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for every of them, i which giveth to beasts their food, &c. there is no doubt but that they would also serve and love him only.
The second precept is the forbidding of idolatry, and worship of images; the making whereof, out of doubt, was not the invention of an ill intent in the beginning, seeing this is generally true : k Omnia mala exempla bonis initiis orta sunt ; “ All ill examples did spring and arise from
good beginnings.” For their first erection was to keep the memory of men famous for their virtue; until, saith Lactantius, the Devil crept into them, and (having blotted out the first intent) working in weak and ignorant souls, changed the nature of the one, and the reason of the other, to serve himself thereby. For what reasonable man, if he be not forsaken of God, will call on those blind, deaf, dumb, and dead stocks, more worthless than the most worthless of those that, having life and reason, implore their help, which have. neither ; yea, of more vile prize and baser, than the basest of beasts, who have sense and estimation ? for what do we thereby, saith the Wisdom of Solomon, but call to the weak for help, pray to the dead for life, require aid of him that hath no experience, assistance in our journeys of him that cannot go, and success in our affairs of him that hath no power? And whether the idolater, or the block to which he prayeth, be more senseless, David maketh a doubt: m For, saith he, they that make them are like unto them; and so are all the rest that trust in them.
The breach of the third commandment is neither persuaded by worldly pleasure nor worldly profit, the two greatest enchanters of mortal men. No, we are no way allured to this horrible disdain of God, unless the hate of good men, and God's curse, be accounted an advantage. For as our corruptest nature gives us nothing towards it, so can it satisfy no one appetite, except everlasting sorrow and hell dwell in our desire. And therefore this strange
i Psalm cxlvii. 9.
I Wisd. xiii. 19.
custom hath the Devil brought up among men, without all subtilty of argument, or cunning persuasion, taking thereby the greatest and most scornful advantage over us. For slaughter satisfieth hatred, theft gives satisfaction to need, adultery to lust, oppression to covetousness; but this contemptuous offence of blasphemy, and the irreverent abuse of God's name, as it giveth no help to any of our worldly affections, so the most savage nations of the world do not
The fourth commandment, to keep the sabbath day holy, hath neither pain, burden, nor inconvenience. For it giveth rest to the labourer, and consolation to their masters. And that this law was imposed on man for his benefit, Moses teacheth in the reason of the law; as in Exod. xxii, 12. and in the seventh day thou shalt rest : that thine ox and thine ass may rest, and the son of thy maid, and the stranger, may be refreshed.
The first of the second table, to honour our parents, with whom we are one and the same, is a gratitude which nature itself hath taught us towards them, who after God gave us life and being, have begotten us and borne us, cherished us in our weak and helpless infancy, and bestowed on us the harvest and profit of their labours and cares. Therefore in the temporal and judicial ordinances, cursing of parents, or the offering them violence, was made death.
The next is, that thou shalt not murder; that is, thou shalt not do the acts following the affections of hatred. For the law of God, and after it our own laws, and in effect the law of all nations, have made difference between slaughter casual and furious: Affectio enim tua, saith Bracton, imponit nomen operi tuo; “ It is the affection and will that “ makes the work such as it is.” And certainly whosoever cannot forbear to commit murder, hath neither the grace of God, nor any use of his own will.
The third of the second table commands us from adultery. Now, if the preservation of " virginity have been possible for thousands of men and women, who in all
have " Nuptiæ replent terram, virginitas paradisum. RALEGH, HIST. WORLD. VOL. II.
mastered their fleshly desires, and have returned chaste to the grave; it cannot be accounted a burden, to forbear the dishonour and injury which we offer to others by such a violation, seeing marriage is permitted by the laws of God and men, to all that affect it. And there is no man living, whom the desire of beauty and form hath so constrained, but he might with ease forbear the prosecution of this ill, did not himself give suck to this infant, and nourish warmth till it grow to strong heat, heat till it turn to fire, and fire to flame.
The fourth of the second table is, that we shall not steal. And if that kind of violent robbery had been used in Moses's time, which many ruffians practise nowadays in England, and, to the dishonour of our nation, more in England than in any region of the world among Christians, out of doubt he would have censured them by death, and not by restitution, though quadruple. For I speak not of the and miserable souls whom hunger and extreme necessity enforceth, but of those detested thieves, who, to maintain themselves lordlike, assault, rob, and wound the merchant, artificer, and labouring man, or break by violence into other men's houses, and spend in bravery, drunkenness, and upon harlots, in one day, what other men sometimes have laboured for all their lives; impoverishing whole families, and taking the bread and food from the mouths of their children. And that this commandment might easily be observed, it would soon appear, if princes would resolve but for a few years to pardon none. For it is the hope of life, and the argument of sparing the first offence, that encourageth these hell-hounds. And if every man may presume to be pardoned once, there is no state or commonwealth but these men would in a short time impoverish or de
The fifth commandment of this second table is, the prohibition of false witness; from which if men could not forbear, all surety of estate and life were taken away. And so much did God detest a false witness and a false accuser, especially in matters criminal, that the law ordained him to
suffer the same death or punishment which he sought by falsehood to lay on his brother.
The last of the ten commandments forbiddeth us to covet any thing which belongeth to another man, either the bodies of their wives for concupiscence, or their goods for desire of gain. And this precept seemeth the hardest for men to observe; so esteemed by reason of our frail affections: and yet if we judge hereof rightly, it may be doubted whether it extend to all our inconsiderate fancies and vain thoughts. For although it be not easy to master all our sudden passions, yet we may restrain and hinder their growing and further increase, if we please to intend our strength, and seek for grace. How the word coveting reacheth to all those, it is to be considered. For concupiscentia, according to some, est effrænatus habendi appetitus ; " an unbridled,
or unrestrained appetite of having :” and as touching such an appetite, we cannot excuse ourselves by any our natural frailty, or unadvised error; but, as I suppose, the word concupiscence is more largely taken, either for a determinate and unbridled evil intent, or for some urging inclination thereunto. All the question is of the latter sort ; which is, actus imperfectus, id est, non deliberatus ratione, quæ est principium proprium actus boni aut vitiosi ; “ Such
passions or inclinations are unperfect aets, that is, not de“ liberated upon by reason, which is the proper principle “ of a good or vicious action.” And sure it may seem, that so long as we resist such motions, they harm us not; as they say, Quamdiu refragamur, nihil nocent : nocent autem cum eas dominari permittimus ; “ As long as we give “ no assent unto them, it is thought by some that they hurt “ us not; and that then only they hurt when we suffer “them to bear sway.” But these men, as it seems, make nothing forbidden in this tenth precept, but what have been forbidden in the other; for in every commandment, not only the outward act, but also the inward assent unto evil, though it break not out into act, is forbidden ; therefore, that we may know the difference between this commandment and the rest, the distinction of desires is to be held, that some are with assent, and unbridled; others bridled, and without assent. For so even the moral philosopher can tell us, that the continent man hath evil desires, but without assent; (for they are bridled by the strength of right reason ;) as on the other side, the incontinent hath good desires, but restrained and suppressed by contrary passions. The evil desires, when they are accompanied with assent, are in every commandment forbidden, together with the outward act : and therefore, if we will have any thing proper to this commandment, we must needs say, that the evil desires of the continent man (that is, even those which we resist and bridle) are here forbidden. For though he that bridleth his evil desires be much better than he that yieldeth unto them; yet such a man, even according to the heathen philosopher, is not worthy the name of a virtuous man. For Aristotle himself makes continentia not to be virtue, but only a degree unto it: confessing, that though the continent man do well in bridling his evil affections, yet he doth not all, seeing he ought not so much as to have them at all. Neither is it much more, that true divinity delivereth touching this matter. For, as he saith, that in the continent man the having of these evil desires, though he resist them, is the cause that he cannot be called a virtuous man; so we, that the having of them is a sin. Only in this we excel him here, that we are able out of divinity to give the true reason of this doctrine; which is, that every one sinneth that doth not love God with his whole heart and affection: whence it followeth, that the evil desires of the continent man, that is, of him that bridleth them, must needs be sin; seeing such desires, though bridled, are a pulling away of a part of our heart and affection from God.
Seeing therefore it hath pleased God to make us know, that by our faithful endeavours to keep his commandments, we witness our love towards himself; we may not safely give liberty to our vanities, by casting back upon God (who is justice itself) that he hath given us precepts altogether beyond our power, and commandments impossible for us to keep. For as he is accursed, saith St. Jerome, that avows