« PreviousContinue »
their fouls. 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 fimply and absolutely forbidden. We
We may take away the life of others in some cases justly; but in no case our own, unless 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 felfmurder; of which Saul, Ahithophel, and Judas were guilty; and many fad 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 leaping into eternity ere the call come from God. It is highly dishonourable to God, charging 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 bu. rial, 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.
1/t, 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 fort, and not rejecting them with abhorrence, Job vii. 15. Our life is a mercy, and not to be wearied of 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, fretfulness, and impatience. It is a dangerous thing, Psal. xxxvii. 8. It was that which prevailed with Ahithophel to make away with himself. It is like ink cast into a fountain, which makes all the water blackish. It unfits for soceity 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. xii. 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 forrow. When we go into the waters of godly sorrow for fin, 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 ! fomething within their fancy has been balked, that has ruined their bodies as well as their souls. We should enure ourselves to a patient bearing of the Lord's hand; and not smother 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, fo 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 not 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. (3.) By means of inordinate passions, 1 Kings xxi. 4. (4.) Sometimes Satan has driven people under conviction 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 command 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 fatisfying 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 à greedy appetite, Phil. ü. 19. It is a degree of self. murder; for it cuts short people's days, which fobriety would prolong. There is a curse entailed upon it, which is often feen to take effect, Prov. xxii. 20. 21. “ Be not amongst wine-bibers; amongst riotous eaters of flesh. For the drunkard and the glutton shall come to poverty: and drowfiness fall clothe a man with rags.” The glutton and the drunkard, in fcripture-language, is equivalent to a ne'er-dowell in ours, Deut. xxi. 20. 21. It is a beastly fin. A hea. then calls the glutton's belly a fwine's 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 fin 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 quod in corde fobrii, in ore ebrii. It is an inlet to other fins : for what will a man not do in his drunkenness, if he have a temptation to it? It destroys a man's health, wealth and foul; murders foul and body at once. The Lacedæmonians used to fill their slaves drunk, that their children, seeing the picture of drunkenness might loath it. We have the picture of it, Prov. xxi. 29. &c. (1.) It embroils men in quarrels “ Who hath wo? who hath forrow? who hath contentions ?” Many have wo and sorrow that cannot help it ; but drunkards wilfully create them to themselves. When drink is in, wit is out. Thence proceed drunken scuffles ; babling in fcurrilous language ; and from words they go to blows, wounds without cause. (2.) It ruins their bodies; redness of eyes, a sign of inward inflammation, through drink and watching, not
through weeping and praying. (3.) It exposes them to uncleanness, ver 33. “ Thine eyes fhall behold strange women.” (4.) It makes their tongues ramble, speak contrary to religion, reason, common civility, yea, nonsense. (5.) ít besots them; it makes their heads giddy, and they are fearless of danger, ver. 34. “ Yea, thou shalt be as he that lieth down in the midst of the sea, or as he that lieth upon the top of a mast.”. (6.) Lastly, It is a bewitching fin. The man fees the ill of it, but his heart is hardened, he has no power to leave it, ver. 35. “ They have stricken me, shalt thou say, and I was not fick; they have beaten me, and I felt it not: when shall I awake? I will seek it yet again.". The curse of God is entailed on it, Il. xxvii. 1, 2, 3. “ Wo to the crown of pride, to the drunkards of Ephraim, whose glorious beauty is a fading flower, which are on the head of the fat valleys of them that are overcome with wine. Behold, the Lord'hath a mighty and strong one, which as a tempest of hail and a destroying storm, as a flood of mighty waters overflowing, shall cast down to the earth with the hand. The crown of pride, the drunkards of Ephraim shall be trodden under feet.”
(3.) Intemperance in any other sensual pleasure, Luke vüi. . 14. The pleasures of the senses are often chains to the soul, and scourges to the body; and intemperance in them will make them so. Too much pleasing the body may make mourning at last, Prov. v. 11. A man may fin against God and his own body in the intemperate use of any sensual pleasure whatsoever, though in itself lawful; and no doubt much guilt is contracted in the intemperate use of tobacco, and fuch like things, 1 Cor. vi. 12.
7thly, Immoderate labour and painfulness, Eccl. ii. 22, 23. Labour and exercise in moderation is like a sober wind that purifies the air, and is good for the body and foul too: but
immoderate labour and exercise is like a violent wind that throws down the house, and plucks up the tree by the roots.
Lastly, Exposing of ourselves to unnecessary hazards, Matth. iv. 7. To put ourselves in hazard where we have no call, is to sin against God and ourselves. And in this case, God desires mercy, and not sacrifice.
SECONDLY, We will consider this command as relating to our neighbour's life.
First, Thou shalt not kill thy neighbour's soul. It is sin that is the killing thing both to our own and our neighbour's soul. And there are several ways how men fall into this guilt of murdering the souls of others. As,
1. By giving them an example of fin. God forbade to lay a stumbling-block before the blind; but the world is filled with these, and fo ruined, Matth. xviii. 7. Men do ill things, and think that if they do ill, it is but to themselves. No, but thereby thou doft what lies in thee to ruin others.
Yea, example is not only ruining to others in evil things, but also, (1.) In doing what has the appearance of evil : therefore we should take heed to that, because others may take the appearance for reality, and so be ruined by us. (2.) By an uncharitable use of our Christian liberty in things indifferent. Thus the strong may ruin the weak, Rom. xiv. 15.
2. By co-operating directly to the fin of our neighbour, which is indeed the lending our destroying hand to ruin his soul, whereby his blood comes to be charged on us. It is the putting a cup of poison in his hand to dispatch himself, and a reaching of the sword to the madman, which whoso do are accessory to his death. Thus men are guilty,
ist, By commanding others to fin, as Jeroboam made Ifrael to fin. So magistrates by sinful laws, and all superiors whatsoever, when they use their authority to oblige another to an ill thing; or whosoever commands another to do what is sinful.
2dly, By counselling others, to it, or advising them in it. The world is full of these murderers. So that, where a person is under temptation, there is often at hand one like Jonadab to give counsel to fome ill course, 2 Sam. xiii. 5. Such counsel often has the force of a command. So drunkards murder one another's fouls, Hab. ii. 15.
3dly, By joining with others in sin, Pfal. 1. 18. Going