« PoprzedniaDalej »
initiated into charity, such works being its externals, introductory to the offices of charity; for they are its rudiments, which, at the time of doing them, are like unripe fruits, yet with those who are afterwards perfected by the right knowledges of charity and faith, they become like ripe fruits; and in this case they regard those their former works, which were done in simplicity of heart, only as so many duties that they have discharged.
427. The reason why these acts are supposed, at the present day, to be the proper deeds of charity, which are meant in the Word by good works, is, because charity is very frequently described in the Word, by giving to the poor, re-. lieving the needy, and providing for widows and orphans; but heretofore it bath not been known, that the Word, in the letter, makes mention of such things only, as are the external, nay, the extreme parts of worship, and that spiritual things, which are internal, are understood by them, as may be seen in the chapter on The Sacred SCRIPTURE, n. 193 to 209; so that it appears, that by those who are called the poor, needy, widows, orphans, are meant such as are so in a spiritual sense, and not such only as are so in a literal one : that by the poor are meant those who have no knowledges of truth and good, may be seen in the APOCALYPse ReVEALED, n. 209; and that by widows are meant those who are without truths, and yet desire them, n. 764; and so with the others.
428. They who are naturally of a tender, compassionate disposition, and do not make this their natural disposition spiritual, by regulating its workings according to genuine charity, imagine, that charity consisteth in giving to every poor person, and in relieving every one that is indigent, without inquiring whether their character be good or bad; for they affirm that such inquiry is needless, since God regardeth only the alms and the relief that are given. Such however, after death, are carefully distinguished, and separated from those who have done eleemosynary acts of charity under the guidance of discretion; for they who have done so from the impulse of a blind undistinguishing charity, are found in another life equally compassionate to the wicked and to the good ; the consequence of which is, that the wicked are assisted in their disposition to do wickedly, and to turn the kindnesses they receive into means of injuring the good, so that such bestowers of kindnesses are ultimately the cause of mischief to the good. For to bestow a favour on a wicked person is like giving bread to the devil, which he turneth into poison; for all the bread in the devil's hand is poison, or if it is not, he turneth it into poison, by using the kindnesses he receiveth as allurements to draw others into evil; it is also like offering a sword to the enemy of another, and so enabling him to commit murder; or like giving a shepherd's crook to a man-wolf, that he may lead the sheep to the pasture, which he no sooner receives, than he drives them from the pasture into the wilderness, and there slaughters them; or it is like advancing a robber to a post of authority in the state, who has nothing in view, and cares for nothing, but plunder, according to the abundance and value of which he dispenseth the laws, and executeth judgment. X. THAT THERE ARE DUTIES
Duties of CHARITY, SOME PUBLIC, SOME DOMESTIC, AND SOME PRIVATE.
429. The eleemosynary acts of charity, and the duties of charity, are distinct from each other, like things done of freewill, and those which are done of necessity. By the duties of charity, however, are not here meant the duties which are annexed to any office in a kingdom or commonwealth, as in the case of a minister, that he ought to fulfil the office of administration, or of a judge that he ought to judge, &c. but by the duties of charity are meant the duties which every one has to perform, whatsoever be his function : they are consequently from a different origin, and flow from a diffe
rent will, than the obligation to the exercise of his function, and hence they are discharged from a principle of charity, by those who are under its influence, and on the contrary, from no principle of charity, by those who are not under its influence.
430. Public DUTIES OF CHARITY are, more especially, the payment of imposts and taxes, which ought not to be confounded with the duties arising from offices or functions. These are paid with a different disposition of heart by such as are spiritual, and such as are merely natural : such as are spiritual pay them out of good.will, because they are collected for the preservation, and for the protection of their country, and of the church, and as a provision for the proper officers and governors, who must receive their salaries and stipends out of the public treasury; wherefore they who consider their country and the church as their neighbour, pay such debts gladly, and with a willing mind, and consider it a wicked aet either to withhold them, or to use any deceit in the payment; whereas they who do not esteem their country and the church as their neighbour, pay such debts with a reluctant and unwilling mind, and as often as they have an opportunity, with-hold them, or use some fraud in the payment; for they regard only their own house, and their own Aesh, as their neighbour. 431. DOMESTIC DUTIES
are of several kinds, as those of a husband to his wife, and of a wife to her husband; of a father and mother to their children, and of children to their father and mother; likewise of a master and mistress to their servants, and of servants to their master and mistress: these duties, as they relate to the education of children and the government of families, are so many, that it would require a volume to enumerate them. Every man is led to discharge these duties from a principle of love, different from that which influences him in the duties of his vocation or function: a husband's duties to
wards his wife, and the wife's towards her husband, proceed from and according to conjugial love; a father's and mother's towards their children, from a principle of love implanted in every one, called slorge, or parental affection; and children's towards their parents, from and according to another kind of love, which is closely connected with obedience from a principle of duty : the duties of a master and mistress to their servants, partake of the love of rule, or authority, which varies according to the peculiar state of every one's mind. Conjugial love, however, and love towards children, with their several duties and the discharge of them, are not productive of love towards our neighbour, like the fulfilment of the duties which belong to a man's vocation or function : for the love called storge, or parental affection, prevaileth alike with the wicked and with the good, nay, sometimes much more powerfully with the wicked; it is also found to prevail amongst birds and beasts, which can be no subjects capable of receiving charity; and it is besides a known fact, that bears, tigers, and serpents love their young with as strong an affection as sheep and goats, and that owls also are as tender of their offspring as doves. As to what particularly regards the duties of parents to their children, there is an intrinsic difference, in this respect, with those who are under the influence of charity, and those who are not, although externally the duties may appear similar: with those who are under the influence of charity, parental affection is joined with love towards their neighbour, and love to God, and such parents love their children according to their morals, virtues, pursuits, and qualifications for the service of the public; but with those who are not under the influence of charity, there is no conjunction of charity with
the love called storge, or parental affection, the consequence ! is, that such parents frequently love wicked, immoral, and
crafty children, more than those that are good, moral, and prudent, and thus prefer such as are unserviceable to the public before such as are serviceable.
432. PRIVATE DUTIES OF CHARITY are also of several kinds, such as paying wages to workmen, returning borrowed money, observing agreements, keeping pledges, and other transactions of a like nature, of which some are duties grounded in statute law, some in civil law, and some in moral law. These duties also are discharged from different motives by those who are under the influence of charity, and those who are not; by the former they are discharged justly and faithfully, for, as may be seen above, n. 422, the law of charity require., that a man should act justly and faithfully in all his dealings, with whomsoever he may have any commerce or connection; but these duties are discharged in a totally different manner, by those who are not influenced by charity. XI. THAT THERE ARE CONVIVIAL RECREATIONS
CHARITY, CONSISTING IN DINNERS AND SUPPERS, AND IN SOCIAL INTERCOURSE.
433. Every one knows, that dinner and supper parties are in general use, and that they are given to promote various ends; by many on account of friendship, relationship, mirth, gain, recompence, and for party purposes of corruption; that
The word diversoria, which we here render convivial recreations, means properly places of refreshment and rest on a journey, and is therefore here used to denote such innocent iecreations as are suited to afford refreshment and rest to the Christian on his spiritual journey. It is well known, that such social meetings as are here designed, were in use in the primitive Christian church, and that the members of that church assembled together for the exercise of Christian love and affection, and that their entertainments on such occasions were called feasts of love or charity. The author here seems to point out the expediency and usefulness of such meetings, and that, under the influence and guidance of charity, they' might be productive of most beneficial consequences 10 Christian brethren in many respects. For although worldly and carnal men abuse such meetings to the purposes of luxury and dissipation, this is no reason why they might not be converted to better purposes, if put under the regulation of a better spirit. In their present perverted state, we find they have a