« PreviousContinue »
be in those passages his own, let them remember that the sum of all that I confute, is in his first book, which is old, and highly honoured, by- -you know whom. And I will do him the honour, and myself the dishonour to confess, that I think the far greater number of casuists and authors of politics, Papists and Protestants are on his side, and fewest on mine: but truth is truth.
On the subjects' duty I am larger, because, if they will not hear, at least I may boldly and freely instruct them.
If in the latter part there be any useful cases of conscience left out, it is because I could not remember them. Farewell.
General Rules for an Upright Conversation.
SOLOMON saith," He that walketh uprightly walketh surelya." And perfection and uprightness are the characters of Job. And in the Scripture to be upright or righteous, and to walk uprightly, and to do righteously, are the titles of those that are acceptable to God. And by uprightness is meant not only sincerity as opposed to hypocrisy; but also rectitude of heart and life, as opposed to crookedness or sin; and this as it is found in various degrees of which we use to call the lowest degree that is saving by the name of sincerity, and the highest by the name of perfection.
Concerning uprightness of life, I shall, I. Briefly tell you some of those blessings that should make us all in love with it, and, II. Give you some necessary rules of practice. 1. Uprightness of heart and life is a certain fruit of the Spirit of grace, and consequently a mark of our union with Christ, and a proof of our acceptableness with God. My defence is of God, who saveth the upright in heart"." the righteous Lord loveth righteousness, and his countenance doth behold the upright"." It is a title that God himself assumeth; "Good and upright is the Lord." "To
e Psal. vii. 10.
a Prov. x. 9.
b Job i, 1. 8. ii. 3.
e Psal. xxv. 8.
shew that the Lord is upright, he is my Rock, and no unrighteousness is in him." And God calleth himself the Maker, the Director, the Protector, and the Lover of the upright. "God made man upright." "The Lord knoweth the way of the righteous"." "What man is he that feareth the Lord? him will he teach in the way that he shall choose i." "He layeth up sound wisdom for the righteous; he is a buckler to them that walk uprightly."
2. The upright are the pillars of human society, that keep up truth and justice in the world; without whom it would be but a company of liars, deceivers, robbers, and enemies, that live in constant rapine or hostility. There were no trust to be put in one another, further than selfinterest did oblige men. Lord, who shall abide in thy tabernacle? Who shall dwell in thy holy hill? He that walketh uprightly, and worketh righteousness, and speaketh the truth in his heart." Therefore the wicked, and the enemies of peace, and destroyers of societies, are still described as enemies to the upright. "For lo, the wicked bend their bow, they make ready their arrow upon the string, that they may privily shoot at the upright in heart. If the foundations be destroyed, what can the righteous doTM ?” just and upright man is laughed to scorn "The wicked have drawn out the sword to slay such as be of upright conversation"." And indeed it is for the upright's sake that societies are preserved by God, as Sodom might have been for ten Lots. At least they are under the protection of om.. nipotency themselves. "He that walketh righteously and speaketh uprightly, he that despiseth the gain of oppression, that shaketh his hand from holding of bribes, that stoppeth his ear from hearing of blood, that shutteth his eyes from seeing evil; he shall dwell on high, his place of defence shall be the munitions of rocks; bread shall be given him; his waters shall be sure: thine eyes shall see the king in his beauty; they shall behold the land that is very far off." "The upright shall have good things in possession 9." "The
f Psal. xcii. 15.
Eccl. vii. 29.
h Psal. i. 6.
i Psal. xxv. 12.
house of the wicked shall be overthrown; but the tabernacle of the upright shall flourish "."
3. Uprightness affordeth peace of conscience, and quietness and holy security to the soul. This was Paul's rejoicing, the testimony of his conscience, that " in simplicity and godly sincerity he had had his conversation in the world, and not in fleshly wisdom." And this was David's comfort. "For I have kept the ways of the Lord, and have not wickedly departed from my God; for all his judgments were before me, and as for his statutes, I did not depart from them. I was also upright before him, and have kept myself from mine iniquity. Therefore hath the Lord recompensed me according to my righteousness; with the merciful thou wilt shew thyself merciful, and with the upright thou wilt shew thyself upright." Yea, peace is too little; exceeding joy is the portion, and most beseeming condition of the upright. "Be glad in the Lord, and rejoice ye righteous, and shout for joy, all ye that are upright in heart"." 66 Rejoice in the Lord, O ye righteous, for praise is comely for the upright." "The righteous shall be glad in the Lord, and trust in him, and all the upright in heart shall glory "." Light is sown for the righteous, and gladness for the upright in heart"." The Spirit that sanctifieth them, will comfort them.
4. As the upright, so their upright life and duties are specially delightful and acceptable to God. The prayer of the upright is his delight. Therefore God blesseth their duties to them, and they are comforted and strengthened by experience of success. "The way of the Lord is strength to the upright, but destruction shall be to the workers of iniquity." "Do not my words do good to him that walketh uprightly."
Prov. xiv. 11.
5. No carnal politics, no worldly might, no help of friends, nor any other human means, doth put a man in so safe a state, as uprightness of heart and life. To walk uprightly, is to walk surely, because such walk with God, and in his way, and under his favour, and his promise; and if
God be not sufficient security for us, there is none. "Surely the righteous shall give thanks unto thy name; the upright shall dwell in thy presence." "The integrity of the upright shall guide them, but the perverseness of transgressors shall destroy them. The righteousness of the upright shall deliver them, but transgressors shall be taken in their own naughtiness f."
6. Lastly, the failings and weaknesses of the upright are pardoned, and therefore they shall certainly be saved. The upright may say in all their weaknesses as Solomon; "I know also, my God, that thou triest the heart, and hast pleasure in uprightness; as for me, in the uprightness of my heart I have willingly offered all these things "." God will do good to them that are good, and to them that are upright in their hearts." The upright love him, and are loved by him. "No good thing will he withhold from them'." The way to right comforting the mind of man, is to shew to him his uprightness ". And whoso walketh uprightly shall be saved "." "For the high way of the upright is to depart from evil, and he that keepeth his way, preserveth his soul." I conclude with Psal. xxxvii. 37. "Mark the upright man, and behold the just, for the end of that man is peace."
II. The true rules of an upright life are these that fol
1. He that will walk uprightly must be absolutely devoted and subjected unto God: he must have a God, and the true God, and but one God; not notionally only, but in sincerity and reality: he must have a God whose word shall be an absolute law to him; a God that shall command himself, his time, his estate, and all that he hath, or that he can do; a God whose will must be his will, and may do with him what he please; and who is more to him than all the world; whose love will satisfy him as better than life, and whose approbation is his sufficient encouragement and reward P.
e Psal. cxl. 13.
h1 Chron. xxix. 17.
1 Psal. lxxxiv. 11. • Prov. xvi. 17. P Psal. lxxiii. 25. 7, 8. Luke xii. 4.
lxiii. 3. 1 Cor. iv. 3, 4. Phil. iii. 8, 9. 18, 19. Psal. iv.
Matt. vi. 1-3.
2. His hope must be set upon heaven as the only felicity of his soul: he must look for his reward and the end of all his labours and patience in another world; and not with the hypocrite, dream of a felicity that is made up first of worldly things, and then of heaven, when he can keep the world no longer. He that cannot, that doth not in heart, quit all the world for a heavenly treasure, and venture his all upon the promise of better things hereafter, and forsaking all, take Christ and everlasting happiness for his portion, cannot be upright in heart or life.
3. He must have an infallible teacher (which is only Christ) and the encouragement of pardoning grace when he faileth, that he sink not by despair; and therefore he must live by faith on a Mediator. And he must have the fixed principle of a nature renewed by the Spirit of Christ'.
4. He that will walk uprightly, must have a certain, just, infallible rule; and must hold to that, and try all by it; and this is only the Word of God. The teachings of men must be valued as helps to understand this Word; and the judgments of our teachers, and those that are wiser than ourselves, must be of great authority with us in subordination to the Scripture. But neither the learned, nor the godly, nor the great, must be our rule in co-ordination with the Word of God'.
5. He that will walk uprightly, must have both a solid and a large understanding, to know things truly as they are, and to see all particulars which must be taken notice of, in all the cases which he must determine, and all the actions which his integrity is concerned in. 1. There is no walking uprightly in the dark. Zeal will cause you to go apace; but not at all to go right, if judgment guide it not. Erroneous zeal will make you do evil with double violence, and with blasphemous fathering your sins on God, and with impenitence and justification of your sin. This made Paul mad in persecuting the church. Folly is joy to him that
Matt. vi. 19, 20. 1 John ii. 15.
4 Luke xiv, 26, 27, 33, 34. xviii. 22. Phil. iii. 18. 21.
John xii. 16. xv. 1. &c. iii. 5, 6. Rom. viii. 8, 9. 2 Tim. iii. 15. Isa. viii. 20. Heb. viii. 10, 16. Neh.lx. 13, 14. Prov. i. 5. x. 23. xvii. 27. 18. Col. i. 9. ii. 2. 2 Tim. ii. 7.
xxxiii. 21. 1 Thess. v. 12. James iv. 12. Psal. xix. 7. cxix. 1-3. iii. 4. Psal. cxi. 10. Eph. i. 18. Acts xxvi. 1 Cor. xiv. 5. 20.