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confess ihould be observed as to our own. The Eighth Commandment preserves our Neighbour's Goods and Estate, by the same Rules of Justice and Honesty, with which we are desirous to preserve our own. The Ninth Commandment requires the fame Candour and Veracity in Speech from us to them, which we think it is their Duty to use towards us. And the Tenth Commandment lays the fame Restraints upon our covetous Appetite after our Neighbour's Goods and Estate, as we ourselves think just should be be laid upon all Men with regard to our Goods and Estates.
Now this is a very great Commendation of this Rule; for it both directs us from what good Principles, and with what pure Designs we should set about all Duty; namely, from a Principle of Love and Charity, and with a Design of doing equal Justice to all; and likewise if at any Time we are at a Loss, as to any particular Duty, pro hie & nunc, as Circumstances may alter, this directing our Aim and Intention in the Main, to do as we would be done by, will help mightily to keep us in a straight Course for Heaven. And when two Duties come in Competition, or two Truths, this will shew us where to place most of our Zeal; namely, upon that which tends most to the Love of God and our Neighbour; that being the Polar Star, by which we ought to' direct our Course.
Thirdly, This Commendation of our Saviour's, that this is the Law and the Prophets, signifies, that this is the Sum and Substance, this is a Breviate and Compend of the Law and the Prophets, with Relation to this Subject of our Duty to our Neighbour. Now this Commendation yields us these two excellent Characters of this Rule; namely, the Universality or Comprehensiveness of it; and the Brevity and Compendiousness of it.
(1.) Let us consider tins Universality or Comprehenfvenefs of this Rule; as Instances of which, I shall oniy offer to you these two Things; That it is a complete Sum of all the Rules set down in the holy Scriptures concerning our Duty to our Neighbour; and that it is likewise in the Nature of a good Casuist, to decide all the particular Cases, and Doubts, which rife from those Rules.
First, I say, it is a complete Sum of all the Rules set down in the holy Scriptures concerning our Duty to our Neighbour. The Scriptures owned in those Days were only those of the Old Testament, the Law and the Prophets, which our Saviour, in my Text, asserts that this Rule comprehends. St. Paul asserts the fame of all the Commandments then in being, or that could be, touching our Duty to our Neighbour. For, Rom. xiii. 9. after an Enumeration of divers particular Laws, he adds thus: And if there be any other Commandment, it is briefy comprehended in this saying; Thou shalt love thy Neighbour as thy
Then it is in the Nature of a good Casuist to decide the particular Cases, which rife from those Rules. I would desire no more, e. g. to decide all the Cafes of Buying and Selling, but only for the Seller, on the one hand, with an honest Mind, to put himself in the Buyer's Place, and to fay to himself; If I were the Buyer, and he the Seller, in what Manner would I then think it just that I should be used? Would I think it fair to be exacted upon on account of my Ignorance or Necessity? Or if any Misfortune should befal me, that I could not find Pay just at the Time appointed, would I think it just to be so surprized at a Disadvantage, to be allowed no Time, but to be thrown into Prison, or forced to sell my Bed from under me, that Payment might be made immediately; or any other Way worried and harshly used by my Creditor? And so, on the other hand, what honest Debtors would it make, for them to put themselves in the Room of the Creditor; and to say, if he were my Debtor instead of my being his, would I not think it just that he should provide me Pay in due Time, that he should keep his Word to me, as I keep mine to him, and so deal upon the Square? Would I think it just to be choused and abused, and fed with vain and .fruitless Promises, which are never designed to take Effect? The fame Way of Reasoning would serve between Parents and Children; between Masters or MiJirefl'eS) and their Servants; between Rulers and Subjects; between Lawyers and Clients; Phyficians and Patients; Judges and Litigants; Natives and Foreigners; Benefactors and those who are obliged by them; and all the other innumerable Relations and Circumstances of Men and Women, in their various Transactions with one another. Let a Man impartially put and answer the proper Questions to himself, and then practise upon the Rule of my Text, and I may venture to say, he will need no better Casuist for directing his Conscience and Conduct. It is true, if our Self-love is greai, our Charity.
by by this Rule, may be greater than strict Justice requires, if we answer the Case impartially. But where is the Harm of that? Love or Charity can work no evil to his Neighbour, Rom. xiii. 10. and therefore will at least prove the fulfilling of the Law. For of the two, it is certainly much safer for a Man to take Wrong to himself, than to injure his Neighbour; there being no Sin in bearing with many Wrongs, but a great deal in the doing of one.
(2.) Let us next consider the Brevity and Compendiousnefs of this Rule, as St. Paul fays in that forecited Place, Rom. xiii. 9. If there be any other Commandment, it is briefly comprehended in this faying, 'Thou jhalt love thy Neighbour as thyself. Now this Brevity and Compendioufness has these two good Uses: It helps both the Understanding and the Memory. Firjl, It is a great Help to the Understanding, which is apt to be confounded and bewildered with many Particulars, often not well digested* nor having any regular Dependance one upon anorher. It is then a great Help to the Understanding,' to fee in a little what it cannot so easily comprehend in the great; as to fee a large Country comprised in one little Map, shewing the Proportions and Situations of the several Places, gives a Man a clearer and more distinct Conception of it, than-if, without such Assistance, he had travelled it all over. Especially it is a great Relief to the Minds and Understandings of the weak and ignorant, (which are generally the far greater Number) to have clear and short Compends of their Duty. And this Compendioufness is no less convenient on account of the Memory^ which receives great C. Assistance Assistance from it. For Memory is treacherous and deceitful, and if it do not let Things flip at present, is never able to keep them long, but that something or other will be lost. Now here is the great Benefit of such a Breviate, that if we do happen to forget any of the Particulars of our Duty to our Neighbour, it is included, and consequently recovered in the general; especially when the general Compend itself is a Thing so fitted for the Memory, that it cannot easily be forgotten: for as it is but one Thing, the Love of our Neighbour; so that one Thing is so linked to another, namely, Self-love, which is most deeply rooted in our Natures, that we can no more forget it, than we can forget ourselves.
This calls to Mind another Advantage of our Saviour's Compend of the Law and the Prophets, namely, the Nearness and Readiness of this Rule. Every Man carries it in his own Breast, so that we may apply to this the Words of God to the People of Israel, Deut. xxx. n. For this Commandment which I command thee this Day, it is not hidden from thee, neither is it far off. It is not in Heaven, that thou Jhouldeft fay, -whoJhall go up for us to Heaven, and bring it unto us, that ave may hear it and do it? neither is it beyond the Sea, that thou jhouldejl fay, whoJhall go over the Sea for us, and bring it unto us, that we may hear it and do it? But the Word is very nigh unto thee, in thy Mouth, and in thy Heart, that thou mayst do it. It requires no great Learning or Skill in Books, no great Policy or Acquaintance with the World ; it requires only an Acquaintance with a Man's self, and an honest Mind to answer truly to the genuine Sentiments of his own Heart.