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struck with admiration at the sub
stance of its meaning that he caused CHAP. VII. 12. it to be written (negatively) in letters
of gold, over the gate of his palace. 12 Therefore all things • what
-Let us pray that it may be written soever ye would that men should and engraven, by the Holy Spirit, on do to you, do ye even so to the tables of our hearts ! them: for * this is the law and “The equity of this rule,” says the prophets.
one, “is so visible, that it needs no proofs; the universal reason of mankind agrees to it in theory, although their appetites and passions
may cause them to neglect it in READER. This great precept
practice.”—“It commends itself, as deserves a very attentive considera soon as heard, to every man's contion; and I am induced to adopt it science and understanding ; insomuch as the single subject for our present that no man can knowingly offend contemplation, especially as I am de against it, without carrying his consirous of bringing before your minds demnation in his own breast.”. some valuable remarks which have " It may be understood in either a been made, by men of deep piety positive or negative sense. If unand sober judgment, in connection derstood in a negative sense, the with this comprehensive rule of meaning is 'Whatever ye would not Christian morality.
that men should do to you, do ye Therefore.—Since God is ready to not unto them.' Here is a plain be so good and bountiful towards rule, always ready at hand. In all yourselves, be ye also ready to be matters relating to your neighbour, just and kind to your neighbours. make his case your own. Suppose Since you have received this encou the circumstance to be changed and ragement to offer up prayers to yourself to be just as he is now. your heavenly Father in hope of a And then beware that you indulge gracious answer, take care that while no temper or thought, that no word you present your petitions you are pass out of your lips, that you take in charity with all men,—who, like no step, which you would have conyourselves, are children of the uni- || demned in him, upon such a change Fersal Parent.
of circumstances.—If understood in All things whatsoever ye would that a direct or positive sense, the plain men should do to you, do ye even so to meaning of it is, “Whatsoever you them. This has been called the Sa could reasonably desire of him, supviour's golden rule. It is indeed a posing yourself to be in his circumprecept which applies to all the du stances, that do, to the utmost of ties which we owe to our neighbours. your power, to every child of man.' And even a heathen emperor was so "To apply this in one or two ob
dren what love God hath to you; so, man's own conscience, that we would if you would have God overrule the not that others should judge us, hearts and actions of men to love should causelessly or lightly think you and do you good, see that you evil of us. Much less would we that first love them and do them good,any should speak evil of us, should and that is the most probable way to publish our real faults or infirmities. obtain it. It is desirable that all Apply this to yourself. Do not unto men should use you with justice and another what you would not he should charity ; do you therefore so use all do unto you ; -and
Not that a man who hurts more judge your neighbours, never himself, or would have another hurt causelessly or lightly think evil of him, by temptation or sin, may thereany one.
Much less will you speak fore hurt another. But, be more evil; you will never mention even forward to do good than to expect the real fault of an absent person, it from others; and put yourself in unless so far as you are convinced it their case, and do to them whatever is absolutely needful.”
(prudently and justly) you would Again, we would that all men have them do to you, supposing your should love and esteem us; and that case and theirs were exchanged.” they should behave toward us ac For this is the law and the prophets. cording to justice, mercy, and truth. - The whole duty of a Christian inAnd we may reasonably desire that cludes also his disposition and conthey should do us all the good they duct towards God, nor does our can do, without injuring themselves; Saviour mean to say that a man is yea, that in outward things (accord required to do no more than observe ing to the known rule) their super the rule of equity just described. fluities should give way to our con But what he says is this, “that it is veniencies, their conveniencies to our the sum or substance of all that the necessities, and their necessities
prophets have laid down, with respect our extremities. Now then, let us to the commandments of the second walk by the same rule; let us do table, our duty towards our neighunto all as we would that they should bour." do to us.
Let us love and honour “This is pure and genuine moall men. Let justice, mercy, and rality. This do, and thou shalt live. truth govern all our minds and ac ' As many as walk according to this tions. Let our superfluities give way rule, peace be unto them, and mercy;' to our neighbour's conveniencies (and for they are the Israel of God.' who then will have any superfluities But then be it observed, none can left?), our conveniencies to our neigh-walk according to this rule (nor ever bour's necessities, our necessities to did from the beginning of the world), his extremities."
none can love his neighbour or himIn few words :-"As you may ga- self, unless he first love God. And ther by your own love to your chil none can love God, unless he believe
in Christ, unless he have redemption Pure and exalted as is the mothrough his blood, and the Spirit of rality of our Saviour's precept, and God bearing witness with his spirit, plain as its meaning must appear to that he is a child of God. Faith, every man of honest and humble therefore, is still the root of all; of mind, it is nevertheless liable to present as well as future salvation. abuse and to perverse misunderStill we may say to every sinner, standing on the part of persons of a Believe in the Lord Jesus Christ, different character.
different character. The following and thou shalt be saved.' Thou shalt extract, which enters into particube saved now, that thou mayest be
lars of the duty expressed in our saved for ever; saved on earth, that Lord's comprehensive words, may thou mayest be saved in heaven. perhaps be found useful as furnishBelieve in him, and thy faith willing an answer to some foolish cavils, work by love. Thou wilt love the or tending to prevent injurious misLord thy God because he hath loved conceptions. It is taken from “A thee : thou wilt love thy neighbour Practical Exposition of our Saviour's as thyself. And then it will be thy Sermon on the Mount; by James glory and joy to exert and increase Gardiner, M.A. 1720.” this love, not barely by abstaining
“ The easiness of this rule is as from what is contrary thereto, from great as the equity of it. For it is a every unkind thought, word, and guide which every man carries in his action, but by showing all that kind own breast, whereby he can readily ness to every man, which thou would- determine, without recurring to large est he should show unto thee.”
volumes of laws, or systems of mo
rality, or courts of judicature, what HYMN.
is just and fit for him to do with reBlessed Redeemer, how divine,
spect to another. He needs but turn How righteous, is this rule of thine,
the tables, and suppose his neigh"To do to all men just the same
bour's case to be his own, and his to As we expect or wish from them !”
be his neighbour's, and then he has This golden lesson, short and plain,
his direction at hand: he may learn Gives not the mind or memory pain ; And every conscience must approve
what usage he should give, by consiThis universal law of love.
dering what usage he would expect. How blest would ev'ry nation be
We are commanded to love our Thus rul'd by love and equity!
neighbour as ourselves ; but our All would be friends without a foe
partiality in this, and the difference And form a paradise below.
we are apt to make, in the way of Lord, write this law on every heart, love and esteem, between ourselves From this good way let none depart; and others, is the cause of all injusNo more let envy, wrath, or pride, But thy blest maxims, be our guide.
tice. Now, this selfishness is what WATTS the precept of doing as we would be (slightly altered). done by is designed to correct. And the rule is so true and exact in itself,
that were it not for the corruption and drunkenness are sins, and no of human nature, which triumphs in pretence whatever can qualify the nothing more than in perverting and guilt. This maxim, therefore, of debasing that which should reform doing as we would be done by, was it, one might pronounce it to hold never designed to make men lawless, good in all cases without bounds or or such an absolute law to themlimitations. But, because the very selves, that whatsoever they can rebest things are liable to abuse, and ciprocally desire, or submit to, should the wisest maxims may be stretched be lawful. It ought to be first known beyond the design and reason of that the thing is lawful, before the them, it will be necessary so to re- rule can be applied; which, strictly strain our present rule, that it may speaking, is not so much a law itself as not lead us beyond what is lawful or a measure of performing other duties reasonable to be done.
to our neighbour.. "1. We must confine it to things “2. We must confine it to things that are lawful, or not prohibited by that are reasonable, or fit to be done. the word of God. For else the Scrip Some things are lawful, which are tures would be contradictory, if by not expedient. It is lawful for me this rule of doing as we would be to give away a good part of my done by we are obliged or allowed estate, or any particular valuable to do to others what by other plain possession that I have, to whomsoor evident texts we are forbidden to ever I think fit; but, if a neighbour do, or to desire. My friend desires of nine should come to me, and with me to tell a lie for him to excuse a serious face should desire me to him, or to spread a false story about settle such a lordship upon him, etc., for his advantage; or, though he do I dare say all the world would agree not desire it, yet I think it would that it was a very impudent and unserve his interest—and what then? reasonable request; and, though he Though I myself should be so wicked, should press me an hundred times or so weak, as to desire the like of over with the rule of doing as I another, or be glad of its being done would be done by (for it is not to be on my account, yet will this rule by denied that I should gladly receive no means justify my doing so for such a favour and benefaction myself anybody else ; because it is sinful from any other person), he would be for me either to tell a lie myself, or as often told, it was a thing indecent to desire that another should. Like to be asked, impertinent to be exwise it will be no excuse to a cheat- pected, and unfit to be done. To ing gamester, if he gives the person instance another thing not reducible he games with leave to cheat him if to this rule ;—no judge or magistrate he can; nor to him that endeavours is obliged thereby to pardon a nototo make his companion drunk, that rious offender against the laws, upon he is very willing to be made as thinking with himself, that if he were drunk as himself; because cheating in the malefactor's place, he would desire to be pardoned. The rule behaviour towards those that are so does not apply here; because, though related to him. The same will hold it is natural to an offender to depre | in all other relative duties, and herecate the punishment due to his of- by may be discerned the equity of fence, it is not fit or reasonable that reverencing superiors, of being civil the magistrate should hearken to and courteous to equals, gentle to him; for he acts in a public capa inferiors, and just and charitable to city, and must consider the reverence all mankind. It would keep us from due to the laws, and the peace and an insolent and surly carriage togood order of the public, more than wards any one, from despising and the benefit of any private person. ridiculing, from upbraiding and proAgain ;-one who is in very indiffer voking, if we do but seriously consient circumstances, desires me to be der how ill we ourselves could bear bound with him for a considerable this from another. It would teach sum, which he is not likely to pay, us to forbear and forgive, because and if I pay it myself, it will be a we desire in our turns to be borne great detriment and wrong to my with and forgiven. It would make family; but I am not by this rule us candid and good-natured, in putobliged to answer his desire, though ting the best interpretation upon the I should be glad, if the case were words and actions of others, if we my own, as it is his, that another but reflect how reasonable we think would do the same for me; because it that another should deal so canit is reasonable I should consider my didly with us. The poor may be own family and circumstances in the convinced by it, of the unreasonablefirst place; I am to love my neigh ness of slandering and envying the bour as myself, but I am not obliged rich the advantage of their riches : to love him better, and to do myself and these would also see the unreaa great injury, in order to do him a sonableness of refusing relief and asbenefit. Many other instances might sistance to the poor, because each of be given, but there is no need to en them would, in the other's circumlarge. Religion and prudence must stances, expect a contrary behagovern us in this, as well as in every viour. other duty.
“Let us be exactly just in all our "I will therefore take a short and dealings with others, as we would general view of what is indeed the assuredly have others just in their proper application of this rule. Let a child, a subject, or a servant, but “These are the chief general inask himself without partiality, what stances wherein this rule of doing as honour, what submission, what obe we would be done by must take place. dience he would think were due to Particulars are reducible thereto by him, were he himself a father, ma every man's private conscience, as gistrate, or master; and his answer circumstances arise to bring them to this would be a rule for his own | under consideration."