Imágenes de páginas
PDF
EPUB

, There is a different sentiment if he has not faith in the Saoften advanced, and often comú viour's doctrine in this point, he mended as liberal. In substance can have no confidence in the it is this. If gospel commands example placed before him, or and examples are kept well in in the precept, which bids him view, a good life will certainly love his enemies. And by what follow : and this being the great other arguments can he be made concern of man, what can render sensible of this duty, while he is the belief of so many doctrines not convinced, that there is any indispensable ; doctrines, which such extended benevolence in are above comprehension ? heaven?

This has a fair appearance ; Again. The apostle John in but a near inspection may ney: his Ist epistle iii. 16, says, ertheless find it unsound. What “ Hereby perceive we the love if it should turn out, that the of God, because he laid down his doctrines and precepts, doctrines life for us : and we ought to and examples, are so interwova lay down our lives for the brethen, that without faith in the one, ren." Here likewise, we have there must be a want of confi- doctrine, example, precept, all dence in the other, and there combined to inculcate upon fore a want of obedience ? For Christians a “ wonderful" love, all will acknowledge, there must which can make them willing be faith in the precept, or it will even to die for one another, if not be respected; and in the the case require. And if in example, or it will not be fol- heaven there is dying love to lowed.

men, this surely is an argument As this is an interesting in- of irresistible force. But supquiry, and a question of fact, in pose there were some Chrisgreat measure, let us look to tians, who did not perceive the particulars.

love of God, as here stated ; In Matt. v. 44, we have this nor believe the fact, that he did command of Christ; “ Love lay down his life for them. your enemies, bless then that What then becomes of the excurse you, do good to them that ample, and what of the precept? hate you,” &c. “That ye may be With respect to those persons, the children of your Father, who both lose their force ; and there is in heaven ; for he maketh his cannot, upon these terms, be a sun to rise on the evil and on the respect to either. Suppose, in good, and sendeth rain on the the mean time, a heathen poet, just and on the unjust. Be ye or philosopher, should say to therefore perfect, as your Father them,“ You ought to be ready in heaven is perfect.” Else- to lay down your lives for each where it is, “ Be ye merciful, as other;" or, "you ought to your Father also is merciful,” think it glorious, and delightful Luke v. 36. Now, suppose to die for your country ;" what there were a person who did not right have they to rely upon believe that there was such a real this, when they do not so much mercy of the Great Parent, to as believe any divine authority people of all characters, as is for any such thing? here stated. It is obvious, that In Phil. ii. 3, and onward, St:

Paul recommends lowliness of have told us, and we believe mind, and a self-denying regard them, that Jesus was first poor, to the interests of others. And · and afterward became rich ; not · these he enforces by the conde. that he was first rich, and after scension of Christ, « who being that became poor.” With opinin the form of God, thought it ions so different from the aposnot robbery to be equal with tle's doctrine, how could they God. But made himself of no possibly find in Christ such an reputation, and took upon him example of liberality, as that now the form of a servant, and was stated to them, or such powerful made in the likeness of men : argument for diminishing their And being found in fashion as a riches to relieve the poor? man, he humbled himself, and Let me bring one instance became obedient unto death, more. St. Paul says to Titus, even the death of the cross.” “ These things I will that thou Now, admit for a moment, a affirm constantly, to the end that modern exposition of ver. 6, and they, who have believed in God, suppose any one to be in doubt might be careful to maintain whether Christ's original state good works.” The good works was such, that it was condescen- particularly intended, the first sion in him to take the form of part of the chapter explains. a servant, and not claim or in. It is a part of scripture expresssist to be equal with God; ly intended to point out the premust not the force both of the eminence in all social duties, and example and precept here stat- the amiable conduct in every ed, be proportionably lost?

view, which Christians must In 2 Cor. viii. the same apostle maintain toward those who are recommends liberality, in partic- not Christians. The consideraular to poor saints. “ See that tions by which such a behaviour ye abound in this grace also.” is to be enforced upon believers, And he enforces it by this argu- are such as these ; they themment : “ For ye know the grace selves were once of the same deof our Lord Jesus Christ, that praved character with the unconthough he was rich, yet for your verted now around them ; it is sakes, he became poor, that ye mere mercy that has changed through his poverty might be their character and standing ; rich." How obvious is it, that not only free mercy, but exceedhere likewise, the soul of obedi- ing great kindness and love of ence is faith in the doctrine con- God, have been displayed on cerning the grace of Christ, in them, depraved as they were ; descending from riches to pov- and very great blessings bestowerty for our sakes ; and that, if ed. Under this last head are this faith be wanting, both the specified, regeneration by the precept and example will be Holy Ghost, justification by without effect! What if some grace, and heirship according of the Corinthians had said to to the hope of eternal life. the apostle, “ Sir, this recom- These are great arguments; mendation of yours is founded and where they are well believed in a mistake. Learned men and kept in view, are of great

Vol. I. No.9. BBb

power to produce that eminently the greatest of all arguments to kind, meek, and gentle behav- kindness and liberality to fellowiour toward all men, which they sinners, are as water spilt on the enforce. But it is well known ground. What then, if these that this doctrine is not always arguments are not even creditfully believed in all its branches. ed? And to how little purpose is And where it is not, there will this great example of heavenly be a proportionable failure in love brought to the view of such practice. He, who never re- a person? cognized in himself those char- We see then how little obeacters of depravity, which the dience to the gospel is to be exapostle describes, will naturally pected without full confidence in look down upon those to whom its doctrines. Because, generalhe believes they are applicable. ly, these are the great basis of Instead of humility, vain thoughts its duties; because here lie the will prevail with him. And not great examples; I might have feeling his own need of mercy, said, because here are found the he will not be merciful as he grand motives. And all this apought to his fellow-sinners. If plies as much to what are called he believes himself a man of re- the mysteries of Revelation, as ligion ; whether he ascribes it to to any parts of it whatever. a rare felicity of his nature, or to This, the foregoing instances, his converting himself, without and a great many more, will those divine energies the apostle show. It is a striking fact, that mentions, or to a certain good the sublimest sentiments, which conduct, which procured for him the gospel any where inculcates, the gift of saving grace, or gave are built upon these mysteries. him a claim to it; a vain glory, There are, it is true, other like that of the heathen moral- scriptural considerations, which ists, will pervade all his morality should excite us to obedience. and all his religion. He will But if some doctrines are rejectlook with a haughty air, on those ed because the wisdom of man whom he thinks not so virtuous would not have conceived them; as himself; and perhaps be un- or because, when revealed, they kind to them, and throw them are still in some respects, deep away, for not being as kind and and unfathomable; or because merciful as he is.

some learned men call them in And certainly if one, who question : or, if they are nego thinks himself an heir of mercy, lected for such reasons; with - has not a strong sense of the what sentiments do we go to free abounding love, and tran- those other parts of holy scripscendently rich blessings dis- ture? Even the whole must lose played on man, so forlorn in their credit with us, more or character, and so ill-deserving ; less, through our want of conand of those blessings, as en- fidence in a part; or if, here hanced, beyond degree, by the and there, we seem to believe, it precious redemption through is with a faith, which stands in - which they flow ; if there is not the wisdom of men, and not in a strong sense of these things, the authority of inspirations

But this is not the faith, which are urged by the 'apostles, and produces obedience in the most enjoined to be affirmed constantproper sense.

ly, for the same reason. At the same time, we natural. But who must not regret that ly remark, that by looking to the truths so interesting should ever practical parts of the.gospel, we be held with only a speculative may often learn with greater sat. belief! Is this all that is due to isfaction what its real doctrine is, the sad story of our ruined, in many great articles. One cri- wretched state by sin ? Is this all terion all must admit. That con- that is due to the free, abounding struction of the doctrine, which philanthropy of God, and the makes the precept and example bleeding love of the Saviour? appear all natural, is probably the To the doctrine of the Holy true construction. That which Ghost our regenerator, and of would destroy all their force, immortal life and glory in hea. and even render them absurd, ven? Let us ask then that divine must be wrong. With this cri- mercy, which induces a believing terion in view, I have the confi. with the heart; and thus redence to ask, who, upon the maves those inconsistencies beArian construction, can make tween opinion and practice, so sense of the apostle's argument often seen, so much to be lafor condescension in Phil. ii. 3, mented. forecited? Who, upon the

ZUINGLIUS. scheme of modern Socinians, can perceive any force, or even consistency, in the argument for

THE DECALOGUE. liberality to the poor, in 2 Cor. 8? And who, taking into view

No. 3. the important argument in Ti Third Commandment. tus 3, for amiable behaviour to '<< Thou shalt not take,” or lift all men, must not admit the ex. up* “the name of the Lord thy position of Calvin and other God in vain : for the Lord will great reformers, or be content not hold him guiltless that takto see doctrine, precept, exam- eth his name in vain." ple, all placed in an unnatural This command immediately view, and all their force de- forbids false swearing. Let none stroyed ?

call God to witness a lie. PromIn the same light we see the ise not in his presence what you error of neglecting these doc

mean not to perform ; neither trines, if we mean to be practi

affirm nor deny what you are cal, and wish to see Christian

conscious is wrong. A false oath virtue in its best form, in our

has ever been ranked among the selves or others. For myste- most heinous of crimes. Some rious as they are, and often de nations have punished it with nounced as mere speculative opinions, they are in fact, the

* So the word may be rendered. It most practical considerations of

refers to an ancient practice of lifting all, and of greatest influence in the hand toward heaven when an oath the Christian life. As such they was taken.

death. Should the laws of men would probably perjure them, let this crime pass unpunished, .selves with as little compunction, it shall receive its merited pun- as they profane God's name in ishment from the law of God. ordinary conversation. Our This was admitted by the most Lord interposes his authority to enlightened among the heathen. restrain men from practices 80 The Twelve Tables, the great wanton and hazardous. repository of the Roman law, as This command must likewise sert, that “the divine punish- be understood as forbidding ment of perjury is utter destruc- *“ all jesting with God's word, tion ; the human is disgrace." or with sacred things, all irrev, With this the emperor Alexan, erence to whatever belongs to der Severus was deeply impress him, and the use of his tremen. ed. “ The contempt," says he, dous name, in religious worship, « of the religion of an oath hath in a heedless or hypocritical God as a sufficient avenger.” manner. It implies a command Cicero speaks on this subject to remember habitually the infia with his usual eloquence. “ An nite majesty, purity, and exceloath is the strongest bond among lence of God, and to behave tomen to bind them to truth and ward him with that awe and reva fidelity. Witness the Twelve erence of his perfections, which Tables ; witness our sacred becomes such mean & worthless forms in taking an oath ; witness creatures in his infinitely gloria our covenants and leagues, aus presence. wherein we plight our faith to “ God will not hold the transa enemies ; witness the animad- gressor of this law guiltless, versions of our censors, who Men may not discover, or may judged nothing more diligently, neglect to punish this crime i than an oath.” An oath falsely and the sinner's conscience may taken is an act of the highest im- scarcely trouble him about it. piety to God and injustice to But let him know, that God will men, and is therefore strictly certainly detect and punish the forbidden.

atrocious affront which is thus The prohibition in this com, offered him ; and offered fres mandment extends to all cursing quently without the plea of and swearing, and to the use of temptation, or expectation of God's name on common and pleasure, unless men can find trivial occasions. This practice pleasure in defying their Crea. iş vulgar as well as profane. It tor. But when it shall at last be is sinful and vile. It is throwing said to the daring transgressor, off all regard for religion. It is wherefore hast thou despised the the language of hell. Peter, by commandment of the Lord ? his cursing and swearing, took the profane trifling will be turned inmost effectual method to con, to terror and despair." . yince the Jews, that he was no

PHILOLOGOS. disciple of Jesus. They who are familiar with this crime, can have Scott on the place, quoted by the po reverence for an oath, and Editors.

« AnteriorContinuar »