« AnteriorContinuar »
ing ourselves to our great Lord and Master, than to any other Consideration, .. bisa
This is that which St. Paul so often exhorts us to. Whether (faith he) you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the Glory, of God. And again, Whatever ye do, do it keartily, as, unto the Lord, knowing that of the Lord you shall receive the Reward of the Inheritance.
If we could once get ourselves possessed of this Probity, this, Purity of Mind, and Heart, it would better instruct us in the Use of our Liberty, and teach us to distinguish between Good and Evil; what is fit to be done, and what ought not to be done, in all Cases and Emergencies we are concerned in; than all the dry Rules of Casuistical Learning, be they never so carefully and accurately laid down. .;
When a Man is once arrived to that holy Temper of Mind, that he heartily loves God and his Neighbour, and has such a lively Sense of the Truth and the Excellency of Christ's Religion; that he is resolved, that that shall influence and govern the whole Course of his Life, and that he will do all his Actions, as much as he can, for the Honour of our Lord, and the Advancement of his Service in the World: there can hardly any particular Cafe occur to such a Man in which he will not have Rules and Measures ready at hand to steer and direct him in his Proceedings.
. Nay, this general Principle alone of doing all bis 4tions to the Glory of God; that is to say, :
to the Hounour of his Religion, and the Edification of his Neighbour: I say, this alone will afford him sufficient Light and Direction for the Government of his Actions in all Contingencies. Because there is no Action he can be ingaged in, but it is at the first fight difcernable whether the doing of it, or the not doing of it, doth more tend to the Honour of his Religion, or the Good of others.
That which makes the Conduct of a Man's self in this World, so nice and difficult a Matter, and has given Occasion to the Discussion of so many Cafes of Conscience, about the Lawfulness or Unlawfulness of Actions, is this ; That Men are not throughly honest, but halt between God and the World. They have a great Mindto ferve their Pleasure and their Ambition, and their secular Ends, and yet to serve God too; and this puts them upon tampering and trying to reconcile these Interests together. ;;"";.;, . :: Whence it comes to pass, that the usual Questions that arise about their Actions, are not,, what is best to be done, or what is most agreeable to their Duty in this or the other Cafe? But, how far they may go in the Gratification of such an Appetite or Passion, without transgressing the Laws of God? How far they may satisfie their covetous Desires, without being unjust? Whether they may use Such Arts or Tricks, in getting or saving, without being knavish? How far they may drink, and not be drunk ? How far they may gratifie their Humour of decking and adorning them: P 4
felves, and yet do no unlawful Thing? How far they may indulge Wantonness, and yet be chast? · Now, as I said before, such Questions as these are not casie to be resolved (nor indeed is the Gospel of Christ so contrived, as if it had taken much Care whether they were resolved, or no.) But they are really Cases and Problems that require both Judgment and Learning, and likewise the Consideration of abundance of particular Circumstances, to have a good Account given of them... ]
But now the Man that doth entirely give up himself to the Conduct of the Spirit, and proposeth nothing to himself in all his Actions but the pure Glory of God; such a Man having none of these Worldly sensual Designs to serve in his Actions, can rarely be supposed to have any of these Questions to put to himself: And consequently he can never be at a Loss or Uncertainty, how he is to act for want of a Resolution of them; much less can he be in Danger' of transgressing the Bounds that God hath fixed to his Actions. 11. All the Point that such a one hath to confider in any Action is, whether will his doing or not doing such an Action, better ferve the Ends of Religion ? Which will tend most to his own fpiritual Benefit, and the Profit of his Neighbour, to pursue this Design, or to Jet it alone? Whether will be more conducive to the Honour of his Lord, to gratific such an Appetite, or to deny it Satisfaction ?
---; This, I say, is the only Question that such a Man has to put to himself, and there is no Difficulty in giving an Answer to it. For
there is scarce any Case to be put concerning ed.. an Action, but it is very obvious, without an
Instructer, to find out which side of the Cafe, e if it be chosen, will most minister to the Ends
of Vertue and Religion and Charity. Or, if it be not obvious, then it is very certain, the Man needs not much deliberate about it, but may chuse either side indifferently. 'op
- It is a very hard Matter oftentimes to de ve
termine, concerning the Necessity and Obligati
ion of Actions; that is, whether a Man be bound ons
to do them or no." It is likewise often a hard
Matter to determine, concerning the Lawful sto)
ness of Actions, whether a Man may do them or no. But it is a very easy Matter in most
Cases, to determine concerning the Expedience m
of Actions; that is to say, whether it be best
and fittest for a Man to do them or no. Now he
this last, I say, is the point that a throughly good Man will consider and steer himself by in
all his Actions.. :ona v
Thus for Instance, It may perhaps bear a do
Dispute, Whether a Man be precisely bound by God's Law, to pray folemnly twice a Day, so as that he fins if he do not: But it will hear no Dispute, that it is much better and more acceptable to God, and beneficial to our: selves, to pray at least thus often, than to pray feldomer. And therefore such a Perfon as I am speaking of, will, upon this confideration, put it in Practice, (nay, and pray
at a ant
most fit of
or to icive
oftner too, as he has Occasion) without concerning himself, whether he be striąly bound so to do or no..
It may bear a Dispute among some Persons, whether painting the Face, be not allowable to Christian Women.. But it can bear no Difpute among any, that it is more agreeable to the Sobriety and Modesty, and Chastity of a Disciple of Jesus Christ, and better serves the Ends of Religion, to forbear all such fufpicious Ornaments. ( There being rarely any good End to be served by them, but abundance of Evil often arifing from them.) Now this Consideration alone is enough to set the Heart of every serious Christian against those Practices, and to make them wholly to refrain them. Ýmisinin
t hi .. Thus again, it is argued both ways about Play or Gaming, whether it be Lawful or no: (especially when Sums of Money are played for; and the Thing becomes rather an avaritious Contention, than a Recreation and Diver. tisement) fome believing that it is innocent; others that it is a grievous Sin.: But there is no Man, even of thofe that use it most, but will readily acknowledge, that it exposeth a Man to great and dangerous Temptations of sundry Kinds; that it is the Occasion of abundance of Sin, and abundance of Mischief, and that it feldom fails to produce intolerable Consequences, both as to Mens Souls, and Eftates, and Families. Now to a Man that loves God, and has a tender Sentè of his. Duty, this is enough in all Conscience to deter him for ever