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time.” Matt. x. 16, 17. “ behold, I send you forth as sheep in the midst of wolves ; be ye therefore wise as serpents, and harmless as doves : but beware of men- -” Philipp. i. 9, 10.
abound yet more and more, in knowledge and in all judgement, that ye may approve things that are excellent.” Heb. v. 14.“ strong meat belongeth to them that are of full age, even those who by reason of use have their senses exercised to discern both good and evil.” This quality is an indispensable seasoning to every virtue, as salt was to the ancient sacrifices. Mark ix, 49. “every one shall be salted with fire; and every sacrifice shall be salted with salt.”
Hence the maxim,' of the evils of sin choose none, of those of punishment the least."' If this be true with regard to the evils of sin, it is obvious how preposterously they interpret the law, who hold that usury, divorce, polygamy, and the like, were conceded to the hard-heartedness of the Jews as venial infirmities, or as evils which were to be abated or regulated by law; whereas the law can no more concede or tolerate the smallest degree of moral evil, than a good man can voluntarily choose it.
Thus much of the general virtues which belong to the understanding ; those which belong to the will are SINCERITY, PROMPTITUDE, and CONSTANCY.
SINCERITY, which is also called integrity, and a good conscience, consists in acting rightly on all occasions, with a sincere desire and a hearty mental determination. Gen. xvii. 1. “walk before me, and be thou perfect.”. Deut. xviii. 13. “thou shall be perfect with Jehovah thy God.” Job xxvii. 5, 6. “ till I die I will not remove mine integrity from me.” Psal. xxvi. l. Judge me, O Jehovah, for I have walked in mine integrity." Prov. iv. 23. “ keep thy heart with all diligence, for out of it are the issues of life.” Matt. xii. 35.
a good man out of the good treasures of his heart bringeth forth good things—" Acts xxiii. 1. “I have lived in all good conscience before God until this day.” xxiv. 16. to have always a conscience void of offence toward God and toward men.” 2 Tim. i. 3. “ I thank God, whom I serve
9 Compare Gregorii, Moral, Lib. xxxii. c. 18; Gerson Tract 8. in Magnif. num. 83. lit. F.; Cic. De Officiis 3. 1. iii.; Petrarch. Lib. v. Epist. rerum senilium.
conscience." 1 Cor. iv. 4. “I know nothing of myself; yet am I not hereby justified: but he that judgeth me is the Lord.” Philipp. ii. 15. “ that ye may be blameless and harmless, the sons of God, without rebuke, in the midst of a crooked and perverse nation.” Col. iii. 23. “whatsoever ye do, do it heartily, as to the Lord, and not unto men.” 1 Tim. i. 19. “ holding faith, and a good conscience, which some having put away concerning faith have made shipwreck.” 2 Tim. iv. 7, 8. “I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course. Heb. xii. 18. “we trust we have a good conscience, in all things willing to live honestly.” 1 John iii. 19. “ hereby we know that we are of the truth, and shall assure our hearts before him.” v. 21. “ if our heart condemn us not, then have we confidence toward God.” Properly speaking, however, a good conscience is not in itself sincerity, but rather an approving judgement of the mind respecting its own actions, formed according to the light which we have received either from nature or from grace, whereby we are satisfied of our inward sincerity. Rom. ii. 15. “ which show the work of the law written in their hearts," &c. This feeling is described Job xii. 15, &c. “I will maintain mine own ways before him.” xxiii. 3, &c. “O that I knew where I might find him—!" xxxi. 6. “let me be weighed in an even balance, that God may know mine integrity.” v. 35. “O that one would hear me!” 2 Cor. i.
our rejoicing is this, the testimony of our conscience, that in simplicity and godly sincerity, not with fleshly wisdom, but by the grace of God, we have had our conversation in the world.”
The opposite to this is an evil conscience ;' that is to say (allowing some latitude of signification to the word) the judgement of each individual mind concerning its own bad action, and its consequent disapproval of them, according to the light enjoyed from nature or grace ; which may be more properly called a consciousness of evil. Gen. xlii. 21. verily guilty concerning our brother.... therefore is this distress come upon us. Hos. x. 8. “ they shall say to the
1. I will begin somewhat higher, and speak of punishment; which as it is an evil, l esteem to be of two sorts, or rather two degrees only; a reprobate conscience in this life, and hell in the other world.' Reason of Church Government urged against Prelaty. Prose Works, II. 490.
mountains, Cover us, and to the hills, Fall on us,” compared with Rev. vi. 16. “they said to the mountains and rocks, Fall on us, and hide us from the face of him that sitteth upon the throne, and from the wrath of the Lamb.” Luke xx. 5, 6. they reasoned with themselves, saying, If we shall say,
From heaven, he will say, Thy then believed ye him not ?" Acts xxiv. 25. “as he reasoned of righteousness. ... Felix trembled.” Rom. ii. 15. “their conscience also bearing witness, and their thoughts the meanwhile accusing or else excusing one another.” Heb. x. 22. “ having our hearts sprinkled from an evil conscience." John viii. 9. “ being convicted by their own conscience." Strictly speaking, however, an evil conscience is one which judges erroneously or with a wrong bias, and not according to the light derived from nature or grace. 1 Cor. viii. 7. “ their conscience being weak, is defiled.” 1 Tim. iv. 2. “ having their conscience seared with a hot iron.” Tit. i. 15. “ even their mind and conscience is defiled.”
Contrary to sincerity are, first, evil thoughts. Matt. v. 28. “he hath committed adultery with her already in his heart.” xv. 18, 19. “those things which proceed out of the mouth come forth from the heart, and they defile the man ; for out of the heart proceed evil thoughts, murders--" Secondly, hypocrisy; the deeds of which, though plausible, are not good, or if good, are not done with a good design. Matt. vi. 1, &c. “take heed that ye do not your alms before men, to be seen of them, otherwise ye have no reward of your Father which is in heaven.” xxiii. 25, 26, “woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye make clean the outside of the cup and the platter, but within they are full of extortion and excess."
PROMPTITUDE or alacrity is that which excites us to act with a ready and willing spirit. Psal. i. 2. “ whose delight is in the law of Jehovah." xl. 8. “I delight to do thy will, O my God; yea, thy law is within my
heart." “thy people shall be willing.” Prov. xxi. 15. “it is joy to the just to do judgement.” 2 Cor. viii. 12. “if there be first a willing mind, it is accepted according to that a man hath" ix. 7. “God loveth a cheerful giver.” Its opposites are, first, precipitancy. Matt. viii. 19. “I
I will follow thee whithersoever thou goest.”
Secondly, a forced and not spontaneous discharge of duty.
v. 11. "
Deut. xxvii. 47. “ because thou servedst not Jehovah thy God with joyfulness, and with gladness of heart." 2 Cor. ix. 7. not grudgingly, or of necessity.”
Gal. vi. 9. “let us not weary in well doing, for in due season we shall reap, if we faint not.” 2 Thess. iii. 13. “ be not weary in well doing.' Heb.
ye are dull of hearing.' xii. 3. "i consider him that endured such contradiction of sinners against himself, lest ye be wearied and faint in your minds.” v. 12. “ lift up the hands which hang down, and the feeble knees.” 1 Pet. v. 2. “not by constraint, but willingly."
CONSTANCY is that virtue whereby we persevere in a determination to do right, from which nothing can divert us. Psal. cxix. 44, 45. “I shall keep thy law continually for ever and ever; and I will walk at liberty.' v. 51. “the proud have had me greatly in derision, yet have I not declined from thy law.” v. 61. “the bands of the wicked have robbed me, but I have not forgotten thy law.” v. 95. “ the wicked have waited for me to destroy me, but I will consider thy testimonies.” v. 110. “ the wicked have laid a snare for me, yet I erred not from thy precepts.”
v. 112. “I have inclined mine heart to perform thy statutes alway, even unto the end.” v. 157. “ many are my persecutors and mine enemies ; yet do I not decline from thy testimonies." Eccles. vii. 14. “in the day of prosperity be joyful; but in the day of adversity consider.” Matt. xxiv. 13. “he thạt shall endure to the end, the same shall be saved.” 2 Cor. vi. 4, &c. “ in all things approving ourselves as the ministers of God, in much patience, in afflictions, in necessities, in distresses—" viii. 11. “now therefore perform the doing of it, that as there was a readiness to will
, so there may be a performance also out of that which
have.” The opposites of these are, first, inconstancy. Jer. xxxiv. 8, &c. “after that the king Zedekiah had made a covenant with all the people.... to proclaim liberty unto them.... afterwards they turned and caused the servants and the handmaids whom they had let go free to return. v. 15, 16. “ye were now turned and had done right in my sight.. turned and polluted my name.” Luke ix. 62. “ no man having put his hand to the plough, and looking back, is fit for the kingdom of God.” Matt. xiii. 20.-22. "he heareth the word
. yet hath he not root in himself, but dureth for a while ;
. . .
for when tribulation or persecution ariseth because of the word, by and by he is offended.... he heareth the word, and the care of this world and the deceitfulness of riches choke the word.”
Secondly, obstinacy in error, or in a wrong purpose. Psal. xix. 13. “ keep back thy servant also from presumptuous sins ; let them not have dominion over me; then shall I be upright, and I shall be innocent from the great transgression. Jer. ii. 35. “ behold, I will plead with thee, because thou sayest, I have not sinned.” Acts vii. 51. “ye stiff-necked, and uncir. cumcised in heart and ears, ye do always resist the Holy Ghost.”
CHAP. III._OF THE VIRTUES BELONGING TO THE WORSHIP
OF GOD. SPECIAL virtues are those which pertain only to a particular branch of our duty ; namely, to our duty towards God, or towards man.
OUR DUTY TOWARDS God relates to HIS IMMEDIATE WORSHIP or SERVICE ; which is either internal or external.
Internal worship consists mainly in the acknowledgement of the one true God, and in the cultivation of devout affections towards him. Deut. vi. 4. “ hear, O Israel; Jehovah our God is one Jehovah ;” as in the first book, on God.
Opposed to this is, first, atheism. Psal. xiv. 1. “ the fool hath said in his heart, There is no God.” also liii. 1. See more on this subject in the first book, as above.
Secondly, polytheism, or the acknowledgement of more gods than one, except in the sense authorised by Scripture itself. Gal. iv. 8. “when ye knew not God, ye did service unto them which by nature are no gods.”
DEVOUT AFFECTIONS TOWARDS GOD are LOVE, TRUST, HOPE, GRATITUDE, FEAR, HUMILITY, PATIENCE, OBEDIENCE. Deut. x. 12, 13. “what doth Jehovah thy God require of thee, but to fear Jehovah thy God, to walk in all his ways, and to love him, and to serve Jehovah thy God with all thy heart and with all thy soul; to keep the commandments of Jehovah and his statutes.”
THE LOVE OF God is that by which we prefer him above ali other objects of affection, and desire his glory. Deut. vi. 5.