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No; it is only he that wrought this faith in my heart can witness the truth of my words. And if I swear by the gifts of God, I do, in effect, swear by God himself; otherwise I ascribe that to the creature, which is only compatible to the glorious Creator, even the knowledge of the thoughts of my heart, how secret soever they be. But again; there is more in the third commandment, than the devil would persuade the world there is; for, when God commands me not to take his name in vain, it is more than if he had commanded me only not to swear by it; for I cannot persuade myself, but that every time I speak of God when I do not think of him, I take his name in vain; and, therefore, I ought to endeavour to avoid even mentioning of God, as well as swearing by him, unless upon urgent occasions, and with reverence and respect becoming his majesty; for questionless, "O Lord" and "O God" may be spoken as vainly, as "By Lord" and "By God." And therefore I ought never to speak such words, without thinking really in my heart what I speak openly with my mouth, lest my name be written amongst those that take the name of God in vain. But farther still; I am resolved not only to avoid downright swearing, but likewise the very appearance of it; so that what doth but look like an oath shall be as odious to me, as what looks like nothing else.
I am resolved, by the grace of God, always to make my tongue and heart go together, so as never to speak with the one what I do not think in the other.
As my happiness consisteth in nearness and vicinity, so doth my holiness in likeness and conformity, to the chiefest good. I am so much the better, as I am liker the best; and so much the holier, as I am more conformable to the holiest, or rather to him who is holiness itself. Now one great title which the Most High is pleased to give to himself, and by which he is pleased to reveal himself to us, is, the God of truth: so that I shall be so much the liker to the God of truth, by how much I am more constant to the truth of God; and the far
ther I deviate from this, the nearer I approach to the nature of the devil, who is the father of lies aud liars too. And hence it is that of all the sins the men of fashion are guilty of, they can least endure to be charged with lying. To give a man the lie, or to say, "You lie," is locked upon as the greatest affront that can be put upon them. And why so? Only because this sin of lying makes them so like their father the devil, that a man had almost as well call them devils, as liars; and therefore, to avoid the scandal and reproach, as well as the dangerous malignity of this damnable sin, I am resolved, by the blessing of God, always to tune my tongue in unison to my heart, so as never to speak any thing but what I think really to be true. So that if I ever speak what is not true, it shall not be the error of my will, but of my understanding.
I know lies are commonly distinguished into officious, pernicious, and jocose; and some may fancy some of them more tolerable than others: but, for my own part, I think they are all pernicious, and therefore not to be jested withal nor indulged, upon any pretence or color whatsoever. Not as if it were a sin, not to speak exactly as a thing is in itself, or as it seems to me in its literal meaning, without some liberty granted to rhetorical tropes and figures-for so the scripture itself would be chargeable with lies, many things being contained in it, which are not true in a literal sense-but I must so use rhetorical, as not to abuse my Christian, liberty; and therefore never make use of hyperboles, ironies, or other tropes and figures, to deceive or impose upon my auditors, but only for the better adorning, illustrating, or confirming the
But there is another sort of lies most men are apt to fall into, and they are promissory lies; to avoid which, I am resolved never to promise any thing with my mouth, but what I intend to perform in my heart; and never to intend to perform any thing, but what I am sure I can perform. For this is the cause and occasion of most promissory lies, that we promise that absolutely, which we should promise only conditionally: for though I may intend to do as I say now, yet there
are a thousand weighty things may intervene, which may turn the balance of my intentions, or otherwise hinder the performance of my promise. So that unless I be absolutely sure I can do a thing, I must never absolutely promise to do it; and, therefore, in all such promises, shall still put in, "God willing," or, "By the help of God;" at the same time lifting up my heart to God, lest I take his name in vain.
I am resolved, by the grace of God, to speak of other men's sins only before their faces, and of their virtues only behind their backs.
To commend men when they are present, I esteem almost as great a piece of folly, as to reprove them when they are absent; though I do confess, in some cases and to some persons, it may be commendable, especially where the person is not apt to be puffed up, but spurred-on by
it. But to rail at others when they hear me not, is the highest piece of folly imaginable; for, as it is impossible they should get any good, so it is impossible but that I should get much hurt by it. For such sort of words, make the best we can of them, are but idle and unprofitable, and may not only prove injurious to the person of whom, but even to whom, they are spoken, by wounding the credit of the former and the charity of the latter, and so, by consequence, my own soul; nay, even though I speak that which is true in itself, and known to be so to me: and, therefore, this way of backbiting ought, by all means, to be avoided.
But I must much more have a care of raising false reports concerning any one, or of giving credit to them that raise them, or of passing my judgment till I have weighed the matter; lest I transgress the rules of mercy and charity, which command me not to censure any one upon others' rumors or my own surmises; nay, if the thing be in itself true, still to interpret it in the best sense. But, if I must needs be raking in other men's stores, it must not be behind their backs, but before their faces, for the one is a great sin, and the other may be as great a duty, even to
reprove my neighbour for doing any thing offensive unto God or destructive to his own soul; still endeavouring so to manage the reproof, as to make his sin loathsome to him, and prevail upon him, if possible, to forsake it: but there is a great deal of Christian prudence and discretion to be used in this, lest others may justly reprove me for my indiscreet reproof of theirs. I must still fit my reproof to the time when, the person to whom, and the sin against which, it is designed; still contriving with myself, how to carry on this duty so, as that by converting a sinner from the error of his way, I may save a soul from death, and hide a multitude of sins; not venting my anger against the person, but my sorrow for the sin that is reproved. Hot, passionate, and reviling words, will not so much exasperate a man against his sin that is reproved, as against the person that doth reprove it. It is not the wrath of man, that worketh the righteousness of God. But this, of all duties, must be performed with a spirit of love and meekness. I must first insinuate myself into his affections, and then press his sin upon his conscience, and that directly or indirectly, as the person, matter, or occasion shall require; that so he that is reproved by me now, may have cause to bless God for me to all eternity.
I am resolved, by the grace of God, always to speak reverently to my superiors, humbly to my inferiors, and civilly to all.
THE most high God, the master of this great family, the world, for the more orderly government of it, hath, according to his infinite wisdom, set some in higher, some in lower places, hath made some as stewards, others as under-servants; and, according to every man's work that he expects from him, he measures out his talents to him. Blessed be his name for it, he hath set me in a middle form, giving me Agar's wish, subject neither to envy on the one hand, nor pity on the other; so that I have both superiors to reverence, and inferiors to condescend to. And accordingly it is my duty so to behave myself towards: them, that the reverend expressions of my mouth may,
manifest the obedient subjection of my heart to the pow er and authority God has given them over me. It is the express command of the gospel, that we should render to every man his due, fear to whom fear is due, honor to whom honor; which words plainly imply, both that it is some men's due to receive honor, and other men's duty to give it. And accordingly we find Paul, when he was brought before Festus, doth not say "Art thou he, whom they call Festus ?" or, "Thou Festus," as the misguided enthusiasts, in our days, would have said; but Most noble Festus. In like manner, St. John doth not call her he writes to, in his second epistle, being a person of quality, Woman, but elect lady.
And this sort of reverence is farther confirmed to us, not only by the constant custom of all nations in all ages of the world, but it is likewise highly agreeable to the rules of right reason, as well as the order of government; for as there is both a natural and civil superiority, a superiority in gifts and age,and a superiority likewise in office and station, so there is nothing can be more necessary, than that there should be, in both these respects, a reverence and respect paid to the persons of men answerable to these distinctions. And therefore I cannot but condemn that rude and unmannerly behaviour of some of our modern schismatics towards their superiors, as factious and unreasonable, as well as re pugnant to the dictates of the divine Spirit which the prophets and apostles were inspired and influenced by.
And as there is a reverence due from inferiors to their superiors in point of conversation, so likewise are there some decent regards and civilities to be showed even by superiors to their inferiors, who are always to be treated with candor and condescension in their ordinary capacities, and even where they are considered as criminals, with meekness and moderation. Insomuch that, methinks, it is one of the worst sights in the world, to see some men, that are gotten upon a little higher ground than their neighbours are, to look proudly and scornfully down upon all that are below them, disdaining to vouchsafe them the least favor or respect whatsoever, Such churlish, haughty, and foul-mouthed Nabals as these, are not only very unjust and unreasonable in their behaviour to others, but they are certainly the