Obrazy na stronie
PDF
ePub

the blood.” Καὶ οὐ καθάπερ ἐπὶ τῆς παλαιᾶς, τὰ μὲν ὁ ἱερεὺς ἤσθιε, τὰ δὲ ὁ ἀρχόμενος, καὶ θέμις οὐκ ἦν τῷ λαῷ μετέχειν ῳ μετεῖχεν ὁ ἱερεὺς, ἀλλὰ πᾶσιν ἓν σῶμα πρόκειται καὶ ποτήριον ἕν. "It is not now as it was in the Old Testament, where the priest ate one portion, the prince another, and the people another; here it is alike to all, the same body and the same chalice is to all." I end this inquiry with the saying of St. Cypriand: "Si ne unum quidem ex minimis mandatis legis solvere debemus, multo minus ex his magnis mandatis, pertinentibus ad ipsum Dominicæ passionis et nostræ redemptionis sacramentum, fas est ullum infringere, vel humana traditione mutare :" "If it be not permitted to break one of the least commandments of the law, much less is it to be endured, to break any one, or by human tradition to change any, belonging to the sacrament of our Lord's passion and of our redemption:" and therefore if ever any sect or any single person was guilty of the charge, it is highly to be imputed to the church of Rome, that "they teach for doctrine the commandments of men; and make the commandment of God of none effect by their tradition."

RULE X.

If the Sense of a Law be dubious, we are sometimes to expound it by Liberty, sometimes by Restraint.

1. ALTHOUGH all the laws of Jesus Christ are so legible in the sense intended, that all good men, being placed in their proper circumstances, conducted by the Divine Providence, making use of all their prepared and ready instru ments, can certainly read the prime intention and design of God; yet because some laws are so combined with matter, and twisted with material cases, so intricated by the accidents of men and the investiture of actions, that they cast a cloud upon the light of God's word, and a veil upon the guide of our lives; and because the sense of words does change, and very often words cannot be equal with things, it comes to pass, that the laws are capable of differing senses: when, therefore, any thing of this nature happens, the first sense of

d Lib. 2. e. 3.

e Chrysost, Hom. 18. in 2 Cor. VOL. XIII.

D

[ocr errors][ocr errors][merged small][ocr errors]

the words is either to be enlarged or restrained according to the following measures.

In what Cases the stricter Sense of the Laws of Christ
is to be followed.

2. (1.) When the duty enjoined by the law is in deliberation, and is to be done, we are to use restraint, and take the severer sense of the law. The reason is, because that is the surer way, and hath in it no inconvenience or impossibility; but being it is the matter of choice, in all deliberation for the future we must give sentence for God, and for the interest of religion. Thus, when it is commanded we should "judge ourselves, that we be not judged of the Lord;" in the inquiry, which every penitent man makes concerning the extension of the duty of judging ourselves, if the question be whether judging ourselves means only to condemn' ourselves for having sinned, and to confess ourselves justly liable to the divine judgment; or does it also mean 'to punish' ourselves, and by putting our own sentence against our sin into a severe execution of that sentence upon ourselves by corporal inflictions? He that can no otherwise be determined in the question, can safely proceed by choosing the severer side; for there is no loss in it, no omission, it contains all that any man can think to be required; and therefore hath in it prudence and charity, caution and regard, to God and to himself.

3. (2.) This is not to be understood only in case there is a doubt no otherwise to be resolved, but by the collateral advantage of the surer side; but this severer sense of the law is of itself most reasonable to be chosen, as being the intended sense and design of the lawgiver, who certainly puts no positive measures to his own laws of love and duty. For since the great design of the law is such a perfection, which must for ever be growing in this world, and can never here arrive to its state and period, that sense which sets us most forward, is the most intended; and therefore this way is not only to quiet the doubt, but to govern and to rule the conscience: this is not only the surer way, but the only way that is directly intended. It is agreeable to the measures of charity, or the love of God, which is to have no other bounds, but even the best we can, in the measures of God and the infirmities and capacities of man.

4. (3.) In the interpretation of the laws of Christ, the strict sense is to be followed, when the laws relate to God and to religion, and contain in them direct matter of piety and glorifications of God, or charity to our neighbour; because in them the further we go, the nearer we are to God, and we are not at all to be stopped in that progression, till we are at our journey's end, till we are in the state of comprehension. To this purpose are those words of Ben Sirach, "When you glorify the Lord, exalt him as much as you can; for even yet will he far exceed; and when you exalt him, put forth all your strength, and be not weary, for you can never go far enough. Who hath seen him that he might tell us, and who can magnify him as he is? There are hid greater things yet than these be, for we have seen but a few of his works;" meaning, that although we cannot glorify God sufficiently for the works of power and mercy which we see and feel, yet because there are very many works, which we see not, and infinite numbers and seas of glories above the clouds, which we perceive not, and cannot understand,—the only measures of religion and the love of God which we are to take, are to "pray continually, to love God always, to serve him without end, to be zealous beyond all measures, excepting those of duty and prudence, to be religious without a limit, always to desire, always to endeavour, never to rest as long as we can. work, never to give over as long as any thing is unfinished;" and consequent or symbolical to all this, that in all disputes. of religion we choose the sense of love, not of weariness; that we do not contend for the lesser measures, but strive in all our faculties and desire beyond their strength, and propound Christ for our precedent, and heaven for our reward, and infinity for our measures, towards which we are to set forth by our active and quick endeavour, and to which we are to reach by our constancy and desires, our love and the divine acceptance.

When the Laws of Christ are to be expounded to a Sense of Ease and Liberty.

5. If to the sense of the duty there be a collateral and indirect burden and evil appendage, the alleviating of that burden is to be an ingredient into the interpretation of the

• Ecclus. xliii. 30-32.

law, and the direct duty is to be done in such measures, as may do the most good with suffering the least evil. This happens in two cases:

6. (1.) If the strict and severer sense of the law be too great for the state and strength of the man, that is, if it be apt to make him despair, to make him throw away his burden, to make him tire, to be weary of, and to hate religion,— his infirmities are to be pitied, and the severest sense of the law is not to be exacted of him. "Apices juris non sunt jus,” say the lawyers: "The little punctilios and minutes of law are not law;" because if our duty be extended to every little tittle of duty, it were necessary that our observation and attendance should be as particular and punctual; but because that cannot always be actual and intent, particular and incumbent, those things which insensibly pass by the observation of a diligent watchful person, do also inculpably pass by the man. But of this I have already given accounts in another place. For the present I further consider, that charity being the great end of the law, and every law being a design of making a man happy, every commandment of God is then best understood, when it is made to do most good, and rescued from being an occasion of evil. The government of Jesus Christ is most paternal and serene: his rod is not heavy, his commandments are not grievous, his bands are not snares; but they are holiness, and they are liberty, they are 'glory to God, and good-will towards men.'

7. But this at no hand means, that any material or integral part of duty can be omitted, and the omission indulged in compliance with any man's infirmity or danger; for the law is to be our measure, our weaknesses cannot be the measure of the integrity of the law; that infirmity by which we omit any part of duty is a state of sin; and God, who knew all our infirmities, and possibilities or impossibilities of obedience, complied sufficiently in the sanction of the law, and imposed no more burden than was even with our powers; and therefore for what remains we must stoop our shoulder and bear the burden which God's wisdom made reasonable and tolerable, and our necessity and interest make unavoidable, and love will make easy and delectable.

8. But the burden which can be lessened, is the burden 1 Doctrine and Practice of Repentance, c. 3.

of degrees of intension, or any thing which consists not in a mathematical point, but is capable of growth: whatsoever is of such a nature as is always to increase in this life, in that such abatements may be made as will fit the person and the state; and no man is to be quarrelled at for degrees in the beginnings, or in the first progressions of his piety, only he is to be invited on by proper and fair inducements; and if he stands still always, as he is to be suspected for want of love, so he is to be warned of his danger, and thrust forward by the memory of the best examples. Thus it may not, upon any terms, be permitted to any weak person to do an act of injustice, to blaspheme God, to reproach his father, to be wanton; he may not be allowed to slander his brother, to neglect his children, to despise his wife, to part from her because he is weary of her; for fear the not indulging any thing of this nature to him should provoke him to anger against the religion. We may not give easy answers in cases of conscience, or promise heaven to them that live evil lives, for fear that our severity should make them forsake our communion and go to the Roman church; that is, we must not allow any man to do one evil to hinder him from another, or give leave to him to break one commandment that we may preserve another. But of this I have already given more particular accounts. That which at present I intend is, that no sin or omission of duty is to be permitted, no law of Christ is to be expounded to comply with us against God; but when a less severe sense is within the limits of duty, that our weaknesses are to be complied withal, is affirmed as being most charitable and necessary. Thus, if it be inquired whether our sorrow for our sins ought to be punitive and vindictive, sharp and sensible as the perception of any temporal evil, as the sorrow of a mother for the death of her only child, this being a question of degrees which cannot consist in an indivisible point, is never limited and determinate; any degree that can consist with the main duty, may be permitted to him whose necessity requires such indulgence; and if he be sorrowful in such a degree as to move him to pray passionately and perseveringly for pardon, to beget in him a wise and a wary caution against temptation, to produce in him hatred against sin, and dereliction of it, a war and a victory, the death of sin, 8 Vide book 1. chap. 5. rale 8. n. 16. &c. nsque ad finem.

[merged small][ocr errors][merged small]
« PoprzedniaDalej »