[§ 1] THe benefit I reaped by your last discourse,*hath not satisfied, but raised my appetite to the more earnest importunate desire of what is yet behind, the consideration of Christ's Sermon in the Mount. Which I have heard commended for an abstract of Christian Philosophy, an elevating of his Disciples beyond all other men in the world for the practice of virtue; But I pray, why did Christ when he preach't it, leave the multitude below, and goe up to a Mount, accompanied with none but Disciples?
That he went up to the Mount, was to intimate the matter of this Ser∣mon to be the Christian law, as you know the Jewish law was delivered in a Mount, that of Page 121Sinai. And that he would have no auditours, but Disciples, It was, 1. Because the multitude fol∣lowed him not for doctrines, but for cures; c. 4. 24, 25. And therefore were not fit auditours of precepts. 2. Because these precepts were of an elevated nature, above all that ever any Law∣giver gave before; and therefore were to be dispensed onely to choise auditours. 3. Because the lights and mysteries of Christianity are not wont to be abruptly dispensed, but by degrees, to them that have formerly made some pro∣gresse, (at least have delivered themselves up to Christ's Lectures, entred into his Schoole) i. e. to his Disciples.
What then? are none but Di∣sciples the men to whom this Sermon belongs? and if so, will it not thence follow that the commands conteined in it, shall oblige onely the successours of those Disciples, the Ministers of the Gospell, and so all others be freed from that severity?
That it was given onely to Disciples then, it may be acknowledged; but that will be of latitude e∣nough to conteine all Christians; for to be a Di∣sciple of Christ, is no more then so; for you know Christ first called Disciples, and they followed him some time, before he sent them out, or gave them commission to preach, &c. i. e. before he gave them the dignity of Apostles, of which as onely the Ministers of the Gospell are their suc∣cessours, so in Discipleship all Christian profes∣sours. Page 122 And therefore you must resolve now once for all, that what is in this Sermon said to Disci∣ples, all Christians are concern'd in indifferent∣ly; it is command and obligatory to all that fol∣low him.
You have engaged me then to thinke my selfe concern'd so nearely in it, as not to have patience to be longer ignorant of this my duty.
Will you please then to enter upon the substance of the Sermon, wherein I can direct my selfe so * farre, as to discerne the 8 Beatitudes to be the first part. I pray how farre am I concern'd in them?
So farre as that you may resolve your selfe obliged to the beleife. 1. That you are no far∣ther a Christian, then you have in you every one of those graces, to which the blessednesse is there affixed. 2. That every one of those graces hath matter of present blessednesse in it: the word bles∣sed in the front denoting a present condition, ab∣stracted from that which afterwards expects them. 3. That there is assurance of future blessed∣nesse to all those that have attained to those seve∣rall graces.
I shall remember these three directi∣ons, & call upon you to exemplify them in the par∣ticulars as they come to our hands: and therefore first I pray give me the first of these graces, what it is?
Poverty of spirit.
What is meant by that?
It may possibly signifie a preparati∣on of minde or spirit to part with all worldly wealth, a contentednesse to live poore and bare Page 123 in this world; but I rather conceive it signifies A lowly opinion of ones selfe, a thinking my selfe the meanest vilest creature, least of Saints, and greatest of sinners, contrary to that spiritu∣all pride of the Church of Laodicea, Rev. 3. 17. which said she was rich, & encreased with goods, and had need of nothing; not knowing that she was wretched, & miserable, & poore, and blinde, and naked. This is that insant child-temper that Christ prescribes, so absolutely necessary to a Christian, Mat. 18. 4. and c. 19. 14. and that in respect of the humility of such, c. 18. 4. and the littlenesse, Luk. 9. 48. i. e. being in our owne conceit, (which I conceive is meant there, by the phrase [in spirit]) the least, and lowest, and meanest, and (as children,) most impotent unsuf∣ficient of all creatures.
What now is the pre∣sent blessednesse of such?
It consists in this. 1. That this is an amiable and lovely quality, a charme of love amongst men, where ever 'tis met with; whereas on the other side, pride goes hated, and cursed, and abomined by all; drives away servants, freinds, and all but flatterers. 2. In that this is a seed-plat of all virtue, especially Christian, which thrives best, when 'tis rooted deepe, i. e. in the humble lowly heart. 3. Be∣cause it hath the promise of grace, [God giveth grace to the humble,] but on the contrary, resi∣steth the proud.
What assurance of future Page 124blessednesse is there to those that have this grace?
It is exprest in these words, [for theirs, or of them is the Kingdome of Heaven] which, I con∣ceive, * signifies primarily, that Christ's Kingdom of grace, the true Christian Church, is made up peculiarly of such, as in the answer of Christ to John, Mat. 11. 5. a way of assuring him that he * was the Christ; 'tis in the close, the poore are Evangelized, or wrought on by the preaching of the Gospell; and as Mat. 18. 4. He that shall humble himselfe as the child, the same shall be grea∣test in the Kingdome of Heaven, i. e. a prime Christian or Disciple of Christ; and c. 19. 14. for of such (which is a like phrase parallell to [of them] here) is the Kingdome of Heaven, i. e. the * Church, into which he therefore commands them to be permitted to enter by baptisme, and chides his Disciples for forbidding them. Thus is the Kingdome of Heaven, to be interpreted in Scripture in divers places of the New Testa∣ment, which you will be able to observe when you reade with care.
But how doth this be∣long to future blessednesse?
Thus, that this Kingdome of Grace here, is but an inchoation of that of Glory hereafter; and he that lives here the life of an humble Christian, shall there be sure to reigne the life of a victorious Saint.
What is Mourning?
Contrition, or god∣ly sorrow conceived upon the sence of our wantsPage 125 and sinnes.
What wants doe you meane?
Spirituall wants, 1. Of originall immaculate righ∣teousnesse, and holinesse, and purity. 2. Of strength and sufficiency to doe the duty which we ought to God our Creatour, Christour Re∣deemer, and the Spirit our Sanctifier.
What sinnes doe you meane?
1. Our originall de∣pravednesse, and pronenesse of our carnall part to all evill. 2. The actuall and habituall sinnes of our unregenerate, And 3. the many slips and falls of our most regenerate life.
What is the present felicity of these mourners?
That which results from the sence of this blessed tem∣per, there being no condition of soule more wretched, then that of the sencelesse obdurate sinner, that being a kind of numnesse, and lethar∣gy, and death of soule; and contrarywise, this feeling, and sensiblenesse, and sorrow for sinne, the most vitall quality, (as it is said of feeling, that it is the sence of life;) an argument that we have some life in us, and so true matter of joy to all that finde it in themselves. And therefore it was very well said of a father. Let a Christian man greive, and then rejoyce that he doth so. Be∣sides, * the mourning soule is like the watered earth, like to prove the more fruitfull by that meanes.
What is the assurance of future feli∣city that belongs to this mourner?
'Tis set downe in these words, [for they shall be comfor∣ted]Page 126 Christ who hereafter gives, now makes promise of comfort to such, the reaping in joy belongs peculiarly to them that sow in teares, and godly sorrow worketh repentance to salvation, when all other worketh death: And besides, this assurance ariseth from the very nature of comfort & refreshment (by whichthe joyes of heaven are exprest) of which none are capable but the sad disconsolate mourners: nor indeed is heaven, the vision of God, and revelation of his favour, matter of so much blisse, as when it comes to those that wanted comfort, and when it wipes away all teares from their eyes, who went mourning (all the day) all their life long.
What is meekenesse?
A softnesse, and mildenesse, and quietnesse of spirit, expressing it selfe in many passages of our life. 1. In relati∣on to God, and then it is a ready willing submis∣sion to his will, whether to beleive what he af∣firmes, be it never so much above my reason, (the captivation of the understanding to the obe∣dience of faith) Or to do what he commands, and then 'tis obedience; or to endure what he sees fit to lay upon us, and then 'tis patience; cheerefulnesse in affliction, contentednesse with ou• lot whatsoever it is, (contrary to all mur∣muring and repining, and enmity to the crosse, and all restlesse unsatisfiednesse) the being dumb or silent to the Lord. Psal. 37. 7. and resolving Page 127 with old Eli, it is the Lord, let him do what seem∣eth him good. All which, faith, obedience, pati∣ence, though they be virtues of themselves di∣stinct from meekenesse, strictly taken, may yet be very sitly reduced to that head, in as much as meekenesse moderates that wrath, which would by consequence destroy them. 2ly. In relation to men, whether Superiours, Equalls, or Infe∣riours. If they be our Superiours, then 'tis mode∣sty, and humility, and reverence to all such in ge∣nerall (at least reductively, meekenesse being an adjunct and helpe to those virtues, removing that which would hinder them;) but if withall they be our lawfull Magistrates, then our meek∣nesse consists in obedience, active or passive, acting all their legall commands, and submitting (so farre at least, as not to make violent resistance) to the punishments which they shall inflict up∣on us, when we disobey their illegall, in qui∣etnesse of spirit, and not being given to changes; the direct contrary to all speaking evill of dig∣nities, but especially to sedition and taking up of Armes against them; which of what sort soe∣ver it be, though we may flatter our selves that we are only on the defensive part, will bring up∣on us condemnation. Rom. 13, 2. For although it be naturally lawfull to defend my life from him that would unjustly take it away from me, yet if it be the lawfull supreme Magistrate that Page 128 attempts it, I must not defend my selfe by assaul∣ting of him, for that is not to defend only, but to offend, and God forbid that although it were to save my owne life, I should lift up my hand a∣gainst the Lords anointed. It is true, defensive warres may be possibly lawfull at some time, when offensive are not; but of Subjects against their Soveraigne neither can, because if it be warre it will come under the phrase resisting the power, Rom. 13. and so be damnable, and quite contrary to the meekenesse here, and far∣ther to all such oathes, which in every Kingdom are taken by the Subjects to the supreme power, of allegiance &c.
Wherein doth meekenesse toward our Equalls consist?
Those may be our freinds, or our enemies, or of a middle na∣ture. If they be our freinds, then meeknesse con∣sists, 1. In the not provoking them, for the wrath of man worketh not the will of God. Ia. 1. 2. Bearing with their infirmities. 3. In kind, milde, discreet reproofe of them; and 4. In pati∣ence and thankfullnesse for the like from them againe, 5. In submitting one to another in love, every one thinking another better then himselfe.
But what if they be our Enemies?
Then 'tis the meeke man's part to love, to do good, and blesse, and pray for them, in no wise to recompence evill with evill, injury with injury, contumely with contumely, in no wise to avenge our selves, Page 129 but to overcome evill with good.
What if they be neither our freinds, nor foes?
Then meeknesse consists in humble, civill, modest behaviour to∣wards them, neither striving and contending for trifles, or trespasses, or contumelies, nor molesting with vexatious suites, nor breaking out into causelesse anger, proud wrath, as Solomon calls it, rage or fury, nor doing ought that may provoke them to the like.
But there is yet another notion of my Equalls considerable, those to whom I have done injury, what is meekenesse toward them?
It consists in acknowledging the fault, and readinesse to make satisfaction, in go∣ing and desiring to be reconciled to such a bro∣ther, and willing submitting to all honest meanes tending to that end.
What is the duty of meek∣nesse toward Inferiours?
Condescending, kindnesse, lovingnesse, neither oppressing nor tyrannizing, nor using imperiousnesse, nor ta∣king the rod when it may be spared, nor pro∣voking to wrath, Servants Subjects, or Children.
Is there any other branch of meekenesse, which my questions have not put you in minde of, to communicate to me?
There is one branch of it scarce touch't yet, the meekenesse of our un∣derstandings in submitting our opinions to those that are placed over us by God; which though it be instrict speaking, the virtue of humility and obedience, and not the formall elicite act of Page 130meekenesse; yet meekenesse being ordinarily, and sometimes necessarily annexed to these acts of those virtues, I shall place them reductively under meekenesse.
What must this meeke∣nesse of our understandings be?
The proper'st rules for the defining it, will be these. 1. That where, in any matter of doctrine, the plaine word of God interposes it selfe, there we must most readily yeild, without demurs, or resistance. But, 2. If it be matter neither defined, nor pre∣tended to be defined in Scripture, then with each particular man among us, the definitions of the Church wherein we live, must carry it, so farre as to require our yeilding and submission; and with that Church which is to define it (if it come in lawfull assembly to be debated) the tradition of the Universall, or opinion of the primitive Church, is to prevaile, at least to be hearkened to with great reverence in that de∣bate; and that which the greater part of such a lawfull assembly shall judge to be most agreeable to such rule, or (in case there is no light to be fetch't from thence, then) that which they shall of themselves according to the wisedome given them by God, agree upon to be most conveni∣ent, shall be of force to oblige all inferiours. 1. Not to expresse dissent. 2. To obedience. But 3. If Scripture be pretended for one party in the debate, and the question be concerning the in∣terpretation Page 131 of that Scripture, and no light from the Scripture it selfe, either by surveying the context, or comparing of other places, be to be had for the clearing it, then againe the judgment of the universall or my particular Church, is to be of great weight with me; so farre, as if it command, to inhibit my venting my owne o∣pinion either publiquely, or privately, with de∣signe to gaine proselytes; or if all liberty be ab∣solutely left to all in that particular, then meeke∣nesse requires me to enjoy my opinion, so as that I judge not any other contrary-minded.
But what if there be on both sides great probabilities, but no demonstration from Christian principles, or interposing of the Church, which way will my meekenesse then direct me to propend?
That which must then direct me is my owne consci∣ence, to take to that which seemes to me most probable, and in that my meekenesse hath no∣thing to doe, nor can it oblige me to beleive that which I am convinced is not true, nor to dis∣beleive that which I am convinced is true: but yet before I am thus convinced, my meekenesse will give me it's directions not to rely too overwee∣ningly on my owne judgment, but to compare my selfe with other men, my equalls, but espe∣cially my superiours, and to have great jealou∣sies of any my owne singular opinions, which being represented to others as judicious as my Page 132 selfe, together with the reasons that have per∣swaded me to them, doe not to them prove per∣swasive; nay after I am convinced, my meekenesse may againe move me to hearken to other rea∣sons, that other men judge more prevailing, and if occasion be, to reverse my former judgment thus past upon that matter; It being very rea∣sonable for me (though not to beleive what I am not convinced of, yet) to conceive it possible for me not to see those grounds of conviction which another sees, and so to be really mistaken, though I thinke I am not; and then what is thus reasonable to be concluded possible, my meeke∣nesse will bid me conclude possible, and having done that, advise me to choose the safer part, and resolve rather to offend and erre by too much flexibility, then too much perversenesse; by meekenesse, then by selfe-love.
What is the present felicity of the meeke man?
1. The very possession of that Grace being of all others most delightfull and comfor∣table, both as that that adornes us and sets us out beautifull and lovely in the eyes of others, (and is therefore called the Ornament of a meeke and quiet spirit, 1 Pet. 3. 4.) and as that that affords us most matter of inward comfort; as for exam∣ple, that part of meekenesse which is opposed to revenge, and consists in bearing, and not retribu∣ting of injuries, this to a spirituall-minded man Page 133 is matter of infinite delight. 1. In conquering that mad, wild, devillish passion of revenge; getting victory over one's selfe, which is the greatest act of valour, the thought of which is consequently most delightfull. 2. In conquering the enemy, of which there is no such way, as the soft answer, which, saith the wise man, turneth away wrath; and feeding the hungry enemy, which, saith Saint Paul, is the heaping live coales upon his head; and that the way that Metallists use to melt those things, that will not be wrought on by putting of fire under them, which he expresses by overcoming evill with good. 3. In conquering or out-stripping all the foolish and heathen world, which had never attained to this skill of loving of enemies, which is onely taught Christians by Christ. The honour of this must needs be a most pleasant thing. 2. It is matter of present felicity to us, in respect of the tran∣quillity and quiet it gaines us here, within our owne breasts, a calme from those stormes that pride, and anger, and revenge, are wont to raise in us. And 3. In respect of the quiet, peaceable living with others, without strife, and debate, without punishments, and executions, that are the portion of the seditious turbulent disobedient spirits. Which is the meaning un∣doubtedly of the promise in the Psalmist, the meeke shall inherit the earth, i. e. shall generally Page 134 have the richest portion of the good things of this life; from whence this place in the Gospell being taken, though it may be accommodated to a spirituall sence, by interpreting the earth for the land of the living, yet undoubtedly it li∣terally notes the land of Canaan, or Judea, which * is oft in the Old and New Testament called the earth; and so then the promise of inheriting the earth, will be all one with that annext to the fifth commandement, that thy dayes may be long in the land which the Lord thy God giveth thee, i. e. a prosperous long life here is ordinarily the meek man's portion, which he, that shall compare and observe the ordinary dispensations of God's providence, shall find to be most remarkeably true, especially if compared with the contrary fate of turbulent seditious persons.
But if this reward belong to the meeke in this life, what assurance of future felicity can he have, there being no other promise to him here, but that he shall inherit the earth?
The tem∣porall reward can no wayes deprive him of the eternall; but as the temporall Canaan was to the Jew, a type, and to them that obeyed, a pledge of the eternall, so the earth here a reall inheri∣tance below, and a pawne of another above; and this is the meeke mans advantage above many o∣ther duties, a double Canaan is thought little e∣nough for him; the same felicity in a manner at∣tending Page 135 him, which we beleive of Adam, if he had not fallen, a life in paradise, and from thence a transplantation to heaven. The like we read of them that part with any thing deere to them for Christs sake, or in obedience to Christs com∣mand (which I conceive belongs especially to the liberall minded man) he shall have a hundred fold more in this life, and in the world to come, e∣verlasting life, and unlesse it be here to the meek (or to godlynesse in generall, 1 Tim. 4. 8.) we meet not with any other temporall promise in the new Testament: which may therefore be re∣solved very well to be parrallel to that other, not only in the hundred fold, or inheritance in this life, but in that other also of another life. Besides, other places of Scripture there are that intimate the future reward of the meek, as where it is sayd to be in the sight of God of great price; and that if we learne of Christ to be meeke, we shall finde rest to our souls; and even here the blessed∣nesse in the front, noting present blessednesse, cannot rightly do so, if there were no future re∣ward also belonging to it, it being a curse, no blessing, to have our good things with Dives, or with the Hypocrite our reward in this life, and none to expect hehinde in another.
What then is the fourth grace?
Hun∣gring and thirsting after righteousnesse.
What is that? And 1. what is meant by righteousnesse?
It is of two sorts. 1. Inherent, & then Imputed; the inherent, imperfect, proportioned to our state, consisting in the mortifying of sinnes and lusts, and some degrees of holy new life; the Imputed, is Christ's righteousnesse accepted as ours, which is in plain words, the pardon of our sins, and ac∣ceptation of our persons in Christ.
What is Hungring and Thirsting?
You may joyn them both together, and make them one common ap∣petite of both those kinds of righteousnesse. Or if you please, you may more distinctly set them thus, that hungring is an earnest appetite or desire of food, and here in a spirituall sence is apportioned to the first kinde of righteous∣nesse, that of God's sanctifying grace, which is as it were bread or food to the soule to susteine it from perishing eternally; and so Hungring after righteousnesse, is an eaget, impatient, un∣satisfyable desire of grace, of sanctity to the soule, and that attended with prayer and im∣portunity to God for the obtaining of it.
What is Thirsting after righteousnesse?
Thir∣sting is a desire of some moysture to refresh, and is here apportioned to that second kind of righ∣teousnesse consisting in pardon of sinne, which is the refreshing of the panting soule mortally wounded, and so like the hart in the Psalmist longing after the water brookes, to allay the fea∣ver consequent to that wound, to quench the Page 137 flame of a scorching conscience; and so Thirst∣ing after righteousnesse, is a most earnest desire of pardon, and petitioning of it from God in Christ, and never giving over your importunity, untill he be inclined to have mercy.
What present felicity can there be in this Hunger and Thirst?
As appetite or stomacke to meat is a signe of health in the body, so is this hunger in the soule, a vitall quality, evidence of some life of grace in the heart, and in that respect matter of present felicity; whereas on the other side, the decay of appetite, the no manner of stomack, is a pitteous consumption-signe, and most desperate prognostick; and not caring for grace or pardon, for sanctification or justificati∣on, the most mortall desperate condition in the world.
What assurance of future happinesse attends this Hungring?
As much as God's promise of filling can afford. Nay proportion∣ably to the two parts of the appetite, the state of glory is full matter of satisfaction to each; there is there perfect holynesse without mixture of infirmity or carnality, answerable to the hungring after inherent righteousnesse; and there is there perfect finall pardon & acquittance from all the guilt and debt of sinne, and so the Thirst of imputed righteousnesse is satisfied also. So that he that hath no other hunger or thirst but these, shall be sure to find satisfaction, which Page 138 they that set their hearts upon carnall worldly objects, hungring after wealth and secular greatnesse, lusts, &c. shall never be able to ar∣rive to, either here or hereafter; such acquisi∣tions being here, if attain'd to, very unsatisfying, the more we have of them, the more we desire to have, and in another world no expectation of ought that shall be agreeable to such desires.
What is mercifullnesse?
Abundance of charity, or goodnesse, or benignity; there being in the Scripture-stile two words neare kin to * one another, justice and mercifullnesse, ordina∣rily going together; but the latter a much high∣er degree then the former; the first signifying that legall charity that both the law of nature and Moses require to be performed to our bre∣thren, but the second an abundance or supere∣minent degree of it; expressions of both which we have Rom. 5. 7. under the titles of the righ∣teous man, and the good man.
Wherein doth this mercifullnesse expresse it selfe?
In two sorts of things, especially, 1. Giving, 2. For∣giving.
In giving of what?
Of all sort of things that our abilities and others wants may propose to us: such are, releife to those that are in distresse, ease to those in paine, almes to poore house-keepers, vindication of honest mens reputation when they are slandered, but above all to mens soules, good counsell, season∣able Page 139 reproofes, encouragement in performing of duty when they are tempted to the contrary, comfort in time of worldly afflictions, but espe∣cially of temptation; strengthening in the waies of God, and whatsoever may tend to the good of any man.
What meane you by Forgiving?
The not avenging of injuries or contume∣lies, not suffering their trespasses against men, nay nor sinnes against God to coole or lessen my charity and mercy to them, but loving and compassionating, and shewing all effects of true Christian mercy (such especially as may do them most good) as well to enemies and sinners as friends.
What is the present felicity that at∣tends this grace?
1. The present delight of having made another man happy, of rescuing a poore soule wrestling with want &c. from that pressure, to reprive him that was as it were ap∣pointed to dye, certainely the most ingenuous pleasure in the world. Secondly the glorious∣nesse * of so doing; a kinde of God-like act; one of the two things which a heathen could say was common to us with God, especially if it be an act of Ghostly mercy, an almes, a dole, a cha∣rity to the soule; to rescue a poore sinner drop∣ping into the pit, reeling into hell, by confe∣rence, advice, examples of heavenly life, not only to save my selfe, but others also; this is in a manner to pertake of that incommunicable ti∣tle Page 140 of Christ, that of Saviour; such a thing to which (saith Aristotle) as to an heroicke quali∣ty belongs not praise, but pronouncing blessed; ac∣cording * to that of Saint Paul from our Saviour, it is more blessed to give, then to receive: a blessed thing to give.
What assurance is there of future blessednesse to such?
The greatest in the world, from this promise annext, [they shall obtaine mercy] Gods punishments are mostly answera∣ble to our sinnes, he thinkes good to give us a sight of our transgression by the manner of his inflictions, and so he is also pleased to apportion his rewards to our graces; mercies to the merci∣full most peculiarly; by mercy meaning, 1. Acts of bounty, liberality, temporall aboundance, the portion of the almes-giver, and spirituall aboun∣dance of grace, of strength in time of temptati∣on. 2. Mercy in forgiving, pardoning, not im∣puting our sinnes. Upon which ground it is, that in the forme of prayer which he hath himselfe prescribed us, he annexeth the forgiving of all trespassers against us, to our prayer for forgive∣nesse to our selves, as the condition without which we may not hope for such forgive∣nesse.
What is purity in heart?
The Heart sig∣nifies the inner man, and especially the practicall part, or principle of action. And the purity of that is of two sorts; the first, that which is con∣trary Page 141 to pollution; the second, that which is con∣trary to mixture; as you know water is said to be pure, when it is cleane, and not mudded and defiled; and wine is said to be pure, when it is not mixt. In the first respect it excludes carna∣lity,* in the second, hypocrisy.
When may a man be said to be pure in heart, in the first sence?
When not onely in the members, or instru∣ments of action, but even in the heart, all parts of carnality, or worldlinesse are mortified. As when we neither are guilty of acts of uncleanenesse, nor consent to uncleane desires; nay feed not so much as the eye with unlawfull objects, or the heart with filthy thoughts; and because there be other peices of carnality besides, as strife, facti∣on, sedition, &c. yea and pride, and the conse∣quents of that; all these must be wrought out of the heart, or else we have not attained to this purity; but are in the Apostles phrase, 1 Cor. 3. 3. still carnall. And so for worldlinesse (for earth you know will pollute also) when I not onely keepe my selfe from acts of injustice and vio∣lence, but from designes of oppression, nay from coveting that which is anothers; and so likewise for Satanicall injections, when I give them no manner of entertainment, but reject them, suffer them not to stay upon the soule, and so defile it.
When may I be said pure in heart, in the second sence?
When I attaine to sincerity; when Page 142 I favour not my selfe in any knowne sinne; dou∣ble not with God; divide not betweene him and my owne lust, owne ends, owne interests; betweene God and Mammon, God and the praise of men, &c. For this is sure a maine part of the damning sinne of hypocrisy, against which there are so many woes denounced, (not the ap∣pearing to others lesse sinfull then we are, for that is not more unpardonable, but lesse damning then open, profest, avowed, scandalous sinning; but) the halting betweene God and Baall, the not loving and serving God with all our heart; the admitting other rivals with him into our hearts.
But is no man to be thought a good Christian, that hath either carnality, or hypocrisy in him?
None that is either carnall, or hypo∣crite. But the truth is, as long as we live here, and carry this flesh about us, somewhat of car∣nality there will remaine to be daily purged out; and so also some doublings, some relickes of hy∣pocrisy; somewhat of my selfe, my owne cre∣dit, my owne interests still secretly interposing in my godliest actions; But these (so they be not suffered to raigne, to be the cheife masters in me, to carry the maine of my actions after them,) may be reconcileable with a good estate; as humane frailties, not wasting sinnes.
What is the present felicity that belongs to such?
To the first sort of purity belongs, 1. Page 143 That contentment that results from having o∣vercome and kept under that unruly beast, the carnall part, and brought it into some termes of obedience to the spirit. 2. The quiet and rest that proceedes from purity of heart, contrary to the disquiets and burnings that arise from unma∣stered lusts. 3. The ease of not serving and ten∣ding the flesh, to obey it in the lusts thereof. 4. The quiet of conscience, absence from those pangs and gripings, that constantly attend the commi∣ssion of carnall sinnes. The same may in some measure be affirmed of all the other branches of the first kind of purity. And for the second, as it is opposite to mixture, or hypocrisy; the con∣science of that is matter of great serenity of minde, of Christian confidence and boldnesse to∣wards God and man; when I have no intrica∣cies, Maeanders, windings and doublings with∣in me; need not disguises or artifices of deceit; but can venture my selfe naked and bare to Gods eye; with a, Prove me, O Lord, and try me, search my reines and my heart. And so to men; feare not the most censorious strict survey, have a treasure of confidence, that I dread not the face of any man; have no paines, no agonies for feare of being deprehended, which the hypocrite is still subject unto.
What is the reward apportioned to purity hereafter?
The Vision of God, which, 1. One∣ly Page 144 the pure are capable of. And 2. which hath no matter of felicity in it, but to such.
Why are onely the pure capable of the sight of God?
Because God is a Spirit, and cannot be seene by carnall eyes, till they be cleansed and purged, and in a manner spiritualized; which though it be not done throughly till another life, yet purity here, such as this life is capable of, is a most pro∣per preparative to it; and therefore is said to be that, without which no man shall see the Lord; which you know is affirmed of holinesse, Heb. 12. 14. which word in that place signifies the very purity here spoken of.
Why hath the Vision of God no felicity in it, but to the pure?
Be∣cause a carnall faculty is not pleased with a spiri∣tuall object; there must be some agreeablenesse before pleasure is to be had, and that pleasure necessary to felicity.
What is meant by Peace-making?
The word Peace-makers signifies no more then peace∣able minded men. The notion of making, in Scrip∣ture-phrase, belonging to the bent of the soule; as to make alye, is to be given to lying, to pra∣ctice that sinne, to be set upon it. So, to doe, (which is in Greek, to make) righteousnesse and sinne, 1 Job. 2. 29. and 3. 4. notes the full bent and inclination of the soule to either of them. So to make peace both here, and Ia. 3. 18. is to have strong hearty affections to peace.
Wherein Page 145 doth this peaceable affection expresse it selfe?
In many degrees; some in order to private, some to publicke peace; some to preserve it where it is; some to reduce it, where it is lost.
What degrees of it in order to private peace?
1. A command and victory over ones passions, espe∣cially anger and covetousnesse; the former being most apt to disquiet families, the latter neigh∣bourhoods. The angry man will have no peace with his servants, children, nay wife, and pa∣rents, any that are within the reach of his ordi∣nary conversation: and the covetons man will contend with any neare him, that have any thing that he covets. 2. Charitable or favourable o∣pinion of all men, and actions, that are capable of candid interpretations. Jealousies in the least so∣cieties being the most fatall enemies to peace, & fomentors of the least discontents into the mor∣tallest feuds & hatreds. 3. An apertnesse & cleare∣nesse of mind, in a friendly debate, with friends or neighbours, of any actions which have past, subject to misconstruction, without all con∣cealing of grounds of quarrell, not suffering them to broyle within, but discreetly requiring an ac∣compt of all such dubious accidents of those who are concerned in them. 4. The resolving against contentions, and litigations in law as much as is possible, being rather content to suf∣fer any ordinary losse, then to be engaged in it; Page 146 and in greater matters referring it to arbitrement of honest neighbours, then to bring it to suit. 5. Expressing a dislike to flatterers, whisperers, and backbiters, and never suffering our affections to be altered by any such. By these you will guesse of other degrees also.
What in order to publicke peace?
1. Con∣tentment in our present station, and never faste∣ning our ambition and covetise on any thing which will not easily be attained without some publicke change or innovation. 2. Willing obe∣dience to the present government of Church and State. 3. Patience of the crosse, or preparation for that patience, and resolving never to move a State, to get my selfe from under any pressure. 4. Resolving on the truth of that sacred dictate, that the faults and infirmities of Governours are by God permitted for the punishment of the people; and that consequently they are to be look't on not in a direct line onely or chiefely, to censure them; but in order to reflexion on our selves, to observe what in our selves hath so pro∣voked God to punish us. 5. The not thinking our owne opinions in religion (such as are not of faith) of such importance, as either to deny salvation, or communion to any that differ from us. 6. Modesty and calmenesse in disputing. 7. Not affixing holinesse to opinions, or thinking them the best men that are most of our perswasi∣ons. Page 147 8. The not defining too many things in re∣ligion. And many others you will judge of by these.
What to preserve it where it is?
1. Va∣luing of it according to it's true estimation, as that which is in the eyes of men very amiable, and in the sight of God of great price. 2. Conside∣ring how insensibly it may be lost, and with how great difficulty recovered againe, and how neare a hell this life is without it. 3. Prudent watch∣ing over it, and over those that are enemies to peace. 4. Not being easily provoked, but over∣coming strife with mildnesse, or kindnesse, the soft answer, &c. and overcoming evill with good. 5. Praying constantly to God the Author of peace for the continuance of this beloved crea∣ture of his among us.
What to recover it when it is lost?
1. Humbling our soules, amending our lives, searching out these peculiar reigning sinnes that have made this blessing too good for us to enjoy. Making our peace with God first. 2. Examining what I have contributed toward the removing of it, whom I have slaundered, &c. and repairing what I have thus done by confession & satisfaction 3, By incessant prayer to God fetching it backe againe.
What is the present felicity that belongs to such?
1. The present rest and peace, the greatest of all worldly pleasures, and which is, as health in the body, the foundation Page 148 of all other superstructions of temporall joy. 2. The conscience of the charitable offices done to all others by this meanes. 3. The honour of being like God in it, who is the God of Peace, and like Christ who came on this errant to this earth of ours, to make peace between the greatest enimies, his father and the poor sinner-soule.
What is the reward apportioned to peaceablenesse hereafter?
1. God's acknowledgment of us, as of those that are like him. 2. Pardon of sinnes, and eternall rest, and peace hereafter.
To whom doth the last Beatitude belong?
To those, 1. That are persecu∣ted for righteousnesse sake. 2. That are reviled falsely for Christ's sake.
How doe these differ one from the other?
Onely as a more gene∣rall word, and a more speciall. Persecution sig∣nifies * properly and strictly, being pursued, and driven, and hunted, as noxious beasts are wont, but in common use noteth what ever calamity or affliction the malice or tyranny of others can lay on us; and Revileing is one speciall kind of it, which is most frequently the true Christian's lot. Because 1. Those that have no strength or power to inflict other injuries, have yet these weapons of their malice alwaies in readinesse. 2. Because they who are not good Christians them∣selves, doe in their owne defence thinke them∣selves obliged to defame those that are; their good actions being, when they are silent, so re∣proachfull Page 149 to them, made to reprove their thoughts, Wised. 2. 14. And so they by their tongues to revenge themselves upon them; to redeeme their reputation by that meanes.
But what is meant by the phrases. [for righteousnesse sake] and [falsely for my sake?]
Those words conteine a restraint or limitation of the subject, to this purpose; that the Beatitude be∣longs not to those indefinitely that are persecuted and reviled; for many may thus justly suffer, as theeves, as murtherers, evill-doers, busy-bodies, 1 Pet. 4. 15. And little joy or blessednesse in that; but to those peculiarly that are true Chri∣stians; Either 1. For some good action where∣in their Christianity and the testimony of a good conscience is concerned; as when men are re∣viled or persecuted, because they will not either totally forsake, and apostatize from Christ, or in any particular occurrent offend against him: Or when some such Christian performance brings this consequent persecution, or reproach upon them. Or 2. For some indifferent sinlesse acti∣on; which though it be not done in necessary obedience to Christ, yet bringing unjust perse∣cution or reviling falsly upon them may (though in an inferiour degree,) belong to this matter. And in that case be thought to be permitted by our wise and good God, &c. disposed or or∣dered by him for our Beatitude, i. e. for the Page 150 benefit of us as Christians; either as a chastise∣ment of our other sinnes, that we may not be condemned with the world; or as a meanes of tryall whether we will beare it patiently and Christianly.
Wherein doth the present feli∣city of those consist?
1. In having our evill things in this life, that so all our good things, our reward, may remaine on arreare, unpaid till ano∣ther life. 2. In the honour and dignity of suf∣fering for Christ's sake. 3. In conformity with the ancient Prophets and Champions of God in all ages. 4. In the comfort that proceeds from this evidence and demonstration of our being true Christians, for that is the meaning of [yours is the Kingdome of Heaven.] i. e. the state of Christians, or the true Christian state. It being a Christian aphorisme, that God chastens every Sonne. Heb. 12. 7. and that the good things, that are made good to Christians here, shall be with persecutions, Mar. 10. 30. 5. In this pledge of Gods favour to us, in that we are thought worthy to suffer shame for his name. 6. In the assurance of a greater reward hereafter, propor∣tioned to our sufferings here.
What is the reward hereafter apportioned to this?
A great∣er degree of glory in heaven.
You told mee, at your entring on the Bea∣titudes, that I was no farther to beleive my selfe a Christian, then I should finde all and every of Page 151 these graces in me to which these beatitudes are prefixt; that I can without difficulty acknowledge for all the former, and resolve I am no farther a Christian, then I am poore in spirit, mourning, meeke, hungring and thirsting after righteous∣nesse, mercifull, pure in heart, and peaceable; but the last stickes with me, and I cannot so ea∣sily assent to that, that I cannot be a Christian unlesse I be persecuted and reviled. I pray cleare that difficulty to mee?
I shall, by saying these foure things to you. 1. That though to be persecuted is no duty of ours, yet. 1. To beare it patiently, and 2. Rejoyce in it when it be∣falls us, and 3. That it be for righteousnesse sake, when it is our duty required of all Christians. 2. The very being persecuted, though it be not a duty againe, is yet a marke and character of a Christian; and the Scripture doth seeme to af∣firme, that no good Christian shall ever be with∣out his part in it. Heb. 12. 6. &c. And it will be hard for any to find out one holy man that hath passed through his whole life without this portion. 3. If it shall not be so generall a rule as to be capable of no exception, but some good Christians be found, which are not persecuted, yet still the preparation of minde for this indu∣rance, is necessary to every Christian. 4. The being persecuted shall contribute much to the in∣crease of our glory, and so may still be said ne∣cessary Page 152 respectively (though it should not be affirmed absolutely) to the attaining of that de∣gree of glory: and therefore this is placed after all the rest, as a meanes of perfecting & consum∣mating the Christian, that as the former seaven are necessary to the attaining a crowne at all, so this to the having so rich a crowne, or so many gemms in it.
Is there any thing now which from the Order of these Beatitudes you would thinke fit to teach mee?
Yes, especially two things. 1. That the grace first named is a generall principall grace, which is the foundation of all the rest. Where that is once seated and planted, all the rest will more easily and more happily follow. Humility is the seed-plat of all, and from thence it is most proper to proceed, 1. To mourning or sorrow for sinne; the humble heart is a melt∣ing heart. 2. To meekenesse and quietnesse of spirit; the humble heart is the next degree to that already. 3. To hungring and thirsting after righteousnesse; the humble heart will most impa∣tiently desire both pardon of sinne (that first kinde of righteousnesse) and grace, to sanctify, (that second kinde of righteousnesse.) 4. To mercifullnesse; the humble heart will be most ready to give and forgive, 5. To purity of heart; the humble heart is most unreconcileable with all filthinesse both of the flesh and spirit: but e∣specially Page 153 the latter, of which pride, a cheife particular, is the direct contrary to humility. 6. To peaceablenesse, contention being generally the effect of pride. 7. To persecution and revile∣ing; humility 1. being apt to tempt the proud worldlings to revile and persecute. 2. being sure to worke patience of them in the Chri∣stian.
What is the second thing that from the Or∣der you observe.
The interchangeable mix∣ture of these graces; one toward God, and ano∣ther toward man: thus interweaved, that the first respects God, the next man; the next God againe, and so forward till it comes to the last, which respects God againe. For having told you, that the first is a generall fundamentall grace, as the head to all the rest, it followes that the second, that of mourning, must be the first particular, which being fastened particularly on sinne, respecteth God, against whom we have sinned: then next to that, meekenesse respecteth our neighbour especially; and 3. hungring and thirsting after righteousnesse, (which is all to be had from God) respecteth God. Mercifull∣nesse againe respecteth man. Purity in heart, God; Peaceablenesse, man; and lastly persecu∣tion for righteousnesse sake, and patience of it, as comming from a consideration and beleife of Gods provident disposall of all things, respect∣eth Page 154 God againe. So that you see the first and the last respecteth our duty toward God, who is Alpha and Omega, the first and the last; and those betweene, divided betweene our neigh∣bour and God. That so we may resolve, that to God belongs the cheife, and first, and last of our love and obedience, yet so as not to exclude but require also in its subordination our care of duty and love toward man also; one intermixing lo∣vingly and freindly with the other, and nei∣ther performed, as it ought, if the other be neg∣lected.
[§ 2] *I conceive you have now concluded the ex∣plication of the first part of this Sermon. God give me grace to lay all the severalls to heart.
What is the summe of the second branch or Se∣ction in it?
It consists of the foure next verses. to wit v. 13. 14. 15. 16. and the summe of them is, the necessity that the graces and vir∣tues of Disciples, or Christians, should be evident and exemplary to others also, i. e. to all heathens and sinners, and all indefinitely which may be attracted by such example. This is enforced by foure resemblances. 1. Of salt, which as long as it is salt, hath a quality of seasoning of other things, to which it is applyed. 2. Of the Sun, that is apt to illuminate the darke world. 3. Of a City on a hill, which is conspicuous. 4. Of a candle set in a candlesticke, which giveth light to Page 155 all that are in the house. By all which he ex∣presses, that those graces are not to be accounted Christian, which either 1. do not bring forth fruits, & so remaine but dull habits, uselesse posses∣sions; Or, 2. that are not made exemplary to o∣thers.
But sure all this belongs to Ministers and men in eminent place onely; they are the salt of the earth and light of the world, not every pri∣vate Christian?
Yes, every private Christi∣stian for such are the Disciples to which Christ here speakes, the same auditors to every part of of the Sermon, and so the duty of exemplary lives in some measure required of every of them, who before were bound to be meeke or peacea∣ble &c. i. e, (as 'tis apparent v. 1.) all those that are entred into the Schoole of Christ: not only Apostles (whose successors Ministers are) for as yet there were none such, the (Apostleship and sending abroad to preach with a commission to that purpose, beginning together, both after this. c. 10. 1.) but, I say, all Disciples, that is, all Christians, that undertake to follow Christ, and expect any good by him.
What then is the meaning of this necessity that the Christians graces must be evident and exemplary?
'Tis this. 1. That a Christian must not content him∣selfe in doing what Christ commands, but must also dispose his actions so as may most tend to Gods honour, which consists in bringing in ma∣ny Page 156 disciples unto him, and which ought to be as pretious to a Christian as the salvation of his soule. 2. That he ought to labour the conver∣sion of others (in charity to them) the extend∣ing not inclosing of God's Kingdome.
This doctrine is cleare, and therefore I will detaine you no longer on this section.
What is the summe of the next Section which consists of foure verses more. 17. 18. 19. 20?
[§ 3] *It is in breife the attestation of two great Chri∣stian truths.
What is the first of them?
That Christianity is not contrary to the lawes by which mankind had formerly beene obliged, is not destructive of them; Christ now commands nothing that the naturall or morall law had for∣bidden, or forbids nothing that that had com∣manded: this is affirmed in three formes in this section. First, v. 17. he came not to destroy the law and the Prophets, i. e. the doctrine design∣ed and taught by them; and it would be a very dangerous errour, very noxious to practice, to thinke he did, thinke not &c. Secondly, v, 18. He affirmes with an asseveration, that the least letter or title of the law, shall not be destroyed, i.*e. loose its obligingnesse, (till all be fulfilled, we read, it is) till all things be done, i. e. till the world be at an end, or (which is the same at the begin∣ning of the verse, though in other words) till heaven and earth, i. e. this present world, passe Page 157 away, or is dissolved. 3ly. v. 19. He pronounces clearely, that he that affirmes any the least com∣mandement of the law to be now out-dated, that not onely breakes them himselfe, but teaches o∣thers that they are not obliged to keepe them, he shall be called the least in the Kingdome of Hea∣ven, i. e. shall not be accounted a Christian; for so the Kingdom of heaven frequently signifies in the Scripture.
What is the second thing?
That Christ hath perfected the law, and set it higher, then a∣ny the most studied Doctor did thinke himselfe * obliged by it formerly. And this is affirmed here also by two phrases; First, v. 17. I came not to destroy the law, but to perfect it. The Greeke word which we render [perfect] is answerable to an Hebrew, which signifies not onely to per∣forme, but to perfect; to fill up, as well as to full∣fill; and so is rendred sometimes by one, and sometimes by tother. And the Greeke it selfe is so used in like manner, When it referres to a word or a prophecy, then 'tis to performe, to full∣fill. 2 Chron. 36. 22. 1 Mac. 2. 55. In other ca∣ses 'tis to fill up, to compleate, to perfect, Eccl. 33. 16. & 39. 12. & 2 Chron. 24. 10. And that 'tis so in this place, may appeare by the antient Greeke fathers, which expresse it by two simi∣litudes. 1. Of a vessell that had some water in it before, but now is filled up to the brim. 2. Of a Page 158 picture that is first drawne rudely, the limbs one¦ly, and lineaments, with a cole, or the like. But * when the hand of the Painter comes to draw it in colours to the life; then 'tis said to be filled up. 2. That except your righteousnesse, i. e. Chri∣stian actions and performances, exceed the righ∣teousnesse of the Scribes and Pharisees, i. e. goe higher, then that strictest sect of the Jewes, the Doctors among them, thought themselves obli∣ged to, or taught others that they were, they shall not passe for Christians here, or prove Saints hereafter. In which words sure he doth not pitch on the name of Scribes and Pharisees pe∣culiarly, as those that were the greatest evacua∣tors of the law by their owne hypocriticall pra∣ctices or false glosses in some particulars; but the Pharisees as the most exact sectamong the Jewes, Act. 26. 5. and the Scribes, as the Doctors of the law, and those that knew better what be∣longed to it then other men; and both together those that sate in Moses chaire, and taught there truly▪ though they practiced not, [they say, but doe not]) the doctrine of the Mosaicall law in that manner, as others were obliged to performe it, Mat. 23. 2. This same truth is also farther proved in the remainder of this Chapter, by in∣duction of severall particulars of the law, first barely set downe by Christ, and then with Christ's improvement added to them, in this Page 159 forme of Speech, but I say unto you. And though this be no new doctrine, but affirmed distinctly by most of the ancient, especially the Greeke writers, before Saint Austines time; and thus farre acknowledged by all parts, that Christ re∣quired more of his Disciples, i. e. of Christians now, then the Jewes by any cleare revelation had beene convinced to be necessary before, (which is in effect as much as I shall desire to have granted) Yet I have thought good to con∣firme it yet farther to you, (because it is the foundation of a great weighty superstructure) by two things. 1. By one other remarkeable place of Scripture. 2. By some reasons which the Fa∣thers have given for the doing of it.
What is that remarkeable place of Scripture?
In the first Epistle of Saint John, c. 1. prefaced and brought in with more magnificent ceremony, then any one passage of Scripture. That which was in the beginning, &c. v. 1. That which we have seene and heard, &c. v. 3. and These things write we, v. 4. This then is the message, &c. v. 5. all which are remarkeable characters set upon that which followes, shewing it to be the summe of the whole Gospell, or doctrine of Christ; and 'tis this, [That God is light, and in him is no darke∣nesse at all,] v. 5. Which words so usher'd in, you will easily beleive have somewhat more in them, then at the first sound, taken alone they Page 160 would seeme to have, and this sure it is; that now under the Gospell, Christ this light ap∣peares without any mixture of darkenesse. Light is the state & doctrine of Christianity; darkenesse, of sinne, and imperfection, and such as was be∣fore among Jewes and Heathens, (which is re∣ferred to by the phrase, If we walke in darke∣nesse, v. 6. i. e. live like Jewes or Heathens) and therefore to be light, without all mixture of darkenesse, is to be perfect without all mixture of imperfection; which you will not thinke fit to affirme of God, (or Christ under the Gospell) in respect to himself (for that were to conceive, that he had not beene so before) but in respect of his Law and Commandements; that they had before some mixture of imperfection, but now have none; had before some vacuities in them, which now are filled up by Christ.
What reasons doe the fathers give for this?
These especially; Because 1. Christ under the Gospell gives either higher or plainer pro∣mises, then he did before; the promises of eter∣nall life are now as cleare, as those of a temporall Canaan had beene before to the Iewes. 2. Be∣cause he gives more grace now to performe them, then before he had done. The law given by Moses was a carnall law, i. e. weake, unnac∣companied with strength to performe what it requires; but the Gospell of Christ is the admi∣nistration Page 161 of the spirit, i. e. A meanes to admini∣ster the spirit to our hearts, to enable to doe what he commands to doe; and then (as the Father said) Lord give me strength to doe what thou commandest, and command what thou listest.
If this be true that Christ now requires more then under nature or Moses had beene formerly required, at least fully revealed to be required, How then is our Christian burthen lighter, then the Jewish formerly was? In these things it is hea∣vier rather?
It is made lighter by Christ in taking o•• that unprofitable burthen of ceremo∣nies, that had nothing good in them, and yet were formerly laid on the Jewes: lighter againe in respect of the damning power of every least sinne or breach under the first Covenant, which to the penitent beleiver is taken away in the second. Which two things being supposed, the adding of these perfections to the law, (which are all of things gainefull and profita∣ble, and before (even by those that were not, or thought themselves not obliged by them) ac∣knowledged to be more excellent, and more ho∣nourable then the other) will not in any reason be counted the increase of a burthen, (for no man will be thought oppressed by that he gaines by) but the gainefull yoke will be a light one, though it be a yoke, Matth. 11. 30. And 2. 28 long as he gives strength, his Commandements, what Page 162 ever they are, cannot be greivous.
But sure it were not difficult to find in the old Testament, the same or equivalent commands to every of those that follow here, how then can Christ be said to have improved them?
Some glimmerings per∣haps of this light there were before, as Gospel under the Law: But these either, 1. not universal∣ly commanded to all under threat of eternall pu∣nishment, but only recommended to them that will do that which is best, and so see good daies, &c. Or 2. not so expressely revealed to them, so that they might know themselves thus obliged. And yet if any will contend and shew as universall plaine obligeing precepts there as here, I shall be glad to see them, and not contend with him: So he will bring the Jewes up to us, and not us downe to the Jewes, the onely danger, which I have all this while used all this diligence to prevent.
One question more I shall trouble you with in this matter, whether these superadditions of Christ in the rest of the chapter, may not be resolved to be only Counsels of perfection, which to do, is to do better; and not Commands, which not do to is asin?
The following superadditions are all com∣mands, and not counsels only; Christ saying this now in thesame manner, as Moses did that other before; Christ in a mount, as he in a mount; his saying [I say unto you] a forme of command, Page 163 as that phrase [God spake these words and said] a form of it, Ex. 20. and the breach of these new sayings threatened with judgement, and hell fire, and imprisonment irreversible, and casting into hell &c. in the ensuing words. All which signi∣fie them sinnes, which must be accounted for sadly by a Christian, and not only faylings of perfection.
How many sorts of these new commandements are there in this ensuing chapter?
Six, 1. Concerning Killing, 2. Adultery, 3. Divorce, 4. Perjury, 5. Retaliation, 6. Loving of Neighbours. In each of which Christ, to shew that he came not to destroy, but to fill up or perfect the law, first rehearses the old law and thereby confirmes it, and then annexeth his new law to it.
That we may proceed to this matter, I must [§ 4] first desire you to tell me what is meant by this phrase in the front of the first of these, [Ye have heard that it was sayd by them of old time?]
[Ye have heard] signifies you have beene taught, and that out of the word of God, or bookes of Moses; [sayd by them of old time] seemes to be ill translated, and therefore is mend∣ed in the margents of our Bibles [To them] i. e. to the Jewes your ancestors: And that this is a denotation of the law of the Decalogue, given to them Exod. 20. you will have little reason to doubt, if you observe that the three severalls Page 164 to which these words are prefixt, (being omit∣ted in the rest, in some part) are three distinct commandements of the Decalogue, thou shalt not kill, thou shalt not commit adultery, thou shalt not forsweare thy selfe, or take God's name in vaine, (as anon you shall see.) As for the o∣ther three of divorce, of retaliation, of loving neighbours and hating enemies, which have not that entire forme or phrase prefixt, but some o∣ther different from it, they are not commands of the law, but permissions, or indulgences al∣lowed the Jewes, but now retrencht, and de∣nyed Christians.
[§ 5] *The first of these being the sixth of the law, I must first desire you to explaine unto me, and tell me what was forbidden by it under the law.
The first and principall thing is the shedding of man's bloud, by way of killing; taking away his life, God only, who gave us life, having power to take it away againe.
What then is the Magistrate's taking away the life of a capi∣tall offender? Is not that forbidden by that law?
God having sole power over the life of man, may without doubt take it away by what way he pleaseth, either immediately by himselfe, or by any man, whom he appoints to execute his will: Thus you know might Abraham kill his sonne when God bid him; because though Abraham had not power over his son's life, yet God had; Page 165 and his bidding Abraham kill him, is not any thing contrary to this law, which only forbids man to do it, but doth not forbid God. In the like manner, God having Gen. 9. 6. command∣ed the murtherers bloud to be shed by man, and thereby enstated the power of the sword on the Supreme Magistrate, (who, by whomsoever he is chosen to be Magistrate, by God, or the peo∣ple, hath that power of the sword given him immediately from God, the people having not singly this power over their owne lives, and therefore not able to give it any other) not only permits him and makes it lawfull for him thus to punish malefactors, but commands and re∣quires him so to do, as his minister to execute wrath. Rom. 13. and so the word [Thou] in the Commandement is the man of himselfe, with∣out power or commission from God. Which yet he that hath it must exercise justly, accord∣ing to the lawes of God and man, or else he breakes the commandement also; this commissi∣on being not given to him absolutely and arbi∣trarily to use as he list: but according to defin∣ed rules in the Scripture [he that sheddes mans bloud, &c.] (which was given not to the Jewes, but to all the sonnes of Noah) and accor∣ding to the lawes of every nation, which being made by the whole body of the nation, or all the States in it joyntly, are referr'd to some su∣preme Page 166 power, either one, or more, to execute; who consequently is invested from heaven with authority to doe it.
May not a man in any case kill himselfe?
He may not; having no more power over his owne life, then any other mans; and how gain∣full soever death may seeme to any, yet is he to submit to Gods providence, and to waite, though it be in the most miserable, painfull, wearisome life, till God please to give him manumission.
What is to be said of Sampson, who killed so ma∣ny by pulling away the pillars, and involved him∣selfe in the same destruction?
He was a Judge in Israel; and such in those daies, (and particu∣larly him) did God ordinarily move by his spi∣rit to doe some extraordinary things; and it is to be imagined, that God incited him to do this; or if he did not, he were not not be excused in it.
What is to be said of those that rather then they would offer to Idolls in the Primitive Church, did kill themselves, and remaine still upon record for Martyrs?
If the same could be affirmed of them which was of Sampson, that God inci∣ted them to doe this, they should by this be ju∣stified also; but having under the Gospell no au∣thority to justifie such pretence of divine incl∣tation, it will be safest to affirme, that this was a fault in them, which their love of God and feare that they should be polluted by Idolls was Page 167 the cause of; and so, though it might as a frail∣ty be pardoned by God's mercy in Christ; yet sure this killing themselves was not it that made them Martyrs, but that great love of God, and resolving against idolatrous worship; which te∣stified it selfe in that killing themselves for that cause; This it was that made them passe for Martyrs, and that other incident fault of theirs, was not in that case thought so great, as to divest or robbe them of that honour.
What is meant by that which followes the mention of the Old Commandement in this place? [Whosoever shall kill shall be in danger of judg∣ment.]
The word rendred [the judgment] signifies a Court of Judicature, or Assizes of Judg∣es, who sate in the gates of every City, and had cognizance of all greater causes, and particularly of that of Homicides, Deut. 16. 18. The number of these Judges was ordinarily twenty three. And so though it be not annext, Exod. 20. to that Commandement, yet from the body of the Mo∣saicke Law, Christ concludes, that against killing the sentence of death by the sword (for that was the punishment pecular to that Court) was to be expected.
But was nothing else forbid∣den in the law by that Commandement, but killing?
That was the prime especiall matter of it, but by way of reduction other things which are pre∣paratory to this, or offences of this nature, but of Page 168 a lower degree. As 1. Mutilating or maiming a∣ny mans body. 2. Wounding him, which may possibly endanger his life. 3. Entring into, or ac∣cepting, or offering of Duells, wherein I may kill or be killed, in which case, which soever it prove, I am guilty of murther. Nay if by the equality of fortune both come safely off, yet the voluntary putting my selfe on that hazard, is guilt enough for a whole ages repentance, and humiliation; to consider what had become of me, if without repentance, I had thus falne a murtherer of my selfe and my fellow Christian also.
May no injury or affront be accounted sufficient to provoke me to offer, or challenge to a Duell?
None imaginable; for that injury, what ever it is, if it be a reall one, of a considera∣ble nature, will be capable of legall satisfaction; and that must content me; private revenge be∣ing wholly prohibited by Christ. Or if it be such, that the law allowes no satisfaction for, that is an argument that it is light and unconsiderable; and then sure the life of another man, and the danger of my owne will be an unproportionable satis∣faction for it.
Well, but if another send me a Challenge, may not I accept of it? especially when I shall be defamed for a Coward if I doe not?
Certainly I may not; the law of killing re∣straines me. And for that excuse of Honour, it is First, most unreasonable that the obedience to Page 169 Gods commands should be an infamous thing. And then 2. If so impious a custome hath prevai∣led, I must yet resolve to part with reputation, or any thing, rather then with my obedience to God. Nay 3. You may observe, that there are two sorts of cowardize, much differing the one from another; the one proceeding from feare of be∣ing beaten, or killed; the second from fear of hur∣ting or killing another. The most valiant despi∣ser of dangers may be allowed to have a great deale of the second of this, and will certainly have as much of it, as he hath either of good na∣ture, or religion; and that will restraine Duells as much as the other. And might this but passe, as sure it deserves, for a creditable thing, the feare of the other kind of discredit would worke lit∣tle upon us. For the world is now generally grown so wise, that a man may, without any dishonour, feare being killed or hurt; and even to run away from such dangers, being very im∣minent, is creditable enough. The unluckinesse of it is, that the other honest kinde of feare, that of hurting or killing another, is become the one∣ly infamous thing, the onely cowardize that is counted of. For the removing of which, you may observe, 4. That in a reasonable estimation of things, he that for the preserving of his reputa∣tion shall venture to disobey God, is sure the greatest coward in the World; he is more feare∣full Page 170 of disgrace and ignominy in the world, then any pious man is of violating the lawes of natu∣rall reason, of offending God, or of incurring the flames of eternall Hell.
But what am I to doe in case of Challenge offered to me?
1. In conscience toward God, to deny it, what ever the consequents may be. 2. To offer a full sa∣tisfaction for any, either reall or supposed injury done by me, which hath first provoked the chal∣lenger. 3. As prudently as I can to signify (and by my actions testify the truth of that) that it is not the feare of dying, but of killing, not cow∣wardize, but duty, which restraines me from this forbidden way of satisfying his desire.
But what if all this will not satisfy him, but he will still thirst my bloud, and accept of no other allay, but assault me, and force me either to deliver up my owne life, or try the uncertainty of a Duell?
The utmost that in this extreme case can be law∣full, I shall define to you, by this example which I have met with. Two persons of quality meet∣ing in a publicke place, the one passed an affront upon the other; the other bare it patiently in that presence, but after sent him a challenge; he sent him a returne of acknowledgment of his fault, and readinesse to give him any satisfaction that should else be thought onto wipe off the injury; the other will not accept any other; he keepes his chamber, and for a long time useth all Page 171 care not to meet him in any place which would be seasonable for fighting, and still offers tender of satisfaction. At length it falls out they meet in a place where this could not be avoided. The challenger sets upon him, he drawes in his owne defence, wound's him lightly, having done so, desires againe that this may end the quarrell, or offers any other satisfaction; the challenger will not consent, assaults againe, is killed; and so the Tragedy concluded with the cheife Actors life. That the surviver did any thing unlawfull in all this, all circumstances considered, I cannot af∣firme; no man being bound to spare that other mans life, which he cannot spare without part∣ing with his owne. I conceive this may satisfie the utmost of your scruples in this matter, if I tell you, that this case taken with all the circumstan∣ces, is the only one I can give you wherein one of the two Duellers may be innocent. And you will be apt to deceive your selfe, if you seeke to finde out other cases, and thinke to justifie them by this.
But is there nothing else reducible to the prohibition of murther?
Yes, 4. Oppression of the poore, and not giving those that are in ex∣treme distresse, according to that of the sonne of Sirach; The poore mans bread (either that which he hath, or that which in extreme want he craves of thee) is his life, and he that deprives him of it Page 172 is a murtherer. 5. The beginnings of this sinne in the heart, not yet breaking forth into action, as malice, hatred, meditating of revenge, wish∣ing mischeife, cursing, &c. All these are reduci∣ble to this Commandement, as it was given in the law.
Is there yet any thing else thus re∣ducible?
One thing more there is, and that is, Warre, the consideration of which is full of great difficulties. For though all unjust warre be simply forbidden under this sixth command of the law, and it be evident enough, that some warres are unjust, as that of Subjects against the supreme power or Magistrate in any state, that of one Prince or nation invading another for the en∣larging of their dominion or territories, &c. And though indeed there be but few warres but sinne against this Commandement, and in those few that doe not, yet there be many actors in them, auxiliaries, stipendiaries, &c. which have no lawfull calling to take part in that trade of kil∣ling men, (for so onely have they that doe it in obedience to their lawfull Magistrate) yet still it is apparent, that some warre is lawfull; as that which hath had Gods expresse command; and that which is for the repressing of seditions and rebellions; and betwixt nation and nation, for the just defence of themselves, and the repel∣ling of violence. But this last head of warres be∣ing that wherein the greatest difficulties lye, will Page 173 not be so proper for this place, as for another which we shall meet with, that of not resisting of evill, v. 39. And therefore to that place we shall referre it; as also that of private warre in case of assault.
I shall then count of that debt, and not require payment till that time cometh: but proceed to demand.
What Christ hath added to this letter of the Mo∣saicke law thus explained?
It is clearely an∣swered in these words, [But I say unto you, that whosoever is angry with his brother without a cause] &c. to the end of that verse. Wherein there be three things forbidden by Christ. 1. Causelesse or immoderate anger, going no farther then the breast. 2. The breaking out of this an∣ger into the tongue, but some what moderately: [Whosoever shall say Racha. 3. A more violent railing, or assaulting him with that sword of the tongue that anger hath unsheathed. [Whosoever shall say thou foole.]
What doe you meane by the first of these?
That anger which is either without any, or upon light cause; or, being upon any the justest and weightiest cause, exceeds the degree and proportion due to it; and this againe in either kind aggravated by the duration and continuance of it. And the Greeke word here used is a denotation of every of these.
For the understanding of this, I desire first to know whe∣ther any anger be just or no, in respect of the Page 174cause? and if so, what?
Saint Pauls advice of being angry and not sinning, though it referre there peculiarly to the not continuing or endu∣ring of wrath, [Let not the Sunne goe downe in thy wrath] doth yet imply, that some wrath may be lawfull in respect of the cause; for otherwise the non-continuance of it would not justify it from sinne. The most justifiable causes of anger are, 1. When it proceeds from sorrow that God is provoked; anger conceived for Gods sake, Mark. 3. 5. without reflexion on our selves. 2. When for virtues sake; to see that neglected, de∣spised, and the rules of it violated. 3. When for other mens sake; still without reflexion on our selves or any interest of ours. And each of these not in light triviall matters neither, but in mat∣ters of weight; and so the causelesse anger is that which rises upon slight or no causes, or those wherein our owne interests are concerned; Which though they may be causes, are not justi∣fiable causes of anger in us.
Having this di∣rection from you to understand causelesse anger, I shall easily answer my selfe for the other two cir∣cumstances which make it fit for Christ to prohi∣bit it. As 1. When 'tis immoderate and exceeds the degree and proportion due to it, which I con∣fesse may be done even when the cause is just. And 2. When it continues beyond the length of a tran∣sient passion; when, as the Apostle saith, the SunnePage 175 is permitted to goe downe upon our wrath. But I pray what is meant by that phrase which is by Christ here repeated, and againe applyed to this causelesse anger, as before to killing, [shall be in danger of the judgment] sure 'tis not that he thinkes it fit, that every Christian that thus of∣fends should be put to death, as even now you in∣terpreted those words?
The meaning is, that the wrathfull man in another world shall be sub∣ject to punishment as the homicide here, i. e. that wrathfullnesse being so contrary to that meeke∣nesse, patience, humility required now by Christ, and being, as Solomon intimates, an effect of pride and hawtinesse, is to be counted of as an Un-Christian sinne; which unlesse it be mortified * here by the grace of Christ, will cost us deare in another world; though not so deare as the se∣cond and third mentioned in this verse. The pu∣nishment in that court of judicature being the sword, or beheading; which, though it be hea∣vy enough, is not yet so great as the two other which are after named.
This of causelesse anger being thus clearely forbidden by Christ, and yet that that even good Christians are so subject to fall into; what meanes will you direct me to, to mortify or subdue it?
1. A conviction of the danger and sinne of it; not flattering our selves that either 'tis no sinne, or such as with our ordinary, frailties shall have it's Page 176 pardon of course. But 1. Such as is here under a heavy penalty particularly denounced against by Christ. And 2. is so opposite to those graces of humility, meekenesse, patience, peaceablenesse, bearing with one another, and forgiving one a∣nother, &c. and required so strictly by Christ of his Disciples, i. e. all Christians followers of him. 3. A consideration of the unreasonablenesse of that sinne, which is, 1. Unjust, being causelesse, or immoderate. 2. So much against what I would have done to me either by my brother, (it being a very painfull uneasy thing to be under anothers wrath, especially when ill words or blowes are joined with it; and that that no body would be under, if he could helpe) or by God himselfe (whom I so oft displease, and would be so sor∣ry if he should be wrath with me, even when justly he might. 3. The labouring against that bitter roote of pride in my heart, of which this is so necessary infallible an attendant. 4. The re∣flexion upon my selfe, if t'were possible, in time of that passion, or else immediately after, when I come to my selfe againe out of that drunken∣nesse of soule, and considering how ill-favoured a hatefull thing it is; how like a tyger, a beare, or any the furiousest beast rather then a man, it makes me; what a deforming us, putting us out of all that posture of civility, that in our sobriety we choose to appeare in. Yea and what a Page 177 painefull agony it was when I was under it, 5. To consider how at such time we are out of our owne power, apt to fall into those oathes, acts of furies, indiscretions, revealing of secrets, disad∣vantageous expressions, &c. in a few such mi∣nutes, which a whole age of repentance will not repaire againe. 6. A sober vow or resolution ne∣ver to permit my selfe to fall into so inconveni∣ent and dangerous a sinne; that when I finde it a coming upon me, I may restraine it by remem∣bring, this was it that I thought fit to vow a∣gainst. 7. A watching over my selfe continual∣ly, that I be not taken unawares. 8. Absteining carefully from the least indulgence to any begin∣nings of it; it being easier to keepe from any first degree of it, then yeilding to that, to restraine the farther degrees. 9. Avoiding temptations and provocations as much as I can; and so the company of those who are subject to that sinne. 10. Labouring with God in prayer for grace to mortify this in me. 11. Diverting in time of temptation, with some particular repeated ejacu∣lations to God to suppresse at that time any such exorbitant affection in me. Many other conduci∣ble meanes you will be able to suggest to your selfe.
What is the second thing here forbidden?
Saying to his brother, Racha,] i. e. When anger breakes out into contumelious speeches; such are Page 178 the calling him empty, despicable, witlesse fel∣low; for the word Racha, is an Hebrew word, and signifies vaine or empty. This, though not the highest kinde of contumely, is yet greater then the former, and therefore is here expressed by the punishment apportioned to it, greater then the former; as much as stoning is a sorer death then beheading; for that is the meaning of [he shall be in danger of the Councell,] the Coun∣cell signifying the Sanhedrin, or the Supreme and great Senate where the ordinary punishment was stoning. And so the meaning is, this is a greater sinne, and so to expect a greater punish∣ment then the former.
What is the third thing forbidden here?
Saying thou foole] i. e. when wrath breakes out into more virulent rai∣lings, all sorts of which are here intimated by this one word; and this being a greater sinne or aggravation of causelesse anger then the for∣mer, is here described by the third kinde of pu∣nishment: which, though it were not in any le∣gall Court of judicature, was yet well enough knowne among the Jewes; not under the name of hell fire, (as we render it by a mistake, because * those torments in hell are in other places descri∣bed by these,) but of the valley of Hinnom. The meaning of which is this. Without the City of Jerusalem, in the valley of Hinnom, there was a place where the Iewes sometime, in imitation Page 179 of the Phaenicians, used a most cruell, barbarous, kinde of rites, burnt children alive, putting them in hollow brazen vessells, and so by little and lit∣tle scalding them to death; where, because the children could not choose but howle hideously, they had Timbrells perpetually sounding to drowne that cry, and therefore it was called To∣phet, (from a word signifying a Timbrell) and is described by the Prophets of the Old Testament. This punishment taking denomination from the * place, that valley of Hinnom, is called here in Greeke by a word little differing in sound from * the Hebrew, and that word in the New Testa∣ment, and ordinarily in sacred Writers Greeke and Latine, set to signify hell fire: because this was the best image or expression of those tor∣ments conceived there, that their knowledge or experience could represent to them. And so is here fitly made use of to expresse the greatest sin in this kinde, by the greatest punishment that they could understand. For indeed above the sword and stoning, there was no punishment in use in the Jewish Courts of judicature, (the bur∣ning among them being not this of burning alive, but the thrusting of an iron red hot into their bowells, which made a quicke dispatch of them) and therefore to ascend to the description of a third superlative degree of sinne our Saviour thinkes fit to use that mention of the pu∣nishments Page 180 in the valley of Hinnom.
You have by this plenteous discourse on this word, prevented my doubt, which would have beene, whether the last onely of these sinnes, and not the two former, make a Christian liable to hell fire; for now I perceive the meaning of it is that torture in the valley of Hinnom. And that to expresse a third greater degree of punishment in another world answerable to that third degree of sinne; and that nothing else is to be collected from it.
I shall onely trouble you with one scruple in this matter, and that is, whether all kind of calling Ra∣cha or foole, i. e. all contumelious speaking of a greater or lesse degree, be such a sinne punishable in a Christian in another world?
I shall an∣swer you▪ 1. By interposing one caution obser∣vable in these words; It is not all using of those words, but that which is the effect and improve∣ment of causelesse immoderate anger; for you see they are here set as higher degrees of that. And therefore, 2. Those speeches that proceed from any thing else, particularly when they are spo∣ken by those to whom the office and duty of cha∣stiseing others belongs, as Masters, Teachers, Su∣periours in any kinde, (nay perhaps equalls too, who in charity are obliged to reprove the neighbour, and not suffer sinne on him) And by them, 1. Done to that purpose that they may by these goads wake them out of a lethargy of sin; Page 181 And againe, 2. Done seasonably, so as they be in prudence most likely to worke good effect. And 3. Upon great and weighty causes; And 4. with∣out seeking any thing to themselves, either the venting of inordinate passion; or the ambition and vanity of seeming severer then others, or so much better then those whom they thus re∣proach; these all this while are not subject to this censure or danger. And of this nature you may see in the New Testament these severalls, Ia. 2. 20. O vaine man, i. e. literally, Racha. Mat. 23. 17. The fooles and the blind, spoken by Christ. And againe, v. 19. and Luk. 24. 25. Ye fooles, &c. and Gal. 3. 15. O foolish Galatians, and v. 3. are yee so foolish? Which is directly the other ex∣pression [thou foole] which now you will see and discerne easily (if you consider the affection of the Speakers,) to be out of love, not causelesse inordinate passion, and so not liable to the cen∣sure in this text. But then 3. There is little doubt but that all detraction, censoriousnesse, back bi∣ting, whispering, that so ordinary entertainment of the world to busy our selves when we meete together in speaking all the evill we know, or perhaps know not, of other men, is a very great sinne here condemned by our Saviour, and upon his advertisement timely to be turned out of our communication; as being most constantly against the rule of doing as I would be done to; no man Page 182 living being pleased to be so used by others, as the detractor useth others.
I beseech God to lay this to my heart, that by his assistance I may be enabled to suppresse and mortify this inordinate passion, that my nature hath such inclinations unto; to that end, to plant that meekenesse, and patience, and humility, and charity in my heart that may turne out this unruly creature; to arme me with that continuall vigilance over my selfe that it may not steale upon me unawares; but especially to give me that power over my tongue, that I may not fall into that greater condemnation.
But I see you have not yet done with this theme; for before our Saviour proceeds to any other com∣mandement, I perceive he buildeth somewhat else on this foundation in the foure next verses. [There∣fore if thou bring thy gift to the Altar, &c.] Be pleased then to tell me, 1. How that belongs to this matter? And 2. what is the duty there prescribed?
For the dependance of that on the former, or how it belongs to it, you will easily discerne, if you remember that old saying, That repentance is the planke to rescue him that is cast away in the Ship-wracke. Our Saviour had mentioned the danger of rash anger and contumelies, &c. And because through humane infirmity he supposes it possible that Disciples or Christians may thus miscarry, he therefore addes the necessity of pre∣sent repentance and satisfaction after it.
What is Page 183 the duty there prescribed?
It is this. 1. Being reconciled with the brother. v. 14. and agreeing with the adversary, v. 25. i. e. using all meanes to make my peace with him whom I have thus in∣jured. For the word [be reconciled] signifies not * here to be pacified towards him, for he is not here supposed to have injured thee, for if he had, the anger would not be causelesse, but to pacify him to regaine his favour, (and thus the word is used in the Scripture dialect in other places) con∣fessing my rash anger and intemperate language, and offering any way of satisfaction that he may forgive me, and be reconciled to me; which till he doe, I am his debtor, in his danger to attache me, as it were to bring me before the Judge, and he to deliver me to the Baily or Sergeant, and he to cast me into prison, &c. i. e. This sinne of mine unretrived by repentance, will lye very heavy upon my score; and without satisfaction to the injured person, will not be capable of mercy or pardon from Christ: which danger is set to en∣force the duty. The second part of the duty is, that the making this our peace is to be preferred before many other things, which passe for more specious workes among us; as particularly before voluntary oblations, which are here meant by the gift brought to the Altar, such as those of which the Law is given; Lev. 1. 2. Not that the performance of this duty is to be preferred (be∣ing Page 184 a duty to my neighbour) before piety, or the duties of true Religion toward God; but before the observation of outward rites, sacrifices, Ob∣lations, &c. Mercy before sacrifice, Mat. 9. 13. and 12. 7. And that those offerings that are brought to God with a heart full of wrath and hatred, will never be acceptable to him. Our prayer exprest, 1 Tim. 2. 8. by [lifting up of holy and cleane hands] must be without wrath; or else like the Fast, Isa. 58. 4. [Ye fast for strife and for debate] and the long prayers, Isa. 1. When the hands were full of bloud.] T'will be but a vaine oblation in Gods account, like Cains when he re∣solved to kill his brother.
Is there any thing else you will commend to me out of these words before we part with them?
Yes, 1. That the time immediate before the performing of any holy duty, of prayer, of obla∣tion, of fasting, of receiving the Sacrament, &c. is the fittest and properst time to call our selves to account for all the trespasses and injuries we are guilty of toward God and men. [If thou bring thy gift, and there remembrest, v. 23.] That it seemes a season of remembring. 2. That though the not having made my peace with those whom I have offended, make me unfit for any such Christian performance, and so require me to de∣ferre that till this be done; yet can it not give me any excuse to leave that Christian perfor∣mance Page 185 undone, but rather hasten my performance of the other, that I may performe this also. He that is not yet reconciled must not carry away his gift, but leave it at the Altar, v. 24. And goe and be reconciled, and then come backe and offer his gift. He that is not in charity or the like, and so unfit to receive the Sacrament, must not think it fit or lawfull for him to omit or neglect that receiving, on that pretence, (or if he doe, t'will be a double guilt) but must hasten to recover himselfe to such a capacity that he may with cleane hands and heart, thus come to Gods table whensoever he is thus called to it. 3. That a pe∣nitent reconciled sinner may have as good confi∣dence in his approaches to God as any, [Then come, &c. v. 24.] 4. That the putting off or de∣ferring of such businesses as these of reconciliati∣on, satisfaction, &c. 1. Is very dangerous. And 2. The danger of them past reversing, when it cometh upon us. 5. That there is no way to pre∣vent this, but in time of life and health, quickly, instantly to doe it, the next houre may possibly be too late. Agree quickely whil'st thou art in the way, v. 25. 6. That the punishment that expects such sinners is endlesse, indeterminable, the till thou hast paid, v. 26. is not a limitation of time, after which thou shalt come out, (any more then [she had no children till she died] is a marke or in∣timation of her having children after death) but Page 186 a proposall of a sad payment which would never be done, the paying of it would be a doing for ever.
I thanke you for these supernumerary meditations, I hope they shall not be cast away up∣on me.
I shall detaine you no longer here, but call upon you to proceed to the next period, which I see to begin in like manner with a commandement of the old law, Thou shalt not commit adultery; and the same introduction to it which was to the former, [Ye have heard that it was said by them of old time] which, by what I before learn't of you, I con∣clude should be, [to them of old time] or to the ancient Jewes, Exod. 20. 14. I shall propose 〈◊〉 more scruples in this matter, but onely crave your directions for the maine, what you conceive forbid∣den here in that old Commandement.
As in the former God by Moses restrained all the ac∣cursed * issues of one kinde of sensuality; so in this place of the other, this of lust. And naming the cheife kinde of breach, that of Adultery, i. e. ly∣ing carnally with a married woman, he forbids also all other acts of uncleanenesse which are not conjugall. Thus have some of the Jewes them∣selves interpreted the word; and so in the Scri∣pture * and good Authors, in common use, adulte∣ry and fornication are taken promiscuously to sig∣nifie all manner of uncleanenesse. Of which, though some kinds seeme to have beene permit∣ted Page 187 the Jewes, yet this permission is not to be conceived to extend any farther then the benefit of legall impunity, (not that they were lawfull or without turpitude.) Yea and that some kinds of them were by their law severely punished, you shall see, Deut. 22. But more severely by God himselfe, as Numb. 25. So that under the letter of that old Commandement are conteined not onely the knowne sinnes of adultery and forni∣cation, but all other kind of filthinesse mentio∣ned Rom. 1. 24, 26, 27. & v. 29. Where there are foure words which seem to conteine all sorts of it under them: aFornication,bVillainy,cIm∣moderate desire,dNaughtinesse: And so againe, 2 Cor. 12. 21. Ʋncleanenesse. fornication, lascivi∣ousnesse, and Gal. 5. 19. Adultery, fornication, un∣cleanenesse, lasciviousnesse, and idolatry. Which last word in that and other places, seemes a word meant to conteine all such kinde of sinnes under it, because they were so ordinary in the Idola∣trous mysteries of the Heathens; most of their rites and secrets of their religion, being the pra∣ctice of these filthy sinnes. So Eph. 4. 19. & 5. 3. in both which places, as also before, Rom. 1. 29. & Col. 3. 5. The word there rendred Covetous∣nesse in the three latter and greedinesse in the first, * signifies that irregular desire; and so those Hea∣thenish sins which here also, Col. 3. 5. are called I∣dolatry, I would not give you any more particular Page 188 account of these sinnes, but desire God to fortify you with all care and vigilance against them, grounded in a sence of hatred and detestation of them, as of the greatest reproach to your nature, greivance to the Spirit of God, defamation of Christianity where ever they are to be found, and the sinnes of such a nature, that when they are once in any kinde indulged to, they are apt to breake out into all the basenesse and vilenesse in the world; and that in breife, are called by Saint Peter, abominable idolatrie, 1 Pet. 4. 3.
The Good Lord of all purity by the power of his sanctifying grace proserve me from all such taints, to be a Temple for the Holy Ghost. But what else is reducible to this Commandement of the law?
1. All desires of these sins consented to, although they break not out into act. 2. All morose thoughts i. e. dwelling or insisting on that image, or phan∣sying of such uncleane matter with delectation. 3. The feeding my lust with luxurious diet, infla∣ming wines, &c. or other such fewell and accen∣tives of it, &c.
What now hath Christ added to this old pro∣hibition?
You have it in these words, That whosoever looketh after a woman to lust after her, hath committed adultery with her already in his heart.
What is the meaning of that?
That he that so lookes, &c. 1. Signifies his heart to be adulterous, though himself be not, either through Page 189 want of opportunity, &c. 2. That he shall by Christ be censurable as the adulterer under the law.
But what is the full importance of look∣ing on a woman to lust?
It is not to looke to that end that I may lust, (as some are willing to interpret here; by this meanes making the looking sinfull onely in order to that end, that lusting; without designing of which they con∣ceive the looking it selfe will be no fault) but ei∣ther to looke so long till I lust, or else to satisfy my lust (though not with the yeilding to the corporall pollution, yet) so farre as to feed my * eye, to gaze, to dwell on the beauty of other women. I shall give it you in the language of the Fathers who have thus interpreted it. He that stands and lookes earnestly, Theoph. He that makes it abu∣sinesse to looke earnestly upon gallant bodies and beautifull faces, that hunts after them, and feeds his minde with the spectacle, that nailes his eyes to handsome faces. Chrys. And againe, Not he that desires that he may commit folly, but lookes that he may desire. And againe, God hath given thee eyes that seeing the creatour thou mayest glo∣rifie him and admire him. As therefore there was * an immoderation and fault in anger, so in looking. If (saith he) thou wilt looke and be delighted looke upon thine owne wife, and love her continually; but if thou lookest after other beauties, thou dost both wrong her, letting thy eyes rove otherwhere; and Page 190 thou wrongest her whom thou lookest on, medling with her illegally: For though thou touchest her not with thy hand, yet with thy eyes thou doest. To this Saint Peter referres, 2 Pet. 2. 14. Eyes full of a∣dultery; there being an adulterous looke as well as an adulterous embrace; the former forbidden by Christ, as well as the latter by Moses.
I had not thought this prohibition of Christs had beene so severe, but seeing it is the opinion of the ancient Fathers, that the words are thus to be in∣terpreted, and that the feeding of the eye, yeilding to satisfy that with unlawfull objects, the beauty of any but our owne wives, and the stirring up of fire within, which is apt to be kindled by that meanes, is here forbidden, I shall no longer doubt of it, but resolve, and with Job make a Covenant with my eyes that I will not behold a maide, i. e. please my selfe with the contemplation of her beau∣ty; and the Lord give me grace to make good this resolution. But then if it be a fault thus to behold, will it not be so also in the woman that is thus be∣held, (as the patient in adultery sinnes as well as the agent) especially if she take as great pleasure in that, and decke and set her selfe out to that end that she may be thus look't on?
Saint Chryso∣stome answers that question also, that it is a great fault, and a kind of Adultery in that woman, that thus not onely exposes and prostitutes her selfe to the eyes of men, but so dresses and sets Page 191 her selfe out, and calls to her the eyes of all men; if she strike not, wound not others, she shall yet be pu∣nished, for she hath mixt the potion, prepared the poison, though she hath not given the cup to drinke; yes, and hath done that too, though none be found that will drinke of it. It seemes a peice of Chri∣stian chastity there is required of women in this kinde, that is not generally thought of.
I shall trouble you no longer with this matter, onely I desire to know, what the two other verses in this period, of the eye and hand offending thee, have to doe in this matter?
They are the preventing of an objection, after this manner, up∣on the giving of that severe prohibition, men will be apt to object. O but 'tis hard not to love that which is beautifull, and not to behold what is loved. To this foreseene objection he answers before hand; 'Tis hard and unpleasant indeed, but more unpleasant sure to be a frying in hell. T'were better to put the very eye out of the head, to cut off the hand, even that which were most usefull and honourable, then to be cast into hell. Much more when that is not required to cut off, or pull out those members, but onely to turne a∣way the eye from the alluring object, to keepe the hand from immodest touches, nay, (saith Chrysostome) This is a most mild and soft precept; it would have beene much more hard, if he had gi∣ven command to converse with and looke curiously Page 192 on women, and then to absteine from them.
But what hath the hand to doe with that businesse of looking?
The mention of it is by way of a∣nalogy or reduction to that former precept, and doth imply that that former prohibition of look∣ing is to be extended to all other things of the like nature; all libidinous touches, &c. and who∣soever absteines from the grosser act, and yet in∣dulgeth himselfe such pleasures as these with a∣ny but his owne wife, sinnes also against this law of Christ.
[§ 7] Shall we now hasten to the third law here mentioned. It is about Divorce. What was the state of this businesse under the law?
The ten Commandements mention nothing of it, and therefore you see the proemiall forme is chan∣ged; not as before [Ye have heard that it hath beene said to them of old] (the character of the Commandements) but onely, [It hath been said] which notes that there is somewhat in Moses his writings about it, though not in the Tenne Commandements. And what that is, you will see, Deut. 24. 1. to the fifth, to this purpose, That he that hath married a wife and likes her not for some uncleanenesse which he hath found in her, he is permitted to give her a bill of divorcement, and send her out of his house: and in that case she may marry againe; and though her second husband do so too, or dye, yet the former husband not permitted Page 193 to take her againe for his wife. Now that which was there said, is no justification of that giving a bill of Divorcement upon any occasion, save onely that of fornication, (as appeares by Christs testimony, Mat. 19. 3. to the 10th.) But an in∣dulgence of legall impunity granted to the Jews, Because of the hardnesse of their hearts, i. e. Be∣cause they were such an unruly stubborne peo∣ple that if they should have incurred punishment from the Magistrate by putting away a wife which they liked not, they would have beene likely to have killed those hated wives, that so they might freely have married againe. So a∣gaine, Mark. 10. 4, 5. Where though it be cal∣led a precept, v. 5. yet but a sufferance, v. 4. i. e. a precept of permission, or a law that this shall be tolerated without incurring of legall punish∣ment. Or if he, contrary to law and justice, doe put her away, then the precept is, that he give her a Bill of Divorcement in her hand. Nothing in the whole action, precept, but that it was thus in the Old Testament; (onely a permission or not punishing of such divorces) may appeare by Mal. 2. 16. The Lord saith, That [he hateth put∣ting away] speaking, as the context shewes, not of every kind of Divorce, but particularly of the putting away a wife for barrennesse, without o∣ther default; of which the Prophet brings in the women complaining, and to shew the unjustice Page 194 of it, seuseth the example of Abraham, under the title of 〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉: one, v. 10. who desiring issue and having none, would not yet put away his wife.
What doth Christ now in his new Law, in this matter?
He recalls that old indulgence or permission; for coming now to give more grace then the law brought with it to the Jewes, he thinkes not fit to yeild so much to the hard∣nesse of mens hearts, as to remit them from legall punishments here, if they shall use that liberty so contrary to the vow of wedlocke; and there∣fore in Christian Common-wealths leaves the punishing of such offenders as free as it had beene among the Jewes, had it not beene for that sufferance. As for the sinne and consequent punishment of it in another world, though he need not ampliate that, (there having not beene any such priviledge of immunity before to the Jewes, onely such punishments, according to the nature of the Old Testament, not so explicitely spoken of) yet he seemes to intimate it in say∣ing, [He causeth her to commit adultery, and him that marries her] which sure is punishable in a∣nother world by that punishment which awaits adulterers themselves; and if after such divorce∣ment he himselfe marry againe, he committeth a∣dultery, and is in that name liable, Matth. 19. 3.
But what, is no kinde of Divorce lawfull Page 195 now under Christ?
Yes, clearely, that which is here named in case of fornication i. e. If the wife prove false to the husbands bed, and take in any other man, t'will then be lawfull by Christs law for the husband to give her a Bill of Divorce, i e. legally to sue it out, and so put her away. The reason being because of the great inconveniences and mischeifes that such falsenesse brings into the family; children of anothers body to inherit with (or perhaps before) his owne, &c. which sort of reasons it is that this matter of Divorce now under Christ, is cheifely built on, (and not, as might be imagined, that of the conjugall con∣tract, for that being mutuall, would as well make it lawfull for the wife to put away the husband, which is no where permitted in the Old or New Testament) this liberty being peculiar to the husband against the wife, and not common to the wife against her husband, because I say those family inconveniences doe not follow the false∣nesse of the husband, as they doe that of the wife; to which may be also added one other, be∣cause the wife hath by promise of obedience made her selfe a kinde of subject, and own'd him a Lord, and so hath none of that authority over him (an act of which, putting away seemeth to be) which he by being Lord hath over her.
Is there no other cause of Divorce now legall a∣mong Christians, but that in case of fornication?
I cannot define any because Christ hath na∣med no other.
But me thinkes there is a place in Saint Paul, 1 Cor. 7. 12. from whence I might conclude that Christ hath named some other. For when Saint Paul saith that the brother, i. e. belee∣ver, having an unbeleiving wife, if she be wil∣ling to live with him, he must not put her away, he prefaceth it in this manner: To the rest speake I, not the Lord. Whence I inferre, that in Saint Paul's opinion Christ had not then said that unbe∣leife was not a lawfull cause of Divorce; and con∣sequently I conclude that Christ had left place for some other cause beside fornication, and therefore I should ghesse that the naming of fornication here was not exclusive to all other causes, but onely to those that were inferiour to it, (and that would make it contrary enough to what was by Moses permitted, to wit, [for every cause] Mat. 19. 13.) and that if there should be found any other cause as great as that, it might be conceived comprehended under that example named of fornication; and then I shall be bold to interpose my opinion, that sure if the wife should attempt to poison, or otherwise to take away the life of the husband, this would be as unsupportable an injury as adultery, and so as fit a cause of a Divorce, as that.
You have pro∣posed an objection of some difficulty. I must ap∣ply answer to it by dividing it into parts, and ma∣king my returnes severally. 1. That in that place, Page 197 1 Cor. 7. if the words [speake I, not the Lord] did belong to the words immediately follow∣ing, to wit, those which you name, your collecti∣on from thence would be reasonable. But I con∣ceive they belong rather to the 15 verse precise∣ly, That in case the unbeleiver will not live with the beleiver, then upon her or his departure, the be∣leiver, man or woman, shall not be in bondage, (i. e. constreined to live unmarried,) but may freely marry in this case: and of this it may truly be said, That Christ had said nothing; and so, This speake I, not the Lord. Now that this stands so farre from that preface, falls out, because when the Apostle had resolved to say this, that he might say it seasonably, it was necessary for him to pre∣mise those other cases, v. 12, 13. and give a reason for them, v. 14. and then this, v. 15. would come in intelligibly. If this interpretation be acknow∣ledged, then the ground of the whole objection is taken away. And if it be objected againe, that by that liberty of Saint Pauls, the woman be∣leiver being put away by the infidell husband, is permitted to marry againe, which seemes con∣trary to Christs saying, That he that putteth her away except in case of fornication, causeth her to commit adultery, and whosoever shall marry her committeth adultery. For if in any case but forni∣cation she be caused to commit adultery, and he that marries her commit adultery, how in this o∣ther Page 198 case of unbeleife is she free to marry? To this I answer also. 1. That if all this be granted, 'twill yet be nothing to the present purpose; for it concludes onely against Saint Pauls judgment; that he did contrary to Christs in giving this li∣berty, not that Christ had said this, which Saint Paul saith, he had not said, which is the onely thing that this objection is built on. But then, 2. Though that which Saint Paul here saith, be somewhat which Christ hath not said before, and so an example of [I, not the Lord] yet 'tis not opposite or contrary to what Christ had said; for though Christ say, that he that divorces (not for fornication) causeth his wife to commit adul∣tery; yet sure his meaning is onely that as much as in him lyes, he causeth her, by putting her to some ill exigents, which may perhaps tempt her to harlotry; but not that he forceth her to this, infallibly or irresistibly; for sure 'tis possible one who is so divorced, may live chast; yea and though she have leave to marry, live single ever after. And that is the meaning of that phrase, [causeth her to commit adultery.] You may be assured by this, that Christ mentions it onely as an aggravation of the mans fault, who by this puts her on that hazard, of which he is no whit lesse guilty, though she resist that temptation, and e∣scape that danger. And for that part of our Sa∣viours speech, [he that marries her that is divor∣ced, Page 199 commits adultery] it belongs not to the mat∣ter, for that [her] there, is not [her] that is divor∣ced for some other cause; for she having meri∣ted nothing, no reason that she should be puni∣shed by that bondage; or consequently that he that marries her, being now free, should be thought to offend; but the [her] is she that is divorc't for fornication, and of such an one it is very reasonable on both sides, though the truth is, Christ had affirmed nothing of it. Thus you see the place to the Corinthians cleared. I shall onely, (by the way,) adde, that v. 12. those words [to the rest] seeming to be opposed to the [the married] v. 10. as though he spake now to the rest, i. e. those that are unmarried, is a mistake caused by the English Translation, for those that v. 12. he speakes to, are married also. The word * would better be rendred, for the rest, or [to the rest] referring not to persons, but things, [con∣cerning the rest.]
Having answered now your first part of the objection, I proceed to the second, and answer, that there were againe some reason in the infe∣rence, if first, Saint Paul had thus affirmed, (which we have shewed he did not.) And 2. There could be produced any cause so justifiable for Divorce, as Adultery is. But of this I am per∣swaded that there can nonebe produced because in all considerations none is so great and so irre∣parable Page 200 an injury, as this; none that repentance can so little set right againe, the possibility of which is one great reason why other injuries are not thought fit by Christ to be matter of Di∣vorce. For though it be possible some other sins may be as great or greater then adultery, (as ido∣latry, heathenisme, for example) yet because this is not so contrary to, and destructive of the conjugall state, therefore 'tis not thought fit to cause Divorce, by Saint Paul, (nor as appeares, by Christ neither) though to cause damnation, (which is farre greater punishment then Di∣vorce) it be aboundantly sufficient. As for the having attempted the life of the husband, (which leades me to answer the last part of the objecti∣on) I shall make no doubt to say this is not e∣quall to the having committed adultery. For first, It appeares that though it was attemped, yet it was not acted, (fot if it had, that would have made a reall divorce indeed) and the attempt, 1. Is not so punishable, as the act; And 2. It may by repentance be repaired againe, and the rest of the life be the more happy and comfortable with such a penitent wise; and this very possibility is considerable: and that that was the reason why the beleiving husband is advised not to put away the unbeleeving wife, [for he knowes not whether he may not convert and save the heathen wife by living with her] hath place here also. Page 201 To this purpose I will tell you a story, of a Master and Servant, which you may accommodate to an husband and wife. Les Digueirs, after Con∣stable * of France, had learn't that his man that served him in his chamber, was corrupted to kill him: being in his chamber with him, and none else, he gives him a sword and dagger in his hand, and takes another himselfe; then speakes thus to him, You have beene my servant long, and a gallant fellow, why would you be so base as to undertake to kill me cowardly? here be weapons, let it be done like a man: and so of∣fered to fight with him; The servant fell at his feete, confessed his vile intention, begged par∣don, promised unfeined reformation. His Ma∣ster pardoneth him, continues him in place of daily trust in his chamber, he never hath trea∣cherous thought against him after. So you see this crime may be repaired againe, and no danger in not divorcing. But then 2. If there were dan∣ger of being killed still, yet may the inconveni∣ence of living with one who hath beene false to the bed, be beyond that. Love is strong as death, jealousy cruell as the grave; the coles thereof are coles of fire, which hath a most vehement flame, saith Solomon. And if that be thus caused, what a hell is that mans life? and that is farre worse then death, especially then the meere danger of it; and beside, if she also have repented of her Page 202 fornication, and the husband be satisfied that she hath so; yet the disgrace of having beene so u∣sed, and perhaps the continuall presence of a base brat in the family will be yet more unsupportable then that possible danger of loosing a life. For you see how ordinary it is for men to contemne their lives, to endanger, nay oft actually to loose them rather then part with reputation or any such trifling comfort of life; on this maxime of the naturall mans, that 'tis better to dye then live mi∣serably or infamously. And though Christianity curbe that gallantry of the world, yet still it com∣mands us to contemne life when it cometh in competition with obedience to him; which here it doth, or may doe, if Christ command (as his words affirme he doth) this not-divorcing for any kinde of cause, but fornication. The same might be said in divers other things where we are apt to interpose the excuse of extreme neces∣sity (i. e. danger of loosing our lives) when we are not inclined to doe what God bids us doe. Where 1. If we did thus dye, it were martyr∣dome, and that the greatest preferment of a Christian. 2. Seeing 'tis but danger, and not cer∣taine death, we may well entrust our lives in Gods hands by doing what he bids us; and thinke our lives safest when so ventur'd. And so I have satisfied your scruples.
Other scruples in this matter of divorce I thinke I could make to you; but Page 203 I hope neither you nor I by the blessing of God shall ever have occasion to make use of the knowledge of such niceties.
[§ 8] *I shall hasten you to that next period which con∣teines a prohibition so necessary to be instilled into young men, least the sinne get in fashion, and that roote so deepe in them that 'twill not suddenly be weeded out, and that is of Swearing. Be pleased therefore after Christs method in delivering, and yours formerly in expounding, to tell me the mea∣ning of the old Commandement which by the stile of the preface, [Ye have heard that it hath beene said to them of old time] I collect to be the third of the ten Commandements?
The first part of it, [Thou shalt not forsweare thy selfe] is clearely the third Commandement; but the latter part [But shalt performe to the Lord thine oathes] is taken out of other places of the law, to explaine the meaning of the former, and to expresse it to be, as literally it sounds, against perjury, or non∣performance of promissiory oathes;
But the third Commandement is in Exodus, [Thou shalt not take the name of the Lord thy God in vaine] is that no more, then [Thou shalt not forsweare thy selfe?]
No more undoubtedly, if either Christ may judge, who here saith so; or the im∣portance of the words in the originall be obser∣ved. For to take or lift up the name of God, is an Hebrew stile, to sweare; and the word [vaine]Page 204 and [false] is all one, as 1 the Hebrew writers * generally acknowledge, 2. that of idle word enforceth, Matt. 12. 36. being there applyed to that not only vaine but false speech v. 24. [He casts out Divells by the Prince of Divels] 3. Because the very word that Exod. 20. 7. is * rendred vaine in the third commandement, is us∣ed Deut. 5. 18. in the ninth commandement for (and is so rendred by us) false witnesse. and so Ps. 24. 4. lifting up the soule unto vanity (that phrase of lifting up the soule, referring to that forme of swearing by the life) is exprest in the next words, sworne deceitfully. By all which 'tis cleare, that to take Gods name in vaine is to for∣sweare ones selfe.
But is nothing else reduci∣ble to this old Commandement?
Swearing simply taken, is not reducible, for besides that * the expresse words of Moses plainely permit it, thou shalt sweare by his name Deut. 6. 13. 10. 20. The fathers say plainely, that to sweare under Moses was lawfull. Yet perhaps foolish, wan∣ton, (sure prophane blasphemous) using of God's name may be resolved to be there forbidden by reduction.
What then hath Christ superadded to the old Commandement?
A totall universall prohibi∣tion of swearing itselfe, making that as unlaw∣full now, as perjury was before.
Are no kind of oaths lawfull now to a Christian?
That Page 205 you may discerne this matter clearely and di∣stinctly, you must marke two circumstances in our Saviour's Speech, 1. That phrase v. 37. but but let your communication, &c.] from whence one universall rule you may take, that to sweare in ordinary communication, or discourse, or conversation, is utterly unlawfull. 2. You may apply our Saviour's prohibition to the par∣ticular matter of Moses his law forementioned, and that was of promissory (not assertory) oaths; and then adding to that the importance of the word [sweare] as it differs from adjuration, or being sworne, taking an oath administred by those who are in authority, you have then a se∣cond rule, That all voluntary, but especially pro∣missary oaths, are utterly unlawfull now for a Christian.
What do you meane by voluntary oaths?
This, that no other impellent but my selfe, or my owne worldly gaine or interest extort from me: for of these you must resolve, that if my oath be not either for the glory of God, (as Saint Pauls oath Rom. 1. 9. Gal. 1. 28. &c. which were to stand upon record to poste∣rity and to confirme the truth of God, being in his Epistles, whereas in all the story of his con∣versation in the Acts we never find that he did sweare,) Or for the good of my Neighbour, (wherein generally I as a private man am not to be judge, but to submit to the judgement of the Page 206 Magistrate legally calling me to testify my con∣science, or to enter into some oath for the good and peace of the publicke) or some such publick consideration, but only for my owne interest &c. it is utterly unlawfull.
Why did you adde, but especially promissory oathes?
Because those are most clearely heare forbidden both by the aspect these words have in the precedent, thou shalt per∣forme thy oathes, and by the precept of Saint James in that matter. c. 5. 12. Let your yea, be yea; and your nay, nay; i. e. let your promises and performances be all one, (the first yea referring to the promise, the second to performance) which he there mentions as a meanes to make all pro∣missory oathes unnecessary; for he that is so just in performing his word, there will be no need of his oath, and he that doth use oaths in that matter may be in danger to fall into lying or false speaking, which is the meaning of those words * which we there render lest you fall into condem∣nation.
What is the meaning of those severalls that follow, Neither by heaven. &c? Nay it not be, that I must not sweare by them, but only by God? Or not sweare falsely, so much as by them?
No, but clearely this, that those lesser oaths taken in by some in civility to God, whom they would not invoke in small matters, but yet would use this liberty of swearing by other inferiour things, are Page 207 now utterly unlawfull; a Christian must not use any of those. Because every of these are crea∣tures of God (whose whole being consists in re∣ference to him) and not to be subjected to their lust to be tost and defamed by their unnecessary oathes.
What is meant by the positive precept in the close, [but let your communication be yea yea, nay nay.] Is it, as you expounded Saint James [Let your yea be yea, &c.] i. e. let your promises and performances be answerable to one a∣nother?
No, there is difference betwixt the phrases, Let your yea be yea signifies that, (as on on the other side, yea and nay, signifies lovity, 2 Cor. 1. 19.) But let your communication be yea yea, is this, in ordinary discourse you may use an affirmation (that is one yea) and if occasion re∣quire an asseveration (that is another yea,) and so againe a negation and a phrase of some vehe∣mence (as a redoubling) to confirme it (that is nay nay:) and this will serve as a good usefull meanes to prevent the use of swearing, by assign∣ing to that purpose, some such asseveration which will serve as well, and therefore Christ doth not only forbid any more then this, but in a manner direct to the use of this, as that which will help us to performe his precept.
There is yet one thing behind, the reason that this is back't with, for whatsoever is more then this, commeth of evill] what is meant by that?
Either that Page 208 it cometh from the evill one, Satan, who makes men unapt to beleive without oathes, that so he may make the free use of them the more necessa∣ry: or from evill, i. e. that great kind of evill a∣mongmen, the breaking of promises, from whence this custome of adding oathes proceeds. By which is also intimated, that oathes are here by Christ forbidden, not as things in themselves e∣vill, but as things which are not to be used but in affaires of speciall moment, a reverence being due to them, which are therefore not to be made too cheape.
[§ 9] *Be pleased then to advance to the next peri∣od, and the foundation of that laid as formerly in the words of the law, [An eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth,] which I see againe by the va∣riation of the preface from that which was prefixt to the commands of the decalogue, not to be of that number, and yet is the phrase also varied from that which was prefixt to that of divorce: There only [it hath beene said] but here [ye have heard that it hath beene said.] What is the reason of that?
It signifies that as it is lesse then a comman∣dement of the law (i. e. is no precept that every one should thus require an eye of him who had put out his) so it is more then a bare immunity from earthly punishment to him that should so require; (which I told you was all that was al∣lowed in that of divorce,) the truth is, this was Page 209 by the law of nature, and Moses freely permit∣ted (and no sinne then chargeable on him that did so) that he that had lost any member of his body might, by way of revenge or retaliation, le∣gally or judicially require the like member of his, who had thus injured him, to be taken from him. Deut. 19. 21. though among the Jewes, this private men were not to do on their owne heads, but might by legall processe, go to the Judges and require this due from them.
What hath Christ appointed in this matter?
'Tis set downe in these words, [But I say unto you that you resist not evill.] Where the word which * we render [evill] signifies not a thing but a per∣son, the injurious man, or he that hath done the injury; and the word rendred [resist] notes not that that our English commonly signifies; but pe∣culiarly * to retaliate, to returne evill for evill; by which interpretation it is directly answerable to what went before [eye for eye,] &c. and so is a denying to Christians that liberty that before was allowed the Jewes; that of revenge, retaliati∣on, returning those mischeifes to others, which we have received from them.
What plaine places of Scripture be there which prohibit this, so that I may be induced, by the analogy of them, to beleeve this forbidden here?
One plaine place there is, which seemes to me to be a direct interpretation of this, Rom. 12. 17. RenderingPage 210 to no man evill for evill] so againe, v. 19. Aven∣ging not your selves] i. e. thus rendring evill to e∣vill:] which is farther explained by the following words, [but give place unto wrath] i. e. to Gods revenge, as it followes [vengeance is mine, I will repay it, saith the Lord.]
But how farre doth this precept of not reven∣ging extend? To publicke Magistrates, or onely to private persons one toward another?
To this I shall answer by these severall degrees. 1. That it doth not interpose in the Magistrates office, so as to forbid him to punish by way of retaliation, if the lawes of the land so direct him for his of∣fice being to preserve the Kingdome in peace, Christ forbids not the use of any lawfull meanes to that end, but rather by the Apostle confirmes it in his hand, by saying, [he beareth not the sword in vaine] and adding [he is Gods Minister, an avenger for wrath to him that doth ill.] By which is intimated that that sword for vengeance, or pu∣nishment of offenders, which naturally belongs to God onely, is as farre as respects this life, put into the hands of the lawfull Magistrate, with commission to use it, as the constitution of the Kingdome shall best direct, either by way of re∣taliation, or otherwise; and what is done thus by him, is to be counted Gods vengeance execu∣ted by him; and so no more contrary to the pro∣hibition of private revenge, then Gods owne Page 211 retributions would be; which yet are mentio∣ned by the Apostle as an argument to prove the unlawfulnesse of ours, Rom. 12. 19. Avenge not your selves, but rather give place to wrath; leave all punishment to God, For it is written, vengeance is mine: By which connexion you may note by the way, that the motive why we should not avenge our selves is (not that which some revengefull minds would be best pleased with, because by our patience our enemies shall be damned the deeper, as some would collect from Rom. 12. 20. but) because the priviledge of punishing offen∣ders, i. e. of vengeance, belongs peculiarly to God, and to none but those to whom for things of this life he is pleased to communicate it. Which I conceive to be the reason why upon this ground of vengeance belonging to God onely, set downe in the end of Rom. 12; The thirteenth to the Rom. begins with obedience to the higher powers, and their being ordained by God, &c. This being thus set, it will follow 2ly. That Christs prohibition belongs onely to those who have re∣ceived the injuries, considered (whatsoever they are) as private sufferers; and those are forbid two things; 1. Taking into their owne hands the avenging of themselves. 2. (and which is the speciall thing in this place, the former being not by the law permitted to the Jewes themselves, though among the Heathen it was generally Page 212 thought lawfull to hurt them who had injured us) desiring and thirsting, seeking and requiring e∣ven that revenge which the law of man affords, with this reflexion on himselfe, for the satisfying his revengefull humour. This might Christ very reasonably prohibit, it being before not comman∣ded, but onely permitted by Moses law; though forbid the Magistrate thus to punish offenders he could not, without destroying that law, which indeed to have done would not be thought rea∣sonable for Christ, the greatest part of the world being so farre from Christians even now in times of Christianity. Not that it is made utterly un∣lawfull by Christ to prosecute any who hath wronged me; and bring him to legall punish∣ment; for that the law of man authorized and not contradicted by Christ, may and oft doth re∣quire of me; and there is great difference be∣tweene revenge and punishment: Nor that it is unlawfull to require reparations for an injury done me when the matter is capable of it; nor to doe the same for the good that may accrue to my brethren by the inflicting such exemplary punish∣ment on offenders; but that to require this for the satisfying of my owne revengefull humour besides or without the reparation of the damage received by me, (as generally it is when I require an eye for an eye; for in that case the pulling out of his eye will contribute nothing toward the Page 213 helping me to mine againe) or againe to require it in contemplation of the farther incon∣venience that may possibly befall me another time if this passe unpunished, is thought fit by Christ to be interdicted us Christians; who are bound, 1. By gratitude for what Christ hath done to us in pardoning of injuries, to goe and doe likewise, i. e. to pardon and not revenge injuries. 2. By the law of faith to vanquish such feares, and depend on Gods providence to defend us for the future, and not to be so hasty and follicitous in using all possible meanes, however unlawfull, for the future securing of our selves. And all this seemes to be the literall importance of that phrase, Rom. 12. 19. [Not avenging our selves,] Whatever avenging is lawfull, that is not which reflecteth upon our selves, and our owne immo∣derate passions; whether that of anger, or that o∣ther of desire, a branch of which is this wordly carking.
From these two thus set it will appeare third∣ly, what is to be said of warres betweene one Kingdome and another, which are of a middle nature betweene the revenge of the Magistrate upon the offender within his jurisdiction, and the revenge of one private man upon another; this being betweene equalls, and so not of the first kind; and yet betweene publicke persons or bo∣dies, and so not of the second, which consequent∣ly Page 214 will be onely so farre lawfull, as it agrees with the first; and unlawfull as with the second.
In what respect may warre be lawfull? Or is it at all so?
That it is not absolutely unlawfull, ap∣peares 1. By the Baptists answer to the souldiers when they came to his Baptisme, Luk. 3. 14. where he forbids them not that calling as unlaw∣full. 2. By Christs commending the Centurions faith who was then a Souldier. 3. By Pauls u∣sing a band of souldiers against the Treachery of the Jewes. 4. By Saint Peters baptizing of Cor∣nelius without his giving over the military im∣ployment. Now in what respect warre may be lawfull, will appeare, if we observe the causes of it. 1. If it be for the suppressing of a sedition or rebellion at home, it is clearely lawfull for the lawfull Magistrate, as having the power of the sword, 1. To preserve the peace of the land. And 2. To punish and suppresse the disturbers of it. In which case it is impossible any warre should be lawfull on both sides; there being but one su∣preme power in any Kingdome, (whether that consist of one, or of more persons) and to that be∣longing the power of the sword, which whoe∣ver else taketh into his hand in any case usurpeth it, and therefore ought to perish by the sword. 2. If betwixt one Kingdome and another, then the warre may be lawfull againe, in case one King∣dome doth attempt the doing any eminent inju∣ry Page 215 to another, which by a warre may possibly be averted from those whom the Magistrates office binds him to protect. An eminent injury I say, and that which is more hurtfull then warre, or taking up of armes, and that againe, when there is no ar∣bitration, or other meanes of debating such con∣troversies, or averting such injuries to be had. And with these cautions, To hurt no peaceable man, as neare as may be; To shed as little bloud as is possible; Not to protract it out of desire of revenge, or gaine; Not to use cruelty on captives, on those that yeild themselves, that desire quar∣ter, on women, children, husbandmen, &c. To give over warre when any reasonable termes of peace may be had; To take away nothing from the conquered, but the power of hurting. In these cases and with these cautions as it is lawfull to the Supreme Power to use armes, so is it also to others his Subjects that have commission from him, if they be satisfied of the justice of the cause; it being not imaginable that any. Magi∣strate should by his owne personall strength pro∣tect his Subjects without the assistance of others with him.
But is it lawfull for a private man for the repelling of any the greatest injury from himselfe to kill another? Or if it be not, how can this warre against those who are not our Subjects and Rebels, but those who are out of our power, and over whom Page 216 we have no jurisdiction, and so we are but private men in respect of them) be accounted lawfull, seeing it is sure more sinfull to kill many then one?
To the first part of your question I answer, that a pri∣vate man may not, by the law of Christ, take a∣way anothers life, for the saving his owne goods, or the repelling any such kind of injury from himselfe, because life is more then goods: but if his life be attempted also, and no probable mea∣nes to save it but by taking away the others life, it may then be lawfull to take away his life; Christ having interposed nothing to the contra∣ry, (where yet he that to save anothers life, or rather then take it away, should venture and lose his owne, may be thought to doe better and more honourably, in imitating Christ who laid downe his life for his enemies.) This then being granted, I say yet to the second part of your que∣stion, that the same rule cannot be extended to the making of warre unlawfull. 1. Because the Su∣preme Power who is supposed to mannage the warre, hath the sword put into his hand by God, (which the private man had not;) and that not onely to punish Subjects, but also to protect them: 2. Because it is his duty so to doe, which he may not, (without sinne against them, and failing in discharge of trust) neglect; whereas the private man having power of his owne goods, may re∣cede from that naturall right of his; deny him∣selfe, Page 217 to follow Christ; and for his life it selfe may better thus part with it, by leaving it to Gods tuition, then the Magistrate can another mans, being entrusted by God to defend it, and by oath bound to performe that part of his duty. And for the number of those whom a warre en∣dangers to kill, that will be countervailed with the number of those whom it is intended to pre∣serve, whose peace and quiet living, if it may be gotten, is more valuable to them then life it selfe deprived of that.
Well then, supposing warre to be lawfull, and these two kinds of warres to be such, What other kinde of lawfull warres are there? Or be there any more?
It will be hard to name any other; and yet I shall not peremptori∣ly say there is no other, because some other per∣haps may be found which will beare proportion to one of these.
It will be easier to informe you in this matter by telling you what be the speciall sorts of wars that are unlawfull.
What be they?
1. When one Nation fighteth with another for no other reason but because that other is not of the true Religion; this is certainly unlawfull. For 1. God hath not given any nation this jurisdiction over another. And 2. 'Tis against the nature of Religi∣on to be planted by violence or consequently by the sword; and therefore much more is this unlawfull for Subjects to doe, against the lawes Page 218 and governours under which they are placed.
But is not Religion the most precious thing of all? What then may we fight for, if not for that?
It is the most precious thing indeed, and that to be preserved by all lawfull, proper, proportionable meanes; but then warre or unlawfull resistance being of all things most improper to defend, or secure, or plant this; and it being acknowledged unlawfull for Peter to use the sword for the de∣fence of Christ himselfe, to doe it meerely for Religion, must needs be very unlawfull. Religion hath still been spread & propagated by suffering, & not by resisting: and indeed it being not in the power of force to constreine my soule, or change my Religion, or keepe me from the profession of it, armes or resistance must needs be very impro∣per for that purpose.
What other warre is un∣lawfull?
All manner of invasive warre for the enlarging of our territories; for the reven∣ging of an affront; for the weakning of those that we see prosperous, and consequently suspect it possible for them to invade us for the future; or in any case, unlesse perhaps to get some repara∣tion for some eminent injury done to our nation which the nation cannot reasonably beare, nor yet hope for any other way of reparation.
What is required to make it lawfull for any private man to take armes?
Commission from the Supreme Powers under which he lives, and to Page 219 whom he is a Subject, and who have the power of the sword in their hand; and therefore as in obedience to them, it is possible for a private man lawfully to take armes, even when the Go∣vernours do it unlawfully, supposing that he thinke the cause good upon the Supreme Powers undertaking it; so he that takes up armes only for hire, or hope of honour &c. under one who is not his Magistrate, may, though the cause be just for which the Generall fights, commit sinne in fighting under him.
What is there more that you thinke fit to teach me from this precept of not retaliating, or not av enging the injurious?
It will be best giv∣en you by proceeding, and observing what Christ addes on the backe of this prohibition. But whosoever shall smite thee on thy right checke, turne to him the other also &c.
What is gene∣rally observable from those additions?
1. The occasion of them, 2. The generall nature of them wherein they all agree and accord.
What is the occasion of them?
Christ's foresight of an objection, which upon occasion of the prohibi∣tion precedent, men would be apt to make, thus: If when one doth me an injury I may not re∣venge it on him my selfe, or require a legall re∣venge upon him, then by this easinesse he will be taught to multiply those injuries; to smite me on the other cheeke, when he sees me take that Page 220 so patiently; to take away my cloake also, if I am so tame as to let him carry away my coate without any payment; to make me goe a stage of two miles with him next time, if I take the first oppression so patiently. To this foreseen obje∣ction, our Saviour answers by commanding us to performe the former duty, and put this feared hazard to the venture, intimating that this is not sure to be the reward and consequent of such pa∣tience. But yet if it should be certainely so, yet we Christians must rather submit to this also, then give the raines to our revenge on that considera∣tion; we must venture that consequent with Christ who hath commanded us this patience, and be armed for the worst that can befall us in his service. From whence you see what obliga∣tion it is, that lyes upon us toward those acts which are accounted so ridiculous among men. Not that we are presently to turne the left cheeke to him that strikes us on the right, to give the cloak to him that takes the coate, &c. but to performe the precept of non-revenge, and not to be tempt∣ed from it by any foreseene inconvenience: Yea and really to make that adventure, if I cannot performe that obedience without it, rather let him take the cloake also, then seeke wayes of re∣venge for such former trespasses. Which will be nothing unreasonable, if we consider, 1. That Christ can preserve us from farther injuries if he Page 221 think good, as well without as with our assi∣stance; and indeed that patience is oft blest by him to be a more prosperous meanes of this, then selfe revenge would be; it being Christ's tryed rule to overcome evill with good, 2. That if we should chance to suffer any thing by obeying him, he will be able to repaire us in another world.
What now is the generall nature of these appen∣dant precepts, wherein they all agree and accord?
That they are all tolerable and supportable injuries both in respect of what is done already, and what may be consequent to our bearing them. For thus the losse of the coate, or cloake also is a moderate injury; the smiting on the cheeke or cheekes a very unconsiderable paine; and only valued for the contumely annext to it, which yet Christians had beene before, v. 11. (and should after by the sufferings of Christ be) taught to support cheerefully; and the going a mile or two a very tollerable invasion on their liberty, and a very easie post, being compared with the ordinary stages, and from thence 1. The reason∣ablenesse and agreeablenesse of Christs commands to our strength appeares; that he provides us such easie yoakes and light burthens. even when we thinke he useth us most hardly, 2. The indul∣gence which he allowes us in matters of greater concernment; where the damage or trespasse is not so supportable, he there intimates a liberty Page 222 to use some meanes to save or repaire our selves, (which may be extremely usefull if not necessa∣ry to our temporall Subsistence) though not to worke revenge on the enemy for what is past, by exacting any punishment on his person, by endeavouring to trouble him, who hath troubled us, (which cannot bring in any profit to us.)
What now is particularly observable from each of these, and 1. from the first?
That for light injuries done to our bodies which leave no wound behinde them, nor are the disabling or weakening of our bodies, nor bring any consider∣able paine with them, we are not to seeke any way of private, no nor so much as of legall re∣venge, no not though the injury were a contu∣mely also, and the putting it up, a reproach in the account of the world, and withall a possible nay probable meanes to bring more upon me of the same making, this thus set, is my Christian duty, which I cannot omit without sinne; and which for us to performe or Christ to command is so farre from unreasonable, that the contrary if we observe the experience of it, is much more unreasonable, and the seeking revenge ordinari∣ly subjects us to greater inconveniences, to more and more dangerous blowes, many times, if we become our owne champions, and avenge our selves; and to more considerable trouble and charge, if we seeke it from the Court of Judica∣ture.
What do you in particular observe from the second?
1 The word rendered [sue at*law] may also signifie to strive, or contend with thee any other way, and so take away thy coate from thee, (and in this case rather loose that and more, then either hurt or maligne him) and 'tis not improbable that it may so signifie here, be∣cause Saint Luke reades [him that taketh away thy coate, forbid not. &c.] i. e, do not by contra∣ry * violence or hurting of him thus repell him. If it referre to the former, then we learne that suing at the law, though it be meant as a remedy for trespasses, is oft used as an instrument to do them. 2. That another having wronged me by a suit, and gotten an unjust verdict against me doth not make it Christian for me to attempt the like on him. 3. That I must not stand so punctually on my right of dominion or propriety in my goods, as to designe revenge on every one whosoever shall in the least matter intrench on it, which, be∣side that Christ's prohibition makes sinne in a Christian, the very delayes, and expencefullnesse of Courts makes unreasonable and absurd for any man to do. Many losses are more supportable. then such a costly meanes of repairing them: Yet this not so farre to be extended, but that he that 1. By no arbitration can get his owne. Or 2. that desires only to obtaine decision of any con∣troversie, Or 3. he that by this meanes may de∣fend Page 224 a widow or orphane, Or 4. provide for his owne family. Or 5. enable himselfe to re∣leive the poore, may lawfully in a matter of great moment enter a suit at law.
What from the third?
That the same rule holds for my liberty, that did for my body and estate, that eve∣ry diminution of it must not enrage me either to a private or legall revenge on the invader: the summe of all is, that small supportable injuries of any kind we Christians must beare without hurt∣ing againe, or so much as prosecuting or implead∣ing the injurious. In weightier and more con∣siderable matters, though we may use meanes. 1. To defend our selves. 2. To get legall reparati∣ons for our losses, yet even in those the giving a∣ny way to revengefull desires, or desireing to give him any smart, or paine that brings no reall gaine, or ease, or advantage to us, save only the satisfying our revengefull humour, is still utterly unlawfull.
But what is that, that followes in the close of this period, v. v. 42, Give to him that asketh thee, and from him that would borrow of thee turne not thou away?] And how comes it in this place?
The substance of it is a command of univer∣sall, unlimited liberality according to our power to all that are in need, and a direction to one spe∣ciall kind of workes of mercy, the lending (with∣out all exaction of use for the loane) to those, Page 225 that are in present want, and may by such pre∣sent supplies for present exigence, be taught a way of thriving in the world, and getting out from those difficulties of fortune. In which case the lending for a time, and after that time the re∣quiring mine owne againe, may do some men as much, perhaps more good, by obligeing them to industry, and providence, and fidelity, then giving to some others might have done.
What connexion is there betwixt this precept of liberality, and the non-revenge immediately pre∣ceding.
'Tis this, 1. That forgiving, and giving, the two speciall workes of our charity toward men, should alwaies go together; one never doth so well, as when tother is joyned with it. Revenge will blast our liberality; and the coveteous illiberall heart will defame the most perfect patience. 2. That the practice of liberality will helpe us to thinke it reasonable not to meditate Revenge, and withall demon∣strate our patience of injuries &c. to be no pu∣sillanimous cowardly act, because I dare not re∣sist him, but only an act of obedience unto Christ, in doing as he hath done, both for patience and liberality, my Christian charity obligeing me to one as well as tother.
[§ 10] *What now is the ground-worke of the next period?
The repetition of the old law of loving neighbours and hating enemies.
Is there Page 226 any such thing in the law of Moses, or Nature, that we should hate our enemies, and love none butneigh∣bours?
I shall tell you as clearely as I can what both those lawes have done, in this matter.
What hath the law of Moses done?
For the loving of the Neighbour, i. e. the fellow Jew, it hath commanded to love him as thy selfe, Lev. 19. 18. and not to avenge nor beare any grudge against him; from which, though it were no exclusion of the like to other country-men, yet 'tis very true that the Jewes tooke occasion of advantage to deny all kindnesse and exercise of offices of common humanity to all others unlesse they became Proselytes to them, Now this they did without any authority of their law, which therefore Christ by the parable of the good Sa∣maritan, shewes to belong to the loving of (and shewing mercy to) others beside their owne country men, and extending the meaning of the word [neighbour] to all those who are of the same common stocke with us, and are men as well as our selves: though the truth is, God by pre∣scribing the Jewes peculiar meates, and forbiding others that were familiarly used by the Nations, did consequently interdict them any speciall fa∣miliarity of converse with the Nations; by way of caution, lest they should be corrupted by them who were at that time so extremely Idolatrous; which rule consequently was to be accounted Page 227 temporary, and to last no longer then the reason of it. But then, for the hating of enemies, it is not to be thought that there was any such pre∣cept given to them, of hating, either all but their owne country men, or even all their very enemies. Thus much only toward it we finde in the law, that though the Jewes were commanded to do courtesies to their enemies of their owne country, to rescue the enemies Oxe out of the ditch, &c. yet they are forbid to enter any friendship, affinity, league with the seven nations, Hittites, Amo∣rites, &c. or to shew any mercy to them; which yet must not be extended to the commanding all manner of mortall hatred against them, but this within certaine limits; they were to offer them conditions of Peace, and to permit them to redeeme their lives, if they desired it, by servi∣tude, Deut. 20. 10, 11. and though upon not accepting of conditions of peace, they were to have no pity on them, but to destroy them ut∣terly, yet this belonged only to those of that age; Solomon doth not so, but only levies a tribute of bond-service upon them 1 King. 9. 20, 21. After the same manner were they to deale with the A∣malekites, to have warre with them for ever. Ex. 17. 16. Deut. 25. 19. and with some difference, with the Moabites, and Ammonites. In all which nothing can be observed contrary to the law of nature, or humanity; for the same power that Page 228 the Magistrates on earth have over malefactors, the same sure must be yeilded God over Nations and Governours of them, to put them to death by what meanes he please. This execution he was pleased to commit to the people of the Jewes, af∣ter a long time of patience, when those natione had filled up the measure of their rebellion, Lev. 18. 14. So that this of hating enemies] cannot be accounted of as any common generall command, for it held not generally against any but these forenamed nations; but as a speciall, particular sentence of Gods, to be at that time executed on them. And although, the truth is, the Jewes did generally resolve it lawfull to kill or spoyle any that were strangers from the religion of the true God; yet by the limiting of Gods command for such execution to these forenamed, and that with this reason, because they had fill'd up the measure of their iniquities (which when it is, none but God can judge of) 'tis evident that this was an errour in the Jewes, and that the rather because at this time when Christ spake, they were sub∣ject to the Romanes, and had no power of the sword in their hands; in which case those for∣mer commands of warre with Ameleck, (much more with other idolatrous Nations, against whom it was not appointed) became utterly out-dated, and the law of nature was to prevaile; which commends love and charity to all men.
You promised also to shew me what the law of Nature had done in this matter. I pray what is it?
We have no better way now to judge of that then by the writings and sayings of the wisest naturall men; the summe of which is this; That all men are to be loved and obliged by us; No man to be hurt or disobliged but he who hath first injured me; in which case the great Philoso∣pher thinkes it a reproveable thing to love an ene∣my,* (as to hate a friend) but withall, the mode∣ratest, and wisest, and most elevated minds, though they would not command or oblige all men to love enemies, doe yet commend it as most honourable so to doe, and give many excellent reasons for it; and conclude, that the wise and good man hath no enemy. So that from all this the short is, that the Jewes taking some advan∣tage from those forementioned commands of Moses, and mistaking them, did thinke it lawfull to hate others of different Religions, i. e. all other Nations, (and the same may be observed of the Grecians toward the rest of the world under the title of Barbarians) but in this did they both a∣gainst the law of Moses, as hath beene shewed, and against the law of Nature; by which, hating or hurting is avowed onely in case of injuries done, and even then also the contrary commen∣ded; and so that which Christ hath here to doe, is partly to recall and reforme the Jewes to the Page 230 law of nature, and to command that which that commended, partly to advance and set it higher then the law of the Jewes had required of them before.
What then is now the law of Christ in this matter?
It is set downe, v. 44. But I say unto you, love your enemies, &c. to the end of this Chapter. The summe of which is, that other mens faults or sinnes against us (nay against God himselfe, for the Jewes enemies, the people of the seven Nations, Amorites, &c. being most detestable sinners before God, are here referr'd to in this word, Enemies) give not us any dis∣pensation for the non-payment of that great debt of our nature, love to all our kind. 'Tis true indeed the passions and affections that our nature is sub∣ject to, doe incline us to revenge against our e∣nemies; or if we can conquer that, yet we cannot choose but make a distinction betweene freinds and foes, and at least have a great coldnesse and indifference to those who have deserved so ill at our hands. But Christ is come to mortify those affections of rage and revenge; and to leade us higher then nature would bring us; to affections, and words, and actions of kindnesse, and benigni∣ty to those that have exprest the contrary of e∣very of these toward us.
But is it not aboun∣dantly sufficient, if my affections and behaviour to∣ward mine enemy, be not like his to me, unkind, re∣taliating of injuries, &c? Is there any more requi∣red Page 231 of me?
Yes undoubtedly, of a Christian; who is to transcribe that copy, that Christs owne dealing with us when we were enemies, did set us. I must not onely negatively not hate, or curse, or pursue with injuries; but love, and blesse, and doe good, and pray for my greatest enemy.
What is meant by Loving him?
That denotes the affection of charity, and kindnesse, and benignity toward him: 1. Wishing him all the good in the world, but that especially which he most wanteth, the good of his soule, convicti∣on of sinne, reformation, &c. 2. Pitying and com∣passionating him, and that the more for being mine enemy, because that implies a sinne in him, which is of all things the most proper matter of compassion. 3. Being cordially affected toward him.
What is meant by Blessing him?
The word in Greeke, and the opposition to cursing, (i. e. evill or bitter speaking) noteth kindnesse and *freindlinesse of language; giving them all freind∣ly and courteous words, who have nothing but railing and evill speaking for us; commending in them whatever is capable of it, though they doe nothing but defame and backbite us.
What is meant by Doing good to them?
All outward reall effects and actions of charity. Such are almes if they be in want; feeding, giving to drinke, clo∣thing them, when they are hungry, thirsty, naked; comfort if in any distresses; Counsell if in any Page 232 difficulty; rescuing their goods, &c. if we see them in danger; admonishing them in a freindly manner, and such as may be most likely to pre∣vaile with them when we see them falling into any sinne, reproving and correcting fatherly, when we see them fallen: In a word, contribu∣ting our utmost to the good of their bodies, e∣states, families, reputations, but especially their soules; and all this without any tincture of our revenge, or rage mixing with it.
What is meant by Praying for them?
Desiring of God for them whatsoever they want. 1. Pardon of sinne with an expression of my free pardoning them. 2. Grace for amendment of life. 3. All other blessings temporall and spirituall which they stand in need of.
This is a duty of some difficulty, what helpe can you direct me to, to facilitate the performance of it?
Many considerations there are which will tend to that end. Three there are here na∣med.
What be they?
The first is the example of God, who sheweth mercy to sinners, who are his enemies; and in the outward dis∣spensation of temporall blessings, giveth as libe∣rall a portion many times to the wicked, un∣thankfull provokers, as to his good servants; and for the common advantages of life, Sunne and Raine, dispenseth them generally in an equality to all. And then for us to doe the like, is a God-like Page 233 thing; the greatest dignity that our nature is ca∣pable of.
What is the second helpe?
The consideration of the reward which God hath de∣creed for such who doe this, and that proportio∣ned to their actions; retribution of good to e∣vill, of mercy and happinesse, though we are sin∣ners and enemies. Whosoever doth but thinke of that, how much the joies of Heaven for eter∣nity are beyond the pleasure of a little revenge for the present, will never thinke fit to make such an unequall exchange, to lose so rich a reward for so poore a pleasure.
What is the third helpe?
The consideration of what is done by all others the vilest and wickedest men in the world. For such were the Publicanes accounted, and yet they could thinke themselves obliged to love their freinds, and satisfy that obligation; they could use civilities, and courteous compella∣tions and salutations to their neighbours, &c. And if we who are bound to exceed the Scribes and Pharisees, the strictest sect among the Jewes, shall be but in the same ranke with Publicanes, (who are otherwhere put with heathens, and harlots, and sinners) the vilest and most abominable of all men; this will sure be a great reproach to us Christians.
What other motives can you adde in this matter, why I should love my enemies?
1. That by this meanes I shall conquer my selfe, my unruly passions, with a most glorious heroicall Page 234 peice of victory. 2. That by this I shall preserve my selfe in a great calmenesse and quiet of minde; which thoughts of revenge wholly deprive me of. 3. That this is of all others the most probable way of overcoming my enemies; Revenge being a meanes of exasperating and enflaming him, cha∣rity of melting him. Which if I doe, I first get a freind for an enemy, and secondly, have the ho∣nour and claime to the reward due to them, that convert sinners from the errour of their wayes. 4. That this is a way of excelling all other men in the world; none but Christians thinking them∣selves obliged to doe this. 5. That this is the spe∣ciall way of Christian perfection, and is so called in the close of this Chapter, Be ye perfect, as your Father which is in Heaven is perfect. In stead of which, Saint Luke reads, 6. 36. Be ye mercifull, &c. nothing this mercy, or almes, or benignity to enemies to be the highest degree of Christian perfection.
I beseech God by his renewing quickning spirit to mortify the contrary sinne, and worke this truly Christian grace in my heart. You have past through the fifth Chapter, and so Christs Reformations of, and Additions to the Old Com∣mandement. I will not question why Christ refor∣med or improved no more of them, it is sufficient to me that he hath not; which being an act of his wise∣dome, it is not forman to question, but acquiesce in.
You judge aright, yet doe I conceive that Page 235 two other Commandements of the second Ta∣ble Christ hath improved in this Sermon. The ninth there of not bearing false witnesse, he hath improved into not judging, c. 7. 1. the last of not coveting, into taking no thought, c. 6. 25. &c. And as for the fifth (which is the onely one of the se∣cond Table now left out, there may be particular reason for it, because that honour of father and mother, obedience to superiours, Magistrates; &c. was by the Jewish law advanced so high, e∣ven to prohibiting of thoughts of evill against such (which say the lewes, is the onely case wherein thoughts are prohibited) that there was no need or almost possibility of setting it higher. Let us now proceed to the next, the sixth Chapter, and consider what first we shall fall upon.