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very easily and certainly we may discern all the specialties of our duty, without looking abroad or having recourse to external instructions; so that by it we may be perfect lawgivers, and skilful judges, and faithful monitors to ourselves of what in any case we should do: for every one by internal experience knoweth what it is to love himself, every one is conscious how he useth to treat himself; each one consequently can prescribe and decide for himself, what he ought to do toward his neighbor so that we are not only Geodidaкrol, ‘taught of God,' as the Apostle saith, to love one another;' but avrodidakтo, taught of ourselves how to exercise that duty: whence our Lord otherwhere doth propose the law of charity in these terms, 'Whatsoever ye would that men should do unto you, do ye even so unto them, for this is the law and the prophets;' that is, unto this rule all the special precepts of charity proposed in holy Scripture may be reduced.
Wherefore for information concerning our duty in each case and circumstance, we need only thus to consult and interrogate ourselves, hence forming resolutions concerning our practice.
Do we not much esteem and set by ourselves? Do we not strive to maintain in our minds a good opinion of ourselves? Can any mischances befalling us, any defects observable in us, any faults committed by us induce us to slight or despise ourselves?—This may teach us what regard and value we should ever preserve for our neighbor.
Do we not sincerely and earnestly desire our own welfare and advantage in every kind? Do we not heartily wish good success to our own designs and undertakings? Are we unconcerned or coldly affected in any case touching our own safety, our estate, our credit, our satisfaction or pleasure? Do we not especially, if we rightly understand ourselves, desire the health and happiness of our souls?-This doth inform us what we should wish and covet for our neighbor.
Have we not a sensible delight and complacency in our own prosperity? Do we ever repine at any advantages accruing to our person or condition? Are we not extremely glad to find ourselves thriving and florishing in wealth, in reputation, in any accommodation or ornament of our state? Especially if we be sober and wise, doth not our spiritual proficiency and improve
ment in virtue yield joyous satisfaction to us? Are we not much comforted in apprehending ourselves to proceed in a hopeful way toward everlasting felicity?—This may instruct us what content we should feel in our neighbor's prosperity, both temporal and spiritual.
Do we not seriously grieve at our own disasters and disappointments? Are we not in sad dumps, whenever we incur any damage or disgrace? Do not our diseases and pains sorely afflict us? Do we not pity and bemoan ourselves in any want, calamity, or distress? Can we especially, if we are ourselves, without grievous displeasure apprehend ourselves enslaved to sin and Satan, destitute of God's favor, exposed to endless misery?—Hence may we learn how we should condole and commiserate the misfortunes of our neighbor.
Do we not eagerly prosecute our own concerns? Do we not with huge vigor and industry strive to acquire all conveniences and comforts to ourselves, to rid ourselves of all wants and molestations? Is our solicitous care or painful endeavor ever wanting toward the support and succor of ourselves in any of our needs? Are we satisfied in merely wishing ourselves well? are we not also busy and active in procuring what we affect? Especially, if we are well advised, do we not effectually provide for the weal of our soul, and supply of our spiritual necessities; laboring to rescue ourselves from ignorance and error, from the tyranny of sin, from the torture of a bad conscience, from the danger of hell?-This showeth how ready we should be really to further our neighbor's good, ministering to him all kinds of assistance and relief suitable to his needs, both corporal and spiritual.
Are we so proud or nice, that we disdain to yield attendance or service needful for our own sustenance or convenience? do we not indeed gladly perform the meanest and most sordid offices for ourselves?--This declareth how condescensive we should be in helping our neighbor, how ready even 'to wash his feet,' when occasion doth require.
Do we love to vex ourselves, or cross our own humor? do we not rather seek by all means to please and gratify ourselves? This may warn us how innocent and inoffensive, how compliant and complacent we should be in our behavior toward
others; endeavoring to please them in all things,' especially for their good to edification.'
Are we easily angry with ourselves, do we retain implacable grudges against ourselves, or do we execute on ourselves mischievous revenge? are we not rather very meek and patient toward ourselves, mildly comporting with our own great weaknesses, our troublesome humors, our impertinences and follies; readily forgiving ourselves the most heinous offences, neglects, affronts, injuries, and outrages committed by us against our own interest, honor, and welfare ?-Hence may we derive lessons of meekness and patience, to be exercised toward our neighbor, in bearing his infirmities and miscarriages, in remitting any wrongs or discourtesies received from him.
Are we apt to be rude in our deportment, harsh in our language, or rigorous in our dealing toward ourselves? do we not rather in word and deed treat ourselves very softly, very indulgently? Do we use to pry for faults, or to pick quarrels with ourselves, to carp at any thing said or done by us, rashly or on slight grounds to charge blame on ourselves, to lay heavy censures on our actions, to make foul constructions of our words, to blazon our defects, or aggravate our failings? do we not rather connive at and conceal our blemishes? do we not excuse and extenuate our own crimes?
Can we find in our hearts to frame virulent invectives, or to dart bitter taunts and scoffs against ourselves; to murder our own credit by slander, to blast it by detraction, to maim it by reproach, to prostitute it to be deflowered by jeering and scurrilous abuse? are we not rather very jealous of our reputation, and studious to preserve it, as a precious ornament, a main fence, a useful instrument of our welfare?
Do we delight to report, or like to hear ill stories of our→ selves? do we not rather endeavor all we can to stifle them to tie the tongues and stop the ears of men against them? -Hence may we be acquainted how civil and courteous in our behavior, how fair and ingenuous in our dealing, how candid and mild in our judgment or censure, we should be toward our neighbor; how very tender and careful we should be of anywise wronging or hurting his fame.
Thus reflecting on ourselves, and making our practice toward
ourselves the pattern of our dealing with others, we shall not fail to discharge what is prescribed to us in this law and so we have here a rule of charity. But, farther,
2. Loving our neighbor as ourselves doth also import the measure of our love toward him; that it should be commensurate and equal in degree to that love which we bear and exercise toward ourselves. St. Peter once and again doth exhort us to love one another' é«Tev@s, with an outstretched affection' and how far that affection should be stretched we are here informed; even that it should reach the farthest that can be, or to a parity with that intense love which we do bear in heart, and express in performance toward ourselves: so that we do either bring down our self-love to such a moderation, or raise up our charity to such a fervency, that both come to be adjusted in the same even level. This is that pitch at which we should aim and aspire; this is that perfection of charity, which our Lord recommendeth to us in that injunction, Be perfect, even as your Father in heaven is perfect.'
That this sense of the words is included, yea chiefly intended, divers reasons will evince; for,
1. The most natural signification and common use of the phrase doth import thus much; and any one at first hearing would so understand the words.
2. It appeareth by comparing this precept with that to which it is annexed, of loving God with all our heart and all our soul;' which manifestly designeth the quantity and degree of that love consequently the like determinaton is intended in this precept, which is expressed to resemble that, or designed in like manner to qualify and bound our duty toward our neighbor.
3. If the law doth not signify thus much, it doth hardly signify any thing; not at least any thing of direction or use to us; for no man is ignorant that he is obliged to love his neighbor, but how far that love must extend is the point wherein most of us do need to be resolved, and without satisfaction in which we shall hardly do any thing: for as he that oweth money will not pay except he can tell how much it is; so to know the duty will not avail toward effectual observance of it, if its measure be not fixed.
4. Indeed, the law otherwise understood will rather be apt to misguide than to direct us; inducing us to apprehend that we shall satisfy its intent, and sufficiently discharge our duty, by practising charity in any low degree or mean instance. Also,
5. The former sense, which is unquestionable, doth infer and establish this; because similitude of love, morally speaking, cannot consist with inequality thereof; for if in considerable degrees we love ourselves more than others, assuredly we shall fail both in exerting such internal acts of affection, and in performing such external offices of kindness toward them, as we do exert and perform in regard to ourselves; whence this law, taken merely as a rule, demanding a confused and imperfect. similitude of practice, will have no clear obligation or certain efficacy.
6. But farther to assure this exposition, I shall declare that the duty thus interpreted is agreeable to reason, and may justly be required of us on considerations, which together will serve to press the observance of it according to such measure.
1. It is reasonable that we should thus love our neighbor as ourselves, because he is as ourselves, or really in all considerable respects the same with us; we concur with him in all that is necessary, substantial, and stable; we differ from him only in things contingent, circumstantial, and variable; in the which, of course or by chance we are liable in a small time as much to differ from ourselves: in such respects we are not the same to-day that we were yesterday, and shall be to-morrow; for we shift our circumstances as we do our clothes; our bodies are in continual flux, and our souls do much conform to their alteration; our temper and complexion do vary with our air, our diet, our conversation, our fortunes, our age; our parts grow and decay, our principles and judgments, our affections and desires are never fixed, and seldom rest long in the same place; all our outward state doth easily change face; so that if we consider the same person in youth and in age, in health and in sickness, in prosperity and in distress, may we not say, quantum mutatus ab illo; how quite another man is he grown! Yet shall a man for such alterations surcease or abate his love to himself? Why then in regard to the like differences shall