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we would be done by, was never design'd to make men lawless; or such an absolute law to themselves, that whatsoever they can reciprocally desire or submit to, should be lawful. It ought to be first known that the thing is lawful, before the rule can be applied; which, Itrictly speaking, is not so much a law it self as a measure of performing other duties to our neighbour.
(2.) We must confine it to things that are reaSonable, or fit to be done. Some things are lawful, which are not expedient: It is lawful for me to give away a good part of my estate, or any particular valuable possession that I have, to whomsoever I think fit; but if a neighbour of mine should come to me, and with a serious face should defire me to settle such a Lordship upon him, &c. I dare fay all the world would agree, it was a very impudent and unreasonable requeft; and though he should press me an hundred times over with the rule of doing as I would be done by (for it is not to be deny'd that I should gladly receive such a favour and benefaction my self from any other person) he would be as often told, it was a thing undecent to be ask'd, impertinent to be expected, and unfit to be done. To instance in another thing not reducible to this rule, no judge or magistrate is obliged thereby to pardon a notorious offender against the laws, upon thinking with himself, that truly was he in the malefactor's place, he would be very desirous to be pardoned. The rule breaks here, because though 'tis natural to an offender to deprecate the punishment due to his offence, it is not fit or reafonable the magistrate should hearken to him; for he acts in a public capacity, and must consider the reverence due to the laws, the peace and good order of the public, more than the benefit of any private perfon. Again, a person who is in very indifferent circumstances, desires me to be bound
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with him for a considerable sum, which he is not likely to pay, and if I pay it my self, it will be a great detriment and wrong to my family; I am not by this rule obliged to answer his desire, tho' I should be glad, if the case were my own, as it is his, that another would do the same for me ; because it is reasonable I should consider my own family and circumstances in the first place; I am to love my neighbour as my self, but I am not obliged to love him better, and to do my self a great injury for the doing him a benefit. Many other instances might be given, but there is no need to enlarge. Religion and prudence must govern us in this, as well as in every other duty. I will therefore take a short and general view of what is indeed the proper application of this rule. Let a child, a subject, or a servant, but ask himself without partiality, what horour, what submission, what obedience he would think was due to him, were he himself a father, magistrate, or master, and his answer to this would be a rule for his own behaviour towards thosc that are so related to him. The fame will hold in all other relative duties; and hereby may be discerned the equity of reverencing superiors, of being civil and courteous to cquals, gentle to inferiors, and just and charitable to all mankind. It would keep us from an insolent and furly carriage towards any one, from despising and ridiculing, from upbraiding and provoking, if we do but seriously consider how ill we our felves could bear this from another. It would teach us to forbear and forgive, because we desire in our turns to be forborn and forgiven. It would make us candid and good-natured, in putting the best interpretation upon the words and actions of others, if we reflect but how rcasonable we think it, that another should deal fo candidly with us. The poor may be convinced by it, of the unreasonableness of maligning
and cnvying the rich the advantage of their riches: And these would also see the unreasonableness of refusing relief and assistance to the poor, because each of them would in the others circumstances expect a contrary behaviour. Let but the rich and the poor change places, and then they who before cry'd out of the pride and arrogance of great men, will think it hard to be call'd proud, only for keeping up the necessary port and grandeur of their stations : And they who before condemn’d the laziness of the poor, and thought themselves to have a right of doing wholly what they pleas’d with their own, will then think it hard, when necessitous, not to be pitied, supported, and relieved, by those who are able.
A reasonable kindness requir’d by any one, will be readily done, when we consider that we our felves stand in need of the kindness of others, and would think it very ill-natured to have a neighbourly office refused us.
Those that are now lo fond of running up and down from company to company, with scandalous stories, and venomous reflections upon a neighbour, would find a better employment, if they would consider how they would resent it, to be so used and traduced themselves. Let us be exactly just in all our dealings with others, as we would assuredly have others jult in all their dealings with us.
These are the chief general inftances wherein this rule of doing as we would be done by must take place. Particulars are reducible thereto by every man's private conscience, as circumstances arise, to bring them under consideration. I will now only in a few words consider, what is meant by our Saviour, in saying that this rule is the law and the Prophets, and then conclude. His meaning, I conceive to be no more than this, " That it is the sum or sub
stance of all that the Prophets have laid down, with respect to the commandments of the second
6 table, our duty towards our 'neighbour. 'Tis no “ new prccept in the sense of it, whatever it
may o be in terms: For the law and the Prophets, in “ all particular directions they have given for our o conduct one to another, have said thus much al“ ready in effect, and in effect no more than this, " that we hould use others as we would be used
our selves. But to carry the meaning of it higher, so as to suppose it to comprehend the whole duty of a Christian, is an impious pretence to destroy the commandments of the first table. And the pretence is as unreasonable as it is impious: For the reason whereupon this rule is grounded, cannot porsibly extend it farther than our duty to mankind, who though they differ in some circumstances, yet being made of the same materials, coming all from the same stock, and going all to the fame place, the grave, they may be said in nature to be equal; and this equality is the foundation of the right of reciprocal love, and of the which is consequent thereupon, of doing as we would be done by. It is enough that we love our neighbour as our selves; because he is of the same kind with us, and to love him more, would be as unjust as to love him less than our felves. But God being infinite in all perfection, we ought to love him infinitely better than our felves; there ought to be no measure of our love to him, but to love him with all our heart, with all our soul, and with all our strength; there can be no turning of the tables, and therefore no place for this rule betwixt him and us. Since then this rule will carry us no farther than our duty to men, 'tis certainly but one half, and not the whole of what a Christian has to do; for without dispute, he owes a duty to God, as well as to man: And to the one, as well as to the other, is this fame expression, The law and the Prophets, elsewhere apply'd by our Saviour, Thou sealt love the Lord thy
God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind; this is the first and great commandment. The second is like unto it, Thou salt love thy neighbour as thy self. On these two commandments hang all the law and the Prophets.
CH A P. XXII. Of the Difficulties of the CHRISTIAN
MATTH. vii. 13, 14. Enter ye in at the strait gate: for wide is
the gate, and broad is the way, that leads eth to destruction, and many there be that
go in thereat. Because strait is the gate, and narrow is the
way, that leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it.
UR Saviour having explain'd the precepts of the moral law to a degree of strictness and perfection, far beyond what had been ever taught by the Jew
isi doctors, it was natural to suppose his audience would be startlcd at it; fome perhaps, would think him too severe and rigid in his notions ; that surely one might get to heaven without fo much ado about it; that it could not be supposed