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CHAPTER VIII.
OF OUR DUTIES TOWARDS MEN; AND THE GENERAL VIRTUES BELONGING THERETO.

HITHERTO we have treated of the virtues comprehended in our duty towards God; we are next to speak of those which belong to our duty towards men; although even in these we may be considered as serving God, so long as they are done in obedience to the divine command. Matt. vii. 12. "all things whatsoever ye would that men should do to you, do ye even so to them: for this is the law and the prophets." Col. iii. 23. "whatsoever ye do, do it heartily, as to the Lord, and not unto men." James i. 26, 27. "if any man among you seem to be religious, and bridleth not his tongue, but deceiveth his own heart, this man's religion is vain; pure religion and undefiled before God and the Father is this, To visit the fatherless and widows in their affliction, and to keep himself unspotted from the world." 1 John iv. 20. "if a man say, I love God, and hateth his brother, he is a liar; for he that loveth not his brother whom he hath seen, how can he love God whom he hath not seen?"

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Inasmuch therefore as God is best served by internal worship, whereas man stands more in need of outward attention, the external service even of God is sometimes to be postponed to our duties towards men. Prov. xxi. 3. "to do justice and judgment is more acceptable to Jehovah than sacrifice." Jer. vii. 4, 5. "trust ye not in lying words, saying, the temple of Jehovah, the temple of Jehovah, the temple of Jehovah are these: for if ye throughly amend your ways and your doings —." Matt. xii. 1, &c. "Jesus went on the sabbath-day through the corn; and his disciples were an hungered —." v. 7. "I will have mercy and not sacrifice." xv. 5. "ye say, Whosoever shall say to his father or his mother, It is a gift, by whatsoever thou mightest be profited by me, and honour not his father or his mother, he shall be free." See also Mark vii. 11, 12. and ii. 27, "the sabbath was made for man, and not man for the sabbath."

The virtues connected with our duty towards man are partly those which each individual owes to himself, and partly those which we owe to our neighbours. Lev. xix. 18. "thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself." See also Matt. xix. 19.

These virtues, like those relating to God, are either general or special.

The general virtues are love and righteousness. In the first book I treated of love generally, and in its wider sense as identified with holiness; I now proceed to define it more particularly, with reference to its object as follows. Love is a general virtue, infused into believers by God the Father in Christ through the Spirit, and comprehending the whole duty of love owing from each individual to himself and his <344> neighbour. It is nowhere more fully described than in the whole thirteenth chapter of the first epistle to the Corinthians, to which we shall have frequently to refer. Compare also 1 John iii. 18, 19. "my little children, let us not love in word, neither in tongue, but in deed and in truth: and hereby we know that we are of the truth, and shall assure our hearts before him."

By God, &c. 1 John iii. 10. "in this the children of God are manifest, and the children of the devil; whosoever doeth not righteousness... neither he that loveth not his brother." iv. 7. "love is of God, and every one that loveth is born of God, and knoweth God." Gal. v. 22. "the fruit of the Spirit is love.

Into believers. Gal. v. 6. "faith that worketh by love."

The opposite of this is uncharitableness; which renders all our other qualities and actions, however excellent in appearance, of no account. 1 Cor. xiii. 1, &c. "though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, and have not charity, I am become as sounding brass, or as a tinkling cymbal."

The other general virtue belonging to the regenerate is righteousness, whereby we render to each his due, whether to ourselves, or to our neighbour. Prov. xvi. 8. "better is a little with righteousness, than great revenues without right." Isai. lxi. 8. "I Jehovah love judgment; I hate robbery for burnt-offering." Matt. vii. 12. "all things whatsoever ye would that men should do to you, do ye even so to them." Rom. xiii. 7. "render therefore to all their dues."

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Belonging to the regenerate. 1John iii. 10. "in this the children of God are manifest, and the children of the devil; whosoever doeth not righteousness is not of God." Hence under righteousness is frequently included the observance of the whole law.

Opposed to this is, first, unrighteousness, which excludes from the kingdom of heaven. 1 Cor. vi. 9. "know ye not that the unrighteous shall not inherit the kingdom of God?" Jer. xvii. 11. "as the partridge setteth on eggs, and hatcheth them not, so he that getteth riches, and not by right, shall leave them in the midst of his days, and at his end shall be a fool."

Secondly, a pharisaical righteousness. Matt. v. 20. "except your righteousness shall exceed the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees, ye shall in no case enter into the kingdom of heaven."

Both these general virtues, as has been stated above, are exercised partly towards ourselves, and partly towards our neighbour.

The love of man towards himself consists in loving himself next to God, and in seeking his own temporal and eternal good. Prov. xi. 17. "the merciful man doeth good to his own soul, but he that is cruel troubleth his own flesh." xix. 8. "he that getteth wisdom loveth his own soul." Eph. v. 29. "no man ever yet hated his own flesh, but nourished and cherisheth it." Philipp. ii. 12. "work out your own salvation." 1 Tim. v. 23. "drink no longer water, but use a little wine for thy stomach's sake, and thine often infirmities."

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Opposed to this is, first, a perverse hatred of self.[1] Eph. v. 29. as above. In this class are to be reckoned those who lay violent hands on themselves, (who nevertheless are not excluded from decent burial, 2 Sam. xvii. 23.) and all who are guilty of presumptuous sin. Prov. viii. 36. "he that sinneth against me hateth his own soul; all they that hate me love death." xxix. 24. "whoso is partner with a thief hateth his own soul."

Secondly, a preposterous self-love, whereby a man loves himself more than God, or despises his neighbour in comparison of himself. In allusion to the former species of self-love Christ says, John xii. 25. "he that loveth his life shall lose it." Respecting the latter see 2 Tim. iii. 2, &c. "men shall be lovers of themselves —." On the contrary, those are commended, Rev. xii. 11, "who loved not their lives unto the death." Matt. x. 39. "he that loseth his life for my sake shall find it." See also Mark viii. 35, &c. Matt. xvi. 23. "he said unto Peter, Get thee behind me, Satan, thou <347> art an offence unto me; for thou savourest not the things that be or God, but those that be of men."

Righteousness towards ourselves consists in a proper method of self-government. 1 Cor. ix. 27. "I keep under my body, and bring it into subjection." From this, as from a fountain, the special virtues in general derive their origin; inasmuch as under the head of righteousness towards ourselves are included, first, the entire regulation of the internal affections; secondly, the discriminating pursuit of external good, and the resistance to, or patient endurance of, external evil.

The regulation of the affections. Prov. xxv. 28. "he that hath no rule over his own spirit is like a city that is broken down and hath no walls." Gal. v. 16, 17. "the flesh lusteth against the Spirit... so that ye cannot do the things that ye would." v. 24. "they that are Christ's have crucified the flesh with the affections and lusts." Col. iii. 5. "mortify therefore your members that are upon the earth." 1 Thess. iv. 4, 5. "that every one of you should know how to possess his vessel in sanctification and honour." James i. 14, 15. "every man is tempted, when he is drawn away of his own lust, and enticed." 1 Pet. iv. 2. "that he no longer should live the rest of his time in the flesh to the lusts of men, but to the will of God."

The affections are love, hatred; joy, sorrow; hope, fear; and anger.

Love is to be so regulated, that our highest affections may be placed on the objects most worthy of them; in like manner, hatred is to be proportioned to the intrinsic hatefulness of the object. Gen. vi. 2. "the sons of God saw the daughters of men that <348> they were fair, and they took them —." 1 Sam. xvi 7, 8. "look not on his countenance, or on the height of his stature." Esth. ii. 15. "Esther obtained favour in the sight of all them that looked upon her." Prov. vi. 25. "lust not after her beauty in thy heart". xi. 22. "as a jewel of gold in a swine's snout, so is a fair woman which is without discretion." Rom. xii. 9. "abhor that which is evil; cleave to that which is good." 1 Cor. x. 6. "we should not lust after evil things."

Our joy ought to be so regulated, that we may delight in things essentially good in proportion to their excellence, and in things indifferent so far only as is consistent with reason. The same rule is to be observed with regard to sorrow. Deut. xii. 7. "there shall ye eat before Jehovah your God, and ye shall rejoice —." See also v. 12, 18. xxvi. 11. "thou shalt rejoice in every good thing which Jehovah thy God hath given unto thee." Job xxii. 19. "the righteous see it, and are glad; and the innocent laugh them to scorn." Psal. iv. 6-8. "lift thou up the light of thy countenance upon us; thou hast put gladness in my heart more than in the time that their corn and their wine increased." xxx. 11, 12. "thou hast turned for me my mourning into dancing." lviii. 10. "the righteous shall rejoice when he seeth the vengeance; he shall wash his feet in the blood of the wicked." cxxvi. 2. "then was our mouth filled with laughter." Luke ii. 10. "bring you good tidings of great joy." xxiv. 52. "they returned to Jerusalem with great joy;" and to the same effect in many other passages. Prov. x. 23. "it is as sport to a fool to do mischief; but a man of understanding hath wisdom." xv. 21. "folly <349> is joy to him that is destitute of wisdom; but a man of understanding walketh uprightly." xvii. 5. "whoso mocketh the poor, reproacheth his maker." v. 22. "a merry heart doeth good like a medicine; but a broken spirit drieth the bones." See also xviii. 14. xxvi. 19. "so is the man that deceiveth his neighbour, and saith, Am not I in sport?" Eccles. ii. 2. "I said of laughter, It is mad; and of mirth, What doeth it?" vii. 2-4. "it is better to go to the house of mourning, than to go to the house of feasting; for that is the end of all men." Isai. xxii. 12, &c. "in that day did the Lord God of hosts call to weeping and to mourning... and behold joy and gladness —." Jer. xxxi. 4. "thou shalt again be adorned with thy tabrets, and shalt go forth in the dances of them that make merry." v.13. "then shall the virgin rejoice in the dance, both young men and old together, for I will turn their mourning into joy." Lam. v. 15. "the joy of our heart is ceased, our dance is turned into mourning." Amos vi. 6. "that drink wine in bowls... but they are not grieved for the affliction of Joseph." There are occasions on which tears are not unbecoming even a wise man. Gen. xlii. 24. "Joseph turned himself about from them, and wept." Psal. cxix. 136. "rivers of waters run down mine eyes, because they keep not thy law."

In the proper regulation of hope and fear, the cause, the object, and the degree of excitation are chiefly to be considered. Concerning hope, see above; concerning fear, Matt. x.28. "fear not them which kill the body." Isai. viii. 12, 13. compared with 1 Pet. iii. 14. "be not afraid of their terror." Even the bravest may occasionally be influenced by fear. Gen. xxxii. 7. "then Jacob was greatly afraid." Exod. ii. <350> 14. "Moses feared." 1 Kings. xix. 3. "when he saw that, he arose and went for his life." Psal. lv. 5-7. "because of the voice of the enemy..... fearfulness and trembling are come upon me." 2 Chron. xx. 3. "Jehoshaphat feared." Nehem. ii. 2 "then I was very sore afraid."

In anger, we are to consider the motive for the passion, its degree, and duration. Prov. xvi. 32. "he that is slow to anger is better than the mighty, and he that ruleth his spirit than he that taketh a city." xix. 11. "the discretion of a man deferreth his anger, and it is his glory to pass over a transgression." Mark. iii. 5. "when he had looked round upon them with anger, being grieved for the hardness of their hearts —." Eph. iv. 2. "with long-suffering." v. 26. "be ye angry, and sin not; let not the sun go down upon your wrath." Col. i. 11.; "unto all patience and long-suffering."

The excess of anger is irascibility. Prov. xii. 16. "a fool's wrath is presently known." xiv. 17. "he that is soon angry dealeth foolishly, and a man of wicked devices is hated." xxii. 24, 25. "make no friendship with an angry man —." xxvii. 3. "a stone is heavy..... but a fool's wrath is heavier." xxix. 22. "an angry man stirreth up strife." Eccles. vii. 9. "be not hasty in thy spirit to be angry; for anger resteth in the bosom of fools." Matt. v. 22. "whosoever is angry with his brother without a cause, shall be in danger of the judgment." Eph. iv. 31. "let all wrath and anger..... be put away from you." From this infirmity even the best of men are not always exempt. Acts. xv. 38, 39. "the contention was so sharp between them, that," &c.

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From well-regulated affections proceeds the proper government of the tongue. Prov. xi. 9. "an hypocrite with his mouth destroyeth his neighbour; but through knowledge shall the just be delivered." v. 11. "by the blessing of the upright the city is exalted; but it is overthrown by the mouth of the wicked." xii. 14. "a man shall be satisfied with good by the fruit of his mouth." xiii. 2. "a man shall eat good by the fruit of his mouth; but the soul of the transgressors shall eat violence." xv. 2, 4, 7. "the tongue of the wise useth knowledge aright; but the mouth of fools poureth out foolishness." v. 23. "a man hath joy by the answer of his mouth, and a word spoken in due sea son how good is it!" v. 28. "the heart of the righteous studieth to answer: but the mouth of the wicked poureth out evil things. xvi. 1. "the answer of the tongue is from Jehovah." v. 23, 27. "the heart of the wise teacheth his mouth, and addeth learning to his lips." xviii. 13. "he that answereth a matter before he heareth it, it is folly and shame unto him." xix. 28. "an ungodly witness scorneth judgment, and the mouth of the wicked devoureth iniquity." xxix. 20. "seest thou a man that is hasty in his words? there is more hope of a fool than of him." Matt. xii. 34, 36, 37. "how can ye, being evil, speak good things? for out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaketh." James. iii. 2, &c. "if any man of fend not in word, the same is a perfect man." Psal. cxli. 3. "set a watch, O Jehovah, before my mouth; keep the door of my lips." Prov. xviii. 21. "death and life are in the power of the tongue." xxi. 23. "whoso keepeth his mouth and his tongue, keepeth his soul from troubles."

[1]

Be penitent, and for thy fault contrite;

But act not in thy own affliction, son;

Repent the sin; but if the punishment

Thou canst avoid, self-preservation bids:

Or th'execution leave to high disposal,

And let another hand, not thine, exact

Thy penal forfeit for thyself; perhaps

God will relent, and quit thee all his debt;

Whoever more approves, and more accepts,

(Best pleas'd with humble and filial submission)

Him who, imploring mercy, sues for life,

Than who, self-rigorous, chooses death as due;

Which argues over-just, and self-displeas'd

For self-offence, more than for God offended.

Sampson Agonistes, 502.

© 2020 The Newton Project

Professor Rob Iliffe
Director, AHRC Newton Papers Project

Scott Mandelbrote,
Fellow & Perne librarian, Peterhouse, Cambridge

Faculty of History, George Street, Oxford, OX1 2RL - newtonproject@history.ox.ac.uk

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