Imágenes de páginas
PDF
EPUB

to the quick, either in our estate or reputation, we are not at liberty to be silent: to be upon our defence in such cases is a debt we owe to ourselves, our posterity, our relations, and friends, who have all an interest in us. When the cause of true religion suffers from the tongues or pensof libertines and unbelievers; when any open attempts are by ill men made on the constitution of that church or state, whereof we are members: when an absent friend is traduced by lying lips, or the name of any sincerely good and virtuous man is vilified; it is our duty in such cases to stand up, and rebuke this fpirit of treachery, malice, or' profaneness. The honour of God, or the interest of virtue, would, at such a time, be blemished by our silence and forbearance. He, that doth notopenly and heartilyespouse thecauseof truth, will be reckoned to have been on the other side. And then peace with men can never be eligible, when it implies enmity with God. The precept here given of living peaceably, I need not use many words to tell you what it is; it is easily and universally understood; to live peaceably is fo to demean ourselves in all the offices and stations of life, as to promote a friendly underftanding and correspondence among those we converse with; so as to prevent, as much as we can, all outward contention and strife, nayall inward mistakes and jealousies from arising, and to quench and allay them, as soon as we can, whenever they are risen ; so as to disagree openly with no man in things of an indifferent nature, and of no moment; and, where the point is of importance enough to deserve to be infined on, there to do it, with so much candor, and mo. deity, and sweetness, as not to offend even those we do not agree with. In a word, it is so to conduct our actions, discourses, and dealings, as to make ourselves and others as easy as is possible. Various are the instances of this duty. They live peaceably with respect to the publick, who pay a due regard to the laws of their country, and express a due reverence towards their superiors; honouring them sincerely, obeying them submissively; not rafhly censuring their actions, but putting the best and most candid construction upon them; not being over-busy in matters that are too high for them, and do not concern them. They live peaceably in re

ligious ligious matters, who, on the one side, are contented to enjoy their own opinions, without arraigning their superiors in church and state for being otherwise minded; and without disturbing the publick peace, in order to propagate their tenets, and make profelytes: and who, on theother side, do not by unjustifiable methods of severity force men into the profeffion of what they disbelieve; whose zeal for their faith never makes them forget their temper, nor out-run the bounds of christian goodness and prudence; who make great allowances for the weakness of men's reason and the strength of their prejudices, and condemn not all as insincere, who are not fo inlightened as they are, but leave them to stand or fall to their own master ; praying for them, in the mean time, that they may come to the knowledge of the truth, and endeavouring by all gentle persuasive methods to reclaim them. Finally they live peaceably in matters of common life and daily practice, who take care to make their carriage inoffensive and obliging; who are not ready to entertain ill reports of men, much less to disperse them; who whisper about nothing to set friends and neighbours at variance; who mind their own business, without intermeddling much in the concerns of others; who can take a flight affront or injury in conversation without resenting it, and even a great one without returning it.

Men are apt to go to law for every trifle; and because they of going to have law on their fide, they cannot be persuaded law. that they are to blame for so doing. Yet it should be considered, that although all lawful suits are not sinful, for a Christian may go to law to keep his rightful possession, or to recover what is wrongfully taken or detained from him; yet where there is no sin in the suit itself, there is often in the management of it: so that it is a temptation and a (nare, and every man should be cautious how he embarks upon so dangerous a bottom, where justice and charity are in danger of being stranded or thrown overboard. A man at least must be assured that he claims or defends his right; otherwise the law-suit is vexatious, or worse. What we propose to get or keep should be of a considerable value; or else it favours of a contentious spirit, to hazard our own

and

ac.

and our neighbour's peace for a trifle. Victory should not be the motive, but right. Revenge should never mingle with our resentment for Christ declares against this rigour of the Jewish law. And one of the great springs of law-suits and contentions, such as verbal trespasses and injuries, will very rarely bear the weight of an action, and acquit the conscience of him who appeals to the laws; because all our works are to be done in charity,

We must not only therefore say that we forgive our enemies, but thew the reality of our intentions, by The charity taking all opportunities to do them all the good of our ac

tions muft in our power. It is, I think, our duty to prefer reach unio compassion to an enemy, before a matter of mere our enemies. generosity to a friend, when we cannot exercise both together. The extreme necessity of even our enemies, much more of other persons, is to take place of the mere conveniency of friends and relations; and we ought rather to relieve the distressed, than to promote the happiness of the easy; however the practice of it be disregarded by the world. Otherwise it may justly be feared, that malice still lurketh in the heart. But he that fulfils the command of doing good to them that hate him, notonly does his duty, and follows the example of our Saviour, but heaps coals of fire on their heads, to melt them into love and compassion, and consequently to a thorough reconciliation. So that Self-love the great hindrance of the practice of this duty to an hinour neighbour is that self-love, which, being an this chan immoderate love of our own worldly interests, is rity. the foundation of all contention and injustice; because wo thereby feek only to please ourselves, whereas we ought also to please our neighbour, for his good to edification : for even Christ pleased not himself. But,

To obtain perfect charity, we must not think it the whole of our duty when this obstacle is remov. Andre ed; because, as every grace is the gift of God, is a means we must pray to hin earnestly to work it in us, to procure it. and send his spirit to frame our hearts in a meek and peace, able temper. : Y

THE

THE THIRD PART

OF THE NEW
Whole Duty of Man:

CONTAINING
Our Duty to OURSELVES.

SUNDAY XIII.

BRI

Į. Of Sobriety, consisting in a right government of our

thoughts. II. Of humility, and of its necessity and usefulness. III. Cf pride, its danger and folly, as it respects the gifts of nature, fortune, and grace. IV. Of vain-glory, its danger, folly, and the means to avoid and overcome it. V. Of meekness, its advantages, and the means of obtain

ing it. And, VI. Of consideration, its benefits, and of the .. danger of inconsideration.

Of our duty W E come now to those duties, which in a to ourselves. V particular manner regard OURSELVES, and are summed up by the apostle in the word Soberly; for the word soberly in its native sense signifies a soundness Of fobriety.

... and firmness of mind, governing and directing Brity. inferior appetites and passions, and searching and regulating the whole frame of soul and body in our perThe govern. fonal and private capacities. So that in respect to ment of our the soul sobriety is a right governing our passions iboughts. and affections or

opetites; which never can be done without a previous regulation of our THOUGHTS; for, as the wise man says, We must keep our hearts with all diligence; because out of them are the issues of life: Or the goodness or badness of our lives doth altogether depend upon the attending or not attending to the thoughts and motions and inclinations of our minds. And therefore it is a very pro

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

"

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

per

er we bave o

per question, Howa man hath power over his own What thoughts ? There is not indeed any single answer power we to be given to this question that will fit all men. ver our Some men by the very principles of their make thoughts. ' and constitution are much better able to govern their thoughts than others. Some, that are naturally weaker, have by long use and many trials obtained a greater power over their thoughts than others. Again, the same persons that at some times have a greater power over the motions of their minds, may at other times have a less command over them; and this according as their health, or their business, ora hundred contingencies of outward things, do affect them. And,

In all cates the first motions of our minds are produced fo quick, that there is not time enough given for verline reason to interpose. Again, when a man's mind over the firze is vigorously affected and possessed, either with motions. the outward objects of sense, or with inward passions of any kind, in that cafe he has little or no command of his thoughts. His mind at that time will be in a manner wholly taken up with what it is then full of. Nor will he be able, till those impressions are worn off, to think freely of what he pleaseth. There are some cases likewise, where a man's thoughts are in a manner forced upon him, from the present temper and indisposition of his body. So that, so long as that habit of body lasts, he cannot avoid those kind of thoughts. This is the case of some deeply hypochondriac perfons, many of whom will be haunted with a set of thoughts and fancies, that they can by no means get rid of, though they desire it never so earnestly. We may properly enough call these fancies of theirs waking dreams; as their dreams are their sleeping fancies. But,

Though we cannot in many cases think always of what we would; nay, though we cannot hinder abun- In what the dance of thoughts from coming into our minds liberty ana

morality of against our will : yet it is always in our power to our thoughts assent to our thoughts, or to deny our consent to confijis. them : if we do not consent to them, but endeavour to stop, and stifle, and resist them, as soon as we are aware of them, there is yet no harm done. Should we be haunted with blaf

Y 2

phemous

« AnteriorContinuar »