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I am resolved, by the grace of God, always to speak reverently to my superiors, humbly to my inferiors, and civilly to all.
THE most high God, the master of this great family, the world, for the more orderly government of it, hath, according to his infinite wisdom, set some in higher, some in lower places; hath made some as stewards, others as under servants: and according to every man’s work that he expects from him, he measures out his talents to him. Blessed be his name for it, he hath set me in a middle form, giving me Agar’s wish, subject neither to envy on one hand, nor pity on the other; so that I have both superiors to reverence, and inferiors to condescend to. And accordingly, it is my duty so to behave myself towards them, that the reverent expressions of my mouth may manifest the obedient subjection of my heart to the power and authority God has given them over me. It is the express command of the gospel, that we should render to every man his due, ‘Fear to whom fear, honour to whom honour belongeth,’184184 Rom. xiii. 7. which words plainly imply, both that it is some men’s due to receive honour, and other men’s duty to give it. And accordingly we find Paul, when he was brought before Festus, doth not say, ‘Art thou he whom they call Festus?’ or, thou Festus, as the misguided enthusiasts, in our days, would have said; but, ‘Most noble Festus.’185185 Acts, xxvi. 25. In 169like manner St. John doth not call her he writes to, in his second epistle, being a person of quality, Woman, but, Elect lady. And this sort of reverence is further confirmed to us, not only by the constant custom of all nations in all ages of the world, but it is likewise highly agreeable to the rules of right reason, as well as the order of government. For, as there is both a natural and civil superiority, a superiority in gifts and age, and a superiority likewise in office and station; so there is nothing can be more necessary, than that there should be, in both these respects, a reverence and respect paid to the persons of men answerable to these distinctions. And therefore I cannot but condemn that rude and unmannerly behaviour of some of our schismatics towards their superiors, as factious and unreasonable, as well as repugnant to the dictates of the divine Spirit, which the prophets and apostles were inspired and influenced by.
And as there is a reverence due from inferiors to superiors, in point of conversation, so likewise are there some decent regards and civilities to be showed even by superiors to their inferiors, who are always treated with candour and condescension, in their ordinary capacities; and even when they are considered as criminals, with meekness and moderation. Insomuch that methinks it is one of the worst sights in the world, to see some men that are gotten upon a little higher ground than their neighbours are, to look proudly and scornfully down upon all that are below them, disdaining to vouchsafe them the least favour or respect whatsoever. Such churlish, haughty, and foul-mouthed Nabals as these, are not only very unjust, and unreasonable in their behaviour to others, but they are 170certainly the greatest enemies to themselves, that they have in all the world besides; not only by drawing upon them the hatred and enmity of all that are about them, but likewise by tormenting themselves with such frivolous things, as such spirits commonly do. Wherefore, that I may please God, my neighbour, and myself, in what I speak. though I could exceed other men (which is impossible for me to suppose) in every thing; I resolve, by God’s grace, always to behave myself so, as if I excelled them in nothing; and not only to speak reverently to them that are above me, but humbly and civilly to those that are beneath me too. I will always endeavour to use such humble and winning words, as to manifest more of my love to them than my power over them: I will always season my tongue with savoury, not bitter expressions, not making my mouth a vent for my fury and passion to fume out at, but rather an instrument to draw others’ love and affection in by; still speaking as civilly unto others, as I would have them speak civilly to me.
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