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to do it unto them. Thus also as our wants vary, so do our desires of others' help; for being in misery, we implore comfort; if ignorant, we desire information; if in doubt, counsel; if wandering, to be guided to the right way; if in weakness, friendly to be supported; if fallen, timely to be helped up ; in our dealing we would have just and kind usage; in poverty, relief; when hungry and naked, food and raiment. Now from Thence it would be easy to collect what we would not have others do unto us; that is, whatever may be contrary to these desires, as having a certain tendency to our destruction and misery. Thus we all desire to avoid the accession of new grievances to old calamities, and think it hard measure that for our ignorance we be scoffed at or derided : being dubious or full of scruples, we would not be more perplexed; if down, we judge it severe to be trampled on, and very unfriendly to be reproached for our poverty, or upbraided with our miscarriages. And indeed to triumph over another man's misfortune is confessedly so barbarous and inhuman, that those who are most guilty of this practice, are ashamed, and blush to own it. This being the general view of what we would, and what we would not have done, before I descend into a more large and particular account, I think it expedient, according to my promise, first to settle the rule on its true bottom, and within its just limitations. If therefore we look again into the words, “Whatsoever ye would that men should do unto you, even so do unto them,' you may perceive that the subject and matter of this rule are actions that proceed from the will : now your will being often not only erroneous itself, but also the cause of all your errors, in giving her assent to propositions either not clearly or not distinctly understood, it will be but reasonable that we show and point out the rule wherefrom the will is to take her guidance and directions; which rule is right reason. The meaning then of this precept, “what you would have done unto you,' is whatever is reasonable, whatsoever measure, as consonant to the laws of equity and justice, you desire should be given to you, return the same. Since, if the will were left to itself without a guide, then because we sometimes laboring with an indisposed mind desire things destructive and pernicious to ourselves, we might do what is so unto others. And the malcontent that being weary of his life, desires any one would dispatch him, might become the murderer of his neighbor, and justify the action too in having done only to another what he desired to be done unto himself. Thus the prince should be obliged always to forgive the foulest crimes of rebellion; because if it were possible for him to be in the condition of a rebel, he would desire to be pardoned himself; insomuch that hereby the current of justice would be stopped up, and all processes against malefactors receive their period. For though we were offenders in the highest manner, yet we should always ourselves desire forgiveness; and thereby we should be bound always to pardon; which is destructive of the essence of a commonwealth, and for that reason not to be allowed. So that from hence we gather, that our will is to be regulated by a farther rule than itself. That it is not whatever we would by the motions of our rude passions, but that which, proceeding from the calm and rectified dictates of our own conscience, we would have done unto us, we do the same unto our neighbor. Wherefore, although, if we consulted self-love and passion, we should for the worst misdemeanors beg pardon, we must not suffer the murderer to go unpunished, but deal with him according to his action; forasmuch as it is enjoined by the positive laws of God, and enforced by natural light, that he who spills man's blood, by man shall his blood be shed. Hitherto have you had discoursed unto you, in the gross, what usage we would have of one another, and also the rule of willing and nilling to others and ourselves, circumscribed within the due bounds thereof. Proceed we now particularly to consider man in his several capacities, wherein we either can help him, or do him an injury, which be, 1. his person; under which are to be considered his soul and body, as far as we are capable of contributing to their well being; for since we all hope for the greatest good to ourselves in respect of both, we should use our best endeavors in preserving the soul and body of our neighbor.
I. As to his soul: now as the soul is a more noble principle and of longer duration than the body, man's everlasting happiness or eternal misery depending chiefly on its well or ill management, so also should we love it more affectionately, and be ready to contribute, as far as lies in our power, to its happy being: an employment so generous, that he who advanceth the present good or future felicity of another man's soul, re-impresseth the defaced image of God on his own, and in some sense may be said to be a sharer with the blessed Jesus in the saving of the world." Now this must be done, first, by interceding with God to bestow on him all those heavenly graces that are necessary to the constituting of a true Christian; more particularly by soliciting heaven, that he may be confirmed in his faith if weak and unstable, supplied with those dispositions to godliness which he wants, and those enlarged which he hath; that God would assist him in opposing the sins, which by reason of the temper of his constitution, or course of life, oftenest assault and most easily overpower him; and that the divine aid may come suitably and in season to his rescue from the encounters and onsets which may be given by Satan or the flesh; that thereby he may be enabled to walk humbly and thankfully before God, uprightly with man, and holily with himself; and also that those inclinations to virtue and goodness, which divine grace had begun, may be maintained and cherished in him; so that he may go on in an intire conformity to God's holy will even unto his end t Secondly, after your prayers for the good of his soul, you must make your application to him yourself by your counsel, and encourage him by your example: 1. by counsel; which ought to be various and answerable to
* How blessed a work is it to fit up the soul and adorn it for God's sight and approbation, which back to him must go as soon as ever it parts from its ruinated and uninhabitable body. Then shall dust return to the earth as it was, and the spirit shall return to him who gave it: Eccl. xii. 7.
How joyful a thing will it be to have been instrumental in making a soul delightful and acceptable to God, to have assisted Christ in carrying on our redemption.
+ You have full assurance that, praying with an holy and sincere mind, your prayer shall be heard; “for though the Lord is far from the wicked, yet he heareth the prayer of the righteous: Prov. xv. 29. You are encouraged to it by St. Paul’s example, ‘We pray always for you nevertheless;' i. 11. and directed by St. James's precept—' Consess your faults one to another, and pray one for another; for the effectual prayer of the righteous man availeth much :' Jam. v. 16.
the condition of his mind; for you are to advise him about his soul in such a manner as may be most productive of its happiness. The way to be truly happy is to do well; to do well, is by our actions to answer those very ends for which we were made; but the ends for which we were made, are both to glorify God in the highest manner, by worshipping him as he himself requires, in pure devotion, with a sincere mind, and by doing all the good we can unto all men: which two things, as they comprehend the whole duty that God expects of us, so are they the true interest of the soul to observe. But since a blind and misguided zeal can never do any thing that will be acceptable to God, in that God has so great a regard to the intendments of every action, which, if amiss, the whole action will be so; it is convenient you direct - your counsel to him, by way of information, in such manner as that he may arrive at a clear and intire knowlege of his duty. For how can he be obedient to the divine will who knows not what it is that it doth require : So that if they with whom you converse be possessed with a thick and palpable ignorance in matters of religion, before all things let it be your business to instruct thoroughly and enlighten clearly their minds, to such measure and degree that they may entertain true notions of God's holy essence and his blessed attributes, and of all that he has willed of us, either in his positive laws, or in the natural laws engraven on our very” beings. And having thus instructed your neighbor in respect of his soul, let, 2. your work be persuasion; that he would heartily betake himself to the practice of what he by you understands concerning God and himself; forasmuch as knowlege is vain which can in nowise be useful to the services of life, and labor mispent which is productive of no fruit: besides, our ties to obedience are made stronger and more obliging by the increase of our knowlege, and so the shame will be greater and the crime more foul to violate them; hence is it that the servant who knows and yet neglects his master's will, shall be punished with more stripes. He that in persuading would manage his affair without miscarriage, should be furnished and provided with such arguments, as will evidence to the person with whom he treats, the necessity of embracing his advice, and the pleasant consequences that will accrue therefrom,” and the punishments to be inflicted in case of disobedience: so that since God has promised a most happy condition to those who live well, and denounced utter ruin to the deserters of his laws, it will prove the true interest of every one of us not only to be religious, but to promote it in others; if it be granted that God is able to make good what he has promised, and willing to perform what he is able : to do which, you are to take notice, these three things only are required; 1. to know the nature of a creature; 2. to be vested with a power of doing good or harm to it; lastly, the having a will to exert this power in the destruction or advance of a creature according to its behavior: all which qualifications are eminently found in God. 1. His knowlege. It is not to be understood that we can be rendered miserable or happy by him who is ignorant wherein our happiness or misery consists. The physician knows not how to administer his potion with security of his patient's life, or without manifest hazard of his own reputation, if he have not before investigated the true reasons of the distemper, in such sort as to be able to apply what is proper and apposite for removing the causes thereof. But God, being a great searcher of the heart and trier of the reins, knows the mould wherein we were made, and the very constitutive ingredients of our essence, in having been the author of the same ; insomuch that nothing which belongs unto us can be hid from his eyes; whence it appears, he knows what is good for us better than we do ourselves, or any body besides. 2. God's power: for as much as we can humble and crush, when we please, those that be weaker than ourselves, their daring threats or allurements are so contemptible, that, if not to be wondered at, they are to be smiled at. Nor do the circumstances greatly vary between our equals and us, in that we can repulse the onsets they give us, with the same force; and so they must expect their own ruin in attempting ours. But if we consider God, that he so infinitely surpasseth us in power as to be able to dash us all into nothing,