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And the people said unto Saul, shall Jonathan die, who hath wrought this great salvation in Israel? God forbid!: as the Lord liveth, there shall not one hair of his head fall to the ground; for he hath wrought with God this day. So the people rescued Jonathan, that he died mot."
2. To give unto others the necessaries of life, when in want, according to our ability. For as he that feeds-not the fire puts-it out, so unmerciful people that shut up their bowels from the needy, are guilty of their blood before the Lord, Jant. ii. 15, 16.
3. To entertain such affections towards our neighbour, as: mery keep us back from injuring of kim, and him from doing harm to himself; such as, charitable thoughts, love, compas. sion, meekness, gentleness, kindness. These are as water to quench fire in us which may burn up others, and as oil unto others to refresh them, Eph. iv. ult.
4. A peaceable, mild, and courteous conversation, Prov. xv. 1. in looks, speech, and behaviour.
5. Lastly, With respect to injuries, we ought to take all things in the best sense, 1 Cor. xiii. 5. 7. to avoid all oecasions of strife, yea, even to part sometimes with our right for peace, as Abraham with Lot; to bear real injuries, Col. iii. 12, 13; to forbear, and be ready to be reconciled, and forgive injuries, yea; to requite good for evils, Matth. v. 44.
With respect to both our own life and the life of others, we are called to resist all thoughts, subdue all passions, avoidi all occasions, temptations; and practices tending to the destruction of our awn life, or that of others of soul' or body:
Who can understand his errors? What shall come of us, if God enter into judgment with us? Our omissions would Tuin us, even in those things where we judge' ourselves to be in the least hazard
II. I come now to shew, what is forbidden in the sixth commandment. It forbids: the taking away of our own life; or the life of our neighbour, unjustly, and whatsoever tendeth thereunto.
Here I shall consider this command'as relating to our own lift, and the life of our neighbour.
FIRST, I' shall consider this command as relating to our"
own life; and that, 1. With respect to our souls; and, 2. With respect to our bodies.
First, Thou shalt not kill thine own soul. Our kind God forbids us to be self murderers and soul murderers. We become guilty of the blood of our own souls these ways:
1. By neglecting of the means of grace and salvation, Prov. viii. 34. 36. The life of our souls is a flame that must be kindled from above, and fed by means of grace. Whoso then neglect them, are guilty of their own blood. Consider this, ye prayerless persons, ye that are at no pains to get knowledge, slighters of public ordinances, private duties, reading, meditation, &c.
2. By opposing and fighting against the Lord's quickening work in the soul. They that murder convictions, murder their own souls, as if they were resolved that they should never stir in them, Prov. xxix. 1. Some, with Felix, put them off with fair promises; some, with Cain, with the noise of axes and hammers; which is in effect, they will not let their souls recover.
3. By continuing in sin impenitent. God calls by his word and providence to the man, as Paul to the jailor. Do thyself no harm. But, as if he were resolute on his own ruin, he will not forbear these courses. Wilful impenitency is the grossest self-murder, because soul-murder, Ezek. xviii. 30, 31. His soul is standing under a decayed roof, tell him that it will fall on him ; but he will not stir a foot ; is not his blood then on his own head?
4. By unbelief, and not coming to Christ by faith, John V. 40. Many means are essayed to preserve the soul ; but still it is ruined, because the main cure is neglected. Let a man use ever so many remedies for his health, if he will not use the main cure necessary, he is his own murderer. So resolutions, watchings, engagements, are tried; but if faith, and employing of Christ for sanctification, is not tried, he is still a murderer.
O sirs, consider this. Murder, self-murder, soul-murder, is a crying sin. What wonder the man perish who will perish? Will God spare the shedding of the blood of that soul, which the man himself is so liberal of?
And hence see that people not only may, but this com. mand of God obliges them to seek the welfare and good of VOL. III.
their souls. Fear hell, hope for heaven; and let this stir you up to duty: but do not rest there, go forward and make the love of God your main motive; and that of itself would be sufficient to stir you up to all the duties of a holy life.
SECONDLY, Thou shalt not kill thine own body. This is simply and absolutely forbidden. We may take away the life of others in some cases justly; but in no case our own, untess there be a particular divine warrant, which I suppose in Samson's case, which is not to be expected by us ; for, therein he was a type of Christ: There are two things forbidden here.
1. The taking away of our own life, by laying violent hands on ourselves. This is the horrid sin of direct selfmurder ; of which Saul, Ahithophel, and Judas were guilty; and many sad instances have been of it of late. The law of God utterly condemns it, and nature itself abhors it. It is the effect of a desperate envenomed spirit, rising from pride and impatience, a horrible Jeaping into eternity ere the call come from God. It is highly dishonourable to God, charg ing him with cruelty, and refusing to wait his leisure. It is the thing the grand murderer is seeking. Civil laws strike against it; with us self-murderers are denied Christian burial, their goods are escheated, that respect to their families may deter people from it: in other places they have hung them up on gibbets. And though we will not take on us to determine the case of all such to be hopeless for eternity, that is sufficient to scare us, 1 John iii. 5. • Ye know that no murderer hath eternal life abiding in him.'
2. Doing any thing that tendeth thereunto. Men may be guilty of killing themselves indirectly many ways, all which are here forbidden. Here are forbidden, as tending to the murder of the body.
ist, All entertaining of any thoughts against our own life, that is heart-killing; wearying of our own life, and fretful wishing to be gone, as was Jonah's case, chap. iv. 3 ; all tampering with
temptations of that sort, and not rejecting them with abhorrence, Job. vii, 15. Our life is a mercy, and not to be wearied off fretfully; for it is God's goodness that we are out of hell. And it is horrid ingratitude to account God's gift a burden.
2dly, Discontent, fretfwness, and impatience. It is a dangerous thing, Psal. xxxvii. 8. It was that which prevailed
with Abithophel to make away with himself. It is like ink cast into a fountain, which makes all the water blackish. It unfits for society with men, and for communion with God; it destroys the soul and body too; for the fretful man is his own tormentor. We should study to be content with our lot, and easy whatever our circumstances be, Heb. xiii. 5; and that will set all our wrongs right, Prov. xv. 15; for then our spirit is brought to our lot; and the vulture preys no more on our liver.
3dly, Immoderate grief and sorrow. When we go into the waters of godly sorrow for sin, we are out again ere we are well in ; but in carnal sorrow we will go over the head and ears, 2 Cor. vii, 10. How many have conceived that sorrow upon some cross which they have met with! some. thing within their fancy has been balked, that has ruined their bodies as well as their souls. We should enure our. selves to a patient bearing of the Lord's hand; and not smo. ther that fire within our breasts, but lay it out before the Lord and leave it there, 1 Sam, i. 18. and labour to please God and consult our own welfare by a holy and moderate cheerfulness, Prov. xvii. 22.
4thly, Anxiety, distracting carking cares about the things of this life. As men fearing that they shall not sleep, do thereby mar their own rest; so the body is often ruined by too much anxiety for it, Matth. vi. 31. Take no thought what ye shall eat, &c.' Gr. 'Rack not your mind.' When the mind is on the tenter-hooks, the body must smart for it. As the ape kills its fondling by hugging it, so do men kill themselves by indulging anxious cares. Let us labour then for a holy carelessness in these matters ; let us use lawful means, and leave the success quietly on the Lord. Though anxiety will not add a cubit to our stature, it may through time take a cubit from it, Phil. iv. 6.
5thly, Neglecting of our bodies, Col. ii. 23. when we do pot make a convenient use of the means of life and health ; as when people deny themselves the necessary measure of food, sleep, exercise, recreations, physic, clothes, and housing. People may be guilty against their own lives this way, (1.) By a careless negligent disposition, Eccl. x. 18. (2.) From the plague of a covetous pinching humour, that they cannot find in their heart to use the gift of God to them, Eccl. vi. 2. (8.) By means of inordinate passions, 1 Kings xxi. 4. (4.) Sometimes Satan has driven people under con viction to this, suggesting to them that they have no right to these things. But as long as men live, though they have not a covenant-right, they have a common providential right to the means of life; and the cominand binds, Thou shalt not kill. It is a duty of this command, then, to take care of our bodies and provide them necessaries so far as we can : they are not ours, but God's.
6thly, Intemperance, when people keep no measure in satisfying of the flesh, Luke xxi. 34. They pamper the flesh, till the beast turns furious, and ruins itself. When God made man, he impressed an image of his sovereignty on him, made him lord over the beasts; but now, without the beasts, and within the affections, are turned rebels. · This is a monster with three heads.
(1.) Gluttony, intemperance in eating. Man should eat to live; but some, like the beasts live to eat. The law of God will not allow people to cram their bellies, and sacrifice to a greedy appetite, Phil. iii. 19. It is a degree of self. murder; for it cuts short people's days, which sobriety would prolong. There is a curse entailed upon it, which is often seen to take effect, Prov. xxiii. 20, 21. ' Be not amongst wine-bibers; amongst riotous eaters of flesh. For the drunkard and the glutton shall come to poverty: and drowsiness shall clothe a man with rags.' The glutton and the drunkard, in scripture-language, is equivalent to a ne'er-dowell in ours, Deut. xxi. 20, 21. It is a beastly sin. A hea. then calls the glutton's belly a swines trough. A scavenger, whose occupation is to empty, is to be preferred to the glutton, who lives to fill a privy.
(2.) Drunkenness, intemperance in drinking, Luke xxi. 34. A sin that makes quick work for the grave, and has carried many thither ere they have lived half their days. Reason differences men from beasts, but the beastly sin of drunkenness takes away that, robbing men of reason. It is the devil's rack, on which while he has men, they will babble out every thing; for qund in corde sobrii, in ore ebrii. It is an inlet to other sins : for what will a man not do in his drunkenness, if he have a temptation to it? It destroysaman's health, wealth and soul; murders soul and body at once. The Lacedæmonians used to fill their slaves drunk, that their children, seeing the picture of drunkenness might loath it.