Page images

soul has respect to walk within the hedge of God's precepts. Drunkenness and gluttony devours more than the sword doth. Covetous care and anxiety wastes the body. Inor. dinate affections are the consuining of the constitution. Holiness, that represses these things, must then be as health to the flesh, Prov. iv. 22.

2. As for dutifulness to our relatives : Consider,

(1.) It hath God's promise for it in the text, which hath been made out to many in their sweet experience, as in the case of Ruth, and that of the Recabites, Jer. xxxv. 19. And so the contrary is threatened, Prov. xxx. 17. “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;' and has been fulfilled in many to the full extent.

(2.) Dutifulness of that sort procures the blessing of relatives; it natively draws out their hearts in thankfulness to God for them, and in prayers to God for them, which under God is a mean to bring down a blessing upon them. The blessing of them that were ready to perish was not in vain to Job; it sprung up in a liberal increase.

(3.) Such persons are of a meek disposition, and such have a peculiar promise to inherit the earth, Matth. v. 6. It is the want of the spirit of meekness, and pride and selfishness in the room of it, that mars relative dutifulness,

4. Lastly, The nature of the thing leads to it; for that is the ready way to make relations comfortable; and the com fort that people find in their relatives does good like a medicine, while the contrary is as rottenness in the bones.

There are two objections that lie against this doctrine.

Object. 1. Have not wicked men, that cast off all personal and relative holiness, oft-times a long and prosperous life?

Ans. It is so indeed. Job observed it long ago, ch. xxi. 7. Wherefore do the wicked live, become old, yea, are mighty in power?' But there is one thing that makes the difference wide enough ; i. e. they have it not by promise. What of that? will ye say. There is very much in it. (1.) He cannot have the comfort of it as a godly man can have, no more than he can have the comfort of a well-furnished house, that knows not. but every day he may be turned out of it, while he knows no where else to go to, in comparison of one that has a tack of it, and is to move to a better when the tack expires. (2.) There is a secret curse in that destroys and ruins him'; so that the motset may be fair, biwe there is a bone in it that will stick in his throat, Prov. i. 32, 38. (3.) Lastly, Tho læst dish spoils the feast. No man Gant be said to live a long and happy life, tkaf dies a miserable unhappy death, as all wickedi men do. Can that life be prosperous and happy that has such a Blacki binder end? Does Ãot death soort carek that mant, that catches him ere kis salvation be getured.

Object 2. Are there not in any gódly people whose life ift the world is neither long Aor prosperous, and have neither much healthy Wealth, nor long life? The answer to this brings us

Fournily, For shew how this promise is to be understood. It is to be understood, as all other temporal promises are, nor absolutely, as if in no case it could be other wise; but with these two limitations : (1.) As far as it shalt setve for God's glory; and God may be more glorified in their early deark than their long lite. The' honour of God is the im Boveable rule by which these things must be all measurecha (7.). As far as it shall serve for their good; and so it may be a greater mercy' to them to be hidin' the grave, than to be left on earth; and surely it isi rio breach of promise to give one what is-better than what was promised. And these two are not to be separated, but joined together; for what ever is most for God's Hondur, is most for the godly man's goodi' Now, uport this we' may lay down these conclusions

1. Upon this proinise the godly, walking in the way of personal and relative Holiness, may confidently expect front God as much long life and prosperity in the world as slialk be for the honour of God, and their good to enjoy.. to have any more would be no-favour.

2. A short and'afflicted life' may be more for their good than a long and prosperous otte, Psal. cxix. 71. Isa vita And why should mene quarrel with their blessings, of destes at their mercies? Goodi Josiah was soon taken away, bez cause the Lord would not have him to see the evil that was coming on.

3. Many of the children of God may be guilty of such breaches of this command in the mismanagement of their relative duties, that they may, by their own fault, fall short of the mercy promised here in the latter, Psal. xcix. 8; and

Vol. II.

so need not wonder if they reap that correction which them. selves have sowed. And though others, that have managed worse than they, may escape, no wonder either; for God will let that pass in another, because of an after-reckoning, when he will correct his own children for less, because, that is to put an end to the quarrel.

4. Lastly, Whatever they want of this, it shall be made up by what is better. The afflictions of the body shall be health to their souls; their crosses shall not be curses, but blessings; and if they be deprived of the residue of their years here, they shall get them made up in heaven.

SECONDLY, The place where that blessing is to be enjoyed; in the land which the Lord thy God giveth thee; that is, the land of Canaan. So it respects the Jews. But as it respects Christians, it refers to any place of God's earth; and so the apostle turns it, Eph. vi. 3. “That thou mayst live long on the earth.'

LASTLY, That regard which the Lord allows his people to have to that blessing, to further them in obedience: Honour thy father and thy mother, that thy days may be long upon the land which the Lord thy God giveth thee. Though the chief motive to duty should be the honour and command of God, yet God allows us to eye the promised reward, even in temporal things, as a secondary motive and encouragement to duty.

Use. Let this recommend to us the living in dutifulness to our relatives. This is physic of God's appointment for the sick; it is the way to wealth of God's appointment for them that have little; it is the prolonger of life appointed by the Lord of life to those that would see many days, and these good. And there is no sure way to these where the appointment of God lies cross. Religion is the way to make the world happy. God has linked our duty and our interest together, so as there is no separating of them. Relations are the joints of society ; sin has disjointed the world, and so no wonder it be miserable; a relative holiness would set the disjointed world right again.


Exod. XX. 13.-Thou shalt not kill.

HE scope of this command is the preservation of that

life which God hath given unto man, which is man's greatest concern. No man is lord of his own or his neighbour's life ; it belongs to him alone who gave it, to take it away. It is observable, that this and the three following commands are proposed in a word, not because they are of small moment, but because there is more light of nature for them than those proposed at greater length.

This command respects both our own life and the life of our neighbour. That it respects our neighbour, there can be no doubt; and as little needs there to be of its respecting our own. The words are general, agreeing to both; and so the sense of them is, Thou shalt not kill thyself, nor any other. He that said to the jailor, • Do thyself no harm, taught no other thing than what Moses and the prophets did say. Man is no more lord of his own life than his neighbour's; and he is in hazard of encroaching upon it, as well as that of another; and it is no where guarded, if not here, Nay, the sum of the second table being, “ Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself,' whereby love to our neighbour is made the measure of love to ourselves, it is evident that it respects our own life in the first place.

As every positive command implies a negative, so every negative implies a positive. Therefore, in so far as God says Thou shalt not kill, viz. thyself or others, he thereby obliges men to preserve their own life and that of others. And seeing all the commands agree together, there can be no keeping of one by breaking of another; therefore the positive part of this command is necessary to be determined to lawful endeavours. Hence the answer to that,

Quest.' What is required in the sixth commandment ?' is plain, viz. “The sixth comandment requireth all law. ful endeavours' to preserye our own life, and the life of others.' The duties of this command may be reduced to two heads. 1. The preserving of our own life. . 2. The preserving the life of others. But both these are to be qualified, so as it be by lawful means and endeavours. For God has given us no such law, as for the keeping of one command we may or must break another. Only there is a great difference betwixt positive and negative precepts; the

practice of positive duties may be in some cases intermitted without sin, as a man attacked in time of prayer, or on the Sabbath-day, may dawfully leave the prayer, and external wor. ship of the day, to defend his life, Luke xiv. 5. But never may a man do an ill thing, be it great or little, though it were even to preserve his own life or that of others, Rom. ji. 8. Is it a thing of which God has said, Thou shalt not do so and so? it must never be done, though a thousand lives slepended upon it.

Hence it is evident, that a person may not tell a lie, por do any sinful thing whatever, far less blaspheme, deny Christ or any of his truths, commit adultery or steal, tho' his own life, or the life of others, may be lying upon it. For where the choice is, suffer or sin, God requires and calls us in that case to suffer. And therefore the example of such things in the saints, as in Isaac, Rahab, &c. are no more propounded for our imitation, than David's murder, &c. Peter's denial of Christ, &c. And tho' we read not of reproofs given in some such cases, that will no more infer God's approbation of them than that of Lot's incest, for which we read of no reproof given him. The general law against such things does gụfliciently condemn them, in whomsoever they are found.

Object. This a hard saying. A man may be in the power of some rųffian, that will require on pain of death some sinful thing, and must one sell his life at such a cheap rate, as to refuse to deny his religion, drink drunk with him, lie, or do any such thing for the time :

Ans. It is no more hard than that, Luke xiv. 26. If any man come to me, and hate not his father, and mother, and wife, and children, and brethren, and sisters, yea, and his own life also, he cannot be my disciple. We must love God more than our own or others life, and so must not re. deem it by offending God. Sin ruins the souls therefore says our Lord, Matth. X. 28. Fear not them which kill

« PreviousContinue »