Christian Behavior

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Author: John Bunyan

Duties of Neighbours Each to Other.

Having thus in few words showed you what is duty under your several relations, I shall now at last speak, in a word or two, touching good neighborhood, and then draw towards a conclusion. Touching neighborhood, there are these things to be considered and practiced, if thou wilt be found in the practical part of good neighborhood.

First, Thou must be of a good and sound conversation in thy own family, place, and station, showing to all, the power that the gospel and the things of another world hath in thy heart,

’That ye may be blameless, and harmless, the sons of God, without rebuke, in the midst of a crooked and perverse nation, among whom ye shine as lights in the world’ (Philippians 2:15, 16).

Second, As persons must be of good behavior at home, that will be good neighbors, so they must be full of courtesy and charity to them that have need about them (Luke 10:36, 37). Right good neighborhood is for men readily to communicate, as of their spirituals, so of their temporalities, as food, raiment, and help to those that have need; to be giving to the poor as thou seest them go by thee, or to inquire after their condition, and according to thy capacity to send unto them (Job 31:15-17, etc).

Third, Thou must be always humble and meek among them, as also grave and gracious; not light and frothy, but by thy words and carriage ministering ’grace to the hearers’ (Ephesians 4:29). Thus also Job honored God among his neighbors (Job 29:6-12).

Fourth, Thy wisdom will be, rightly to discountenance sin, and to reprove thy neighbor for the same (Leviticus 19:17), denying thyself in some things, for the preventing an injury to thy neighbor, that thou mayest please him for his edification (Romans 15:2).

Fifth, If thou wouldest be a good neighbor, take heed of thy tongue upon two accounts.

1. That thou with it give no offensive language to thy neighbor, to the provoking of him to anger. Bear much, put up wrongs, and say little: ’It is an honor for a man to cease from strife: but every fool will be meddling’ (Proverbs 20: 3). And again, ’He loveth transgression that loveth strife’ (Proverbs 17:19).

2. And as thou shouldest take heed that thou be not the original of contention and anger, so also take heed that thou be not an instrument to beget it between parties, by tale-bearing and a gossiping spirit:

’He that passeth by, and meddleth with strife belonging not to him, is like one that taketh a dog by the ears. As coals are to burning coals, and wood to fire; so is a contentious man to kindle strife’ (Proverbs 26:17-21).

I do observe two things very odious in many professors; the one is a head-strong and stiff-necked spirit, that will have its own way; and the other is, a great deal of tattling and talk about religion, and but a very little, if anything, of those Christian deeds that carry in them the cross of a Christian in the doing thereof, and profit to my neighbor.

(1.) When I say a head-strong and stiff-necked spirit, I mean, they are for pleasing themselves and their own fancies, in things of no weight, though their so doing be as the very slaughter-knife to the weak conscience of a brother or neighbor. Now this is base. A Christian, in all such things as intrench not the matters of faith and worship, should be full of self-denial, and seek to please others rather than themselves; ’Give none offense - to the Jews, nor to the 18 Greeks, nor to the church of God: - not seeking mine own profit, but the profit of many, that they may be saved’ (1 Corinthians 10:32, 33).

(2.) And the second is as bad, to wit, when professors are great prattlers and talkers, and disputers, but do little of anything that bespeaketh love to the poor, or self-denial in outward things. Some people think religion is made up of words; a very wide mistake! Words without deeds is but a half-faced religion:

’Pure religion, and undefiled before God and the Father is this, To visit the fatherless and widows in their affliction, and to keep himself unspotted from the world’ (James 1:27).

Again, ’If a brother or sister be naked, and destitute of daily food, and one of you say unto them, Depart in peace, be warmed and filled,’ which are very fine words, yet if you

’give them not those things that are needful to the body,

what doth it profit?’ (James 2:15, 16).

[Sins which interfere with the duties of Christian Brotherhood and Civil Neighborhood.]

Now then, before I go any farther, I will here take an occasion to touch a little upon those sins that are so rife in many professors in this day: and they are, covetousness, pride, and uncleanness. I would speak a word to them in this place, the rather because they are they which spoil both Christian brotherhood, and civil neighborhood, in too great a measure.

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Chicago: John Bunyan, "Duties of Neighbours Each to Other.," Christian Behavior, ed. George Offor in Christian Behavior, the Works of John Bunyan (London: Blackie and Son, 1856), Original Sources, accessed February 3, 2023, http://www.originalsources.com/Document.aspx?DocID=8PLAVMG6FJ6G1GZ.

MLA: Bunyan, John. "Duties of Neighbours Each to Other." Christian Behavior, edited by George Offor, in Christian Behavior, the Works of John Bunyan, London, Blackie and Son, 1856, Original Sources. 3 Feb. 2023. http://www.originalsources.com/Document.aspx?DocID=8PLAVMG6FJ6G1GZ.

Harvard: Bunyan, J, 'Duties of Neighbours Each to Other.' in Christian Behavior, ed. . cited in 1856, Christian Behavior, the Works of John Bunyan, Blackie and Son, London. Original Sources, retrieved 3 February 2023, from http://www.originalsources.com/Document.aspx?DocID=8PLAVMG6FJ6G1GZ.