« AnteriorContinuar »
the thing was finished, though with a servile spirit; for wouv properly signifies 'to do the outward work;' and the works of the law are those which consisted in outward obedience, and by which a man could not be justified. But our blessed Saviour, teaching us the righteousness of the kingdom, hath also brought the word Tov to signify the internal also; a mixture of faith and operation. For to the Jews inquiring, "What shall we do to work the works of God?" Jesus an
swers°, Τοῦτό ἐστι τὸ ἔργον τοῦ θεοῦ, ἵνα πιστεύσητε, &c. "This is the work of God, that ye believe in him whom he hath sent:" and, since this," to do," in the Christian sense, is to do 'bona benè,' 'good works with a good mind.' For since the works are not only in themselves inconsiderable, but we also do them most imperfectly and with often failings, a good mind, and the spirit of a friend or a son, will not only heighten the excellency of the work, but make amends for the defect too. The doing' what we are commanded, that is, in the usual sense of doing,' still leaves us 'unprofitable;' for we are servants of God, he hath a perfect and supreme right over us, and when this is done, still can demand more; when we have ploughed,' he will call upon us 'to wait at supper;' and for all this, we are to expect only impunity and our daily provisions. And upon this account, if we should have performed the covenant of works, we could not have been justified. But then, there is a sort of working, and there are some such servants which our Lord uses, "magis ex æquo et bono. quàm ex imperio;" with the usages of sons, not of slaves or servants. He will gird himself, and serve themP,-he will call them friends, and not servants;" these are such as serve animo liberali,' such which Seneca calls humiles amicos,' 'humble friends,' serving, as St. Paul expresses it, ἐν ἁπλότητι καρδίας, ‘in the simplicity of their heart;' not iv opłaλuodovλeiaus, with eye-service;' but honestly, heartily, zealously, and affectionately, Exovolwç, πρоOvμws, ovк ávaуkаoтws; so St. Peter, 'freely, readily, not grudgingly, or of necessity.'
16. XII. The proper effect of this is, that all the perfect do their services so, that their work should fail rather than their minds, that they do more than is commanded. "Exi
• John, vi. 28, 29.
P Luke, xii. 37.
guum est ad legem bonum esse;" To be good according to the rigour of the law, to do what we are forced to, to do all that is lawful to do, and to go towards evil or danger as far as we can, these are no good signs of a filial spirit, this is not Christian perfection; To μév ioTV iπirayua, that slaves consider; this is commanded and must be done under horrible pains and such are the negative precepts of the law, and the proper duties of every man's calling. To de The Tрoaiρéσεως κατόρθωμα, This is an act of piety of mine own choosing, a righteousness that I delight in; that is the voice of sons and good servants, and that is rewardable with a mighty grace. And of this nature are the affirmative precepts of the Gospel, which being propounded in general terms, and with indefinite proportions, for the measures are left under our liberty and choice, to signify our great love to God. Α μὲν γὰρ ὑπὲρ τὴν ἐντολὴν γίνεται, πολὺν ἔχει τὸν μισθὸν KATA TOUTO, Said St. Chrysostom; "Whatsoever is over and above the commandments, that shall have a great reward.” God forbids unmercifulness; he that is not unmerciful keeps the commandment; but he that, besides his abstinence from unmercifulness according to the commandment, shall open his hand and his heart, and give plentifully to the poor, this man shall have a reward; he is amongst those servants whom his "Lord will make to sit down, and himself will serve him." When God in the commandment forbids uncleanness and fornication; he that is not unchaste, and does not pollute himself, keeps the commandment. But if to preserve his chastity he uses fasting and prayer, if he mortifies his body, if he denies himself the pleasures of the world, if he uses the easiest, or the harder remedies, according to the proportion of his love and industry, especially if it be prudent,—so shall his greater reward be. If a man, out of fear of falling into uncleanness, shall use austerities, and find that they will not secure him, and therefore, to ascertain his duty the rather, shall enter into a state of marriage, according as the prudence and the passion of his desires were for God and for purity;so also shall his reward be. To follow Christ is all our duty; but if that we may follow Christ with greater advantages, we quit all the possessions of the world, this is more acceptable; because it is a doing the commandment with greater love. We must so order things that the commandment be
not broken; but the difference is in finding out the better ways, and doing the duty with the more affections.
17. Now in this case they are highly mistaken that think any thing of this nature is a work of supererogation: for all this is nothing but a pursuance of the commandment. For EvToλn or commandment,' is taken in a general sense, for the prescription of whatsoever is pleasing and acceptable to God, whatsoever he will reward with mighty glories. So 'loving God with all our heart, with all our soul, and all our mind, and all our strength,' is called πρúτŋ kaì μɛɣáλn évtoλǹ, the first and the great commandment";' that is, nothing is more pleasing, nothing more acceptable to God, because it proceeds out of an excellent love. But some commandments are propounded as to friends, some as to servants; some under the threatening of horrible pains, others not so, but with the proposition and under the invitation of glorious rewards. It was commanded to St. Paul to preach the Gospel: if he had not obeyed, he should have perished: "Woe is me," saith he, "if I preach not the Gospel :" he was bound to do it. But he had another commandment also, to love God as much as was possible, and to love his neighbour: which precepts were infinite, and of an unlimited signification, and therefore were left to every servant's choice to do them with his several measures of affection and zeal. He that did most, did the commandment best; and therefore cannot be said to do more than was commanded; but he that does less; if he preaches the Gospel, though with a less diligence, and fewer advantages, he obeys the commandment, but not so nobly as the other. For example: God commands us to pray. He obeys this, that constantly and devoutly keeps his morning and evening sacrifice, offering devoutly twice a day. He that prays thrice a day, does better; and he that prays seven times a day, hath done no work of supererogation, but does what he does, in pursuance of the commandment. All the difference is, in the manner of doing what is commanded; for no man can do more than he is commanded. But some do it better, some less perfectly; but all is comprehended under this commandment, of loving God with all our hearts. When a father commands his children to come to him, he that comes slowly, obeys the commandment, but he that runs
9 Matt. xxii. 57.
does obey more willingly and readily: now though to come running was left to the choice of the child's affection, yet it was but a brisk pursuance of the commandment. Thus when he that is bound to pay tithes, gives the best portion, or does it cheerfully, without contention, in all questions taking the worse of the thing, and the better of the duty, does what he is commanded, and he does it with the affection of a son and of a friend, he loves his duty. "Be angry, but sin not:" so it is in the commandment; but he that, to avoid the sin, will endeavour not to be angry at all, is the greater friend of God, by how much the farther he stands off from sin. Thus in all doubts to take the surest side, to determine always for religion, when without sin we might have determined for interest; to deny ourselves in lawful things, to do all our duty by the measures of love and of the Spirit, are instances of this filial obedience, and are rewarded by a Tπoldŋois kai Tappnoía, a persuasion and confidence' of God's love to us, enabling us to call him Father, as well as Lord. Thus this parable, or one like it, is told in the book of Hermas. "The lord commanded his servant to put pales about his vineyard: he did so, and digged a ditch besides, and rooted out all the weeds; which when his lord observed, he made him coheir with his son." When St. Paul exhorted the Corinthians to give a free contribution to the poor saints at Jerusalem, he invites to do it nobly and cheerfully, not as of constraint; for God's commandment named not the sum, neither can the degree of affection be named; but yet God demands all our affection. Now in all the affirmative precepts, the duty in the lowest degree is, that which is now made necessary under the loss of all our hopes of eternity; but all the farther degrees of the same duty, are imposed upon the condition of greater rewards, and other collateral advantages of duty.
When Hystaspes asked Cyrus the Persian why he preferred Chrysantas before him, since he did obey all his commands: the prince answered ', Χρυσάντας οὑτοσὶ πρῶτον μὲν οὐ κλῆσιν ἀνέμενεν, ἀλλὰ πρὶν καλεῖσθαι παρῆν τῶν ἡμετέρων ἕνεκα· ἔπειτα δὲ οὐ τὸ κελευόμενον μόνον, ἀλλὰ καὶ ὅ, τι αὐτὸς γνότη ἄμεινον εἶναι πεπραγμένον ἡμῖν, τοῦτο ἔπραττεν. Chrysantas does not stay till he is called; and he does not only what is
Xen Cyrop. viii. 4. 11. Schneider.
commanded, but what is best, what he knows is most pleasing." So does every perfect man, according to the degrees of his love and his perfection ; Τῷ τελείῳ οὐκ ἐν συμβολαίοις πολιτικοῖς οὐδ ̓ ἐν ἀπαγορεύσει νόμος, ἀλλ ̓ ἐξ ἰδιοπραγίας καὶ τῆς πρὸς θεὸν ἀγάπης ἡ δικαιοσύνης. ‘The righteousness of a perfect man consists not in legal innocence, but in love and voluntary obedience.' This is that charity which is the glory of Christianity, the crown of all other graces, that which makes all the external works of obedience to be acceptable, and every act of the most excellent piety and devotion is a particular of that grace, and therefore though it is highly acceptable, yet it is also commanded in the general, and in the sense before explicated; and he that does no more than he is particularly commanded, obeys God, as a lion obeys his keeper; meat and stripes are all the endearments of his peace and services.
Qui manet, ut moneatur semper, servos homo, officium suum,
The servant that must be called upon at every step, is but an unprofitable and unworthy person:' to do only what we are commanded, will never bring us to the portion and inheritance of sons. We must do this cheerfully, and we must do more; even contend to please God with doing that which is the righteousness of God, striving for perfection, till perfection itself becomes perfect; still obeying that law of sons, ' Love the Lord with all thy heart,' till our charity itself is crowned. Therefore,
19. XIII. Let no man propound to himself a limit of duty, saying, he will go so far, and go no farther. For the commandment is infinite, and though every good man obeys it all the way of his holy conversation, yet it shall not be finished till his life is done. But he that stints himself to a certain measure of love, hath no love at all; for this grace grows for ever and when the object is infinite, true love is not at rest till it hath possessed what is infinite; and therefore towards that there must be an infinite progression, never stopped, never ceasing, till we can work no more.
20. XIV. Let every man be humbled in the sense of his failings and infirmities. "Multum in hâc vita ille profecit, qui quàm longè fit a perfectione justitiæ proficiendo cognoClem. Alex. Strom. 5. t Plautus Stich. act. 1. sc. 2. 1. Schmieder. p. 764,