« ÎnapoiContinuă »
off his bed; And the heinous sin he was guilty of, which was the greatest blemish in his life, ensued hereupon.
3. Pride in apparel, or other ornaments, beyond the bounds of modesty, or for other ends than what God, when he clothed man at first, intended; when our attire is inconsistent with our circumstances in the world, or the character of persons professing godliness: This God reproves the Jews for, when grown very degenerate, and near to ruin, Isa. iii. 16, &c. seq. And Jezebel, when Jehu came in quest of her, painted her face, and tired her head; but this did not prevent his executing God's righteous judgments upon her. All these things are mentioned as the sins for which Sodom was infamous; and gave occasion to those other abominations, which provoked God to destroy them, Ezek. xvi. 49. And to this we may add,
4. Keeping evil company: Thus it is said of the lewd woman, she huth cast down many wounded, Prov. vii. 26. This will hasten our own ruin; especially if we associate ourselves with such persons out of choice for it is a sign that our hearts are exceedingly depraved and alienated from God: Nevertheless, if Providence cast our lot amongst bad company, we may escape that guilt and defilement, which would otherwise ensue, if we bear our testimony against their sin, and are grieved for it, as Lot was for the filthy conversation of the Sodomites, among whom he dwelt, 2 Pet. ii. 7, 8. Moreover, the frequenting those places where there are mixed dancing, masquerades, stage-plays, &c. which tend to corrupt the principles and practices, and seldom fail of defiling the consciences, and manners of those who attend on them: These are nurseries of vice, and give occasion to this sin, and many others, Prov. vi. 27, compared with 32.
As for the remedies against it, these are, an exercising a constant watchfulness against all temptations thereunto, chap. viii. 9. avoiding all conversation with men or books which tend to corrupt the mind, and fill it with levity, under a pretence of improving it: But more especially a retaining a constant sense of God's all-seeing eye, his infinite purity and vindictive justice, which will induce us to say as Joseph did, in the like case, How can I do this great wickedness and sin against God, Gen. xxxix. 9. (a)
(a) The Theatre is said to have commenced at Athens, but to have been so much disapproved of, both in Greece and at Rome, that it was allowed no permanency till the days of Pompey. Minutius Felix derided the Christians for abstaining from this amusement. It is not probable therefore that the first Christians required any reproof in any of the Epistles for this vice. But every abuse of it may find its correction in scripture. Morals and piety may be thrown into Dia
QUEST. CXL. Which is the eighth Commandment?
ANSW. The eighth Commandment is, [Thou shalt not steal.] QUEST. CXLI. What are the duties required in the eighth Commandment?
ANSW. The duties required in the eighth Commandment are, truth, faithfulness, and justice in contracts, and commerce between man and man; rendering to every one his due; restitution of goods unlawfully detained from the right owners thereof; giving, and lending freely, according to our
logue without reasonable objection. But to turn these things into play, and the amusement of the reprobate, cannot be justified.-There is no fairness in arguing from what they might be, to prove the lawfulness of plays in the state in which they are, always have been, and will probably always be. That they are, and tend to evil is proved by the avidity with which they are frequented by even the worst members of society. They are calculated to excite the affections and passions in the highest manner, and so to render private happiness, domestic enjoyments, and religious observances insipid or disgusting. The reiteration of scenes of impurity, illicit amours, extravagant passions, jealousy, and revenge, will make a silent and secret impression upon the mind, and if they do not promote the same wickedness, they will at least render the mind less abhorrent of such crimes. True religion requires the exclusion of such imaginations, the immediate banishment of such thoughts, that we should mortify and deny ourselves; "Blessed are the pure in heart for they shall see God." The cruelty and bloodshed frequently threatened, or resorted to in defence of false honour; the pomp, pride, and ambition not unfrequently exhibited upon the stage, must necessarily prompt to like feats in vindication of character, or at least lead to selfimportance and fastidiousness; but the gospel teaches humility, self-denial, lowliness of mind; "Blessed are the poor in spirit." When such representations please, they prove the mind corrupt, and become an index of the morals of those who are entertained with such spectacles. The christian duties of meekness, silence, forbearance, humility, bearing the cross, faith, and repentance, are either incapable of being transferred to the stage, or if seen there are exposed to contempt, and ridicule. The addresses to Deity, and prayers there offered, are surely Heaven-provoking blasphemies. The Theatre interrupts religious, domestic, and public duties; it dissipates and fascinates the mind; weakens conscience, grieves the Holy Spirit, wastes property, and time; and unqualifies both for this, and the world to come.
Every one who attends is chargeable with the evil which obtains before him, for he goes voluntarily, he submits himself as to the matter of his amusement to others, and thus with the blessings of Providence, bribes the enemies of God to blaspheme him.
Some men of character for morals have countenanced, and some have written for the stage, perhaps they calculated upon what it might be, and aimed to correct the evil by drawing to it the more respectable of society. But the great ma jority of men are enemies to God, these will only be pleased with evil, and their pleasure will always be sought, because interest will compel to this. This is therefore doing evil that good may come; if indeed it can under any circumstances be good, to turn even correct performances, if such there were, into publick amusement.
After all there can be no hope of a total removal of this evil, yet we are on this account no more excused from bearing testimony against it, than from opposing other crimes which cannot be wholly prevented.
abilities, and the necessities of others; moderation of onr judgments, wills, and affections, concerning worldly goods; a provident care and study to get, keep, use, and dispose those things which are necessary and convenient for the snstentation of our nature, and suitable to our condition; a lawful calling, and diligence in it; frugality, avoiding unnecessary law-suits, and suretyship, or other like engagements; and an endeavour, by all just and lawful means, to procure, preserve, and further the wealth and outward estate of others, as well as our own.
HIS Commandment supposes, that God has given to every one a certain portion of the good things of this world, that he may lay claim to as his own; which no other has a right to. The general scope and design thereof, is to put us upon using endeavours to promote our own and our neighbour's wealth and outward estate. As to what concerns our. selves, it respects the government of our affections, and setting due bounds to our desires of worldly things, that they may not exceed what the good providence of God has allotted for us, in order to our comfortable passage through this world. Thus Agar prays, Give me neither poverty nor riches; feed me with food convenient for me, Prov. xxx. 8.
As to what respects our endeavours to gain the world; it requires a due care and diligence, to get, and keep a competency thereof; that we may not, through our own default, expose. ourselves to those straits and necessities which are the consequence of sloth and negligence, chap. xxiii. 21. chap. xxiv. 30, 31. God may, indeed, give estates to some without any pains, or care to get them, Deut. vi. 10, 11. yet, even in this case, sloth is a sin which brings with it many hurtful lusts, that render riches a snare, and hindrance to their spiritual welfare: Therefore they, who are in prosperous circumstances in the world, ought not to lay aside all care and industry to improve, what they have to the glory of God. But, on the other hand, they who are in a low condition, ought to use a provident care and diligence, in order to their having a comfortable subsistence therein. Accordingly this Commandment obliges us to use all lawful endeavours to promote our own and our neighbour's wealth, and outward estate.
I. To promote our own wealth and estate. This we are to do,
1. By frugality in our expences, avoiding profuseness; and that, either in giving away our substance to unfit objsets, to wit, those who are in better circumstances than ourselves, who ought to be givers rather than receivers, Prov. xxii. 16. or else in making large contributions to support a bad cause, and
in consuming our substance on our lusts. Likewise when we are unwarily profuse in those expences, which would be otherwise lawful, did they not exceed our circumstances or income in the world, which contains a disregard of the future estate of our families, and taking a method to reduce ourselves and them to poverty, 1 Tim. v. 8. Or, if our circumstances will admit of large expenses; yet, to abound therein, merely out of ostentation, and at the same time, to withhold our liberality from the poor is inconsistent with frugality.
2. We ought also to be diligent, and industrious in our calling; and, in order thereunto,
(1.) We are wisely to make choice of such a calling, in which we may glorify God, and expect his blessing, in order to the promoting our wealth and outward estate; therefore that business is to be chosen which we are most capable of managing, and has in itself the fewest temptations attending it; especially such wherein the conscience is not burdened' by unlawful oaths, or prostituting solemn ordinances, not designed by Christ as a qualification for them. Moreover, we are not to choose those callings wherein the gain is obtained by oppression or extortion, and which cannot be managed without danger of sinning; which will bring the blast of providence on all our undertakings. Therefore we are earnestly to desire God's direction in this weighty concern, as well as depend on him for success therein, Eccl. ix. 11. Deut. viii. 18.
(2.) When we have made choice of a lawful calling, we are to manage it in such a way, that we may expect the blessing of God, in order to the promoting our wealth and outward estate. Accordingly,
[1.] Let us pursue and manage it with right and warrantable ends, to wit, the glory of God; and, in subordination thereunto, our providing for ourselves and families, that we may be in a capacity of doing good to others, and serving the interest of Christ in our day and generation.
[2.] Let us take heed that our secular employments do not rob God of that time, which ought to be devoted to his worship; and that our hearts be not alienated from him, so that while we are labouring for the world, we should live without God therein.
[3.] Let us take heed that we do not launch out too far, or run too great hazards in trade, resolving that we will be suddenly rich or poor, which may tend to the ruin of our own familics, as well as others, 1 Tim. vi. 9.
[4.] Let us bear disappointments in our callings, with patience and submission to the will of God, without murmuring or repining at his wise and sovereign dispensations of provi dence herein..
II. This Commandment obliges us to promote the wealth and outward estate of our neighbour. This we are to do, by exercising strict justice in our contracts and dealings with all men; and by relieving the wants and necessities of those who stand in need of our charity.
1. As to what respects the exercise of justice in our dealings. (1.) We must take heed, that we do not exact upon, or take unreasonable profit of those whom we deal with, arising from the ignorance of some, and the necessities of others, Jer. iii. 15. Neither, must we use any methods to supplant and ruin others, against the laws of trade, by selling goods at a cheaper rate than any one can afford them, thereby doing damage to our selves with a design to ruin them, who are less able to bear such a loss.
(2.) Those goods, which we know to be faulty, are not, by false arts, or deceitful words, to be sold, as though they were not so, Amos viii. 6. And, on the other hand, the buyer is not to take advantage of the ignorance of the seller, as it sometimes happens; neither is he to pretend that it is worth less than he really thinks it to be, Prov. xx. 14.
(3.) Nothing is to be diminished in weight or measure, from what was bought, worse goods to be delivered than what were purchased, Amos vii. 5. nor the balances to be falsified by deceit, Deut. xxv. 13, 14, 15.
2. We are to promote the good of our poor distressed neighbour, in works of charity; and that not only by inward sympathy, or bowels of compassion towards him; but according to our ability, by relieving him. To induce us hereunto, let us consider, that outward good things are talents given us, with this view, that hereby we may be in a capacity of helping others, as well as be needing help ourselves. And when we do this, we may be said to improve what we have received from God, as those who are accountable to him for it, and testify our gratitude to him for outward blessings. It may also be considered, that Christ takes such acts of kindness, when proceeding from an unfeigned love to him, as done to himself, Matt. xxv. 40. Prov, xix. 17. And, to this we may add, that there are many special motives, taken from the objects of our charity, namely, the pressing necessities of some, the excelling holiness of others; and, in some instances, we may consider, that, by an act of charity, whereby we relieve one, we do good to many; or the tendency that this may have to promote the interest of Christ in general, when we relieve those that suffer for the sake of the gospel. This leads us to consider,
(1.) Of whom works of charity are required. If this be duly weighed, we shall find, that scarce any are exempted from this duty, except it be those of whom it may be said, there are