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God. Thus also to deny to ourselves the use of things law-
ful in meat, and drink, and pleasure, with a design of being
f 1 Kings, viii. 18.



80 OF THE INTERPRETATION AND OBLIGATION

exemplar to others, and drawing them to sober counsels,
the doing more than we are commanded, that we be not
tempted at any time to do less, the standing a great way off
from sin, changing our course and circumstances of life, that
we may not lose or lessen our state of the Divine grace and
favour ; these are, by adoption and the right of cognation,
accepted as pursuances of our duty and obedience to the
Divine commandment.

17. (7.) Whatsoever is proportionable to the reason of
any commandment, and is a moral representation of any duty,
the observation of that cannot of itself be superstitious. For
this we have a competent warranty from those words of God
by the prophet Nathan 5 to David, "Thou shalt not build a
house to the honour of my name, because thou art a man of
blood." In the prosecution of this word of God, and of the
reasonableness of it, it is very warrantable that the Church
of God forbids bishops and priests to give sentence in a
cause of blood ; because in one case God did declare it unfit
that he who was a man of blood should be employed in the
building of a house to God. Upon this account all inde-
cencies, all unfitting usages and disproportionate states or
accidents, are thrust out of religion. A priest may not be a
fiddler; a bishop must not be a shoemaker; a judge must
religiously abstain from such things as disgrace his authority,
or make his person and his ministry contemptible ; and such
observances are very far from being superstitious, though
they be under no express commandment.

18. (8.) All voluntary services, when they are observed
in the sense and to the purposes of perfection, are so far
from being displeasing to God, that the more uncommanded
instances and degrees of external duty and signification we
use the more we please God. O/ cmu/iar/xo/ Tavra xoarroueiv
fffiii-jfLta. xa! TO^W, xa/ rouro 3?;Xoytf/ ry xa/ virsgfiaivuv ra Ixi-
ra.yfj.ara' " Spiritual men do their actions with much passion
and holy zeal, and give testimony of it by expressing it in the
uncommanded instances." 11 And Socrates, speaking of cer-
tain church-offices and rituals of religion, says, '/&$ oi&/$

msl rovrov tyyaaipov s%si <ragdyyt\u.a, dr,Xov w; xai Ktsi roirou
rjjf fxaffrov "/wpp xai Kgoaigefffi Mrfifyu oi acrcVro?.or, "iva



f 9 Samuel, vii. 5. 1 Chronicles, xsii. 8 ; xxviii.3.
h St. Clirysost. iu lloin. viii.



OF THE LAWS OF JESUS CHRIST. 81



" Since no man hath concerning this thing any written com-
ment, it is clear that the apostles permitted it to the choice
of every one, that every one may do good, not by necessity
and fear," but by love and choice. Such were the free-will
offerings among the Jews which always might expect a spe-
cial reward : "A yao i/crb 7r t v evTol.riv ymra/, croXi)v t%st [Au&bv
xa.ro. ro[/3-o, a 61 sv IvroX?;; ra^s/, oi ro/oSrov, "Those things
which are in the tables of the commandment, shall be reward-
ed ; but those which are more than these, shall have a greater."
The reason is, because they proceed from a greater intension
of the inward grace ; and although the measures of the com-
mand were therefore less, because they were to fit all capa-
cities, yet they go further, and shew that they are nearer to
the perfections of grace than the first and lowest measures of
the commandment, and therefore are disposed to receive a
reward greater than they shall have who are the least in the
kingdom of heaven. But of this I have already given ac-
counts in the foregoing rule, and otherwhere. 1

19. (9.) The circumstance of a religious action may be
undertaken or imposed civilly without being superstitious.
As to worship God is a duty which can never be a supersti-
tious will-worship, so to worship God by bowing the head or
knee towards the east or west is a circumstance of this reli-
gious worship ; and of this there may be laws made, and the
circumstance be determined, and the whole action so clothed
and vested, that even the very circumstance is, in some sense,
religious, but in no sense superstitious ; for some way or
other it must be done, and every man's act is determined
when it is vested with circumstances ; and if a private will
may determine it, so may a public law, and that without
fault : but of this in the sequel.

(10.) The sum is this: though the instance, the act or
state be uncoinmanded, yet it is not culpable will-worship,
if either it be a probable interpretation of a Divine command-
ment, or the use of what is permitted, or the circumstance or
appendage to virtue, or the particular specification of a ge-
neral law, or is in order to a grace instrumental and minis-
tering to it, or be the defalcation or the not using of our own
rights, or be a thing that is good in the nature of the thing,

1 Doctrine and Practice of Repentance, c. i.
VOL. XIII. G



82 OF THE INTERPRETATION AND OBLIGATION

and a more perfect prosecution of a law or grace, that is, if
it be a part or a relative of a law : if a law be the foundation,
whatsoever is built upon it grows up towards heaven, and
shall have no part in the evil rewards of superstition.

But, that what of itself is innocent or laudable, may not
be spoiled by evil appendages, it is necessary that we observe
the following cautions.

20. (1.) Whatsoever any man does in an uncommanded
instance, it must be done with liberty and freedom of con-
science ; that is, it must not be pressed to other men as a
law which to ourselves is only an act of love, or an in-
strument of a virtue, or the appendage and relative of a grace.
It must, I say, be done with liberty of conscience, that is,
without imposing it as of itself necessary, or a part of the
service of God : and so it was anciently/ in the matter of
worship towards the east : for though generally the Christ-
ians did worship towards the east, yet in Antioch they wor-
shipped towards the west. But when they begin to have opi-
nions concerning the circumstance, and think that, abstract-
ing from the order or the accidental advantage, there is some
religion in the thing itself, then it passes from what it ought
to what it ought not, and by degrees proves folly and dreams.
For when it comes to be a doctrine and injunction of men,
when that is taught to be necessary which God hath left at
liberty, and taken from it all proper necessity ; it then
changes into superstition and injustice ; for it is an invading
the rights of God and the rights of man : it gives a law to
him that is as free as ourselves, and usurps a power of mak-
ing laws of conscience, which is only God's subject and
God's peculiar. Dogmatizing and censoriousness make a
will-worship to be indeed superstition.

In prosecution of this it is to be added, it is as great a
sin to teach for doctrines the prohibitions of men, as the in-
junctions and commandments ; to say that we may not do
what is lawful, as that it is necessary to do that which is
only permitted, or is commended. He that imposes on
men's conscience an affirmative or a negative that God hath
not imposed, is equally injurious, and equally superstitious;
and we can no more serve or please God in abstaining from
what is innocent, than we can by doing what he hath

k Socrat lib.v. c. 3.



OF THE LAWS OF JESUS CHRIST. 83

commanded. He that thinks he serves God by looking to the
east when he prays, and believes all men and at all times to
be obliged to do so, is a superstitious man : but he who be-
lieves this to be superstition, and therefore turns from the
east, and believes it also to be necessary that he do not look
that way, is equally guilty of the same folly ; and is like a
traveller that so long goes from the east, that he comes to it
by his long progression in the circle. If by the law of God
it be not sinful, or if by the law of God it be not necessary,
no doctrines of men can make it so : to call good evil, or
evil good, is equally hateful to God: and as every man is
bound to preserve his liberty that a yoke be not imposed
upon his conscience, and he be tied to do what God hath
left free ; so he is obliged to take care that he be not hindered,
but still that he may do it if he will. That this no way re-
lates to human laws, I shall afterward discourse : I now only
speak of imposition upon men's understandings, not upon
their wills or outward act. He that says, that without a sur-
plice we cannot pray to God acceptably, and he that says we
cannot pray well with it, are both to blame ; but if a positive
law of our superior intervenes, that is another considera-
tion : for, " quaedam, quae licent, tempore etloco mutato non
licent," said Seneca ; and so, on the contrary, that may be
lawful or unlawful, necessary or unnecessary, accidentally,
which is not so in its own nature and the intentions of God.

21. (2.) Whatsoever pretends to lawfulness or praise by
being an instrument of a virtue and the minister of a law,
must be an apt instrument, naturally, rationally, prudently,
or by institution, such as may do what is pretended. Thus
although in order to prayer I may very well fast, to alleviate
the body and make the spirit more active and untroubled ;
yet against a day of prayer I will not throw all the goods out
of my house, that my dining-room may look more like a cha-
pel, or the sight of worldly goods may not be in my eye at
the instant of my devotion : because as this is an uncom-
manded instance, so it is a foolish and an unreasonable instru-
ment. The instrument must be such as is commonly used
by wise and good men in the like cases, or something that
hath a natural proportion and efficacy to the effect.

22. (3.) Whatsoever pretends to be a service of God in
an uncommanded instance, by being the specification of a



84 OF THE INTERPRETATION AND OBLIGATION

general command, or the instance of a grace, must be natu-
rally and univocally such, not equivocally and by pretension
only, of which the best sign is this, If it be against any one
commandment, directly or by consequent, it cannot accepta-
bly pursue or be the instance of any other. Thus when the
Gnostics abused their disciples by a pretence of humility,
telling them that they ought by the mediation of angels to
present their prayers to God the Father, and not by the Son
of God, it being too great a presumption to use his name and
an immediate address to him (as St. Chrysostom,Theophylact,
and (Ecumenius, report of them), this was a culpable will-
worship, because the relation it pretended to humility was
equivocal and spurious, it was expressly against an article of
faith 1 and a Divine commandment. So did the Pythagoreans
in their pretensions to mortification ; they commanded to
abstain from marriages, from flesh, from fish, as unclean, and
ministries of sin, and productions of the devil. Both these the
apostle reproves in his epistle to the Colossians ; and there-
fore condemns all things of the same unreasonableness.

23. (4.) All uncommanded instances of piety must be re-
presented by their own proper qualities, effect, and worthi-
ness ; that is, if all their worth be relative, they must not
be taught as things of an absolute excellence ; or if it be a
matter of abstinence from any thing that is permitted, and
that abstinence be by reason of danger or temptation,
error or scandal, it must not be pressed as abstinence from
a thing that is simply unlawful, or the duty simply neces-
sary. Thus the Encratites and Manichees were superstitious
persons, besides their heresy ; because although they might
lawfully have abstained from all ordinary use of wine, in order
to temperance and severe sobriety, yet when they began to
say that such abstinence was necessary, and all wine was an
abomination, they passed into a direct superstition, and a
criminal will-worship. While the Novatians denied to re-
concile some sort of lapsed criminals, they did it for disci-
pline, and for the interests of a holy life, they did no more
than divers parts of the Church of God did ; but when that
discipline, which once was useful, became now to be into-
lerable, and that which was only matter of government be-
came also matter of doctrine, then they did that which our

1 John, xvi. 23.



OF THE LAWS OF JESUS CHRIST. 85

blessed Saviour reproved in the pharisees, " they taught for
doctrines the injunctions of men," and made their will-
worship to be superstition.

24. (5.) When any uncommanded instance relative to a
commandment is to be performed, it ought to be done tempe-
rately, and according to its own proportion and usefulness ;
for if a greater zeal invites us to the action, we must not
give the reins and liberty to that zeal, and suffer it to pass
on as far as it naturally can; but as far as piously and -pru-
dently it ought. He that gives alms to the poor, may, upon
the stock of the same virtue, spare all vain or less necessary
expense, and be a good husband to the poor, and highly
please God, with these uncommanded instances of duty: but
then he must not prosecute them beyond the reason of his
own affairs, to the ruin of his relations, to the danger of
temptation. To pray is good ; to keep the continual sacri-
fice of morning and evening devotions is an excellent speci-
fication of the duty of Pray continually:' now he that prays
more frequently does still better; but there is a period beyond
which the multiplication and intension of the duty are not to
extend. For although to pray nine times is more than is
described in any diurnal or nocturnal office, yet if any man
shall pray nine-and-twenty times, and prosecute the excess to
all degrees which he naturally can, and morally cannot, that
is, ought not, his will-worship degenerates into superstition ;
because it goes beyond the natural and rational measures,
which though they may be enlarged by the passions of reli-
gion, yet must not pass beyond the periods of reason, and
usurp the places of other duties civil and religious.

25. If these measures be observed, the voluntary and
uncommanded actions of religion, either by their cognation
to the laws, or adoption into obedience, become acceptable
to God, and by being a voluntary worship, or an act of re-
ligion proceeding from the will of man, that is, from his
love and from his desires to please God, are highly reward-
able: E/' ya.% sxuv rojro fgdffffu, (ti&bv t%u, said St. Paul;
" If I do this thing with a voluntary act of free choice, then
I have a reward." And that no man maybe affrighted with
those words of God" 1 to the Jews, " Who hath required
these things at your hands?" as if every thing were to be

m Lsa. i. 11-13.



86 OF THE INTERPRETATION AND OBLIGATION

condemned concerning which God could say, " Quis requisi-
vit?" meaning, that 'he never had given a commandment to
have done it;' it is considerable, that God speaks not of
voluntary, but of commanded services ; he instances in such
things which himself had required at their hands, ' their sacri-
fices of bulls and goats, their new-moons and solemn assem-
blies, their sabbaths and oblations:' but because they were not
done with that piety and holiness as God intended, God
takes no delight in the outward services : so that this con-
demns the unholy keeping of a law, that is, observing the
body, not the spirit of religion ; but at no hand does God
reject voluntary significations of a commanded duty, which
proceed from a well-instructed and more loving spirit, as ap-
pears in the case of vows and free-will offerings in the law ;
which although they were will-worshippings, or voluntary
services, and therefore the matter of them was not com-
manded, yet the religion was approved. And if it be ob-
jected that these were not will-worshippings, because they
were recommended by God in general; I reply, Though they
were recommended, yet they were left to the liberty and
choice of our will ; and if that recommendation of them be
sufficient to sanctify such voluntary religion, then we are
safe in this whole question ; for so did our blessed Saviour
in the Gospel, as his Father did in the Law, " Qui potest
capere, capiat ;" and, " He that hath ears to hear, let him
hear ;" and so saith St. Paul," " He that standeth fast in
his heart (that is, hath perfectly resolved, and is of a con-
stant temper) having no necessity, but hath power over his
own will, and hath judged in his heart that he will keep his
virgin, doth well." But the ground of all is this; all volun-
tary acts of worship or religion are therefore acceptable,
" Quia fundamentum habent in lege Divina," " God's law
is the ground of them;" that is the canon ; and these will-
worshippings are but the descant upon the plain song : some
way or other they have their authority and ground from the
law of God ; for,

26. Whatsoever hath its whole foundation in a persua-
sion that is merely human, and noways relies upon the law
or the expressed will of God, that is will-worship in the cri-
minal sense, that is, it is ' superstition.' So the vulgar Latin
n 1 Cor. vii. 37.



OF THE LAWS OF JESUS CHRIST. 87



and Erasmus render the word I^Xo^<rx/a, or * will-wor-
ship;' and they both signify the same thing, when will-wor-
ship is so defined : but if it be defined by "a religious passion
or excess in uncommanded instances relating to, or being
founded in, the law and will of God," then will-worship
signifies nothing but what is good, and what is better; it is
a free-will offering, dxs/.Sjcrarjj a/'jscr/; rr,; Stqgxtiag, like the
institution under which St. Paul was educated, " the strictest
and exactest sect of the religion ;" and they that live accord-
ingly are ezov<fia?6fjt,tvoi rw vo>w, " the voluntary and most
willing subjects of the law." So that although concerning
some instances it can be said, Tb piv SSTIV Jcr/ray/xa, " This is
directly a commandment ;" and concerning others, Tb &s rr^
i'j.r,c Tsoaissaw; xa7o?0u/j,a, "This is a virtuous or a right
action of my choice ;" yet these are no otherwise opposed
than as ' in' and ' super;' for the one are Iv rr,g errors *?/,
" in the order and constitution of the commandment," the
other ix-s rr, e*7oXr,v (as St. Chrysostom expresses it), are
"above the commandment:" yet all are in the same form or
category : it is within the same limits, and of the same nature,
and to the same ends, and by the same rule, and of the same
holiness, and by a greater love; that is all the difference:
and thus it was from the beginning of the world, in all
institutions and in all religions, which God ever loved.

27. I only instance in the first ages and generations of
mankind, because in them there is pretended some difficulty
to the question. Abel offered sacrifice to God, and so did
Cain ; and in the days of Enoch " men began to call upon
the name of the Lord;" and a priesthood was instituted in

Multi commentariorum et controversiarum scriptores ex his verbis eliciunf,
homines illius seculi novos ritus, novas ceremonias et religioriis formas instituisse ;
quia scilicet cerium est, ab exordio humani generis homines Deum coluisse, atque
adeo ' invocasse nomen Domini.' Hoc ergo quod quasi de novo factum recen-
setur, est institutio novorum rituum, quibus quasi de proprio Deum colere YO-
luerunt. At notandum est in horum verborum sensu, nihil esse certum quod ad
hanc rem possit pertinere. Aam passim, in Hebrajnrum commentariis, seculum
Enocli tamjuam impium memoratur : et Hebrsei exponere solebant hunc locum
quasi sensus esset; 'tune cum Enoch uatus esset, homines profanasse nomen
Domini invocando nomen ejus super creatums,' sic euim verbum V^"~. deriva-
tum scilicet a voce Colin, i. e. profana, profanasse interpretati sunt : homines
scilicet tune ccepisse appellare fihos hominum, et animalia, et herbas, nomine
Dei sancti benedicti. Abenezra autem et Abrabaneel simpliciorem horum ver-
borum sensum retinuerunt : coeperunt scilicet ' commemorare creatorem suum, et
ad nomen ejus opera et rationes dirigere.'



88 OF THE INTERPRETATION AND OBLIGATION

every family, and the * major-domo' was the priest, and God
was worshipped by consumptive oblations : and to this they
were prompted by natural reason, and for it there was no
command of God. So St. Chrysostom: p Oi jo.* vsri
ovds vopov CTJS/ a.'^a.oyjav 6/aXsyo,ttfvou raiJTa ay.o-jffa$
xal <raffa rou (fuvtidorog dida%6ti;, ryv %ve/av sxti'vriv avq-

i' " Abel was not taught of any one, neither had he
received a law concerning the oblation of first-fruits ; but of
himself and moved by his conscience he offered that sacri-
fice :" and q the author of the Answers 'ad Orthodoxos'
in the works of Justin Martyr affirms, Qlbtlg ruv
ra aXoya Suff/av rw 0ew Tgi roD vo/iov /isra rr t v Ss/'av
xav pa/virai 6 EOS TU-JT^V xooffds^dfj.tvog, vy recur?;;

rbv dvgavra, tvaeiffrov aurw' " They who offered to God,
before the law, the sacrifice of beasts, did not do it by a
Divine commandment, though God by accepting it gave
testimony that the person who offered it was pleasing to
him." What these instances do effect or persuade, we
shall see in the sequel ; in the meantime I observe, that
they are men of differing persuasions used to contrary pur-
poses. Some there are that suppose it to be in the power
of men to appoint new instances and manners of religion, and
to invent distinct matters and forms of Divine worship ; and
they suppose that by these instances they are warranted to
say, ' that we may in religion do whatsoever by natural rea-
son we are prompted to;' for Abel, and Cain, and Enoch,
did their services upon no other account. Others that sus-
pect every thing to be superstitious that is uncommanded,
and believe all sorts of will-worship to be criminal, say
that if Abel did this wholly by his natural reason and reli-
gion, then this religion, being by the law of nature, was also
a command of God ; so that still it was done by the force of
a law, for a law of nature being a law of God, whatsoever is
done by that is necessary, not will-worship, or an act of
choice and a voluntary religion.

28. Now these men divide the truth between them. For
it is not true that whatsoever is taught us by natural reason,
is bound upon us by a natural law: which proposition, al-
though I have already proved competently, yet I shall not
omit to add some things here to the illustration of it, as being
P 12 de Statuis. q Ad Quest 82.



OF THE LAWS OF JESUS CHRIST. 89

very material to the present question and rule of conscience.
Socinus, the lawyer, affirmed reason to be the natural law,
by which men are inclined first, and then determined to that
which is agreeable to reason. But this cannot be true, lest
we should be constrained to affirm, that God hath left the
government of the world to an uncertain and imperfect
guide; for nothing so differs as the reasonings of men, and
a man may do according to his reason, and yet do very ill.
" Sicut omnis citharoedi opus est citharam pulsare, periti vero
ac probe docti recte pulsare : sic hominis cujuscunque est
agere cum ratione, probi vero hominis est recte cum ratione
operari ;" so Aristotle : r " It is the work of every musician to
play upon his instrument; but to play well requires art and
skill : so every man does according to reason ; but to do
righteous things, and according to right reason, must sup-
pose a wise and a good man." The consequent of this is,
that reason is not the natural law, but reason when it is
rightly taught, well ordered, truly instructed, perfectly com-
manded ; the law is it that binds us to operate according to
right reason, and commands us we should not decline from it.
He that does according to the natural law, or the law of God,
does not, cannot, do amiss : but when reason alone is his
warrant and his guide, he shall not always find out what is
pleasing to God. And it will be to no purpose to say, that
not every man's reason, but right reason, shall be the law.
For every man thinks his own reason right, and whole nations
differ in the assignation and opinions of right reason ; and
who shall be judge of all, but God? and he that is the judge
must also be the lawgiver, else it will be a sad story for us
to come under his judgment, by whose laws and measures
we were not wholly directed. If God had commanded the
priests' pectoral to be set with rubies, and had given no instru-
ment of discerning his meaning but our eyes, a red crystal
or stained glass would have passed instead of rubies : but by
other measures than by seeing we are to distinguish the pre-
cious stone from a bright counterfeit. As our eyes are to the



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