Imágenes de páginas
PDF
EPUB

7. That we do not ésteem it sufficient for us to live according to nature (as the expression is commonly used), but that we live according to grace, that is, the measures of reformed nature. For in this sense these words of Justin Martyr are true and useful, το κατά φύσιν βιούν ουδέπω πεπιστευκότος εστίν, ,

“ To live according to nature is the ornament or praise of one, that is yet an unbeliever:” meaning that the disciples of Jesus must do more.

For according as the world grows

in age, so also it is instructed in wise notices; and it must pass on to glory by all the measures and progressions of grace; and all that law by which we live in all the periods of the world, is nothing else but the several degrees and promotions of the law of nature. For children are governed by one measure and young men by another, and old men still by a more perfect; and yet the whole is nothing else but right reason drawn into laws, and that which fits our nature bound upon us by the decree of God: some laws fit our natures, as they are common to us and beasts: some ·fit us as we are next to angels; and some fit us as we are designed to immortality, and the fruition of God; and the laws of nature do grow as our natures do. And as we see it is in matters of speculation, those principles enter into us, or are drawn from their hidden places, in our age, of which we had no sign in our youth; and when we are children, we admire at those things, and call those discourses deep and excellent, which, when we are grown up, we are ashamed of as being ignorant and pitiful ;-so it is in our manners, and so it is in our practical notices; they all grow, till they arrive at their state and period: but because the eternal laws of God,—that is, those laws which are not fitted to times, and persons, and relations, but to the nature of man, that is, to all mankind, -intend to bring us to God and to all that perfection of which we are capable; therefore it is that they also must increase according to the growth of nature: when therefore the nature of man was rude and in its infancy, God drew out of the eternal fountain but a few of these natural laws: but he still superadded more as the world did need them; and at the last, by his Son, who, by his incarnation, hath adorned our nature with a robe of glory, hath drawn out all those, by which we are to converse with God and men in the best and greatest intercourses : that he

might enable our nature to dispositions proper and immediate to a state of glory. Not but they all were potentially in the bowels of the great commandments; but that God did not, by any prophets or lawgivers, draw them all forth, till the great day of reformation, at the revelation of the Son of God. But in this the sentence of Irenæus is wise and full; “ Consummata vitæ præcepta in utroque testamento cum sint eadem, eundem ostenderunt Deum, qui particularia quidem præcepta apta utrisque præceptis, sed eminentiora et summa, sine quibus salvari non potest, in utroque eadem suasit :” “ The precepts of perfect life are the same in both Testaments, and do demonstrate the same God of both; who indeed hath given, severally, several instances of commandments; but the more eminent and the chief, without which salvation is not to be had, are the same in both :"-meaning, that there are the same general lines of religion, and of justice in the old and in the new; but the special and particular precepts are severally instanced by Christ and Moses.

RULE V.

All the Explications of the moral Law, which are found in the

Prophets and other holy Writers of the Old Testament, are to be accounted as Parts of the moral Law, and equally

obliging the Consciênce. He that will explicate the Mosaic law according to the perfections of the Gospel, does expound the words of a child by the senses and deepest policies of a witty man. I have seen some parts of Virgil changed into impure Fescennines; and I have also seen them changed into the sense and style of the Gospel; but Virgil intended neither, though his words were capable of both; and yet the way to understand Virgil is by the commentaries of men of his own time, or nation, or learned in the language and customs of the Romans. So it is in the decalogue of Moses. If Christians understand it by all the severities and enlarged notices of the Gospel, they accuse their own commentary as too large, or the practice of the Jews, who never obeyed them at that rate; and therefore all those wild reductions of all good and bad to that measure is of no good use, but it is full of error, and

i Lib. iv. c. 26. in princip.

may

have some ill effects; of which I have already given caution: but then because they may be explicated and can admit a commentary, as all laws do beyond their letter; there is nothing more reasonable, than that the commentaries or additional explications of their own prophets and holy men, and the usages of their nation, be taken into the sacredness of the text and the limits of the commandment.

Thus when God had said, “ Thou shalt do no murder;" when Moses, in another place, adds these words, “ Thou shalt not hate thy brother in thy heart a ;” nor be mindful of an injury: this is to be supposed to be intended by God in the commandment; and to be a just commentary to the text, and therefore part of the moral law. When they were commanded to worship the God of Israel, and no other: this was to be understood according to David's commentary; and when he had composed forms of prayer to God, to pray to him was to be supposed to be a duty of the commandment. God commanded that they should · honour father and mother,' which appellative when Moses and the holy writers of the Old Testament had given to princes and magistrates, and had, in another place, expressly commanded obedience to them, it is to be supposed that this is an explication of the fifth commandment.

This also is to be extended further, and by the sayings of the prophets they could understand what things were permitted by Moses, which yet God loved not: and that the commandment had a further purpose than their usages

would endure: and though (as our blessed Lord afterward expressed) “ Moses permitted divorces for the hardness of their heart,”—yet that “ from the beginning it was not so,” and that greater piety was intended in the commandment, they were sufficiently taught by the gloss, which God himself inserted and published by the prophet Hosea, “ I hate putting away.”—In this and all other cases, the natural reasonableness of things, natural justice, and essential piety, and the first institution of them, were the best indications of these

* Lev. xix, 17, 18.

effects which such sayings of the prophets and other holy men ought to have in the enlargement of the moral law, or restraint of privileges and liberties.

The use of this rule in order to the government of conscience is to describe of what usefulness in our religion, and what influence in our lives, is the Old Testament; all the moral precepts which are particulars of the natural law or universal reason, are either explications of the decalogue or precepts evangelical, by which the old prophets did prepare the way of our Lord, and make his paths straight.' It is the same religion, theirs and ours, as to the moral part: intending glory to the same God by the same principles of prime reason, differing only in the clarity and obscurity of the promises or motives of obedience, and in the particular instances of the general laws, and in the degrees of duties spiritual : but in both, God intended to bring mankind to eternal glories by religion or the spiritual worshippings of one God, by justice and sobriety, that is, by such ways as naturally we need for our natural and perfective being even in this world. Now, in these things, the prophets are preachers of righteousness, and we may refresh our souls at those rivulets springing from the wells of life, but we must fill and bathe ourselves in fontibus Salvatoris,' in the fountains of our blessed Saviour;' for he hath anointed our heads, prepared a table for us, and made our cup to overflow, and 66 of his fulness we have all received, grace for grace.

But this is, at no hand, to be extended to those prohibitions or reprehensions of their prevarications of any of the signal precepts of religion, by which, as themselves were distinguished from other nations, so God would be glorified in them. For sometimes the prophets represented the anger of God in a ceremonial instance: when either they sinned with a high hand in that instance, that is, with despite and contempt of the divine commandment, or when the ceremony had a mixture of morality, or when it was one of the disa tinctions of the nation, and a consignation of them to be the people of God. But this will be reduced to practice by the next rule.

RULE VI.

Every Thing in the Decalogue is not obligatory to Christians,

is not a Portion of the moral or natural Law.

When Moses delivered the ten commandments to the people, he did not tell them in order which was second, which was fifth: and upon this account they have been severally divided, as men did please to fancy. I shall not clog these annotations with enumerating the several ways of dividing them; but that which relates to the present inquiry is, whether or no the prohibition of graven images be a portion of the first commandment; so as that nothing is intended, but that it be a part or explication of that: and that it contain in it only the duty of confessing one God, and entertaining no other deity, viz. so that images become not an idol, or the final object of our worship as a God; and therefore that images are only forbidden as

• Dii alieni, not as the representations of this one God, and they are capable of any worship but that which is proper to God: or else it is a distinct commandment; and forbids the having, or making, and worshipping any images, with any kind of religious worship. These are the several effects, which are designed by the differing divisions of the first table ; I will not now examine, whether they certainly follow from their premises and presuppositions; but consider what is right, and what follows from thence in order to the integrating . the rule of conscience. That those two first commandments are but one, was the doctrine of Philo the Jew (at least it is said so); who, making the preface to be a distinct commandment, reckons this to be the second ; “Deos sculptiles non facies tibi, nec facies omne abominamentum solis et lunæ, nec omnium quæ sunt supra terram, nec eorum quæ repunt in aquis, ego sum Deus Dominus tuus zelotes,” &c.And the same was followed by Athanasius“, “ This book hath these ten commandments in tables; "the first is šyú eius Kuçios ο Θεός σου δευτέραν, ου ποιήσεις σεαυτώ είδωλον ουδέ παντός ομοίωμα.

I am the Lord thy God:' the second, thou shalt not make

6

• Synop. Script. tom. ii.

« AnteriorContinuar »