.  Therefore, when you eat, take heed that your hearts be not overcharged with surfeiting.  Remember that all stand obliged by the general precept not to make provision for the flesh, to fulfil the lusts thereof.  Consequently, studied and customary pleasing of the appetite to settle the spirit in a sensual frame or a strong turn toward bodily satisfactions is not blameless.  Frequent and high feasting is dangerous for most people.  Not all feasting is unlawful.  Yet few, who like the rich man in the parable, fare sumptuously almost every day without putting their minds out of frame, giving too strong a bent to sensual good, and abating their delight of spiritual comforts.  What shall such unthinking people expect better than, as he did, to want a drop of water to cool their tongues in the next world?

         II.  We are to avoid all intemperance in Drinking.  The end of eating is the being and wellbeing of life.  Drinking has the same end, the preservation of life, repair of the spirit when wasted with thought or labour, and making men fit and prepared to go through the business in which Providence has placed them.  Therefore, whoever drinks so as to frustrate any of the ends, is guilty of intemperance.  Among mankind bodily constitutions, ages, and other circumstances are different from one another.  The same constitution is different from itself according to different times and seasons.  There can be no fixed rule or measure in this point.  The same proportion which to one person is not sufficient nourishment may to another person be excess.  What proportion is necessary or convenient, what is within the bounds of moderation and what not, must in a great measure be left to the judgment of every particular person, upon an honest and conscientious regard to these true ends of drinking as well as eating.  God hath planted in everyman a natural desire of life.  Eating and drinking are the refreshments he has given to support it.  When we speak of the refreshments which nature calls for, we must carefully distinguish between the desires of nature, before a habit of intemperance, and after it.  Nature, not vitiated with custom or habit, is easy and content with a reasonable and moderate refreshment.  Cravings of nature under the dominion of habit (if we may then call it nature) are unlimited and endless.  The more they are indulged, the more eager they are.  They never cease till the senses and understanding are drowned.  They are as much a disease as thirst in a fever.  They are no more to be gratified than a fever is; nay, much less, as a fever is at most attended only with temporal death, whereas the certain effect of this is death eternal.  Therefore, it is very sinful in itself.  It is very ungrateful and unreasonable in us to suffer an inordinate appetite to turn those very blessings to the destruction of life, which God has graciously given us for the preservation of it.  Not as if men were bound to live by weight and measure, or were presently sinful if they go beyond the proportions which will barely support life.  The guard and caution which God requires at our hands, is not to keep to the nice proportions that will barely preserve life.  They are to keep from that which will weaken and destroy it.  Between the proportions that will barely support nature and those that will overcharge it, there is compass and latitude within which we may innocently enjoy the blessings of heaven.  God hath provided drinks as well as meats in the nature of remedies, to revive and refresh the drooping spirits, and to give new life and vigour to the whole frame.  We must remember to use them as God intended them: not so as to lay aside or supersede our natural strength and vigour, but only to assist nature when we find her faint and drooping.  We must not apply these remedies till nature calls for them, being either in a state of hunger and thirst, or else tired and overcome with thought and labour.  Nor must we, when nature does call, apply them in larger proportions than she requires, or larger than will fairly answer her needs.  And as you have read, the end of drinking and eating is to fit and prepare us for the business wherein GodŐs providence hath placed us.  One great rule and measure in the enjoyment of those blessings is to make them most subservient to the daily business of our calling and profession.   We can make the seasons of drinking and eating what they ought to be.  They are only short retreats from business, and not the business of life.  Afterwards we return to the duties and offices of our calling, and carry with us sufficient understanding and abilities to pursue it without any mixture of riot or excess.  Whatever is beyond these is an irregular and sinful use of GodŐs creatures.

         III.  By attending to what has been said, you will be able to judge both the proper bounds of sobriety and temperance, and the point of excess of those bounds.  You will also be able to judge how great and heinous the guilt of that excess is, and its wretched abuse of the blessings of God.  That abuse consists (a) in forgetting their proper ends, (b) in perverting them to ends directly contrary. (c) in turning what God gave for the preservation of life to the destruction of life, (d) in making what God designed to raise and refresh the spirits into the means of stupefying them, (e) in transforming ourselves into the state of brutes by the very helps that God bestows for a more vigorous discharge of the duties and offices of a rational creature, and (f) in making food and drink the occasion of indisposing ourselves for the business of life, which God graciously gives to support us under it.  From the loathsome practice of drinking till men are drunk, it is manifest that they have adopted other ends of drinking than those above recited and warrantable by the law of God.

         First, a drunkard pretends that he falls into that excess by good fellowship or keeping another company in that wicked practice.  He may complacently bring himself into a bad state of health or worse Đ poison of soul, deprivation of reason, distraction of brain, and endangerment of losing his soul hereafter).  He also may be cut off in the midst of a drunken fit.

         Secondly, some excuse the sin under the specious pretense of preserving friendship.  This is a mere drunken excuse.  Who in his senses can think that he serves his friend by helping him to ruin his estate, his credit, his life, and his soul?  What is more apt to breed quarrels, which are too often attended with blows, wounds, and murders?  As Solomon says, Wine, when it is drunk to excess, maketh bitterness of mind, and causeth brawling and strife.

         Thirdly, drunkards also argue that they only drink to cheer their spirits or to make themselves merry.  Yet, what is their laughter but, as Solomon remarks, madness?  They part freely with their reason, health, goods, and reputation in this world, and must render a sad account for such extravagances in the world to come.

         Fourthly, drinking to put away cares is the greatest of all follies.  Such a practice cannot keep any considerable cares long out of their mind.  No one who was ever pursued by public justice concealed himself by getting drunk.  Surfeiting, drunkenness, and riotous living do not stifle the checks of conscience which pursue the sinner to the judgment seat of Christ.  Conscience is cleared by repentance and seeking pardon and forgiveness.  God has provided and invited us to cast all our worldly and avoidable cares upon him who cares for us.  Shall we prefer drinking to GodŐs assistance?  Therefore, whoever would not thoroughly cast off all religion and reason must never have recourse to drunkenness in such cases.  Drunkenness at once rejects the commandment and providence of God, and loads the conscience with a new crime which redoubles all such cares with greater force in sober intervals.

         Fifthly, idle people frequently allege, that drinking is a recreation, and serves them to pass away time.  If true, that is a caveat against idleness which is the pretended cause of so great a sin.  If we survey drunkards, it will be found to be a very idle excuse.  GodŐs providence has so stationed every man that nobody need be idle but through choice.  He may always be employed for the benefit of his own or neighbourŐs good.  Those most at leisure from worldly employment should be more diligent to (a) resist temptations and to (b) improve the graces and virtues which God has bestowed upon them for the edification of their neighbour, and the good of his own soul.

         Sixthly, some unreasonably pretend that they get drunk to avoid reproach from their drunken companions.  They forget that drunkenness is a breach of GodŐs commandments and, consequently, to be reproached.  Keeping his commands, far from being hurtful, brings a blessing upon them.  As our Saviour declares, Blessed are ye when men shall revile you, and say all manner of evil against you for my sake.  Therefore; says St. Peter, If ye be reproached for the name of Christ, happy are ye.  On the contrary, they who choose to obey man rather than God, by breaking the vow at their baptism to renounce the world, run into many evils in this life.  They incur GodŐs displeasure and the danger of everlasting destruction.  Is it not a degree of madness to yield to the reproaches of the foolish and worst of men, and to be deaf to the well-grounded reproaches of the wise and good?  The greatest consideration of all to deter men from this fate way of arguing is that dreadful sentence which Christ has pronounced on all them that disobey him through fear of the reproach of men: Whosoever therefore shall be ashamed of me, and of my words, in this adulterous and sinful generation, of him also shall the Son of Man be ashamed, when he cometh in the glory of his Fattier, with the holy angels.  Such is the deplorable end of those, who cast off their sobriety to avoid scoffs, reproaches, and injuries from men.  Many who endeavour to frighten others into the sin of drunkenness are of all others most ready to scorn and despise those that accompany them in excessive drinking.  One drunkard is always the object anotherŐs laughter.

         Seventhly, some drunkards sot by themselves and drink for drinkingŐs sake.  When a man is so far depraved in his reason, there is more hope of a fool than of him.  They are generally unwilling to own this.  Was not Esau, who sold his birthright for a mess of pottage, blameworthy, though in need of refreshment?  What then can be the hope of such a one who sells his health, reason, soul, and his God?  Such drink, far from nourishing, only serves to destroy him.

         Eighthly, the most common and plausible excuse for this sin of drunkenness is the necessity, men say, in driving bargains or in the way of trade.  Such a wicked practice has been introduced by designing and crafty men.  They endeavour to defraud or overreach those with whom they traffic.  Therefore, drunkenness is far from losing any of its malignity.  The intention of taking advantage of a man purposely made drunk is a great aggravation of the crime.  How can anyone presume so much upon his own head, but that he may be first intoxicated, and then be subjected to the very deceit he proposed to impose upon the other?  It would be a very bad bargain.

         Another common excuse among drunkards is custom and general practice.  Thence it is pleaded either that such a life is harmless to the body, or at worst but a sin of infirmity insufficient to debar any one from heaven.  It may as well be urged that there is no heaven, as that drunkenness will not exclude us from it.  Drunkenness is numbered by the apostle among those sins which they that commit shall not inherit the kingdom of God.

 

Sunday  XV.  Part II. 

         IV.  Thus far intemperance in drinking has been considered in general without any distinction of various liquors by which it is occasioned.  Spirituous liquors deserves our peculiar consideration.

         Nothing can be more clear in reason than the quick tendency of those liquors to shorten and destroy life.  They deprave the appetite and draw on a disrelish of wholesome nourishment.  Also, they harden the provisions that are sent into the stomach, and thereby hinder the operations of those helps which God has provided for a regular digestion and for a kindly conveyance of nourishment to every part.  They are condemned by physicians as causing palsies and apoplexies from their operation upon the brain and nerves, and jaundices and dropsies from their operations upon the bowels.  The seeming relief our spirits receive from the liquors of which we are now speaking is not of short continuance.  It frequently runs into frenzy and madness.  It inflames instead of comforts.  It intoxicates instead of enlivens.  Through such a violent and precipitate consumption, the spirits they give are soon spent.  They leave the body vapid, lifeless, and eagerly longing after a speedy reversal from those artificial aids.  They are only so many steps to the grave.  They truly deserve no better name than a slower kind of poison.  They must by the same degrees impair the strength, enfeeble the constitution, and make the whole man weak, listless, less willing to set about his business, and less able to go through the labour and fatigue of it.  Thus it must be in nature, and thus it is daily seen to be in experience and observation.  Married persons may be insufficiently concerned about the mischiefs they do to themselves.  As a reminder, in them it is not only irreligious, but also unnatural and cruel, to have no sense of the weakness and infirmities which they entail upon their innocent offspring.  Temptations lie so much in everyoneŐs way.  The appetite is gratified and the brain intoxicated at so easy an expense.  By a little indulgence the cure becomes so very difficult.  These considerations should of themselves, without any other enforcements, be effectual warnings to all parents and masters to use the utmost watchfulness over those who are under their care.  None of them should be ensnared by these temptations into the beginning of a distemper which, when begun, is so hard to be cured.

         It is now necessary in the next place to show what are the degrees of the sin of drunkenness.  Here they deceive themselves who think that a man is only to be accounted a drunkard when he is so drunk as not to be able to go, stand, or speak.  Every lower degree of drinking that makes a man very dull, ridiculous, unfit for employment, full of rage and fury, or which makes any change in the man exceeding the natural end of drinking and moderate refreshment, is the sin of drunkenness.  This ought to be well considered by those who spend great part of their time in alehouses or taverns, at a friendŐs, or in their own houses, in drinking.  Though their constitution be so strong as to preserve their wits longer than another, yet their crime is not the less, if they drink as eagerly, and employ the same time in the work as hath made another drunk.  Your enjoyments are not therefore innocent because you are able to go away with a tolerable share of reason and understanding.  That in many cases is owing only to custom or to an uncommon strength of nature.  All indulgences of this kind, more than what nature fairly requires, and more than what are a real refreshment to body and mind without prejudice to health or business, are very sinful in the eyes of God.  They place men under the same condemnation in kind, though not in degree, as drunkenness itself does.  Therefore, whatever we find hurtful to our health, or that is found commonly to make our bodies heavy, is to be avoided.

         Those who abuse and misspend what God in his providence has given us for good ends have great guilt.  We must one day account for such abuses.  He that drinks longest has the most of that guilt.  To this we may add the misspent time and the drunkenness of those in our company.  We are guilty of a most horrible wickedness if we strive to make them drunk, triumph over their infirmity, and value ourselves upon it.  Therefore, they who take pleasure in intoxicating others would do well to consider the woe which God has denounced against so vile a practice: Woe unto him that giveth his neighbour drink; that putteth the bottle to him, and maketh him drunken also! which is a dear price for so short and foolish a pastime.

         Thus you have been informed of the sinfulness, the motives to, and the degrees of the sin of drunkenness, a most shameful abuse of GodŐs blessings and of human nature.  I have been more particular in describing this vice, as it is a sin of which scarce any condition, age, or sex among us is free.  There is no sin more destructive to the understanding, health, reputation, and estate of those that fall into it.  According to the different constitutions of men, it produces, in some, a spirit of rage, passion, and cruelty; in others, sullenness, obstinacy, and ill nature.  In most it produces great folly and indecency in words and actions.  The prophet Isaiah solemnly denounces woes and judgments against drunkenness: Woe unto them that rise up early in the morning, that they may follow strong drink, that continue unto night, till wine inflame them!  Again, Woe unto them that are mighty to drink wine, and men of strength to mingle strong drink!  In the New Testament the Christians guilty of this vice are ranked among the most abominable sinners, and adjudged to the heaviest punishments, even to the exclusion from the kingdom of God.

         Therefore, let as many as have already indulged themselves into a habit, stand still and consider that they are in a state of the worst kind of slavery.  It is a slavery of reason to appetite, a slavery of the human to the brutal part.  Let them resolve once for all to assert the freedom and dignity of their nature.  Though they have lived like beasts, they will die like men.  Let them, in a religious way, look back and see how they have abused the blessings of God to luxury and excess, and with how much goodness he has born with their provocations and waited for their amendment.  Let a sense of GodŐs mercy and their own vileness breed in their hearts that godly shame and sorrow which worketh repentance to salvation.  If neither the force of reason nor religion will do, let the terrors of the Lord persuade them not to trifle away their souls in a course which must end so shortly in eternal destruction.

         If they say it is a difficult work, the proper answer is that it is a necessary work.  If men will but think, it can bear no long consideration whether they shall be uneasy now, or miserable forever.  Where that is the choice, though the work be difficult, they must rouse themselves to equal degrees of resolution to go through it.  The more sensible they are of their own weakness, the more earnest they ought to be in their prayers to God to strengthen and assist them.  Therefore, take heed of giving way to intemperance when it first appears.  It insensibly steals on to higher degrees, and grows upon those who give it admission.  I could record sad instances of persons, in appearance of the strictest sobriety and regularity, who from small beginnings, not restrained at first, have sunk into sottishness, and been entirely lost to the world and themselves, and consequently to God.  It is a vice that eats like a canker and too often increases with age.  It should make young people cautious of the least degree thereof.  Its proper antidote is (a) not to be betrayed into it, but (b) to keep the reins over the appetites from the beginning, and to accustom it to (c) frequent restraints, (d) always under government to be tame and tractable.  In the language of St. Paul in this very case the antidote is to keep under the body, and bring it into subjection; to keep up in our souls the life and power of religion, that our time and thoughts be well employed.  Thereby we may not be under the temptation of having recourse to sensual indulgences to pass away our leisure hours.

         Another difficulty in forsaking the crime of drunkenness is an indolent idle life.  Many can live on their substance or upon credit.  These abhor the thoughts of work, and give themselves up to drinking which at last becomes their trade and business.  Therefore let them seek a suitable employment in their way of life, and be diligent in their proper stations.  Then neither those that must live by their labour, nor others in easier circumstances, will ever spend their time in drinking.  A good resolution of forsaking the wretched custom of drinking may be attacked by the persuasions and even reproaches of old pot companions.  They who resolve to become temperate must foresee, expect, and therefore prepare against such temptations.  They will be the better able to resist by considering (a) how much the everlasting kindness of God is to be preferred to the friendship of men, and (b) whether the reproach of wicked men be so terrible as that of a guilty conscience and the eternal confusion of an unrepenting sinner at the last day.  In such cases as these, resolve, and say with the royal Psalmist, Depart from me, ye wicked; I will keep the commandments of my God.

         Therefore, give not the least way to any of these temptations.  If a penitent once gives ground, he certainly loses the victory.  By returning to the company of drunken companions, he throws himself into the way of sin.  By force of entreaty they seldom fail to drown his sober resolutions with a flood of excess.  Consequently, the greatest security lies in rejecting the first occasions of this sin, and openly declaring our purposes of living a sober life for the future.  By this men may be discouraged from attempting any future conquest.  If men come into the way of excess or go too near the brinks of it, they will frequently loose the reins and be plunged in unawares.  There is no way to be safe and innocent but to keep an habitual guard and restraint upon the appetite.  Together with these considerations, there must be frequent and earnest prayer to God, that he will preserve upon the mind a lively sense of them, and graciously afford such supplies of grace and strength as he sees needful to prevent those evil habits, and to give an effectual check to all such acts of irregularity and excess as naturally lead to them.

         V.  When Christians have taken all these methods to avoid intemperance in meat and drink, they will be convinced that neither long custom nor engaging company will be able to resist the more powerful grace of God working in a repenting heart.  Who would not refrain from drinking by the advice of a physician, when he tells us it would endanger life?  Can the dread of death eternal pronounced against great drinkers not be sufficient to reclaim them that duly consider their great danger?  Persons in this condition may acknowledge that it had been happy for their body and soul if they had fallen at first into a sober and regular course.  Yet, as custom has made such indulgences necessary, and nature can hardly subsist without them, they think that they may innocently go on, and that to part with them is to part with life.  Although custom is very powerful, yet it has not force enough to make that necessary to nature which of itself is destructive to nature.  All excess is most assuredly destructive, whether with or without custom.  What they say is necessary to preserve life is, in truth, only necessary to quiet a craving and inordinate appetite.  Gratifying that appetite is at that very time the direct and immediate means of destroying life.  An appetite unaccustomed to denials, and which has long been gratified to the full, will be uneasy under the first check or restraint.  If there be steadiness and resolution enough to maintain the restraint for a little time, the appetite by degrees will grow more patient and quiet.  They will find far greater pleasure in governing they appetite, than ever they found in indulging it.

         Whoever sincerely thus applies his heart to forsake and avoid this sin cannot fail of a conquest.  The impossibility, therefore, of breaking off a long habit of drunkenness is no excuse, but a proof of a false heart that rather chooses to continue in sin than to be at any pains to overcome it.

 

Sunday  XVI.

I. Of time, how to be spent.  II. Of sleep, showing its ends and rules; and the mischiefs of sloth.  III. Of recreations, how and when allowable; of religious cheerfulness; the ..danger of melancholy; and the sin and danger of common gaming.  IV. Of temperance in apparel, showing the use of apparel, and the danger and folly of fashions.  V. Of Christian fortitude or patience; the comfort of a good conscience; and its necessity and usefulness in all states arid conditions of life.  VI. Of self-denial and mortification.  VII. Of zeal both in a good and bad sense, and how to be practiced.

 

         I.  The time which God has given us for working out our salvation is more valuable than can be expressed.  Our happiness or misery to all eternity depends on the spending of that time.  That consideration should put us upon all those methods whereby we may employ it to the best advantage of our souls.  There is little time at our disposal.  What is passed is slipped from us.  The future is uncertain.  The present is all we can call our own, and that is continually passing away.  Though the season of working is so very short and uncertain, we have an affair of the greatest consequence to secure.  It requires the whole force and vigour of our minds, the labour and industry of all our days.  It is not to be dispatched with any tolerable comfort upon a sick bed, nor in the evening of our lives, when our strength and our reason are departing.  Therefore, if we persist in an obstinate neglect of the repeated tenders of GodŐs grace, the things that belong to our peace maybe hid from our eyes.  All the time we can reserve from the necessities of nature and from necessitated worldly affairs ought to be applied to the noblest purpose, the glory of God and the good and salvation of mankind.  We must assign to all our actions their proper seasons and such a portion of our time only as may be necessary for them.  Thus time will never lie upon our hands nor sting us with remorse when it is gone.  We are naturally active beings that must be employed one way or other.  We have a mind within us that will he always in motion.  Therefore, we need to keep it employed about what is honest, just and good.  The soul will find something to work upon.  If it be not employed about what is honest and lawful, it will quickly divert its motion and activity to dishonest and unlawful things.  Since the fall of man, God hath placed the generality of men in such circumstances that some honest calling, with diligence and industry therein, is indispensably necessary to their comfortable maintenance.  God hath so taken care to intercept our minds that they may not fly off from the pure acts of religion into their contraries, but may be innocently employed.  He hath taken a wise course to confine and bound the soul from making incursions into sinful and prohibited actions.  Yet he does not oblige us to be so industrious as to deny ourselves moderate refreshments or recreations.  These are not only useful but sometimes necessary to our spirits after they have been stifled in a crowd of business.

         II.  The third part of Temperance is Sleep.  This is to be measured by the rule of GodŐs ordinance.  He gave us sleep to (a) refresh and support our minds and bodies when wearied with toil and labour, to (b) repair the decay, and to (c) enable them the better to perform their religious duties.  This gift of God is for us to profit thereby and not to make is idle and slothful.

         It is not possible to describe the limited time every person may sleep.  Sleep must be proportioned to the constitution of each body.  Yet let no one fall into the crime of SolomonŐs sluggard, who after a seasonable refreshment cries, A little more sleep, a little more slumber, a little more folding of the hands to sleep.  Sloth draws us into several other sins as waste of time, filling the body with divers diseases, and dulling the faculties of the soul.  It crosses the end of our creation which is to serve God in an active obedience or a constant discharge of our duty in that state of life we are placed in by his providence.

         Beside the sinfulness of sloth, it will cover a man with rags.  Poverty will overtake him till he is destitute of convenient clothing.  As sleep is a kind of death, he that indulges therein to excess lays violent hands on himself.  He anticipates GodŐs appointed time.

         III.  The fourth part of Temperance is Recreation.  We must not turn our physic into food, making that our business rather than our diversion.  A serious Christian may at some times and seasons use common games for the relaxation of his mind, and to oblige and divert his company.  Every sober man is to take care that his liberty does not exceed the bounds of an innocent recreation.  For instance, he does not set his affections too much upon it, or play with such concern as to be put into a passion at his bad success.  He does not sit at it too long, nor come to it too frequently.  He always prefers his necessary business before his diversions.  He so orders his recreations of this kind that they reader him the more fit to spend his other time the more usefully.  He plays not for money but for diversion, or at least for no more money than what he can lose without harm to his mind, family, or estate.  With these restrictions using play is innocent enough.  Our recreations must be short and refreshing.  They must never be permitted to steal away our minds from the duties of our calling and election in Christ Jesus.  As far as our sports exceed the measures necessary and convenient for our bodies, they are unwarrantable encroachments upon our religion and calling.

         The misery is with a man who makes a trade of gaming whenever he can find company to that purpose.  Whosoever makes this his way of living has a sad account to make to God.   Can there be a worse consumption of our time, and a greater abuse of our talents, than to put them to no greater use than throwing of dice, or turning a pack of cards?  Especially so when it is attended with indecent and impetuous passions of all sorts, execrable oaths, imprecations, lies, cheats, and brutish quarrels and contests?  As if damning their souls were not enough, many estates have been broken and ruined!  Many families, wives, and children, have been reduced to the most extreme degrees of poverty and contempt, even to an untimely end by poison, a quarrel, or the gallows!  Of the several kinds of gaming, the lowest and most vulgar seems to be that of laying wagers.  It is not only low and vulgar, but frequently dirty and knavish.  When a matter of fact is disputed, laying a wager upon it may indeed serve to make an impertinent man pay the penalty of his ignorance.  A generous, good-natured man (much more a Christian) will always scorn to take such an advantage.  When neither party has any certainty of what they dispute about, then a wager is folly in both.  When it is about events that depend on Providence, or what is ignorantly called chance, it becomes a kind of presumption bordering on madness.

         We are not to propose any other end to our recreations than a bare relaxation of our tired spirits by moderate refreshment.  We must always use them only at such times when they do not oppose any part of our duty to God or our neighbour.  Time is given us to make our calling and election sure.  They are highly culpable who (a) spend whole days and nights at cards, dice, or other idle pastimes; or (b) through any avaricious temper make a trade of gaming, and so cheat; and (c) when provoked, stain their souls with fury, rage, swearing, and cursing.  Such a gamester stakes his soul which is of too great value to be ventured at such a rate.  Instead of recreation, he loads himself with the greatest vexations.  The fears and desires of the covetous, and the impatience and rage of the angry man, are more real pains than the most laborious work in the world.

         We should endeavour also to keep up a constant cheerfulness of spirit.  They disgrace religion who (a) pretend that it is an enemy to mirth and cheerfulness, or (b) imagine it to be a severe exacter of thoughtful looks and solemn faces, or (c) that men are never serious enough till they are sullen or shut up from all company and recreations.  Hours which are wasted away in idle sullenness or a moping melancholy are no less placed to our account than those which fly away unperceived in unthinking mirth and gayety.  It is the same thing as to all religious intents and purposes, whether our time is misspent in vanity or in anguish and vexation of spirit.  It is a devilish opinion that religion is a sour, morose, ill-natured thing, an enemy to whatever is pleasant and cheerful, and that whoever engages in the practice of it must renounce all pleasures and enjoyments of this life.  The devil is the father of lies.  He sets everything before us in a false and deceitful light.  He knows that there is such a beauty and comeliness in religion as no one can behold but with love and admiration.  Therefore, he endeavours to draw a veil over its luster, and to raise in our minds frightful ideas concerning it.  Too many are misled by such false and unjust representations.  Our Saviour was far from giving religion a gloomy appearance.  The first miracle which he wrought was at a scene of festivity, where he turned the water into wine.  He, who gave and exemplified the strictest rules of life, gave a sanction to the innocent comforts and refreshments of it.  A cheerful and contented mind is a great blessing of life.  Without it nothing in this world can make us happy.  Where shall a man obtain this but it the practice of religion?  That will teach him to resign his will to God, to submit to all the dispensations of his providence, and to be patient, easy, cheerful, and satisfied, under every disappointment and trouble he meets with.  God is the sovereign disposer of all things.  So long as we keep within the bounds of sobriety, and do not sally out into malicious, scurrilous, or profane jesting, our religion approves of our mirth.  Cheerfulness is natureŐs best friend.  It removes natureŐs oppressions, enlivens its faculties, and keeps the spirits in a brisk and regular motion.  Cheerfulness renders it easy to itself, and useful and serviceable to God and our neighbour.  It dispels clouds from the mind and fears from the heart.  It kindles and cherishes in us generous affections, and composes our nature into such a temper as is of all others the most fit to receive religious impressions and the breathings of the holy Spirit.  Melancholy naturally represses the Spirit of God, and disturbs its working within us.  Melancholy overwhelms the fancy with black vapours.  It clouds and darkens the understanding, distracts the thoughts, and makes them wild, roving, and incoherent.  It makes them unfit for prayer and consideration, and renders them deaf and inattentive to all the good motions and inspirations of the Holy Ghost.

         IV.  The last part of Temperance is Apparel.  To be temperate in dress becomes us as we are rational creatures, but more especially as we are members of the Christian church.  We are strictly obliged to avoid all kinds of excess, and particularly to put on modest apparel.  If men are guilty of excess, the dignity of their sex increases the fault and makes it unpardonable.  Nature has designed men for the noblest employments.  They undervalue themselves in studying dress and ornament, and betray such a degeneracy of spirit as exposes them to scorn.  This extravagance in either sex is destructive of the public welfare.  The lawful use of apparel appears by considering the ends for which clothing is appointed.  It is covering from shame, to defend us from the injuries of the weather, and to distinguish the orders and degrees of men.  To these ends, if they were attended, many would reduce themselves into a homelier dress, who make so gay an appearance in the vanity of rich habits, and strain both their purses and consciences to purchase them.

         As we read in Genesis, the first design of apparel was to cover the nakedness of our first parents whose shame was the effect of the sin by which they brought death into the world.  We should be far from delighting in apparel becoming us.  It should be a constant check against all other offences, and teach us never to covet better apparel than will serve to cover us decently.  Yet many Christians will comply with every fashion, and suit their dress to all the changes, insomuch that by dress and habit there is no distinguishing an honest woman from a common prostitute.  With discreet Christians it ought to be otherwise.  They are bound to abstain from all appearance of evil, to avoid all approaches toward it.  They are to deny themselves the use of such ornaments, and forbear such gestures, which give ground of suspicion to the censurer, or whereby themselves may be tempted to pride, or their admirers to the lusts of the flesh.  But they are always guilty of excess in their apparel who have neither quality nor any good design to justify the wearing thereof.  Their purpose is to set off their beauty, or to make such a figure as may deceive the world into a false opinion of their greatness and honour to which they have no title.  They are as much exalted with it, in their own vain conceit, as if they had gained some real worth, or power, as their haughty looks and insolent, scornful behaviour plainly show.  This verifies the wise manŐs observation, A manŐs attire, excessive laughter, and gait, show what he is.  Gay apparel has ever been observed to corrupt men.  It puts them upon extravagances, who are otherwise sober and industrious.  Though some master themselves to retain their innocence with it, yet frequently gay apparel tempts to sin, kindles lustful desires, and is too often worn for that very design.  The over-curious in adorning the body commonly neglect their better part.  Though they shine in the eyes of men, their soul remains in darkness, in gross ignorance of their duty, or defiled by pride and all manner of uncleanness.  They not only employ their thoughts, but their time also, in this vanity.  They spend so much time at their glass, or in the dressing room, or in making a show of themselves to company, that there is none to spare for performing the offices of religion and virtue.

         Loose dress is destructive to many Christian virtues, such as charity which suffers much thereby.  Those who are so much taken up with love and admiration of themselves, have little disposition to consider the straits and hardships of other men.  They can easily overlook their neighbourŐs poverty, and despise him for it.  The most distressed object moves no compassion in them.  Under this sense they can hide themselves from their own flesh.  Nay, it is well if they do no more than so.  Such as will pinch their bellies and starve their families to feed this vanity are too often known to lie in wait, and catch the poor when they can draw them into their net by any indirect means.  They who think rich apparel becomes them well, and that much happiness consists in it, having no estates to support it, will stick at no villainy whatsoever to gratify their pride.  What shall we say of those who run deep into the tradesmenŐs books without any possibility of paying them; to which is owing the ruin of many families?  Is not their dress a load of sin?  What excuse can be said for those who are fine at their neighbourŐs cost, by means that are not very easily discovered, where bribery, extortion, breach of trust, and deceit in dealings must bring in the supplies for their maintenance in apparel?  This must of necessity bring many into straits and difficulties.  Their credit is sunk and lessened by this kind of profuseness.  Trade decays, and money is scarce.  They are immediately taught by the devil to lay the blame upon the times.  In times of the greatest plenty it is impossible for art and industry, or the most gainful returns of trade, to answer all the unreasonable demands of luxury and pride.

         Secondly, to defend us from the injuries of the weather, we ought only to wear such clothing its shall be necessary to keep us from cold, and preserve the health of our bodies.  Therefore, they are guilty of intemperance in apparel who take such pride in their clothes, as by regarding the fashions, do neglect, and even prejudice their health.  In these cases clothing is so far from being a benefit that it harts the body.  I do not countenance those who, out of a covetous temper of hoarding up riches, deny themselves the conveniences of life.  Nor is it utterly unlawful to (a) comply with the innocent and becoming fashions of their country, or to (b) lay out anything more upon clothing than just what is necessary or sufficient to clothe them, or to (c) arraign those of pride and wastefulness that put on ornaments suitable to their rank and quality, and such as their circumstances in the world will easily and honestly afford them.  These pretended scrupulous notions are not the fruits of Christian instruction, but the signs of a narrow spirit.  When they are taught for religious doctrines, they are no better than superstitious impositions.  They are like those of the Judaizing Christians, who said, Touch not, taste not, handle not.  They restrain men in those things which God and the laws of their country give them liberty to enjoy.  We must not go beyond our rank and degree, despising those who either through choice refuse to come up to the same excess, or whose circumstances will not allow them to do it.  We must also shun all those kind of dresses as have a natural tendency to raise lascivious and wanton thoughts.

         The third design of apparel was intended to distinguish the orders and degrees of men.  This is both in respect of sex and quality.  All nations have assigned a distinction of clothing between man and woman, even as the Lord commanded the Jews that one sex should not wear the dress of the other.  In regard of menŐs quality, they who wear gorgeous apparel live in kingŐs courts.  They who excuse the vanity of rich apparel by their birth and quality, who are in kings courts, who are about their prince, or have derived honours from him, have the best pretensions to it.  But the noblest persons ought to consider that there are many better ways than this of distinguishing themselves and commanding the respect and observance that is due to them.  There are many duties which lay claim to their wealth.  Many great and generous actions are expected from them as they are Christians.  By a solemn vow at their baptism they renounced the pride of life under the name of the pomps of the world.  Pride is not the necessary effect of rich ornaments.  Many wear them with no other design than to keep up their rank and dignity, that they may not appear covetous, nor seem to affect a greater pride in going beneath their station.  Men and women, in every state and condition of life, should never strive to exceed their fellows, much less their superiors, in the way of dress.  If we believe every manŐs portion to be allotted by GodŐs providence, and that all things shall work together for good to them that fear him, we shall easily satisfied with the condition he has put us into, and shall like everything that is suitable or belonging to it.  What God has appointed must be the best for us.  How mean soever it be, we have no reason to be ashamed of it.  He is the great Lord and sole disposer of all things that we can enjoy.  Mean and plain apparel is as becoming in a low estate, as a richer dress would be in a higher station.  He who disdains the one would be as proud of the other.  Therefore, let us not mind high things, but let us condescend to men of low degree.  Let us conform our way of living to our circumstances.  Let us be content, and boast not of gay clothing or raiment.  There is nothing in apparel to value ourselves upon.  It answers well the uses which God designed it for, to defend us from the weather, or to cover our nakedness.  It is folly to boast of that which owes its value to our shame, weakness, or natural necessities.

         These several rules of temperance in nowise countenance the vice of avarice or covetousness.  Whoever denies his body the necessaries of life suitable to his station, ability, and quality, sins against the goodness of God, by robbing his back to fill his purse.  The like is true of those who slavishly moil and toil day and night for what they never enjoy themselves, nor have any heart to do any good with, depriving their bodies of their requisite nourishment, competent time of sleep, and necessary recreation.  Therefore, the covetous man is not a temperate man.  It is not a regard to the duty of temperance, but an inordinate desire of riches, which is the root of all evil, that makes him refrain, and to sacrifice his health, peace, conscience, life and soul, to save his purse.

 

Sunday  XVI.  Part II.

         V.  To the aforementioned virtues of temperance we may add those other duties of Christian resolution, patience and self-denial.

         Christian Fortitude or Patience is that virtue by which we bear all conditions and all events, by GodŐs disposal incident to us, with such (a) apprehensions and persuasions of mind, with such (b) dispositions and affections of heart, and with such (c) external deportment and practice of life, as God and good reason require.  Nothing befalls us, but either by the permission or direction of Providence.  All occurrences, however contrary to our desires, are both consistent with GodŐs attributes, and conducive to our good.  We have a full trust and dependence on him, either for strength to enable us to bear our afflictions, or for a seasonable removal or mitigation of them.  Therefore, we can abstain from (a) all discontented complaints and murmurings against Providence, from (b) all malicious and revengeful thoughts against the instruments of our suffering, and from (c) all unworthy and irregular courses to extricate ourselves from them.  Suffering according to the will of God, we may commit the keeping of our souls to him in welldoing, as unto a faithful Creator.  This duty is exercised in bearing present evils, or waiting for future good and the future blessed state of immortality.  It is a disposition of mind which keeps us calm and composed in our frame.  It keeps us steady in the practice of our duty under the sense of afflictions, or in the delay of our expectations.  It is this patience with which Christ exhorts his disciples to possess their souls, after he had foretold them the sufferings and dangers they would be exposed to in the course of their ministry and Christian warfare.  In them Christ instructs us that in every circumstance that tends to discompose us, we must always show ourselves men by permitting reason and grace to have the upper hand.

         Diseases, pains, loss of friends, ingratitude, disappointments in our affairs, and all the various troubles to which man was born, fall to the lot of the good as well as the wicked.  As the deceitfulness of riches blinds menŐs eyes, the pleasures of life steal from their understandings.  Power is very apt to lead them into ambition and tyranny.  Plenty leads into intemperance.  Continued prosperity leads into a careless spirit, and into a neglect and forgetfulness of God.  Afflictions of all kinds, though grievous for the present, have a natural tendency to lead men into sober thoughts and considerate counsels.  They wean men from the numerous vanities and follies of the world.  They lead them to amend the habit and temper of their minds by addicting them to the expectation of a better and more lasting state.  It may be that God suffers you to fall into many difficulties and afflictions.  You may be pressed with hard and pinching circumstances.  You may be visited with sad and grievous losses, with long and painful sickness, or with the death or miscarriage of your nearest relations, or the like heavy misfortunes.  Do not conclude from this that God is angry with you, or that he hath no kindness for you.  The best of his children he thinks fit to exercise in this way for (a) the trial and improvement of their virtue, for (b) the exercise of their patience, for (c) the correction of their faults, and for (d) purging them that they may bring forth more and more fruit, till they arrive at eternal rest and glory.  We can no more inherit that glory without patience, than without an unfeigned faith and repentance.

         Few bear afflictions with due resignation.  The man who is touched in his reputation declares how willingly he would submit to any other affliction that could befall him, but is not able to bear injurious reflections.  The man who is confined to his bed complains that his distemper makes him impatient and discontented, and prevents the practice of several good works he designed if free from his illness.  A woman with a perverse husband and disobedient children declares that she would suffer willingly any other affliction except these.  She imagines they can only serve to increase her misery both in this world and the next.  Everybody seems willing to exchange their present cross for another, and must think themselves unhappy in the particular sort of their sufferings.  This discontent renders their minds always unquiet, and their management unreasonable.  Without doubt God sends or permits that affliction.  It does not spring out of the ground.  We must not determine what God ought to do to us.  Seriously reflecting upon the sad, deplorable, calamitous condition of a great part of mankind in this world, or exhibiting to our minds that dismal scene of things which is every day presented to our eyes, brings us to tears.  Here are some languishing under a long and tedious distemper, unfit for all the functions, and incapable of any of the enjoyments of life.  There are others roaring out for the extremity of torture they suffer from the stone, or gout, or an ulcer, or a broken limb, or some such other tormenting accident.  Others are mourning for the loss of a dear parent on whom they depended, or the death of a child who was the stay and comfort of their age.  Others are fretting for the disgraceful circumstances they are fallen into from a high fortune.  Others are heartbroken for the poverty to which they are reduced through the profuseness of their lives, the misadventures of trade, the ruins of a fire, or the calamities of war.  Others are groaning under the whips and stings of an awakened conscience, being filled with horror and despair, from the sense of their crimes, and the apprehension of the vengeance of God in the other world.  We ought not to prescribe to him the particular cross he shall lay upon us.  Such thoughts must be banished from our mind, and we must receive the cross which he sends us with submission.  Though it be not what we would have chose for ourselves, we must obey.  It is sufficient that it comes from God.  God hath so balanced and mixed adversity and prosperity together that a man upon a review of the whole, upon a full and impartial estimate of things, should have no just ground to arraign the conduct of Providence.  Instead he shall find he has had more good fortune than he deserved, as much as was beneficial to him, and no more ill fortune than was necessary to correct his faults, moderate his affections, and exercise his virtues.

         The exercise of our patience must be lasting.  It must be (a) a fixed habit, (b) not by starts, (c) in great as well as in less trials, and (d) in trials small as well as in great.  Sometimes impatience breaks out upon trifling occasions, after long patience in great and shocking calamities.  Let it be unconquerable in uncommon as well as customary trials.  The great difficulty is to act and think in some measure above the world while poverty exposes us to the contempt and neglect of it, and to scorn to build our fortunes on the ruin of our probity.  It is difficult to despise the little injuries we receive, and to pity the little men that do them.  They are little in themselves and in the eye of reason, though they may be very great in the eye of the world, and perhaps much greater in their own eyes.  A good conscience is a perpetual source of joy and comfort.  It gladdens the heart, cheers and refreshes the soul, and fills the mind with a constant serenity and cheerfulness which is infinitely to be preferred before the noisy mirth of fools and madmen.  He that is possessed of this inestimable jewel has a treasure greater than all the riches of the world.  It is a treasure which he always carries about with him, and which neither the malice of the devil, nor the wickedness of men can rob him of.  So long as he retains this fund of joy and comfort, he can never be truly miserable, unless he is wretchedly wanting to himself.  As a good conscience gives a relish to all outward enjoyments, so it abates and takes off the edge of the sharpest afflictions.  A good conscience enables a man to bear up under present evils.  It also fortifies him against the dread and apprehension of future ones.  It arms a man with courage and resolution, and gives him such a firmness and presence of mind, as makes him able to endure the greatest shock.  Happy will it be, if our Master finds us in such a frame at his coming, whenever it shall be that he calls us to render an account of our thoughts, words, and deeds.

         Such patience as this is its own reward.  Impatience is its own punishment, because it lays aside the man, and sets up the brute or the devil.  It leads us to act a foolish or an outrageous part.  Instead of abating, it increases our sufferings.  Our burden is lightened by patience, whereas impatience doubles our burden by piercing the heart through with so many sorrows.  Complaints, murmurings, impatience, and discontent offend God, and rob us of the profit and advantage of our sufferings for his name.  Virtue increases in those that submit with resignation.  Sufferings in the world to come are only increased to those who murmur against their present sufferings.  Therefore, bear with patience, and do not make yourself doubly miserable.  It is scarcely credible that any man can be hardy enough to complain against God, or dare to find fault with that providence he ought to adore and be thankful for.  Yet some insinuate that (a) he is severe, that (b) he seems to abandon them, that (c) they do not deserve the treatment they receive.  Some carry their discontent so high as to break out into desperate expressions.  Such people can never be convinced that God is a kind and indulgent father who chastises his children for their good.  He is a charitable physician who prescribes bitter and distasteful remedies for the recovery of their health.  Consequently, they live without faith, without which there is no salvation.  The impatient man becomes his own tormentor.  He perplexes himself by needless discontents and inquietudes.  He becomes insupportable to himself, robs his own soul of peace and quietness, and introduces passion.  Under this ill habit of mind we should not presume to reply or undertake anything of consequence, because it clouds and renders the understanding incapable of acting for our good.

         In such cases let the smoke fly off, the troubled water settle, and you will discover what reason requires from you.  When you find your anger boil, retire, change the discourse, or impose upon yourself an obstinate silence.  There are some who take things so much to heart, and so highly resent the least thing that has been done against them, that they make forgiveness a difficult work, whereas it is both our duty and interest.  All trifles ought to be despised.  If we dwell upon them, our imagination will increase them, and they will appear the more intolerable.  Patience is the only means to disarm this enemy.  Besides, it pleases and honours God, and keeps us in a posture to receive a deliverance from our troubles, or the accomplishment of our hopes.  Those who continually complain that things go badly, that the world is much worse than it should be, have very great reason to complain that there is one individual person in the world much worse than he should be, who cannot bear the accidents of life with tolerable patience, nor look upon mankind with common charity.  Men are uneasy in themselves, and then shift the blame off from themselves upon the persons they converse with, and upon the times and places they live in.

         VI.  Self-denial, mentioned above, is a willingness to quit all earthly comforts, even life itself, and to undergo the greatest hardships, though they end in death, rather than to do anything contrary to the religion of Jesus Christ, once delivered to the saints.  This is the only method to secure the blessings of eternal glory.  If we deny him before men, he will deny us before his Father, who is heaven.  Self-denial chooses rather to suffer affliction with the people of God than to enjoy the pleasures of sin for a season.  For this purpose scripture in a larger sense comprehends the denying our innocent appetites whenever they hinder our practice of the greater acts of mortification.

         The denial of our innocent appetites is instrumental in mortifying our sinful desires and disobedient affections.  If we gratify them in all things where we lawfully may, they will by long use and indulgence acquire a greater power over us.  Then it may be a difficult task to deny them anything.  Our appetites make no difference between an innocent and a sinful enjoyment.  They are only moved by pleasure.  To conquer and subdue them in all sinful instances, we must not allow them to grow strong upon us.  Therefore, it is represented in scripture, by forsaking father and mother, by hating wife and children, by denying brother and sister, by quitting all that we have, by laying down our lives, and bearing the cross of Christ.

         God hath promised to assist and support us by his holy spirit in the discharge of this difficult duty.  He hath assures us that he will reward the practice of it with greater degrees of eternal happiness.  Nothing can be more reasonable than to part with things of small value for things infinitely greater.  Moreover, the blessed Jesus, who requires it from us, hath given us in pity and kindness the greatest example of self-denial that ever was, wholly for our benefit and advantage.  Thereby, when we have paid the tribute of nature here, he may receive us through the gate of death into the mansions of eternal bliss hereafter.

         VII.  Having laid before you the respective duties toward God, our neighbour, and ourselves, together with their opposite sins, and the means to practice the one and to avoid the other, I shall now exhort you to be zealous in the faith, and to be continually labouring to enrich your souls with virtue, and as much as in you lies to root out all vice, not only from your own hearts, but wherever it is in your power either by example or authority.  This is our duty.  Yet, like all other Christian virtues, it is often misused.  Zeal is an earnest concern for or against something, and a close pursuit of it.  In its own nature zeal is indifferent, like the rest of the passions, but good or bad according to the object or degree thereof.  It is used in the holy scriptures in a good sense when applied to those things where the honour of God and the salvation of menŐs souls are concerned.  It is applied in a bad sense to a furious spirit of persecution, and to such contentions and divisions as produce wrath or envy.  Christian zeal is right in respect of its object, if what we contend for be certainly and considerably good, and what we oppose be certainly and considerably evil.  The measure and degree of it must be proportioned to the good or evil of things for which it is concerned.  It be pursued and prosecuted by lawful and warrantable means.  No zeal for God and his glory, or for his true religion, will justify the doing of that which in itself is evil or unjust.

         Zeal becomes evil, when we violently contend for any doctrine that is erroneous.  It is evil when we are more earnestly concerned for the externals of religion than for solid and real goodness for which they are designed to work in us.  Zeal is evil when it betrays us to the breach of any of GodŐs laws in order to promote his glory, and create divisions and schisms in the Christian church.  It is evil when we prosecute even truth itself without that meekness and charity which are a part of the character of the good Christian.  We must take care how we govern our zeal.  Moses himself, distinguished for his meekness, when zealous for God at the waters of Meribah, spake unadvisedly with his lips.  If our zeal for God be not well tempered, we may with that great prophet break the tables of the law, and throw them out of our hands with zeal for their preservation.

         Our zeal should be shown not by fire and faggot, and excommunications threatened against those who pervert or mistake the word of God.  Instead we must pray to God for their conversion, that he would bring into the way of truth all such as have erred and are deceived.  We must show such kindness to their persons as may dispose them to receive the impressions of those arguments, that we should offer with meekness for their amendment.  We must abstain from all reproachful and bitter reflections which prejudice them against the truth.  We must exercise all acts of charity toward them, which is the only moderation due to those that differ from us in religious matters.  We must not yield any necessary points of faith by too much complacence.  Though we should behave to them as brethren in kindness and gentleness, yet we must not imitate their ways.  We must be followers of the Lord, and oppose their firmness of faith to their errors.  When they lie under the censures of the church, we should keep at a distance from their conversation.  This is reasonable that, when all methods have been used for their recovery, we may to avoid any infection.  Rigorous corporal punishments and infliction of death upon these accounts are contrary to the spirit of the Christian religion, and inconsistent with many principles thereof.  The gospel of our Saviour engages us to show meekness to all men, and universal love and goodwill even to our enemies.  No difference of religion nor any pretense of zeal for God can justify a spirit full of rage, malice, and vengeance.