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places of devotion; that where God, by public appointment and the laws, was to be worshipped, there the affairs of the world should not intrude by the interests of a private and a profane spirit.


The Laws of Jesus Christ are to be interpreted to the Sense of à present Obedience according to their Subject-matter.

1. THAT which is true to-day, will be true to-morrow; and that which is in its own nature good or necessary to-day, is good or necessary every day: and therefore, there is no essential duty of the religion but is to be the work of every day. To confess God's glory, to be his subject, to love God, to be ready to do him service, to live according to nature and to the gospel, to be chaste, to be temperate, to be just, these are the employment of all the periods of a Christian's life. For the moral law of the religion is nothing but the moral law of nature; as I have already proved *. "Naturaliter lex nostra est lex pietatis, justitiæ, fidei, simplicitatis, caritatis, optimeque instituta," said Cardan': and again; "Christiani Jovem junctum habent cum sole, illiusque diem colunt Dominicum sol autem significat justitiam et veritatem; Christiana autem lex plus continet veritatis, et simpliciores reddit homines."-The Christian law is nothing else but a perfect institution of life and understanding; it makes men wise, and it makes them good; it teaches wisdom, and it teaches justice; it makes them wise and simple, that is, prudent and innocent, and there is no time of our life in which we are permitted to be otherwise. Those who, in the primitive church, put off their baptism till the time of their death, knew that baptism was a profession of holiness, and an undertaking to keep the faith, and live according to the commandments of Jesus Christ; and that as soon as ever they were baptized, that is, as soon as ever they had made profession to be Christ's disciples, they were bound to keep all the laws of Christ, and therefore that they deferred their baptism, was so egregious a prevarication of their duty,-that as, in all

* Chap. 1. and 2. of this book. 1 De Astror. Jud. lib. 2. tit. 54.

reason, it might ruin their hopes, so it proclaimed their folly to all the world. For as soon as ever they were convinced in their understanding, they were obliged in their consciences. And although baptism does publish the profession, and is like the forms and solemnities of law; yet a man is bound to live the life of a Christian, as soon as ever he believes the doctrine and commandments of Christianity; for indeed he is obliged as soon as he can use reason, or hear reason. The first things a man can learn, are some parts of Christianity; nor to hurt any one, to do all that he can understand to be good; that is, as soon as ever he begins to live like a rational creature, so soon he begins to live as Christ commanded: and since baptism (as to this relation and intention of it) is nothing else but the publication of our undertaking to do that, which, in our very nature and by the first and universal laws of God to mankind, we are obliged to refuse to be baptized, or to defer it, is nothing but a refusing or deferring to own our natural obligation, a denying or not accepting the duty of living according to the law of nature; which deferring, as it must needs be, the argument of an evil man, and an indication of unwillingness to live worthily,—so it can serve really no prudent ends to which it can fallaciously pretend. For Christianity, being in its moral part nothing but the perfection of the natural law, binds no more upon us than God did by the very reason of our nature. By the natural law we are bound to live in holiness and righteousness all the days of our life,' and so we are by the Christian law; as appears in the song of Zachary and in very many other places;—and therefore although, when some of our time is elapsed and lost in carelessness and folly, the goodness of God will admit us to second counsels, and the death of Christ and his intercession will make them acceptable; yet Christianity obliges us to obedience as soon as the law of nature does, and we must profess to live according to Christianity, as soon as we can live by the measures of the natural law, and that is even in the very infancy of our reason; and therefore baptism is not to be deferred longer: it may be sooner, because some little images of choice and reason, which must be conducted by the measures of nature, appear even in infancy; but it must not be deferred longer; there is no excuse for that, because there can be no reason for so

doing, unless where there is a necessity, and it can be no otherwise.

2. The effects of this consideration are these. (1.) All the negative precepts of Christ's law are obligatory in all persons, and all periods, and all instances. "Nunquam licuit, nunquam licebit;""It was and is and ever will be unlawful" to do any action, which God forbids to be done: and therefore to say, 'I will be chaste when I am old, I will be temperate when I am sick, I will be just when I am rich, I will be willing to restore when I die,' is to measure eternity by time, and to number that which is not. In negatives there is neither number, nor weight, nor measure: and not to kill, not to blaspheme, not to commit adultery, hath no time, and hath no proportion.

3. (2.) This is also true in the positive commandments of Christ, in respect of the inward duty; that is never to be deferred. The charity of alms, the devotion of prayer, piety to our parents, love of God, love of our neighbour, desires to do justice; these are not limited to times and opportunities. The habits of them and the dispositions to action, the readiness and the love, must for ever be within; because these are always possible, and always good, and always necessary, and therefore cannot have accidental determinations from without; being works of the inward man, they depend only upon the grace of God and the will of man; and that never fails, if this does not, and therefore are always possible unless we will not; but they are always necessary, whether we will or no.

4. (3.) The external actions of duty are determinable from without, and by things which are not in our power, and by things which will not happen always and in some instances, by our own will and mere choice. Thus a man is bound actually to restore but in certain circumstances; but to be ready and to love to do it, he is always bound. To say our prayers is limited by time and place, by occasions and emergent necessities, by use and custom, by laws and examples: but to depend upon God, to expect all good from him, to glorify him, to worship him with all our heart, is not limited, but may be done in all the actions of our life, by actual application, or habitual intention, by secret purpose, or by open profession, by obedience and by love, or by the voice and hand. For to "pray continually," which is the precept of our blessed

Saviour, is obligatory in the very letter, in proportion to the natural possibilities and measure of a man; that is, in all our actions we must glorify God, which is one of the parts of prayer, and we must endear his blessing, which is the other. But to kneel, or to speak, or actually to think, a prayer, being the body of this duty, and determinable by something from without, receives its limit according to the subject-matter; that is, when we are commanded, and when we have need, and when we can, and in the proper season of it.

5. This rule is also otherwise explicated by distinguishing the affirmative precepts of Christ, into universal and particular. Particular precepts are to be acted only in their proper determinations, in special times, and pertinent occasions, because they are always relative to time and place, or person; they have a limited effect, and are but parts of a good life, and therefore cannot alone work out our salvation, but must give allowance of time and action to others, of the like particular and limited nature and effect.

6. But this is otherwise in the universal and diffusive, or transcendent precepts of the religion, though they be affirmative. He that shall say, that because to love God is an affirmative precept, that it is only obligatory in certain accidents, and times, and cases, and that therefore we are not always bound to love God, by the impiety of his conclusion reproves the folly of his proposition. Neither is it sufficient to say, that we are indeed always bound to the habitual love of God, but not always to the actual; not always to do an act of the love of God. For the love of God does not consist only in the fancy or the passionate part, neither is it to be measured by the issues of any one faculty and though we are not bound to the exercise of an act of passion, or intuition, or melting affection, that is, we are not always tied to a limited, particular, single effect of one grace, in all times; yet we are bound to do an act of love to God, when we are bound to do any act at all; for all our religion, and all our obedience, and all our conversation, is wholly to be conducted by the love of God: and although to love God be an affirmative commandment, yet because it is a transcendent or universal precept, and includes in it all those precepts, which, by binding at several times, fill up all our time, and every of them being an act of obedience, is consequently an act and

instance of our love to God, it follows, that there is no time, in which we are not bound to love God; and to exercise acts of this grace does not depend upon times and circumstances.

7. Upon the accounts of this rule it is very opportune, and certainly very useful, to inquire concerning the duty of repentance; for upon this article the whole question of late or death-bed repentance will depend, and consequently the eternal felicity or infelicity of mankind: and therefore, I have reason to reckon this to be the greatest case of conscience in the whole world; and it will appear so both in the event of the discourse, and in the event of things.

Question I.

8. At what time precisely is every sinner bound to repent of his sins, so that if he does not repent at that time, he commits a new sin?


9. To this question of "At what time," the church of Rome answers, At what time soever." For repentance is as the precept of baptism and prayers. Neither this day nor to-morrow precisely is it necessary to be baptized, but sometime or other; and if we pray half an hour hence, it is as much obedience as if we fall down upon our knees at the instant of the proclamation. Add to this, that since repentance (besides that it is an affirmative commandment) is also a primitive duty, it is generally agreed upon "neminem in conscientia, donec condemnetur, ad pœnam exsolvendam teneri ;" no man is bound to undergo his punishment, till the instant that the law determines him:" and therefore, when he is required, when the day of humiliation comes, when there is danger, that if it be not now done, it will not be done at all, then let the sinner look to it,-then he must repent, it cannot be any longer put off. This is the doctrine of the Roman schools, and of some others, which they have pursued to dangerous and horrid propositions.


10. Scotus and his scholars say a man is bound to repent upon holidays, as upon Christmas, Whitsuntide, or at Easter to be sure. But Sotus and Medina very confidently reprove this proposition as too severe, for this reason; because the church having appointed many holidays, yet when she explicates the doctrine of repentance, she did suppose it to be sufficient to compel the sinner to repent once by the year:

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