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concerns charity and the glory of God, that I secure the right, than twine about the wrong, wilful, and malicious persons. A prelate must rather fortify and encourage obedience, and strengthen discipline, than by remissness toward refractory spirits, and a desire not to seem severe, weaken the hands of conscientious persons, by taking away the marks of difference between them that obey and them that obey not: and in all cases, when the question is between a friend to be secured from apostacy, or an enemy to be gained from indifferency, St. Paul's rule is to be observed: "Do good to all, but especially to the household of faith." When the church, in a particular instance, cannot be kind to both, she must first love her own children.

12. Eighthly: But when the question is between pleasing and contenting the fancies of a friend, and the gaining of an enemy, the greater good of the enemy is infinitely to be preferred, before the satisfying the unnecessary humour of the friend; and, therefore, that we may gain persons of a different religion, it is lawful to entertain them in their innocent customs; that we may represent ourselves charitable and just, apt to comply in what we can, and yet for no end complying farther than we are permitted. It was a policy of the devil, to abuse Christians to the rites of Mithra, by imitating the Christian ceremonies; and the Christians themselves were beforehand with him in that policy; for they facilitated the reconcilement of Judaism with Christianity, by common rites, and invited the Gentiles to the Christian churches, because they never violated the heathen temples, but loved the men, and imitated their innocent rites, and only offered to reform their errors, and hallow their abused purposes: and this, if it had no other contradictory or unhandsome circumstance, gave no offence to other Christians, when they had learned to trust them with the government of ecclesiastical affairs, to whom God had committed them; and they all had the same purposes of religion and charity. And when there is no objection against this, but the furies or greater heats of a mistaken zeal, the compliance with evil or unbelieving persons, to gain them from their errors to the ways of truth and sincerity, is great prudence and great charity; because it chooses and acts a greater good, at no other charge or expense but the discomposing of an intemperate zeal.

13. Ninthly: We are not bound to intermit a good or a lawful action, as soon as any man tells us it is scandalous, (for that may be an easy stratagem to give me laws, and destroy my liberty:) but either when the action is of itself, or by reason of a public known indisposition of some persons, probably introductive of a sin; or when we know it is so in fact. The other is but affrighting a man; this only is prudent, that my charity be guided by such rules, which determine wise men to actions or omissions respectively. And, therefore, a light fame is not strong enough to wrest my liberty from me; but a reasonable belief, or a certain knowledge, in the taking of which estimate we must neither be too credulous and easy, nor yet ungentle and stubborn, but do according to the actions of wise men and the charities of a Christian. Hither we may refer the rules of abstaining from things, which are of evil report. For not every thing which is of good report, is to be followed; for then a false opinion, when it is become popular, must be professed for conscience sake; nor yet every thing that is of bad report, is to be avoided; for nothing endured more shame and obloquy than Christianity, at its first commencement. But by "good report," we are to understand such things, which are well reported of by good men and wise men, or Scripture, or the consent of nations. And thus, for a woman to marry within the year of mourning is scandalous; because it is of evil report, gives suspicion of lightness, or some worse confederacy, before the death of her husband. The thing itself is apt to minister the suspicion, and this we are bound to prevent; and unless the suspicion be malicious, or imprudent and unreasonable, we must conceal our actions from the surprises and deprehensions of suspicion. It was scandalous amongst the old Romans not to marry; among the Christians, for a clergyman to marry twice, because it was against an apostolical canon: but when it became of ill report for any Christian to marry the second time, because this evil report was begun by the errors of Montanus, and is against a permission of holy Scripture, no lay Christian was bound to abstain from a second bed, for fear of giving scandal.

14. Tenthly: The precept of avoiding scandal concerns the governors of the church or state, in the making and execution of laws. For no law in things indifferent ought to

be made to the provocation of the subject, or against that public disposition, which is in the spirits of men; and will, certainly, cause perpetual irregularities and schisms. Before the law be made, the superior must comply with the subject; after it is made, the subject must comply with the law. But in this, the church hath made fair provision, accounting no laws obligatory, till the people have accepted them, and given tacit approbation: for ecclesiastical canons have their time of probation; and if they become a burden to the people, or occasion schisms, tumults, public disunion of affections, and jealousies against authority, the laws give place, and either fix not when they are not first approved, or disappear by desuetude. And in the execution of laws, no less care is to be taken; for many cases occur, in which the laws can be rescued from being a snare to men's consciences, by no other way but by dispensation, and slacking of the discipline as to certain particulars. Mercy and sacrifice, the letter and the spirit, the words and the intention, the general case and the particular exception, the present disposition and the former state of things, are oftentimes so repugnant, and of such contradictory interests, that there is no stumbling-block more troublesome or dangerous, than a severe literal and rigorous exacting of laws in all cases. But when stubbornness, or a contentious spirit, when rebellion and pride, when secular interest, or ease and licentiousness, set men up against the laws, the laws then are upon the defensive, and ought not to give place. It is ill to cure particular disobedience, by removing a constitution, decreed by public wisdom, for a general good. When the evil occasioned by the law is greater than the good designed, or than the good which will come by it in the present constitution of things, and the evil can by no other remedy be healed, it concerns the lawgiver's charity to take off such positive constitutions, which in the authority are merely human, and in the matter indifferent, and evil in the event. The sum of this whole duty I shall choose to represent, in the words of an excellent person, St. Jerome: "We must, for the avoiding of scandal, quit every thing which may be omitted, without prejudice to the threefold truth, of life, of justice, and doctrine:" meaning, that what is not expressly commanded by God or our superiors, or what is not expressly commended as an act of piety and perfection,

or what is not an obligation of justice; that is, in which the interest of a third person, or else our own Christian liberty, is not totally concerned, all that is to be given in sacrifice to mercy, and to be made matter of edification and charity, but not of scandal; that is, of danger, and sin, and falling, to our neighbour.

THE PRAYER.

O eternal Jesus, who art made unto us wisdom, righteousness, sanctification, and redemption, give us of thy abundant charity; that we may love the eternal benefit of our brother's soul, with a true, diligent, and affectionate care and tenderness. Give us a fellow-feeling of one another's calamities, a readiness to bear each other's burdens, aptness to forbear, wisdom to advise, counsel to direct, and a spirit of meekness and modesty trembling at our infirmities, fearful in our brother's dangers, and joyful in his restitution and securities. Lord, let all our actions be pious and prudent, ourselves "wise as serpents and innocent as doves," and our whole life exemplar, and just, and charitable; that we may, like lamps shining in thy temple, serve thee, and enlighten others, and guide them to thy sanctuary; and that, shining clearly and burning zealously, when the bridegroom shall come to bind up his jewels, and beautify his spouse, and gather his saints together, we, and all thy Christian people, knit in a holy fellowship, may "enter into the joy of our Lord," and partake of the eternal refreshments of the kingdom of light and glory, where thou, O holy and eternal Jesu, livest and reignest in the excellencies of a kingdom, and the infinite durations of eternity. Amen.

DISCOURSE XVIII.

Of the Causes and Manner of the Divine Judgments1.

1. God's judgments are like "the writing upon the wall," which was a missive of anger from God upon Belshazzar; it

* Ad. Num. 21, et 27.

came upon an errand of revenge, and yet was writ in so dark characters, that none could read it but a prophet. Whenever God speaks from heaven, he would have us to understand his meaning; and if he declares not his sense in particular signification, yet we understand his meaning well enough, if every voice of God lead us to repentance. Every sad accident is directed against sin, either to prevent it, or to cure it; to glorify God, or to humble us; to make us go forth of ourselves, and to rest upon the centre of all felicities, that we may derive help from the same hand that smote us. Sin and punishment are so near relatives, that when God hath marked any person with a sadness or unhandsome accident, men think it warrant enough for their uncharitable censures, and condemn the man whom God hath smitten, making God the executioner of our uncertain or ungentle sentences. "Whether sinned, this man, or his parents, that he was born blind?” said the Pharisees to our blessed Lord. "Neither this man nor his parents," was the answer: meaning, that God had other ends in that accident to serve; and it was not an effect of wrath, but a design of mercy, both directly and collaterally. God's glory must be seen clearly, by occasion of the curing the blind man. But, in the present case, the answer was something different. Pilate slew the Galileans, when they were sacrificing in their conventicles apart from the Jews. For they first had separated from obedience, and paying tribute to Cæsar; and then from the church, who disavowed their mutinous and discontented doctrines. The causes of the one and the other are linked in mutual complications and endearment; and he who despises the one, will quickly disobey the other. Presently, upon the report of this sad accident, the people ran to the judgment-seat, and every man was ready to be accuser, and witness, and judge, upon these poor destroyed people. But Jesus allays their heat; and though he would, by no means, acquit these persons from deserving death for their denying tribute to Cæsar, yet he alters the face of the tribunal, and makes those persons, who were so apt to be accusers and judges, to act another part, even of guilty persons too, that, since they will needs be judging, they might judge themselves: for, "Think not

• Πάντω δ ̓ ἀθανάτων ἀφανὺς νέος ἀνθρώποισι, --- Solon.

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