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tates of my conscience in this particular, is to transgress the command of God; for in this, conscience is as God's vicegerent in my soul; what conscience commands, God commands; what conscience forbids, God forbids; that is, I am as really under the power of conscience, as the commands of God, in such a case. So that if I do not obey the former, it is impossible for me to obey the latter. But how much then doth it behove me to see that my conscience be rightly informed in every thing! For as, if a judge be misinformed, it is impossible he should pass righteous judgment, so, if conscience be misinformed, it is impossible I should do a righteous act. And, what a miserable case shall I then be in! If I do what in itself is sinful, though my conscience tells me it is good, yet I sin, because the act in itself is sinful; and if I do what in itself is good, and my conscience tells me it is bad, I sin, because my conscience tells me it is so. So that as my conscience is, so will my actions be.
For this reason, I resolve, in the presence of my great Creator, never to do any thing, till I have first informed my conscience, from the word of God, whether it be lawful for me to do it or no; or, in case it be not determined there, to make a strict search and enquiry into each circumstance of it, considering with myself what good or evil may issue from it, and so, what good or evil there is in it; and, according as my conscience upon the hearing of the arguments on both sides shall decide the matter, I shall do or not do it; never undertaking any thing upon mere surmises, because it may be good, but upon a real and thorough persuasion that it is so.
I am resolved, by the grace of God, to do all things for the glory of God.
As I was not made by, so neither for myself; for God, says the wise man, made all things for himself. And being thus made for God, it follows of course, that I ought to act for God; otherwise I shall frustrate the end of my creation; insomuch that whatsoever I make my chief aim in what I do, I make that my God. Do I aim
at the glory of the all-glorious Jehovah? It is him I make my God. Do I aim at riches? Then it is Mammon I make my God: and therefore is it, that covetousness is called idolatry. Do I aim at pleasures? It is my senses I make my God. Do I aim at popular applause or worldly advancements? Or do I aim at my own health or life? These are my Gods. For what is worshipping, but making all the powers of my soul and actions of my body, to bow and stoop to them? Hence it is that the
most high God, who hath said he will not give his glory to another, hath been so express in commanding me to do all things to his glory. Whether ye eat or drink, says the apostle, or whatsoever ye do, do all to the glory of God.
But how can I, poor worm, be said to do any thing to the glory of the eternal God? Why, in the same manner as he is said to do what he doth for his own glory. And how is that? By manifesting his glory unto others. Thus, if I can but so live and act, as thereby to evidence that the God I serve is a glorious God, glorious in holiness, glorious in goodness, glorious in wisdom, glorious in power, and the like; this is doing all things to the glory of God. For example-by praying to God, I avouch him to be a God infinite in knowledge, that he is present with me, and hears me pray, wheresoever I am; and I own him to be infinite in mercy, in that he will suffer such a sinful creature as I am to address myself to him. so there is not the least action I undertake, but I am so to manage it, as to manifest the glory of God by it, making it my end and design so to do; otherwise let me do what I will, I am sure to sin; for though, I confess, a good end can never make a bad action good, yet a bad end will always make a good action bad; so that, as ever I would do any thing that is good, I must be sure to do it to the glory of God.
I am resolved, by the grace of God, to mingle such recreations with my business, as to further my business by my recreations.
HAVING wholly devoted myself to God, all I have or am is still to be improved for him; insomuch that were it not for the necessities of nature, every moment of my life should and ought to be spent in the immediate worship and service of him. But though nature requires some time from my solemn serving of him for the recreating of myself, yet grace requireth, that this recreating of myself should still be for the promoting his service; so that my recreations do not only fit me for farther service, but they, in themselves, should be, some way or other, serviceable to him; which that they may be, I must have as great a care in the choice, as in the use, of my recreations.
There are some recreations that are so far from conducing to his service, that they may make more for the incensing of his wrath; as drinking and gaming, which, though in themselves lawful, yet, as they often prove an occasion of swearing, lying, cheating, and contention amongst men, and, by consequence, of wrath in God, so they ought, by all means, to be shunned and avoided. Indeed it may be questioned whether gaming be ever a lawful recreation; for either it is a lottery, or not. If it be a lottery, it is not lawful, because it is a great presumption and sin to set God at work to recreate ourselves, for poor nothings to employ the chiefest good immediately to determine such frivolous and trifling impertinencies. If it be not a lottery, then it is not a pure recreation; for if it depends upon man's wit and study, it exercises his brain and spirits as much as if he were about other things. So that being, on one side, not lawful; on the other side, no recreation; it can, on no side, be a lawful recreation.
For what is the end of recreation, but to revive my languishing spirits, to let them rest and be quiet a little, when they are tired with too much exercise, that they
may be fresher, livelier, and fitter for work afterwards? Hence is it that God indeed hath provided a recreation for all sensible creatures, sleep, which is the rest of the spirits in the nerves. When the little animal spirits have been, all the day, running up and down upon the soul's errands, then to lie down still and quiet is a great refreshment and revivement to them, provided still that it be moderately used. Whereas the indulging ourselves too much in it, is rather a clogging and stupifying of them; as we see in our bodies, which, when not accustomed to, are most averse from, and unfit for exercise.
So that the chief and only time for recreation is when my spirits are either weary with labor and study, or else called in to some necessary employment in some other place; as at and after meals, especially such as are of a hard digestion; for then the spirits have enough to do, to turn the food we eat into good nourishment. And therefore the intenseness of study, running, wrestling, and such-like violent exercises, are not proper at such a time; because, as in studying we draw the spirits from the stomach to the head, so, in the other exercises, such as moderate walking, conference, and free discourse about common but necessary points, we send them from the stomach into other parts of the body, where they are to be set on work.
But that which I have found the best recreation both to my body and mind, whensoever either of them stands in need of it, is music, which exercises at once both my body and my soul; especially when I play myself; for then, methinks, the same motion that my hand makes upon the instrument, the instrument makes upon my heart. It calls in my spirits, composes my thoughts, delights my ear, recreates my mind, and so not only fits me for after-business, but fills my heart, at the present, with pure and useful thoughts; so that when the music sounds the sweetliest in my ears, truth commonly flows the clearest into my mind. And hence it is that I find my soul is become more harmonious, by being accustomed so much to harmony, and so averse to all manner
of discord, that the least jarring sounds, either in notes or words, seem very harsh and unpleasant to me.
That there is something more than ordinary in music, appears from David's making use of it for driving away the evil spirit from Saul and Elisha, and for the bringing of the good spirit upon himself. From which I am induced to believe, that there is really a sort of secret and charming power in it, that naturally dispels from the mind all or most of those black humors, which the evil spirit uses to brood upon, and, by composing it into a more regular, sweet, and docible disposition, renders it the fitter for the Holy Spirit to work upon, the more susceptive of divine grace, and more faithful messenger, whereby to convey truth to the understanding. But however that be, I must necessarily acknowledge, that of all recreations, this is by far the more suitable to my temper and disposition, in that it is not only an exercise to my body, but to my mind too; my spirits being thereby made the more nimble and active, and, by consequence, the fitter to wait upon my soul, and be employed by her in whatsoever business she is engaged.
But in this and all other recreations, I must always take care not to exceed my measure, either in point of time or intention. I must not follow them too close, nor spend too many hours in them, but still resolve to use them, as that they may not become a snare to me, but answer the ends for which they were designed; that when God shall call me to it, I may give him as good an account of my recreations, as of my necessary duties.
RESOLUTIONS CONCERNING MY RELATIONS.
BUT be not deceived, O my soul! Thou art not yet advanced far enough. It is not sufficient to pretend to holiness in my thoughts and affections, and in my words and actions, unless I express it likewise in all the relations and conditions of life. The commandments of God are said to be exceeding broad; they extend themselves to every capacity I can possibly be in, not only enjoining me to live soberly in respect to myself, but righteously