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foul has respect to walk within the hedge of God's precepts. Drunkenness and gluttony devours more than the sword doth. Covetous care and anxiety waltes the body. Inordinate affections are the consuming 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 : Confider,
(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 Rechabites, 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 fuch 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 comfort 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 fay. 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 it that destroys and ruins him ; fo that the morsel may be fair, but there is a bone in it that will stick in his throat, Prov. i. 32, 33. (3.) Lastly, The last dish spoils the feast. No man can be said to live a long and happy life, that dies a miserable unhappy death, as all wicked men do. Can that life be profperous and happy that has such a black hinder end? Does not death soon catch that man, that catches him ere his salvation be secured.
Object. 2. Are there not many godly people whose life in the world is neither long nor prosperous, and have neither much health, wealth, nor long life? The answer to this brings us,
Fourthly, To fhew how this promise is to be understood. It is to be understood, as all other temporal promises are, not absolutely, as if in no case it could be otherwise; but with these two limitations : (1.) As far as it shall serve for God's glory; and God may be more glorified in their early death than their long life. The honour of God is the immoveable rule by which these things must be all measured. (2.) As far as it shall serve for their good; and so it may be a greater mercy to them to be hid in the grave, than to be left on earth; and surely it is no breach of promise to give one what is better than what was promised. And thefe two are not to be separated, but joined together; for whatever is most for God's honour, is most for the godly man's good. Now, upon this we may lay down these conclusions.
1. Upon this promise the godly, walking in the way of personal and relative holiness, may confidently expect from God as much long life and prosperity in the world as shall be for the honour of God, and their good to enjoy. And 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 one, Pfal. cxix. 71. If. lvii. 1. And why should men quarrel with their blessings, or cast at their mercies ? Good Josiah was soon taken away, because the Lord would not have him to fee 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, Pfal. xcix. 8. and
so need not wonder if they reap that correction which themselves have fowed. 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 en. joyed; 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 fick; 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.
OF THE SIXTH COMMANDMENT.
Exod. xx. 13.-- Thou Malt not kill. T HE scope of this command is the preservation of that
1 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 incroaching 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 fo far as God says, Thou Malt 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 commandment requireth all law. ful endeavours to preserve our own life, and the life of others.” The duties of this command may be reduced to
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 fome cases intermitted without fin, as a man attacked in time of prayer, or on the Sabbath-day, may lawfully leave the prayer, and external wor. ship of the day, to defend his life, Luke xiv. 5. 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. iii. 8. Is it a thing of which God has faid, Thou fhalt not do fo and so? it must never be done, though a thousand lives depended upon it.
Hence it is evident, that a person may not tell a lie, nor do
any finful thing whatever, far less blafpheme, 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 faints, as in Ifaac, 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 fome fuch 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 sufficiently condemn them, in whomsoever they are found.
Object. This a hard faying. A man may be in the power of fome ruffian, that will require on pain of death fome sinful thing; and must one fell 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 fifters, 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 redeem it by offending God. Sin ruins the soul; therefore says our Lord, Matth. X. 28. “ Fear not them which kill