Billeder på siden
PDF
ePub

he please; and that where much is given, much is required: Matt. xxv. Luke xii. 48. xix. 23. But what his Lord hath trusted him with, he is loath to hide, and willing to improve to his Master's use. He is so far from thinking that God is beholden to him for his good works, that he taketh it for one of his greatest mercies in the world, that God will use him in doing any good; and he would take it for a very great suffering to be deprived of such opportunities, or turned out of service, or called to less of that kind of duty. If he were a physician, and denied liberty to practise, or a minister, and denied liberty to preach, it would far more trouble him that he is hindered from doing good, than that he is deprived of any profits, or honours to himself. He doth not only comfort himself with foresight of the reward, but in the very doing of good he findeth so much pleasure, as maketh him think it the most delightful life in the world: and he looketh for most of his receivings from God, in a way of duty; John v.29. Gal. vi. 10. Heb. xiii. 16. 1 Pet. iii. 11.

2. But the weak Christian, though he have the same disposition, is far less profitable to the world: he is more for himself, and less able to do good to others: he wanteth either parts, or prudence, or zeal, or strength. Yea, he is oft like the infants, and sick persons of a family, that are not helpful, but troublesome to the rest. They find work for the stronger Christians to bear their infirmities, and watch them, and support and help them: Indeed, as an infant is a comfort to the mother, through the power of her own love, even when she endureth the trouble of its crying and uncleanness; so weak Christians are a comfort to charitable ministers and people; we are glad that they are alive; but sadded often by their distempers; Rom. xiv. 1. xv. 12.

3. The seeming Christian liveth to himself, and all his good works are done but for himself, to keep up his credit, or quiet his guilty conscience, and deceive himself with the false hopes of a reward, for that which his falsehoodness maketh to be his sin. If he be a man of learning and good parts, he may be very serviceable to the church; but the thanks of that is due to God, and little to him, who seeketh himself more than God, or the good of others, in all that he doth; Matt. xxv. 24-26.

XLII. 1. A Christian indeed, doth truly love his neighbour as himself: he is not all for his own commodity: his

[blocks in formation]

neighbour's profit or good name, is as his own: he feeleth himself hurt when his neighbour is hurt: and if his neighbour prosper, he rejoiceth as if he prospered himself. Though his neighbour be not united to him, in the nearest bonds of Christianity or piety, yet he is not disregardful of the common unity of humanity. Love is the very soul of life; Lev. xix. 18. Matt. xix. 19. xxii. 39. Rom. xiii. 9 Gal. v. 14. James ii. 8. Mark x. 21. 1 John iv. 10.

2. But the love that is in weaker Christians, though it be sincere, is weak as they are; and mixed with too much selfishness, and with too much sourness and wrath. Little matters cause differences and fallings out. When it cometh to MINE and THINE, and their neighbours cross their interest or commodity, or stand in their way when they are seeking any preferment or profit to themselves; you shall see too easily by their sourness and contention, how weak their love is; Matt. xxiv. 12. 1 Tim. vi. 10. Luke xxii. 24.

3. But in the seeming Christian, selfishness is so predominant, that he loveth none but for himself, with any considerable love. All his kindness is from self-love, because men love him, or highly value him, or praise him, or have done him some good turn, or may do him good hereafter, or the like. If he hath any love to any for his own worth, yet self-love can turn all that to hatred, if they seem against him, or cross him in his way: for no man that is a lover of the world and flesh, and carnal self, can ever be a true friend to any other. For he loveth them but for his own ends; and any cross interests will shew the falsehood of his love; 2 Tim. iii. 2-4. Matt. v. 46.

XLIII. 1. A Christian indeed hath a special love to all the godly; such as endeareth his heart unto them; and such as will enable him to visit them, and relieve them in their wants, to his own loss and hazard, according to his ability and opportunity. For the image of God is beautiful and honourable in his eyes: he loveth not them so much as God in them; Christ in them; the Holy Spirit in them. He foreseeth the day when he shall meet them in heaven, and there rejoice in God with them to eternity. He loveth their company and converse; and delighteth in their gracious words and lives. And the converse of ungodly and empty men is a weariness to him (unless in a way of duty, or when he can do them good). "In his eyes a vile person is con

temned, but he honoureth them that fear the Lord;" Psal. xv. 4. Other men grieve his soul with their iniquities, while he is delighted with the appearances of God in his holy ones, even the excellent ones on earth; Psal. xvi. 3. 2 Pet. ii. 7, 8. Yea, the infirmities of believers destroy not his love; for he hath learned of God himself to difference between their abhorred frailties and their predominant grace; and to love the very infants in the family of Christ. Yea, though they wrong him, or quarrel with him, or censure him in their weakness, he can honour their sincerity, and love them still. And if some of them prove scandalous, and some seeming Christians fall away, or fall into the most odious crimes, he loveth religion nevertheless; but continueth as high an esteem of piety, and of all that are upright, as he had before; 1 John iv. 7, 8. 10. 2 John xiii. 34, 35. 1 Thess. iv 9. 1 John iii. 11. 14.23. Matt. xxv. 39, 40, &c.

2. The weak Christian sincerely loveth all that bear his father's image; but it is with a love so weak (even when it is most passionate) as will sooner be abated or interrupted by any tempting differences. He is usually quarrelsome and froward with his brethren, and apter to confine his love to those that are of his own opinion or party. And because God hath taught him to love all that are sincere, the devil tempteth him to censure them as not sincere, that so he may justify himself in the abatement of his love. And weak Christians are usually the most censorious, because they have the smallest degree of love, which covereth faults, and thinketh no evil, and is not suspicious, but ever apt to judge the best, till the worst be evident; 1 Cor. xiii. 4, 5. "It beareth all things, believeth all things (that are credible), hopeth all things, endureth all things;" ver. 7. But it is no wonder to see children fall out, even about their childish toys and trifles; and what the dissentions of the children of the church have done against themselves in these kingdoms, I need not, I delight not, to record. See 1 Cor. iii. 1-4. " And I, brethren, could not speak unto you, as unto spiritual, but as unto carnal, even as unto babes in Christ. I have fed you with milk, and not with meat; for hitherto ye were not able to bear it, neither yet now are ye able: for ye are yet carnal: for whereas there is among you, envying, and strife, and divisions, are you not carnal, and walk as men?"

3. The seeming Christian may have some love to real

Christians, even for their goodness' sake; but it is a love subservient to his carnal self-love; and, therefore, it shall not cost him much. As he hath some love to Christ, so he may have some love to Christians; but he hath more to the world and fleshly pleasures; and, therefore, all his love to Christ or Christians, will not make him leave his worldly happiness for them. And, therefore, Christ, at the day of judgment, will not inquire after empty, barren love, but after that love which visited and relieved suffering saints. A hypocrite can allow both Christ and Christians such a cheap, superficial kind of love, as will cost him little. He will bid them lovingly, "Depart in peace, be you warmed and filled;" James ii. 15-17. But still the world is most beloved.

XLIV. 1. A Christian indeed doth love his enemies, and forgive those that injure him, and this out of a thankful sense of that grace which forgave him a far greater debt. Not that he thinketh it unlawful to make use of the justice of the government which he is under, for his necessary protection, or for the restraint of men's abuse and violence. Nor is he bound to love the malice or injury, though he must love the man. Nor can he forgive a crime as it is against God or the common good, or against another, though he can forgive an injury or debt that is his own. Nor is he bound to forgive every debt, though he is bound so far to forgive every wrong as heartily to desire the good of him that did it. Even God's enemies he so far loveth, as to desire God to convert and pardon them, while he hateth their sin, and hateth them as God's enemies, and desireth their restraint; Psal. cxxxix. 21, 22. ci. 3. cxix. 4. lxviii. 1. xxi. 8. But those that hate, and curse, and persecute himself, he can unfeignedly love, and bless, and pray for; Matt. v. 43-48. For he knoweth that else he cannot be a child of God; ver. 45. And that to love those that love him is not much praiseworthy, being no more than heathens and wicked men can do; ver. 46, 47. He is so deeply sensible of that wondrous love which so dearly redeemed him, and saved him from hell, and forgave him a thousandfold worse than the worst that ever was done against himself, that thankfulness and imitation, or conformity to Christ in his great compassions, do overcome his desires of revenge, and make him willing to do good to his most cruel enemies, and

Stephen did at their deaths;
And he knoweth that he is so

pray for them as Christ and Luke xxiii. 34. Acts vii. 60. inconsiderable a worm, that a wrong done to him as such, is the less considerable; and he knoweth that he daily wrongeth God, more than any man can wrong him, and that he can hope for pardon, but on condition that he himself forgive; Matt. vi. 12, 14, 15. xviii. 34, 35. And that he is far more hurtful to himself, than any other can be to him.

2. And the weak Christian can truly love an enemy, and forgive a wrong; but he doth it not so easily and so fully as the other. But it is with much striving, and some unwillingness and averseness; and there remaineth some grudge or strangeness upon the mind. He doth not sufficiently forget the wrong which he doth forgive. Indeed, his forgiving is very imperfect, like himself (Matt. xviii. 21. Luke ix. 54, 55.), not with that freeness and readiness required. "With all lowliness and meekness, with longsuffering, forbearing one another in love;" Eph. iv. 2. "Put on therefore, as the elect of God, holy and beloved, bowels of mercies, kindness, humbleness of mind, meekness, longsuffering, forbearing one another, and forgiving one another; even as Christ forgave you, so also do ye;" Col. iii. 13. 18. "Avenge not yourselves," &c. Rom. xii. 14. 18.

3. As for the seeming Christian, he can seem to forgive wrongs for the sake of Christ, but if he do it indeed it is for his own sake. As because it is for his honour, or because the person hath humbled himself to him, or his commodity requireth it, or he can make use of his love and service for his advantage, or some one hath interposed for reconciliation who must not be denied, or the like. But to love an enemy indeed, and to love that man (be he never so good) who standeth in the way of his preferment, honour or commodity in the world, he never doth it from his heart, whatever he may seem to do; Matt. vi. 14, 15. xviii. 27. 30. 32. The love of Christ doth not constrain him..

XLV. 1. A Christian indeed is as precise in the justice of his dealings with men, as in acts of piety to God. For he knoweth that God requireth this as strictly at his hands. "That no man go beyond, or defraud his brother in any matter; for the Lord is the avenger of all such, as we also have forewarned and testified;" 1 Thess. iv. 6. He is one that

« ForrigeFortsæt »