תמונות בעמוד

rant people, who converse with no wiser men, are ordinarily taken with the silly cavils of a drunken sot, who hath but a little more volubility or looseness of tongue than his companions. It would make one's head and heart ache, to hear with what reverend nonsense one of them will talk against the doctrines or practices of godliness, and how submissively the tractable herd receiveth, and consenteth to his documents 13. Also it tendeth much to the helping of satan, and murdering of souls, to keep up the reputation of the most ungodly, and to keep down the reputation of the good. The devil knoweth that sin itself, is such a thing, as few men can love barefaced, or commend ; and that goodness or holiness is such a thing, as few men can hate, or, at least condemn, in its proper name and colours. Therefore he seeketh to make the reputation of the persons serve, to promote or hinder the cause which he is for or against. He that is ashamed to say of drunkenness or whoredom, that they are good and honest practices, dare yet say of drunkards and whoremongers, “They are very honest men :’ and by their reputation take off some of the odiousness of the sin, and reconcile the hearers to it. And he that cannot for shame say of the forbearing of sin, and living a holy life, in heavenly contemplation, prayer and obedience, that, “These are hypocrisy, schism, or sedition, covetousness, deceit and pride; yet dare say of the person who practiseth them, that, ‘He is as covetous, deceitful, proud, hypocritical, schismatical or seditious as any others who make no profession of religion.’ And the devil knoweth, that though good doctrine hath no mixture of evil, nor Christ himself any blemish or spot, yet the best persons are so faulty or defectible, that an ill report is less incredible, there being too much matter to raise a suspicion on. And through their sides, it is easiest to wound the doctrine or holiness which they profess. 14. Also persuading sinners to do evil, and dissuading them from a godly life, is another way of murdering souls. The devil's temptations are most by instruments; he hath his preachers as well as Christ; and it were well if they did not overgo us in earnestness, frequency, and constancy. Where is there a poor soul that is moved by God to turn

and live, but the devil hath some at hand to drive them from it? By persuading them that it is needless, and that all is well with them, and telling them some dismal stories of a holy life. 15. Another way of soul murder, is by laying baits of deceit and sin before the sinner: as men destroy rats and mice by baits, and sweetened poison; or catch flies or birds by covering their death with something which they most love; so doth the devil and his instruments destroy souls: the baits of a pleasant cup, or pleasant company, or pleasant meats, or pleasant sports, or plays, or games; a feast, a tavern, an alehouse, a whore, a stage-play, a romance, a pair of cards or dice, can do the deed. If he can possibly, he will prove it a thing lawful; if he cannot, he will prove it a venial sin; if that cannot be, he will drown consideration, and stop the mouth of reason and conscience, and cry, * Drive on.’ Some have yet higher baits than these; lordships and lands, dominion and honour, to choak their souls. 16. Also an honest name for sin, and a dishonest name for duty to God, doth serve the turn for many men's perdition. To call drunkenness, good fellowship, or, to take a cup ; and gluttony, good housekeeping; and voluptuousness, recreation or pastime; and pride, the maintaining of their honour; and worldliness, good husbandry; and prodigality, liberality: and lust, and whoredom, love, and having a mistress; and oppression, the seeking of their due; and perfidious dissimulation, courtship; and jeering, wittiness. These, and more such, are traps for souls. And of the same use is the calling of duties by names of vice, which tend to make them odious or contemptible. 17. Also the flattering of sinners, and praising them in their sin, is a soul-murdering encouragement to them in illdoing; and great sinners seldom want such enemies. 18. An obedient readiness to all that wicked superiors command, is an encouragement to them to proceed in mischief. If parents or masters command their inferiors to spend the Lord's day in dancing, or other unlawful exercises; or bid them steal, or lie, or forbid them to worship God; those that obey them, do harden them in their sin. As Daniel and the three witnesses had done the king, if they had obeyed him ". 19. Also when those that have power to hinder sin, and further godliness, do not do it. When they either give men leave to sin, or forbear their duty when they should restrain it. He that stands by, and seeth his neighbour robbed or murdered, and doth not what he can to save him, is guilty of the sin, and the sufferer's hurt. 20. Silence, when we are obliged to reprove a sinner, or to instruct the ignorant, or exhort the obstinate, or any way speak for men's salvation, is injurious to their souls, and maketh us partakers of their sin. Soul-murder may be done by bare omissions. 21. Opposing magistrates, ministers, or any others, in the discharge of their duty for godliness, or against sin, is an act of hostility against God, and men's salvation. 22. An unnecessary occasioning of sin, or doing that needlessly, which we may foresee that by accident another will destroy himself by, is to be guilty of his sin and destruction: as he is that would sell poison to him, that he might foresee would kill himself with it; or lend fire to his neighbour, who he knoweth will burn his house with it. But of this before, in the Chapter of Scandal. 23. They that are guilty of schisms or church-divisions, are murderers of souls: by depriving them of that means (the concord and harmony of believers), which God hath appointed for men's conviction and salvation * : and by setting up before them the greatest scandal, to bring religion into contempt, and debilitate the godly. 24. Those also that mourn not for the sins of the times, and confess them not to God, and pray not against them, and pray not for the sinners when they ought, are thus guilty ". 25. And so are they that secretly rejoice in sin, or consent to it, or approve it when it is done; which if they manifest, it is pernicious to others also. 26. Lastly, A coldness or indifferency in the doing of our duty against sin, without just zeal, and pity to the sinner, and reverence to the truth, is a way of guilt, and hurteth others. To reprove sin, as Eli did his sons; or to speak b Dan. iii. vi. • John Xvii. 21. 25. * Ezek. ix. 4. Zeph. iii. 17, 18.

against it lightly as between jest and earnest, is the way to make the sinner think that it is a small or jesting matter. To persuade men to conversion or a godly life, without a melting love and pity to their souls, and without the reverence of God, and seriousness of mind, which the nature and weight of the thing requireth, is the way to harden them in their sin and misery. All these ways may a man be guilty, first, of the sin, and secondly, the perdition of another. But here (on the negative part) take notice of these things following. 1. That properly no man doth partake of the same, formal, numerical sin, which is another's ; “noxa caput sequitur.” The sin is individuated and informed by the individual will of the offender. It is not possible that another man's sin should be properly and formally mine, unless I were individually and formally that same man, and not another. If two men set their hands to the same evil deed, they are distinct causes and subjects of the distinct formal guilt; though con-causes, and partial causes of the effect: so that it is only by multiplication that we make the guilt or sin of another to become the matter of sin to us, the form resulting from ourselves. 2. All men that are guilty of the sin and damnation of other men, are not equally guilty : not only as some are pardoned upon repentance, and some remain impenitent and unpardoned; but as some contribute wilfully to the mischief, and with delight, and in a greater measure ; and some only in a small degree, by an oversight, or small omission, or weak performance of a duty, by mere infirmity or surprise. 3. All that do not hinder sin, or reprove it, are not guilty of it; no more than all that do not punish it; but those only that have power and opportunity, and so are called by God to do it. 4. If another man will sin, and destroy his soul, by the occasion of my necessary duty, I must not cease my duty to prevent such men's sin or hurt; else one or other will by their perverseness, excuse me from almost all the duty which I should do. I must not cease praying, hearing, sacraments, nor withdraw from church-communion, because another will turn it to his sin; else satan should use the vol. vi. R

sin of others to frustrate all God’s worship. Yet I must add, that many things cease to be a duty, when another will be so hurt by them. 5. I am not guilty of all men's sins, which are committed in my presence; no, though I know beforehand that they will sin. For my calling or duty may lead me into the presence of those, that I may foreknow will sin. Wicked men sin in all that they do, and yet it followeth not, that I must have nothing to do with them. Many a failing which is his sin, may a minister or church be guilty of, even in that public worship of God, which yet I am bound to be present at. But of all these somewhat is said before, Chap. xii.


General Directions for the furthering of the Salvation of others.

• The great means which we must use for the salvation of our neighbours, are, Direct. 1. ‘ Sound doctrine : let those who are their instructors, inculcate the wholesome principles of godliness; which are, selfdenial, mortification, the love of God and man, the hopes of heaven, universal, absolute obedience to God; and all this by faith in Jesus Christ, according to the holy Scriptures.’ Instead of novelties, or vain janglings, and perverse disputings, teach them these principles here briefly named, over and over an hundred times; open these plainly, till they are well understood. These are the necessary, saving things; this is the doctrine which is according to godliness, which will make sound Christians, of sound judgments, sound hearts, sound conversations, and sound consciences ! God sanctifieth his chosen ones by these truths. Direct. 11. ‘Therefore do your best to help others to the benefit of able and faithful pastors, and instructors. A fruitful soil is not better for your seed; nor a good pasture for your horse or cattle ; nor wholesome diet for yourselves, than such instructors are for your neighbours' souls. If

« הקודםהמשך »