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SUMMARY OF SERMON XXII.
I THESSALONIANS, CHAP. IV.-VERSE 11.
RECAPITULATION of considerations in the previous dis
III, Some directions now given concerning particular kinds. of meddling.
1. As to meddling by advice, we may do well to observe these directions. 1. Advise not (except on call) a superior, or one more eminent than thyself in authority, dignity, or age : 2. thrust not with violence or importunity advice on an equal, or any man not subject to thy charge, who is unwilling to receive it: 3. be not obstinate in pressing advice : 4. affect not the office of a counsellor, except through friendship, humanity, or charity : 5, advise not otherwise than with reservation and diffidence.
II. For reproof, we may do well to pursue the directions which follow. 1, Reprove not a superior, which is to soar above our pitch, to confound ranks, and pervert the order of society: 2. reprove not rashly, and without certain cognisance of the fact: 3. neither rashly as to the point of right, or without being able to show that the affair is really culpable : 4. reprove not for slight matters, or such faults as proceed from natural frailty or inadvertency: 5. reprove not unseasonably, when a person is indisposed to bear rebuke: 6. but mildly and sweetly, in the calmest manner and gentlest terms : 7. neither affect to be reprehensive, or willingly to undertake the office of a censor.
III. Another kind of meddling is, the interposing in con
tests and contentions of others : in this case the following rules ought to be observed. 1. We should never meddle, so as to raise dissensions, or to do such things as breed them : 2. we should not foment dissensions already commenced, blowing up the coals that are kindled, by abetting or aggravating strife: 3. especially we should not make ourselves parties in any faction, where both sides are eager and passionate : 4. vor interpose ourselves, without invitation, to be arbitrators in points of difference; though we may perhaps cautiously mediate, or advise agreement: 5. if we would at all meddle in these cases, it should be only by endeavoring to renew peace by the most fair and prudent means.
IV. Some considerations proposed, inducive to quietness, and dissuasive from a pragmatical temper. 1. Consider that quietness is just and equal, pragmaticalness is injurious to the rights and liberty of others : 2. quietness signifies humility, modesty, and sobriety of mind : 3. it is beneficial to the world, preserving the general order of things, and disposing men to keep within their proper station, &c.: 4. it preserves concord and amity : 5. quietness, to the person endued with it, or practising it, begets tranquillity and peace; since men are not apt to trouble him who comes in no one's way: 6. it is a decent and lovely thing, indicating a good disposition, and producing good effects: 7. it adorns any profession, bringing credit, respect, and love to the same : 8. quiet also is a safe practice, keeping men not only from the incumbrances of business, but from the hazards of it, aud the charge of bad success; but pragmaticalness is dangerous from the opposite effects, &c. : 9. it is consequently a great point of discretion to be quiet, and a manifest folly to be pragmatical : 10. we may also consider that every man has sufficient business of his own to employ him, to exercise his mind, and to exhaust his labor ; but those who attend pragmatically to the affairs of others, are apt to neglect their own: advice on this head from Scripture and philosophy : 11. but suppose that we have much spare time, and want business, yet it is not advisable to meddle with that of other men ; for there are many ways more innocent, pleasant, and advantageous to divert ourselves and satisfy curiosity : for instance, investigation of the works of nature ; application to the study of the most noble sciences, to the history of past ages, and to the cultivation of literature in general. Concluding observations on the danger and trouble of a pragmatical disposition,
OF QUIETNESS, AND DOING OUR OWN
I THESSALONIANS, CHAP. IV.-VERSE 11.
And that ye study to be quiet, and to do your own business.
In a former discourse on these words, I have already showed,
I. In what cases it is allowable or commendable to meddle with the affairs of others.
II. Next, I propounded some general rules concerning this matter, according to which we may discern in what cases meddling with the affairs of others is commonly blameable. Thus far I have proceeded.
III. I shall now give some directions concerning particular kinds of meddling. And because they are many, I shall at present only insist on three ; (referring others to other occasions :) they are, advice, reproof, interposing in contests and contentions.
I. As to meddling in advice, we may do well to observe these directions.
1. Advise not (except on call) a superior, or one more eminent than thyself in authority, in dignity, or in age: for he that offereth to advise, doth thereby claim to himself a kind of superiority, or excellence, above another; and it is not well consistent with the reverence and respect due to our betters to seem to do so. They should be wiser than we; at least it becometh us not to declare we think they are not. If they ask advice, we may without presumption give it, supposing it to be not so much their defect of knowlege as prudent caution, which maketh
them willing to hear what any man can say to the case : but to obtrude it on them argueth we think them to need it, and ourselves able to direct them ; which is presumption, and will pass for arrogance.
2. We should not indeed, with any violence or importunity, thrust advice on our equals, or on any man not subject to our charge, who is unwilling to receive it; for this is also an exalting ourselves in skill and wisdom above him, and implieth a contemptuous opinion concerning his knowlege ; that he is so weak as to need advice, and yet more weak in not seeking it when needful from us; which practice consisteth not with modesty, and needs must breed offence: it is indeed unjust; for every man of right is to be allowed to act by his own advice, and to choose his own counsellors.
3. Be not obstinate in pressing advice: if he that asketh thy counsel do not like it, desist from urging farther, and rest content. If thou hast performed the part of a faithful friend, of a good man, of a charitable Christian, in advising what seemeth best to thee, that may abundantly satisfy thee; for the rest, ipse viderit, it is his concernment more than thine : if thou pretendest that he must follow thy advice, or art displeased because he doth not so, thou makest thyself a commander, not a counsellor; the which to appoint thee was beside his intention; he meant to seek thy help, not to forfeit bis own liberty; and thou art not just in pretending to so much. 4. Affect not to be a counsellor, nor let
any considerations, except of friendship, humanity, or charity, easily dispose thee to accept the office : it is not worth the while to undertake it as a matter of reputation, or because it seemeth to argue a good opinion concerning thy skill and ability; for it is a critical and dangerous thing to advise, because if the business succeedeth well according to thy advice, the principal usually carrieth away the profit and the praise ; his judgment, bis industry, his fortune are applauded ; little commendation or benefit accrueth to the counsellor: but if it prosper not, the main weight of blame is surely laid on him that advised the course. saith the party, and say the lookers on, had not thus directed, it had not thus fallen out. : 5. Wherefore it is commonly expedient not to advise other