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The Secret Doctrine, Volume I Cosmogenesis

H. P. Blavatsky

Letters on the Aesthetical Education of Man

Friedrich Schiller

The Characters of Theophrastus


Esoteric Buddhism

A. P. Sinnett

An illustration of the doctrines of the Christian religion, with respect to faith and practice, upon the plan of the Assembly's Shorter catechism, comprehending a complete body of divinity

by Thomas Boston


This command respects both our own life and the life of our neighbour. That it respects our neighbour, there can be no doubt; and as little needs there to be of its respecting our own. The words are general, agreeing to both; and so the sense of them is, Thou shalt not kill thyself, nor any other. He that said to the jailor, "Do thyself no harm," taught no other thing than what Moses and the prophets did fay. Man is no more lord of his own life than his neighbour's; and he is in hazard of incroaching upon it, as well as that of another; and it is no where guarded, if not here. Nay, the sum of the second table being, "Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself," whereby love to our neighbour is made the measure of love to ourselves, it is evident that it respects our own life in the first place.

As every positive command implies a negative, so every negative implies a positive. Therefore, in so far as God fays, Thou shalt not kill, viz. thyself or others, he thereby obliges men to preserve their own life and that of others. And seeing all the commands agree together, there can be no keeping of one by breaking of another; therefore the positive part of this command is necessary to be determined to lawful endeavours. Hence the answer to that,

Quest. "What is required in the sixth commandment?" is plain, viz. "The sixth commandment requireth all lawful endeavours to preserve our own life, and the life of others." The duties of this command may be reduced to two heads. 1. The preserving of our own life. 2. The preserving the life of others. But both these are to be qualified, so as it be by lawful means and endeavours. For God has given us no such law, as for the keeping of one command we may or must break another. Only there is a great difference betwixt positive and negative precepts; the practice of positive duties may be in some cases intermitted without sin, as a man attacked in time of prayer, or on the Sabbath-day, may lawfully leave the prayer, and external worlhip of the day, to defend his life, Luke xiv. 5. But never may a man do an ill thing, be it great or little, though it were even to preserve his own life or that of others, Rom. iii. 8. Is it a thing of which God has said, Thou lhalt not do so and so? it must never be done, though a thousand lives depended upon it.

Hence it is evident, that a person may not tell a lie, nor do any sinful thing whatever, far less blaspheme, deny Christ or any of his truths, commit adultery, or steal, tho' his own life, or the life of others, may be lying upon it. For where the choice is, Suffer or sin, God requires and calls us in that cafe to suffer. And therefore the example of such things in the saints, as in Isaac, Rahab, &c. are no more propounded for our imitation, than David's murder, &c. Peter's denial of Christ, &c. And tho' we read not of reproofs given in some such cases, that will no more infer God's approbation of them than that of Lot's incest, for which we read of no reproof given him. The general law against such things does sufficiently condemn them, in whomsoever they are found.

Objett. This a hard saying. A man may be in the power of some ruffian, that will require on pain of death some sinful thing; and must one sell his life at such a cheap rate, as to refuse to deny his religion, drink drunk with him, lie, or do any such thing for the time?

Ans. It is no more hard than that, Luke xiv. 26. "If any man come to me, and hate not his father, and mother, and wife, and children, and brethren, and sisters, yea, and his own life also, he cannot be my disciple." We must love God more than our own or others life, and so must not redeem it by offending God. Sin ruins the foul; therefore fays our Lord, Matth. x. 28. "Fear not them which kill the body, but are not able to kill the soul: but rather fear him which is able to destroy both foul and body in hell."

Objeft. In the cafe of martyrdom in the cause of Christ, it is very reasonable; but that is not the cafe.

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