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there are, who, having no father nor mother, are consequently free from this law. Again, to observe the sabbath-day, to keep it holy, is a command that never ceases to oblige ; but in the case of a Christian being made a prisoner, or a slave, in a pagan or other country, where he had no means or opportunity to keep the sabbath, he certainly would not be guilty of any sin for not observing it. On the other hand, persons living in a Christian neighbourhood, and originally born and bred in the communion of the established church of the land, by whose laws they are benefited and protected ; if they neglect to pay the due respect to the sabbath, by deserting the public worship (though, from some prejudice, they may have given the preference to particular sectaries), they are yet clearly guilty of BREAKING THE FOURTH COMMANDMENT, even though pretending to be piously employed at home, because they thereby set a dangerous example, contradicting the principles of genuine Christianity, and occasioning a division in the community, or what, in the terms of the Church, is called a schism, against which we positively pray in our Liturgy, and which the Apostle expressly calls a damnable sin. I only give this instance, to place in a stronger light what concerns the negative commandments, which extend to all persons and situations ; for they not only oblige all ways, but all people, at all times and in all circumstances. For example, not to worship any other God, besides the Lord—not to make any graven image, nor bow down to it, and worship it—not to take God's name in vain ; these, and the like negative commands (or laws of forbidding) oblige men to a constant uninterrupted observance of them, be their circumstances or conditions of life what they will ; so that it never can be lawful at any time, or upon any occasion, for any one to worship more Gods than one, to make any graven image, to adore it, or to take God's name in vain.
And it is proper also, that you should take notice in regard to these general observations concerning the commandments, that both those of the positive and negative kind do include one another : that is to say, when God commands any duty to be performed, we are to understand that he does at the same time, by the very same command, forbid us to do whatsoever is contrary thereto.
And in like manner, when he forbids any thing to be done, he does likewise require us to fulfil the opposite duty signified, no less than to avoid the sin expressly taken notice of and forbidden. I will clear this meaning to you in an instance of each kind.
God commands us in the fourth commandment to keep holy the sabbath-day, and that by sanctifying it to a religious rest; and
by the same law, he forbids our doing any ordinary work upon it, or any thing whereby his holy day may be unhallowed, disrespected, or profaned by us. Now it is clear, that the latter part would have been fully implied and understood by the former part, though God had not expressly taken notice of it. Again, in like manner, when in the sixth commandment God forbids us to commit murder, we are to understand, that we are not only forbidden thereby to stab or poison our neighbour ; but the commandment implies and requires, that we are to do what is in our power to cherish and preserve life; to help him if attacked by another ; to feed and clothe him, if in danger of perishing from hunger, cold, and nakedness; and to prevent, as far as ever we are able, whatsoever accident may bring his life in danger : for surely, if we suffer our fellow-creature to perish through wilful neglect and hardness of heart, we are in great measure accessary to his death, though the common law of the land would not punish us as for wilful murder.
There are other general rules, which will very much assist
better understanding the commandments which make up the moral law of Christians. Those of the chief consequence are these :
1. That in every commandment, the general thing mentioned, includes in it every particular
that either directly depends upon it, or may fairly and reasonably be shown to proceed from it. Thus the seventh commandment, though it only forbids the particular sin of adultery, in express terms; yet, under that general head, it is to be considered as forbidding all manner of fornication, uncleanness, and lust; nay, not only all unchaste actions, but all wanton words, thoughts, and desires, immodest behaviour, and even indecent dress. The commandment reaches, in short, to whatever may destroy that seriousness which religion requires, or may tempt us to such sins as are forbidden by it—as from the company of all lewd or debauched persons, as also from all places of such loose description, as may endanger our chastity and virtue.
2. The next general rule of interpreting these commandments is, that when any duty is required, or sin forbidden, we are to account ourselves thereby obliged to use every possible means to enable us to fulfil the one, and avoid the other. So, because in the eighth commandment we are forbidden to steal, therefore, in order that we do nothing that even approaches to that sin, we must hold ourselves obliged, not only to keep a steady watch on all our actions, that we do nothing to wrong our neighbour, but also use our utmost endeavour to keep free from such circumstances as may tempt us to injure any
This commandment, therefore, implies that we should work, if need requires, for the supply of our own wants, and of those of such as depend upon us: it obliges us to live soberly, frugally, free from all vice and all extravagance; we must avoid all lewdness and gaming, and beware of all idle, abandoned, and dishonest acquaintance: in short, we must keep from every thing that may tempt us to break this commandment.
3. The third rule for the full understanding and surer keeping of God's commandments, is this, that the last commandment is to be esteemed, not so much in the light of a single commandment, as a general caution given us, respecting most of the duties of the whole second table. Thus, because we must not steal from, or cheat our neighbour, neither must we cover his goods: because we must not commit adultery, neither must we cherish any impure lust: because we must do no murder, neither must we desire the death or hurt of any one ; for, to covet or desire, is the first spring of all evil in the heart, by stopping which, we shall best arm ourselves against committing any sin; For, verily (says the Apostle), all concupiscence (or evil desire) hath of the nature of sin in it.
4. Lastly, the fourth general rule that will enable you the better to see the mighty weight and consequence of keeping the whole moral law is this, that, in whatever commandment we are