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reproved, as against the person that doth reprove it. It is not the wrath of man that worketh the righteousness of God, Jaines i. 10. But this, of all duties, must be performed with a spirit of love and meekness; I must first insinuate myself into his affections, and then press his sin upon his conscience, and that directly or indirectly, as the person, matter, or occasion shall require, that so he that is reproved by me now, may have cause to bless God for me to all eternity.
I am resolved, by the grace of God, always to speak reverently to my superiors, humbly to my inferiors, and civilly to all.
THE most high God, the master of this great family, the world, for the more orderly government of it, hath, according to his infinite wisdom, set some in higher, some in lower places, hath made some as stewards, others as under-servants; and, according to every man's work that he expects from him, he measures out his talents to him. Blessed be his name for it, he hath set me in a middle form, giving me Agar's wish, subject neither to envy on one hand, nor pity on the other; so that I have both superiors to reverence, and inferiors to condescend to. And, accordingly, it is my duty so to behave myself towards them, that the reverend expressions of my mouth may manifest the obedient subjection of my heart, to the power and authority God has given them over me. It is the express command of the Gospel, that we should render to every man his due, fear to whom fear, honour to whom honour belongeth, Rom. xiii. 13. which words plainly imply, both that it is some men's due to receive honour, and other men's duty to give it. And, accordingly, we find, Paul, when he was brought before Festus, doth not say, Art thou he, whom they call Festus? or, Thou Festus, as the mis
guided enthusiasts, in our days, would have said: but, Most noble Festus, Acts xxvi. 25. In like manner, St. John doth not call her he writes to, in his second Epistle, being a person of quality, Woman, but Elect Lady. And this sort of reverence is farther confirmed to us, not only by the constant custom of all nations, in all ages of the world, but it is likewise highly agreeable to the rules of right reason, as well as the order of government. For, as there is both a natural and civil superiority, a superiority in gifts and age, and a superiority likewise in office and station; so there is nothing can be more necessary, than that there should be, in both these respects, a reverence and respect paid to the persons of men, answerable to these distinctions. And, therefore, I cannot but condemn that rude and unmannerly behaviour of some of our modern schismatics, towards their superiors, as factious and unreasonable, as well as repugnant to the dictates of the divine Spirit, which the prophets and apostles were inspired and influenced by.
And, as there is a reverence due from inferiors to their superiors, in point of conversation, so likewise are there some decent regards and civilities to be shewed even by superiors to their inferiors, who are always to be treated with candour and condescension, in their ordinary capacities; and even where they are considered as criminals, with meekness and moderation. 'Insomuch that, methinks, it is one of the worst sights in the world, to see some men, that are gotten upon a little higher ground than their neighbours are, to look proudly and scornfully down upon all that are below them, disdaining to vouchsafe them the least favour or respect whatsoever. Such churlish, haughty, and foul-mouthed Nabals as these, are not only very unjust, and unreasonable in their behaviour to others, but they are certainly the greatest enemies to themselves, that they have in all the world besides; not only by drawing upon them the hatred and enmity of all that are about them, but likewise by tormenting themselves with such frivolous
things, as such spirits commonly do. Wherefore, that I may please God, my neighbour, and myself, in what I speak, though I could excel other men (which is impossible for me to suppose) in every thing; I resolve, by God's grace, always to behave myself so, as if I excelled them in nothing; and not only to speak reverently to them that are above me, but humbly and civilly to those that are beneath me too. I will always endeavour to use such humble winning words, as to manifest more of my love to them, than my power over them: I will always season my tongue with savoury, not bitter expressions, not making my mouth a vent for my fury and passion to fume out at, but rather an instrument to draw others' love and affection in by; still speaking as civilly unto others, as I would have them speak civilly
CONCERNING MY ACTIONS.
THE other way of my soul's putting forth, and shewing herself to the world, is, by her actions, which it concerns me as much to look to and regulate, as my words; forasmuch as there is not the least ill circumstance in any action, but what, unless it be repented of, must be brought into question, and answered for, at the last day: for, though an action cannot be denominated good, unless it be good in all circumstances and respects; yet it is always denominated bad, if it is bad only in one. As it is in music, if but one string jar, or be out of tune, the whole harmony is spoiled; so here, if but one circumstance in an action be wanting or defective, the whole action is thereby rendered immoral.
How much, therefore, doth it behove me to keep a strict watch over myself, and so to perform every action, and place every circumstance in it, that it may have its approbation in the court of heaven? Well; I am resolved,
by the grace of God, to try what I can do. I know, it is impossible for me to resolve upon particular actions: but, howsoever, I shall resolve upon such general rules, the application of which to particular acts may make them pleasing and acceptable to the sight of God; always premising this which I have resolved upon before, as the best foundation, viz. to square all my actions by the Scripture rule, and to do nothing, but what I have, some way or other, a warrant for in the word of God. Upon this fixed and steady principle,
I am resolved, by the grace of God, to do every thing in obedience to the will of God.
IT is not sufficient, that what I do is the will of God, but I must therefore do it, because it is the will of God. For, what saith my Father? My son, give me thine heart, and let thine eyes observe my ways, Prov. xxiii. 26. So that my Father will not only have my hand, but my heart too: and my feet must not walk in the ways of God, till my eyes have observed and discerned them to be so. I may do an action that in itself is good, and yet, at the same time, not do a good action, if I do not therefore do it, because it is so; ex. gr. I may give an alms to the poor, feed the hungry, or clothe the naked; but let me examine and consider well, upon what principle these actions are founded, whether I therefore do them, because God hath commanded them; if not, my feeding of the poor will be no more a good action, than the ravens feeding the prophet was, I Kings xvii. 6. Their feeding of the prophet was commanded by God, as well as my feeding of the poor; but I cannot say, they did a good action; because though they did do this which was commanded by God, yet being irrational creatures, they could not reflect upon that command, and so could not do this in obedience to it.
There are some persons, to the very frame and disposition. of whose spirits some sins are, in their nature, odious and abominable. Thus I have known some, whose very constitutions have carried them into an antipathy to lust and luxury; and others again, who could never endure to drink beyond their thirst, much less to unman and be-beast themselves by drinking to excess. And the like may be observed of covetousness, which Luther was such an enemy to, that it is said to be against his very nature. Now, I say, though the abstaining from these sins be highly commendable in all sorts of persons, yet unless, together with the streams of their natural disposition, there run likewise a spiritual desire to please God, and obey his commands, their abstaining from these vices is no more than the brute beasts themselves do, who always act according to the temper of their bodies, and are never guilty of any excesses that are prejudicial to them. Hence, servants are commanded to be obedient to their masters, with good-will doing service as to the Lord, and not to men; Eph. vi. 5, 6, 7. which clearly shews, that though a servant doth obey his master, yet if he doth not do it in obedience unto God, he will not find acceptance with him. So that, whensoever I set my hand to any action that is good, I must still fix my eye upon God's commanding of it, and do it only in respect to that; as knowing, that if I give but a farthing to the poor in all my life, and do it in obedience to God's commands, it shall be accepted sooner than theirs, who feed hundreds at their table every day, and have not respect to the same command.
Do I see a poor wretch ready to fall down to the earth for want of a little support, and my bowels begin to yearn towards him? let me search into my heart, and see what it is that raises this compassion in me. If it flows only from a natural tenderness to a brother in misery, without regard to the love of God, who has commanded and enjoined it, the poor man may be succoured and relieved, but God will not be pleased