« AnteriorContinuar »
his credit and good name, as in his other goods, (for they perhaps may be as much valued by him, may really be of as much consequence to him, as any thing that he hath;) which bindeth us to abstain from hurting him, as
Prov. x. 12. Well in word as in deed; how opposite they are to cha
5| j.' rity, which obligeth us to think the best of our neighbour, and to endeavour that others also may do so; to conceal his real faults and blemishes; much more not to devise and affix false ones to him, not to gather and disperse ill reports to his prejudice; of how mischievous consequence also they are, breeding ill-will, and sowing
Prov. xvi. strife in all societies both public and private, (even separating chief friends, as the Wife Man telleth us,) common fense and experience do (hew: they consequently must be very odious in the sight of God, who loveth the peace and welfare of men; and very offensive to men, who do the mischiefs springing from them.
To this law may be reduced our obligations to be candid in our opinions and discourses concerning others, (ae
1 Cor. xiii. cording to St. Paul's excellent description of charity;) to forbear all rash and harsh censure, as you know our Saviour in his most divine sermon on the Mount chargeth us; to be veracious, sincere, and faithful in all our conversation; which duties are so often taught and pressed
Levit. xix. in both Testaments: Ye shall not, faith the L,a.w,Jieal, nor
Pal x» 9. fe^foydy* nor l*e one lo another; and, To walk uprightly, and work righteousness, and speak the truth from his heart, are the first lineaments in the good man's character
Zech. viii. drawn by the Psalmist; and, These are the things ye shall
"'' do, faith God in the Prophet; Speak ye every man the
truth to his neighbour; execute the judgment of truth and
Eph. iv. as. peace in your gates: and in the New Testament, To lay '"u 9' aside lying, to speak the truth every man with his neigh
iPet. ii. 1. lour; to lay aside all malice, all guile, all hypocrisies, envyings, and hackbitings, are apostolical commands.
^ou (bait not co&et t&p jfteiggbout'si l^ouse •, tfioux. comsljalt not co&et tgp js5tigbbou? u raise; nor &t0 ipan-sertoant, noj gt0 ipaio-scr&am, no; j)ia £>r, no; jhisi afo, no; anp tgtng tljat 10 t&p Jftcigfifaour'0.
THIS law is comprehensive and recapitulatory, as it were, of the rest concerning our neighbour, prescribing universal justice toward him; (whence St. Mark, it seems, meaneth to render it in one word, by pj aiHHTTtprprj, de-Mukx.ig. prive not, or bereave not your neighbour of any thing;) and this not only in outward deed and dealing, but in inward thought and desire, the spring whence they do issue forth, (for, from the heart, as our Saviour teacheth, do proceedMa.it. xv. evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, fornications, thefts,falsewitness, blasphemies;) we are obliged to be so far from depriving our neighbour of any good thing belonging to him, that we are not so much as to wish or desire it; not only to abstain from injurious action, but to repress covetous inclinations: wherein is also implied, that we mould have a delight and complacence in our neighbour's good; not envying him any enjoyment; being in our minds content with the portion God pleaseth to vouchsafe us; and entirely trusting in him, that he will supply us with what is needful or befitting to us, without the damage of our neighbour. Thus God's law is, as St. Paul observed, [pi- Rom. vii. ritual; not only restraining exterior acts, but regulating our inmost thoughts, quelling all inordinate appetites and affections of heart within us; the which may be extended so as to respect not only matters of justice toward our neighbour, but all objects whatever of our practice; so as to import that which in the Christian law is so fre- „
. . . ... Horn. 11.39.
quently enjoined us, as the life of our religion, circum- Phil. iii. 3.
cifing our hearts, crucifying the flejh with its passions ond(^a^ ]}'
desires, mortifying our earthly members, putting to death Rom. vi. 6.
by the Spirit the deeds of the body, pulling off the old man,iu ,',"'" *"
which is corrupted according to the deceitful lusts: Ovx. swi- EPh- '»• '«•
Rom. viii. 13.
Su/xtjo-ss, Thou Jhalt not unlawfully or irregularly defire, doth, according to the spiritual intent, import all this.
I have done; and (hall only add, that the sum and end of these, and all other good laws, of all religion, and all our duty, is (as we often are taught in the New TestalTim. i. i.ment) comprised in those two rules, of loving God with all our heart, and loving our neighbour as ourselves; seriously and honestly attending unto which, we can hardly fail of knowing what in any case our duty is: it remains that we employ our best care and endeavour on the conscientious practice thereof; imploring therewith the assistance of God's grace, and that good Spirit, which God hath most graciously promised to those who duly ask it, by which alone we can be enabled to keep God's commandments: to him be all glory and praise. Amen.
IT is a peculiar excellency of our religion, that it doth Cypr. Ep. not much employ men's care, pains, and time, about mat-76, ters of ceremonial observance; but doth chiefly (and in a manner wholly) exercise them in works of substantial duty, agreeable to reason, perfective of man's nature, productive of true glory to God, and solid benefit to men. Its design is not to amuse our fancies with empty (hows, nor to take up our endeavours in fruitless performances; but to render us truly good, and like unto God; first in interior disposition of mind, then in exterior practice; full of hearty love and reverence to God, of tender charity and goodwill toward men; of moderation and purity in the enjoyment of these things; of all true piety and virtue; whereby we may become qualified for that life of bliss which it tendereth and promiseth; for conversation in that holy society above, to which it designeth and calleth us. Yet because fancy is naturally a medium, and an it hath, effectual instrument of action; and because sensible ob- jSjJj'^Jj. jects are apt strongly to affect our minds; it hath pleased gar and the divine Wisdom to apply them, in fit measure, and tomjnds>ra sanctify them to those good purposes, by appointing some ftronSe*few solemn and significant rites to be observed by us, being in their own nature proper and useful, and by God designed to declare his mind and gracious intents to us; to consign and convey his grace into our souls, to confirm
our faith in him, to raise our devotion toward him, to quicken our resolutions of obeying his will; to enable and excite us to the practice of those great duties which he requireth of us; a Our Lord Jesus Chrijl, faith St. Austin, hath subjected us to his gentle yoke and light burden; whence, with sacraments mqfl few in number, most easy for observance, mqfi excellent in fgnification, he bound together the society of new people: and, The mercy of God, faith he again, would have religion free, by the celebration of a most few and most clear sacraments.
Of these there appear two (and St. Austin in the place cited could instance in no more) of general and principal use, instituted by our Lord himself; which, because they represent to us somewhat not subject to sense, and have a secret influence upon us; because what is intended by them is not immediately discernible by what is done, without some explication, (their significancy being not wholly grounded in the nature, but depending upon arbitrary institution, as that of words, which is of kin to them; whence St. Austin calls a sacrament, Verbum wfbile,) have usually been called mysteries, (that is, actions of a close and occult importance, of deeper meaning and design than is obvious to ordinary perception ;) and thence are also called sacraments, for no other reason, I conceive, than because the ancientest translators of the Bible into Latin did usually render the word fuvriiptov by the word facramentum; whence every thing containing under it somewhat of abstruse meaning is by ancient writers termfixod. xii. ed a sacrament. (So Tertullian calls all Christianity the Sacrimemi sacrament of Christian religion; and Elifha's ax he calls natura di- the sacrament of wood; and St. Austin speaks of the fapian/cx- crament of bread, of fi(h, of numbers, of the rock, &c. In primitur. short, he fays of all signs, that when they belong to divine
» Dominus nostcr leni jugo suo nos subdidit, et sarcinæ levi; unde sacnraentis numcro pauciffimis, observationc facillimis, fignificatione praeftani'fsimis socictatem novi populi colligavit: ficut est bapiismus Trinitatis nomine eonsceratus, communicatio corporis et sanguinis ipfius; et si quid aliud in Scripturis canonicis commendatur, 4c. Ep. Mt. Rcligionem pauciffimis" manifeftiflimis eelebrationum sacramentis misericordia Dei liberam effe «•■ luit. Id. Bf. 119.