« PreviousContinue »
of commendation. Bucer (whom our famous Dr. Rainolds was wont to
CHAP. VIII.-OF OUR DUTIES TOWARDS MEN; AND THE GENERAL VIRTUES BELONGING THERETO.
HITHERTO We have treated of the virtues comprehended in our DUTY TOWARDS GOD; we are next to speak of those which belong to our DUTY TOWARDS MEN; although even in these we may be considered as serving God, so long as they are done in obedience to the divine command. Matt. vii. 12. "all things whatsoever ye would that men should do to you, do ye even so to them: for this is the law and the prophets.' Col. iii. 23. "whatsoever ye do, do it heartily, as to the Lord, and not unto men. James i. 26, 27. "if any man among you seem to be religious, and bridleth not his tongue, but deceiveth his own heart, this man's religion is vain: pure religion and undefiled before God and the Father is this, To visit the fatherless and widows in their affliction, and to keep himself unspotted from the world." 1 John iv. 20. “if a man say, I love God, and hateth his brother, he is a liar; for he that loveth not his brother whom he hath seen, how can he love God whom he hath not seen?"
Inasmuch therefore as God is best served by internal worship, whereas man stands more in need of outward attention, the external service even of God is sometimes to be postponed to our duties towards men. Prov. xxi. 3. "to do justice and judgement is more acceptable to Jehovah than sacrifice." Jer. vii. 4, 5. "trust ye not in lying words, saying, The temple of Jehovah, the temple of Jehovah, the temple of Jehovah are these: for if ye throughly amend your ways and your doings-.' Matt. xii. 1, &c. "Jesus went on the sabbath-day through the corn; and his disciples were an hungred-." v. 7. "I will have mercy, and not sacrifice." xv. 5. "ye say, Whosoever shall say to his father or his mother, It is a gift, by whatsoever thou mightest be profited by me, and honour not his father or his mother, he shall be free." See also Mark vii. 11, 12. and ii. 27. "the sabbath was made for man, and not man for the sabbath."
The virtues connected with our duty towards man, are partly those which each individual owes to himself, and partly those which we owe to our neighbours. Lev. xix. 18, "thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself." See also Matt. xix. 19.
These virtues, like those relating to God, are either general or special.
The general virtues are LOVE and RIGHTEOUSNESS. In the first book I treated of love generally, and in its wider sense as identified with holiness; I now proceed to define it more particularly, with reference to its object, as follows. Love is a GENERAL VIRTUE, INFUSED INTO BELIEVERS BY GOD THE FATHER IN CHRIST THROUGH THE SPIRIT, AND COMPREHENDING THE WHOLE DUTY OF LOVE WHICH EACH INDIVIDUAL OWES TO HIMSELF AND HIS NEIGHBOUR. It is nowhere more fully described than in the whole thirteenth chapter of the first epistle to the Corinthians, to which we shall have frequently to refer. Compare also 1 John iii. 18, 19. “my little children, let us not love in word, neither in tongue, but in deed and in truth and hereby we know that we are of the truth, and shall assure our hearts before him."
BY GOD, &c. 1 John iii. 10. "in this the children of God are manifest, and the children of the devil; whosoever doeth not righteousness. . . . neither he that loveth not his brother." iv. 7. "love is of God, and every one that loveth is born of God, and knoweth God." Gal. v. 22. "the fruit of the Spirit is love."
INTO BELIEVERS. Gal. v. 6. "faith that worketh by love.” The opposite of this is uncharitableness; which renders all our other qualities and actions, however excellent in appearance, of no account. 1 Cor. xiii. 1, &c. "though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, and have not charity, I am become as sounding brass, or as a tinkling cymbal."
The other general virtue belonging to the regenerate is RIGHTEOUSNESS, whereby we render to each his due, whether to ourselves, or to our neighbour. Prov. xvi. 8. "better is a little with righteousness, than great revenues without right.” Isai. Ixi. 8. "I Jehovah love judgement; I hate robbery for burnt-offering.” Matt. vii. 12. "all things whatsoever ye would that men should do to you, do ye even so to them.” Rom. xiii. 7. "render therefore to all their dues."
Belonging to the regenerate. 1 John iii. 10. “in this the children of God are manifest, and the children of the devil; whosoever doeth not righteousness is not of God." Hence under righteousness is frequently included the observance of the whole law.
Opposed to this is, first, unrighteousness, which excludes from the kingdom of heaven. 1 Cor. vi. 9. "know ye not that the unrighteous shall not inherit the kingdom of God?" Jer. xvii. 11. " as the partridge sitteth on eggs, and hatcheth them not, so he that getteth riches, and not by right, shall leave them in the midst of his days, and at his end shall be a fool."
Secondly, a pharisaical righteousness. Matt. v. 20. “except your righteousness shall exceed the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees, ye shall in no case enter into the kingdom of heaven."
Both these general virtues, as has been stated above, are exercised partly towards ourselves, and partly towards our neighbour.
The love of man towards himself consists in loving himself next to God, and in seeking his own temporal and eternal good. Prov. xi. 17. "the merciful man doeth good to his own soul, but he that is cruel troubleth his own flesh." xix. 8. "he that getteth wisdom loveth his own soul." Eph. v. 29. "no man ever yet hated his own flesh, but nourisheth and cherisheth it." Philipp. ii. 12. "work out your own salvation." 1 Tim. v. 23. "drink no longer water, but use a little wine for thy stomach's sake, and thine often infirmities."
Opposed to this is, first, a perverse hatred of self. Eph. v. 29. as above. In this class are to be reckoned those who lay violent hands on themselves, (who nevertheless are not excluded from decent burial, 2 Sam. xvii. 23.) and all who are guilty of presumptuous sin. Prov. viii. 36. "he that 1 Be penitent, and for thy fault contrite; But act not in thy own affliction, son; Repent the sin; but if the punishment Thou canst avoid, self-preservation bids: Or th' execution leave to high disposal, And let another hand, not thine, exact Thy penal forfeit from thyself: perhaps God will relent, and quit thee all his debt ; Who ever more approves, and more accepts, (Best pleas'd with humble and filial submission) Him who, imploring mercy, sues for life, Than who, self-rigorous, chooses death as due; Which argues over-just, and self-displeas'd For self-offence, more than for God offended.
Samson Agonistes, 502.
sinneth against me hateth his own soul; all they that hate me love death." xxix. 24. "whoso is partner with a thief hateth his own soul.”
Secondly, an extravagant self-love, whereby a man loves himself more than God, or despises his neighbour in comparison of himself. In allusion to the former species of selflove Christ says, John xii. 25. “he that loveth his life shall lose it." Respecting the latter, see 2 Tim. iii. 2, &c. “men shall be lovers of themselves-." On the contrary, those are
commended, Rev. xii. 11. "who loved not their lives unto the death." Matt. x. 39. "he that loseth his life for my sake shall find it." See also Mark. viii. 35, &c. Matt. xvi. 23. "he said unto Peter, Get thee behind me, Satan, thou art an offence unto me; for thou savourest not the things that be of God, but those that be of men."
Righteousness towards ourselves consists in a proper method of self-government. 1 Cor. ix. 27. "I keep under my body, and bring it into subjection." From this, as from a fountain, the special virtues in general derive their origin; inasmuch as under the head of righteousness towards ourselves are included, first, the entire regulation of the internal affections; secondly, the discriminating pursuit of external good, and the resistance to, or patient endurance of, external evil.
The regulation of the affections. Prov. xxv. 28. "he that hath no rule over his own spirit is like a city that is broken down and hath no walls." Gal. v. 16, 17. "the flesh lusteth against the Spirit. . . so that ye cannot do the things that ye would." v. 24. "they that are Christ's have crucified the flesh with the affections and lusts." Col. iii. 5. mortify therefore your members that are upon the earth." Thess. iv. 4, 5. "that every one of you should know how to possess his vessel in sanctification and honour." James i. 14, 15. “every man is tempted, when he is drawn away of his own lust, and enticed." 1 Pet. iv. 2. "that he no longer should live the rest of his time in the flesh to the lusts of men, but to the will of God."
The affections are love, hatred; joy, sorrow; hope, fear; and anger.
Love is to be so regulated, that our highest affections may be placed on the objects most worthy of them; in like manner, hatred is to be proportioned to the intrinsic hatefulness of the