Page images
PDF
EPUB

Going alongst with others in their fin, ruins not only ourselves, but them too.

4thly, By provoking others to fin, 1 Kings xxi. 25. Thus people are many ways guilty, by a provoking carriage, by provoking words; and not a few lo devilish that they take a pleasure to provoke others, that they may get something to laugh at. These are like them who stir up the fire to burn another's house, that they may warm themselves at it.

5thly, By soliciting and downright tempting to fio. Such agents the devil has in the world, who make it their business to draw others to fin, by an ensnaring carriage or plain words ; so that it is evident they are gone out on the devil's errand, Prov. yii. 18.

6thly, By teaching of fin. When men call truth a lie, and lies truth; when they give out a fìnful practice to be duty, and a duty to be a sinful practice, they contribute directly to the sin of others, and bring that wo on themselves, It. v. 20. Wo unto them that call evil good, and good evil; that put darkness for light, and light for darkness; that put bitter for sweet, and sweet for bitter.

By all these two fall at once; for the sin of him that commands, counsels, &c. does not excuse the other.

(1.) By consenting to the fin of others, countenancing them in it, and encouraging them in their fin, Acts ix. 1. We may countenance finners in their duty, but by no means in their sin. These two are very different, but they are often confounded, and the confounding of them is the cause of much disorder in our church at this day.

3. By neglecting what we owe to our neighbour for the welfare of his soul. In not doing what we ought to preserve or recover his soul, we are guilty of destroying it, and so indirectly operate to his lin. As,

if, By neglecting the means for preventing of sin in others, Ezek. iii. 18.. When people do not teach, warn, and admonish those whom they see to be in hazard, or generally neglect to restrain fin by all lawful means competent to them. Thus Eli finned ; i Sam. iii. 13. His fons made themselves vile, and he restrained them not. Thus much guilt is contracted by ministers, magistrates, husbands and wives, parents, masters, &c.

2dly, By neglecting the means to recover those that have fallen into lin; suffering fin to lie on them, and not reproving it, Lev. xix. 17. compare 1 John iii. 15. or reproving of them so imprudently, passionately, or weakly, as that it can do them no good. So did Eli.

3dly, By not campassionating the finner, and mourning over his fin before the Lord, but hardcning our hearts against him, and being careless what come of his soul, Ezek. ix. 4. O what guilt is contracted this way in shutting up of our bowels of compaflion! How many will exclaim against the sins of others, whose consciences witness that they never had a sore heart for the dishonour done to God and the ill to the finners foul by it.

4thly, By being pleased with their sin. This is in effect to be pleased with their ruin, Rom. i. ult. Thus men are guilty,

(1.) By approving the fin of others, Pfal. xlix. 13. This is to set our stamp on an evil way, that it may pass current.

(2.) By rejoicing at it, and making a jest of it, It is devilish mirth that riseth from our neighbour's ruining himself. Yet much of this guilt is in the world, Prov. xiv.

9. SECONDLY, Thou shalt not kill thy ncighbour's body unjustly. There are three cases wherein the life of our neighbour may be taken away justly. (1.) In the case of public justice, Gen. ix. 6. (2.) Of lawful war, 1 Judg. v. 23. (3.) Of necessary selfdefence, Exod. xxii, 2. 3. The reason is, because in

these cases a man does not take, but God, the Lord of life and death, puts the sword in his hand; fo that judgement in these cases is the Lord's. Unless in these cases, it is murder, an unjust taking away another's life. Now, there are two things here forbidden with respect to this.

First, The taking away our neighbour's life unjuftly. This is actual and direct murder. This was the fin of Cain. This is a horrible and atrocious crime, for which mens laws condemn the guilty to the gallows, and God's laws condemn them to hell, i John üi. 15. A sin fo flat against nature, that even a natural conscience uses to kindle a hell in the bofom of the murderer; and a crime it is which Providence specially watches to bring to light. This is to be extended not only to what is commonly reckoned murder, but to chese three cases.

1. The taking away of mens lives, under colour of law, and forms of justice, when the law is unjuft, and there is no real crime, as in the case of Naboth, 1 Kings xxi. 12. 13. 19. And therefore all the laws of the world will not free persecutors from the guilt of murder, in their taking away the lives of the martyrs.

2. The taking away of mens lives in an unjust war, Hab. ii. 12. For in such a case an army is but a company of robbers and murderers, before the Lord; seeing God puts not the sword in mens hands in an unjust cause.

3. The taking away of a man's life in a fet duel or combat, which whether it fall in the hand of him that gives the challenge, or his that accepts it, is downright murder. There is not the least fort of approbation thereof in the scriptures. And therefore the laws of duelling, like the laws of drinking, are not given by God, but by the devil. David's combating Goliath was by public authority in a public cause, and besides from an extraordinary impulse of the Spirit. Duelling is from the devil,

[ocr errors]

as being the effect of pride and rage; a taking into mens heads the disposing of that life which God only is Lord of; it is an ufurping of the magistrates sword, and invading God's right of vengeance, Rom. xii. 19. And the pretence of honour, the usual plea for duels, is as far different from God's laws of honour, as hell is from heaven, Prov. xvi. 32. Matth. V. 44.

Secondly, Whatsoever tendeth to the taking away of our neighbour's life unjustiy. This is virtual, interpretative, indirect murder. It is of several forts, all here forbidden.

1. There is heart-murder; and of that there are several forts.

ift, Carnal anger and wrath, which is rah, cause. less, and excessive, Matth. v. 2 2. Some people's anger is like a fire in straw, foon blown up and foon out; others like a fire in iron once kindled, which it is hard to get laid. But of whatever fort it is, it is a short madness; and the longer it is kept, it is so much the worse, Eph. iv. 26. 27. It resteth in the bofom of fools. All murder begins here. It is a fire that kindles the anger of God and of our neighbour against us, and so casts all into confulon. Let us ftudy meekness; which is what will make us like to Christ, Col. iii. 12.

2dly, Envy, whereby people grieve and grudge at the good of others. It is the devil's two-edged fword drawn to slay two at once; the envious him. felf, Prov. xiv. 30. for he is like a serpent gnawing its own tail, Job v. 2. ; and the party envied, Prov. xxvii, 4. While other fins are entertained for pleafure or profit, this is like a barren field bringing forth only briers and thorns; there is not a dram of any sort of pleasure in it. But this was it that put Joseph's brethren on a murdering design. A charitable frame of spirit is our duty, Rom. xii. 15.

zidly, liatred and malice against our neighbour.

[ocr errors]

This made Cain imbrue his hands in his brother's

blood. And such as live in malice and hatred go | in his way, 1 John iii. 15. It is the fad character

of persons estranged from God, that they are hateful, and bating one another, Tit. iii. 3. But of all batred that is the worst which hates good men for their goodness. However we may hate every man's faults, but no man's person. Love thy neighbour as tbyfelf, is the express command of heaven.

4tbly, Revengeful thoughts and desires ; which are so much the worse as they are the longer entertained; Rom. xii. 19. That heart is a bloody heart that longs for a heart-fight, as they.call it, on those that have wronged them. God sees the most secret with of ill to our neighbour, and will call us to an account. Let us learn long-suffering and patience, to forgive, a disposition and readiness to be reconciled; otherwise our addresses to heaven for pardon will be vain, Matth. vi. 15.

5thly, Rejoicing at the mischief that befals others, Prov. xxiv. 17. 18. Nothing makes men liker the devil than that murdering disposition to make the ruin of others our mirth, and their sorrow our joy ; for man's fin and misery is what affords pleasure to the devil. We should sympathize and weep with them that weep, as well as rejoice with those that do rejoice

Lajfly, Cruelty, an horrid unrelenting difpofition, that is not affected with the misery of others, but carries it on, and adds to it with delight. A disposition moft inconsistent with the spirit of the gospel, that teaches tender-heartedness even to the very beasts, Proy. xii. 10.

But those that delight in cruel treating of these, want but an opportunity to exercise it on men.

2. There is tongue-murder. Solomon observes, that the tongue, however little a member it is, is the lord of life and death, Prov. xviii. 21. & xxi. 23. If it be not well managed then, no wonder it Vol. III.

L

« PreviousContinue »