« PreviousContinue »
vice of covetousness is not such a wild fire as lust is, not inflamed by contact, and neighbourhood of all things in the world : every thing may be instrumental to libidinous desires, but to covetous appetites there are not temptations of so different natures.
42. Concerning the order of these commandments, it is not unusefully observed, that, if we account from the first to the last, they are of greatest perfection which are last described; and he who is arrived to that severity and dominion of himself, as not to desire his neighbour's goods, is very far from actual injury, and so in proportion; it being the least degree of religion to confess but one God. But, therefore, vices are to take their estimate in the contrary order: he that prevaricates the first commandment is the greatest sinner in the world; and the least is he that only covets without any actual injustice. And there is no variety or objection in this, unless it be altered by the accidental difference of degrees; but in the kinds of sin the rule is true: this only, the sixth and seventh are otherwise in the Hebrew Bibles than ours, and in the Greek otherwise in Exodus than in Deuteronomy; and, by this rule, it is a greater sin to commit adultery than to kill; concerning which we have no certainty, save that St. Paul, in one respect, makes the sin of uncleanness the greatest of any sin, whose scene lies in the body : “ Every sin is without the body, but he that commits fornication sins against his own body."
O eternal Jesus, wisdom of the Father, thou light of Jews
and Gentiles, and the great Master of the world, who, by thy holy sermons and clearest revelations of the mysteries of thy Father's kingdom, didst invite all the world to great degrees of justice, purity, and sanctity, and instruct us all in a holy institution, give us understanding of thy laws; that, the light of thy celestial doctrine illuminating our darknesses, and making bright all the recesses of our spirits and understandings, we may direct our feet, all the lower man, the affections of the inferior appetite, to walk in the paths of thy commandments. Dearest God, make us to live a life of religion and justice, of love and duty; that we may adore thy majesty, and reverence thy name, and love thy mercy, and admire thy infinite glories and perfections, and obey thy precepts. Make us to love thee for thyself, and our neighbours for thee; make us to be all love and all duty: that we may adorn the Gospel of thee, our Lord, walking worthy of our vocation ; that, as thou hast called us to be thy disciples, so we may walk therein, doing the work of faithful servants, and may receive the adoption of sons, and the gift of eternal glory, which thou hast reserved for all the disciples of thy holy institution. Make all the world obey thee as a Prophet; that, being redeemed and purified by thee, our High Priest, all may reign with thee, our King, in thy eternal kingdom, o eternal Jesus, Wisdom of thy Father. Amen.
OF THE THREE ADDITIONAL PRECEPTS WHICH CHRIST SUPERINDUCED, AND MADE PARTS OF THE
Of Charity, with its Parts, Forgiving, Giving, not Judging.
1. The holy Jesus coming to reconcile all the world to God, would reconcile all the parts of the world one with another, that they may rejoice in their common band and their common salvation. The first instance of charity forbade to Christians all revenge of injuries; which was a perfection and endearment of duty beyond what either most of the old philosophers, or the laws of the nations, or of Moses, ever
a Platarchus tamen multa præclara dicit de charitate erga inimicos. “Simplicitati et magnanimitati atque bonitati plus loci hic est quàm in amicitiis Oblatâ occasione ulciscendi inimicum, enm missum facere æquanimitatis est. Qui verò miseratur inimicum afflictum, et opem fert indigeuti, et filiis ejus ac familiæ adverso ipsorum tempore operam suam stadiumqne defert, bunc qui non amat, huic pectus atrum est atque adamaptinum,” &c.-- De Cup. ex Inim. Utilit.
Et Cicero dixit Cæsari; Pompeii statuas restituendo, tuas defixisti. VOL. 11.
practised or enjoined. For revenge was esteemed to unhallowed, unchristian natures, as sweet as life, a satisfaction of injuries, and the only cure of maladies and affronts. Only, laws of the wisest commonwealths commanded that revenge should be taken by the judge; a few cases being excepted, in which, by sentence of the law, the injured person, or his nearest relative, might be the executioner of the vengeance : as among the Jews, in the case of murder; among the Romans, in the case of an adulteress or a ravished daughter, the father might kill the adulteress or the ravisher. In other things the judge only was to be the avenger. But Christ commanded his disciples, rather than to take revenge, to expose themselves to a second injury, rather “ offer the other cheek,” than be avenged for a blow on this; “ for vengeance belongs to God,” and he will retaliate: and to that “wrath we must give place,” saith St. Paulb; that is, "in well-doing" and evil-suffering “ commit ourselves to his righteous judgment,” leaving room for his execution, who will certainly do it, if we snatch not the sword from his arm.
2. But some observe, that our blessed Saviour instanced but in smaller injuries : he that bade us suffer a blow on the cheek, did not oblige us tamely to be sacrificed; he that enjoined us to put up the loss of our coat and cloak, did not signify his pleasure to be, that we should suffer our family to be turned out of doors, and our whole estate aliened and cancelled, especially we being otherwise obliged to provide for them under the pain of the curse of infidelity. And indeed there is much reason our defences may be extended, when the injuries are too great for our sufferance, or that our defence bring no greater damage to the other than we divert from ourselves. But our blessed Saviour's prohibition is instanced in such small particulars, which are no limitations of the general precept, but particulars of common considera
Justitiæ primum munus est, ut ne cui noceas, nisi lacessitus injuriâ.Cic. de Offic.
Exod. xxi. 23. Levit. xxiv, 20. Deut. xix. 21.
Idcirco judiciorum vigor, jurisque publici tutela videtur in medio constituta, ne quisqnam sibi ipsi permittere valeat ultionem. — Honor. et Theod. in Cod. Theodos.
6 Rom. xii. 19.
tion. “But I say unto you, resist not evil:” so our English Testament reads it; but the word signifies “avenge not evil;" and it binds us to this only, that we be not avengers of the wrong, but rather suffer twice, than once to be avenged. He that is struck on the face may run away, or may divert the blow, or bind the hand of his enemy; and he whose coat is snatched away, may take it again, if without injury to the other he
do it. We are sometimes bound to resist evil:” every clearing of our innocence, refuting of calumnies, quitting ourselves of reproach, is a resisting evil; but such which is hallowed to us by the example of our Lord himself and his apostles. But this precept is clearly expounded by St. Paul: Render not evil for evild;" that is, be not revenged. You may either secure or restore yourselves to the condition of your own possessions or fame, or preserve your life, provided that no evil be returned to him that offers the injury. For so sacred are the laws of Christ, so holy and great is his example, so much hath he endeared us who were his enemies, and so frequently and severely hath he preached and enjoined forgiveness, that he who knows not to forgive, knows not to be like a Christian, and a disciple of so gentle a Master.
3. So that the smallness or greatness of the instance alters not the case in this duty: in the greatest matters we are permitted only to an innocent defence, in the smallest we may do so too: I may as well hold my coat fast as my gold, and I may as well hide my goods as run away, and that is a defence; and if my life be in danger, I'must do no more but defend myself: save only that defence, in case of life, is of a larger signification than in case of goods. I may wound my enemy, if I cannot else be safe; I may disarne him, or in any sense disable him; and this is extended even to a liberty to kill him, if my defence necessarily stands upon so hard conditions: for although I must not give him a wound for a wound", because that cannot cure me, but is certainly revenge; yet, when my life cannot be otherwise safe than by killing him, I have used that liberty which nature hath permitted
C MÀ åYTitīva. Tợ Trovngal sumitur sensu generali pro omni retaliationc. d Rom. xii. 17.
e Succurram perituro, sed ut ipse non peream; nisi si futurus ero magni hominis aut magnæ rei merces. — Sen.
me, and Christ hath not forbidden, who only interdicted revenge, and forbade no defence which is charitable and necessary, and not blended with malice and anger. And it is as much charity to preserve myself as him, when I fear to die. i 4. But although we find this nowhere forbidden, yet it is very consonant to the excellent mercy of the Gospel, and greatly laudable, if we choose rather to lose our life, in imitation of Christ, than save it by the loss of another's, in pursuance of the permissions of nature. When nature only gives leave, and no lawgiver gives command to defend our lives, and the excellence of Christianity highly commends dying for our enemies, and propounds to our imitation the greatest example that ever could be in the world; it is a very great imperfection, if we choose not rather to obey an insinuation of the holy Jesus, than with greediness and appetite pursue the bare permissions of nature. But in this we have no necessity. Only this is to be read with two cautions : 1. So long as the assaulted person is in actual danger, he must use all arts and subterfuges which his wit or danger can supply him with, as passive defence, flight, arts of diversion, entreaties, soft and gentle answers, or whatsoever is in its kind innocent, to prevent his sin and my danger; that when he is forced to his last defence, it may be certain he hath nothing of revenge mingled in so sad a remedy. 2. That this be not understood to be a permission to defend our lives against an angry and unjust princef: for if my lawful prince should attempt my life with rage, or with the abused solemnities of law; in the first case the sacredness of his person, in the second, the reverence and religion of authority, are his defensatives, and immure him, and bind my hands, that I must not lift them up, but to Heaven, for my own defence and his pardon.
5. But the vain pretences of vainer persons have here made a question where there is no scruple; and if I may defend my life with the sword, or with any thing which nature and the laws forbid not, why not also mine honour, which is as dear as life, which makes my life without con
I Privatas inimicitias, non principis, ulciscar, dixit Tiberius. – Tacit. Annal. lib. iii.