Page images

these, God sink me, God confound me, God damn me
If I lived in a wilderness, and had only the principles
of God's creation ; I should think it would have
been impossible for a creature to be so incautelous, to
irritate and provoke the almighty, without any cause
or any provocation. Swearing is warrantable, where
the matter is important, and where the person is cer.
tain of the truth. For an oath is for confirmation
and for settlement. But for cursing, we cannot give
any account whatsoever. Besides, who can warrant
cursing at all? or whom should we curse ? Shall we
curse God, as Jol's wife advised ? Job ii. 9. a most
villainous suggestion as ever was made. It is so
horrid, that I startle at it, and am apt to question the
translation, because of the uncertainty of the Hebrew
word: but her counsel was bad, as by Job's answer.
What, curse him from whom we receive all good? Then
shall I curse my neighbour, my fellow-creature ?
that is contra charitatem, against all charity. For I
am to live by love, and to behave myself towards o-
thers, so that they may be the better for me. To
curse a man's neighbour, is contrary to the rules of
christianity ; for our Saviour faith, Mat. V. 44. Bless
them that curse you. Or shall I curse myself? this is
against nature ; it is connatural to us to do ourselves
all the good we can : therefore it is represented as a
horrid conspiracy, Aits xxiii. 12. that they bound them-
selves with a curse against Paul for Christ's fake.

3. To make use of God's name for base ends and purposes ; and this is worse than the two former can be; doth exceed the other in malignity ; when (as it is said) in nomine domini incipit omne malum ; when

[merged small][ocr errors]

this facred name is used to gain greater credit for wicked facts. We account it the greatest injury and wrong imaginable, for any to make use of our names, where we do not allow authority; and will not God resent the abuse of his glorious name for a cloke to base and wicked designs and purposes. I observe by the way, that this very thing hath this tacit acknowledgment in it, to wit, that religion hath the greatest reality in it in the sense of mankind; and that conscience to God is the truest principle, and doth import the deepest obligation, because so many give account of themselves by it. But then withal, religion is lo noble, and so generous a thing, that it is not to be made use of to serve worldly ends, or be subservient to any low, mean, ordinary and common purposes ; for it is monstrously unreasonable and absurd, to fub. ordinate a noble end to the place of a mean. The end is always supposed to be greater and better than the mean ; therefore religion is not to be subordinate to common purposes, nor to be made use of as a means to fuch ends. For this is contrary to the order of things, to misplace : and it is a monstrous thing to destroy the true order of things; and doth create disturbance in the commonwealth of mankind, as thunderings, lightnings and storms do in nature ; which suppose things are out of their place, and do exceed in measure. The proper work and use of religion, is this, to fanctify a man's foul in this state, and to save his soul in the future ; and by these two, to glorify God. For this advantage we have in motion of religion; we serve God beít, the more effectual course we take to bring ourselves tu happiness;


[ocr errors][ocr errors]

we do the greatest honour and service to God, when we purify our minds, when we save our souls : for then we are most subservient to bring about his gracious intention. Wherefore if any man lays to pawn his religion and conscience for security, and to give repute in buying or selling; though I should not refuse this security, (for the obligation to religion and conscience is the greatest security,) because these are sacred ties ; yet I should think it reasonable to look for other security and assurance also, than these ; and a little fufpect, because these are abused, and are in this case out of their proper place and use, the highest things for the lowest purposes : for the use and purpose of religion, is to purify a man's mind, and to prepare for the future happiness of his soul, and in this way to glorify God. Now if a man come and prostitute these to ordinary and common purposes, and pretends to give the greatest security, a security beyond the value of the thing; since he puts these things out of their proper use, I think them no fecurity at all, but it would rather give me cause of sufpicion. Before I leave this point, let me only add by the way, that as our Saviour affirms, that he who swears by heaven, the earth, Jerusalem, &c. swears by God ; so likewise those that produce respect to God, conscience, or the name of God, do according to our Saviour's notion, swear by God.

Secondly, Those things that are contrary to general love and good-will. For this I charge upon you all, as a certain truth ; all of us ought to be in an universal reconciliation with the whole creation of God. It is not lawful or warrantable for us to conceive VOL. IV. Аа


It is a

enmity unto ought but wickedness and fin. duty incumbent upon us, to be in reconciliation with the whole creation of God; to bear general goodwill ; to live in love ; to be ready to all offices of kindness. Nothing in the world should alienate us from one another, but what makes a separation between God and us ; for after duty to God, which is the first obligation lies upon men, the next is great benevolence in imitation of God. Wherefore I conclude upon this account against these things, (as be. ing wickedness and works of iniquity) viz. malice, and doing mischief, causing disturbance in God's family ; such as the great invaders of the rights of o. thers are guilty of, though they be impotently ap. plauded as conquerors in this incompetent world, Also make-bates and busy-bodies, 2 Thef. 111. 11. who walk disorderly, work not at all, but are busy-bodies ; whom the apostle commands to work, and with quietness to eat their own bread, 1 Tim. v. 13. Idle tatlers, busy-bodies, speaking things they ought not. 1 Pet. iv. 15. Evil-doers, busy-bodies in other mens matters. Whatsoever disturbs the peace, inverts the order, prejudiceth converse amongst men ; is of ill quality, contrary to religion, to be avoided upon account of conscience towards God, and doing what is right.

Thirdly, Things contrary to justice, fairness, righteous and equal-dealing, włíîch ought to be amongst fellow-creatures and servants : for there ought to be nothing contrary to peace and quietness, to good order, under God's government, as the whole world is. It tends to the difhonour of any magiftrate or governor, to have things that are disorderly or confufed


[ocr errors]


ly within his jurisdiction ; it brings disparagement

The whole upon God's government of the world. world is God's family ; God is the governor of the whole world ; there should be nothing contrary to order and good government, no beating of our fellow-fervants, no insulting of one over another : the rich they are not to contemn the poor, nor the poor to envy the rich; but among all there should be good behaviour and fair carriage, according to every man's condition. This is a law connatural to us, it is born with us ; by this law we ought to live in the world, according to this law we ought to carry ourselves to one another ; to do as we would be done by. Contrary hereto we challenge all manner of provocation of one another by words or actions ; all words of scorn and contempt, exasperating language, as it is a thing in itself unjust and unrighteous, so it is very inconsiderate for one to despise another ; for no man knows how soon the wheel may turn : that which is uppermost now, may be lowermost by and by ; there is no man so mean, despicable, so liable to contempty but it may prove that that man may have opportunity to do injury or courtesy : therefore words of

provocation in all reason ought to be forborn ; all taunts and exasperating language. For it is as easy to speak a good word, as a bad ; to give a fair answer, as a churlish one ; a man's mind will be better satisfied in it.

Now. I instance in these, because there are other ways of doing injuries, than by fighting, robbing and stealing. To raise an evil report, or to carry it on, this is a mighty injurious thing; for mens esteem and credit, are more to them than money in their


A a 2

« PreviousContinue »