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true and proper reason drawn from the nature of things, there we must do what we can; and if we cannot do all that is at first intended,-yet it is secondarily intended, that we should do what we can. The reason is, because there is a natural cause of the duty, which, like the light of the sun, is communicated in several degrees, according as it can be received; and therefore whatever partakes of that reason, is also a duty of that commandment. Thus it is a duty of natural and essential religion, that we should worship God with all the faculties of the soul, with all the actions of the body, with all the degrees of intension, with all the instances and parts of extension: for God is the Lord of all; he expects all, and he deserves all, and will reward all; and every thing is designed in order to his service and glorification: and therefore, every part of all this is equally commanded, equally required; and is symbolical to the whole; and therefore, in the impossibility of the performance of any one, the whole commandment is equally promoted by another; and when we cannot bow the knee, yet we can incline the head, and when we cannot give, we can forgive; and if we have not silver and gold, we can pay them with prayers and blessings; and if we cannot go with our brother two miles, we can, it may be, go one, or one half; let us go as far as we can, and do all that is in our power and in our circumstances. For since our duty here can grow, and every instance does according to its portion do in its own time, and measures the whole work of the commandment, and God accepts us in every step of the progression, that is, in all degrees; for he breaks not the bruised reed, and he quenches not the smoking flax; it follows, that though we are not tied to do all, even that which is beyond our powers; yet we must do what we can towards it; even a part of the commandment may, in such cases, be accepted for our whole duty.

20. (4.) In external actions which are instances of a natural or moral duty, if there be any variety, one may supply the other; if there be but one, it can be supplied by the internal only and spiritual. But the internal can never be hindered, and can never be changed or supplied by any thing else; it is capable of no suppletory, but of degrees it is: and if we cannot love God as well as Mary Magdalene loved him, let us love him so as to obey him always, and so as to su

peradd degrees of increment to our love, and to our obedience; but for this or that expression it must be as it can, and when it can, it must be this or another; but if it can be neither upon the hand, it must be all that is intended upon the heart; and as the body helps the soul in the ministries of her duty; so the soul supplies the body in the essentialities of it and indispensable obedience.


Not every Thing, that is in the Sermons and Doctrine of Jesus Christ, was intended to bind as a Law or Commandment.

1. EVERY thing that is spoken by our blessed Saviour, is to be placed in that order of things, where himself was pleased to put it. Whatsoever he propounded to us under the sanction of love, and by the invitation of a great reward, that is so to be understood, as that it may not become a snare, by being supposed in all cases, and to all persons to be a law. For laws are established by fear and love too, that is, by promises and threatenings; and nothing is to be esteemed a law of Christ, but such things which if we do not observe, we shall die, or incur the divine displeasure in any instance or degree. But there are some things in the sermons of Christ, which are recommended to the diligence and love of men ; such things whither men must tend and grow. Thus it is required, that we should love God with all our heart; which is indeed a commandment, and the first and the chiefest; but because it hath an infinite sense, and is capable of degrees, beyond all the actualities of any man whatsoever, therefore it is encouraged and invited further by a reward, that will be greater than all the work that any man can do. But yet there is also the minimum morale' in it, that is, that degree of love and duty, less than which is by interpretation no love, no duty at all; and that is, that we so love God, that 1. we love nothing against him; 2. that we love nothing more than him; 3. that we love nothing equal to him; 4. that we love nothing disparately and distinctly from him, but in subordination to him; that is, so as to be apt to yield and

submit to his love, and comply with our duty. Now then, here must this law begin, it is a commandment to all persons, and at all times, to do thus much; and this being a general law, of which all other laws are but instances and specifications, the same thing is in all the particular laws, which is in the general: there is in every one of them a 'minimum morale,' a legal sense of duty, which, if we prevaricate or go less than it, we are transgressors: but then there is also a latitude of duty, or a sense of love and evangelical increase, which is a further pursuance of the duty of the commandment; but is not directly the law, but the love; to which God hath appointed no measures of greatness, but hath invited us forward as the man can go.

2. For it is considerable, that since negative precepts include their affirmatives, and affirmatives also do infer the negatives (as I have already discoursed), and yet they have differing measures and proportions; and that the form of words and signs, negative or affirmative, is not the sufficient indication of the precepts, we can best be instructed by this measure;―There is in every commandment a negative part and an affirmative :-the negative is the first, the least, and the lowest, sense of the law and the degree of duty; and this is obligatory to all persons, and cannot be lessened by excuse, or hindered by disability, or excused by ignorance, neither is it to stay its time, or to wait for circumstances; but obliges all men indifferently. I do not say that this is always expressed by negative forms of law or language, but is by interpretation negative; it operates or obliges as does the negative. For when we are commanded to love our neighbour as ourself; the least measure of this law, the legal or negative part of it, is, that we should not do him injury; that we shall not do to him, what we would not have done to ourselves. He, that does not, in this sense, love his neighbour as himself, hath broken the commandment; he hath done that which he should not do; he hath done that which he cannot justify; he hath done that which was forbidden : for every going less than the first sense of the law, than the lowest sense of duty, is the commission of a sin, a doing against a prohibition.

3. But then there are further degrees of duty than the first and lowest; which are the affirmative measures, that is,

a doing excellent actions and instances of the commandments, a doing the commandment with love and excellence, a progression in the exercise and methods of that piety; the degrees of which, because they are affirmative, therefore they oblige but in certain circumstances; and are under no law absolutely, but they grow in the face of the sun, and pass on to perfection by heat and light, by love and zeal, by hope and by reward.

4. Now concerning these degrees it is that I affirm, that every thing is to be placed in that order of things where Christ left it and he that measures other men by his own stature, and exacts of children the wisdom of old men, and requires of babes in Christ the strengths and degrees of experienced prelates, he adds to the laws of Christ, that is, he ties where Christ hath not tied; he condemns where Christ does not condemn. It is not a law that every man should, in all the stages of his progression, be equally perfect: the nature of things hath several stages, and passes by steps to the varieties of glory. For so laws and counsels differ, as first and last, as beginning and perfection, as reward and punishment, as that which is simply necessary, and that which is highly advantageous: they differ not in their whole kind; for they are only the differing degrees of the same duty. He that does a counsel evangelical, does not do more than his duty, but does his duty better: he that does it in a less degree, shall have a less reward; but he shall not perish, if he does obey the just and prime or least measures of the


5. Let no man, therefore, impose upon his brother the heights and summities of perfection, under pain of damnation or any fearful evangelical threatening; because these are to be invited only by love and reward,—and by promises only are bound upon us, not by threatenings. The want of the observing of this, hath caused impertinent disputes and animosities in men, and great misunderstandings in this question. For it is a great error to think, that every thing spoken in Christ's sermons is a law, or that all the progressions and degrees of Christian duty are bound upon us by penalties as all laws are. The commandments are made laws to us wholly by threatenings; for when we shall receive a crown of righteousness in heaven, that is, by way of gift,

merely gratuitous, but the pains of the damned are due to them by their merit and by the measures of justice: and therefore it is remarkable, that our blessed Saviour said, "When ye have done all that ye are commanded, ye are unprofitable servants;" that is, the strict measures of the laws or the commandments given to you are such, which if ye do not observe, ye shall die according to the sentence of the law; but if ye do, 'ye are yet unprofitable;' ye have not deserved the good things that are laid up for loving souls : but therefore towards that we must superadd the degrees of progression and growth in grace, the emanations of love and zeal, the methods of perfection and imitation of Christ. For by the first measures we escape hell; but by the progressions of love only, and the increase of duty, through the mercies of God in Christ, we arrive at heaven. Not that he that escapes hell, may, in any case, fail of heaven; but that whatsoever does obey the commandment in the first and least sense, will, in his proportion, grow on towards perfection. For he fails in the first, and does not that worthily,-who, if he have time, does not go on to the second.

6. But yet neither are these counsels of perfection left wholly to our liberty, so as that they have nothing of the law in them; for they are pursuances of the law; and of the same nature, though not directly of the same necessity; but collaterally and accidentally they are. For although God follows the course and nature of things, and therefore does not disallow any state of duty that is within his own measures; because there must be a first before there can be a second, and the beginning must be esteemed good, or else we ought not to pursue it and make it more in the same kind; yet because God is pleased to observe the order of nature in his graciousness, we must do so too in the measures of our duty; nature must begin imperfectly, and God is pleased with it, because himself hath so ordered it; but the nature of things, that begin and are not perfect, cannot stand still. God is pleased well enough with the least or the negative measure of the law; because that is the first or the beginning of all; but we must not always be beginning, but pass on to perfection, and it is perfection all the way, because it is the proper and the natural method of the grace to be growing; every degree of growth is not the perfection

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