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impurity of the heart. Against such, that saying of Bernard may be turned, De interiori domo, cap. 50, You sing that you may please the people more than God: you tune the voice ; tune the will: you keep the harmony of sounds, keep also the concord of manners.
4. What things are done for cheerfulness and relaxation of the mind by Christians, ought to be of such a kind, as are agreeable to Christ and the Christian religion : we must therefore detest the madness of those who cannot be cheerful without the reproach of Christ and the ridicule of religion.
Vers. 17. And whatsoever ye do in word or deed, do all in the name
of the Lord Jesus Christ, giving thanks to God and the Father by him.
The Apostle in this verse annexes a clause to his general exhortation; in which is contained most wholesome advice, and most efficacious to regulate our life in holiness and the fear of God. But lest we should seem to follow no method in handling this verse, we shall propound two things to be considered : the matter to be regulated, or the object of the rule; and the rule itself laid down by the Apostle. · 1. Whatsoever ye do in word or deed.] You perceive here the matter about which that rule which presently follows ought to be exercised; namely, all our words, and all our deeds: In which distribution also even the thoughts of the mind are comprehended; for there are those deeds of the inner man, no less than those which meet the senses of the outer man.
And first as to our discourse or our words, they all indeed (if we would wish to be accounted Christians) ought to be subject to a certain rule. For truly says James i. 26, If any man seem to be religious, and bridleth not his tongue, this man's religion is vain. Hence also the Psalmist, xii. 4, attributes an unrestrained tongue to those who have cast off all fear of God; They say, With our tongues will we prevail, our lips are our own; who is Lord over us? Hence, lastly, it is that the tongue of the glutton is read of as being most bitterly tormented in hell; namely, because it was unwilling to be regulated and restrained in this world. For thus, observes Cyprian, Lib. 1. epist. 3, Among all parts of the body, the mouth and the tongue of Dives endure the greatest punishment ; because forsooth by his mouth and his tongue he had most sinned. Which also Gregory remarks, Moral 1. cap. 5, Because at feasts babbling is mostly wont to issue, the punishment indicates the guilt, when he affirms that he who feasted splendidly every day, burned most in his tongue. It is evident, therefore, that the tongue, or our discourse, must be conformed to a rule.
Now as to the works, whether external or internal; they ought without doubt to be conformed to his rule: for if we must speak according to rule, then much more must we work. The actions of all creatures are performed according to a prescribed rule : human actions, therefore, ought much more to be subject to rule. Those axioms are known and approved by all: Every work of nalure is the work of intelligence; all nature works as if actuated by the mind of some infallible agent. Yea, we see not only brute animals, but the very elements, perform as well as intermit all their operations at the command and the good pleasure of God their Creator. From which, as it were á fortiori, it is concluded, that all human actions must be directed after the rule of the Divine will. And thus much concerning the matters to be regulated; which is whatever we do, in word, or deed. Now let us consider the rule proposed in this place.
2. And it consists in two particulars. The former advises how we should conduct ourselves towards Christ; namely, so, that we do all things in his name. The latter, how to behave towards God; namely, so as to give thanks in all things to God the Father. We shall discuss these two branches of the proposed rule separately.
Do all things in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ.] That is said to be done in the name of Christ, which is done through his assistance, according to his command and will, and for the promotion of his glory. All these things the Scripture is wont to comprise in this form of speaking, and the Apostle in this passage seems to have wished to comprise them all. For so this phrase is every where employed, as well in the Old as in the New Testament. Thus Psal. xliv. 6, In thy name will we tread under our enemies ; that is, by thy help. Psal. xxxi. 3, For thy nume's sake lead me, &c. that is, for thy glory. Luke x. 17, The devils are subject unto thy name; that is, by thy invocation; by thy aid. Matt. xviii. 20, Where two or three are gathered together in my name; that is, by my command, imploring my help, for my sake, to advance my doctrine and glory. You see what it is to do all things in the name of Christ : Now it remains, that we briefly shew, that all things are to be thus done in the name of Christ.
As to good actions which are done immediately in reference to God and our salvation; it is certain, that nothing can either be done, or said, or thought, that is good by us, unless it be done in the name of Christ, that is, according to the will of Christ, and by the assistance and invocation of Christ, and for the glory of Christ. I can do all things, says the Apostle, through Christ who strengtheneth me, Phil. iv. 3, We are not sufficient of ourselves to think any thing as of ourselves, 2 Cor. iii. 5. Most truly said Augustine, Soliloq, cap. 24, 25, It is not of man to wish what he can, or to effect what he may wish, or to know what he would wish or would do ; but the ways of man are directed by God. Now God governs us by Christ: we ought therefore to do all things relying upon the grace and assistance of Christ the Mediator..
This likewise is evident, That all our good actions must be referred to the glory of Christ. For if they are done with any other end, although they may seem good as to the external appearance, yet they become bad on account of the perverse intent: For the end determines the quality in morals, say the Schoolmen. Hence John, Revel. v. 13, Every creature which is in heaven, and on the earth, and under the earth, &c. heard I saying, Blessing, and honour, and glory, and power, be unto him that sitteth upon the throne, and unto the Lamb for ever and ever. Hither ought all our good actions to have respect; otherwise, as Augustine has well said, contra Julian, lib. 4. cap. 3, Whatever good is done, and is not done for the end for which it ought to be done, although it seems to be good in the performance, yet the final cause itself not being the right one, it is sin.
But also those actions which are indifferent in their nature, yet ought to be done by Christians in the name of Christ, that is (as we have explained it) according to the will of Christ, and for the glory of Christ. For although any one may eat, drink, and perform other such like actions as an animal or a man, Christ being neither invoked nor thought upon; yet he cannot do these things at all as becometh a Christian, unless by Christ.
The reasons are these ; 1. We have no right to these creatures unless in Christ : therefore he is guilty of theft who, receiving things belonging to another against the will of God, takes to himself, in his own name, the creatures to his use : For all things are ours when we are Christ's, 1 Cor. iii. 22, 23. Therefore, although a civil authority is acquired by other modes; yet that evangelical authority, which gives us the faculty of using the creatures without injury to God, depends upon Christ.
2. Because, although we might have a right to the creatures without Christ; yet they are not blessed by God, nor sanctified to our use, without Christ. Therefore on this account there is need of invoking the name of Christ, and the influence of Christ with his Father. For what the Apostle says concerning meats, 1 Tim. iv. 5, They are sanctified by the word of God and prayer, that also is to be accommodated to all the other creatures : but the efficacy of prayer depends upon the name of Christ.
3. Because we are bound, even in things and actions indifferent in their nature, for instance, in food, and clothing, and other things of that kind, to retain that mode, and
yield to those circumstances, which accord with the Christian doctrine and profession : we ought not therefore to eat, nor drink, nor clothe our bodies, not to use relaxation and lawful pleasure, nor to labour or work in our vocation, for our own will and pleasure ; but at the will and for the pleasure of our Lord Christ. He who acts in this manner, acts in the name of Christ, and for the glory of God; and he observes that Apostolic precept, Whether ye eat or drink, or whatever ye do, do all to the glory of God: 1 Cor. x. 31.
But here it may be asked, Whether a Christian is bound in every action expressly to implore the help of Christ, to flee to the grace and mediation of Christ, and, in fine, to regard the glory of Christ in actual thought in every business.
We answer, This actual contemplation, whether concerning the help, or the grace, or the glory of Christ, is not either possible or necessary to us for the condition of this life; but it is necessary that there be in exercise a fixed and as it were a rooted purpose in our hearts, of depending upon Christ, and referring the actions of our whole life to Christ. But we must also add, That it is the best thing, as often as it can be done, to raise our thoughts actually to Christ in all our doings : moreover it is fit and necessary, that we do that as often as the nature of the action which we undertake and transact requires it; as when the matter is of a sacred character, or of great importance to our salvation.
Instructions. 1. The vulgar are deceived whilst they judge it to be lawful to themselves to use food, clothing, speech, or any indifferent thing whatever of their own will: for all these things must be used according to rule; otherwise, although there be no evil in the thing itself, yet there will be in the person using it.
2. They who desire to maintain a right course of life, and to order their actions well, ought to have respect to Christ as to their polar-star.
3. No action is to be attempted by us to the perform