The Whole Duty of Man Epitomiz'd for the Benefit of the Poor
Benefit of the POOR.
With Select Prayers suited to
By Edm. Stacy, a Minister of the
Church of England.
‘Fear God, and keep his Command-
ments; for this is the Whole Duty of Man,’ Eccles. 12. 13.
1. To the Right Honourable Sir Richard Levit, Lord Mayor Elect;And the Honourable Charles Duncomb, and Jeffery Jefferies Esquires, Sheriffs of the City of London, &c.
IF there be any thing that can excuse my Presumption in putting Three such great Names to this little Book, it must be the Sincerity of my Intention for the Interest of Religion.
For the Doctrines it contains, I need say no more, than that they are faithfully Collected from that incomparable Author the Whole Duty of Man, a Book (to speak in Dr. Hammond's Words) that has [Page] all the Advantages, which (with Gods Blessing) can render it fit for the Salvation of Mankind.
My Design in drawing it into this little Volume, I have already mentioned in the Title, viz. For the Benefit of the Poor, and who so fit to recommend it to them, as those very Persons to whom the Government of this great City is entrusted; your Names, your Characters, and your Authority together, must needs stamp a Repute upon it; and render it acceptable even to this sinful Age.
I am sensible, there's neither of you can be any Friend to the common Vanity of Complement; and therefore to bespeak your Acceptance of these few Sheets; I shall Address my Self to your gracious God, that under the shadow of your Protection, he would bless this Epitomy to the Conversion of many Souls.
Alas! we live in a World wherein Vertue has almost lost her Prerogative, Religion has few true [Page] Friends and will have fewer still, till Men can be persuaded to consider the Necessity and Advantage of it; and how far this little Book may contribute towards that End is utterly out of my Power to determine.
I know I have put it into good hands, and so I humbly leave it with you, with this Assurance, that whatever you do in the behalf of piety and Charity, will be doubly plac'd to your Account in the Records of Eternity, and entitle you to Rewards as large as your Merits, and as lasting as your Souls.
And now there remains no more, but to beseech you to accept this little Book, and Pardon the unworthy Author, who amongst many others that Congratulate your Accession to your respective Stations, is one of the first that has thus ventur'd to do it in Publick
Your high Qualifications have drawn after you many Hearts, and many ardent Wishes, and Mine in [Page] a more Particular manner than the rest, who am with the utmost Distance and Regard, may it please your Honours,
Your most obedient Servant, E. Stacy.
2. THE PREFACE.
OUR Inimitable Author has propos'd the Care of our Souls as the grand Proparatory to the Whole Duty of Man, and indeed I cannot better recommend the Epitomy of his Book, then by telling you in his Words, that the carelessness of our Souls is the Root of all the Sin we commit; so that unless we would be perswaded to consider the Condition of our Souls, all Lectures of Religion must be utterly lost upon us.
The Design of this little Book will admit of but a very short Preface, and therefore I shall only tell the Reader, that his Soul being infinitely the most valuable of any thing that he has beside, has the greatest Title to his 'Care both in Point of Reason and Justice.
This is what we find confirm'd in the Accounts of all Wise Men, who still value every thing more or less, as it [Page] most imports to their Interest or Happiness. Our Souls therefore being our chiefest Good, it concerns us very nearly to consult their Preservation, and how that's to be done, is the Design of the following Sheets.
I hope it will not be expected, I should say any thing in Apolygy for this undertaking. If the thing be done as it ought to be, it must needs be of general good; the Reader indeed woul do well to observe, that though my Brevity, &c. has generally compell'd me to use my own Words, yet the Meaning and Method of the Author are all along carefully preserv'd.
For the Whole Duty of Man it self 'tis indeed a most compleat System of Religion, and therefore highly fit to be often read over at large by all, whos Time and Circumstances will allow it; This Epitomy is only design'd to supply those Deficiencies, and for the Assistance of bad Memories; in brief 'tis intended chiefly for the Benefit of the Poor, and to them I refer it &c
3. THE Whole Duty OF MAN Epitomiz'd, &c.
the Duty of Man by the Light of Nature, and Scripture: His Duty to God, Himself, and his Neighbour. His Duty to God; of Faith, the Promises, of Hope, of Love, of Fear, of Trust.
THE Incarnation of our Blessed Lord, is without doubt a sufficient Warrant for the Salvation of our Souls, if we perform the [Page 2] Conditions annext to it; which is in general to use our honest endeavours to obey the whole Will God, according as we have it convey'd to us, by the Light of Nature, and the Light of the Holy Scriptures.
Of the Light of Nature. The Light of Nature in the first place is a Light which God has stampt upon our very Souls, by the guidance which, without the help of Scripture mere Natural Conscience would direct us in the performance of several Duties. Such as are to Worship a God, to be Just one to another, and to Honour our Parents, and the like.
Of the Light of Scripture. The Light of Scriptures is a far more Divine Light, wherein God hath laid before us both his Commands, and Precepts, to be the general Rule and Grounds of our Duty.
The general Rules of the Duty of every Christian are briefly [Page 3] comprehended under these three Heads; The three great Branches of Mans Duty. our Duty to God, our Selves, and our Neighbours, and those three I intend for the Subject of the following Discourse.
The Foundation of our Duty to God, Duty to God. is grounded chiefly upon our acknowledging him to be God, and then admitting of no other.
Acknowledging him to be God. And first by acknowledging him to be a God, we are to believe him to be an Infinite Glorious Being, without either beginning or end, both Father, Son, and Holy Ghost, God blessed for ever.
To believe him in his Attributes. We are likewise to believe him in his Attributes; to be a God of Mercy, Justice, and Power, that he sees and knows all things, and disposes every [Page 4] Event, according to his Will, and that he can never cease to be other than perfectly Good, Mercifull and Just.
The believing him to be our God signifies yet more, it means by Faith we should believe the Holy Scriptures to be his Word, and that all that he speaks to us by them, are most true; that all that he affirms is Indubitable, Of Faith, of God's Affirmations, Commands, Threatnings and Promises that his Commands are Just, and Equal, his Threatnings and Punishments certain and unavoidable, and that all his Promises are Yea and Amen, and will most certainly be made good to all those that faithfully depend upon him.
This is the sum of our Faith, or Belief of those things God has been pleased to reveal to us in the Holy Scriptures.
The next Duty to God is Hope, which is a comfortable Expectation of his Promises, and should be always [Page 5] preserv'd from the dangerous extreme of Presumption or Despair; Of Hope, Presumption and Despair. We should neither depend to much, nor too little upon his Mercies, but rely upon his Justice, and Integrity for our Rewards and Punishments.
A Third Duty we owe to God is Love, Of Love and the Motives, i. e. Gods Goodness, Excellence, and his kindness to Men. a Duty which without doubt he has the the greatest right to, both upon the account of his Goodness and Compassion to us, his Innate Excellence, and his particular Kindness to all Mankind.
God is most Good, Just and Excellent, he is perfectly Holy, Kind, and Compassionate, and cannot be charg'd with any Impurity, or the least mixture of any thing that is evil; his Goodness and Kindness are Immence and Infinite, and have been so abundantly demonstrated [Page 6] both to our Bodies and Souls, that we cannot refuse him our Love without the greatest Injustice.
The Scripture abound with Holy Invitations, endearing Promises and affectionate Offers, by which he endeavours, as it were, to woo us into good Lives, and to entreat us to accept of Happiness here and Eternal Happiness hereafter.
The Fruits of Love, a desire to please & enjoy him. The two great Tokens of our True Love to God are, First, An earnest desire to please him; and Secondly, To enjoy him. This is the common Indication of true Love in all ordinary Cases; and above all other things doth best approve us to those we have a real value for.
Of pleasing God. The reality of our Affections to God are best declar'd, by a steady Conformity to the Divine Will, a readiness to obey his Commandments, and an awful regard to his Precepts; these [Page 7] are indeed Arguments of our real Love, and Affection, and the only way we can make use of, either to please him, or to shew the sincerity of our Hearts.
Of enjoying him. Next to pleasing God, a desire to enjoy him is consistent with our Love; if we love God in earnest we shall covet to be always in his Company, conversing with him in Prayers and Meditations hearing his Word and receiving his Sacraments, which is the only means of enjoying God in this World.
Our enjoyment of God in the next is far more permanent and compleat; there we shall be continually with him in eternal fruition of Joy and Happiness, in comparison of which all our advantages in this Life are but empty Baubles and Trifles.
Fear. A Fourth Duty to God is Fear, which arises from the consideration of his Power and Justice; and those in Conjunction, do both enable, and [Page 8] oblige him to punish the Wicked; an awful regard and belief of which is the only means that can restrain us from offending him.
God is the chiefest Object of Fear, We ought not to fear Man more than God. and therefore we ought not to fear Man more than God. I will not fear, says the Psalmist, what Man can do unto me. Men have no Power to do us hurt unless by God's Permission, and then their Malice can reach no further neither than our Goods, Names, Liberties or our Lives; the Destruction of Soul and Body together is Gods Prerogative only.
'Tis God alone that knows all our secret Thoughts and Transactions, all our Sins though committed with never so much Privacy, lie always open before him, and he'll be sure to find us out, and punish us unless we repent, which indeed is the greatest Argument that can be to awaken our Fears and engage our Apprehensions.
Trust. A Fifth Duty to God is Trust, that is, a depending and resting upon him in all our Dangers, Wants and Extremities, whether Spiritual or Temporal.
Spiritual Dangers. In our Spiritual Dangers, we are to throw our selves upon God's Assistance, and to implore him to strengthen us with the Grace of his Holy Spirit, that we may be able to withstand, or at least to remove the Temptation.
Temporal Dangers. In our Temporal Dangers we are to rest and depend upon him, to commit our selves to the shadow of his Wings, under the Royal Prophets Assurance, Psalm 34. 22. ‘That the Lord delivereth the Souls of the Saints, and all that put their trust in him shall not be destitute.’
In all our Dangers and Distresses, with Prayers and Tears we are to implore his aid, and not attempt to deliver our selves by any wicked [Page 10] Act; We must not seek to deliver our selves by Sin. we must never use sinful means, not even the Preservation of our Lives and Liberties can make any the least pretence for the doing an unjust thing; Christ himself has told us, that if we gain the whole World and loose our own Souls, we are great loosers by the Bargain; if therefore things should ever come to that unhappy Issue, that we must part with our Estates, perhaps our Lives, or else commit Sin, we should then remember that that's the proper season to fight under the Banner of the great Captain of our Salvation, the Crucify'd JESUS.
Spiritual Wants. In our spiritual Necessities we are to fly to God with Tears in our Eyes and invoke his Assistance, we are to pour out our Souls before him, and then we may depend upon it, that as he has commanded us nothing that he has not given us Power to perform, [Page 11] so he will suffer us to want nothing that we ask of him with a holy and devout Integrity of mind.
We are likewise to rely upon him in all our Temporal and Bodily Wants; Temporal wants. he has oblig'd himself to take care of all his faithful Servants, his Eye is upon them that fear him, and them that hope in his Mercy, to deliver their Souls from Death, and to feed them in the time of Famine.
The Benefits of trusting in God. If we do our Duty honestly and religiously in our several Places and Callings, then as the Apostle adviseth, we may cast all our Care upon God who careth for us, and he who is subject to no sort of Deceit or Impoverishment, that best knows our wants, and is best able to supply 'em, will be sure in the proper season, to relieve us against all Dangers and Necessities, whether Spiritual or Temporal.
I conclude this with the words of [Page 12] the Apostle, Phil. 4. 6. ‘Be careful in nothing, but in every thing by Prayer and Supplication, with thanksgiving, let your Request be made known to God.’
4. PARTITION II.
Of Humility, of Submission to God's Will, in respect of Obedience, of Patience in all sorts of Sufferings and of Honour due to God in several ways, in his House, Possessions, his Day, Word, Sacraments.
Humility. A Sixth Duty to God is Humility, which from an humble sense of our own Meanness and his Excellency should work in us a twofold Submission, the first to his Will, the second to his Wisdom.
Submission to God's Will, with respect to Obedience. A Submission to the Will of God consists chiefly in our Obedience or Patience, in the first by urging [Page 13] us to a ready Complaisance to his Commands, by melting down our stubborn haughty Minds, without which we can never come to know, worship, or obey him, with that profound Distance and Submission which the greatness of his Majesty, and the importance of his Commands require.
The Great distance between God and Man. To promote our Obedience, we should often reflect upon that vast distance that is between God and our Selves, that we are but polluted Dust and Ashes, wretched Creatures but of a few Hours, and that he's without Beginning or End, Immortal and Eternal.
The unworthiness of our best Works. That our best Works and Performances are utterly unworthy of him, or at least unworthy of our own Commendation, the best we can do when we come to compare it with the Perfection and Purity of Almighty God, as the Prophet [Page 14] expresses it, Is but as filthy Rags, and therefore we ought by no means to boast of our own Works, or to attribute any of them to our selves, but to give God the Glory and preheminence in all our Actions.
Submission with respect to Patience. The Second kind of Submission to Gods Will is Patience, which consists in an humble acquiescence to all the Afflictions which HE is pleas'd to lay upon us. This will make us easie under all his Dispensations, and entitle us to a kind of Repose even in the midst of our Troubles, and is indeed the pure effect of that Humility that does so highly recommend us to Almighty God.
Thankfulness for Gods correction. A patient Submission to the Will of God will give us a right notion of our Afflictions rather than encline us to murmurs and complaints, will convince us, that God chastizes us out of Friendship, and [Page 15] so consequently that we are oblig'd to thank him for his Correction, as indeed we are upon many extraordinary Accounts, but especially as they are Marks of his Care and Love.
Fruitfulness under Afflictions. Our quiet, and thankfulness under Afflictions is not all neither, the Fruit of 'em should be Repentance, that's God's chief Design in laying them upon us; that they should force us to call our selves to an account, and enquire diligently what it is that has engag'd him to deal with us in so rough a method.
in all sorts of Sufferings. In all our Sufferings and Afflictions we ought to look upon God's permissive Power as the Principle Agent, and with Holy Job's Patience, let them be deriv'd to us either from God or Man; and in his Words, bless the Name of the Lord for giving us warning.
Secondly, I told you that Humility [Page 16] contain'd likewise a Submission to God's Wisdom, Submission to God's wisdom as well as his Will; God being infinitely Wise and Just, we are to submit to him in all his Commands and Dispensations.
In his Commands. We are to submit to him in his Commands, by making our Understanding bend to his Will and Word, how opposite soever it may be to our own carnal Reason or Humours, for when we consider that his Wisdom is Infinite and cannot Err, we own an Obligation to believe and obey every thing he speaks or commands.
In his Disposals. We are likewise to submit to the Wisdom of God in all his Dealings and Dispensations, and tho many Events happen contrary to the ordinary Course of things, and are utterly above the reach of our narrow Capacities to comprehend, yet being all chosen and determin'd by the unerring [Page 17] Wisdom of God, we ought to submit to them, with the greatest Satisfaction and Humility.
Honour. The next Duty to God is Honour, which consists in the paying him such a respect and Reverence as belongs to the greatness of his Majesty, and this may be either inwardly in our Hearts, or outwardly in our publick Actions, and Behaviour towards him.
Several ways of honouring God, in his House and Possessions. Besides, the general, there are particular Ways of honouring God, as First, By approaching his House, the Church with Reverence, and behaving our selves there with Devotion and Attention; Secondly, In his Possessions by paying our Tithes and Just, Dues which God has appointed for the maintenance of his Ministers.
The Sin of Sacriledge and defrauding the Ministry, is a very great and crying Sin; 'tis the downright [Page 18] robbing of God, The great sin of Sacriledge and the Punishment of it. and indeed his Vengeance is nothing more discernable then in his Punishment of it; upon which account we should have a very strict Care never to medle with any thing set a part for God.
The Lords Day and Feasts of the Church to be kept Holy. The Third Thing whereby we are to express our reverence to God, is by keeping Holy the particular Times set a part for his Service, such as are the Sundays, or Lords-days and other solemn Festivals appointed by the Church; this he has strictly requir'd of us, and herein we must not disappoint him upon any pretence.
The Fasts. Days of Fasting and Humiliation are like wise to be solemnly observ'd, that according to the Design of the Church, we may meet together, and humble our selves [Page 19] deeply before God, and with Prayers and Tears bewail our own and the Sins of the Nation.
God's Word the Holy Scriptures. Fourthly, We are to express our Honour to God, by paying an awful Reverence and respect to his Word, by frequent reading the Holy Scriptures, and by collecting the measures of a good Life from those lively Oracles; by attending upon the Duties of Religion, and by being present as often as we may at the publick Catechizings and Sermons.
Of Catechizing. Catechizing in the first Place is the Foundation upon which the whole Christian Practice must be built, 'tis therefore the Duty of every Parent to have his Children early instructed in the Church Catechism, and for this end they are to call in the help of their respective Ministers; and for those that have been so unhappy to want these Instructions in their Youth, it concerns [Page 20] 'em as nearly as their Soul to have their minds Principl'd with the Conditions of their Salvation as soon as they can, which neither the Consideration of their Age, nor any other pretence should perswade them to defer for one Moment.
Of Preaching. After they are instructed in the Principles of their Religion, they ought then to apply themselves to the hearing of Sermons, which they ought to attend too, not out of Custome or Formality, but for the true ends for which they were first intended. The Doctrines are to be lockt up in our Hearts, that we may have 'em in a readiness to Combate all our Lust and Follies, and to beat off a [...] our Temptations; this is the great end of Preaching, and unless we make this use of it, it signifies little towards the Salvation of our Souls.
Of the Sacraments. Fifthly, We are to Honour God in strict Reverence [...] the two Sacraments [Page 21] viz. Baptism, and the Lords Supper; the first we are to respect as a particular Covenant between God and our selves, the first and earliest Sign of our Salvation; and the second as a remembrance of Christ's Death, and the Priviledges deriv'd to us upon that account.
Of Baptism. The Sacrament of Baptism being administred to us in our Infancy. It is not expected from us to perform the Covenants which we engage our selves to by our Sureties, but then this lays the greater Obligation upon us when we come to Years of Discretion, to redouble our Duty, that we may make the best amends we can, for the defects of our Minority.
To come to a true Knowledge of the Duties we Promise at our Baptism; the right way will be to consider what our Godfathers and Godmothers Vow in our Names, The Vow of Baptism. and that we shall find to be, to renounce the Devil and [Page 22] all his Works, by which is meant that Worshipping all false Gods, which is indeed the worshipping the Devil; Secondly, The Pomps and Vanities of the World, that is, all inordinate desires of Riches and Greatnes, all unlawful Sports and Excesses in Meat or Apparel, and all other sinful things wherein the World is apt to deceive us; and Thirdly, The sinful Lust of the Flesh, by which is understood all inordinate Appetites, and all unclean and carnal Desires, and this is the first part of our Covenant.
The second general Thing our God-fathers and God-mothers promis'd for us in our Baptism; that we should believe all the Articles of the Christian Faith, as they are summ'd up to us in the Apostles Creed, and not barely believe them neighther, but to have all the Principles so deeply impress'd and engraven in our Minds, that from thence we may be able to draw sufficient Motives to the Practice of Vertue and Piety.
The last part of our Vow is, that we should keep Gods Holy Will and Commandments, and walk in the same all the Days of our Lives; that is, that according to the Directions of Gods word, we should walk all our Days in the Paths of true Religion, Honesty and Sobriety.
The strict obligations of this Vow of Baptism. This being in short the Substance of our Vow, the next thing is the Obligations we all under to perform it, and herein I need only tell you, 'tis a Vow of the most solemn and binding Nature, and that you cannot break it without being not only unjust, but forsworn; besides, 'tis our interest to keep it upon many Accounts, but especially upon the Account of the great Priviledges it entitles us to, from the Promises of God convey'd to us in that Sacrament.
5. PARTITION III.
Of the Sacrament of the Lords Supper of Preparation before, as Examination, of Repentance, Faith, and Obedience, of Duties to be done at the Receiving, and afterwards, &c.
The Lords Supper. THE Reverence due to the Sacrament of the Lords Supper is the next thing, which according to my first Division, I shall consider by laying down what is to be done before, at, and after the Receiving.
Things to be done before Receiving. The first is Examination. The first thing to be done before the Sacrament is Examination, which is strict enquiry into the state of our Souls and the Condition of our Lives, and this in the Judgment of St. Paul is so [Page 25] essentially necessary, that we ought not to presume to make any approaches towards the Holy Table without it.
For the perfecting your Examination, you are to consider the Nature of your Covenant, which is a renewal of your Baptismal Vow, and since that is the chief end, three things follow in Course; First, That we be well Instructed in the Covenant it self. Secondly, What have been our Breaches? And Thirdly, Then that we resolve upon a better Performance for the Future, and these three are to be the general Grounds of our Examination.
And First, You'll find that, this is a Covenant made by God with his Son Christ Jesus for the Redemption of all Mankind, and that the Conditions on our side, are an entire Obedience to all his Commands, and the state of our Knowledge in this, is the first part of our examination.
Sins. The next is concerning our Breaches [Page 26] of this Covenant, which we can never know with that exactness as we ought, without comparing them with the Law of God, which as it is the truest rule and measure of our Duty; so 'tis the best means to lead us to the Knowledge and Fountain of our Sins.
Several sorts and degrees. Our Sins alas! are of many sorts and degrees, and require a great deal both of our Judgment and Deliberation to enquire aright into their Causes, and Consequences. It requires a great deal of Skill to heighten and aggravate the Circumstances of our Guilt to that degree, till we come at last to a true Sence of the hainousnes of them.
Humiliation and Contrition The end of Examination is to bring unto this, and to a right Knowledge of our Sins, to humble us in the sight of God, and to melt our Hearts into a deep Sorrow and Contrition upon the Consideration of [Page 27] our Demerits and Injustice towards him; we are likewise to Pray for the Assistance of God's Spirit in the discovery of all our Sins, and for his Grace that we may throughly bewail and lament them.
Confession and Faith. After we have wrought our selves, by the assistance of our Examination to a fixt hatred and aversion against all our Sins, then we are humbly to confess 'em to Almighty God, who by the precious Blood of his Son Jesus Christ, we are faithfully to believe, will be reconcil'd to us, and upon the account of our intire Obedience will vouchsafe us the Salvation of our Souls.
Resolutions of Obedience. And then, when we have thus examin'd and prepar'd our selves with respect to our Humiliation and Contrition, our Confession and Faith, the next thing is our Resolution of Obedience, which must not be only in general, but with a particular regard to every [Page 28] individual Commandment of God, deriv'd from a fixt and solid hatred against all manner of Sins.
Of the means and of present renouncing of Sin. The means of this new and intire Obedience must be our next Care, which will be best perfected by an impartial retreat into our own Minds; there we may discover the Springs and Fountains of our Sins, and what Temptations we are expos'd to, and so be in a capacity to shun and avoid them; and this must be done immediately too, without any manner of Delay or Pretence; for til it be done, and a Bill of Divorce given to every Lust, we are in no respect fit to meet our Redeemer at the Holy Table.
Of imbracing Vertue and quickning Graces. Beside this, we are to put our Souls into the best posture that we can, by imbracing all the Vertues of a good Life, and possessing them with all those Graces [Page 29] that may render them acceptable in the Eyes of God, and this we may do effectually, by contemplating the Promises and goodness of God, and by meditating upon the exemplary Life and Doctrine of our blessed Lord.
Charity and Devotion and the necessity of those Graces. His Life will put us in mind of that Charity and forgiving temper, which is so often, and solemnly requir'd of us, and so essentially necessary in our Sacramental Preparations; 'tis Death for us to approach God's Feast of Love, with any manner of Ranchor or Malice; we are to bring no other Dispositions thither, but what are dictated to us from a Devout Mind. A fixt and settled Devotion, earnest and frequent Prayers, and a Soul disentangled from the World, are our properest Companions for this Sacrament, and for these we are earnestly to implore God's Assistance, without whose help in assisting us with the Graces aforementioned, [Page 30] we can never expect to compleat our Preparations.
And for the better perfecting all this, we are to apply our selves to our spiritual Guide, to the Minister of our own Parish, who is th properest Person in this Case; to him without any manner of reserve we are to declare our Doubts and Jealousies, and to take his Assistance and Directions; The usefulness of a spiritual Guide. We should not be asham'd to discover our selves. and herein no sort of shame to discover our selves ought to deter or disincourage us; we ough to open our Case fairly and Impartially, that he may know perfectly how matters stand between God and our Souls, and then he will be able to give us Advice how to cure both our Doubts and our Sins; As necessary to the Confident as the Doubtful. the doubtful and the confident are equally oblig'd to this, our own Judgments [Page 31] are not intirely to be relied upon in a Concern where there is so much weight and difficulty, nor is the Advantage of a spiritual Guide to be rejected, when it can be of use in the Improvement of our Preparation.
These are the Duties before the Sacrament. The next thing is, what is to be done at the Time of Receiving; At the time of Receiving to meditate upon our unworthiness and Christ's Sufferings. and here, First, Consider thy own unworthiness, and how unfit thy Sins and Frailties, and the repeated breach of thy Vows, have render'd thee for such a Holy Table; from hence, let thy Meditations lead thee to the Sufferings of Christ. When we see the Bread broken, and the Wine pour'd out, we should reflect that his blessed Body was torn, and his Blood split, and that it was our Sins that was the Cause of both.
Consider likewise that the Sufferings of Christ were the only means [Page 32] to attone the wrath of God, The Atonement wrought by them; thankfulness for them, the love of Christ in them. and then consider what unexpressible thanks are due to him for preserving thy Soul that must have perish'd eternally, without his help; this great Love of Christ for us, should stir up in us a love for him, and engage us immediately to take up solemn Resolutions to Sin no more, and that we may indeed perform these Resolutions we ought earnestly to beg of this crucified Saviour, that he will by the Power of his Death, mortifie and kill all our Corruptions.
The Benefits of the new Covenant seal'd in the Sacrament. Just as we are about to receive the Consecrated Bread & Wine, we should remember that then God is entring into a New Covenant with us, that he's now giving us fresh Assurances of the Pardon of our Sins, if we perform [Page 33] our part of the Condition; Upon receiving, give thanks, and Pray. as soon as we have receiv'd, we ought to offer him our devoutest Prayers for that great Mercy, and should be sure never to forget to send up our Prayers to him, not more for our selves than for the good Estate of the Church, and for the Conversion of all Mankind.
After the Sacrament, private prayers and Thanksgivings After the Sacrament is over, then we ought as soon as possible, to retire our selves, and to repeat again our Prayers and Praises, and to renew our Promises, and to beg the Assistance of God's Grace to enable us to make 'em good, and to pursue our present Purposes to the end of our Lives.
Not presently to fall to worldly Affairs. The Day we receive the Sacrament should be kept void of all worldly Cares [Page 34] and Business; we should spend that Day especially in Prayers and Meditations; and indeed no day should pass, To keep our Resolution, and the danger of breaking them. but we should call to mind the Promises we make to God at the Sacrament, and consider seriously the danger we expose our selves to in breaking them.
Making God and our Conscience our Enemy. In breaking our Vows at the Sacrament, we make God our Enemy, and engage him to withdraw from us all manner of Kindness and Compassion; nay, we raise an Enemy within our own Bosom; our Conscience must needs fly in our Face, and upbraid us with the breach of such solemn Vows and Covenants.
Gods Mercies in pardoning us heretofore should not give us the least encouragement to provoke him again; to presume upon this is a very high abuse of his goodness; [Page 35] The obligation of our Sacramental Vows are perpetual, God's former pardons no incouragement, the vow perpetual, yet often to be renewed. and can never be violated without the breach of our Oaths; 'tis perpetual, 'tis true, and yet 'tis to be renew'd often. We are to do it as often as we have opportunity, in remembrance that Christ died for us. And thus I have shew'd you the Reverence we are to pay to God in his Sacrament.
6. PARTITION IV.
Honour due to God's Name; Sin's against it, Blasphemy, Swearing, of Assertory, Promissory, unlawful Oaths, of Perjury, vain Oaths, and the Sin of them.
Honour due to God's Name. THE last thing wherein we are to express a Reverence to God is in honouring [Page 36] his Name, and what this is, will be best understood by considering what are the Things by which it is chiefly dishonoured.
Sins against it Blasphemy and Swearing.The first Sin against the Honour of God's Name is Blasphemy, the highest Degree of which is Cursing him, either by our Words or in our Thoughts, and next to that, Swearing either by false Oaths or else by rash and light ones.
Assertory Oaths and Promissory. A false Oath may be of two kinds; as First, That by which I affirm some thing; or, Secondly, That by which I Promise; the one we call an Assertory, and the other a Promissory Oath, and are both a very great dishonour to God's Name, when they are not taken with Sincerity and Truth, and perform'd with reality.
Unlawful Oaths. An Oath is the strongest Tie that can be between Man and [Page 37] Man, but yet if it be unlawful in it self and contradictory, and impracticable in the Nature of it, in such a Case, though the breach even of such an Oath be a very great Sin, yet 'tis better to repent heartily of our Folly and Wickedness in making such a sinful and inconsiderate Oath, than to attempt with greater Sin and Danger in the performance of it.
God greatly dishonored by Perjury, and the Punishments of it. There is nothing by which the Name of God is more dishonoured than by Perjury, 'tis the highest affront can be offer'd to him, and indeed we find him resenting nothing with more just severity, than this kind of Violation of his Honour, He will not hold him guiltless, he has declar'd, that taketh his Name in vain, which is so dreadful a menace, that methinks it should engage every one that has any value for his Salvation, to keep them most strictly from this Sin.
Vain Oaths and the Sin of them.All vain and light Oaths, such as are so common in our Discourses, are likewise a very high offence against the Majesty of the Name of God. Our Saviour has forbidden us to swear, even by mere Creatures, to shew us, I presume the Reverence we ought to have fo the Name of their Creator; and sure whatever this prophane Age may think of it, there is nothing does more argue a Contempt of God, than to hear his Name intermix'd in every Period of loose Discourse, and violated every Moment with horrid and impertinent Oaths.
They lead to Perjury, and are liable to no Temptation. This sort of vain and rash Swearing leads directly to Perjury, we grow at last so Familiar with th Name of God, that at length we can use it upon any occasion, without considering whether we swear true or false to things doubtful or certain [Page 39] beside this too, there is no manner of Temptation for this sort of leud Swearing, there is no kind of Pleasure or Profit in it, nor any thing else to recommend it, and so consequenely 'tis a base Sin, which we wilfully commit without any manner of excuse or Pretence.
The Necessity of abstaining from them; the means; the Sence of the guilt and Danger. 'Tis a dangerous Vice, and therefore every Man that values the Salvation of his Soul, ought to renounce it with the greatest Caution and Concern; the means are always ready before him, viz. the Sence of the Guilt and Danger of it, when he considers the great dishonour that his rash Oaths offer to the Name of God, and that Eternal Misery must be his Punishment; unless he repents, he must needs sure be toucht with a Sence of his Guilt and Danger, and these must certainly argue very strongly with him to renounce 'em.
Truth in speaking, forsaking occasions. Speaking Truth is likewise a very great means to restrain us from rash Oaths; when Men once come to be observable for their Truth and Integrity, there's no need of an Oath to confirm the Veracity of what they say; we ought also to avoid all occasions that are most liable to betray us to this Vice, to preserve constantly a deep and profound Veneration for the Name of God, Reverence to God. which we should never mention without Respect, and that will be an excellent means to prevent us against the prophaning it with our Oaths.
Another great means to restrain us from rash Oaths, is to keep a strict and constant Watch over our Words, Watchfulness and Prayer. and then to use the great remedy of all Prayer, that God would enable thee to avoid or [Page 41] overcome this wicked Custom. And thus by these several ways of dishonouring God's Name, we may easily perceive what it is to Honour it, What it is to Honour God's Name. which is all founded upon an awful Respect and Reverence, which is due to that sacred Name, that is Great, Wonderful and Holy.
7. PARTITION V.
Of Worship due to God's Name, of Prayer, and its several Parts, of Publick Prayers in the Church, of Private Prayers, of Repentance, &c. of Fasting.
Worship. THE next great Duty to God is Worship, a Duty only peculiar to himself, and therefore of a very great Importance; and is to be perform'd, First, By our Souls; and Secondly, By our Bodies, the Souls [Page 42] part is Praying, Prayer its Parts. and of that there are divers Parts, according to the different things for which we ask.
Confession. Confession is the first, and may be either general or particular, the former is a necessary part of our solemn Prayers, whether Private or Publick; and the latter more proper for the Private; and the intent of it is, that we should humble our selves before God, and with a deep and hearty Sorrow bewail the Sins we confess.
Petitions for our souls and bodies. The second part of Prayer is Petition, by which we beg of God whatsoever we want, either for our Souls or Bodies. For our Souls, we beg the Pardon of our Sins, and the Assistance of his Grace to enable us to obey his Will. For our Bodies, we beg the necessaries of Life, such outward things I mean, that he in his Wisdom sees most fit and needful for us.
Deprecation of Sin and Punishment. A third part of Prayer is Deprecation, by which we intreat God that he would turn away from us the evil of our Sins, and the Punishments due to them; that he would prevent us from all Sin, and enable us against all Temptations, and that he would forbear to chastize us with Spiritual or Temporal Punishments.
Intercession. The next part of Prayer is Intercession, which consist in Praying for others, both for Strangers and Acquaintance, but in a particular Manner for the Governours of the Church and State, and for our Relations and Friends.
Thanksgiving for spiritual Mercies and Temporal. Another Part of Prayer is Thanksgiving, which is the praising and magnifying God for all his Mercies both Spiritual and Temporal; for the blessings of our Souls and Bodies, [Page 44] but above all for the sending his Son to redeem us, and the Holy Ghost to comfort us, and for all other his Favours vouchsaf'd to us in his Word and Sacraments.
These are the several sorts of Prayer to be used both Publick and Private. Publick Prayer in the Church and in the Family. The Publick use of them is first in the Church, from whence we must not absent our selves without some necessary Cause; and Secondly, In our own Families, where every Master is strictly bound to call his Children and Servants to th daily exercise of them.
Private Prayer, is call'd so, because we use it in Secret, where we have an oppotunity to be more particular than is convenient in Publick, and upon no account or pretence whatsoever is to be omitted.
Prayer is a Duty, that require a frequent performance by none seldomer [Page 45] than Evening and Morning; Frequent Prayer very advantageous. we should always begin and end the Day with our Addresses to Almighty God, oftner if we have any conveniency, and indeed did we consider the advantages of Prayer, we should think it great Wisdom to use it as frequently as possible.
Its Honour, Benefit and pleasantness. For First, 'Tis a great Honour, that such mean and contemptible Wretches as we are, should be admitted but to speak to the great God of Heaven and Earth; and then 'tis a Benefit, the highest that can be Imagin'd Prayer being that immediate source of all the Advantages we either want or wish, besides 'tis a pleasant Duty in it self, and to a truly Pious & Devout Mind, it affords abundance of substantial Delight and Satisfaction.
The Carnal Minds indeed can discover none of these Advantages, [Page 46] the Pleasures of the the Flesh, and the dross of the World lie in the way, Carnality and want of use the Causes that makes it seem otherways, and those have so vitiated their Pallates, that they can taste none of the pleasantness in it; others think it unpleasant for want of a frequent usage, and beside these two, there is nothing can dissuade us from the real Pleasure and Advantage of it.
The next thing is, how well we perform this Duty, and herein we are chiefly concern'd for the Matters of our Prayers To ask nothing unlawful, but with Faith, Humility and Attention. we are to ask nothing unjust or unlawful but all with Faith, and Humility, and with the most profound and deliberate Attention.
Opposite to Attention in Prayer is all wandring thoughts; the Consequence of which are very dangerous. To suppress these, we should [Page 47] consider the greatness of that Majesty to whom we are speaking, Help against Wandering the Consideration of Gods Majesty and our own needs. the worth of those things we ask for, and our own extraordinary Wants together.
We must likewise invoke God's Assistance, To pray for Gods aid with Watchfulness, Zeal Purity; and for proper ends. and set a careful Watch over our Hearts to keep all wandering thoughts out of our Minds, whilst we are conversing with Him; all our Petitions should be put up to him with the highest Zeal and Ardency of Soul; Our Prayers should be abstracted from all manner of Sin and Impurity, and be constantly directed to right and proper ends.
This is the first part of Worship, the next is Bodily Worship, Bodily Worship. and this consist, in humble and reverend Gestures in [Page 48] making our approaches to God, in such a decent lowliness of Body, that may best declare with what a Prostration of Soul, we make our Addresses before the Throne of Grace.
Repentance turning from Sin to God, this Duty to be done daily. Repentance is the next Duty we owe to God, and is in short nothing else but a general Resolution to forsake our Sins, and to implore his Grace the times for this great Duty are as often as we think upon our Sins; every Day at least we ought to call our selves to an account.
At set times, at the time of Affliction, at Death. At some particular times indeed, we are oblig'd to redouble our Repentance, and those times we ought to fix for our selves at least once a Week. We ought to have a set time of Evening our Accounts with God and our Consciences, the time of Affliction and Calamity is a very proper season [Page 49] for it, and at our Death we are the most solemnly oblig'd to renew it.
The danger and disadvantage of Death-bed Repentance. But 'tis dangerous to defer it till Death, we should not hazard our Souls upon such uncertainties; beside, Death-bed Repentance must consequently want several Qualifications which the Nature of true Repentance requires; The Custom of Sin hard to be vanquish't, Pain the Cause of Insincerity. the Custom of Sin is not be destroy'd in a few days, or hours, perhaps moments, besides too, our pains and Agonies most probably disturb our Thoughts, and then our Repentance can never be dress'd up with that strict Sincerity, which God requires of us for the Salvation of our Souls.
To Repentance, the Duty of Fasting may with great Reason be annex'd which is a Duty we find solemnly recommended by God himself, [Page 50] the Church and the Practice of good Men; Fasting, a revenge upon our selves, acceptable to God, yet no satisfaction for Sin. by Fasting, we in some measure revenge the Injuries done to God upon our selves, and such Holy Revenge upon our selves for our Sins, is doubtless very acceptable to God, and yet we ought not think them sufficient without the Merits of Christ's Blood to attone for our Offences.
Times of Fasting. The Scripture has indeed given no particular Direction, how often this great Duty of Fasting is to be perform'd, but the oftner the better; for being a great Instrument of our Humiliation, we ought to take all opportunities to perform it, which our Health and Circumstances will admit.
And thus I have pass'd through the first Branch of our Duty to God, to wit, the acknowledging him to be our God; the second is the having [Page 51] the having no other, and of this I need say no more, then that by it we are forbid all kind of Idolatry and Superstitious Worshipping of Images or Creatures, and all inward Idolatry of the Mind.
8. PARTITION VI.
Of Sobriety, of Humility, the great Sin of Pride, of vain Glory, the Danger, Folly, the means to prevent it, of Meekness, &c.
Duty to our Selves. THis Duty to our Selves, is by St. Paul summ'd up in the word SOBERLY, by which his meaning must be our keeping within those bounds which God has set us, both with respect to our souls and Bodies; and this sober government of the Soul requires a [Page 52] great many Vertues, of which I place Humility in the first Rank.
Humility Humility gives us low and humble thoughts of our selves, directs us to behave our selves easily under the mean Opinion of others, and withal is directly opposite to all kind of Pride, and vain Glory; two of the most dangerous Enemies to Mankind.
Pride a great Sin, betrays us to other Sins, frustrates all Remedies. Exposes us to punishment. Pride in the first Place, is a very great and provoking Sin, as has been often shewd by God's severe Punishments of it, it is in some respects, either a Parent or a Nurse to most other Vices, by betraying us first, and then by drawing us in to reject all Remedies and by frustrating all the designs and overtures of Gods Mercies; and beside this too, it betrays us to Punishments, God having all along declar'd himself the proud Man particular Enemy.
The Folly of Pride in respect of the Goods of Nature, Fortune or Grace. 'Tis likewise a very foolish Vice, a Vice that argues the greatest Folly that can be, because there can be nothing either in the Goods of Nature, Fortune or Grace, that with any reasonable pretence we can be proud of.
That this dangerous and foolish Sin is to be avoided, I suppose we may take for granted, and the chief Means to do it, are by applying our selves to God for the Grace of Humility; Means of Humility. which may be best acquir'd by a Reflection upon our own Sins, Follies, Meanness and Imperfections; to which we ought to joyn our hearty Prayers, that God would make us some of those poor in Spirit to whom the Blessings of Heaven are promis'd.
Secondly, Vain Glory; that is, an empty thirst after the Praise of Men, is likewise opposite to Humility, [Page 54] and a very great Sin; Vain Glory; the Sin, Danger, and Folly of it. for it betrays Men into several dangers, but more especially erraces Christ out of their Hearts. 'Tis an Indication of Folly too, which every one must be satisfied in, that would but consider what 'tis he hunts for, only a little empty Applause, a little popular Air, which can never bring him any solid advantage; Helps against Vain-Glory. the Means to help this, are to consider our selves in the first place and then the true state of things in the second, and to weigh both in the Ballance of Wisdom and Sobriety.
Meekness and the advantages of it. Meekness; that is, a Calm and peaceful Temper is another great Vertue, and may be exercised both with respect to God, and our selves, that towards God falls under the Head of Humility, [Page 55] and is already spoken to; as it respects our selves, 'tis an Advantage in a great many Particulars; more especially as it promotes our Honour and Reputation, enables us to bear the Sufferings of Humane Life with Ease and Moderation, and with Prudence and a good posture of Mind; Means of obtaining it. and the proper Means to obtain this most admirable Vertue, are by comparing the Loveliness and Benefits of it, with the ugliness and mischiefs of Rage and Anger, but above all, by contemplating the Life and Example of that great Pattern of all Meekness Jesus Christ.
Consideration of our state, 'tis the rule to try our State. Consideration is a third Vertue, that relates to the Soul, and directs us to preponderate both our State and our Actions; to weigh our State first, and to consider both the Grounds of our Faith, and the Case of our Souls; and accordingly to prepare [Page 56] our selves against the Day of Death and Judgment; The Danger of Inconsideration. and the neglect of this most excellent Vertue has been the ruin of thousands, and is the general Cause of all our Sin and Misfortunes.
Of our Actions before, and after we do them. It directs us too in our Actions; teache us to advise with our Consciences, and to debate the probable good or ill of every thing we do before we do it, and to examine likewise those things that we have already done, whether they may be warranted by the Laws of God, and the Rules of Religion and Sobriety; upon many Accounts therefore we are to employ it often, both with respect to our State and Actions, and to make up our Accounts frequently; Frequency of Consideration and Danger of omitting it. and the plain Reason for it is this, because our Lives are so wavering [Page 57] and uncertain, that we hazard our Salvation, when ever we lie down to sleep in an unrepented Sin.
9. PARTITION VII.
Of Contentedness, and the contraries to it; Murmurings, Ambition, Covetousness, Envy; Helps to Contentedness; of Duties which concern our Bodies; of Chastity, &c. Helps to it; of Temperance.
Contentment THE next Duty to our selves is contentedness, which consists in an evenness and an humble acquiescense under any State it shall please God to allot for us; and without this, 'tis impossible we should be in any tolerable Condition of Happiness. The contraries, murmuring, Ambition and Covetousness. The Contraries to it, are Murmurings and Impatience under God's Dispensations, all Ambitious [Page 58] Thoughts and Desires, and all sorts of Covetousness, Gripings and Extortions.
Covetousness contrary to our Duty to God, our Selves, and our Neighbours. Covetousness is a very great and high Offence, and directly opposite to the great Duties we owe to God, our Selves and our Neighbours; 'tis opposite to our Duty to God, by taking our Minds off from him, and embracing them with the Cares and Troubles of the World; 'tis opposite to our Duties to our Selves, both with regard to our Souls and Bodies, by urging us to sacrifice the first to a little Pelf and Dross, and the latter to Pains and Disappointments, and so 'tis opposite to our Duties to our Neighbours, both in our Justice and Charity, by forcing us upon unlawful Means, and by setting us upon false and indirect measures; Contentedness contrary to Envy. contentedness is also contrary to all kind of [Page 59] Envy and Malice, and can never inhabit in any Breast, that is the least tinctur'd with Prejudice or Revenge.
Helps to contentment. Helps for Contentment are the Consideration of God's Goodness, Power, and Justice, and his universal Care of the World, that all our Affairs are in his Hand, who knows our Wants better than our selves; Secondly, We should consider the Vanity of all earthly things, by comparing them with the essential Joys of Heaven; that we are here but as Strangers and Pilgrims, and that whatever our outward Condition may be, there's a time coming when we shall be deliver'd from the burthen of all our Sins and Sorrows, and be enstated in a Happiness large as our Wish and lasting as our Souls.
Diligence. It consists in Watchfulness and Industry. A Fifth Duty is Diligence, which is a Duty which we likewise owe to our Souls by watching carefully [Page 60] over them, to improve the Gifts of Nature and Grace. and diligently guarding them against all Dangers, and then improving them industriously in every Vertue, and in all the Gifts of Nature, and the accomplishments of Grace.
Good Motions to be improv'd, the danger of deferring them We must likewise improve and cherish all good Motions, and make the most of every Holy Suggestion, lest upon our despising the overtures of Grace God withdraws from us all manner of kindness, and turns us up to a reprobate Sence; and thus far of the Vertues which belong to our Souls, I come next to those that belong to our Bodies.
Chastity, forbids all maner of uncleanness. In the front of these I place Chastity, a Vertue which strictly forbids all manner of wantonness and uncleanness, not only the grosser Acts of Adultery and [Page 61] Fornication, but likewise all impure Thoughts, and all unchast Looks and Gestures.
The mischief of it, both to Body and Soul, and God's Judgments against it. The Beauty of Chastity can be no how better describ'd, then by comparing it with the loathsomeness of Lust, and the many Evils and mischiefs that spring from it. Lust defaces the Dignity of our very Souls, and sinks the rational Creature into a Bruit; it makes our Minds foul and filty, and loads our Bodies with Diseases and Deformity, and what's worst of all, does generally call down Gods great and heavy Judgments upon us, It shuts us out from Heaven. and shuts the Gate of Heaven against us Eternally.
These and many other are the sad effects of Uncleanness, Helps to Chastity. against which we ought to fortifie our selves, by avoiding Idleness, [Page 62] and improving our Minds in all kind of active Vertue; by avoiding all manner of Temptation, and all leud Company, but above all, by praying earnestly, that God would give us a Spirit of Purity.
Temperance in Eating. The second Vertue relating to our Bodies is Temperance, and the Exercises of that are divers, i. e. in Eating, Drinking, Sleeping, Recreation, and Apparel; I shall speak of them separately, and begin with Eating.
The ends of it to preserve Life and Health. Temperance in Eating, is then observed when we make it agreeable to the ends for which God and Nature design'd it, to wit, the Preservation of Life and Health; those are the sole ends of it, and he that proposes it either to gratifie his Taste, or Pamper his Body, Crosses Gods original Purpose in it, and breaks all the Rules of Temperance by which it should be regulated; nay, he Sacrifices [Page 63] all his other Sences to his Taste, Rules for Temperance, and the means of it. exposes himself to the Character of a Glutton, and what's worst of all, to the Fate of that rich Glutton, that after all his Dainties wanted at last a drop of Water to cool his Tongue.
10. PARTITION VIII.
Of Temperance in Drinking; false ends of Drinking, viz. Good Fellowship, putting away Cares, &c.
Drinking directed to false Ends. THE next thing is Temperance in Drinking; the right Ends whereof are the very same with Eating, viz. the preserving our Lives and supporting our Healths, but this like the former has been sadly subverted and directed to Purposes strangely distant from the Original intent of it.
False end of Drinking. Good-Fellowship. Men now drink themselves into Beast under the common, but false Notion of Good-Fellowship; others drink to excess under the pretence that 'tis a great means to maintain a mutual Friendship and Corresponden amongst Men; Preserving Kindness some will have it, that 'tis highly useful to chear the Spirits, Chearing the Spirits, and putting away Cares. and to correct and dispel Melancholy; that it drives away the Cares and perplexities of Humane Life; that 'tis very fit for the passing away time, and filling up empty Intervals, nay some will tell us 'tis Reproach not to do it, Preventing Reproach. and argues a great deal of sowreness and disingenuity, man there are that drink for drinking sake, Pleasure of Drinking that love the Liquor, [Page 65] and so are sots without any of the former Pretences; but these are all great mistakes, and truly upon a fair State of the Matter, 'tis a subject fit both for our Wonder and Sorrow, how this unaccountable Practice of excessive drinking should have so unluckily encroach'd upon all Societies; Bargaining. that no Bargain can be made (which is another pretence for it) nor nothing of any Moment transacted, but the Tavern, or the Ale-house must be the Place fixt upon for the doing of it.
Degrees of this Sin. The unreasonableness of these Motives is too plain to admit of a Dispute, they are all so ridiculous, absurd and inconsistent, that upon a short Appeal to common Experience we find 'em exploded and condemn'd; every Degree of this Sin is a high breach of Temperance; every drop we drink beyond what is convenient for moderate Refreshment, is an Offence both against [Page 66] God and Man, The great Guilt of strong drinkers. and the strong Drinker above all the rest both from the evil of his Example, and Practice the most unaccountable.
The great Mischiefs of the Sin, an Exhortation to forsake it. A Man would think that the many Mischiefs that attend this Sin should be a warning to us to avoid it when we consider 'tis a dishonour to God, a reproach to Christianity, and a Destruction both to our Souls and Bodies; sure a few Exhortations may serve to prevail with us to forsake it.
Difficulties of forsaking it consider'd, viz. Necessity of drink, want of employ and Reproaches and Persuasions of Men. And why should any seeming Difficulties dissuade us against parting with so dangerous a Vice; why should we plead Custom or the Necessity of Drink, or why [Page 67] should we betray so much Folly, nay so much Wickedness to make drinking the business of our Lives. Alas! 'tis a mistake, and let the vain deluded Drunkard say what he will, it can be no Reproach to us to reject all Intemperances of this kind, and all the Persuasions of Men upon that Account.
Means to resist this Sin, by weighing the advantage with the hurt, and rejecting the Temptations The Means to resist these, and all other Temptations for intemperate Drinking, are to weigh the Good with the Ill, and the pretended Advantages with the real Losses and Dangers, and to reject them at their very beginnings, Security to do so. Love of the Sin hinders the means, makes Men loath to believe the danger. and to avoid all manner of Occasions and Opportunities, this we may do, if it be not our own fault, and these and such like means will effectually do the [Page 68] Business, if our mistaken Love to Vice does not hinder it, and make us unwilling to believe it, either dangerous or destructive.
11. PARTITION IX:
Temperance in Sleep; the Rule of it, Mischiefs of Sloth, of Recreations, Cautions to be observ'd in them of Apparel.
Sleep. SLeep is a Thin part of Temperance, The Rule of Temperance therein; many Sins follow the Transgression of it, with other inconveniencies. which is likewise, if measur'd by the end for which God ordain'd it, only for a Refreshment; and a support for our frail Bodies; and in this we are likewise to take Care not to indulge our selves to far, least at length it encline us to Sloth, which is ordinarily attended with a whole train of dangerous Sins, and [Page 69] with abundance of other great Inconveniencies.
Temperance in Recreations. We should likewise have a very high regard to Temperance in our Recreations, and be perpetually Cautious, Cautions to be observ'd. that they are lawful in their kind, and no ways dishonourable to God, or Injurious to our Neighbour; we should be very careful too, that they never end to undue Ends, Undue Ends of Sports. but are all exactly Innocent, harmless and inoffensive.
Temperance in Apparel. The last part of Temperance is that of Apparel, and this as well as the rest is to be measured according to the Ends for which Cloathing was ordain'd; which were first to provide a modest and decent covering to hide our Nakedness, this was the first and great End of it; the second was to fence our Bodies from the Severities of [Page 70] the Cold, Apparel design'd for a covering of shame. and secure to us such a convenient Warmth that is necessary for the Preservation of our Health; Fencing from Cold. and the third for the distinguishing Persons both with respect to their Sex, and Qualities. Now these are the three grand Ends of our Apparel, Distinction of Persons. which we should always be careful to preserve in the middle, between the extreams of gaudiness and contempt.
And thus I have pass'd through the several Branches of Temperance and herein I would in no respect seem to advance a contrary extream; Too much sparing, a fault as well as Excess. i.e. too much sparingness, which is indeed a fault as well as Excess. A Covetous griping Temper is no more to be accounted for, then any of the former; and is in many Particulars a [Page 71] high breach of our Duty both to God, our Selves, and our Neighbours.
12. PARTITION X.
Of Duty's to our Neighbours. Of Justice, Negative, Possitive, of the Sin of Murther, of the Hainousness of it, the Punishment of it, and the strange Discoveries thereof. Of Maiming, &c.
Duties to our Neighbours.
Duties to our Neighbour --- Justice. IN the Word Righteousness are contain'd in gross the Duties to our Neighbour; and in the larger Sence it contains all kind, both of Justice, and Charity. I begin with Justice, of which there is two sorts, Negative and Positive.
Negative Justice. By Negative Justice, we are forbid to do any wrong to [Page 72] any Man; either in respect to his Soul, Body, his Possessions, or his Credit; and first we must not do any manner of Injury to the Soul, To the Soul in the Natural and Spiritual Sence. either in a Natural and Spiritual Sence; we must take great Care that we give no occasion of Grief or Sadness to the Mind of any Man, in which Sence the Soul said to be naturally injur'd; and b [...] alike diligent not to administer to him the Cause, either of Sin or Punishment, in which Case the Soul may be spiritually wrong'd.
Drawing in to Sin, a great Injury. Sin is the Disease and Wound of the Soul, and the seducing us to it is the greatest Injury that can be done us. There are several Means for this, both direct and indirect; Direct and indirect means of it. the direct Means are commanding us, counselling, enticing, assisting us; the indirect Means by shewing [Page 73] us ill Examples, or by incouraging us in any Wickedness; by justifying Vice, and by throwing Reproach upon the Duties, and strictness of Religion, and by these, and such like Means, both direct and Indirect, Men bring upon themselves the great guilt of injuring and wounding their Brethrens souls.
This sort of Injury Men ought sadly to consider, to bewail and repair. It would be too long to instance, the several Sins by which Men ensnare others: I will therefore leave it with this Caution, that it concerns them as near as their Souls, to consider that Injuries they have done of this kind, and to bewail them with the deepest concern and Sorrow; and not only that neither, but as a more particular Testimony of their Repentance, to do their best by all the means they can to make Reparation.
Negative Justice in the second Place binds us against all kind of [Page 74] Injury to the Bodies, Negative Justice in respect of the Life. more especially against the Life of our Brethren. Murther is a Sin of the deepest Dye, and may be committed either openly and directly, or else secretly and treacherously. Several ways of being guilty of Murther. It may be done, either by open and Publick Violence, or else effected under the Coverture of conceal'd Malice and Revenge, but which way soever it be, the Sin is of that exalted hainousness, The hainousness of the Sin, and the Punishments of it. that it provokes God to a higher degree of Anger in the Execution of his Vengeance and Punishments upon [us] than any other Vice in all the black and dreadful Catalogue.
The strange discoveries of it. It is worth our Notice by what miraculous Means God has been pleas'd to discover [Page 75] it; and indeed would we but take 'em to our serious Thoughts, it must needs possess us with the greatest Horrour and Abomination of it, We must Watch against all approaches. and engage us to watch and guard our selves against the most distant approaches of this Vice.
Maiming, an Injury which every Man dreads. Next to the Murthering, the maiming and disabling our Neighbour is a very great Sin, this we must grant, by reflecting how precious our Limbs are, and how miserable a thing the want of any of 'em is; especially, if it be a poor Man; Worst in a poor Man. in such a Case, though we can never make him a full Satisfaction, A necessity of Satisfaction. we are the most solemnly bound to provide for his own, and his Families wants.
Unlawful Wounds and Stripes are likewise highly inconsistent with [Page 76] that golden Rule of Loving our Neighbour as our Selves, Wounds and Stripes injurious also. and indeed our Cruelty to others, argues not only a great [deal] of Pride and Insolence, Cruelty to others the effect of Pride. but withal a savageness and bruitishness of mind, much below the common tenderness and compassion that becomes the humane Nature.
13. PARTITION XI.
Of Justice about the Possessions of [our] Neighbours; against injuring him in his Wife, his Goods; of Oppression; Theft; of paying of Debts &c.
His Possession. THE next part [...] Negative Justice, relates to the Possessions of our Neighbours, [at] the front of which we may with great Reason place the Wife. Our [Page 77] Wives, are the principle part of our Possessions, The Wife; the enticing her, great injustice to the Woman and the Man. and the corrupting Her to defile Her Husbands bed, is the worst and highest part of Injustice both to the Man and the Woman; The most Irreparable. this is an irreparable sort of Injury. A Vice that God has declar'd that he himself will Judge, and we may depend upon't, without Repentance that Judgment of his will be the most severe and dreadful.
Next to this, we owe a Negative Justice to our Neighbour with respect to his Goods; His Goods. such as are his House, Land, Cattel, Money, &c. and the two ordinary Causes that engages Men to break it, are either Malice or Covetousness.
That Part of Injustice that is founded upon pure Malice, Malicious Injustice. is commonly acted upon the Devils [Page 78] Principle, like him they seek to destroy others; not so much, as 'tis any good to themselves, but out of a natural desire to do mischief, Covetous Injustice. the other part that is founded upon Covetousness, though indeed it may have something of a base and sordid Design in it; yet when 'tis considered, 'tis always attended by Oppression, Theft and Deceit, it wants very little to come up to the wickedness of the former.
Oppression and Gods Vengeance against it. Oppression is an insolent bare-fac'd Robbery, and so much the worse still, because the Poor are generally the Persons injur'd we have many Lectures against every kind of it, in Holy Scripture but especially against that which affects the Fatherless and Widow 'tis indeed a most crying guilt, and God's heavy Vengeance is no one instance more exemplary, he that has oppresst the Poor; saith the [Page 79] Prophet, shall surely die, and his Blood shall be upon him.
Theft; not paying what we borrow, are bound for, or Promise. Theft is another kind of this Injustice, which in general is twofold, the first is the withholding what we should pay, and the last the taking from our Neighbour what we have no Right too; the first as well as the last, is a plain Act of Robbery, and let the present Practice of the World argue never so much for it, it can never prove, but that by common Justice and Honesty we are strictly engag'd, to the utmost of our Abilities, to discharge all the debts we are oblig'd to, either by Bond, Promise, or any other lawful Obligation.
14. PARTITION XII.
Of Theft; Stealing; of Deceit in Trust; in Traffick; of Restitution, &c.
Stealing the Goods of our Neighbour. THE next Part of Theft is; either by open Violence or private Fraud, the Robbing our Neighbour of that which he is in Possession of. This is a Vice that wants no Aggravation; it need not be disputed, but that both the High-way Man and House breaker, as well as the sly, injurious Pilferer are two Ranks of degenerate Creatures so odious to God, that they are unfit for humane Society. There are a great many Branches of this sort of Robbery, as the Concealing of stol'n Goods, the buying them at cheap Rates, with many others, which I need not mention any further, they being at best but a kind of Robbery. God [Page 81] will be sure to deal severely with us upon that account, although perhaps we may escape the Cognizance of the Law.
Deceit. A third Part of Injustice is Deceit, of which the Acts are so numerous, that 'tis morally impossible to Name 'em all: I shall Rank them therefore under these two general Heads, viz. The Deceits of Trust, and Traffick.
In trust. He that deceives a Man in a Matter of Trust that is committed to him, is guilty of the most treacherous and base Injustice; in such a Case we are to behave our selves with the utmost Fidelity; especially, when any thing for the ses of Piety or Charity are committed to our Charge; he that violates his Faith in these particulars, adds Sacriledge to Fraud and Treachery, and entails upon him all the Curses that are due to those Sins.
As to Matters of Traffick, there [Page 82] may be deceit both in the Buyer and Seller; In Traffick. By the Sellers concealing the faults, and over-rating their Wares. the Seller Sins greatly, when by a Connection of Lies, perhaps Oaths and Execrations, he conceals or excuses the faults in his Commodities, or what's as bad, sells by false weights and measures, or impose an extravagant unreasonable Price upon the Buyer; these are indeed grown very common and practick faults, but yet never the more excusable, the great Judge of Truth and Equity has often declar'd his solemn displeasure against 'em, and will be sure, sooner or later, to punish them to the utmost.
Fraud in the Buyer. The Buyer may be guilty of Fraud too, and though indeed he does not fall under so many Temptations as the Seller, yet whenever he makes an advantage of his Neighbours Wants, and Purchases his Commodities at under [Page 83] Rates, without doubt he offends the Justice of God, by thus insulting upon, and making his Advantage of his Brothers Necessities.
Many Temptations to deceit in Traffick. The Temptations to Deceit in Traffick, are so interwoven with all Trades, that it behoves every dealing Man to have a great Care to guard himself against them, this way of Cheating is become a perfect Trade it self, and Men boast of it, and value themselves upon it, but for all that the Eyes of God are too pure to behold such Iniquity; The commonness, a Reproach to Christianity. nay, 'tis even a scandal to our Christian Profession, a very high and solemn breach of those common Rules of Justice and Equity laid down in the Precepts of the Gospel to be the Standard and Guide of our Actions.
Besides all this, 'tis but a mistaken Principle neither, Fraud and undermining, deceitful measures [Page 84] and false balances are not the right way to make us Rich, It is no way to make a Man Rich, but ruins the Soul. there goes a secret Curse along with such kind of Practice, which is generally executed in this Life; which though it may by chance fail here, it never fails in the next; there the Deceiver will be fatally deceiv'd in the loss of his Soul, Restitution. the Consideration of which should methinks put him upon the grand Remedy, Restitution, without which he can never make any tolerable Attonement for the Injury he has done either to God or his Neighbour.
15. PARTITION XIII.
Of false Reports; false Witness; Publick Slanders, Wisperings; of Scoffing, Calamities, Sins, &c. Of Positive Justice, Truth, Lying. Of Envy and Detraction, of Gratitude, &c.
His Credit. THE Credit of our Neighbour is another Part of Negative Justice, which should be as dear to us as his Possessions, and should in no respect be impair'd either by false Reports or malicious Surmizes and Conjectures, from both which our Reputation, the dearest thing we have, next our Souls, is liable to great Injury.
False Witness. False Reports may be spread divers ways, both Publick and Private, the Publick way is ordinarily, by bearing false Witness either with regard to our Lives or Estates; [Page 86] this is a most grievous Wound indeed to our Credit, a sort of outragious Injustice to our Neighbour, that we are hardly ever able to make him amends for.
Publick Slander. The second open way of spreading these Reports is by Publick Slander, and herein our Reputation is also liable to a great deal of Injury. Reproaches, Lying, Scandal and Railing make up the base Composition, which as the Apostle long ago observ'd were among'st other Works of the Flesh, fit only to shut Men out of the Church here, and the Kingdom of Heaven hereafter.
Whispering. The Private way of spreading such Reports is Whispering, this is a way as dangerous if not worse than the former, and is by St. Paul mention'd in the Catalogue of great Crimes, which are the effect of a Reprobate Mind; this is a kind of Slander that like secret Poyson destroys us insensibly; 'tis Solomons [Page 87] Observation; that the Wisperer separates chief Friends, than which nothing can argue louder for the suppressing of it.
Several steps towards this Sin. The several Steps of this Vice are to be carefully avoided, as First, We should be so far from encouraging it, that we should rather reject the very first approaches of the Tale-bearer: Secondly, We should be very Cautious how we believe false Reports, or rather we should never give any Credit at all to them: And Thirdly, We should be sure never to report any thing we here from such kind of People, but look upon 'em no less Enemies to us, than to those of whom they are speaking.
Besides, this open way of impairing our Neighbours Credit, there is yet another, which though it may seem to be a little more plausible, is yet in all respects as bad as the former; Scoffing and Reviling. I mean Scoffing and Reviling, which indeed is not [Page 88] only an Injury to our Neighbour, but even to God himself.
For Infirmities, Calamities, and Sins. The three Things for which Men are commonly revil'd, are either for their Infirmities, their Calamities or their Sins; and why should Men be despis'd for that which they cannot help, this is calling God's Providence to an Account, especially with respect to the two former; indeed for our Sins they have more of our Wills, 'tis true, but then considering they make us the most miserable of any thing else, without doubt they require a great deal of our Pity and Compassion.
Destroying the Credit, a great Injury, and irreparable. We owe likewise a Negative Justice to the Credit and Reputation of our Neighbour; his Credit is the most valuable thing he has, and therefore to Rob him of that, is the highest Injury we can do him; [Page 89] 'tis the highest, because his Damage is irreparable; Every guilty Person to do all he can in Order to it. the utmost we can do, can never make him amends, and yet we must do our best, because without it we can never expect God's Pardon for the Sin.
Thus I have past through the four Branches of Negative Justice to our Neighbour, Justice in the Thoughts. and yet must further observe, that this Justice binds our Thoughts as well as our Words and Actions; nay, it confines even our Wishes and Affections. Our whole Hearts should be intent upon his Good, and our Minds constantly taken up, which way we may best promote the Happiness both of his Soul and Body.
Positive Justice. I come now to speak of Positive Justice, by which is intended the giving to every Man his proper dues, whether General, or Particular; [Page 90] Speaking Truth, a due to all Men. as First, The speaking Truth in general of all Mankind; this is a common debt we owe to every one, and indeed we are bound to the strict performance of it, by many strong and weighty Obligations, but the greatest of all is, because Lying is a Vice so scandalous and odious in it self, and so solemnly condemn'd in many parts of Holy Scripture; Lying forbid in Scripture. but then whats very strange, notwithstanding 'tis the most foolish and ridiculous, Lying a common and foolish Sin. 'tis become so common, that 'tis a great Rariety (to use the Words of the Royal Prophet) to find a Man that speaks the Truth from his Heart.
Courtesy due to all, yet unpaid by the Proud, Next to this we owe to all, Humanity, and a courteous and affable Behaviour, a Vertue which a Proud [Page 91] Man can never arrive to; he is so busie in admiring himself, that he overlooks all the Perfections of others.
Meekness a due to all Men. Meekness is likewise a Debt we owe to every Body, and indeed a very great accomplishment, and highly necessary for the Preservation of the Peace of the World; Brawling very unsufferable, and leads to the Sin of Cursing. whilst on the contrary, all sorts of Brawlings and Contentions, tend to Disorder and Confusion, nay, what's worse, they tend to a great many Sins too, but especially to that most provoking Sin, Cursing and Execration.
Particular Dues. Having thus far spoken of Dues in General, I come now to the Particular, which Men are ordinarily entitl'd to upon some special Qualification, the three chief are, that of Excellency, that of Want, and that of Relation.
A respect due to Men of extraordinary Gifts. And first a Man is entitl'd to our Respect upon the Account of his Excellency. I mean for his Extraordinary Gifts and Endowments, such as are Wisdom, Learning, Grace, and the like; We are not to Envy them, nor detract from them. and such a Person we are in no respect either to Envy or Revile, or to grudge at God's Blessings and Kindness to him; we should not attempt to detract from his Worth, or to cloud or darken his Merits, but rather do our best to make 'em as conspicuous as we can, and this we should do not only as it is a Debt which we owe to him, The Folly of both these. but because the contrary is an Act of extream folly, as well as ill Nature and Injustice.
Beside the Excellencies of the Mind, we owe a regard to the Quality and outward Advantages. [Page 93] A respect due to Men in regard of their Ranks and Qualities. God for the due governing of the World, has decreed several Orders and Classes of Men, to each of which in Proportion to their respective Dignity we are to pay a due Respect.
Dues to those that are in any sort of Want, to the Poor. We are also Debtors to Persons under any kind of Want, whether Spiritual or Temporal, but more especially to the Poor, who by Gods particular Appointment, have a solemn Right to our superfluities; and then it can be nothing else but an arrant Robbery to bestow that upon our Lust or Vanity, which is assign'd for their Portion. In the Case of the Poor we are Gods Stewards, and 'tis the same unjustice and fraud for us to embezle that which he has entrusted with us, as it is for any Steward to misemploy that which was intended for the use of his Masters [Page 94] Family, God withdraws those Abilities, that are not thus employ'd. and commonly too meets with the Doom of the unjust Steward in the Gospel, to cause us to he put out of our Stewardship, and have those Abilities taken away, that have been so unfaithfully employ'd.
Duties in respect to Relation. The third Qualification is that of Relation, and of this there are divers sorts, as First, that of a Debtor to a Creditor, and of an oblig'd Person to his Benefactor, and in both these Particulars we are bound by the strictest ties of Justice and Gratitude. Gratitude to Benefactors, the contrary too common. Not to pay our just Debts when we are able, is a Vice almost unpardonable, and to be ungrateful to a Benefactor, however common it may be in this unthankful Age, is an Act the most sordidly wise and disingenieus.
16. PARTITION XIV.
Of Duty to Magistrates, Pastors. Of the Duty of Parents to Children, &c. Of Childrens Duty to Parents.
Duty to Parents. I Come now to the nearest kind of Relations, and in the first Rank of those I place our Duty to Parents, whether Civil, Spiritual or Natural.
To the Supream Magistrate, Honour. The Civil Parent is he who by a just right possesses the Throne, and to him we owe Honour and Reverence; we are to look upon him, as a Person upon whom God has stamp'd a great deal of his own Power and Authority, and upon no Account to speak evil of him or revile him.
Tribute, Prayers and Obedience. Next we owe him our Tribute, which we are to pay him with the [Page 96] utmost, both of Justice and Freedom; Thirdly, We are to Pray for him, that God would direct and assist him in all his Undertakings: And Fourthly, We owe him a solemn and strict Obedience; which both the Laws of God and Nature have commanded us to observe with the most awful and religious Submission.
Duties to our Pastors. The second sorts of Parents are the Spiritual, viz. the Ministers of God's Word, and such as are entrusted with the Salvation of Souls; Love, Esteem Maintenance, Obedience, and Prayer. to them we owe the highest Love and Kindness, we are oblig'd to esteem and value them as our best and truest Friends, we are likewise to contribute to their Maintenance, and withal to look upon them as Gods Messengers, and upon that Account to behave our selves to [Page 97] them with a great deal of distance and respect, and to put up our earnest Prayers to God for them, that he would grant them the assistance of his Spirit, to enable them rightly to discharge their Holy Calling.
Duties to our Natural Parent. The third sort of Parent is the Natural, by which is meant the Fathers of our Flesh. Reverance, Love, &c. Towards these we are to demean our selves with Reverence and Humility, and upon no Account to contemn or despise them, either in our outward behaviour or in our Hearts; we owe them our most ardent Love and tnderest Affection, and ought to abhor every thing that can give them the least Cause of Grief or Disquiet.
Obedience. We owe likewise our Obedience to all the Commands of our Parents, that are not opposite to the Laws of God, and cannot violate them, without exposing our selves to the [Page 98] Punishments he has so often denounc'd in Scripture against disobedient Children.
Children not to Marry without the Consent of their Parents Children are not to Marry without the Consent of their Parents, every Child is so much the Right and Possession of his Parent, that he must be guilty of Theft to dispose of himself without his Consent. To provide for their Wants.
Duties to the worst of Parents. We are likewise bound according to our Abilities, to supply their Wants, and to administer to them in any kind of Extremity: and all this is to be done, even to the worst of Parents.
Duties of Parents to Children. But as there are many things due from the Child to the Parent, so there are some from the Parent to the Child. The Parent is oblig'd to nourish and sustain the Child till he comes of Age to do it for [Page 99] himself, To bring them to Baptism; to educate them. he is likewise to take Care for his Soul, by bringing him early to the Sacrament of Baptism; and by having him timely instructed in the Principles of Religion, and educated in the true Faith, and Fear of God; and as a Means to improve his Education too; Means towards their Education. he is to encourage and correct him, and to use all wise and gentle Means in order to impress upon him a timely Sence of Vertue, and good Morals.
The Parent to watch over the Childs Soul. Thirdly, The Parent is to watch over the Soul of his Child, after he comes to years of Maturity, and as often as he finds occasion, to exhort, encourage and reprove him; To provide for their Sustenance. he is likewise to take Care of his outward State, by providing him with a suitable [Page 100] Condition of Life; To give them good Example. but above all, he is to lay before him a good Example, and to make his own Life a fit Pattern for him, from whence he may transcribe the true Rules of Vertue, Honour, Honesty and Godliness; To Bless them, and to give them no unreasonable Commands. and then he is to Bless him, and Pray for him, and to recommend him often to God's Care and Protection: And besides, all this too, he must be extreamly careful, that all the Commands he layes upon him are just and reasonable, and in all respects utterly distant from all sorts of harshness or severity.
17. PARTITION XV.
Of Duties to our Brethren, and Relations; Husband, Wife, Friends, Masters, Servants.
Duties to Brethren: Natural Love. THE second sort of Relation is that of a Brother, which we may take in a double Sence, either Natural or Spiritual. I begin with the First, the Duties between Natural Brethren, I mean such that are of the same immediate Parents. And the Duty of these is to have united Hearts and Affections, to love one another with great Tenderness and Sincerity, and to do their utmost to promote their mutual Good and Happiness; The necessity of Love among Brethren. This is a Duty so necessary in all Points, that without it no Family, where there is any number [Page 102] of Brothers, and Sisters, can propose any tolerable Ease or Satisfaction.
Spiritual Brethren. The second sort are Spiritual Brethren, under which Notion are comprehended all those that are baptiz'd in the same Faith, and Church with our selves, and to all these our Compassion is to be the most melting and affectionate; [Our] Duty to hold Communion with them. To bear their Infirmities, to restore them after falls, and to sympathize with them. with these we are to profess and defend the Faith of Christ Crucify'd, and to communicate with 'em in all Holy Offices, we are to bear with their Infirmities, and in a friendly manner to admonish and reprove 'em, and by fair and gentle Methods to endeavour to bring them to Repentance after they are fall'n. We are to sympathize with them in all their Agonies and Distresses, whether of Soul, Mind, or Body.
The Wife owes to the Husband Obedience, Fidelity and Love. The third Relation is that between Husband and Wife, this is the nearest Relation of all, and yet there are several respective Duties which they owe to each other, for the Wife in the first Place, she owes her Husband Obedience, which God has strictly commanded her to pay him in all things that are Just and Lawful; she owes him Fidelity both to his Bed and his worldly Affairs, she owes him likewise her Love, and is bound to behave her self to him with the greatest friendliness & sweetness. The faults of the Husband acquit her not from these Duties. And this she is to do notwithstanding his faults, which will by no means acquit her of any of these Duties.
Duties from the Husband to the Wife: Love, There are likewise several Duties owing from the Husband to the Wife; the First, [Page 104] Is Love, by which he is enjoin'd to treat her with the utmost Tenderness and Compassion, not to behave himself to her with any manner of harshness or severity, but to use her in all respects as a part of himself.
Faithfulness to her Bed. Secondly, He owes Fidelity to her Bed, this is as much the Husbands Duty as the Wife's, and the breach of it in either, is an Act of Uncleanness, and Perjury. To maintain and instruct her. Thirdly, He is bound to do his endeavour to provide for her, and to suffer her freely to partake of all his outward Blessings; and amongst the rest of his Duties, he is chiefly to take Care of the Salvation of her Soul, and to instruct her as far as her need requires in the Principles of Honesty and Religion.
Husbands & Wives bound to pray for, and assist each other. In brief, Husbands and Wives are mutually bound to Pray for each other, and to their utmost to propagate [Page 105] their Reciprocal Good and Happiness.
The true Ends of Marriage to be consulted, and unlawful Marriages to be avoided. The true Ends of Marriage are likewise to be consulted; in which Case the Ornaments of the Mind are sooner to be chosen, then either Wealth, or Beauty, or any other outward Appendage; above all the rest, unlawful Marriages are to be avoided, 'tis a Holy State and should never be enter'd into, but according to the Direction of the Church, Reverently, Advisedly, Soberly, and in the Fear of God.
Friendship with its Duties. The next thing is Friendship, which is of that common good and concern, that humane Life would be but a wretched thing without it; Faithfulness, Assistance, Admonition, Prayer, Constancy. the Duties of it are many, but the most material are Faithfulness in our [Page 106] Trusts; Assistance, either with respect to our Souls, or Bodies; to our Souls, especially in admonishing us of our faults; which is the highest and most exalted Act of Friendship that can pass between Man and Man. Prayer is the next Duty, and after that Constancy, and all these together render a Friend an inestimable Jewel.
The Last Relation is that between Masters, and Servants, and these too are mutually engag'd to each other. Servants owe to their Masters Obedience, Fidelity, Submission, Diligence. The Servant is bound to obey his Master's just Commands, and to execute them with Freedom and Satisfaction; he owes him likewise an universal Fidelity in all his Concerns; & is oblig'd by all the Rules of Modesty, and good Manners, to bear his Rebukes, and Reprehensions, with Submission, and to discharge his Trust, in every Particular, with Diligence, and Application.
Masters owe to their Servants: Justice, Admonition, Means of Instruction, Moderation, in Command Engouragement. The Masters on the other side, owe to their Servants Justice, in providing them with convenient food, and paying them their Wages; as also Admonitions and Reproofs, with regard as well to their Sins and Offences against God, as Faults against themselves. They owe 'em likewise good Example, that is, they are to make their own Lives and Actions a fit President for them to walk by; they are to allow them opportunities for Instruction, and convenient time for the Publick Worship of God; moreover they are to command them with Prudence and Moderation; to encourage their well doing, and to treat their Faithfulness, Diligence, and Piety with a great deal of Kindness and Bounty.
18. PARTITION XVI.
Other Branches of our Duty to our Neighbour. Of Charity to Men's Souls, Bodies, Goods and Credit.
Charity in the Affection. THE next Duty to our Neighbour is Charity, this is a Duty which the Blessed JESUS himself has solemnly enjoyn'd in his Holy Gospel, and may be considered two Ways, either in our Affections, or Actions; and First, The Charity of Affections, is such an universal Kindness, that inclines us to wish well to the Soul, Body, Goods, and Credit, of all Mankind.
To Men's Souls, Bodies, Goods, and Credit. To their Souls in the first Place, and to them we cannot sure but wish well, when we consider, that Christ thought their Ransome worth the Price of his own [Page 109] Blood; we owe next all the good we can to the Bodies of Men; this is an high Article of our Charity, and without it, we can never come up to that golden Rule, of loving our Neighbour as our selves. His Goods, and his Credit, are likewise to be very dear, and precious to us, and we are bound to propagate his Interest, and Reputation, and to esteem them upon all Accounts equal to our own.
The Effects of this Charity. This kind of Charity naturally begets in us a quiet and peaceable Mind, and a Compassion and Tenderness towards others; it creates in us a Joy for their Prosperity, and excites us to Pray for 'em, and to importune Almighty God in their behalf; It casts out Envy, Pride, Censoriousness, Dissembling, Self-love and Revenge. besides all these too, it guards our Minds against all sort of Envy or Revenge, keeps down our Pride, and impresses [Page 110] deep upon us the Grace of Humility; it destroys Censoriousness, and curbs the rashness of our Judgment, suppresses Dissimulation, and banishes, and subverts, all feign'd, and pretended Kindness; it casts away all Self-love, and mercenary Designs, and entirely roots out of our Minds all manner of Ranchor and Malice.
The Motives to it, Christ's Commands, and the example of God. Nay, this Charity goes further, according to the Doctrine and Example of our Blessed Lord, it extends it self even to our Enemies; and what can be a greater Motive to it, than to find it so solemnly commanded and enforc'd by God's own President.
This Charity to extend even to Enemies. This is a Subject well becoming our serious Consideration, and should put us in mind methinks, to ballance our Sins against God, with the Offences of our [Page 111] Brethren against our selves, and would we do that, we should find the first so much outweigh the last, that from a fair Comparison, we must needs judge our selves very unworthy to expect God should Pardon us for so many great offences, The Disproportion of our Offences against God compar'd with Men's against us. and yet at the same time we refuse to forgive our Brethren for some, perhaps, trivial faults; Pleasantness, of this Duty. besides this too, there's a great deal of Pleasure and Satisfaction in the forgiving our Enemies; 'tis true, this may seem a Paradox at first sight, but then, if we examine the Truth of it by Experience, we shall find it really so, and this sort of forgiving Temper, the most delightful as well as the most Christian.
Beyond this likewise, there is another Consideration strong enough to engage us to forgive our Enemies, I mean the danger of it; God [Page 112] has made our Compassion to others, the Standard by which he intends to measure his to us. If we forgive not, God will not forgive us. If ye forgive not Men their Trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your Trespasses, nay, he has made it a part of our daily Prayers, so that when a revengeful Person says this Prayer, he lays upon himself a Curse, and does in effect beg God not to forgive him.
Gratitude to God. This is a Duty we are oblig'd to in Point of Gratitude too; God has shew'd us wonderful Mercies, and can we be so base to think, we are not oblig'd to some returns. Peace and Unity was one of the last things our Saviour recommended to the World, and indeed he has press'd no single Precept with greater concern than this of universal Charity and forgiving Enemies, The first rising of Ranchor to be supprest. a [Page 113] Consideration methinks, that should engage us to suppress all Degrees of Ranchor and Revenge, and to check and curb them in their very first Motions.
Charity in the Actions, to the Mind, Soul, Body, &c. I come now to the Charity in the Actions, which is the truest way to prove the former, I mean by a sincere and cordial Love, distributed without Hypocrisie, or Reserve, to the Soul, Body, Goods, and Credit of our Neighbour; to his Soul and Mind, we should acquit our selves with the utmost tenderness and concern, and omit no means that might any ways promote the Happiness or Advantage of either; to his Body we should exercise all the Offices of true Christian Friendship and Kindness and upon all occasions be constantly ready to promote his Interest, and defend his Reputation.
19. PARTITION XVII.
Of Charity; Alms-giving, &c. Of Charity in respect of our Neighbours Credit, &c. Of Peace-making, of going to Law, of Charity to our Enemies.
Charity in respect of the Goods, both to the Rich and Poor. THE next thing is our Charity, towards the Goods and Estate of our Neighbour, and herein we are to assist and further him in all honest and friendly Offices, and this we are to do to the Rich as well as the Poor, only with this difference, that the Poor are the more immediate Objects of our Alms.
Motives of Alms-giving. This great Duty of Alms-giving is enforc'd by many strong and powerful Motives, but the three greatest of all are with respect to God, our Neighbour, [Page 115] and our Selves, God has commanded it, and expects it both as an Argument of our Obedience and Thankfulness. Secondly, True Love and Compassion, and a Fellow-feeling of our Neighbours Wants and Sufferings engage us to it. Thirdly, In respect of our Selves, the Motive is, that there is an Eternal Reward annext; Manner of Alms-giving. the manner is likewise to be carefully consulted, which will add much to the Grace it self, and to the Advantage of those we relieve.
Chearfully without the Apprehension of Want, seasonably, prudently, and liberally. And First, We are to do it always with the greatest chearfulness and satisfaction to exercise a kind of Holy Joy in dealing our Bread to the hungry; we must not entertain any vain Fears, or impious Apprehensions, that our administring to the Wants of the Distrest, will be any means to Impoverish us [Page 116] or consume our Estates. We are likewise to observe a due season and order of Time, and a Prudent and Religious Care in the regular Distribution of our Charity, and withal to do it pursuant to the Principles of Liberality and true Christian Generosity.
Charity in respect of our Neighbours Credit. Our Charity likewise obliges us to preserve and propagate the Credit of our Neighbour, to be our selves very tender and careful of his Reputation, and to defend and promote it among others, with all the Caution that we are able; to be unwilling to believe his Faults, and to conceal them as far as 'tis lawful from the Publick, and to use all friendly means to advise and reclaim him.
Acts of Charity in some respects, Acts of Justice. This is the summ of that Active Charity we owe to the several Capacities of our Brethren, and this indeed according [Page 117] to the true meaning of it, is a kind of Justice we owe to him. Likewise Justice and Charity are so near ally'd, that they are not to be separated, the one constantly depends upon the other, and they can never be devided without Injury to both.
The great Rule of Charity. To improve this excellent Vertue, we can do nothing better, than by laying always before us that great Rule of Loving our Neighbour as our Selves, this the Apostle makes the summ of our Duty; and indeed we can hardly erre if we make that the Standard whereby to measure our Actions.
Peace-making. Peace-making is another Act of Charity, and may be of great use both to his Soul, Body, Goods, and Credit. God himself has pronounc'd the Peace-maker bless'd, & encouragements sufficient to engage us to lay hold on all opportunities of setting upon this extraordinary Work of Charity; but first [Page 118] every Man ought to have a special regard to his own Temper; He that undertakes it, must be peaceable himself. he that will undertake in such an excellent Office, has need to be qualified with all th Graces of Peace, Meekness, and Charity.
Contentions, and Quarrels, and Litigious Suits and Controversies ought to be appeas'd and taken up with all the Caution that can be. Of going to Law. The going to Law if the Cause be Just has commonly so many unhappy Appendages, that according to the Judgment of St. Paul, the tender regard we ought to have for Peace, should rather encline us to take Wrong, and suffer our selves to be defrauded then make use of it.
All that remains now, is the extent of this Charity; Charity to Enemies. which is to reach to all Orders and Degrees of Men even to our very Enemies; [Page 119] this was our Blessed Lord's own Example, then which, there can be nothing greater to recommend it to us.
And thus I have run through the several Paths of our Duty to our Neighbour, towards the right Performance of which there is nothing certainly can more conduce than the rooting out of our Hearts all kind of inordinate Love of our selves; Self love an hinderance to this Charity. this is an unhappy Principle indeed, and where it once takes root it soon choaks both our Charity and our Justice; if therefore, we ever intend our Charity should grow in our Minds, we must first weed out of 'em this Sin of Self-love, for 'tis impossible they can prosper together, and then, when this and all other hinderances are remov'd, Prayer a means to procure it. we are to fly to our grand Remedy, Prayer, that God would frame our Hearts into such a galless Temper, [Page 120] that we may be enabled rightly to perform this great Duty.
Christian Duties, both possible and pleasant. And now I have done with those several things I at first propos'd, in shewing what is our Duty to God, our Selves, and our Neighbour; and surely, through the whole, there seems nothing of Impossibility; the things themselves are all reasonable Just and Practicable, and what's more delightful and pleasant too; Even when they expose us to Suffering. even those that may seem to expose us to Persecutions and Suffering, from their Ends and Consequences are the Objects of more Joy then Grief. There is such a Power in Vertue, such a Satisfaction in a good Conscience, and such a Secret and constant Pleasure in the Performance of the Christian Duties, that there is no Apology to be made for our Neglect; beside, 'tis a dangerous thing to defer our return to [Page 121] God, The danger of delaying our turning to God. the Particulars I have set down in the Discourse of Repentance, and thither I refer you; with the Wise Kings most rational Advice, Eccles. 5. 7. Make no tarrying to turn to the Lord, and put not off from Day to Day.
20. An Introductory Prayer for Faith.
BLessed Lord, God, strengthen and confirm my Faith I beseech thee, that I may truly believe and depend upon thy Holy Name, and Word; improve my Understanding, and direct my Will, that whatsoever I read in this, or any Book tending to the Promotion of Religion, and the Salvation of my Soul, may sink so deep into my Mind, that I may bring forth by it, the Fruit of good Living, to thy Praise and Honour: O Jesus, my only Mediator and Advocate.
21. A Prayer suited for the First Partition.
INstruct me O my God, in the Whole Duty of Man; enrich me with thy blessed Spirit, that the Lights of Nature and Scripture may shine bright in me, and guide me, through the distinct Branches of my Duty, to Thee, my Self, and my Neighbour. Give me O Jesus, merciful Jesus, such an awful Sence of thy Eternal Essence, that by a steady and unalterable Faith I may lay hold on thy gracious Promises; improve and enliven my hope by a fixt and solid Dependance upon thy Goodness, and yet restrain me too, that I may in no respect be possest with the Vanity of Presumption. O God of Love, inspire my Soul with such a Holy Ardency, that I may make it the whole business of my Life to Adore and Love Thee. O God of Love! Let the Fear of Thee (O glorious Majesty!) possess me with such a Holy Reverence, and Regard for Thee, that I may [Page 123] be afraid to do any thing against the Honour due to thy Name, or to provoke Thee with any kind of Sin, or Folly; and in all my Wants and Extremities, give me Grace to put my whole Trust and Confidence in Thee: O Almighty Lord!
22. For the Second.
ENdow me, O Lamb of God, with a Spirit of Meekness and Humility, that I may be enabl'd to submit to thy Will, and to undergo all the Sufferings of my Life with Calmness and Moderation. O thou Eternal Fountain of all Honour, Glory, and Power, for thy own sake I beseech Thee impress deeply upon my Soul, a high Reverence and Regard for thy House the Church, and the Possessions thou hast set a part for thy own Use, and let thy Day, thy Word, and thy Sacraments be always precious in my sight; O Lord! my Strength, and my Redeemer.
23. For the Third.
O Merciful Jesus, who hast prepar'd a blessed Feast for the Entertainmment of my Soul, give me Grace before I presume to approach thy Table to prove my Self by a strict Examination, how fit I am to be a Guest at such an Holy Banquet; and seeing I can never prepare my self as I ought without Repentance, Faith and Obedience: Direct me I beseech Thee, in the right performance of those great Duties, and in every other Grace and Vertue that is any ways requisite to qualifie me aright for that awful Mystery.
24. For the Fourth.
O Omnipotent and Eternal God, I acknowledg'd thy Name is Great, Wonderful, and Holy, and most worthy of Honour and Adoration; keep me therefore (dread Lord) from all kind of Blasphemy, [Page 125] and Perjury, and from all vain and unlawful Oaths, and from every other Sin that may any ways tend to debase the Majesty of thy most glorious Name.
25. For the Fifth.
THY Name O Lord is thy own glorious Self! Hear me therefore O great Jehova! That when I Pray, Repent, or Fast, or do any of the other Duties of Religion, I may do them all with an habitual Reverence, and Purity of Intention, to the Praise and Honour of thy Name.
26. For the Sixth.
DIrect me O my God in the Duties to my Self! Impress upon me O Eternal Goodness, a sober Mind, and an Humble Spirit, that I may acquit my self to Thee and my Fellow-Creature, as becomes a Wise Man and a good Christian; keep I beseech Thee all Pride [Page 126] and Vain-Glory out of my Heart, and from a due Reflection upon the Folly and Danger that attends them, give me Grace to use the means to prevent 'em effectually; endow me O thou Author of all good Gifts, with a meek and quiet Spirit, that I may form my Life after thy Example; O blessed Jesus!
27. For the Seventh.
BLess me O Father of Mercy with a contented Mind through every State and Turn of my Life, and let neither Murmuring, Ambition, Covetousness, or Envy, at any time get the Dominion over my Reason, and disturb the Composure of my Soul. Assist me mercifully O Lord in the performance of those Duties that concern my Body, that by the help of Chastity and Temperance, I may utterly mortifie all my Corrupt Lusts and Appetites, and make it a fit Receptacle for a pure Mind, and a quiet Conscience.
28. For the Eighth.
GIve me, O thou Eternal Fountain of all Order and Sobriety, a fixt and setl'd Hatred against all Intemperance, but more especially against that of excessive Drinking; discover to me I beseech Thee, the false Ends of Drinking, and imprint upon me such a deep sence of the Danger, and Folly, and withal of the Loathsomeness of it, that I may reject it, as a Vice much below the Dignity of a Man, much more of a Christian.
29. For the Ninth.
O Holy, Holy, Holy, Lord, God, direct me I beseech Thee in a right Application of all thy Blessings. Thou hast given me leave to Sleep for the Support and Repose of my Frail Body, teach me likewise, O God of Temperance, to measure it by the Ends for which thou was at first pleas'd to ordain [Page 128] it. Let all my Recreations be moderate and inoffensive, and us'd with the strictest Caution with regard to Thee, my Neighbour, and my Self; give me Grace and Prudence to avoid all Gaiety in my Apparel, and to prefer the inward Ornaments of my Soul to all useless Trappins, and all gaudy and insignificant Shews and Formalities.
30. For the Tenth.
INstruct me, O Eternal Father of all Truth and Equity, in the Duties I owe to my Neoghbour; grant I beseech Thee, that I may direct my Life, by the constant Rules of Justice, both Negative and Positive. Prevent me, O Crucify'd Saviour from that crying Sin of Murder; let the hainousness, the Punishments, and the strange Discoveries thou hast been pleas'd to make of it be always in my View, to deter me from it even in the most minute Particulars.
31. For the Eleventh.
GIve me Grace, O Blessed Redeemer that after thy Example I may observe a strict and Positive Justice to my Neighbour in all his Possessions. Stamp deep upon my Mind I intreat Thee (O my God) a tender regard for him in his Wife, and in all his worldly Goods. Lord I beseech Thee, defend me from the Sins of Oppression and Theft, and give me Grace to acquit my Self justly in all my Dealings, and to behave my self as becomes an honest Man in all manner of Bargains and Commerce.
32. For the Twelfth.
LET thy merciful Ears O Lord be open to my Prayers; for the sake of thy own Eternal Equity, errace utterly out of my Mind all unjust Notions; and let no Temptations to any sort of Robbery at any time get the Dominion over me; [Page 130] improve my Mind I beseech Thee with such a determinate hatred against all kind of Deceit, that I may immediately resolve upon that great Duty of a Christian Restitution. And this I beg of Thee with the highest Ardency, for thy own sake O merciful Jesus!
33. For the Thirteenth.
O Eternal God of Truth! guide me I beseech Thee by thy blessed Spirit, that I may be exactly careful how I Believe, or Report any thing to the Prejudice of my Neighbour; keep me from the dangerous Sins of Perjury. and Slandering, from all base and malicious Whisperings, and from all sly and injurious Insinuations; O God of Righteousness, let the tenderness and regard I owe to my Fellow Christian sink so deep into my Soul, that I may neither Scoff at his Calamities, or Infirmities, nor deride his very Sins. Give me, O King of Justice, such a Positive Uprightness, and Integrity, [Page 131] that I may abhor all sorts of Lying, Envy, and Detraction, and that I may preserve an humble and intire Gratitude and Thankfulness towards my Friends and Benefactors, but especially towards Thee O bountiful Jesus!
34. For the Fourteenth.
O God of all Order and Power, who in thy Wisdom hast appointed several Ranks and Degrees of Men among us, give me an awful Sence of that profound Obedience and Respect I owe to all the Magistrates, Pastors, and Governours in their respective Stations; teach me O my God! as a Child, that Love and Reverence I owe to my Parents, and as a Parent that Care and Duty I owe to my Children, that in both Capacities I may discharge my Trust after the Direction of thy most Holy Precepts, O King of Righteousness!
35. For the Fifteenth.
TEach me O merciful God and Saviour, that I may acquit my self to all my Brethren, whether Spiritual or Temporal, and to all my Relations, as becomes a Member of the Christian Profession; in the several Capacities of a Husband, Friend, Master and Servant, teach me O merciful God, to behave my self, as becomes a Member of thy most Holy Religion, O blessed Jesus.
36. For the Sixteenth.
INstruct me I beseech Thee, O Almighty Lord, in all the Branches of my Duty to my Neighbour. After thy own Example, O unchangeable Goodness! Direct my Charity towards him, with respect to his Soul, his Body, his Goods, and his Credit; give me such a Spirit of Positive Justice, that I may value him upon all Accounts equal to my [Page 133] self, and be always ready to do the very best I can to propagate his Interest in both Worlds. I beg this of Thee with the utmost Ardency of my Soul, O Jesus, merciful Jesus!
37. For the Seventeenth.
O Merciful God, who hast mark'd out my Compassion to my Fellow Creature, as the Standard by which thou intendest to measure Thine to me! Give me, I beseech Thee an intire and universal Charity. Open my Bowels, that I may be ready to help and further him in all his Extremities. Grant O my God, for the sake of thy own Love, that I may be always prepar'd to vindicate my Neighbours good Name upon all occasions, that I may judge the best and speak well of him, and conceal or excuse his Infirmities, that I may be impatient to hear, slow to believe, and unwilling to propagate evil Reports; lodge him in my Heart in the very [Page 134] next Place to my Self, that I may constantly Study his Peace, and value it equal to my own; keep me from all Litigious Suits and Controversies, let an even and regular Charity run through my whole Life and Actions, and extend it self even to my very Enemies; I beg this and every thing else, thou in thy Wisdom knows useful for me, for Jesus Christ his Sake, Amen, Amen.
Note: Ruth Jellett her Book given her by her great great Grand Aunt. Dorothy Jenith. Noo. 16th. 1772.
Ruth Jellett was Born Sept. 21th. 1759.