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2. This being the Cafe, that Self-Love leads Men so much to cultivate Friendships, in order to their own Subsistence and Security, it follows plainly, that if we go no farther in this Duty of Love, than to direct it to our Friends, and them that love us, we are governed in it, not by Principles of Religion, but by Principles of Self-Love and worldly Interest : And therefore if we would be sure of our own Sincerity, that we are acted by Confiderations of pure Religion, and an eye to God, it will be necessary, that to our Love of Friends, and of those that love us, we add the Love of Enemies, of those that hate and persecute us, that revile us, and do us all the Harm they possibly can.
By the way, this may account for a pretended Defect, which a late (a) Favourer of Deism thinks he has discovered in the Gospel, namely, that the Dúty of Friendship is not recommended there. For taking off this Afperfion; not to inlist now that the Duty of brotherly Love, which is made the Badge and Cognizance of Chriftians, is nothing else but an exalted Friendship, as appeared by the Practice of the first Christians, who joined their Hearts, and Souls, Tongues, Pens, Purses, and Estates, in such a firm Friendship, as the World never saw before ; not to say any thing of this, but to confine my self to my Text; does not the pressing the more exalted Duty of the Love of Enemies, a fortiori, include the Love of Friends? Is not the Love of Friends presupposed here as a lower Form of Goodnels, which not
(a) Lord Shaftesbury's Memoirs,
only the Jews, but even Heathens, went into. It is here approved by our Saviour; only we are commanded not to rest there, but to go on to greater Perfection, even the Love of Enemies. By this falle Way of arguing, they might as well pretend, that our Saviour says nothing against Murder when he condemns all Anger in the Heart, and all Provocations of affronting Words; and they might pretend that he says nothing against Fornication and Adultery, when he condemns the inward Lusting in the Heart; and that he says nothing against Blasphemy and Perjury, when he banishes all Oaths out of our Conversation; for by forbidding the lefser Sins, he doth much more forbid the greater ; and by requiring the higher and more perfect Duties, he doth much more require the more common and ordinary ones. But to return from this Digreffion, which yet has not led us one Step out of the Way of the Text, I proceed to
IV. The fourth Thing I observed from the Words, namely, that upon occasion of any good Thing we see in others, we should stir up our felves to an holy Emulation to equal or exceed them, as the Principles and Duties of our Religion do require; as here, from the Example of the very Publicans, our Saviour excites us to the highest Degrees of Duty. We are all fo apt to forget what we ought chiefly to mind, that it is a Piece of good Spiritual Husbandry, to take all the Assistance we can from the Examples of others, to adınonith our felves, and to stir us up to a more diligent Performance of Duty. Sometimes the very brute Creatures are taken notice of as Patterns of some kinds of Virtues which Men ne
glect: So Solomon fends the Sluggard to the Ant, to learn Diligence and Providence, Prov. vi. 6. Go to the Ant thou Sluggard, conßder her Ways, and be wise: which having no Guide, Overfeer or Ruler, provideth ber Meat in the Summer, and gathereth her Food in the Harvest. So to con- . vince the People of Israel of Ingratitude and Inconsideration, God brings in the Examples of the Ox and the Ass, Isa. i. 3. The Ox knoweth his Owner, and the Ass his Master's Crib, but Israel doth not know, my People doth not consider. And the Prophet Jeremiah makes use of several Birds and Fowls, to reprehend Israel for neglecting the Time of their Visitation. Ver. viji. 7. Yea the Stork in the Heaven knoweth ber appointed Times, and the Turtle, and the Crane, and the Swallow observe the Time of their coming ; but my People know not the Judgment of the Lord. And so our Saviour, in the next Chapter, sends us to the Fowls of the Air to learn a chearful Dependance on Providence. Sometimes again we are shamed into our Duty by the Examples of the Heathen World; So fer. ii. 10. Pass over the Isles of Chittim, and see; and send unto Kedar, and confider diligently, and see if there be such a Thing. Hath a Nation changed her Gods, which yet are no Gods? But my People have changed their Glory, for that which doth not profit. And so in my Text, the Example of the Publicans is made use of to shame us into some higher Degree of Love than theirs, which was the Love of Friends.. and the shewing Courtesy and Civility to their Brethren; that is, all that were of their own Sect and Party. Thus we see Examples are brought in both for Imitation and Caution; Imitation, as that of the VOL. II.
Rechabites, who payed such a Deference to the Commands of their Father Jonadab, as God would have his People pay to his Commands; and Caution, as that of the disobedient Ifraelites, that we may take Warning, and avoid it; Now these Things were our Examples, faith St Paul, 1 Cor. x. 6. to the Intent we should not lust after evil Things, as they also lufted. Neither be ye Idolaters, as were fome of them. Neither let us commit Fornication, 'as fome of them committed. Neither let us tempt Christ, as fome of them also tempted. Neither murmur ye, as fome of them also murmured. So here, the very Publicans, Men of the lowest Character for moral Goodness, shew Courtesy and Kindness to their own Friends and Party; and therefore let not us Christians rest in that low Degree of Goodnefs, but extend our Charity, Courtesy, and Beneficence to our Enemies. And this leads me to the fifth and last Thing I observed in the Words, namely,
v. That if we would approve our felves true Christians, and if we expect to go to Heaven, we must not content our felves to live like the common Men of the World, but even in those Things wherein they seem to give us good Examples, should outstrip them, and distinguish ourselves by endeavouring after higher Degrees of all Christian Virtues. This is implied in these Words, What do ye more than others? It is a fatal Mistake, that we do not usually consider so much, what the Duty and Dignity of our Profession requires, as what will satisfy the present Customs and Demands of the World; whereas we should indeed have much higher Notions of Christianity, as being the most perfect Dispensation ; and so be possessed
with that only commendable Piece of Ambition and Emulation, to outstrip all others in all man- . ner of Virtue. What do ye more than others, is a Question which should continually be founding in our Ears, and spurring us on to greater Perfection in Christian Graces. The Reason of this Doctrine is taken from the many Advantages of Christianity beyond any other Dispensation, towards the planting an accomplished Virtue in the World. I shall name a few of the chief of them, and leave it to your selves to consider whether they ought not to have another manner of Efficacy, in leading us to an higher Degree of Virtue, beyond what could be expected from the World before, or from any other Institution fince.
1. First then, consider how little the rest of the World knew of any Reward of Virtue, to what we Christians know from the Principles of our Religion. We find Socrates, and Tully, and Seneca, and such other Heathen Moralists, as had the best Apprehensions of a.future State, talking of it very conjecturally, as if they hoped for some such Thing, but knew not certainly whether it would be to, or no. Only they had some confused
Apprehensions that good Men would be reward.ed, and bad Men punished in the future State ; which, if it made any little Impression upon them, they were taught to trust so much to the various Sacrifices, and other Rites of their false Religions, for expiating their Crimes, that these Principles could have no great Influence, towards the fanctifying their Hearts, or the Amendment of their Lives. Most of the Promises which were made to the Jews were temporal, a Land flowing with Milk and Honey, Wealth, and Peace, and F f 2