« AnteriorContinuar »
ment of God's Glory 5 which is the chief End, and therefore should be the chief Aim of every Rational Creature, the Good of Mankind demands the Exercise of Goodness at our Hands. And as it is observed above, that our Obligation to Glorifie God, does lay us under a Necessity of all such Positive Duties, as may be subservient to that Great Purpose and does not consist in the pure Avoidance of Wicked Actions, which would reflect Dishonour upon him; so here it is obvious , that the Good which we are to do unto our Brethren, is Direct and Positive, and does not only consist in our forbearing to Hurt and Annoy them.
Under the Great Conflicts betwixt Kingdoms, in the direful State of War, That which Succours and Supports Another, in the Defence of its just Rights and Privileges, is intitled to the proper Glories of Beneficence; but that which stands Neuter, deserves no Acknowledge ments, because it confers no Benefits <, and is but One Degree removed from the State of a profesied Enemy. 'Tis by no Means a sufficient Justification, which Men commonly offer in their own Favour, That they have done no Injury to their Neighbours; for wide is the Difference betwixt an Oppressour and Benefactour, betwixt the Charitable and Injurious. It may easily happen, that He who is not so desperate as to become the One, is not yet found in the hopeful State of the Other. No Man can value himself, for Adding much to the Happiness of Mankind, purely on this Account, that he is not a Thief or a Robber. 'Tis not our keeping to the Letter of the Sixth Commandment, that flls up the Measure of Duty to our Neighbour, in regard to his Life; for as we must not destroy it, we stand Further obliged, to Protect it, and to Crown it with Comforts, by proper Acts of our own, to the utmost of our Power. 'Tis not sufficient that we do not Hate our Neighbour; but we must moreover Actually and Ardently love him, and giva all possible Demonstrations of that Love, by such Fruits of it, as may be most Beneficial to him: 'Tis not sufficient, that we do not covet any Thing thai is His, . » but but we must moreover communicate unto him that which is our Own, as His Exigencies require, and Our Abilities allow. '
Those have little Reason to expect: Admission into the Society of the Blessed Above, who do not Contribute their utmost to the Happiness of Humane Society upon Earth. When we are taught that the Fruitless Tree must be cut down, that it may not be an Incumbrance upon the World, which receives no Advantage from it; what can those Unprofitable Souls think of themselves, which serve to no other Purpose, but to drag their Bodies through the Benefits of the Air, which they scarce deserve to breath in? Let them so far apply the Parable, as to consider,, that though they are let alone for this Year also, yet God's Long-suffering will have a Period; and when they are Hewen down, they shall be cast tnta the Ftre.
These Two Particulars are the Weightiest Arguments of our Obligations to Positive Duty, or the Actual exercise of Goodness; but still there are some O
ther ther Considerations, which may be a Further Illustration of this Point; As,
3. That Positive Goodness is necessary to prove our Fidelity in the Service of God. Whosoever neglects the Affirmative Precepts, whilst he observes the Negative ones, cannot be esteemed a Faithful Servant; because he doth but 'observe a Part of his Lord's Will And therefore as he falls short in his Service, he must do so in his Reward too. Though God rewards all that is Religion in us, yet he rewards nothing else*. and doth not place to His account, what is done upbn a Worldly Convenience to our Selves. And 'tis observable, that if we go nd Further in our Duty* than Abstaining From Excefles, there is nothing in This, but what Nature, without Religion, would Fuggest and support. The several Rules of Abstinence are so many Laws of Selfbfeservation; And 'tis possible that our Obedience may rise to the Height of These, whilst we do not so much serve God as our selves. Therefore 'tis observable, that the ancient Philosophers, making Nature, rather than the Will of God,
the Rule of their Virtue, did turn their Precepts chiefly upon Negative Goodness. But the Son of God, who came from Heaven to Reveal his Father's Will, hath taught us to give Other and higher Evidences of our Fidelity to God. The several Parables which have been mentioned , and the Parable of the Virgins, and the Account of the last Judgment, do All fignine, that our Fate at the Last day will be determined by the Measures of Positive Goodness; ,Which will appear,
4. To be still Further neceflary in us, as it is an Engaging Recommen-. dation and Endearment of Religion to Others. 'Tis obvious that Those Duties are peculiarly Reasonable and Neceflary which reflect Honour upon our Holy Religion; as Positive Goodness ever does. The Obligations of this kind are so Great, that a Negligence or Indifference towards them is accounted Criminal. He that is not with me, is again ft me -, and he that gathereth not with me, fcattereth. The Disciples of our Lord are, for the Influence of their Example, and for extending