ESSAYS to Do GOOD.
§ 1. SUCH Glorious Things are Spoken in the Oracles of our Good God, concerning them who Devise Good, that, A Book of Good De|vices, may very reasonably de|mand Attention & Acceptance from them that have any Impressions of the most Reasonable Reli|gion upon them. I am Devising Such a Book; but at the same time Offering a Sorrowful De|monstration, That if men would Set themselves to Devise Good, a world of Good might be done, more than there is, in this Present Evil World. It is very sure, The World has Need Enough. There Needs abundance to be done, That the Great GOD and His CHRIST may be more Known and Serv'd in the World; and that the Errors which are Impediments to the Acknowledgments wherewith men ought to Glorify their Creator and Redeemer, may be Rectified. There needs abundance to be done, That the Evil Manners of the World, by which men are drowned in Per|dition, may be Reformed; and mankind rescued from the Epidemical Corruption and Slavery which has overwhelmed it. There needs abun|dance Page 20 to be done, That the Miseries of the World may have Remedies and Abatements pro|vided for them; and that miserable people may be Relieved and Comforted. The world has according to the Computation of Some, a|bove Seven hundred millions of people now Living in it. What an ample Field among all these, to Do Good upon! In a word, The Kingdom of God in the World, Calls for Innumerable Ser|vices from us. To Do SUCH THINGS is to Do Good. Those men Devise Good, who Shape any DEVICES to do Things of Such a Tendency; whether the Things be of a Spiritual Importance, or of a Temporal. You see, Sirs, the General matter, appearing as Yet, but as a Chaos, which is to be wrought upon. Oh! that the Good Spirit of God may now fall upon us, and carry on the Glorious work which lies before us!
§ 2. TIS to be Supposed, my Readers will readily grant, That it is an Excel|lent, a Vertuous, a Laudable Thing to be full of Devices, to bring about Such Noble Purposes. For any man to Deride, or to Despise my Proposal, That we Resolve and Study to Do as much Good in the World as we can, would be so black a Cha|racter, that I am not willing to make a Suppo|sal of it in any of those with when I am Con|cerned. Let no man pretend unto the Name of, A Christian, who does not Approve the pro|posal of, A Perpetual Endeavour to Do Good in the Page 21 World. What pretension can Such a man have to be, A Follower of the Good One? The Primitive Christians gladly accepted and improved the Name, when the Pagans by a mistake Styled them, Chrestians; Because it Signifyed, Useful Ones. The Christians who have no Ambition to be So, Shall be condemned by the Pagans; a|mong whom it was a Term of the Highest Ho|nour, to be termed, A Benefactor; to have Done Good, was accounted Honourable. The Philosopher being asked why Every one desired so much to look upon a Fair Object! he answered, That it was a Question of a Blind man. If any man ask, as wanting the Sense of it, What is it worth the while to Do Good in the world! I must Say, It Sounds not like the Question of a Good man. The 〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉, as Origen calls it, the Spiritual Taste of every Good Man will make him have an unspeakable Relish for it. Yea, Unworthy to be discoursed as a Man, is he, who is not for, Doing of Good among Men. An Enemy to the Proposal, That mankind, may be the better for us, deserves to be Reckoned, little better than, A Common Enemy of Mankind. How Cogently do I bespeak, a Good Reception of what is now designed! I produce not only Religion, but e|ven Humanity it self, as full of a Fiery Indignation against the Adversaries of the Design. Excuse me, Sirs; I declare, that if I could have my choice, I would never Eat or Drink, or Walk, with such an one, as long as I Live; or, Look on him as Page 22 any other than one by whom Humanity it self is Debased and Blemished. A very Wicked Writer, has yet found himself compell'd by the Force of Reason, to publish this Confession. To Love the Publick, to Study an Universal Good, and to Promote the Interest of the whole World, as far as is in our Power, is surely the Highest of Goodness, and makes that Temper, which we call Divine. And, he goes on. Is the Doing of Good for Glories Sake so Divine a thing? [Alas, Too much Humane, Sir!] Or, Is it not a Diviner to Do Good, even where it may be thought Inglorious? Even unto the Ingrateful, and unto those who are wholly Insensible of the Good they receive! A man must be far gone in Wickedness, who will open his Mouth, against such Maxims and Actions! A better Pen has Remark'd it; yea, the man must be much a Stranger in Histo|ry, who has not made the Remark. To Speak Truth, and to Do Good, were in the Esteem even of the Heathen World, most God-like Qualities. God forbid, That in the Esteem of the Christian World, for those Qualities, there should be any Abate|ment!
§ 3. I Won't yet propose the Reward of Well-doing, and the glorious Things which the Mercy and Truth of God will do, for them who Devise Good; Because I would have to do with such, as will esteem it, a Sufficient Reward unto it self. I will imagine that Generous In|genuity, in my Readers, which will dispose them to count themselves well-Rewarded in the Page 23 Thing it self, if God will Accept them to Do Good in the World. It is an Invaluable Honour, To Do Good; It is an Incomparable Pleasure. A Man must Look upon himself as Dignifyed and Gratifyed by GOD, when an Opportunity to Do Good is put into his Hands. He must Embrace it with Rapture, as enabling him directly to an|swer the Great END of his Being. He must manage it with Rapturous Delight, as a most Sui|table Business, as a most Precious Priviledge. He must Sing in those Wayes of the Lord, wherein he cannot but find himself, while he is Doing of Good. As the Saint of Old Sweet|ly Sang, I was glad, when they said unto me, Let us go into the House of the Lord. Thus ought we to be Glad, when any Opportunity to Do Good, is offered unto us. We should need no Arguments, to make us Entertain the Offer; but we should Naturally fly into the Matter, as most agreeable to the Divine Nature whereof we are made Par|takers. It should Oblige us wonderfully! An Ingot of Gold presented unto us, not more Ob|liging! Think, Sirs, Now I Enjoy what I Am for! Now I Attain what I Wish for! Some Servants of God have been so Strongly Disposed this way, that they have cheerfully made a Tender of any Recompence that could be desired, (yea, rather than fail, a Pecuniary one,) unto any Friend that would Think for them, and Supply the Barren|ness of their Thoughts, and Suggest unto them a|ny Special and proper Methods, wherein they Page 24 may be Serviceable. Certainly, To Do Good is a thing that brings its own Recompence, in the O|pinion of those, who reckon a kind Information of a Point wherein they may Do Good, worthy to be by them requited with a Recompence to the Informer. I will only Say; If any of you are Strangers unto such a Disposition as this, to Look upon an Opportunity to Do Good, as a thing that Enriches you, and to Look upon your selves as Enriched, and Favoured of God, when He does Employ you to Do Good: I have done with you, I would pray them, to lay the Book aside; It will disdain to carry on any further Conversa|tion with 'em! It handles a Subject on which the Wretches of the House of Caleb, will not be conversed withal. It is content with one of Dr. Stoughtons Introductions; It is Enough to me, that I Speak to wise men, whose Reason shall be my Rhetorick, to Christians, whose Conscience shall be my Eloquence.
§ 4. THo' the Assertion fly never so much like a Chain-Shot among us, and Rake down all before it, I will again, and again As|sert it; That we might every One of us do more Good than we do. And therefore, This is the FIRST, PROPOSAL, to be made unto us; To be Exceedingly Humbled, that we have done so Little Good in the World. I am not Uncharitable, in saying; I know not that Assembly of Christi|ans upon Earth, which ought not to be a Bochim,Page 25 in this consideration. Oh! Tell me, what Uto|pia, I shall find it in! Sirs, Let us begin to bring forth some Good Fruit, by Lamenting our own Great Unfruitfulness. Verily, Sins of Omission must be Confessed & Bewayled; else we add unto the Number of them. The most Useful Men in the World, have gone out of it, crying to God, Lord, Let my Sins of Omission be Forgiven to me! Men that have made more than ordinary Con|science about well-Spending of their Time, have had their Death-bed made uneasy by this Re|flection; The Lose of Time now Sits heavy upon me. Be sure, All Unregenerate Persons, are, as our Bi|ble has told us, Unprofitable Persons. 'Tis not for nothing that the Comparison of Thorns, and Bri|ars, has been used, to Teach us, what they are. An Unrenewed Sinner, alas, he never did One Good Work in all his Life! In all his Life, did I Say? You must give me that word again! He is Dead while he Lives; he is Dead in Sins; he has never yet begun to Live unto God: and, as is he, so are all the Works of his Hands; They are Dead Works. Ah! Wretched Good-for-nothing. Wonder, Wonder at the Patience of Heaven, which yet forbears Cutting-down, such a Cumber|er of the Ground. The best, and the first Advice, to be given unto such Persons, is, Immediately to do their best, that they may get out of their woful Unregeneracy. Let them Immediately Acknow|ledge the Necessity of their Turning to God, but how Unable they are to do it, and how UnworthyPage 26 that God should make them Able. Immediately let them lift up their Cry unto Sovereign Grace, to Quicken them; and let them then Try, whe|ther they cannot with Quickened Souls, Plead the Sacrifice and Righteousness of a Glorious CHRIST for their Happy Reconciliation to God; Seri|ously Resolve upon a Life of Obedience to God, and Serious Religion; and Resign themselves up unto the Holy Spirit, that he may possess them, Instruct them, Strengthen them, and for His Name Sake lead them in tho pathes of Holiness. There will no Good be done, till this be done. The very First-born of all Devices to Do Good, is in be|ing Born again, and in Devising Means, that a Banished Soul may no longer be Expelled from the presence of God. But you that have been brought home to God, have Sad cause, not only to deplore the Dark Dayes of your Unregenera|cy, wherein you did none but the Unfruitful Works of Darkness; but also, that you have done so Little, since God has Quickened you and En|abled you, to Do, the Things that should be done. How Little, How Little have you Lived up, to the Strains of Gratitude, which might have been justly Expected, since God has brought you into His Marvellous Light! The best of us may mourn in our Complaint; Lord, How Little Good have I done, to what I might have done! Let the Sense of this cause us to Loathe and Judge our|selves before the Lord: Let it fill us with Shame, and Abase us wonderfully! How can we do Page 27 any other, than with David, even make a Caul|dron of our couch, and a Bath of our Tears, when we consider how little Good we have done! Oh! That our Heads were Waters, because they have been so Dry of all Thoughts to Do Good! Oh! That our Eyes were a Fountain of Tears, be|cause they have been so little upon the Lock out for Objects & Methods to Do Good upon! For the Pardon of this Evil-doing, Let us Fly to the Great Sacrifice; which is our only Expiation. Plead the Blood of that Lamb of God, whose U|niversal Usefulness is One of those admirable Pro|perties, for which He has been called, A Lamb. The Pardon of our Barrenness at Good Works being thus obtained, by Faith in that Blood which cleanses from all Sin, that is the way for us to be rescued from a Condemnation to Perpetual Barrenness. The dreadful Sentence of, Let no Fruit grow on thee for ever! will be reversed and prevented, by such a Pardon. Sirs, A True, Right, Evangeli|cal Proceedure to Do Good, must have this Re|pentance laid in the Foundation of it! We do not Handle the Matter Wisely, if a Foundation be not laid thus Low, and in the deepest Self-Abasement.
§ 5. HOw full, how full of Devices are we, for our own Secular Advantage! And how Expert in Devising many Little Things, to be done for our selves! We apply our Thoughts, with a mighty Assiduity, unto the Old Question, What shall I Eat & Drink, and wherewithal shall I Page 28 be cloathed? It is with a very strong Applicati|on of our Thoughts, that we Study, what we shall do for our selves, in our Marriages, in our Voyages, in our Bargains, and in many, many other concerns, wherein we are Sollicitous to have our condition easy. We Sollicitously Contrive, that we may accomplish Good Bargains, and that we may Steer clear of ten thousand Inconveniencies, to which, without some Contrivance, we may ly obnoxious. The Business of our Personal Callings we carry on with Numberless Thoughts, how we may Do Well, in what is to be done. To ac|complish our Temporal Business, in affairs that cannot be Numbred, we find out Witty Inventions. But, O Rational, Immortal, Heaven-born SOUL; Are thy wondrous Faculties capable of no Greater Improvements, no better Employments? Why should a Soul of such High Capacities, a Soul that may arrive to be clothed in the Bright Scarlet of Angels, yet Embrace a Dunghil! O let a Blush colouring beyond Scarlet, be thy clothing for thy being found so meanly occupied! A|las, In the Multitude of thy Thoughts within thee, had thou no Dispositions to Raise thy Soul, un|to Some thoughts, What may be done for GOD, & CHRIST, and for my own SOUL, and for the most Considerable Interests? How many Hundreds of Thoughts have we, How to obtain or secure Some Trifle for our selves; to One, How we may Serve the interests of the Glorious LORD, and of His People in the World? How can we now pretend, Page 29 that we Love Him, or, that a carnal, and a Criminal Self-Love, has not the Dominion o|ver us? I again come in, upon a Soul of an Heavenly Extract, and Smite it, as the Angel did the Sleeping Prisoner; Awake, Shake off thy Shackles, ly no longer fettered in a Base confinement unto nothing but a Meaner Sort of Business. Assume and Assert the Liberty of now and then Think|ing on the Noblest Question in the World; What Good may I do in the World? There was a Time, when it was complain'd by no less a man, than Gregory the Great (the Bishop of Rome) I am Sunk into the World! It may be the complaint of a Soul, that minds all other things, and rarely calls to mind that Noblest Question. Ah! Star, fall'n from Heav'n, and choak'd in Dust, Rise and Soar up to some-thing answerable to thy Ori|ginal. Begin a Course of Thoughts, which when begun, will be like a Resurrection from the Dead. They which dwell in the Dust, Wake and Sing, and a Little anticipate the Life which we are to Live at the Resurrection of the Dead, when they Liveli|ly set themselves to Think; How may I be a Bles|sing in the World? And, What may I do, that Righ|teousness may more dwell in the World?
§ 6. HOw much Hurt may be done by One Wicked man? Yea, Sometimes One Wicked man, of but Small Abilities, becoming an Indefatigable Tool of the Devil, may do an Incredi|ble Deal of Mischief in the World. We have Page 30 seen some Wretched Instruments of Cursed Me|mory, ply the Intention of Doing Mischief, at a Strange rate; until they have undone a whole Country; yea, unto the undoing of more than Three Kingdoms. 'Tis a Melancholy conside|ration, which I am now upon: and I may say, an Astonishing One! You will hardly find One of a Thousand, who does near so much, to Serve God and Christ, and his own Soul, as you may see done by Thousands to Serve the Devil. An horrible Thing!
O my Soul; Thy Maker, and thy Saviour, so wor|thy of thy Love, and thy All! A Lord, whose infi|nite Goodness, will follow all that thou doest for Him, with Remunerations, beyond all Apprehensi|on Glorious! How Little, How little, is it that thou doest for Him! At the same time, look into thy Neighbourhood; See there a monster of Wickedness, who to his uttermost will Serve a Devil, that will prove a Destroyer unto him, and all whose Wages will be Torments. He Studies how to Serve the Devil; he is never weary of his Drudgery; he racks his Inven|tion to go thorough with it. He Shames me, he Shames me wonderfully! O my God, I am ashamed, and blush to Lift up my Face unto thee, my God.
There is a man, of whom we read; He Devi|seth mischief upon his Bed, he Sets himself in a way that is not Good. Now, I beseech you, why should not we be as Active, as Frequent, as Forward, in Devising of Good; and as full of Exquisite Contri|vance? Why should not we be as Wise to Do Good, as any People are Wise to do Evil? I am sure, we have a better Cause▪ and there is more of Page 31Reason for it. My Friend, Tho' thou art One that makes but a Little Figure in the World, and a Brother of Low Degree, behold, a vast Encourage|ment! A Little man may do a great deal of Hurt. And then, why may not a Little man, do a great deal of Good! It is possible the Wisdom of a Poor man, may Start a Proposal, that may Save a City, Serve a Nation! A Single Hair ap|plied unto a Flyer, that has other Wheels depend|ing on it, may pull up an Oak, or pull down an House.
It is very Observable, That when our Lord JESUS CHRIST, would recommend this Zeal, with which the Kingdom of Heaven is to be Served, He did not mention an Exemple of Honest Wis|dom; no, but of an Unrighteous and Scandalous Dishonesty, (as of an Unjust Steward,) for our E|mulation. The Wisdom of our Lord in this mat|ter, is much to be observed. His Design is, not only to represent the Prudence, but also the vast Industry, Ingenuity, Resolution, and Heroick Ef|fort of Soul, necessary in them, that would Seek and Serve the Kingdom of Heaven. There is no where to be found among men, that Vivacity of Spirit in Lawful Actions, which there is to be found in Unlawful Ones. The wayes of Honesty are plain to men, and they require not so much Uneasiness in the Minds of men to manage them. Whereas your Thieves and Cheats, and men that follow Courses of Dishonesty, take wayes that are full of Difficulties: the Turns and the Tricks with Page 32 which they must be carried thro' them, are in|numerable. Hence among such Fellowes, you find the Exercise of the most Extraordinary Subtilty. There is no such Cunning, and Nimble Appli|cation to be any where else met withal. Tis very Emphatical, to fetch from hence the colours of Heavenly Wisdom! That which I would now be at, is this; That we Do Good with as much Application, as any men alive can use in Evil-doing. When Wickedness proceeds from the wicked, it is often done with both Hands, and Greedily. Why may not we proceed in our Usefulness, even with Both Hands, and Greedily Watching for Opportunities? We have no occasion for any Ill Arts, that we may carry on our Designs to Do Good. God for|bid, that we should ever imagine the Uniting of such Inconsistencies. But why cannot we carry on our Designs, with as much, and as deep, and as copious Thought, as the men of Ill Arts? And why may not we lay out our Spirits, with as Transporting a Vigour, to Do the Things that will be Acceptable to God, and Profitable to Men, as any Wretches have, when they Weary them|selves to commit Iniquity? To reprehend cer|tain Ecclesiastical Drones, who had little Incli|nation to Do Good, Father Latymer Employ'd a coarse Expression of this importance; If you won't Learn of Good Men, for shame Learn of the Devil! He is never Idle. He goes about, seeking what Hurt he may do! Truly, the Indefatigable Prosecution of their Designs, which we may see Page 33 in Some, whom the Holy Word of God has cal|led, The Children of the Devil, may Exceedingly put us to the Blush. Our Obligations to Do Good are infinite: They Do Evil against all Obli|gations. The Compensations made unto them who Do Good, are Encouraging beyond all Ex|pression; They who Do Evil, get nothing to boast of; but Evil Pursues the Sinners. If the Devil do Go about, and People inspired by him also Go about, Seeking what Hurt they may do, Why do not we Go about, and Seek, and Think, where and How to Do Good? Verily, T'were a Cha|racter for a Good Angel, to do so. O Thou Child of God, and Lover of all Righteousness; How canst thou find in thy Heart at any time to Cease from doing all the Good, that can be done, in the Right Wayes of the Lord? Methinks, That Word of the Lord, may be a Burden unto us; If we have any true Honour in us, it will be so! The Children of this World, are in [and, For,] their Generation, Wiser than the Children of Light. Yea, they Pursue the Works of Darkness more Livelily, than any of us Walk in the Light, where-with our Great Saviour has favour'd us.
§ 7. TO the Title of Good Works there do belong, those Essayes to Do Good, which are now urged for. To produce them, the First Thing, and indeed the ONE Thing, that is Needful, is, A Glorious work of Grace on the Soul, Renewing and Quickening of it, and Pu|rifying of the Sinner, and rendring him Zealous of Page 34 Good Works: A Workmanship of God upon us, Crea|ting us over again, by JESUS CHRIST, for Good Works. And then, there is Needful, what will ne|cessarily follow upon such a Work: That is, A Disposition to Do Good Works upon true, Genuine, Generous, and Evangelical Principles. Those Principles are to be Stated, before we can go any further; when they are Active, we shall go a great deal further.
It is in the first Place, to be taken for granted; That the End for which we do Good Works, must not be, To afford the Matter of our Justification, before the Law of the Holy GOD. Indeed, no Good Works can be done by any man until he be Justified. Until a Man be United unto the Glo|rious CHRIST, who is our Life, he is a Dead Man. And, I Pray, what Good Works to be Ex|pected from Such a Man? They will all be Dead Works. For, Severed from me ye can do nothing, Saith our Saviour. The Justification of a Sinner, by Faith, Before Good Works, and in Order to them, is One of those Truths, which may say to the Popish Innovations, With us are the Gray-headed, and very Aged Men, much Elder than thy Father. It was an Old Maxim of the Faithful, Bona opera Sequuntur Justificatum, non praecedunt Justificandum. It is the Righteousness of the Good Works done by our Saviour and Surety, not our own, that Justi|fies us before God, and answers the Demands of His Law upon us. We do by Faith lay hold on those Good Works for our Justifying RighteousnessPage 35 before we arrive to do our own. Tis not our Faith it self, either as doing of Good Works, or as being it self one of them, which Entitles us to the Justifying Righteousness of our Saviour. But it is Faith, only As Renouncing of our own Righteous|ness, & Relying on that of our Saviour, provided for the Chief of Sinners, by which we are Justified. Sir, All your Attempts at Good Works will come to Nothing, till a Justifying Faith in your Saviour, shall carry you forth unto them. This was the Divinity of the Ancients; Jerom has well Ex|pressed it; Sine Christo Omnis Virtus est in Vitio. Nevertheless; First, You are to Look upon it, as a glorious Truth of the Gospel, That the Mo|ral Law (which prescribes and requires Good Works) must by every Christian Alive be made the Rule of his Life. Do we make void the Law thro' Faith? God Forbid. Yea, we Establish the Law. The Rule, by which we are to Glorify God is given us in the Law of Good Works, which we En|joy [I will Express it so!] in the Ten Command|ments. It is impossible for us, to be Released from all Obligations to Glorify God by a con|formity to this Rule; Sooner shall we cease to be Creatures. The Conformity to that Rule in the Righteousness, which our Saviour by His Obedi|ence to it, has brought in, to Justify us, has for e|ver Magnified the Law, and made it Honourable. Tho' our Saviour has furnished us, with a per|fect and spotless Righteousness, when His Obedi|ence to the Law, is placed unto our Account; Page 36 Yet it is a Sin for us at all to fall short in our own Obedience to the Law: We must alwayes Loathe and Judge our selves for the Sin. We are not under the Law as a Covenant of Works. Our own Exactness in doing of Good Works, is not now the Condition of our Entring into Life. We unto us if it were! But still, the Covenant of Grace holds us to it, as our Duty; and if we are in the Covenant of Grace, we shall make it our Study, to Do those Good Works which once were the Terms of our Entring into Life. Manet Lex tota Pietatis; That was the Divinity in Tertullians Dayes! There must be such an Esteem for the Law of Good Works retain|ed for ever in all the Justifyed: A Law never to be Abrogated; never to be Abolished! And then, Secondly, Tho' we are Justified by a Preci|ous Faith in the Righteousness of God our Saviour, yet Good Works are demanded of us, to Justify our Faith; to Demonstrate, that it is indeed that Precious Faith. A Justifying Faith is a Jewel, which may be Counterfeited. But now the Marks of a Faith, which is no Counterfeit, are to be found in the Good Works whereto a Servant of God is inclined and assisted by his Faith. It is by a Re|generating Work of the Holy Spirit, that Faith is wrought in the Souls of the chosen People. Now the same Work of God, and of Grace, which does in a Regeneration Dispose a man to make his Flight by Faith, unto the Righteousness of his only Saviour, will also dispose him to the Good Works of a Christian Life. And the Same Faith which Page 37 goes to the Saviour for a part in His Righteousness, will also go to Him, for an Heart and Strength to do the Good Works, which are Ordained, that we should walk in them. If Our Faith be not such a Faith, 'tis a Lifeless one, and it will not bring to Life. A Workless Faith is a Worthless Faith. My Friend, Suppose thy self Standing before the Judgment-Seat of the Glorious LORD. A Need|ful, a Prudent, Supposal; it ought to be a very Frequent One. The Judge demands, What hast thou to Plead, for a Portion in the Blessedness of the Righteous? The Plea must be;
O my Glorious Judge, Thou hast been my Sacrifice, Oh! Judge of all the Earth, Give Poor Dust and Ashes Leave to Say, My Righteousness is on the Bench. Surely, In the Lord I have my Righteousness. O my Saviour, I have Received it, I have Secured it, upon thy Gracious offer of it.
The Judge proceeds;
But what hast thou to Plead, That thy Faith should not be Rejected, as the Faith and Hope of the Hypocrite?
Here the Plea must be;
Lord, My Faith was thy Work. It was a Faith which disposed me to all the Good Works of thy Holy Religion. My Faith Sanctified me. It carried me to thee, O my Saviour, for Grace to do the Works of Righteousness. It Embraced thee for my Lord as well as for my Saviour. It caused me with Sincerity to Love and Keep thy Commandments; with assi|duity to Serve the Interests of thy Kingdom in the World. Thus you have Paul and James Reconciled. Thus you have Good Works provided for. The Aphorism of the Physician, is, Per Brachium fit Judicium de corde. The Doings of Men are truer and surer Indications, than all their Sayings, of Page 38 what they are within. But there is yet a further Consideration, upon which you must be Zealously Affected for them. You must Consider Good Works, as the Way to, yea, as a Part of, the Great Salvation, which is Purchased and Intended for you, by your Blessed Saviour. Without an Holy Heart you can't be fit for an Holy Heaven; Meet for the Inheritance of the Holy Ones in that Light, which admits no works of Darkness; where none but Good Works are done for Eternal Ages. But an Holy Heart will cause a man to do Good works with all his Heart. The Motto on the Gates of the Holy City is; None but the Lovers of Good Works to enter here. Tis im|plied, in what we read, Without Holiness no man shall see the Lord. Yea, to be Saved without Good works, were to be Saved without Salvation. Much of our Salvation lies in doing of Good works. When our Souls are Enlarged and Unfetter'd, it is that we may Do such Things. Heaven is begun upon Earth in the doing of them. Doubtless, no man shall come up to Heaven, who is not so per|swaded. I will mention but one more of those Principles, which Good works grow upon. Tis that Noble one, of GRATITUDE. The Believer cannot but Enquire, What shall I render to my Sa|viour? The Result of the Enquiry will be, with Good works to Glorify Him. We read, Faith works by Love. Our Faith will first show us the Match|less and Marvellous Love of God, in Saving us. And the Faith of this Love will work upon our Page 39 Hearts, until it has raised in us, an Unquencha|ble Flame of Love unto Him that hath so Loved us, and Saved us▪
These, These are to be our Dispositions;
O my Saviour; Hast thou done so much for me? Now will I do all I can for thy Kingdom, and People in the World? Oh! What Service is there that I may now do for my Sa|viour, and for His People in the World!
These are the Principles to be proceeded on. And on them, I will observe to you a Notable Thing. Tis worthy of Observations, That there are no men in the World, who so abound in Good works, as the men who have most of all a|bandoned all pretence to Merit by their works. There are Protestants who have out-done Papists, in our Days, as well as in Dr. Willets. No Merit-Mongers have gone beyond some Holy Christians, who have done Good works, upon the Assurance of their being already Justified and Entitled unto Life Eternal.
I take Notice, that our Apostle, casting a Just Contempt on the Endless Genealogies, and Long, Intricate, Perplexed Pedigrees, which the Jews of his Time, stood so much upon; Proposes in|stead thereof to be Studied, Charity, out of a Pure Heart, and a Good Conscience, and Faith Unfeigned. As if he had said, I will give you a Genealogy worth Ten Thousand of theirs, First, From Faith Unfeigned proceeds a Good Conscience: From a Good Conscience proceeds a Pure Heart: From a Pure Heart proceeds a Charity to all about us. Tis Admirably Stated!
Page 40§ 8. IT is to be fear'd, That we too seldom Enquire after our Opportunities to Do Good. Our Opportunities to Do Good are our TALENTS. An awful Account must be rendred unto the Great GOD, concerning our Use of the Talents, wherewith He has Entrusted us, in these Precious Opportunities. We do not Use our Opportunities, many times because we do not Know what they are; and many times, the Reason why we do not Know, is be|cause we do not Think. Our Opportunities to do Good, ly by Unregarded, and Un-improved; and so 'tis but a mean Account that can be given of them. We Read of a thing, which we Deride as often as we behold; There is, that maketh himself Poor, and yet has great Riches. It is a thing too too frequently Exemplified, in our Opportunities to Do Good, which are some of our most Valuable Riches. Many a man seems to reckon himself destitute of those Talents; as if there were No|thing for him to do: He pretends he is not in a Condition to Do any Good, Alas! Poor Man; what can he do? My Friend; Think again; Think often. Enquire what your Opportunities are. You will doubtless find them, to be more than you were Aware of. Plain Men dwelling in Tents, Per|sons of a very Ordinary Character, may in a way of bright Piety, prove Persons of Extraordinary Usefulness. A Poor John Urich may make a Gro|tius the Better for him. I have read of a Pious Page 41Weaver, of whom some Eminent Persons would say, Christ walked as it were alive upon the Earth in that man. And a world of Good was done by that man. A mean Mechanick, who can tell what an Engine of Good, he may be, if humbly and wisely applied unto it!
This then is the Next PROPOSAL. Without abridging your selves of your Occasional Thoughts on the Question, often every Day, What Good may I do? State a Time now and then for more Deliberate Thoughts upon it. Can't you find a Time, [Suppose, once a Week, yea, and how a|greeably, on the Lord's Day,] to take that Question into your Consideration; What is there that I may do, for the Service of the Glorious Lord, and for the Welfare of those, for whom I ought to be Concerned? Having implored the Di|rection of God, who is the Father of Lights, and the Author and Giver of Good Thoughts, Consider on the matter, in the various Aspects of it. Con|sider till you have Resolved on something. The Resolutions which you take up, immediately write down. Examine what Precept and what Promise, you can find in the Word of God, that may Countenance the Intentions, in these your Me|morials. Look over the Memorials at proper Sea|sons afterwards, to see how far you have Pro|ceeded in the Execution of them. The Advan|tages of these Reserved and Revised Memori|als, no Rhetorick will serve to Commend them, Page 42 no Arithmetick to Number them. There are some Animals, of whom we say, They do not know their own Strength. Christians, why should you be They?
§ 9. LET us descend unto Particulars. But in doing so, let it not be imagi|ned, that I pretend unto an Enumeration of all the Good Devices, that are to be thought upon. Indeed, not a Thousandth part of them, need or can be now Enumerated The Essay, which I am now upon, is, only to dig open the several Springs of Usefulness; which having once begun to Run, will spread into Streams, which no Hu|mane Foresight can Comprehend. Spring up, O Well! So will every true Israelite Sing, upon e|very Proposal here Exhibited. And the No|bles of Israel can do nothing more agreeable to their own Character, than to fall to work upon it. Perhaps almost every Proposal to be now mentioned, may be like a Stone falling on a Pool; Reader, Keep thy Mind Calm, and see, whether the Effect prove not so! That one Circle (and Service) will produce another, until they Extend, who can tell, how far? and they cannot be reckoned up. The men who give themselves up to Good Devices, and who take a due Notice of their Opportunities to Do Good, usually find a strange Growth of their Opportunities. The Gracious and Faithful Providence of the Glo|rious Lord, Grants this Recompence unto His Page 43 Diligent Servants, that He will Multiply their Opportunities to be Serviceable. And when In|genious men, have a little used themselves unto Contrivances, in this or that way of Pursuing the best Intentions, their Ingenuity will sensibly im|prove, and there will be more of Exquisiteness, more of Expansion, in their Diffusive Applications. A|mong all the Dispensations of Special Providence, in the Government of the World, there is none more Uninterrupted, than the Accomplishment of that Word, Vnto him that hath, shall be given. I will say this; O Useful Man, Take that for thy Motto; HABENTI DABITUR: And, in a Lively Use of thy Opportunities to Do Good, see how notably, it will be accomplished! Sir, See what Accomplishment of that Word will at last Surprize you; Tho' thy Beginning were Small, yet thy Latter End shall greatly Increase.
§ 10. ODI Sapientem qui sibi non sapit. The Charity we are upon, why should it not Begin at Home? It observes not a due De|corum, if it do not so; and it will be liable to great Exceptions in its Pretensions and Proceedings.
This then is to be made as an Early PRO|POSAL.
First, Let every man Devise what Good may be done, for the Help of what is yet Amiss, in his own Heart and Life. It is a Good Note of the Witty Fullers; He need not Complain of too little work, who hath a Little World in himself to Page 44 Mend. It was of old Complained; No man Re|pented him, saying, What have I done? Every man upon Earth may find in himself something that wants Mending; and the Work of Repentance is to Enquire, not only, What we have done, but also, What we have to do? Frequent Self-Exami|nation, is the Duty and the Prudence, of all that would Know themselves, or would not Lose themselves. The Great Intention of Self-Exa|mination is, to find out, the Points, wherein we are to, Amend our wayes. A Christian that would thrive in Christianity, must be no Stran|ger to a Course of Meditation. Meditation, Tis one of the Masters to make a Man of God. One Article and Exercise in our Meditation, should be, to find out, the Things wherein a Greater Conformity to the Truths upon which we have been Meditating, must be Endeavoured. If we would be Good Men, we must often Devise, How we may grow in Knowledge, and in all Good|ness! It is an Enquiry often to be made;
What shall I do, that what is yet Lacking in the Image of God upon me, may be Perfected? What shall I do, that I may Live more Perfectly, more Watchfully, more Fruitfully before the Glorious Lord?
And why should not our Meditation, when we Retire to that Soul-Enriching Work of Shaping the Right Thoughts of the Righteous, Expire with some Resolution's Devise now, and Resolve something, to strengthen your Walk with God.
With some Devout Hearers of the Word, it is a Page 45 Practice, when they have Heard a Sermon, to think; What Good thing have I now to ask of God, with a special Importunity? Yea, they use to call upon their Children also, and make them answer this Question: Child, What Blessing will you now ask of the Glorious God? And Charge them then to go, and do accordingly.
In pursuance of this Piety, why may not this be one of the Exercises, that shall go to make with us a Good Evening for the Best of Days? On the Lords-Day Evening, we may make this one of our Exercises; To Employ most serious and awful Thoughts on that Question; Should I Dy this Week, what have I left Undone, which I should then wish I had made more speed in the doing of? My Friend, Place thy self in Dying Circumstances; Apprehend and Realize thy Approaching Death. Suppose thy Last Hour come; the Decretory Hour: thy Breath failing, thy Throat rattling, thy Hands with a cold Sweat upon them, only the turn of the Tide expected for thy Expiration. In this Condition; What wouldest thou wish to have done, more than thou hast already done, for thy own Soul, for thy Family, or for the People of God? Think; Don't Forget the Result of thy Thoughts; Don't Delay to do what thou hast Resolved upon. How much more Agreeable and Profitable, would such an Exercise be on the Lords-Day Evening, than those Vanities whereto that Evening is too com|monly Prostituted, and all the Good of the fore|going Day Defeated? And if such an Exercise Page 46 were often attended, Oh! How much would it Regulate our Lives; how Watchfully, how Fruit|fully would it cause us to Live; What an in|credible Number of Good Works would it produce in the World?
Will you Remember, Sirs, Every Christian is, A Temple of God. It would be a Service to Chri|stianity, if this Notion of Christianity were more often, and clearly Cultivated. But cer|tainly, there yet remains very much, for every one of us to do, that so the Temple may be car|ried on unto Perfection; Repaired, Finished, Pu|rified; and the Top-stone of it Laid, with a Shout of Grace! Grace! unto it.
As a Branch of this Piety, I will recommend, a serious and fruitful Improvement, of the Va|rious Dispensations, which the Divine Providence obliges us, to take notice of.
Have you received any special Blessings, and Mercies, from the Hand of a Merciful God? You do not suitably Express your Thankfulness; You do not render again according to the Benefit that is done unto you; Except you set your self to Consider, What shall I render to the Lord? You should Contrive some Signal Thing to be done on this Occasion; Some Service to the Kingdom of God, Either within your self, or among others, that may be a just Confession and Remembrance of what a Good God has done for you. Tis what the Goodness of God leads you to! I beseech Page 47 you, Sirs; How can a Good Voyage, yea, or a Good Bargain be made, without some Special Returns of Gratitude unto God? I would now, have some|thing of your Estates made a Thank-Offering, in be|ing Set apart for Pious Uses.
Whole Days of Thanksgiving are to be kept, when the Favours of God rise to a more observable Heighth. Christians of the Finer Mould, keep their Private ones, their Secret ones, as well as bear their part in the Publick. One Exercise for such a Day, is, To take a List of the more distinguishable Suc|cours, and Bounties, wherewith our God has com|forted us. And then, to contrive Some Notable Ac|knowledgments of the Glorious Lord, in Endea|vours to Serve Him, and this by way of Gratitude for these Undeserved Comforts.
On the other hand. You meet with heavy and grievous Afflictions. Verily, Tis Pitty to be at the Trouble of Suffering Afflictions, and not get Good by them. We get Good by them, when they awaken us to Do Good. I may say, Never till then! When God is Distributing Sorrows unto you, the Sorrows come still upon some Errands: The best way for you to find, that they do not come in His Anger, is for you to Mind the Er|rands. The Advice is, That when any Affliction comes upon you, You immediately consider, What Special Article of Repentance does this Affliction call me to? What Miscarriage does this Affliction find in me, to be Repented of? And then, while the sense of the Affliction is yet upon you, Sollicitous|ly Page 48 Consider, What Improvement in Godliness and Usefulness does this Affliction call me to? Be more Sollicitous to Gain this point, than to Get out of your Affliction. Oh! the Peace that will com|pose and Possess and Ravish your Minds, when your Affliction shall be found yielding the Fruits of Righteousness!
Luther did well to call Afflictions, Theologiam Christianorum. This may be a fit Place, to intro|duce One Direction more. We are Travelling thro' a Malicious and Calumnious, and Abusive World. Why should not Malice be a Good In|former? We may be unjustly Defamed; it will be Strange if we are not Frequently so. A De|famation is commonly Resented as a Provocation. My Friend, Make it only a Provocation to Good Works! The Thing to be now directed is this. Upon any Reproach, instead of being transported into a Rage at Shimei, Retire, and Patiently Ponder, Has not God hidden such a Reproach, to awaken me unto some Duty? Unto what special Instance or Service of Piety, should I be awakened, by the Reproach that is cast upon me! One thus Expresses it. The Backbiters Tongue, like a Mill-clack will be still Wag|ging, that he may Grind thy Good Name to Powder. Learn therefore to make such use of his Clack as to make thy Bread by it; I mean, To live so, that no Credit shall be given to Slander. Thus all the Abuses you meet withal, may prove unto you in the Hand of a Faithful God, no other than the Strokes which a Statuary Employes on his Ill-Shaped Page 49 Marble; only to form you into a more beautiful Shape, and make you fitter to adorn the Heavenly Temple. Sirs, you are put into, a way to shake off a Viper, how advantageously!
Yea, I am going to show you, how you may fetch a Treacle out of a Viper. Austin would have our very Sins, come into the Invoyse of the, All Things, that are to Work together for Good. Where|fore, first, I move, That our former Barrenness may now be Look'd upon, as our Obligation and Incitation to a Greater Fruitfulness. But this motion is too general. I will descend unto a notable Particularity. I would look back, up|on my past Life, and call to Mind what more Singular Cut-breakings of Sin have blemished it, and been the Reproach of my Youth. Now, by way of Thankfulness for that Grace of God, and that Blood of His Christ, thro' which my Crimes have been Pardoned, I would Set my self to think, What Vertues, and what Actions, and what Atchieve|ments for the Kingdom of God, will be the most contrary to my former Blemishes? And what Efforts of Good|ness, will be the noblest and most palpable contradiction to the Miscarriages, with which I have been Chargea|ble? Yet more particularly, What Signal thing shall I do, to Save Others from Dishonouring the Great God by such Miscarriages, as I my self once fell into. I will Study such Things. Perhaps, the Since|rity and Consolation of Repentance, cannot be bet|ter Studied, than by such a conduct.
You shall give me leave, to press this one Page 50 more Point of Prudence upon you. There are not a few Persons, who have many Hours of Liesure in the way of their Personal Callings. When the Weather takes them off their Business, or when their Shops are not full of Customers, they have Little or Nothing to do; Now, Sirs, the PROPO|SAL is, Be not Fools, but Redeem this Time to your own Advantage, to the best Advantage. To the Man of Liesure, as well as to the Minister, it is an Advice of Wisdom, Give thy self unto Read|ing. Good Books of all Sorts, may Employ your Liesure, and Enrich you with Treasures more valuable, than those, which the way and Work of your Callings would have purchased. Let the baneful Thoughts of Idleness be chased out of our Minds. But then also, Let Some Thoughts on that Subject, What Good may I do? come into them. When you have Liesure to think on that Subject, you can have no Excuse for not thinking on it.
§ 11. THE Useful Man may now with a very good Grace, Extend and Enlarge the Sphere of his consideration. My next PRO|POSAL now shall be; Let every Man consider the Relation, wherein the Soveraign God has placed him, and let him Devise what Good he may do, that may render his Relatives, the Better for him. One Great way to prove our selves Really Good, is to be Relatively Good. By This, more than by any thing in the World, it is, that we Adorn Page 51 the Doctrine of God our Saviour. It would be an Excellent Wisdom in a man, to make the Interest he has in the Good Opinion and Affection of any One, an Advantage to do Good Service for God upon them: He that has a Friend will show himself indeed Friendly, if he think, Such an One Loves me, and will hearken to me; what Good shall I take advantage hence to perswade him to?
This will take place more particularly, where the Endearing Ties of Natural Relation do give us an Interest. Let us call over our several Re|lations, and let us have Devices of Something that may be called Heroical Goodness, in our Discharg|ing of them. Why should we not, at least Once or Twice in a Week, make this Relational Good|ness, the Subject of our Enquiries, and our Purpo|ses? Particularly, Let us begin with our Do|mestick Relations; and Provide for those of our own House; Lest we Deny some Glorious Rules and Hopes of our Christian Faith, in our Negligence.
First; In the Conjugal Relation, how agreeably may the Consorts think on those Words; What knowest thou, O Wife, whether thou shalt Save thy Husband? Or, How knowest thou, O Man, whe|ther thou shalt Save thy Wife?
The Husband will do well to think; What shall I do, that my Wife may have cause for ever to Bless God, for bringing her unto me? And, What shall I do that in my Carriage towards my Wife, the Kindness of the Blessed JESUS towards His Church, may be followed and resembled? That this Questi|on Page 52 may be the more perfectly answered, Sir, Sometimes ask her to help you in the Answer; Ask her to tell you, what she would have you to do.
But then, the Wife also will do well to think; Wherein may I be to my Husband, a Wife of that Character; She will do him Good, and not Evil, all the Dayes of his Life?
With my Married People, I will particularly leave a Good Note, which I find in the Memo|rials of Gervase Disney Esq Family-Passions, cloud Faith, disturb Duty, darken Comfort. You'l do the more Good unto one another, the more this Note is thought upon. When the Husband and Wife are alwayes contriving to be Blessings unto one another, I will say with Tertullian, Unde Suf|ficiam ad Enarrandam faelicitatem Ejus Matrimonii! O Happy Marriage!
Parents, Oh! How much ought you to be continually Devising, and even Travailing, for the Good of your Children. Often Devise; How to make them Wise Children; How to carry on a Desireable Education for them; an Education that shall render them Desireable; How to ren|der them Lovely, and Polite Creatures, and Serviceable in their Generation. Often Devise, How to Enrich their Minds with Valuable Knowledge; How to Instil Generous, and Graci|ous, and Heavenly Principles into their Minds; How to Restrain and Rescue them from the Patches of the Destroyer, and fortify them against Page 53 their Special Temptations. There is a World of Good, that you have to Do for them. You are without Bowels, Oh! be not such Monsters! if you are not in a continual Agony to do for them all the Good that ever you can. It was no mistake of Pacatus Drepanius in his Panegyric to Theodosius; Instituente Natura Plus fere Filios quam nosmetipsos diligimus.
I will Prosecute this Matter, by Transcribing a Copy of PARENTAL RESOLUTIONS, which I have some-where met withal.
I. At the Birth of my Children, I would use all Explicit Solemnity in the Baptismal Dedicati|on and Consecration of them unto the LORD. I would present them to the BAPTISM of the Lord, not as a meer Formality; but won|dring at the Grace of the Infinite GOD, who will accept my Children, as His, I would Re|solve to do all I can that they may be His. I would now actually Give them up unto GOD; Entreating, that the Child may be a Child of God the Father, a Subject of God the Son, a Temple of God the Spirit, and be rescued from the Condition of a Child of Wrath, and be Pos|sessed and Employed by the Lord as an Ever|lasting Instrument of His Glory.
II. My Children are no sooner grown capa|ble of Minding the Admonitions, but I would often, often Admonish them to be sensible of their Baptismal Engagements to be the Lords. Often tell them, of their Baptism, and of what Page 54 it binds 'em to: Oftner far, and more times than there were Drops of water, that were cast on the Infant, upon that occasion!
Often say to them, Child, You have been Baptised; You were washed in the Name of the Great God; Now you must not Sin against Him; To Sin is to do a Dirty, a Filthy thing. Say, Child, You must every Day cry to God that He would be your Father, and your Saviour, and your Leader; In your Baptism He Promised that He wou'd be so, if you Sought unto Him. Say, Child, You must Re|nounce the Service of Satan, You must not follow the Vani|ties of this World, you must Lead a Life of Serious Religi|on; In your Baptism you were bound unto the Service of your only Saviour. Tell the Child; What is your Name; you must sooner Forget this Name, that was given you in your Baptism, than forget that you are a Servant of a Glorious Christ whose Name was put upon you in your Baptism.
III. Let my Prayers for my Children be Daily, with Constancy, with Fervency, with Agony; Yea, By Name let me mention each One of them, every Day before the Lord. I would Importunately Beg for all Suitable Blessings to be bestow'd upon them; That God would Give them Grace, and give them Glory, and withold no Good Thing from them; That God would Smile on their Education, and give His Good Angels the charge over them, and keep them from Evil, that it may not grieve them; That when their Father and Mother shall forsake them, the Lord may take them up. with Importunity I would plead that Promise on their behalf; The Heavenly Father will give the Holy Spirit unto them that Ask Him.Page 55 Oh! Happy Children, If by Asking I may ob|tain the Holy Spirit for them!
IV. I would betimes entertain the Children, with Delightful Stories out of the Bible. In the Talk of the Table, I would go thro' the Bible, when the Olive-Plants about my Table are capa|ble of being so Watered. But I would alwayes conclude the Stories with some Lessons of Piety, to be inferred from them.
V. I would Single out Some Scriptural Sen|tences, of the greatest Importance; and Some also that have Special Antidotes in them against the Common Errors and Vices of Children. They shall quickly get those Golden Sayings by heart, and be rewarded with Silver or Gold, or some Good Thing, when they do it. Such as,
Psal. CXI. 10.
The Fear of the Lord, is the Beginning of Wisdom.
Matth. XVI. 26.
What is a Man Profited, if he gain the whole World, and Lose his own Soul.
I. Tim. I. 15.
JESƲS CHRIST came into the World to Save Sinners, of whom I am Chief.
Matth. VI. 6.
Enter into thy Closet, and when thou hast thy Door, Pray to thy Father which is in Secret.
Eccl. XII. 14.
God shall bring every work into Judgment, with every Secret thing.
Eph. V 25.
Put away Lying, Speak every One the Truth.
Page 56Psal. CXXXVIII. 6.
The Lord hath Respect unto the Lowly, but the Proud He knows afar off.
Rom. XII. 17, 19.
Recompence to no One Evil for Evil. Dearly beloved, Avenge not your selves.
Neh. XIII. 18.
They bring Wrath upon Israel, by Profaning the Sabbath.
A Jewish Treatise quoted by Wagenseil, tells us, That among the Jews, when a Child began to Speak, the Father was bound to teach him that verse: Deut. 33.4. Moses Commanded us a Law, even the Inheritance of the Congregation of Jacob. Oh! Let me betimes make my Chil|dren acquainted with the Law which our Bles|sed JESUS has Commanded us! Tis the best Inheritance I can derive unto them.
VI. I would betimes cause my Children to Learn the Catechism. In Catechising of them, I would break the Answer into many Lesser and Proper Questions; and by their Answer to them, Observe and Quicken their Understandings. I would bring every Truth, into some Duty and Practice, and Expect them to Confess it, and Con|sent unto it, and Resolve upon it. As we go on in our Catechising, they shall, when they are a|ble, Turn to the Proofs, and Read them, and say to me, What they prove, and How. Then, I will take my times, to put nicer and harder Questions to them; and improve the Times of Conversation with my Family, (which every Page 57 man ordinarily has or may have, for confe|rences on matters of Religion.
VII. Restless would I be, till I may be able to Say of my Children, Behold, They Pray! I would therefore Teach them to Pray. But after they have Learnt a Form of Prayer, I will press them, to proceed unto Points which are not in their Form. I will show them the State of their own Souls; and on every Stroke Enquire of them, What they think ought now to be their Prayer. I will direct them, that every Morning they shall take one Text or Two out of the Sacred Scripture, and Shape it into a Desire, which they shall add unto their Usual Prayer. When they have heard a Sermon, I will mention to them over again the main Subject of it, and ask them thereupon, What they have now to Pray for. I will charge them, with all possible cogency, to Pray in Secret; And often call upon them, Child, I hope, You don't forget my charge to you, a|bout Secret Prayer: Your crime is very great, if you do!
VIII. I would betimes do what I can, to be|get a Temper of Benignity in my Children, both towards one another and towards all other Peo|ple. I will instruct them how Ready they should be to Communicate unto others, a part of what they have; and they shall see, my En|couragements, when they discover a Loving, a Courteous, an Helpful Disposition. I will give them now and then a piece of Money, for them with their own Little Hands to dispense unto Page 58 the Poor. Yea, if any one has hurt them, or vex'd them, I will not only forbid them all Re|venge, but also oblige them to do a Kindness as soon as may be to the Vexatious Person. All Coarseness of Language or Carriage in them, I will discountenance it.
IX. I would be Sollicitous to have my Chil|dren Expert, not only at Reading handsomely, but also at Writing a fair Hand. I will then assign them such Books to Read, as I may judge most agreeable and profitable; obliging them to give me some Account of what they Read; but keep a Strict Eye upon them, that they don't Stumble on the Devils Library, and poison themselves with foolish Romances, or Novels, or Playes, or Songs, or Jests that are not convenient. I will set them also, to Write out such things, as may be of the greatest Benefit unto them; and they shall have their Blank Books, neatly kept on purpose, to Enter such Passages as I advise them to. I will particularly require them now and then, to Write a Prayer of their own Composing, and bring it unto me; that so I may discern, what sense they have of their own Everlasting Interests.
X. I Wish that my Children may as soon as may be, feel the Principles of Reason and Honour, working in them, and that I may carry on their Education, very much upon those Princi|ples. Therefore, first, I will wholly avoid, that harsh, fierce, crabbed usage of the Children, Page 59 that would make them Tremble, and Abhor to come into my Presence. I will so use them, that they shall fear to offend me, and yet migh|tily Love to see me, and be glad of my coming home, if I have been abroad at any time. I would have it Look'd upon as a Severe and Awful Punishment for a crime in the Family, To be forbidden for a while to come into my Pre|sence. I would raise in them, an High Opinion of their Fathers Love to them, and of his being better able to Judge what is Good for them, than they are for themselves. I would bring them to Believe, Tis best for them to be and do as I would have them. Hereupon I would continu|ally Magnify the matter to them, What a brave thing 'tis to Know the things that are Excel|lent; and more brave to Do the things that are Vertuous. I would have them to propose it as a Reward of their Well-doing at any time, I will now go to my Father, and he will teach me something that I was never taught before. I would have them afraid of doing any Base Thing, from an horrour of the Baseness in it. My first Animadversion on a Lesser Fault in them, shall be a Surprise, a Wonder, vehemently Express'd before them, that ever they should be guilty of doing so foolishly; a vehement Belief, that they will never do the like again; a Weeping Resolution in them, that they will not. I will never dispense a Blow, except it be for an atro|cious Crime or for a lesser Fault Obstinately Page 60 persisted in; either for an Enormity, or for an Obstinacy. I would ever Proportion chastisements unto Miscarriages; not Smite bitterly for a very small piece of Childishness, and only frown a little for some real Wickedness. Nor shall my Chastisements ever be dispensed in a Passion and a Fury; but with them, I will first show them the Command of GOD, by Transgressing whereof they have displeased me. The Slavish, Raving, Fighting way of Education too Com|monly used, I look upon it, as a considerable Article in the Wrath and Curse of God, upon a miserable World.
XI. As soon as we can, weel' get up to yet Higher Principles. I will often tell the Children, What cause they have to Love a Glorious CHRIST, who has Dy'd for them. And, How much He will be Well-pleased with their Well-doing. And, what a Noble Thing, 'tis to follow His Example; which Example I will describe unto them. I will often tell them, That the Eye of God is up|on them; the Great GOD Knowes all they do, and Hears all they Speak. I will often tell them, That there will be a Time, when they must appear before the Judgment-Seat of the Holy LORD; and they must Now do nothing, that may Then be a Grief & Shame unto them. I will Set before them, The Delights of that Heaven that is prepar'd for Pious Children; and the Torments of that Hell that is prepared of old, for naughty ones. I will inform them, Of Page 61 the Good Offices which the Good Angels do for Little Ones
These notes were contributed by members of the GradeSaver community. We are thankful of their contributions and encourage you to make your own.
Mather’s most famous collection of essays is Bonifacius, or Essays to Do Good which has since usually been published under its subtitle only. It is one of three books that Benjamin Franklin specifically mentions inspiring him. Doing good is a theme that is found again and again in the essays of Mather and often those words can be found somewhere in the extended title. The most surprising thing about this theme it is not entirely consistent with Puritan convention or even with itself. Mather’s work is sparked by an unusually prickly sense of independence from Puritanical groupthink and even though he is lockstep on doing good by battling witches, he could be out of stop on something as simple but obvious as using positive reinforcement rather than punishment to motivate students.
Somewhat unfairly, perhaps, Cotton Mather’s reputation has suffered ever since he came to the defense of those claiming witches were running rampant in Salem. The great irony this connection between Salem and Mather is that more than any other Puritan religious leader he tried to champion science and reconcile it with faith if God. Foremost among a truly breathtaking volume of words devoted to just about every scientific principle known at the time is “The Christian Philosopher: A Collection of the Best Discoveries in Nature with Religious Improvements” which delivers on exactly what it promises in a series of essays on everything from insects to rainbows to forces of gravity.
Worth remembering is that Mather’s day job was a minister and he was following in the footsteps of the founders of the Puritan colony in Massachusetts as well as a father who was one of the most famous men in the New World. As a result, many of his essays are concerned with themes related to improving religious instruction or means of devotion. This idea of essay-as-teaching tool covers a broad range of subjects within this particular topic: from Instructions how the piety of singing with a true devotion, may be obtained and expressed” to “The Negro Christianized An essay to excite and assist the good work, the instruction of Negro-servants in Christianity” as well as a host of more precise and specific essays directed toward the actual ministry of services.
The history of the settling of an untamed continent was personal for Mather. His family was at the vanguard of the flight from religious persecution in England. As such, many of Mather's essays deal with history of the creation of America and much of it comes to him firsthand from witnesses who participants and vice versa. The linking of religion—especially Puritanism—with the very purpose of this new society is inextricable. One simply does not exist without the other so in a sense history is the story of religious belief for Mather.