« FöregåendeFortsätt »
grow odious and despicable to ourselves. And being SERM. they do rob us of so many great benefits, and bring so many grievous mischiefs on us, we cannot be otherwise than enemies to ourselves by cherishing them, or suffering them to lodge in us.
These are some very considerable inducements to the practice of this great virtue; there are divers others of a higher nature, derivable from the inmost bowels of our religion, grounded on its peculiar constitution and obligations, which I shall now forbear to mention, reserving them for a particular discourse by themselves.
O Lord, who hast taught us, that all our doings Quinquag. without charity are nothing worth; send thy Holy Ghost, and pour into our hearts that most excellent gift of charity, the very bond of peace and of all virtues, without which whosoever liveth is counted dead before thee. Grant this for thine only Son Jesus Christ's sake.
OF A PEACEABLE TEMPER AND CARRIAGE.
ROм. xii. 18.
If it be possible, as much as lieth in you, live peaceably with all men.
SERM. THIS chapter containeth many excellent precepts and wholesome advices, (scarce any portion of holy scripture so many in so little compass.) From among them I have selected one, alas, but too seasonable and pertinent to the unhappy condition of our distracted age, wherein to observe this and such like injunctions, is by many esteemed an impossibility, by others a wonder, by some a crime. It hath an apt coherence with, yet no necessary dependence upon, the parts adjoining; whence I may pre.sume to treat upon it distinctly by itself: and without further preface or circumstance we may consider several particulars therein.
I. And first, concerning the advice itself, or the substance of the duty charged on us, eipnvevew, (to be in peace, or live peaceably,) we may take notice, that whether, according to the more usual acception, it be applied to the public estate of things, or, as here, doth relate only to private conversation, it doth import,
1. Not barely a negation of doing, or suffering harm, or an abstinence from strife and violence, (for
a mere strangeness this may be, a want of occasion, SERM. or a truce, rather than a peace,) but a positive amity, and disposition to perform such kind offices, without which good correspondence among men cannot subsist. For they who by reason of distance of place, non-acquaintance, or defect of opportunity, maintain no intercourse, cannot properly be said to be in peace with one another: but those who have frequent occasion of commerce, whose conditions require interchanges of courtesy and relief, who are some way obliged and disposed to afford needful succour, and safe retreat to each other; these may be said to live in peace together, and these only, it being in a manner impossible, that they who are not disposed to do good to others (if they have power and opportunity) should long abstain from doing harm.
2. Living peaceably implies not some few transitory performances, proceeding from casual humour, or the like; but a constant, stable, and well-settled condition of being; a continual cessation from injury, and promptitude to do good offices. For as one blow doth not make a battle, nor one skirmish a war; so cannot single forbearances from doing mischief, or some few particular acts of kindness, (such as mere strangers may afford each other,) be worthily styled a being in peace; but an habitual inclination to these, a firm and durable estate of innocence and beneficence.
3. Living in peace supposes a reciprocal condition of being not only a performing good, and forbearing to do bad offices, but a receiving the like treatment from others. For he, that being assaulted is constrained to stand upon his defence, may not be
SERM. said to be in peace, though his not being so (invoXXIX. luntarily) is not to be imputed to him.
4. Being in peace imports not only an outward cessation of violence and seeming demonstration of amity, but an inward will and resolution to continue therein. For he that intends, when occasion is presented, to do mischief to another, is nevertheless an enemy, because more secret and dangerous: an ambuscado is no less a piece of war, than confronting the enemy in open field. Proclaiming and denouncing signify, but good and ill intention constitute, and are the souls of peace and war. From these considerations we may infer a description of being in peace, viz. that it is, to bear mutual goodwill, to continue in amity, to maintain good correspondence, to be upon terms of mutual courtesy and benevolence; to be disposed to perform reciprocally all offices of humanity; assistance in need, comfort in sorrow, relief in distress; to please and satisfy one another, by advancing the innocent delight, and promoting the just advantage of each other; to converse with confidence and security, without suspicion, on either hand, of any fraudulent, malicious, or hurtful practices against either: or, negatively, not to be in a state of enmity, personal hatred, pertinacious anger, jealousy, envy, or illwill; not to be apt to provoke, to reproach, to harm or hinder another, nor to have reasonable grounds of expecting the same bad usage from others; to be removed from danger of vexatious quarrels, intercourse of odious language, offending others, or being disquieted one's self. This I take to be the meaning of living or being in peace, differing only in degree of obligation, and latitude of object, from the
state of friendship properly so called, and opposed to SERM. a condition of enmity, defiance, contention, hatred, suspicion, animosity.
II. In the next place we may consider the object of this duty, signified in those words, With all men. We often meet in scripture with exhortations directed peculiarly to Christians, to be at peace among themselves; as Mark ix. 5. our Saviour lays this injunction upon his disciples, εἰρηνεύετε ἐν ἀλλήλοις, Have peace one with another; inculcated by St. Paul 1 Thess. v. upon the Thessalonians in the same words: and the like we have in the second Epistle to Timothy, chap. ii. ver. 22. Follow righteousness, faith, charity, peace with them that call upon the Lord out of a pure heart: and to the Romans, (xiv. 19.) Let us therefore follow after the things that make Vid. Eph. for peace, and things wherewith one may edify iv. 3. another. But here the duty hath a more large and comprehensive object; návτes avρwо, all men: as likewise it hath in the Epistle to the Hebrews, chap. xii. ver. 14. Pursue peace with all men: with all men, without any exception, with men of all nations, Jews and Gentiles, Greeks and Barbarians; of all sects and religions; persecuting Jews and idolatrous heathens; (for of such consisted the generality of men at that time;) and so St. Paul expressly in a like advice, (1 Cor. x. 32, 33. Give no offence, neither to the Jews, nor to the Gentiles, nor to the Church of God; even as I please all men.) And I may add, by evident parity of reason, with men of all degrees and estates, high and low, noble and base, rich and poor; of all tempers and dispositions, meek and angry, gentle and froward, pliable and perverse; of all endowments, wise and foolish, vir