Imágenes de páginas
PDF
EPUB

1

the promulgation; but yet many nations, and many ages of Christendom, did admit the trials of rights by duels, and of innocency by fire ordeal: which was as direct a tempting of God, as any thing next to desperation itself; and by this is sufficiently reproved. If the labourer be worthy of his hire, then so is the priest; if the priest of the old law, then also the minister of the Gospel : which particular I choose to instance in, that, by occasion of it, I may give caution against that, which causes error in the application of this measure, and sense of laws, unto the conscience.

4. For because all actions are invested and varied with many circumstances, they who are concerned in a particular, with which they are willing to escape, think every new circumstance to be a warrant great enough to exempt him from the general rule. Thus, if a rule was given in the law of Moses, they who would not have it drawn into consequence in the Gospel, observe that differing circumstance of the divers laws; and think it answer enough to say, it was so in the law, but what is that to the Gospel ?' Now this answer is only true, when the law and the Gospel have contrary measures in the same instance; that is, when the instance did not only relate to the law of Moses, but is against the analogy of the Gospel. Thus, no unclean thing was to come into the presence of the Lord; and therefore the leper, or the polluted • in profluvio sanguinis,' or ' seminis,' might not come into the temple; but then if we argue, this is much more true in the Gospel, which is a state of greater purity than the law, we can conclude nothing, because the measures of legal and evangelical purity are wholly differing; and, therefore, here the relation to the several states and laws is considerable, and makes a material difference. But when there is nothing in one that appropriates it to itself, and nothing in the other that excludes it, then the circumstance and relation alters nothing of the proposition: and so it is in the matter of maintenance for the evangelical minister.

But no circumstance can alter the question, unless it be a material ingredient in the very constitution of it, and changes the reason of the former usage. Thus, when, by the commandment, we are tied to give every one their own, if the owner be a madman, and in his fury demands his sword;

[merged small][ocr errors]

although this particular be a specification of the general rule, yet it is altered by a circumstance, which changes the reason of the law, or supposes it changed. So when David brought his men to eat show-bread in the days of need, the priest asked, if the young men had abstained from their wives, saying, that then they might; but he that shall argue from hence, that no man can receive the sacramental bread, 'but he that hath been continent in that instance, may be surely enough answered, by telling him that such contacts did sometimes, and to some purposes, contract legal impurities, but not evangelical, in which only the purity of the spirit is required, or if also corporal were required, yet such approaches, under the protection of marriage, are declared to be notri duiartos, as great a purity as chastity itself, of which this is one kind. But when there is no cause of change of the ingredient in the article, if it be of the same nature, though differing in extrinsical or unconcerning circumstances, it is by way of specification included in the rule, and is to be conducted by its

measures.

5. (3.) Whatsoever is equivalent to the instance of the law, is also within its sanction and constitution. By 'equivalent,' (speaking morally, not logically) I mean that which is inferred from the greater to the less affirmatively: or, 2. from the less to the greater negatively: or, 3. from that which is equal to it, both affirmatively and negatively. For thus laws are extended on all hands; the same law that forbids murder, forbids cruel thoughts and violent anger, whatsoever tempts to murder, or is the beginning of it, or is in the natural progression towards it. So, on the other side, the law commands us to obey our superiors (meaning the spiritual); the same law, though it there names them not, does more strongly command us to obey princes; for they also “are over us, and watch for the good of our souls, and must give an account for them b.". Thus, if husbands must give honour to their wives, then wives must give honour much rather to their husbands. If you may not steal out of my house, you must not spoil my goods in it; much less may you fire my house, and burn my goods too; if you must be faithful in little things, much more

[merged small][ocr errors][merged small][merged small]

in greater things; if you must give your life for God, much rather must you give your goods; if you must not defile a temple, much less must you dishonour your bodies.

6. This also is to be extended to the proportionable obligation of correlatives. For if the relative be bound by the laws of Christ, then so also is the correlative; which rule hath no exception, but an explication of it is sufficient. For either the duty of relatives is equal, or unequal in degrees, and it is either in the same instance, or in divers. If the instances be divers, they are, in all cases, expressed competently in the New Testament; as the duty that husbands and wives, that children and parents, that masters and servants, that princes and subjects, owe to each other respectively, and they need not to be conducted by involution and consequence, for their duties are described in distinct lines. But if the duty and instances be in the same kind, but differ in degrees, then the measure of the degrees is to be conducted by proportion to the difference of persons, by public honesty, and the sayings of wise and good men, and the common usages of the best, and the measures of reason. But if they be the same in kind and degree, then the rule and measure of one is the rule and measure of both, though one only be named in the law. And this is of use, not only in the equal instances of unequal relatives, but in all the instances of equals; as in friendships, societies, guilds, colleges, exchanges, traffics, and the like. There must be care taken, that according to St. Paul's rule, " there must not be averis, ease, remission, and advantage to one, and frivis, trouble, burden, and disadvantage to the other;" but in relations that are equal, the duty and the expression must be so too; ever with this caution, that --If the duty be the same between relatives, it cannot follow that the privileges are the same. The husband and wife are equally obliged in the duties of love and justice; but they have not equal powers, neither can the woman put away the

man, as the man can the woman. For though man and woman are pares

in conjugio,' tied to an equal love, and an equal duty, yet they have not an equal power, nor an equal liberty; in government and divorces, they are not equal.

17. But upon the account of this rule, the Christians have a most certain demonstration of the unlawfulness of poly

[ocr errors]

gamy, or of having many wives at once. For our blessed Saviour said, “ He that puts away his wife, unless it be for fornication, and marries another, committeth adultery;" therefore he much more is an adulterer who marries another, when his wife is not put away, and hath not committed fornication. But in this and the like cases, we are to proceed by the measures of reason, and the common usages of laws.

8. (1.) A law, drawn from a law, must be evidently and apparently in the bowels of it before such extraction, or else it must not be obtruded as the sentence and intendment of the lawgiver. “ Obey them, that have the rule over you,”-is a plain commandment; but if you infer, therefore, in all things that they say, deny your own reason, and submit your understanding; this follows not, because we are commanded to obey them only in such things, where they ought to rule over uš, but that is not in our understandings, over which God alone is the ruler; and those whom he hath sent, are rational and authorized guides, they have power to teach, and power to exhort, they are to do any thing that can inform us, and invite us to good; and we must follow them in all

ways

that lead us to God: and that they do, we are to believe until we have reason to believe the contrary; but because, beyond these measures, the law neither said nor meant any thing, therefore the obligation extends not so far.

9. (2.) Whatsoever is not in the letter of the law, is then understood to be intended by the law, when it is drawn from thence by a prime and immediate consequence; in which there is no violence, nor artificial chains, nor devices of wit and labour. For laws ought to be but few, and they love not to be multiplied without apparent necessity, and he that makes more than Christ intended, lays a snare for his own foot, and is cozened by his own argument.

Christ commanded us, that we should do our alms and prayers in secret: from hence it follows, that all solemnities of pride, and all the dressings and adornments of our prayers, designed for vanity and publication, are criminal; and under this prohibition come all acts of proper specification. But then if I argue from hence further, and say, “Therefore it is not lawful to appoint public assemblies for prayer; or, if it be, yet it is not lawful to appear to men to be passionate and devout:

112

and further yet, that private prayer is better than public, and therefore that it is to be preferred before the public, and therefore yet that we may safely neglect the assembling of ourselves together for prayer,' I argue foolishly, and cannot impose a necessity of obedience upon any. The law war'rants me to go no further but within sight of it: if I go one step from her words, I am within the call of her voice: and my obedience can well be exacted, where it can be well proved, but never else. It is in laws, as it is in articles of belief, to which we are obliged primarily, and afterwards to every thing that is certainly and immediately drawn from thence. But if you go beyond one consequence, there are so many certain, but indiscernible fallibilities, so many intrigues of fancy in the disputer, and so much unaptness in the hearer, that it is ten to one they either do not understand one another, or do not understand the article; and so it is in laws, so long as we go on in the straight line of its letter, and known intention, we commit no error, or can soon be reproved, if we do: but if we once double a point, we presently lose sight of the law; as appears in the instance now given in the precept of " praying in secret:” against which it is no objection to say, the consequents were not rightly deduced from the words of that precept. For I grant it; it is true they are not; but then I say, it is also ten to one but it will be so in any instance, that shall be made fruitful with anfractuous and involved consequences. For that is it that I say: a man's reason is to be suspected when he goes a great way from this rule; and we by our logic shall become but ill lawgivers. Whatsoever can certainly and truly be deduced from a law, does as certainly oblige us as the instance that is named, or the first specification of it, or the direct consequent, if it could be made as evident, as it is certain; but because it cannot, therefore it can oblige but in the degree of its clarity and manifestation, for that is to the remote instance, the same as publication is to the commandment itself. But the precepts or laws of Christ, are like the radix prosapiæ,' the grand parent of a family, from whom the direct descendants are for ever to be reckoned to the kindred, in the straight and proper line; but when once it goes to the transverse and collateral, they not only have no

« AnteriorContinuar »