« PreviousContinue »
thou fastest, anoint thine head and wash thy face, SERM. that thou appear not unto men to fast; and, If
LXIV. thy brother shall trespass against thee, go and tell Matt
. xviii. him his fault between thee and him alone.
But there are divers other duties, the discharge whereof necessarily is notorious and visible; the public being the stage on which they are to be acted; the transaction of them demanding the intercourse of many persons, who are the objects or instruments of them, or are somewise concerned in them: such is that negative duty, of a general nature and vast Psal. xxxiv. comprehension, which we may call innocence; that is, a total abstinence from sin, or forbearance to transgress any divine command; which is a part of Job's character, That man was perfect and up-Job i. 1. right, one that feared God, and eschewed evil: the which duty, being to be practised at all times in every place, cannot avoid being observable.
Such are also divers positive duties; for such is the profession of our faith in God, and acknowledgment of his heavenly truth, revealed in the gospel of our blessed Saviour; which is styled confessing Rom. x. 10. our Lord before men, and is, as St. Paul telleth us, indispensably requisite to salvation.
Such is joining in that public adoration, whereby the honour and authority of God are upheld in the world with seemly expressions of reverence; the which is to be performed solemnly, and, as the holy Psalmist speaketh, in the midst of the congregation. Psal. xcix.
5. cxxxii.7. Such is zeal in vindication of God's honour, when xxii. 22. occasion requireth, from blasphemous aspersions, or from scandalous offences against it.
Such are justice, equity, fidelity, and ingenuity in our dealings; meekness, gentleness, patience, kind
14. Rom. xii. 18. Gal. vi. io.
SERM. ness, and courtesy in our converse; peaceableness in LXIV. our carriage, and charitable beneficence; the objects
whereof are most general, according to those apoPhil. iv. 5. stolical precepts, That our moderation (or our equity
and ingenuity) be known unto all men; that we Tit. iii. 2. shew all meekness to all men; that we must not 2 Tim. ii. strive, but be gentle unto all men; that we be pa1 Thess. v. tient toward all men; that we pursue peace with Heb. xii. all men; that as we have opportunity, we should
do good unto all men; should abound in love one
towards another, and towards all men; should 1 Thess. i. ever follow that which is good, both among our2 Cor.is: selves and to all men; should liberally distribute
to the saints and to all men: in performing which so general duties, how can a man pass incognito, how can he so deal with all men indiscernibly?
Such are likewise gravity and modesty in our behaviour; sweetness, soberness, aptness to profit and edify the hearers in our discourse; moderation and temperance in our corporeal enjoyments; industry in our business and the works of our calling; integrity in the management of any office or trust
committed to us; a constant practice of which vir2 Tim. iv. tues is not only enjoined to us as our particular Tit . ii. 4, duty, but for public example.
Such are seasonable defence of the truth, and opposing of error; the commendation of virtue, and reprehension of notorious sin, with the like.
Such things must be practised, because indispensable duties; but they cannot be done out of sight, or barring the observation of men; they do involve publicness; they carry a light and lustre with them, attracting all eyes to regard them; it is as impossible to conceal them as to hide the sun from all the
world, or to conceal a city that is set upon a hill ; SERM.
LXIV. for nothing, as St. Chrysostom saith, doth render a man so illustrious, although he ten thousand times Matt. v. 14. would be hid, as an open practice of virtue a.
Wherefore the works of mercy, saith St. Austin, the affection of charity, the sanctity of godliness, the incorruptness of chastity, the moderation of sobriety, these are perpetually to be held, whether we are in the public or at home; whether before men or in the closet, whether we speak or keep silence b.
In the practice of them, it is true, we mainly should respect the approving our conscience to God, with expectation of our recompense from him; not 1 Cor. iv. 3. being much concerned in the judgment or pleasure 1 Thess. ii. of men, purely considered in themselves; not aim-Gal. i. 10. ing at any interest of credit or profit from them as a reward of our worko; We ought, as St. Austin saith, while we do good, to be seen, but we ought not to do it that we may be seen ; the end of our joy, the bound of our comfort, should not be there; so that we should think ourselves to have obtained the whole fruit of a good work, when we have been seen and commendedd: no, whatever we do, we Eph. vi. 6.
* Ουδέν γαρ ούτως επίσημον άνδρα ποιεί, κάν μυριάκις λανθάνειν βούληται, åperñs énidesE15. Chrys. in Matt. v. 16.
• Opera misericordiæ, affectus charitatis, sanctitas pietatis, incorruptio castitatis, modestia sobrietatis, semper hæc tenenda sunt; sive cum in publico sumus, sive cum in domo; sive ante homines, sive in cubiculo; sive loquentes, sive tacentes. Aug. in Ep 1. Joh. Tract. 8.
-non cum fama sed cum rerum natura deliberanduin est. Sen. Ep. 81. . Si times spectatores non habebis imitatores ;
videri, sed non ad hoc debes facere, ut videaris, non ibi debet esse
SERM. should, as the apostle directeth, do it as the serLXIV.
vants of Christ, doing the will of God from the Col. iii. 23, heart; doing it heartily as to the Lord, and not
unto men; knowing that of the Lord we shall receive the reward of the inheritance.
Yet nothing in the mean-time should hinder us from performing such necessary duties; strictly and exactly, with our most diligent care and endeavour, even in that light which their nature doth carry in it.
How much soever of our virtue or piety out of hųmility or modesty we may conceal, yet we must be careful of discovering any vice or irreligion, either by notoriously committing any thing forbidden by God, or omitting any thing commanded by him.
This we should not do upon any terms, upon any pretence whatever; no wicked fashion should engage us, no bad example should inveigle us, no favour of men should allure us, no terror should scare us thereto; we should not out of fear, out of shame, out of complaisance, out of affected prudence or politic design; out of deference to the quality, dignity, or authority of any person; out of regard to any man's desire or pleasure; we should not to decline offence, envy, blame, reproach, ill treatment, or upon any such account, comply in any sinful practice, wave any duty, neglect any season of performing a good deed, whereby we may glorify God, or edify our neighbour, or promote the welfare of our own soul.
To such a practice, according to the intent of St. Paul's injunction, we are obliged; and thereto we finis gaudii tui, non ibi terminus lætitiæ tuæ, ut putes te totum fructum consecutum esse boni operis, cum visus fueris atque laudatus. Ibid.
vult et con
may be induced by divers considerations, particularly SERM.
LXIV. by those which we shall now propose.
1. We may consider that the public is the proper, Bona connatural, and due place of goodness; it should dwell prodire in the light, it should walk freely and boldly everywhere, it should expose itself to open view, that it pequitia may receive from rational creatures its due approba-met. Sen.
Ep. 27 tion, respect, and praise ; it by publicness is advanced, and the more it doth appear, the more beautiful, the more pleasant, the more useful it is; yielding the fairer lustre, the greater influence, the better effects; thereby diffusing and propagating itself, becoming exemplary, instructive, and admonitive ; drawing lovers and admirers to it; exciting and encouraging men to embrace it: wherefore it is very absurd that it should sculk or sneak; it is a great damage to the public that it should retire from common notice.
On the other hand, it is proper for wickedness never to appear or to shew its head in view; it Omne mashould be confined to darkness and solitude, under timore aut
pudore naguard of its natural keepers, shame and fear; it
tura perfushould be exterminated from all conversation among Apol.cap.1. rational creatures, and banished to the infernal Job xxiv. shades : publicness doth augment and aggravate it ; the more it is seen, the more ugly, the more loathsome, the more noxious it is; its odious shape being disclosed, its noisome steams being dispersed, its pestilent effects being conveyed thereby.
Wherefore to smother virtue (that fair child of light) in privacy, and to vent sin (the works of dark- Rom. xiii. ness) openly, is quite to transplace things out of their Eph. v. 11. natural situation and order; according to which we are taught by our Lord, that he that doeth truth John iii. 21.