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God requireth this as strictly at his hands. “That no man go beyond, or defraud his brother in any matter; for the Lord is the avenger of all such, as we also have forwarned and testified;" 1 Thess. iv. 6. He is one that “walketh uprightly, and worketh righteousness, and speaketh the truth in his heart, that backbiteth not with his tongue, nor doth evil to his neighbor, nor taketh up a reproach against his neighbor. If he swear to his own hurt, he changeth not. He putteth not out his money to (unjust or unmerciful) usury; nor taketh reward against the innocent; Psal. xv. He obeyeth that, Lev. xix. 13. “ Thou shalt not defraud thy neighbor, neither rob him : the wages of him that is hired shall not abide with thee all night until the morning." He can say as Samuel, “Whose ox or ass have I taken? or whom have I defrauded? Whom have I oppressed? or of whose hand have I received any bribe, to blind mine eyes therewith, and I will restore it? And they said, Thou hast not defrauded us, nor oppressed us, neither hast thou taken out of any man's hand ;" 1 Sam. xii. And if heretofore he was ever guilty of defrauding any, he is willing to his power to make restitution; and saith as Zaccheus, “If I have taken any thing from any man by false accusation, I restore him fourfold;" Luke xix. 8. Though flesh and blood persuade him to the contrary, and though it leave him in want, he will pay his debts, and make restitution of that which is ill gotten, as being none of his own. He will not sell for as much as he can get, but for as much as it is truly worth: he will not take advantage of the weakness, or ignorance, or necessity of his neighbor : he knoweth that “a false balance is abomination to the Lord, but a just weight is bis delight;" Prov. xi. 1. He is afraid of believing ill reports, and rebuketh the backbiter; chap. xxv. 23. He is apt to take part with any man behind his back, who is not notoriously inexcusable; not to justify any evil, but to shew bis charity, and his hatred of evil speaking, especially where it can do no good. He will not believe evil of another till the evidence do compel him to believe it. If he have wronged any by incautious words, he readily confesseth his fault to him, and asketh him forgiveness, and is ready to make any just satisfaction for any wrong that he hath done him. He borroweth not when he seeth not a great probability that he is likely to pay it.
Nor will remain in debt by retaining that which is another man's against his will, without an absolute necessity. “Owe no man any thing, but to love one another;" Rom. xiii. 8. For to borrow when he cannot pay is but to steal. Begging is better than borrowing for such. “The wicked borroweth, and payeth not;" Psal. xxxvii. 21.
2. And the weak Christian maketh conscience of justice as well as acts of piety, as knowing that God hath no need of our sacrifices, but loveth to see us do that which is good for human society, and which we have need of from each other. But yet he hath more selfishness and partiality than the confirmed Christian hath, and therefore is often overcome by temptations to unrighteous things : as to stretch his conscience for his commodity, in buying or selling, and concealing the faults of what he selleth, and sometimes overreaching others. Especially he is ordinarily too censorious of others, and apt to be credulous of evil reports, and to be over bold and forward of speaking ill of men behind their backs, and without a call; especially against persons that differ from him in matters of religion, where he is usually most unjust and apt to go beyond his bounds; James iii. 15. 16. Tit. iii. 2. Eph. iv. 31. 1 Pet. ii. 1.
3. The seeming Christian may have a seeming justice; but really he hath none but what must give place to his fleshly interest; and if his honor, and commodity and safety require it, he will not stick to be unjust. And that justice which wanteth but a strong temptation to overturn it, is almost as bad as none. If he will not seize on Naboth's vineyard, nor make himself odious by oppression or deceit, yet if he can raise or enrich himself by secret cozenage, and get so fair a pretence for his injustice, as shall cloak the matter from the sight of men, he seldom sticketh at it. It is an easy matter to make an Achan think that he doth no harm, or a Gehazi that he wrongeth no man, in taking that which was offered and due. Covetousness will not confess its name; but will find some reasonings to make good all the injustice which it doth; 1 Tim. vi. 5. 2 Kings v. 19, 20.
XLVI. 1. A Christian indeed is faithful and laborious in his particular calling, and that not out of a covetous mind; but in obedience to God, and that he may maintain his family, and be able to do good to others. For God hath said, “ In the sweat of thy face thou
shalt eat thy bread;" Gen. iii. 19. “And six days shalt thou labor;" Exod. xx. 10. And with quietness men must work, and eat their own bread; and “if any will not work, neither should he eat;', 2 Thess. ii. 10–12. Abraham, and Noah, and Adam, labored in a constant course of employment. He knoweth that a sanctified calling and labor is a help, and not a hindrance to devotion; and that the body must have work as well as the soul, and religion must not be pretended for slothsul idleness, nor against obedience to our Master's will; Prov. xxxi.
2. The weak Christian is here more easily deceived, and made believe that religion will excuse a man from bodily labor; and under the color of devotion to live idly. “They learn to be idle, wandering about from house to house, and not only idle, but tatlers also, and busybodies, speaking things which they ought not; 2 Thess. iii. 8. 1 Tim. v. 13. Slothfulness is a sin much condemned in the Scriptures; Ezek. xvi. 49. Prov. xxiv. 30. xviii. 9. xxi. 25. ;
. Matt. xxv. 26. Rom. xii. 11.
3. The seeming Christian in his labor is ruled chiefly by his flesh. If he be rich, and it inclines him most to sloth, he maketh small conscience of living in idleness, under the pretence of his gentility or wealth. But if the flesh incline him more to covetousness, he will be laborious enough; but it shall not be to please God by obedience, but to increase his estate, and enrich himself and his posterity, whatever better reason he pretend.
XLVII. 1. A Christian indeed is exactly conscionable in the duties of his relation to others in the family and place of his abode. If he be a husband, he is loving and patient, and faithful to his wife; if he be a father, he is careful of the holy education of his children; if he be a master, he is just and mercisul to his servants, and careful for the saving of their souls; if he be a child or servant, he is obedient, trusty, diligent, and careful, as well behind his parent's or bis master's back, as before his face. He dare not lie, nor steal, nor deceive, nor neglect his duty, nor speak dishonorably of his superiors, though he were sure he could conceal it all. For he knoweth that the fifth commandment is enforced with a special promise ; Eph. vi. 2. 5. 9. And that a bad child, or a bad servant, a bad
husband or wife, a bad parent or master, cannot be a good Christian; Col. iii. 18. 19, &c. iv. 1. 1 Pet. ü. 18.
2. But weak Christians, though sincere, are ordinarily weak in this part of their duty; and apt to yield to temptations, and carry
; themselves proudly, stubbornly, idly, disobediently, as eye-servants that are good in sight; or to be unmerciful to inferiors, and neglecters of their souls. And to excuse all this from the faults of those that they have to do with, and lay all upon others; as if the fault of husband, wife, parent, master, or servant, would justify them in theirs; and passion and partiality would serve for innocency.
3. And the hypocrite ordinarily sheweth his hypocrisies by being false in his relations to man, while he pretendeth to be pious and obedient unto God. He is a bad master, and a bad servant, when his filthy interest requireth it, and yet thinketh himself a good Christian for all that. For all men being faulty, it is easy to find a pretence from all men that he doth abuse, to cover the injury of his abuse. Cain, Ham, Eli, Absalom, Judas, &c. are sad examples of this.
XLVIII. 1. A Christian indeed, is the best subject, whether his prince be good or bad : though by infidel and ungodly rulers he be oft mistaken for the worst. He obeyeth not his rulers only for his own ends, but in obedience to God; and not only for fear of punishment, but for conscience sake. He looketh on them in their relations as the officers of God, and armed with his authority, and therefore obeyeth God in them. He permitteth not dishonorable thoughts of them in his heart; much less dare he speak dishonorably of them; Exod. xii. Prov. xxiv. 21. 1 Pet. ii. 13. 17. Prov. viii. 15. Acts xxiii. 4, 5. Eccles. x. 4. 20. He knoweth that every soul must be subject to the higher powers, and not resist; and that there is no power but of God. “ Whosoever therefore resisteth the power, resisteth the ordinance of God; and he that resisteth shall receive to himself damnation ;” Rom. xiii. 1–6. Therefore in all things lawful he obeyeth them. And though he must not, nor will not obey them against God, yet will he suffer patiently when he is wronged by them; and not only forbear resistance by arms or violence, but also all reproachful words, as knowing that the righting of himself is not so necessary to the public order and good, as the honor of his rulers
is. Usurpers may probably charge him to be a traitor, and seditious and rebellious, because he dare not approve of their usurpations; and when several are contending for the government, and in a litigious title the lawyers mislead him, when the controversy is only among them, and belongs to their profession, it is possible he may mistake as well as the lawyers, and take him to have the better title that hath the worse. But in divinity he knoweth there is no controversy whether every soul must be subject to the highest power, so far as he can know it. And that prayer and patience are the subject's arms; and religion is so far from being a warrant to resist, that it plainly forbiddeth disobedience and resistance; and none are more obliged to submission and quietness than Christians are. The spirit of Christianity is not of this world; their kingdom and their hopes are not of this world; and, therefore, they contend not for dignities and rule ; much less by resisting or rebelling against their lawful governors. But they are resolved to obey God, and secure their everlasting portion, and bear all the injuries which they meet with in the way, especially from those whom God hath set over them. There is no doctrine that ever was received in the world, so far from befriending seditions and rebellion, as the doctrine of Christ; nor any people in the world so loyal as Christians, while Christianity retained its genuine simplicity; till proud, domineering, worldly men, for carnal ends, pretended themselves to be Christians, and perverted the doctrine of Christ, to make it warp to their ambitious ends. Suffering seemeth not so great a matter to a holy, mortified, heavenly mind, as to tempt him to hazard his salvation to resist it. No man is so likely to be true to kings, as he that believeth that his salvation lieth on it, by the ordinance of God; Rom. xii. 3. And princes that are wise and just, do always discern that the best Christians are their best subjects; though those that are unbelieving and ungodly themselves, have ever hated them as the greatest troubles of the earth. And it hath ever been the practice of the enemies of Christ and godliness, to do all they can to engage the rulers of the earth against them; and to persuade them that the most godly Christians are persons of disloyal and unquiet minds; and by vexing and persecuting them, they do their worst to make them such as they falsely called Vol. II.