« PreviousContinue »
t's. Let this recommend to us the living in du – cruises to our relatives. This is phyfic of God's prognement for the fick; it is the way to wealth vi Goi's appointment for them that have little ; it is che prolonger of life appointed by the Lord of Lite to those that would see many days, and these good. And there is no sure way to these where the appointment of God lies cross. Religion is the way to make the world happy. God has linked our duty and our interest together, fo as there is no separating of them. Relations are the joints of, fociety; fin has disjointed the world, and so no wonder it be miserable; relative holiness would set the disjointed world right again.
EXODUS XX. 13.
Thou shalt not kill.
tion of that life which God hath given unto man, which is man's greatest concern. No man is lord of his own or his neighbour's life; it belongs to him alone who gave it, to take it away. obfervable, that this and the three following commands are proposed in a word, not because they are of small moment, but because there is more light of nature for them than those proposed at greater length.
This command respects both our own life and the life of our neighbour, That it respects our neighþour, there can be no doubt, and as little needs there to be of its respecting our own, The words ar general, agreeing to both; and fo the sense of them is, Thou shalt not kill thyself nor any other, He that said to the jailor, Do thyself no harm, taught
no other thing than what Moses and the prophets did say.
Man is no more lord of his own life than his neighbour's, and he is in hazard of incroaching upon it as well as that of another; and it is no where guarded if not here. Nay, the sum of the fecond table being, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as tbyself, whereby.love to our neighbour is made the measure of love to ourselves, it is evident that it respects our own life in the first place.
every positive command implies a negative, so every negative implies a positive. Therefore in fo far as God says, Thou shalt not kill, viz. thyself or others, he thereby obliges men to preserve their own life and that of others. And seeing all the commands agree together, there can be no keeping of one by breaking of another; therefore the positive part of this command is necessary to be determined to lawful endeavours. Hence the answer to that
Quest. “ What is required in the sixth commandmeni ?” is plain, viz. “ The fixth commandinent * requireth all lawful endeavours to preserve our “ own life, and the life of others." The duties of this command may be reduced to two heads. 1. The preserving of our own life. 2. The preserving the life of others. But both these are to be qualified fo, as it be by lawful means and endeavours. For God has given us no such law, as for the keeping of one command we may or must break another. Only there is a great difference betwist positive and negative precepts; the practice of positive duties may be in some cases intermitted without fin, as a man attacked in time of prayer, or on the fabbathday, may lawfully leave the prayer, and external worship of the day, to defend his life, Luke xiv. 5. But never may a man do an ill thing, be it great or little, though it were even to preserve his own life or that of others, Rom. iii. 8. Is it a thing of which God has said, Thou thalt not do so and fo? Lastly, Equals fin against one another, undervaJuing the worth, envying and grieving at the good of one another, and usurping pre-eminence over one another.
The spring and fource of all this is, (1.) Want of love to and fear of God; for while people are not
eir duty to man? (2.) Pride and selfishness, while every one seeks himself, and not the good of others.
These things may be very humbling to all of us. Who can say his life is clean in any of these relations ? But even those who are very dutiful in their several relations as to the matter, may be guil
of the breach of this command, in so far as what they do in these things does not proceed from gra. cious principles ; for indeed the first command must be carried along in all the rest,
HII. We come now to the reason annexed to this command ; which is,
which is, « A promise of long " and prosperity (as far as it ihall serve for God's to glory and their own good) to all such as keep « this commandment."
This is a promise to encourage the conscientious performance of the duties here required. The apostle tells us, that it is the first conimand with promise, Eph. v. 2. Ques, s. How is this command the first with
promise, seeing the second has a promise also ?
Ang. It is the first command of the second table : for it is the most weighty of them all, as comprehending all the rest in it; so that we cannot fin a. gainst the rest, but we must first break over the hedge of this which encompaffeth all the rest. For one cannot violate another's life, chastity, c, but he first violates the honour due to him by this command. And it is the only command that has a special promise of a particular mercy annexed to it. The promise annexed to the second command is but
3 promile of mercy in the general, and that not par-
Ant. We must distinguish betwixt the law as a covenant of works, and the law as in the hand of Chrift for a rule of life to believers. As it is a covenant of works, nothing less than perfect obedience can interest men in the promise ; for the leait failure knocks off the man's fingers from the promise by virtue of the curse, Gal. iii. 10. Cursed is every one that continueth not in all things which are written in the book of the law to do them. So that we can be nothing the better of this promise. But Christ being the Surety of the better covenant, having made a new covenant of grace in his blood, be takes the same law in his hands, and gives out the commands of it as a rule of life to his coveninted people, and renews the promises of it to their fincere obedience of them, 1 lim. iv. 8. Godliness is profitable unto all things, having promise of the life that now as,
and of that which is to come. As for the curse of it, they hear of it no more, he having borne it away himself. And so he crowns the fruits of his own grace in them with bleffed rewards. And as all these promises are yea and amen in him ; fo for his fake, through faith in his blood, they are obtained,
In the words we may consider tliese three things; the Llesling promised, the place where it is to be enjoyed, and the regard the Lord allows his people to have to that blelling to further them in obedi
FIRST, The blessing promised; that is, long life; that, thy days may be long. It is a temporal mercy, a mercy much delired ordinarily by all men, and
promised to them that keep this commandment. There are four things here to be considered.
First, What is meant by mens days being long. It depotes two things.
1. Long life, Prov. iv. 10. The years of thy life fall be many. Death in its best colours has fomething frightful about it. It is a diffolution of soul and body, which nature shivers at. But there is no eviting of it; all must die ; they must go through that dark valley to their eternal taie. But the best that can be made of it is promised here, viz. that such shall be full of days, and not be taken away till they be ripe for the fickle.
2. Prosperity to accompany that life; for non vivere, sed valere, vita efi. Long life in miseries is a continued death rather than lite. So that the nature of the thing teaches us, that a prosperous long life is here promised. It is a good old age, Gen. xy. 15. And thus the apostle explains it, Eph. vi. 3. That it may be well with thee, and thou mayst live long on the earth.
Secondly, That long life is in itself a mercy, and therefore is promised. There are many things that may mortify mens desires of long life.
Old age is ordinarily accompanied with a train of miseries and the longer the godly live, they are the longer kept out of heaven. Yet there are four things that make this long and prosperous life here promifed to the godly's keeping of this command, a great mercy.
1. A good old age is an honourable thing, Prov. xvi. 31. The hoary head is a crown of glory; if it be found in the way of righteousness. God commands a
particular reverence to be given to old men, Lev. xix.
32. Thou shalt rise up before the hoary head, and honour the face of the old man. It is true, fin and wickedness spoils the greatest glory, and no man is more like the devil than a wicked old man, ll. lxv, 20. The finner seing an hundred years old, shall be ac