AN EXPLICATION OF THE DECALOGUE OR Ten Commandments. WITH REFERENCE TO THE CATECHISM OF THE CHURCH of ENGLAND. To which are premised by way of Introduction Several GENERAL DISCOURSES concerning GOD'S both NATURAL and POSITIVE LAWS.

By Gabriel Towerson, sometimes Fellow of All-Souls College in Oxford, and now Rector of Wellwyn in Hertfordshire.

Philo in Praefat. ad Librum de Decalogo.

[...] ΔΙ' ΑΥΤΟΥ ΜΟΝΟΥ [...] ΝΟΜΟΥΣ [...] Ν ΟΜΩΝ [...] ΚΕΦΑΛΑΙΑ, [...] ΔΙΑ ΤΟΥΠΡΟΦΗΤΟ Υ [...] ΕΠ' ΕΚΕΙΝΟΥΣ [...].

LONDON, Printed by J. Macock, for John Martyn at the Bell in St Paul's Church-yard. MDCLXXVI.

TO The Most Reverend FATHER in God GILBERT By Divine Providence LORD ARCHBISHOP OF CANTERBURY, Primate of all England, and Metropolitan, AND One of His Majesties most Honourable Privy-Council, &c.

May it please Your Grace,

I Have here attempted an Expli­cation of that part of our Church-Catechism which respects the Decalogue or Ten Command­ments: Not out of any great opinion of mine own Abilities for such an undertaking, of which they, who know me, know me to be sufficiently dif­fident; but out of a due sense of the want of a just Discourse upon this Argument, which by no Man that I know of hath been handled according to its worth.

It was once in my thoughts to have suppressed it, till I could have finished an Explication of the [Page]whole Catechism, as conceiving that that would have been more compleat, and more acceptable to the World. But considering with my self that it would require some time to revise what I have alrea­dy done, and much more to add to and perfect it; and since what is now offered to Your Grace, and, with Your Graces Leave, to the Publick view also, is entire enough, if I have acquitted my self in it as I ought: I thought I should no way disoblige my Readers, if I sent this part of it before the rest to try the Judgment of the World. Especially since it is not impossible, but that I may entertain a better opi­nion of my own Labours, than they shall be found by more competent Judges to deserve.

If any thing may seem with Reason to make such a procedure improper, it is, that I have referr'd my self to those Parts that are not yet published, for the proof of some things asserted here. But as it is on­ly for such things as have been abundantly proved by others, and which therefore, especially in loco non suo, I might the better wave the confirmation of; so they are for the most part, if not only, such, as by the Laws of Discourse are to be supposed by all that will entreat of this Argument. However, if what is now tendred find acceptance, that blot shall not long lye upon it; and if not, the imperfectness there­of will be the most pardonable quality of my Dis­course, or at least will be more excusable than my troubling the World with more.

In this Treatise I have endeavoured, out of that heap which so copious a subject presents, to select such matter as is most considerable and pertinent; to de­liver my sense concerning it in proper and intelligible expressions; and lastly, to confirm that by solid [Page]Reasons. For other things I have not been much sollicitous, and much less, as Solomon speaks, to find out acceptable words, as conceiving such more pro­per to perswade than inform, which is or ought to be the Design of an Explication.

If any taking occasion from this rude Discourse of mine shall oblige the World with a more perfect one, he shall find me among the foremost to return him thanks for it: Both because of the benefit I shall reap in common with others from it, and also because I shall have the satisfaction of considering, that, if I have not been my self so fortunate in Explaining the Ten Commandments, yet I have stirred up those that are, and thereby have fulfilled a Commandment, the observation whereof is of more advantage than the most accurate Explication of them all.

In the mean time as I hope these my Labours will not be altogether unuseful, so I lay them at Your Grace's feet, as a Recognition of those many favours You have been pleased to confer upon me, and of that Duty I owe to the Church of England; for the safe-guard whereof, as Your Grace hath with great prudence and conduct happily presided, in an Age wherein You have met with more than ordinary Discouragements; so that God will still preserve Your Grace for the farther benefit thereof, is the hearty Prayer of

Your Grace's in all bounden Duty and Service GABRIEL TOWERSON.

THE DECALOGUE OR TEN COMMANDMENTS, As they are described and explained by the Catechism of the Church of ENGLAND.

Quest. YOV said that your Godfathers and God­mothers did promise for you, that you should keep Gods Commandments. Tell me how many there be.

Answ. Ten.

Quest. Which be they.

Answ. The same which God spake in the Twentieth Chapter of Exodus, saying, I am the Lord thy God who brought thee out of the Land of Egypt, out of the House of Bondage.

I. Thou shalt have none other Gods but me.

II. Thou shalt not make to thy self any Graven Image, nor the likeness of any thing that is in Heaven above, or in the Earth beneath, or in the Water un­der the Earth. Thou shalt not bow down to them, nor worship them. For I the Lord thy God am a jealous God, and visit the sins of the Fathers upon the Children unto the third and fourth Generation of them that hate me, and shew mercy unto thousands in them that love me, and keep my Commandments.

III. Thou shalt not take the Name of the Lord thy God in vain: for the Lord will not hold him guiltless that taketh his Name in vain.

IV. Remember that thou keep holy the Sabbath day. Six days shalt thou labour, and do all that thou hast to do; but the seventh day is the Sabbath of the Lord thy God. In it thou shalt do no manner of work, thou, and thy Son, and thy Daughter, thy Man-servant, and thy Maid-servant, thy Cattel, and the Stranger that is within thy Gates. For in six days the Lord made Hea­ven and Earth, the Sea, and all that in them is, and [Page]rested the seventh day; wherefore the Lord blessed seventh day and hallowed it.

V. Honour thy Father and thy Mother, that thy days may be long in the Land which the Lord thy God giveth thee.

VI. Thou shalt do no murther.

VII. Thou shalt not commit adultery.

VIII. Thou shalt not steal.

IX. Thou shalt not bear false witness against thy Neighbour.

X. Thou shalt not covet thy Neighbours House, thou shalt not covet thy Neighbours Wife, nor his Servant, nor his Maid, nor his Ox, nor his Ass, nor any thing that is his.

Quest. What dost thou chiefly learn by these Com­mandments?

Answ. I learn two things: my duty towards God, and my duty towards my Neighbour.

Quest. What is thy duty towards God?

Answ. My duty towards God is to believe in him, to fear him, and to love him with all my heart, with all my mind, with all my soul, and with all my strength; to worship him, to give him thanks, to put my whole trust in him, to call upon him, to honour his holy Name and his Word; and to serve him truly all the days of my life.

Quest. What is thy duty towards thy Neighbour?

Answ. My duty towards my Neighbour, is to love him as my self, and to do to all men, as I would they should do unto me. To love, honour and succour my Father and Mother. To honour and obey the King, and all that are put in authority under him. To submit my self to all my Governours, Teachers, Spiritual Pastors and Masters. To order my self lowly and reverently to all my betters. To hurt no body by word or deed. To be true and just in all my dealings. To bear no malice nor hatred in my heart. To keep my hands from picking and stealing, and my tongue from evil speaking, lying, and slandering. To keep my body in temperance, soberness, and chastity. Not to covet nor desire other mens goods; but to learn and la­bour truly to get mine own living, and to do my duty in that state of life, unto which it shall please God to call me.

AN INTRODUCTION TO THE EXPLICATION OF THE DECALOGUE.

DISCOURSE I. Of the Law of NATƲRE.

How it doth appear that there is such a Law, What the general Contents of that Law are, And of what continuance its obligation is. A di­gression concerning mens misapprehensions in the matter of Nature's Law, and from whence those misapprehensions do proceed. Of what use the knowledge of Nature's Law is, after the superinducing the Laws of Moses and of Christ.

PRoposing to my self to entreat of the Decalogue, or Ten Commandments, according as the Catechism of the Church of England hath understood them, I foresee it necessary to premise somewhat concerning the Divine Laws in ge­neral, and then of the Ten Commandments in particular. For as that Catechism, though it restrains Gods holy will to the Ten Commandments, yet doth it upon supposition of their con­taining in them all other his Laws and Commandments; so before we descend to the Explication of those Ten, it will be necessary to en­quire, By what Authority they stand, how they come to oblige us, and what measures we are to proceed by in the Interpretation of them?

Now the Laws of God are of two sorts, to wit, either Natural or Positive; by the former whereof I understand such a Law or Laws as are founded upon natural principles, and investigable by them; by the latter, such as have no other visible foundation, at least, than the meer good pleasure of God, and are therefore to be known only by revela­tion from himself.

The Law of Nature again hath these four things to be enquired in­to, [Page 2]which accordingly shall be the boundaries of my discourse con­cerning it.

  • 1. How it doth appear that there is such a Law.
  • 2. What the general Contents of that Law are.
  • 3. Of what continuance the obligation thereof is.
  • 4. Of what use the knowledge thereof is, after the superindu­cing the Laws of Moses and Christ.

I. It is very well observed by the judicious Hooker, and will be evi­dent to any man that shall consult his own understanding, that all know­ledge is at length resolved into such things as are clear and evident of themselves; for all knowledge of things obscure being made by such things as are more known than the things we seek after, either it must terminate in such things as are clear and evident of themselves, or we can have no certain knowledge of any thing: That by which we en­deavour to know any thing, requiring still something to manifest it, and so on in infinitum. Now though a resolution into things clear and evident of themselves be not always actually made, nor indeed ne­cessary to be so, the intermediate principles of any Science coming by discourse to be as well known, as those things which are clear and evi­dent of themselves; yet being now to penetrate, as it were, into the very bottom of all Moral Truths, it will be requisite for us to dig so much the deeper, and deduce the being of the Law of Nature, if not from such principles as are the lowest in their kind, yet from such as are nearest to them. I haveExplic. of the Apostles Creed. elsewhere shewn, and shall therefore now take it for granted, that there is such a thing as an Alwise and good God, that that God is the Creator and Sustainer of the world, and all things in it; which being granted, it will follow, that there is a right in God to give Laws to his Creatures, in such things as are in their power, and suitable to their nature to execute. For what can be more rational, than that every one should have the disposal of those things which he is the Author of, and consequently, if God be the Author of all things, that he himself should have the command of them? All therefore that will be requisite for us to enquire into, is, whether as God hath the power of giving Laws to his Creatures, and to man in particular, so he hath actually done it, and consigned him to the obedience of them? Now for this we shall need no other proof, than that freedom of will, which God hath given to humane nature; for being man is not carri­ed by any inevitable necessity as other Creatures are, but left to the guidance of his own reason and will, either he must have a Rule set him to proceed by, or it shall be in his power, even by the consent of the Almighty, to disturb the order of Nature. Now forasmuch as it can be no way suitable to the wisdom of any one to put Creatures into a power, that I say not into a kind of necessity, to disturb his own or­ders and designs, therefore God being Alwise must necessarily have pre­vented this inconvenience, and given him a Rule to direct his will and operations. Again, being it appears not, that man at the first had any other revealed Law of God than that of not eating the forbidden Fruit, and many Nations of the World have no opportunity to know those Revelations he hath since made, it follows, that God hath implanted in the soul of each particular man a Law by which he is to act, or at least such principles from which he may deduce it. Lastly, forasmuch as there is in all men a conscience, excusing or commending them when they have done any thing they apprehend to be good, but dis­approving [Page 3]and condemning them if they have done any thing which they believe to be evil; it follows undeniably that there is a Rule, whereby our actions are to be guided. For if mankind were left at large, what ground could there be of his either applauding or con­demning himself, for any supposed either virtuous or vitious actions? Neither is it any prejudice to this inference, that mens consciences do oftentimes condemn them for those things that are no parts of the Law of Nature, or any other. For as we pretend not to infer the goodness or evil of any action in it self, from the consciences either acquitting or condemning the person that doth it, but only, that there is such a thing as good or evil: so cannot any reason be assigned of our consci­ences either accusing or condemning us, if the notion of good and evil were not planted in the soul of man by that God who formed it. For though tradition and education may perswade us to believe many things to be evil, which are in themselves not so, and consequently in­cline the conscience of him that committeth them, to condemn or dis­quiet him for so doing; yet could they not (unless they could build without a foundation) incline the man to be troubled for it, but upon supposition that there is such a thing as evil. Again, when the main trouble of conscience proceeds from hence, even from the doing of those things which that assures us to be evil, what reason can be assign­ed of that trouble, if it were not a truth implanted in our hearts that we ought not to do those things which our conscience assureth us to be bad? For as it is evident, no man could be troubled for acting against his conscience, but upon supposition of his being bound to fol­low the dictates of it: so is it not to be imagined, that that suppositi­on could have any other root than Nature. For as for all frightful sto­ries of Hell, and the like (which men, who would be thought wise, would have the ground of all Religion) even those themselves, if it be duly considered, will be found to receive their force and efficacy from the conscience's foreperswasion of good and evil, and particular­ly of its own obligation. For setting aside the nature of good and evil as meer fancies, and my conscience shall not so much be affrighted at the stories of vengeance, as at the shaking of a reed, because con­scious of nothing that may deserve it. I conclude therefore with S. Paul in that excellent discourse of his upon this argument, Rom. 2.14. That though the Gentiles have not the Law, that is to say no revealed one, yet they are a Law unto themselves, which shew the work of the Law written in their hearts, their consciences also bearing witness, and their thoughts in the mean while accusing or else excusing one ano­ther.

II. The being of the Law of Nature being thus demonstrated, en­quire we in the second place, what the Precepts thereof are; I do not mean to give account of every particular one (for that were both an infinite and needless task) but of the more general ones, from which the other may be easily deduced. Now there are two ways of inve­stigating any truths, as the forementioned Hooker hath well observed; the one by the causes which constitute it, the other by the signs and tokens which attend it. The latter of these is without doubt the most easie, but withall the most fallible, and therefore quitting that at present, I shall chuse rather to pitch upon the former, and exemplifie the Precepts of this Law by it. Now there are three things wherein our duty is comprehended, according to those several relations we stand [Page 4]in; our duty to God, our Neighbour, and our selves. I begin with the last of these because nearest to us, and therefore in all probability most easie to be discerned by us, where the first capital Precept, that presents it self to us, is the preservation of our selves. Now that this is a Precept of that Law, which we call the Law of Nature, beside our own natural propension to it, will appear from God's giving us a being, and means to support it. For as the destruction of our being is a direct contradiction to that order which he hath set in Nature; so our neglect to preserve it, is, though not a direct, yet a consequential con­tradiction to that provision which he hath made for us in the world. For what design can we suppose God to have had, principally and chiefly I mean, in those good things he hath given us, but the support of our being by them? If then it were the design of the Almighty, in the good things of this world, that we should receive support and comfort by them, if this design of his appear from the nature of the things themselves; the preservation of our selves is a branch of that Law, and we consequently transgressors of it if we neglect it. But from hence we may collect, what we are to think of all self-murthers, excesses, or neglects: for if the preservation of our selves be a duty in­cumbent on us by the Law of our Creation, then must that be a sin which either destroys, or impairs, or neglects it, and consequently, all laying violent hands upon our selves, all intemperance, and sloth, and idleness. From the duty we owe to our selves, ascend we to that which is terminated in God, and see whether there be any footsteps of such a one in that Law whereof we are speaking. Now there are two things wherein our duty to God may be comprehended, our honour­ing him and obeying him. The former of these is evident from that excel­lency, which the soul, assisted with the bare light of reason, may discern in God. For being it is a clear dictate of the light of reason, that whatsoever is excellent is to be honoured; God as being the most ex­cellent essence, yea the fountain of all others excellencies, must be much more so, by how much he transcends all others. But from hence it is evident what we are to think, not only of all manifest contempts of him, but of adopting any thing else into equal honour with him; for being God is not only to be honoured, but to be honoured also above all other beings, because so far surpassing them; the adopting of any other into the like honour, must be a diminution of his, and conse­quently a breach of this fundamental Law, as well as of that which saith, Thou shalt have no other Gods beside me. The same is no less evident concerning that other branch of our duty to God, even our yielding obedience to all his commands; for being (as was before shown) God is our maker and sustainer, he has a right to our obedi­ence, and consequently, we a necessity of obeying him. But from hence will follow, not only our yielding obedience to all other the Laws of Nature, but to all positive and revealed ones; for being the com­mand of God is that which challenges our obedience, and not the man­ner whereby it is made known to us, whatsoever appears to be such must be equally our duty, whether engraven in Tables of stone, as that of Moses was, or in the more noble Tables of our heart, as this of Nature. The only thing now remaining to be proved, is what we commonly call our duty to our Neighbour, and may be comprised in these two generals, the giving to every man that which is his own, and where that is requisite, the ministring to them of ours. The for­mer [Page 5]whereof as it is so plain, that it hardly admits of any proof, so both the one and the other receive sufficient confirmation from our na­tural desire of receiving the like charity and justice from others; for being (as the forementioned Hooker well observeth) those things which are equal, must needs all have one measure, if I cannot but wish to receive all justice and requisite charity from the hands of others, I cannot but think it reasonable to afford it; and I must either condemn my own desires, and that nature from whence they flow, or think other mens as necessary to be complyed with.

III. From what hath been said concerning the Law of Nature, it is evident, thirdly, that this Law is unchangeable, or at least must conti­nue of force so long as our nature doth; for being (as was before said) rooted in Nature, and flowing from natural causes, it must consequent­ly have the same continuance with those causes from whence it flows. Thus, for example, to give every man that which is his own, is so a du­ty that it can never cease to be so; as in like manner, to offer violence to no man, not to take away any mans life or substance. Indeed it some­times happens, that there seems to be a change in this Law, as in those known instances of the Israelites spoiling the Aegyptians, and Abrahams sacrificing his innocent Son. But if it be well considered, it will be found that there is not so much a change made in the Law, as in the matter about which it is conversant; for God having a paramount pow­er over the Creatures, and never so parting with it, as not to reserve to himself a liberty to withdraw it at pleasure, whatsoever he com­mands to be taken away, doth thereby cease to be that persons whose it was before, and consequently it is no violation of that Law, which commands the giving every man his own, to disrobe such a person of it. The like is to be said concerning Abrahams sacrificing his Son, or the Magistrates putting a Malefactor to death; for it being not simply murther to take away a mans life, but to take it away either without commission from God, or without any just motive; Abrahams sacri­ficing his Son, and the Magistrates putting a man to death, is no breach of that Law which forbids murther: Because the former did what he did by commission from God, who is absolute Lord of the Creatures; and the Magistrate puts Malefactors to death, by virtue of that gene­ral Commission, which impowers those that are in Authority, to exe­cute vengeance upon all that do evil. By which solution all pretence is taken away, of drawing those actions into example, and particular­ly that of spoiling the Aegyptians. For it being evident from the Scri­pture, that whatsoever any man, how wicked soever, acquires by the ordinary course of Gods providence, is truly and properly his, and no diminution of that appearing but by an express command from God, as the Israelites had to spoil the Aegyptians; to take any thing away from such a person, without that command, is truly and properly to take away that which is anothers, and consequently eternally sinful, be­cause that Law, of which it is a transgression, is eternal.

But here a question may not impertinently be made, and I shall the rather intend it, because the resolution thereof may confer somewhat to the clearing of that which follows; to wit, how it comes to pass that this Law of Nature hath not only been so much disobeyed, but so much misunderstood by those who were under the obligation of it; for flowing (as I have before said) from natural principles, the truth whereof is evident to all, and being also (as was now shewn) eternal­ly [Page 6]obligatory to all mankind, it may seem a wonder how this Law should be so strangely misunderstood, as experience tells us it hath been: The Romans, a polite and civilized people, accounting it no in­jury to invade the Territories of their Neighbours, as the whole Hea­then world strangely offending against that fundamental Law, which forbids the adopting of any Creature into equal honour with the Al­mighty. In answer to which, we are first to know, that though the first principles of natural knowledge carry sufficient evidence in them­selves, and accordingly have been with great consent acknowledged by all (whence it is, that no Nation almost hath been so barbarous as not to own a God, and that God is to be worshipped) yet the deductions from those principles, which are no less a part of that Law, require some care and intention in those that make them; which the world, gene­rally slothful, not being over forward to use, it is no wonder if men have many times erred in several particulars thereof; for let the truth, we are to know, be built upon never so certain and evident principles, yea upon such as are no less evident, than that the whole is greater than the part, yet, if we attend not to the consequences of those principles, we may erre in our apprehensions about them, even as he who hath a light to guide him, may either stumble or wander out of his way, if he do not advert to those bright rays that stream from it. 2. But there is yet a more weighty cause of mens misapprehensions in those things which are the Precepts of this great Law; and that is the depraved­ness of their wills and affections, and their earnest pursuit of such things as promise them any present pleasure or advantage; for finding sin to minister to these, and themselves strongly enclined to obtain them, the desire of so doing makes them first willing to believe that, which leads to them, to be no impiety, and then actually to believe it none; for as Minutius Felix speaks, facilè credimus quae volumus, we easily believe that which we desire to be, our passion for any present enjoyment either wholly stifling or suppressing the dictates of right rea­son, which should keep us from the pursuing of it. 3. Lastly, (which S. Paul expresly affirms,Rom. 1.28. and is in truth the best account of this diffi­culty) the Heathen world liking not to retain God in their know­ledge, nor those Precepts of his which this great Law contain'd, it is no wonder if he gave them over, not only to vile affections, but also to a reprobate and brutish mind; for how can it be but extremely just, to withdraw the light from those who shut their eyes against it when they have it, and to make that their punishment, which was their own choice?

IV. The fourth and last thing comes now to be discussed, to wit, What is the usefulness of this Law? A question which may seem the more necessary to be asked after the superinducing of the Law of Moses, and that of Christ. In answer to which I say,

  • 1. That though these later Laws should acquaint us with every thing, that the Law of Nature contains, yet would not that Law be unnecessary to be looked into; for being given by God, as the others were, and continuing in full force and vir­tue, the same reason and piety, which obligeth us to the con­sideration of those, will put us upon the consideration of this.
  • 2. Again, though the Laws of Moses and of Christ should contain all the same Precepts, which the Law of Nature doth, yet [Page 7]the reasonableness of those Precepts appearing mostly, if not only, from this, the consideration thereof cannot but be ex­ceeding useful; as well for the commendation of the equity of him that gave them, as for the more vigorous stirring up our selves to yield obedience to them; for when Law comes assisted with reason, it doth not only convince but perswade, and makes us embrace as well as bear our Fetters.
  • 3. There is yet another reason, and a much more forcible one, of our study of Natures Law; for beside that no reason obligeth us to think all things set down so clearly in the other, as not to stand in need of some assistance from this light, in the ex­plication of moral duties; the Law of Moses and Christ both presuppose some things known from this great fundamental Law: for urging the several Precepts therein contained, not so much from the reasonableness of the things themselves, as the authority of God that gave them, and the mighty works whereby he gave witness to those that published them; they must consequently suppose it known from Natures Law, that there is a God and Providence, and that that God is to be believed and obeyed. Whilst others therefore, with no less danger to themselves, than with folly and unreasonableness, despise this Candle of the Lord, let us on the contrary con­template and adore it, as being assured, that though it be not the Sun, yet it is the Phosphorus to it, and both foretells and points at it.

DISC. II. Of the positive Laws of God, and particularly of the Law of Moses.

The positive Laws of God are either such as were given to man in the state of Innocency, or such as were given to him since his fall. That the Law concerning the not eating of the Tree of Knowledge, is of the for­mer number, What the reason of the giving of it was, and of what concernment it is to us. The like enquired concerning the Law of Eve's becoming subject to her Husband, and of his being obliged to labour; both which are shewn to be of universal and perpetual Obliga­tion. Of the Laws given to Noah, and particularly concerning that of not eating Blood, which is shewn not to be of present Obligation. A digression concerning the reason and use of Positive Laws, and particularly of such, the matter whereof is moral. Of the Authority and Obligation of the Law of Moses, and from whence our primary Obligation thereto ariseth. In what instances, and in what measure the Law of Moses doth now oblige.

I Said in the beginning of my last, that the Laws of God were of two sorts, to wit, either Natural or Positive: By the former whereof I told you, you were to understand such Laws as were founded upon natural principles, and knowable by them; by the latter, such as [Page 8]are founded upon the meer good pleasure of God, and consequently to be known only by revelation from himself; for though the matter of some Positive Laws be the same with that of the Law of Nature, and consequently those at least may seem to have the same foundation and deduction with it; yet as that matter is a part of those Precepts which we call Positive, so it is founded upon his meer good pleasure that gave them, and consequently knowable to us, not by their own inward light, but by such outward means as he shall be pleased to ma­nifest them by. Thus for example, Though I may know from the light of Nature, that I ought not to have any other gods besides the true, nor adopt any other person into equal honour with him; yet, as this was part of the Law given in Mount Sinai, so it depended upon his alone good will and pleasure, and consequently could not be known, but by his own publick Declaration, and those Writings which have transmitted it unto us.

Now the Positive Laws of God, we are now in order to entreat of, may be reduced to two heads,

  • 1. The former whereof were given to man in the state of in­nocency,
  • 2. The latter, since his fall from it.

I. If we look upon man in the state of innocency, so we shall find he had a Positive Law imposed upon him; the Scripture telling us of an express Command of God, Not to eat of the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil, which he had placed in the midst of the Garden of Eden, Gen. 2.17. Now there are two things which will be requisite to be enquired into concerning this Law, and which therefore I shall en­deavour the resolution of. 1. What necessity or expedience there was of giving such a Law? And, 2. How this Law concerns us? The ground of the former Query, is that perfection which seems to be in the Law of Nature before given. For if (as I have before shewn) this gives direction to us in all cases relating either to God, our Neigh­bour, or our selves, if this Law was at that time clear and manifest to him to whom it was given, what need was there of adding to it another Law? and such as had nothing to commend it to our first Parents, but the authority and pleasure of him that gave it? But to this the answer is easie; and that is, That God therefore gave it, not as a supplement of Natures Law, which needed it not, but that he might thereby have a firmer proof of mans obedience to himself. For the Law of Nature containing such things, as ought in reason to be done, though there were no Command of God prescribing them, our Obedience there­to might proceed rather from compliance with our own reason, than with his Command who gave it. But giving a Law, the matter where­of had nothing to commend it, but the authority of him who gave it, obedience thereto could proceed from no other consideration, and consequently must be the surest proof of our obedience. The same is to be said, in some measure, of Gods making Positive Laws concern­ing those things which were prescribed by that of Nature; for Gods Positive or Revealed Laws exacting our obedience, upon the score of his authority that gave them, we cannot satisfie those Laws, but by having a principal regard to his Command who imposed them on us. Having thus shewn the expediency of Gods giving that Positive Law concerning the not eating of the Tree of Knowledge, proceed we in the next place to shew how this Law concern us; which is a Query no [Page 9]less necessary than the former; for if this Law concern not us, the con­sideration thereof in this place must be very impertinent, because en­quiring into our own obligation and duty. In answer therefore to this I say, 1. That this Law being given to Adam, not only in his personal capacity, but as he was the representative of all mankind, (as appears from the Scriptures charging the guilt of it upon all that descended from his loins) this Law must be consequently supposed to have been obligatory to us, as well as to him to whom it was immediately given. 2. Again being it is a dictate of Natures Law, not only that we should yield obedience to his commands, but also, where we fail, repent of the breach of them; the Law of abstaining from the Tree of Know­ledge, as being a Law of Gods to us, must consequently so far concern us, as to oblige us to repent of the breach of it.

II. From such Law, or Laws, as were given to man in the state of in­nocency, pass we to those which were given to him after his fall. Where

1. The first that presents it self, is that command of God con­cerning the Womans being subject to her Husband, Gen. 3.16. Ʋnto the Woman he said, I will greatly multiply thy sorrows and conception. In sorrow shalt thou bring forth children, and thy desire shall be to thy Husband, and he shall rule over thee. For though it be true, that this was spoken more particularly to Eve, upon occasion of her trans­gressing Gods Command: yet as the Curse wherewith this Command is accompanied, was manifestly intended for all of the Female Sex; so it is no less evident, as for that reason, so for the capacity the Woman was in, that the Command was likewise intended. For being Eve was the representative of all Woman-kind, as well as the Wife of Adam, whatsoever Command was given to her, must be supposed to belong to all of her Sex and condition. And accordingly S. Paul doth not only urge this obedience upon the Corinthian Women in reference to the Law, 1 Cor. 14.34. but yet more particularly, 1 Tim. 1.14. upon the account of this Command, that was given to Eve; for having before said, that he suffered not a Woman to teach, nor to usurp authority over the man, but to be in silence, he adds, as a reason of it, because Adam was not deceived, but the Woman being deceived was in the transgression. Which being the very reason why God gave the fore­mentioned Command to Eve, of being subject to her Husband, it is evident that, when in the Epistle to the Corinthians he saith, that they are commanded to be under obedience, as also saith the Law, his mean­ing was of that Law which was given to Eve, and consequently that that Law is obligatory to all. The same is to be said of the other po­sitive Law.

2. The second is that which was given to Adam, upon the ac­count of his disobedience, Gen. 3.19. In the sweat of thy brow shalt thou eat bread, until thou return unto the ground; for that that was a Command, as well as a Curse, is evident from the 23. verse, where we find God sending forth the man from the Garden of Eden, to till the ground from whence he was taken. Now forasmuch as Adam was the representative of mankind, as of whose blood all Nations were made, for­asmuch as he is here considered, not under the relation of a Husband, but a man, nor is there any thing in the Precept to determine it to him, whatsoever is given in command to him, must be supposed to be in­tended to all persons according to their capacities and degrees. And [Page 10]indeed, as in the Laws of men, such are presumed to oblige the Gene­rations following, which have nothing in them to restrain them to the present; so there is the same reason to believe that Law of God, which was given to him from whom we are descended, to oblige us also, if there be nothing in it to determine it to him alone; for it being neither suitable to the majesty, nor agreeable to the custom of Law-givers, to renew their Laws, as often as the persons change that are under them, that which is directed to one Generation, must be presumed to concern the next, and so on to succeeding Ages. Lastly, for there is some­thing particular to the former Laws, which is not common to all others, the subjection of the Woman, and the laboriousness of the Man, being founded upon the transgression of our first Parents, which the Scripture affirms to be imputed unto us, those duties themselves must consequently appertain to us, as well as those transgressions do.

3. From these Precepts given to our first Parents, pass we to those which were given to Noah and his Sons, who after the Flood were under the same capacity; that is to say, the Representatives of all man­kind, because all mankind was then in them. Now there are two posi­tive, or revealed Laws, which the Scripture informs us to have been given to Noah, a prohibition of murther, with a command to put him to death that should be guilty of it, and a like prohibition of eating flesh with the life or blood, Gen. 9.4. and so on. Of the former of these being obligatory to us, there can be no doubt, as because they to whom it was given were the Representatives of mankind, so because the substance of that Law is natural; the Precepts of the Law of Na­ture both forbidding murther, and setling a Magistracy to punish it. The greatest question will be concerning the latter, even that of not eating blood. For though the Precept be ceremonial, yet it doth not follow, because the ceremonial Law of Moses is abrogated, that there­fore that also must be: for (as S. Paul speaks concerning Circumcision) this being not of Moses but of the Fathers, yea of those Fathers which were the Representatives of all mankind, the abolishing of that doth not necessarily draw with it the abolishing of the other. Again it is manifest, that as many Nations of the posterity of Noah did carefully abstain from blood, so the Jews admitted none even to the priviledge of being Proselytes of the Gates, (which was the lowest form of their Religion) without an obligation from them to observe it. Which is no more than what we find prescribed by God himself, Lev. 17.10. It is evident, 3. That though the Apostles and Elders of Jerusalem eased the Gentile Christians of Circumcision, yet they laid this Precept upon them of abstaining from blood, Acts 15.20. And accordingly, the La­tine Church for above a thousand years, and the Greek Church unto this day do religiously abstain from it. To return now an answer to this difficulty: Where first, I shall readily confess, that this being a Law given to Noah and his Sons, the then Representatives of mankind, it was consequently to oblige all mankind, till it should be repealed. I shall make no difficulty, 2. To grant, that the abolition of the Ceremo­nial Law of Moses, doth not necessarily draw with it the abolishing of the other, because in time before it. But then 3. I say, that it is mani­fest enough that the Precept was repealed by Christ; and I alledge for my saying to that of S. Paul to the Romans c. 14.14. and a like passage 1 Tim. 4.4. In the former whereof, speaking of meats, it is said, that [Page 11]he both knows and is perswaded by the Lord Jesus, that there is nothing unclean of it self; but to him that thinketh any thing to be unclean, to him it is unclean. In the latter, That every creature of God is good, and nothing to be refused, if it be received with thanksgiving. I know what hath been said, and therefore I am willing to obviate it, that, when it is affirmed by S. Paul that nothing is unclean of it self, as in like manner, that every creature of God is good, we are to understand both of things in their own nature, and abstracting from any positive Law. But how weak this evasion is, it is no hard matter for him to discern, who reads on but to the last clause of each of the forequoted Texts; For when, in the former, the phrase unclean of it self is not op­posed to that which is so by positive prohibition, but to that only which becomes so by a mans erroneous thinking it to be so; For I know (saith he) and am perswaded by the Lord Jesus that nothing is unclean of it self, but (or rather [...]. unless) to him that thinketh it to be unclean, to him it is unclean; And in the other, after he had said that every creature of God is good, and nothing to be refused, if it be received with thanksgiving, what doubt can remain, but that it is lawful to partake of any, as to any positive Precept of God to the contrary? For if nothing be unclean, but by the erroneous conscience of him that takes it, or some such accident; and again every creature of God is so good as not to be refused, provided it be received with thanksgiving; either there is no positive Law against the partaking of it, or it shall be lawful for us to partake of it though there be. If it be farther remanded, Why, if this Precept of Noah be abrogated, the Apostles should notwithstanding press the observation of it upon the Gentile Christians? I answer, Not because the Precept continued to oblige, but in respect to such of the Jews as had embraced the Chri­stian Religion, who, in those first times of Christianity, were so ad­dicted to the Rites in which they had been brought up, that unless the Gentile Christians had complyed with them in some things (those especially which were contained in the Precepts of Noah, which they had all along thought of absolute necessity) they would have gone near to have fallen off from the Christian Faith. Neither is this said without proof, even from that Council it self; S. James, whose ad­vice the Council followed in their Decree, giving this as the reason why he would have the Apostles write to the Gentile Christians to abstain from things strangled and from blood, even because Moses hath of old time them that preach him, being read in the Synagogue every Sabbath day, Acts 15.21. that is to say, because such of the Jews, as had embraced Christianity, knew by the weekly reading of the Books of Moses, that those things were there forbidden even to Noah and his Sons, and could not therefore but be much startled at the neglect of them. The result of the premises is this, that whatsoever Laws were given either to our first Parents, or Noah, the Representatives of man­kind, do oblige all that descend from them, unless peculiar to their per­sons, or abrogated by a latter Law.

4. Having considered the Precepts given to Adam and Noah, and shewn their obligatoriness to us, the order of the Scripture leads us to the Law of Moses, and particularly to that part of it which is contained in the Ten Commandments. But because it may be demand­ed (as before concerning that Law given to Adam in the state of inno­cency) [Page 12]what expediency there was of giving these and other reveal­ed Laws? and no place can be so proper for the resolution of that question as this, because lying as it were in the confines of those primi­tive Laws, and that of Moses, to each of which it is to be applyed; I will, before I proceed to say any thing of the Law of Moses in par­ticular, return an answer to that demand. Two things I have before observed to be the matter of those Laws which God hath superadded to the Law of Nature; either 1. such as are Ritual and Ceremonial, or 2. Moral and Natural. As to the former of these, there may seem to be a double reason of Gods superadding them to the Law of Nature; 1. The first whereof is, that they might be a memento to us of the more substantial Precepts of God; for being, through the depraved­ness of Nature, not only apt to forget our duty, but to immerse our selves in the things of sense, it seemed but requisite, that even those sensible things should be so fitted, as to bring the other to our remem­brance. And hence no doubt the forbidding of blood to Noah and his posterity, the many purifications and washings enjoined the Jews; in which, as in so many Emblems or Pictures, the world that then was, might plainly behold the abhorrency they were to have for the sin of murther, and that purity of soul wherewith they ought to approach their Maker. 2. The second reason of Gods superadding positive ce­remonious Precepts to the Law of Nature and Reason, was that they might be not only as a memento of, but as a fence to those substantial Precepts which he had before given. A thing which those ceremonial Precepts did no doubt serve most excellently for, among those per­sons to whom they were given: For when men were taught to have blood in so great an abhorrency, as to abstain even from the blood of Beasts, they could not but be thereby kept in a greater apprehension of shedding the blood of man, in whom the image of God resides. But because (as I have before said) this ceremonial Precept ceaseth to oblige us, as in like manner those of Moses; Christ, as he has in­troduced a different dispensation as to the main, so he has supplyed the want of those helps, by the more liberal effusion of his Spirit. I will therefore proceed to such positive Laws of the Old Testament, the matter whereof is Moral and Natural. Now the reason of Gods super­adding these Laws to that of Nature, and forbidding those things by positive Laws, which were before forbidden by the other, may ap­pear from what hath been heretofore said, concerning the difficulty of discovering the Precepts of Natures Law, and the depravedness of hu­mane nature; for being the Precepts of the Law of Nature are not easi­ly to be discerned, and man, partly through evil principles, partly through the corruptness of his will and affections, is become unable to discern them, it seemed but necessary, that those Laws should be pro­posed anew to him, and he taught that by revelation from Heaven, which his own reason either could not at all, or not so easily discover. Thus when Moses had broken the two Tables of stone, wherein God had written the Ten Commandments, and thereby defaced the characters thereof, the same reason, which prompted him to write them at the first, prompted him to write them a second time, and renew that which Moses had defaced. Which as it was, no doubt, a just obligation to the Jews, to be doubly thankful to the Almighty; so ought it to be no less to us that God hath written that Law in his Word, which he had [Page 13]before graven in the Tables of our hearts; these Tables being defaced, not by an angry Moses, but by our selves, and by our own either ne­glect or perversness.

The reason of positive Laws being thus discovered, pass we now on in the investigation of the Law of Moses, and particularly of the Ten Commandments; concerning which you may remember I proposed to enquire into these three things,

  • 1. By what Authority that Law stands.
  • 2. How it comes to oblige us; and
  • 3. What measures we are to proced by in finding out the full importance of it.

1. To the first of these, or at least so far as the Decalogue is con­cerned, the Preface to it is a direct answer, telling us that God spake all these words; and indeed, if any Law can pretend to be of divine Authority, this of the Ten Commandments certainly may. For first of all, when Moses had by the commandment of God assembled all the people of Israel near Mount Sinai, God by a voice from Heaven pub­lished all these Commandments in their ears, and with all the signs and demonstrations of his Majesty. Again, when the same people, terrified by the dreadful appearance of his Majesty, desired to have this Law de­livered to them by Moses, God, in compliance with their desires, wrote the same words in two Tables of stone, and transmitted them by him unto the people, Exod. 31.8. Lastly, when Moses had broken those two Tables, and thereby put God upon a necessity of transcribing them anew, he wrote upon other two Tables the same Ten Command­ments, as you may see Deut. 10.4. So that if the publishing of Com­mandments from Heaven, or writing them with his own finger, can en­title them to a divine Authority, the Law of the Ten Commandments certainly may, as being notified by both.

2. But because it is not enough to make a Law obligatory to us, that it hath God for its Author and Promulger, unless it do also appear to have been intended for our direction and obedience; therefore be­fore we proceed to infer our own obligation by it, we must enquire how it comes to do so, and what appearance there is of Gods intend­ing it for our direction and obedience. And here in the first place, it is manifest enough, that what was before said concerning the Laws given to Adam and Noah, cannot have place in those given to Moses and the Israelites; those being not Representatives of mankind, as Adam and Noah were, but only of the Jewish state. Now being the Gentiles were no part of that body, nor descended from the Authors of it, therefore what was given to them cannot be supposed to oblige us for that reason, and consequently some other ground must be look­ed out for our obligation to it. It is manifest, secondly, that as there is nothing in the persons, to whom this Law was given, to perswade our obligation to it, so is there much in the Law it self to perswade Gods designing it for the Jews alone; for pressing, as he doth, obedi­ence to this Law, upon the account of his delivering them out of Aegypt, he doth consequently restrain the Law it self to those who were benefited by it, which none but the Israelites were. And in­deed, beside the Preface of the Almighty, and that of Moses before the same Commandments, Deut. 5.1. Hear (O Israel) the statutes and judgments, which I speak in your ears this day; it is the known [Page 14]exultation of that People, and of the most holy persons of it, that these Constitutions were peculiarly theirs; for What Nation is there so great, (saith Moses) which hath statutes and judgments so righteous, as all this Law which I set before you this day, Deut. 4.8? And He sheweth (saith the Psalmist) his word unto Jacob, and his statutes and judgments unto Israel, he hath not dealt so with any Nation, and as for his judgments they have not known them, Psal. 147.19, 20. And truly thus much must be yielded to the fore-quoted Texts, that the Law was intended for the Jews alone, whilst the Church was confined to Palestine; but as there was to be a time, even by the Predictions of their own Prophets, when all Nations should flow unto it, Isa. 2.2. So it is apparent, thirdly, from the same Prophet, That the Law was then proportionably to extend its dominion, and comprehend those new comers, as well as its ancient subjects; the design of their thus flowing into the House of the God of Jacob being, that he might teach them of his ways, and they walk in his paths, as you may see v. 3. of that Chapter. And accordingly, as before this Law was thus to take effect, it was in reason to have a new promulgation suitable to the extent of its dominion; so, if we consult the stories of those times, we shall find God was not wanting in making it known to the Gentile world; partly by the dispersing of the Jews among them, but more especially by that signal act of his Providence in causing it to be tran­slated by the Septuagint into Greek, which was then the most known Language of the Gentile World. By which means that Law, which was before shewn only unto Jacob, came unto the knowledge of the Heathen, from whom it had been so long concealed. Now though what hath been alledged from the Prophet Isay, and this universal Pro­mulgation, be enough to establish what we have deduced from it: yet be­cause it may conduce much to our satisfaction, to evidence it from the New Testament, which is the immediate rule of our belief and practice; I will therefore, to remove all scruples, endeavour to shew from thence, that (whatever it was, whilst the Church was confined to Jewry) yet, after the coming in of the Gentiles, the Law was intended to take in them also, and oblige them to the several Precepts of it. To begin with the Ceremonial Law, because the most unlikely to concern us, and therefore, if well proved, of more force to conclude the like of others: Concerning which it may suffice to represent the use S. Paul makes of it, 1 Cor. 9.8. Say I these things as a man, or saith not the Law the same also? For it is written in the Law of Moses, thou shalt not muzzle the mouth of the Oxe that treadeth out the Corn. Doth God take care for Oxen? Or saith he it altogether for our sakes? for our sakes no doubt this is written: that he that ploweth should plow in hope, and that he that thresheth in hope should be partaker of his hope. For not only arguing (as S. Paul there doth) from a Ceremonial Precept to a Christian duty, but affirming expresly concerning that Precept, that it was written for the times of the Gospel, he thereby plainly shews, that though the force thereof were evacuated as to the Cere­mony, yet it is obligatory as to the Moral, which it was chiefly de­signed to consign, and intended by God so to do. And therefore, if I were to prove in like manner the necessity of purifying our souls, be­fore we betake our selves to the solemn Worship of God, as it is evi­dent from this of S. Paul, that it were enough to alledge a Precept [Page 15]out of the Law, because written for us as well as for the Jews, so par­ticularly from Gods frequent enjoining the Jews to wash themselves and their clothes, before they appeared before him; for doth God take care of clean attire, or a smooth skin, any more than he doth of Oxen? and if not, may not I as well conclude, that for our sakes no doubt this was written, that he that presents himself before the Lord should appear with a clean heart, with a soul no way stained by any un­repented sin? Now if even Ceremonial Precepts were some way in­tended for us, much more those of a higher rank, the second thing to be demonstrated. For the further evidencing whereof, the first thing that I shall alledge is that of the same S. Paul, Eph. 6.1. and so on. Chil­dren obey your Parents in the Lord, for this is right. Honour thy Fa­ther and thy Mother (which is the first Commandment with promise) that it may be well with thee, and thou mayest live long on the earth. For pressing upon the Ephesians not only the duty of honouring Pa­rents, but also upon the account of the fifth Commandment, he there­by plainly sheweth, that it was intended to oblige them also, and in them, because they were Gentiles, all other Christians. In like man­ner, the same Apostle dehorting the Romans from the avenging of themselves, inforceth that dehortation from the Law of Moses Deut. 32.35. for it is written (saith he) Vengeance is mine, I will repay, saith the Lord. And not contented with that, he backs it with ano­ther out of the Proverbs, c. 25.21. where it is written in like manner, If thine enemy hunger feed him, if he thirst give him drink; for in so doing thou shalt heap coals of fire upon his head, and the Lord shall re­ward thee. To all which if we add the same Apostles affirming, that whatsoever was written aforetime by way of comfort, was written for our learning, that we through patience and comfort of the Scriptures might have hope, Rom. 15.4. as in like manner, that what is storied of Gods judgments upon the Israelites was written for our admonition, to the intent we should not offend as they also did; so we shall not need to doubt but that the Precepts of their Law were intended for our direction and obedience: For if Gods mercies and judgments up­on them were written for our learning, no doubt but his Precepts were, as which the other were designed to inforce. Fourthly and lastly, though the Law of Moses did not oblige us by being given to the Israelites; though in the primary intention thereof it were design­ed for the Israelites only, and consequently could not so induce an obligation upon any other: yet, as it was secondarily intended for the Gentile world, so soon as God should bring it into the Church, so (which excludes all doubt of our obligation to it) it was adopted by our Saviour into his Law, and by him both confirmed and fulfilled. But because that is too copious as well as too important an argument to find a room here, I will respite the handling thereof to the follow­ing Discourses, where I will fully and distinctly consider it.

These two things only would be added here, to prevent all mi­stakes, concerning our obligation to the Law of Moses, 1. That when I say it was intended to oblige us, and accordingly adopted by our Saviour into his Law, we understand it so far as it had no peculiar re­ference to Gods dispensation under the Law, or the Polity of the Jew­ish state: For as, upon the account of the former, I have discarded all ceremonial Rites, as which were intended only to serve to the ad­ministration [Page 16]of the Law, so I must also, upon the account of the lat­ter, discard all those Precepts, which concerned the regulation of their State. 2. Again, when I say the Law of Moses was, though seconda­rily, intended to oblige us, and as such adopted by our Saviour; my meaning is not to affirm an obligation to a perfect obedience, but to a sincere and earnest endeavour, and, where we fail, a due repentance and amendment. For though the first Covenant left no place for re­pentance and pardon, yet the Gospel doth, and hath accordingly (as hath been elsewhereExplication of the Apo­stles Creed. shewn) made forgiveness of sins one of the capi­tal Articles of our Belief.

DISC. III. That Christ came not to destroy, but to confirm the Law of Moses.

This evidenced in part in the Ceremonial Law, from Christs confirming of that which was the main intendment of it, and from his retain­ing some of its usances, and transferring them into his own Religion. The like in the Moral Law, from Christs Sermon upon the Mount, and from the evidence there is both there and elsewhere of Christs establishing and inculcating the great Precepts of Piety, Sobriety, and Justice.

WHat may seem to have been our Saviours fear concerning him­self and Doctrine, where he so studiously avertsMat. 5.17. any design of destroying the Law and the Prophets, in process of time came to be fulfilled: The Jews representing the Author of it as a friend of Publi­cans and Sinners, as the Heathen did the Religion it self, as a Sanctuary of all impious persons. For whereas (saith Celsus Vid. Orig. contr. Celsum. l. 3. p. 147., that great Ene­my of Christianity) all other Religions were wont to use such addres­ses as these, when they invited men to initiate themselves in their re­spective Rites, Whosoever is pure in hands, and wise in tongue; and again, Whosoever is pure from all impiety, that hath a soul conscious to it self of no evil, and hath lived well and justly, let him come and ini­tiate himself in these mysteries; but —procul ô procul este profani: Christianity on the contrary bespeaks the world after this manner, Whosoever is a sinner or a fool, childish or any way unhappy, let him come, for the Kingdom of God stands open to receive him; the unjust and the thief, the breaker up of Houses and the Wizzard, the sacrile­gious and the defacer of the monuments of the dead. Indeed these are the men, whom our Saviour came chiefly to call, For I came not (saith he) to call the righteous, but sinners, Mat. 9.13. But it was, as he himself there telleth us, because those had more need of a Physician, and to invite them, not to continue in their impieties, but to repent; to become as righteous as those others were, whom he there stiles so, to make their righteousness exceed those others as he doth elsewhereSee the Ser­mon on the Mount. in­sinuate; to be chaste above their measure, to abstain from anger as well as murder; lastly, to suffer injuries as well as do none, and be [Page 17]contented not only with that which was their own, but with the part­ing with it: It being not his intention to destroy the Law and the Prophets, those great measures of piety and justice, but rather to con­firm and add to them.

But not to stay any longer in the entrance to this discourse, when there are so many weighty things which call for our regard and proof, I shall without more ado proceed to shew,

  • I. That our Saviour came not to destroy, but to confirm the Law of Moses, and particularly that of the Decalogue or Ten Commandments.
  • II. That he came not to destroy that Law, but to fulfill and add to it.

I. For the evidencing the former whereof, I will begin with such precepts of it as were ceremonial, and which, because such, have the least appearance of having been confirmed by him.

And here not to insist upon the agreeableness of our Saviours life to them, because the question is not, concerning his life, but doctrine; nor yet to stand to shew, that that law did rather die of it self than was destroy'd by him, because the question is, whether or no, and in what measure he confirm'd it; I shall observe first of all, that that which was mainly design'd in the several precepts of that law, even the pure and pious veneration of God, was confirm'd and establish'd by our Saviour. As will appear past all contradiction, from the Sermon on the Mount and other our Saviours discourses. I say, that which was mainly designed in them; for that the pure and pious veneration of God was principally intended in them, is acknow­ledg'd by one of the greatest Authority among the Jews, even Mai­monides, Maim. Mer. Nev. part 3. c. 32. pag. 435. and is evident from the words of the Prophet Jeremy c. 7.21, 22, 23. For thus saith the Lord of Hosts the God Israel, Put your burnt offerings unto your sacrifices and eat flesh, for I spake not unto your Fathers, nor commanded them, in the day that I brought them out of the land of Egypt, concerning burnt offerings and sacrifices. But this thing commanded I them, saying, Obey my voice, and I will be your God and ye shall be my people. The meaning of which words is not that God gave the Jews no commandment at all concerning burnt offerings and sacrifices (for he injoin'd that of the Paschal Lamb the very night they went out of Egypt, and many other such like afterwards) but that the principal thing requir'd by him was their piety and obedience, and that he injoyn'd sacrifices and such like, only as instances of obedience, and figures of substantial and real piety. And hence Gods insisting so much upon the circumcision of the heart, even where the circumcision of the flesh was not wanting 3 up­on the purity of the Soul as well as the cleanness of the body; his preferring a broken heart before all burnt offerings and sacrifices, his accounting of it as the only acceptable one, for thou desirest not sacrifice, else would I give it: thou delightest not in burnt offering. The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit; a broken and a contrite heart, O God, thou wilt not despise, Psa. 51.16, 17 I observe secondly, that as our Saviour did confirm that which was principally design'd by God, even in the law of a carnal commandment; so he did also re­tain many of its ceremonies and usances, and accommodated them to his own purpose. I instance in both the Sacraments, and Imposition [Page 18]of hands: The latter whereof, as it was us'd by the Apostles in their Ordinations, who, no doubt, did what they did, by commission or ap­probation from Christ; so was it borrowed from the Jews, whose Leader Moses consecrated to succeed him by this ceremony of Laying on of hands. For thus we are told Num. 27.23. that, after God had given Moses order for the consecrating of his successour, he laid his hands on Joshua, and gave him a charge, as the Lord commanded by the hands of Moses. The case is the same in both the Sacraments, as we learn from the Jewish writers; the Jewish women and their prose­lytes of both sexes being enter'd into covenant with God by the same rite of Baptism with us,Selden. de Jure Nat. & Gent. &c. li. 2. c. 2. and having also a ceremony of distributing bread and wine upon their solemn feasts,Paulus Fagius comment. in Deut. 8. agreeably to that of ours in the Lords Supper. For thus, (saith Paulus Fagius) the father of the fa­mily among the Jews taking a cup of wine in his right hand, and pray­ing over it this prayer, Blessed be thou O Lord our God, King of the world, who createst the fruit of the vine, tastes of it himself, and then gives it to all the guests. And in like manner afterwards bread, over which when he hath us'd this prayer, Blessed be thou O Lord our God, who bringest bread out of the earth, he first eats a little of it himself, and then gives a piece of it to each of the guests. Indeed the foresaid Author relates this latter as the custom of the modern Jews; but that it was also of the more Ancient, is probable from our Saviours bles­sing and distributing a cup of wine among his disciples, before that of the holy Sacrament; adding thereto, that he would not drink of the fruit of the vine (which is the phrase that is us'd in the forementioned prayer of the Jews) till the Kingdom of God should come, Luke 22.17, 18. I have one thing more to add in confirmation of the former ceremony, which we learn fromIren. adv. haeres. li. 4. c. 32. sect. 4. Justin Mart. in Dial. cum Tryph. p. 260. edit. Paris. Irenaeus and other the ancient Fa­thers; To wit, that the bread and wine, which was consecrated into the Sacrament of our Saviours passion, was also offer'd to God, agreea­bly to our Saviours precept and example, by way of thanksgiving for those creatures themselves. Which makes it more than probable, that the forementioned custome was both of ancient date among the Jews, and transcribed by our Saviour in the institution of his holy Supper. If then he did not only confirm that which was principally de­sign'd, but retain'd many of the usances of the Jewish law, he ought in reason not to be look'd upon as an enemy to it, but rather (as he himself saith of himself) as one who came not to destroy but to ful­fil it.

From the Ceremonial Law pass we to the Moral, the principal thing intended by our Saviour, as will appear if we consider what he both premiseth and subjoineth to his assurance of confirming the Law, and the several precepts he chooseth to insist on. Look upon the words he immediately premiseth, and you will easily acknowledge he meant the Moral Law when he said he came not to destroy, but to fulfil it, the purport of those being to recommend good works to them, even the works of piety and charity. For let your light (saith he) so shine before men that they may see your good works, and glorifie your father which is in heaven, that is to say, the works of humility and meekness, the works of purity and peace, these and such like being the only things recommended to them in the beginning of that Sermon of his upon the mount. The same is no less evident, from the words imme­diately [Page 19]following this declaration of his intention, concerning the Law and the Prophets; for, Verily I say unto you till heaven and earth pass, one jot or one tittle shall in no wise pass from the law, till all be fulfill'd: This being not to be affirmed of the Ceremonial Law, which was to receive its period at our Saviours death. Lastly, the precepts he chooses afterwards to insist on shew manifestly, that he meant principally the Moral law; those being precepts against murther and adultery, against perjury and revenging of injuries, and not against plowing with an oxe and ass, or wearing linsey-woolsey garments. Whatsoever else therefore may be thought to be included under the name of the Law or the Prophets, the principal thing intended was no doubt the Moral law, or the law of the Ten Commandments. But not to content my self with this only proof, when both the nature of this Law, and the particular precepts of Christianity, give a farther attestation to it, I shall in the next place remind you of what hath been before at large confirm'd, that this law is unalterable; for being so, it is unreason­able to think our Saviour would go about to destroy it, or free us from the obligation of it. And indeed so far was he from going a­bout to do it, whatsoever some weak or evil disposed minds may fancy, that we shall find him expresly to confirm it, in the matters of piety, sobriety, justice and charity, into which it is usually divided. Though it were a strange Religion which should not teach men to wor­ship God, which is the thing here meant by piety, God being both the Author of religion, and the principal object of it; yet, because we have undertaken to shew, that Christ came not to destroy the Moral law in any part of it, I shall begin with that, and shew how far our Sa­viour was from abrogating it. And here not to insist (because that would be endless) upon the several precepts in the new Testament to fear and love God, to believe in him and to obey him, I shall con­tent my self with that, which he return'd to a certain Lawyer, that demanded of him what he should do to inherit eternal life, Luke 10.26. &c. For what (saith he) is written in the law, how readest thou? To which when the other had made answer, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy strength, and with all thy mind; and thy neighbour as thy self; Our Saviour subjoin'd immediately, This do and thou shalt live: thereby plainly shewing, that he taught no other way to eternal happiness than by a strict piety, and veneration of the Divine majesty. Neither will it suffice to say, as I think it is said by some, that our Saviour in that answer of his doth rather shew what the Law prescribes us toward the attaining eternal life, than what he himself did; for beside that that would make our Saviours answer impertinent, the question being not what the Law, but what he himself prescrib'd, besides this I say, it is manifest from S. Matthew c. 19.16. that our Saviour gave the like answer, where he cannot but be thought to speak his own sense, and the conditions upon which he came to offer it: for when a cer­tain young man there demanded of him, What good thing he should do to inherit eternal life? his answer was, that if he would enter into life he should keep the commandments: And again, after he had told him, that he had kept all these from his youth, and was importunate to know whether he lack'd any thing yet; that if he would be perfect he should go and sell all that he had, and give to the poor, and then come [Page 20]and follow him. From which words it is evident, that he, as well as Moses, did require the observation of Gods Commandments in order to the attainment of everlasting life, and that the young man could not be his follower without it. But it may be, piety would not be so much stood upon amongst the present professors of Christianity; there being not a few of those (who yet are none of the greatest or­naments of it) that can make long prayers, and listen to those that do. That which galls them most is, that they must renounce their lusts and animosities, that they must be sober and just and charitable, which is to them a yoke far more grievous than the Ceremonial law, and from which therefore they are willing to believe, that Christ came to set them free. But how little ground there is for such a surmise, we may soon inform our selves, if we reflect upon the doctrine of our Saviour in these particulars. For hath not he in the Sermon so often referr'd to forbidden the adultery, even of the heart and eye? Hath he not told us that the not plucking out of such an offending eye, will endanger the casting the whole body into eternal fire? Hath not one of his Apostles said, that without holiness or purity no man shall see the Lord? and another, that pure religion and undefiled before God and the father, is to keep our selves unspotted from the world? Again, hath our Saviour deliver'd ought in prejudice of what is spoken by the Law and the Prophets concerning Intemperance or the promoters of it? any thing in prejudice of that wo, which is denounced against those that rise up early in the morning that they may follow strong drink, that continue until night till wine inflame them, Isa. 5.11? Or of that other, which is level'd at those that are mighty to drink wine, and men of strength to mingle strong drink, v. 22. of that chapter? Nay hath not one of his Apostles told us that the grace, which bringeth salvation, teacheth to deny all ungodly and worldly lusts, and to live godlily, righteously, and soberly in it, Tit. 2.12? That neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor abusers of themselves with mankind, nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, shall inherit the kingdom of God, 1 Cor. 6.10? Lastly (for it shall suffice rather to hint at these things, than to give you a just discourse concerning them) hath our blessed Saviour deliver'd ought in favour of that covetousness, which the Law and the Prophets do so vehemently decry? Nay hath not he himself forewarn'd us to take heed of it, Luke 12.15. and his Apostle to content our selves with food and rayment, 1 Tim. 6.8? So that in this particular it is evident, Christ had no design to thwart the dictates of Nature or Moses, the precepts of the Law or the whol­some advices of the Prophets. The only thing remaining to be en­quir'd into is, whether he came to destroy the precepts of justice and charity, the two last branches of the Moral Law. Concerning the latter hereof I shall say nothing at present, both because I may have occasion to resume it, when I come to intreat of our Saviours fulfill­ing the Law, and because the Evangelists and Apostles, as well as the Law and the Prophets, are full fraught with Precepts concerning it. That which I shall bestow the remainder of my discourse upon, is the Precepts of justice, even that justice which commands us to give Caesar and all other our Superiours their due. Which I shall the rather do, because this hath been too often accounted a part of that bondage from which our Saviour came to set us free. I begin with Fathers, because their authority [Page 21]as it was the first, so the foundation even of Regal power. Concerning whom if the Law be express that we should give them honour and obedience, the Gospel of our Saviour is no less; Witness his faul­ting the Scribes and Pharisees for evacuating that Royal Law by a foolish tradition of their own, Mat. 15.4. His Apostle S. Paul's pres­sing the Ephesians with the letter of it, Eph. 6.2. His calling upon children in the verse before to be obedient to their parents, his com­manding the children of the Colossians to be obedient to them in all things, Col. 3.20. His instructing the children of widows to requite their parents, 1 Tim. 5.4. His reckoning disobedience to parents a­mongst the foulest crimes of the Gentiles, Rom. 1.30. Than which what more could be said, to shew our Saviour's detestation of that crime, and his concurrence with the Law and the Prophets in the con­trary vertue? From the Authority of a Father proceed we to that of a Master, and compare the doctrine of the Gospel with the Law of Nature and that of Moses. And here indeed is a manifest difference, but which is to the advantage of the Gospel; for whereas the Law of Moses doth rather suppose obedience to Masters, than go about to enjoin it, the Gospel is full of precepts to this purpose. Servants be obedient to them that are your masters according to the flesh; so S. Paul, Eph. 6.5. Servants obey in all things your masters according, to the flesh; so the same Apostle, Col. 3.22. Let as many servants, as are under the yoke, count their own masters worthy of all honour, 1 Tim. 6.1. And exhort servants (saith the same person to Titus) to be obe­dient unto their own masters, and to please them well in all things, Tit. 2.9. To the froward as well as the gentle, to the believing master and the infidel, with all chearfulness, with all simplicity, out of a regard to Christ, whose will it was they should obey, to his Go­spel, which would be otherwise blasphem'd. Lastly, if the Law and the Prophets call'd upon the Jews to honour the Fathers of their Countrey, as well as the Fathers of Families, to fear the Lord and the King, to speak no evil of the Ruler of the people, to curse him no not in their heart; the holy Jesus on the other hand reminds his of giving unto Caesar that which is Caesar's, Mat. 22.21. His Apostle S. Peter, of fearing God, and honouring the King, 1 Pet. 2.17. Sub­mitting themselves to every ordinance of man, or as the Greek reads it, to every humane creature, whether supreme or subordinate, and not making use of that liberty, which Christ hath purchased, for a cloak of disobedience. Thus in every particular doth our blessed Saviour rather confirm than destroy those Moral Precepts, which are deliver'd by Moses and the Prophets. And therefore, let men pretend what they will upon the account of their faith and Baptism, He is no Chri­stian, who is not a devout adorer of the Divine Majesty, chast, and temperate in his converse, a dutiful child, an obedient servant, and a faithful subject to his Prince.

DISC. IV. That Christ came not to destroy, but to fulfil and add to the Law of Moses.

General proofs hereof from the Sermon upon the Mount; where more­over is shewn that the opposition there made by Christ is between his Law and that of Moses. The Law of Moses considered as the Com­mon Law of their Nation, and in what respects Christ added to it. A discourse concerning the same Law as intended for a rule of life; where is shewn wherein Christ either did not, or did add unto it. That the additions Christ made to the Law in that latter notion of it do not entrench upon the esteem either of it or of its Author. The allegation of the imperfection of Moses's Law both answered and disproved.

LET the Libertine and the Antinomian be from henceforth for ever silent; they whose Life, or Doctrine, or both proclaim the ever blessed Jesus to have abrogated the Law and Prophets: for beside that, instead of justifying that wisdom whose children they pretend to be, they shew themselves as forward as any in condem­ning her, giving countenance to that calumny which was sometime fastend on our Saviour by the Jews, behold a man gluttonous, and a wine-bibber, a friend of Publicans and sinners; they do directly op­pose his own vehement asseveration, and doctrine, as well as the Law of Moses, unless to destroy, and not to destroy be one and the same thing, or to abrogate the Law and the Prophets, and to fulfil. But so Hercules in the Fable added to the Serpent Hydra's monstrous heads, by going about to take them off; each wound he gave it becoming strangely prolifical, and two heads starting up, where there was one lopt off. For setting aside the Ceremonial, that shadow of good things to come, and which therefore was to vanish at the ap­pearance of the Son of Righteousness; all the Law and the Prophets beside have rather received an increase, than any diminution by his Doctrine. Can any one pretend that he hath abrogated the Law concerning adultery, who hath substituted two in its room, which are no less dreadful than the former? The one forbidding all out­ward uncleanness, the other the adultery of the heart. If the Law concerning murther be alledged as destroyed by him, he hath for­bidden calumnies as well as that, the wounds of a malicious Tongue, as well as the piercing of a Spear.

II. Having shewn in the foregoing discourse, that our Saviour came not to destroy the Law and the Prophets but on the contrary to confirm and establish them, it remains that we shew it to have been his design to fulfil, or add to them, according as the word [...] in the place so often referr'd to is generally understood by the An­tient Fathers; the Law, in their opinion, being like a picture rude­ly drawn, which our Saviour afterwards finished, and gave life and colour to. Wherein how far they were from erring, and much more from speaking impiously, I come now to shew, and that both in the lump and the retail.

1. My general proof shall be taken from the opposition that our Saviour makes in the fifth Chapter of S. Matthew between his own Doctrine and the Precepts of Moses. For if the opposition be be­tween Moses Precepts and Christs, then can there be no doubt at all of Christs adding to them; because it is certain, he requires some­thing more, than those Precepts to which he does oppose them. As will appear by considering either the Precepts themselves, or the op­position that is made. I instance for the former in that which we meet with v. 43. of that Chapter. For ye have heard (saith he) that it hath been said, Thou shalt love thy neighbour, and hate thine enemy; But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, &c. For is it not more to love an enemy as well as a neighbour, than to love our neighbour only? nay is it not a point of greater perfection? And if it be, doth not Christ add to the former Precept, by enjoin­ing us so to do, when the other requires only the love of a neighbour? Again, what opposition can there be between what was said to them of old, and that which Christ saith, if Christ did not add unto thefor mer? especially, when in his intrance upon this argument, he dis­claims the publishing of any thing, that might tend to the de­struction of it. If therefore there be any opposition, it must be, that the one enjoins somewhat more than the other will be found to do. The only thing therefore remaining to show is, that Christ makes the opposition between his own Doctrine and that of Moses, which accordingly I come now to prove. To begin with that which is first in order, Ye have heard (saith our Saviour) that it hath been said to them of old time, (for so indeed it should be rendred, and not as we by them of old, the Syriack and other versions so rendring it; secondly, the verb [...] with a dative case annex'd to it beingVid. Rom. 9.12. [...]. v. 26. [...], Gal. 3.16. [...]. Apoc. 6.11. [...], 9.4. [...]. ever us'd in this sense in the New Testament; and thirdly and lastly, the word [...], which we render them of old time, signifying as muchVid. Luc. 9.8.19. Act. 15.21. 2 Pet. 2.5. Rev. 12.9.20.2. and re­ferring usually to the times of Moses and the Prophets; but no where in the New Testament set to signifie Elders, Scribes and Pharisees, whom some are willing to understand here.) Ye have heard, I say, saith our Saviour, that it hath been said to them of old time, Thou shalt not kill, and whosoever shall kill shall be in danger of the judgment: But I say unto you, &c. For is not the former part of these words, Thou shalt not kill, the very letter of the sixth Commandment, and the latter, though not the same in terminis, yet in sense with that of Moses Lev. 24.21. where, instead of what we read here, he that kills shall be in danger of the judgment, it is there, he that killeth a man shall be put to death. Again, whose words are those which our Saviour ushers in with the former preface v. 27. of the forequoted Chapter, Thou shalt not com­mit adultery, are they not the very letter of the seventh Command­ment, as the words before recited of the sixth? If therefore the op­position here made be between Moses's Law and Christ's, if that op­position consists in this that Christ requires more than Moses, it is certain that Christ added to the Law of Moses, which I shall now prove more particularly.

2. In order to which, I will first premise a distinctionVid. Grot. de Jure bell. &c. lib. 1. c. 2. sect. 6. concerning the Law of Moses, which I have borrowed from the Most Excellent Grotius. For it may be either considered,

  • 1. As to that part of it, which was the Common Law of their Nation (if you will give me leave so to express it) and by which their Judges were to proceed; or
  • 2. As a Rule of Manners, and a measure of Religion.

I. In the former of these senses the word Law is taken Heb. 2.2. where it is said that every transgression and disobedience to it receiv'd a just recompence of reward; that is to say, was punish'd by the Judge, as the Law it self prescrib'd. For in asmuch as many offences against the Law, particularly the hating our Brother in our heart, and the like, were not cognoscible by the Judge, and consequently could not receive a just recompence from him; it follows, that by the Law there spoken of must be meant that part of it which was their Com­mon Law, and that by which their Judges were to proceed. In like manner, when our Saviour saith, Ye have heard that it was said to them of old time, Thou shalt not kill, and whosoever shall kill shall be in danger of the judgment; it is manifest from these last words, that by the Law, of which this is made a part, was meant their Common Law, and that by which their Judges were to be directed. Now in this sense there is nothing more manifest, than that Christ added to it, and requir'd a greater piety than the Law of Moses did. For

1. First, whereas the Law of Moses, that part I mean by which their Judges were to proceed, looked only at the outward action, commanding, or forbidding it as it did agree with, or swerve from it; the Law of Christ, that much more Noble one, requir'd the obe­dience of the heart and forbad all impiety there. Ths to keep close to the former instances, It was said to, or by them of old time, even by one who was as old as Moses, Thou shalt not kill, and whosoever shall kill shall be in danger of the judgment, that is to say, he shall be li­able to be brought before the Judge, and by his sentence to receive a just recompence of reward: But I say unto you, That whosoever is angry with his brother without a cause, shall be in danger of the judg­ment, even that wherewith I shall one day judge the world. If there be any boyling of malice in the heart, if there be a murtherous thought in it, or disposition to it, at my Tribunal it shall be taken notice of and punished, as the act of killing is at yours. Again, ye have heard that it hath been said by the same Ancient and the Giver of your Law, Thou shalt not commit adultery, and the man that committeth adul­tery with another mans wife, even he that committeth adultery with his neighbours wife, the adulterer and the adulteress shall surely be put to death, Lev. 20.10. But I say unto you, That whosoever looketh upon a woman to lust after her, hath committed adultery with her already in his heart; and that my Law forbids as well as the outward act, and shall be both tried and sentenced at my Tribunal. If your Law judges no man before it hears him and knows from sufficient witnesses what he hath done, which shews that it hath respect to the outward action only; if it be made not for the righteous, but for the lawless and dis­obedient, for murtherers of fathers, and murtherers of mothers, for manslayers, for whoremongers, for them that defile themselves with mankind, for men-stealers, liars and perjur'd persons, that is to say, for manifest and open sinners; my Law, as being a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart, reaches to the impieties thereof, and censures those seeds of murther and adultery which are there. [Page 25]But by this means we may easily avoid the imputation of charging the Law of Moses with imperfection, as forbidding only sinful actions and not sinful purposes; it being no imperfection at all in the Common Law of the Jewish Nation whereof we now speak, to forbid sinful actions only, because those who were to give sentence by it could not take cognizance of any other. Again

2. Whereas that part of the Law, which was the Common Law of the Jewish Nation, took notice only of grosser offences, such as that of adultery, and murther, in the mean time permitting others of a lower rank, lest too severe a restraint upon them should make them throw the yoke from off their neck; the Gospel of our Saviour, the Christian Law, forbids all deviations whatsoever, the smaller aswell as the greater offences. They are Christs own words in the 19. verse of the forequoted Chapter. For whosoever (saith he) shall break one of the least of these Commandments, he shall be called least in the kingdom of heaven; They are his sense and meaning, in what he opposes to the forementioned instances. Our Saviour to that crime of Murther op­posing the calling of our Brother Raka or Fool; as to that other of Adultery, a wanton look or an immodest dalliance, which are certain­ly far inferiour to the other.

II. I have considered the Law of Moses as to that part of it which was the Common Law of the Jewish Nation, and shewn you how our Saviour added to it; I come now to speak of the same Law, as inten­ded for a rule of manners, and as a guide to the Jews in walking with God. In which sense it is taken, when it is stiled a Law converting the Soul, or represented as a means to inherit eternal life. Now in this sense it is chiefly that question is made concerning it, whether Christ added thereto, and wherein that addition consists. And first of all,

1. Negatively, we are not to think that Christ added to it by exacting the obedience of the heart, as well as the outward man; for, that this Law of Moses did, no less than the Precepts of our Blessed Saviour. And hence (as was before intimated) it is by the Psalmist said to be a law converting the Soul, Psal. 19.7. and by S. Paul affirmed to be spiritual, Rom. 7.14. yea that if there had been a Law, which could have given life, the Law of Moses had been it, Gal. 3.21. Neither do the Precepts of this Law enforce any thing less, than those Elogies which are given of it by David and S. Paul, Not the Precepts of Piety, or those which taught the Jews their duty toward God; For hear O Israel (saith the Law) the Lord our God is one Lord, and thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thine heart and with all thy soul and with all thy might, Deut. 6.5. As in like man­ner, Deut. 10.12. And now Israel, what doth the Lord require of thee, but to fear the Lord thy God, to walk in his ways, and to love and serve him with all thy heart, and with all thy soul? Not the Precepts of Charity; for as our Saviour doth here forbid the malice of the heart as well as killing, so did this Law also, for thou shalt not (saith the Law) hate thy brother in thy heart, nor bear a grudge against the children of thy people, Lev. 19.17, 18. Lastly, not the Precepts of Chastity, and Justice, as they are couched in the Law and the Pro­phets. For as our Saviour forbids here the adultery of the heart, as elsewhere the desire of that which is anothers; so do also the Law and the Prophets. The words of the Proverbs of Solomon being, Thou [Page 26]shalt not lust after the beauty of a strange woman in thy heart, Pro. 6.25. Of the Law, Thou shalt not covet thy neighbours wife, servant, cattel or any thing that is his, Exod. 20.17. But as our Saviour ad­ded nothing to this Law by calling for the piety of the heart, be­cause that did so as well as he; so neither, Secondly, by forbidding lesser as well as greater sins, because this Law did no less. For thus, as our Saviour forbad a wanton look as well as the act of Adultery, a slanderous tongue as well as a killing hand, so did also the Law and the Prophets. For what man is he (saith the Psalmist, Psal. 34.12.) that desireth life and loveth many days, that he may see good? let him keep his tongue from evil. And yet more particularly, Psal. 15.1.3. Lord who shall abide in thy tabernacle? who shall dwell in thy holy hill? He that backbiteth not with his tongue, as well as he that doth no evil to his neighbour, he that taketh not up a reproach against him. The like severity we may observe in the Proverbs of Solomon, against that lust­ful eye of which our Saviour forewarns us, Prov. 6.25. Where to the former caution of not lusting after the strange womans beauty in the heart, he adds, neither let her take thee with her eye-lids, which implies a watchfulness over our own. But neither, Thirdly, doth our Saviour require any new vertue of us, which the Law and the Prophets did not before him, for the kind. I instance in the love of enemies, be­cause that seems of all others most peculiar to the Gospel, and most opposite to the Precepts of Moses. Concerning which, for the kind I mean, the Law is as express, as the Gospel can be supposed to be. Thus Exod. 23.4, 5. If (saith Moses) thou meet thine enemies ox or ass going astray, thou shalt surely bring it back to him again. And if thou see the ass of him that hateth thee lying under his burthen, and wouldst forbear to help him, thou shalt surely help with him. For as the Apostle spake in another case, Doth God take care for Oxen or Asses? or said he it not rather for this, even to enjoin them to lay a­side their animosities and shew their enemies all acts of benevolence? And accordingly Vatablus renders those words in the 5. verse, Thou shalt surely help with him, by exonerabis asinum cum eo qui te odio ha­bet; and the Chaldee Paraphrast in like manner, When thou shalt see the ass of him that hateth thee lying under his burthen, and wouldst forbear to help him, thou shalt let go the hatred which is in thy heart a­gainst him, and shalt lend him thy assistance in the raising him up; re­ferring not so much to the kindness which he was to shew to the poor beast (though that also was a duty) as to that which he was to shew to the owner of it, and his own enemy. But that of Solomon will put this business out of question, because so fully expressive of the love of an enemy, that S. Paul himself thought fit to represent it to the Christian Romans, when he was intreating of the same argument. 'Tis in the 25. of the Proverbs, verses 21, and 22. If thine enemy hunger give him bread to eat, and if he be thirsty give him water to drink. For thou shalt heap coals of fire upon his head, and the Lord shall re­ward thee.

2. Having thus shewn wherein the Gospel and the Law agree, and consequently wherein we are not to look for any additions; let us in the next place enquire what the Gospel hath added to the Law and Prophets, wherein it hath fulfilled the Law and them. And here

1. I observe first, that though our Saviour hath required no new [Page 27]vertues, which the Law and the Prophets did not before enjoin; yet he hath enjoined us some new instances which under the Law were left free. We have one in that Sermon of our Saviour to which I have so often referred, and therefore I shall begin with that. 'Tis in the 5. Chapter of S. Matthew, and the 31. verse; where he tells us, that it hath been said, Whosoever shall put away his wife, let him give her a writing of divorcement: But I say unto you, That whosoever shall put a­way his wife saving for the cause of fornication causeth her to commit adultery, and whosoever shall marry her that is divorced committeth adultery. Wherewith agreeth that of the same Jesus, Mat. 19.8, 9. where when the Pharisees demanded of him, why, if God had made the bond so close between man and wife at the first, as he had then af­firmed, Moses did command to give a writing of divorcement and to put her away, his answer was, that Moses for the hardness of their hearts suffered them to put away their wives, but from the beginning it was not so, neither should be from that time forward, for whoso­ever shall put away his wife, except it be for fornication, and shall marry another committeth Adultery, and whoso marrieth her which is put away committeth Adultery. From which passages compared together it is manifest, that Moses permitted divorces for lesser causes than fornication; but that Christ would not allow of any upon a low­er cause. But not to insist upon this, because there is some ground to believe that Moses his permission of divorce was rather such as freed them from punishment in this world than from guilt before God, inasmuch as it is only said that Moses suffered them so to do because of the hardness of their hearts (though on the other side it may seem strange that God should give so uncontrouled a permission to that which he himself then held as sinful, and treasured up against them a­gainst the day of wrath) But not (I say) however to insist upon that, I shall proceed to the matter of Polygamy, or the having of more wives than one, which it is certain the Jews were not only permitted, but so far dispensed withal also, that they might do it without the im­putation of a sin, the Scripture reckoning multitude of wives to Da­vid as a blessing and a gift of God, even to that David, who was a man after Gods own heart, 2 Sam. 12.8. Thus you see it was under the Law, even with the allowance of God himself; but Christ hath now determined otherwise, as is manifest (to go no farther) from that forequoted text of S. Matthew c. 19.9. where our Saviour tells us, that whosoever shall put away his wife, except it be for fornica­tion, and shall marry another, committeth Adultery. For if it were lawful to have more wives than one, his marrying another could not be imputed to him for a sin, and much less for Adultery as it is in the text now quoted. Let it remain therefore for an undoubted truth, That though our Saviour hath required no now vertues, yet he hath enjoyned us some new instances, and consequently so far added to the Law.

2. But beside the enjoining of new instances (which yet alone would have justified our Saviours assertion) he hath also exacted those ver­tues in a greater latitude, than they will be found to have been under the Law. For the evidencing whereof I will instance in the love of enemies, as being one of the most eminent vertues of the Gospel. And here not to content my self with that of our Saviour Mat. 5.43, 44. [Page 28]where, having premised after his manner, that they had heard it had been said, Thou shalt love thy neighbour and hate thine enemy, he adds by way of opposition, But I say unto you, Love your enemies; not, I say, to content my self with that, I shall set before you the extent of this Precept under the Gospel, and then shew how much the Law falls short of it in its injunctions. I begin with the former of these, even the extent of this Precept under the Gospel; Which I shall not doubt to affirm, first, to comprehend such enemies as are of a different Religion from us, as well as those who are of the same Religion with our selves, that is to say, the Infidel as well as the Believer, the Schis­matick as well as the Orthodox professor. That the Schismatick is not to be excluded from this Love, we have a clear evidence from our Saviour, in his behaviour toward the Samaritans, and in his explica­tion of that question, which was put to him by a Lawyer, concerning the importance of the word Neighbour. For first, when his Disciples would have had him call for fire from Heaven, to consume the Sa­maritans for refusing to give entertainment to them, Luke 9.54. he both sharply reproved them for that their suggestion, and told them that the son of man was not come to destroy mens lives, but to save them, even of those that were Separatists from the true Church, the Samaritans as well as the Jews; for otherwise those words of his had not touched them at all, whose present zeal was against such persons only. Now if Christ came not to destroy even such mens lives but to save them, we cannot deem it any way acceptable to him for us to pray against them, and make them the objects of our hatred. The same is much more evident from our Saviours answer to that question, who is the neighbour we are to love as our selves, Luke 10.29. For there he doth both insinuate a Samaritan to be a neighbour, and en­join the Jew to imitate him by shewing mercy to those of a different profession; the scope of our Saviours answer (as appears from the question proposed) being not to declare the necessity of shewing mer­cy, but the persons to whom we are to do it. But as Schismaticks and Samaritans, by the Discipline of our Saviour, are to have a share of that love, which we are to shew to enemies, so also Pagans and In­fidels, men who are not only Separatists from, but perfect strangers to, the Commonwealth of Israel; Witness one for all, that known place of S. Paul, 1 Tim. 2.1. where he exhorts that first of all sup­plications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks be made for all men, for Kings and for all that are in Authority, that we may lead a peaceable and quiet life in all godliness and honesty. For as it is evi­dent from the stories of those times, as well as from the words that follow, that the Powers that then were, had not attained the know­ledge of the truth; so it is no less, that they were the Christians ene­mies, and made use of that authority, which God put into their hands for the repressing of evil doers, to discountenance and extirpate them. In the love therefore of enemies it is manifest that Christ includes the Heathen and the Samaritan, as well as the Christian and the Ortho­dox professor. But though such as these are to be lov'd, whatsoever their enmity may be to us, yet certainly, not when enemies to us upon the account of Christianity, and thereby to the Authour of it? In­deed, the present practice of Christians would so perswade a man, that were not studied in the doctrine of our Saviour, there being generally no [Page 29]hatred accounted too great to shew to those that are the enemies of our Religion. But what the will of our Saviour was, his behaviour toward the Samaritans, when they denyed him entertainment, snews plainly enough, and his own words in his Sermon upon the Mount; for it was not upon any particular grudge to his person that they denied him entertainment, that they refused him that civility which seems due to all strangers; the text it self tells us, Luke 9.53. that the reason of their not receiving him was, because his face was as though he would go to Jerusalem, thereby professing that he looked upon that City as the place appointed for Gods publick worship, which was the chief controversie between the Jews and the Sama­ritans. And yet notwithstanding this their rudeness to our Saviour upon the account of the true Religion, our Saviour would by no means hear of calling for fire from Heaven upon them, and checked his Disciples for the motion, intimating withall that they were to be of a different temper from him whose fiery zeal they commended to him. But let us view our Saviour's own words in his Sermon upon the Mount, and see whether our love be not to take in such persons, as are enemies to us for his name sake. But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse your, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them that despitefully use you and persecute you; even to those especially which persecute you for righteousness sake, which speak all manner of evil against you for mine. For beside that these are the per­secutors and revilers spoken of in the former verses, and therefore in all probability to be understood here; S. Luke hath subjoined the Precept of loving enemies, immediately after that beatitude, which pronounces a blessing upon those that are persecuted for Christs sake, and the woe that is opposed to it, thereby plainly shewing that they who persecute us for Christs sake are in the number of those enemies whom he obliges us to love and pray for. For after he had said, c. 6.22. Blessed are ye when men shall hate you, and when they shall separate you from their company, and shall reproach you and cast out your name as evil for the son of mans sake; as on the other side, Wo unto you when all men shall speak well of you, for so did their fathers to the false prophets, vers. 26. he adds in the very next verse, to wit the 27. But I say unto you, Love your enemies, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them that despitefully use you, by which enemies what other can be meant than those who were so because they were Christians, and hated them not for their own sake but the Son of man's? We have seen the intent of this Precept under the Gospel, let us now look up­on it as prescribed by the Law and the Prophets; which if we do, we shall soon discern that the Precepts thereof fall short of those of our blessed Saviour. For first of all whereas Christianity makes no difference between a sound Christian and a Schismatick, or an In­fidel, the Law though enjoining the same love of enemies, yet restrains it to such as were of the Jewish Nation or Religion. If he who op­poseth thee be of thy own blood or profession, if he be a natural son of Abraham, or one adopted into his family, then thou oughtest to look upon him as thy neighbour, and shew thy self benevolent to him. Say I this of my self, or saith not the Law the same? For is not neighbour and children of thy people made synonymous, even where this very argument is intreated of? for thou shalt not (saith Moses, [Page 30]Lev. 19.18.) avenge or bear any grudge against the children of thy people, but thou shalt love thy neighbour as thy self. Nay doth not our Saviour intimate this to have been the meaning of the Law, when in pursuance of this most excellent Precept he adds, Mat. 5.47. If ye salute your brethren only, what do ye more than others? Again (to resume that place which we before made use of, to shew the Jews obliga­tion to this Precept at all) doth not the book of Deuteronomy suf­ficiently declare the enemy whom they were there obliged to assist, to be one of their own Nation or profession? If you take the pains to compare them together, you will easily discern that that is the due meaning of it. If (saith Moses) in the book of Exodus) thou meet thine enemies oxe or ass going astray, thou shalt surely bring it back to him again. If thou see the ass of him that hateth thee lying un­der his burthen, and wouldst forbear to help him, thou shalt surely help with him, Exod. 23.4, 5. But in Deut. c. 22.1. Thou shalt not see thy brothers oxe or his sheep going astray, and hide thy self from them, thou shalt in any case bring them again unto thy brother; and v. 4. Thou shalt not see thy brothers ass or his oxe fall down by the way, and hide thy self from them, thou shalt surely help with him to lift them up; plainly shewing that the enemy they were forbidden to hide them­selves from, was such an one as was also a brother, which in the Hebrew phrase was an Israelite by Nation or Religion. I observe, secondly, that as the love the Jews were obliged to have for Enemies was re­strained to those of their own Nation or Religion, so there were some whole Nations whom they were obliged to hate, nor have any commiseration of. For thus saith God concerning the Amorite and the Canaanite, the Hittite and the Perizzite, the Hivite and the Je­busite, Take heed to thy self, lest thou make a covenant with the in­habitants of the land, whither thou goest, Exod. 34.12. As in like manner of the same Nations and the Girgashites, that when the Lord their God should deliver them before Israel, that he should smite them, and utterly destroy them, that he should make no covenant with them, nor shew mercy unto them, Deut. 7.1. and so on. Which what is it less, than to hate those Nations, to account of them, and deal with them as enemies? Indeed (as in both those places is insinuated) the reason of Gods commanding them so to do was for fear the people of Israel should be ensnated by them, and enticed to the worship of their Gods. For we are not to think there is any imperfection in Gods commands, or that hatred and enmity is acceptable of it self. But in the mean time here is an enemy which the Israelites were obliged to hate, and such a command for it as the new Testament affords not any. Add hereunto the aversation which the Jews generally did think them­selves obliged to have for the Samaritans and the Heathen, a thing taken notice of both by sacred and prophane Authours. For the Scriptures first, they observe to us that the Jews had no dealing with the Samaritans, Joh. 4.9. That thereupon a woman of Samaria wondred extremely at our Saviours asking water of her; that S. Peter himself had taken up so hard an opinion concerning the Heathen, that, even after our Saviours Ascension, he looked upon them as unclean per­sons, and such as it was not lawful for him to converse with; that our Saviour, when he would represent to the Jews the aversation they ought to have for those who would not hear the Church, bad them [Page 31]to account of them as Heathens and Publicans; lastly, that the same Holy Jesus, when a woman of Canaan came and sued to him in the behalf of her sick daughter, would not at first vouchsafe her an an­swer, and when her importunity and the Disciples together had ex­torted one from him, called her and all her Nation by the name of Dogs; For it is not meet, saith he, Mat. 15.26. to take the childrens bread and cast it unto dogs. And yet (as that wittily believing Ca­naanite replied upon him) it was but some crums she begged of him, and such a mercy as the meanest are allowed to partake of. If you consult the Heathen you will find them to have had the same opinion of the Jews, to have experimented the same averseness in them. For thus Juvenal concerning them,

Non monstrare vias eadem nisi sacra colenti,
Quaesitum ad fontem solos deducere verpos;

That is to say, that a Jew would not tell a Heathen the way to any place he should ask after, nor lead any but such as were circumcised to what fountain he should enquire for. As in like manner Tacitus, Apud ipsos sides of stinata, misericordia in promptu, ad­versus omnes alios hostile odium. that among themselves they were strict in keeping of their faith, and extremely inclinable to pity, but had a perfect hatred for all others. For though it may be those Authours might something over-lash, or (which is as probable) the Jews go farther in this particular than they were either obliged or allowed; yet manifest enough it is from their general practice, and our Saviours severe language to the Cana­anitish woman, that they were not permitted to have any great com­merce with them, and much less commanded to shew any great kind­ness to them. Lastly, they were allowed, even by God himself, to take usury of a stranger, though he did most severely forbid it a­mong those of their own Nation. If therefore the Law of Moses restrained the title of Neighbour to those of the Jewish Nation or Religion; if that Love, which they were required to shew to an enemy, were, even in the sense of Moses, to be understood of such an enemy as was also a Brother; If they were commanded to shew no mercy at all to some whole Nations, and to avoid the converse of all in general but themselves; Lastly, if they might lend upon usury to a stranger, when God had so severely forbidden it among them­selves; then certainly that better Law-giver Christ Jesus hath added to their Law, because requiring us to hold all men whatsoever as Neighbours, yea though they are as far removed from us in the profession of Religion, as many of them are in their habitation.

3. Having thus shewn that our Saviour hath not only added new instances to the Law, but exacted the old vertues in a greater latitude, I come in the third place to shew that he hath required them in a higher degree, which I shall evidence first of all in the forementioned instance, and then in the whole Encyclopedie of Christian vertues. For, to begin with the forementioned instance, What more frequent even with Gods Servants than the breathing out of curses against their own enemies, or those of God? nay what more frequent with David in the book of Psalms it self, which is of all others the most perfect rule of Life and Manners? The whole 109. Psalm is upon the mat­ter nothing else; and hardly shall you meet with any mention of his [Page 32]enemies, without very severe prayers against them. Thus Psal. 59.11. where he speaks of seeing his desire upon his enemies, his words are, Slay them not lest my people forget, scatter them by thy power and bring them down, O Lord our shield, for the sin of their mouth, and for the words of their lips; let them be taken in their pride. Consume them in wrath, consume them, that they may not be— and at evening let them return, and let them make a noise like a dog, and run about thorough the City. As in like manner, Psal. 35.4. Let them be confounded and put to shame that seek after my soul, let them be turned back and brought to confusion that devise my hurt. Let them be as chaff before the wind, and let the Angel of the Lord chase them. Let their way be dark and slippery, and let the Angel of the Lord persecute them. A­gain saith the same Psalmist, after he had mentioned the reproaches and injuries he sustained by them, Let their table become a snare be­fore them, and that which should have been for their welfare, let it be­come a trap. Let their eyes be darkened that they see not, and make their loyns continually to shake, Psal. 69.22, 23. And a little after, Let their habitation be desolate, and none to dwell in their tents, for they persecute him whom thou hast smitten, and they talk to the grief of those whom thou hast wounded. Neither will it suffice to say, as perhaps it may be, that many of those execrations relate to the ene­mies of Christ, particularly those last mentioned; For beside that it is evident enough from the Psalms themselves, that they were also designed against Davids enemies; the story of the Gospel shews, that our blessed Saviour, who ought rather to be our pattern, prayed even for those very enemies, for those that gave him gall to eat and vine­gar to drink; His own words, as S. Luke tells us, being, Father for­give them for they know not what they do, Luke 23.34. In confor­mity to which example as no doubt we ought to proceed, who are so often required to set it before our eyes; so if we take a view of his Precepts, we shall find them to injoin us the same tenderness, wherein he went before us by his example. Thus Mat. 5.44. we have his own express command to bless those that curse us; his Apostle S. Paul's, Rom. 12.14. that we should bless and curse not. Lastly, thus we find him himself checking his Disciples, for having a desire to imitate Elias his zeal in calling for fire from Heaven upon the Samaritans, and moreover insinuating to them that the Spirit of a Disciple ought to be far different from that of Elias, Luke 9.55. And accordingly, sa­ving that Prayer of S. Paul concerning Alexander the Coppersmith, The Lord reward him according to his works, 2 Tim. 4.14. and that other of S. Peter's concerning Simon Magus, That his money might perish with him, Act. 8.20. which yet he seems afterwards to recal, when he admonishes him to repent, and pray to God, if perhaps that thought of his heart might be forgiven him; saving I say those prayers, the for­mer whereof was against one who had greatly withstood S. Paul's preaching, the later against him who offer'd the Apostles money for the Holy Ghost, I think we shall hardly meet with any of that nature throughout the whole New Testament. Which is to me an evident argument, that the loving of enemies, and praying for them that curse, is at least required of us, in a greater degree, than it was under the Law. But not to confine my self to this single vertue, when there is appearance enough that the like is required in all, I shall desire any [Page 33]man that doubts of it, to consider with me these 3. things. 1. That the Precepts of Christ are much more clear and explicit than those of Mo­ses. 2. That the promises are more clearly proposed, and 3. and last­ly, That God hath eased us of the yoke of the Ceremonial Law. Of the first of these as there cannot well be made a doubt by any that shall compare the Law and the Gospel together, so neither hath it I think been actually done by any; and therefore instead of insisting upon the proof of it, I shall make this inference from it, that God exacts of us a more perfect conformity, than he required of those under the Old Testament. For as the publication of a Law makes it obli­gatory to those to whom that publication is made; so consequently the more clear the publication is, the greater the obligation must be. Of the second particular there can yet less doubt be made, even of the promises of the Gospel being more clearly proposed by it; it being harder to find that there were any such then, than any so clear and ex­press. And therefore as the Socinians do now generally deny it, so we find the like to have been done by the Sadducees of old, wherein though it is true they have erred and that grosly, yet some of the texts they alledge do sufficiently prove that there is a clearer mani­festation of them than before; Witness that known affirmation of S. Paul, 2 Tim. 1.10. where speaking of the Gospel he tells us that it is now made manifest by the appearing of our Saviour Jesus Christ, who hath abolished death, and brought life and immortality to light by it. In fine, the same S. Paul tells us, 2 Cor. 3. that there was a veil upon Moses writings, as well as there sometime was upon his face, but that that veil is done away in Christ, and we may now with open face behold the Glory of the Lord and that Glory which he hath laid up for us. Now if the promises of the Gospel, as well as the Precepts thereof, were more clear than those of Moses, the motives to obedi­ence as well as the rule of it, our conformity thereto is in reason to be proportionably greater, than that to which the Jews were tyed. To all which if we add, that God hath now eased us of the yoke of the Ceremonial Law, which the Jews, though they were not able to bear, yet were forced to stand under, so no doubt can remain of a stricter obligation upon us to those most excellent Precepts of the Mo­ral; gratitude it self requiring, that we, who are eased of a heavy yoke, should the more quietly submit our necks to a light and graci­ous one.

Now though what hath been said doth sufficiently evidence that Christ came not to destroy but fulfil the Law and the Prophets in the most proper notion of the word; yet because it hath been thought by some that the granting of that would inferr the Law of Moses to have been imperfect, before I put a period to this discourse, I will free my doctrine from that imputation, and so much the rather because the charge of imperfection would in fine fall upon the Author of it. In order whereunto the first thing that I shall offer is, that it is no crime at all to affirm it to have been imperfect if compared with the doctrine of our Saviour; that which is less perfect being sometimes as season­able, as at other times a more perfect one. But 2. I say, that Law is not presently [...]o be thought imperfect, which doth not enjoyn the highest pitch of vertue. It is enough, if it be suited to the ability and temper of those, for the regulation of whom it was devised. And [Page 34]therefore as one made answer, when it was demanded of him whether he had given such Laws as were absolutely the best, that he had given the best Laws he could find out for those who were to be governed by them; so shall I say concerning the Laws of God by Moses, If they were the very best that people was capable of to whom they were given, if they were the best for that time and State, they were as per­fect as any Law need to be, because wanting nothing that was requir­ed. But doth any thing that I have said charge the Law of Moses with not being the best that people was capable of? nay have I not already shown, that in regard to the hardness of their hearts, God was fain to remit something in the matter of divorce? For whereas at the first God tyed man and wife by a bond, which nothing but Adultery could dissolve, for the hardness of the Jews hearts (as our Saviour tells us) he was forced to remit of that severity, and suffer them to put away their wives for a lesser cause, Mat. 19.8 In fine, the Jews were then but in the state of children, as S. Paul tells us, Gal. 4.2. they had the weakness and peevishness of children, and being such God (as was but requisite) dealt with them as with children; keep­ing them, as that Apostle goes on, under the elements of the world, and permitting them to think, and speak, and act as such. But now that the world is grown man, now that our Blessed Saviour hath brought abundance of Grace and Truth into it, giving men more wise and understanding heads, more pliant hearts, or at least more grace to make them so; as it was but reasonable he should raise the standards of obedience, and fulfil both the Law and the Prophets, so it will be but necessary for us to make our piety answer them, and fulfil that Law and the Prophets over again in our conversation.

DISC. V. Of the measures by which we are to proceed in the inter­pretation of the Decalogue or Ten Commandments.

That the Ten Commandments comprehend more in them than is expressed, and how we may come to investigate the full importance of them. Se­veral rules laid down to direct us in that affair. What tyes we have upon us to yield obedience to them, above what the Jews, to whom they were first given, had. A comparison between the Israelites de­liverance out of Egypt, by which their obedience is enforced, and our far better deliverance from the bondage of the Ceremonial Law, and Sin, and Death.

HAving, by way of preparation to our main design, entreated of the nature, and obligations of the Laws of God, and particu­larly of that Law which we are now about to explain, shewing the authority by which it stands, the means whereby it comes to oblige us, and the pitch to which our Saviour hath raised it; it remains only that we enquire what measures we are to proceed by in giving [Page 35]the full importance of the several precepts of it. For as when Solomon's Temple was to be built, all things were so fitted, and prepared before­hand, that there was neither hammer, nor axe, nor any tool of iron heard in the building of it; so, in every methodical discourse, care ought to be taken that the materials be first squared and fitted, be­fore we proceed to the rearing of it, lest the deferring it till then do not only prove a retarding of it, but the noises of axes and hammers disturb and confound us in it.

Now there are two things, within the explication of which, the re­solution of this question will be comprehended.

  • 1. Whether the Ten Commandments comprehend no more in them, than is expressed. And
  • 2. If they do, what those things are which they comprehend.

I. It is commonly supposed both by Jewish and Christian writers that the Decalogue or Ten Commandments is a summary or abstract of the whole Duty of Man. I will not at the first either take so much for granted, or attempt the probation of it; whatsoever is to be said con­cerning this particular, being best to be learned by a leisurely and gra­dual procedure. It shall suffice now in the entrance of my discourse to affirm, that more is comprehended in the Decalogue or Ten Com­mandments, than is expressed in the letter of it. For, first, all that must be supposed to be comprehended in it, which is either implyed in it, or necessarily deducible from it. Thus though the letter of the first Commandment doth directly import no more than the rejecting of false Gods, yet inasmuch as God prefaces this prohibition with I am the Lord thy God, and the prohibition it self manifestly implies the having of him for our God, it is evident that when God saves, Thou shalt have no other Gods before me, his meaning is as well that we should have him for our God, as that we should not have any other God besides. Again, when the having of any one for our God implies the fearing and loving and honouring him that is so, according to his several at­tributes, at the same time he commands us to have him and no other for our God, he must be supposed to command also, that we should fear, and love, and honour him and him alone, though neither of these be expressed in it. But then if the Law be considered not only as proposed by Moses, but as illustrated and enlarged by our Saviour in the Sermon on the Mount, in which capacity there is no doubt we ought to look upon it, because as such a part of the Christian Law; so there is no doubt but many things are comprehended in it, which are not expressed in the letter of it. But because when I shew what things are comprehended in the Ten Commandments, beside what is expressed in the letter, I shall at the same time shew that something else is, therefore superseding any farther proof of that as altogether unnecessary, I will proceed to the resolution of the other.

II. It is commonly supposed, and not without reason, though that reason be not often made appear, that when our Saviour reduceth the Law to those two great Commandments, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thy self, he means that principally of the Law of Moses contained in the Ten Commandments. Which if true, it will follow,

1. That the negative in every Commandment doth include the affir­mative, and that when God saith Thou shalt not kill, thou shalt not [Page 36]steal, and the like, his meaning is not only that we should do no in­jury to our neighbours person or estate, but that we should love and do him good in both. Now that our Saviour intended those great Com­mandments, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart and Thy neighbour as thy self, as an abstract of the Ten Commandments, and consequently that what is contained in them is also comprised in the Ten Commandments, will appear from Rom. 13.8, 9. where S. Paul doth not only affirm love to be the fulfilling of the Law, according as his Master had done, but particularly of the Ten Commandments. For this (saith he) Thou shalt not commit adultery, thou shalt not kill, Thou shalt not steal, thou shalt not bear false witness, thou shalt not co­vet, and if there be any other Commandment, it is Verba sunt [...] briefly comprehen­ded in this saying, namely, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thy self. Now forasmuch as Love is the fulfilling of this Law, forasmuch as the several Precepts of it are comprehended in it, as in a recapitulation [...]. Significat pro­priè variarum sum marum in unam collecti­onem, per trans­lationem, antè dictorum repe­titionem per capita. Ham­mond in Eph. 1.10. or summary; that Law, of which it is a summary, must comprehend love in it, and consequently, not only forbid the doing of any injury to our neighbour, but the doing him all good offices and services. There is but one thing of moment to be opposed to this arguing, and that is what followes in the 10. verse, Love worketh no ill to his neigh­bour, therefore love is the fulfilling of the Law; for if love be the ful­filling of the Law, in that it works no ill, then may the whole tenour of the Law seem to be comprehended in the not doing of any harm to our neighbour. But to this I answer first, that when the Apostle saith, Love worketh no ill to his neighbour, therefore love is the fulfilling of the Law, his meaning may be, not that love is the ful­filling of the Law meerly because it doth no harm, but because of its opposition to all those evils and harms, such as Adultery, Theft and the like, whereby our neighbour is incommodated. Love is a stranger to Murther, Adultery, and Theft, and to whatsoever else whereby our neighbour is incommodated; and being a stranger to all such pra­ctises, it doth not only extend it self to this or that Commandment, but to all the Commandments of the second Table. I say, secondly, with Esthius, that though the Apostle say less, yet it was his inten­tion to have more understood, even not only that love worketh no ill, but that it worketh all good to its neighbour. Which (beside the usual forms of Speech in Scripture, and other books, where under ne­gative expressions, such as I am not ashamed, great boasting is often signi­fied) is evident from the verse before. For being it is there said, not only that the Precepts, Thou shalt not kill, and the like, but if there be any other Commandment, it is briefly comprehended in that say­ing, namely, Thou shalt love thy Neighbour as thy self, and conse­quently, that the command of honouring our Parents is, because that is a Precept of the same Decalogue; the Law cannot be fulfilled by abstaining meerly from evil, because that of Honouring our Parents is more than so. When therefore it is here said, that love worketh no ill to his Neighbour and therefore is the fulfilling of the Law, we are not only to understand that it worketh no ill, but that it procu­reth all the good that can be. In the mean time, if any deem the po­sitive love of our Neighbour to be the fulfilling of the Law, in the same sense in which I have shewn the word fulfil is to be understood in the 5. Chapter of S. Matthew, that is to say, as an addition made by [Page 37]Christ to it, to make up its former wants, it will come all to one as to our present purpose. For being the subjects of that Christ, who hath fulfilled it, we are necessarily to look upon the Law in that latitude wherein it is proposed by him, and consequently to believe the Com­mandments of the Decalogue, not only to require us to abstain from doing evil, but to pursue the contrary good. The argument is much more strong from the affirmative to the negative, that is to say, from the command of any positive duty to the forbidding of the con­trary vice. For though, for instance, I may abstain from dishonouring my Parents, and yet never give them honour; yet I cannot honour and dishonour them at once: and therefore that Commandment, which enjoins me honour, must consequently be thought to forbid all disho­nour and contempt. Thus far therefore we have already attained to­ward the importance of the Ten Commandments, that, though some of them, and those the most, seem satisfied with abstaining from evil, and others with the sole pursuing of good; yet both the one and the other are to be understood as obliging to both, to eschew that which is evil, and to follow after that which is good and vertuous.

2. The second thing observable concerning the Ten Commandments, is, that though the grosser sort of sins only be there expresly forbidden, such as Adultery, Murther, and the like, yet under them are con­tained also all the lesser ones of the same species. Thus for example, Though the Decalogue take notice only of Murther, and Adultery in the sins of Malice and Unchastity, yet considering those Precepts as proposed by Christ, in which capacity there is no doubt all Christians are to look upon them, so we are to understand all sins of the same kind to be included, how much soever inferiour to the other. For I say unto you (saith our Saviour) that whosoever looketh upon a woman to lust after her, hath committed adultery with her already in his heart, Mat. 5.28. And again, not only that he who kills his Brother, but that whosoever is angry without a cause, especially if he proceed to re­proachful language, shall be in danger of the same judgment, to which the murtherer is obnoxious, v. 22. of the same Chapter. And indeed, though there appear not any clear indications in the Commandments themselves of their descending to those lesser sins, yet forasmuch as we find the Tenth Commandment descending so low as to forbid the ve­ry roveting that which is another man's, and again the other parts of the Law and the Prophets forbidding the lower degrees of unchastity and malice, as hath been before shewn; there is reason enough to be­lieve, those lower degrees were intended to be forbidden by it, as well as the higher ones. For the other parts of the Law and the Pro­phets being but as Comments upon the Decalogue, as appears by Gods laying that as the foundation of all the rest, and its own containing in it the general heads of our obedience; whatsoever is forbidden by the other parts of the Law and the Prophets, must be supposed to be in­cluded in those grosser fins of the same kind, which the Decalogue takes notice of.

3. The third thing observable concerning the Ten Commandments, is, that though all of them, except the last, take no notice of any o­ther than the outward actions; yet the actions of the inward man, or the heart are no less comprised in the several Precepts and Prohibiti­ons of it. For beside that (as was before said) the Law of God is by [Page 38]the Psalmist said to be a law converting the soul, Psal. 17.9. and by S. Paul term'd spiritual, Rom. 7.14. That first and great Command­ment, in which all our duty to God is comprehended, is expressed by our loving God with all our heart and soul, as well as with all our might and strength, Mat. 22.38. And though the second be not expressed in like manner, to wit, that of loving our Neighbours as our selves, yet as the affection of the heart is manifestly included in the word love, which is the proper act of it, so the Law is express, that we should not hate our brother in our heart, nor bear a grudge against the children of our people. But because this argument hath been suf­ficiently exemplified in the several Precepts of the Decalogue, I will pro­ceed to my

4. Rule which is, That not only the sins here mentioned are for­bidden, but all those things that lead to them; as on the other side, not only that the duties there expressed are under command, but all those means that naturally tend to them: for being the end doth de­pend upon the means, and either follows, or follows not, according as they are made use of, or omitted; he that commands any end must necessarily be thought to command the means, as on the other side he that forbids the end to forbid the other. Thus forasmuch as drunk­enness leads to lust, and immoderate anger to murther, were there no other Precepts to make them unlawful, those of Murther and Adul­tery would, because intemperance and immoderate anger naturally lead to them.

5. (For to enumerate more particulars, would perhaps serve rather to forestall the ensuing discourse, than to clear our way to it) What­soever either the Old, or New Testament, proposeth concerning piety and vertue, as it may fairly enough be reduced to some Precept or other of the Decalogue, as will appear when we come to discuss them; so considering it, as our Catechism doth, as an abstract of all moral duties, it will be necessary to take that course in the explication of it.

6. Lastly, for though matter of duty be the principal thing here in­tended, yet that duty hath promises annexed to it; Whatsoever is here annexed by way of promise, though more peculiarly concerning the Jews, doth yet appertain to us also. For being whatsoever was writ­ten aforetime was written for our learning, that we through patience and comfort of the Scriptures might have hope, Rom. 15.4. being the Author to the Hebrews applies that promise to all Christians, which was spoken particularly to Joshua, and upon a particular occasion, Heb. 13.5. it is much more reasonable to believe those promises to belong to us, which are annexed to the Ten Commandments, because they are no less our duty, than those to whom they were first given. And therefore, as S. Paul, when to shew the equity of Christian children's obedience to parents, alledged the words of the fifth Commandment, Ephe. 6.2. so he forgot not to add the promise annexed of its being well with us, and living long upon the earth; all which had been very impertinent, if the promise as well as duty had not been our concern­ment as well as the Jews. Allowance only would be made for the difference there is between the Law and the Gospel as to temporal promises, but what that difference is, and what allowance ought to be made for it, will fall in more seasonably, when I come to intreat [Page 39]of the fifth Commandment, to which therefore I shall reserve the distinct handling of it.

Having thus prepared my way to the explication of the Ten Com­mandments, by shewing the nature and obligation of the divine Laws, and particularly of this, with the measure whereby we are to proceed in the explication of them; it remains that we descend to the Com­mandments themselves, and consider the several duties that are wrapped up in them. But because the Law-giver himself, before he proceeds to the several Precepts of the Decalogue, labours to stir up the Israelites to yield obedience to them by the consideration of that great mercy of Gods toward them in bringing them out of the Land of Egypt, I will, for a conclusion of this discourse, shew what like tyes he hath upon us to the performance of the same duties. And here in the first place, it is not to be forgotten, because that is the first root and foun­dation of all our obligation to him, that he, who exacts our obedi­ence, is he that made us, he from whom we receive our life, and breath, and all things conducing to the support of it. For as it is but reasonable in it self, that God should exact the obedience of those, who are made and sustained by him, so it is no less reasonable, that we should pay him that obedience, who receive so great a favour from him. But not to insist upon so remote an obligation, who have so many that are much more near and pressing to us Christians, consider we in the second place, that he, who immediately bound this Law upon us, hath bought us with his most precious blood. An argument I the rather insist upon, because it carries with it, an exact correspondency to that mercy, which God made use of to perswade his own people to obedience. For as the deliverance of the Jews out of Egypt was a deliverance from a cruel bondage, and such as neither before nor since any Nation groaned under, so our redemption by Christ was a delive­rance from a more cruel bondage, because from a spiritual one. We were in bondage to our own hearts lusts, we were in bondage to Sa­tan and his instruments, a Master, who after all our toil would have paid us no other wages than death, and an eternal separation from God. Again, whereas the Jewish Law-giver delivered them from their bondage, by the bloud of the Paschal Lamb, and of their ene­mies, he who bound the same Law upon us purchased us, not indeed by the bloud of Lambs, or of other men, but (which is much more considerable) by his own. Now if a deliverance out of Egypt were so strong an obligation to obedience, that God himself should lay the stress of the whole Law of Moses on it, how great a one may we suppose it to be to be delivered from sin, and Satan, and death, and that too by the bloud of him by whom that Law was imposed on us? Certainly if any redemption be a just incentive to obedience, a redemption from such a servitude, and in such a manner must be, and we who are so bought, obliged to glorisie God both in our bodies, and in our spi­rits which are his. We are not as yet at an end of the obligations the divine goodness hath laid upon us to yield obedience to these his Laws. For whereas God, though he delivered the Jess from their Egyptian bondage, yet brought them into another, from a servitude in making bricks to a servitude in observing many unprofitable Rites and Ceremonies, our Law-giver on the contrary hath delivered us from the bondage of corruption to the glorious liberty of the Sons of [Page 40]God; that is to say (for what Son is there, that is not under obedi­ence?) to the obedience of Sons, to a service which is both easy and ingenuous. We are not now, as they, under a yoke of ceremonial rites and ordinances, we are not treated as slaves, nor indeed as ser­vants; what becomes a Son to do and a Father to exact, what is just, and equitable, and ingenuous, that and that alone is the rule of our obedience. Which yet neither doth he so exact, as to cast us off for every transgression of it, for every weak or indeed wilful deviation from it; but, after the manner of tender Fathers, passeth by our lesser errours, and upon our repentance, and amendment, receives us into favour after grosser ones. Lastly, as our Law-giver admits us to an ingenuous and easy service, as he is moreover gracious and merciful in the exacting of it; so he furnisheth us with ability to perform all those things which he doth so mercifully exact. For of his fulness (saith S. John) have we all received, and grace for grace, Joh. 1.16. Now as the assistance of the divine grace removes all pretexts of our inability to perform what he requires, and consequently leaves those inexcusable who come short in the doing of it; so can it not but be a powerful inducement to yield obedience to his Laws from whom that assistance is derived. For when he who is the giver of the Law is also assisting to the doing of it, when he doth (as the Apostle speaks) [...], and bear a part of that burthen which he hath laid upon us, what ingratitude must it be to withdraw our shoul­ders from it, and refuse to obey him, who doth not only impose a light burthen upon us, but contributes also to the sustaining of it? Thus though the deliverance from Egypt cannot be pressed upon us, as an inducement to yield obedience to this Royal Law, yet there want not others of the like nature, but of far greater force, to endear its obedience to us; and then I hope it will be no diminution to it, if instead of I am the Lord thy God who brought thee out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of bon­dage, we substitute, I am the Lord thy God who, beside the common be­nefit of thy creation, have delivered thee from sin and hell, and both given thee a more ingenuous and easy service, and ability to undergo it.

THE FIRST COMMANDMENT.
THE FIRST COMMANDMENT.

Thou shalt have no other Godsor before me.but me.

PART I.

The Contents.

The Commandment divided into three Capital Precepts. I. That we have the one true God for our God. II. That we look upon the God of Israel as such. III. That we have no other Gods beside him. Of the first Capital Precept, and what is meant by the having the One true God for our God, which is shewn in the General to be no other, than our owning him as such. An address to a more Particular Explication of it, where is premised a brief account of the Nature and Attributes of God, how the knowledge thereof is to be attained, and of what necessity such a knowledge is.

IT is easy to observe, upon a Superficial view of this first Commandment, that the whole of it may be comprised in these three Capital Pre­cepts. 1. That we have the one true God for our God, 2. That we look upon the God of Israel as such, and 3. and lastly that we have no other Gods besides him. For as the last of these is the very letter of the Com­mandment, and therefore not at all to be doubted of; so the two former, though not expressed, yet are manifestly implied, in the Commandment, and the preamble to it. For inasmuch as The God of Israel prefaceth it with the declaration of his being the Lord our God, and in the body thereof forbids the having of any other before, or be­sides himself, he manifestly supposeth the having of himself, and the true, as well as the not having any other. In the mean time, if that alone be not sufficient to perswade, the rule before laid down, and the abstract which Christ hath given of the duties of the first Table will. For if every negative in the Decalogue do include the affirmative, if the loving the Lord our God, which is no other than the God of Is­rael, with all our heart, and mind, and strength, be the abstract or summary of the Commandments of the first Table; either that, which [Page 44]is an abstract, or summary, must contain more in it, than that of which it is one, or we must be supposed to be obliged to the having the one true God, and the God of Israel, as well as to the not having of any other.

I. I begin with the first of these, even the having the one true God for our God, prescinding from the consideration of the God of Israel's being he. Where not to insist upon the difference that seems to be be­tween the Hebrew and our English, because the difference is meerly ver­bal, it being all one in sense, There shall not be to thee any other Gods, and Thou shalt not have any other Gods before me, I will proceed to enquire both in the general and in particular, what is meant by the ha­ving of a God.

1. Now the force of that expression (which will furnish us with a general explication) will soon appear, if these two things be conside­red, 1. That that which is required of us, must be somewhat, that de­pends upon our will, and 2. That the authority of God depends no farther upon that, than as to our owning or acknowledging it. Foras­much as nothing can be the matter of a command, but what is in the power of our will, either to embrace or refuse, and the authority of God depends no farther upon our will, than as to our owning or ac­knowledging it; it follows that when we are commanded to have the one true God for our God, according as the affirmative part of this Pre­cept imports, the meaning thereof can be no other, than that we own him as such: as, on the other side, that when we are required not to have any other Gods beside, that we own no other in that relation. Neither is the expression here made use of any whit disagreeing from what we have said to be intended by it. For as in the language of S. Paul men are said to be the servants of him to whom they yield obedience, so by the same proportion of speech to have him for their God, whom they own and revere as such. And indeed, though in a sense we may be all said to have one and the same God, because we are all subject to the same, yet in strictness of speech no man can be said to have any one for his God, whom he doth not some way revere as such. For the word have supposing our admittance of that which we are said to have, if we do not admit of him and his authority, neither can we be said to have him, and consequently neither to perform that which this Pre­cept requireth of us. Add hereunto, which will farther confirm this notion, what our Saviour hath affirmed to be the sum and substance of the first table of the Decalogue; for if the duties of the first table be comprised in that Precept, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and soul, and strength, according as our Saviour hath af­firmed, then must the having him for our God, which is the first and chiefest Precept of it, be our owning him as such, our having that affection and esteem for him which is due unto a God.

2. Having thus shewn in the general what it is to have the Lord for our God, even to own and revere him as such, we are in the next place to enquire more particularly, how that is to be done; and what re­spect is due unto him as a God. But because that is not to be known, and much less to be performed without the knowledge of the nature and attributes of God, and I have before said, that what is prerequired to any thing enjoined, is to be supposed to be enjoined by the same Commandment; therefore before I proceed to shew what respect is due unto him, I must shew,

  • 1. What the nature and attributes of God are.
  • 2. How the knowledge thereof is to be attained, and
  • 3. And lastly the necessity thereof.

1. I begin with the last of these, because the first in order to be known, even the necessity of our knowledge of God, which will ap­pear from what was before intimated concerning the impossibility of our giving him that honour which is due, without it. For all honour being founded in the apprehension of those excellencies which we be­hold in another, if the excellencies of the divine nature be either not at all, or but superficially known, our honour of it must be according­ly, and consequently no way suitable to the Divine Majesty. And hence Joh. 17.3. the knowledge of God and Christ is set to denote all that which is necessary to eternal life. For this (saith that Evan­gelist) is life eternal, to know thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom thou hast sent. Not that this alone is sufficient to qualifie us for Heaven (for Faith, and Love, and all other Graces of the Spirit are ne­cessary to the attaining of it) but that this is the basis and foundation of all the rest, neither can we either love, or trust in him, or adore him, if we have not a due knowledg of him.

2. The necessity of the knowledge of God being thus evinced, pass we in the second place to the means whereby that knowledge is to be attained; which is either, 1. the light of Reason and Nature, or 2. of Revelation and Scripture. That God may be known by the former of these ways S. Paul evidently declares, Rom. 1.19, 20. For that (saith he) which may be known of God is manifest in them, for God hath shewed it unto them; for the invisible things of him from the Creation of the World are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even his eternal power and Godhead. It is true indeed, what through the present weakness of humane nature, and Gods just deser­tion of it, because of our many provocations, we cannot so easily, or so perfectly attain to the knowledge of him by the light of reason and nature: But as this hinders not, but that God may be knowable by it, because the eyes of our understandings are become less apt to di­scern it; so he, that shall seriously set himself to contemplate the works of nature, will find no contemptible footsteps of the Deity up­on them. But because I haveExplication of the Apo­stles Creed. elsewhere given a specimen of what is knowable by this light, in my discourse upon that Article of the Creed concerning God the Father, and because it is most certain that what­ever may be knowable by it, the best of us find it difficult enough to deduce the nature of God from it; therefore consider we in the second place that more certain one, even the light of Revelation and Scri­pture. For as no one can be supposed to give us a more perfect ac­count of the nature of God than he himself can, and consequently, that which comes immediately from him must be preferred before all other ways of knowing him, so cannot that account but be thought the most easy and intelligible, because added in consideration of our in­ability to discern it by the help of our own reason. For after that 1 Cor. 1.21. in the wisdom of God, the world by wisdom knew not God, it plea­sed God by the foolishness of preaching to save them that believe. Besides, when that which may be known of God from the works of the Creation cannot be deduced but by a long train of consequences, the Scriptures give us direct and manifest notices of it, they present [Page 46]him to us, not as in a glass, that is to say, by reflexion and obscurely, but, as I may so speak, face to face. And therefore, being now to set before you the nature and attributes of God, so far forth as shall be necessary to let us know what regard we ought to have for him, I will borrow my description of it from the Scripture, which is more exact and intelligible, rather than from the light of nature, which is both more imperfect and obscure. This only would be premised as well to set bounds to our own enquiries, as to enhance that respect which we ought to have for the Divine Majesty, that being infinite in his na­ture and attributes, according as hath been elsewhereExplication of the Apo­stles Creed. shewn, and shall be farther in the conclusion of this discourse, whatsoever know­ledge we or any other creature may have of him, yet we cannot hope to comprehend him; in which sense some have with great probabili­ty understood that of S. Paul, that he dwelleth in that light to which no man can approach, and that no man either hath seen him or can, 1 Tim. 6.16. Now if it should be demanded (which ought to be the end of all our enquiries in this matter) what this incomprehensi­bility of God exacts of us, and by what means we may own him as such; I answer, by an humble and silent admiration of this his unin­telligible perfection. For as that Painter, who drew a veil over the face of a sad Mother, did thereby better express the passion he was to represent, than he could have done by the saddest aspect he could have delineated, because that veil, which he drew over it, did tacitly insi­nuate, that the grief was not capable of being expressed; so cannot we give a greater evidence of our owning the immensity of the Divine Nature than by our silent admiration of it. For this shews the Divine Nature to be such as we can never hope to conceive, and much less be able to express.

3. Having premised thus much as a limit to our own enquiries, and as a supplement to those imperfect discoveries we shall be able to make of the Divine Majesty, proceed we according to our proposed me­thod to the observation of so much as is knowable from the Scriptures concerning the Nature and Attributes of God. And

1. First of all for the Nature of God the Scripture is express, that it is spiritual, for so our Saviour, Joh. 4.24. God is a spirit, and they that worship him, must worship him in spirit and in truth; that is to say, (for this is the best description we can give of a spirutal na­ture) he is such a substance as is exempt from the Laws and affections of bodies, he is not capable of being divided or circumscribed. Nei­ther doth it make ought against this assertion, that we find God fre­quently described with Eyes, and Ears, and Hands, and other the parts of a body. For as he, who would explain any thing to a child or o­ther weak person, must suit his discourse to the capacity of him, whom he hath taken upon him to instruct; so God being to instruct man­kind, and particularly the common sort of it who understand nothing beyond what they see and feel, was necessarily to make known his own Nature and Attributes, not by such discoveries as were most pro­per to declare it, but by such things as the capacity of them, whom he was to instruct, was best able to apprehend. Now as no man would inferr from the explication that is made of any thing to a child, that the thing it self is altogether such as it is described to him, because such a one is rather to be instructed by such things as are most obvious [Page 47]to him, than by the proper notices thereof; so neither can any from the bodily representation that is made of God, that God hath indeed such parts and members, as he is there described withal; because the weakness of the common sort requires that the nature of God be re­presented by the things of sense, which alone they have any know­ledge of. Besides, as there was a necessity of Gods describing his pow­er and providence by Hands and Eyes, as in like manner, other Attri­butes of his by such parts of humane bodies, which hold most corre­spondence with them, and consequently nothing of corporeity to be attributed to him because of it; so God himself hath given us suffi­ciently to understand that he would have those descriptions interpret­ed rather as Emblems and Pictures, than as rigid definitions of his na­ture. For beside the express affirmation of his being a spirit, with which the affections of bodies are not consistent, he frequently asks the makers of Images, To whom they will liken God, or what likeness they will compare unto him; and this too, as you may see, Isa. 40.17. upon the account of that vast distance, that is between him and all the Nations of the World. Which kind of questions being tanta­mount to a negation, it follows that however God be sometime de­scribed as a humane body, yet he hath no affinity with them, nor with any other how glorious soever.

2. From the nature of God, pass we to his Attributes, which for our more orderly proceeding, may be reduced to these two heads, to wit,

  • 1. Either such as are radicated in his nature, or
  • 2. As result from his operations.

1. The former of these are again double, commonly called Incom­municable or Communicable, that is to say, such of which there is no resemblance in the creatures, or such of which there is. Of the for­mer of these sorts are these four, his independency, his unchangeableness, his omnipresence, and eternity, each of which hath the astipulation of the Scripture, and therefore to be considered by us. That God is independent of any other, either as to his being or subsistance, S. Paul evidently declares, Act. 17.25. for inasmuch as he giveth to all life and breath and all things, he himself cannot depend upon them for his own, and consequently is independent of any other. There is the same evidence from Scripture concerning Gods unchangeableness, either in his nature, or resolutions. For they (saith the Psalmist) shall perish, but thou shalt endure, yea all of them shall wax old as doth a garment, but thou art the same and thy years shall have no end. Psal. 102.26, 27. And again, with him is no variableness, neither shadow of turning, saith S. James, c. 1.17. Lastly, as God is independent and unchangeable, so is he omnipresent and eternal; witness for the for­mer that known place of the Psalmist, Psal. 139.7. and so on; Whi­ther shall I go from thy spirit, or whither shall I flee from thy presence? If I ascend up into heaven, thou art there. If I make my bed in hell, behold thou art there. If I take the wings of the morning and dwell in the uttermost part of the sea, Even there also shall thy hand lead me, and thy right hand shall hold me. For the latter, the same Psalmist, Plal. 90.2. For from everlasting to everlasting thou art God.

Next to his incommunicable Attributes, consider we his Communi­cable ones, that is to say, such of which there is some image in the [Page 40]creatures; in each of which we shall find the same consent of Scri­pture, as we found before in his incommunicable ones. To begin with his Mercy and Goodness, because the Scripture itself tells us that that is above all his works; how did he himself triumph in it when he pro­claimed his own Glory? For thus, Exod. 34.6. when he passed be­fore Moses, he proclaimed himself to be the Lord, even the Lord mer­ciful and gracious, long-suffering and abundant in goodness and truth; Keeping mercy for thou sands, forgiving iniquity, transgression, and sin. Next to his mercy consider we his Justice, because proclaimed in the same breath, he himself there adding, that he was one that would by no means clear the guilty, but visit the iniquity of the fathers upon the children, and upon the childrens children, v. 7. of that chapter. As in like manner, though more fully elsewhere; for all his ways are judgment, a God of truth, and without iniquity, just and right is he, Deut. 32.4. Where we have not only a declaration of his Justice in the largest acception of the word, but a declaration also of his Truth, another Attribute of his, and therefore to be considered by us. But be­cause this as others of them are so frequently mentioned in Scripture, that no man can be supposed to be ignorant of it, I will add only for a confirmation of it, that he is so much a God of truth, that he is by S. Paul said to be, The God that cannot lye, Tit. 1.2. Lastly (for these things are so notorious from the Scripture, that it will be but lost la­bour to go about to prove them) as he is a God of Mercy, and Justice, and Truth, so he is a God of Glory, and Power, and Wisdom. And more than this I shall not need to add concerning such Attributes, as are radicated in the Divine Nature, unless it be, that whereas in created beings they are finite and limited, in God they are infinite and unli­mited. But so that they are, the Scripture gives us to understand, either in express terms, or such as do necessarily inferr it; that affirm­ing in one placePsal. 147.5. that his understanding is infinite, as in anotherIsai. 40.17. that all nations and their several excellencies are before him as nothing, yea less than nothing and vanity, which is in effect to say, that God him­self is infinite: They being not to be said to be as nothing yea less than nothing in comparison of him, who hold any proportion to him, as they must be said to do, if God himself were finite.

2. One only Attribute remains, even that which we have said to flow from his operations, I mean his Sovereignty and Dominion. Con­cerning which, to omit others, that of S. Paul may suffice, Act. 17.24. where we have not only the world, and all things therein, affirmed to be made by him, but he himself for that reason styled the Lord of heaven and earth, that is to say (for so both the term of heaven and earth, and the procedure of that argument shew) the Lord of all the world, and of all things therein contained.

PART II.

That to have the One true God for our God is to owne him as such both in Soul and Body, and in all the faculties and powers of each. An account of what acknowledgment is due to God from the Soul, and particularly from that great faculty thereof the Ʋnderstanding: Which is shewn to consist, first in a right apprehension of his Nature and Attri­butes, secondly in a serious and frequent reflection on them, and thirdly in a firm belief of what he affirmeth. An enquiry thereupon into the just object of Faith, the Congruity or rather essentiality thereof to the Oeconomy of the Gospel, and how we owne God for our God by it.

HAving given you an account in the foregoing discourse of the Na­ture and Attributes of God, together with the infiniteness thereof, as also shewn that to have him for our God is no other than to owne him as such, it remains only that we enquire, how that is to be done, and what respect is due unto him as a God. For the reso­lution whereof

  • 1. The first thing I shall return is, that we are to owne him both in the inward and outward man. For beside that Soul and Body are equally his, by right of creation, preservation and redemption, and consequently, an acknowledgement to be made by each, we are expresly required by S. Paul to glorifie God in our body, and in our spirit, which are his, 1 Cor. 6.20. But from hence it will follow,
  • 2. That we are to owne him for our God in all the faculties and powers both of the one and the other. Which is farther con­firmed, as to the Soul especially, by Gods requiring us to love him with all our heart, and soul and might, Deut. 6.5. Nei­ther let any man say, that this concerns only the passion of love, and therefore not to be extended to other expresses of it. For as we are elsewhere required to fear and trust in the same God, which shews that the other are not excluded; our Saviour assuring us (as he doth
    Mat. 22.27, &c.
    ) that upon that great Com­mandment hangs all the Law and the Prophets as to our duty to our Maker, it is evident it was intended to comprehend all other ways and means, whereby we are in a capacity to honour him. The only remaining difficulty is, what acknow­ledgment each faculty is to make, which accordingly I come now to consider.

1. To begin with the Soul, because the chief seat of piety and all other vertues, and because God professeth especially to require it. Where following the usual division of its faculties I will enquire,

  • 1. What is due to God from our understanding?
  • 2. What is due unto him from our wills, and
  • 3. And lastly, what is due unto him from our affections.

1. Now to owne God in our Ʋnderstandings, which is the first of [Page 50]the faculties before remembred, implieth in it these three thing. 1. A right apprehension of his Nature and Attributes. 2. A serious and fre­quent reflection on them, and 3. And lastly a firm belief of what he affirms.

1. Of the first of these there cannot be the least doubt, that it is required of us towards the owning him for our God. For be­side that that is one of the prime acts of our Understanding, and there­fore to pay God its acknowledgment, the neglect thereof casts us un­avoidably upon that errour, against which this first Commandment was principally intended; to fail in our apprehension of God being not to own the nature of God, but a fancy and imagination of our own. And accordingly, as S. Paul stuck not to tell the Athenians, that they ought not to think the Godhead was like unto Gold, or Silver, or stone graven by art, and mans device, Act. 17.29. So he charges upon the heathen in general the vanity of their imaginations concern­ing him, and which is more, makes that the ground of Gods giving them over to those abominable crimes into which they fell, Rom. 1.29. Taking it therefore for granted, as we very well may, that we ought to have a right apprehension of Gods nature and Attributes, nothing remains to be enquired into, but what that apprehension is, from what measures it is to be taken, and what is to be done by us toward the attaining and preserving of it. Of the two former of these I have di­scoursed already in the foregoing discourse, and must therefore remand you thither for your satisfaction; it shall content me, and may you, to insist upon the last, and shew what is to be done by us toward the attaining or preserving it. And here very opportunely comes in that which is generally recommended by the Pythagoreans toward the at­taining of Philosophical knowledge, even the purifying our minds from all those earthly and sensual affections, to which we are so fatally inclined. For our understandings being apt to judge of things, not ac­cording as they are in themselves, but as they best suit with our cor­rupt affections, till the mind be well purged from these, it is impossi­ble we should entertain any apprehensions of God, which are not some way or other vitiated by them. And accordingly as some of the Hea­then (because led thereto by their own necessities and appetites) have been so stupid as to think the immortal Gods did eat and drink like us, so others so depraved in their conceptions, as to believe them tainted with the lusts of humane nature, to have the same sinful pas­sions and affections with themselves. Witness their reporting them to descend from heaven to enjoy female beauties, to maintain animosi­ties among themselves, and espouse those of men, their making some of them the Patrons of fraud and cousenage, and others again of in­temperance and debauchery, their appointing a third sort to preside over the Amours of men, and both to kindle and maintain their loose and sometimes unnatural flames. Of all which misapprehensions the great, if not only cause was, the passion they themselves had for them, and that esteem and value they were wont to set upon them; the Heathen no less fondly, than impiously, conceiting, because these things gratifyed their own corrupt inclinations, that they afforded the same gusto to the powers above, and were the object of their affecti­ons and desires. Forasmuch therefore as the minds of men are so apt to be debauched by their corrupt affections, it is but necessary to­wards [Page 51]a right apprehension of God that our hearts should be first purg­ed from them, and we become if not wholly spiritual, yet less sensual in our desires. Now though that may seem a hard task to effect (as I doubt not it may prove so at the first, to those who have been accu­stomed to indulge them) yet the difficulty will be much diminished, and in fine wholly removed, by considering both how unworthy they are of rational creatures, and with what evil consequences they are usually attended. For as the pleasures before spoken of are more the pleasures of beasts than men, and by them more fully and exquisitely enjoyed; so the effect of them is no other than to produce in us low and abject minds, crazy, diseased, and at length putrid bodies. The heart being thus purged from all earthly and sensual affections, to­wards which I have over and above represented the most effectual ex­pedients, we are in the next place, to lift up our minds or thoughts from the contemplation of corporeal beings to the consideration of spiritual ones. For as it is not to be expected, that they who accu­stom themselves to look no farther than their senses, should ever con­ceive rightly of a spiritual object; it being impossible for mens appre­hensions to rise higher than the fountain from which they proceed: so that depraved custom was no doubt the first original of the Hea­thens believing God to have a body like themselves, with the infir­mities and accidents thereof. They inured themselves to consider of nothing, but what they saw and felt, they chained their thoughts to the things and occurrences of the world, and, having no knowledge of God, but from the Traditions of their fathers, they were thereby tempted to conceive of him as corporeal also, and that he was only a more glorious one. After the same manner, as one hath happily com­pared it, that people always bred in Country Towns and Villages, judge of those Cities they never saw, by proportion to the Market-Town to which they resort, or of the Palaces of Princes by the houses of their Landlords. Now as to undeceive such people, the only way would be to lead them from their own homes, and shew them some more glorious Town or House, than any they had formerly been ac­quainted with; so I know not a more proper expedient to regulate mens apprehensions concerning God, than by inuring them to the con­sideration of spiritual things: such as are for example, the nature of our own Understanding and Will, the Sciences which perfect the one, and the Moral excellencies of the other. For as these are the things by which we most resemble him whom we are commanded to own for our God, so by the serious consideration thereof we should at length disentan­gle our selves from the things of sense, by which we are fastned to the earth, and make both a more free and prosperous flight to Heaven. Lastly, as it is necessary to have our thoughts lifted up from the con­templation of corporeal beings to the consideration of more refined ones; so also, if we would attain a right apprehension of God, to ap­ply our selves to a serious and deliberate consideration of his immense nature and perfections. For as few things are rightly apprehended, when either superficially considered, or looked upon with a transient eye; so much less may we think the nature of God will, which can­not be comprehended by us, though we should employ our whole life in the consideration of it.

2. Having thus dispatched what we have said to be first im­plied [Page 52]in the owning of God in our Ʋnderstandings, even a right ap­prehension of his nature and perfections, I proceed unto a second, which is the recalling of those perfections to our mind, and both se­riously and frequently contemplating them. Which duty I do the ra­ther inculcate, as because it is a tribute which God has expresly ex­acted,Eccl. 12.1. Remember now thy Creatour, &c. and concerning which therefore there cannot be the least doubt but that we are thus to own him in our Ʋnderstandings; so because the neglect of it seems to me to be the great cause of that irreligion, which is in the Christian world. For as what through the translation of the Scripture into our own tongue, and the constant explication of it, it is hardly possible for us to avoid a competent knowledge of our duty; so we cannot but in our own thoughts assent to the practice of it, and adjudge it both reasonable and profitable to be performed. But to what then can we attribute our neglect of what we are so perswaded of, but to our own want of consideration? For the will naturally and almost necessarily following the dictates of our understanding, what should hinder men from doing that which they know to be both rea­sonable and useful, if they kept their eye upon it, and contemplated what they could not choose but know? And accordingly S. Peter in the first Chapter of his second Epistle doth not only affirm, that he would not be negligent to put those he wrote to in remembrance of some things though they knew them, and were established in the present truth, v. 12. of that chapter, but in the 13. verse again, that he thought it meet as long as he was in this tabernacle to stir them up by putting them in remembrance, and yet a third time v. 15. that he would endeavour that they might be able after his decease to have the same things always in remembrance; plainly implying by his so frequent inculcating of the duty of remembrance, that it was through the want of that, that men apostatized from their duty, and neglected those things they were not only perswaded to be just, but necessary to their own eternal wel­fare. And indeed, as men may learn many things from their own pra­ctise, no less than from the proper rule of truth, the Scriptures, where­fore do the profane ones of the world so carefully avoid the con­versing with their own thoughts, or listning to the advices of religious persons, but that they find the revolving them in their minds would even constrain them to their duty, and make them abandon those lusts that are inconsistent with it? Thus whether we do reflect upon our own practice, or Scripture, or reason, we shall find the great cause of mens irreligion to be the want of such a consideration, and consequently that it is no more than necessary to call the things of Religion to our mind, and particularly him who is both the object and the Author of it. These two things only seem necessary to be added, for our more advantageous performing of it. 1. That though all the Attributes of God call for our remembrance, and accordingly are to have it in their turn, yet we are especially to call those to our mind by which our affections are most likely to be influenced, and our hearts incited to embrace him. For though God do also require to be owned by us in our Ʋnderstandings, yet more especially in our hearts, and conse­quently those Attributes to have the greatest share in our thoughts, by which our hearts and affections are most apt to be inflamed. 2. A­gain, though all the Attributes of God are to have a share in our re­membrance, and particularly those which are most operative upon [Page 53]our affections, so such of them especially, as are most sutable to our present necessities and temper, because those are the most likely to ad­vantage us. Thus though the honest but desponding person suffer his thoughts to be taken up especially with the consideration of Gods infinite Love and Mercy to sinful man, yet it will be more proper for the presumptuous and disobedient to reflect upon the Majesty and Ju­stice of the Almighty, as by which he may be most effectually drawn to the owning him for his God.

3. The third act of the Ʋnderstanding follows, even the be­lieving what God affirms, concerning which I will shew these three things.

  • 1. First of all, its just extent and latitude.
  • 2. The congruity of this vertue of Faith to our present state, and,
  • 3. And lastly how we own God for our God by it.

1. To begin with the first of these, even the extent of Faith, con­cerning which I shall first of all observe, that it is to reach to every thing which shall be found to be affirmed by the Almighty: Whether it be delivered by way of narration, or prediction, as a thing that ei­ther is or was, or shall hereafter come to pass. Thus for example, if God declare to me that he is merciful and just, and that it is his plea­sure we should be so also, that he hath in ancient times given instances of both those Attributes in the redemption of mankind and the re­jection of the Angels, and that he will give more signal ones hereafter at the great judgment day; I am equally to receive each of these into my assent, and believe that they are, and have, and shall be, accord­ing as he himself hath declared. For being alike the subject of Gods affirmation, I am in reason to give up my assent to each of them in what manner soever they be delivered. Which observation I do the rather set before you, because, how trivial soever it may seem to be in its self, yet the weakness shall I say, or rather impiety of the present age hath made it necessary to be represented; men commonly conceiving of faith, as an assent only to those gracious promises, which it hath plea­sed God to make to sinful man. By which means as they have been induced to have little regard to the other Articles of our belief, so much less to the Commandments of the Almighty, which yet, as they are equally the object of our faith, so the practice thereof is the means whereby those promises are to be attained, upon which that Faith of theirs is founded. I observe secondly, that our Faith is not only to extend it self to all Gods affirmations, in what manner soever deliver­ed, but also to all of them, whatsoever the subject matter thereof be, and how contrary soever in appearance to the dictates of our own rea­son. For if Gods affirmation be the ground of our belief, whereso­ever that ground is, it is equally to be afforded, whatsoever be the subject matter of it. Thus for example, if the doctrine of the Trinity how unintelligible soever to us, do appear to be a revelation of God's, it may and ought to challenge our assent no less than his affirmation of those things, which we have not only no prejudice against, but the di­ctates of our own reason to confirm us in. Lastly (for this is no less ne­cessary to be observed than the former, because we have now no im­mediate revelations from God) we are to yield up our assent, not only to what God affirms to us with his own mouth, but also to what he de­clares [Page 54]by men inspired by him, and witnessed to by miracles from him­self; that is to say, by his servants the Prophets and Apostles, and parti­cularly that great Prophet and Apostle the ever Blessed Jesus: What any one affirmeth by another, being equally his affirmation, with that which he affirms by himself. But from hence it will follow, that we are to give up our belief to the Scriptures of the Old and New Testament, and to all things therein contained. For these having beenExplication of the Apo­stles Creed. elsewhere shewn to have been written by men divinely inspired, and witnessed to by God himself, they are equally the word of God with that which he himself delivers, and consequently claim an equal share in our be­lief.

2. Of the extent of our belief I have spoken hitherto, and shewn what is the just object of it; proceed we therefore in the second place to evince its congruity, or essentiality rather to the oeconomy of the Gospel, and our present state under it. For the evidencing whereof not to tell you, which yet I very well might, that the doctrine of the Gospel is every where stiled the Faith of Christ, nor yet that the Hea­thensVid. Orig. contra Celsum lib. 6. pag. 282. objected nothing more against Christianity, than its calling upon men simply to believe it, I will remit you to that most full and pertinent saying of S. Paul, 1 Cor. 1.21. Where he tells us, that af­ter that in the wisdom of God the world by wisdom knew not God, it pleased God by the foolishness of preaching to save them that believe; plainly intimating, that whereas before God led men to Salvation by wisdom and knowledge, now his intention was they should go to it by Faith, that is to say, by believing what was preached to them, by those whom he commissionated, and witnessed to by miracles. But from hence it will follow, 1. That they do in effect renounce Chri­stianity, who receive not the doctrines of it upon the Authority of him that revealed them, as well as upon the grounds of reason. For that is in truth to disown that Faith we are to walk by, and to yield up our assent, not to Christ whose the doctrines are, but to our own only reason and judgment: Which though it do in fine terminate in God, whose candle that reason of ours is, and consequently doth so far glorifie him, yet hath not the least aspect upon the veracity of God in Christ, upon which they are proposed to the world. The same is much more to be said 2. Of those who will walk no farther with their Faith, than the light of their own reason will accompany them. For this is manifestly to subject the Faith to it, and to walk rather by sight than by faith. And hence, when any thing is proposed to them which carries any seeming opposition to it, we find it presently discarded, as is notorious in the instances of the Trinity and of the Incarnation of the second Person in it, doctrines which yet have as clear a foundation in the Scripture, as any other doctrines of it. Hence also (which yet, if duly considered, is not so dissonant to our apprehensions) the resur­rection of the dead hath lately run the same fate; men having been taught to believe, that to salve that it is reason enough that some body or other shall be united to the Soul, which how it agrees with the nature of a resurrection and the doctrine of the Gospel concerning it, I shall leave all sober men to judge. But who sees not, that by this means the faith of Christ is manifestly discarded, and they deny that in their opinions and assertions, which in words they profess to believe? For if my faith shall not carry me any farther than my own judgment doth, [Page 55]it is a sign that is the thing that moveth me, and that I walk rather by sight, or, to speak more properly, by an over-weening conceit, than by the conduct of a solid faith. Either therefore let men bid defiance to Christianity, as that honest Heathen did, because they would believe nothing but what they could understand, or let them give up their be­lief to the doctrines of it, I do not say irrationally, but without any immediate assent of their reason to the doctrines themselves. For though the forementioned doctrines have not sufficient evidence to make them known, yet they have reason enough to make them be believed, it being the highest reason in the world to believe God, especially con­cerning his own nature, as who neither can deceive nor be de­ceived.

3. Having thus given you an account of the extent of faith in God, and moreover shewn how congruous or rather how essential it is to the oeconomy of the Gospel, it remains only that I explain how we own God for ours by it. For the evidencing whereof the first thing I shall alledge, is our owning the truth of God by it. For inasmuch as we neither do nor can give up our belief, but where we are in some mea­sure assured of the veracity of him whom we believe, by believing whatsoever God affirms, we apparently acknowledge him to be true, and as it were set our seal to it. But this is especially visible, when we give up our assent to things unlikely, and such which it may be have a greater appearance of falshood than truth, because then there is no­thing in the thing it self to engage our assent, but on the contrary ve­ry much to stagger or supplant it. Which notwithstanding therefore, if our belief be firm and unshaken, it is a sign that it hath a just appre­hension of the veracity of the Almighty, and receives it with an assent commensurate to its greatness, so far as humane nature is able to pro­portion it. Now though this be the only direct acknowledgment of the divine Majesty, which the believing what he affirms presents him withall, yet because what he affirms doth sometime require other At­tributes to establish it, hence it comes to pass that indirectly and by consequence we acknowledge those Attributes also. For thus we ac­knowledge Gods power, when like Abraham and the Virgin Mary, we believe God in such things as are above the power of nature to pro­duce; such as are the making a barren woman to conceive by one who was equally unapt, or a Virgin to conceive and bring forth a Son. In like manner, when we believe God assuring us, that, notwithstan­ding our many errours, he will for the sake of his Son both pardon and accept us, because that cannot have place without an excess of mercy in him that promiseth it, we do by our belief give a testimony to that mercy of his, upon which our pardon and acceptance doth depend. Such are the wayes whereby our Ʋnderstanding gives proof of our owning the Lord for our God, and therefore if we would have ours thought to do so, we our selves must take the same course, and not only endeavour to have a right apprehension of God, but have him often in our thoughts, and stedfastly believe whatsoever he affirms.

PART III.

What it is to owne God in our Wills, and in the proper or Elicite acts thereof. This performed either by making Gods Glory the ultimate end of all our actions, and acquiescing in it when obtained; or making his will ours both in our Actions and Sufferings: The former whereof im­ports our chusing to act agreeably to his will, our making that will of his the ground of our choice, and our delighting in it; The lat­ter, our submitting to, and embracing whatsoever he is pleased to lay upon us. All the other powers of Soul and Body in some measure un­der the Empire of the Will, for which cause it cannot be thought to discharge its own duty, unless it incline them to own God for their God. A discourse in the close concerning Trust in God, wherein is shewn, in what faculties it is seated, what the nature thereof is, and how we own God for our God by it.

BY what ways, and after what manner we are to owne God in our Ʋnderstandings, you have seen already, let us in the next place enquire,

2. What is due unto him from our Wills, and how they ought to be constituted to owne him as our God. For the resolution whereof we are to consider of the diverse acts of the Will, which are either,

  • 1. Elicite, or,
  • 2. Imperate, that is to say, such as proceed immediately from the Will, or such as proceed immediately from some other power, but are excited by the command of it.

The Elicite acts of the Will are again double, according to the dif­ferent objects, about which they are employed. For, 1. Either they respect the end and are called volition or fruition, or, 2. The means, as election and consent. Now concerning each of these I shall enquire, how they ought to be constituted, so as that we may thereby owne the Lord for our God. This only would be premised in the general, that to owne God in our Wills, is to conform them unto his, that is to say, to that which he Wills in himself, or is the result of his Will con­cerning us. For as the greatest testimony we can give of our subje­ction to another, is the conforming our Wills to his, the Will being of all the faculties the most free from the command of others, and the most difficult to be brought to a compliance with them; so no­thing less than the greatest testimony of our subjection can be supposed to be due to God, to whom we have so many reasons to submit our selves, and particularly, because our Wills are no less his than any o­ther faculty. All therefore that will be requisite for us to do, will be to resume each of the acts before remembred, and to shew both what Gods own volitions are, and what he wills concerning us.

1. I begin with the first of these, even that of Volition, whereby we will that which is the end, which in the present case can be no other than the Glory of God, and accordingly is the first thing we are taught to ask of God in the prayer of our Saviour. For as God who is the supremest good, cannot be thought to have any higher end [Page 57]than that of shewing forth his own glory, whence it is that the Wise man affirms he hath made all things for himself, Pro. 16.4. So being (as was before observed) to conform our Wills to that of God, we are accordingly to make that glory of his the ultimate end of all our actions, and be carried towards it with the utmost of our desires. But so that it was Gods Will also concerning us, the Apostle doth more than intimate, Rom. 11.36. For not contented to say that as of him, so to him are all things, he subjoyns in the close of it, to him be glo­ry for ever and ever, Amen. The same is to be said of that other act of the Will, fruition, or a complacency in the end when it is obtained. For the glory of God being, by the former argumentation, to be the ultimate object of our desires, it is in reason, when obtained, to be­come the great object of our delight, and we not only to acquiesce, but to please our selves chiefly in it. But so we find the will of the Psalmist to have been disposed, Psal. 73.25. Witness that most pas­sionate expostulation of his, Whom have I in heaven but thee? and there is none upon earth that I desire besides, or in comparison of thee. The only thing remaining to be enquired into on this head is what the consequences of, such a desire, and delight are, which are in short these two, 1. To preferr the glory of God before all desirable objects, when they come in competition with it; and, 2. and chiefly, to sub­ordinate all other our desires and delights to those of the Glory of God. Thus for example, though it be lawful for us to desire health and strength, with other the conveniences of life, and the means of obtaining them; yet the last and chief reason of our desiring them ought to be, not that we our selves may be thereby made happy, but that we may thereby be enabled to glorifie our maker, which is the Supreme end of our creation. Otherwise we make not God, but our own interests, and lusts, the ultimate object of our desires, and con­sequently make them our God, and not him whom we profess to own.

From the willing of the end, pass we to the willing of the means the second thing required of us towards the owning the Lord for our God; which as I have already told you, we shall then effectually do, when we make his will ours; so I intend now to shew, what it is to make his will ours, and that both in our Actions and Sufferings.

1. To begin with our Actions, as which are most apparently con­ducing to the great end of our creation, the Glory of God, concern­ing which I shall first of all observe, that we are to chuse to regulate them, agreeably to the prescript of Gods will. For otherwise we make not his will ours at all, but follow wholly the inclinations of our own. But beside that we are to chuse to order our actions agreeably to the prescript of Gods will, we are also, if we will make Gods will ours, to chuse so to order them, because it is his will to have it so. The reasonableness of which observation will appear if we look into the world, and consider by what motives men are often guided in their several choices. There is a sort of men who weighing the reasonable­ness of vertue, and the necessity there is of it toward the procuring their both private and publick welfare, do upon that score alone apply themselves to it, and give many notable proofs of their proficiency in it. Now though this be by all means to be cherished and encouraged, as being a good step to that perfection which Religion requires, yet if it rise no higher, it is in truth but a more splendid sin, or as a learned [Page 58] Hieroc. in [...]. v. 49. p. 234. Heathen spake in another case, an Atheistical vertue. For so long as the things that are done, how agreeable soever to Gods will, yet are not performed in obedience thereto, but out of the sense we have of the comeliness thereof, or its necessity to humane life, so long we can­not be said to regulate our own Wills by Gods; but by our own con­veniencies, as by which alone we are induced to practise them. Thus for example, if, as it often happens, men should chuse to abstain from intemperance, not so much out of compliance with the divine will, as because of its prejudicialness to their health, or other such colla­teral considerations; in this case I say, they should not only not serve the will of God, to which they are required to conform, but substi­tute themselves in the place of God, which is the thing here expresly forbidden; because regulating their wills by their own conveniencies, and sacrificing not to God, but to their own appetites and desires. Whence it was that Socrates speaking of such kind of temperances, calls it the being temperate with a kind of intemperance, because ab­staining from some pleasures out of a desire of enjoying others, by which they were no less mastered than intemperate men by theirs. [Vid. Plat. Phaed. Sect. 12. edit. Cantab.] Lastly, as if we would make Gods will ours, we must not only chuse to act according to it, but make that the chief motive of our choice; so we are (as the Apostle speaks) to de­light in it after the inward man, and not only to chuse it but do it with complacency. Which caution I the rather add, because there is often­times a failure there; it not seldom hapning that men content them­selves with a bare submission of their wills to God, and rather bear than imbrace their yoke, as those persons do who chuse the lesser of two evils proposed, and preferr the throwing their goods over-board before the hazarding of their lives. The which as it is an imperfect choice, and by the Philosopher therefore reckoned among such acti­ons, as are mixed of voluntary and involuntary, so can much less be supposed to discharge that debt, which is owing from our Wills to that of God; that man making Gods will but imperfectly his, who consents to it with some kind of reluctancy, or at least doth not afford it the utmost of his delight. And accordingly, as the man after Gods own heart professeth to have a more than ordinary desire for God, yea to pant after him, as the hart doth after the water-brooks, Psal. 42.1. So elsewhere, to have the same passion for his Will, and not only to submit to it but embrace it: Witness his affirming the statutes of the Lord to be his delight, Psal. 119.24. that his soul even broke for the longing it had unto them, v. 21. of the same, that they were better unto him than thousands of gold and silver, and sweeter than the hony to his mouth, verses 72, and 103. All which expressions make it ma­nifest, what ought to be the temper of our Wills in relation to that of God, and that we are not only to consent to it, but with the utmost delight and satisfaction.

2. From the actions of men pass we to their sufferings, which is a­nother means, especially under Christianity, of Glorifying our Maker. Concerning which I shall observe, first, that we are to submit our Wills to them, and receive them without any regret or discontent. For as otherwise there can be nothing at all of vertue in them, as being bound upon us by an inevitable necessity; so being the will of God, no less than his precepts, they are at least to have the sufferance of ours, and be [Page 59]consented to as well as undergone. But so we find that old Eli, how blameworthy soever as to the doing of Gods will, yet thought himself obliged to submit to the sufferance of it, 1 Sam. 3.18. For though the message that was brought him was no other than the utter extir­pation of his house, and, which is more, delivered in the most heart­breaking terms, yet he made no other reply, than It is the Lord, let him do what seemeth him good. Now though this, to some persons at least, may seem a harder task, than flesh and bloud can readily under­go, yet it is not all which the making Gods Will ours importeth, and consequently neither all that is required of us towards the owning of God in them. For (as Seneca words it) if we will do that, we must non tantum deo parere, sed & assentiri; embracing, as well as sub­mitting to, whatsoever it layes upon us, and receiving it, how sad soever, with alacrity and cheerfulness. For otherwise (as was before observed) we give God but a part of our Wills, and choose it, not be­cause we will it, but because we cannot avoid it. Neither let any man say, that this is above the proportion of humane strength, and there­fore not to be thought to be any part of our duty to the Almighty. For as I readily grant it to be above the proportion of humane strength, when considered without the assistance of the Divine Grace, so that it is not so, when accompanied with it, is manifest enough from the practice of Job, c. 1.21. That holy man, notwithstanding all the sad tidings that were brought him, blessing God for the loss of his Cattel, Ser­vants, and Children, as well as for his former bestowing of them. In the mean time, as it is not to be denied to be a very hard task, and such to which we had need have some other incentive beside that of our own duty, so I shall not be unmindful of supplying you when I come to entreat of that petition of the Lords prayer, Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven.

2. Having thus entreated of the elicite acts of the Will, that is to say, of such as proceed immediately from it, and withal shewn what tribute is due from each of them to him, whom we are commanded to owne for our God, it remains we descend to those which are called imperate ones, or rather to the Empire of the Will over them. For though the acts before remembred are the only immediate acts of the Will, yet all the acts of the body and mind are under its controul, and move by the guidance of it. Thus for instance, it is from our Wills that our understandings apply themselves to the consideration of Hea­ven, and Heavenly things, from the same Wills that our affections are stirred up to tend to their proper objects. Lastly, from the same Wills it is that we perform all outward actions, whether of Religion or Ci­vility. In consideration whereof, as it is but necessary they them­selves should be rightly disposed, and pay the Almighty that tribute which is due from each act of them; so to the compleatly owning of God for their God, that they make use of that Empire of theirs, to bring our other faculties to pay God that Homage and Obedience which he requires. For the Will being, as it were, the Vicegerent of God over this little world of man, how can it discharge that trust which is reposed in it, if it do not lay its commands upon those sub­jects of its own, and Gods to give him that Honour and Obedience that he requires? But from hence it will follow, that the Will is to incite the understanding to meditate upon God, and the affections to [Page 60]embrace and revere him, that it is to lay its commands upon the tongue to chaunt forth his praises, and upon the knee to bow down to him and adore him. In fine (as its Empire extends to the whole man) to see that each of them perform their several duties, and particularly those of Piety and Devotion. In the mean time you may see, how much they are deceived, who, upon a surmise of their hearts being right with God, take occasion either wholly to neglect, or but perfunctorily per­form the outward actions of Religion. For if the Heart or Will be Gods Vicegerent over all our other faculties and powers, it cannot be right with him, if it do not stir them up, to pay God that service which he requires of each of them. I have but one thing more to add concerning this Empire of the Will, but it is such, as (if attended to) may be of excellent use in the conduct of our lives; and that is, that as this Empire of the Will is very great, so it will prove very effectual, if it be resolute in what it doth propose: Nothing almost being too hard for a mind so resolved, especially when accompanied with the divine assistance. By vertue of this resolution it is that men overcome many and great difficulties, by the same that they put themselves up­on matters of the greatest hazard; by this that they encounter with enemies that are superiour to them, both in number and strength, by the same that they oftentimes get the victory of them; that resolution of theirs not only making them to exert their own strength to the ut­termost, but damping the courage of their opponents. But so that it fareth with our Spiritual enemies, the Scripture hath given us plain­ly enough to understand, because assuring us that, however the Devil may press upon the weak and irresolute, yet he will flie from us, if we have the courage to resist him.

Being now to pass from the Ʋnderstanding and Will to the Affecti­ons, and to shew what tribute each of them is to pay to the Almighty, I have been somewhat retarded by the consideration of a duty, which the Scriptures often call for, I mean, Trust in God. For beside that it is generally expressed in Metaphorical terms (such as depending, resting, or staying our selves upon God) which though they may sometime illu­strate that, to which they are applied, yet do no less often serve to obscure it, it may seem somewhat difficult, to those who do more in­timately consider it, to what power of the Soul to referr it, or rather, whether it do not some way appertain to each of them. And indeed, upon a serious consideration of the whole matter, I am apt to believe it doth, which is the reason I have chosen this place for it. That the Ʋnderstanding hath a share in it, is evident to me from that belief which it manifestly implies, and by which it is oftentimes expressed; he that trusts to, or upon any person, doing it upon the account of that credit, which he gives to the affirmation of him upon whom he doth so rely. But neither can the Will be debarred its share in it, if yet it have not the principal one. For what else mean those expressi­ons of staying, leaning, or resting upon God, but that the heart or Will, though it do not presently attain what it trusts upon God for, yet, having Gods promise for its warrant, acquiesceth in it, and hath thereby a kind of antepast of it. Lastly, forasmuch as this trust of ours doth imply a desire of that which we trust upon another for, hence it comes to pass, that it may not unfitly be referred to the affections, and particularly to that of hope, which is commonly and truly enough [Page 61]defined to be a passion of the Soul, by which it is disposed to believe that shall happen to it which it desires. From all which put together we may give this account of it, that it is an acquiescence of the Soul upon the promise of God for the obtaining of what it doth desire. If there be any thing wanting toward the explication of it, it will be what the nature of those promises are, upon which that trust of ours is built. Forasmuch as the foundation of our trust is no other than the promise of the Almighty, that trust, or acquiescence, is in reason to bear a proportion to that promise upon which it is built. Laying aside there­fore all other considerations, I will make it my business to shew what the nature of Gods promises are, I mean as to the generality of man­kind, which I shall not doubt to affirm to be upon condition of their cooperating with God toward the attaining of them.

For the evidencing whereof, I shall first consider the promises of God that relate to the Soul, and then those which relate to the out­ward man or body. I begin with those which relate to the Soul, which are of two sorts, to wit, such as tend to secure it from sin, or such as propose to it an eternal happiness in the other world. Of the former sort we have an illustrious one, 1 Cor. 10.13. where the Apostle tells us that God will not suffer us to be tempted above what we are able, but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that we may be able to bear it. Now though it be true that this promise of the Almighty have no clear and explicite condition annexed to it, yet it manifestly enough implies somewhat on our part toward the obtaining the effect of it. For affirming, as the Apostle doth, not that God will not suffer us to be tempted at all, nor yet, when he doth, that he will take the whole work upon himself; but that he will not suffer us to be tempted above what we are able, and that he will with the temptation make a way to escape that we may be able to bear it, he plainly implies, that, in order to our deliverance from the taint of them, we are to exert the utter­most of our ability, and take that way which God shall lay open for our escape. And indeed, wherefore else should God furnish us with natural and spiritual strength, wherefore should he supply us with the whole armature of his graces, and call upon us so earnestly to put it on? For if the whole of our deliverance were to be accomplished by God, all those would be useless, and we might as well be without them as put them on. The same is to be said of those promises of God, which enstate both Soul and Body in eternal happiness. For as the business of our Salvation is generally proposed upon the condition of faith, and repentance, and turning unto God, so the Authour to the Hebrews * hath removed all suspicion of the contrary,c. 12.14. by affirming in express terms that without holiness no man shall see the Lord. From those promises which relate to the Soul, or rather to the eternal wel­fare both of Soul and Body, pass we to such as concern its temporal one, concerning which if we consult the Psalmist, we shall find they all pertain to those that fear and adore the Lord. For as Psal. 34.7. he restraineth the watchfulness of the Angels to them that fear him, and thereupon calleth upon Gods Saints to do so, adding, that there is no want to them that fear him, v. 9. of that Psalm; as in like man­ner, v. 15. that the eyes of the Lord are upon the righteous, and v. 17.19. that they are the persons whom he delivereth out of all their trou­bles and afflictions: So he tells us, v. 21. that evil shall slay the wicked, [Page 62]and that they that hate the righteous shall be desolate. Which shews, that even temporal promises are upon condition of our fearing God, and yielding him that obedience which he requireth. Now forasmuch as the promises of God are not absolute but conditional, that is to say, upon the condition of our Repentance and Piety, our Trust in him doth consequently imply not only the embracing of the blessing pro­mised, but also of the conditions upon which it is. Which said, I will now proceed to shew, how we owne the Lord for our God by it, ac­cordingly as this Commandment doth require.

Now this we do, first, by bearing witness to his truth, as was ob­served in the matter of our belief. For the promises of God being the ground of our Trust, and his truth the strength of his promises, by trusting in him we must consequently bear witness to his truth, and so far therefore owne him for our God. But it is not Gods truth alone which we thus acknowledge, by placing our Trust and confidence in him. For though that be the immediate ground of our Trust, yet it presupposeth sufficient wisdom in him to project for our welfare, and power enough to put those promises in execution. Lastly, it presup­poseth goodness enough in him to apply himself to the doing of it, and perform those gracious promises he hath made. If therefore we Trust in God, these Attributes also will have their due acknowledgment, and in so much the greater measure, by how much the more improba­ble, or difficult, it may seem to bring about our deliverance, or we our selves unworthy to obtain it. And though I make no question, men will be very unwilling to acknowledge their suspicion of the want of any of these Attributes in God, which are the proper grounds of our belief, yet, if they examine their own hearts more narrowly they will find it no difficult matter to discern a suspicion concerning some one or other of them. For wherefore should any man in a strait seek to de­liver himself by a sin, but that he thinketh God hath not kindness e­nough to deliver him without? Or suffer his doubts, in any great exi­gency, to rise up to a despair, but that the case seemeth to be such, as that God cannot deliver him out of it? It is true indeed, this is not often spoken out, yea it may perhaps be so softly whispered, as not to be understood by that heart that formeth it. But as we do rightly col­lect that to be the cause of a thing, from other than which it may be evidenced not to proceed, so there are some kind of distrusts, which cannot be thought to proceed from any thing else, than a suspicion of some defect in the Almighty. But such in particular are those fears of ours which put us upon the commission of a sin to free us from them. For if we supposed God to be infinite in power, why should we not be as much afraid of the sad effects of it that are denounced against evil men, as we are of that danger which hangeth over our heads. This however is evident, that he, who trusts not in the Almighty, pays not those acknowledgments which are due to the former Attributes, and consequently, offends against this First Commandment, which re­quireth the owning of God in them all. Lastly, forasmuch as our Trust in God implies the embracing of those conditions which are required on our part towards the obtaining of the promises, by trusting in him we declare our acknowledgment of the Justice of them, and our readi­ness to put them in execution.

PART IV.

Concerning the owning of God in our Affections, and how that is to be done: Which is either by conforming them to those of God, or suiting them to those Divine perfections which are the proper objects of them. This last exemplified in the Passions of Fear and Love. Touching the former whereof is shewn, what it is, how God is the object of it, the consistency thereof with the dispensation of the Gospel, and its use­fulness to the purposes of Religion. A digression concerning supersti­tion, and Carnal Security.

3. HOW we are to owne God in our Ʋnderstandings and Wills, hath been already declared, it remains only that we enquire how we are to owne him in our Affections, which is, 1. First by placing them on the same objects, which we find those of God to be set up­on; there being no greater testimony of our Subjection than the con­forming to the inclinations of those, for whom we pretend that defe­rence. And accordingly as there is nothing more usual with flatterers, (who are the most exquisite patterns of obsequiousness) than to imi­tate the passions and inclinations of their several Patrons, laughing (as— Rides? majore cachin­no Concutitur; flet, si lachry­mas adspexit amici. Sat. 3. Juvenal speaks) when they are disposed to be merry, and weep­ing if they behold them in a melancholy humour; so God himself, who certainly best knows how we ought to owne him, calls upon us oft to imitate him, and to be holy, and merciful, and benign as he also is. As if, in order to the ends of Religion, we had nothing else to do, than to write after his Copy, and frame our selves after his most bles­sed example. And indeed as he is the great Exemplar of Vertue, so we should need no other to contemplate, were it not that the perfe­ction of his nature admits not of some vertues, which in us are both laudable and necessary. (For what is there in God (upon whom all things depend) analogous to those fears which we are commanded to entertain?) But as setting aside that, and other such instances of imperfe­ction, we shall find somewhat in God to answer our own passions and affections, with the vertues that are conversant about them; so we cannot give a greater testimony of their and our subjection to him, than by loving what he loves and hating what he hates, by rejoycing in that wherewith he shews himself well pleased, and mourning for those things by which he professes himself to be grieved, lastly, than by shewing the same compassion and tenderness towards the objects of his pitty, as, on the other side, the same zeal and indignation against the implacable enemies of his Religion. But because, beside the con­forming of our Affections unto his, there may be something in God which may prove a fit object of them, we are also, toward the own­ing of God in them, to excite those Affections, according as their respective objects shall invite us. For the exemplifying whereof I shall instance in the passions of Fear, and Love, as by which the other may be guessed at.

To begin with Fear, because the first (saith the Atheist) that gave [Page 64]being to the powers above, but to be sure both the first and most potent incentives to the worship of them, concerning which I shall shew,

  • 1. What it is.
  • 2. How God is the object of it.
  • 3. The consistency thereof with the dispensation of the Go­spel, and
  • 4. And lastly, the usefulness of that passion.

1. Now though the nature of Fear be more evident to each mans inward sense, than is likely to be made out by discourse, yet to shew how God becomes the object of it, it will at least be expedient to give some definition of it. And accordingly, I shall define it to be a passion of the Soul, whereby it is disposed to flie from that which may be hurtful to it, and such as is not easily avoided. For though we find it usually added, that it is from such an evil as is also near; yet is that rather a motive to the greatness of mens fear than necessary to the ex­citing of it. Experience shewing us, that men do sometimes fear a great way off, and particularly those evils which are not to commence till the other world. This only may be said in its defence, that, when things so far off are feared, they are made near to us by our own ap­prehension, and (as our life hangs upon a slender thread) represented to our fancies, under a possibility of falling upon us every moment.

2. From the general nature of fear pass we to shew God to be the object of it, the second thing proposed to be discoursed of; a thing in appearance of more than ordinary difficulty, especially when con­sidered as a duty: Because it may seem hard to look upon God as hurtful, but much more to conceive of it as a duty to flie from him. But as it is no way prejudicial to the goodness of God to be hurtful to the evil, but on the contrary a commendation of it, as being not able to endure them; so to flie from, or draw back, is sometimes so far from a crime, that it may be looked upon as a testimony of our re­spect. For thus to draw back from a more powerful adversary is a confession of his greatness, and of our own inability to withstand him. The only thing therefore remaining to be enquired into is, what there is in God to oblige us thus to draw back, which are in short the pow­er and justice of the Almighty. For how can we chuse but tremble at him, who is not only able to destroy Soul and Body in Hell, but hath moreover declared himself to be just, and consequently one, that with­out a satisfaction and repentance at least, will by no means clear the guilty; To all which if we add his many and severe threats against those that disbelieve or disobey him, so we shall think it not only no crime at all to fear him, but on the contrary an acknowledgment of his Divinity: Our fear, because arising from the consideration of them, being a confession not only of his great power and justice, but also, that what he hath so threatned he will certainly perform, and consequently of the truth and unchangeableness of his decrees. Then and then only doth our fear become criminal, when it looks upon God as no other than a Tyrant, or as one that will call us to an account for every trifle. For that instead of acknowledging him for our God, attributeth to him peevishness, or cruelty, and makes us not so much adorers as dishonourers of him. And accordingly, as where-ever Religion hath had any place, this fear hath been branded under [Page 65]the name of Superstition, so it has betrayed its own rottenness by the pittiful shifts it hath put the timourous man upon; the devotion of such persons usually spending it self in Rites, and Ceremonies, and presenting the Deity not with a rational and sober worship, but a crazy and trifling one. I will conclude this particular with that excellent distinction which Maximus Tyrius Dissert. 4. makes between a truly Religious man and a Superstitious one. The pious man (saith he) is Gods friend, the superstitious is a flatterer of God: and indeed happy and blest is the con­dition of the pious man Gods friend, but right miserable and sad is the state of the superstitious. The pious man, emboldned by a good consci­ence and encouraged by the sense of his integrity, comes to God without fear and dread; but the superstitious, being sunk and depressed through the sense of his own wickedness, cometh not without much fear, being void of all hope and confidence, and dreading the Gods as so many Ty­rants. From which as it is evident what the true nature of Supersti­tion is, even the fearing of God as a tyrant, or peevish Lord, so also that it may have place as well in the rejection of religious rites, as in an overcurious intention of them. For as the observation of these be­comes Superstitious, by our looking upon God as a rigid exacter of them, so the rejection of them may become equally such, when we think him as much concerned to forbid them, as we are to avoid the use of them. But other fear than this, as it is so far from being criminal that it is on the contrary an acknowledgement of Gods power, and justice, and truth; so though it make us draw back from him as a judge, yet it puts us upon seeking to him as a father, and endeavouring by all means to obtain his favour. Which said, I will now descend to shew

3. The consistency of this fear with the dispensation of the Gospel, the third thing proposed to be discoursed of. For though it may seem but congruous to the law (which was a state of darkness and horrours) to be attended with that fear which is the usual product or concomitant of them; yet it may seem no less congruous on the other hand, that, when the bright sunshine of the Gospel appeared, that gloominess should disap­pear, and together with it, its congenial fears. For the solution of which difficulty, the first thing that I shall offer is those clear and express words of our Saviour, Luke 12.5. Where having before dehorted his Disciples from being afraid of them that kill the body, but after that have no more that they can do, lest any should think that passion to be useless, he adds, But I will forewarn you whom you shall fear. Fear him which after he hath killed hath power to cast into hell, yea I say unto you fear him. Which testimony is so much the more considerable, not only be­cause he doth twice repeat it, but (which shews yet farther the im­portance of his exhortation) whom he doth so exhort, call also by the name of friends. For I say unto you my friends, be not afraid of them that kill the body, but fear him which hath power to cast into hell. Which appellation shews evidently, that this precept of fear is not only for ser­vants or aliens, but for those who are most intimately united unto him­self. But so, that I may not dwell too long upon a thing so evident, do the Apostles of that Lord advise, as well as the Lord himself; S. Paul, Phil. 2.12. exhorting men to work out their Salvation with fear and trembling, and the Authour to the Hebrews, c. 12.28. to have grace whereby to serve God acceptably with reverence and godly fear, because God is a consuming fire: In which latter place, we have it over and a­bove represented as an effect of grace, and a requisite to make our ser­vice [Page 66] acceptable. Now though from what hath been said it be suffici­ently evident what we are to think in this particular, and consequent­ly rather to believe, that something else must be meant by those say­ings which seem to contradict it, than that this fear is inconsistent with the temper of the Gospel; yet for the better explication of this fear, as well as for the solution of those difficulties, I will now propose them, or at least that which is most considerable.

If you please to peruse the first Epistle of S. John, the fourth chap­ter, and the eighteenth verse, you will there find that Apostle affirm­ing that there is no fear in love, but that perfect love casteth out fear, because fear hath torment; as moreover, that he that feareth is not made perfect in love. For the answering of which difficulty, not to say (as some have done) that by fear in that place we are to understand the fear of men, and of the evils which they may bring upon us; because the perfect love, to which fear is here opposed, is referred to our ha­ving boldness to stand in the day of judgment, to which therefore in all reason the opposite fear ought to relate: I answer first, that it is true perfect love casteth out fear: but I say withall that in this world there is no such thing as perfect love, and therefore fear not to be ejected till there is. A thing which this very Apostle may seem to referr to, when, in the words before these, he affirms, that herein is our love made per­fect that we may have boldness in the day of judgment, making that per­fect love to appertain not to the present times, but to the day of judg­ment, wherein indeed, those that love God shall neither fear, nor have any cause for it. But let us suppose, as there is some presumption for it, that the perfect love here spoken of is not that love, which is the peculiar portion of the next world, but which is attainable in this; yet even so it may well be said that there is no necessity of casting out that fear for which we are now pleading. For (as was before ob­served) there is a fear of God as of a tyrant, or at least a very hard master, and another of a father, and a king, but withall a good and gracious one. If we take the word fear in the former sense, that is to say, for the fear of God as of a tyrant, or a hard master, so there is no doubt that love casts it out, especially an Evangelical one; it being impossible that any man should love God, or willingly keep his Com­mandments, who hath such an opinion of him. But there is no such thing to be affirmed of him who looks upon God, as a Lord and a fa­ther, but withall a good and gracious one. For beside that such a fear is enjoyned us by him, who doth also lay upon us the command of love, and therefore not to be thought (unless we will make the spirit of God contradict it self) to be cast out by that love which he re­quires; there is nothing of torment, which is the reason here assigned, if in our fear we look upon God, but as a good and gracious one. For though that may make us careful and wary, yet not distressed and desperate; the consideration of his goodness buoying us up, when we are surrounded with his judgments, and making us, at the same time we have an apprehension of them, to look up to his mercies, and to love and trust in him for them. The same answer, with a very little variation, may be applied to that difference, which is objected be­tween the dispensation of the Gospel and the Law. For though the Gospel reckons us not in the place of servants and vassals, and con­sequently exacts not their fear of us; yet it reckons us in the place of [Page 67] sons, who are not only to have a love, but a fear also for him that is their parent. Which answer is the more reasonable, because the Scri­pture it self represents those that were under the first covenant, as the children of the Bondwoman, and such as were therefore slaves themselves; but those under the second as the children of the free. To whom therefore though it do no way appertain to entertain a spirit of bondage, and those fears wherewith it is accompanied, yet to preserve such a reverential regard for the Almighty, as is due unto every father, and much more to their heavenly one.

4. The fourth particular follows, even the usefulness of that fear of which we are now entreating, which I shall endeavour to evince,

  • 1. First as to the bringing us to God and Christ, and
  • 2. As to our continuance in that state.

1. Now that the fear of God and of his judgments are of very great use to bring us unto God and unto Christ, may appear from that great contrariety that is between the state of Nature and the purity and ho­liness of God. For that being supposed, as it must, it is not easy to conceive men should be drawn with the cords of love, and affect him who is so contrary to their inclinations. And though it be true that the promises of God may be of more force to draw us to his love, those having not all of them so manifest a contrariety to our corrupt nature, as the Purity and Holiness of God hath; yet as many of them are of a spiritual nature, and so not very likely to be acceptable, so (which is more) they are not to be bestowed, or at least not with any certainty or perfection, till we come to the other world. And who then, naturally speaking, would quit present and sensual enjoyments for them, and leave a love, which he is sure of, for so uncertain and remote a mistress? To induce men therefore to quit their so much be­loved transgressions it is necessary to stir up their fears, and make them see that what they pursue will rob them of what they love, and make them miserable as well in their bodies as their souls. And indeed, as it rarely happens that men are reclaimed from their evil courses but by some such disgustful means, so (which is of much more force) we find the Apostles taking this course in converting the unbelieving world; representing to them first, the guilt of their own sins, and the wrath they had incurred, and then the tenders of Gods goodness: By that means not only abating of their heat toward their former extrava­gancies, but even constraining them to take a view of the beauties of Religion, which otherwise they would never have considered.

2. But beside that the fear of God is of singular use in bringing men to Christ and to God, it is also such after our conversion to him, yea throughout the whole course of our lives. And here not to insist upon the Apostles perswading even such by the terrours of the Lord, their exhorting them to work out their salvation with fear and trem­bling, and to serve God acceptably with reverence and godly fear; I shall content my self to propose to your consideration the remains of that evil nature, which is in the very best of us, and how much more then in the generality of believers? For these will shew it to be as ne­cessary to keep us in the way, as it was to bring us into it. It is true indeed if grace did at once purifie the heart from all extravagancies, if it took away both our sins and our affections to them, lastly, if it put us into the condition we were in, when we were created, and made us [Page 68]intirely and perfectly new creatures, so it is not impossible, but we might follow the conduct of our leader, when only drawn by the cords of love. And yet I cannot but observe by the way, that God thought not that enough to preserve Adam in his innocency, but ad­ded moreover the terrour of dying the death if he persisted not in it. But when it is certain, that, though sin be wounded, yet it is not per­fectly mortified, when there are remains of corruption in the very best of us, who can think even the regenerate man to be so good natured, as not to stand in need of terrours to nip those buds, and hinder them from bringing forth fruit unto unrighteousness? For beside that, un­der such circumstances, all the methods of God are little enough to re­strain us, experience sheweth that of fear to be often needful; careles­ness, and wantonness, being apt to make us forget the obligations of goodness, and not only to forget but to despise them. But when be­side the obligations of Gods goodness, men have always before their eyes the strictness of his justice; when they consider as well what ven­geance will pursue them if they go astray, as how great encourage­ments they have to walk in that way which God hath mark'd out to them; then, I say, even flesh and bloud will startle at the evil that presents it self, and avoid it lest it become miserable by it.

Having thus shown both what the passion of fear is, and how God is the object of it; together with the consistency of that fear with the dispensation of the Gospel, and the usefulness thereof both in our con­version to, and walking with God; I may seem to have said enough not only to excite that passion in you, but to discover to you the ma­lignity of the contrary vices. But because men are not overforward to apply the rule of truth to their own obliquities, and by that means of­tentimes miss of the knowledge of them; and because too I have al­ready given you a character of Superstition which is one of the ex­tremes of a religious fear; I will for a conclusion of my discourse set be­fore you the malignity of carnal security, which is the extreme in de­fect. For so far are some men from trembling at the Almighty, that they go on in their sins without the least regret, and neither concern themselves for the judgments they behold on others, nor for those which are denounced against themselves. As if, according to the Pro­phet Isay, 28.15. they had made a covenant with death, and were at an a­greement with hell; so that, though the overflowing scourge should pass thorough the Land, it should not come nigh them, nor disturb their peace and prosperity. And here not to tell you, because that is suffi­ciently evident, that this is in effect to deny Gods Power, and Ju­stice, and Truth, because having himself threatned to arm his Power and Justice against them; I shall propose to your consideration the great danger it betrays you to, as to your spiritual or temporal estate. For, to begin with the former of these, he that is thus fearless of Gods displeasure is not only at present in a reprobate estate, but likely to be so for ever. For what should move him to return, who is not moved with the threats of the Almighty, nor regards in the least the power of his displeasure? Should the expresses of Gods love constrain him? Those indeed are very forcible motives. But how should they prevail with such a one, when even those, who have a veneration for the Almighty, find it so hard to yield to them, with­out having an eye to the terrours of the Almighty? Add hereunto [Page 69]what the Scripture so often affirmeth, that The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom. For what other interpretation can we make of that, than that heavenly wisdom must enter by that passion, and men be brought to a sense of Gods Justice and Severity, before they be affected with his love? But it may be such mens estate in spirituals will not much move them, and therefore I shall proceed to the con­sideration of their temporal one. Concerning which I shall not doubt to affirm, that he who is thus regardless of Gods displeasure, is the most likely to fall under the stroak of it. For not to tell such per­sons, what the Psalmist hath told us, that according to our fear so is Gods displeasure, that is to say, more or less according to our awe of him; I shall desire them to consider the affront they offer to the Di­vine Majesty by this their disregard of him. For what is it but even to dare him to exert that Power and Justice, by which he would com­mend himself to the world. He doth indeed speak gloriously of his own power and Majesty, he looks big and threatens severely all those that shall but dare to oppose; but as such big looks and bugbear words do not much startle the carnally secure, so he will put it to the try­al, whether the effects will answer them, and God be as tremendous in his punishments, as he seems to be in the denunciations of them. Than which as there cannot be a greater affront to the Almighty, who is by this means neglected and contemned, so I shall leave you to judge, what effect it is likely to have upon him, who, besides his own natural aversation of all impiety, is moreover extremely jealous of his Honour.

PART V.

Of the Passion of Love, its nature and objects, what the immediate expresses thereof are, and what its opposite extremes; all which are applied to the Love of God. Among other things is censured the being over familiar with God, the pretences for it detected and re­moved. A necessary admonition concerning the proportioning of our affections to the infiniteness of those perfections upon which they are set, and how that is to be done.

IF the passion of fear can find something in God to excite it, even under the dispensation of the Gospel, to be sure that of Love can­not want matter to provoke it, and entertain it with complacency and delight; there being in God, either formally, or eminently, what­soever is the object of our love. For the evidencing whereof I will enquire,

  • 1. First of all, into the nature of it.
  • 2. Shew what are the objects of that passion: from thence proceed,
  • 3. To consider the immediate expresses of it, and
  • [Page 70]4. And lastly, mark out the extreams on either hand. Ap­plying all as I go to the Love of God, which is that we are especially to consider.

1. Now though (as was observed concerning fear) the nature of Love be more evident to our inward sense, than can be made out by discourse, yet I think it not amiss for the better explication of the present argument, to give you some definition of it: Which is, that love is a passion, whereby the Soul is disposed to joyn it self to those ob­jects, which appear to it to be grateful and pleasant. Which definition I do the rather give you, to take away that usual distinction of love into that of Benevolence and Concupiscency; Benevolence, in proper speech, being rather an effect of our love to that which is the object of it, than any real part of it.

2. The nature of love being thus explained in the general, proceed we in the next place to the objects of it, which in general are such, as are either good in themselves, or such as are good to us. Of the former sort is that love, which we have for all vertuous and excel­lent persons, how little soever we our selves may be profited by them: Such as are perhaps those that live in remote parts, and with whom we our selves have no commerce. For though we are not likely to be benefited by them in our own persons, yet because of the excel­lencies we hear of in them we conceive a love for them, and never think of them without complacency and delight. The same love we have for all beautiful objects of natures make, and for all such like products of art, these to whomsoever they appertain yet drawing our Soul after them, and obliging it to receive them into her embraces. Now concerning this love there can be no doubt but that God is the just object of it, yea that he may challenge it in the highest degree ima­ginable; as will appear, if we consider, either the excellencies of the divine nature, or the measure wherein he is possessed of them. Look upon the former, and you will find them to be such, as are the ex­cellencies of the most sublime essence; such as are freedom, from the feculencies of matter, and much more from the infirmities thereof, a discerning understanding, and a rightly ordered will; a being which does nothing that is not becoming its own greatness, which descends not to any lower abject thoughts; which hates nothing without ei­ther cause or measure, which loves things lovely, and according to the proportion of it; in fine, which makes things lovely that they may become the object of it, and be worthy to be received into its em­braces. And though it be true, that there are some excellencies in the creature (such as beauty and the like) which are not to be found in God, yet as the reason thereof is, because they are much below him, and argue something of imperfection where they are, so he is the Foun­tain even of those inferiour excellencies, and must therefore be much more excellent in himself. From the excellencies of the divine nature, pass we to the measure wherein they are possessed, which will shew it yet more to be the object of our Love. For beside that they are all in him without any thing of imperfection, which hardly falls upon any created beings; they are also infinite, as that nature is, to which they have the honour to belong. If God be wise, he is so without measure, and knoweth whatsoever is to be known; if good, he is so without bounds, and proportionably to his own infinite essence. In [Page 71]fine, whatsoever he is, he is so after the rate of a God, and knows no other bounds than what he prescribes unto himself. If therefore that which is excellent be a just ground of love, God is much more so, as not only comprehending all excellencies whatsoever, but also in the utmost perfection and degree. How great reason we have to love God, when considered only as he is in himself, I have discoursed hitherto, proceed we in the next place to consider him as good to us. Under which notion if we look upon him, so we shall not only find that, which may attract our loves, but even constrain us to affect him. For not to tell you, that by him the Authours of mankind were first crea­ted, that we our selves were conceived in the womb, maintained there, and brought forth into the world through his benign influence, that we depended upon him when we hung upon our Mothers Breasts, that we did so no less when we might seem much more able to have made provision for our selves, that we are indebted to him for all the good things we enjoy, that we are so for the ability of enjoying them, that we are not less nourished by the word of his providence than by the bread we eat, that we owe the very nourishment of that to his bles­sing on us and it, that by him we are delivered from those evils we escape, that by him we are born up, or carried thorough those evils that do at any time befall us; To say nothing at all (I say) of these, how considerable soever, and how just incentives to our love, I shall desire you only to consider his benevolence to our better part, and the wayes he hath taken to express it. For not contented to sayIsa. 33.11. he de­lights not in the death of a sinner, but that he should repent and live, which may seem to be rather a negative than a positive kindness, or if the latter, an imperfect velleity only; he hath been from all e­ternity contriving the Redemption of sinful man, he hath from the be­ginning of time been declaring his gracious purposes concerning it; he sent his Son in the fulness of time to accomplish that most excellent work for us, he hath laid upon him the iniquities and punishments of us all; he hath sent his ever blessed Spirit to fit us for pardon by it, he hath sent his Servants the Prophets to publish the tidings of it, and the means whereby it is to be obtained; he hath called us out of darkness into the glorious light of it, he hath moreover given us eyes to behold the brightness of it; he hath given us grace to abandon our natural corruptions, he hath furnished us with grace to serve him acceptably, and with godly fear and love; he hath reclaimed us by his Spirit when we have been wandring out of the way, he hath upholden us by the same Spirit, when we have been ready to faint or fall down in it; in fine he continueth to do so till we turn our backs upon him, and loveth us till we do in a manner refuse to be beloved. All which whosoever shall duly consider, will not only conclude him worthy of our Love, but of the utmost degree and the most immediate expressions of it, the third thing proposed to be discoursed of.

3. And here in the first place, I shall not doubt to reckon the desire of enjoying his presence whom we love; this being the most natural and immediate expression of our Love, that I say not of the very essence of it. For as Love is nothing else than a passion of the Soul by which it is disposed to unite it self to what it loves; so there is no one thing that is more impatient of the absence, or more passionately desirous of its proper object's presence. It sets the understanding upon con­triving [Page 72]how it may attain it, it puts the Will upon a resolution of put­ting those contrivances in execution; it vigorously endeavoureth the removing of all obstacles to the enjoyment of it, it greedily layeth hold of all opportunities for the compassing of it; in fine, it neither giveth it self nor us any rest, till it attain what it so panteth after, and becometh rather more eager, than any way discouraged by the op­position it receives. But such ought to be, nay such are the effects of our love to God, where that love is implanted in the Soul; witness the Prophet David's impatience when driven from the house of God, his longing desire to appear before him in it. And certainly, if we had the same love for God, that the Prophet had, or it may be think our selves possessed of, there is no doubt we should be as willing to be found, where he promiseth to present himself, and both desire to hear him speaking to us as he doth by his servants the Prophets, and pre­sent our own supplications before him; these being the most natural expresses of our love, and such which I had almost said we can no more be without, than we can hate him whom we cordially affect. The same is to be said, 2. Of our enjoying of God in Heaven, where he doth not only most gloriously, but most intimately present him­self. For as it is impossible for a Soul duly affected with the love of God, not to desire the most immediate enjoyment of his presence, so we find S. Paul not to have been without this desire, though he knew he could not attain it, without putting off his earthly Tabernacle; he affirming of himself that he was desirous to be dissolved, that so he might be admitted into the presence of God and of his Son. Which by the way may shew, how cold our love generally is, even when it car­rieth us only to the enjoyment of what we love. For how hardly are we brought to pant after that presence of his, though we find little on earth to make us desirous of continuance in it, and it may be a long and irksome sickness? As if this life, with all the misfortunes that attend it, were preferrable to his presence where there is fulness of joy, and at whose right hand there are pleasures for evermore. Of the first and most immediate expression of our love I have discoursed hither­to, and shewn withall how far we are from having that testimony of our own; proceed we now to another, which though not so imme­diate, yet is as certain a consequent thereof, and that is a desire, so far as in us lieth, to procure the content of him we love. For so far is this from being separable from love, that it is oftentimes defined by it; Ari­stotle, in that most excellent piece of his Rhetoricksli. 2. c. 4. defining Love to be a passion whereby we wish to any one those things which we think good for him. Now though it be true that in strict speaking this ex­pression can have no place here because God is infinitely happy, yet inasmuch as God declareth himself to be well pleased with the glori­fying of his name, which he hath put in our power either to do or not, therefore, to express our love to him, it is requisite we desire that so it may be, by all those to whom his glorious name shall be made known. And accordingly our Saviour makes it the first request we are to ask when we address our selves to the Divine Majesty, placing Hal­lowed be thy name with other such like petitions, before the begging of our dayly bread, or what is more, the forgiveness of our sins. 2. Again, though God be infinitely happy in himself, and accordingly leaves no place for our wishing well to him, or putting those desires in execu­tion; [Page 73]yet is there place for such desires, and more, toward those who are his Friends, and whose Good, God some way tenders as his own: he who hath told us that our goodness extendeth not to God, yet for­getting not to add, that it reacheth to the Saints that are in the Earth, and to the excellent, in whom is God's delight, as well as ours. To whom therefore if we wish all prosperity imaginable, and, so far as in us lieth, endeavour to procure, we do in a manner lay the same Obli­gations upon the Almighty; every Friend (as Aristotle Rhet. l. 2. c. 4. observes) rec­koning what is done to his Friend, as a kindness extended to himself. Lastly, As Love prompts Men to wish well to those they love; or, where they themselves stand in no need of them, to their Friends and Relations: so it prompts them to endeavour to walk well-pleasing to them, especially where they have over and above an Authority to command it; no Slave being more obsequious than a Lover is, where his Love is hearty and intense. And accordingly, As our Saviour hath not stuck to affirm, That he who hath and keepeth his Commandments, he it is that loveth him, Joh. 14.21. so that Disciple of his, 1 Ep. 5.3. That this is the Love of God, that we keep his Commandments, and perform whatsoever he requireth. As if this were not onely a certain, but the onely Consequent of our Love; or rather, as if it had been all one with it. And indeed, as no Lover finds any difficulty in obey­ing those Commands which are laid upon him by the Party he affects; so the neglect of that Obedience towards God, must argue a greater coldness in us than it could do in any other pretended Lover: because whilst they have nothing but the Tie of Love to engage their Obe­dience, we have moreover the Obligation of Service, and have God's Authority, as well as Love, to constrain us to it.

4. Having thus mark'd out the Love we ought to have for the Al­mighty, together with the most immediate Expresses of it, I have said enough to caution Men against the opposite Extremes, whether in the excess, or defect. But because the Rule of Right signifies nothing, where it is not apply'd; and we do not find those, who are most con­cern'd, in any great forwardness to do it; I think it not amiss, as I did before in the Passion of Fear, to point out the Rocks on either Hand.

To begin with that which is the Extreme in defect, or the want of Love to him who hath so much in him to deserve it; the unreason­ableness whereof will appear, if we resume those things which we have said to the Object of Love: For is not Good, that is to say, that which is so in it self, the Object of our Love? nay, are we not in a manner constrain'd to affect it? And can we then be cold in our Love to him, in whom all Goodness is contain'd; to him who is infinitely good in himself, and the Fountain of whatsoever is so? Neither will it suffice to say, That no other can be expected, when there is so great an opposition between us and God: For beside that such is the lustre of God's Goodness, that whosoever shall duly consider it, cannot but be some way affected with it; we cannot but know, that it is our own Viciousness which makes the opposition, and which consequently oc­casions the alienations of our Hearts from him. Which therefore, as it is but reason we should deposite; so there is no doubt, but if we do, we shall find our selves as much enamour'd of him, as we are of those Pleasures which are at present most connatural to us. But then [Page 74]if we consider not onely the Excellencies of the Divine Nature in it self, but also its communicativeness of those Excellencies to us, how much he hath oblig'd us with Temporal Favours, how much more he hath done for us to promote our Spiritual and Eternal Welfare; so certainly we cannot chuse but censure our own want of Love to him, by whom we have been so much oblig'd; he that doth so much to gain our Love, as it were laying down a Price for it, and making it Inju­stice, as well as Ingratitude, not to return it. Such is the unreason­ableness even of our want of love to so good and gracious an Object; how much more unreasonable must it then be, when this want of Love or Coldness passeth into an Antipathy, and we do not onely not affect, but hate and abhor so lovely an Object? Which notwithstanding, we find even such in that black Catalogue of Sinners which St. Paul gives, Rom. 1.30. And indeed, it is not much to be wonder'd that there should, when there are so many in the World, who have so much reason to apprehend his displeasure. But as there is much more reason for them to turn their hatred upon their own Vices, which is that that exposeth them to God's displeasure; so, if they would en­tertain a less love for them, they would find nothing in God which should give any just occasion to their hatred: For though he be an Avenger of those that do evil, yet it is of such onely as continue in it; and as he delights not in their death, so he invites them to live, and makes a tender both of his own Grace, and the Merits of his Son, to instate them in it.

From the extreme in defect, pass we to the extreme in excess, which is an over-familiarity with our Maker: For as Love among Men doth ei­ther find the Parties equal, or make them such, according to that known Saying of Minutius Foelix, Amicitia pares semper aut accipit aut fa­cit; so unwary Men, not considering the distance that is between them and God, have copied out this mode of Love in themselves, and made it pass into an indecent familiarity; being thereto farther tempted, by God's giving his Children the name of Friends, and by his speaking with Abraham as a Man speaketh with his friend. But, as it followeth not from God's speaking to us as Friends, that therefore we are to use the same Modes of Speech; so we shall find those to whom God hath shewn the greatest condescention, to have proceed­ed always with the greatest reverence and respect: for thus that Friend and Favourite of God, Abraham, still observ'd his distance towards him, and address'd himself to God as his Superiour and Maker; in the 23d Verse of the 18th Chapter of Genesis, where he seems most to expostulate with him, stiling him the Judge of all the earth; and himself, vers. 27. but dust and ashes in comparison of him: and in the 30th Verse of the same Chapter, beseeching God not to be angry with him, though he spake; and in Verse 31. confessing it a kind of pre­sumption that he had taken upon him to speak unto God; in the 32d again, begging of him not to be angry, and he would speak but once more for the sinful Sodomites. Which demeanour of his shews evi­dently, that our Friendship must be mix'd with Reverence, and we look upon God as our Superiour, as well as our Friend. In like manner, though it be said of Moses, That God spake to him face to face, as a man speaketh to his friend; yet even then we find Moses demeaning himself as a Subject, and speaking to him in the Language [Page 75]of one: for what else means his so often inserting, If I have found grace in thy sight; as you may see in the sequel of that Chapter? It is true indeed (for I am willing to obviate any thing that can with any shew of reason be objected) it is true, I say, there is some diffe­rence between their case and ours; I mean in respect of God, as well as us; that God who spake to Abraham and Moses in his own like­ness, or at least in that of an Angel, having since assum'd our Nature, to become more equal to us, and dispensing all his Graces through it. But as he who assum'd our Nature, doth not therefore cease to be God, and consequently neither our Lord and Master; so by becoming Man, he became our Lord after a more peculiar manner, and thereby gain'd a new Title to our Obedience; which, as there is therefore just cause for us to own, so our Saviour himself inculcates it, as the onely means to attain his Friendship, telling us, Joh. 15.14. That we are his friends, if we do whatsoever he commands us. This onely would be added, for the preservation of this Friendship on our part, That we look up­on the Commands God lays upon us, as the Commands of a Friend, as well as of our Lord and Master; of one who loveth us, as well as of one that hath Authority to command us: So shall we at the same time preserve both our Friendship and Obedience; be Confidents, and yet Servants of the Almighty. For it is not our yielding Obedience to God, which makes our Works servile; but our looking upon him as a Tyrant, or at least as one who is not our Friend, as well as our Lord. For, as the Text before-quoted insinuateth, that we cannot be Friends, without having respect to our Superiours Commands; so if we have respect to them, for the kindness of the Party that enjoyns them, we do rather the part of Friends, than of such as are either Servants or Vassals. But neither is this all which our Friendship with God privilegeth; yea, though an over-familiarity be discarded: For it also licenceth us to come with assurance before the Throne of Grace, and both lay open our wants before him, and beg a propor­tionable supply; God himself having not onely permitted, but call'd upon us to do it, and that too with earnestness and importunity, gi­ving us farther to understand, that this violence is grateful to him, and that the more importunate we are, provided it be mix'd with Re­verence, the more ready he will be to receive us. In fine, such as is the behaviour of a Favourite toward his Prince, such ought to be the behaviour of a Friend of God, toward the Monarch of the World; so tempering our Respect and Confidence, as neither to forget our distance, on the one hand; nor, on the other, that Interest which he hath given us in his Love. But if our Love be so qualified, the more intense it is, the more acceptable, and the more likely to advance us to a more intimate Communion with himself.

Being now to put a period to my Discourse concerning the Passions of the Soul, and that Acknowledgment which is due from each of them to him whom we are to own for our God; it remains onely, that I admonish you, That to own him for your God in them, is not onely to have your Affections suited to his several Attributes, but also to the infiniteness thereof; this being in truth to own him for a God, and pay him that Acknowledgment which is due unto him, as such. But from hence it will follow,

  • 1. That we are to fear and love him with all our might; that we [Page 76]are to separate all coldness from the one, all security and pre­sumption from the other: For beside that the Almighty re­quires so to be lov'd, even where that Love (as was before observ'd) is set to denote the whole Adoration of the Soul, it is no more than his own immense Nature, as well as our Obli­gations to him, call for; the greatest Loveliness and Majesty (such as those of God's undoubtedly are) requiring the greatest Fear and Love. It is no less evident,
  • 2. That we are to fear and love him above all things, how much soever in themselves the just Objects of them both; because God, whom we are required to own in them, transcends all other Beings in Majesty and Goodness, or whatsoever else is the proper Object of our several Affections. Whence it is, that our Blessed Saviour, speaking of the Passion of Fear, doth not onely forbid the exerting of it toward those that can kill the Body, but in a manner confine it to him who after he hath kill'd, hath power to cast into Hell.
  • 3. Lastly, Forasmuch as God doth not onely transcend all other Beings, but is the Fountain of whatsoever is either dreadful or lovely in them; hence it comes to pass, that, to own him for our God, we are consequently to fear and love all other things with respect to the Divine Majesty, from whom they derive their several Excellencies; at the same time we fear or love them, looking up to the Almighty; and regarding them not so much for themselves, as for that Majesty and Goodness which it pleas'd the Almighty to imprint upon them.

PART VI.

How we may and ought to own God in our Bodies. This done, first, by yielding Obedience to his Commands, and particularly to such as have a more immediate aspect upon him; Of which number are those concerning Invocation, Praise, Swearing by, or Vowing to him. The like effected by presenting God with external Notes of our Submissi­on, whether they be such as are performed within the Body, as Bow­ing, Kneeling, and the like; or such as though the Body be instru­mental to, yet pass from thence to other things: Such as are the Building or Adorning of Temples, and the setting apart certain Times for God's Worship and Service; the Consecrating of certain Persons to preside in it, and respecting them when they are so.

HAving shewn in the foregoing Discourses, what Tribute is due to God from our Souls, and particularly from our Ʋnderstandings, Wills, and Affections, which are the several Faculties thereof; it re­mains that we inquire,

2. What Tribute is due to him from our Bodies, and how we are to own him for our God in them: Which is either,

  • 1. By yielding Obedience to his Commands, and particularly to such as have a more immediate aspect upon him; or,
  • [Page 77]2. By presenting him with some external Note or Sign of our Submission. The former whereof is by some call'd the Ho­nour of the Deed; the latter, the Honour of the Sign.

I. Of the former of these, there cannot be the least doubt that it is requir'd of us toward the owning him for our God: For beside that the Name of God is a Name of Authority, as well as Eminency, and consequently implieth a necessity of Obedience in those to whom he hath that Relation; God himself doth here make use of it, as an Obligation to all those Commandments which we are now upon the consideration of; he requiring our having no other Gods besides him­self, with other the Duties that follow, upon the score of his being the Lord our God, according as was before observ'd, in his Preface to the Imposition of them. But so (that I may not stand upon a thing so plain) doth that Lord of ours expresly require us to own him; our Saviour putting by the Temptations of Satan to fall down before him­self, by saying, It is written, Thou shalt worship the Lord thy God, and him, yea him onely shalt thou serve, Matth. 4.10. Now though what hath been said, extend to all God's Commands, because they all bear the stamp of his Authority; yet is it especially to be understood of yielding Obedience to such Commands as have a more immediate aspect upon God, these more immediately implying the owning of that Authority he hath over the Sons of Men. For the fuller decla­ration therefore of our own Duty in this behalf, I will now set those Commands before you, and shew how we own him for our God, by yielding Obedience to them.

1. To begin with Invocation, or Praeyer, one of the prime Acts of God's Worship, and which therefore is of all others the most fre­quently and earnestly inculcated; concerning which, it is easie to shew, how necessary it is to pay him the acknowledgment of a God: For, inasmuch as all Men desire the Preservation of their own Being; inas­much as that desire necessarily prompts them to look abroad for it, if they think not themselves able to procure it; in case any Man do not thus seek it of God, it must be because he doth not believe it to come from him, but either from himself, or from meer Natural Causes. But what other is this, than to deny that God from whom every good and perfect gift cometh, and to make a God either of ones self, or Nature? There being nothing more essential to the Divine Nature, than the being the Author of all those Blessings, by which the whole Creation is either maintain'd or adorn'd. The same is to be said of that which is sometime reckon'd as a part of Prayer, because a necessary attendant of it; that is to say, of giving Thanks to him for those Blessings by which we are at any time made happy: He who refuseth thus to ho­nour God, in effect denying the coming of them from him; because Nature it self hath taught us to make this return, wheresoever we have been oblig'd. If there be any thing farther to be observ'd con­cerning these two Acknowledgments, it will fall in more pertinently when we come to entreat of The Prayer of our Lord, to which there­fore I shall reserve the consideration of it.

2. From Prayer and Thanksgiving therefore, pass we to Praise, another Act of Adoration, and no less frequently enjoyn'd: And no wonder, if we consider either the end for which the Tongue was gi­ven, or its aptness to set forth the Excellencies of the Almighty: For [Page 78]as, if we consider the practice of Holy Men, it may seem to have been given for nothing more, than for commemorating the Excellencies of the Divine Nature; so, by the variety of its Expressions, it is fitted to set forth all those Excellencies of which the Divine Nature is com­pos'd; as neither wanting Words to express his Justice, and Mercy, and the like; nor yet that which makes them more Divine, the Infi­niteness thereof.

3. To Praising the Divine Majesty, subjoyn we Swearing by him, another Act of Adoration, and no less expresly requir'd; for so we find the Prophet Moses distinctly commanding, and that too in the same Period where he prescribes his Fear and Service: for, thou shalt fear the Lord thy God (saith he) and serve him, and swear by his Name, Deut. 6.13. And indeed, if we consider the nature of an Oath, we shall not in the least doubt of the manner of our owning him for our God by it. For an Oath being nothing else than the calling God to witness to the Truth of what we affirm, he that swears by him, doth not onely acknowledge God to be superior to himself, but also to be a Witness of infallible Truth, a Searcher of our Hearts, and a most just and powerful Avenger of all Perjury and Falshood; no one appealing to a Witness that is not of greater Authority than himself; and with much less reason, for the sincerity of his own Affir­mations, but where that sincerity may be known, or any deviation from it be punish'd, if he transgress it. For, what satisfaction could an Oath be to any Man, if Men did not presume God to be an Aven­ger of Perjury and Falshood, as well as a Discerner of the Truth? And accordingly, as for the most part such Clauses as this are general­ly subjoyn'd, as So help me God, according as what I affirm is true; so where it is not express'd, it is always understood to be meant, and God call'd upon not onely as a Witness, but an Avenger. By swear­ing therefore by the Name of God, we give an evident Testimony of our acknowledging him for such, and particularly, that he is True, and Wise, and Powerful. This onely would be added, what is evi­dent from the nature of the thing it self, That though an Oath be an Acknowledgment of those glorious Attributes before-mentioned, yet it is not to be made, but where the thing in controversie is not other­wise to be made out, and the Knot is worthy of his untying. And more than this I shall not need to say concerning Swearing by the Name of God, because I must afterwards resume it, when I come to entreat of the Third Commandment.

4. Lastly, As we acknowledge the Divine Majesty by Swearing by his Name; so also by Vowing to him, in whatsoever may be the pro­per Matter of it; such as is the yielding Obedience to all his Com­mands in general, or the performing of any particular one: For as by so doing we acknowledge God to be conscious to our Resolutions, and (because Vows are always made upon condition of God's giving us some Boon) that he is conscious also to our Wants; so, for the same Reason, that he is able to supply them, and deliver us either from our Fears, or from our Dangers. Which acknowledgment is so much the more valuable, because Vows are seldom made, but when Men are en­compassed with the greatest Dangers, and there is little hopes of esca­ping, but by some signal Providence: for he that in such cases vows any thing to God for his deliverance, sheweth he looks upon him to [Page 79]be of an Almighty Power, and that he can act not onely in concurrence with Natural Causes, but without and against them. But because the nature of Vows will also fall in more fitly afterwards, when I come to entreat of the Third Commandment, it shall suffice me to have ob­serv'd, That this is one way of acknowledging him, whom we are re­quir'd to own for our God.

II. Of acknowledging God by yielding Obedience to his Commands, I have spoken hitherto; and particularly, by yielding Obedience to such Commands as have a more immediate aspect upon himself: It remains that we entreat of our presenting him with some outward Note or Sign of our Submission, which is the second way of owning him with our Bodies. For inasmuch as God hath commanded us to glorifie him with our Bodies, as well as with our Souls; inasmuch as external Reverence is the most immediate expression of it; it follows, that to own him for our God, we are to add external Reverence to our Obedience, and present him with our Respects, as well as Submissi­on to his Commands. Now there are two sorts of Notes or Signs, whereby we are to express our Reverence to the Divine Majesty.

  • 1. The former whereof are perform'd within the Body.
  • 2. The latter reaches to things without it.

1. Of the former sort are all those humble postures of Body where­with we find devout Men to have honour'd their Maker; such as are, in particular, Kneeling, or Falling down before him, Bowing down the Head, or uncovering it; in fine, the standing at a distance from the Place of his more especial Presence, as we read the penitent Publican did; or casting our pensive Eyes upon the ground: All which, as we find to have been us'd by Holy Men, so, if we consult the Scriptures, not to have been without the Command of God, for the use of some or other of them: For thus, when the Devil would have woo'd our Saviour, by the proffer of the Kingdoms of the World, so to fall down and worship him, our Saviour not onely rejected the Motion, but made him answer out of the Scriptures, Thou shalt worship the Lord thy God, and him onely shalt thou serve. In which place we do not onely find God claiming the Homage of our Service and Obedi­ence, but the paying also of our Respects, in falling down and wor­shipping our Creator. Neither let any Man say (as there are those who are like enough to do it, how little ground soever there be for such an Answer) let not any Man, I say, make answer, That by Worship in that place, we are to understand an inward one: For as that was not it the Devil ask'd, but the falling down before him, and conse­quently no way agreeable to such an Interpretation; so the Greek word [...] signifies External Adoration, and is accordingly, by Hesychius, explain'd by [...], or falling at ones Feet. And though it be true, that in the Original of the Old Testament, from whence this Text is borrowed, it be not Thou shalt worship, but Thou shalt fear the Lord thy God, which is an Act of inward Adoration; yet in­asmuch as what the Devil ask'd was the outward one, and our Savi­our himself, in his citation of it, apply'd it to that kind of Worship, it is manifest we are to understand both the one and other Adoration, our inward Fear, and the outward Expressions of it. But so that I may put this past all doubt, God hath given us yet more clearly to understand, in the Words of the next Commandment: For, forbidding [Page 80]in that the bowing down before an Image, because he is a jealous God, he thereby plainly sheweth, that he challeng'd that Honour to him­self, the Worship of the outward, as well as of the inward Man. And indeed, provided that this Reverence do not degenerate into a Thea­trical one, nor swallow up that inward regard which we ought especi­ally to intend, I know not how we can more approve our selves to him, whom we pretend to adore, than by making every Member some way contribute thereto. For how grateful must our Service needs be, when all that is within and without conspires to it; and, whilst the Tongue is doing its Devotions, the Knee is bowing to the Divine Majesty, or (which was the Custom of the Jews, and is still of all the Eastern Nations) the whole Body, in token of its and the Souls subjection, lies prostrate upon the Ground? Again, What is there which may be thought to engage the Soul's Obedience, that doth not in like manner concur to the Adoration of the other? Is the Soul of God's creation? So is the Body, as being not onely formed by him in its Protoplast Adam, but curiously wrought by God in that Womb that immediately conceiv'd it. Is the Soul redeem'd by the Holy Jesus? So also is the Body, and shall be hereafter to much bet­ter purposes: For ye are bought with a price (saith the Apostle) there­fore glorifie God in your body, and in your spirit, which are so his. Lastly, Hath the Soul a share in the Graces of the Spirit? So also hath the Body; as is evident from the Prayer of the fore-nam'd Apostle, where he not onely beseecheth God to sanctifie them wholly, but pray­eth more particularly, that their whole spirit, and soul, and body, might be preserved blameless unto the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. I conclude therefore (and I think too with much greater force than the Psalmist does) O come let us worship and bow down, let us kneel be­fore the Lord our Maker: For not onely is he our Maker, as that ho­ly Man suggests; but our Redeemer and Sanctifier; and that too of those very Bodies whose Reverence he requires.

2. Of such outward Notes or Signs of Respect as terminate in the Body, I have spoken hitherto, and shewn our Obligation to them: It remains only, that we consider those to which though the Body is in­strumental, yet pass from thence to other things. Such as is,

1. The Building of Temples, or Places of Worship, to him whom we own for our God. For though (as St. Paul speaks) God that made the world, and all things therein, seeing that he is Lord of heaven and earth, dwelleth not in temples made with hands, neither is worshipped with mens hands, as though he needed any thing: yet, as the Custom of the World, with the Approbation of God himself, hath in all times led Men to erect such publick Places to him; so it was no more than decency, and a respect to the Divine Majesty, prompted them to the doing of. For though (under the Gospel especially) any Place be proper for Divine Worship, because by the Tenor of it we are oblig'd to have a greater regard to the Thing it self, than to the Circumstances thereof; yet inasmuch as a Set place was requisite to the performance of it, that so all the Worshippers of the Divine Majesty might know whither to resort; inasmuch as it was but suitable to the Greatness of God, that that Place which was ap­pointed for his Publick Worship, should be set apart from all common Uses; lastly, inasmuch as the appropriating of that Place to it, was [Page 81]apt to imprint a Reverence of the Divine Majesty in those that resort­ed thither: for these Reasons, I say, it seemed but requisite that he should have a Temple erected to him, apart from the Places of more Common Uses. And accordingly, as before the Law they had their Altars; and under the Law, the Tabernacle, that famous Temple at Je­rusalem, with Synagogues in their several Towns and Villages: so it will be no hard matter to discern the like Places of Divine Worship in the first beginnings of Christianity. As is evident from that known Pas­sage of St. Paul to the Corinthians, 1 Cor. 11.22. What have you not houses to eat and to drink in? or despise ye the Church of God, and shame them that have not? For not onely speaking before of their coming together into one place; but opposing the Church of God, not to other Assemblies, but to their own Houses and Places of abode, he plainly sheweth his meaning to be, not of the Assemblies themselves, but of the Places wherein they conven'd. And accordingly, as Mr. Mede hath shewnChurches, that is, Appro­priate Places for Christian Worship. that there were such Places in the following Ages, and before the Emperours were Christians; so he hath return'd a very satisfactory Answer to what is objected out of some ancient Writers, concerning the Christians not having any Temples, to wit, That they meant Temples in the Heathen sense, that is to say, where­in the Deity was enclos'd; as the Heathens, to whom they thus an­swer'd, suppos'd their own to be. However it be, there is reason enough in Nature for setting apart a certain Place for the Solemn Wor­ship of God. And accordingly, when the Church had rest from Per­secutions, such Places were every where erected to him, and the Chri­stians declared their owning of the Lord for their God by it. All that I shall add concerning this Head, is that of Sir Edwin Sandys, in his most excellent Piece, entituled, Europae Speculum; That though the Or­naments of such places ought to be rather grave than pompous, yet it could never sink into his heart that the Allowance for furnishing them out should be measur'd by the scant Rule of meer Necessity (a proportion so low, that Nature it self hath gone beyond it, even in the most ignoble Crea­tures) or that God had enrich'd this lower World with such wonderful variety of things, beautiful and glorious, that they might serve onely to the pampering of mortal Man in his Pride; and that to the Service of the High Creator, Lord, and Giver (the outward Glory of whose high­er Palace may appear by the very Lamps which we see so far off burning so gloriously in it) onely the simpler, baser, cheaper, less noble, less beautiful, and less glorious things, should be employ'd; especially see­ing, even as in Princes Courts, so in the Service of God also, this out­ward State and Glory being well dispos'd, doth engender, quicken, en­crease, and nourish the inward Reverence and respectful Devotion, which is due unto so Sovereign a Majesty; which those whom the use thereof cannot perswade, would easily by the want of it be forc'd to confess. Neither will it suffice to say (as perhaps it may be by some Persons) That that Cost might with much more advantage be em­ploy'd upon the Poor, those Living Temples of the Holy Ghost: for though it be not to be deny'd, that those ought more especially to be considered; yet, as it would be inquir'd, Whether, for the purposes of Charity, a deduction might not be made from the Ornaments of our own Houses, if our Estates cannot reach to the supplying of them both; so also, Whether the House of God ought not in this case to [Page 82]have the precedence of our own; especially when God himself did sometime ask, Whether it were time for the Israelites to dwell in cieled houses, when his lay waste, Hag. 1.4.

2. But beside the Dedicating of Temples to his Honour, whom we are commanded to own for our God; it is no less requisite to that purpose, that Solemn Times be set apart for the Publick Worship of God; and that, when they are so, they should be as Religiously ob­serv'd: For, as it may seem but a just Tribute, to allot him a Por­tion of our Time, from whom we have the Grant of the Whole; so being so set apart, it is but reasonable it should be appropriated to his Service, and not, as it too often is, profaned by our own: he that honoureth any Person, naturally paying a Regard to whatsoever hath a relation to him. But because this will fall in more seasonably when we come to entreat of the Fourth Commandment, I will quit the prosecution of it at present, and descend to a

3. Third Note of Respect, which is, the setting apart a sort of Men to wait at his Altar, and perform the Publick Exercises of Religion; nothing making any Person or Thing more cheap and vile, than laying open the Offices that relate to it, to the will of every Man that shall have the hardiness to invade them. And according­ly, as before the Law, the Elder of the Family was Priest, as well as Prince; as under the Law, the Tribe of Levi was in their stead set apart for that Office; so our Saviour, to observe the same Method, chose the Twelve out of his Disciples, and Commission'd them, and them onely, to go and teach all Nations, and baptize them into his most excellent Religion; adding, in the close of it, That he would be with them to the end of the world: Which being not to be under­stood of them in their own Persons, because they are long since fal­len asleep, it remains we understand it of Persons Commissionated by them, and so on to the present Age: For all power (as our Saviour affirms) being given unto him, and he Delegating the Ministerial one to those his Apostles; whatsoever Power of that nature can be pre­tended to, must derive it self from them, unless in case of extreme necessity, or an immediate Commission from Heaven. And accord­ingly, as the Apostles ordain'd Elders in every City, and transferr'd that their Power upon others; so the Chain of Succession hath been maintain'd by the same means, without any considerable interrupti­on, till of late some have dared to invade it: Which is so much the more to be wondred at, because, as no man among the Jews took that honour to himself, but he that was called of God, as was Aaron; so the Author to the Hebrews (who tells us so much) adds,Cap. 5.4, 5. That even Christ glorified not himself to be made an High Priest; but he that said unto him, Thou art my Son, this day have I begotten thee. Again,

4. Fourthly, As to own the Lord for our God, it is requisite to set apart some Men to Minister before the Lord in the Congrega­tion; so is it much more, when set apart, to respect them highly for their Work sake, and minister to them of the good things we en­joy. For, as next to the immediate dishonour of the Divine Maje­sty, there cannot be a greater affront to him, than to throw con­tempt upon those Persons whom he hath taken so nearly to him­self; so God-himself calls the defrauding them of their Maintenance, [Page 83]the robbing of himself; and, moreover, represents it as a Crime, which even the Heathen did abhor; as you may see Mal. 3.8. Nei­ther let any Man say, That this is to be understood onely of the Jewish Priests, whose Maintenance, as well as Function, was imme­diately appointed by himself: For, as there is no doubt the Evan­gelical Priesthood is much dearer to him than the Legal, and there­fore what was said concerning the former, to be à fortiori applicable to the latter; so St. Paul tells us, in his first Epistle to the Corin­thians, That like as they which waited at the Altar were by the command of God to be partakers with the Altar; 1 Cor. 9.14. even so hath the Lord ordain'd, that they which preach the Gospel, should live of the Gospel, 1 Cor. 9.14.

5. Lastly, (which may comprehend many of the former Ac­knowledgments, and hath therefore this place assign'd it) Toward the owning the Lord for our God, it is requisite we should own him by the Liberality of our Hand, or, as the Book of Proverbs ex­presseth it, Honour him with our Substance, in token of having re­ceiv'd it from him. For, this being grounded upon a natural Rea­son, and beside that, not onely an usual Testimony of Respect to Kings, but a Respect that was sometime paid our Saviour, by the Wise-men that came to worship him; it may seem but reasonable to think, that we are under the same Obligation: especially when we find also the Bread and Wine of the Sacrament to have been ten­der'd as an Acknowledgment of God's Sovereignty over the World, as well as of the Redemption of it by his Son. The onely Question that can be made, is, To whom these Offerings do belong, now Sa­crifices are banish'd out of the Church. But as that will not be dif­ficult for him to resolve, who shall reflect upon the fore-going Di­scourse; so, if we cannot find any other, we have the Poor always at hand, to whom, whatsoever is this way done, our Saviour tells us, is as done unto himself; and therefore also, in some measure, to the Divine Majesty. Such is the having the Lord for our God, as is here enjoyn'd; such the Tribute that is due to him from our Souls, and Bodies, and Substance: And happy they that shall so own him, because they are assur'd of a reciprocal Acknowledgment; and they shall be own'd as his People, who have this Sovereign Lord for their God.

PART VII.

That we ought to own the God of Israel both as the True God, and ours; which is the Second Capital Precept: and how that is to be per­formed. The like inquir'd concerning the Third, even The having no other Gods beside him: Which is shewn to exclude, first, the substituting of any other in his room; where the Heathens worshipping of the Host of Heaven, Dead Men, Beasts, or Inanimate Creatures, is noted, and censured: Secondly, The receiving other Gods into Copartnership with him; where the Papists Practice, in Worshipping Saints and Angels, is considered, and reproved.

THAT we ought to have the One True God for our God, hath been the Design of several Discourses to shew; together with the Ways and Means by which we are to acknowledge him. My proposed Method now leadeth me to evince,

II. II That we are to look upon the God of Israel as such, and to pay him the Acknowledgments before remembred. But so that we are (to go no further for a proof) the Preamble to the Ten Command­ments shews; he who requireth us to have no other gods before him, declaring himself, in that Preamble, to be that Lord which brought them out of the Land of Egypt. The onely thing whereof there can be any doubt, is, What Grounds there are so to own the God of the Israelites; and how those Acknowledgments ought to be circum­stantiated, to refer them unto him: Neither the one nor the other whereof, will be hard for him to resolve, who doth but attentively consider them. For as the Scriptures of the Old Testament furnish us with Arguments enough to believe the God of Israel to be the True; witness those stupendious Miracles it declareth him to have effected, and those holy and equitable Laws which he promulg'd: so it is easie to see we shall then refer all our Acknowledgments to him, when we pay them in obedience to those Scriptures by which he hath de­clar'd himself to the World: For this will shew us not to worship an unknown and uncertain Deity, as we find the Athenians, and many other Heathens did; but him, who manifested himself to the Israelites in Egypt, by many Signs and Wonders, as afterwards by bringing them out with an high hand, and by those Wonders which he shew'd upon Mount Sinai. And having said thus much concerning the owning the One True God, and the God of Israel, I shall now proceed to,

III. III The third and last thing contained in this Commandment, even The not having any other gods but him.

Now there are three things which are either imply'd, or expresly contain'd in the not having any other gods beside the True.

  • 1. That we should not substitute any other in his room.
  • 2. That we should not receive any other gods into copartnership with him: And,
  • 3. Thirdly and lastly, That we should not attribute to any thing else, any part of that Honour which is due unto him.

1. The first of these is rather imply'd, than express'd; but so [Page 85]strongly imply'd, that there cannot be any the least doubt of it: For, beside that the One True God doth here declare himself to be so, and not onely so, but call upon us to yield Obedience to all those Com­mands which we are now upon the consideration of; the very Words wherein this Commandment is express'd, do à fortiori imply the not substituting any other in his room. For, if we may not have any other before or beside him, much less may we admit of any to the ut­ter exclusion of him, and build their Honour upon the Ruines of the other's. But such Transgressors were the Heathen, or at least a great part of them, after God had for their sins given them over to vain imaginations; as worshipping, in stead of him, all the Host of Hea­ven, such Men by whom their several Nations had receiv'd any great advantage, particularly, Kings and Princes; and in fine, the brute Beasts, yea Inanimate Creatures. But how much they acted against the light of their own Reason, as well as the Precepts of this great Lawgiver, will easily appear, if we survey the several Objects of their Worship.

To begin with the Host of Heaven, even the Sun, Moon, and Stars, because thought by Learned MenVid. Grot. Explic. Decal. & Job 31.26. to be the first Instances of Idolatry in the World: Concerning which, it is easie to shew, how unreaso­nable it was to substitute them in the place of God. For though it be not to be doubted, but that great Benefits come from thence, par­ticularly, from the Sun, by whose Influence this lower World is actua­ted; yet is there nothing in that glorious Body, which can tempt a considering Man to pay Divine Honours to it; it being evident to our sense, that it moves and acts necessarily, neither can do any other than it doth. Which one thing, duly weigh'd, will, to all impartial Un­derstandings, evince it not to have the Nature, or deserve the Ho­nour of a God. For, beside that the Nature of God implieth the most Perfect One, and consequently such as is not ty'd up to Rules, but is free in its Motions and Operations; all the Honour of God (as the Author to the Hebrews observes) is built upon this great Principle, That he is a rewarder of such as diligently seek him: Which Princi­ple can have no place, where there is no freedom in acting; and the supposed Deity is oblig'd not onely to shine alike upon the evil and the good, but either to afford or withhold its shining, as the Laws of its Creation admonish, yea, as it pleaseth those Clouds that are below it.

From the Host of Heaven, pass we to Men, such as many of those were whom the Heathen worshipp'd: Where again we shall see how little reason there was to substitute them in the place of God. For as even these could not save themselves from death, but were fain to pass through that, to their suppos'd Divinity; so, many of them were such as may be suppos'd rather to have fallen into the state of Devils, to whose nature they bear so great a resemblance, than to be advanc'd to the Honour of Gods. To say nothing at all, that it appeareth not they had any knowledge of things below, and much less any Pow­er either to reward or punish.

As little, yea, far less reason was there for the Worship of Beasts, and Inanimate Creatures, which was the particular Error of the Egy­ptians, and the lowest to which Humane Nature could fall; these ha­ving not so much as the Reason of a Man, and much less the Under­standing [Page 86]to know the Necessities of those that pray'd to them, or the Power to relieve and redress them.

2. But because the not substituting False Gods in the place of the True, is rather suppos'd by, than directly contain'd in the present Pro­hibition; proceed we to that which the Words do clearly and plainly import, even the not receiving any other into Copartnership with him. Which, as it probably was the Error of the wiser Heathen, so to be sure is that which this Commandment doth more immediately strike at; he that requireth the not having any other gods before or beside himself, both supposing the having of himself, and forbidding the superinducing any other. And in this notion it was that the Sa­maritans became Offenders against it, as you may see 2 Kings 17.33. it being there remark'd concerning them, That they feared the Lord, and served their own Gods, after the manner of the Nations whom God carried away from thence. From which Passage, compar'd with the present Prohibition, it is manifest, That to admit any Being into a Copartnership with the True God, is enough to make a Man a Trans­gressor; the Law, at the same time it forbids the having of other Gods, supposing, in some measure, the having of the True. Which said, I shall now inquire, Whether those of the Church of Rome are not just­ly chargeable with the breach of it, in that Honour which they give both to Saints and Angels.

To begin with the Honour of Saints departed, because most stood upon by them, and which indeed makes up a great part of their Reli­gion: Concerning which, I shall propose to consideration, Whether the Prayers they make to them, be not, in effect, to set up other Gods? For, is not Prayer a great part of Religious Worship? nay, is it not so considerable, as to give a denomination to the Place of God's Wor­ship; yea, to be an Ingredient in his Titles? He himself calling his House the House of Prayer; and the Psalmist, him that inhabiteth it, the God that heareth it. And is it then any other than the setting up other Gods, to make Saints departed the Objects of it? But it will be said, it may be, That they do not pray to them, or at least not in that manner they do to God; only imploring their Intercession with our Maker, and theirs; but begging no Blessing from themselves. But first of all, Quid verba audio, facta cum videam? What will Words avail, when their Practice is oftentimes so contrary? Neither is there any real difference between their Prayers to them, and those to God. I instance in that which the Rosary of the Virgin Mary presents us with, where we have this very Prayer to the Mother of our Lord:

Virgo singularis,
Vid. Jacks of the Original of Unbelief, &c. cap. 28.
Intrae omnes mitis,
Nos culpis solutos,
Mites fac & castos;
Vitam praesta puram,
Iter para tutum.

That is to say, O thou who art the chief of Virgins, and the meekest of all, after thou hast freed us from our guilt, make us meek and chast; make our Life pure, and our Journey safe. Which, what is it, but a Prayer to her, to grant us those Blessings her self, and not to inter­cede [Page 87]with God for the granting of them? Neither will it suffice to say, That their meaning is onely that she should procure it to them by their Prayers, and that accordingly they do oftentimes so express it: For, as it were easie for them to do it always, if they meant not to abuse the World with their Distinctions; so I cannot forbear to say, that they ought to make use of more fit Terms, to express their meaning, if they would free themselves from the imputation of Idolatry. For, inasmuch as God requires to be honour'd by the outward as well as the inward Man, how doth that Man satisfie his Duty, who makes not some distinction between the outward Worship he gives to God, and that which he presents to the Saints departed? Our inward Wor­ship being confessedly to be above that we have for others; and our outward Worship, but an Expression of our inward. And indeed, however they may satisfie themselves with such Mental Reservations, in a thing that stands in need of them, I doubt the humblest of them all would not be well pleas'd, if a Man should beg those things of their Servants, which are wholly theirs; and when he had done so, pre­tend he meant onely they should procure them by their Intercession: Such an Allegation (as the Lawyers speak) being Protestatio contra factum, and such as agreeth not at all with that which they would de­fend. The Case would be yet more convincing, if we should instance in a Malefactor, that should petition a Romish Princes Servant for his Pardon: For if they are jealous of their Honour, as well as other Princes, there is no doubt they would ill resent it, both from the Pe­titioner, and the Party that should receive him; yea, though it should be alledg'd in his excuse, That his meaning was onely that he should intercede with his Master for it, and that meaning of his were some way knowable to the Prince. For if Words were intended to express Mens Conceits, they ought in reason to hold some resemblance with them, especially in a matter of so great importance.

But let us suppose, secondly, That they who pray to Saints, neither intended, nor expressed any other, than the begging of their Interces­sion with the Common Father of us all; yet even so, they cannot escape the imputation of taking them into a Copartnership with the Almigh­ty, because thereby ascribing to them a kind of Omniscience, in sup­posing them able at that distance to hear the several Prayers that are put up to them in several Places; especially when it appeareth not, that God makes any Revelations to them of the several things that are transacted here below: For as for that speculum Trinitatis which they so much speak of, and their seeing all things in God, it is a groundless and ridiculous Fancy; because it is certain they cannot see the time of the Day of Judgment in it, and therefore neither any thing else, any farther than it shall please God to discover it.

But be it, thirdly, not only that their Intercession was all that were desir'd, and that God reveal'd to them both their Prayers, and other Transactions here below; yet will there lie a just Exception against their addressing their Petitions as often, if not oftner, to the Saints, than to God himself; especially when that is done in Places dedicated to God's Worship, and in the Times set apart for his Worship and Service. For, as this is a Practice too apparent to be deny'd; so it is, in that respect, not onely the having of other Gods, but (which is much worse) the preferring them before the True: a greater Honour [Page 88]being thereby done to them to whom they do so often address them­selves, than to him whose Altars are so little frequented. The onely thing that can with any shew of reason be reply'd, is, That it is in reverence to the Divine Majesty, that they address themselves rather to his Servants, than to him: For, observing that it is not the manner of Princes to admit every Man to present his Petitions himself, partly for avoiding of Trouble, which would otherwise be infinite; and partly for the preserving of their State; they conclude from thence, That the like or a greater Reverence to God must needs prompt us to take the same course, and present our Petitions rather by the Saints, than by our selves. But beside that we are not destitute of such a Mediatour, if we will acknowledge our Saviour to be so, God him­self hath both allow'd and enjoyn'd us to come unto him, and pro­mis'd to accept us if we do. And then certainly it is rather a con­tempt of him (because against his express Command) to take another course, than any true Reverence to the Divine Majesty.

From Invocation or Prayer to Saints, pass we to Swearing by them; which is another thing both practis'd and defended by the Church of Rome. Where, who is there beside themselves, that sees not how it intrenches upon the Divine Honour, yea adopts them into the place of God? For Swearing, as was before observ'd, being a calling one to witness to the sincerity of our Affirmations, and to punish us if we prevaricate in what we affirm; he that Swears by any Person, makes him the Knower of our Hearts, and an Avenger of those that do pre­varicate. Which, what is it but to rob God of two of the fairest Flowers of his Diadem, and to place them in that of the Saints de­parted? What should I tell you of their consecrating Temples and Altars to them; of their burning Incense before them, and dedicating Festivals to them; of using the same lowly Prostrations before their Images, and of making Vows to them in their distress? For inasmuch as these, and other such like, are the onely ways Men have to ex­press their inward Regard to the Divine Majesty, what is it, but (as far as the outward Man is capable of doing it) to admit him into a Copartnership; or, as the Commandment expresseth it, to have other Gods beside the True? It being enough to ground that Charge, to make them Sharers of those Honours, which are the onely ones we have to express our Reverence to the Almighty. And though I know this also is not without its Excuse, they pretending not so much to honour the Saints departed, as God, in and through them; yet as there ought in reason to be a difference between the Honour of a Su­preme, and of those who are but his Servants and Dependents; so (asDe decalog. in explicat. praec. 1. Philo well observeth) to give equal Things to unequal Persons, is not so much for the honour of the Inferiour, as it is to the dishonour of him that is above them. To all which, if we add, That God is a jea­lous God, and hath declar'd himself to be so, especially in the matter of his Worship; so we shall not need to doubt of the importance of that Prohibition, Thou shalt have no other Gods before me: Jealousie naturally arising not from manifest espousing of other Loves, but from warping toward them, and entertaining them with the same shew of kindness and familiarity, wherewith they are wont to receive the le­gitimate Object of it.

From Saints departed, pass we to Angels; concerning whom, the [Page 89]same may be said that was of the other; with this onely difference, that there is a greater reason to presume some of them to be acquaint­ed with our Prayers, because they are sent forth by God to minister to us, and appointed to be our Watch and Defence. But as it follows not from thence, that we may pray to them as we do to God, nor en­tertain them with the same Honours and Adorations; so the Scripture hath particularly caution'd us against making them our Mediators, or giving them the outward Worship of God. For thus, Col. 2.18, 19. we are bidden to take heed lest any man beguile us of our reward, in a voluntary humility, and worshipping of angels, intruding into those things which he hath not seen, vainly puft up by his fleshly mind: And not holding the head, from which all the body by joynts and bands having nourishment ministred, and knit together, increaseth with the increase of God. For, as it is manifest, from the voluntary humility upon which it is grounded, that the Apostles meaning is not to decry the making them equal with God, (that having not any the least shadow of Humility) but the making use of them as Mediators to him; so it is much more, because he affirmeth those that do so, not to hold the head, even Christ Jesus,Vid. Grot. in explicat. Deca­log. ubi hunc locum ad Co­lossenses egre­giè explicat. from whom all the body by joynts and bands having nourishment ministred and knit together, increaseth with the increase of God. He thereby plainly destroying the making use of any other Mediator between us and God, to procure that spi­ritual Nourishment which we want. There is the same or a greater evidence against entertaining them with such Honours as either the Consent of some Nations hath appropriated unto God, or some parti­cular Age or Place hath devoted to his Service: For thus, for the for­mer; When Manoah would have detain'd the Angel of the Lord, whilst he made ready a Kid; supposing there might be some design of Sacrificing in it, he made answer, That if he should detain him, he would not eat of it; and, if his meaning was to offer a burnt-offering, he must offer it to the Lord: thereby plainly removing all Attempts of that nature toward himself, and confining such kind of Services un­to God, Judg. 13.16. In like manner, when St. John would have fallen down at the feet of an Angel, to worship him (which I am apt to think, both from this place, and St. Peter's refusing the like Gesture from Cornelius, to have been more particularly devoted by that Age or Place to the Worship of God) when, I say, St. John would have thus fallen down at the feet of the Angel, to worship him, the Angel made answer, See thou do it not; for I am thy fellow-servant, and of thy brethren which have the testimony of Jesus: worship God. Which Passage doth not onely destroy the giving of such Worship to Angels, but also remove that Answer which is given by Grotius and others to it; to wit, That the Angel forbad it, not because of any unlawfulness in it, but onely for its unsuitableness from an Apostle to an Angel, who was but his Brother and Fellow-servant: For, as he there affirms himself to be a Brother and Fellow-servant also of those that had the Testimony of Jesus, which more beside the Apostles had; so adding in the close of it, Worship God, he plainly shews he had a further rea­son in forbidding it, even because of its propriety to the Divine Ma­jesty. For though such a Gesture was indifferent in it self, and ac­cordingly had been frequently us'd even by good Men, toward those of the same make with themselves; yet either that Age had in a man­ner [Page 90]appropriated it to the Worship of God, or the Angel thought that Reverence might have been liable to misconstruction, in those who should afterwards hear of it: Either of which will tie us up from giving them such outward Adoration, as may but seem to intrench up­on the Divine: For, if the fear of the latter, made an Angel refuse it, yea, lay a strict charge upon St. John not to do it; we may be sure God is extremely jealous in this particular, and forbids the very semblances thereof. For, as for those who would have St. John fault­ed here, for bowing down to the Angel, as to God; it is absurd, yea, impious, to conceive of so great an Apostle, especially after he had been once admonish'd of it: but much more absurd to believe so of Cornelius (who yet was in like manner chid for falling down at Pe­ter's Feet) because he had no reason to take him for other than a Man,See Jackson of the Original of Unbelief, &c. chap. 26. though designed by God for his Instructer. From all which, put together, it is manifest, That to give either Saints or Angels the same outward Worship with their Maker, is a thing which he abhors, and looks upon as the taking other Gods into a Copartnership with him.

But leaving the Papists, against whose Errours yet it was but neces­sary to caution you, especially in a matter of so great importance; let us inquire a little whether some of us are not as guilty of having other Gods before the True: For, do not some Men (as the Apostle speaketh) make their Belly their God, and devote the main of their Endeavours to the satisfaction of it? Do not other Men make a God of their Palate, and make it their chief Business to gratifie it? Do not a third sort (as the Prophet Habakkuk 1.15. speaks) sacrifice to their net, and burn incense to their drag? that is to say, to their own ei­ther Parts, or Endeavours, whilst they ascribe their Success and Wealth to them? Again, Do we not fear some Men equally with, yea, more than God? Do not those Fears oftentimes put us upon trans­gressing his Commands? Do we not love other Persons, or Things, as much or more than our Maker? Do we not love them, as God wills us to do himself, with all our heart, and mind, and strength? In fine, Do we not often trust in the Arm of Flesh, and say unto it, Thou art our confidence? But what is this less than the having other Gods be­fore, that I say not to the exclusion of the True? For, if to Fear, and Love, and Trust, be Acts of inward Devotion, especially when rais'd above the pitch of Created Excellencies; he that so either loves, or fears, or trusts, turneth the Monarchy of Heaven into a Com­monwealth, and makes as many Gods, as there are Persons or Things which he doth so adore.

PART VIII.

Concerning the attributing to a Creature any part of the Honour that is due to God; which is the last thing excluded by the Third Capital Precept of this Commandment. That done either directly and ex­presly, as by giving to it the Name of God, without any diminishing Explication; or indirectly, and by consequence: Of which sort is the attributing to Natural Agents the Success even of Natural Force, or ascribing to them Supernatural one. Ʋpon occasion of which last, inquiry is made into the Lawfulness of Astrological Predictions; of attempting to discover Secrets, whether past or present, by Means equally unapt; or remove Evils by Charmes and Amulets. A Conclu­sion of the whole, with a brief Account of Mens transacting with the Devil; where is shewn, That we have little reason to question the truth of such Transactions, and far less to allow them.

3. THAT we ought not to substitute any other Gods in the room of the True, or receive any other into Copartnership with him, enough hath been said to shew, where I had those for the Subject of my Discourse. Nothing remains toward a full Explication of the Commandment, but to shew in like manner, that we ought not to attribute to any thing else any part of that Honour which is due unto him. A thing which the Words of the Prophet Isaiah 42.8. (And my glory will I not give unto another) as well as the importance of this Commandment, will warrant us to affirm: He who attributeth to any thing else, any part of that Honour which is due unto him, so far as he doth so, both making that his God, and giving the Glory of God to it. The onely thing therefore that it will concern us to inquire into, is, By what ways that is, or may be done; which accordingly I come now to investigate.

Now there are two ways whereby that may be done, and which there­fore are to be suppos'd to be alike forbidden by this Commandment; the giving of God's Glory directly and expresly, or indirectly and by consequence. In the former of these I place, first, the giving to any Created Being the Name of God, without any diminishing Explicati­on. A thing which hath not been unusual with fawning Persons, in their Addresses to Princes, and other such Great Personages: For thus, when Herod, arrayed in his Royal Apparel, made an Oration to those of his Jurisdiction, the Text tells us, that, at the conclusion of it, they gave a shout, saying, It is the voice of a God, and not of a Man, Act. 12.22. By which means, as they did directly and expresly give the Honour of God to a mortal Man, and consequently became Transgressors of this Commandment; so God shew'd so much displea­sure at the thing, that he aveng'd himself upon Herod, for not avert­ing that Blasphemous Appellation from himself. And though the like cannot lightly be thought to happen under the Gospel, especially af­ter so plain a declaration of the displeasure of God against it; yet it is sufficiently known, that some of the Church of Rome have pro­ceeded to so great a degree of Flattery and Blasphemy, as to stile the [Page 92]Pope of Rome, Our Lord God the Pope. I place in the same rank, what was no less usual an Extravagancy in former days, the Building of Temples, or offering Sacrifices to mortal Men: Of which kind of Honours the Apostles of our Lord were so apprehensive, that when the Priest of Lystra brought Oxen and Garlands to their Gates, and would have done Sacrifice to Paul and Barnabas, for recovering an im­potent Cripple; both the one and the other of them rent their clothes at the mention of it, and labour'd by all means possible to divert them from their purpose. But because such kind of Extravagancies are not so usual in our days, unless it be to Departed Saints, for which I have sufficiently accounted already; I will leave both that, and the present Head, when I have advertis'd you, That it is alike offensive to bear a Man's self as a God, whether by commanding such kind of Honours from other Men, or receiving them when offer'd by them; he that doth so, making a Deity of himself, and consequently bringing himself within the compass of the Commandment.

How the Glory of God may be given to another directly and ex­presly, you have seen already, and might, with a little advertency, have discover'd without my help, because it sufficiently betrayeth it self: Proceed we therefore to inquire, how it may be done indirect­ly, and by consequence; because that is not so obvious and apparent. Where, first, I shall reckon as an instance of it, the attributing the Suc­cess of any Enterprise whatsoever, to those Natural Agents which are made use of to compass it: For, it appearing both from the Scriptures, and our own Experience, that whatsoever aptitude there is in the Force we make use of, yet the Success of it depends upon the Blessing of the Divine Providence (it being equally true in other Cases, what St. Paul spoke in a particular one, That Paul may plant, and Apollo may water; but it is God that must give the increase) whosoever shall go about to attribute the Success of any Enterprise to his own or others Endeavors, must consequently be thought to give the Glory of God to another, and therefore so far also makes a God of it. But from hence it will follow, That he giveth the Glory of God unto another, who either before the Event, depends upon Natural Causes for the producing of it; or ascribes it to their Force and Vertue, af­ter it is accomplished. Which latter is so plain and obvious, that when the Prophet Habakkuk Chap. 1.16. would represent the criminalness there­of unto the Jews, he expresseth it by sacrificing to their nets, and burning incense to their drags; Ceremonies which are sufficiently known to have been made use of by all Nations, to express their Re­verence to their Gods.

From the attributing the Success of any thing to Natural Agents, pass we to the attributing to them Supernatural Force, and such as is proper to God onely. In the number of which, I reckon, Foreknow­ledge of contingent Events; the Discovery of other Secrets, whether past or present, by Means which have no natural aptitude to disclose them; and the making use of the like unapt Means, to prevent or re­move Evils. For, though it be not to be doubted, that these may be­long to Men, yea, did actually concur in the Prophets and Apostles; for which cause it may seem no immediate intrenchment upon God's Glory, to attribute them to mortal Men: yet as those who were Par­takers of them, became so by the Grace of God, to whom alone they [Page 93]do primarily belong; so he who attributes them to any Creature, as such, and without consideration of the Divine Majesty's imparting them, must consequently be thought to give the Honour of God to them, because implying those Qualities to be inherent in their Nature, which are so onely in the Divine, and by whom alone they can be im­parted. For the more particular evidencing whereof, I will resume each of the Particulars before-remembred; and first, the Foreknow­ledge of contingent Events.

Now there are two things manifestly implied in that Foreknowledge whereof we speak; and which therefore are to be carefully heeded, when we affirm it to be peculiar to the Divine Majesty: First, that it be certain, and not conjectural onely; and secondly, That it be of such Events as are purely contingent, that is to say, of those that are alto­gether uncertain, and particularly such as depend upon the variable Will of Man, or the meer Will and Pleasure of the Almighty. Thus to instance in the former of these, though it cannot certainly be known before-hand, by Natural Force, what shall be the Event of any Battel, because the Event of that, and other such like weighty Acti­ons, depend upon an infinity of Circumstances, which it is impossible for the Wit of Man to foresee; yet may it oftentimes be conjectur'd, by those who have considered of the Preparations of the one and the other Party, their usual manner of, or Courage in Fighting, and the Advantages or Disadvantages of either: For though the Victory be not always to the strongest and the wisest, God Almighty, in his Provi­dence, sometime casting it upon the weakest, by the interposition of some unlook'd-for Accident; yet inasmuch as God for the most part works by ordinary Means, and gives Success to those Agents which are most apt to produce it, it may not improbably be conjectur'd, by him who hath consider'd the Advantages or Disadvantages on either hand, on which Side the Victory shall fall, though he pretend to no other Skill than what Humane Reason furnisheth. In like manner, be­cause those great Lights the Stars have an unquestionable Influence up­on Humane Bodies, as the Temperament of the Body upon that Soul which is joyned with it; possibly a Conjecture may be made, by those who are well vers'd in either, what Courses Men shall take who are born under such or such Constellations; because Men do, for the most part, or at least where they are not over-ruled by the Divine Provi­dence, follow the conduct of their natural Temperament, as that doth the sway of the Celestial Influences. But, as it is one thing to say, That those things may be conjectur'd; and another, That they may be certainly foreknown, by the Position of the Heavenly Bodies, or other Means: so, that they cannot be so foreknown, needs no other proof, than that Liberty of Will which God hath given a Man, as to his own Actions, and the alterations that are made in Men by Educati­on and Grace, and infinite external Impediments; by means of which, Men naturally ill disposed may become good, or better, as the Divine Goodness shall minister opportunity. Again, As that Foreknowledge, which we affirm to be peculiar to the Divine Majesty, must be sup­pos'd to be certain, and such as may deserve the Name of Knowledge, and not onely of Conjecture, or Guess; so a Foreknowledge of such things as are purely contingent and uncertain: For of such Effects as are necessary, no doubt there may be a Foreknowledge, yea, such a [Page 94]Foreknowledge, as, the ordinary course of Things considered, is as cer­tain in it self, as the knowledge of those things that are present to us. Thus, for instance, though there be no Foreknowledge of Mens Actions, and the Events of them, because the Dispositions of Men are alterable by Custom and Education, and much more by the Divine Providence; yet there may be a Foreknowledge of the Eclipses of the Sun and Moon, and other such the Affections of Heavenly Bodies; because the Courses and the Causes of them are constant and uniform, and may therefore, where those Causes and Courses are consider'd and understood, be not onely preconjectur'd by us, but certainly and infallibly foreknown. But, as it is one thing to say, That necessary Effects may be foreknown; and another, That purely contingent ones may: so, that the latter cannot be foreknown by Humane Under­standings, is evident from the manner of their procedure. For Hu­mane Knowledge proceeding by the consideration of the Causes; where those Causes are uncertain, our Knowledge also must be, and either none at all, or conjectural. And indeed, however the Wit of Man hath arrogated to it self the Foreknowledge of Future Contingents, yet is that not onely above the reach of Humane Understandings, but the peculiar Prerogative of the Divine; as is evident from Isa. 41.21. and Isa. 42.8. For arguing, in the former place, the nothingness of the Heathen Deities, from their utter inability to declare the things that shall be hereafter; as, in the latter, asserting the Truth of his own Godhead, from his ability to declare them: he thereby plainly shew­eth, that the Foreknowledge of future Things is the Prerogative of the Divine Nature, and of those to whom he shall be pleas'd to im­part it. Where therefore that Foreknowledge is pretended to, with­out a peculiar Revelation from God, he who doth so, must conse­quently arrogate to himself the Glory of the Divine Majesty; and he who attributeth it to him, so far forth make a God of him. Neither will it avail to say, That that Foreknowledge which we appropriate unto God, hath evidenc'd it self in Men, by the falling out of several of those Events which they have foretold: For, as it is not at all to be wondred, that they should sometime hit the Mark, who throw so many Darts at it; so they whose both Religion and Education di­spos'd them to an approbation of such kind of Arts, saw the vanity of them, and stuck not to discover it to the World: Tully De Divinat. lib. 2. in particular affirming, That the far greater part of those things which the Sooth­sayers foretold, fell out otherwise than they were predicted; and so often, that (as the same Tully informs us) Cato was wont to say, That he wondred very much how such kind of Persons could forbear laugh­ing when they saw one another: That even the Responses of their Ora­cles were partly false, and partly casually true; That they were many times modell'd by the Humour and Bribes of those who did consult them; That they were express'd at some times in such Terms as were not easie to be understood; and at other times, in such equivocal ones as might be adapted to contrary Events: In fine, That the whole Art of Divination was but Conjecture, and subject to more uncertainty than those Events it pretended to foretell. All which things whosoever shall seriously consider, will find the Foreknowledge of Men, not in­spir'd by the Almighty, to be rather overthrown than confirm'd by their Predictions; there being little fear of its receiving any counte­nance [Page 95]from those Divinations, which they, who were highly concern'd to propugn as true, did not yet stick to affirm to be fallacious and vain.

Having thus shewn Foreknowledge of Things contingent to be the Prerogative of the Divine Nature, and consequently not to be attri­buted to any Creature, to which he hath not been pleas'd to impart it, without giving the Glory of God to another; it remains that we also shew the same of the discovery of other Secrets, whether past, or present, by Means which have no natural aptitude to disclose them. Who they are that arrogate such a Power unto themselves, or others, need not be told you, when the generality of the Common sort, to di­scover any thing lost, or stollen, make use of Magical Arts, or resort to those that do; things which have no natural tendency to the di­scovery of that which they are made use of to disclose. The onely thing worth our while to shew, is, That so to do, is to intrench upon the Divine Prerogative, and give the Glory of God unto another. A Charge which it will be impossible for those whom they call Cunning-men to avoid, though we should absolve them from any express or ta­cite Stipulation with the Devil. For that which hath no natural apti­tude for that purpose for which it is made use of, requiring the crea­ting of one; as that again, the Work of an Almighty Power; he who pretends an Ability in himself, or others, to make it successful to that purpose for which it hath no natural aptitude, must consequently suppose himself, or those others, to have a Power to give it one; which is a manifest Usurpation upon the Almighty. But then, if we consider such Arts as are either tacite or express Applications to the Devil, un­der which Notion it is reasonable enough to look upon them (for as the Things such Persons make use of, have no natural aptitude for such a Discovery; so they have no reason at all to expect it from God, especially after the prohibitionSee Lev. 19.31. Deut. 18.9, 10, &c. of such Courses, and must therefore expect it from the Devil) so, I say, we shall be less to seek for a proof of their giving the Glory of God unto another, who make use of such unlawful Arts to compass their Designs: He who applieth himself to the Devil for the discovery of any Secret, both supposing him not to be without an ability to do it, and depending and trusting in him for it. Which, what is it, but to exalt the Devil into the place of God, and make him, whom the Scripture stiles The God of this World, to be no less our own? For though many things which are secret to us, may yet be known to him, as having possibly tempted the Party in­quir'd after to the committing of them; yet we cannot well suppose, that this or that particular one is, unless we suppose that all Secrets of Men are: Which, though it do not amount to an Omniscience, yet seems too great a Knowledge for any Created Being to be Master of; partly, because we find God, Deut. 29.29. challenging the know­ledge of secret things to himself: but more especially, because in one of the Places before-quoted out of the Prophet Isaiah, he argueth the nothingness of the Heathen Deities, as well as the reality of his own, from their being unable to declare the former things what they be, as well as to declare things that are to come, both which he chal­lengeth to himself. Which way of Reasoning would have been falla­cious, if to declare the former things what they be, were not the Privi­lege of the Divine Nature, as well as the declaring of things to come. [Page 96]The Case will be yet more clear, concerning Mens exalting the Devil into the place of God, if those Applications which they make to him, be attended with a Compact of giving up themselves unto his Service: for, so doing, they shall not onely renounce their allegiance to their Maker, with which the Service of the Devil is inconsistent; but mani­festly seat him in God's Throne, and give him that Honour which be­longs to him.

To the discovery of Things secret by such Means as are no way apt to disclose them, subjoyn we, as of near affinity with it, the making use of Means equally unapt to procure freedom from those Evils which we either fear or feel. In which number I reckon, not onely those Charmes, or Spells, or Amulets, which are made use of by the Ordi­nary sort, to avert any Evils from themselves, or Cattel; but such as are made use of, with more shew of Devotion, by the Papists, to avert any Evils either from themselves, or Fruit, or other Substance. That such things as these have no natural aptitude for those Effects which they are design'd to produce, is too apparent to be deny'd; and will, I suppose, not be affirm'd by those who make use of them, if it were but for the credit of their own Art or Superstition. It remaineth therefore, if we suppose them to have any Force, (as surely those who make use of them, would not otherwise employ them) that they re­ceive that Force either from God, or the User, or the Devil. To sup­pose they receive it from God, is highly unreasonable, unless we had the Authority of some immediate Revelation for it: Because those mi­raculous Effects which the Apostles themselves produc'd, were the Re­sults of their Faith, which supposeth a Divine Revelation to found it self upon. If therefore the Means before-spoken of receive that Force which we expect from them, it must be either from our selves, or the Devil: Both the one and the other of which, will involve the Party that useth them, in giving the Glory of God unto another. For in­asmuch as the Means we make use of, hath no natural aptitude for that Effect which is design'd to be produc'd by it, it remaineth, that if it receive any from us, it must be created therein by us; which is to attribute to our selves, or those we apply our selves to, one of the principal Prerogatives of the Almighty. All therefore that remains to be said, in excuse of such Practices, is, That we expect it from the Devil; which yet is (God knoweth) one of the greatest aggravati­ons of their Guilt: For, beside that God hath declar'd himself an ir­reconcileable Enemy to the Devil, and cannot therefore but look up­on any Application to him, as an Act of Opposition to himself; he who applieth himself to the Devil, for the prevention or removal of any Evil, must consequently be supposed to desire it, both against the Will, and without the help of the Almighty. The former, because there is no Evil which doth or can befal us, but by his Providence: The latter, because God, from whom every good and perfect gift cometh, cannot be suppos'd to communicate it by his hands, to whom he professeth himself an Enemy; especially when the Boon we expect is ask'd not of God, to whom we are requir'd to address our selves, but of him who is no less God's Enemy than ours. Now, who seeth not, that such Applications as these, involve those that make them, in giving the Glory of God to another, if not in setting him far above Him? He who desireth any Boon of another, without the help of God, sup­posing [Page 97]that other to be self-sufficient; as he who desires and expects it against the will of God, that he is able to controul Him. Nei­ther will it avail to say, which yet is commonly pretended, That all who make use of such Arts, have not any intention or suspicion of making any Application to the Devil: For though I am willing enough to believe, that many of them have not; and cannot there­fore but acquit them from the purpose of it: yet it is past either my skill, or theirs, to acquit them from the thing it self, or from being look'd upon as chargeable with it: Men being justly chargeable with making Applications to the Devil, who make use of such Means for the attaining of their Purpose, the Success whereof cannot rationally be expected from any other; especially when God himself hath caution'd Men against the use of them, and represented them as detestable and abominable, yea, to such a Degree, as to occasion the casting out those Nations who possess'd the Land of Canaan before the Israelites. Which how they should be thought to do, if they were rather vain Curiosities, than secret or open Transactions with the Devil, will, I think, be very difficult to determine. And indeed, as some of those Persons have the Title of Dealers with Familiar Spirits, and all of them are represented under the same Guilt, and obnoxious to the same Penalties; so it is strange to observe, that some Men should be so high­ly unreasonable, as to question that Diabolical Commerce, after so many Authentick Stories which have been publish'd to the World con­cerning it, the free Confession of the accused Parties, and the Senten­ces of grave and sober Judges; but especially after what the Scriptures of the New Testament have declar'd concerning the Devil and his Angels: They representing the Devil and his Ministers as encompassing the earth to procure mischief, as the God of this world, and ruling in the children of disobedience, as entring, through the Divine Permissi­on, into men, and speaking in and by them; in fine (for so we read, Acts 16.16.) divining, as well as using other Speeches by them, and suggesting those Soothsayings for which such kind of Persons are re­sorted to. After all which, to question either the possibility or truth of a Diabolical Commerce, is not onely to be unreasonably scrupu­lous, but to be impudently unbelieving; because contradicting the general Sense and Experience of the World, and the clear Declarati­ons of the Scriptures. I will conclude this Affair with a Passage in Leviticus Chap. 20.6. because both expressing God's detestation of all Magical Practises, and his accounting of them as Idolatry, or the giving of his Glory unto another: And the Soul that turneth after such as have familiar spirits, and after wizards, to go a whoring after them, I will even set my face against that man, and will cut him off from among his people. For representing such Addresses under the term of going a whoring, which, in the Language of the Old Testament, is no other than the espousing of other Deities; he thereby giveth us to under­stand, that they are in effect an Abrenunciation of himself, and an espousing of other Deities in stead of him.

THE SECOND COMMANDMENT.
THE SECOND COMMANDMENT.

Thou shalt not make to thy self any graven image, nor the likeness of any thing that is in heaven above, or in the earth beneath, or in the water under the earth. Thou shalt not bow down to them, nor Wor­shipor serve. them: For I the Lord thy God am a jealous God, and visit the sinsor iniquity. of the fathers upon the children unto the third and fourth generation of them that hate me, and shew mercy unto thousands in them that love me, and keep my commandments.

PART I.

The Contents.

That what we reckon as the Second Commandment, is really such, and not an Appendix of the First. This evidenc'd by several Reasons; as also that it respects the Manner, and not the Object of our Wor­ship. The Commandment divided into a Precept, and a Sanction; as that again into an Affirmative, and Negative one. The Affirma­tive, That we worship God after a due manner; which also is there specified: and particularly, That we worship God in Spirit and Truth, the purport whereof is at large declar'd. Among other things, the Questions concerning Will-worship, and worshipping God with Ceremonies, discussed and stated.

I Am now arriv'd at the Second Command­ment; for so I hope I may have leave to call it, after the Travels of our Divines upon that Argument: For though the Pa­pists represent it as an Appendix onely to the First, and, which is much worse, have, upon that pretence, raz'd it quite out of their Catechisms; yet is there so little rea­son for their way of Reckoning, and so much for ours, that I doubt not all impar­tial Men will cast it on their sides who look upon it as distinct from the former Precept. For beside that all An­tiquityJoseph. Antiqu. Judaic. lib. 3. cap. 4: [...]. Sulpit. Sever. Sacrae hist. li. 1. Non erunt tibi dei alieni praeter me. Non facies tibi Idolum. Non sumes nomen Dei tui in va­num, &c. See more upon this Head in D. Taylor's Duct, Dubit. Book 2. Chap. 2. Rule 6. [Page 102]generally have so accounted of it, or at least have united it to the First upon different grounds; beside, that it seem'd but requisite that provision should be made for the manner of our Worship, as well as for the Object of it; beside, lastly, that the worshipping of the True God by an Image, is elsewhere as expresly forbidden, as the substituting of False Gods in his room: beside all these things, I say, which yet are very material Considerations; the very words of the Commandment, to a diligent Observer, shew the Manner of our Worship to be the thing aimed at in them: For, forbidding to make or worship the likeness of any thing, either in the upper or lower World, he thereby plainly decla­red his meaning to be, not to caution them against an undue Object, but against that kind of Adoration; he who worshippeth the likeness of any thing, making not that his God before which he so falls down, but that which it was designed to represent. Which is so true, that the Papists themselves are forc'd to alledge it in behalf of their own Idololatrical Worship. Neither will it suffice to say (as I find it is by them) That what we call the Second Commandment did therefore descend to instance in Images, because those were the chief Gods among the Heathen: For as the generality of the Heathen were un­doubtedly too wise to terminate their Worship there, the very Name of an Image directing Men to that of which it is so an Image; so it is not easie to conceive, save of the very Beasts of the People, that they should believe a Stone, or a piece of Wood, to be a God. From our own Account, pass we to that of our Adversaries, which we shall find to be more groundless than the former: For, as without any cogent Reason, or indeed onely probable one, they annex this Second Com­mandment to the First; so, against all Sense and Reason, they divide that into two, which saith, Thou shalt not covet thy neighbours house, wife, &c. making the Ninth to be, Thou shalt not covet thy neigh­bours wife; as the Tenth, Thou shalt not covet other the possessions of thy neighbour. But beside that our Saviour himself referr'd the look­ing upon a Woman to lust after her, to that of, Thou shalt not commit adultery; it is to be observ'd, That in the Twentieth Chapter of Ex­odus, which was the Copy of the Decalogue as it was given, Moses reckons the coveting of the house first, and then that of our neighbours wife: So that, by their Account, the Ninth Commandment should lie in the Body of the Tenth, and the Tenth lie part of it before the Ninth, and part of it after; which (as a Learned Man hath well ob­serv'dD. Taylor Duct. Dubit. ubi supr.) is a Prejudice against it, far greater than can be out-weigh'd by any or all the Pretences that can be made for it: Especially when the last Clause of the Commandment, nor any thing that is his, shews the Coveting there forbidden to refer, in every Article of it, to the coveting of another Mans Possessions, which is not the Sin of Intem­perance, but Injustice. But because, when I come to entreat of the Matter of the Tenth Commandment, I may have occasion to speak farther of it, I will quit the prosecution of that Particular, to apply my self to the Commandment now before me; wherein you may ob­serve with me these two Parts.

  • 1. The Precept it self, Thou shalt not make or worship a graven image.
  • 2. The Sanction of that Precept; God will avenge the Trans­gression of it upon the children of the transgressors, to the third and fourth generation; as, on the other side, reward the Observance of it to a far greater tract of time and num­ber, in the Posterity of those that shall observe it.

I. Among the several Rules before laid down, for the Explication of the Ten Commandments, you may remember I assign'd this for one, That in every Negative Precept, we were to look out for an Affirmative one, answerable thereto: By which Rule if we proceed here, so

1. The Affirmative Precept will be, That we worship God after a due manner, and particularly (because the present Prohibition strikes especially at that gross way of Worship, by a Bodily Re­presentation) That we worship him in spirit and in truth. The onely difficulty is, what that due manner is; which accordingly I come now to explain. For the resolution whereof, not to descend to Particulars, both because I have in part prevented my self in the foregoing Discourse, and because the labour would be infi­nite, I shall observe,

1. First, That to worship God after a due manner, is to square it by his Nature and Attributes. For Worship being nothing else than an Acknowledgment of his Excellencies whom we pretend to worship, it is in reason to be suited to those several Excellencies which are discern­able in the Divine Majesty. But from hence it will follow, That to worship God after a due manner, is to fear, and love, and trust in him; because those Affections are suitable to that Majesty, and Goodness, and Fidelity, which are eminent in the Divine Nature. I observe,

2. That to worship God after a due manner, is to worship him ac­cording to his own direction and appointment; that is to say, That we worship him as he hath commanded us to do, and that we wor­ship him after no other manner. Of the former of these, there cannot be the least doubt, to wit, That we are to worship God according as he himself hath enjoyn'd; he that omits so to do, or acts contrary to his will and pleasure, denying that Authority which is inherent in the Divine Nature. The onely difficulty is, Whether, provided we wor­ship him according as he himself hath appointed, we may not also wor­ship him according as we our selves shall judge farther expedient? For the resolution whereof, we must distinguish of the Substantials of Religious Worship, and of those things which are but Circumstances thereof. If the Question be concerning the former, there is no doubt but the Will of God ought not onely to be our Rule, but the onely Rule whereby we are to proceed. For God having not onely given us the Light of Nature to direct us in his Worship, but the more clear Declarations of his Word; to add any thing to his Worship, as a Sub­stantial Part thereof, would be a blemish to those Declarations, because supposing God to have made imperfect ones. The Case is far other­wise as to the Circumstances of Time, or Place, or the Gestures by which it is to be perform'd: For, it being necessary on the one hand, that some Time, and Place, and Gesture be made use of, for the per­formance of his Worship; and it being evident, on the other hand, [Page 104]that God either hath not prescrib'd at all concerning them, or at least not done it with that fulness that is requisite; either the Worship of God must be wholly omitted, or it must be left to the Reason of Pri­vate Men, to order their own private Worship, as to the Circumstances thereof; and to the Reason of the Governours of the Church, to or­der the Publick ones. Care onely would be taken,

  • 1. That what is order'd by Private or Publick Persons, be agreeable to those General Rules which the Light of Nature teacheth, or the Doctrine of the Scriptures present us withal. Otherwise we do not onely set up our own Inventions, but oppose them to the Commands of God. Care would be taken,
  • 2. That what is so ordered, be not either represented, or enjoyn'd, as the Command of God: For that is literally to teach for do­ctrines the commandments of men, which our Saviour hath ex­presly forbidden us.
  • 3. Lastly, Care would be taken, That what is so order'd in the Worship of God, be not represented as things pleasing to God in themselves; but onely as they serve for Order and Decency, and as they are Instances of our Obedience to those whom God hath plac'd in Authority over us. For, by inculcating them as things pleasing to God in themselves, we fall under the Charge of Will-worship, because not onely adding our own Inventions to the Wor­ship of God, but placing them in the same rank with it.

But these Cautions being observ'd, there is not any the least doubt to be made, either of the necessity of our Obedience to them, or of our freedom from that Will-worship which the Apostle condemns. For, as the Commandment is express for our yielding obedience to those that have the rule over us, and particularly to such as watch for our souls (which cannot but be suppos'd to take in all those things which require a determination, in order to the more decent perfor­mance of God's Publick Worship;) so there is not any just fear of falling into that Will-worship which St. Paul cautioneth his Colossians against. For, beside that he cannot in any Propriety of Speech be said to add to the Worship of God, who represents not what he so adds, in the same condition with it, but onely as subservient to it; so (which shews it yet farther to be no Will-worship) he doth what he doth by vertue of the Divine Command, even of that, and other such like, which prescribe, That in the Worship of God all things be done decently and in order. If therefore what is so added, be ground­ed upon a Divine Command, it is no longer the result of the Wills of Men, at least as distinct from that of God; but a just compliance with his: which is a Will-worship which I hope none of us but will think our selves obliged to perform.

Having thus shewn at large, not onely that our Worship ought to be suited to the Nature of God, but also agreeable to his Commands; it remains onely, for the compleating of our Design, that we instance in one or two Commandments, by which our Worship is especially to be regulated: Whereof the first that I shall assign, and let that pass for

3. My third Rule, is, The Worshipping of God in Christ: For, that so we are to do, God hath expresly declared by that Son of his, in whom he hath commanded us to adore him. Is Faith or Trust a [Page 105]part of Divine Worship? Our Saviour's Merits are to be the ground of it, there being no other Name (as the Apostle speaks) whereby we can be saved. Is Hope a part of Divine Worship? The same Jesus is to be the ground of that also, as by whom alone we are obliged to ex­pect the Object of it. Is Prayer a part of Divine Worship? That also is to pass by him, as being to ask what we do in his name, and for his sake. Is Thanksgiving a part of Divine Worship? We are to give thanks unto God and the Father by him, Col. 3.17. In fine, What­soever we do in relation to God, or even our selves, is to be done with reference to him, as God's Instrument both in Governing and Redeeming us: For, wherefore else should God no less than twice declare from Heaven, That he was the Person in whom he was well pleased; and once of that twice, moreover, oblige his Disciples upon that account to hear him? but to let us know (as St. Paul speaks) that whatsoever we do in word or deed, we should do all in the Name of the Lord Jesus? That we should do what we do in obedience to his Commands, and with respect to that Authority which God vested in him; That we should do what we do with respect to his Example, and have an eye to his most holy Life, as well as most excellent Pre­cepts; That we should do what we do with respect to the great Ob­ligations he hath laid upon us, by humbling himself to the death, even the death of the cross, for us; That we should do what we do in confi­dence of his Assistance, and not relie upon the strength of Nature, or any Moral Acquisitions; lastly, That we should do what we do in confidence of Acceptance in and through the Merits of his Passion? For, as each of these is sometime or other the meaning of acting in his Name, and therefore not lightly to be excluded; so we have great reason to believe them all included in that fore-mentioned Text, be­cause all tending to his Honour, and elsewhere expresly requir'd of us, to make our Worship acceptable.

4. That to Worship after a due manner, we are to worship him in Christ, hath been already declar'd; together with the full Importance of such a Worship. The next, and indeed onely thing that I shall need to subjoyn, is, That we worship him in Spirit and in Truth, ac­cording as was before insinuated. For the evidencing whereof, though it might suffice to tell you, That this, if any, is the Affirmative part of the Precept, because the Negative strikes at the worshipping of him by a corporeal and sensible Representation; yet because it is a matter of importance, and indeed one of the great Duties of the Gospel, I shall allot it a more full Probation. In order whereunto, I shall lay for my Ground-work that known Saying of our Saviour, which establish­eth such a Worship, with the proper Ground of it: God is a Spirit, and they that worship him must worship him in spirit and truth, Joh. 4.24.

Now there are two Senses wherein those Words are to be consider'd, and which therefore are to be distinctly handled:

  • 1. A Natural or Moral Sense: And,
  • 2. An Evangelical one. The former, because grounded upon a Natural and Eternal Reason: The latter, because (as I shall afterwards shew) the Precept of Worshipping God in Spi­rit, is oppos'd to that Worship which was in use under the Law.

1. To begin with the former Sense, even that which I call the Na­tural, because grounded upon a Natural Reason; where again I shall consider the Reason upon which it stands, and then the due Importance of it.

For the Reason upon which it stands, it will cost us little pains to evidence it to be a just Foundation of such a Worship. For, inasmuch as all things naturally are most affected with such Things and Operati­ons as come nearest to their own Nature, it must needs be, that if God be a Spirit, they who would serve him acceptably, must present him with such a Worship as approacheth nearest to his own spiritual Nature. The onely thing worthy our inquiry, is, What the Impor­tance of such a Worship is; which therefore I come now to resolve.

In order whereunto, the first thing that I shall offer, is, That it is not meant to exclude wholly the Service of the Body: For, beside that That is God's by right of Creation, and Preservation, yea, by all other ways by which the Soul is, and consequently to pay God an Acknow­ledgment of its own Subjection and Obedience; it is the distinct Af­firmation of St. Paul, That we are to glorifie God with our Bodies, and with our Spirits that are his. I observe, secondly, That as the Wor­shipping God in Spirit is not to be understood to exclude wholly the Worshipping him with our Bodies; so neither to exclude all Worship­ping him by Rites and Ceremonies. For, as the Christian Religion it self is not without such Rites, even of God's own appointment (wit­ness the Sacrament of our Initiation into it, and that other of our Continuance in it) so it is much more evident, that under the Law a great part of the Worship of God consisted in such Rites and Cere­monies: But so it could not have done, had a spiritual Worship ex­cluded all worshipping him by Rites and Ceremonies; because God was no less a Spirit under the Law, than under the Gospel; and therefore no less so to be ador'd. It remaineth therefore, That by worshipping God in Spirit, we understand, first of all, the worship­ping him with our Spirits; and that too in an especial manner. For as it is but requisite, that he who is a Spirit, should have the worship of ours, because most agreeable to his own Nature; so also, that we should for that reason intend that Worship especially, and make it the chief of our Study and Design. And accordingly, though under the Law, for the grosness of the Jews, God appointed them a Worship which consisted much in Rites and Ceremonies; yet he gave them sufficiently to understand, that the spiritual Worship, or the Worship of the Soul, was that which he principally requir'd. Witness one for all, that of the Prophet David, Psal. 51.16, 17. For thou desirest not Sacrifice, else would I give it thee: thou delightest not in burnt-offering. The Sacri­fices of God are a broken spirit; a broken and a contrite heart, O God, thou shalt not despise. The result of the Premises is this, That to wor­ship God in Spirit, and consequently to worship him after a due man­ner, is especially to intend the worshipping him with ours; that is to say, by entertaining honourable thoughts of him, by endeavouring to conform our Wills to his most holy one, and lastly, by suiting our Affections to his several Attributes, by fearing, and loving, and trusting in him. But, beside the Worshipping of God with our Spirits, and that too in a more especial manner; to worship God in Spirit doth also im­ply the worshipping him without an Image, or any Corporeal Repre­sentation: [Page 107]For, beside that this is the very thing here forbidden, and therefore in reason to be suppos'd to be excluded, by worshipping God in spirit and in truth; to worship God by an Image, is so far from being consistent with a spiritual Worship, that it is but a dishonouring of him, because resembling him to things to which he is no way like, and which indeed are infinitely below the Excellencies of his Nature.

2. Of the Natural or Moral Sense of Worshipping God in Spirit, I have spoken hitherto, and shewn both the Ground and Importance of it: Let us now consider the Evangelical one, according as was before insinuated. For, that such a one was also intended, is evident from that Story to which this Passage is subjoyn'd. If you please to consult the Verse preceding that which I have chosen for the Ground-work of this Argument, you will there find a Woman of Samaria demanding of our Saviour, whether Mount Gerizim, by Sichem, where the Sa­maritans sacrific'd, or Jerusalem, were the true Place of Worship. In answer to which, after our Saviour had told her, That that Question was not now of much moment, because ere long they should neither worship in the one or the other; for a farther proof of that his Assertion, he adds, that the time was coming, and even then was, Mr. Mede on Joh. 4.23. that the true worshippers should worship the Father in spirit and in truth. Which being compar'd with the foregoing Words, and the State of the Con­troversie to which they do relate, will shew, that by worshipping in spirit and in truth, is meant no other, than the worshipping of God with a spiritual Worship, as that is oppos'd to the Sacrifices and Cere­monies of the Law. For, the Question being not, whether Mount Ge­rizim or Jerusalem were the place of Publick Prayer (because both Jews and Samaritans had particular Places for them) but, which of the two was the proper Place to send their Sacrifices to; and our Savi­our making answer, That in a little time neither of them should be, because the Father sought such to worship him, as should worship him in spirit and in truth; he thereby plainly shews his meaning to be, That to worship God in spirit and in truth, was not to worship him with Sacrifices, and other such Figures; but in spiritual and sub­stantial Worship, such as are the Sacrifices of Prayer and Praise, with other the like Natural Expressions of our Devotion. But, from hence it will follow, not onely that we are to worship God without those Le­gal Rites wherewith it was before sufficiently clogg'd; but also, that we are not to clog it with other Rites than Decency and Order shall require. For our Saviour not onely excluding the Rites and Sacrifices of the Law, but affirming the Worship which his Father sought, to be a spiritual one; he doth thereby cut off the affixing of all other Rites (as being alike contrary thereto) save what Decency and Order shall require. But so the Church of England hath declar'd it self to un­derstand the Worshipping of God in spirit and in truth; telling us, in one of its Prefaces to our Liturgy, That Christ's Gospel is not a Ceremonial Law, as much of Moses Law was; but it is a Religion to serve God, not in bondage of the Figure or Shadow, but in the freedom of the Spirit; contenting it self onely with those Ceremonies which do serve to a decent Order and comely Discipline, and such as be apt to stir up the dull mind of Man to the remembrance of his Duty to God, by some notable and special signification whereby he might be edified. In conformity whereto, as she her self hath proceeded, injoyning neither [Page 108]many nor trifling ones; so, what she hath done, is sufficiently war­ranted, not onely by that Solemnity which Experience shews Things of that nature to add to all Matters of Importance, but (which is of more avail) from the Institution of our Saviour, and the Practice of the Church in the Apostles days. For, if all Rites are to be excluded, what shall become of the Sacraments themselves? But how shall we any way excuse the Apostolical Church, for that holy Kiss wherewith they were wont to conclude their Prayers, the laying on of hands in admitting Ministers to the Church, or shaking off the dust of their feet against those that should not receive them, in testimony of their rejection of them? For that all those things were then in use, even with the allowance of the Apostles themselves, the Scripture is our Witness; to which therefore, if Men will exclude all things of that nature, they must first oppose themselves. Such is the Practice of that Church to which we relate; such the Grounds upon which she pro­ceeds: but, as farther than that, she neither goes, nor pretends to do; so, if she did, there is no doubt she would offend against that Precept which requires the worshipping of God in spirit and in truth. For, how can they be said to do so, whose Devotion spends it self in out­ward Ceremonies? Which, as they are of no value in themselves, so have this ill property of the Ivy, that where they are suffer'd to grow too luxuriant, they eat out the Heart of that Religion about which they twine.

PART II.

A Transition to the Negative part of the Precept; and therein, first, to that part of it which forbids the making any Graven Image, or other Corporeal Representation. That all Images are not forbidden; but such onely as are made with a design to represent the Divine Ma­jesty, or to bow down to and worship. The unlawfulness of making an Image of God, evidenc'd from the disproportion that is between an Image and the Divine Nature. The Objections against that way of Reasoning, propos'd, and answered. The same unlawfulness ma­nifested from St. Paul's charging the Heathen with the making of them, and from the Opinions of the wiser Heathen. An Answer to certain Distinctions which are offered by the Papists, and others, to clude the Force of the Commandment in this Affair.

WHAT the Affirmative part of this Precept is, you have seen already: Pass we now to the consideration of,

2. The Negative; wherein there are these two things forbidden.

  • 1. The making of a Graven Image, or any other Corporeal Re­presentation: And,
  • 2. The bowing down and worshipping them.

1. I begin with the former of these, the Prohibition of making a graven Image, or any other Corporeal Representation: Thou shalt not [Page 109]make unto thee any graven Image, &c. Where, 1. I shall shew what is not to be accounted the Sense of it; and then, what really is.

It was the Opinion of Tertullian, and hath since been taken up by some Modern Writers, That God in this Commandment forbade all Images whatsoever; particularly, all protuberant ones. The ground of that Opinion was, partly the Letter of the Commandment, and partly the Jews abhorrency of all. But as the latter of these ought not to have any great stress laid upon it, if we consider the nature of Superstitious Minds, which being once throughly touched with the sense of any Errour, do not seldom run into the contrary Extreme; so the former, even the Letter of the Commandment, will as little affect those who consider its Position in the Decalogue. For, being plac'd as it is, among such Precepts as respect the Almighty, and that Honour and Esteem which we ought to have for him; and being moreover immediately follow'd with the Prohibition of bowing down to them, and serving them; as that is with the jealousie of God con­cerning his own Honour: it is in reason to be extended no farther, than the forbidding of such Images as are made with a design to re­present the Divine Nature, or to bestow upon them that Honour which is due unto it. And indeed, beside that Nature teacheth, there is no unlawfulness in making an Image, yea, that that Art, as well as others, is one of the Gifts of God; which is farther confirm'd by Moses, where he attributeth the Skill of Bezaleel, in working the Work of the Engraver, to his being filled with the Spirit of God, in wisdom and understanding, Exod. 35.31. Beside that, secondly, they who teach all Images to be forbidden the Jews, are forc'd to confess their admitting of some, and particularly, of Images in their Coins; what shall we say (that may be satisfactory, I mean) to God's giving order for the Cherubims over the Mercy-seat, and for the making of the Brazen Serpent in the Wilderness? for his admitting into the Ark the Five Golden Mice, and Five Golden Hemorrhoides of the Phili­stines? for the Pomegranates, and twelve Brazen Bulls upon which the Laver in the Temple was plac'd? For though it be true, that God might dispense with his own Command, especially a positive one; yet as there is no evidence of those Orders of his being a Dispensation, so it is not easie to believe, that, having made so strict a Law against Image-making, he would not onely dispense so soon with it, as we see he did in the Cherubims and Brazen Serpent; but dispense with it in a manner for ever, by placing those Cherubims and Bulls for perpetu­ity. For what were this, but to tempt Men to think he had abroga­ted the Command, and not onely dispens'd with it, but taken it away? Neither will it suffice to say, That the Words of the Commandment do onely forbid the making them to our selves, that is to say, of our own heads, and not when commanded thereto by God: For, as it is not unusual, either in the Hebrew, or other Languages, to express that in more words, which might have been express'd in fewer (which, by the way, may serve to shew the triflingness of those Observations, that have no other Foundation than the out-side of an Expression) so, granting that Addition of to thy self, to have any peculiar force, the meaning thereof would be no other, than thou shalt not make them for thy use; which will afford no ground at all to the former Inter­pretation. Let it remain therefore for an undoubted Truth, That [Page 110]the making of Images is not universally forbidden; but either,

  • 1. As was before insinuated, The making of Images with a de­sign to represent the Divine Majesty: or,
  • 2. To fall down and serve them.

1. For the evidencing the former whereof, within which I in­tend to confine the present Discourse, I shall first of all shew this to have been the Design of this Commandment: In order whereunto, I shall first produce the Words of the Prophet Moses, Deut. 4.15, 16, and so on: Take heed therefore unto your selves; for ye saw no man­ner of similitude in the day that the Lord spake unto you in Horeb, out of the midst of the fire; lest ye corrupt your selves, and make you a graven image, the similitude of any figure, the likeness of male or female. For, establishing the Prohibition of Images, upon their not beholding any similitude, that is to say, of God, but onely the hearing of a voice; he thereby plainly shews the Design of that Command­ment to be the forbidding of such Images as were made with a design to represent the Divine Majesty. To which, if we add that of the Prophet Isaiah, chap. 40. 18. To whom then will ye liken God, or what likeness will ye compare to him? so the Proof will be complete and perfect. For, the Writings of the Prophets being but Comments up­on the Law of Moses, it is but reasonable to believe what we find there expresly forbidden, as the making an Image of God is, to be also for­bidden by the Law. But because it may be said, That this Prohibi­tion is onely positive, and consequently not to be extended beyond the Jews (though how impertinent that Distinction is, I have before shewn, where I evidenc'd it to be the Design of our Saviour to con­firm the Law and the Prophets) yet to take away all Cavils in this par­ticular, I will evidence, in the second place, the Prohibition of ma­king Images, to be a part of the Law of Reason and Nature. Now this I shall endeavour,

  • 1. From the disproportion that is between an Image, and the Di­vine Nature.
  • 2. From St. Paul's charging the Heathen with the making of them. And,
  • 3. And lastly, From the Opinions of the wiser Heathen.

1. For the first of these, we shall not need to stand long to prove it, or indeed to be a just Ground of the unlawfulness of making them. For, as it cannot but be confess'd, that there is a great disproportion between God, who is not onely a Spirit, but an Infinite and Incor­ruptible one, and an Image, which is both Corporeal and Corrupti­ble; so that disproportion cannot but be thought to make it utterly unlawful to make such a Representation of him; because, in effect, denying the Spirituality and Incorruptibility of his Nature, which we so take upon us to represent. For, an Image, or other such Corpo­real Representation, being Representations onely of Corporeal and Corruptible Beings, he that makes such a one of God, must conse­quently suppose him to be such, and therefore also in effect destroy the Spirituality and Incorruptibility of his Nature.

Three things onely there are which may be objected against this way of Reasoning; to which therefore, before I go on, I will shape an Answer.

1. That this way of Reasoning would conclude against the making [Page 111]an Image of an Angel, and consequently against the Cherubims, which are look'd upon as such.

2. That it would conclude alike against the Representation of God to our Understandings, under the shape of a Man; which yet we find in Scripture commonly done, and cannot well be avoided, because of the dulness of Mens Apprehensions, especially those of the Common sort.

3. Thirdly and lastly, That God himself hath sometime assum'd those Shapes which we affirm to be so disproportionate to the Divine Nature.

In answer to the former whereof, I say, 1. That as the Angels, though they are Spirits, yet are Created and Finite ones, and conse­quently both vastly distant from the Nature of God, and more near to other Finite Beings; as they are moreover Fellow-servants to us, and no other Honour therefore due from us, than what is proper unto such: so, by the Command of God, they have oftentimes assum'd Cor­poreal Shapes, and appear'd in them both to Mens Fancies and Eyes. In which respect, nothing hinders, but they may be represented in those Shapes, especially when the Command of God is added to it. But, as it follows not from thence, that God may, because God hath careful­ly avoided the appearing in any such; so neither doth it destroy the Inference we have made, from the disproportion there is between the Infinite Nature of God, and a Corporeal Image. For, though there be a great disproportion between the Spiritual Nature of Angels, and a Bodily Representation; yet they agree in this with them, that they are equally Creatures, and Finite, and consequently more allowable to make a Representation of them. The Case is not the same, as to that disproportion we have said to be between the Nature of God, and a Corporeal Representation; because God, by reason of the Eminency of his Nature, hath nothing common with them, as being Infinite in all his Attributes. Which Answer is the more to be stood upon, be­cause the Prophet Isaiah, in the place before-quoted, lays the ground of his Reasoning against the making an Image of God, upon the Infi­niteness of the Divine Nature: For as his asking, To whom then will ye liken God? is manifestly drawn from the former Verse, where it is said of God, that all nations are before him as nothing, and that they are counted to him less than nothing, and vanity; so he pursues that Argument, by saying further of him, that he sitteth upon the circle of the earth, and that the inhabitants thereof are as grashoppers; which, with those that follow, are popular Descriptions of his Infinite Great­ness, and of that infinite distance that is between him and us. How­ever it be, To whom will ye liken God? is the Argument of God him­self against Images, as well as the Argument of Reason and Nature: and if so, we may be sure it is of force to conclude what he affirms, though we should not be able to answer all that may be objected against it.

As little do I find my self incommoded by those Representations the Scripture makes of God under the shape of a Man; its comparing his Providence to Eyes, his Power to Arms, with other such like Repre­sentations of his Perfections. For, as it is confess'd on all hands, that what the Scripture doth in this particular, is meerly out of compliance with our Infirmities, or rather out of the consideration of our utter [Page 112]inability to understand him, without the help of such Resemblances; so, that alone is enough to shew, that the Argument we have alledg'd, from the disproportion between God and an Image, doth not fight equally against the other. For as, though we cannot apprehend God without the help of the foregoing Resemblances, yet we may without making an Image of him; so, that inability of ours excuseth those Ap­prehensions from any way offending against the Divine Nature: Be­cause, though it be a Sin to entertain any Apprehensions of God which are not proportionable to his Divine Nature, yet must it be under­stood with this limitation, so far as it is possible for us to avoid them: For otherwise, all our Conceptions of God must needs be sinful, be­cause it is impossible we should conceive of him as the Excellency of his Nature doth require. The Case is not the same as to the matter of Images, because we may conceive God without them; which is so true, that (as aVarro, quo­ted afterwards more at large. Learned Heathen hath observ'd) the bringing them into use hath made Men think the Deity less tremendous than either his Authority over the World doth, or his future Judgment will shew him to be. There is yet more to be said, upon the account of God's Condescension to us, in thus representing himself to our Understand­ings, with the Parts and Affections of Humane Bodies; because that is so far from being an Argument for Images, that it is, on the con­trary, a great Argument against them: For, by how much the more God is pleas'd to humble himself, so much the less reason is there for us to humble him; and we may well forbear to set up an Image of him in our Temples, because he hath allow'd us to serve our selves of such in our Understandings, when even that could not be done without de­rogating from the Divine Nature, but that we cannot apprehend him without. Lastly, Whereas Images are apt to lead Men to believe God to be of a Corporeal Nature, and attended with the Imperfections of it; those Representations which the Scripture makes of God to our Understandings, as they are generally borrow'd from the chiefest Ex­cellencies, and therefore so much the less likely to debase him in our Imaginations; so being mixed with more spiritual Conceptions, they serve onely to lead us to a more just apprehension of his Nature and Perfections.

There remaineth one Objection more, against our arguing from the disproportion that is between God and a Corporeal Representation; and that is, That sometimes God himself hath assum'd those Likenes­ses which we affirm to be so derogatory to him, and appear'd in them to the Sons of Men. And if so, what should hinder us from follow­ing his Example, and depicting at least those Corporeal Shapes in which he appear'd? Especially when it is elsewhere alledg'd, as a Reason of God's forbidding Images, That they saw no similitude to make them by: For that may seem to import, That if God should vouchsafe any such, it might be lawful to copy it out in an Image. For answer to which, I say,

  • 1. That if that were the onely or principal Reason of forbidding Images, the taking thereof away, would take away the Prohibi­tion it self. But that so it is not, is evident from the Prophet Isaiah, who grounds it upon the unlikeness that is between God's Nature, and Corporeal ones: Which Reason continuing still, and always likely to do so, the Prohibition must be still of force, [Page 113]notwithstanding any such Appearances of the Divine Nature. I answer,
  • 2. That though it should be granted, that God assum'd those Cor­poreal Shapes, which it is pretended that he did; yet will not that invalidate our arguing from the disproportion there is between the Divine Nature, and an Image. For, though those Shapes were equally disproportionate to his Divine Nature, yet being of his own assuming, they neither imply any Irregularity in God, nor liberty to us to follow him; there being no doubt but God may humble himself, and as little, that it becometh not us to do so. I answer,
  • 3. That what is alledg'd concerning God's assuming Corporeal Shapes, is either not true, or impertinent to the present Business. For, though we read in St. Luke, chap. 3. and 22. That the Holy Ghost descended in a Bodily Shape, like a Dove, upon our Savi­our; and in St. Matthew, That John Baptist saw him so descend­ing on him: yet are we not to understand that of the Person of the Holy Ghost, but of his Gifts and Graces, of which those Representations were intended as Symbols. For, as the Gifts of the Holy Ghost are frequently describ'd by that name; so, that the Gifts of the Holy Ghost are to be understood there, is to me abundantly evident, from that Prophecie that went before con­cerning it, Isa. 11.2. And the spirit of the Lord shall rest upon him, the spirit of wisdom and understanding, the spirit of coun­sel and might, the spirit of knowledge, and of the fear of the Lord. In which place, as we have several distinct Spirits reckon'd up, and each of them made a part of the Spirit of the Lord, which shews them to be the Gifts, and not the Person of the Holy Ghost, who is but One: so one of those Spirits, entitled the spirit of wisdom, and of the fear of the Lord; which latter Epi­thet, though it may well suit a Gift of the Holy Ghost, yet agreeth not in the least with his Person. If there remain any doubt, it must be concerning this of Isaiah's being a Prophecie of that Descent whereof we are now entreating: But that doubt will soon vanish, if we compare it with that of St. John, chap. 1. 32. For who can chuse but look upon this Descent as the im­pletion of that Prophecie, when it is not onely certain from the Prophecie it self, that it was intended of the Messiah; but John Baptist had it given to him, for a Mark to know the Messiah by, That he should see the spirit of God descending and remaining on him, which is the same in sense with the spirit of the Lords resting on him. And though the same is not to be said of God's appearing to Daniel in the Habit of an Ancient Person, with the hair of his head like pure wooll; yet as that was onely in a Vi­sion, and therefore rather to his Fancy, than his Eye; so it had not that effect upon the Jews, or Primitive Christians, as to en­courage them to make such an Image of the Almighty.

2. Having thus shewn at large the disproportion there is between God and an Image, and thereupon establish'd the unlawfulness of ma­king any such; we shall the less need to add any thing thereto, to evince it to be a breach of Natures Law. But because I have before promis'd to add, by way of confirmation, St. Paul's charging the Hea­then [Page 114]with it, who had no other Law to guide them, and the Opini­ons of the Wisest of them; I will, for a conclusion of this Particular, descend to each of them: and first of all, to St. Paul's charging it upon the Heathen. But so that he doth, we have a Proof past all contra­diction, Rom. 1.23. where having premis'd, that when they knew God, they glorified him not as God, but became vain in their imaginations; as an instance both of the one and the other, he subjoyns their changing the glory of the incorruptible God into an image made like to corruptible man, and to birds, and four-footed beasts, and creeping things; adding moreover, which shews the greatness of their Crime, That for this cause also God gave them up to uncleanness, through the lusts of their own hearts, to dishonour their own bodies between them­selves: And, lest that should not be enough, repeats the same Charge again, and the same dreadful delivering them over to vile affections for it, vers. 25, 26. The same is no less evident from that Speech of his to the Athenians, Acts 17.29. and so on; where having premis'd, that forasmuch as we are the off-spring of God, we ought not to think that the Godhead is like unto gold or silver, or stone graven by art and mans device; to shew this to have been both the Practice and Crime of the Heathen, he subjoyns, And the times of this ignorance God winked at, but now commandeth all men every where to repent. Now, forasmuch as repentance supposes a preceding Sin, forasmuch as the making of Images is one of the things the Heathen are command­ed to repent of; it follows, That the making an Image of God was a Sin in the Heathen, and consequently, because they had no other Law to guide them, a Sin against the Law of Nature. And indeed, though this Law of Nature was strangely clouded by the contrary Practice amongst them, and the Traditions of their Fathers; yet, if we descend, in the

3. Third place, to take a view of the Opinions of the wiser Hea­then, we shall find them, in their lucid Intervals, to assert the same Prohibition with this Commandment. For thus Seneca, in his Eighth Book, and Thirtieth Natural Question, tells us of God,Effugit oculos, cogitatione visendus est. That he falls not under our Eyes, but is to be seen by our Thought. And elsewhere exhorting Lucilius to make himself worthy of GodFinges autem non auro, non ar­gento: Non potest ex hâc materiâ imago Dei fingi similis. Ep. 31., But thou shalt make thy self such (saith he) not with Gold or Silver; for such Materials cannot be made an Image like unto God. But of all other Testimonies in this matter, that of Varro is certainly the most full, as it is remembred by St. Augustine, in his Fourth Book De Civitate Dei, chap. 31. Where having premis'd out of him,Dicit etiam antiquos Romanos plus­quàm annos centum & septuaginta deos sine simulachro coluisse. That the Ancient Romans did more than an hundred and seventy years worship their Gods without Images; he adds, as from the same Varro, Quod si adhuc, inquit, mansisset, castiùs dii observarentur. Cujus sen­tentiae suae testem adhibet inter caete­ra etiam gentem Judaeam: nec dubi­tat eum locum ita concludere ut dicat, qui primi simulachra deorum populis Posuerunt, eos civitatibus suis & me­tum dempsisse & errorem addidisse: prudenter existimans deos facile pos­se in simulachrorum stoliditate con­temni. That if it had so continued, the Gods would have been more chastly observ'd: They who first set up Images of their Gods, for the Peoples use, having taken away from their Cities that fear which they ought to have of them, and involv'd them in erroneous Conceits concerning the Divine Na­ture: Prudently judging (as St. Augustine there tells us) that the Gods might easily come to be despis'd in the foolishness of Images. Forasmuch therefore as the [Page 115]Light of Reason furnisheth us with Arguments against the making an Image of God; forasmuch as the Scripture chargeth it upon the Hea­then as a Sin, and the wiser Heathen consent with them in the disal­lowance of it; we may very well look upon the Prohibition now be­fore us, as a part of the Law of Nature; and therefore also, because the Law of Nature is such, of eternal obligation.

Now, though what hath been said, might, to Minds not prepossess'd, sufficiently evidence the unlawfulness of such Images; yet because those Prejudices have taught Men to frame certain nice Distinctions, to evade the force of the former Arguments, I will, for a conclusion of this Discourse, oppose to them some more particular Assertions, an­swerable to their several Distinctions: Whereof the first shall be,

1. That painted Images, and such as are describ'd upon a Plane, are unlawful, as well as engraven and protuberant ones: Contrary to the Opinions of the Greek and Moscovitish Church, and some of our own Western Writers. For the evidencing whereof, I shall alledge, first, the Words of that Commandment we are now upon. For, forbidding, as it doth, not onely any graven Image, but any likeness of any thing that is in heaven or earth, it thereby makes other Representations alike un­lawful with carved or protuberant ones. The same is no less evident from the Reason of the Prohibition in Deuteronomy, even because they saw no similitude: For a Picture being no less a similitude, than a Carved Image, that must be supposed to be equally unlawful, when it is design'd to represent the Divine Nature. Lastly, Forasmuch as there is the same or a greater disproportion between the Divine Nature, and a Picture; if Carved Images be unlawful, these also must be suppos'd to be so, when they are intended to represent the Deity. This onely would be added, That the making of Graven Images, or other such protuberant ones, are most frequently forbidden in the Scripture: Not that others were not unlawful, as well as they (for the general Reason of the Prohibition, even the likening him to any thing, doth equally strike at all other ways of Representation) but because those Images were most in use among the Heathen, and because by their Fi­gure they were most apt to make the Simple believe that they were those very things they were design'd to represent, or at least that they were impregnated with a Divine Spirit.

2. I observe, secondly, That as Pictures, as well as graven Images, were forbidden; so the Pictures or Images of any Being whatsoever. For what other can we rationally deem to be the sense of those Words, or the likeness of any thing that is in heaven above, or in the earth be­neath, or in the waters under the earth? Which caution I the rather add, to confront an Opinion of Grotius, and the Jews, who would have the Figures of Living Creatures onely forbidden: For though the Images of Living Creatures were mostly in use, and most dange­rous, and therefore probably no other enumerated in the Fourth of Deuteronomy, where this matter of Images is entreated of; yet, as the Expression in the Commandment is too general to admit of such a li­mitation, so, if we admit of it, we must exclude the Images of the Stars, which are certainly no Living Creatures, but are notwithstand­ing faulted by God, Amos 5.26. But I have yet another Reason of making the present Observation, and without which indeed I should not have troubled you or my self with it: And that is, the asserting [Page 116]further, against the Greeks, and those that follow them in this Parti­cular, the unlawfulness of Painted, as well as Graven Images. For whereas it had been urged (as it hath been before by us) That not onely all Graven Images, but all other Likenesses were forbidden, accord­ing as the Letter of the Commandment imports; it is answered byExplic. De­cal. praec. 2. Grotius, That though the Particle we render [or] be in the Hebrew Text of this place, yet it is not in the parallel place in Deuteronomy, nor in the Chaldee Paraphrase here: Whence saith he) it hath hap­ned, that the Hebrews generally thought that of any likeness to be no new Prohibition, but to be added by way of explication, that we should understand, not all graven images to be forbidden, such as was that of the Golden Vine in the Temple, but such as resembled Living Creatures. But to this I have many things to say, and such as I think will make it appear to be very vain. For, first, It is not true, howe­ver Grotius came to say so, that the Particle we render [or] is not in theChald. Para­phras. verba 1. in Bibl. Polygl. [...] Chaldee Paraphrase upon this place, as may appear to any that shall consult it. That which I suppose occasion'd his mistake, was, that it is not there in Deuteronomy, as neither in the Hebrew Text. I say, secondly, That the Reading in this place ought in reason to be look'd upon as more entire than that of Deuteronomy, and consequently, where there is occasion, to give Law to it: Because the Twentieth Chapter of Exodus is an Account of the Law, as deliver'd by God; whereas that in the Book of Deuteronomy is onely a Repetition of it, which therefore needed not to be exact, as having been before set down. I say, thirdly, That if after the Word likeness, there had been onely an enumeration of the Living Creatures of Heaven and Earth, and the Waters under the Earth, so there might have been some pretence to make the Temunah or likeness not comprehensive of all Similitudes, but onely a determination of the general Word of Carved Images, to such as represented Living Creatures. But the Words are general, of all things in heaven and earth, &c. and so no doubt ought to be un­derstood. I observe, fourthly, that as it is not unusual for such a Particle as the Hebrew 1 to be understood, even where it is not ex­press'd; so theSept. Deut. 5.8. [...]. Septuagint have represented the force of it in that place of Deuteronomy, as well as Exodus. All which put together, will make the Observation of Grotius to be a meer Nicety, and con­sequently, that all kind of Images, as well as of all sorts of Things, are forbidden by this Commandment.

3. From that first and second Assertion therefore, pass we to a third, answerable to a nice distinction devised by the Papists; to wit, That we are to understand such Images forbidden as pretend to represent the Essence or Person, not the Properties of the Divine Nature. But be­side that the Essence of any thing cannot be depicted, because it cannot be seen but by some proper Representment, which makes that Distin­ction perfectly groundless; beside that, secondly, it cannot be thought they intend any other than the Representation of the Persons of the Godhead, who describe the Father in the shape of an Old Man, and have a peculiar Picture to represent the Trinity: there is as great a disproportion between the Properties of God, and an Image, as there is between that and the Divine Nature: For, as the Properties of God are not different at all from his Essence, but onely in our manner of conception; so all those Properties of his are Spiritual and Infinite, [Page 117]and therefore not to be debas'd by Material and Finite Representa­tions.

4. Lastly, Whereas it is said by the Papists, That they intend not those Images they make of God, as perfect, immediate, and proper Re­presentations of the Divine Nature; but imperfect, mediate, and meta­phorical ones; upon which account they hope to avoid the Charge of offending against this Commandment: I shall oppose, in the fourth place, That such imperfect Images are as well forbidden, as any other. For, beside that the Law makes no such Distinction, but forbids all Images, and all Similitudes, and must therefore be thought to pro­scribe those imperfect ones, unless the Law had otherwise provided; its descending to forbid not onely the making the Images of any thing in heaven or earth, but particularly, in Deuteronomy, the making the Images of beasts, and fowls, and creeping things, sheweth the former Distinction to be perfectly vain and groundless. For, though it may be thought, that some of the Heathen deem'd a Humane Shape to be no improper Representation of the Divine Majesty; yet who can think them so vain, as to conceive a Beast, or a Creeping thing, to be a perfect Resemblance of their Gods? However it be, most certain it is, the Jews could not be so foolish as to think the God that brought them out of the Land of Egypt, to be like unto a calf that eateth hay; which notwithstanding, we find they not onely represented God under such an Image, but were charg'd by the Psalmist with changing the Glory of God into such a Similitude; and by St. Paul, with Idolatry, for holding a Feast to it. So vain are the Imaginations of the Defen­ders of Images, as well as of the Makers of them; and will prove alike deceitful, when the Judge of all the World shall call both the one and the other to an account.

I have done with that part of the Prohibition which concerneth the making an Image of God, and asserted the unlawfulness thereof: It remains onely (to make it so much the more advantageous) that I address this following Exhortation to the Protestant, wherein he will find himself more immediately concern'd; That inasmuch as the Pro­hibition of Images is grounded upon the disproportion that is between God and all Corporeal Beings, he who pretendeth for that reason to disapprove of all Corporeal Representations, would in like manner remove from his thoughts all Corporeal Conceptions of him; That he would not think God like Bodies, to be confin'd to a certain Place, and neither to know nor act any thing beyond his own Hea­ven; That he would not think his arm like that of ours, to be short­ned that it cannot save, nor his ear so dull of hearing, that he cannot hear the softest whispers; That he would not think his Eyes like those of ours, to be blinded by the darkness of the Night, or impos'd upon by those specious Outsides by which his own are apt to be deceiv'd; in fine, That when, for the help of his dull Apprehensions, he concei­veth of Him under Bodily Representations, he remember, that He is above them, and separate those Corporeal Phantasms again, by think­ing him to be a Spirit of infinite Purity and Perfection: Otherwise, though in another way, he falleth into that Crime which he condemn­eth, and sets up the same Images of God in his Imagination, which the Heathen heretofore, and the Idolatrous Christians now, set up to him in their Temples.

PART III.

Of the unlawfulness of making an Image, with a design to worship it; where, moreover, is shewn out of Tertullian, the unlawfulness of ma­king any such, to be worshipped by others. The second Part of the Negative Precept propos'd, wherein is shewn the unlawfulness of wor­shipping an Image, whether of God, or of Christ, or of his Saints. The Allegation of the Romanists, That they worship not the Image of God, but God in and by it, shewn to be both untrue and insuffici­ent: The former, because there are not a few who defend the Wor­shipping of the Image it self, yea, with a Divine Worship; and be­cause the Common sort terminate their Worship there: The latter, be­cause, first, the Heathen themselves generally were not guilty of any other Idolatry; where another Objection of the Papists is propos'd and answered. The like evidenc'd, secondly, from the Idolatry of the Is­raelites in Aaron's and Jeroboam's Calves; which is shewn to have been no other than the Worshipping of the True God in and by them. The Objections against the foregoing Argument, considered and An­swered. A farther Argument against the Worshipping of God by an Image, drawn from Natures Law; where again some Objections are propos'd and answered. Of the Images of Christ, and his Saints: Whe­ther or no, and in what cases they may be tolerated, as also what Ho­nour may be given to them. That all Divine Adoration of them is unlawful; yea, that all such is so, which onely bordereth on it.

HAVING shewn, in the foregoing Discourse, that we are not to make an Image with a design to represent the Divine Majesty; proceed we now to shew,

2. That neither are we to make any Image at all, with a design to bow down to it, or serve it; which I have said to be the second Part of the first Prohibition in this Commandment. Now, that so we are not, is competently evident from the Commandment it self, but much more abundantly from an Explication of it in Leviticus: For, as after the Prohibition of making any graven Image, &c. it is immediately added, Thou shalt not bow down to them, nor serve them; so the Pro­phet Moses, who was certainly the best Interpreter of his own Law, doth more plainly and expresly declare it, Lev. 26.1. For ye shall not (saith he) make you any idol, or graven image, neither rear you up a standing image, neither shall ye set up any image of stone in your land, to bow down unto it: for I am the Lord your God. And indeed, if the Worshipping of Images be a Sin, according as the second Prohibition imports, it will be no less to make them for that end, because in ef­fect a Worshipping of them. Excellent to this purpose is that of Ter­tullian, where he addresseth himself to some Christians, who thought to excuse themselves from Idolatry, in that they onely made those Images which were worshipp'd by others. 'Tis in the sixth Chapter of his Book de Idololatriâ. Imo tu colis qui facis ut coli possint. Colis autem non spiritu vilissimi nidoris alicujus, sed tuo proprio: nec animâ pecudis impensâ, sed animâ tuâ. Illis ingenium tuum immolas, illis su­dorem [Page 119]tuum libas, illis prudentiam tuam accendis. Plus es illis quam sacerdos, cùm per te habeant sacerdotem. Thou pretendest that thou dost not worship them; but thou dost worship them, who makest them that they may be worshipped: And thou worshippest them not with the breath of some most vile Steam, but with thy own; neither with a Soul of a Beast, but thine. To them thou sacrificest thy Wit and Parts; to them thou offerest up thy Sweat, as a kind of Drink-offering; to them thou lightest thy Prudence as a Taper. Thou art more to them than a Priest, because it is by thy means they have one. But because at the same time I shew it unlawful to worship an Image, I shall also shew it to be unlawful to make an Image for that end; therefore proceed we to evince,

2. The unlawfulness of worshipping any image; which is the second general Prohibition in this Commandment.

When we charge the Papists with the Breach of this Command­ment, and particularly of that part of it we are now upon, their usu­al defence is, That, as they worship not the Image of God, but God in and through it; so they worship not the Image of Saints with a Divine Worship, but with such as is suitable onely to the Images of glo­rified Creatures. My Design is at present to shew both the untruth and insufficiency of each of these Answers; and first, of their alledg­ing their not worshipping the Image of God, but, on the other side, worshipping God in and by them.

And first of all, though some of the Church of Rome are so wary, as not to undertake the Defence of Worshipping the Image it self, or at least not with that Worship that is proper unto God; yet there are a considerable number of them, and those too of the most eminent, who roundly assert the giving the same Honour to the Image, which is due to him it represents. Of this sort are Aquinas, Azorius, Cajetan, Lactantius, and Andradius, as Dr. Crackenthorp Defens. Eccl. Anglic. contra Archiep. Spa­lat. cap. 63. hath evidenc'd out of their own Writings. But be it, that what they suggest were really true, as to the wiser and better sort of them, and neither defended nor practis'd by them; yet (as the same Learned Man hath observ'dIbid.) many of the Common sort terminate their Worship in the very Ima­ges themselves; which whilst those in Authority go not about either to censure or remove, they must not take it ill if we charge them with the imputation of so downright and stupid an Idolatry; Men being justly chargeable with those foul Abominations which, though they see, they endeavour not to amend. But be it, thirdly, that what they alledge were true, both in the better and worser sort; and that they worship not the Images themselves, but God in and by them: yet even so they will not escape the imputation of Idolatry, accord­ing as I come now to shew.

For the evidencing whereof, the first thing I shall alledge, is, That the Heathen were not guilty of any other Idolatry, than that of wor­shipping their Gods in and by them. For thus Celsus (as I find him quoted by Origen, in the seventh of those Books he wrote against him.) Now they (saith he [...];, speaking of the Christians) do openly shew their contempt of Images: If for this reason, because a Stone, or a piece of Wood, or Brass, or Gold, which such or such a one hath fram'd, is not God, their Wisdom is ridiculous: For what [Page 120]other Person, that is not perfectly a Fool, looketh upon those things as Gods, and not rather as Things dedicated to, and Images of the Gods? To the same purpose doth Maimonides discourse, in his More Nevo­chim, chap. 36. Moreover (saith he) as to what concerns Idolaters, you know that none of them worship the Idol with this Opinion, as if they thought there were no other God but that: Nay, there never was any Man, nor will there ever be, who can fancy to himself, that the Figure which he hath made of Metals, Wood, or Stones, created the Heavens and Earth, and governs them. But they worship them, inasmuch as they look upon them as Things intermediate between them and God. And indeed, generally speaking, it is morally impossible for any but the sottish and beastly Multitude, to be guilty of such an Idolatry, as terminateth in the Image it self; an Image, in the very nature of it, referring the Party that useth it to him whom it is design'd to repre­sent. If the Heathens, as there is no doubt they often did, worshipp'd those for Gods, in them, that were really none, that is a Crime of another nature, and subjects them not for that reason to the Crime of Idolatry, or Worshipping an Image; but of having other Gods beside the True. Forasmuch then as the Heathen were not guilty of any other Idolatry, than of worshipping God in and by an Image, either there never was any such thing as Idolatry in the World, unless amongst the very Dregs of the People; or it must be such, to worship God in and by them. There is but one thing, that I know of, which is with any shew of Reason objected, as to the difference between the Hea­then and Christian Idolaters in this particular; and that is, That the Heathen imagin'd the Image not onely to represent, but to have the Deity inhabiting in, or rather united to it, as the Soul is united un­to the Body. But beside that the Papists seem sometimes of the same Perswasion, witnessVid. Crack. Def. Ecclesiae Angl. contr. Ar­chiep. Spalat. cap. 66. their attributing to their Images the Power of Speaking, with the Working of several Miracles; aReinold. de Rom. Eccles. Idololatr. l. 2. c. 3. par. 77. Learned Man of our own Nation hath demonstrated, That the Heathens had not that opinion of their Images, unless of some few, that were consecrated by Magick Art: So that still there will remain the same Consent be­tween the Heathens and Idolatrous Christians, and either both be ab­solv'd from Idolatry, or neither. It is true indeed, some Passages of the Ancient FathersVid. Grot. Ex­plic. Dec. Praec. 2. give occasion to think, that under those Images some Evil Spirits did sometime lurk, or at least were believ'd so to do by their Heathen Worshippers: But as it follows not from thence, That the Heathen thought their Images to be animated by them, and like Soul and Body in Man to make up one Person; so the meer lurk­ing of Evil Spirits in the Idols they ador'd, will make no material dif­ference between the Idolatry of the Heathen and the Christian; the Heathen, as well as the Christian Idolater, passing his Worship through the Image, to that Deity he believ'd to lurk in it.

My second Argument against the Worshipping of God by an Image, shall be taken from the Crime of the Israelites in the matter of the Calves, as well that which Aaron made in the absence of Moses, as those which Jeroboam set up in Dan and Bethel. For if each of these were Idolatry, as there is no doubt they were, then is it such to wor­ship the True God in an Image, because they worshipp'd the True God in them. That the Worship of the Calf which Aaron made was Ido­latry, is evident both from St. Stephen, and St. Paul; the former not [Page 121]onely terming it an Idol, but affirming the Jews to have sacrific'd to it, which is a known part of the Worship of the Almighty; the latter calling it Idolatry in express terms, 1 Cor. 10.7. for exhorting (as he doth) Neither be ye idolaters, as were some of them, as it is written, The people sate down to eat and to drink, and rose up to play; he thereby plainly declares their feasting before the Calf (for that was it he refers to, as you may see Exod. 32.6.) to be pure and perfect Ido­latry. Which place is so much the more to be remark'd, because it doth not onely brand the Jews for it, but caution us Christians against it, and that too under the fear of the like displeasure; lest any should say (as some have done) That this Precept concern'd the Jews onely, and thereby leave us at liberty to transgress it: For if (as St. Paul af­terwards infers) that, and other the Crimes there remembred, were aveng'd upon the Israelites, to deter us from the like Practices, we may be sure it will be no less Sin in us, than it was in them, to com­mit the same Practices, and particularly to pay the same Adoration to an Idol. The onely difficulty therefore remaining is, whether the Jews worship'd the true God in it; which accordingly I come now to prove. And here I shall alledge, first, that Saying of the Psalmist, Psal. 106.20. where speaking concerning this particular Calf, and their worshipping of him, he subjoyns, Thus they changed their glory into the similitude of an ox that cateth grass. For if their design in that Calf was to represent their Glory by it, that is to say, the God of Israel, then was it their design also to do honour to the God of Israel, and not either to the Image it self, or some other Deity. But let us come to the Story it self, as it is delivered in Exodus, and see whether it is possible to be any other? Where, the first thing that presents it self, is that Speech of the Israelites immediately upon the making of it; These be thy gods which brought thee out of the land of Egypt, Exod. 32.4. For as it was impossible for the Jews to think the Calf it self brought them up, which was fram'd after their deliverance out of it; so it would be equally hard to think they meant some of the Gods of Egypt, to which Place they are said in their heart to return. For how could they think the Gods of Egypt would so much favour those who had de­spis'd them, and drown those that sacrificed to them? Besides, though it be true, that it is express'd in the Plural Number, which may some­what favour the interpreting their Words of other Gods; yet as that is not much to be wondred at, because the Word Elohim is Plural; so, that it is to be understood of the One True God, Nehemiah shews, chap. 9. 18. where repeating that Passage concerning the Calf, he bringeth them in saying, not These be thy gods, but This is thy God that brought thee out of the Land of Egypt. As for their stiling the Calf their God or Gods, 'tis but an usual Metonymie, whereby the Name of the Thing signified is given to the Sign; as the Images of the Cherubim over the Mercy-seat, are call'd the Cherubim; and in like manner, those of the Oxen and Lions in the Temple, by theirs. The same is yet more evident from that which followeth after in the Story, when Aaron had built an Altar before the Calf: For the Text tells us, that he immediately made Proclamation, To morrow is a feast to the Lord, that is to say, to the True God of Israel; what we render Lord, being the most peculiar Name of God, and to which the Jews bear such a reverence, that they will hardly venture to pronounce it. [Page 122]Neither will it suffice to object (as I find it is by some) That the Psal­mist, where he speaks concerning this very Argument, affirms, That they forgat God their Saviour, which had done great things in Egypt, wondrous works in the land of Ham, and terrible things by the Red­sea. For, as that is not of sufficient force against so many Arguments for their meaning the True God, especially when the same Psalmist affirms, That they changed their glory into the similitude of an ox that eateth grass; so they might very well be said to forget God, without altogether casting him off, because forgetting, or at least not remem­bring to observe that Commandment we are now upon, and to the ob­servation of which they had so many Obligations from his Goodness. For thus, Deut. 8.11. we find God bidding them beware that they forgat not the Lord, in not keeping his commandments, and his judg­ments, and his statutes, which he had so often enjoyn'd them to ob­serve.

Having thus shewn the Calf which Aaron made to have been intend­ed for a Representation of the True God, and consequently (because their Worship of God in it was reputed Idolatry) that therefore it is such to worship even the True God in an Image; I come now to shew the same of the Calves set up by Jeroboam; that is to say, That they worshipp'd the True God in them, and that that their Worship was Idolatry. That they worshipp'd the True God in them, is evident from the Proclamation Jeroboam made, when he set up those his Golden Calves: For, it is (saith he) too much for you to go up to Jerusalem; behold thy gods, O Israel, which brought thee out of the land of Egypt, 1 Kings 12.28. For, as it would have been a vain attempt in Jerobo­am, to take them off altogether from the Service of that God, to whom they had been so long devoted; so his Words shew very apparently, that his Design was rather to change the Place and Manner, than the Object of their Worship; because assigning for the Reason of his Fact, onely the tediousness of the Journey to Jerusalem, and moreover re­presenting his Calves as the gods that brought them out of the land of Egypt, which was a known Periphrasis of the God of Israel. And ac­cordingly, though Jehu, who was one of his Successors, departed not from the sin of Jeroboam, as the Scripture observes of him, 2 Kings 10.29. yet is his zeal in the destruction of Baal's Priests stil'd by him­self a zeal for the Lord, ver. 16. and which is of much more conside­ration, he himself intimated by the Scripture to have walked in the law of the Lord God of Israel, save onely in the matter of the calves, ver. 31. of the same: Which could in no wise be affirm'd, if he and those of his Sect had renounc'd the God of Israel, and worshipp'd either the Calves themselves, or some Foreign Deity in them. To all which, if we add, That Ahab is said to have offended more heinously than all that went before him, because serving Baal, and worshipping him, 1 Kings 16.31. so we shall not in the least doubt, but that the setting up of the Calf was intended onely to worship the True God in it. For wherein had the great aggravation of Ahab's sin been, if they that were before him had worshipp'd either the Calf it self, or some of the Hea­then Gods in it? The onely thing remaining to be shewn, is, That their Worship of the Calves was Idolatry; which will be no very hard Task to evince. For though their Worship is no where expresly stil'd so, yet are they call'd Idols, which is enough to make the Worship [Page 123]of them Idolatry. But so that they are, that of Hosea is an abundant Testimony, chap. 13.4. For having premis'd the Israelites making them molten images of their silver, and idols according to their own under­standing, all of them the work of the craftsmen, to let us know what Idols he means, he subjoyns, They say of them, Let the men that sa­crifice kiss the calves. Forasmuch therefore as the Calves were no other than Idols; forasmuch as one Egg cannot be more like unto another, than the Calves of Jeroboam were to that of Aaron; it must needs be, because they were such, and the Worshipping that of Aaron reputed Idolatry, that that of Jeroboam's was so also; and consequent­ly, that it is Idolatry to worship even the True God in an Image.

Two things there are which are commonly alledg'd against the fore­going Arguments, to prove the Idolatry of the Israelites not to have had the True God for its Object. 1. That what they sacrific'd to their Idols, they are said to sacrifice to devils, and not to God: And, 2. That the Prophets are frequent in inculcating, That the Gods they worshipp'd were gold and silver, that they could neither see, nor hear, nor understand; which may seem to import their looking upon the Images themselves as Gods. And indeed, if onely one of these things had been objected, possibly it might have serv'd in some measure to shroud an evil Cause; but urging them both, they do but help to de­stroy it: because urging such things as, taken in the strictness of the Letter, are inconsistent with each other. For if the Israelites wor­shipp'd Evil Spirits in all their Images then did they not worship the Images themselves; and if they held the Images themselves for Gods, then did they not worship Evil Spirits in them. The onely thing re­maining to be said, is, That some Images they look'd upon as Gods themselves, and others as Representations of Evil Spirits; both of which being granted, will contribute little to the proving any thing against us. For, nothing hinders all this while, but they might look upon some Images, and particularly upon the Calves, as Representa­tions of the God of Israel. But let us a little more particularly con­sider both the one and the other Allegation, and see how little force there is in either. It is alledg'd out of Deuteronomy, chap. 32.17. That they sacrific'd unto devils, and not to God: But, doth it follow from thence, that they did so in sacrificing to Aaron's Calf? when there is not onely no particular mention of it, but it is also sufficient­ly known, that they worshipp'd many of the Heathen Deities besides. But be it, that the Calf of Aaron were there included, as well as their other Idols: Yet, will it follow from thence, that they directly and intentionally worshipp'd an Evil Spirit in them? For may not a Man serve the Devil, unless, after the Custom of the Indians, he fall down and worship him? But how then could the Widows that forsook the Faith, be said to be turned after Satan, for onely breaking that Faith they had plighted unto God? Beside, when the Devil is consessedly the Author and Promoter of all false Worship, what impropriety is there in affirming those who comply with his Suggestions in it, to sa­crifice rather to him, than to God, whom they design to honour? Otherwise, what shall we say to reconcile what the Scripture in seve­ral places affirmeth concerning the Idols of the Heathen, to wit, That what the Gentiles sacrifice to Idols, they sacrifice to Devils, and not to God (for so St. Paul tells us); and again, That the gods of the heathen [Page 124]are silver and gold, the work of mens hands, as the Psalmist? It be­ing impossible that both should be true in the Letter, and therefore a Qualification to be admitted. The onely thing therefore to be ac­counted for, is, the Scriptures so often inculcating, That their Idols were but Silver and Gold; that they could not either see, or hear, or un­derstand: which may seem to import that the Hebrews look'd upon the Images themselves as Gods. But neither will this serve their turn, or enervate the Conclusion before laid down: because it is certain, 1. They worshipp'd the Host of Heaven, and erected Images to them. It is no less certain, 2. That the Heathen, who are in like manner charg'd with the same sottish Worship, look'd upon, not their Images, but several Dead Men, as Gods, whom they represented by them. From both which put together, it is manifest, That when we find both the one and the other faulted for making Gold and Silver their Gods; as those Gold and Silver Gods again decry'd, for not being able to see, or hear, or understand: we are to understand thereby, that they dealt foolishly, not in looking upon their Images as Gods (for this few or none were so sottish as to believe) but for thinking such Representations as those to be either proper Representations of the Divine Nature, or fit Passports of his Worship, which could nei­ther see, nor hear, nor understand. What remains then, especially since God hath both licenc'd and commanded us so to do, but that we go immediately to himself, but that we fall down and kneel, not before his Image, but before the Lord our Maker? or, if we will needs worship him in an Image, but that we worship him in his Son, who is the brightness of his glory, and the express image of his person? So doing, we shall be so far from dishonouring the Great God of Hea­ven, that we shall, on the other side, do him actual Honour in it; because he is not onely the perfect Image of the Father, but of the same Divine Nature with himself.

Having thus shewn, from the Scriptures, the unlawfulness of wor­shipping the True God by an Image; and that too, as well from those of the New Testament, as of the Old: I should now, according as the Superstitions of the Church of Rome lead me, proceed to consider the Worship of the Images of Christ, as also of the Images of his Saints. Onely to shew the Worship of God by an Image, to be as much a breach of the Law of Nature, as of that of Scripture, and the better to plain my way to that which follows, I shall subjoyn a Reason drawn from Natures Law, concerning the Worship of God by an Image.

It is commonly suggested by the Papists, when they know not what else to say, That though they pass their Worship through the Image, yet they terminate it not there; and do what they do to the Image, not for it self, but in Honour of him whose Image it is. I will not now say, because I have said it often enough already, That such Ima­ges of God are unlawful in themselves, and a dishonour to the Divine Majesty, which they are intended to represent: From whence it will follow, not onely that they ought not to have any Respect whatso­ever, for his sake whom they represent; but that, for his sake, they ought to be rejected and condemn'd. That which I shall insist upon, is, ThatSee Dr. Tay­lor's Ductor Dubit. ubi supra. the Worship which is given to the Image, is either different from, and so less than it; or the same numerical Worship with that of him it re­presents. If the Worshipper gives a different, and consequently a less [Page 125]Worship, he doth not worship God in the Image; but his Worship, such as it is, is terminated in the Image, and then cometh not into this Inquiry, as being no more than loving a Picture for Lesbia's sake, or valuing a Pendant for her sake that gave it me; and must be estimated accord­ing to its excess, or temper, and according to the Will of the Person it relates to. For, as if the Person I respect, should signifie her dislike of that which I set a value upon, and particularly of some Picture, wherein it may be she hath little right done her; as, I say, in that case I should shew but little respect to her, by prizing that which she pro­fesseth to dislike; so must they be thought to shew little regard of God, who set any value upon his Image, both because all Images do but dishonour his most excellent Nature, and because he hath declar'd his own detestation of them. But, if by the Image a Man means to worship God, as the Papists both profess and practise, and pass his Worship through that, to what it represents; then he gives to both the same Worship, and consequently is guilty of Idolatry, because giving that Worship to an Image of God, which is truly and properly Divine. Neither will it suffice to say (as I find it is by the Papists) That what is done to the Image, is for the sake of him it represents, and conse­quently doth still set God above them, according to that known Ma­xim in Logick, Propter quod unumquod (que) est tale, illud est magis tale. For, first of all, still it will remain for certain, that Divine Worship is given to the Image; which is downright Idolatry, and expresly for­bidden by the Almighty, where he saith, That he will not give his ho­nour to another, neither his praise to graven images. I say, secondly, That though, by giving worship to the Image for the sake of him it represents, they may seem to set him above the Image; yet they do he challengeth to himself alone, to that which is confessedly but an Image of him. I say, thirdly, That when it is affirm'd Propter quod unumquod (que) est tale, illud est magis tale, it is to be suppos'd to hold onely where there is a magis & minus, which is not in the present Case; the Divine Nature, and consequently the Divine Worship, which is but a just esteem of it, and expression of that esteem, admit­ting of no Degrees: for, if it be less than the Highest, it is not Di­vine. Either therefore let them say, or rather shew by their Practice, that they give not Divine Honour to an Image; or let them confess withal, that they are guilty of downright Idolatry, which is that we are endeavouring to prove. For, as for their assigning their doing of it to be for the sake of him it represents, it makes nothing at all for the clearing of them. For, as he who thus answers, confesseth he gives Divine Honour to an Image, and onely tells us in what manner he doth it: so either that Manner doth destroy the Thing, and then it is not Divine Worship that is given; or it doth not destroy the Thing, and then, for all the distinctions, it is idolatry. Lastly, If (as they say) there be but one Motion of the Soul to the Image, and that of which it is one; it must consequently be granted, That more cannot be given to the one than the other by it, because one Act cannot be susceptible of both; and therefore also, either that God must have less Honour than he should, or the Image have the same Divine Honour with the Al­mighty. But concerning this matter, as I think I shall not need to add more, to prove the Worshipping of God by an Image to be Ido­latry; [Page 126]so, if any desire further satisfaction, I shall refer them to Dr. Tay­lor's Cases of Conscience, where this Question is so fully and accu­rately handled, that no Man unprejudic'd can go away in the least unsatisfied.

To go on now, according to our proposed Method, to entreat of the Worship of other Images; and, first of all, (because he stands be­tween both, or rather is both God and Man) of the Images of Christ. Concerning which, I shall no way doubt to affirm,

  • 1. That such Images may be lawfully enough made, because he as­sum'd a Nature into the Unity of the Divine Person, which is capable of being depicted or engrav'd.
  • 2. I shall not stick to grant, secondly, That an Image of Christ, especially as hanging upon the Cross, may serve to excite in us a just apprehension of his bitter Sufferings, and, by that means, of his immense Love, who stoop'd so low as to undergo them: Nor yet,
  • 3. But that they may be so far regarded for his sake whom they re­present, as not onely not to be defac'd, where they are not abus'd by Idolatry; but have a place, where they are admitted, among our choicest things of that nature. All these things, I say, no sober Man ever did, or can deny to be free from offending against this Law of God, or any other. The onely Question is,
  • 4. In what Place, or at what Times, they may be expedient, or inexpedient; which must be left to Prudence and Authority to determine: consideration being had of the Persons to whom they are permitted, or of those with whom they converse. For thus, if Men be inclinable to Idolatry (as they were extremely in the be­ginning of Christianity) or are mix'd among those that are; in such Cases there is no doubt it would be but necessary either to restrain, or remove such and other Images, especially from the Places of our Assemblies. Whence it was, that when Adrian the Emperour sought to set up Temples for Christ, he dedicated them without Images: And the Council of Eliberis, in regard of the multitude of Idolaters with whom they convers'd, decreed, That no Pictures should be had in theirs, lest that which is worshipp'd should be painted upon the Walls. But as, I say, setting aside where there may be a just fear of falling into Idolatry, there can be no doubt in the least of the making, or having such and other Images, which pretend not to represent the Divine Nature. So the main Question between us and the Papists is,
  • 5. Concerning the Worshipping of them; which accordingly I come now to assoil. For the doing whereof, I will proceed in this method.
    • 1. I shall shew, That all Divine Adoration of them is unlaw­ful: And,
    • 2. That all Adoration is unlawful, that onely borders upon it.

1. That our Saviour is to be worshipp'd with Divine Adoration, we, as well as the Papists, hold; because we do equally hold him to be God: But, that Divine Honour ought to be done to his Image, we do constantly deny; because his Image is not his Person. If it be said (as it may) That their intention is not to do Honour to his Image, but to Christ, as God, in it; they who remember the precedent [Page 127]Discourse, will soon discern the insufficiency of that Answer, as to the freeing the Worshippers thereof from Idolatry; because I have before shewn it to be such, from the example of the Israelites, to worship the True God in an Image. The onely Question therefore that can be made, is,

2. Whether it be lawful to fall down or kneel before them (which borders upon Divine Adoration) which therefore I come now to re­solve. In order whereunto, the first thing I shall observe is, That whereas the Reason of forbidding the having of any other Gods be­fore the True, is, because he is the Lord our God; Dr. Taylor's Ductor Dubit. ubi supra. when he comes to forbid the Worshipping of Images, he subjoyns another Reason, to wit, because he is a jealous God. Of which procedure, what other account can be given, but that his intention was to cut off not onely the giving of Divine Honours to them, but of any thing that might be thought to be like them? For, if the former onely had been his intention, it would have been sufficiently forestall'd by his declaring himself to be the Lord our God: That, without any other Reason, being a sufficient Argument, not to pay Divine Honour to another. The same is no less evident, secondly, from the nature of jealousie, upon which Quality of his, God grounds his Prohibition of Image-Worship. For, would it satisfie any jealous Person, think you, to tell him, that she of whom he is jealous did not go so far as to commit Adul­tery with her Paramour; or, if she did, that she did it onely for his sake, and because of his likeness to him? Nay, doth not jealousie na­turally arise from an over-familiarity with other Men, and the making frequent use even of the usual Testimonies of Civility and Friendli­ness? But how then (especially when God is pleas'd to assume the Per­son of one) can we make any other Interpretation of his being jealous concerning those Persons whom he hath espous'd, yea married to him­self? For be it, that they keep their Hearts from wandring after other Deities; that they do not entertain the same respectful Thoughts of, nor have the same inward Love and Affection for them: Yet if (as the Prophet speaks) their eyes are after their Idols; if they bow down to them upon every approach to the Place of God's Worship; if they kiss the calves, as often almost as they do behold them; who can think a jealous God will brook such Testimonies of Kindness and Respect, any more than a jealous Man would such a deportment in his Wife?

The same is much more true, concerning the Images of God's Crea­tures, and our Fellow-servants, the Saints and Angels, together with all other things any way relating to them; as the Reliques of the one, or those things which are dedicated to Gods Service. For when such things as these have (not as with us the Bible, in the Administration of an Oath before a Magistrate, but) upon every occasion that is of­fer'd, our Kisses and our Cringes; when Temples are dedicated, and Altars erected to Saints and Angels; when we bow before them, as of­ten, if not oftner, than before God and Christ; when we do it in the Places and upon the Times appointed for Divine Worship; what Dei­ty, that were in the least jealous of his own Honour, and of the Affe­ctions of his Servants, would not be impatient of such Affronts, and revenge them upon the Heads of the Authors of them?

PART IV.

Of the Sanction of the Precept, by a Threat, and a Promise. What is meant by God's threatning to visit the Sins of the Fathers upon the Children. That God neither will nor can make one Man bear the Punishment of anothers Sin. From which, and other Reasons, it is made evident, That God's intention in that Threat is either, first, That he will punish the Fathers in the Children, as he doth sometimes in their Persons and Estates; or, That, to shew his displeasure against Sin, he will lay some Affliction upon the Child, but which yet (if that Child be innocent) shall turn to his Spiritual good; or, third­ly and lastly, That he will take occasion from the Parents Sins, to pu­nish the Children for their own. What appearance there is of God's thus visiting the Iniquity of the Parents upon the Children, and par­ticularly upon those of Idolatrous ones. The Explication concludes with that part of the Sanction which containeth a Declaration of God's shewing mercy unto thousands in them that love him: Where the exuberance of God's Mercy, above the severity of his Vindictive Justice, is noted and exemplified.

II. OF the Precept now before us, what hath been said may suffice: Proceed we therefore to the Sanction of it, which is made by a Threat and a Promise: Whereof the former imports, That God will avenge the Transgression of the Precept upon the children of the Trans­reward the Observance of it to a far greater tract of Time and Num­ber, in the Posterity of those that shall observe it. For though the Iniquity God here threatens to visit, be express'd under the Name of hatred, which comprehends other Sins beside those which are here for­bidden; as, on the other side, that Piety which he promiseth to re­ward, by the love of God, and the keeping of his commandments, which is no less comprehensive than the former: Yet as it is but rea­sonable to understand both the Promise and the Threat with a more particular relation to the observing or not observing of that Com­mandment to which they are affix'd; so there was reason enough to ex­press that Observance, or Nonobservance, by the loving, or hating of the Almighty. For God assuming to himself the Person of an Hus­band to his People (as the stiling of himself a jealous God shews) it was but agreeable to that Married Estate to which he alludeth, that he should express the Fidelity of his Spouse to him by that Love which is the ground of it; as, on the other side, her going a whoring after Images, by the hatred of himself: because it is from the loathing those Companions which they have assum'd, that adulterous Women seek out to themselves new and forbidden Loves. Forasmuch therefore as both the Threat and the Promise, though in appearance of a greater extent, do yet, if not onely, yet in a more peculiar manner, belong to the Violators or Observers of this Commandment; I shall not one­ly deem this to be the most proper place of handling them, but con­sider [Page 129]them more particularly with reference to this Commandment, to which they are affixed by the Almighty.

Having given an account in my last of the Jealousie of the Al­mighty, so far as that is useful to shew the nature of the Crime here forbidden; we are now to consider it with reference to that Penalty which it prompted the Lawgiver to denounce. For my more order­ly explication whereof, I will inquire,

  • 1. What is here meant by visiting the Sins or Iniquity of the Fathers upon the Children: And,
  • 2. What appearance there is of God's executing this Threat up­on the Children of evil Parents, and particularly upon those of Idolatrous ones.

1. Now lest any should imagine, that when God threatens to visit the iniquity of the fathers upon the children, his intention is to make one Man suffer the Punishment of anothers Sin; I think it not amiss to admonish, in the first place, That that is so far from being any part of his intention, that it is perfectly inconsistent with his own De­claration elsewhere, and indeed with the Justice of his Nature; as having not onely declar'd his dislike of that peevish Proverb, That the fathers have eaten sour grapes, and the childrens teeth are set on edge; but moreover affirm'd, in express terms, Ezek. 18.20. That the soul that sinneth, it shall die; that the son shall not bear the ini­quity of the father, neither shall the father bear the iniquity of the son; in fine, that the righteousness of the righteous shall be upon him, and the wickedness of the wicked upon him. Than which, what could be said with greater evidence and conviction, to remove all suspicion of God's making one Man to bear the Punishment of ano­thers Sins? Though setting aside that Declaration, the sole Justice of God would oblige us to an abhorrence of all such Surmises: For, what, I beseech you, makes any Punishment just, that is inflicted ei­ther by God or Man? Is it any other than a Right in the Judge to punish, and an Obligation in the Criminal to suffer? And if so, is it not alike evident, that it can be no way consistent with God's Ju­stice to make one Man bear the Punishment of anothers Sin? For, as no one can have a Right to punish, where a Fault did not precede; and therefore neither to extend it, where that Fault doth not; be­cause, as to any other, it is as if there had been no Fault at all: so neither can any Man be under an obligation to Punishment, who was not some way or other Partaker of the Sin that caus'd it; because that Obligation ariseth from demerit, which we have already suppos'd to be the peculiar of another. And indeed, however some Actions of God seem to proclaim the contrary, and particularly his imputing to us the Sins of our first Parents, and laying on Christ the Iniquities of us all; yet neither do the one nor the other contradict it in the least, if they be seriously and warily considered. Not the former, because the same Scriptures which affirm that God imputeth to us the Iniqui­ties of our First Parents, do also assure us (as I shall shew more large­ly hereafterExplication of the Do­ctrine of the Sacraments, and particu­larly of that of Baptism.) that we all offended in him, and consequently, that God doth not so much impute to us their Sin, as our own: As neither the latter, because Christ voluntarily undertook the suffering of that Punishment, which our Sins had deserved from the Almighty. After which, to lay upon Christ the Iniquities of us all, was not so much to [Page 130]make him suffer for others Sins, as for those which he made his own, by taking the burthen of them upon himself. Whence it is, that St. Paul tells us,2 Cor. 5.21. That God made him sin for us, who knew no sin, that we might be made the righteousness of God in him.

It being thus evident, That God neither doth, nor can make one Man bear the Punishment of anothers Sin; and consequently, that that cannot be thought to be the importance of the Threat here us'd: it remains that we pitch upon such a sense of God's visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children, as doth not imply any thing of that nature. In order whereunto, it will not a little conduce to affirm (what I shall by and by shew hath sufficient warrant in the Commina­tion) That when God either threatens, or actually visits the Sins of the Fathers upon the Children, it is not so much his intention to make them bear the Iniquity of their Fathers, as to punish their Fathers in them, as he sometimes doth in their Houses or Estates, or whatsoe­ver else they place their Happiness in. By which means God doth not so much make the Children suffer the Punishment of their Fathers Sins, as make the Fathers suffer for their own, through the sides of those Children whom he afflicts. Now, that this is the intention of the Almighty, in such kind of Comminations, and particularly in that which is the Subject of my Discourse, is evident from the end of all such Comminations, and a particular Passage in this: For, the design of them being manifestly to deter Men from those Crimes to which these Comminations are affix'd; to make those Comminations of any force, they must consequently be thought to bring some Evil to that Criminal against whom they shall be found to be denounc'd: No Man, and much less a sinful one, being like to be reclaim'd by those Evils, in which he himself shall not have the greatest share. From whence, as it will follow, That the principal Design of the Almighty was to let those Idolatrous Persons know, that he meant to punish them in their Children; so it may not obscurely be collected from God's ex­tending this Threat of his no further than to the third and fourth Ge­neration, those being Generations which the Parents may live to see, and therein their own Bowels (as the Apostle calls those that descend from our Loyns) tortur'd for their Impiety against their Maker. Though, supposing that they should not; yet if they have any thing of natural Affection in them, they very thoughts that so it shall be with their Posterity, cannot but stagger them in their Impiety, how strong­ly soever they may be tempted to it; it being not a little Evil, to die with an apprehension of our Posterities becoming miserable through our procurement.

Now though this be true, and in part also satisfactory, because the Punishment is properly the Parents, the Calamity of the Child being made use of onely to punish the Parent by; yet, because it is evident that such Inflictions cannot happen but by the Calamity of the Child, as it is no less from the phrase of God's visiting the iniquity of the fa­thers upon the children, that the Calamity of the Child must happen by the procurement of the Parent; therefore, to shew the full impor­tance of this Commination of the Almighty, as well as its freedom from involving the Child in the Punishment of the Parents Sin, it will be requisite to affirm, in the second place, That when he threatens to visit the Iniquity of the Fathers upon the Children, his meaning is, [Page 131]not onely that God will punish the Fathers in them; but that, in order to that end, he will make the Children miserable, and that too for the sake of the Fathers Impieties: But yet so, that if those Children tread not in their Fathers steps, they shall be free from the Effects of it; of which there is a sufficient presumption from Ezek. 18.14. and so on: or, that that Calamity of the Children shall turn to their spiri­tual and eternal advantage (for so St. Paul tells us, that all things shall, to them that love God, Rom. 8.28.) or, that if the Children tread in their Fathers steps, or be any other way Irreligious, yet they shall not be punish'd, even by occasion of their Fathers Sins, but for their own, and according to the demerit of them: Which will at the same time both shew how God visits the Iniquity of the Fathers upon the Children, and how far that Visitation of his is from making the Child bear the Punishment of the Fathers Sin. A familiar Instance will clear my Sense in the second of the Particulars before-mention'd, and together with it, the uprightness of God's Proceedings. For, let us suppose, as we very well may, having oftentimes observ'd it; let us suppose, I say, a fond Mother punish'd in the Sickliness of that Son toward whom she hath shew'd an immoderate affection, her love to him transporting her into the neglect of her other Children, or any other sinful action. Here, I say, it is manifest, supposing the Child also to be pious, and no way to desire or approve of such an unreaso­nable fondness, that the Child becometh miserable by the procure­ment of the Mother; or, if you had rather I should speak in the Language of Moses here, that her iniquity is visited upon him: But yet so, that that Calamity of the Childs is, in respect of him, no Punish­ment, but, on the contrary, a signal advantage; God Almighty ha­ving promis'd, that all things shall work together for good to them that love him; and if so, this Calamity also. By means of which, at the same time he punisheth the Mother, yet he onely afflicts the Child, or rather out of her Punishment procures a great Advantage to him; which is so far from being an act of Injustice, that it is an act of Grace and Mercy to him. But let us suppose, as in the third Instance, that the Child whose Calamity God maketh use of for the punishment of the Parents, treads in their steps, or at least is irreligious another way; in which case, the Calamity inflicted cannot but be look'd upon as a Punishment, yea even to that Child on whom it is so; yet even so, a way may be found out to verifie God's Threat of visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children, without granting them to suffer the Punishment of their Parents Sins: For, as that Threat can no way be verified, without affirming the Punishment of the Child to befal it by the Iniquity of the Parents; so, that may well enough be affirm'd, without granting the Child to bear the Punishment of his Parents Sins; it being enough to the verifying of the former, and indeed as much as is consistent with Justice, that the Rebellious Son, by occasion of his Fathers Sins, is punish'd for his own; for which, but for his Fa­thers Sins, he had either escap'd unpunish'd, or not been punish'd af­ter that manner wherein he is: For it is in this Particular (asSand. third Sermon on 3 King. 21.25. sect. 24. one hath happily compar'd it) as it is with a Man, who having contracted many vicious and malignant Humors, happens to ride abroad in wet Weather, and taketh cold, falleth thereby into a shaking first, and anon into a dangerous and lasting Fever. For, as there the Parties [Page 132]malignant Humors were the true Cause and Root of his Distemper, and his taking cold the Occasion onely of its breaking out; so the Personal Sins of the Son are the Cause of his Punishment, the Fathers the Occasion onely of the inflicting it: which is far from inferring God's making one Man to bear the Punishment of another Man's Transgression: This importing no more, than that by occasion of the Fathers Sins, the Son may be sometime punish'd according to the de­merit of his own. In the mean time, we may see with how little rea­son some have condemn'd that Prayer of our Church, which, agreea­bly to the Doctrine of this Commandment, teacheth us to beg of God not to remember the offences of our forefathers: For though those Of­fences shall never be charg'd upon us, yet they may be a Motive to God to punish us for smaller ones of our own, which is that which is here meant by visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children, to the third and fourth generation.

2. What is meant by visiting the Sins or Iniquity of the Fathers upon the Children, hath been at large declar'd, together with the Ju­stice of God's Proceedings in it: Enquire we now (as our proposed Method obligeth us) what appearance there is of God's executing this Threat upon the Children of evil Parents, and particularly upon those of Idolatrous ones. For the resolution whereof, I will take this Threat of the Almighty asunder, and shew the Completion of it in every Particular thereof. Now, that God doth often visit the Iniqui­ty of the Fathers upon the Children, which is the first of those things which are affirm'd, the Scripture will afford many signal Instances; whereof the first that I shall alledge, is that of Samuel, 2 Sam. 12.18. In which place we do not onely find God threatning, but actually visi­ting David's Adultery upon that Child which was the Off-spring of it; and that too, notwithstanding the Father's deep Humiliation, and earnest Supplication for his Life. For well may we conclude, that God will not ordinarily be wanting in visiting the Iniquity of a Pa­rent upon a Child, when so pious a Man as David could not avert it, though he sought it carefully with tears. But so that it is also with a Father of a Country, no less than with a Natural one, the same Da­vid, how eminent soever for his Piety otherwise, will afford us a no less convincing Proof: the Scripture giving us to understand, that for his numbring of the people, God slew in one day no less than seventy thousand of them, 2 Sam. 24.15. For though there be appearance enough that the Subjects of King David contributed not a little to the procuring of this their Destruction, the same Book of Samuel informing us, in the first Verse of that Chapter, That because the anger of the Lord was kindled against Israel, he permitted Satan to move David to do that Act which procur'd it; though it be also probable, because there is no mention of their doing it, that the People of Israel, when numbred, omitted to give each of them half a shekel for the ransom of his soul, the neglect whereof God had long before told them he would punish with a Plague, Exod. 30.1. and so on; by which means the Destruction of that People will appear yet more particularly to have been drawn upon them by themselves: Yet inasmuch as David taketh the guilt of it upon himself, and desires of God that he would rather turn his hand against him and his fathers house, than against those sheep of his, as he calleth them, who had no hand in the pro­curing [Page 133]the numbring of themselves; inasmuch as the Book of Chro­nicles gives us to understand, that the numbring of the People, which was David's own Act, was the thing which displeased God, and for which he smote Israel, (for the Text tells us in express terms, that God was displeased with this thing, even with the Word and Command of David for the numbring of the People, and therefore he smote Israel, 1 Chron. 21.7.) it is plain, that though the Israelites were not with­out their guilt, and such as might provoke God to the sending of that Pestilence among them; yet the chief occasion of their Calamity was the Sin of David: and though they were punish'd for their own Sins onely, yet it was by his means that they came to be so, who might otherwise have been respited at least from it. Add hereunto God's involving the innocent Children of the Sodomites in the same Calami­ty with their Parents; and in fine, all National Calamities, wherein Experience sheweth good Men have no less suffered, than those who were the Procurers of them. But because it is not onely affirm'd, that God will visit the iniquity of the fathers upon the children, but that he will also visit it to the third and fourth generation; therefore in­quire we, in the next place, what appearance there is of God's ex­tending it either to the one or the other. Now though this be not so easie to be made appear, nor indeed absolutely necessary to be, partly because God never so threatens to visit, but he leaveth himself a liberty to suspend the execution of it, as the Repentance of the Children, or some other Purpose of his Divine Providence shall re­quire; and partly because in this Commandment he doth rather insi­nuate his own likelihood of taking that Revenge, than absolutely as­sure them that he will: yet that it was not without example, especi­ally as to the Children of Idolatrous Parents, the many Evils which God laid upon the Jews, and their being carried Captive into Baby­lon, may serve for an abundant evidence. For as there is nothing more evident from the Sacred Writers, than that Idolatry was the chief cause of that and other their Calamities; so, that the Idolatry of their Forefathers had not a little hand in the procuring of their Captivity, is evident in part from that Lamentation of Jeremy, which was written after, and upon occasion of it; he expresly affirming there, That their fathers had sinned, and were not, and they had born their iniquities, Lam. 5.7. If there be any thing of defect as to that particular proof, it is, that there is mention onely of the Sins of their Fathers, without specifying whether he meant their immediate Fathers, or other their preceding Ancestors. But beside that it is not easie to confine this Speech of his to the Sins of their immediate Predecessors, when it is apparent those that went before them yielded not to them in Idola­try; it is evident enough from other places, that God look'd farther back than the immediately foregoing Generation; yea, that this very Prophet did so; the Author of the Books of Kings 2 Kings 24.3. assuring us, that God had a respect to the Sins of Manasseh, who was four removes from those of the Captivity, as the Prophet Jeremy Jer. 25.4. reproaching them with his sending, and their refusing to hear all his Prophets; which must consequently, because all his Prophets liv'd not within that or a few foregoing Ages, shew him to have intended the Sins of more ancient Times, and of those their Forefathers that lived in them. And in­deed, well may we reckon the Fathers of more than four Generations [Page 134]backward, as the occasioners of their Captivity, when the present Jews impute much of their present Distress to Aaron's Calf; it being a Proverbial Saying among them, That there is no bitter Fagius in Exod. 32.2. ex Mose Ge­rundensi. Non accidit ribi, ô Israel, ultio a­liqua in quâ non sit vel un­cia de iniqui­tate vituli. Cup they drink, which hath not some of the Ashes of that Calf mixed with it. If God doth not at all times proceed to the execution of so severe a Threat, that is imputable to his alone Will and Pleasure, which is un­certain as to us, and therefore not to be depended upon by us, espe­cially as to the Iniquities of our immediate Forefathers: There being not a few Instances of the Miseries of those Children who have had the ill fortune to be descended of Irreligious Parents.

Having thus given an Account of that part of the Sanction which concerneth the Violators of this Commandment, it remains that we descend to that which respects the Observers of it: Concerning which (because it contains nothing of difficulty in it) it shall suffice me to ob­serve, That as God is not wanting to encourage our Obedience to, as well as to discountenance the Transgression of this Commandment; so, that those gracious Expresses by which he endeavours it, transcend those of his Justice, and particularly of his Vindictive one: For, whereas God threatens to visit the Iniquity of the Fathers upon the Children to the third and fourth generation onely, he promiseth to shew mercy unto thousands of them that love him, and keep his com­mandments. But so that God proceeded, as well as promised, the Scriptures do abundantly declare, they giving us to understand, that for the sake of David, and other such pious Persons, God was often entreated both for his Successors, and the Land of Israel; and avert­ed from them those Judgments which they had abundantly deserv'd, and which he himself was otherwise in a disposition to inflict. For thus, when Solomon had by his Sins, and particularly by his Idolatry, gi­ven occasion to the Almighty to rend the Kingdom from him and his Son; yet in respect to David, who had been more faithful in keep­ing of his Commandments and his Statutes, he preserv'd the King­dom entire to him all the days of his Life, and left his Son, for the same David's sake, the Tribe of Judah, and those that follow'd it, 1 Kings 11.34, and so on. In like manner, though in the time of Je­horam, both Judah, and he himself, had made themselves ripe for de­struction, by treading in the Idolatries of Ahab, yet the Text gives us to understand, that for David's sake, as well as for his own Cove­nant, God would not then destroy them, nor give them over to those Calamities which they had deserv'd, 2 Kings 8.19. Which, as it is a sufficient Proof of the reality of God's Intentions, in that Promise which he hath here made to the Observers of this Commandment; so cannot but, if attended to, prove a potent Inducement to the Obser­vation of this, and all other the Commandments of the Almighty: as by means of which, not onely we our selves may be made happy, but a Blessing be thereby entail'd upon many succeeding Generations.

THE THIRD COMMANDMENT.
THE THIRD COMMANDMENT.

Thou shalt not take the Name of the Lord thy God in vain: for the Lord will not hold him guiltless that taketh his Name in vain.

PART I.

The Contents.

The Affirmative Part of the Commandment, the Hallowing of God's Name; for which cause the handling thereof is reserv'd for that Pe­tition of the Lords Prayer which prompts us to desire it: Onely the Negative Part thereof, with its appendent Sanction, considered here. The thing principally forbidden in it, Swearing, and Swearing falsly. Other Profanations of God's Name, and particularly in Oaths, redu­cible thereto, especially in the Christian sense of it. An Inquiry what Oaths are to be look'd upon as forbidden by our Saviour: Where is shewn, first, against the Anabaptists, That all Oaths are not forbid­den; as, in like manner, against the Libertines, That other Oaths are, beside what are made by a Creature; particularly, all Oaths in common Conversation, yea, for which there is not a great necessity. The Grounds of that Determination, and of the unlawfulness of such Oaths.

HAVING in the Preamble to my Discourse upon the Decalogue laid it for a Ground, That every Negative in it includes an Affir­mative, Reason would that I should take notice of the Affirmative of this Precept, which can be no other than the Hallowing of that Name which we are forbid by it to take in vain. But because I shall say enough concerning the Hallowing of God's Name, in that Petition of the Lord's Prayer which hath that for the Object of it, I will pro­ceed without more ado to shew,

  • 1. The meaning of the Prohibition: Together with,
  • 2. That severe Sanction wherewith it is bound upon us.

I. I begin with the Prohibition, Thou shalt not take the Name of the Lord thy God in vain: Where again these two things are to be in­quir'd into.

  • 1. Whether Swearing be the thing here forbidden, at least prin­cipally: And,
  • 2. If it be, What kind of Swearing is.

1. That Swearing is the thing forbidden, at least principally and chiefly, beside the Consent both of Jewish Joseph. Ant. Jud. li. 3. c. 4. ubi sic expri­mit tertium mandatum. [...]. Philo de speci­al legibus. and Christian Interpreters, we have the Phrase that is here made use of, to attest; to take, or ra­ther lift up the Name of God: because they who swore by it, were wont to lift up their Hands to Heaven, being no other than to swear by it. And accordingly, as the Chaldee Paraphrase, together with the Syriack and Arabick Versions, render those Words, Thou shalt not take the Name of God, Swear not by it; so the Phrase of lifting up is so peculiar to the business of an Oath, that it is sometime set by it self to signifie it, and elsewhere with the addition of Soul. For thus, Isa. 3.7. what is in the Hebrew, In that day shall he lift up, saying, is in our Translation, and indeed cannot be well otherwise rendred, In that day he shall swear; and the Psalmist, after he had said, Who hath not lift up his Soul to vanity, to let us know what he means, adds by way of explication, nor sworn deceitfully, Psal. 24.4. In the mean time, as it is not to be deny'd, that the taking the Name of God may also signifie the making mention of it (after the same manner that it is, where God asks of the Wicked what he had to do to declare his statutes, or take his covenant into his mouth, Psal. 50.16.) so the Rule before laid down, That under the grosser Sins, the lesser also are forbidden, will warrant our Understanding the Prohibition to extend to the irreverent use of the Name of God, as well out of an Oath, as in it. But because I shall say enough concerning thus ta­king the Name of God, when I come to entreat of that Petition which prays for the Hallowing of it, I will confine my self at present to the matter of taking God's Name in an Oath; and, because that is the next thing to be discours'd of, inquire what kind of Swearing is here forbidden.

2. And here, in the first place, if we look upon the Command­ment onely as a part of Moses Law, it is not in the least to be doubt­ed, that all kind of Swearing is not forbidden. For, as the Prohi­bition restrains it self to the taking of God's Name in vain; so, that Restriction is so far from proscribing all sorts of Oaths, that it doth on the contrary establish those that are not so qualified: according to that known Axiom of the Lawyers, That exceptio firmat regulam in non ex­ceptis. It is not to be doubted, secondly, if we regard the Com­mandment under the former notion, that the principal design of it was to forbid the taking of God's Name unto a lie: For as that is fre­quently the meaning of the Word shave or vain, especially in the mat­ter of Oaths, as you may see in Grotius upon the Decalogue; so, I think, we cannot otherwise give a satisfactory Account of the oppo­sition our Saviour makes between his own Doctrine, and that of the Law; he representing the purport of the latter to be, Thou shalt not forswear thy self, but of his own, Thou shalt not swear at all. For, wherein lies the opposition between them, if the principal Design, at least, of the Commandment were not to forbid the taking of God's [Page 139]Name unto a lie? In the mean time, though I affirm the Swearing falsely to be the principal thing struck at; my meaning is not to deny, but that vain Oaths may also be condemned with them; partly be­cause that is the prime importance of the Word shave, and partly be­cause I have before laid it for a Ground, That under the greater Sins, the less also of the same species are forbid. But then, thirdly, if we look upon the Commandment as all Christians ought to do, as either explain'd or enlarg'd by our Saviour, so no doubt can remain of the unlawfulness of other Oaths beside false ones; our Saviour's Words, after his rehearsal of the Doctrine of the Law, being, But I say unto you, Swear not at all. For the elucidation of which Doctrine, and together therewith, of our own Obligation from this Commandment, I will proceed in this method.

  • 1. I shall inquire what Oaths are simply and absolutely forbid­den.
  • 2. Whether it be lawful in any case to swear by a Creature.
  • 3. Whether the Magistrate hath power to exact an Oath.
  • 4. Whether, and how far, he may exact one of the Accused Party.
  • 5. What is the Obligation of Oaths.
  • 6. And lastly, (because that is of kin to them, and therefore in reason to have a place here) entreat of the Nature and Ob­ligation of Vows.

I. There are a sort of Men who minding more the Letter, than the meaning of the Scripture, have profess'd to believe themselves, and endeavour'd to perswade others, that all Oaths are now forbidden. What the ground of their Scrupulosity is, shall by and by be declar'd. This onely would be observ'd in passing, That they who in this mat­ter are so tenacious of the Letter, are in other things as regardless both of the Letter and the Sense. For what hath more the astipulation both of the one and the other, than Obedience to Magistrates, which yet these scrupulous Persons do as irreligiously cast off? But because it matters not much what the Persons are that propugn the Opinion, if it have any Foundation in Scripture; leaving the Persons of the Ob­jectors, we will descend to the Texts on which they relie, which are especially that of our Saviour, and of St. James: The purport of the former whereof is, That they should not swear at all; but that their communication should be yea, yea; nay, nay: the latter, That they should not swear, neither by heaven, nor earth, nor any other Oath; but simply affirm or deny whatsoever fell into discourse. For the clear­ing of which Texts, or rather of the former thereof, (for every body may see that that of St. James is borrowed from the other) I shall first of all propose the contrary Example of St. Paul, in those Scri­ptures which God handed to the Church by him: For, who can think it our Saviour's intention to forbid all Swearing whatsoever, when we find such a one as St. Paul doing so, in those Writings wherein he was Divinely inspir'd? Now, for the Practice of St. Paul in this particular, we have several Instances in those Epistles that bear his Name. Thus, Rom. 1.9. we find him vouching God for a Witness (which is the ve­ry Formality of an Oath) that he did without ceasing make mention of them always in his prayers: For God (saith he) is my witness, whom I serve with my spirit in the Gospel of his Son, that without ceasing I [Page 140]make mention of you in my prayers: as, in like manner, Gal. 1.20. where he gives an account of his Conversion, and calling to be an Apostle: Now the things which I write unto you, behold, before God, I lie not. Lastly, Where he speaks of the several Persecutions and Trou­bles which he suffer'd for the Gospels sake, he doth appeal to the same God for the truth of what he said; For the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ (saith he) which is blessed for evermore, knoweth that I lie not, 2 Cor. 11.31. Which Texts are plain and evident Proofs of St. Paul's swearing; and consequently, that our Blessed Sa­viour hath not universally forbidden it. Let it remain therefore for a certain truth, That all Swearing whatsoever is not forbidden by our Saviour, which is the first thing proposed to be proved. But as, on the one side, we are not to think all Oaths whatsoever forbidden; so neither onely such (which may perhaps be the Refuge of some Men) that are made rather by Creatures, than by God; the opposi­tion in that fore-alledged place being not between swearing by a Crea­ture, and by God; but between Swearing, and a naked Affirmation and Denial: For, I say unto you (saith our Saviour) swear not at all, neither by heaven, for it is God's throne; nor by the earth, for it is his footstool, &c. But let your communication be yea, yea; nay, nay: for whatsoever is more than these, cometh of evil. And accordingly, as St. James, where he enforceth the same Prohibition, to the menti­on of swearing neither by heaven nor by earth, adds, neither by any other Oath; so it is easie to assign a Reason of our Saviour's instancing in such kind of Oaths, without restraining the Prohibition to them; even because such kind of Asseverations were less scrupled by the Jews, as may appear from a TractLib. de speci­alibus legibus. of Philo: Where dehorting Men from swearing at all, he yet adds, That in case they did, they should not swear by the Name of God, but by the Health or Memory of their Parents, the Sun, the Earth, and the like; these being, in his Opi­nion, much more excusable than swearing by the Name of God. Whatsoever therefore is the meaning of those Words, Swear not at all, something more is meant than that we should not swear by the Crea­tures; which what that is, I come now more directly to shew.

1. And here, in the first place, I shall not doubt to reckon (because the thing principally forbidden) all Oaths in our common Conversati­on: For what less can we think meant thereby, unless we would have our Saviour's Words signifie just nothing? Especially when he him­self adds, by way of explication, Let your communication be yea, yea; nay, nay: for whatsoever is more than these, cometh of evil. And here give me leave to take up a Lamentation, especially in an Age which seems to bid defiance to our Saviour's Precept, and that Au­gust Name which it would preserve inviolate. For, as if, I do not say, Christ had given no Command concerning it, but our lips were our own, and we had no Superior to controul us, every Man almost, from the oldest to the youngest, calls God to witness in the most trivial and impertinent Affairs; at a Game at Tables, at a Deal of Cards, when a Health is passing about, and it may be Intemperance together with it: For, let the least question be made of any thing that is then acting, and an Oath shall presently be brought to confirm it, and God be call'd to witness that we threw twice Six, or that we have been as intemperate as any that have kept the Round. Nay, to so great an in­temperance [Page 141]are the Tongues of Men now come, that God must be call'd to witness, even where there is no question at all made of any thing, nor it may be likely to be, unless it be whether the Party be a brave resolute Sinner, and have as little fear of God as Man. For what other Interpretation can any Man make of such Mens swearing, but that they are afraid of being thought Religious, or rather of not being thought to have bid defiance to it? But as all Oaths in common Converse are forbidden to us Christians, and Yea or Nay substituted in their room; so, if the wisest of the Heathen or Christians may be credited,

2. All Oaths whatsoever, for which there is not a great necessity. And accordingly, we find the FathersTertul. de Idol. c. 11, & 23. of the Church condemning Swearing, as a thing generally unlawful; and the Ecclesiastical Sto­riesEuseb. Eccl. Hist. l 6. c. 5. Loquitur de Basilide Mar­tyre in Alexan­dria. telling us of one, of whom when his Fellow-soldier demanded an Oath, his Answer was, That it was not lawful for him to swear, because he was a Christian. But, which is admirable to observe, some of the Heathen sweetly consenting with them, and with him whose Religion they propugned: For thus Epictetus Enchit. c. 44. in particular adviseth, [...] that is to say, to avoid swearing, if it were possible, wholly; but if not, at least as far as they might: And Hierocles Hierocles in illam clausu­lam [...]., upon the Golden Verses of Pythago­ras, That the best way to preserve the Reverence due to an Oath, was not to use it frequently, or upon trifling occasions, to fill up the vacu­ities of our Discourse, or procure credit to a Tale; but, as far as they might, to use it onely in things necessary, and when there was no other way to secure them but by the help of an Oath. And, to the shame of us Christians be it spoken, (for this Divinity was not onely in their Books, but in their Practice) there is mention of one Clinias Vid. Grot. in Mat. 5.34., a Py­thagorean, who, when he might have avoided a Mulct of three Ta­lents, by onely taking an Oath, yet chose rather to suffer the loss of those, than take the other. Such was the one and the others Opini­on of the Sacredness of an Oath, and of the unlawfulness of making use of it, unless where there was a great necessity: Which, that it was not without ground, I shall shew immediately, when I make those the matter of my Inquiry. In the mean time, it is evident, that all Oaths in common Converse are unlawful to Christians, and much more the intermingling of Oaths with every Sentence we utter, which is so frequent both with the Base and Honourable. And God grant, that, as the Land hath mourn'd because of them, so it may mourn for them, and we propitiate that Name by our Humiliation and Reve­rence, which others and our selves hitherto have onely dishonour'd and blasphem'd.

To go on now to shew the Grounds of the Prohibition of unneces­sary Oaths, and to establish it by Reason, as well as by Authority: Where, first, I shall alledge the providing that every Man speak truth with his Neighbour, and be punctual in the performance of their Words and Promises: For, as our Saviour is thought to intimate by those Words of his, Whatsoever is more than these, cometh of evil, the use of Oaths had undoubtedly its original from Mens falseness and perfidiousness in their Words and Promises; neither would any Man be desirous of an Oath, if he thought the Party he address'd himself to would speak truth without. And accordingly, our Law doth not [Page 142]generally exact an Oath of those of the Nobler sort, because supposing their Birth and Education to set them above any untruth and persi­diousness; and the Word of an honest Man (as Philo De spec. leg. speaks) [...] that is to say, It hath among those who deem him so, the nature of an Oath, it is free from the suspicion of any falsity or change: Whilst he who is put to an Oath (as the same Philo De Decalog. speaks [...], lies under the suspicion of unfaithfulness. Now forasmuch as it was manifestly our Saviour's Design to implant Faithfulness and Truth in the World, at least in that part of it which embrac'd his Religion; and the use of Oaths (as hath been already shewn) is a sign of the want of that, and onely occasion'd by it; it is easie to suppose, that the recovery of Truth and Faithfulness, was the Reason of his forbidding them in common Converse; yea, that he meant to forbid all that were not strictly necessary; all Oaths that are not such, being a sign of want of Truth in them of whom they are exacted. The second Reason which I suppose induc'd our Saviour to forbid Swearing generally, was to keep Men from swearing falsely; it being an hard matter for a Man to al­low himself in the one, and not be guilty of the other. We learn thus much from the forementioned Philo; [...] for from much swearing (saith he) ariseth perjury and impiety: But much more clearly from Hierocles Loco prius citato., whose Words I shall now subjoyn: [...], &c. Now the words Reverence an Oath, do not onely enjoyn swearing truly, but the avoiding of swear­ing, as much as may be; for so shall we best observe the Precept of swearing truly, if we seldom allow our selves to swear at all: For by swearing frequently and lightly, a Man may easily fall into Perjury; whereas he that swears seldom, never. For, either such an one will not swear at all; or, if he doth, he will swear truly, and neither through an evil Custom suffer his Tongue to run before his Ʋnderstanding, nor his Ʋnderstanding to be hurried away by the intemperance of his Pas­sions. And truly, what else can be expected from a common Swearer, than that he should sometime swear falsely, and as well violate, as profane the Oaths of God? For beside that such Mens frequent swear­ing is a certain Argument that they do not esteem an Oath as Sacred (for then certainly they would reserve them for Matters of importance, and where (as the Poet speaketh) there is a knot worthy God's unty­ing) beside that, I say, the heat of Passion or Inconsiderateness may make such Persons, ere they are aware, set an Oath to that, of the falseness whereof they themselves are convinc'd; which is to call the God of Truth to witness to a Lie, which of all other things he pro­fesseth to abhor. And if this be the consequent of customary swear­ing, no wonder if our Saviour have generally forbidden it, and en­joyn'd Men as much as may be not to swear at all. But beside the Perjury which unnecessary Swearing doth naturally draw after it, and for which cause therefore, if there were no other, it were in reason to be avoided; it offers an affront both to God, and to his Name, which we do thus take in vain. For, can it be other than an affront to the Divine Majesty, to call him to witness to every Trifle, to in­terpose his Testimony in every slight and impertinent Affair? That is to say, in such wherein it would scarcely be decent to call in a Man of any Repute to witness? Beside, when we call God to witness to the [Page 143]truth of what we affirm, our meaning is, because there is no other way of witnessing it, that he would either witness to the truth of what we say, by some extraordinary Accident; or to our falseness, by some re­markable Judgment upon our selves. Now can any Man think it other than an affront, thus unnecessarily to call upon God to shew Mira­cles, and alter the common Course of his Providence; when even God himself makes not any such alteration, but in Matters of impor­tance, and to evidence the truth of a Revelation, or other such like Affair? If a Heathen could affirm of his Deity, That he was not at leisure to intend small matters, we may very well think that the True will not be well pleas'd to be call'd to witness, in Matters that are neither serious nor important. It is true indeed, where the Matter is weighty and important, and the Glory of God some way concern'd in the clearing of it, such as is the doing Right between Man and Man, or the procuring Credit to that Doctrine which he himself hath commanded us to promulge; in those, I say, and such like Cases, espe­cially when we have the Warrant both of his Word and Apostles Pra­ctice, we may well presume it not unacceptable to God, to call him to bear witness to them. But to do it, as is commonly done, upon every slight and trifling occasion, when the question is onely, Whe­ther we have thrown so much at Dice, or which of the Bowls lie nearest to the Jack; in such Cases, I say, to call in God to Umpire the Difference, must argue a mean Opinion of him, and may seem more proper for those Dice we sport withal, and for those Reeds we are wont to measure the difference that is between the other. But be it, that there were nothing of all this in an Oath (which yet is the very Formality of it); yet, is it not some affront to the Divine Ma­jesty, thus unnecessarily to make mention of the Name of God, and to interlard every Sentence we speak, with it? For though his Name be not his Person, yet (as shall be elsewhereOn that Pe­tition of the Lord's Prayer, Hallowed be thy Name. observ'd) there is some Respect due to it, for the relation it hath to him; and according­ly, not either slightly, or regardlesly to be mentioned. But because, where I shall make this Observation, I shall say enough to confirm it, and the unlawfulness of unnecessary and trifling mention of the Di­vine Names; in stead of prosecuting it, or the matter of Swearing any further, I will see if I can provoke your Emulation, by what I find observ'd by Philo De Decalog. & de speciali­bus legibus., concerning some of the more sober Jews: Which is, That in case necessity prompted Men to it, they should not presently have recourse to the First Cause, and swear by the Name of God, but rather by Heaven, or Earth, or some other Creature; That in case they swore by God, they should rather do it tacitely, than expresly; as [...], that is to say, By the, leaving the Name of God, by whom they swore, to be understood: That they should shew some kind of backwardness and aversation to it, even where there seem'd to be some necessity for an Oath: That they should consider well, before they made Oath of any thing, whether it were a matter of importance, whe­ther it were true, and such as they had sufficient knowledge of; whe­ther they themselves were pure in Soul, in Body, and in Tongue; it be­ing a great Impiety to let any thing of filthiness pass through that mouth which made mention of the Name of God. Lastly, That they should take care not to swear in any profane and impure Places, in which it seem'd hardly decent to make mention of our earthly Parents. For, is it pos­sible, [Page 144]after all this, for Christians, who have been so much more ob­lig'd, and better instructed by God, to have less regard to it; nay, to profane and blaspheme that holy Name, to call him to witness to eve­ry Impertinence, to vouch his Authority for a Throw or a Card? If it be, it is a sign we have as little of Emulation as Religion, and are equally regardless of our own Honour, and that of God. Lastly, (which is a Consideration by no means to be forgotten, because made use of by God himself to dehort us from it) As there is little of Ho­nour or Religion in thus taking the Name of God in vain; so there is all the reason in the World to believe, though we had not the Scri­pture to assure us, that God will not hold him guilt less that doth it. For, who can think, but that he who hath been so often summon'd to come down among us, and witness to our Extravagances and Im­pertinencies, will at length come down, though to a quite different purpose, and make us feel the dreadfulness of that Name, which we do either trifle with, or blaspheme.

PART II.

Concerning false Oaths, and the Impiety thereof, which is evidenced from the affront they offer to the Divine Majesty, and the prejudice they bring to Humane Society. This last evidenced at large, both in Assertory and Promissory Oaths. Of Swearing by a Creature; and whether or no, and in what sense it may be lawful. That it is un­lawful to make a Creature the Term of our Oath, or the Thing we swear by; but not so, to make mention of them in an Oath (though in the common Form of one) when intended onely as relating to the Divine Majesty, or devoted unto him as Pledges of our Fidelity. That it is lawful for the Magistrate to exact an Oath of his Subjects. This evidenced in part from the nature of an Oath, which becometh so much the more lawful for being extorted; from the Practice of Holy Men in Scripture, who have requir'd an Oath from their Chil­dren and Servants; and, in fine, from the necessity there is often­times of it, for the securing both the Magistrate and the Common­wealth.

3. THAT all Oaths in common Converse are unlawful, that all vain and unnecessary ones are so, you have seen already: Proceed we now to the consideration of False ones, or such as are applied to a Lie. For that these also are unlawful, the Letter of the Commandment shews, and may à fortiori be concluded from our Sa­viour's Prohibition of the other. The former of these I shall now take for granted, as having sufficiently establish'd it in the foregoing Discourse: It remains therefore that I evidence the truth of the lat­ter, which will not cost me much time or pains to manifest. For, if we are to have an Oath in such veneration, as not to use it in com­mon Converse, nor indeed where there is not a great necessity; how cautious ought we to be in setting it to a Lie, which this very Deca­logue [Page 145]hath forbidden, and which, beside that, God doth elsewhere profess to have a great abhorrence of. To all which, if we add that of St. Paul to Timothy, 1 Tim. 1.9, 10. so there will not remain any the least doubt, I do not say of the unlawfulness, but of the great enor­mity of setting the Oath of God unto a Lie; because not onely af­firming the Law to have been made for perjur'd Persons, but reckoning them among Parricides, and other such Monsters in Nature, as their Crime, together with those of their Associates, among the things that are contrary to sound doctrine.

Now though this might suffice, at least amongst reasonable Men, to evince the unlawfulness of setting the Oath of God unto a Lie: yet because, as was but now intimated, it is a Crime of a very high na­ture, and yet by many Men as little scrupled as vain and unnecessary ones, I think it not amiss a little to explain the Nature of it, and the fatal Consequences wherewith it is attended.

I have before shewn, and shall therefore now take it for granted, that an Oath is a Religious Affirmation, wherein God is invok'd as a Witness, and by consequence also as a Revenger, if we be found to fal­sifie in it. From whence it will follow, That whosoever swears falsly, calls God to witness to a Lie. Now, that no Man can do, without believing God to have no regard at all to Humane Affairs, or that he is false, and a Patron of those that are so; neither the one, nor the other of which, can be entertain'd into our thoughts, without the highest Impiety in the World. Not the former, because not onely denying an Article of our Faith, but striking at the Root of all Reli­gion; He that cometh unto God (as the Author to the Hebrews 11.6. in­structs us) being not onely to believe that he is, but that he is a reward­er of such as diligently seek him; which implies a more than ordinary Regard. But let us suppose him that swears falsely, to believe God to have a regard to Humane Affairs; though I am sure he that doth so, will in the end give us no thanks for the Supposition; yet can it not be deny'd, but that he must believe God to be such as himself, even a Liar, and a Patron of those that are so. For will any Man call those to witness to a Lie, of whom he hath not a strong presumption that they are false themselves? Nay, will he be so unmindful of his own Interest, or rather take so much pains to ruine it? For, if the Party whom he invites to give Testimony, be no false or deceitful Person, he will undoubtedly give Testimony rather against than for him, and discover his falshood to the World. Now forasmuch as it cannot be suppos'd any Man will be so far an Enemy to himself, as to seek a Te­stimony which shall onely make against him; he who thus calls God to witness, must be presum'd to believe that God will witness for him; and consequently, because a Lie is that he is call'd to witness to, that God is false, and a Patron of those that are so. But what Impiety can be greater than such a Belief, or more dishonourable to the Divine Majesty; who hath every where represented himself as True and Faith­ful; who hath, in several places, affirm'd Lying to be one of those things to which his Power, though Almighty, cannot reach; lastly, whose Veracity is the stay of all those that trust in him, of all that come unto Christ by him? For, let God's Veracity be destroy'd, and all Trust in him must perish with it, and he be accounted as vain a Con­fidence, as any which himself decries.

From the Affront which false swearing offers to the Divine Majesty, pass we to the Consequences thereof, and the harm it doth to Humane Society; which will appear, if we reflect upon the several sorts of Oaths, which are either Assertory, or Promissory. For Assertory Oaths, such I mean as are brought to witness the Truth of any thing that is past or present, the Author to the Hebrews tells us (and we may learn it from our own Experience) that they are an end of strifes between Parties at variance; this being that by which all Controversies are voided, and without which it is impossible they should ever be. For, as it is not to be presum'd, they who judge between Man and Man, should have cognisance of their respective Interests, but from the re­port of others; so the bare Affirmations of Men are generally too fal­lacious to ground a sound Decision on; there being nothing more usual, even for those who make some conscience of speaking Truth, than to stretch it beyond its bounds, to serve the Necessity or Inte­rest of their Friends. Either therefore Differences must never have an end, which Religion, as well as the Interest of the World, forbids; or they must be ended by that, which the Scripture hath represented as the proper way to terminate, and which all the World hath made use of to compose them. Now forasmuch as the Welfare of Mankind depends upon the Composure of Differences, as that again upon the Religion of an Oath; he must needs be a great Enemy to Humane So­ciety, who shall subvert this surest Prop of it, and call God to wit­ness to a Lie. For what were this but to bring a scandal upon those so necessary means of deciding Controversies; and consequently, to leave Men either to differ without hopes of accord, or (what was sometime in use in our Forefathers days) to decide their Differen­ces by the Sword. Which, as it is in it self a very unequal Umpire of Differences, so serves onely to create greater, and precipitate Men into that confusion which they sought to avoid by it. The like is to be said of Promissory Oaths; such, I mean, as are brought to assure Men, that they who make them, will perform what they promise. For, let these once be vitiated and disgrac'd, and there can be no assurance to any Man, of any thing that is yet to come. For, if an Oath will not hold a Man, much less will a bare promise, because that contains a Promise in it, and beside that, an Appeal to the Judge of Heaven and Earth. If it be said, as it may, That the Laws and the Punishments annex'd, may make them perform their Oaths, whom the Religion of an Oath cannot; I answer, first, That there were such Oaths made, must be confirm'd by another, to those to whom the execution of the Laws is committed. If therefore Oaths do once become cheap and vile, that also may be suspected of falshood, and consequently render the Proceedings of all Courts of Judicature suspected, because directed by them. Again, What security can we have that Judgment shall be rightly administred, if Oaths have not their due regard? For, inas­much as Judges are subject to the same Infirmities and Passions with our selves; and the Laws, by which they proceed, neither are nor can be so made, but they may, notwithstanding them, injure some Persons in their Cause: what security can there be of their not actu­ally doing so, if that Oath restrain them not, which they gave to him whose Vicegerents they are? Sure I am, nothing else can restrain the Prince himself, because he is obnoxious to no Tribunal, but that of [Page 147]God. And therefore the condition of the World must needs be bad, if those Oaths become contemptible, by which alone their Exorbi­tances can be bounded. So pernicious to Humane Society, is the set­ting an Oath to a Lie; so destructive to the Honour of God, and the Being of Religion. And having said and evinc'd so much, I shall not need to say any thing more to aggravate the Criminalness thereof; because transforming the perjur'd Person into the Cruelty of a Wild Beast, and the gross Irreligion of an Atheist.

II. Having thus shewn what Oaths are simply and absolutely un­lawful, that is to say, all Oaths in common Converse, all unnecessary, and false ones; I come now to inquire, Whether it be in any case lawful to swear by a Creature; the second thing propos'd to be di­scours'd of. For the resolution whereof,

1. The first thing I shall propose, is, That it is not lawful in the least to make them the Term of our Oath, or the things which we swear by, in strict and proper speech; that being to give them the Honour which is due to God, and consequently to look upon them as such. For inasmuch as the Scripture requires the swearing by his Name, Deut. 6.13. and, which is more, imputes to the Israelites for a Crime, their swearing by them that were no gods, Jer. 5.7. inasmuch as an Oath is in its own nature the calling him to witness who is of infallible Truth, a Searcher of Hearts, and a most just and powerful Avenger of Fals­hood (which cannot be affirm'd of any but God); he that in strict­ness of speech swears by any Creature, must consequently be suppos'd to give it the Honour that is due to God, or rather look upon it as such: A thing which it is manifest many of the Heathen did, and ac­cordingly swore by them. Thus Euripides brings in Aegeus swearing after Medea, in these following Words.

[...],
[...].

That is to say, I swear by the Earth, and the bright Light of the Sun, and all the Gods whatsoever, that I will be constant to what you en­joyn me. And an Assyrian Astrologer (as a Learned ManJoh. Selden. Prolegom. ad Synt. De DIS Syris, cap. 3. [...]. of our own Nation informs us) binds his Readers not to prostitute the Secrets of it, under this following Oath. I adjure all those that light upon this Book, by the holy Circle of the Sun, and the irregular Courses of the Moon; by the Vertues of the other Stars, and the Zodiack; to keep these things secret, and not either impart them to the unlearned, and such as have not been entred into them; or be unmindful of paying Respect to the Memory of me their Instructer. Let the forenamed Gods be pro­pitious to those that keep this Oath; but contrary to them that break it. From both which Passages it is manifest, that many of the Heathen look'd upon the Powers of Heaven and Earth as Gods, and accordingly swore by them. And therefore, as some pious Men have, through the fear of such like Idolatry, advis'd wholly to forbear the use of such Oaths, wherein there is mention of Created Beings; so I shall so far concur with them, as to advise the same, where there is any danger of our own falling, or drawing others into the like [Page 148]Crime; it being one of the highest Impieties, to give Divine Honour to the Creatures, and swear by them, as if they were Gods themselves. But from hence we may guess what is to be thought of the Practice of the Papists, who, beside the erecting of Temples, making Prayers, and other such Acts of Adoration, do not infrequently swear by the Saints also. For, what other is this, than to give them that Honour which, in all other Mens opinion, and even in their own, is proper to the Al­mighty? Neither will it suffice to say, That they do it not for them­selves, but with respect to him to whom they do belong: For still it will follow, because Swearing is a part of it, that they give them that Adoration which the Almighty hath challeng'd to himself, and which, unless they were Searchers of Hearts, can in no wise belong to them. As little is to be said in its defence, from those common Oaths by Hea­ven, our own Life, and the like: For though these (as we learn from our Saviour) have the Nature of Oaths; though the Expressions them­selves may seem to perswade those Things to be the Things we swear by: yet, as they are not in the least invok'd as Witnesses, but God to whom they do belong, or are devoted by us; so they are made use of onely to express either some Attribute of God's, or our own readi­ness to resign them up to his Vindictive Justice, if we be found to fal­sifie in them.

2. For the evidencing whereof (and together with it, in what sense it may be said to be lawful to swear by a Creature) I shall in­stance, first of all, in those forms of Oaths which have in them the force of an Execration, as By our Health, Ʋpon our Salvation, and the like. The meaning whereof, in the general estimate of the World, is no other than this; So let God grant me Health and Salvation, as I speak what I think, or mean to perform what I promise; and consequently is but an abbreviation of that Oath of St. Paul, 2 Cor. 1.23. More­over I call God for a record upon my soul, that to spare you I came not as yet unto Corinth: Which doth manifestly make God the Term of our Oath, and not either our Soul, or any thing else that appertains to it. The same is to be said of those Forms of Oaths which are made by our Hand, Hands, or any other Part of the Body; the intention thereof being onely to devote them unto God, as Pledges of the Truth of what we swear. In like manner, secondly, for those Oaths that are made by Heaven, or any other Thing wherein the Power or Truth of God is conspicuous; the meaning thereof, in the intendment of Chri­stians, can be no other, than to call him to witness, whose Glory shines forth in them; as may appear both from Reason and Practice. For, can any Man be so senseless, as to call those Creatures to witness to the sincerity of his Intentions, which he himself is perswaded of not to have the least sense of any thing? Nay, would not the so do­ing give Men cause to suspect, that he himself was as stupid as they? It is true indeed, we read in Genesis, of Jacob and Laban's rearing a Pillar and heap of Stones, for a Witness of the League between them, Gen. 31.48. Nay, we read further, (which is of more consideration) of Laban's addressing himself to them after this manner; This heap be witness, and this pillar be witness, that I will not pass over this heap to thee, and that thou shalt not pass over this heap, and this pillar, to me, for harm, vers 52. of that Chapter. But, as the meaning thereof can be no other, than that they should serve for a Memorial of [Page 149]the League then made, which is quite different from the business of an Oath; so, that Laban had no other intention, may appear from his own Words immediately before it: For, if (saith he, vers. 50.) thou shalt afflict my daughters, or if thou shalt take other wives beside my daughters, no man is with us, see, God is witness betwixt me and thee. Which Words do not onely shew him to refer the Matter to the Testimony of God; but so, as to exclude all other Witnesses; be­cause professing to refer it unto God, for that there was no other to attest it. I conclude therefore, That where there is mention of a Creature in an Oath, the design thereof is not in the least to call that Creature to witness, but God, to whom it doth belong. Which, as it is no way like the swearing by the Saints departed, who are pre­sum'd by the Papists to have knowledge of what we swear; so shews the swearing by Heaven, or the like, according as was before under­stood, to have nothing at all of unlawfulness in it, because not so much the Term of our Oaths, or That we swear by, as the Adjuncts of it, and onely inserted in it, to represent the more strongly to our minds the Majesty of that God by whom we swear, or our own ex­treme danger, in case we falsifie in them. And accordingly, as in the Old Testament we find Jacob Gen. 31.53. swearing by the fear of his Fahter Isaac, and Elisha 2 Kings 2.2. by the life of his master; soApol. cap 32. Sed & jura­mus sicut non per Genios Cae­sarum, ita per salutem eorum, quae est augu­slior omnibus Geniis. Tertullian tells us of the Christians of his time, and such too as would rather die than swear by the Genius of the Emperour, because apprehended by them to be an Heathenish Deity, that they would not refuse to swear by the safety of their Lord, which was more August than all Genii. The result of the Premises is this, That as it is not lawful to make a Creature the Term of our Oath, because so giving Divine Honour to them; so it is not unlawful to make mention of them in our Oath, when they are represented as Adjuncts of the Deity, or devoted unto God as Pledges of the Truth of what we affirm.

III. The Order of my Discourse now leads me to inquire, Whether the Magistrate may not exact an Oath of his Subjects? A Question to be wondred at, if it had not been also made a Question, Whether there ought to be any Magistrates, or those Magistrates ought to be obey'd? For,

1. First, Whereas other Acts of Adoration, by how much the more voluntary they are, the more acceptable they are to the Divine Ma­jesty; an Oath, on the contrary, requires something of a necessity, to make it onely lawful; and how much more then, to make it accept­able to the Divine Majesty? And accordingly, as it is a ProverbAndrew's Determin Theo­log. de jure-ju­rando [...]. among the Greeks, That Oaths and War are evil, when spontaneous; and onely good, when they are extorted from us; so that Proverb of theirs stands confirm'd as to an Oath, by the Veneration we ought to have for it, and the end for which it is given. For, Scripture and Reason requiring that Oaths should not be lightly us'd, and the end thereof being for the satisfaction of those to whom it is given; it fol­lows, that they become good onely when they are extorted from us by the hardness of those Mens belief whose satisfaction is intended in them. If therefore an Oath become so much the more legitimate by being extorted; if it may be extorted from us by the incredulity of the Party to whom we give it; how much more, when there is just cause for it, by the Command of the Magistrate, to whom God hath commanded every Soul to submit it self?

2. My second Argument for the lawfulness of the Magistrates ex­acting an Oath, shall be taken from the Practice of Holy Men, toward those who were subject to their Commands, and that too where there was less Authority to constrain. For thus Abraham made his Servant swear, that he would not take a wife unto his son of the daughters of the Canaanites, but of his own Kindred and Country, Gen. 24.3, 4. and Jacob made his Son Joseph swear that he would carry his body out of Egypt, and bury him in the Burying-place of his Fathers, Gen. 47.29. and so on. In fine, thus Jacob made Esau swear to part with his birthright, Gen. 25.33. Now, if (as Bishop Andrews Determinat. Theolog. supra citat. well argues) it were lawful for the Master to put his Servant to an Oath, as it was to Abraham; if to a Father toward his Son, as in the case of Jacob and Joseph; if to a Brother over a Brother, as to the same Jacob over Esau; how much more shall it be lawful for him to require an Oath of his Subjects, whose Empire is more excellent than all other Em­pires? To all which, if we add,

3. In the third place, the necessity there is of his so doing, in order to the Security of himself, and the Commonwealth, so no doubt can remain of the Power of the Magistrate to exact, and consequently of the Subjects Duty to comply with his Commands. For, is it any thing less than necessary to the Security of the Magistrate, to require an Oath of Allegiance to himself, when Men through the pride and perverseness of their Nature, are so hardly brought to afford it? Espe­cially when in his Honour and Security, the Security of the Common­wealth is bound up; neither can that be safe, unless his Person and Authority be preserv'd inviolate? The same is to be said of that other sort of Oaths which the Magistrate tenders to decide Controversies between Man and Man. For, being it is for the Interest, yea Being of the Commonwealth, that Controversies be determin'd; being (as I have before shewn) those are not to be determin'd without an Oath; it remains, That either the Magistrate is not furnish'd with full Power to determine Controversies between Man and Man (which would make the Institution of Magistracy vain) or it shall be lawful for him to ex­act an Oath to determine them by. And indeed (as the fore-named Bishop well argues) well may they exact the Oath of God,Ibid. who have both his Name, and his Authority; who, as they represent his Person, so do also judge for him; and, which is more (for so the Psalmist tells us) who have him standing in their congregation, and judging in their Tribunal.

PART III.

Whether it be lawful to require an Oath of the Accused Party. This evi­denced in part from what God directed among the Jews in several Cases, which is shewn to have been conformable thereto. An Obje­ction from the suppos'd unreasonableness of a Mans accusing himself, propos'd, and answered. The reasonableness of exacting an Oath of the Accused Party, evidenced from several Topicks and particu­larly from the impossibility there sometimes is of the Magistrates do­ing Justice without it. The Cases of Life and Limb to be excepted, and why. Of the Obligation of Oaths, and what that Obligation is, both in Assertory and Promissory ones. That an Oath obligeth even where drawn from Men by false and deceitful Stories, where it is to the Swearers disadvantage, or extorted by Threats and Violence. If an Oath oblige not, it is for the most part from the inhability of the Sweater, or the undueness of the Matter; that is to say, when it is either impossible, or unlawful to be perform'd.

HAVING shewn it to be lawful for the Magistrate to exact an Oath; and moreover, that in many Cases it is necessary for him to do it; [...]nquire we, in the next place,

IV. Whether he may require an Oath of the Accused Party? which may seem to have more of difficulty in it; because, by means of that, a Man may be oblig'd to be his own Accuser; which may seem con­trary to each Man's Natural Liberty. For the resolution whereof, I will proceed in this Method.

  • 1. I will shew what God himself directed among the Jews.
  • 2. Examine the Grounds upon which the Negative is founded.
  • 3. Produce the Reasons of exacting an Oath of the Accused Party. And,
  • 4. And lastly, Declare in what Cases it may be done.

1. If Men were always as willing to be regulated by the Scriptures, as they do for the most part profess themselves to be, there would not long be any doubt, whether it were lawful for the Magistrate to exact an Oath that may condemn the Party that gives it: For there are two Instances wherein God expresly requires the giving of an Oath to the Accused Party; the first whereof is, where the Accused Party hath any Goods committed to his Custody; the second, where there is a suspicion of Falshood in a Wife. For thus, Exod. 22.10, 11. If a man deliver unto his neighbour an ass, or an ox, or a sheep, or any beast to keep, and it die, or be hurt, or driven away, no man seeing it; then (saith the Text) shall an Oath of the Lord be between them both, that he hath not put his hands unto his neighbours goods, and the owner thereof shall accept of it, and he shall not make it good. In like manner, Numb. 5.18, 19. if a Man had a suspicion of his Wives dishonesty, and accordingly brought her before the Priest for Judg­ment, it is commanded, that the Priest shall charge her with an Oath concerning that whereof she is suspected. And though there be not the like Evidence concerning any other Crimes, wherein the Oath of [Page 152]the Accused Party might be requisite; yet, as it is apparent enough from Levit. 6.2, 3. that an Oath might be exacted also, where there was a suspicion of dealing deceitfully in Fellowship, or of violent ta­king away, or deceit, or concealing what a Man had found, all these being there joyn'd with a Man's lying unto his Neighbour in that which is deliver'd him to keep, and an Oath suppos'd to have pass'd concerning them: so it appears highly probable, from 1 Kings 8.31. That it was lawful to exact an Oath of the Accused Party, in any Dif­ference between Man and Man; that place not onely supposing the lay­ing of an Oath upon the Accused Party, but supposing also (because expressing it in those indefinite Terms, If any man trespass against his brother) in any Crime whatsoever. However it be, most certain it is, from the fore-quoted places in Leviticus, that an Oath might be laid upon a suspected Party in Matters of Estate; which is as much, I think, as is ordinarily claimed by any Magistrate: and if so, so far at least it may be lawful to lay an Oath upon the Accused Party, whatever Pre­tence there is from Mens Natural Liberty. For, though (as was be­fore observ'd) the Judicial Law, of which that was a part, be not of present Obligation; yet being a Law of Gods making, it cannot be suppos'd to contain any thing in it, that is contrary to the Law of Reason and Nature.

2. From what God directed among the Jews in this Affair, pass we to the Grounds whereupon it is pretended to be unlawful to exact an Oath of the Accused Party; which (as was before insinuated) is its seeming contrariety to each Man's Natural Liberty, to be oblig'd to accuse himself. In answer to which, I say, 1. That though, as it may hap­pen, a Man may by such an Oath be obliged to accuse himself; yet if he be innocent, he may have an opportunity thereby to clear his own Innocency to the World, and so advantage, in stead of condemning himself. I say, 2. That whatsoever is pretended concerning Mens Natural Liberty, yet is it not to be understood to reach any further than is consistent with the Rules of Government. For, as no Man can be born any other than a Subject, because by his very Birth oblig'd to be so to those from whom he receiv'd his Being; so God himself, to whom we are certainly Subjects, hath appointed Governours over us, and commanded us to be subject to them. Whatsoever Liberty there­fore we have, it must be suppos'd to be limited by the necessary Ends of that Government to which he hath commanded us to be subject. If then the Ends of Government do sometime require the administring of such an Oath, the Pretence of Natural Liberty can be no Plea against it, because by the Command of God subjected to the other. And this Particular will minister to me a fair entrance into

3. The reasonableness of exacting an Oath of the Accused Party; which is the third thing propos'd to be inquir'd into. Which I shall ground upon the impossibility of the Magistrates doing Justice some­times, where such an Oath as we are now speaking of, is not admini­stred. For it often hapning, through the cunning of those we deal with, that proof cannot be made of their deceitful dealing with us; either it shall be lawful for them to keep that which they have de­ceitfully gotten, which is against the Rules of Justice and Equity; or, the Magistrate must have a Power to administer an Oath to the suspe­cted Party, concerning that which he is suppos'd to have unjustly got­ten. [Page 153]Which whosoever shall seriously consider, will not be very for­ward to think it unreasonable to put a Man sometimes upon the accu­sing of himself. For as hard as it may be, and contrary to his suppo­sed Liberty; it may seem much more hard, and more contrary to the Liberties of us all, that Men, for the close carriage of their Injustice, should go away with the Properties of other Men, and there be no Judiciary Course to retrive it from them. The Pretence of Natural Liberty will appear yet more vain, if we consider, that all Men are liable to have the same Oaths exacted of them: For, inasmuch as I have the privilege of laying an Oath upon other Men, as they have upon me in any thing I am suspected of; though such an Oath be pre­judicial to me, yet it may be compensated to me upon other Men, with whom I have occasion to deal. Add hereunto (which is of great conside­ration, unless a liberty to sin may be reckon'd among our Natural Liber­ties) That as through the fear of such an Oath I may be restrain'd from unjust dealing, lest I be afterwards oblig'd to make my own Mouth wit­ness against me; so I may be oblig'd, by the taking of it, to make con­fession of my Sin, and make satisfaction for it to my Neighbour and the World; which, without the obligation of such an Oath, it is proba­ble I should never have done, and thereby have shut my self out from the Pardon of the Almighty.

4. It having been thus demonstrated, That it is not unlawful for a Magistrate to take an Oath of the Accused Party, concerning that of which he is so accus'd; it remains onely that I inquire, in what Cases it may be done; which is the fourth thing propos'd to be discours'd of. Now, for that, nothing, I think, can be said with more Reason and Judgment, than is by the Reverend Person before-mentioned; and that is, That it be administred onely in such Cases where the Crime which it is design'd to detect, do not lay a Man open to Death, or loss of Limb. Not perhaps because it is utterly unlawful in such Cases (for what shall we then say of the Oath wherewith the Woman suspe­cted of Adultery was charg'd, together with the Water of Jealousie she was made to drink?) but, 1. For the Oath of God's sake, which by being adminstred in such Cases, is in great danger of being violated. For, since Life and Limb, but Life especially, is so dear to us, that, as the Devil told the Almighty, a Man will part with all to preserve it; there is just reason to suspect, if Men were put to their Oaths in such Cases, they would forswear themselves, and thereby offer an affront to the Oath of God, which ought as much as may be to be preserv'd invio­late. There is as much reason, secondly, for the not administring it in the forementioned Cases, because of its ineffectualness to attain the End which is design'd by it. For the End of such an Oath being the discovery of that Crime, which he to whom it is tendred is suspected to be guilty of, it can hardly escape the imputation of a Sin, to ten­der it there, where in all probability he to whom it is so tendred will forswear himself, rather than expose himself to so great a severity. But as (setting aside these Cases, where there is danger of Life or Limb, or if there be any other of equal consideration with it) there appears not the least reason why an Oath should not be administred to the suspected Party; so there is less exception against our Courts of Judicature, where such Oaths are in use: because as the Complainant has the liberty of laying an Oath upon the Defendant, so the De­fendant [Page 154]has Power to interrogate the other upon the same Sacred Tie.

V. I am now arriv'd at my last Particular concerning Oaths, to wit, the Obligation of them; where, first of all, I shall shew, that they induce an Obligation; and then, what that Obligation is. That they induce an Obligation or Tie to the performance of something, the Prophet Moses shews, in the thirtieth Chapter of Numbers; where we have not onely an Oath frequently stil'd by the Name of a bond, but the design thereof, vers. 3. said to be to bind the soul with a bond. The onely difficulty is, to what they do oblige or bind us; which is different according to the different sorts of Oaths, which (as hath been before insinuated) are either Assertory, or Promissory. Asser­tory Oaths are such as are given to attest the Truth of any thing, that is either past or present. Now the Obligation which those induce, is, That what is so sworn to, be agreeable to the mind of him that utters them; by vertue whereof, not onely all false Oaths are pro­scrib'd, but all Oaths which pretend to assert that which we swear to, with any greater degree of certainty than we our selves are perswaded of. Thus, for example, if a Man should swear peremptorily to the truth of any thing which he is onely probably perswaded of, in this case his Oath would be sinful, because his Words carry a greater cer­tainty in them, than is in the Conscience of him that swears to it. When therefore we give an Oath of this nature, care would be taken, not onely that the thing we sear to, appear to us to be true; but that it appear to us in that degree of assurance, with which it is af­firm'd by us: For otherwise our Affirmation must be concluded to be false, and consequently (which is evidence enough of the criminal­ness thereof) that God Almighty is call'd to witness to a Lie. And though, as I shall afterward shew, those Oaths which we call Promis­sory ones, by reason of the Matter about which they are conversant, have a particular obligation; yet they also have this common with Assertory Oaths, that they oblige those who swear, to take care that their Words be agreeable to their Thoughts, that is to say, that they do not swear to do any thing, but what they have at that time an in­tention to perform. For, though the thing they swear to perform be somewhat future, yet the immediate Object of their Oath is their present Resolution to perform it; and consequently, if they will free their Oath from Falshood, at that instant to resolve upon, what they swear in due time to perform.

To go on now to shew the Obligation that is peculiar to Promissory Oaths, or such Oaths as are affixed to a Promise; which, if Reason it self did not teach us, we might learn from the Scripture, to be no other than the performing of what we so swear to. For thus, Num. 30.3. it is the express Commandment of the Almighty, That if any man vow a vow unto the Lord, or swear an oath to bind his soul with a bond, he shall not break his word, he shall do according to all that proceed­eth out of his mouth. Which is so true, that it holds even where the Oath was drawn from us by false or deceitful Stories; where the thing sworn to, is to the disadvantage of him that swears; or lastly, where the Oath is extort'd by Threats and violence. For thus,

1. When Joshua and the Israelites had given their Oath to the Gi­beonites, That they should be suffer'd to live among them; notwith­standing [Page 155]they who induc'd them to take it, drew it from them by false and crafty Pretences, yet the Sentence of the Princes of the Con­gregation was, That they might not touch them, because they had sworn to let them live, Josh. 9.19. Neither was this a causless Scruple of Joshua, and other the Princes of the Congregation, (though who can easily think those Men guilty of any such, who were the most eminent for Knowledge and Authority among them?) for when, many years after, Saul slew the Race of those Gibeonites, with whom the Oath of the Lord had pass'd, God was so displeas'd with the whole Nation for it, that he visited it with a three years Famine; neither would he be entreated for the Land, till David had deliver'd up seven of Saul's Sons to the Gibeonites, to be by them hang'd up unto the Lord, 2 Sam. 12. ver. 1. and so on. This onely would be added, That what we have said of an Oath drawn from us by Craft, be understood to hold onely, where that in which we are impos'd upon, is not express'd as the Ground of our Oath: For, if that in which we are impos'd upon be expressed as the Ground of our Oath, there is no doubt that an Oath so drawn from us doth not oblige. Thus, to instance in the for­mer Example, though the Israelites were bound by their Oath to the Gibeonites, although they were no Foreigners as they pretended, because the supposition of their being such, was not express'd as the Ground of their League; but the thing, hand over head, taken for granted: yet, if the same Israelites had made a League with them under the Name of Foreigners, in that case there is no doubt (because that was expresly the Ground of their League) that the Oath given by them had not oblig'd them: For the Oath being given to them as Foreign­ers, could not in reason be construed to relate to any but Foreigners, and consequently, not to advantage the Gibeonites, when it appear'd they liv'd among them. For the further evidencing whereof, I will instance in a Case which is produc'd by a Learned CasuistSanders. de Juram. obligat. Praelect. 4. Sect. 13. of our own, though by him somewhat otherwise explain'd. For suppose (saith he) that a Man should swear to a certain Person, under the Name of Titia, that he would marry her, supposing her to be Titia, when indeed she was not: In this Case the Oath would not oblige him, be­cause the supposition of her being Titia was expresly the Ground of what he swore. Which Resolution will appear yet more clear, if we do farther suppose, that the true Titia should upon that Oath of his claim him for her Husband. For, as the Laws of God and Man for­bid him the marrying of them both; so there is more reason she should have the Benefit of his Oath, who was the Person express'd in it, than she who had no other concernment in it, than as suppos'd to be the Person. In this case therefore, that is, where that wherein we are im­pos'd upon is expresly the Ground of our Oath, an Oath drawn from us by deceit obliges not: but otherwise, as the Instance of the Gibe­onites shews, it ought to be held as Sacred, and we to do whatsoever proceedeth out of our mouth.

2. Again, As an Oath obligeth, unless in the former Case, where it is drawn from us by the Craft of him we swear to; so it obligeth also, though the Matter thereof should prove prejudicial to him that taketh it: the Prophet David reckoning it among the Characters of him that shall abide in God's Tabernacle, That he sweareth to his own hurt, and changeth not, Psal. 50.4.

3. Lastly, As neither the Craft of him we deal with can generally rescind an Oath, nor yet the Disadvantage that comes to our selves by it; so neither, thirdly, the Violence of those Persons that forc'd it from us: as for example, the Threats of Thieves or Pirats, who have, it may be, compell'd us to make Oath of paying them such a Sum of Money for our Ransom. For, as it is evident from the Psalmist, That it is the Office of a Good Man not to change, though he swear to his own hurt; and consequently, an Oath given to a Thief or Pirate not to be rescinded upon that account: so there is no reason it should be upon the account of the Swearers unvoluntariness, which is that which is most stood upon in this Case: For though we would not have so sworn, if we could have help'd it; and consequently, our Oath was not perfectly voluntary:Sanders. de Ju­ram. oblig. Prae­lect. 4. sect. 16. yet being under a fear of Death or Bondage from them, we chose to oblige our selves, and therefore so far willed to be oblig'd. Now, having willed our own Obligation, what should hinder us from performing it, and doing that which we not onely pro­mis'd, but call'd God to witness we meant, and would perform? And indeed, though some Men, consulting more their own Profit, than the Sacredness of an Oath, have made light of those Oaths, when they have delivered themselves; yet if they would more attentively consi­der it, they would not be very forward to excuse themselves, for not performing even such an extorted Oath. For, I demand of any such, Whe­ther, to deliver himself from Thieves or Pirats, he doth not think it lawful to make Oath of paying such a Sum of Money for his Ran­som? If he saith he doth, (as I know not any that thinks or says otherwise) he saith that which will conclude him guilty of Perjury, if he violate it: For, whatsoever it is lawful to swear, rebus sic stan­tibus, it is necessary to perform; because an Oath, in the nature of it, is a Tie to that to which it is affix'd. Generally speaking there­fore, as it is in the Place of Numbers before-quoted, If a man swear an Oath to bind his soul with a bond, he ought not to break his word, but to do according to all that proceedeth out of his mouth. If an Oath at any time oblige not, it is for the most part through

  • 1. The inhability of the Taker: or,
  • 2. The undueness of the Matter.

1. Thus, to instance in the first; If the Person swearing be under the Power of another, the Law is express, That it shall be in the Pow­er of those to whom they are subject, to rescind that Oath which they have made. For, if (saith the Scripture, Numb. 30.3. and so on) a daughter shall vow a vow, and bind her self by a bond, being in her fathers house in her youth; if her father disallow her in the day that he heareth it, none of her vows or bonds shall stand. The same is af­terward affirm'd, if a husband disallow that of his wife: And how much more then, if a Prince (whose Authority is certainly far greater than that of a Father or a Husband) shall disallow the Oath of his Sub­jects, especially in Matters relating to the Publick. Which makes it strange, that the Solemn League and Covenant should be pretended to oblige, which was so early and so heartily disallowed by the late King, that most indulgent Father and Husband of his Country.

2. From the Inhability of the Taker, pass we to the Undueness of the Matter: Where again there are these two things to take off the Obligation of an Oath.

  • 1. The Impossibility: And,
  • 2. The Unlawfulness thereof.

1. Thus, for example, in the former Instance; If a Man should swear to pay a certain Sum of Money at a time appointed; if he neither have, nor can procure such a Sum, there is no doubt his Oath obli­geth not thereto, so long as that Impossiblity continueth: It being an undoubted Principle of Reason,Impossibilium mulla obligatio est. Leg. 185. tit. de Reg. Juris. That there can be no Obligation to that which it is impossible to perform. Care onely would be taken, that as we make not Oath of such things as appear then impossible (for so we should be found to take God's Name in vain in the strict and li­teral sense) so also that the thing sworn to, prove not impossible through our neglect (for then it will oblige to Punishment) and that if it be not utterly impossible, we perform so much of it as is possible to us. For, since the onely Reason of the Obligations ceasing,Sanderson. de Juramenti Ob­lig. Praelect. 2. sect. 12. is the Impossibility of the Thing; it must consequently cease onely so far as the Thing sworn to is impossible, and therefore also continue in full force, as to what is possible to be done. Again,

2. In the second Instance, If a Man should swear to do a thing which is unlawful, either by God's Law or Man's, such as was that Oath of David, that before the morning light he would cut off from Nabal every one that piss'd against the wall: In that Case, I say, there is no doubt that the Oath obligeth not, save to a due Repentance for it. And ac­cordingly we find David not onely not performing it, but blessing God for diverting him from it, 1 Sam. 25.32. Now the reason why such Oaths are not binding, is, because the Party, at such time as he swore,See Sandersons Case of a Rash Vow delibe­rately itera­ted. p. 65, &c. lay under a former Obligation to the contrary: By which means the Party swearing was divested of all Power to it; and consequently, till freed from the former, could not by any Oaths whatsoever bind himself to the performance of it. He might indeed (as we see Men too often do) swear to act contrary to it; he might lay all the Curses of God upon himself, for the performance of what he swore: but as such Oaths are unlawful to be taken, so they bind not where they are, because prevented by a contrary and far greater Bond. Besides, it be­ing impossible to be at the same time bound to contrary things; if he who swore the performance of any thing sinful, should be obliged to it, he must consequently be suppos'd to be freed from his former Tie to those Laws which he swore to act contrary to. But by this means we might cassate all our Obligations to the Almighty, and, provided we would so swear, be at liberty, or rather oblig'd, to follow our own Lusts and sinful Inclinations as our God. But because the late Reverend Bi­shop Sanderson hath said all that is necessary to be said upon the mat­ter of a Promissory Oath, in his Book of the Obligation of Oaths, I will remit those who shall desire further satisfaction, to his learned and accurate Labours. It shall suffice me to admonish you, That the Non­performance of your Oaths is most properly to take Gods Name in vain.

PART IV.

The affinity of a Vow with an Oath. What a Vow is, and what the proper Matter of it. Things under Command the Matter of a Vow, as well as those which are left free. That the Thing Vowed ought to be something morally good, or conducing to it; and not either trifling, or sinful, or what exposeth to it. That it is at least behoveful that the Thing Vowed have some cognation with that Blessing in conside­ration whereof it is made. That Vows are not onely lawful, but sometime necessary to be made; both because a Part of Natural and Evangelical Worship, and because we stand in need of them. That the Persons who Vow be of Years of Discretion; that they come to it with due deliberation; and that God's Glory, and not the gratifying of a discontented Humor, be the Motive which draweth them to it. Of the Obligation of Vows, and particularly to a Single Life.

VI. AS a Vow, whereof we are in the next place to entreat, is near of kin to an Oath, in respect of the Obligation which it in­duceth; so it serves equally to hallow or profane that Name of God, which here we are forbidden to take in vain. Reason would therefore, before we leave this Third Commandment, that we should afford it a place in our Discourse, and, if not allow it a just handling, (which my designed brevity will hardly permit) yet shew so much concerning it, as is generally necessary to be known. In order whereunto, I will proceed in this method.

  • 1. I will shew in the general, what a Vow is.
  • 2. Inquire into the proper Matter of it.
  • 3. Demonstrate our own Obligation sometime to make Vows.
  • 4. Describe the due Qualifications of the Maker.
  • 5. The Obligation they induce, when made. And,
  • 6. Lastly, Shew what Vows are here forbidden.

1. Now a Vow (as was before insinuated) is, in the general, nothing else than a Promise to God of the performance of something on our part, either to obtain some Blessing of him (which is for the most part the ground of it) or in acknowledgment of some already receiv'd. I call it a Promise, for so indeed it is properly, and in the common acception of the Word; though sometimes, abusively, the Word Vow signifies no other than a strong Asseveration of what we affirm: And, a Pro­mise to God, wherein indeed the very Formality of it consists, and by which it is distinguish'd both from a Promise to Man, and from an Oath; the former, unless improperly, having onely the Title of a Pro­mise; the latter, even an Oath, citing God onely as a Witness to what is transacted between us and other Men: whereas in a Vow we trans­act with God as with a Party. The onely thing remaining to be ex­plain'd, is the End of a Vow, said before to be most commonly to ob­tain some Blessing of the Almighty, or in acknowledgment of some we have receiv'd. Of the former of these, we have not onely the Word [...] for a Witness, which signifies equally a Prayer and a Vow; but also the most, if not all those Vows which we meet with in the Old [Page 159]Testament. For thus, Gen. 28.20. we find Jacob vowing a Vow, and saying, If God will be with me, and will keep me in the way that I go, and will give me bread to eat, and raiment to put on, so that I come again in peace; Then shall the Lord be my God, and this stone which I have set up for a pillar, shall be Gods house; and of all that thou shalt give me, I will surely give the tenth unto thee. Of the same nature is that Vow of the Israelites, concerning the destruction of the Canaanites, Numb. 21.2. as, in like manner, that of Hannah, concern­ing the dedicating unto the Lord that Child which should be born to her, 1 Sam. 1.11. the former being upon condition of God's deliver­ing the Canaanites into their hands; the other, upon God's giving her a Man-child. Again, As a Vow may be made to obtain some Blessing of the Lord; so also, in acknowledgment of some already receiv'd; to wit, when it is not in the power of him who makes it, to make that return of Gratitude to God, which it is no less his desire than duty to perform: For otherwise, no doubt the receipt of a Blessing is a more proper ground of paying our Vows, than of making any such unto the Lord.

2. The Nature of a Vow being thus explain'd in the general, pass we to a more particular Explication; which will best be perform'd by inquiring into the Matter of it, the second thing propos'd to be di­scours'd of. For the resolution whereof,

1. The first thing I shall offer, is, That things under command, no less than those that are not, are a proper matter for our Vows. For though those things which are under command, do oblige us by being so, and consequently may seem no way proper to be the matter of a Vow: yet as nothing hinders, but one Bond may be added to ano­ther, whence it is that we see Positive Laws every day made for the observation of that which was before commanded by the Law of Na­ture; so the superinducing of a Vow binds it so much the faster upon our Consciences, and therefore a thing under Command no way im­proper for the matter of a Vow. Again, though a Command oblige to the performance of what it doth so; yet inasmuch as it takes not away our Natural Liberty of acting contrary to it, it may seem but reasonable, the more to oblige us to Obedience, to add to it the Bond of a Vow, and tie our selves by Promise to what we are otherwise oblig'd to perform.

Now the Matter of such a Vow is again double, that is to say, Ge­neral or Particular; or (to speak yet more plainly) Obedience to the whole Law of God, or onely to some Particular one. Of the for­mer sort is, first, the Vow of Baptism, whereby we oblige our selves to the whole Duty of Man: For, as this is actually done by all that are initiated into Christianity, at least where Baptism is rightly admi­nistred; so, that it is the Design of Baptism it self, is evident from St. Peter, who entitles it the Answer 1 Pet. 3.21., or rather Stipulation of a good Conscience toward God. Of the same nature is, secondly, (as I shall afterward shew more largely) that other Sacrament of the Supper of our Lord. And accordingly, as for this Reason both the one and the other have the name of a Sacrament, which in the proper acception of the Word is no other than a Military Oath, whereby Soldiers bound themselves to their General; so, that it was really look'd upon as such, or rather as a Vow to God, to whom they so oblig'd themselves, is [Page 160]evident from that Account which Pliny Li. 10. ep 97. gave to Trajan, of what was done in the Meetings of the Christians: Where, among other things, he tells him, That he had been inform'd by some of them, that when they met together, they oblig'd themselves by a Sacrament, not to perpetrate any Villany; but, that they would not commit Thefts, Robberies, or Adultery; that they would not falsisie their Trust, nor, when examin'd, deny any thing that had been deposited with them. Which Passage, as it is a manifest evidence of their making such gene­ral Vows; so also, that it was their Design in the Sacrament of the Lord's Supper: the Word Sacrament not onely so perswading, but the Celebration of the Lord's Supper being always an Attendant of their Publick Service, and the no mention there is in Ecclesiastical Story, of any other such general Vow in it. Again, As a Vow may have the whole Law of God for its Object, so also some particular one: And is not unusual with good Men, when they find themselves press'd with the Conscience of some particular Sin committed by them; in order to the appeasing of God's wrath, and the security of their own Souls, binding themselves with a Vow to the avoiding of it, and pra­ctising the contrary Vertues.

2. Having thus shewn a thing under Command to be no less the Matter of a Vow, than that which is not enjoyn'd by any; for the further explication thereof, I shall add, secondly, That it ought to be something morally good, or conducing to it. For, the Design of a Vow being to please God, to whom all Vows are directed, that can be no proper Matter of a Vow, which is not morally good, or con­ducing to the promoting of it. But from hence it will follow, first, That we ought not to make Vows of any thing sinful, such as was that of Jeptha, who bound himself by a Vow to offer up to God whatso­ever came forth of the Doors of his House to meet him, Judg. 11.31. This being in effect to promise we will break his Laws, which is cer­tainly a very improper way to please him, or obtain any Blessing at his Hand. It will follow, secondly, That we ought not to make a Vow of any thing that may expose us to the Commission of a Sin: Of which nature, in particular, is the Vow of Single Life, especially in younger Persons: For so doing, they vow that which may expose them to the danger of Fornication without remedy, which is certain­ly no proper way to please God, when he himself hath appointed Marriage for it, and oblig'd those that cannot contain, to enter into it. Lastly, it will follow, That we ought not to make Vows of any thing light or trifling, such as areSee Balduin. de Casib Consc. lib. 2. c. 8. cas. 4. the Vows of not eating the Heads of any Animal, in honour of John the Baptist; or, of abstaining from broyled Flesh, in respect to St. Laurence, who was so used. For be­side that such things as these are not much conducing to Piety, they are too light to become the Matter of a Vow, and involve the Maker of them in the taking God's Name in vain, which is the very thing forbidden in this Commandment.

3. Thirdly and lastly, As the Matter of a Vow ought to be some­thing good, or conducing to it; so it is highly expedient at least, that it should have some relation to that Blessing, in consideration whereof we make it. For thus we find Hannah vowing, That if God would give her a Man child, she would dedicate, not some of her Possessions, or it may be of her Servants, but that very Child, unto the Lord: as, [Page 161]in like manner, Jacob, That if God would be with him, and give him bread to eat, and raiment to put on, and in fine bring him back to his fathers house in peace and prosperity, he would, out of the Plenty which God should afford, build a Temple to his Honour, and more­over give the tenth of all to him. Both which Vows, as they had ve­ry eminent Persons for their Authors, and such whose Example alone might invite us to the imitation of them; so they have this farther to commend them, that they are more clearly expressive of our intend­ed Gratitude to the Almighty, because obliging the Parties vowing to make that very Blessing, in consideration whereof they are made, to become a Testimony of their Thankfulness unto God.

3. But lest all that hath or shall be said concerning Vows, should fall under the censure of Impertinence, as there is no doubt it would justly, if Christians had no concernment in them; I will now, ac­cording to my proposed Method, demonstrate our own Obligation to the making of them. In Order whereunto, I shall shew them,

  • 1. To be a Part of Natural Worship; and,
  • 2. Of the Evangelical one.

That they are a part of Natural Worship, is evident, first, from the Nature of a Vow, according as before describ'd. For it being but reasonable we should do what in us lies toward the pleasing of him from whom we either expect, or have receiv'd any signal Favour; it is no less reasonable, if we are not at present in a capacity to do it, that we should go so far towards it, as to oblige our selves by Promise to the performance of it; he that cannot do all he would, being to do what he can, or at least express a readiness to perform it. Which as it is best done by a Vow or Promise, because that leaves no place for the omission of it; so that Vow or Promise goes a great way toward the pleasing of the Almighty, because consigning the Will of the Vow­er, which is that God looks chiefly after, to the Will and Pleasure of him to whom it is made. Again, Forasmuch as a Vow supposeth him to whom it is made, to be conscious to our Wants, and the Author of those Blessings in consideration whereof we make them; what should hinder us, or rather how can we excuse our selves from giving God this Testimony of our Adoration, and vowing what may be accepta­ble to him? The same is no less evident from the Scripture, which not onely joyns it with Prayer and Praise, but opposeth it to Cere­monial Worship, as you may see Psalm 50.8. and so on; where ha­ving at large decry'd the Offerings of the Law, in the fourteenth Verse of that Psalm, the Psalmist calls upon Men, instead of that, to offer unto God thanks giving, and pay their vows unto the most High. Which Passage is so much the more to be remarqu'd, because it affords us a Proof not onely of Vows being a part of Natural Worship, but also of the Evangelical one.Mede Serm on Psal. 50.14. For if (as Mr. Mede shews) that Psalm be also a Prophecy of the Times of the Gospel, and the Service which should be offer'd up in them, the making of Vows is properly and strictly Evangelical, and the first Service (as St. Paul speaks in a like Case) taken away, that the second might be the more firmly established. Nei­ther will it avail ought to say, That that is not to be thought Evan­gelical, of which there is not the least mention in the Gospel: For as the great Design of the Gospel was to re-establish Natural Worship, and free it from those Incumbrances wherewith the Ceremonial Law [Page 162]had clogg'd it; so the Nature of Vows was so well known, both from Reason, and the Scriptures of the Old Testament, as not to need to be insisted on by the New: Upon which account also it is, that we find so little therein concerning Oaths, unless it be as to the sparing use of them. Beside, when (as was before insinuated) the Sacraments of Baptism and the Lords Supper are on our part Vows of Obedience unto God; when we are initiated into, and confirm'd in our Religion by them; when the Law and the Prophets speak much and often concerning Vows, and our Religion professeth to establish all that is not Ceremonial in them; lastly, when we our selves stand in need of Vows to confirm our wavering Minds, and establish us in that Course of Life we have undertaken; what can be more apparent, than that we should vow Obedience to God's Commands, and the use or for­bearance of all such Means as are apt either to promote or hinder it? And who knows whether the omission of this be not one principal Cause why oftentimes we speed no better in our Requests? For though we are importunate enough in asking, we are more than cold enough in promising any Returns of Gratitude, if ever it should please God to grant the Petitions we ask of him.

4. Having thus shewn our own Obligation to the making of Vows, proceed we, according to our proposed Method, to the Qualification of those that make them, the next thing propos'd to be discours'd of. Where first I shall reckon as a necessary Qualification in those that make them, That they be of years of discretion. For a Vow being a matter of importance, and so much the more, because it is transacted between us and God; they are in reason to abstain from the making of them, who, by reason of their want of Discretion, under­stand not the Nature of it, nor the Obligation which it induceth; lest haply, in stead of honouring God thereby, they dishonour his Sacred Name, by vowing such things as are either no fit Matter for them, or such as afterwards they will not care to perform. The same Reason will infer, That as the Persons that vow should be of Years of Discretion, so those that are, should come to the making of them with all requisite consideration; it being all one, as to the pur­poses of Religion, to be without Discretion, and not to make use of it. Lastly, A Vow (as hath been before shewn) being an Act of Re­ligion, and a part of God's Worship and Service; they that vow, are to take care that God's Glory be their End in making them, and not, as it too often happens, the gratifying of their own peevishness and discontent: A thing not unusual with the Papists, whom the loss of a Mistress, the disappointment of a Place, or other such like Cause, is the chief, and sometimes onely Motive, to vow a Religious Life. Which said, I should now

5. Proceed to the Obligation of them, as I did before in the mat­ter of Oaths. But because the Prophet Moses hath delivered the same Rules concerning the Obligation of them both; and because what I have before said, concerning the Obligation of Oaths, may without any the least violence be accommodated to the Obligation of the other; I will content my self with the proposing one onely Case con­cerning Vows, which will find no Resolution from what was there said: And that is, Whether or no a Man having made a Vow of Sin­gle Life, be not oblig'd to the keeping of it? For though (as was be­fore [Page 163]said) the making of such Vows be generally unlawful; yet it follows not from thence, that they may be broke when made; because many things which ought not to be done, are yet of force when they are. For the resolution whereof, the first thing I shall offer is, That there is no doubt such a Vow obligeth those to the keeping of it, who (as the Apostle speaks) have power over their own Bodies. For a Sin­gle Life being not onely lawful in it self, but, where it is preserv'd inviolate, a great opportunity of Religion; there is no doubt, a Vow concerning it is so far from being null, that in that Case it ought to be Religiously observ'd. But from hence it will follow, secondly, That he who hath so vowed, ought to use all means possible to keep to that State which he hath so vowed. For if (as the Prophet Moses instructs us) we are generally to do whatsoever proceedeth out of our mouth, we are in reason to make use of all requisite Means to enable us to the performance of it; he that is oblig'd to the End, being ipso facto ob­lig'd to the Means, because there is no attaining the End without them. Neither will it suffice to say (as perhaps it may be) That a Single Life hath Temptations attending it, and therefore rather to be discarded, than continued in: For inasmuch as there is no State or Thing which is without them, if for that reason our Vow might be rescinded, no Vow at all could oblige, because there is nothing in the World which may not expose us to Temptations. If there be any thing which may rescind such a Vow, it must be some imminent dan­ger of falling into Sin, notwithstanding all our Endeavours to the contrary: And in this Case, there is no doubt a Vow so made ought to be broken, with how much deliberation soever made: he that for­bids us a Sin, consequently forbidding all those things which fatally incline us to the commission of it. Care onely would be taken, that Men pretend not imminent danger, when in truth that is not the thing that moves them, but the gratifying of their own Carnal Appetites: For, generally speaking, Whosoever vows a vow, to bind his soul with a bond, ought, for his Vows sake, and the Honour of him to whom it is made, to do whatsoever proceedeth out of his mouth.

6. Having thus shewn all that concerns the Affirmative part of the Precept, as to the Making and Observation of Vows, nothing remains to the compleating of my Discourse concerning them, but that I de­scend to the Negative, and point out those Vows that are forbidden. A Task which as I have in part already discharg'd, so I am now quali­fied to compleat, because having before shewn what is requisite to make them lawful. For if (as was shewn in my second Inquiry) the Matter of a Vow ought to be good, or conducing to the promoting of it; those Vows must be unlawful, the Matter whereof is neither: such as are the greatest part of the Vows now made. For what more ordinary, than to vow that we will not come into such a House, or use any Communication with such or such a Person? Things which whether a Man do or no, it matters not as to the Business of Religi­on, and therefore not to be made the Subject of so Sacred a Tie as a Vow. The same is much more to be said of such a Vow, or Vows, which have something sinful for the Matter of them: that which is sin­ful, being not onely different from the proper Matter of a Vow, but directly contrary to it. Lastly, If (as was observ'd upon the same Head) the Matter of Vows ought to be weighty and important, those [Page 164]Vows must be concluded to be unlawful, which are made in trifling Instances, and such as for the levity thereof are hardly worthy to be made the matter of a Promise. As if a Man should vow to pare his Nails upon a certain day, or not to take up a Straw that lay in his way. Again, If (as was observ'd upon the fourth Head) they who vow any thing to God, ought to be of Years of Discretion, and actu­ally employ it when they have; those Vows must be look'd upon as unlawful, which are made by Persons before they arrive at it; or rashly, and without consideration, by those that are. Which makes it strange, that the Church of Rome should admit to Vows of Single Life those that have attain'd to sixteen Years of Age: As if that Age, though not without the use of Reason, were fit to judge what State of Life were profitable for them, and what is possible for them to observe. Lastly, If (as was insinuated in my sixth Head) a Vow be of the same Obligation with an Oath, if it oblige to all that is not impossible or sinful, it must be look'd upon as in like manner unlaw­ful to break those Vows we have made, and dishonourable to the Di­vine Majesty to whom they are: he that thus breaks his Faith to God, supposing him either to have no knowledge of his Perfidiousness, or to be a tame Spectator of the Affronts that are done unto him. The contrary of which, as we are assur'd of by him, who commands us not to do dishonour to his Name; so it will be much better for us to be­lieve upon his Affirmation, than venture the trial of: For, if God be but just to himself, to be sure he will not hold him guiltless that any way taketh his Name in vain.

PART V.

Concerning the Sanction of the present Precept. What the importance of God's not holding a Man guiltless is; and that it implieth not onely the punishing him, but punishing him with severity. What appearance there is, both from Reason and History, of God's exe­cuting what he hath here denounced; particularly, upon Blasphe­mers, Common Swearers, Perjur'd Persons, and the Violators of their Vows. The Conclusion.

II. IT being certain, that though Laws oblige, yet they prevail lit­tle upon the Conscience, where they have nothing but the Au­thority of the Lawgiver to enforce them; it hath pleased God not onely to fortifie the Body of his with Threats and Promises, but sometimes also to annex them to particular Precepts; lest haply whilst they are divided among so many, they should prove lauguid and inef­fectual, and rather give a weak force to all, than a considerable ener­gy to any one. And accordingly, (to go no further than the Decalogue) as the Second Commandment hath both a Promise and a Threat, and the Fifth a Promise to enforce it; so, that we are now upon, is strengthned with the Threat of God's not holding them guiltless who shall presume to take his Name in vain.

In the handling whereof, I will proceed in this Method:

  • 1. I will shew what it is not to hold one guiltless: And,
  • 2. Prove, That God will not hold them such, who any way take his Name in vain.

1. If the Phrase wherein this Sanction is express'd, were the same in the Original Hebrew, as it is in our own English Translation, our Ac­count of the meaning of it would be then much shorter, than it is now likely to prove. But because though the Hebrew be the same in sense, yet it is somewhat different in Expression from that we have made use of to explain it; it will be requisite, in the first place, to give an ac­count of the Expression there, if it were onely to establish the Pro­priety of our own.

Now the Hebrew phrase [...] or, The Lord will not make him clean, is capable of a double Explication: For it may either re­fer to that Cleanness which is oppos'd to the Filth of Sin, or to that Purification which came by the Blood of Sacrifices. And in which sense soever we take it, we shall find it to be much the same with that by which we have chosen to express it. For though our Translation determine it to that Purity or Cleanness which imports a freedom from Guilt; yet, as to hold one for clean, or innocent, is the same in sense, because those that are so, are free from the imputation of the other; so, though the Letter of the Hebrew be, The Lord shall not make him clean, yet it may signifie no more than the not accounting of him as such; after the same manner that the Word justificare in the Latin, though literally it signifie to make righteous, yet in the forinsick and most usual sense, denotes the absolving one from Guilt, and not so much the making him righteous, as so esteem'd. And indeed, as such a sense is most proper in this place, because the Matter intreated of is the Penalty of a Law; so if we take it in the literal sense, it would hardly pass for a Penalty in the judgment of those whom it was de­sign'd to restrain: It being not to be thought, that they who make it their Pastime to take God's Name in vain, would be deterr'd from so doing, by onely telling them, that God will suffer them to go on in it, and not purifie them from a Sin in which they so much delight. Forasmuch therefore as the Words Lo Jenakkeh may import the not accounting of the Offender as clean; forasmuch as that sense is the most proper in this place; lastly, forasmuch as the literal one carries nothing at all of dread in it; it is but reasonable we interpret the Hebrew [...] The Lord will not account of him as clean; which is all one with He will not hold him guiltless. From that first Notion of the Hebrew phrase, pass we to the second, and consider the Word [...] with reference to the Purifications of the Law; with ana­logy to which, if we understand it, so the meaning will undoubtedly be, That God will not hold such an Offender as a guiltless Person. For it being certain on the one hand, that the Cleansing here spoken of, must refer to the Sin before forbidden; as on the other, that the Design of the Purifications of the Law was not to take away the Sin it self, but the Guilt Men contracted by it: to say, The Lord will not cleanse such or such a Person, is as much as, That he will suffer his Guilt to rest upon him, and consequently, That he will not hold him guiltless. Which sheweth, that though there be some difference between the Hebrew and the English in the Expression, yet they are [Page 166]the same in sense; and consequently, whatsoever is the importance of The Lord will not hold him guiltless, the importance of the other.

Now there are two things implied in those Words, The Lord will not hold him guiltless.

  • 1. That God will punish him that taketh his Name in vain: And,
  • 2. That he will do it with rigour and severity.

For inasmuch as there is no Mean between Guiltiness and Guilty; inasmuch as Punishment naturally follows the guilty Person; it must needs be, that if God will not hold us guiltless, he will account of us as guilty, and accordingly proceed to punish us. Again, Though those Words will not hold him guiltless, do not necessarily, and of themselves, import any extraordinary severity; yet, as it is not un­usual for such Negative Expressions, by a Figure the Rhetoricians call [...], to signifie much more than they seem to intend; so, that that Figure ought to have place here, beside the Consent of Interpreters, is evident from the hainousness of the Sin against which it is denounc'd, and the little dread it carries in it, if taken in the literal sense. For, who can think God would threaten so great a Crime as Perjury, with a Threat which is common to it with the meanest Offences in the World? Or what likelihood is there, if he had (which yet is the End of all Penalties) that the False Swearer should be thereby deterr'd from taking God's Name in vain? It being not to be thought, that he who hath the impudence to call God to witness to a Lie, should be much affrighted by onely telling him, that God will look upon him as an Offender. How small soever therefore the taking of God's Name in vain may seem, and how mildly soever the Penalty wherewith it is threatned is express'd; the true intent of that Sanction is, That God will severely punish such an Offender, and not onely not hold him as a guiltless Person, but as one of the greatest Criminals in the World.

2. Having thus shewn the Importance of the present Penalty, pro­ceed we to the Confirmation of it: For my more advantageous per­formance whereof, I will apply it to the several Persons whom I have said to take Gods Name in vain. Where,

1. I shall set before you such as speak dishonourably of him, and either attribute to him such Qualities as do no way belong to him, or deny him those that really do. For, that God will not hold such Per­sons guiltless, may appear, if we consider onely the End for which the Tongue was given: For the Tongue being given Man not so much for any other end, as for the glorifying the Maker of it, it must needs be, that God should hold him as highly criminal, who shall turn that Tongue against him, and not onely not glorifie, but dishonour him therewith. The Threat will appear yet more reasonable and certain, if we apply it to such a Person who shall proceed to down­right blasphemy against the Almighty: For beside the enormity of the Crime, we have Instances in the Scripture of God's displeasure against the Authors of it. Thus when the Son of an Israelitish Wo­man proceeded to so great an Impiety, as to blaspheme the Name of the Lord, he himself was not onely ston'd to death for it, but a Law thereupon made, That whosoever should offend in like manner, should be put to death, as well the stranger, as he that should be born in the land, Lev. 23.11. and so on. Again, when the King of Assyria sent Rabshakeh to reproach the Living God, as one who could not deliver [Page 167]his People, any more than the Gods of other Nations, God was so displeased with the contumely, that he sent an Angel to destroy his Ar­my, and delivered up the King himself into the hands of his Sons, who slew him, 2 Kings 19.35. and so on.

2. From blaspheming the Name of God, pass we to the dishonour­ing it in an Oath, which I have said to be the principal thing forbid­den in the Commandment; where again I shall consider those who take it in an Oath vainly and unnecessarily, and then those who cite it to procure credit to a Lie.

That God will not hold the former of these guiltless, will appear to any who shall consider onely the nature of the Crime: For inas­much as such an Oath is nothing else than the calling God to witness to those Impertinencies to which they are affix'd, it must needs be a great temptation to the Almighty to revenge it upon the Authors of it, lest his Name should be contemptible in the World. And indeed, as where it hath otherwise hapned, it ought to be imputed to the Mercy of the Almighty, and his willingness that even such Sinners should come to repentance; so God hath not left himself and Name without witness of the dreadfulness of them both, lest any should think him tamely patient. For thus it is storied, by an Author of good creditThe Life of the Duke of Espernon, lib. 4. pag. 190., concerning one Grillon, a famous Captain in France, and as famous; or rather infamous, for his profaning the Name of God by frequent Swearing; That many years before his death, though he had perfect strength and vigour in all his other Parts, yet he had so great a weak­ness in his Tongue, that he could not articulate or bring out one word that any Body could understand: God (as that Author remarks) being doubtless pleas'd by a manifest Judgment to punish him in that Part, which by so many Oaths and Blasphemies had so often offended against his Divine Honour and Holy Name. Which Story is the more to be credited, because the forecited Author relates it from the mouth of that truly Noble Person the Duke of Espernon, who had that Cap­tain long under his Command.

But leaving the Common Swearer to ruminate upon God's threat­ning not to hold him guiltless, and upon this and such like Instances of his Judgments upon the Associates of his Crime; let us go on to inquire, how little reason there is for the False Swearer, or perjur'd Person, to expect to be free. In order whereunto, I will first alledge a Parallel, shall I say, or rather much more severe Denunciation of the Almighty, against those who shall thus take his Name in vain. 'Tis in the fifth of Zachary, and the fourth Verse; where speaking of a Roll of Curses, he brings in God threatning that he would cause it to enter into the house of the thief, and into the house of him that swear­eth falsely by his Name; as also that it should remain in the midst of the House it did so enter, and consume it with the timber and stones thereof. Than which, what more could be said to express the height of God's displeasure against such Persons, and the certainty of his not holding them guiltless in any measure? For, to be sure he will not hold them such, whom he will not onely visit for their Transgression, but bring an utter devastation upon. Agreeable hereto is that of the Oracle in Herodotus, though express'd under another Metaphor.

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That is to say, An Oath has a Child which hath neither Hands nor Feet; howbeit it passeth quickly into the House of the perjur'd Person, and laying hold of it, destroys his whole Race and it. Neither doth the Event (I speak as for the most part) fall short of what is suggest­ed, either by the one, or the other Oracle: For, as I shall afterward produce from the Scripture remarkable Instances of God's Judgments upon those who have thus violated the Oath of God; so the verifica­tion of this Threat was taken notice of, where God was little known, and where therefore one might think God would be less careful to secure the Honour of his Name: Hesiod, and ancient Greek Poet [...], affirming of an Oath, That it doth for the most part destroy those who either swear falsely, or act contrary to it when they have sworn. But because the Scripture, upon which we may most securely relie, is not without eminent proofs of Gods displeasure against the perjur'd Person; setting aside the Proofs which might be brought from Heathen Authors, I will betake me to the Scriptures, and prove from thence, That God doth not hold them guiltless who thus take his Name in vain. And here, in the first place, I shall alledge that known Story of the Gibeonites, with whom the Oath of the Lord had pass'd. For though that Oath had been drawn from the Israelites by the false Pretences of the Gibeonites; though those who had given them that Oath, had now a long time been laid in their Graves, together with those Gibeo­nites to whom it was, and a new Generation sprung up, which neither knew those Gibeonites, nor their own Ancestors; though what Saul did to them, was out of his Zeal to the Children of Israel and Judah, and not out of any private grudge, or worldly Interest whatsoever; lastly, though that Saul was laid in his Grave also, and, as one there­fore might well imagine, his Wickedness and Guilt together with him: yet was his Destruction of the Gibeonites, with whose Ance­stors the Oath of God had pass'd, so displeasing to the Divine Maje­sty, that he visited them with a three years Famine, neither would he be entreated for the Land, till David had delivered up seven of Saul's Sons to the Gibeonites, to be by them hang'd up unto the Lord. All which Circumstances, whosoever shall consider, will not doubt in the least of God's holding him guilty who taketh his Name in vain. For, what question can there be of that, when, to say no more, we see the Guilt of it to have descended upon the Children of the per­jur'd Person, yea, to have involv'd a whole Nation in it? So very great reason is there to interpret the Threat of not holding guiltless, to a sense more severe than the Words do of themselves import: The forementioned Story shewing it to be alike, or rather more severe, than the visiting of the Iniquity of the Fathers upon the Children to the third and fourth Generation, with which the former Command­ment is enforc'd. From the Business of the Gibeonites, pass we to a no less famous Instance of God's displeasure against Zedekiah; who af­ter he had given an Oath of Fidelity to the King of Babylon, yet no [Page 169]less impiously than foolishly brake it, by rebelling against him: For, Shall he (saith God by the Prophet Ezekiel) prosper? Shall he escape, that doth such things? or shall he break the Covenant, and be delive­red? As I live, saith the Lord God, surely in the place where the King dwelleth that made him King, whose Oath he despised, even with him in Babylon shall he die, Ezek. 17.15, 16. And again, vers. 18. and so on, Seeing he despised the Oath, by breaking the Covenant, (when loe, he had given his hand) and hath done all these things, he shall not escape. Therefore, thus saith the Lord God, As I live, surely mine Oath that he hath despised, and my Covenant that he hath bro­ken, even it will I recompence upon his own head. And I will spread my net upon him, and he shall be taken in my snare, and I will bring him to Babylon, and will plead with him there, for his trespass that he hath trespass'd against me. Which accordingly we find to have come to pass: For the same Scripture informs us, That, because Ze­dekiah rebell'd against King Nebuchadnezzar, who had made him swear by God, God brought upon him the Army of the King of Ba­bylon, which took him and brought him to their Master, where he had Judgment given upon him, and after he had had his Sons slain before his Eyes, had those miserable Eyes of his put out, as you may see in Jeremiah, chap. 39. Such was the displeasure of God against King Zedekiah, for violating the Oath of God: And if so, we may be sure God will not hold any Man guiltless that so taketh his Name in vain. The onely thing remaining to be prov'd, is, That God will not hold him guiltless who dishonoureth his Name in a Vow; which accordingly I come now to evince. In order whereunto, I will consi­der, first, those who make unlawful or trifling Vows; and then, those who violate what they have made.

That God will not hold him guiltless who sins in Vowing, will ma­nifestly appear, if we reflect upon his displeasure against the Profaner of his Name in an Oath. For inasmuch as a Vow is more Sacred than an Oath, because whilst in the latter God is onely cited as a Witness, in a Vow we contract with him as a Party; he who holds the Swearer guilty, must be thought to do so much more to him who profanes his Name in a Vow, and doth not onely apply it to a Sin, or to an Imper­tinence; but, as I may so speak, doth it to his face. The Reason is the same in him who breaks the Vow he hath made, and acts contrary to what he hath most solemnly promis'd to the Almighty; he that so does, as he contracted with God as with a Party, so falsifying to him directly and immediately, and consequently (because so much the more dishonouring him) the more liable to the severity of his displeasure. And accordingly, when Ananias and Saphira had, agreeably to the Custom of those Times, by a Vow dedicated the Price of their Pos­sessions unto God, God, for a partial breach of that their Vow, infli­cted a sudden death upon them, and made them feel the dreadfulness of that Name which they had profan'd. So true is that of Solomon Prov. 20.25., even in the Times of the Gospel, That it is a snare to a man to de­vour that which is holy, and after vows to make inquiry: The fore­mentioned Offenders having not onely been taken in the Snare, but made to feel the Hands of the Fowler. Thus, which way soever Men take the Name of God in vain, they incur the displeasure of the Al­mighty; and though they are not always immediately punish'd, yet [Page 170]they are so often enough, to shew that God doth not hold any of them guiltless; and that, whom he now spares, he will punish so much the more hereafter, when he comes to render to every Man according to his Works.

What remains then, but that I admonish, if not for the Sacredness of the Name of God, yet that at least for the security of their own Souls and Persons, Men would not take that Name of his in vain. For if either the Threat of God, or the Exemplifications of it in those that have offended, may be credited, the taking of his Name in vain, however such as to what it is apply'd to, yet will not be vain as to the Consequences thereof: For, as it shall be with effect, so a very direful one to those who are the Authors of it, They shall not (as they do often with Men) find Commendation and Applause; they shall not be look'd upon as so much the better bred, or the greater Wits for it; lastly, they shall not (as they do for the most part here) find an Excuse for their Profanations, and be absolv'd either from all Offence, or all that is notorious: God, whose Name they take in vain, and who is the most competent Judge of their Actings, having promis'd, or rather threatned, that he will look upon them under another notion, and not onely not hold them guiltless, but look upon them as notorious Offenders. And indeed, thus far the Judgment of the World hath concurr'd with that of God, as to condemn the taking of it to a Lie; False Swearing and Perjury having not onely been branded with re­proachful Punishments, but the Authors thereof excluded from giving Testimony in any Courts of Judicature. If other Profanations of God's Name have not found the like Censure, it is not so much because they imagin'd them specifically different, but because they are not so immediately destructive to Humane Society, which Humane Judica­tures are more particularly oblig'd to preserve. But as that is acci­dental to the taking of God's Name in vain, or at least makes the Crime to which it adheres onely gradually different from the other; so the Judgment-seat of God takes notice of all that entrencheth up­on his Honour, and will therefore be sure not to hold them guiltless who any way take his Name in vain.

THE FOURTH COMMANDMENT.
THE FOURTH COMMANDMENT.

Remember that thou keép holy the Sabbath day. Six days shalt thou labour, and do all that thou hast to do; but the seventh day is the Sabbath of the Lord thy God. In it thou shalt do no manner of work, thou, and thy son, and thy daugh­ter, thy man-servant, and thy maid-servant, thy cattel, and the stranger that is within thy gates. For in six days the Lord made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that in them is, and rested the se­venth day; wherefore the Lord blessed theor, Sabbath day. seventh day, and hallowed it.

PART I.

The Contents.

The general Design of the Fourth Commandment, the setting apart a Portion of our Time for the Worship of God, and particularly for the Publick one. The particular Duties, either suh as appertain to the Substance of the Precept, or such as are onely Circumstances thereof. Of the former sort are, 1. The Worshipping of God in pri­vate, and by our selves; the Morality whereof is evidenced from the particular Obligation each individual Person hath to the Divine Majesty. 2. The Worshipping of him in consort with others; which is also at large establish'd upon Principles of Nature and Christia­nity. 3. The setting apart a Time for the more solemn performance of each: As without which, Religious Duties will be either omitted, or carelesly perform'd; but to be sure no Publick Worship can be, be­cause Men cannot know when they shall meet in order to it. 4. Such a Rest from our ordinary Labours, as will give us the leisure to in­tend them, and free us from distraction in the performance of them.

BEING now to enter upon the Fourth Commandment, about the Nature whereof there hath been so much Contention in the Church of England, I cannot forbear to say, There is all the reason in the World to believe it to be Moral in the main, as ha­ving [Page 174]a place among those Commandments which contain nothing in them which is not confessedly Moral. But because, when we come to understand its general Design and particular Precepts, we shall be much better able to judge whether or no, and how far the Matter thereof is Moral, I will without more ado apply my self to the inve­stigation of them, and shew to what Duties it oblig'd.

Now the general Design of this Fourth Commandment is, the set­ting apart a Portion of our Time for the Worship of God, and particu­larly for the Publick one. That it designs the setting apart some Por­tion of our Time, the very Words of the Commandment shew; as not onely acquainting us with God's sanctifying a Seventh part, but obli­ging the Jews, in conformity thereto, to rest from their ordinary La­bours and observe it as holy unto the Lord. The onely difficulty is, Whether it designs the setting apart of that Time for the Worship of God, and particularly for the Publick one. For the proof of the former part whereof, though I cannot say we have the same clearness of Evidence from the Letter of the Commandment it self, yet I shall not scruple to affirm, That it may be inferr'd from thence by necessary consequence, and not onely be prov'd to be a part of the Precept, but the principal one. For how is that day kept as holy, which hath no­thing holy performed in it? Or what reference can it have to God (as the Word holy implies) where God is not at all honour'd in it? Neither will it suffice to say, That the very Resting on that day, is of it self a Consecration of it unto God: For as it becomes a Conse­cration onely by the Parties so resting in compliance with the Com­mand and Ends of God; so it supposeth at least, that they should on that day order their Thoughts to him, and rest from their ordinary Labours, in contemplation of his Command, and in remembrance of his resting from that great Work of the Creation. Again, Though to rest from their ordinary Labours, especially as was before under­stood, were a kind of devoting it unto God; yet there being other and more acceptable ways of keeping it holy, than by a simple Rest from them, it is but reasonable to think, when God caution'd the Jews so to remember it, he design'd no less to be honour'd other ways. Lastly, Forasmuch as God not onely commanded to keep it holy, but in this very Precept represents, it as his own But the se­venth day is the Sabbath of the Lord thy God., as in Isaiah Isa. 58.13., under the Title of his holy day, and the holy of the Lord; he thereby manifestly implies, that it should be dedicated to his Worship, and not onely not be profan'd by ordinary Service, but hallowed by his own. For how is it God's Holy day, but by being dedicated to his Service? or how observ'd as such, but by giving him his proper Service in it? Whence it is, that where the Prophet Isaiah gives it those Elogies, he insers our honouring him from them, as well as the not pleasuring of our selves. Though therefore so much be not directly and in terminis express'd, yet it is clearly enough imply'd, that God design'd his own Honour and Service in it, and commanded it to be set apart for the performance of it. Lastly, As God design'd the setting apart of a certain Time for his own Worship, so more especially for the Publick one: Of which, though there be no Indication in the Com­mandment it self, yet there is proof sufficient in the 23d Chapter of Levitious, where we find not onely the forementioned Rest required, but the day it self appointed for an holy Convocation, as you may [Page 175]see ver. 2. of that Chapter. And accordingly, though the Jews did generally look no farther than the Letter of the Law, and some of them (as is probable here) content themselves with an outward Rest, as by which they thought to satisfie the Commandment; yet the ge­nerality of them have in all times look'd upon the Service of God as the End for which they were commanded to keep the Sabbath. For thus Josephus, in his second Book against Appion, tells us,Thorndike of Religious As­semblies, ch. 2. where this of Josephus, and that of Philo are quoted. That Moses propounded to the Jews the most excellent and necessary Learning of the Law, not by hearing it once or twice, but every seventh day, laying aside their Works, he commanded them to assemble for the hearing of the Law, and throughly and exactly to learn it. As in like manner Philo, in his Third Book of the Life of Moses, That the Custom was always when occasion gave way, but principally on the seventh day, to be exercis'd in Knowledge; the Chief going before and teaching, the rest increasing in goodness, and bettering in Life and Manners. I will conclude this Particular with that of St. James, Acts 15.21. where, to fortifie his Opinion concerning the prohibiting of Blood to the Gentile Christians, he alledgeth for a Reason, That Moses had in old time them that preach'd him, being read in the Synagogues every Sabbath­day. From all which put together, it is evident, that the Service of God, and particularly the Publick one, was the Thing designed in this Commandment. The Jews themselves, who were none of the most quick-sighted, being able to discern it; and accordingly, both of old and in latter days, framing their Practice after it.

The general Design of the Commandment being thus unfolded, pro­ceed we to the Particular Things under Command; which, for my more orderly proceeding in this Affair, I will rank under two Heads, to wit,

  • 1. Such as appertain to the Substance of the Precept: Or,
  • 2. Such as are onely Circumstances thereof.

I. Of the former sort again are these four things.

  • 1. The Worshipping of God in private, and by our selves.
  • 2. The Worshipping of him in consort with others.
  • 3. The setting apart a Time for the more solemn perfor­mance of each. And,
  • 4. Lastly, Such a Rest from our ordinary Labours, as may give us the leisure to intend them, and free us from distraction in the performance of them.

Now concerning each of these, there cannot be the least doubt of their being Moral, and consequently of Universal Obligation.

1. That so it is to Worship God in private, the Obligation each of us have to the Divine Majesty, and the Words of the First Command­ment shew. For being he is the Creator and Sustainer of each Indi­vidual, as well as of Humane Nature; being there is no individual Person which hath not some peculiar Obligation to the Divine Ma­jesty, whether in respect of some Blessing receiv'd, or Evil averted from him; lastly, being (as was before shewn) those Expresses of the Divine Goodness lay a necessity upon the Person that hath receiv'd them, to honour the Author of them; it follows, because each indi­vidual Person hath been so oblig'd, that each of them do for himself acknowledge those Obligations, and pay God that Service and Ado­ration which is due because of them. Again, Forasmuch as the First [Page 176]Commandment doth not onely exclude the having of other Gods, but injoyn the having and owning of the True; forasmuch as it requires that of every individual Person, as the expressing it in the Singular Number shews; lastly, forasmuch as the Matter of that Commandment is Moral; it follows, That to worship God in private, and by our selves, is a Moral Duty: Which was the first thing to be prov'd.

2. From the Private Worship of God, or that which is due from each particular Person, pass we to the Worshipping him in Publick; which we have before shewn to be the Design of this Commandment. Where, first of all, I shall shew it to be a Moral Duty; and secondly, a Christian one.

To worship God in consort with others, being generally look'd upon as so much a Duty, that no Sect of Christians, for ought I know, have ever made a question of it, I have often wondred with my self, whence so general a Perswasion should arise, since the New Testament hath said so little by way of Precept concerning it: But considering with my self, that the same Perswasion hath prevail'd whereever the Worship of God hath taken place, I entred into a suspicion, that the same Common Principles had been the Author of it in both, even those which Reason and Nature teacheth. And indeed, that there is enough in them to oblige Men to a Publick Worship, will appear to any that shall consider, 1. Not onely that God hath made Man a Sociable Crea­ture, but that Men have actually entred themselves into Societies. For as it was but reasonable, that those whom God had made Sociable Creatures, should, in return for so great a Blessing, give a proof of it in his Service, and with joynt Forces worship him, who had both in­clin'd and fitted them so to associate; so, actually entring into Socie­ties, they thereby became Sharers of the good or evil Fortune of those respective Societies which they espous'd. In consideration where­of, as they were oblig'd either to pray or give thanks, according to the several Fortunes which befel them; so, to do both those Duties, not onely apart and by themselves, but in conjunction with those to whom they were so associated; common Sense requiring, that where the Blessing obtain'd relates to any Body, that Body to which it so re­lates should pay its Thanks for it; as on the other side, that where the Evil either threatned or undergone, relates to a Community, that that Community to which it doth so, should offer up its joynt Prayers to God to avert that Evil from it. My second Argument for the Mo­rality of Worshipping God in Publick, shall be taken from the Obli­gation that lies upon us to provoke each other to the Adoration of him. For being by the Design of our Creation not onely to glorifie God in our own Persons, but, as much as in us lies, to procure the Glorification of him by other Men, we are accordingly (as our Savi­our speaks) so to make that light of ours to shine before men, that they seeing our works of piety, may glorifie our Father which is in heaven. Now forasmuch as it is no way proper that our Personal Devotions should be so laid open, because of necessity containing such Petitions as are not fit to be communicated to the World, Reason requires that there be a Publick Worship instituted, by our diligent attendance whereof, we may provoke each other to the more devout Adoration of our Maker. Which Argumentation I do the rather make use of, because the Author to the Hebrews useth the same, where he speaks of [Page 177]the Publick Service; in pursuance of his exhorting toHeb. 10.24.25. consider one another, to provoke unto love and to good works, adding, not forsa­king the assembling of themselves together, as the manner of some then was; but exhorting one another, and so much the more, as they saw the day approaching. Lastly, Forasmuch as on the one hand there is a necessity of instructing the Generality in the Duty they owe to God, and every one that stands in need of Instruction, cannot have a parti­cular Teacher assign'd him; as, on the other, all of us do stand in need of each others help in promoting our Petitions unto God: it is but necessary we should sometimes meet together, that they who stand in need of Instruction may receive it, and both Teacher and Taught put to the utmost of their Endeavours to obtain of God those Blessings which they need. For, as (God knows) our Devotion is at best but weak, and consequently may well require the twisting of some others with it; so there is none of us which may not be sometime indispos'd to ask as we ought, or unlikely, by reason of some Sin, to prevail, though we should. By which means, as our own Prayers must needs be very defective, so that defect naturally prompts us to adjoyn our selves to other Men, as by whom it will be best supply'd: What St. Paul spake concerning Charity, being no less true in the matter of Devotion, That the abundance of such or such particular Persons may be a supply for the want of others; as, on the other side, that when their abundance fails, the abundance of the other may be their supply, and so by turns be assisting to each other.

The Morality of Publick Worship being thus establish'd, proceed we, according to our proposed Method, to shew it to be a part of Chri­stianity; which will bind it so much the faster upon our Consciences. In order whereunto, I shall alledge, first, its being a part of Moral or Natural Religion, according as was but now declar'd. For it being the design of Christianity to establish Natural Religion, and oblige us to be pious, and just, and temperate, which are the general Heads of it; whatsoever is a part of Natural Religion, is eo nomine to be look'd upon as a part of the Christian one, though it be not expresly com­manded: The confirmation of Natural Religion inferring the confir­mation of all those Duties which are clear and undoubted Portions of it. The same is yet more evident, from the confirmation of those Grounds upon which the Publick Worship of God is founded; such as are the making our Piety to shine before others, and the need each of us stand in of one anothers help in Prayer: For our Saviour in ex­press Terms injoyning the observation of the former, and St. Paul giving testimony to the truth of the latter, where he affirms us to be members of each other, they do thereby consequently establish the ne­cessity of Publick Worship, because (as was before shewn) naturally arising from them. But because what hath been hitherto alledg'd from Christianity, is rather constructive of the Morality of the Pub­lick Worship of God, than any immediate or direct proof of its own enjoyning it; for the fuller declaration of our Duty in this Affair, I will proceed to more immediate Proofs, and such as are properly Christian.

1. Now the first that I shall alledge, shall be taken from those Spi­ritual Gifts which God bestow'd upon his Church; and particularly, the Word of Wisdom, the Word of Knowledge, Prophesieing, Inter­pretation [Page 178]of Tongues, and Praying by the Spirit, or Immediate Inspi­ration: For these being given to those that had them, to 1 Cor. 12.7. profit with­al, or (as the same St. Paul elsewhereEphes. 4.12. more expresly declares) for the work of the Ministry, for the edifying of the Body of Christ, suppose the meeting of that Body to receive profit by them, and consequent­ly (because that is the End of those Gifts) for Publick Instruction and Prayer.

2. My second Argument for the necessity of the Publick Worship of God, shall be taken from the Rules St. Paul often gives for the right management of Christian Assemblies; such as are, That no man should speak in an unknown tongue, if there were not one by to inter­pret; That when they spake, they should do it by two, or at the most by three; and in fine, That all things should be done decently and in order. For what need were there of all this stir about the manage­ment of Christian Assemblies, if the Author of our Religion had not at all enjoyn'd them, but left Men to their own Private Worship? Neither will it avail to reply, as possibly it may be, That the Rules laid down for the management of Assemblies, do rather suppose them useful, than necessary to be held: For, as what is so hugely useful, can­not be suppos'd to be other than necessary, if we consider the many Precepts that enjoyn us the edifying of one another: so he that shall consider St. Paul's Accuracy in laying down Rules concerning Christian Assemblies, will not doubt of their being necessary to be held: it be­ing not to be thought, that he who is so careful elsewhere to distinguish between his own 1 Cor. 7.8, &c. Advices, and the Commands of the Lord, would take so much pains in prescribing Rules for the management of Christian Assemblies, without so much as taking notice, that those Assemblies, concerning which he gave Rules, were no other than Advices of his own. Add hereunto,

3. The perpetual Practice of the Church, and that too at such times when those Assemblies were perillous to those that held them: For that shews plainly, that the holding of Assemblies had some higher Ori­ginal, than onely the usefulness thereof: It being not to be thought, that the Christians of all Times, and even of the most dangerous ones, would have held such Assemblies, if they had not look'd upon themselves as straitly obliged to them.

4. But to come up yet more closely to the Ground of holding As­semblies, which I think I may not without cause establish in that of our Blessed Saviour, Mat. 18.20. to wit, That where two or three were gathered together in his Name, he would be in the midst of them. For, as those Words of his are an assurance to those who should be so gathered, that Christ would be in the midst of them, that is to say, (as the foregoing Words import) to grant them the Petitions they should ask, and more particularly such as were of Publick concernFor he speaks before of Men that neglect to hear the Church, and of God's con­firmation of the Churches Censure of them.; so the same Words do imply, that he would not be so present to those who should not so assemble together. Otherwise the Reason where­with he recommends the Assembling in his Name, would be weak and null; because so it might be affirm'd, that they might have Christ present to them without. Now, forasmuch as Christ not onely pro­mises that he would be in the midst of those who should so assemble, but insinuates also, and that clearly enough, that he would not be so present to those that did not; he thereby lays a necessity upon Chri­stians [Page 179]of so meeting in his Name, for the welfare of the Church, and particularly for the imploring of such Blessings as are necessary for it. I will conclude this Particular with that of the Author to the He­brews, chap. 10.23. Where having exhorted in the foregoing Verses, that they should hold fast the profession of the faith themselves, and provoke others to the same love and good works, which are undoubted Precepts of the Gospel; he adds in the same breath, and by way of explication, not forsaking the assembling of your selves together, as the manner of some then was; but exhorting one another, and so much the more as they saw the day approaching. Which Words, as they are a manifest condemnation of the neglect of Assemblies, and conse­quently an establishment of the necessity of Worshipping God in them; so such a condemnation of the forsaking of them, as to make it in ef­fect not onely a breach of Charity, but a renouncing the Profession of our Faith. However it be, most certain it is, that Apostle mani­festly condemns the forsaking the assembling of our selves together; and if so, we may be sure the serving God in the Solemn Assemblies is a part of a Christians Duty; and therefore the Fourth Command­ment, wherein it is enjoyn'd, so far obligatory.

3. I am now arriv'd at the third of those Things which I said before to appertain to the Substance of this Commandment, and that is, The setting apart some portion of our Time for the more solemn performance of Gods Worship; this being so much of the Substance of the Com­mandment, that it is the onely thing clearly express'd in it, and may seem at first sight not onely to be the Main, but the Whole. Now that this also is Moral, will appear, if we consider it with respect to the Worship of God in general, or with respect to the Publick one. For, inasmuch as the Worship of God, as well as all other Actions, requires some Time for the performance of it; and Experience shews, that what is left at large for the Time, is either very rarely or perfun­ctorily perform'd; there ariseth from thence a necessity of appointing a certain Time, that it may not be either altogether omitted, or care­lesly celebrated, when it is not. And accordingly, as all Nations have agreed in the owning of a God, and in their own Obligation to worship him; so we find them also universally to have set apart cer­tain Times for the Adoration of that Deity they profess'd to own: Not perhaps without some hint from the Tradition of better Times, or from the Example of God's peculiar People, (for even in Natural Pre­cepts the dull Mind of Man may sometime need to be excited by the in­stigation of others;) but, without doubt, for the main, out of their own consciousness of the necessity of fixing a certain Time, that so it might not either be omitted, or carelesly perform'd. There is yet another Reason of setting apart a certain Time, if we consider it with respect to the Publick Worship; and that is, That they who are so to worship, may know when they are to meet for that purpose: For, if 1 Cor. 14.8. the trumpet give none, or an uncertain sound, who shall prepare him­self to the battel? or know when (as Tertullian Apol. c. 39. Coimus ad de­um, quasi manu facta precatio­nibus ambia­mus. Haec vis deo grata est. speaks) they are to meet to besiege God, and extort from him those Blessings which they need.

4. But beside the setting apart of a certain Time for the Celebrati­on of the Worship of God, there is also requisite such a Rest from our Employments as may give us the leisure to intend it, and free us from [Page 180]distraction in the performance of it. For as the Mind of Man cannot at the same time intend Things of so distant a nature as Sacred and Civil are; so, if there be not some Interval between our Employments and our Devotions, the Businesses of the World will be apt to insinu­ate themselves into our Thoughts, and thereby divert us from in­tending of the other. Such are the Substantial Parts of this Fourth Commandment of the Decalogue, such their Nature, and the Obliga­tion which they induce. What the Circumstances thereof are, and what their Nature and Obligation, is another Question, and will therefore require a distinct Consideration.

PART II.

Concerning such Duties as are onely Circumstances of the Precept, which do either respect the determination of the Time wherein we are to worship, or the manner of the Observation of it. That there is no Obligation upon us, either from Nature, or the present Precept, to observe a Just day, a Seventh day, or that Seventh day which is here prescrib'd. The Ancient Christians Observation of the Jewish Sabbath, together with their own Lord's-day, considered, and answered. A Transition to the Observation of the Lord's-day, where is shewn, That much less than a whole day cannot be deem'd a competent Time for the solemn performance of God's Private and Publick Worship; That since God exacted of the Jews a Seventh part of their Time, we can­not give less, who have far greater Obligations to the Almighty; and, That Christ's Resurrection upon the Lord's-day, is as just a Mo­tive to consecrate it unto God, as that of God's Resting the Jewish Sabbath. The Observation of the Lord's-day founded in the Ʋniver­sal Practice of the Church, which is there also deduced from the days of the Apostles, down to the Times of Tertullian. That such a Pra­ctice is of force to infer an Obligation; partly because declaring the Consent of that Body wherein it is, and to which therefore it is but reasonable that particular Men should subject themselves; and part­ly because an Argument of its having been instituted by the Apostles: According to that known Rule of St. Augustine, That what the Uni­versal Church holdeth, and always hath, if it appear not that the same was first decreed by Councils, is most rightly believ'd to have been delivered by the Authority of the Holy Apostles. The Reason why, when God gave the Jews so clear a Precept for the Ob­servation of their Sabbath, he should leave us, who live at so great a distance from the Institution of ours, rather to collect it from the Practice of the Apostles and the Church, than to read it in some express Declaration.

II. HAVING shewn in the foregoing Discourse what the Sub­stantial Parts of this Precept are, together with the Mora­lity thereof; it remains that I proceed to those which are Circum­stantial, which may be reduc'd to two Heads.

  • 1. The Determination of the Time wherein we are to Wor­ship: And,
  • 2. The Manner of the Observation of it.

1. In the handling of the former whereof, I will proceed in this Method.

  • 1. I will inquire whether the Determination of the Time, ac­cording as it is here fix'd, be directly obligatory to us Christians.
  • 2. Whether, if not, any thing may be inferr'd from it toward the establishing of the Lord's-day, and by what it is fur­ther to be strengthned.
  • 3. To which I shall add, in the third place, an Account of other Christian Festivals; and shew their Lawfulness, Use­fulness, and the Esteem wherein they ought to be held.

1. Now there are three things which this Commandment prescribes concerning the Time of the Solemn Worship of God; That it be a Day; That it be a Seventh day; and, That it be that Seventh day on which the Jewish Sabbath fell, or Saturday. Concerning each of which, I will particularly inquire, Whether they are morally, or other­wise, obligatory to us Christians.

And first, If the Question be concerning a Day according as the Jews reckon'd it, and as they were commanded to observe their Sab­bathsLev. 23.32., that is to say, of that space of Time which is between the Evening of the foregoing Artificial Day, and the Evening of the follow­ing one; so no Reason appears, either from Nature, or otherwise, why such a Day should be look'd upon as obligatory to us Christi­ans. For be it, that that Account is most agreeable to the Order of Nature, in which, as the first Chapter of Genesis assures us, Darkness had the precedency of Light, and accordingly had the precedency both in the Scriptures, and the Jews Account; Be it, secondly, as was before insinuated, that the Jews were oblig'd so to reckon their Sabbaths, as the foremention'd Precept, and their own Practice shew: Yet, as no Reason in Nature can be given, why the Worship of God should begin rather with the Evening than the Morning, according as it constantly doth with us; so, that this Commandment binds not such a Day upon us, the perpetual Practice of the Church, and the Oc­casion of that Festival we weekly observe, shew. For, the First day of the Week, or Lord's-day, being set apart by the Church in Com­memoration of the Resurrection of our Saviour, it is in reason to be­gin when that Resurrection did, which we find to have been when it began to dawn towards day. All therefore that can be meant in re­spect of us, must be the Observation of such a portion of Time as their Day amounted to, which is the space of Twenty four Hours, or the Natural Day. But even here it will be a hard matter to find any thing in Nature to evince our Obligation to it: For though Nature it self perswade, that a competent time be appointed for the Publick Worship of God; yet that the Time so appointed should consist of just so many Hours, this no Principle in Nature teacheth, so far as I have been acquainted with them. The onely thing that can found the Observation of such a Time, is that Positive Law which is now before us: But, as I have already shewn the Letter thereof not to concern us as to the Day here requir'd; so, Christianity being apparently not so [Page 182]nice as to the observation of Circumstances, we are in reason to mea­sure our own Obligation as to the time of our Worship, rather by the Equity than Letter of the Commandment; which what that is, I shall in due place declare.

Now though, from what hath been said, a Judgment may be made, what we are to think of the Observation of a Seventh day, and parti­cularly of that Seventh day which was the Jewish Sabbath; yet to make my Discourse so much the more compleat, and because there want not particular Arguments to propugn my Opinion in those Parti­culars, I will make it my Business to shew, That there is no Obligati­on upon us Christians, either from the Law of Nature, or this particu­lar Precept, to observe either a precise Seventh day, or that Seventh day which the Jews observ'd.

To begin with the former of these, even the Observation of a Se­venth, which hath by some Men been pleaded for with so great ear­nestness; concerning which I shall shew, first, That it hath no Foun­dation in the Law of Nature; and secondly, That it hath as little in this, if consider'd in respect of us. That it hath not in the former, this one Character of the Law of Nature may suffice any sober Man to conclude: For the Law of Nature prescribing onely such things to our Observation, as are in their own Nature good, before the superin­ducing of any Positive Law; it would follow, that the Observation of a Seventh day had a peculiar Goodness in it, and that it ought to be observ'd, though God had by no Positive Law enjoyn'd it. But what Goodness can even they who profess to believe it Moral, shew in a Seventh day, more than in a Sixth, or Eighth, or any other Day whatsoever? unless it be, that God rested upon it from the Works of the Creation, which is the Reason here alledg'd for its observance. But, first of all, if God's resting upon it gave it any peculiar Good­ness, what need was there of his adding his Blessing, and Command, to oblige Men to the Observance of it? For the Day being Holy without and before it, it would have suffic'd to have declar'd, That that was the Day on which he rested. Again, Forasmuch as Blessing and Sanctifying supposeth that which is so blessed and sanctified to have been before in the common condition of Things, God's so blessing and sanctifying of the Seventh day, supposeth that to have been of the na­ture of other Days, and consequently not to be consecrated by his bare Resting on it. Lastly, Forasmuch as whatsoever Goodness there is in any thing, it must be suppos'd to descend upon it by the Influ­ence of the Divine; if we suppose the Seventh day to have had any peculiar Goodness and Holiness, we must also suppose it to have re­ceiv'd it from the same Influx: which cannot be affirm'd in the present case; because that to which it is ascrib'd, is not any Influence of the Divine Goodness, but onely the Suspension of it. I conclude there­fore, That God's Rest upon it did not give the Seventh day any pecu­liar Holiness; and consequently, because that is the onely Reason al­ledg'd, that there is nothing of Morality in the Observance of it. From Nature and Morality therefore, pass we to the present Precept, and inquire whether that induceth any Obligation upon us to observe it. Give me leave onely to premise, That the Question is not (as is commonly deem'd) Whether One in Seven be of necessity to be ob­serv'd; but, Whether a Seventh day after Six days of Labour. For, [Page 183]though it be true, that he who requires a Seventh day, requires One in Seven; yet requiring it with reference to God's Rest from his Six days of Creation, he determines it to the last of those Seven, because no other beside the last can answer it. Which said, I shall not stick to affirm, That there is no Obligation upon us as to a Seventh, because the Precept, so considered, related onely to the Jews. For the evi­dencing whereof, I will alledge that of Exodus, chap. 31.16, 17. Wherefore the children of Israel shall keep the Sabbath, to observe the Sabbath throughout their generations for a perpetual Covenant: It is a sign between me and the children of Israel for ever. For in six days the Lord made heaven and earth, and on the seventh day he rested and was refreshed. For, as it is sufficiently known, that the Covenant be­tween God and the Israelites left no place for any that was not of their Nation or Religion; so the Sabbath being for a Sign of that Covenant, was consequently to extend no farther than the Covenant did, and therefore also to no other than themselves. The onely diffi­culty is, Whether what is affirm'd of the Sabbath in particular, be to be understood also of a Seventh day in the general. For the resolu­tion whereof, we shall need to go no further than the close of that Place we have now before us: For affirming the Sabbath whereof he speaks, to be a Sign between him and the Children of Israel, as it was an Image of his own Rest after his Six days work of Creation, he there­by appropriates to them, though not the Remembrance of the Crea­tion, yet the keeping such a Memorial of it, and consequently, of a Seventh day. And indeed, however some Men contend eagerly for a Seventh day, as supposing thereby to advance the Authority of that which we Christians think our selves obliged to observe; yet the granting of it to them, would serve onely to discredit that Day for which they so contend. For though the Lord's-day be One of Seven, yet it is the First of those Seven, and is not preceded by Six days of Labour, but followed: By which means it holds no analogy with the Design of the Institution, because intended to commemorate the Six days of the Creation, and that Rest which followed. Neither will it suffice to say (as perhaps it may be) That the Analogy between it, and that Rest it is propos'd to imitate, may be salved well enough, by making it look back to the Six foregoing days of Labour: For as by so doing we must alter our Account, and make the Lord's-day not the First, but the Seventh; so, though this way of Computing should agree well enough to the rest, yet it hath no place at all in the First and Chief; the Day of our Saviour's Resurrection being not onely the First of the Gospel Age, but the First day after the Jewish Sabbath; which leaves no place for any preceding Days of Labour.

From the Observation of a Seventh day, pass we to that Seventh on which the Jews kept their Sabbath, even the Seventh from the first fal­ling of the Manna in the Wilderness, and, as is probable also, from the Creation of the World: Which, that it is not obligatory to us, is sufficiently evident from the foregoing Considerations; but will be rendred yet more clear from those which follow. Whereof the first that I shall alledge, is its being instituted to remember God's giving them Rest after their sore Travels in Egypt: For, that so it was, the Prophet Moses doth more than intimate, Deut. 5.15. where repeating the same Precept we are now upon, he alledgeth the Reason of God's [Page 184]commanding it, to be, to put them in mind of their Bondage in Egypt, and of God's wonderful delivering of them from it. Now forasmuch as that Mercy had relation onely to the Jews; forasmuch as their Sab­bath was appointed to commemorate it: it follows, that the Jews onely were concern'd in the Observation of it, and consequently, that it is not obligatory to us. Add hereunto that of St. Paul to the Co­lossians, chap. 2.16, 17. where not contented to forbid the judging of any one in meat and drink, in respect of an Holy-day, or of the New-moon, or of the Sabbath-days, which yet shews their Obligation to be null; he affirms moreover, and particularly concerning those Sabbath-days, That they were shadows of good things to come, and therefore to disappear when they actually were. Now if any should demand (as the Question is not unseasonable) wherein the Sabbath was a Shadow of things to come, according as St. Paul affirms; I think we cannot more rightly place it, than in that Rest which it enjoyn'd, because that was one great End of its appointment; as neither the Typicalness of that Rest, than in its shadowing forth that Eternal Rest which we shall be possess'd of in Heaven. For beside that the Author to the Hebrews not onely compares those Rests together, but calls that Eternal Rest by the Name ofHeb. 4.9. [...], &c. Sabbatism, as it were on purpose to shew it to have been typified by the otherVid. Lud Ca­pell. in locum.; the Jews themselves may seem not to have been without some knowledge of it, because calling that Eternal Rest the day which is all Sabbath. The onely thing that can with reason be objected against this and the foregoing Argument, is, the Christi­ans so long and so generally observing the Jewish Sabbath, as well as their own Lord's-day, or Sunday. But as it is to be observ'd, that that Custom had no place in theSee White's Treatise of the Sabbath­day, p. 72. Churches of Rome, and Alexandria, and throughout Africa, the first whereof was anciently the most Emi­nent in the Christian World; so, where it had, it may seem to have proceeded not so much from any firm belief of its Obligation, as from weakness in some, and compliance in others, and in both an unwilling­ness utterly to shake off that Day which had by God himself been set apart for Religious Exercises: Witness their prescribing not to observe it after a Jewish manner Interpolat. Epist. Ignat. ad Magnesia­nos. [...] Vid. Ʋser. Ign. p. 57., who advis'd the Observation of the Day; theVid. Ʋsser. in notis ad loc. Observation of it in such Places where the Jews most were, as in the Eastern Parts, and not in the other; in fine, theSee Bishop White ubi su­pra. and Ʋsser. in Proleg. ad Ign. Epist. c. 13. Romans and Alexandrians converting the Sabbath-day, or Saturday, into a day of fasting; and the generality of the Christians at last agreeing with those of Rome, in the abolishing of it. I will conclude this Particu­lar with that of St. Paul, Gal. 4.10, 11. where having twitted them with the Observation of days, and months, and times, and years, agree­ably to the beggarly elements of the Law, to let them know how much he was concern'd about it, he immediately adds, I am afraid of you, lest I have bestow'd upon you labour in vain; thereby intimating (as Grotius speaks) his fear of their falling back to Judaism, (to which the Observation of their Days was a great step) and casting off that Religion they had receiv'd from him. I speak not this to invalidate the Authority of the Lord's-day, which some, I know, have endea­vour'd to establish upon such Grounds as I have labour'd to decry: For, as I mean by and by to give such an Account of it, as shall oblige any sober Man to the Observation of it; so, next to that, I know not what better Service I could possibly do it, than by taking Men off [Page 185]from adhering too much to the Letter of this Commandment; because, whilst some Men have gaz'd too much upon it, they have been induc'd thereby, and not without reason, to observe the Saturday rather than the Sunday, as which indeed the Commandment enjoyns. Again, As by inculcating the Letter of the Commandment too far, occasion hath been given to prefer the Jewish Sabbath before the Christian; so there is no doubt the like occasion may be given, if not to admit of the Jewish, yet to think very meanly of the Christian: It being not very likely that Day should be much esteem'd, which hath nothing brought to establish it, but the Letter of a Commandment, that establishes ano­ther day, and such a one as by the Design of God was a Shadow of that Body which we enjoy.

2. But not any longer to defer the paying of that Debt which our Lord's-day, as well as my own Promise, exacts of me; I will proceed, in the second place, to inquire, Whether, though the determination of the Time, according as it is here fix'd, be not directly obligatory to us Christians, yet somewhat may not be inferr'd from it, toward the establishing of the Lord's-day; and by what that is farther to be strengthned? For the resolution whereof, the first thing I shall offer, shall respect the appointing of a Day. For being (as I have before shewn) it is necessary that a competent Time be set apart for the Wor­ship of God; being less than a Day, or at least the major part of it, cannot be deem'd a competent Time for the Solemn Performance of the Private and Publick Worship of God; lastly, being God requir'd of the Jews to set apart a Day, to give him that Worship which is due unto him; we cannot think a less Time incumbent upon Christi­ans to observe as Holy, who have both a much greater Obligation to the Almighty, and a much more weighty Service to intend. Again, Forasmuch as it is no less necessary under the Times of the Gospel, than it was under the Law, that a Time be set apart for the Publick Worship of God; forasmuch as it is but reasonable, that under the Times of the Gospel an equal portion of Time, if not a far greater, should be allotted for the Performance of it; the same Reason requires, that since God exacted a Seventh part of the Jews, we are not to content our selves with a less, or imagine that God himself will be. For, though there be no Morality in the Observation of a just Seventh; though the specification of a Seventh, proceeded from a Reason which was never cogent in it self, but to be sure is not now obligatory: yet, as what­ever the Reason thereof was, it is certain God requir'd a Seventh part of the Jew, in order to his own Service; so it is both Moral and Chri­stian, that they should not go less than a Seventh, who have much greater Obligations to the Almighty. And indeed, well may we think so, when we find the Primitive Christians in the Acts meeting every day to worship, and not onely giving God a Seventh part of their Time, but the greatest. Lastly, If the Creation of the World,Acts 2.46. and God's Rest from it, were a just Motive to consecrate that Day into a Holy-day, wherein God so rested from the Creation; to be sure that is no less, upon which the Hopes of a Christian do so much depend, even the Resurrection of our Blessed Lord and Saviour. So that thus much may be inferr'd from the Equity of this Commandment, That as much less than a Day, and a Seventh day, cannot be thought neces­sary to be set apart for the Christian Worship; so, that which is set [Page 186]apart by us, even the First day of the Week, had a juster Motive to the Consecration of it, than that which was sanctified under the Law. But because what hath been hitherto, or may be inferr'd from this Commandment, doth rather perswade than necessitate the Observation of that particular Day which we observe, and I have promis'd a far­ther strengthning of its Authority; therefore, to give the greater force to it, I will produce the Practice of the Church from the Apostles days; and when I have done so, shew the Obligation it induceth.

That it had the Observation of a Christian Festival in the Apostles days, that of St. Luke shews, Acts 20.7. where we find the Disciples met together upon the first day of the week to break bread; that is to say, one Species being put for all the rest, to communicate with each other in the Publick Exercises of their Religion: The breaking of bread not onely referring either to the Lords Supper, or the Love-teasts that clos'd it; but joyn'd by this very Author with doctrine, and fellowship, and prayer, Acts 2.42. The same is no less evident from that of St. Paul to the Corinthians, 1 Cor. 16.1, 2. where, according to an Order he had before given to the Churches of Galatia, he enjoyns those of Co­rinth, That upon the first day of the week every one should lay by him in store, that so there might be no collections when he came. For, wherefore (as St. Chrysostom observesChrysost. in 1 Cor. Hom. 43.) should St. Paul appoint that day to the Churches of Galatia and Corinth, for the laying by of what God had prospered them, for charitable uses, but that that day, by the rest it afforded, gave them opportunity to do it? and moreover, by the Bles­sing which it remembred, and the Sacred Offices that were perform'd in it, was apt to incite them to a more chearful and liberal distribution? To all which, if we add the Title which St. John gives it, Rev. 1.10. so no doubt can remain of the Churches observing it as Holy. For as it is evident from the Consent of Interpreters, and the Language of the succeeding Age, that what St. John there calls The Lord's-day, was no other than what we now stile so; so the least that can be made of that Appellation is, That it was set apart by the Church in memory of the Lord Christ's Resurrection, and dedicated to his Honour and Service: The Lord's-day importing his having a peculiar propriety in it, which must be either by his own Institution of it, or the Consecra­tion of it by his Church. From the Apostles days, pass we to those that immediately succeeded; where we shall find yet more clear Testi­monies of the Observation of it. For thus Ignatius, the Contempora­ry as well as Successor of the Apostles, in his Epistle [...] Ed. Voss. p. 35. to the Magnesians, doth not onely make mention of the Lord's-day, but exhort them, that laying aside the Observation of the Sabbath, they would keep the Lord's day for a Festival, wherein our Life rose also. To the Testimony of Ignatius, subjoyn we that of Justin Martyr Apol. 2. pro Christianis, p. 99. [...], &c., as nearest to him, and to the Apostles; where we have not onely an Account of the Christians assembling on the Sunday, but the Business of those Meetings at large declared, to wit, the reading of the Scriptures of the Old and New Te­stament, Preaching, Praying, and other such Religious Exercises. And though, in that known Passage of Pliny Plin. Epist. li. 10., where he gives an Account to the Emperour Trajan concerning the Assemblies of the Christians; though, I say, in that Passage there be no express mention of the Day wherein they were held: yet affirming from the Mouth of some Chri­stians, whom he had examin'd, that they were wont upon a set day to [Page 187]meet together before the Morning-light, and sing a Song unto Christ, as unto God; it is but reasonable to think that day was meant, the Ob­servation whereof we are now establishing. What should I tell you of Tertullian's affirming in one placeDe Idololatr. cap. 14. Si quid & carni indulgendum est, habes, non tamen dies tantùm sed & plures. Nam Ethnicis se­mel annuus dies quisque festus est, tibi octavus quisque dies, &c., That the Christians had every Eighth day for a Festival? and in anotherApolog. cap. 16. Aeque si diem Solis Laetitiae indulgemus, alia longe ratione quam religione Solis, secundo loco ab eis sumus, qui diem Saturni otio & victui decernunt, exorbitantes & ipsi ab Judaico more, quem ignorant., That the Sunday was the Day? For, as that is so certain, that, as the same Tertul­lian intimates, the Heathens accus'd them for it, as Worshippers of the Sun, whose Name that Day bore; so, in and after his Time, there is so little doubt to be made of its Observation, that I must but light a Candle to the Sun, if I should go about to prove it. The onely thing worthy our consideration, will be, what use may be made of it, to infer our own Obligation to observe it.

And here, in the first place, I shall alledge the Practice it self, as a sufficient Argument to evince it. For, as an approved Custom hath the nature of a Law, because declaring the Consent of that Body where­in it is, and to which it is but reasonable that particular Men should subject themselves; so St. Paul gives it that force in the Church, where disputing against the Corinthian Women's praying uncovered, he al­ledges, That they had no such custom, nor the Churches of God, 1 Cor. 11.16. For if the Argument from a Custom negative be good and valid, much more from the same positive, and especially when there is so general an one. But because such arguments as these, through the contempt Men now have of the Church, may possibly not have their due efficacy, I will alledge, in the second place, that there is reason enough, even from that Practice, to believe it to have been of Apo­stolical Institution. For, it being morally impossible, that the Christi­ans of all Places should so unanimously agree to the Observation of it, if there had not been something of a Law to constrain them to it; and there appearing no such Law of the Church it self, antecedent to the Practice of it; it is but reasonable to believe it to have been Instituted by those who were the first Founders of it; according to that known RuleQuod universa tenet Ecclesia, nec Conci­liis institutum, sed semper retentum est, non nisi Authoritate Apostolica traditum rectis­simè creditur. of St. Augustine, That what the Ʋniversal Church holds, and always hath, if it appear not that the same was first decreed by Councils, is most rightly believ'd to have been delivered by the Authority of the Holy Apostles. And higher than that we shall not need to go; because he, who had all power in hea­ven and earth given him, did at his departure hence delegate so much of it to them, as was necessary for the regulating of the Church. The onely thing that may seem to have any difficulty, is, Why, when God gave the Jews so clear a Precept for the Observation of their Sabbath, he should leave us, who live at so great a distance from the Institution of ours, rather to collect it from the Practice of the Apostles and the Church, than to read it in some express Declaration. But even this, how difficult soever in appearance, will not be hard for him to unrid­dle, who shall remember what hath been before brought to establish it: For the Law of Nature, and this of Moses, evidencing the necessity of a Set Time; and the Equity of Moses Law, and our own Obligati­ons to the Divine Majesty, that we cannot give God a less proportion [Page 188]of our Time, than what he exacted of the Jews; nothing remained for God to declare, but whether he would require more than a Se­venth (of which there is not the least Indication); or if not, which of those Seven he would make choice of: which an easie hint might suffice to discover. For the Saturday, which is the last of those Seven, being expresly abolish'd, and no other having the like Pretences to succeed it, it was easie to guess God meant that Day, which had not onely our Saviour's Resurrection to adorn it, but was moreover by the Apostles, and those that followed them, kept as holy unto the Lord.

PART III.

A Digression concerning the Fasts and Festivals of the Church; where the Lawfulness of their Institution is evicted, and vindicated from the Exceptions of their Adversaries. That they are of signal use to insinuate the main Articles of our Religion into the Ʋnderstanding of the Weak, to bring the Occasions thereof to the Memories of the Strong, and prompt us all both more particularly, and with greater edification, to consider them. That being instituted by the Church, they ought to be Religiously observ'd by all that are the Members of it. Of the Manner of the Observation of the Jewish Sabbath, which is another of the Circumstantials of this Commandment. Of the Strictness of the Rest enjoyn'd the Jews on it; and that, as such, it is not onely not obligatory to us, but superstitious. What Rest is now obligatory to us by vertue of this Commandment; where that Rest is considered, both in the Letter, and in the Mystery. To whom, and in what manner the Jewish Rest appertain'd; with an application thereof to our own Concernments. A particular Inquiry concerning those who are under the Power of others; and whether or no they are oblig'd to Rest, where they are constrain'd to Labour by Threats or Stripes. Of Recreation on the Jewish Sabbath, and our own; and that, rightly dispos'd, it is not onely not unlawful, but useful. An Objection from Isa. 58.13. propos'd, and answered. A Restri­ction of Recreations to such as are neither unsuitable for the Kind to the Gravity of such a Solemnity, nor take up too much time in the Exercise thereof. A Caution against profane neglect of the Lord's-day, with the necessity that lieth upon the Generality of Men, more than ordinarily to intend their Eternal Concernments on it.

3. THE Lord's-day being, as you have seen, establish'd upon Christian Principles, and thereby equally secur'd from a Ju­daical Observance, and a profane Neglect; the Commandment I am now upon, no less than my proposed Method, obligeth me to entreat of other the Festivals and Fast-days of the Church. For though these have not the Authority of a Divine Command, as the Jewish Sabbath had; though there is not the same clearness of Evidence for their Apostolical Institution, as there is for the Lord's-day, or Sunday: [Page 189]yet they have this in common with the Jewish Sabbath, and our own, that they have the same Worship of God for their End, and the like signal Acts of God for the Occasions of their Institution; even those which have the Title of Saints-days, looking through them to the Mercy of God, who made them what they are, and dedicated to his onely Worship and Service. Having therefore so much affinity with the Day here enjoyn'd, I shall think it no way impertinent to my present Argument, to inquire into the Lawfulness of their Institution, their Ʋsefulness, and the Esteem wherein they are to be held.

1. It being certain, that that is to be look'd upon as lawful, which is not forbidden by any Command; nothing can be requir'd to esta­blish the Holy-days of the Church, but the taking off those Objecti­ons which may be made against the lawfulness thereof. Now there are two things commonly objected against them, and to which there­fore, before I proceed, I will shape an Answer; the former whereof strikes at the Observation it self, the other at the Injunction of it. The ground of the former is laid in those Words of St. Paul, Gal. 4.10, 11. where the Apostle not onely finds fault with their observing days, and months, and times, and years, but so far as to affirm, he was afraid he had bestowed upon them labour in vain. As if the very Observation of such things, were inconsistent with Christianity, or at least were in the way to destroy it. And indeed, if (as is pretended) those Words of his were to be construed of the Observation of all Days whatsoever, there is no doubt the Observation of those I am now speaking of, were to be look'd upon as inconsistent with Christia­nity. But he that shall seriously compare these Words of the Apostle with the foregoing and following ones, will find them to strike either at the Jewish onely, or at their Manner of Observation of them: For, asserting, as he doth in the beginning of the Chapter, their having been in bondage under the Law, and the Son of God's Redemption of them from it; asserting moreover, ver. 21. That they were desirous to be under the Law, and remitting them to the Law for their satisfaction; what can we in reason think meant by their turning again to the weak and beggarly elements wherein they desir'd again to be in bondage, but their return to the beggarly Elements of the Law, and consequently (because that is given as an Instance of it) either to the Observation of such Days and Times as were laid upon them by the Law, or obser­ving them after the manner prescribed by it? The Case is yet more plain in that other commonly alledged Text, Let no man judge you in meat and drink, or in respect of an Holy-day, or of the New-moon, or of the Sabbath-days, Col. 2.16. Not onely the mention of Sab­baths, which every one knows to have been peculiar to the Jewish Nation, determining it to their Fasts and Feasts; but St. Paul's affirm­ing moreover, that they were shadows of things to come, which is to be affirm'd onely of Legal ones. To make these Texts therefore of any force, it must be prov'd, either that ours are the same, or at least of the same nature with the Jewish; or that a like Observation is re­quir'd. But as the Festivals of the Church are so far from being the same with the Jewish, that, on the contrary, they proclaim the actual exhibition of those things which the other did onely foreshew; so there is nothing, either in our Canons, or Practice, which can minister an occasion of suspicion, that a Judaical Observation is requir'd. For, [Page 190]beside that the Offices thereof are all purely Christian, and not mix'd with Incensing, as the Jewish were, and the Popish are; neither is their number so great, as to be a burden to the Observers; nor those few that are impos'd, impos'd upon them as Divine Commands. In fine, nei­ther is the Duty of the Day so appropriated to it, as to make it un­acceptable upon others; nor yet exacted with so much rigour on it, as not to leave place for necessary Occasions. All therefore that can be suppos'd to lie against the Festivals of the Church, must be drawn from their being instituted by Men, and that Will-worship which it is conceiv'd to involve. But as I have heretofore said enough to take off that Charge, even as to this particular Affair; so, having done so, I shall in stead thereof set before you the Practice of the Jews, which in this Particular deserves hugely to be consider'd. For, if it were lawful for the Jews, notwithstanding the many Festivals God had in­stituted among them, to add others thereto upon occasion; how much more for Christians, where, setting aside the Lord's-day, there is not any thing to determine the Time of their Solemn Worship. Now that this was their Practice, is evident, first, from that of Esther, chap. 9. and 27. where, upon occasion of their great Deliverance from the Mis­chiefs intended against them by Haman, Mordecai wrote to the Jews, and accordingly they ordained, and took upon them, and upon their seed, and upon all such as joyn'd themselves to them, that they would keep those Days in which they rested from their Enemies, according to their Writing, and according to their appointed Time, every Year. In like manner, when the Altar of God had been polluted by the Hea­then, but was repair'd and dedicated again by Judas Maccabeus; the same Judas and his Brethren, with the whole Congregation, ordain'd, That the Days of the Dedication of the Altar should be kept in their Season from Year to Year, 1 Mac. 4.59. Which, as accordingly we find to have been observ'd even to the days of our Saviour; so, which is more, to have been graced by his presence, as you may see Joh. 10.22. As to the Lawfulness therefore, either of the Institution, or Ob­servation of Festivals, there is not the least doubt to be made; and much less can we suppose there will, if they be also useful: which ac­cordingly I come now to shew.

2. For the evidencing whereof, the first thing I shall alledge, is, that Instruction which might thereby accrue to the weaker sort, if they were but attended to as they ought. For the Church having appoint­ed particular Days for the Commemoration of the Chief Things that either were performed by, or hapned to our Saviour, if the Plain Man (as a Reverend Person hath express'd it) would but ply his Al­manack well, that alone Bishop Hall's Remains, Serm. on 1 Joh. 1.5. would teach him so much Gospel, as to shew him the History of his Saviour. For there, even upon the Feast of the Annunciation, might he see his Saviour's Conception, declar'd by an Angel; and him Born forty Weeks after, upon the Feast of the Na­tivity: He should see him eight days after that, Circumcis'd on New-years-day; then Visited, and Ador'd by the Wisemen, in the Epiphany: He should see him presented to God in the Temple, on the Day of Purification; then Tempted, and Fasting forty days, in Lent: He should see him usher'd in by his Forerunner John the Baptist, six Months before his Birth; attended by his Twelve Apostles in their several Ranks, and Thomas the last for his Unbelief: And at last, af­ter [Page 191]infinite and beneficial Miracles, he should see him crucified upon Good-fryday, Rising from the Dead on Easter, Ascending to Heaven on Holy-Thursday; and, to supply the want of his Presence, the Holy Ghost descending upon the Apostles, and the Church. In fine, there he should see the Belief of all these summ'd up in the Celebration of the Blessed Trinity, on that Sunday which bears its Name. All which, whosoever shall duely consider, will not think such Institutions unuse­ful, nor the Church much beholden to them who have endeavour'd to remove them. For, as it is apparent the foregoing Days carry Marks upon them of the principal things which it is necessary for a Christian to understand; so, by their separation from other days, they do naturally prompt those that are ignorant, to inquire into the Occa­sion of them: By which means, they who fly other ways of Instru­ction, would be in a manner constrain'd to receive it here, and either be wrought upon to glorifie God for the Benefits they receive from them, or be rendred inexcusable if they did not. But then, if we add farther, That they who have instituted those Days, have moreover fitted them with such Services, as may both explain their meaning, and the use we are to make of them; so it will be impossible for those who shut not their Ears as well as their Eyes, to be ignorant of those Truths, the Notices whereof they are intended to convey.

But beside that such Institutions minister to the Instruction of the weaker sort, which (God knows) are both the most, and most care­fully to be provided for; they are also of excellent use to bring the Occasion thereof to the remembrance of the Strong, and oblige them to consider what they know. For being plac'd (so near as the Church can fix them) upon the Returns of the same Periods of Time wherein they are recorded to have hapned; and being moreover distinguish'd from other Days by visible Solemnities, and the Commemoration of that remarkable Work which they sometime produc'd: the notice of them is in a manner thrust upon us, whether we will or no: And though we may be so bruitish, as not to remember them with those Affections which becomes us; yet it is made impossible for us to forget them. Lastly, As the setting aside particular Days for particular Accidents, is of excellent use to bring them to the remembrance of the Strong, and oblige them to consider what they know; so they minister an oc­casion shall I say, or rather an incitement to us all, more particularly to consider them, and improve them to our utmost advantage. For, as it is easie to suppose, those things will be but superficially consider'd, which are not allow'd a distinct consideration; so the thus separating them from each other, lays a kind of necessity upon Men to look more nearly and narrowly into them, and weigh all the Advantages which they contain: By which means, they who otherwise perhaps would have had but a slight taste of any, shall suck them in in greater pro­portions, and not onely find in themselves a fuller perception of their Sweetness, but a more grateful sense of his Goodness from whom they come. Thus, for example, whilst the Feast of our Saviour's Nativi­ty doth not onely admonish us of that, but in a manner determine our Thoughts to it, we have thereby both an opportunity and an en­gagement, I will not say so much to dive into the Mystery, as to contemplate the Goodness of him who was so incarnate; passing through all those Stages through which his Goodness and Condescen­sion [Page 192]did, from the Assumption of a Humane Body, to all those humble and even contemptible Circumstances in which he was pleas'd to assume it. Such are the Advantages of the Fasts and Feasts of the Church, wheresoever they are diligently intended. It remains that we inquire in what account they are to be held, the third thing propos'd to be discours'd of.

And here not to tell you, because no Man, for ought I know, hath ever taken upon him to affirm it, That such Days have no inherent Holiness in them; nor yet (because the Church doth not) represent them as Apostolical Institutions, (though the Feast of Easter have a fair pretence to it) and much less as Divine Commands; it shall suf­fice me to represent them as set apart by the Church of God, for the Commemoration of those Things whose Titles they bear. For though this do not make them equal to such as have the Command of God for their Institution, nor yet to that Lord's-day which with great probabi­lity pretends to an Institution by the Apostles: yet, as it separates them from the Rank of Ordinary Days, and consequently obligeth us so to look upon them; so it particularly obligeth us to intend those several Offices for the performance whereof they are set apart. For if, for instance, it be in the Power of the Church to set apart certain Days for the Commemoration of the Divine Goodness towards us, there is no doubt but it is the Duty of particular Members to comply with their Institutions, and make the Mercies which they so comme­morate, the Occasion of their Thanks and Praise. This onely would be added, That as what is so determin'd by the Church, may by the Laws of the same be taken away, if the Profit or Necessity thereof do so require; so particular Persons may without Sin omit the Solem­nization of them, if the necessity of their Affairs shall so require. For if the Sabbath it self was to yield to Necessity, much more those Festivities which pretend not to the Institution of the Divine Majesty. Care onely would be taken,Vid. Daven. in Col. 2.16. that, under a false pretence of Necessity, Men violate not the Order of the Church: For, so doing, they shall offend against God, as well as it; because profaning those Days which were set apart for his Worship and Service.

2. Having thus consider'd the Determination of the Time of our Worship, which I said to be one of the Circumstantials of this Com­mandment; proceed we in the next place to consider the Manner of its Observation: where again these three things would be inquir'd into.

  • 1. What kind of Rest it was to be observed with.
  • 2. Whether it admitted of any Recreation: And,
  • 3. Lastly, With what Holy Offices to be celebrated? Subjoyn­ing to each, as being the principal thing we are to aim at, how far we our selves are concern'd.

1. I begin with the first of these, even the Rest enjoyn'd the Jews in the Observation of their Sabbaths: Concerning which, I shall shew,

  • 1. What kind of Rest it was.
  • 2. To whom, and in what manner it appertain'd.

1. For the Rest enjoyn'd the Jews, it was evidently strict enough, and such as excluded all kind of Labour which was not either plainly Necessary, or was not grounded upon Pious and Charitable Conside­rations; such as were the Circumcising of Children upon the Sabbath, [Page 193]slaying of Oxen for Sacrifices, or lending Help to the Distressed. For, beside that here, and elsewhere, the Voice of God is not, as it is in some othersSee Lev 23.7, 8., That they should do no servile work; but, that they should do no manner of work upon it: beside, secondly, that they were forbidden so much as to kindle a fire on it, as you may see Exod. 35.3. the Rest seems to have been so strict, as not onely to restrain Men from Labour, but even from moving from their Places: For, abide ye (saith God, Exod. 16.29.) every one in his place; let no man go out of his place on the seventh day. And though there is no doubt this was to admit of some relaxation, because that would have hindred them from resorting to the Solemn Assemblies, for the hold­ing whereof I have shewn the Sabbath to be set apart; yet it is appa­rent enough, from the End of its Institution, and the Jews Vid. Act. 1.12. & Selden. de Jure Nat. &c. l. 3. c. 9. Practice, that there was somewhat more than ordinary enjoyn'd, even as to their not stirring from their Habitations. Now concerning each of these Rests, I shall not stick to affirm, that, according as before-stated, they are not onely not obligatory to us Christians, but superstitious. That they are not obligatory, will appear, if we consider, that the Sabbath it self is not: For the Sabbath (as was before-shewn) being peculiar to the Jews, to whom it was given as a Sign of the Covenant between God and them; that Rest which gave it its Name, and a great part of its Nature, must be look'd upon as in like manner peculiar to them, and consequently not obligatory to us. But neither is it less evident that such a Rest would be superstitious, if either impos'd or observ'd as Religious; because placing Religion in that, which however it might have some place in the Jewish, yet is no part of the Christian, because exhibiting that better Rest of which the other was a Type. If therefore there be any Obligation upon us, from the Rest here commanded, it must be either to the Observation of that Spiritual Rest of which it was a Type, or to such a Bodily one as is requisite to the Solemn Performance of God's Worship; each of which I come now to consider. Of the former of these Rests, there is not the least doubt to be made; that is to say, of a Spiritual one, or Rest from Sin. For it being evident on the one hand, that the Law of Moses was written for our Direction and Obedience, as well that which isSee the Di­scourse con­cerning the Positive Laws of God, &c. Ceremonial, as that which was Moral and Substantial; and it being no less evident on the other, that that of it which was Ceremonial, was not writ­ten to oblige us to the Ceremony it self: it follows, because it was written for our Direction and Obedience, that it was intend­ed to oblige us to those Spiritual Duties of which the other were Types and Shadows. Now forasmuch as the Rest enjoyn'd the Jews was a Type of some Christian Duty; forasmuch as there is no Duty in Christianity, which can better answer it, than a Rest from Sin; it follows, that though we look not upon our selves as concern'd in the Rest enjoyn'd the Jews, yet we look upon our selves as con­cern'd in that Rest of which it was a Type, and accordingly cease from our Sinful Works, as they did on the Sabbath from the Works of their several Employments. Again, Though the Rest enjoyn'd the Jews, oblige us rather to the Thing signified by it, than to the Rest it self; though, in the Circumstances in which it was enjoyn'd, it was apparently Legal, and consequently one of those Bondages from which Christ came to set us free: yet so far forth as that is requisite to [Page 194]the performance of God's Worship, there is no doubt it doth oblige us, even as to the thing it self: Because (as was before shewnSee Part 1. of the Explic. of this Com­mandment.) a part of the Moral Law, and subordinate to the main End of this. But from hence (as was there observ'd) it will follow, that we are to rest from our Employments, both in, and some time before the Time of God's Solemn Worship; the Mind of Man being neither able to intend them both at once, nor yet the Service of God alone, with that freedom which it ought, where the Cares of this World press too near upon it. Which though it amount not to the strictnesses of the Jewish Sab­bath, yet will oblige us to such a Rest, as will leave little leisure for other earthly Thoughts, than what the Necessity of our Affairs, or the Conveniences of Life will take up. But, as farther than this I neither shall nor dare press upon you the Rest enjoyn'd the Jews; so even they who are more severe, will not know how to free themselves, if they should be press'd with their own Actions: For who of them thinks himself a Sinner, for gathering a few Sticks on the Christian Sabbath, or going about to kindle a Fire on it? TheExod. 35.3. latter whereof was yet expresly forbidden the Jews, as theNum. 15.36. former punish'd with death.

2. Having thus shewn what kind of Rest was impos'd upon the Jews, and withal how far we our selves are concern'd to observe it; inquire we in the next place, To whom, and in what manner it apper­tain'd, or rather into the latter onely; the Commandment being ex­press not onely for the resting of all sorts of Persons, but also of the very Beasts themselves. And first of all, if the Question be concern­ing those who were sui juris, or permitted so to be as to the Rest here enjoyn'd; so there is no doubt that Rest appertain'd to them, not onely as a Privilege, but a Duty: the Rest here spoken of being the Matter of a Command, and consequently intended to oblige all those who were in a capacity to yield obedience to it. On the other side, if the Question be concerning Cattel, which by the Tenor of the Commandment were to have a share in it; so there is no doubt the rest here spoken of appertain'd to them onely by way of Privi­lege: For being uncapable either of understanding, or giving obedi­ence to Laws, they must be suppos'd to have been free from this, and consequently, what is said concerning their Rest, to have appertain'd to them onely by way of Privilege. Setting aside therefore both the one and the other, as whose Case admits not of the least difficulty, we will consider, first of all, the Case of Parents and Masters: 2. Of Children and Servants: And 3. and lastly, (because there is some­thing particular in his) of the Stranger that was within their gates. For the first of these again, there is no great difficulty in explicating their particular Concerns, because the Commandment is clear, not onely that they should rest themselves, but oblige those who were under their Power to do so: For those being more in their Parents and Masters Power, than in their own, the Command is in reason to be suppos'd to have appertain'd chiefly to them in whose Power their Labour or Resting was. From Parents and Masters, pass we to Chil­dren and Servants, and inquire into their particular Concerns: Where, first of all there is no doubt, for the Reason before alledg'd, that it was no less their Duty than Privilege, to rest from their La­bours, where they might be permitted so to do. The onely doubt is, whether it were incumbent upon them so to do, though their cruel [Page 195]Masters should have us'd Threats or Chastisements to constrain them to their ordinary Labours. For the resolution whereof, I shall desire you first to consider that of Deut. 5.15. For it being manifest from thence, that the great Design of the Rest enjoyn'd, was, that Servants should have ease from their Labours, it is hard to suppose, God would oblige them so to rest, when a far greater Evil than their Labour im­pended on them: For, by this means God should not onely not have consulted their Benefit, but brought upon them a far greater Evil than their own Pains. The Case will be yet more clear, if we re­member, that the principal End of Rest, was the attending to the Worship of God: For it being not to be thought, that they would suffer their Servants to intend the Worship of God, who would be so wicked as to constrain them to their ordinary Labours, the main Rea­son of the Commandment must have been taken away as to them, and consequently the Command also. All therefore that remains to be considered, is the Concernment of the Stranger, who was not of the same Religion with the Jew: Where, in like manner, it must be said, That the Precept of Rest appertained rather to the Jew that had Au­thority over him, than unto him: For the Sabbath (as was before said) being a Sign of that Covenant which God made between the Jews and himself, it is in reason to be constru'd to have laid an Obli­gation upon such onely to whom the Covenant appertain'd. All the Obligation that a Stranger could be suppos'd to lie under, must have risen not from the Law of Moses, with which he had nothing to do; but from the Law of Nations, which prescribes, that they who live in any Place, should be obedient to the Orders of it. By which means the Stranger's Obligation became rather Civil, than Religious; and consequently, ty'd him not to the Observation of it upon a Reli­gious account, but onely upon a Civil one. The same, mutatis mu­tandis, is to be said of the Concernment of Christians, unless it be as to the Rest of Cattel: For though it be a matter of Morality to allow them Rest, yet neither Morality, nor Christianity, ties us to allow it them on that day wherein we are to rest our selves. This onely would be added, That as the doing it at that time is generally necessary, be­cause we cannot well deny them Rest, but we must abridge our selves; so it is no unhandsom Expression of our Thanks to God for the Bene­fits we our selves enjoy, to make our Fellow-creatures at the same time to taste of ours. But as, setting aside this particular Case, lit­tle need to be added, to shew in what sort the Rest here spoken of appertains to us and ours; so I will not trouble my self, or you, with making any Application of it: Onely because what I have said con­cerning Servants, may be liable to misconstruction, I will resume that Matter anew, and apply it to our own Case. And first of all, when I say, That Servants are not oblig'd under Sin to rest from their La­bours, if they who are their Masters shall constrain them to it by Threats or Stripes, my meaning is, provided they use all due Means to free themselves from them, which in a Christian State are not ordi­narily wanting to them that look after them: For so long as the State forbids such Labours, it is in the power of Servants to complain to those that are in Authority, and thereby procure both a freedom from their Labours, and a Liberty to attend the Worship of God. Where therefore such a Redress is to be had, there no doubt it ought [Page 196]to be endeavour'd after: otherwise the Servant becomes accessary to his own Profanation, as well as the Master that compells him. But when, as it may sometimes happen even in Christian States, the Ser­vant is in no capacity of delivering himself from so great an Evil; or when (which is, God knows, the Case but of too many) a Man falls into the Hands of Turks, who it may be will exact a greater Service from him on that Day, than on any other: in such a Case, there is no doubt he need not expose himself to danger, by refusing that Service which is impos'd upon him: It being not to be thought God will pu­nish him for those Labours, which are rather his Unhappiness than Choice, and by the refusal whereof, he should not onely not have the more freedom for Religious Actions, but the less. It may suffice such a one to lift up his Heart to God, which no violence of Men or Devils can restrain him from: For, as that is all he is able to do, so it is the best part of that Worship for which the Jewish Sabbath of old, and the Christian now, is commanded to be set apart. I will con­clude this Particular with that known AffirmationMark 2.27. of our Saviour, That the Sabbath was made for Man, and not Man for the Sabbath: For if it was made for Man, to be sure it was not meant to ruine him, and bring upon him a greater Evil than all his Toil or Travel.

2. Of the Rest here enjoyn'd I have spoken hitherto, and shewn both what it is, and to whom, and in what manner it appertains: It follows, that we inquire whether either that, or the Day, admitted of any Recreation. For, as nothing hinders, but at the same time Men might cease from Labour, and yet not cease from Recreation; so he that shall consult either the Jewish Writers, or their present Practice, will find them not to have understood it to have extended to the pro­hibition of it.Vid. Seld. de Jure Nat. & Gent. li. 3. c. 9. Whence it is, that Lyra, a converted Jew, speaking of their permitting a Sabbath-days Journey, alledgeth for the Reason of it, That such a Walk was more a Recreation, than a Labour; for which cause it was not against the Rest enjoyn'd. And indeed (how­ever some Mens Prejudices have made it otherwise thought) neither is Recreation, provided it be moderate, any way unsuitable to their Feasts, or ours. For, as it is but reasonable that the Body should share with the Soul in its Joys, as well as be afflicted in its Griefs; so Recreation, rightly dispos'd, may make the Mind so much the more apt to intend the Offices of Religion. In fine, take away all Recrea­tion, and you make the Sabbath to afford little Refreshment to Ser­vants, and other such Labouring People, for whose Benefit we find it to have been in a great measure design'd; a continu'd Intention of Mind, especially to those who know not the pleasure of Contempla­tion, being no less wearisom to the Flesh, than the Labour of the Body. The onely thing that can in reason be offer'd against the allowance of Recreations, is that of Isa. chap. 58.13. where we find the doing and finding of ones own pleasure, joyn'd with the doing of a mans own ways, as equally unlawful on the Sabbath. But beside that the Word we render pleasure, doth also signifieVid. Eccl. 3.1. ubi quod in Heb. [...] LXX. reddunt [...]. Chald. Omni negotto, sensu etiam id postula [...]te. purpose, which, if admitted here, would convert it to another sense; beside, secondly, that no other may be meant, than the forbidding of Pleasures in excess, and when they are us'd rather to thrust out the Worship of God, than to fit Men the better, and render them more apt for the Practice [Page 197]of it; both the Chaldee Chal. pro eo quod est in Hebr.—faciendo voluntatem tuam,—ut non facias necessaria tua, pro—ab inveni­endo voluntatem tuam—neque provi­deas in eo quae tibi necessaria sunt., and theLXX. pro—à faciendo vias tuas, ab inveniendo voluntatem tuam,— [...]. Septuagint, un­derstand it of the pleasure of gain, of making provi­sion for their necessities and commodities. Which restriction is the rather to be admitted, as because the Sabbath was ordain'd forVid. Exod. 23.12. ubi LXX. [...], &c. refreshment, so because there is not the least mention elsewhere of forbidding Recreation on it. Add hereunto, what will farther confirm the former Notion, that of the same Prophet, vers. 3. Behold, in the day of your fast you find pleasure, and exact all your labours. For as it is probable from what he there subjoyns con­cerning the exacting of their labours, that he meant no other pleasure than the pursuing of their profits; so, that he could not mean plea­sures, in the proper acception of the Word, the fifth Verse of the same Chapter shews, he there intimating, that they were not wanting in afflicting their souls, which shews they were far from finding plea­sure. This onely would be added, That as Recreation, how lawful soever in it self, may upon other Days become unlawful, according as it may happen to be circumstantiated; so it will become so more espe­cially upon this, if either it be unsuitable for the Kind to the Gravity of such a Solemnity, or take up too much Time in the exercise there­of. Upon which account, I should make no difficulty to condemn, (as the Statute 1 Caroli, chap. 1. did) all Meetings, Assemblies, or Con­course of People, out of their own Parishes, for any Sports or Pastimes whatsoever, or any Bear-baiting, Bull-baiting, Enterludes, or Common Plays, within them; these latter, as they are rarely managed without either those Vanities or Heats which are very unsuitable to the Day, so both the one and the other being not well to be either provided for, or attended to, (according as that Statute remarques) without en­trenching upon those Duties for which it was set apart. Besides, when it is apparent how great the Necessities of Men's Souls are, and how little leisure the Common sort have to consider them upon other Days; when it is farther apparent, how ill the other Festivals of the Church are observ'd, and consequently how little likelihood there is of Mens supplying those Necessities in them, by a conscionable dis­charge either of Publick or Private Duties of Religion; lastly, when it is apparent how apt Men are to exceed, and, upon a pretence of the lawfulness of Recreation on it, to convert that Day, which was set apart for God's Service, into a Day of Sloth or Merriment; it is easie to see how much it concerns Men to set Bounds to their Recreations on it, and avoid a profane neglect, as well as a too nice and superstiti­ous observation of it.

PART IV.

By what Religious Offices the Jewish Sabbath was sanctified; which, beside the offering of Sacrifices, and other such Legal Ministrations, are shewn to have been, the reading of the Law and the Prophets. An Explication of, and Exhortation out of them, Praying to, and Praising God. A Transition to the Publick Sanctification of the Lord's-day, where the several Offices thereof are commemorated, and evidenced at large, both from Scripture and Antiquity. Of Reading the Scriptures in the Publick Assemblies, and the both Necessity and Ʋsefulness of continuing that Practice in them. That the Reading and Hearing of the Scriptures is no improper part of God's Worship. A Caution against those who reject the Reading of the Scriptures, as insufficient to convert Souls unto God. Of the Explication of the Scriptures, and Exhortations out of them. What the Ancient Form of Sermons was, and the Ʋsefulness of all. Concerning Prayer and Praise, both which are at large evidenc'd to be Parts of the Lord's-day Service. The vanity of those Mens Pretences, who absent them­selves from our Publick Prayers, because (as they think) they can make as good at home. The Administration of the Lord's-Supper, a great part of the Office of the Day.

3. BEING by the Order of my Discourse to inquire by what Of­fices the Jewish Sabbath was, and ours is to be sanctified after its example; I must admonish you in the general, That it is especially by such as are strictly and properly Religious: For though God may be honour'd by other Offices, yet those tend more directly towards it, and consequently also to the Sanctification of those Days which were set apart for his Honour. Setting aside therefore, for the present, what place other good Offices may have in it, I will make it my busi­ness to inquire, what Religious ones were requir'd toward the Sancti­fication of the Jewish Sabbath, and what are to the Sanctification of our own.

And first of all, if the Question be concerning the Sanctification of the Jewish Sabbath, and particularly concerning the Sanctification of it in Publick; so, beside the offering of Sacrifices, and other such Legal Ministrations, we shall find they had,

1. The Reading of the Law and the Prophets. For that this was a great part of the Business of their Sabbath, is evident from what wasSee Part 1. of the Explic. of this Com­mandment. heretofore alledg'd out of the Jewish Writers, and a Passage of St. James; but may be made yet more clear from Acts 13.27. where St. Paul not onely affirms the Prophets to have been read every Sabbath-day, but makes it an aggravation of the Jews ignorance in the matter of our Saviour, concerning whom they so clearly foretold.

2. But beside the Reading of the Law and the Prophets, which yet was always a part of their Service, they had, at least for the most part, an Explication of them by those who were the most eminent in Knowledge among them. And accordingly, as we find our Saviour, after the reading of a Passage in Isaiah, proceeding to the Explication [Page 199]of it, Luke 4.16. so the Rulers of the Synagogue of Antioch, after the reading of the Law and the Prophets, sending to Paul and Barna­bas, to tell them, that if they had any word of exhortation to the peo­ple, they should say on, Acts 13.14. Agreeable hereto is a Passage of Philo, concerning a Sect among the Jews call'd Essenes; to wit,Thorndike Rel. Assembl. ch. 3. p. 60. That coming to their Holy Places called Synagogues, they sit down in Ranks according to Years, the Younger under the Elder, with fit decorum di­spos'd to hear: Then one taketh the Book and readeth; another of the best practised cometh afterwards, and recogniseth that which is least understood, that is, expoundeth it. From all which it appeareth, that the Exposition of the Law and the Prophets was a part of their Sab­bath-Service, as well as the Reading of it.

3. The Case is no less plain as to the Duty of Prayer, which is one of the most proper Acts of Divine Worship; St. Luke not onely tel­ling us of a Place built for Prayer, but of certain of the Jewish Wo­men also resorting to it on the Sabbath-day; and St. Paul taking oc­casion from thence to open his Doctrine to them, Acts 16.13. Which Passage is the more to be noted, because where there were no Syna­gogues, yet they had their PlacesGrot. in Act. 16.13. of Prayer, which shews they look'd upon that as one of the more especial Parts of God's Worship, and such as ought not to be neglected, though the Reading of the Law and the Prophets should.

4. Again, As Prayer was a Part of the Business of the Sabbath, so also Praise and Thanksgiving, even by the Directions of God himself. For, as we find it to have been the Office of the Levites to stand every Morning and Evening to thank, and particularlySee the Sep­tuag. Version of that place; and Thorndike of Rel. Assem. c. 7. p. 219, &c. upon the Sabbath-days, 1 Chron. 23.30. so the Title of 92 Psalm proclaims it to have been made for the Sabbath-day, as you may see if you please to per­use it. And indeed, well may we think Praising God a part of the Business of the Sabbath, when the Sabbath it self was instituted in re­membrance of the Creation, and therein both of their own Being, and the Means which that furnish'd for their Support. Such were the Offi­ces by which the Jewish Sabbath was to be sanctified; and not unlike, it is probable, was their way of Sanctification of it in private: But because we have not the like Evidence for it, we will leave Men to their own Conjectures, and pass to the Sanctification of the Christian one; for my more orderly Explication whereof, I will consider it,

  • 1. As to the Publick; And,
  • 2. Then, as to more Private Concerns.

1. And, first of all, if the Question be concerning the Sanctification of it in Publick, for which both the one and the other Sabbath were chiefly separated, so we shall find the Reading of the Scriptures to have had a place in it, as well as in the Jewish one. It is true indeed, if we look no farther than those slender Narrations which the New Te­stament gives us of the Lord's-day Service, we shall not be able to di­scover any thing which may warrant us to affirm, that the Reading of the Scriptures had any place in it: But as that is not much to be won­dred at, when we see so little there concerning the Observation of it at all; so there want not Reasons to believe, however there be no express mention of it, that the Reading of the Scriptures had a part in it, even then. For, as it is not easie to suppose (especially when there were so many newly converted Jews) that they would lightly [Page 200]depart from the Custom of the Synagogue, where the Scriptures were constantly read; so it is probable they did not, because there was the like necessity of Reading them, that there had been in the Jewish Sy­nagogues. For though, since Printing came in use, the Scriptures are become more common, yet anciently they were in few Persons hands; and consequently, if they had not been read in Publick, the generality of Christians would not have had Knowledge enough of them, to have guided them in their Opinions and Actions. Since therefore it was but necessary they should be read, it is but reasonable to conclude they were, especially when we know our Saviour to have exhorted to the search of them, and St. Paul to represent them as able to make a man wise unto salvation. But it is not onely Probability we have to ground our selves upon, as to the Scriptures being made a part of the Lord's-day Service: For though (as I said) there be no mention of Reading them upon that Day; yet there is mention of Reading them in their Assemblies, which that Day was set apart for the holding of. For thus, Col. 4.16. we find St. Paul giving in charge, that when that Epistle of his had been read amongst them, they should cause it to be read also in the Church of the Laodiceans, and in like manner read that from Laodicea themselves. And thus too, though with much more earnestness, he gives a Charge to the Thessalonians, that that Epistle of his should be read unto all the holy Brethren, 1 Thess. 5.27. But because Customs, like Rivers, are beheld with the greatest ad­vantage at some distance from the Springs from whence they flow; from the Practice of the Church in the Apostles Times, pass we to those that immediately succeeded, where we shall find clearer Expres­ses of it: For thus it is the Affirmation of Justin Mar­tyr [...]. Apol. 2. pag. 98., one of the Ancientest Writers the Church hath, That upon the day call'd Sunday there was an Assembly of all that abode in the Cities, and the adjacent Coun­tries, where the Commentaries of the Apostles, or the Writings of the Prophets were read, so far as Time and other Duties would give leave. Agreeable hereunto is that of Tertullian, in Chap. 39. of his Apologetick, where speaking of the Business of Christian Assemblies, which is principally to be under­stood of those of the Lord's-day, because the Chief, he hath these Words:Coimus ad literarum divina­rum commemorationem; siquid praesentium temporum qualitas aut praemonere cogit, aut recognoscere. We come together to the repeating of the Divine Scriptures, according as the condition of the present Times enforceth, either to forewarn, or look back. In like manner, the same Tertullian De Animâ, cap. 9. Jam vero prout Scripturae leguntur, aut Psalmi canuntur, aut Adlocutio­nes proferuntur, aut Petitiones delegantur, ita inde materiae Vi­sionibus subministrantur. speaking of a certain Virgin, who had Revelations during the Solemn Service of the Lord's-day, affirms, That the matter of her Visi­ons was ministred as the Scriptures were read, or Psalms sung, or Exhortations produc'd, or Prayers preferr'd. Which shews the Reading of the Scripture to have been a part of the Publick Service, and particularly of the Day of the Chri­stian Sabbath.

Now, though what hath been said, be sufficient to shew the Reading of the Scriptures to be a part of the Publick Service; and as such, to be diligently attended to: yet because some have rejected it, as of none, or of little Edification; and others, as more proper for the Closet than the Church; I will, before I proceed, obviate each of [Page 201]these Opinions, and shew the groundlesness thereof. For, be it, first, that the main Design of the Scriptures is to teach us how to live, and particularly in reference to God; upon which account, the Reading of them may seem rather a Means to instruct us in, than any Part of the Worship of God: yet if it be with a regard to the Author of them, so we shall find both the Reading and Hearing thereof to be no improper Parts of God's Worship: He that reads or listens to them, as to the Word of God, no less acknowledging his Authority over us, than he who either prays to, or praises him. And accordingly, as Prayer and Praise (as being immediate Parts of God's Worship) were always accompanied with some outward Testimony of Respect; so we find also, that the Reading of the Law and the Prophets sometime was, as is evident from a Passage in each Testament: The former gi­ving us to understand, that when Ezra opened the Book of the Law, not onely he himself, but all the People stood up, Nehem. 8.4, 5. the latter, that our Saviour us'd the same Posture at the Reading of the Prophet Isaiah, and sate not down till he clos'd it: both the one and the other thereby declaring their Acknowledgment of his Authority by whose Spirit each of those Books was dictated. Whilst therefore the Scriptures are thus attended to, we do no less worship God, than learn how to do it; and the Reading and Hearing of them, is not onely the way to, but a part of that very Worship to which it leads. But because there are some who, though they question not the Read­ing of the Scriptures upon that account, yet reject it either as unedi­fying, or at least not very proper for the Publick Assemblies; in stead of prosecuting the former Argument, we will consider each of these Pretensions, and first that which excludes it as no way proper for the Publick. For, be it, which is commonly alledg'd, that Men may read the Scriptures at home, as well as at the Publick Assemblies: yet as there are a great number of Men who cannot read at all, and others who have no leisure for it, though they could, by means whereof they must have been ignorant of the Scripture, unless God had provi­ded for them by the Publick Reading of it; so it is apparent, that they who both can read, and have leisure for it, are too apt to omit it, and consequently, were it not for the Publick Reading of it, would have had no farther knowledge of it, than they should have receiv'd from the Discourses of their Instructers: By which means they might not onely have suck'd in their Infirmities together with it, but sometimes also their Errours and Extravagancies. Again, If the Scriptures had been confin'd to Closets, and no more of them produc'd in Publick, than what might serve either for the Subject or strength­ning of a Sermon, it had been no hard matter (especially before Print­ing came in use) to have corrupted the Scriptures, without remedy as to the Common sort, and made them speak, not what they ought, but what every perfidious Heretick would have had them: for so those that are unlearned would have had no means to inform them­selves, whether that which was suggested to them as Scripture, were genuine or no. But when the Scriptures were not onely in the hands of Private Persons, but preserv'd in Churches, and, which is more, publickly read in them; as there was not the like encouragement to evil Men to corrupt private Copies, as knowing that their Corrupti­ons might be detected by those Books which were in the custody of, [Page 202]and publickly read by the Church; so, if they had been so bold, what was read in the Assemblies would have help'd Men to have discover'd the Fraud, and preserv'd them from the Attaque of it. This onely would be added, That though there be not the like dan­ger since Printing came in use, and Men were appointed by Authority to preside over it; yet there would be danger enough, if the same Cu­stom were not continued, of Reading the Scriptures in the Assemblies. For, as corrupt Copies may come abroad, notwithstanding all the di­ligence of those who have the Charge of the Press; so, if they should, the Common sort of Men would have nothing left to fence themselves against them, if the Reading of the Scriptures were ba­nish'd out of the Assemblies. Add hereunto, which, though but an Argument ad hominem, may perhaps prove more prevalent, than those that speak to the Thing it self; and that is, the abhorrency that even they who would not have the Scriptures publickly read, profess to have for the Papists robbing the People of it: For, what do they less, who would have them banish'd from the Publick As­semblies, where alone the Ignorant sort are in a capacity of recei­ving them? So slight, or rather so dangerous, are the Pretensions of those, who would have the Reading of the Scriptures appropriated to Mens Closets: How much more then, the rejecting of the Read­ing of them, as if, when onely read, they were not able to convert a Soul unto God? For as whatsoever force there is in Sermons, is for the substance of them deriv'd from the Scriptures, and therefore the Power of converting Souls to lie chiefly there; so, if those Scri­ptures have not lost their credit, as well as their converting Faculty, the bare Reading of them, through God's Blessing, may be a means to convert Souls unto God. Otherwise, why should God, as he did, command the Reading of the Law, that the children of Israel might hear and learn, and fear the Lord their God, and observe to do all the words of this Law? Deut. 32.11, 12. or St. John affirm of his Gospel, that it was written that we might believe, and that believing we might have Life through his Name? For, if it was written that Men might believe, there is no doubt it is able to effect it when read, because that is enough to let Men into the Sense of it. And indeed, as, if Sermons prove more effectual, it is oftentimes because they are more attended to, their novelty and spruceness engaging our attention, whilst the plainness of the other makes it less regarded; so, if they have any advantage in themselves, it is not so much for the Arguments they alledge, which are the same in both, but by the order wherein they are dispos'd, and the manner of application.

Having thus shewn the Reading of the Scriptures to be one part of the Publick Service, and thereby asserted it from that Contempt into which it is now fallen; I proceed to inquire, Whether, as in the Service of the Jewish Sabbath, so also in the Christian, the Expli­cation of the Scriptures is to have a part. Now that so it is, will appear if we look into the Service of the Church, as it was in the first Institution of it. And here, not to tell you, that the first Ac­count we have of the Publick Service, presents us with the mention of the Apostles Doctrine, I shall begin my Proofs with that of Acts 20.7. because speaking of the First day of the Week, or Sunday: For there we are told, That, among other the Exercises of that [Page 203]Day, the Disciples had a Sermon from that excellent Preacher St. Paul. All the difficulty is, what kind of Sermon that was, and whe­ther it were not made rather in regard to his being to depart the next day, than out of a belief of its being a Requisite of that Days Service. But as the former will be easily voided, if we consider what he elsewhereActs 26.22. affirms of his Preaching, That he said no other things than the Prophets and Moses did say should come; thereby making his Sermons but an Explication and Confirmation of the Pro­phets: so, that it was in regard to the Day that he so preach'd, as well as to his being to depart the next, the mention of the Apostles Doctrine before, among the Parts of their Publick Worship, as well as the subsequent Practice of the Church, shews. If, as that Text manifestly implies, his purpose of going away the next day had any influence upon it, it was not so much for the producing of it at all, as for his drawing it out to that length to which it was; and would therefore more agreeably to the Sense, and no way dissonant to the Stile of the New Testament, where such like Trajections Vid. Knatch­bull, Animadv. in Nov. Test. speciatim in Annot. ad Act. 13.27. are us'd, be rendred, That on the foremention'd day St. Paul preach'd unto them; and, because he was to depart the next, continued his Speech until midnight. From the Apostles Days, pass we to the subsequent Age, where again we shall have a pregnant Proof from Ju­stin Martyr Ibid. [...]., who continuing his Account of the Sun­day-Service, adds, That after the Reader had done, the President or Bishop, in a set Discourse, made an Admo­nition and Exhortation, to the imitation of those ex­cellent things they had before read; agreeably to the Customs of those Times, as Mr. Thorndike Religious Assembl. ch. 6. hath observ'd, where the Sermon or Discourse was not, as now, upon any Subject indifferently, but to the Explication and Application of that which was read in the As­sembly. From the Testimony of Justin Martyr, pass we to that of Tertullian Apol. c. 39. Certe fidem san­ctis vocibus pascimus, spem erigi­mus, fiduciam figimus, discipli­nam praeceptorum nihilominus in­culcationibus densamus., where we shall find a Proof of the same usance: For after he had given an Account of their coming together to reherse the Scriptures, he adds, which, to my seeming, plainly referrs to their Sermons, However, we fail not with holy Speeches to feed Mens Faith, erect their Hope, fix their Confidence; neither forget we in the mean time to thicken the Discipline with the frequent inculcation of Precepts: This thickning of the Discipline with the inculcation of Precepts, being more proper to Sermons, where there is liberty to heap up many to the same purpose, than to the Reading of the Scri­ptures, which pass from one thing to another. However it be, as it there follows, that there also are Ibidem etiam exhortationes, castigationes, & censura divi­na. Exhortations, Casti­gations, and a Divine Censure; so, in the Place before-quoted out of his Book de Animâ, among the Solen­nia Dominica as he there calls them, he reckons Adlo­cutiones, or Speeches, as distinct from the Reading of the Scriptures. And indeed, though the Word barely read might suffice to Edifica­tion, if it were but attended to as it ought; yet forasmuch as some Men are dull of hearing, or rather of understanding, and a greater number are backward to make application of it to themselves, hence it comes to pass, that, to make them the more prevalent, it is at least very behoveful, that they to whom the Office of Preaching is [Page 204]committed, not onely open their Understandings in them, but bring such things especially to their remembrance, as it most concerns them to consider; thickning them moreover (as Tertullian speaks) by the frequent inculcation of those several Precepts which lie dispersed in the Scriptures. But other advantage than this, as Sermons have not above the Word read, so to give them any other, were to set up the Compositions of Men (for such all Sermons are) above the pure Dictates of God's Spirit.

From the Word Read or Preach'd, pass we to Prayer, an Office of the Jewish Sabbath, and no less undoubtedly of the Christian: For, as in the place before-quoted out of the Acts Act. 2.42., it is expresly rec­kon'd as a Part of the Publick Worship; as, before that, by our SaviourMat. 18.19, 20., for one of those things in the performance whereof he would be present to them when they met; so, that it was one main Business of the Lord's-day Service, those very Ancient Authors be­fore-quoted, largely shew: Justin Martyr Apol. 2. [...]. after the ending of the Sermon, mentioning their all rising up to Prayer, and praying not onely for themselves, but for all the World; of Prayer again, at the Consecration of the Eucharist, which he moreover affirms the President or Bi­shop to pour forth with all his might. In like manner Tertullian Coimus ad deum, quasi manu facta precationibus ambiamus. Haec vis Deo grata est. Oramus etiam pro Imperatoribus, pro mi­nistris eorum ac potestatibus, pro statu seculi, pro rerum quiete, pro mora finis. not onely affirms the Christians to come to­gether to God, as it were to make up a Party, by which to besiege him with their Prayers; adding moreover, that therein they recommended also the state of Emperours, and their Ministers: but in the place so often quoted out of his Book de Animâ, makes mention of the preferring of Prayers, as one of the Lord's-day Solemnities. Which Testimonies I do the rather inculcate, because though Publick Prayer be one of the Chief, and always so ac­counted, yet it is now neglected and contemn'd; upon how small a pretence, we may easily judge, by what we often hear from some, That they can make the same, or as good Prayers at home: For though they could, yet not with the same advantage, either to themselves, or others, because wanting the concurrence of the Devotion of other Men, which is that that makes Prayer so acceptable. And I cannot but upon this occasion call to mind a Saying of Maimonides, remembred out of him byThorndike Rel. Assembl. chap. 6. a Learned Man of our own Nation, to wit, That he that dwelleth in the City where there is a Synagogue, and prayeth not there with the Congregation, this is he that is call'd a Bad Neigh­bour. For, as he may well be call'd a Bad Neighbour (as the same Learned Man goes on) that will not lend his Neighbours Prayers the strength of his own; so he himself findeth the Fruit of his own bad Neighbourhood, when his own Prayers want the assistance of his Neighbours.

Next to Prayer, subjoyn we the Duty of Praising God, whether in or out of a Song: For that this was a part of the Publick Ser­vice at the Assemblies, and consequently of the Lord's-day, which was appointed for the holding of them, the Scriptures do abundantly declare. For beside that St. Paul calls upon the Colossians, that they should teach and admonish one another in Psalms, and Hymns, and [Page 205]spiritual Songs, Col. 3.16. it is evident from severall Passages in 1 Corinth. 14. that it was a great part of their Publick Service. Thus when the Apostle, vers. 15. and so on, says, I will sing with the spirit, and I will sing with the understanding also. Else when thou shalt bless with the spirit, how shall he that occupieth the room of the unlearned say Amen at thy giving of thanks? he plainly supposeth, (because speaking all along of their Assemblies) that the Blessing and Praising God in a Song, was a part of the Publick Service at them. In like manner, when he saith, vers. 26. How is it then, Bre­thren? when ye come together, every one hath a Psalm, a Doctrine, and a Tongue, &c. Let all things be done to edifying; though he finds fault with the disorderly performance of those several Duties, yet he supposeth them to be Duties, because prescribing Rules for the right ordering of them. From the Times of the Apostles, pass we to those that immediately succeeded, where we shall find yet more express Testimonies of this being a part of their Lord's-day Service. For thus Pliny Lib. 10. Ep. 97. Adfirmabant autem hanc fuisse summam vel culpae suae vel erroris quod essent soliti state die ante lucem con­venire, carmenque Christo quasi Deo dicere secum invicem., giving an Account of what the Christians did upon the Set-day of their Assem­blies, which, as was before shewn, could be no other than the Lord's-day, tells us, from the mouth of some of themselves, That it was, among other things, to say one with another, by turns, a Song or Hymn to Christ, as unto God; thereby not onely shewing that to have been a part of their Publick Service, but, as a LearnedHam. Pres. to Annot. on the Psalms. Man hath well observ'd, confirming that way of alternate Singing, which is still in use in the Church of England. Neither is Pliny alone in this Testimony, ei­ther as to the Singing of Hymns upon that Day, or Singing Hymns unto Christ, as God: For, as Tertullian expresly reckons the Singing of Psalms among the Lord's-day Solemnities, so Euse­bius Eccl. Hist. lib. 5. c. 28. [...]. alledges against those who deny'd the Divinity of our Saviour, certain Psalms and Songs, written an­ciently by the Brethren, wherein they magnified Christ as God. It is true indeed, he saith not in that place, that they were sung in the Church, which may seem to render that Testimony so much the more defective: But as it is evident from Tertullian Apol. c. 39. Post aquam manu­alem & lumina, ut quisque de Scripturis sanctis, vel de proprio ingenio, potest, provocatur in me­dium deo canere., that Men were invited to sing in their As­semblies, as well their own Compositions, as those of Scripture; so Eusebius elsewhereEccl. Hist. lib. 7. c. 30. [...]. gives us plainly to understand, that the Psalms before spoken of were sung in their Assemblies: He there charging Paulus Samosae­tenus with causing them to cease, and Songs in honour of himself to be sung in the Church. For how could Paulus Samosatenus cause those Songs to cease, unless they had been publickly sung? or, what likelihood is there, if they had not been so, that he would have in­troduc'd Songs concerning himself? I will conclude this Particular with that famous Canon of the Council of Laodi­cea Can. ult. [...], &c., where the Canonical Books of Scripture are enumerated: For, forbidding, as it doth, the use of such private Psalms in the Church, it shews them to have been before in use; and much more, that the Singing unto God was.

But of all the Religious Exercises wherewith the Christian Sab­bath [Page 206]was to be celebrated, there is certainly none which hath more to be said for it, than the Administration of the Lord's Supper, that real Thanksgiving and Praise of the Almighty, for the Blessings of the Creation, but more particularly for the Death of our Saviour. For, as we find it to have been the Attendant of the Publick Assem­blies of the Christians, both in the Acts, and in the First Epistle to the Corinthians; so, to be so much a part of the Lord's-days Busi­ness, as to be set to denote the whole: St. Luke, Acts 20.7. making the end of the Disciples meeting together upon the First day of the Week, to be to break Bread, that is to say, as the Syriack interprets it, the Bread of the Eucharist. Agreeable hereto is that of Pliny Ibid. Seque sacramento non in scelus aliquod obstringere, sed ne furta, ne latrocinia, ne adulteria committerent, ne fidem fallerent, ne depositum appellati negarent., in the Testimony so often produc'd, he there telling us, That upon the Set-day spoken of before, they oblig'd themselves by a Sacrament, not to any wic­kedness, but that they would not commit Thefts, [...] [...] ­ries, Adulteries, &c. Which (as hath been before shewn) [...] be understood of any other than the Sacrament of the Eucharist, which we know to be an Obligation to that purpose. And though it be true, that Tertullian makes no mention of it in his Apologetick, probably because it was not his purpose to make known the manner of it to the Heathen, lest the misunderstanding of it should bring it into contempt; yet, as in his Book de Coronâ militis Cap. 3. Eucharistiae Sacramen­tum, & in tempore victus & omni­bus mandatum à Domino, etiam antelucanis coetibus, nec de alio­rum manu, quàm praefidentium su­mimus., he mentions it as a part of the Business of those As­semblies before day, whereof we have mention in Pliny; so Justin Martyr Vid. Apol. 2. loco prius citato. not onely mentions it as a part of the Lord's-day Service, but describes the Manner of the Celebration of it. From all which put together, it is evident, I do not say, how much we have departed from the Devotion of the Apostles Times, and those that succeeded; but even from the due Observation of that Day which we pretend to keep as Holy unto the Lord.

PART V.

An History of the due Observation of the Lord's-day, both in Pri­vate and Publick: Where, among other things, is shewn the Ex­cellency of our Churches Service, and with what Affections it ought to be intended; the unsuitableness of Fasting to so joyful a So­lemnity, and the great inconvenience that must necessarily ensue from the not relaxing of our Intentions: In fine, The both neces­sity and benefit of Meditating upon what we have heard, and ap­plying it to our own Souls. That the Visiting and Comforting of the Sick and Distressed, the Reconciling of Parties that are at vari­ance, and the begetting or maintaining Friendship, by kind and neighbourly Entertainments, are no improper Offices of the Day.

2. BY what Publick Exercises of Religion the Christian Sabbath is to be celebrated, hath been at large declar'd, both from the Precepts and Practice of the Apostles: It remains, that we inquire how it is to be sanctified in Private, which is a Duty no less incum­bent upon us, than the former. For the multitude of our Affairs not permitting us on other Days to intend the Matters of Religion with that freedom and solemnity which becomes them, there ariseth a ne­cessity, when we have both leisure, and so fair an Invitation to it, to apply our selves to the performance of it, and supply those Defects which the Necessities of the World have made. Taking it therefore for granted, that such a Sanctification is requir'd, I will make it my business to inquire wherein it doth consist, and what particular Du­ties it exacts. Onely because I have not told you how we are to in­tend the Publick Exercises of Religion, I will mix that with the Consideration of the other, and so give you a kind of History of the due Observation of the Day.

The Lord's-day saluting our Horizon, and admonishing us both of the Blessings and Duties which it brings; it is but reasonable, where the Labours of the foregoing Day have not made it necessary to do other­wise, that we should be up betimes to meet them, and pay them that Regard which they deserve; as remembring, that the Christian Sab­bath is rather a Day of Business, than of Rest, though of an easie and a gracious one. Now the first Business that presents it self on that Sacred Day, is the offering up our Sacrifice of Praise for the Resur­rection of our Lord, and the Opportunity we our selves have to cele­brate it. And herein it becomes us to be so much the more hearty, because it is the Ground of its Institution, and that which gives it both its Being, and its Name. Next to the Sacrifice of Praise, subjoyn we that of Prayer for the Assistance of God in the due Celebration of it; not onely our own unaptness so requiring, but the importance of the Business we are to intend, and particularly of the Publick one. For now we are not, as upon other Days, barely to worship God, but to do it with a more than ordinary fervour, as being thereby to supply the Defects of our past Piety, and lay a firm foundation of our future one. The Sacrifice of Prayer and Praise being thus of­fer'd [Page 208]up to God, and thereby an entrance made into the Sanctificati­on of the Day, there is then place for those Businesses which our own Necessities or Conveniences invite to the performance of; but so, as that we remember we have a weightier Business to intend, and particularly our looking back into our past Impieties: For inasmuch as we are assur'd that God heareth not sinners, such I mean who con­tinue in them without remorse, we are in reason, before we address our selves to the Duty of Publick Prayer, to break off our sins by repentance, and, like the Prophet Moses, to put off our shoes before we tread upon holy ground. Not that it were not convenient that this should be done at other times, and we to inquire every Night (as Pythagoras his Scholars were oblig'd) [...]; Wherein have I offended? what good have I done, and what omitted? and accordingly, as that Philosopher [...]. Vid. Pythag. [...]. adviseth, either to afflict, or chear our selves: But that, howsoever it should, either through the necessity of our Affairs, or inadvertency, be omitted at other times, we should not fail to do it then, when we are to ad­dress our selves to Publick Prayer, by which, if by any thing, we must hope to obtain God's Favour.

Imagine now the Bell calling you to the Publick Assemblies; or rather, because both the Jewish Sabbath and ours was instituted for the holding of them, that you hear God himself doing it: In answer to which Call, you are to bring both your selves and your Depen­dents, and that too at the Beginning of God's Publick Worship. The former, because though other Persons may sanctifie the Sabbath by their own single Piety; yet they who have Children and Servants, are to see to the Observation of it in them, as being under their di­rection and command: Though, were they not so oblig'd, the Ad­vantage that might arise from the doing of it, might be a sufficient inducement to endeavour it; that which made Abraham so great a Confident of God, being, that God knew he would command his children, and his houshold after him, to keep the way of the Lord, as you may see Gen. 18.19. But neither is there less reason that the Beginning of God's Service should have both their Company and ours, than there is that it should have it at all; an imperfect Service arguing a slight esteem of him, and that we are no farther his Servants than we our selves please: And it calls to my mind that Expostulation of God in Malachi, chap. 1.8. And if ye offer the blind for sacrifice is it not evil? and if ye offer the lame and sick, is it not evil? Offer it now unto thy Governour: Will he be pleas'd with thee, or accept thy person, saith the Lord of hosts? For what is that, but a blind and a lame Service, where it may be the best part of it is wanting? or, how can we think God will be pleas'd with that which an Earthly Prince would disdain to accept? We may suppose, by this time, the Man who desires to sanctifie the Lord's-day aright, entred the Church; where having prostrated himself before the Divine Majesty, and im­plor'd his Blessing upon his Endeavours, he will need little other di­rection than to mind that which he comes about, and not either drowsily or irreverently to perform it: Onely, that I may set the better edge upon his Devotions, I will apply my Instructions to some of those particular Duties which the Day, and the Order of our [Page 209]Service doth require. With admirable reason doth our Church, and almostThorndike Rel. Assembl. ch. 10. all the Reformed ones, begin their Service with Confession of Sins, as knowing how likely they are, whilst thus bewail'd, to sepa­rate between us and God: And there is the same reason we should bring to the Rehearsing of it, that due Remorse and Sorrow which the consideration of our several Offences call for; otherwise we ra­ther dare God to avenge himself upon us, than take the way to ap­pease or please him. But when we, who are vile enough in the eyes of God, make our selves such both in our own esteem and expressi­on; when we frankly lay open the Errors we have committed, and acknowledge them to be such, by our inward Contrition, and out­ward Sorrow; then our Confession is no less sure to be follow'd by the Absolution of God, than it is by that of the Priest; or rather, that God will confirm that which the Priest pronounceth: it being not certainly for nothing, that our Saviour hath said, Whosesoever sins ye remit, they are remitted; and whosesoever sins ye retain, they are retained. From the Confession and Absolution, pass we to the Lord's Prayer, according as our Liturgy doth; in the Repetition whereof, there is but reason we should rally together all the Forces of our Soul, and intend it with all our Heart and Strength; I say, not onely in respect of its Author (though that certainly should pro­cure its Regard) but in respect of its signal Use and Advantage. For whereas in our other Prayers we may ask amiss, whether in respect of the Things themselves, or the Order of our Petitions; here we are sure not to offend, because the Prayer we so utter contains all that is to be desired, and in that manner and order wherein it ought. Again, whereas in the long continuance of our Devotions, our Thoughts may be apt to flag, or wander from that Subject which they have before them, we have an opporunity to make some amends for it, by intending this excellent Prayer, wherein all those Petitions are summ'd up. The Mind being thus prepar'd by Confession of Sin, and the Devotion which the foremention'd Prayer suggests, it may not be unsuitable for us to sound forth the Praises of God, which is the next thing the Liturgie suggests. For though the Psalms which it makes use of for this purpose, are generally read, and therefore look'd upon by some as onely matter of Instruction: yet as care hath been taken that they should be sung where they may be, which shews for what use they were design'd; so it is apparent from the Psalms themselves, that they were intended not so much to instruct us, as to be Instruments in praising God for the several Bles­sings they commemorate. And indeed, as its Strains are all admira­ble, and worthy that Spirit by which they were first suggested; so they are fraught with such variety of Matter, that there is no State or Condition of Life which may not find somewhat in them suitable to it. If we lie under the Conscience of Sin, the 51 Psalm will fit us, as containing both an ingenuous Acknowledgment of it, and an earnest Prayer for the Pardon of it. If we find in our selves that Pardon, the 32. will be a fit matter for our Devotion, because compos'd by David after an Absolution from his. If we lie under any Sorrow, by reason of the Prosperity of the Ungodly, we have the 72 Psalm to entertain us, the Subject whereof is no other than to shew both the certainty and suddenness of their downfal. If we have receiv'd any [Page 210]great Deliverance from them, the Eighteenth will furnish us with Words to express our Resentment of it, as being David's Triumphant Song, when God had given him rest from his. In fine, whatever it be, here our Condition may be fitted, from the sorest Evils we lie under, to the greatest Blessings we are in a capacity to enjoy. Nei­ther will it suffice to say, That each particular Psalm cannot fit all the Conditions before remembred: For, as it is not to be expected that they should, so an Advantage may be made of them, even by those States and Conditions with which they seem but ill to accord. Thus, for example, if the Psalm be a Psalm of Joy and Thanksgiving, and it may be too for those very Mercies under the want whereof thou now labourest; yet being agreeable enough to the Condition of other Men, thy Charity will teach thee how to make use of it, by prompting thee to rejoyce with those to whom it is more accommo­dable. In like manner, though the Psalm should spend it self in Complaints, which thou, through the Mercy of God, findest little cause for; yet so long as there want not such to whose Condition they are agreeable enough, there is place for the same Charity, and an Invitation to mourn with and for them. Which Answer is of so much the more force, because we are not now entreating of Private Worship, which, as much as may be, ought to be adapted to our own particular Concerns; but of the Publick Worship of God, which is to extend it self to the Concernments of all. As little ground of Exception is there against the use of the Magnificat, because in the strictness thereof proper to her that made it: For, beside that the Repetition of it is one of the most signal Completions of all Genera­tions calling her Blessed, according as she there foretold, each of us hath so much Interest in the Birth of our Saviour, especially if he be also born in us, that it can be no way improper to say, My soul doth magnifie the Lord, and my spirit hath rejoyced in God my Sa­viour. If there be any thing in that, or other the like Psalms, pe­culiar to the Makers of them, it will be no hard matter for a diligent Observer so to accommodate them to himself, as to make them fit his Mouth, provided he take care to suit his Heart to them, and to that Heavenly Spirit wherewith they were fram'd. Sure I am, what is now thought an Objection against them, was not thought so by St. James, or St. Paul; the former whereof invites to the Private Sing­ing, the latter to the Teaching and Admonishing one another, in Psalms, and Hymns, and spiritual Songs: For what other Psalms can we think intended, than those of David, which before and since that time have in a manner appropriated that Title unto themselves? I will conclude this Particular with that Doxologie wherewith they are clos'd, of giving Glory to each Person in the Trinity: For whilst we thus direct them to the Son, and to the Holy Ghost, as well as to the Father, we fit them yet more to our Mouths, because making them to proclaim the Honour of our Saviour, and of that Spirit which he hath pour'd out upon his Church. Such are our Concernments in the Duties before remembred; and not unlike are those, in the Duties that remain: and therefore, in stead of prosecuting them any fur­ther, I shall subjoyn this general Advertisement, which each one may make use of as occasion requires; to wit, That as the Remainder of our Service doth ordinarily consist in Reading, or Preaching the Word, [Page 211]in Confession of Faith, and in Prayer; so Men will satisfie the first by a diligent and affectionate Intention; the second, by a Resolution to adhere to that Faith which they profess; and the third and last, by a hearty and fervent Devotion.

The Morning-Sacrifice being thus offer'd up to God, Custom, and our own Necessities licence us to retire to our own Homes, there to give our selves that Repast, and other Relaxation, that is due. Which Particulars I the rather alledge, to confront the Practice of some Men, whom Superstition, more than any well-guided Zeal, hath influenc'd. For is it any other, to turn a Festival into a Fast, and keep that Day as a Day of Humiliation, which was the happy Parent of the greatest Joy? Nay, is it not in some measure an Affront to that Blessed Work, by which it became separate from others? For, if that were a matter of rejoycing, why should we make it a matter of Sorrow? and when God calls so loudly to Joy and Gladness, present him with all the Expressions of Grief? And it calls to my mind that known Passage of the Book of Nehemiah, where the People of Israel wept sore at the hearing of the Law: for, in stead of encouraging them in it, Ezra, who read the Law, bad them go their way, eat the fat, and drink the sweet, and send portions to them for whom nothing was prepar'd, because that day was holy to the Lord, Nehem. 8.9. plainly intimating, that such a Return was no way becoming a Day of Gladness; and if so, neither a Christian one. Sure I am, as the Ancient ChurchTertull. de Coronâ. Die Dominico jeju­nium nefas du­cimus, vel de geniculis ado­rare. re­ligiously abstain'd from fasting on the Lord's-day, as no way suitable to the Business of it; so the Apostles, and the Church in their time, not onely held their Lord's-Supper on it, but those Feasts of Charity also which were the Attendants of it. But neither is it less unreaso­nable, if Men would consider it without prejudice, to enjoyn Men so to keep up their Intention of Sacred Things, as not to allow a Re­laxation of it at their Meals. For, as it is absolutely impossible, so long as we carry about us the Infirmities of Humane Nature, to have our Thoughts always fix'd upon Heaven, and Heavenly Things; so, by imposing it either upon our selves, or others, we make our selves the more unapt for the Publick Worship of God, when we are call'd to the Celebration of it: our preceding Intention taking off from that Vigour and Spriteliness which is requisite to the performance of it. On the contrary, if we would but for some time unbend our Cares, or divert them to less serious purposes, like those who run back to make the more advantageous Leap, we should come on with the greater vigour, and not onely not dishonour this Sacred Day, but sanctifie it the more.

Having thus given our selves some respite from Religious Exercises, and thereby fitted our selves for the more advantageous performance of it, it will be time for us both to look back to the Duties we have pass'd, and forward to the Duties that remain: the former, that if any thing have been amiss in them, we may retract and bewail it; the latter, that we may come prepar'd to the due performance of them. But of all the Duties that are to take up our Thoughts, between the Morning and the Evening Sacrifice, there is none which is more in­cumbent on us, than a serious Reflexion upon those we have receiv'd from the Mouth of our Instructer: For, as otherwise they will be apt to slip out of our Minds, and thereby deprive us of those Advanta­ges [Page 212]which might otherwise accrue, so, unless we meditate upon them, like Meat unchew'd, they will contribute little to our Nourishment, in those Spiritual Graces wherein we are to grow. From a Reflexion upon what is past, pass we to a Consideration of that which is to come, even those several Publick Duties we are again to pass: Where, setting aside all other Thoughts, we should endeavour to imprint in our Minds how much it concerns us to intend them: For, as by so doing we should be the more excited to implore the Divine Assistance, without which it is impossible to be done, so we should be much more apt to pay them that Regard which the Importance thereof doth require: It being no slight Consideration, where it is well inculcated, that our Eternal Welfare doth depend upon it, and that, as we observe this Temporal Sabbath, we may either attain, or come short of that Eternal Sabbath in the Heavens. For, as there is no doubt our Eter­nal Welfare depends upon the performance of Religious Actions, and particularly of those wherein the Honour of God is immediately con­cern'd; so there will be little likelihood of our intending them at other times, if we slight them over then, when we have both leisure, and all other requisite means, to help us in the performance of them. By these, and such like Considerations, if we arm our selves, we shall be in a good disposition to offer up the Evening-Sacrifice; which sup­pos'd, we shall neither need any Incitement to the performance of it, nor Direction after what manner we are to doit; it being not hard, especially after what was said concerning the Morning-Service, to read our own Qualifications in those Duties which we are summoned to perform.

Suppose we now, having laid down Rules for the Observation of it so far, that the Religious Man hath assisted at the Evening Sacri­fice, and thereby acquitted himself of the Publick Duties of the Day; yet, even so, there will not want wherewith to exercise himself, till he commit himself to his Rest, and unto God. Not but that there is place for necessary Occasions, and a moderate Relaxation of himself; but that his Heart ought to be in a disposition to embrace all Occasions to do Honour to God, and to the Day. Among which, I reckon chiefly the Meditating upon what he hath heard, and Applying it to his own Soul; it being for want of this, that so many Souls perish, which might otherwise have prov'd glorified ones. They hear indeed what they ought, and what they ought not to do; they listen to the Judg­ments which God denounceth against the one, to the Promises where­by he encourageth the performance of the other: but taking no care afterwards to consider how far they are concern'd in either, both the one and the other quickly vanish, and they go on as securely, as if they had nothing to fault in themselves, or there were no other World to punish them, though they had. But not any longer to entertain the Mind of the Religious Man with such Things wherein God's Glory is immediately concern'd, let us see whether he may not find Matter enough for his Lord's-day Service in visiting the fatherless and wi­dows in their affliction, in which St. James makes Religion in part to consist: For though it be true, that those are no part of the Worship of God or Christ, for which especially this Day is set apart; yet they draw so near towards it, that they may not onely be thought to be a part of the Business of it, but a considerable one; our Saviour having [Page 213]told us, that what is done unto the Sick and the Distressed, he takes as done unto himself. And accordingly, as Justin Mar­tyr Apol. 2. p. 98. [...]. tells us, that Charity had a constant place even in their Publick Assemblies upon it, the Rich, according as they saw good, contributing to that Stock out of which the Poor and the Necessitous were to be reliev'd; so, that that and other such like Works were no way improper to the Day, St. Paul shews, where he commands the Corinthians, as he had before the Churches of Galatia, to lay by them on that day, as God had prosper'd them, toward the relief of the poor Saints at Jerusalem. The same is to be said of reconciling Parties at variance, of endeavouring to beget or maintain Friendship, as by other ways, so by a kind and neighbourly treating of each other; witness those Feasts of Charity of which St. Jude speaks, which were anciently an Appendix of the Lord's Supper, as that was of this Sacred Day. Care onely would be ta­ken, that whilst these have their due Regard, we forget not those higher Purposes for which the Day was set apart; such as are the Reading of the Scriptures, and other such Books of Instruction and Devotion; our instilling into those who are under our respective Charges, the Precepts of a Holy Life; and, in fine, the Commend­ing both of our selves and them, by Prayer, to the Protection of that God to whose Service this Day was set apart.

AN INTRODUCTION TO THE EXPLICATION OF THE FOLLOWING Commandments.

IN A DISCOURSE Concerning that Most Excellent RULE OF Life and Manners, Which prescribes The doing as we would be done by; And is moreover Represented by OUR SAVIOUR AS The LAW and the PROPHETS.

LONDON, Printed for John Martyn, at the Bell in St Paul's Church-yard. M.DC.LXXV.

AN INTRODUCTION TO THE EXPLICATION OF THE FOLLOWING COMMANDMENTS. In a DISCOURSE concerning that Most Excellent RULE of Life and Manners, Which prescribes The doing as we would be done by.

The Contents.

Of the Nature of the present Rule, and that it is neither the Primary, nor an Absolute Rule of Humane Actions. The former hereof evi­denced from our Saviour's recommending it as the Sum of the Law and the Prophets; but, more especially, from that Divine Law's be­ing the Primary Rule of them: The latter, from the possibility of our Desires becoming irregular, and so far therefore no legitimate Measure of our Actions. Inquiry is next made into the Sense and Importance of it; where is shewn, first, both from the Nature of the Rule, and particular Instances, That we are to understand thereby The doing unto others what we our selves can lawfully desire to be done unto our selves by them. An Objection against this Limitati­on, answered. It is shewn, secondly, That we are to understand by it, The doing unto others what we should desire to be done unto our selves, if we were in their place and condition: As, thirdly, That we should do to others what we should desire to be done unto our selves, by those particular Persons, or any other. A Transition to the Consideration of the Equitableness thereof; which is evinced, first, from the Reputation it hath either procur'd to it self, or met with among Natural Men; from its being so esteem'd of even by those who do most transgress it; and from the Equality of all Men, [Page 218]both in their Nature, and Obligation to the Divine Laws. Of the Comprehensiveness of the present Rule, and in what sense it may be affirmed to be the Law and the Prophets. In order whereunto, is shewn, first, That it is not to be understood as an Abstract of that Part of the Law and the Prophets which contains our Duty to God, as which the present Rule is neither any proper Measure of, nor in­tended by our Saviour as such: Secondly, That it comprehends in it the whole of our Duty to our Neighbour, and particularly all those which are compris'd in the following Commandments. A Conclusi­on of the whole, with a Reflexion upon that more usual Rule of Hu­mane Actions, even of doing to Men as they have done to us; the Iniquity whereof is noted, and censured.

THOUGH Abridgments, where they are rightly order'd, do onely pare off unnecessa­ry Things, and, like Pictures in little, pre­sent us with all the Lineaments of that Work they pretend to abridge, without taking no­tice of its Dress, or the Embellishments there­of: yet they are for the most part so ill manag'd, that they do rather maim than contract it; and, in stead of giving us a just Prospect of the Whole, present us with no one Part entire. But as we cannot lightly presume those Abridgments to be such, which have the Wisdom of the Father for their Author; so, if we carefully survey the Abridg­ment that is now before us, we shall find it to be as comprehensive as our Saviour hath represented it, and not onely a Compendium of, but the very Law and the Prophets: There being no one Precept of the Second Table, to which this Great Rule of Life and Manners will not reach, and lead us both to understand and practice. Onely as in reason Men ought to have a distinct knowledge of the Rule it self, before they proceed to consider it as the Abstract of others; so I intend accordingly to inquire into its Nature, Importance, and Equi­ty, before I attempt to shew the Comprehensiveness thereof.

1. I That the Rule we have now under consideration, is no primary Rule of Humane Actions, is evident both from that Argument where­by our Saviour hath enforc'd it, and the Measure from which Hu­mane Actions receive their Rectitude or Obliquity: For our Saviour pressing upon his Disciples The doing as they would be done by, upon the score of its being the Sum of what the Law and the Prophets taught, he gives us thereby to understand, That the Law and the Prophets are the Measure of that also, no less than of our Conversa­tion and Obedience. And though, to Minds not prepossess'd, this one Consideration might suffice to perswade, that the Rule now be­fore us is no Primary Rule of Humane Actions; yet I cannot forbear to say, it will become much more apparent, if we consider from whence Humane Actions receive their respective Rectitude or Obli­quity. For receiving both their Denomination and Quality from the Law and Will of God, to whom, as being our Lord and Maker, we are in reason to conform; the doing as we would be done by, can be no [Page 219]farther a Rule of our Deportment, than as those Desires of ours shall appear to be conformable to his Laws, and consequently those Laws of his, and not our own Desires, the Primary Rule of Humane Acti­ons. Of what use this Observation is, will hereafter appear more clearly, when I come to declare the due Importance of the Rule now before us: It may suffice here to note, That, being no Primary Rule of Humane Actions, it cannot have place but either in the want of some express Law, or where we are under any prejudices against it. For, the Law and Will of God being the Primary Rule of Humane Actions, there is no doubt but, if that give us information, we ought to be guided by it, and not seek direction elsewhere: Otherwise we do like those who take directions from a Clock, at the same that the Sun stares them in the Face, and, by a Language that is easie to be un­derstood, calls upon them to look up to him, or upon those Dials whereon he shines: For, as it would be absurd for any Man to take his Directions from such Helps, when he may know the Hour of the Day from the other; so it would be no less for us to investigate our Duty to our Neighbour, by what we our selves would desire to be done to us, when at the same time we may read that Duty in God's express De­clarations concerning it. Onely, as it may sometime happen, (and I wish I could say it doth not often do so) that what is clearly enough reveal'd, may yet be obscure to us, or at least difficult to be practis'd, through the Prejudices we have against it; so, in that case, I should no way doubt the foremention'd Rule may be made use of to instruct us in our Deportment to our Neighbour: He who in such a case con­siders, what he himself could be content to have done unto himself, if he were in the same Circumstances with his Neighbour, making use of it, not so much to detract from the Honour of the Primary Rule of Vertue (which, so far as he understands it) he faileth not to consider) but in compliance with his own Infirmities, and that he may be the more easily induced to yield Obedience to it; Men be­ing more apt to see what is just and equitable, when their own Con­cernments are interwoven with it, than they are in the condition of a Stranger.

2. It is to be observ'd, secondly, That as to do as we would be done by, is no Primary Rule of Humane Actions; so neither is it, though in a secondary sense, an absolute and unlimited one: Because, though we cannot desire any thing which comes not unto us under the notion of Good, yet we may take that for Good which is far from being such, and consequently make it the Object of our Desires. For, what through the weakness, or rather crazedness of our Understandings; what through the Power our Affections have to corrupt and debauch their Sentence, it happens not infrequently, that even these also do [...], and prophesie rather what is suitable to the corrupt temper of those that ask, than what is agreeable to Truth and Equity. Upon which, as there will necessarily follow a like Irregularity in our De­sires, because moulded and fashioned by our Understandings; so those Desires of ours therefore can no more be an absolute Rule of our De­portment, than they can be suppos'd to be the Primary one. But from hence it will also follow, that when we make the present Rule our own, we understand the doing unto others as we our selves can fairly desire to have done unto us by others. For, to do as we would be [Page 220]done by, being not the Primary Rule of Humane Actions, nor yet an absolute and unlimited one, it is in reason to be bounded by that Law of God which is the Primary Rule both of our Desires and Actions, and therefore also the Measure of this Rule, no less than of our Con­versation and Obedience.

It being thus evident of what nature the Rule before us is, II that is to say, a Secondary and a Limited one; inquire we, in the next place, into the due Importance of it. Where,

1. First, The Premises so perswading, we are necessarily to under­stand the doing unto others what we our selves can Lawfully desire to be done unto our selves by them: For if our desires be irregular, those Actions will be also such which receive their Measure from them, and consequently cannot be supposed to be any part of our Saviour's mean­ing. Thus, for instance, if a Woman should consent to comply with anothers Lust, upon the score of her own desiring that that other should so comply with hers, we are not to think that Action of hers to be therefore legitimate, or indeed to admit of any Excuse; because her Desire being sinful, that Action must also be so, which is influenc'd and directed by it. In like manner, if it should be pleaded, as it sometimes is by those who call for Liberty of Conscience, That we our selves, if we were in their Circumstances, would not be well pleas'd to be restrain'd; I should think it no hard matter to prescribe against that Plea, from the Limitation before laid down: For, the Question is not, Whether we our selves, if we were in their Circumstances, should not desire a freedom from Punishment, (for what Malefactor doth not, how obnoxious soever to the stroke of it?) but, Whether we can lawfully desire it, and whether the Supreme Magistrate ought not to punish those who seem to him to transgress the Rules of Chri­stianity, whatsoever their Pretences be? Which, if true, that other Plea will come to nothing. For, as it ceaseth not to be lawful for the Magistrate to inflict a Punishment upon Malefactors, because it is not unlikely that, if he were in their Condition, he would not be over­willing to suffer it; so, neither for the same Person, supposing as was before suppos'd, to restrain those who live in disobedience to the Laws of Christianity, because if he were so affected, he would be de­sirous to be freed from it. It is indeed an excellent Rule to do as we would be done by; it is of great advantage to the right ordering of our Lives, and of like necessity to be considered: But as it is not ei­ther the Primary, or an Absolute Rule of Humane Actions; so, there is no doubt it is a much more excellent Rule, to do to other Men what God hath particularly directed us to do, and what we our selves, if we were well advised, would desire they should do to us. This onely would be added, That when I say, we are to understand by doing as we would be done by, the doing what we our selves can lawfully desire to be done unto us by others, we understand this Li­mitation onely where some particular Rule may appear to judge of the Lawfulness of the Action by: For though there may, and no doubt ought to be place for the consideration of the Lawfulness of our De­sire, where any such Rule appeareth; yet there is no necessity at all for such a Consideration, where no such particular Rule appeareth: part­ly, because in that case we may reasonably presume the Desire to be lawful, and therefore need not make any scrupulous Inquisition into [Page 221]it; and partly because the Rule now before us having place especially in the want of a more particular one, it is in reason to have its full force in the directing of our Actions, where no such particular Law appeareth to controul it.

But because it may be said, That, if the foresaid Limitation be at all admitted, the Rule we have now before us will be so far forth of no use; it seeming as easie to discover what we ought to do unto others, as what we may lawfully desire to have done unto our selves: Therefore, before I proceed to any new Limitations, I will endeavour to remove that Umbrage, which the following Considerations will ef­fect. For, though it may be as easie in it self to discover what we ought to do unto others, as what we may lawfully desire to have done unto our selves; yet it is not so, considering the Prejudices we lie under against the Improvement of their Happiness: what we do to­ward the Improvement of their Happiness, for the most part detract­ing from our own, and therefore not likely to be very favourably considered by us. Again, Though it should be as easie to discover what we ought to do to others, as what we our selves may lawfully desire from them; yet will not the former Discovery be of equal force to incline us to the doing of it: because, whilst that hath meer Duty to bind it on us, this hath Self-interest also to recommend it, which is one of the most potent Incentives to Obedience. And in­deed, as Experience sheweth, that we do never with greater advan­tage consider the Concernments of other Men, than when we do con­sider what we in the like case should desire to be done unto our selves; so we do not infrequently take that course, not so much to satisfie our selves concerning our Duty to them (as, which is often­times apparent enough) but the better to inculcate the Practice there­of upon us. In which case, the bounding of our Duty to our Neigh­bour, by what we our selves may lawfully desire, will be no hinde­rance to its use; because there can be no doubt, that what we ought to do unto others, may lawfully enough be desired by our selves. Thus, without leaving the Rule in that generality wherein it is deli­vered, it may be of signal use to us in directing our Deportment to our Neighbour; he who makes his Neighbour's Case his own, as the present Rule obligeth, being both most likely to discern the Equita­bleness of what he demands, and most likely to be prevail'd upon to comply with it.

2. I observe, secondly, That when question is made concerning the Importance of the present Rule, we are to understand the doing unto others what we would should be done to us if we were in their place and condition. For, it being manifestly its intention, that we should take our measure of doing to others, from what we our selves should desire to have done unto our selves; it doth consequently sup­pose, that their Case and ours be brought to an equality, because otherwise there could be no equality in the Measure. Thus, for ex­ample, if a Man be well provided of this Worlds Goods, and con­sequently neither needeth nor desireth to borrow ought from others; yet it will not follow from thence, that he may lawfully hold his hand from the dispensing of those Goods to the Necessitous: because the Question is not, Whether a Rich Man, as such, would content himself without any Contribution from others; but, Whether or no [Page 222]he would be so contented, if his Case were as necessitous as theirs, who address themselves to him for Relief. On the other side, if a Man be of mean and private Condition, and agreeably thereto con­tent himself with it, and neither aspire after Honour and Obedience from others; yet it will not follow from thence, that he may with­hold that Respect and Obedience from those who are his Superiours in Birth or Place: because, the Question is not, Whether, under the present Circumstances, he can content himself without them; but, Whether, if he were in the Quality and Condition of those that are above him, he would not expect that Respect and Obedience which is due to their Place and Birth. A thing which is not hard to be di­vin'd by those who have seen the World, or made any Observations in that Part of it in which they live themselves. For thus we have seen Men, who, when low, walk'd with down-cast Looks, and breath'd nothing but Mortification and Self-denial; but being advanc'd to Pla­ces of Eminency, look'd as high as those whom they before condemn'd, and call'd for that Respect and Obedience which before they thought it so indifferent to shew.

3. Lastly, When it is said, (for so our Saviour, whose this Rule is, hath express'd it) Whatsoever ye would that men should do to you do ye also to them; the meaning thereof is not, Whatsoever ye would that this or that particular Person should do to you, do you also to those particular Persons; but, Whatsoever you would should be done to you by whomsoever, do you also do to all in the like Circumstan­ces. For, the force of our Saviour's Words consisting in this, that we should make our own Desires the Rule of our Deportment unto others, it matters not whether we desire the Thing in question of this or that particular Person, so we desire it at all under the same Condi­tion. And therefore, if there be any so fond, as not to afford Re­lief to a distressed Enemy, because he himself would, it may be, be so haughty as not to desire it from any such, he is not therefore to think himself to be disoblig'd from this Rule of doing as he would be done by: For if he could not but desire to be reliev'd under the same distressed Condition, the Rule obligeth to the affording of it, because making our own Desires to be the Measure of giving unto others. And more than this I shall not need to say concerning the Importance of the present Rule, and may therefore go on to shew the Equity thereof, the third Thing propos'd to be discours'd of.

Now the first thing that I shall alledge for the Equity of this Rule, III is the Reputation it hath either procur'd to it self, or met with among Natural Men, and such as had no other Light than their own Reason to direct them. For, though it be apparent, that the Heathen bor­rowed many of their Sayings from the Scriptures, and we therefore not lightly to look upon every thing that proceedeth from them, as a pure Dictate of Reason and Nature; yet I know not how we can avoid the looking upon this Rule as such, because us'd by a Heathen long before our Saviour's time, and indeed before there was any clear mention of it in the Scripture. For thus we are told by Diogenes Laertius Lib. 5. in vi­ta Arist. [...]., of Aristotle, That when he was ask'd how we ought to car­ry our selves towards our Friends, he made answer, That we are so to carry our selves towards them, as we our selves could wish they should carry themselves to us. And though the Emperour Severus, who had [Page 223]this Saying often in his Mouth, Whatsoever thou wouldest not should be done unto thy self, do not thou unto another; though he, I say, be known to have borrowed that Saying either from the Jews, or Christi­ans; yet the great esteem he, though a Heathen, had of it, shew'd that it was agreeable to Reason; and though his own Understanding help'd him not to discover it, yet it taught him to approve it.

I alledge, secondly, (For in things of this nature such kind of Proofs are allowable, partly because things so clear will hardly admit of any other Proof, and partly because the last Appeal in things of Reason and Morality, must be made to the Consciences and Perswasi­ons of Men.) I alledge, I say, for the Equitableness of the present Rule, That it is so esteem'd of by all sorts of Persons, yea even by those who do most transgress it. For, as Tertullian De testimoni [...] animae, cap. 2. concluded it to be the Testimony of a Soul naturally Christian, That there is but One True God, because they who worshipp'd Many, could not yet for­bear, in their common Discourse, to say, God grant, and If God will, and God seeth all things; so may we, That this Precept is a Dictate of Nature; because even those who transgress it themselves, do yet acknowledge the Equity thereof. For though in the Concernments of others, such Persons cannot, or will not see it; yet when the Ta­bles come to be turn'd, and their Adversaries deal more harshly with them than they think themselves to have deserv'd, there is nothing more usual than to object, That they themselves would not be con­tented to be so used, if they were in the same Circumstances with them.

Lastly, (For I am unwilling to let any thing pass without a more direct Proof, which may be suppos'd to be capable thereof.) I alledge for the Equity of the present Rule, the Equality of all Men, both in their Nature, and Obligation to the Divine Laws. For, being there is no difference between one Man and another in their Nature, and much less in their Obligation to the Divine Laws; being whatsoever difference there is between us in Condition, is by God's setting one above another, and placing him in a higher State and Degree: if, that Difference set apart, as the present Rule supposeth, and the Change that hapneth in Humane Affairs obligeth us to do; if, I say, that Difference set apart, I could not but desire, that he who is bet­ter furnished with this Worlds Goods, should afford some Relief to me in my necessity, I cannot but think it just to afford the same Re­lief to him who is under the like Circumstances. For, it being but reasonable, that those things which are equal, should have an equal measure; If I, who am but equal to my Brother in Nature, and, by my own supposition, now equal to him in Condition, could not yet but desire Relief my self, from those that are able to afford it; there is the same reason for his desire of it, and consequently the same neces­sity of his being gratified in it, by me, or any Man else that is in a Capacity to afford it.

The last thing comes now to be spoken to, IV even the Comprehensive­ness of the Rule now before us; a thing which our Catechism doth not obscurely insinuate, when it premiseth it to those Duties we owe unto our Neighbours: but our Saviour much more clearly, when he affirms it to be the Law and the Prophets. Now there are two sorts of Duties which the Law and the Prophets contain, and to one or both [Page 224]of which therefore this Rule is to be suppos'd to have a regard; the Duties we owe to the Great Creator of the World, or the Duties which are owing by us to our Neighbour. The former of these are no way pertinent to the present Rule, or at least not in those Terms wherein it is delivered by our Saviour; because the Persons from whom we expect a favourable deportment, and to whom accordingly we ought to be ready to afford it, are by our SaviourMat. 7.12. Therefore all things whatso­ever ye would that Men should do unto you, do ye even so to them. suppos'd to be Men, or rather in express Terms declar'd so to be. Not to tell you, that it would be a kind of arrogancy to apply it to the Duty we owe to God, or attempt to judge of that Duty by it; because so we could not do, without seating our selves in the Place of God, which is too great a Presumption to do, even by a Supposition. If the doing as we would be done by, may with any propriety be re­ferr'd to God, it is onely as the desire of his dealing favourably with us, is considered as an Argument to prompt us to the like deportment towards our Brethren. And in this sense there is no doubt it hath the countenance of Equity, as well as the Suffrage of the Almighty. For, as God hath not allow'd us to expect Mercy from him, upon any other Terms than the shewing the like Mercy to our Brethren; so they who consider the little reason we have otherwise to expect it, will think it but equitable to afford it. For, if we would that God, who is no way oblig'd to us, yea, who is many ways disoblig'd by us, should yet afford some Relief to our Necessities; how much more reasonable must we think it to be, to allow the same unto our Bre­thren, to whom we are even by that God oblig'd?

But not to insist any longer upon so remote a Sense, especially af­ter that we our selves have declared it so to be; proceed we to con­sider it with reference to the Duty we owe to our Neighbour, and as the Sum of the Law and the Prophets concerning it. For my more advantageous Explication whereof, I will apply it to all those Pre­cepts of the Decalogue, which respect the Welfare of our Neighbour.

To begin with that which gives beginning to them, even that which calls upon us to Honour our Father and Mother, whether as that imports the Honour that is due unto Superiours, or as it doth also connote that Fatherly and gentle Usage which those Superiours are to shew to those that are under their command. For, who that carries about him, I do not say the common Infirmities of Humane Nature, but even the most innocent Affections of it; who, I say, that is onely such, but would expect Honour and Obedience, if he were advanced to that Dignity, to which his envied Neighbour is? Shall we suppose the lowliness of his Mind to repress such Desires? But as that requires no more than such an humble Opinion of a Mans self as is answerable to his own Quality and Condition; so we see but too frequently, that a change of Fortune produceth a change al­so in the Mind, yea such a change as is also superiour to the other. Shall we then say (and indeed more than that we cannot say) that the present lowness both of his Fortune and Mind may keep him at least from thinking that he should give entertainment to more lofty Desires? But even that will not be a bar to the discovery of other Inclinations, if he will but advert to his present Demeanour under it. For, as there are few so low, who have not some also under them, whether in the relation of Children or Servants; so we see but [Page 225]too apparently, that even they cannot without regret receive from the other any Disrespect or Disobedience. Now forasmuch as it is impossible for any Man not to desire Respect and Obedience, supposing himself advanc'd to that Dignity which doth require it; forasmuch as that Impossibility will easily discover it self to him who shall but re­flect upon his own Demeanour toward those that are below him; it will not be hard to collect, That, if he have also a regard to this Rule of our Saviour,, he will find himself in a manner necessitated to pay the same Respect and Obedience unto others: He who doth as he would be done by, being not in a condition to deny it; be­cause, if he were in their Circumstances, he could not but desire it. And though they who are in any Place of Eminency, will be as apt to forget their respective Duties, and treat their several Inferiours ra­ther as Slaves than Subjects; yet would they not continue so to do, if they would but suppose those their Subjects Condition to be their own, and reflect withal upon that Demeanour which such a Supposi­tion, and the present Rule inferreth. For it being not to be thought that any Man will be so much an Enemy to himself, as not to desire to be favourably treated, though in the Condition of a Subject; the very supposition of such a Condition, and the Rule we have now before us, will oblige him that maketh it, to shew the same fa­vourable Treatment unto others: He doing not as he would he done by, who treats his Subjects as Slaves, when it is manifest, that, if he were in their condition, he would both desire and expect a more gen­tle usage. And indeed, if even the Greatest Princes would consider the Inconstancy of all Earthly things, and how often it falls out that they who are now at the Top, are brought down to the lowest Round, they would not think it any way unreasonable to suppose themselves in the condition of Subjects, or, doing so, to learn Cle­mency by it; it being certainly more eligible to learn Clemency by so easie a Supposition, than by their own sad and dear-bought Expe­rience. So easie a matter were it both for Superiours and Inferiours to read their respective Duties in this short Aphorism of our Saviour. And if so, we may well allow it to be a Comprehensive one, yea, so far as the former Persons are concern'd, the whole Law and the Pro­phets.

To that Commandment which enjoyns the Honour of Superiours, subjoyn we that which forbids the killing of any Man; whether we understand it as taking care for the Lives and Persons of Men, or forbidding either greater or lesser violations of them. For who seeth not, that the present Rule hath equal place here, yea that it extends it self to the several Injunctions and Prohibitions of it? For, is there any Man who would not desire all requisite Love and Benevolence to his Person, or at least who would not be in some measure provided against the several Necessities and Exigencies thereof? Is there any Man who would not be secur'd from any greater or lesser Violences, who would not desire to have his Life preserv'd to him, yea the Plea­sures and Happinesses thereof? But, so if there be not, let the Trans­gressour of this Commandment see, how he will answer either his own Uncharitableness or Maliciousness to other Mens? his withhold­ing from them the Offices of Humanity, or bringing upon them Mi­sery and Death? For whatever this may otherwise be, to be sure it [Page 226]is no way answerable to his own Expectations or Desires; and he must give the Lie to his own Conscience, as well as to the common Senti­ments of Humane Nature, if he pretend to act herein as he desires to be dealt withal himself.

I will not so much as ask, or onely ask, if I do, whether the Adul­terer or Adulteress would be content to fall under that Injury and Reproach which they stick not to bring upon another: for as there is no one thing which Humane Nature doth more passionately resent, than the Violation of the Marriage-bed; so it is not at all rare, to see those exalt the Fidelity of their Consorts, who are not over­guilty of it themselves. Instead therefore of insisting any longer upon this Commandment, I will go on to those that follow, and see whe­ther they also do not stand or fall, according as this most excellent Rule is either observ'd or neglected.

For to address my self to that which is next in order, though that no more than the other will require any long Discussion; Is there any Man who could be contented to have his Property either invaded or purloyn'd, to have it extorted from him by force, or drawn away from him by deceit? Nay, is not the contrary apparent enough in those who are most concern'd to inquire, because, without any scru­ple, preying upon the Properties of Men? For, as it hath been of old observ'd, that Justice is so necessary a Vertue, that even Thieves think themselves obliged to preserve it among themselves; so, how ill pleas'd they would be with the loss of their legitimate Properties, their ill resenting of any unfaithful dispensation of the Common Booty, proclaims both to others and themselves.

Lastly, (For in so large a Subject it is harder to know when to make an end, than to want proper Matter for a Discourse.) As there is no Man who can well brook the being falsely spoken of, or that his Neigh­bour should covet his Possessions; so the Rule we have now before us, obliging us to frame our Deportment by what we would should be done unto our selves, doth consequently restrain us from bearing false witness against, or coveting the Possession of our Neighbour. For, whatever guilty Men may say or think, he certainly that cannot keep his Mind from hankering after his Neighbour's Possessions, would be much less satisfied to have that Neighbour of his cast an evil eye upon his own.

Now though having said thus much concerning the Rule that is now before us, I may seem not to have omitted any thing which may be of force to recommend it; yet because there is another Rule which pretends to Rival it, and which therefore, whilst it continues in re­putation, may not a little impede the espousing of it; I deem it but necessary to bring that also before you, and examine the legitimate­ness of its Pretensions. For, do not the generality of Men think it reasonable enough to do to others as they have done to them, and re­turn upon them those Violences they have offer'd? Doth not the Ma­gistrate proceed conformably to that Rule, in his several Decrees and Judgments? and all Men look upon those as receiving but their De­serts, who suffer no other than what they inflicted? And though Tully be a Person who hath certainly done more right to Morality, than any or almost all that preceded or followed; though the Pre­cepts he delivers be generally very conformable to those of Nature [Page 227]and Christianity: yet even he seems to advise, or at least not to for­bid the doing unto other Men as they have before done themselves; where he represents it as a part of Justice,De Offic. l. 1. Sed justitiae primum munus est, ut ne cui quis noceat, nisi lacessitus injuriâ. not to hurt any Man; ad­ding by way of exception, unless before provoked by an Injury: which shews at least, that he thought it no way unlawful to retaliate. But as the Scripture, which is more to be credited, hath taught us ano­ther Lesson, because forbidding us to say,Prov. 24.29. I will do to my Neigh­bour as he hath done to me, I will render to the man according to his works; so it hath elsewhere assign'd such Reasons of it, as both shew the unlawfulness of such a Procedure, and take off from the force of its Pretensions: For giving us to understand, that God, to whom Vengeance originally belongeth, reserveth that part of Justice to himselfRom. 12.19., and to those whom he hath entrustedRom. 13.4. with his Autho­rity; it doth consequently make it unlawful to any other than such, to assume to themselves the Execution of it, and therefore also to do to Men as they have before dealt with them. If he who hath his own Injuries return'd upon him, receive no more than he doth de­serve; yet will not that warrant our retaliating them, because we have no Authority to chastise him. The more Equitable, as well as more Christian Rule, is certainly, Do to other Men as ye would they should do to you; as you your selves, if you were in their Circumstances, would be forward enough to desire from them. So doing, you will not onely not usurp upon the Prerogative of God, or of his Vicege­rent; but comply with the Sentiments of Nature, and Revelation; with the several Precepts and Intimations of the one; with the Law, and the Prophets, and Gospels of the other.

THE FIFTH COMMANDMENT.
THE FIFTH COMMANDMENT.

Honour thy father and thy mother, that thy days may be long in the land which the Lord thy God giveth theé.

PART I.

The Contents.

A Transition to the Duty we owe to each other, whether consider'd onely as Men, or under a more near Relation. The latter of these provided for in this Fifth Commandment, which is divided into a Duty and a Promise. An Essay toward a general Explication of the Duty; where is shewn, That under Father and Mother are com­prehended, 1. Grandfather and Grandmother, and other the Ance­stors from whom we came; because, though at a distance, Authors of our Being. 2. Kings and all that are in Authority; partly because in the place of Parents to their People, and partly because their Au­thority is a Branch of the Paternal one, and succeeded into the place of it. 3. Our Spiritual Pastors, because begetting us to a bet­ter Birth: And, in fine, All that are our Superiours, whether in Au­thority, Dignity, or Age. The like Comprehensiveness evinc'd in the Honour that is requir'd; which is shewn also to include Fear and Love, together with the Expressions of them, and Honour. The Du­ty of Superiours connoted in the Honour that is to be paid to them; and how that Duty may be inferr'd. An Address to a more parti­cular Explication of the Duty; where the Honour of Parents is re­sum'd, and the Grounds thereof shewn to be, first, Their being un­der God the Authors of ours, and, secondly, the Maintainers of it. The Consequences of the former Ground propos'd, and shewn to pre­clude all Pretences of Disrespect.

OUR Duty to God being provided for in the first place, as which is both the Foundation and Limitation of all others; proceed we, according as the Decalogue invites, to consider the Duty we owe to each other; which may be reduc'd to two Heads, that is to say, such as we owe to one another as Men, or such as arise from some more intimate [Page 232]Relation between us. The latter of these is my Task at this time, be­cause the Design of the Commandment that is now before us; for the Explication whereof, I will consider,

  • 1. The Duty enjoyn'd: And,
  • 2. The Promise wherewith it is enforc'd.

I. Now though, if we look no further than the Letter, we could not be long to seek what that is which is here bound upon us; yet because I have before shewn, that many things are contain'd in a Com­mandment, beside what is express'd in it; to attain the full impor­tance of this, we must enter into the very Bowels of it, and extract that Sense which is wrapp'd up in it, as well as that which is apparent. In order whereunto, I will inquire,

  • 1. Whether any Superiours are here meant, besides Fathers and Mothers.
  • 2. What is the importance of that Honour which is here re­quir'd.
  • 3. Whether the Commandment provide for the Behaviour of Superiours towards Inferiours, as well as of Inferiours towards them.

1. And first of all, though Father and Mother be the onely Persons express'd, to whom we are requir'd to give Honour; yet the general Reason of the Commandment obligeth us to extend it to Grandfathers and Grandmothers, and other the Ancestors from whom we are de­scended; because, though they contributed not immediately to our Birth, yet mediately they did, as being the Authors of those from whom we deriv'd it. Whence it is, that in the Scripture they have often the Name of Fathers; as, Your Father Abraham rejoyc'd to see my day, and was glad.

But beside that Grandfathers and Grandmothers are to be under­stood, and other the Stocks from whence we came; there is no doubt but Kings, and all that are in Authority, are included in the same ge­neral Names: Witness first, their being in the place of Fathers to those who are under their Dominion. For though, as Moses some­time told God, they do not beget their People, if we understand it with reference to their Natural one; yet as their Civil Birth is from them, so they carry them in their bosom, as a nursing Father beareth the sucking Child, as the same God commanded the angry Moses, Num. 11.12. Again, As Kings are in the place of Fathers to their People, especially in respect of their Tuition, so the Authority of Kings is a Branch of the Paternal one, and succeeded into the Place of it. Of which, beside the Testimony [...]. Vid. San­ders. de Oblig. Conscient. Prae­lect. 7. sect. 16. of Aristotle, who was no Friend of Kingly Government, and the great number of Kings that was anciently in every little Country, and particularly in the Land of Canaan; we may discern evident Marks in the Authority of Fathers, even after the Empire was otherwise dispos'd of: these ha­ving anciently the Power of Life and Death, which is one of the principal Flowers of the Regal Diadem. Now forasmuch as Kings are not onely in the place of Fathers to their People, but vested in that Authority which was originally and naturally theirs; it is but rea­sonable to think, that when God commanded to honour these, his Intention was to include the other, as who, beside their resemblance to them, had also the best part of their Authority.

Next to Kings and Princes, consider we our Spiritual Fathers, even those who beget us to Piety, and to God; concerning whom, there can be no place for doubt, that they ought to be understood in those Fathers we are here commanded to revere: For if our Earthly Father is to have Honour, those certainly ought not to go without it, who beget us to an infinitely better Being. To all which, if we add, that the Decalogue is a Summary of all Moral Duties, as well those which respect our Neighbour, as those which have an aspect upon God; so there can be no doubt, not onely that the former are included, but all other our Superiours, whether in Authority, or Dignity, or Age: Be­cause, as the Honour of these may be fairly reduc'd to this Command­ment (as I shall shew more at large, when I come to handle them apart) so there is no other Commandment to which they can, if you except onely the Honour of Husbands, which may have a place in that Commandment which forbids violation of it.

2. Having thus shewn what is meant by that Father and Mother which this Commandment requires us to honour, I come now to in­quire what is the importance of that Honour, which we are under an Obligation to exhibit; it being likely enough, where the Objects thereof are so various, that there is some variety in that Honour which is due. To find out therefore the full importance of it, I will inquire,

  • 1. Whether under the Affection of Honour, any other be un­derstood: And,
  • 2. Whether the Expressions thereof be not equally due with the Affections themselves.

For the Resolution of the former whereof, the first thing I shall offer, is, the primary Notion of the Hebrew Word we render Honour, which the Masters of that Language inform us signifies to be heavy, or weigh so, and consequently in Piel, not to account lightly of, to esteem of as a thing of weight and moment. Now though in the com­mon acception of the Phrase, that be most accommodable to that Honour by which we have chosen to express it; yet it contains with­in the compass of it, all other Respects which arise from any conside­rable Quality of the Thing we so value, that is to say, as well those which arise from its loveliness or terribleness, as from the eminency of its Nature and Authority. For, if we give any Thing or Person its due weight and moment, we must also, if they be lovely, afford them as great and intense a Love; or, if terrible, fear them propor­tionably to it. Whence it is, that what is here, Honour thy father and mother, is in Lev. 19.3. express'd by fear or reverence them; and accordingly, is no less usually set to denote the Duty we owe to our Parents, than that which is here made use of to express it. But beside the Comprehensiveness of the Hebrew Word, with the Additi­on of God's expressing our Duty as well by Fear as Honour; it is to be observ'd, that there is not in Parents a greater ground for any thing than Love; witness the tenderness they have over us, and particularly that which the Mother hath: For, if so, Love must be suppos'd to be as much a Duty as any thing, and consequently to be included in that Affection which is requir'd. To all which, if we add, That it is not unusual under one Species to understand all of the same Genus, so no doubt can remain, but under the Name of Honour all the former Re­quisites [Page 234]are contain'd. For the Commandment we have now before us, being one of those which were intended as an Abstract of the whole Duty of Man, it is in reason to comprehend the whole of our Duty to our Superiours; and therefore also, because not otherwise to be done, to set that Species of our Duty for all the rest.

But beside that the Affection of Honour includes all the rest that are due from us to our Parents, they are in like manner to be suppos'd to include the Expressions of them, and particularly the Expressions of Honour; of which, beside the usual acceptation of the Word Ho­nour, which, together with the Esteem of the Mind, connotes the Ex­pressions of it, we may fetch a Proof from the Nature of the Affecti­ons of the Soul, and the necessity of their exerting themselves in out­ward Acts: For, as the Affections of the Soul are naturally operative, and seek out proper ways to express themselves; so, unless they do, they are of little, or rather of no use to whom they are commanded to be exhibited. For what avails Charity to a distressed Person, if it shew not it self in Alms, and other such like Expressions of it? Or, what satisfaction can an honourable Esteem bring to our Parents, if it contains it self in the Mind, where it is neither to be discern'd, nor can produce any Advantage to them? But because, to make it evident that the Expressions of Honour are requir'd, no better way can be ta­ken, than by instancing in the Expressions themselves; before I leave this Head, I will attempt the Probation of it in each, beginning with the Expression of it in Outward Gestures: For thus Lev. 19.32. we are commanded to rise up before the hoary head, and to honour the face of the old man. For, if we are to do that before the Face of the Old Man, much more before the Face of our Natural Parent, or him that is the Father of our Country. From Reverence in Gesture, pass we to the same testified in Words, which we shall find to be no less a Duty than the former; witness the several Cautions that are given against cursing our Natural, or speaking evil of our Civil Parent: For, that shews our Words to be under a Law as to that particular, and consequently, because they are equally capable of honouring our Pa­rents, that they ought to be employ'd to that purpose. The same is much more evident concerning our Actions, and particularly concern­ing yielding Obedience to their Commands: For, as a due apprehensi­on of their Authority doth naturally lead us to yield Obedience to those Commands that have their Authority stamp'd upon them; so, that this Expression of our Honour was intended, St. Paul plainly shews, Ephes. 6.1, 2. For inferring, as he doth, the Justice of Obey­ing our Parents from this very Commandment we have now before us, he supposes Obedience to their Commands, to be a part of that Honour which this Commandment requires us to give. In like man­ner, forasmuch as where submission to chastisement is not, there can be no due apprehension of their Authority, the opposing our selves thereto being a denial of it, and therewith of the Justice of their Proceedings; it follows, that to honour our Parents, includes that Expression also; and we are not onely to be obedient to their Will, but suffer without murmuring under the Inflictions of it. Such are the Superiours whom we are requir'd to honour, such the Honour and other Duties which we are by the same Commandment enjoyn'd to pay. Nothing remains toward a general Explication of it, but to inquire,

3. Whether Superiours may not read their Duty also in it? Which Question is the rather to be ask'd, because, setting aside this Com­mandment, there is no other to which it can be reduc'd. But, as, for that cause, it is but reasonable to seek it here, where the Duties of their several Correlatives are describ'd; so it will be no hard matter for Superiours to read it in that Honour which is commanded to be paid unto themselves: For though, as I shall afterwards shew, their very begetting of us require our having them in esteem; yet, if it be not also accompanied with a Paternal Care over us, it must needs be a great Stumbling-block to us, and, if not destroy, yet very much di­minish their Esteem. Again, Forasmuch as our Honour, though built in part upon their giving us a Being, yet is also founded by the Scri­ptures themselves upon their lending us their Assistance to support it; hence it comes to pass, that, to obtain a complete Honour from us, they must shew us the way by their Kindness, and feed us with the same Kindness that the Stork doth her Young ones, that Emblem both of Paternal Affection, and Filial Duty: It being impossible for Chil­dren to [...]. requite their Parents, as the Young ones of the Stork do theirs, where the Parents have not shew'd themselves Storks before.

Having thus given you a general Scheme both of this Command­ment, and my Design; and shewn both who, and to what they are oblig'd: I intend now to present them to you a second time, and al­low them a more distinct Consideration. In order whereunto, I will begin with Parents, because express'd in the Commandment; and shew both,

  • 1. What is due from their Children unto them: And,
  • 2. What is due from them unto their Children.

I. Now there are Five things, within the resolution whereof, all that is necessary to be known concerning the former of these Obliga­tions, is comprehended.

  • 1. The Grounds of our Honour.
  • 2. The Kinds of it.
  • 3. With what variety it is to be exhibited to either Parent.
  • 4. Whether or no, and how far a Child may be freed from it.
  • 5. To which I shall subjoyn, in the fifth place, somewhat con­cerning Fear and Love, which I have said to be a part of Childrens Duties.

1. And here, though I very well might, not to establish it upon this Commandment, nor yet upon that Strength which Christianity hath added to it by its own; I will make it my Business to inquire, whether Nature it self hath not afforded Grounds enough to establish that Obligation upon. Now there are two things upon which the honouring our Parents is grounded, and which indeed do each of them evince its necessity: how much more then, when as for the most part conjoyn'd? The former whereof is, their being under God the Authors of ours; and, secondly, the Maintainers of it.

That they are the Authors of our Being, is too evident from Ex­perience, to admit of any the least doubt: That, as such, they ought to be honour'd, will be no less evident, if we consider either the Ex­cellency thereof, or the Authority that it naturally infers. For, inas­much as Excellency is a just Object of Honour (Honour, as was be­fore observ'd, being a just Valuation of that which is so); inasmuch [Page 236]as there is a peculiar Excellency in being the Author of anothers Be­ing, he who is so, thereby partaking of one of the great Prerogatives of the Divine Nature; it follows, because our Parents are Partakers of that Prerogative, that they are to be look'd upon as the Objects of Honour, and next to him to be regarded by us. And accordingly, as some have not stuck to call them visible [...]. Philo de Decal. Gods, in respect of that resemblance which they have to the Great Creatour of us all; so, if it be cautiously understood, it is not without Warrant, even from the Scriptures themselves; God himself so stiling both the Angels and Ma­gistrates, for that Image they have of his Nature and Authority. However it be, there is a great Resemblance between our Earthly Pa­rents and God, as being each in their measure the Authors of our Be­ing: and if so, there can be little doubt of their being the just Ob­jects of our Honour, if God may be allow'd to be a just Object of it. But then, if we add moreover, That the Authors of our Being have eo ipso a Natural Authority over those to whom they are so; Nature and Reason dictating, that the Maker of any thing should have the disposal of it: so there will not onely follow a necessity of honour­ing them, but of giving them such an Honour as includes Obedience to their Commands. But besides the Resemblance there is between our Parents and God in that particular, and that Authority which it naturally infers; we are also to consider, according as was before in­sinuated, that they are God's Instruments in the producing of us. For, if so, they cannot be neglected without casting a contempt upon God, [...]. Philo de Decalog. whose Instruments and Ministers they are; the Vertue of an Instru­ment being not so much its own, as that Causes by which it is ma­nag'd. And accordingly, as among Men, what is done or not done unto an Agent, is by the Prince, and all others, interpreted as done or not done unto himself; so there have not wanted, even among the Heathen, who saw the legitimateness of making such an Interpretati­on of the Dishonour that is done to God's Instruments, our Earthly Parents: Menander [...]. in particular affirming of him who reproacheth his Father, That though his Words go no farther than him, yet he aims at the Divine Nature. The same is no less evident, in that the Honour of Parents hath even in the New Testament the Title of [...], 1 Tim. 5.4. Piety. For that being the proper Word to express our Duty to our Maker, shews the thing to which it is attributed to have a peculiar aspect upon him, and that it is Sacri­lege, as well as Injustice, to deny it. I have insisted so much the longer upon this Head, as because the Scripture seems to found our Obligation upon it, when it requires us to hearken to the father that begat us, Prov. 23.22. so also because it cuts off all Pretences of doing dishonour to those whom this Commandment obliges us to revere. For, be it, first, that thy Parents may prove unnatural, and thereby so far devest themselves of that Honour which is due from other Chil­dren unto theirs; yet so long as that which is past cannot be recall'd, they cannot cease to be thy Parents; and it is eternally true, that the one is thy Father that begat thee, and the other thy Mother that conceiv'd thee. Be it, secondly, which is another Pretence of Diso­bedience, that though they gave Being to thee, yet they design'd not that so much as the gratification of their own Appetites, which will [Page 237]consequently cut off all Moral Right to that Honour which they ex­act of thee; yet inasmuch as they were the Authors of thy Being, they have a Natural Right to it, and therefore ought not to be de­ny'd it, any more than we may deny Honour to a Man of Natural Parts, or to one who was born a Prince. Be it, thirdly, that all other Obligations could be fully requited, and consequently we our selves freed from any Tie of Honour which might be suppos'd to arise from them; yet unless (as [...]. Philo. de Decalog. Philo speaks) we could beget those who begat us, that of our Birth will remain uncancell'd, and together therewith, our Obligation of honouring them because of it. Lastly, Be it, that thou hadst no Obligation to thy Parents in themselves, as neither in­tending any other than their own Pleasure in the Beget­ting, nor concerning themselves for thee when thou wert; yet so far as they were God's Instruments in bring­ing thee into the World, they call for thy Regard; nei­ther can they be neglected, without casting a Contempt upon God himself: So that still, if our Honour have this ground, it will be of eternal necessity; and we may as soon cease to be Children, as cease to be oblig'd to those whom we are requir'd to honour.

But because there are few Parents who contribute no farther to their Children than their Birth, and much less like the Ostrich, which Job speaks of, that leaveth her eggs in the earth, and warmeth them in the dust; forgetting in the mean time that the foot may crush them, or that the wild heast may break them, Job 39.13. and so on: Because, I say, there are few Parents that shew themselves so unnatural, nay, which do not, on the contrary, dandle their Children in their Arms, and in their Heart, and never leave off providing for them, till they are in a capacity to provide for themselves; hence there ariseth another Ob­ligation to pay them Honour and Obedience, and such a one as we must be very ungrateful to forget. For, if we think it a just ground of Honour, that we feed those whom we retain, and furnish them with all other things necessary for their support; in the mean time not concerning our selves any farther, and much less making them the Sub­ject of our perpetual Care, and the End of all our Toil and Travel: what Ground of Honour may we think it to be, when we have infi­nitely much more done for us by our Parents, to make us happy, both in this World, and in the next?

PART II.

Of the Kinds of that Honour which is to be given to Parents, which are shewn to be, 1. An awful Esteem of them, as which is the very Soul of Honour. 2. An outward Declaration of it, whether it be in our Gesture and Behaviour, where the general necessity of such Expressions of Honour is evinced; or in our Language to or of them, the Nature whereof is also declared; or in our Actions. These last divided into such as minister directly and immediately to their Honour, or indirectly and by consequence. Of the former sort are, first, Our administring to them in their Wants, which is shewn both to be a Duty, and, as it may, and ought to be manag'd, an Expres­sion of our Honour: and, secondly, ministring to them in their Weaknesses. Of the latter sort are such Actions, whatever they are in themselves, which are done with their Consent, in compliance with their Advice, or in obedience to their Commands. The Question concerning the Consent of Parents resum'd, and that shewn to be ge­nerally necessary in the Principal Actions of our Life, such as are, in particular, the disposal of our selves in Marriage, or entring upon any lasting Course of Life. The Advice of Parents also considered, and shewn to have the nature of a Command, where the Parent may be presum'd to make use of that Form of Speech for Loves sake one­ly; but however not to be departed from, where we have not a consi­derable Reason to the contrary. Of the Commands of Parents, and by what our Obedience to them is to be bounded; where is shewn, That their Commands are of no force against the Commands of God, or the Magistrate; in things that carry an invincible Antipathy to our In­clinations, or such as are greatly dishonourable to the Child. Sub­mission to the Chastisements of Parents, the fourth and last Declarati­on of our inward Esteem.

2. THOUGH this, and other such like Precepts, whilst they continue in their generality, do carry Conviction with them where-ere they come; yet they have not the like success when drawn down to particular Instances, and apply'd to each Man's immediate Concern: The Reason whereof is, partly their pressing so hard upon Men, and partly that Relief which the consideration of General Pre­cepts gives. For finding themselves pinch'd with so particular an Ap­plication, and, what such a Pressure doth naturally produce, desirous to free themselves; and considering moreover, that there is no Pre­cept almost so general, which doth not admit of some Exceptions; the forementioned Pressure, and their desire to free themselves from it, makes them first willing to believe their own case to be one of those Exceptions, and after that actually to do it. In consideration whereof, as the Masters of Morality have ever thought it their chief­est Business to be as particular as they could in describing and con­firming the several Duties of it; so I intend at this time to follow their Example, and shew what particular Duties the Honour of Pa­rents does involve.

1. And here in the first place, because that is the very Soul of Ho­nour, and gives Life both to it and all the Expressions of it, we are to entertain in our Minds such an awful Regard of them as the Dignity of their Relation doth require; that is to say, we are to account of them as so many Mortal Gods, as by whom, under the True, we live, and move, and have our being: lastly, we are to account of them as his Images and Agents, as Resemblances of the Great Creator, or rather Cooperatours with him: For, as the Notion of a Parent involves all this, and therefore in reason to regulate our inward esteem of them; so the consideration thereof is of excellent use to stifle all those Con­ceptions which the weaknesses of our Parents might suggest. For, be it that our Parents are either of crazie or deformed Bodies, that they have weak Understandings naturally, or have liv'd to see them die before them, either of which may tempt unsetled Minds to abject thoughts concerning them; yet if we remember they were under God the Authors of our Being, and thereby, as Moses sometime was to Aaron, a kind of Gods to us, such thoughts as the other will quickly vanish, and we shall, in spite of all their Infirmities, look upon them as in the place of God, and next to him to be honour'd and rever'd.

2. But beside the entertaining honourable Thoughts of our Parents, to which I have over and above represented the most proper Motives; we are also, as was before shewn, to express those Conceits of ours by some sensible declarations of them: Whereof,

  • 1. The first I shall represent, is, that which of all others seems to be the most natural, even that of our outward Gesture and Behavi­our. For, as Nature it self hath prompted us to such an Acknow­ledgment, because inclining us to shew forth in the Behaviour of our Bodies those Affections and Passions we have within; so the Custom of the World, which is the most proper Judge of Affairs of this na­ture, hath made it a necessary part of that Acknowledgment; I say, not onely in respect of the Esteem of the World, but also in respect of God: For requiring, as he doth, an Acknowledgment of our in­ward Esteem, and such a one as may satisfie the World concerning it, he doth consequently leave it to the Judgment of the World to deter­mine after what manner it is to be done. Now forasmuch as the Judgment of the World hath determin'd the shewing our Respects by our outward Gesture and Behaviour, it follows, that to the due ho­nouring of our Parents, we are to take that course, and make our outward Behaviour bespeak our inward Reverence and Esteem. But from hence it will follow, that according as the Custom of the Coun­try is, we are to rise up or bow before our Natural Parents: Which is the rather to be represented, because a Generation of Men have sprung up, with whom all these things are either superfluous or su­perstitious; never considering in the mean while, that they not onely run counter to the Judgment of the World (which yet, as was before observ'd, is the most proper Judge of Affairs of this nature) but also to the Judgment and Practice of the best of Men, and such whose Carriage is not lightly to be despis'd; among whom we find nothing more usual than bowing down before their Superiours, and some­times throwing themselves as low as the Earth they trod on. Now though the omission of such like Expressions of Reverence be a suffi­cient breach of this Commandment, which enjoyns us the honouring [Page 240]of our Superiours, and particularly of our Parents; yet certainly that is much more, because contrary to it, which presents them with con­temptuous ones: Of which nature is the receiving their Advices with Laughter, or a less composed Countenance, pointing at them with the Finger, or winking with the Eye; there being no doubt a Child may be as undutiful in his Looks, as either in his Words or Actions. That of Solomon
    Prov. 30.17.
    shall serve both for a Proof and a Conclusion of this Affair, because shewing both the undutifulness of such a Behaviour, and the displeasure of God against it: The eye that mocketh at his fa­ther, and despiseth to obey his mother, the ravens of the valley shall pick it out, and the young eagles shall eat it.
  • 2. Next to honouring our Parents in our outward Gesture, proceed we to the honouring of them with our Tongues, which is ano­ther requisite Expression of it; the Tongue being of all the other Members the most apt to express our inward Conceits, and therefore not to be wanting in this. Now this the Tongue may do, by speak­ing honourably to or of them; by proclaiming their Vertues, and our own Obligations to them; by extenuating, as much as may be, their suppos'd Defects; by taking off the several Objections that are made against them; in fine, by not suffering any thing to fall from it (for even such a Silence is expressive) which may any way offend or grieve them. Agreeable hereto is that excellent Advice of the Hebrew Ma­sters
    Vid. Seld. de Jure Nat. & Gent. l. 7. c. 2.
    , when the Children had occasion to represent to their Parents any of their Miscarriages: For, in such a case (say they) a Man was not to say to his Father, You transgress the words of the Law; but ra­ther, It is written in the Law thus or thus; and so as if he meant ra­ther to consult them about the meaning of it, than to admonish them of their Transgression. But so, which is of much more force, St. Paul insinuates, 1 Tim. 5.1. For requiring Timothy not to rebuke an elder, but to entreat him as a father, he plainly supposes, that Fathers ought to be treated with respectful Language, even when they do offend; and how much more then, when they are not guilty of any Miscar­riage?
  • 3. From Respectfulness in our Language, pass we to Respect­fulness in our Actions, which is another Requisite to the honouring of our Parents; as because they are the most effectual Expressions of our Thoughts, so because they are the clearest Acknowledgments of that Authority which God hath vested in them, and of our own readiness to comply with it. The onely thing worthy our pains, will be to point out those Actions whereby we may do Honour to them. Now there are two sorts of Actions whereby we may and ought to do Honour to our Parents, the former whereof minister directly and imme­diately to it, the latter indirectly and by consequence, that is to say, as they are Instances of our Compliance with their Will and Pleasure.

I. Of the former sort is, first, the administring to them in their wants, and furnishing them with all things necessary to their support. For beside that the Law of Gratitude requires this of us, and there­fore in reason to be suppos'd to be included in that Commandment which entreats of our Duty to our Parents; it is by the Jewish Ma­sters Vid. Seld. de Jure Nat. & Gent. l. 7. c. 2. p. 834. resolv'd to be the very Formality of that Honour which here we are requir'd to exhibit: Wherein though perhaps they too much over-lash'd, because the Word is of a more general signification; [Page 241]yet that they thought not amiss, when they made it a principal part of Honour, the language both of the New Testament and Heathen Wri­ters shew; St. Paul expressing the relieving of Widows, by the Title of honouring them, and Hierocles In Carm. Pyth. [...], &c. declaring that we shall then honour our Parents exceedingly, when we afford them the ministry of our Bodies, and the assistance of our Wealth. But so, when our Saviour recommended the Virgin Mary to St. John, saying, Behold thy Mother; St. John, as know­ing that to be a part of the honour that is due unto a Parent, ex­press'd his Obedience to it by taking her to his own home, Joh. 19.27. And indeed, however the notion of Honour may seem no way to agree to this affair, because maintenance of it self contributes little honour to him that receives it; yet, if we look more narrowly into it, we shall find it oftentimes to be a mark rather of Honour than Contempt. For first of all, Though Kings are of all others the greatest Almsmen, if we should judge of their Quality by their Receipts; yet inasmuch as what they so receive, they receive by way of Homage, and as an Acknowledgment of their Authority over their respective Kingdoms; the maintenance they receive, is not only no lessening of their esteem, but on the contrary, an aggrandizing of it. The case is much the same as to those of whom we are discoursing, and to whom we are re­quired to give honour as well as to Kings and Princes; that mainte­nance which we afford them, being not, like other Gifts, the results of a voluntary Bounty, but a Tribute which we owe them, and an Acknowledgment of our Obligations to them: It being but just, as Hie­rocles Loco prius ci­tato. [...]. speaks, that Parents should make use of those whom they have begotten and bred up. From that first instance pass we to another, which will yet more fully evidence the propriety of this Notion of Honour, and that is the large Pensions which Kings bestow upon their Subjects in consideration of some signal Service they have done them. For these are so far from being a dishonour to the parties that have them, that on the contrary they are a credit, because marks of his Esteem by whom they are bestowed. Whence it is, that among the Latins they had the Title of Honoraria; as if you should say, The ho­nourable gifts. But such will our Liberality to our Parents prove, if it be in some measure answerable to the many Obligations they have laid upon us. For thereby we shall declare we give them not as Alms, but as a mark of that esteem we have for them. Our Liberality to our Parents will prove yet more an Honour, if it be transmitted to them with that respect which is due from a Child unto his Parents. For so doing, be the Gift never so small, it will be lookt upon as an honour­able maintenance, and be an instance of our esteem, as well as of our Love and Tenderness. And I cannot but upon this Occasion call to mind some custom of the Spaniards See Howels Letters. Vol. 1. Sect. 3. Lett. 31., who, however a proud Nation otherwise, do in this give a great testimony of their Humility; it being reported of them, that when they give an Alms they pull off their Hats, and put it into the Beggars hands, with a great deal of Humi­lity. For whatever may be due from us toward indigent Persons, this is but due from us to our Parents, and we cannot hope our Liberality will be accepted, if we consult not their reputation in it, because obliged as well to honour, as relieve them.

Next to the administring to our Parents wants, place we the mini­string [Page 242]to them in their weaknesses, according as Hierocles Loco supra ci­tato. doth; for so doing we shall yet more declare the honour we have for them, and consequently our observation of this Commandment: It being far more irksom to part with our ease than wealth; to lend them our personal Services, than some of the good things we enjoy. And indeed, as whosoever shall consider the Care and Pains of a Father, the Fears and sleepless Nights, and homely Offices of a Mother; as, I say, whosoe­ver shall consider these things, will not think much to minister to them, in the meanest employments which their several Infirmities may exact; so I know not whether it be possible to give them a greater testimony of our Honour, or requite that Care and Pains towards us. For, by thus ministring to them by our personal Services, we do in a manner out­do our selves, and shew our selves not their Children but their Servants. The only thing wanting to make us completely such, is, that love draws us to it, and that we embrace as well as submit to the Employment. That known story of Aeneas shall put a period to this Argument, because a noble Instance of his Piety. For when others, after the Destruction of Troy, took care to rescue other things, this man took up his Houshold­gods first, and after that his aged Father upon his shoulders. By which last, as well as by the former, as he very well deserv'd the Title of Pius, which is given him by the Prince of Poets, so he therein acted the part rather of a Father than of a Son, because carrying him, who was now become a Child as he had been before borne himself.

2. But beside such Actions of ours as minister directly and immediate­ly to the honour of our Parents, such as are especially those before re­membred; there are other that minister to it indirectly, and by conse­quence, that is to say, as instances of our Compliance with their Will. Of which sort are all those that are done with their consent, in compli­ance with their advice, or in obedience to their commands; whatsoever is so done, being a manifest acknowledgment of their Authority with whom we do so comply. The only difficulty is, how far we are bound to comply with our Parents in each of these, which accordingly I come now to consider.

And first of all, If the question be concerning the consent of Parents, which is the first of the Instances before remembred, so I shall not doubt to affirm that it ought to be had in the principal Actions of our Life. Among which I reckon particularly, Childrens disposing of themselves in Marriage, or entring into any lasting course of Life. That the con­sent of Parents is generally necessary, in the former may appear, not only from hence, that Children are not sui juris, but those in whose power they are; but also from the power which God hath given them over their Children, as to this particular affair; witness the Scriptures prescribing Rules for Parents taking Daughters unto their Sons, and again, for giving their Daughters in Marriage unto others, as you may see, Exod. 34.16. and 1 Cor. 7.38. For the Scripture there and elsewhere at­tributing the Marriing of Sons and Daughters to the act of their respe­ctive Parents, supposeth them as to that particular, to be more in their Pa­rents power than their own, and consequently their Consent at least to be requisite to the making of it. Generally speaking therefore there is no doubt, the Consent of Parents is necessary to be had, to make the Marriage lawful before God. Then, and then only may it be wanting when the Child is in imminent danger of falling into sin without it, in [Page 243]which case, though the Consent of Parents may and ought to be sought, yet it is not necessary to be obtain'd. From the Consent of Parents in Marriage, pass we to the necessity of it toward the taking any lasting Course of Life; which we shall find to stand upon as firm Grounds as the other: For the Son, till freed by the Father, being more the Fathers than his own, he is in reason to be dispos'd of by him to whom he doth so belong, or at least not without his Consent. If the Son do at any time fall into his own disposal, as I will not say but sometimes he may, it must be, when the Father takes no care at all of him, which is a kind of emancipation of him.

From the Consent of Parents, pass we to their Advice, and consi­der what Regard is due to it in our several Actions; where again we are to consider, whether the Father intends it onely as an Advice, and leaves it to the liberty of his Son either to follow it, or not; or whe­ther or no, for Loves sake, he chuses to express his Will in the form of one, as St. Paul did his to Philemon in the form of an Entreaty. If the latter of these be it, there is no doubt it is not onely obligatory, but much more obligatory than any Command: For, beside that it hath in effect the nature of a Command, it hath over and above the addition of the Parents Kindness, which cannot be resisted without a great Ingratitude. The Case is somewhat different, and our Obliga­tion also, if he who doth advise, leaves it to the liberty of his Child either to follow it, or not: For, in such a Case, there is no doubt, if our own Reason leads us otherwise, it is lawful for us to depart from it. This onely would be added, That as we are to receive it with respect, and to shew some kind of unwillingness even in our departing from it; so we are not to depart from it, where we have not a con­siderable Reason to the contrary, and such as may absolve us before God, and all disinteress'd Persons, for not adhering to it. For though an Advice have not the nature of a Command, and therefore neither the departure from it the nature of Disobedience; yet the neglect of it, where there is not a weighty Reason to the contrary, hath the na­ture of a Disrespect, which is equally a breach of this Commandment.

The third and last Rule follows, even the Command of our Pa­rents, which is much more cogent than the other; this being a Natu­ral Effect of that Authority they have over us, and therefore not to be despis'd, without a manifest violation of their Honour. And ac­cordingly, as among the Jews Disobedience to them was punish'd with Death, as a kind of abdication of their Parents; so the Scriptures of the New Testament represent it among those things that are worthy of death, as you may see Rom. 1.30, 32. The onely thing of difficulty is, how far our Obedience is to extend; which accordingly I come now to consider. For the resolution whereof, the first thing I shall offer, is, That it ought not to extend to those things that are forbid­den by a Power Superiour to that of our Parents: For the Ground of Obedience being the Authority of him that commands, it is in reason, where it cannot be given to more, to be given unto him, where is the greatest Authority to require it. But from hence it will follow, first, That we are not to obey our Parents in things before forbidden by God; God being not onely Superiour to all other Powers, but the Fountain and Author of them. Whence it is, that though St. Paul in one place exhort Children to be obedient to their Parents in every [Page 244]thing, Col. 3.20. yet, as he assigns for the Reason of it, its being well-pleasing to the Lord, which shews, that it was not to extend to things of a contrary nature; so elsewhereEphes. 6.1. he limits it to Obedience in the Lord, that is to say, so far as our Obedience to him is consi­stent with it. It will in like manner follow, secondly, That we are not to obey our Parents in things forbidden us by the Magistrate: For, though his Authority be not like that of God, yet it is superiour to theirs, as having by the command of God the Souls even of Parents subject to it. But beside that Obedience to Parents is to cease there, where either God or the Magistrate have laid a Prohibition, it is al­so to be suppos'd not to be requir'd, where the thing under command carries an invincible Antipathy to our Inclinations. Thus, for exam­ple, if a Father offer such an Husband to his Daughter, whom, though she has endeavour'd, yet she can by no means bring her self to like of; in this case, there is no doubt she is not oblig'd to marry him, how strongly soever her Father enjoyns it on her: It being not to be thought, that where the Children themselves have not power over their own Affections, the Parents of the Children should. Lastly, As our Obedience is not to be thought to be requir'd, where the thing under command carries an invincible Antipathy to our Inclinations; so, neither where it is greatly dishonourable to the Child upon whom the Command is impos'd. Thus, for example, If a Father, for the hope of Lucre, or any such like cause, command his Son to marry a Person who is of an ill Fame, or to enter into some Trade that is infinitely below his Quality; as, for example, if a Person of Noble Rank should command his Son to be a Cobler: In these, and other the like Cases, there is no doubt he may refuse that which is so impos'd upon him; because the Son, where the Father's Ability will suffice, hath a Natural Right to be bred up in some measure answe­rably to that Condition wherein he was born. Care onely would be taken, that, as we pretend not such a disparity, where in truth there is no other but what our Pride and Self-conceit makes; so, in this, and all other Refusals of Obedience, we proceed with Modesty and Humility, and rather seem to decline the Task that is impos'd upon us, than contemptuously reject it. But as other Carriage than this is not consistent with that Honour, which we owe to the Authors of our Being; so other Commands than those before-remembred, we cannot think it lawful to disobey, if we consider, that the Apostle enjoyns us to be obedient to our Parents in all things.

4. One onely thing remains to fill up the measure of that Honour which we have said to be due from us to our Parents; and that is, that we express our Esteem of them by submission to their Chastise­ments, as well as by yielding Obedience to their Commands. But because that will fall in more pertinently hereafter, when I come to entreat of the Chastisements of a Father, I will defer the prosecuti­on of it till then, contenting my self at present with that of the Son of Sirach Ecclus. 3.8. as it lies in the Vulgar Latin, Honour thy father and thy mother in work, in word, and in all patience, that a blessing may come upon thee from them.

PART III.

With what variety the Honour here requir'd is to be given to either Parent: Where the giving the Father the priority in our Honour, and, when they draw different ways, the obeying him against the Mother, is asserted against Mr. Hobbes, and his Objection an­swered. The Honour of our Parents otherwise equal. The Case of a Mother, who is either a Princess or a Christian, when the Fa­ther is either a Subject or Heathen, propos'd and stated. A Cau­tion against despising our Mother, even when we depart from her Advice or Command; and with what Humility and Modesty that is to be done. Inquiry is also made, whether or no, and how far a Child may be freed from the Obligation of Honour; which is con­sider'd with relation both to Deceased and Living Parents. That even Deceased Parents ought to have all those Honours of which they are capable in that State, which also are there enumerated. Whether any Regard be due to their past Advices and Commands; which also is answered, and our Regard limited to such Commands wherein the Honour of our Parents is concern'd; or such as enjoyn few things, and easie of practice. The like Regard not due to those Commands which relate peculiarly to the Child, or to such as en­joyn things many and burdensom. The Case of the Rechabites pro­pos'd and consider'd. That Children cannot be altogether free from the Obligation of any Honour, so long as their Parents are alive, because their Parents are as much such at one time as at another. All the Exemption that they can plead, is either in the Manner or the Measure; the Exemptions in both which, are exemplified and prov'd. That those Exemptions arise from a straiter or more im­portant Obligation, and therefore are no farther pleadable against the Honour of a Parent, than those Obligations shall be found to contravene it. Of the Fear of Parents, what the Ground of that Fear is, and how it ought to be express'd. A brief Account, in passing, of the Dreadfulness and Efficacy of their Curses. What Obligation we also have to love our Parents, and how that Love of ours is to be express'd. That our Honour, or Fear, or Love of our Parents, is not to terminate in their Persons; because a Parent may be honour'd, or fear'd, or lov'd in others, as well as in himself; as, on the other side, so disregarded and hated: The Consequences whereof are, 1. The paying Honour to them that stand upon the same Level with our Parents, and particularly, to Ʋncles, Aunts, and Mothers-in-law. 2. The shewing Affection to those who do alike descend from their Loins, as Brothers and Sisters. 3. The afford­ing it, though not in an equal degree, to Cousins, and other remo­ter Kindred, because issuing from the same Grandfathers and Grand­mothers. As also, 4. To those Friends or Servants they set a va­lue on.

3. HAVING in the foregoing Discourses establish'd the Grounds, and shewn the several Kinds of that Honour we are to ex­hibit; [Page 246]the Method before laid down prompts us to inquire, with what variety it is to be given to either Parent: For though, as Grotius hath observ'dExplic. Decalog. Leges à viris factae ferme solis consulunt patri­bus, ut Persica memorata Aristo­teli Romana descripta in Digestis ac Institutionibus, Graecis etiam Philosophic, Epicteto primum de­inde & Simplicio memorata neque minùs Philoni Judaeo libro de le­gatione., the Laws made by Men provide mostly, if not onely for the Honour of the Father; yet the Com­mandment we have now before us, makes the Mother also the Object of it: And not without Reason, if we consider, that the Mother hath a great share in the be­getting, a far greater share than the Father in the first Education, and, if not an equal, yet a considerable part in the succeeding one. Taking it therefore for granted, that the Mother ought to have a share in it; we will inquire, whether Honour be to be exhibited to both alike, or, if not, with what pro­portion to each. That it is not to be exhibited to both alike, we need no other Argument, than that it impossible it should be: For the Father and the Mother drawing different ways, it is impossible they should be both comply'd with; and therefore either both to be dis­obey'd, which were a strange way of honouring our Parents; or one of them of necessity to be preferr'd. The onely Question therefore is, which ought to be preferr'd, and how. A Modern Writer Hobbes Le­viath. ch. 20. of our Nation, whether out of his kindness to the Female Sex, or rather to new and uncouth Opinions, prefers the Mother, because of the surer side; and possibly not without reason, if there were any such Natural State as he, though groundlesly, fancies. But as in re­putation of Law both Parents are alike certain, and therefore that Suggestion of his of no force in the present Affair; so God himself, in the very Beginning, subjected even the Mother to the Father, and thereby plainly shew'd, that he ought to be preferr'd: There being no doubt (as that Author himself afterwards acknowledges) that he who is Head even of the Mother, is, to a far greater purpose than she, the Head also of her Child. If it be sometime otherwise, as, for example, when the Mother is a Princess, and the Husband a Sub­ject; yet is not that so much because she is a Mother, in which respect she is Inferiour; but because she hath over and above the addition of the Regal Power. One onely Case remains, to wit, Where the Fa­ther is Heathen, and the Mother Christian, which of the two ought to be preferr'd? But as in Civil Matters there is no doubt the Father ought, because Christianity doth rather confirm than destroy the seve­ral States and Conditions in which it found us at our Conversion; so, if in Religious Matters the Mother be preferr'd, as for example, in the Educating her Child in Christianity, it is by the Prerogative of God and Christ Vid. Taylor. Duct. Dubit. l. 3. c. 5. Rule 4., who is the Head of the Church, to which all Earthly Powers are to yield. It being thus evident, that generally the Father ought to be preferr'd; we are in the next place to inquire, after what manner that is to be done. In answer to which, I say, first, That it ought not to be done to the contempt of the Mother: For both of them being by Natures Law, and God's, to be the Object of our Honour, neither is to be despis'd; yea, though one of them, and particularly the Father, should be so wicked as to oblige the Son to it. I say, secondly, That so far as they may be both honour'd, so far there is no doubt they ought to be; both of them being Sharers in the begetting of us, and in like manner in our Education. I say, thirdly, That so far as our outward Behaviour can declare it, they are [Page 247]both to have an equal share of it, because the Father is honour'd in the honour of the Mother, as the Mother again in the honour of the Fa­ther. Only as the Father ought to have the precedency, as being but due to him for the Order wherein he stands; so, where they command different things, there is no doubt those of the Father ought to be preferr'd, as because for the most part the most capable of judging what is fit; so because the head of the other Parent. Only a good Child will so far take care to honour both, as never to despise either; and at the same time he prefers the commands of his Father, shew by his humble and modest behaviour to his Mother, that he does it not in the least wise to aggrieve her.

4. The fourth Question follows, to wit, whether or no, and how far, a Child may be freed from the obligation of Honour. For the resoluti­on whereof, I will consider the Child, 1. As bereft of his Parents by death, and 2. As having them still living.

And first of all, if the Question be concerning deceased Parents, who may seem, and no doubt have the least tye upon their Children, so I shall not stick to affirm that they ought to have all that honour of which they are capable in that state: Not only the Law of Gratitude so requiring, but the Honour of Almighty God whose Instruments they were, and to whom they live, though they be dead to us. Of this nature is the bestowing upon them a Funeral answerable to their Con­dition, speaking honourably of their Persons and Actions; in fine, esteeming those persons for whom they had a regard, and especially such as they upon their Death-beds commended to ours; for as these are no other than their Relation, and our Gratitude doth require, so they are such of which they are equally capable as when alive. The only difficulty is, what regard is due to those Advices or Commands which they laid upon us when alive. For as on the one side it may seem unreasonable, that the Fathers authority on Earth should abide after he himself hath no further place on it; so on the other side it hath been observ'd, that God hath strangely blasted those Children who have gone contrary to the Commands of their deceased Parents; and as strangely blessed those who have been obedient to them; witness for the latter, that known story of the Rechabites who are not only commended by the Almighty for abstaining from Wine, and dwelling in Tents, in obedience to their Ancestor Jonadab's command, but pro­mised moreover that their Generations should abide, Jer. 35.14.19. For the reconciling of which two, so as neither to depress the authority of the Son, who succeeds into the Fathers Rights, nor yet to despise the Authority even of a deceased Father. I will first of all distinguish be­tween such commands wherein the Father's honour is concern'd, and such as relate peculiarly to the Son. Now in the former of these it is, especially, wherein a Father is to be heeded, because he hath an equal concernment in them. Thus for Example, if, as it sometime happens, aFullers Worthies, Hertfordshire, Speaking of the Horseys, observes that one of them disobeying such a command of his Father pro­spered no whit the better for it; not one Foot of Land in Hert­fordshire now remaining to his Posterity. Father should command his Son, if need were, rather to sell an Estate that came to him by others, than that which came to him by descent from himself; in such a case I should not doubt the Son were oblig'd to observe his command, and rather sell any thing than that his Pa­trimony; because by selling the latter he should do dis­honour to his Family, and therein in particular to his [Page 248]Father from whom it immediately descended. In like manner, if a Fa­ther should charge his Son not to marry into a Family which hath been at enmity with himself; in this case I do no way doubt but the Son is bound up to observe the Commands of his Father, because as the mat­ter of it hath nothing of evil in it; so the acting contrary thereto, un­less where there is a great necessity, would be a dishonour to his Fa­ther, inasmuch as it may give that Family occasion to triumph over the memory of him whom they before hated. I say not, the same of that command, which the Father of Hannibal laid upon him with an Oath, to prosecute the Romans his Enemies with an immortal hatred. For though it be not unlawful to avoid an intimate alliance with some per­sons, yet it is both inhumane and unchristian to prosecute any person with an irreconcileable hatred, and therefore no fit matter for a Son's obedience. But let us suppose the command laid upon the Son, relate to his person only, (which is the other member of the distinction) as for Example, not to be a Bishop, a Priest, or a Magistrate; in which case, though a pious Son will be well advised before he transgress it, and consider what reason his Father might have so to advise or com­mand him, yet he will not suffer himself to be so far over born by it, as to neglect his own Reason and great Conveniencies. For (as a Learned manTayl. Ductor Dubit. Book 3. Chap. 5. Rul. 6. hath well observ'd) in those things wherein a mans own meer Interest is concern'd, his own Understanding must be his guide, and his Will his Ruler. For he alone does lie at Stake, whether it be good or bad, and it is not reasonable that he should govern, who nei­ther gets nor looses, nor knows. Again, the things that are com­manded (those I mean that relate to the Sons person only) are either few, and easie of practice, or many and burthensome. If the things commanded be either few, or easie of practice, or both, they cannot be omitted without a dishonour to our Parents, whose memory we will not gratifie in so small a matter. But if they be many, and bur­thensom, the omission thereof is not to be looked upon as a disho­nour to them, but as a just compliance with our own reasonable Conveniencies. The only thing that will give us any trouble, is, the Instance of the Rechabites, who may seem to have had no very easie load imposed upon them. But beside that, the story is only mention­ed on the By, by which means we cannot so easily judge of the inten­tention of Jonadab in it; beside secondly, That it is not improbable it was enjoined in order to Religion, which if it were, will determine such lasting commands to the things of Religion only; it is apparent enough they did not think themselves so ty'd, but when there was a just cause, such as the fear of the Chaldeans, they dispens'd with their own dwelling in Tents, which was one of the things enjoin'd them. And indeed, as it will become Children not lightly to depart from their deceased Fathers commands, lest they be thought to have a less regard for them than they should. So it will no less become Parents, when they extend their Authority beyond their own time, to see that the things they impose be neither many nor unreasonable; as remem­bring that after their decease, they are at their own disposal for the main, and have reason enough for the most part to guide them in the management thereof.

From the honour of deceased Parents, pass we to that of those that are alive, and consider whether or no, and how far Children may be [Page 249]freed from it. In answer whereunto, I say first, that they can never be absolutely freed from any of the kinds of Honour before remembred: Because our Parents are as much such in our riper years, as in our green­er, when we are departed out of their Houses, as whilst we continued in them. And indeed, as no question hath been made of that part of honour which is usually stil'd Reverence, that is to say, of thinking honourably of, and expressing it in our words and gestures; as more­over, no question hath or can be made of that part of Honour which hath the name of Piety, because Children must generally be supposed both to be of years, and of a distinct Family, before they can be in a ca­pacity to relieve their Parents; so as little question would be made of Obedience, if men did but consider that the principal ground of it doth always abide: for it being alike true at all times, that the one is thy Father that begot thee, and the other thy Mother that conceiv'd thee; it must be alike true, because that is the ground of thy Obedi­ence, that thou art always to give obedience to their commands. If therefore Children be at any time free from the tie of Honour, it must be as to the manner or measure, which accordingly I come now to consider. Thus for instance, Though Reverence be always due from us to our Parents, and accordingly hath by good Children been always paid to them, yet there is no necessity it should be express'd after the same manner by one of full age, as by one who is still under Pupillage; because the same gestures become not one of full age, that are suitable enough to the tenderness of the other. Whence it is, that though Children in their minority are always bare before their Parents, yet those of Riper age have by a general custom (which must be judge of matters of this nature) been indulg'd a greater liberty as to that par­ticular, even by the consent of Parents themselves. In like manner, that I may instance in the measure, Though Children dwelling in their Parents houses, and under their power, be to yield Obedience to all their commands, and particularly those that concern the Family where­of they are Members; whence it is, that we find the Father in the Pa­rable, Mat. 21.28. commanding his Sons to go and work in his Vine­yard; yet there is not the same tie upon those that are sent out of it, that have a Wife and Family of their own to provide for, that are de­livered over to the tuition of other persons, or in fine, have any publick charge upon them. Not upon those that are sent out of the Family, because as sent out with their leave, so of necessity to intend their own proper Affairs. Not upon those Children that have a Wife and Family of their own to provide for, because, beside the foremention'd reason, by the command of God himself to forsake Father and Mo­ther, and cleave unto their Wives, Gen. 2.24. The same is to be said much more of Daughters, when Married, because not only equally oblig'd to cleave to their Husbands, but also subjected to their com­mands. Whence it is, that when Pharaoh's Daughter was brought to be a Wife to Solomon, we find her exhorted to forget her own people and her Fathers house, and to look upon, and worship Solomon as her Lord, Psal. 45.10, 11. But neither thirdly, is there the same tie up­on Children that are subjected to the Tuition of others, as to those that are under their Fathers roof and power, as will appear if we con­sider them as made Servants to another, or pass'd over into another Family by Adoption; for being by the Parents consent subjected to [Page 250]other Masters or Fathers, they are now no more theirs who gave them Being, but those Masters or adopted Fathers, to whom they are so transferr'd. This only would be added, That as the Children spoken of in the former Instances, are only free from their Fathers commands by means of those new Relations they have contracted; so they are consequently no farther free from yielding Obedience to their Fathers commands, than the necessity of serving those Relations doth exact. And therefore if a Son or Daughter that is sent abroad to intend their own Affairs, or one that is entred into Marriage, or made a Servant, or a Son, and Daughter by Adoption; if (I say) any of these have opportunity and power to serve their natural Parents, there is no doubt they ought to do so, no less than those who continue under their Roof. For the exception of their obedience being only in regard to those new Relations they have contracted, according to that known Rule of the Lawyers, Exceptio firmat regulam in non exceptis, it must strength­en the tie of Obedience where those Relations do no way hinder. The only Children to be accounted for, are such as have a publick charge upon them, whether in the Church, or in the State. For though Children are not to enter into these without the consent of their Pa­rents, if under their Fathers Tuition, or at least not without the call of their and their Fathers Superiours; yet being entred, they are in rea­son to prefer the discharge of their Place, before any Commands of their Father; the Private Good being in reason to yield to the Pub­lick; the Commands of Parents, to those of Kings and Princes. One­ly, as if the Child can, without the neglect or debasement of his Charge, fulfil his Fathers Commands, there is no doubt he is oblig'd so to do; so there is so much of Authority in the Name of a Father, that no Dignity whatsoever will make a good Son forget it, where it is not contrary to a more important Concern.

5. The Duty of Honour being thus explain'd, and shewn in what manner and measure it is incumbent upon Children; it may not be amiss to subjoyn somewhat concerning Fear and Love, which I have said to be also a part of their Duty. Onely because they are rather Accessaries, than Principal parts of Childrens Duties, I will be so much the shorter in describing the Obligation they have upon them.

That we are to fear our Father and Mother, the Scripture hath told us, Lev. 19.3. and not without cause, if we consider, either that it is a part of Honour, or that there is in Parents a just Object of it. For, as Fear is a confession of the Power of those whom we have such an apprehension of; so there is Power enough in Parents to excite that Passion in us, and make us as well to dread as esteem them. Of this nature is, first, the Power of Chastisement, whether as to the Body or Possessions of the Son: For, as I shall afterwards shew, that Pa­rents have Authority to inflict either; so, Experience makes it evi­dent, that they want not Power, especially as to the latter Chastise­ment; it being ordinarily in the power of Parents to withhold their Possessions from such as are disobedient to them. But of all the things we are to fear in a Parent, there is certainly nothing more requiring it, than the Power they have with God to procure a greater Punishment of our Disobedience, than they themselves are able to inflict. For, though (as the Scripture speaks) the Curse causeless shall not come; yet both Reason and Experience warrant us to believe, that the Cur­ses [Page 251]of Parents shall not be without effect, where they proceed upon a just Cause. For be it, which is true enough, that such Curses are not lightly to be us'd; be it, that generally they are not suitable ei­ther to the Tenderness of a Father, or the Spirit of the Gospel, which will render them so much the more unlikely to have effect: yet, as it is evident from St. Paul's denouncing a Curse against Simon Magus, and Alexander the Coppersmith, that Superiours are not wholly for­bid the use of them; so, that it is not improper for Fathers towards their disobedient Children, their being a kind of Gods to us, may serve for abundant evidence. But then if we add thereto, Noah's cursing the Posterity of Cham, for making a mock of his Nakedness, and that Effect which it had upon them in after-times; if we more­over reflectJer. Taylor, Duct. Dubit. l. 3. c. 5. Rule 1. upon the sad Examples which Heathen Stories have re­presented to us in the Children of Oedipus, Amintor, and Theseus, who grew miserable upon their Fathers Curses; lastly, if we add, that the same thing was observ'd by the Jews, one of whom, even the Son of Sirach, observes, that the Curse of the Mother rooteth out Foun­dations, Ecclus. 3.10. so we shall not need to doubt of the Effect of their Curses, and therefore neither of their being the Object of our Fear. For if, as the Greek Poet observes, [...],’ the Curses of Parents are grievous upon the Earth, we have reason enough to fear lest their Curses should sometime fall upon our Heads. The onely thing worthy our farther inquiry, is, how this Fear of ours ought to be express'd; which is, in short, by our carefulness to please them in all things: For, as by so doing, we shall best declare the Fear we have of them, Fear naturally prompting Men to seek the Favour of those they have such an apprehension of; so we shall thereby se­cure our selves from the Effects of their Displeasure, and (which is more to be dreaded) from the Effects of that of God.

From the Duty of Fear, pass we to that of Love, which we shall find to be no less incumbent upon us than the former, as because our Saviour hath reduc'd the Whole of the Law to Love, so because our Parents are of all others the justest Object of it: Witness the extra­ordinary Love they have naturally for us; their many, and weighty, and constant Demonstrations of it; their taking care of us, when we are not able to provide for themselves; their continuing that care over us, even when we are; their furnishing us from time to time with all things necessary for our Temporal Happiness; their instilling into our Minds what may make for our Eternal one; their bearing with the weakness and peevishness of our Infancy and Childhood; their enduring, with much long-suffering, the disobedience and stub­bornness of our riper Years; lastly, their perpetual fears lest any Evil should betide us, their frequent and importunate Prayers to avert any Evil from us. For, as out of the Bowels of a Parent such a Love will hardly be met with, though you should search for it even in the most tender and affectionate ones; whence it is, that God, to com­mend the Love he hath to us, doth for the most part assume to him­self the Person of a Father: so, for a recompence in the same (as St. Paul speaks) it is but requisite that our Hearts should be equally [Page 252]enlarged, and express it self in the same or the like Instances; that is to say, in providing for them, when they are not able to provide for themselves; in endeavouring to lessen their Care and Trouble, when they in some measure are; in bearing with the weaknesses and peevishness of their declining Years; in doing what in us lies either to remove or abate them; in furnishing them, when they lie upon their Sick-beds, with our Assistance and Comfort; in supplying the defects of our Endeavours, by begging the Aid of the Divine; lastly, in giving them the satisfaction of seeing their Care and Labour suc­cessfully employ'd, whilst they behold those for whom they have thus labour'd, travelling equally for their Happiness, and reflecting back upon them that kindly Heat which they sometime gave. So doing, we shall at the same time give a proof both of our Love, and of our Honour; pay them the Affection which is due to the Bowels of a Fa­ther and a Mother, and the Respect which belongs to their Authority.

Now though, if we look no further than the Person of our Pa­rents, what hath been already said concerning their Fear, and Love, and Honour, will comprehend within the compass of it the whole of our Duty to them; yet because a Man may be lov'd and honour'd in his Relations and Dependents, as well as in his own proper Person; and in like manner hated and despis'd: hence it comes to pass, that to complete our Duty, we are to extend our Love and Honour unto them, according as their several Relations do exact. The sequel where­of will be,

  • 1. The paying Honour unto those which stand upon the same Le­vel with our Parents. Thus, for instance, though an Uncle or an Aunt can claim no Reverence or Love by vertue of the Letter of this Commandment; yet inasmuch as they are the Brothers and Sisters of my Father or Mother, and the Sons and Daughters of the same Common Parents, if I either love or honour my Parents, or theirs, I must afford these a porti­on of it, because of their near Relation. In like manner, though a Mother-in-law can claim no Reverence or Love of her self, because none of the Stock from whence I came; yet a Regard is due to her, as being made one with him whom this Commandment requires me to revere. Which Particular I the rather observe, because, contrary to all right, those are usually both hated and despis'd: For, how can he honour his Father, who despises the one half of him, yea, such a one as by the Laws of God and Man is become one Person with him?
  • 2. Again, As Love and Honour is due to those who stand upon the same Level with my Parents, by reason of their Proximity to them; so an Affection, though not an Honour, is due from us to our Brethren and Sisters, because descended from the same Common Parents, and no less the Object of their Love: To whom therefore, as it concerns me to shew my self affecti­onate, if I would oblige my Parents; so, if I shew my self churlish to them, I wound my Parents Bowels through their Sides, if those Parents be yet alive; but, if they be not, their Honour.
  • 3. It is to be observ'd, thirdly, as the result of the foremention'd Principle, That though the same Love be not due to Cousins, [Page 253]and other remoter Kindred, that is to Brethren and Sisters; yet there is a Love due to them, by reason of those Common Grandfathers and Great-grandfathers from whom both they and we are descended. For, inasmuch as they, though at a greater distance, contributed to our Being, and consequently are to have a proportionable Love and Honour from us; so, if we have a Respect and Kindness for them, we must have a Love for those who are equally descended from them with our selves.
  • 4. Lastly, If Love and Honour do naturally diffuse themselves from those that are the immediate Objects of it, to those that are their Relations and Dependents; if we have a Respect for our Parents, we shall shew some portion of it to those, whe­ther Friends or Servants, whom they made the Object of theirs.

PART IV.

A Discourse of what is owing by Parents to their Children; which is shewn to be, first, the providing for their Subsistence. This evidenc'd from the common Consent of Mankind, that Natural Affection which God hath implanted in Parents, and from the Scripture. The same farther evidenc'd from the Intention of God and Nature, in that Being which he conferreth upon Children by them, from that Dignity to which Parents are advanc'd, and from that Self-love which God hath implanted in their Hearts. That the Provision Parents are to make for their Children, ought to be as large as their Necessities, till they come of Years to provide for themselves; yea, to continue al­ways such, if they prove impotent or foolish. The like not to be af­firm'd, where there is no such Inability. Consideration onely to be had, whether the Ability of Children can reach to such a Provision as is suitable to their Condition; for otherwise it ought to be sup­plied by the Parents. That the Provision of Parents ought to extend beyond their own Times, and they accordingly either to lay up for them, or put them into a Vocation whereby they may provide for themselves. A Caution against Parents suffering their Care for them, to entrench upon the Duties of Justice or Charity; because these are alike incumbent on them, and the best Legacies they can bequeath their Children. Institution of Children in Life and Man­ners, a second Duty of a Parent, as is made appear both from Na­ture and Scripture. The particular Duties implied in it, Instructi­on, Command, and Example; the first being necessary to teach them how to live; the two latter, to oblige them to the Practice of it. Chastising of Children, a third Duty of a Parent, and therefore also largely insisted on. That it extends not now to Death, or the cut­ting off a Limb; as neither to a total Disinheriting, or the setting a lasting Note of Infamy upon them: Because either the Peculiar of Princes, upon whom a great part of the Parents Authority is deriv'd; or not so agreeable to Paternal Affection; or tending rather to pro­voke than amend the Parties chastised. Corporal Punishments less [Page 254]than those, within the power of Parents; but yet not to be inflicted upon those of riper Years, or not in the same manner wherein they are upon younger Persons. Of the Measure in which Chastisements are to be inflicted upon Children. That a principal Regard ought to be had that they be within the Quality of the Offence; and how they may be known so to be. The Strength of the Child, another Measure of Chastisement; and that that, and that alone, can be look'd upon to be within it, which doth not disable the Child from the performance of those several Offices which Nature or Religion doth exact. The Relation of the Chastiser, another Measure; and what that Relation leads to: which is either, first, the reforming of the Party cha­stised, or the deterring other Children from the like Offences. To correct either for ones own Pleasure or Revenge, not suitable to a Pa­rent. That all possible Submission is due to those Chastisements which are within the forementioned Bounds; but however, no other Resistance to be made, than by Flight, or an Appeal to the Magi­strate. An Inquiry into the supposed Obligation of the Mothers Nursing her own Child; and the Arguments for it propos'd, and an­swered.

II. OF the Duty of Children to their Parents, what hath been said may suffice; proceed we therefore to consider the Duty of Parents towards them, or rather unto God concerning them. Where,

  • 1. First, I shall consider those that are common to each Pa­rent: And,
  • 2. After that inquire, Whether there be any peculiar to the Mother.

1. Now there are three things incumbent upon Parents, in order to the Welfare of their Children.

  • 1. Providing for their Subsistence.
  • 2. Institution of them in Life and Manners: And,
  • 3. Chastisement.

1. I begin with the first of these, even Parents providing for their Childrens Subsistence; where again these three things would be in­quir'd into.

  • 1. How it appears to be a Duty.
  • 2. Whence the Obligation thereof ariseth: And,
  • 3. What Provision they are to make.

1. Now though the Duty of Parents in this Affair would most na­turally be made out by pointing at the Grounds from whence it ari­seth; yet because there are other ways to make the necessity there­of to appear, and such too as are more intelligible to the Common sort of Men, I think it not amiss to begin with them; whereof, the first I shall alledge is, the Common Consent of Mankind concerning it: For, it appearing not how all Mankind should so unanimously agree upon the Necessity of Parents providing for their Children, if there were not some Principle in Nature to lead them to it; it is in reason to be presum'd to be a part of Natural Duty, and such as Rea­son, no less than Revelation, doth tie upon them. From the Consent of Mankind, pass we to that Natural Affection which God hath im­planted [Page 255]in the Breasts of Parents: For, as that doth naturally lead Men to make Provision for those toward whom they have so strong an Affection; so it is a sufficient Proof of the Intention of the Al­mighty to oblige Parents to the Practice of it: no other account be­ing to be given, why God should implant in them so strong an affe­ction, but to be as a Spur to them to make Provision for them. But so that Parents are naturally obliged, St. Paul declares in his Epistle to the Romans, and the Second to the Corinthians: Witness for the former, his charging upon the Heathen, among other things, theText. Graecus [...]. Quod propriè signifi­cat expertes na­turalis affect [...] erga liberos. want of natural affection to their Children, Rom. 1.31. for the latter, his express Affirmation, that Parents ought to lay up for them, 2 Cor. 12.14. For, inasmuch as nothing but a Sin could be the matter of a Charge; as nothing could be a Sin to the Gentiles, which was not a breach of Nature's Law; by charging the want of natural affection upon the Heathen, he manifestly implies it to have been a transgression of Nature's Law, and consequently that the contrary was commanded by it. The same is yet more evident from that other place, where he affirms in express terms, That Parents ought to lay up for them, for, though (as a Learned ManSanderson. Two Caser of Con­science, pag. 72 hath observ'd) St. Paul speaks it, but up­on the By, and by way of illustration of another Argument, yet is that so far from lessening the importance of it, that on the contrary it adds a greater Force to it; such illustrations (as the forequoted Person re­marks) being ever taken à notiori, and from such common notions as are granted and consented unto by all reasonable men.

2. Having thus shewn it to be a natural duty of Parents to provide for their Childrens subsistence, which is the first of those things we proposed to consider, proceed we in the second place, according to the method before laid down, to shew from whence the Obligation thereto ariseth; which is first of all from the intention of God and Nature, in that Being which he conferrs upon Children by them. For the Inten­tion of God and Nature being to make those to whom he gives it happy, he must consequently be supposed to have enjoin'd the adding of those things which may serve for the procuring of it. Otherwise our Birth would have been rather an Infelicity than a Benefit, because exposing us to those Evils which but for our Birth we should never have receiv'd. Now, forasmuch as God intended our Birth for our benefit, forasmuch as that cannot be, where the conveniencies of Life are wanting, he must consequently be supposed to have enjoin'd the adding of them also, so far as it is in the power of Parents to procure them. From the intention of God and Nature in our Birth, pass we to that dignity which we have before said, Parents to be advanc'd to; that is to say, to be as Gods to those whom they were the Authors of. For as that dignity of theirs doth oblige those who are their Children, to look upon and revere them as such; so it doth no less oblige the Parents to do things becoming that divine dignity to which he hath ad­vanc'd them. Otherwise they shall not only bring a scandal upon them­selves, but upon him whose Images they are. Now forasmuch as it is no way becoming that dignity to which they are advanc'd, to cast off those creatures which they have produc'd, God whose Image they bear no less, providing for his Creatures when made, than contributing to the Being of them at first; it follows, that as Parents are a kind of Gods to us, by the Being which they gave us, so they ought to shew [Page 256]themselves to be farther such, by preserving what they have made, and continuing what they before gave. Lastly, forasmuch as Children are not only the workmanship of their Parents, but also like that of the Spider, woven out of their own Bowels. Hence there ariseth another Obligation of making provision for them so far as they may stand in need of them. For, inasmuch as no man yet either did, or could without a great unnaturalness, hate his own flesh, no man can without the like unnaturalness withold nourishment from those who are no other than a portion of it.

3. That Parents ought to make provision for their Children, to­gether with the grounds of that Obligation, we have seen already; proceed we now to consider the provision they are to make. In order whereunto, I will consider their several stages through which their Children are to pass. And first of all, If the question be concerning Children, before they have either Ability or Reason to provide for themselves, so, there is no doubt the provision of Parents ought to be as large as the necessities of their Children. For as the weakness of Children in that state takes away all pretence of putting any part of it upon them, so the same reason, which obliges Parents to provide for their Children at all, obliges them to provide for them altogether, where there is a like necessity of it. The same is to be said of Chil­dren, who, however of years of strength and discretion, are yet by reason of some defect in Nature, either impotent or foolish; these be­ing as much Children, as those of younger years, and therefore to have a like Interest in our care and providence. From Children which have not arriv'd to Ability and Discretion, pass we to those that have, but continue still in their Fathers Family, or at least have the opportu­nity of their Fathers Assistance and Advice. Where first, I shall not stick to affirm that there is no necessity the provision should be as large, as for Children of a lower state. For the general ground of making provision for others, being the necessities of those we provide for; our obligation to make provision must so far cease, as we see their necessities do. And therefore if a Child be in some measure able to provide for himself, there is no doubt but a Father may oblige him to it, and sub­stract so much of his own providence. But to those very creatures, whom God hath sent us to learn Providence of, have taught us by their example to proceed. For how great soever their affection to their young ones is, yet they generally leave them to their own conduct, when they are able to shift for themselves. This only would be added, which hath no place in other creatures, that consideration ought to be had of the quality of Children, or rather of those from whom they are descended. For, as, the provision Parents ought to make for their Children, ought to be answerable to the condition, both of them­selves and of their Children; so if the ability of their Children will not reach to such a provision, the Parent is to supply it by his care and providence, and not only furnish him with such things as are necessary for a Son, but for the Son of such a Father. For by the same reason a man is to provide more for a Child, as being of a nobler Nature, than we find other Creatures do for their young Ones; by the same, a Man of more noble Condition, is to provide more largely for his Child, than if he were the Son of a more Inferiour Person. But because what hath been hitherto said, doth rather concern the making provision for [Page 257]a Child in his Fathers House, or at least during his Life, then after his Fathers decease; and because St. Paul hath represented this last as no less the Duty of Parents, where he tells us, that they ought to lay up for them: therefore inquire we, in the third place, Whether or no Parents are oblig'd to do it, and after what proportion. Now, that so they are, (which is the first thing to be shewn) beside what was alledged out of St. Paul, will appear from the necessity Children ge­nerally stand in of it. For, beside that after their Parents decease they must needs be less able than before to attain to such a condition of life as is suitable to their respective qualities, they wanting in that state, that Advice and Assistance of their Parents which might have facilitated their way to it; so it is but requisite, that, to supply that defect, Parents should either train up their Children to some Calling by which they may be able to provide for themselves, (which is indeed an excellent Portion) or, if that will not suffice, or be not suitable to their Condition, that they lay up for them that which Solomon tells us answers all things? Otherwise they will leave them unprovided for, as to that state, which stands most in need of it. Neither will it avail to say, there is no reason the Fathers care should reach beyond his own life, when we have before said, that the Child's obedience gene­rally ought not. For as I have before shewn, that the Honour of a Parent ought to abide after his death, and Obedience to his Com­mands also, so far as that is concerned in it; so it is but requisite, that, answerably to that, a Fathers care should extend beyond his own time, and not only provide for his Children during his own life, but as much as in him lies afterwards; especially when the necessities of his Child, which is the ground of making provision for them, is then likely to be greater than before. The only thing to be enquired in­to, in this affair, is, after what proportion a Father is to provide for them. For the resolution whereof, though I might have referr'd you to what was said before, concerning making provision for them in the Parents life time, because giving us to understand that both the one and the other ought to be according to the condition of the Fa­ther, yet I thought it not amiss to bring it anew before you, if it were only to add this necessary limitation to a Fathers care; to wit, that he ought not so to see to the providing for his Children, as to for­get to minister of his substance to the more publick concernments of Church or State, or the pressing and instant necessities of those cha­ritable Objects he hath before him. For, as both the one and the other ought rather to be regarded, than the leaving to our Children a pompous and glorious Estate, so he that forgets not to do good and to communicate, provides much better for his Children, than he who will not suffer any, the least part of his Estate to pass away from them; Money lent to God, as all that is so employ'd isPro. 19.17., being (as Master Herbert hath well observ'dCountry Par­son. chap. 10.) plac'd surer for the Childs advantage, than if it were given to the Chamber of London, which was in his time the best security in the world.

2. The second duty of Parents follows, even the institution of their Children in Life and Manners, which is a provision for their better part, their Souls, concerning which, therefore, I will shew first, the Autho­rity by which it stands, the Duties it contains, and the Inconvenien­ces that attend the omission of it. And first, if we enquire by what [Page 258]Authority the Institution of Children stands, we shall find it to be by the same whereby all other moral Duties do, that is to say, by the Law of Nature and Revelation; both the one and the other binding it upon the Consciences of Parents, and that too, more stronger than the former. That the Law of Nature doth, the Argument before al­ledg'd for Parents making provision for their Subsistence, is to me an abundant Evidence. For the design of God in our Birth, being the happiness of those to whom he gives a Being, he must consequently be supposed to have enjoyn'd the adding of those things which may serve for the procuring of it: Which being in an especial manner to be understood of a holy Institution, because our Eternal happiness doth depend upon it, will make the addition of that, even by Natures Law, more incumbent upon Parents, than the providing for their Temporal one. The same is no less evident from the positive Laws of God, as well those of the Old Testament, as the New; in the former whereofDeut. 6.7.11.19. we find Parents commanded to teach Gods Commandments diligently unto their Children, and to talk to them of them when they sit in their House, and when they walk by the way, when they lie down and when they rise up; in the latterEph 6.4. [...], quod significat institutionem per poenas. vid. Grot. in loc., which is tantamount, though expressed in fewer words, that they should bring them up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord. From the Authority by which this Duty stands, pass we to the particulars it contains, which may be reduced to these Three Heads, Instruction, Command, and Example; the first to shew them how they ought to Live and Act, the two latter to induce them to the practice of it. For as it is impossible for Children to live well till they know what it is to do so, or know it without a precedent Institution, they neither bringing with them into the world a knowledge of their Duty, nor being able through the tenderness of their Understandings to find it without the help of others; so the pravity of their Natures makes it but necessary that they should be Oblig'd as well as Instructed, and Encourag'd as well as Oblig'd. The former whereof, as it is best done by the Parents commands, which, till the minds of Children come to be de­bauch'd, have a mighty influence upon them; so the latter, by the Pa­rents shewing themselves a Pattern of those things which they bind upon them by their Instruction and Commands; nothing prevailing more with Children than Example doth, nor any Example more than that of a Fa­ther. Which therefore, as it is but necessary that Parents should superadd to compleat the Institution of their Children, so woful experience shews, that the want of that alone makes all other ways of Institution fruit­less; it being rare to find a Child, who is not more debauch'd by his Fathers ill Example, than regulated by his wholesome Instruction and Commands. Having thus shewn, as well what the Institution of Chil­dren implies, as by what Authority it stands, it remains only to give it so much the more weight, that I represent some of those inconveniencies which attend the omission of it. For, to say nothing at all, that that Father is like to be ill serv'd himself, who hath not taught his Children to revere his and their common parent God; nor yet that the omission of a Holy Institution may expose them to the taking such Courses as will bring little comfort, either to their Children or themselves; I shall desire such Parents to consider how they will be able at that great day to look those Children in the face, whom they have begotten only to Eternal Torments. For, as, if they have the bowels of a Father, it [Page 259]cannot but be an infinite affliction to them, to see those who are a part of themselves plung'd in Eternal Torments; so, if they have any the least shame, it will be an equal confusion to them to consider, that they became so by their means, even by theirs who ought in reason to have done their utmost to make them happy, and enstate them in Gods Kingdom, as well as in their own possessions. For by how much great­er their obligation thereto was, so much the more reproachful must be the violation of it, and though it could be supposed possible to bear up against the reproaches of a stranger, yet it will be a hard mat­ter certainly to hear a Son, and that justly, cursing his Father for give­ing him a Being, which hath only helped to make him Eternally mise­rable.

3. To the Institution of Children in Life and Manners, subjoin we the chastizing of them, for so both the necessities of Children and the Scriptures require; there being no Children so towardly, which may not stand in need of it, nor any other thing more enjoyn'd upon Pa­rents when they do. Of which, beside the many Precepts that the Scriptures afford us, and particularly the Proverbs of Solomon Prov. 13.24.19.18.22.15.23.13., that of theHeb. 12.8. Author to the Hebrews, If ye be without chastisement, whereof all are partakers, then are ye Bastards and not Sons, may serve for an abundant evidence. For well may that be look'd upon as a duty of a Parent to his Child, the omission whereof must put the Child into the number of Illegitimate ones. The only thing of difficulty in this affair, is to what evils it may extend, what ought to be the measures of the in­flicting of those which it doth, and what submission is due from Chil­dren to them. And first of all, If the question be concerning the Evils to which a Fathers chastisement may extend, so I shall not doubt to af­firm first, that it ought not to go so far, as the taking away the Life of the offending Son. For, though Fathers anciently had power of Life and Death, yet it was then only when they were also Princes; which Authority being now vested in other hands, the power of Life and Death must be supposed to pass over to them, and consequently, not now to belong to Fathers. The same is to be said of taking away a Limb, however, no doubt, anciently in the power of Fathers. For beside that, this would be an entrenchment upon the Prerogatives of Princes, to whom by the Institution of God, the Sword of Justice is committed, it is neither agreeable with the nature of a Father, which is kind and affectionate, nor with those bounds which the Apostle hath set to a Fathers chastisement; there being, no doubt, such an Evil would rather exasperate Children against their persons, than prompt them to yeild them a more ready obedience to their commands. The same is to be said Thirdly, of cutting off an offending Son from any Right in his Fathers Estate, that is to say, not only from being his Heir, but from enjoying any part of his Possessions. For, however such Actions as these may well suit with the Authority of Kings, yet not with that of Fathers, which is an Authority mixt with Clemency, and designs not so much the execution of Vengeance, as the reclaim­ing of the Offender. Lastly, though it may be suitable enough to the Authority of Princes, to set a lasting note of Infamy upon the Disobe­dient, yet it is no way agreeable to that of Parents, because, though allowed to chastise, yet not to provoke their Children, which such a Brand would infallibly do. But other Chastisements than these, as I [Page 260]see no reason to forbid Parents, provided they be us'd with modera­tion; so, the Charge of Chastising being general, it is in reason to extend to all those Evils which there is not some peculiar Reason to restrain Parents from; especially when it is certain they have the pow­er of Corporal PunishmentSee the pla­ces before-quoted out of the Pro­verbs., which is the highest they are in a Ca­pacity to inflict. This onely would be added, That in the inflicting of Corporal Punishments, respect ought to be had to the Age of the Party chastis'd: For though, as was but now said, Corporal Punish­ments are within the power of Parents, if we consider it in the full Latitude thereof; yet they are not to be inflicted upon Children of full age, or at least not in that manner, in which they may be upon younger Children: such Chastisements, by the reproachfulness there­of, being more likely to provoke Persons of Years to shew themselves undutiful, than incline them to yield a more ready Obedience to their Commands.

Having thus shewn to what Evils the Power of Paternal Chastise­ment doth extend, inquire we, in the next place, into the measure of inflicting them: For the resolution whereof, I observe in the general, That consideration ought to be had of the Quality of the Offence, of the Strength of the Offender, and of the Relation of the Chastiser: He that chastiseth his Child beyond the merit of his Offence, being certainly unjust; he that chastiseth him beyond his Strength, cruel; he that doth beyond the measures of a Father, unnatural. But because it may be still inquir'd, when the Chastisement is within the aforesaid limits, that is to say, within the Quality of the Offence, the Strength of the Offender, and the Measures of a Father; I think it not amiss, for the farther elucidation of this Affair, to say somewhat to each of these. For the first of these, to wit, when the Chastisement is with­in the Quality of the Offence, much must be left to the Conscience of the Chastiser, because of the variety of Circumstances wherewith they may be attended: Onely, that I may not leave it altogether uncer­tain, I will subjoyn this general Rule, which may serve for a compe­tent Direction in it; that is to say, That consideration be had of the Contumacy of the Offender, and the general Custom of Parents. For, as one and the same Crime may admit of Degrees, according to the Degrees of Contumacy wherewith it is committed; so, what Cha­stisement is due to each, will be best judg'd of by the general Cu­stom of Christian Parents; a general Custom being, for the most part, the result of an approved Reason, and therefore no unfit Rule for particular Persons to proceed by. From the Quality of the Offence, pass we to the Strength of the Offender, which will minister less Mat­ter for our Inquiry: For, as it will be easie for Parents, upon the knowledge they have of their Childrens Constitutions, to discern what they will be able to bear; so, that, and that onely, is to be conclu­ded to be within their Strength, which does not disable them from the performance of those several Offices which Nature or Religion does exact. The onely thing requiring a more accurate Examination, is, What are the Measures of a Father; which are, in short, these two: First, and chiefly, the Reformation of the Party chastis'd; and second­ly, the deterring his other Children from the like Offences. For, as it is evident from theProv. 13.24. — But he that loveth him, chasteneth him betimes. Heb. 12.6, 7. Scripture, that the Parents Love of the Child is the most proper Ground of Chastisement; so, the Places before-quoted [Page 261]out of the Proverbs, shew the Reformation of the Child to be the principal, if not onely end of Gods obliging Parents to chastise them. But from hence it will follow, not onely that Parents ought not to chasten Children for their own pleasure, or to gratifie their Anger and Revenge; but also, that, where a less Chastisement is like­ly to have effect, the Parent is not generally to inflict a greater: I say, generally, because a greater one may be sometimes necessary, to deter his other Children from the like Offence: Which, as there is no doubt the Parent ought to have a regard to, as being concern'd for the wel­fare of them all; so the offending Son hath no just Cause to take ex­ception at it, provided the Punishment be within the measure of the Offence: It being but reasonable, that he should instruct those by his Chastisement, whom by his evil Practice he hath given a temptation to offend. Which said, nothing remains to account for, but what Submission is due from Children to the Chastisement of their Parents; which will require no great pains to resolve. For, as no doubt can be made, but where the Chastisement is within due Bounds, all possi­ble Submission is due from the Children to it; the same Authority that licenseth the Parent to chastise, obliging the Child to acquiesce in it: so, even where the Chastisement is exorbitant, no other Resistance can be suppos'd to be lawful, than what is made either by flying from it, or appealing to those to whom even Parents ought to be subject; other Resistance than that, overthrowing that Subordination which God hath ser between a Child and a Parent.

2. Of those Duties which are common to both Parents, what hath been said may suffice; proceed we therefore to inquire, whether there be any peculiar to the Mother. The Ground of which Quaerie is an Opinion that hath prevail'd, of Womens being generally obliged to nurse their own Children. What Reasons there are for such a Sur­mise, may be seen in a Dissertation of Favorinus Vid. A. Gell. N [...]ct Atric. l. 12. c. 1., where that Matter is argued with great Eloquence and shew of Reason. The sum of his Argumentation is, That Nature doth as it were prompt the Mother to it, by that Nourishment which it sends into her Breasts; that the Milk of the Mother is most agreeable to the Child that is to be main­tain'd by it; that ill Dispositions of Mind may be contracted from the Nurses they make use of; and in fine, that much of that Affection which is due from the Child to the Mother, and, on the other side, from the Mother to the Child, may be taken off, by putting them out to Nurse to Stranger Women. Which Reasons, how plausible soever in appearance, seem to me not to have that force which they are com­monly apprehended to be of: For though it be true, in the first place, that Nature commonly furnisheth the Mother with an Ability to per­form that Office to the Child; yet as that may be look'd upon rather as the Kindness of God and Nature, than any Obligation to the doing of it; so, that it induceth no Obligation to the Undertaking of it, will need no other proof, than that the Nourishment of the Child may be otherwise as happily procur'd. For the Means of any thing becoming valuable by its subserviency to that End which it is made use of to procure; where the End may be attain'd by more Means than one, there, no doubt, it shall be lawful for the Party concern'd to make use of either, according as their own Conveniences, or other Circumstances shall perswade. All therefore that it will concern us [Page 262]to shew, is, That the End may be as happily attain'd by other Means; which will consequently lay the stress of Mothers Obligation (if in­deed there be any) upon the less aptitude of other Means, which the following Objections are intended to establish. To bring therefore the Controversie to an Issue, let us consider those Objections, and first of all that which pretends, that the Milk of the Mother is most agreeable to the Child that is to be maintain'd by it. Now, that so it is not, will appear, if either we compare it with the Bringing up of Children by Hand, as it is commonly called, or with the Milk of other Women. For beside that late Experience shews, that many Children have been brought up the former way, without any considerable in­convenience; the same Experience gives us to understand, that Nur­ses, if healthful Women and stirring, (as the greatest part of them are) do perform that Office with as great or greater success, than the Mothers themselves do, especially if (as most of those are that put out their Children) they be Women of more nice Constitutions, and more dainty, and therefore less healthful Feeding. As little or less am I mov'd with that following Suggestion of Favorinus, of Childrens contracting ill Dispositions of Mind, and particularly Poorness of Spi­rit, from those mean Persons Women make use of for their Nurses. For beside that the contrary is frequently seen in the Children of grea­ter Personages, who are all upon the matter nurs'd by Women of meaner Birth than their Mothers, there want not even among the poor­er sort, Women of Spirits above their Fortunes, and, to whom there­fore, if that be all, they may put their Children. By which means, all the force there is in Womens being obliged to nurse their own Children, must be grounded upon the presumption of the Affections of the Mother and the Child being likely to be abated, by making choice of a Stranger to perform the Office of a Nurse to them. But as that is on the part of the Child a groundless Presumption, it be­ing not at all rare for those Children who have been nurs'd by their Mothers, to shew as little affection to them, as those that have been nurs'd by others; so, that it is otherwise on the part of the Mother, will be hard to be believ'd by those who have made any Observations upon it: Women of better Fortunes, and who therefore for the most part place their Children abroad, being generally as fond or fonder of their Children, than Women of meaner Birth and Fortunes, who for the most part are their own Nurses.

PART V.

Of Kings or Princes, and all that are in Authority. The Ground of the Honour of Princes, their being, 1. God's Ministers and Vice­gerents; and, 2. Of his Designation and Appointment. The for­mer of these evidenced from their being stiled Gods, as their Throne the Throne of God. That this was not peculiar to the Jewish Prin­ces, evidenced from St. Paul, who stiles the Powers of his Time the Ministers of God. An Answer to what is objected out of St. Peter, concerning their being stiled the Ordinance of Man. That Princes are of God's Designation and Appointment, as well as his Ministers and Vicegerents; because that Authority wherewith they are inve­sted, cannot become theirs, but by the Grant of him to whom they do originally belong. How it may appear, that the Princes that now are, are of God's Designation and Appointment; where is shewn, first, That they neither do nor can pretend to any Immediate Appoint­ment, as those of the Jews might; but onely a mediate one: And secondly, That that Appointment is mark'd out to us by the Dispen­sations of his Providence, which are moreover shewn to be a suffici­ent Testimony of it. Evidence of that Appointment in such Princes as arrive at their Authority by the ordinary Course of Things, or such as arrive at it by extraordinary Means, and particularly by Fraud and Violence. By what Means these last become legitimate Powers; and particularly, by what Means the Roman Emperours came to be so. Of the sorts of Honour which are to be paid to Princes, which are shewn, as before in Parents, to be, 1. An Inward Esteem of them; and, 2. An Outward Declaration of it. This latter evi­denc'd in the Declaration that is made by the Gesture, and by the Tongue: where moreover is shewn at large, the Sinfulness of speak­ing evil of Princes, even where there want not real Failings in them.

IT being evident from the general Explication of this Command­ment, that Kings, and all that are in Authority, are included in the Name of Fathers; and it being no less evident from St. Peter, 1 Pet. 2.17. that the Honour of Kings is a part of Christianity; for the fuller Explication of this Commandment, I will allot them a place in my Discourse, and therein inquire,

  • 1. What the Grounds of Honouring Kings or Princes are.
  • 2. What Honours are to be exhibited to them.
  • 3. Answer the Objections that are commonly made for the denial of those Honours, and particularly that of Sub­mission to their Censures.
  • 4. After which I will descend, in the fourth place, to consider of the Honour of Inferiour Magistrates, and shew upon what Grounds, and after what Manner and Measure, that Honour is to be paid.
  • 5. And lastly, Speak a Word or two of their Duty.

1. Honour, as was before shewn, being nothing else than an Ac­knowledgment [Page 264]of his Excellencies whom we honour; to know what the ground of the Honour of Princes is, we must enquire what those Excellencies are by which they stand commended to the world. In order whereunto, I know not what shorter course to take, than by having recourse to the 13. Chapter to the Romans, where this matter is both largely and perspicuously handled. For exhorting, both once and again, that every Soul should be subject to them, and that too, not only for Wrath, but for Conscience sake; the Apostle assigns for the rea­son of that subjection, that they are men of Power or Authority, that they are invested with that Authority by God, that they are appointed by him over those that are under their subjection, that they are Gods Ministers and Vicegerents in the governance of them, that they have both Authority and Command to reward and encourage the good, and to draw out the Sword of Justice against Evil doers; from all which put together, it is evident that the ground for which a Prince is to be honoured, is, that he is Gods Minister and Vicegerent here on Earth, and of his designation and appointment.

For the further evidencing the former, whereof, as in which it con­cerns us to be well satisfied in regard of some evil Opinions that have been lately opposed to it; the first thing that I shall alledge, is, Gods giving them his own August name. For thus, Exod. 22.28. after he had said, Thou shalt not revile the Gods, to let us know what Gods he means, he subjoins in the next words, nor speak evil of the Ruler of thy people. But so we find them elsewhere more apparently stil'd, Psal. 82.6. For as his words there are express, I have said ye are Gods, so it is apparent from the whole Psalm that they are Princes to whom he thus speaketh, such, to whom it belongs to judge the causes that are brought before them, to do justice to the afflicted and needy, by de­fending and delivering them, and ridding them out of the hand of the wicked. Which Offices, though they may, and for the most part are communicated to Inferiour Magistrates, and particularly to those that have the name of Judges; yet as they are originally in the Prince by whom they are so communicated, and executed in his Name, and by his Authority, so that they are a part of his natural Power, Solomon shews, 1 Kings 3.7.9. he upon Gods making him King in the stead of David his Father, begging of him that he would give him an under­standing heart to judge his people, and to discern between good and bad. And accordingly as we find Solomon himself, in consequence of the Royal Authority, giving judgment between the two Harlots that con­tended for the Living Child, vers. 27, & 28. of the forequoted Chap­ter; so that the Kings of England heretofore sat personally in judg­ment, is notorious from Story, and the Bench whereon they sat, for that very reason stiled to this day, The Ʋpper or Kings Bench. But beside that, Princes have the name of God, which is no contemptible indication of their being his Substitutes and Vicegerents; we find moreover, that God judgeth among them, yea, that their Throne is no other than Gods. For thus, what is in 1 Kings 2.12. Then Solomon sat upon the Throne of David his Father, is elsewhere expressed, Then Solomon sat upon the Throne of the Lord as King, instead of David his Father. 1 Chro. 29.23. And, which comes yet more home to our purpose, what was said by Jehosaphat to the Judges he had appointed, that they judged not for man but for the Lord, 2 Chron. 19.6. for [Page 265]what greater proof can we desire of Princes, being Gods Substitutes and Vicegerents, than the bearing of his name, and sitting in his Throne, and that they who judge for, and under them, judge not for Man, but for the Lord? Neither will it avail to say, that how true soever this may have been of the Kings of Judah, which had some­time the Title of a Theocraty, yet the like cannot be affirmed of other Princes. For as it is apparent enough that they were not such at the time of their Kings (God himself having told Samuel, that when they went about to desire a King, they rejected him from being King over them, and the Word of God, that they both desired and had a King after the manner of other Nations) So what is in the Old Testament affirm'd of the Jewish Kings, St. Paul sticks not to affirm of the powers that then were, where he calls them the Ministers of God. But from hence it will follow, whatever hath been pretended to the contrary, that Princes do not derive the power they have from the people. For, if they be Gods Ministers, it is his Authority by which they shine, neither have they any other Fountain of their Power, than thatIrenae. l. 5. c. 24. Cujus enim jussu homines nascuntur, hujus jussu & reges constituuntur. Tertul. Apol. c. 30. Inde est im­perator, unde & h mo antequam imperator; inde potestas illi unde & spiritus. which is the Fountain of their Being. And though I know the contrary hath been pretended from the Scripture, inasmuch as those Powers are by our Translation of it stiled the ordinance of man, 1 Pet. 2.13. yet, as the words which they render, Submit your selves to every ordinance of Man, import no other than [...]. See Ushers Power com­municated by God to the Prince, &c. pag 3. & seq the doing of it to every humane creature, that is to say, (for so both the Subjection injoin'd, and the Persons [...]. into whom it is branch'd shews) to every humane creature that is in Authority; so what the same St. Peter adds, as the grounds of our so doing, doth plainly overthrow that counter­feit interpretation. For, requiring the subjecting our selves to them for the Lords sake, he shews it is his Authority which commends them, and for which they are to be rever'd.

That Princes are Gods Vicegerents here on Earth, hath been at large declar'd, it remains that we also shew them to be appointed by God as such. For as no one taketh to himself the honour of Priesthood, but he who is called of God, as was Aaron, so undoubtedly no one can as­sume to himself the honour of Gods Vicegerent, unless he be thereto appointed by himself: That which is originaly anothers being not ca­pable of becoming ours, but by the grant of him to whom it doth so belong. To make out therefore the rightfulness of Princes Pleas, we must enquire after the donation of the Almighty, and by what means both they and we may be assured of it. That the Princes of the Jews were appointed by God as his Vicegerents, no doubt can be made, because he, whose Vicegerents they were, declared them to be such by men immediately inspired by himself, and assured them of that declaration by his word: After the former, whereof as it was not in the power of their people to doubt, so it would have been ex­tremity of madness, as well as of Impiety to deny it. But because there is not the least appearance of any such immediate appointment of other Princes, and, beside that, they who arrogate to themselves the same Authority, do not in the least pretend to it; therefore to make out the legitimateness of their Plea, some other course must be taken, which accordingly I come now to attempt. In order where­unto [Page 266]unto, the first thing that I shall alledge, is those words of St. Paul be­fore remembred, that the powers that then were, were ordain'd of God. For, though that will give us little light into the manner of their appointment, and consequently contribute little to the under­standing of that of our own; yet thus far it will contribute to it, as to give us to understand, that those Princes may be appointed by God who have no immediate designation. For, inasmuch as it is notorious both from the Scriptures and Profane Authors, that the Powers that then were, were no other than the Roman Emperours, of whose im­mediate appointment by God there is not the least footstep either in the one or the other; it will follow, that those Princes may be ap­pointed by him as his Vicegerents who have no such immediate call. I observe, secondly, That as the Powers that then were, though they had no immediate call, yet are affirm'd by St. Paul to have been ordain'd by God; so that they who know nothing of God, or of their own appointment, are stil'd the Anointed of the Lord, which, if any thing, may seem to have been peculiar to the Jewish Princes. For thus in particular, Isa. 45.1. We find God stiling Cyrus his anointed, though, as the same God immediately after tells us, he had then no knowledge of him. I observe, thirdly, which will bring us yet more neer to the thing intended, that though the Powers, that now are, have no such immediate appointment as the Jewish Princes had, yet is there as good Authority for the being of such Power, though there be no such designation of the persons that are to be invested with it. For it being the voice both of Nature and Scripture, that God is not the Author of Confusion, but of Peace and Order; and it being no less evident from experience, that Peace and Order cannot be either had or maintain'd without the Institution of Rulers; it is necessarily to be presum'd to be the will and pleasure of God that there should be such Rulers in every Nation. Which said, a way is opened to the discovery of that appointment, which we have said the Powers on Earth to stand by. For, it being of Divine appointment that there should be Rulers in every Nation, and God Almighty having not by any immediate Revelation signifi'd his pleasure concerning the Persons that are to be so; it follows, that to attain the knowledge of his Will in this particular we are to have recourse to his Providence, which is the only way besides to come to the knowledge of it. For, though the Providence of God be no Rule against his revealed Will, because that is the proper measure of Good and Evil; yet, inasmuch as that also is a declaration of his Will, nothing hinders, but it may have place, where the other is not contradicted, and mark out the appointments of our great Master to us. But from hence it will fol­low, first, That those Powers are to be looked upon as ordain'd by God, which come to that Power they have, as without any fraud or violence, so by the ordinary course of Gods Providence. For that Authority, to which they arrive, being consign'd into their hands by his alone Providence, in whom all Authority in Heaven and Earth is vested; it is in reason to be presum'd to be appointed by himself, and accordingly to be look'd upon as such. Upon which account all those Powers must be look'd upon as ordain'd by God, that either come to the Throne by a lineal descent from former Kings, where the Kingdom is Hereditary; or by a free and unconstrained Choice, where it is [Page 267]Elective. It will follow, secondly, That those also are to be look'd upon as ordained of God, which, however they do at first attain to their Power by Fraud or Violence, yet are confirm'd in it by the Sub­mission and Acceptance of those in whom the Government formerly was, and over whom it is to be exercis'd. For, it being the Ap­pointment of God, that there should be Rulers in every Nation; and, which is more, where there is no other Declaration of his Will, that we should have recourse unto his Providence: it follows, that where the Throne becomes empty, as it is by the Rendition of those that before sate in it, he is in reason to be presum'd to be appointed to it, who is not onely permitted by God to ascend to it, but those to whom it formerly belong'd, together with those that were govern'd by it, mov'd by God to accept of him for their Governour, who was so advanc'd to it. And upon this account it is, that the Powers St. Paul spake of, became legitimate, and the Christians were so ear­nestly exhorted to submit themselves to them: Because, though the Authority of those Powers were founded in Violence, yet it was sub­mitted to and acceptedJustinianus in Instit. lib 1. tit. 2. Sed & quod Principi placuit, legis habet vigorem; quum lege Re­gia, quae de ejus imperio lata est, populus ei & in eum o­mne imperium suum & potestatem concedat. Vid. & Strabonem in fine Operis, cit. à Grotio in Flor. sparsione ad Jus Justinia­neum. [...]. by the Senate and People of Rome, who were both the Governed and Governours. In which Case, as there could not be any pretence for any other Powers to interpose; so God Almighty sufficiently intimated his Pleasure concerning the Roman Em­perours, by not onely suffering them to rise to that Creatness, but by moving the Hearts of the Senate and People quietly to submit to, and own them as their Lords and Governours.

2. Having thus shewn that there is in Princes a just Foundation of Honour; and moreover describ'd at large what are the proper Grounds of it: my proposed Method leads me to inquire, what Kinds of Honour we are to give them; which we shall find to be much the same, though in a greater degree than that of Parents. Of this na­ture is,

I. The entertaining an awful Apprehension of them, and regarding them in our Thoughts both as God's Vicegerents, and of his Appoint­ment. For, the very Life of Honour consisting in our Inward Esteem of those whom we pretend to honour, it is in reason to be given to those who are a kind of Gods on Earth, and appointed as the Repre­sentatives of the onely True and Immortal One. The same is no less evident from the Influence which the want of it is apt to have upon our Outward Actions: For, it being impossible for Men to give the best and chiefest Expressions of Honour, where there is not a due Ap­prehension of the Excellencies of the Party honoured; where such an Esteem is wanting, those Outward Expressions will naturally fail, and consequently our Honour together with it. For though a Man may bow down before, or speak with submission to those whom he honours not in his Heart; yet it is impossible he should submit his Actions to be guided by their Laws: which I shall afterwards shew to be a great part of the Honour that is requir'd.

II. From our Inward Esteem, pass we to the several Acknowledg­ments which the Honouring of any Person doth manifestly involve: [Page 268]among which, I reckon, first, the honouring them with our Outward Gesture and Behaviour, Bowing down to them, or falling down be­fore them. For, as Nature it self hath prompted us to such an Ac­knowledgment, because inclining us to shew forth in the Behaviour of our Bodies,Vid. Part 2. of the Explic. of this Com­mandment. those Affections and Passions we have within; so, where the Custom of the Place hath made them necessary, they cannot be omitted without a manifest violation of their Honour; it being im­possible for him to think himself honour'd, who wants those Expres­sions of it, which the Custom of the Place, and of the World, hath appointed as Declarations of it. Whence it is (as was before ob­serv'd) that we find all Good Men have ever given it, and that too in such Instances as would be look'd upon by us as Notes of Servitude; witness one for all, their falling flat upon their Faces before them, and thereby in a manner professing themselves their Footstools.

Next to the honouring them with our Gesture, proceed we to the honouring them with our Tongues, and giving them those Titles which their High Place and Authority doth exact. Which is the rather to be inculcated, as because the Tongue was given us to express our in­ward Conceits, so because we find the Apostles thus honouring even the Heathen Powers, and such by whom they were at that very instant call'd in question. For thus, when St. Paul answered for himself be­fore King Agrippa and Festus, he did not onely give Agrippa frequent­ly the Title of King, as you may see in the 26 Chapter of the Acts; but when Festus told him he was beside himself (which had been enough to have stirr'd an ordinary Patience) yet gave him the Title of most Noble Festus, as you may see vers. 25. of that Chapter. But from hence we may collect, I do not say, what is to be thought of those who omit such Acknowledgments, but in stead thereof, employ their Tongues to defame and to disgrace them. For, if we are to honour Princes with our Tongues, to be sure we are not to revile them, as being directly contrary to the other. And accordingly, as in the Law of Moses, which to be sure was so far Moral, because con­taining no other thing in it, than what the Light of Nature doth confirm; as, I say, in the Law of Moses, Men were expresly forbidden to revile the Gods, or speak evil of the Ruler of the People, Exod. 22.28. so, that it was of force to St. Paul when converted, and consequent­ly to us Christians, his Acknowledgment before the Jewish Sanhe­drim shews: For having been charg'd by the Jews for calling the High Priest Whited wall, in stead of going about to excuse the Fact, any other way than that it was done through inadvertency, he ac­knowledges it for a Fault, as being committed against that known Rule, Thou shalt not speak evil of the Ruler of thy People, Acts 23.5. Which Passage is the more to be remark'd, because it shews the Pro­hibition to extend not onely to Calumnies or unjust Reproaches, but also to the speaking reproachfully even of the real Failings of our Go­vernours; there being no doubt he was no better than a Whited wall, who pretending to judge according to the Law, did, in contradiction to that Law, cause an undeserving Person to be stricken. Neither let any Man say, That these are trifling Matters, or at least not so criminal as we have endeavour'd to represent them: For, beside that we are not lightly to esteem of any thing which God hath thought fit to make the Matter of a Prohibition, and much less of what he hath [Page 269]so in relation to those to whom he hath given the Name of Gods, and moreover imparted to them of his own Authority; beside that the speaking evil of Princes is apt to expose them to contempt, as that Contempt to the resisting of them, which St. Paul hath pronounc'd to be damnable; beside these things, I say, St. Jude hath represented it as the Character of those Ungodly ones, which he placeth in the same Rank with the Apostate Angels, and filthy Sodomites: For, likewise also (saith he, vers. 8.) these filthy dreamers defile the flesh, despise dominion, and speak evil of dignities; adding, vers. 9. (which shews yet more the hainousness of the Crime) That Michael the Archangel had it in such abhorrence, that when contending with the Devil, who was sometime a glorious Angel, he disputed with him about the Body of Moses, yet he durst not bring even against him a railing accusation, but said, The Lord rebuke thee. I will conclude this Particular with that of St. Peter, as well for the affinity it hath with the fore-quoted Passage of St. Jude, as because it will add more strength to the Prohibition of Evil speaking. 'Tis in 2 Pet. 2.10, 11. For, as he there reckons those that despise Government amongst such unjust ones whom God hath reserv'd to the day of Judgment to be pu­nish'd; so, resuming their Character anew, he tells us, among other things, that they are not afraid to speak evil of Dignities; plainly intimating the so speaking to be a thing which is not onely unlawful for a Christian to do, but to such a degree also, as that he ought to tremble at the very thoughts of it; adding moreover, that the An­gels themselves, however mightier and greater, do not bring a railing accusation against them before the Lord. They may perhaps, accord­ing to their Office, represent their Crimes before the Almighty; they may, for God's Glory, and the sake of the Oppressed, invoke the Divine Majesty to avenge himself upon them: But remembring that, how criminal soever they may be, they are God's Vicegerents, and of his own Divine Appointment, they abstain from all reviling Speeches, and rather accuse their Enormities than their Persons. Now foras­much as even the Angels, who are mightier either than us, or Prin­ces themselves, do yet religiously abstain from all reproachful Lan­guage of them; forasmuch as Michael the Archangel durst not so treat the Devil himself, because, as anciently a glorious Image of the Almighty, so, at this very time, an Instrument of his Vengeance upon ungodly Men; forasmuch as both St. Peter and St. Jude reckon those who speak evil of Dignities amongst the worst, yea the most obnoxi­ous to the Divine Justice; and St. Peter moreover intimates the so speaking to be a thing which a Christian ought to tremble at the thought of: it is easie to guess, that Princes, as they are in no small consideration with God, so they ought to be had in no small venera­tion with those over whom God hath appointed them to preside.

PART VI.

Of that Declaration of our Esteem which is made by Obedience to the Commands of Princes; the Necessity whereof is evidenc'd from their Legislative Power, as that again from the Scriptures attributing that Power to Princes, and from the impossibility of compassing otherwise the Ends of their Institution. The same Obedience evi­denced to be necessary, from express Precepts of Scripture. That every Soul whatsoever is under the tie of this Obedience, as well of the Clergie as the Laity. The onely particular Limits of this Obe­dience, an express Prohibition from the Almighty, or those which the Prince hath set to himself. Of the Authority of Princes in Re­ligious Matters, which is either Indirect, or Direct; the former whereof is evidenc'd from the Influence Religious Matters have upon the State, and which therefore are to be so far under their Inspecti­on, as the Weal of the State is concerned in them. The Result of this Power, the Calling or Limiting of Religious Assemblies, the Ap­pointing those that shall serve at the Altar in them, or putting by those that are. That Princes have also a Direct Authority in Reli­gious Matters; that is to say, an Authority in them consider'd as such: Where is also shewn, what that Authority is, and that it con­sists rather in encouraging or compelling those that preside in Reli­gious Matters, to do their respective Duties, than to take upon them­selves the Administration thereof. The Result of which Authority is, the Defending the Church from all both Foreign and Domestick Enemies, the keeping the Members of it within their respective Du­ties, and punishing with the Civil Sword those that shall refuse so to do; the calling Councils to determine of Matters of Religion, and giving force to those Things that shall be rightly determin'd by them. The Accordance both of the Practice of this Kingdom, and of the Doctrine of the Church, with the foregoing Determination. Of Submission to the Censures of Princes, which is another Declara­tion of our Inward Esteem. The Necessity thereof evidenc'd from the Power of Coercion in them; which infers a like Necessity in the Sub­ject, of submitting to it. Whether this Submission be to be under­stood, where the Coercion is ill employ'd; which is answered by di­stinguishing of Submission; to wit, as that is oppos'd to all Means of avoiding it, or onely to forcible ones. The former Submission no way necessary, as appears by our Saviour's exhorting Men to flee in Case of Persecution; and the Liberty that is given by the Laws to appeal to the Princes Courts of Judicature. The latter Submission is of indispensible Duty, as appears both by the Scripture, and the Practice of the Ancient and Purest Church. The like evidenc'd from the inconsistency of Resistance, with Princes being the immediate Ministers of God, with the End of their Institution, and the Coun­sels of the Divine Providence: The first, because he who resisteth them, endeavours to subject those who are God's immediate Mini­sters, and therefore subject to no other, so far at least unto himself, as may secure him from the Effects of their Violence: The second, because leaving it in the power of the Subject to resist when he will [Page 271]himself; which will make the Power of the Prince precarious, and consequently, because, that depends upon it, the Weal of the People; which is the end for which all Governours were instituted: The third, because the Counsels of the Divine Providence are no less in­teressed in the Violence of Evil Princes, than in the Power of Good. Of the paying of Tribute to Princes, and that it is both a Duty, and a Declaration of our Esteem. What Tribute to be paid, to be judg'd of by the Laws.

IT having been before shewn, That Honour, in the Latitude of the Word, comprehends Obedience to Commands; it remains, that we now inquire, whether the Honour of Princes does so also, by whom, and in what measure that Obedience is to be paid.

1. That Obedience is part of that Honour we are to give to Prin­ces, is evident from that Legislative Power which God hath given them over their respective Subjects: For Laws being nothing else than Rules prescrib'd by those that give them, for the regulating the Actions of those to whom they are; if it be in the power of Princes to pre­scribe such Laws, it must be the Duty of the Subject to obey them; because that Power would be otherwise in vain. Now, that it is in the power of Princes to give such Laws to their Subjects, will appear, first of all, from the Scriptures annexing this Power to them, as the main of that Authority by which they shine. Thus, for instance, when Jacob would describe the continuance of the Regal Dignity in Judah, till Shiloh or the Messiah should appear, he expresses it by affirming, that as the Scepter (which is an Ensign of Regal Power) should not depart from Judah, so neither a Lawgiver from between his knees, Gen. 49.10. In like manner as Homer (if we may joyn Pro­fane Authors with Sacred) where he speaks of the same Regal Dig­nity.

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But so also, that I may return to the Scripture, after it had been said, that Moses commanded a Law to the Inheritance of the Congregation of Jacob; to let us know by what Authority he did so, the Scripture adds, And he was King in Jesurun, when the Princes and Tribes of the People were gathered together to receive it, Deut. 33.4, 5. But not to content my self with these or the like Texts, which attribute the Power of Making Laws to Princes; let us (which will be a yet more convincing Topick, at least to some Men) consider the End of their Institution: For, if that End be not to be compass'd without the Power of Making Laws, Princes must consequently be suppos'd to be invested with that Power, and their Subjects under a necessity of obeying them. It is the Affirmation of St. Paul, Rom. 13.3, 4. That Rulers are appointed by God for the encouragement of those that do good, and the avenging of those that do evil. Now though each of these Ends may seem to be compass'd by having a regard in them to the Laws of God and Nature; yet, if we do more nearly consider it, we shall find they cannot compass either, unless they have [Page 272]a Power of Making Laws. For, the Laws of Nature and Scripture descending not to all those Particulars which are necessary to be ob­serv'd in order to the attaining of them, hence there ariseth the ne­cessity of a Power to draw them down to particular Instances, and accommodate them to the Exigencies of their respective Governments. Thus, for instance, though the Laws of God require the Judging of Offenders, and inflicting on them such Punishments as they shall be found to deserve; yet inasmuch as they prescribe nothing concerning the Manner or Time of Judging them, and much less mark out the Punishments which are to be inflicted on particular Offenders, hence there ariseth a necessity in Princes to prescribe when and after what manner they shall be judg'd, and what Punishments they shall under­go, if they be found guilty of the Crimes laid against them. In like manner, though the Laws of God and Nature prescribe the en­couraging of the Good, and doing (as much as lies in Princes) to­ward the securing and advancing of their several Properties; yet in­asmuch as they prescribe nothing at all by what Means that is to be done, nor indeed can do, by reason of the multiplicity and variety of Humane Affairs; hence there ariseth a necessity of making Laws, by which they may be secur'd in their several Properties, or enabled to improve them to their and the States advantage. Forasmuch there­fore as without Laws the Good cannot be secur'd, as neither Evil-do­ers either judg'd or condemn'd, it follows, that they who are ap­pointed both for the one and the other, are invested with a Power of Making Laws, and consequently the Subjects under a necessity of obeying them. But so that they are, is yet more evident from the express Declarations of the Scripture: For, beside that in the fore­quoted place of St. Paul, Men are required to be subject to them, which, as Grotius hath well observ'd, importsRom. 8.7. [...]. Ephes. 5.24. [...] 1 Pet. 3.5. [...], &c. [...], &c. Obedi­ence to their Commands, as well as Submission to their Coercion: Beside that disobedience in Things lawful, is a resisting of their Authority, and therefore the con­trary to be thought to be intended in that Subjection which is there requir'd: Beside, lastly, that he who re­quires every Soul to be subject, doth it upon intuition of their receiving Praise from them, as well as not re­ceiving Vengeance, the former whereof cannot in rea­son be expected, where there is no compliance with their Commands: to cut off all doubt concerning Obedience to them, the same St. Paul admonisheth Titus, chap. 3.1. not onely to put his Charge in mind of being subject to Principalities and Powers, but to obey Magistrates, and to be ready to every good work, in compliance with their Com­mands, as well as far from doing so much evil as to oppose themselves against their Power and Government.

2. That Obedience is to be given to Princes, we have seen alrea­dy; inquire we now by whom, and after what measure. For the re­solution of the former whereof, it may suffice to alledge that of St. Paul, Rom. 13.1. [...]or requiring there every Soul to be subject to the Higher Powers; and neither he, nor any other of the Apostles, else-where making any Exception from it; he thereby plainly shews, that all are to be so, of what Rank and Condition soever. And accord­ingly, as whatever is now pretended by the Papists for an Exemption [Page 273]of the Ecclesiastical Order, yet no such Plea was ever made by the Priests or Prophets of the Old Testament; so till Luxury and Wan­tonness made the Clergy forget their Duty, they also were of the same mind, and declar'd it both by their Actions and their Writings; St. Chrysostome Hom 2.3. in Epist. ad Rom. [...] in particular explaining every Soul by the Soul of an Apostle, as well as of a Layman; of one in the highest rank in the Church, as well as of the most inferiour Members of Church or State.

3. From the subjects of this Obedience, therefore pass we to the measure of it, which is both a more important question, and more difficult to be resolv'd. Where, first of all I shall observe, that it must be in such things as are not forbidden by the Almighty. For, as where God and Man's commands come in competition; it is so clear we are to prefer those of God, that St. Peter permits it to the judgment of those who commanded him to act contrary to it, Act. 4.19. So that we ought to obey God rather than Princes, the place they hold under God, may serve for an abundant Evidence. For, inasmuch as Princes are only the Ministers of God, they are in reason to be post-posed to him whose Ministers they are. Care only would be taken, first, That we do not fondly, and without just ground, pronounce those things as forbidden by God, which are imposed upon us by the commands of Princes. For though we may be excus'd for not obeying where the thing commanded by Princes is so forbidden, yet we cannot without sin refuse our Obedience to such commands, as are not any where coun­termanded by the Almighty. Again, though we are not to obey, where the matter of the Command is evidently against that of God, because the Inferiour ought to give place to the Superiour, yet there is not the same reason, where the thing commanded is not evidently against the Law of God, but only doubted of, whether it be so or no. For, it being certainly a duty to obey the Magistrate in all things not forbidden, and but uncertain, whether the thing commanded by him be forbidden; reason would that that which is the more certain, should be preferr'd before that which is uncertain; and consequently a clear and express Command, before an uncertain scruple. But, as where the thing commanded by Princes, is apparently against that of God, there cannot be the least pretence of yeilding Obedience to it; so other limits of our Obedience I know none (saving those before-mentionedVid. Part 2. of the Explic. of this Com­mandment. where we entreated of the Obedience due to Parents, and which are no less appliable here) unless it be where the Prince hath set bounds to his own Power by Laws, or accepted of them when tendred by others. In which case (because the Princes Laws are the most Authentick declarations of his Will) it is to be presum'd, that he wills not my obedience in any thing, which is contrary thereto, and consequently that in those things it is no sin to refuse it.

Now, though what hath been already said concerning the measure of our Obedience, may suffice any reasonable man in civil matters, yet because Princes do also challenge to themselves an Authority in Religi­ous ones, and we of this Nation, in particular, are oblig'd under an Oath to acknowledge it; it will be necessary to enquire farther, whether they have any such Authority, and what obedience is due from us to it. [Page 274]Now, the Authority of Princes in Religious matters may be two-fold, indirect or direct; by the former whereof, we are to understand that which pretends to have an oversight of them only in relation to the State; by the latter, that which pretends to have an Interest in Reli­gious matters as such. If the question be, whether Princes are invest­ed with such an Authority as pretends to an oversight of them in rela­tion to the State, so no doubt can be made by those who shall consider the influence Religious matters may have upon the State. For, inas­much as on the one hand the powers of the world were before the Church, and the Church it self is by the command of God oblig'd to revere them, and on the other hand, the things of Religion, according as they are constituted, may be profitable or hurtful to the State which is committed to their custody; those Powers must of necessity be invested with such an Authority therein, as may preserve the peace of the State entire. But from hence it will follow, That Princes have a power, so far, of calling or limiting Religious Assemblies, of appoint­ing who shall serve at the Altars in them, or putting by those that are. For, inasmuch as the Peace of the State may be concern'd in all these particulars, they are of necessity so far to fall under the cognizance of those to whom the Government of the State doth appertain. And ac­cordingly, as all Princes, of what perswasion soever in Religion, have in Profession or Fact, arrogated such an Authority to themselves; so, provided they do not entrench upon the Laws of Christianity, they cannot in the least be faulted for the exercise thereof, nor be disobey'd without a violation of the Ordinance of God that constitutes them: Because what they do is no more than necessary for the preservation of that State, which God hath committed to their charge. Thus for in­stance, inasmuch as by means of the Assemblies of discontented Per­sons, there may arise great prejudice to the State; no man in his right wits can deny but it may be lawful for a Prince to retrench the num­ber, or appoint the manner of the holding of them. For, though Christianity enjoin upon Christians the assembling of themselves for Re­ligious Worship, yet no Law of Christianity appoints, that they should meet by Thousands, but on the contrary assures them, that where even two or three meet together in his name, there Christ is in the midst of them. From the indirect Authority of Princes in Religious matters, pass we to that which we call direct, which interests it self in Religi­ous matters as such. For the establishing whereof, I shall desire you in the first place to reflect upon that of St. Paul to Timothy, 1 Tim. 2. from Verse 1. to 4. I exhort therefore, first of all, that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks be made for all men: For Kings, and all that are in Authority, that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and honesty. For this is good and ac­ceptable in the sight of God our Saviour, who will have all men to be saved, and to come to the knowledge of the truth. From which words, as it is evident: that it is acceptable to God that Kings become Chri­stians, (this, as will appear by comparing the first Verse and the fourth, being the thing he instructs Timothy to beg of God for them,) so also, that being made Christians, they should by their Authority procure to other Christians, a peaceable exercise of that Religion whereunto they are called: The reason assign'd by the Apostle for praying for their Conversion, being, that under them, and by their Arbitriment [Page 275]they might lead a quiet and peaceable Life in all godliness and honesty. From the exhortation of St. Paul, pass we to that of David, which will both lend light to the former Exhortation, and more clearly disco­ver to us that Authority wich we seek. Be wise now therefore, O ye Kings; be instructed ye Judges of the Earth, serve the Lord with fear, and rejoice with trembling. Kiss the Son, lest he be angry, and ye perish from the way, when his wrath is kindled but a little:— For herein (as St. Augustine observes) do Kings serve the Lord as Kings, if in their Kingdom they command those things that are good, and forbid evil, and, that not only such as appertain to Humane Society, but such as appertain also to the Religion of God. And elsewhere, Wherein then doth Kings serve the Lord in fear, but by forbidding and punishing with a Religious severity those things which are done against the commands of the Lord Jesus? For one way doth a King serve the Lord as a man, and another way as a King; And a little after to the same purpose, though yet more closely; Herein therefore do Kings serve the Lord as Kings, when they do those things to serve him, which they could not do unless they were Kings. Add hereunto that known Prophecy of Isa. 49.23. where speaking of the times of the Church, he affirms that Kings should be its nursing Fathers, and Queens its nursing Mothers. Which, what other is it than that the Church should be taken care of by them, and consequently, that it should be com­mitted to their trust? But from hence we may collect what the Au­thority of Princes in Religious matters is, and wherein it ought to be exerted, to wit, not in determining of them according to their own will and pleasure, and much less in invading the Office of the Priest­hood, which we know he that attempted was strucken with a Leprosie for, but in defending the Church from all, both Foraign and Domestick Enemies