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who sat at the king's gate, alone refused to bow envy. What was Mordecai, compared with him? to Haman. Enraged at this, Haman resolved A humble Jew-a subordinate officer about the to destroy not only Mordecai, but, if possible, the palace, one on whom no honour had been conwhole of the Jewish nation; and by representing ferred, to whom no one bent the knee. All this that people to Ahasuerus as peculiar and dis- was true, but his firmness in refusing to honour obedient, prevailed on him to issue a decree for Haman, wounded the pride of the latter; and the massacre of the Jews, throughout the wide as he witnessed it, he hated him, would most extent of the Persian empire. The execution of willingly have destroyed him, and poured his this decree was prevented by the timely inter- blood like water on the street. position of Esther, who, being in high favour with Ahasuerus, invited him and Haman to a banquet. The proud heart of Haman was elated by this supposed honour. He went to his house with joyful steps, told his wife and friends of all his wealth, preferment, and honour, and particularly referred to his distinction, in being invited to a banquet with the king and Esther. One circumstance alone galled and vexed him. On leaving the palace, he had seen Mordecai in his usual seat, refraining from all reverence as before; and now that he dwelt, in his swelling vanity, on his glory and riches, he added: Yet all this availeth me nothing, so long as I see Mordecai the Jew sitting at the king's gate.'
In the character of Haman, we see a multitude of low selfish passions. His heart was set upon the world. He was vain of the honour, which had been bestowed upon him. He was resentful, blood-thirsty, and discontented. He was full of malice and envy, hating all who opposed his wishes, grieving at their privileges and prosperity, and earnestly desiring their ruin. He enjoyed, even by his own confession, whatever was most desirable in life. He was the favourite of his prince. He had banqueted with him, and was to enjoy the same privilege again. He had ample wealth. Possessing all these things, there was no lot to be compared with his own. Yet his prosperity availed not. He hated Mordecai, and wished his destruction; and because he saw him sitting at the king's gate in security, and withholding, as before, the homage which he received from the very princes of Shushan, he was restless and miserable. In this, there was wounded vanity, a spirit of uncontrollable discontent, and a hatred of Mordecai, because of his sincerity and firmness. We might suppose him to have said, 'What is it to me what others are or do? My desires are fully gratified. The most distinguished in Shushan is less honoured than I.' But no! When one evil passion is cherished, it brings others in its train. Man never exhibits sin in one form only. The worldlymindedness of Haman was associated with vanity, arrogance, wrath, hatred, malice, revenge; and towards Mordecai his hatred darkened into
What a fearful passion envy is! While it is most unreasonable, there is no limit to the excesses to which it impels. The envious man finds in the prosperity of him who is the object of his passion, only the fuel of a raging fire. He regards him as resisting his own claims, and robbing him of his own property. He considers whatever he possesses as so much taken from himself; and, in the bitterness of his hatred, is often prompted to devise the most cruel and sanguinary schemes. There was envy in Cain, when he slew his brother Abel. He hated him for his worth, and for his privilege. This passion has been the cause of many of the most atrocious crimes, which have stained and blackened the earth. Though Haman passed by Mordecai, as he sat at the king's gate, what would he not have done had he gratified his hatred? His eyes looked daggers, if his tongue did not speak them. Time and place alone prevented his envy from rushing into murder. The apostle has well stated the gradation, when he says, 'envy, debate, deceit, murder.' Bishop Hall, speaking of Cain's treatment of Abel, breaks out, ‘O envy, the corrosive of all ill minds, and the root of all desperate actions! The same cause that moved Satan to tempt the first man to destroy himself and his posterity, the same moves the second man to destroy the third. There was never envy that was not bloody.'
While envy is so fierce and deadly towards its object, it is a prolific source of misery to those who indulge it. The sight of Mordecai embittered all the joy of Haman's preferment. His own confession proves this. All this; my wealth, my preferment, my seat at the queen's table, my invitation to partake of the queen's banquet to-morrow, the homage of the princes, the admiration of the people—all this availeth me nothing.'
Let us examine our hearts, lest this fruit of sin should lurk in some plausible disguise there. We are commanded to rejoice with them that rejoice, and to weep with them that latter is more easy than the former-at least, the appearance of it is more frequent. Do we rejoice then in the good of others? Is it an addition to our own happiness, when we behold them pro
sperous and happy? Are we prompt and cheer- | fessedly they were united in the belief of the same ful in aiding them in their plans of industry and usefulness, and when these are crowned with success, do we feel as if the smile of Providence had shone upon our own heads? We are all brethren; and true charity leads us to dwell together as such. Sin has broken up the human family, and darkened and troubled the earth with strife; but divine grace is given to restore order, heal breaches, and put an end to division; and in heaven, where grace will be perfected in glory, the old picture of love which gladdened Eden before the fall, will once more be realized; for all will love and live as brethren. There will be no envy there, and there can be no meetness for that blessed place, as long as one emotion of envy ruffles and pollutes our hearts.
THE members of the Christian church form, in reality, but one family. When the church was first constituted in Jerusalem, after the marvellous effusion of the spirit on Pentecost, it exhibited a picture of perfect union, harmony, and peace. It was the first manifestation on a large scale of the tenderness and confidence of domestic affection, and extorted from heathen spectators the emphatic eulogium, 'See how these Christians love one another.' In a well-ordered and happy family, all the members are knit together by strong and endearing ties; they have common interests, common enjoyments, common hopes, and common trials. In that small circle, there beats, as it were, but one pulse. When one suffers, all suffer; when one rejoices, all rejoice. Whatever doubts there may be as to the good opinion, or the cordial sympathy, or the zealous co-operation of others, beyond their circle, there are none among themselves; with individuality of person and interest, there is combined unity of affection. So should it be in the church; so was it at the period to which we have referred. The church was but a larger family, from which discord, jealousy, wrath, and all evil passions were banished, and all whose members, amounting to several thousands, recognised, in each other, one filial tie, and one fraternal relation.
When the apostle exhorts Christians to be of the same mind one to another,' he reminds them that they form but one family before God. Pro
great truths, in the acknowledgment of the same spiritual institutions, in the enjoyment of the same inestimable privileges, and in the contemplation of the same objects of desire and hope. There was no difference among them, at least as respected essential matters, as to creed or practice; but his exhortation relates to the dispositions of the heart, which are often found to be widely different, even when there is no difference as to the standard of opinion or duty. He exhorts them, therefore, to cherish kind and sympathising dispositions; to recognise each other's claims to confidence and good offices, and to check the first movement of a tendency to coldness or disunion. As a preservative from estrangement, he enjoins them not to mind high things, that is, not to set their hearts on objects and distinctions, deemed important and valuable by the world. The connection intimates that the desire of worldly grandeur is apt to estrange us from those with whom we associate, and among whom our lot has been cast. Of this, we have numerous proofs in the history of worldly men. We see the desire of grandeur springing up, while they are yet in obscurity, and surrounded by those who have been reared under the same roof with them, and have long shared in all their pleasures and pastimes. As it gathers strength, they become cold and careless in their demeanour; the little circle of home loses its charm, and though still members of it, their thoughts and affections are wandering elsewhere; and at last something like a feeling of contempt is indulged towards those, who were once felt and acknowledged to be companions and friends. The primitive church consisted principally of the poor, and if the members of it allowed their hearts to go forth after the vain pomps and glories of this world, their brotherly love would be chilled, and the duties to which it prompts overlooked. In all ages, the church has consisted of the poor as well as the rich, and the former, for the most part, in larger proportion than the latter; and if Christians aspire to be great or influential according to the standards of the world, they will lose their relish for the society of their brethren, their sympathy in their tastes, pursuits, and trials, and their desire to promote and perpetuate their happiness. Their hearts will be where their treasure is. They will seek the company of those who can aid them in their worldly plans, and, in conversation with them, will lose sight of those pure and noble truths, which proclaim God's favour alone to be life, and moral excellence alone to be honour.
The apostle farther exhorts Christians to con
descend to men of low estate. This is a far more profitable, as it is a perfectly safe exercise. By those described as of low estate, we may consider the apostle as meaning those in humble condition, whose hearts by grace have been weaned from the love of the world and its possessions. These persons are morally great in the midst of outward meanness. Their estimate of things is founded on immutable and sublime principles; and in condescending to commune with them, we not only exercise and strengthen our sympathies as Christians, but we derive elevation from the nobleness of their sentiments. We learn to look at things from the same commanding points of view with them, and we come forth from their society more deeply impressed with the vanity of the world, and more keenly alive to the grandeur of spiritual things. In the atmosphere which they breathe, the deceitful colouring of the world is cold and faint; while objects are seen there, which overshadow by their majesty and duration all that the children of the world idolise and contend for. It is a good exercise for the heart to sympathise with the poor; and if the poor are Christians, adorning the meanness of their lot with the dignity and the lustre of holiness, their society becomes a school where the sublimest truths are taught, and the purest sentiments cherished.
How becoming is this condescension among the members of the church? We have spoken of them as a family; they are also represented as a body; a figure which conveys the most perfect idea of union, which material objects can supply. When one member of the body suffers, all the other members are more or less affected; and so when any member of the church is visited by trial, every other member ought to feel as if the trial were in some measure personal, and should strive to soothe and support the suffering member under it. Were one member to boast against another, it would be considered a violation of all propriety and relationship, in condemning which no language could be too strong. Of the mystical body, the church, Christ is the glorious and everliving Head. All the members derive their life and honour from him; and their union to, and dependence on him, form a common ground of sympathy, which should bind their hearts together as with an adamantine cord.
Now, the end of the commandment is charity, out of a pure heart, and of a good conscience, and of faith unfeigned,' 1 Tim. i. 5. CHARITY undoubtedly signifies here brotherly love, though it is something used in the more comprehensive sense of love to God, as well as to man, and sometimes in the more limited sense of love or kindness to the needy and the poor. The two first significations may be considered as identified; since wherever there is true brotherly love, there is implied love to God as the principle from which it springs. Now charity is the end of the commandment; the sum and substance of the law; that which the law requires, and which being rendered, the law is completely fulfilled. The law requires us to love our neighbour as ourselves; and if this be done, the duties which we owe to others, will not fail to be discharged. Selflove is deeply seated in our nature, and is wisely designed to lead to the preservation of life, the protection of property, the avoidance of evil, and the increase of happiness. Under proper regulation and control, it contributes largely to our welfare, comprehending all the circumstances that bear upon our interest, being keenly sensitive, unceasingly watchful, and unweariedly active. Like all the other principles of our moral constitution, it has been perverted and injured by sin; and so prone is it to run into excess, to degenerate into selfishness, that it requires to be carefully checked, wisely directed, and firmly governed. In enjoining us to love others as we love ourselves, the law is eminently wise. There is no danger that we will love ourselves too coldly; and if we love others in the same proportion that we love ourselves, our love to them will be the best possible check to a selfish disposition. The golden rule, as it has been justly termed, is founded on this principle, for it requires us to do unto others as we would that they should do unto us, thereby making self-love the standard by which to determine the measure of relative duty.
As this brotherly love is the end of the law, so is it much more the end of the gospel. The law enjoins the principle of love, but the gospel expands and applies it. The gospel, indeed, is one continuous and emphatic expression of love. It reveals the most amazing love in God, in the mission and work of his only-begotten Son. It exhibits an example of unparalleled condescension and tender pity in the humiliation of the Redeemer, his shame, sufferings, and death, in behalf of sinners. It is a message of breathes all the gentleness of peace in its style,
doctrines, and promises. It is an offer of pardon, and possesses the winning pathos and persuasive beauty, which affectionate solicitude bestows. The truths which it announces, though grand and awful, all appeal to the heart, and present the most attractive views of the divine nature and government. It abounds in promises the most endearing, and invites to the enjoyment of privileges the most elevated and delightful. It inculcates love between man and man in the most earnest and forcible terms. It condemns the prejudices which separate mankind into classes, and uniformly contemplates man in his essential character, as accountable and immortal. Whatever is adventitious or external is merged in the consideration of the moral nature. Eternity in its pages overshadows and eclipses the world and time. Man is the brother of maneverywhere, and under all circumstances. By this,' said Christ, 'shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye love one another.'
The charity which Paul commanded Timothy to inculcate, can only proceed from 'a pure heart.' As long as sin reigns in the heart, corrupt selflove, one of its principal fruits, will pervade the life. The heart must be renewed by grace, the claims of the Creator acknowledged, the authority of his law submitted to, the evil of sin felt, and its dominion deplored. It is only when this change has been in some measure undergone, that love to God will acquire its ascendency, and love to man, which flows from it, take root in the heart. Selfishness in all its forms will then be shunned as sinful; and a desire to do good to others will soften the heart into tenderness, and prompt to kind and charitable deeds. The charity of the renovated heart is no conventional form, or capricious effusion of sentiment. It springs from a sense of duty. It possesses the stability and progressive nature of a living principle.
To a pure heart, the apostle adds a good conscience. The office of conscience is to direct and control. When the heart is in some measure purified, the principle of charity is implanted in it, and conscience must point out the way in which the principle is to operate, the extent of the sphere which it must occupy, and the nature and amount of the sacrifices which its due operation requires. It is of great importance that conscience, exercising such high functions, should be kept tender, vigilant, and prompt, because if it be dull, or negligent, or undecided, opportunities of duty will be lost, and the standard of duty lowered. That conscience may be thus good, it must be accompanied with faith unfeigned: that is, a true, honest, and lively faith. Faith
contemplates and brings near those realities and truths by which pure principles are nourished, and the knowledge and sensitiveness of conscience maintained and increased.
Let us then seek after the purity of heart, tenderness of conscience, and sincerity of faith, from which alone true charity can spring. Without these we may have the form, but we cannot have the principle and spirit of charity. Corrupt self-love must be subdued, and love to God made supreme. Conscience must be watchful, prompt, and decided, adhering strictly to the infallible standard of divine truth, and piercing through all the delusions by which the heart, in its deceitfulness, attempts to obscure it. Sincere faith in divine truth must supply conscience with just views of duty and its solemn sanctions; and thus the heart purified from the pollution of selfishness, conscience pointing out the path to be pursued, and exercising an authoritative superintendence over the heart and life, and faith supplying the evidence of things not seen, and exhibiting the substance of things hoped for, brotherly love will flow forth as a stream, diffusing over the whole deportment a silent beauty, and throwing back upon the gospel the light of a living and progressive illustration.
But if ye have bitter envying and strife in your hearts, glory not, and lie not against the truth. This wisdom descendeth not from above, but is earthly, sensual, devilish. For where envying and strife is, there is confusion, and every evil work,' James iii. 14—16.
THE apostle, in these words, seems to have had in view the manner in which the doctrines of the gospel were taught by some Judaizing teachers in his time. These persons blended in many instances pernicious errors with the pure truth, and in teaching it, sought rather to gratify their own passions and dislikes, than to instruct and correct others. No combination could be more unseemly than that which was thus exhibited, of envy or anger and strife, with the office of teaching the blessed and soothing doctrines of salvation. These doctrines breathe the very spirit of love. They are revealed in terms of unspeakable tenderness and beauty; and they are designed to root out all bitterness and malice from the heart. To combine with the profession of belief in them, envious and contentious feelings, was a fearful inconsistency. It conclusively proved that their genuine influence was unfelt, and that the heart
retained all its original selfishness, uncharitable- | ruption of the one master-tie which bound him ness, and unbelief, unsubdued. More especially to God, was followed by the enthronement of to boast of these feelings, as if they were allow-corrupt self, from which all social evil now flows. able and becoming, was to manifest an utter When restrained by education and circumstances, ignorance of the design and nature of the gospel, we do not see, we could not imagine the and could not fail to awaken suspicions, and to excesses to which selfishness impels; but when foster prejudices, unfavourable to it in the minds we observe it, as brought before us in this passof others. It was to lie against it, directly to age, indulging envy and fomenting strife, on the contradict it, to make it appear what it was not; ground that these are allowed by Christ, it is felt nay, to turn it into the instrument of hostility to be truly hideous. This indeed is to make the against itself. Saviour the minister of sin,-to make him, who came to die for sin, to sanction that to which he is infinitely opposed, and which his glorious work was intended to destroy.
The teachers to whom the apostle especially referred, supposed this course of conduct to be wise, a proof of superior knowledge and discernment, and adapted to spread the truth. But he forcibly describes its real character, representing it as the very opposite of that wisdom which comes from God, a wisdom like its infinite Author, pure, generous, condescending, involving the sacrifice and suppression of every selfish feeling, and subordinating all its schemes and arrangements to the advancement of spiritual truth, and the salvation of perishing men. On the contrary, the mingling of bitter envy and strife with the profession of faith in the gospel, or the exposition of its doctrines, was earthly. It savoured entirely of the policy of unrenewed men. It could not proceed from that love of the truth which is implanted in the soul by the Holy Spirit, and is one of the earliest evidences of his renovating power. It belongs to man as the slave of sin, grovelling in the dust, and unable to rise above it. It had no affinity to the seraphic purity of heaven, whose inhabitants live in an atmosphere of untainted spirituality and unruffled love. It was sensual. It gratified only the low sordid desires of the mind. It was devilish. It resembled the wisdom of those evil spirits who put forth their power only to injure and annoy, who, whatever plausible pretexts they may make use of, turn the hearts of those who are inslaved by them, into scenes of turbulence and disquietude. The devil has a pleasure in involving others in the same misery with himself. And so this wisdom aims at increasing, not mitigating or removing, misery. It delights in strife, as a mean of annoyance, a source of vexation, uneasiness, and pain. It does all this under the pretext of supporting the truth, and brings dishonour upon the truth by the instrumentality to which it degrades it.
The apostle most justly adds, that envying and strife are the parents of confusion and all wickedness. Envying is placed in immediate connection with strife, as causing it. If the heart within were calm, the life without would be so also; but passion in the heart leads to disorder and violence in the life. Of all passions, envy is one of the most restless and insatiable; and if we observe the conduct of men in society with care, we shall perceive that a great proportion of the troubles and tumults of life arises from its indulgence. It makes its own victims most restless. The envious heart, of all hearts, is the most deeply disquieted. It finds matter for disquietude in every object, event, and scene. It invests all things with its own dark disfiguring colours. There is no limit to the wretchedness that flows from strife. Nor is there any limit to the crimes to which it prompts.
As no union can be more unseemly or flagrantly inconsistent than that of envy and strife with the profession of faith in the gospel, we should be careful to hold the truth in love. Let us check evil passions in their beginnings in the heart. Let us remember what the apostle James has so forcibly said, 'From whence come wars and fightings among you? Come they not hence, even of your lusts that war in your members?" If evil passions or selfish feelings are indulged, strife will follow, and strife, instead of advancing, will bring discredit upon, and hinder the truth. There is nothing more characteristic of Christianity than the love, deep and tender, which pervades it; and if we are really embued with its spirit, the desire to do good will prompt us in all cases rather to conciliate than to provoke, to soothe than to irritate. No doubt, it is good to be zealously affected in a good cause; but Chris
How revolting the picture of the selfishness of our nature which is thus exhibited! The carnal mind is enmity against God; it is also enmity tian zeal, though ardent, has no uncharitableness against man. At first man was all love; not merely the object of love to his Maker, but a fountain of love to all around him; but the dis
or bitterness in it. It is a noble, a magnanimous quality, as remote from the baseness of selfish feeling, as it is from its turbid violence.