Imágenes de páginas
[ocr errors][merged small]

eradicated, as well as overborne, could as of Christ, is, through his means, to obtain
living man bid the sinful propensity, with an erasure of the sentence of their con-
all its workings and al] its inclinations, demnation. Now, though this, undoubt-
conclusively away from him,-could the edly, be one great design of the gospel, it
authority of the new creature obtain such is not the design in which it terminates.
unrivalled sway over the whole machinery It may, in fact, be only considered as a
of the affections and the doings, that re- preparation for an ulterior accomplish-
sistance was no longer felt, and the battle was ment altogether. Christ came to redeem
brought to its termination,-if it were pos- us from all iniquity, and to purify us unto
sible, we say, for a disciple, on this side of himself a peculiar people, zealous of good
the grave, to attain the eminency of a con- works. It were selfishness under the guise
dition so glorious, then we know not of of sacredness, to sit down, in placid con-
what use to him would be either a death (tentment, with the single privilege of jus.
or a resurrection, or why he might not tification. It is only the introduction to
bear his earthly tabernacle to heaven, and higher privileges.
set him down by direct translation amongst But not till we submit to the righteous-
the company of the celestial. But no!ness of Christ, as the alone meritorious
There hangs about the person of the most plea of our acceptance, shall we become
pure and perfect Christian upon earth, personally righteous ourselves,-not till we
some mysterious necessity of dying. That see the blended love and holiness of the
body, styled with such emphasis a vile Godhead, in our propitiation, shall we
body, by the Apostle, inust be pulverized know how to combine a confidence in his
and made over again. And not till that mercy, with a reverence for his character,
which is sown in corruption shall be raised not till we look to that great transac-
in incorruption, -not till that which is tion, by which the purity of the divine na-
sown in weakness shall be raised in power, ture is vindicated, and yet the sinner is
--not till that which is sown a natural delivered from the coming vengeance, shall
body shall be raised a spiritual body,-not we be freed from the dominion of sin, or
till the soul of man occupy another tene- be led to admire and to imitate the great
ment, and the body which now holds him Pattern of excellence. The renewing Spirit,
be made to undergo some unknown but indeed, is withheld from all those who
glorious transformation, will he know what withhold their consent from the doctrine
it is to walk at perfect liberty, and, with of Christ, and of him crucified. Paul was
the full play of his then emancipated determined to know nothing else; and it is
powers, to expatiate without frailty, and in this knowledge, and in this alone, that
without a flaw, in the service of his God. we are renewed after the image of' him

We know that the impression which who created us.
many have of the disciples of the gospel is, Now the God of peace, that brought
that their great and perpetual aim is, that again from the dead our Lord Jesus, that
they may be justified, -that the change of great Shepherd of the sheep, through the
state which they are ever aspiring after, is blood of the everlasting covenant, make
a change in their forensic state, and not in you perfect in every good work to do his
their personal,--that if they can only at will, working in you that which is well-
tain delivery from wrath, they will be sa-l pleasing in his sight, through Jesus Christ.
tisfied, and that the only use they makel to whom be glory for ever and ever. Amen.

[blocks in formation]








The following Discourses can be regarded in no other light, than as the frag. ment of a subject far too extensive to be overtaken within a compass so narrow. There has only a partial survey been taken of the morality of the actions that are current among people engaged in merchandise : and with regard to the morality of the affections which stir in their hearts, and give a feverish and diseased activity to the pursuits of worldly ambition, this has scarcely been touched upon, save in a very general way in the concluding discourse.

And yet, in the estimation of every cultivated Christian, this second branch of the subject should be by far the most interesting, -as it relates to that spiritual discipline by which the love of the world is overcome; and by which all that oppressive anxiety is kept in check, which the reverses and uncertainties of business are so apt to inject into the bosom; and by which the appetite that urges him who hasteth to be rich is effectually restrained--so as to make it possible for a man to give his hand to the duties of his secular occupation, and, at the same time, to maintain that sacredness of heart which becomes every fleeting traveller through a scene, all whose pleasures and whose prospects are so soon to pass away.

Should this part of the subject be resumed at some future opportunity, there are two questions of casuistry connected with it, which will demand no small degree of consideration. The first relates to the degree in which an affection for present things, and present interests ought to be indulged. And the second is, whether, on the supposition that a desire after the good things of the present life were reduced down to the standard of the gospel, there would remain a sufficient impulse in the world for upholding its commerce, at the rate which would secure the greatest amount of comfort and subsistence to its families.

Without offering any demonstration, at present, upon this matter, we simply state it as our opinion, that, though the whole business of the world were in the hands of men thoroughly Christianised, and who, rating wealth according to its real dimensions on the high scale of eternity, were chastened out of all their idolatrous regards to it-yet would trade, in these circumstances, be carried to the extreme limit of its being really productive or desirable. An affection for riches, beyond what Christianity prescribes, is not essential to any extension of commerce that is at all valuable or legitimate; and in opposition to the maxim, that the spirit of enterprise is the soul of commercial prosperity, do we hold, that it is the excess of this spirit beyond the moderation of the New Testament, which, pressing on the natural boundaries of trade, is sure, at length, to visit every country where it operates, with the recoil of all those calamities, which in the shape of beggared capitalists, and unemployed operatives, and dreary intervals of bankruptcy and alarm, are observed to follow a season of overdone speculation.


On the mercantile Virtues which may exist without the Influence of Christianity.

" Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just,

whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, if there be any praise, think on these things." - Philippians iv. 8.

The Apostle, in these verses, makes use of men to estimate the lovely and the honourcertain terms, without ever once proposing able of character. He appeals to a tribunal to advance any definition of their meaning. in their own breasts, and evidently supHe presumes on a common understanding poses, that, antecedently to the light of the of this, between himself and the people Christian revelation, there lay scattered whom he is addressing. He presumes that among the species certain principles of feelthey know what is signified by Truth, anding and of action, in virtue of which, they Justice, and Loveliness, and the other mo- both occasionally exhibited what was just ral qualities which are included in the enu- and true, and of good report, and also meration of our text. They, in fact, had could render to such an exhibition, the howords to express them, for many ages an- mage of their regard and of their reverence. tecedent to the coming of Christianity into At present we shall postpone the direct enthe world. Now, the very existence of the forcement of these virtues upon the obwords proves, that, before the gospel was servation of Christians, and shall confine taught, the realities which they express our thoughts of them to the object of estimust have existed also. These good and mating their precise importance and charespectable attributes of character must racter, when they are realised by those who have been occasionally exemplified by are not Christians. men, prior to the religion of the New Tes While we assert with zeal every doctrine tament. The virtuous and the praisewor- of Christianity, let us not forget that there thy must, ere the commencement of the new is a zeal without discrimination ; and that, dispensation, have been met with in society to bring such a spirit to the defence of our -for the Apostle does not take them up in faith, or of any one of its peculiarities, is this passage, as if they were unknown and not to vindicate the cause, but to discredit unheard of novelties—but such objects of it. Now, there is a way of maintaining the general recognition, as could be under- utter depravity of our nature, and of doing stood on the bare mention of them, with it in such a style of sweeping and of veout warning and without explanation. Thement asseveration, as to render it not

But more than this. These virtues must merely obnoxious to the taste, but obnoxious not only have been exemplified by men, to the understanding. On this subject there previous to the entrance of the gospel is often a roundness and a temerity of anamongst them-seeing that the terms, ex-nouncement, which any intelligent man, pressive of the virtues, were perfectly un- I looking at the phenomena of human chaderstood-but men must have known how racter with his own eyes, cannot go along to love and to admire them. How is it that with; and thus it is, that there are injudiwe apply the epithet lovely to any moral cious defenders of orthodoxy, who have qualification, but only in as far as that mustered against it not merely a positive qualification does in fact draw towards it a dislike, but a positive strength of observasentiment of love? How is it that another tion and argument. Let the nature of man qualification is said to be of good report, be a ruin, as it certainly is, it is obvious to but in as far as it has received from men the most common discernment, that it does an applauding or an honourable testimony? | not offer one unvaried and unalleviated The Apostle does not bid his readers have mass of deformity. There are certain respect to such things as are lovely, and phases, and certain exhibitions of this nathen, for the purpose of saving them from ture, which are more lovely than otherserror, enumerate what the things are which certain traits of character, not due to the he conceives to possess this qualification. operation of Christianity at all, and yet He commits the matter, with perfect con- calling forth our admiration and our tenfidence, to their own sense and their own derness-certain varieties of moral comapprehension. He bids them bear a re- plexion, far more fair and more engaging spect to whatsoever things are lovely- than certain other varieties; and to prove nor does he seem at all suspicious that, by that the gospel may have had no share in 80 doing, he leaves them in any darkness the formation of them, they in fact stood or uncertainty about the precise import of out to the notice and respect of the world the advice which he is delivering. He before the gospel was ever heard of. The therefore recognizes the competency of classic page of antiquity sparkles with re


[merged small][ocr errors][merged small][merged small]

peated exemplifications of what is bright | his God, as if the principles of his constiand beautiful in the character of man; nor tution had been mixed up in such a differdo all its descriptions of external nature ent proportion, as to make him an odious waken up such an enthusiasm of pleasure, and a revolting spectacle? In a word, as when it bears testimony to some grace might not Sensibility shed forth its tears, ful or elevated doing out of the history of and Friendship perform its services, and the species. And whether it be the kindli- Liberality impart of its treasure, and Paness of maternal affection, or the unwearied-triotism earn the gratitude of its country, ness of filial piety, or the constancy of tried and Honour maintain itself entire and unand unalterable friendship, or the earnest- tainted, and all the softenings of what is ness of devoted patriotism, or the rigour of amiable, and all the glories of what is unbending fidelity, or any other of the re- chivalrous and manly gather into one corded virtues which shed a glory over the bright effulgency of moral accomplishment remembrance of Greece and of Rome--we on the person of him who never, for a sinfully concede it to the admiring scholar, gle day of his life, subordinates one habit, that they one and all of them were some or one affection, to the will of the Altimes exemplified in those days of Heathen-mighty; who is just as careless and as unism; and that, out of the materials of a pe- concerned about God, as if the native tenriod, crowded as it was with moral abomi- dencies of his constitution had compounded nations, there may also be gathered things him into a monster of deformity; and who which are pure, and lovely, and true, and just as effectually realizes this attribute of just, and honest, and of good report. rebellion against his Maker, as the most

What do we mean, then, it may be ask- loathsome and profligate of the species, ed, by the universal depravity of man? that he walks in the counsel of his own How shall we reconcile the admission now heart, and after the sight of his own eyes ? made, with the unqualified and authorita! The same constitutional variety may be tive language of the Bible, when it tells us seen on the lower fields of creation. You of the totality and the magnitude of human there witness the gentleness of one animal, corruption ?' Wherein lies that desperate the affectionate fidelity of another, the cruel wickedness, which is every where ascribed and unrelenting ferocity of a third ; and to all the men of all the families that be on you never question the propriety of the the face of the earth? And how can such language, when some of these instinctive a tribute of acknowledgment be awarded tendencies are better reported of than to the sages and the patriots of antiquity, others; or when it is said of the former of who yet, as the partakers of our fallen na- them, that they are the more fine, and amiature, must be outcasts from the favour of ble, and endearing. But it does not once God, and have the character of evil stamp- occur to you, that, even in the very best of ed upon the imaginations of the thoughts | these exhibitions, there is any sense of God, of their hearts continually ?

or that the great master-principle of his auIn reply to these questions, let us speak thority is at all concerned in it. Transfer to your own experimental recollections on a this contemplation back again to our spesubject in which you are aided, both by cies; and under the same complexional difthe consciousness of what passes within ference of the more and the less lovely, or you, and by your observation of the cha- the more and the less hateful, you will perracters of others. Might not a sense of ceive the same utter insensibility to the honour elevate that heart which is totally consideration of a God, or the same utter unfurnished with a sense of God? Might inefficiency on the part of his law to subnot an impulse of compassionate feeling be due human habits and human inclinations. sent into that bosom which is never once It is true, that there is one distinction bevisited by a movement of duteous loyalty tween the two cases; but it all goes to agtowards the Lawgiver in heaven? Might gravate the guilt and the ingratitude of not occasions of intercourse with the be- man. He has an understanding which the ings around us, develope whatever there is inferior animals have not--and yet, with in our nature of generosity, and friendship, this understanding, does he refuse practiand integrity, and patriotism; and yet the cally to acknowledge God. He has a conunseen Being, who placed us in this thea- science, which they have not--and yet, tre, be neither loved, nor obeyed, nor listen though it whisper in the ear of his inner ed to ? Amid the manifold varieties of man the claims of an unseen legislator, human character, and the nuinber of con- does he lull away his time in the slumbers stitutional principles which enter into its of indifference, and live without him in the composition, might there not be an indi- world. vidual in whom the constitutional virtues Or go to the people of another planet, so blaze forth and have the ascendency, as over whom the hold of allegiance to their to give a general effect of gracefulness to maker is unbroken--in whose hearts the the whole of this moral exhibition ; and yet, Supreme sits enthroned, and throughout may not that individual be as unmindful of the whole of whose history there runs the

[ocr errors]





ce that

che di

perpetual and the unfailing habit of subor-man, is to fasten on the radical element of
dination to his law. It is conceivable, that depravity, and to show how deeply it lies
with them too, there may be varieties of incorporated with his moral constitution.
temper and of natural inclination, and yet It is not by an utterance of rash and sweep-
all of them be under the effective controlling totality to refuse him the possession of
of one great and imperious principle; that what is kind in sympathy, or of what is
in subjection to the will of God, every kind dignified in principle-for this were in the
and every honourable disposition is che face of all observation. It is to charge him
rished to the uttermost; and that in sub-direct with his utter disloyalty to God. It
jection to the same will, every tendency to is to convict him of treason against the ma-
anger, and malignity, and revenge, is re- jesty of heaven. It is to press home upon
pressed at the first moment of its threatened him the impiety of not caring about God.
operation; and that in this way, there will It is to tell him, that the hourly and habit-
be the fostering of a constant encourage- ual language of his heart is, I will not have
ment given to the one set of instincts, and the Being who made me to rule over me.
the struggling of a constant opposition It is to go to the man of honour, and, while
made against the other. Now, only con- we frankly award it to him that his pulse
ceive this great bond of allegiance to be beats high in the pride of integrity-it is to
dissolved; the mighty and subordinating tell him, that he who keeps it in living play,
principle, which woni to wield an ascend- and who sustains the loftiness of its move-
ency over every movement and every af-ments, and who, in one moment of time,
fection, to be loosened and done away; and could arrest it for ever, is not in all his
then would this loyal, obedient world, be- thoughts. It is to go to the man of soft and
come what ours is, independent of Chris-gentle emotions, and while we gaze in ten-
tianity. Every constitutional desire would derness upon him-it is to read to him, out
run out, in the unchecked spontaneity of of his own character, how the exquisite
its own movements. The law of heaven mechanism of feeling may be in full ope-
would furnish no counteraction to the im- ration, while he who framed it is forgotten;
pulses and tendencies of nature. And tell while he who poured into his constitution the
us, in these circumstances, when the re- milk of human kindness, may never be ad-
straint of religion was thus lifted off, and all verted to with one single sentiment of vene-
the passions let out to take their own tu- ration, or on one single purpose of obe-
multuous and independent career-tell us, dience; while he who gave him his gentler
is, though amid the uproar of the licentious nature, who clothed him in all its adorn-
and vindictive propensities, there did gleam ments, and in virtue of whose appointment
forth at times some of the finer and the it is, that, instead of an odious and a revolt-
lovelier sympathies of nature-tell us, if ing monster, he is the much loved child of
this would at all affect the state of that sensibility, may be utterly disowned by
world as a state of enmity against God; him. In a word, it is to go around among
where his will was reduced to an element all that Humanity has to offer in the shape
of utter insignificancy; where the voice of of fair and amiable, and engaging, and to
their rightful master féll powerless on the prove how deeply Humanity has revolted
consciences of a listless and alienated fa- against that Being who has done so much
mily; where humour, and interest, and to beautify and to exalt her. It is to prove
propensity-at one time selfish, and at an- that the carnal mind, under all its varied
other social--took their alternate sway over complexions of harshness, or of delicacy, is
those hearts from which there was excluded enmity against God. It is to prove that
all effectual sense of an overruling God. If he let nature be as rich as she may in moral
be unheeded and disowned by the creatures accomplishments, and let the most favoured
whom he has formed, can it be said to alle- of her sons realize upon his own person the
viate the deformity of their rebellion, that finest and the fullest assemblage of them
they, at times, experience the impulse of should he, at the moment of leaving this
some amiable feeling which he hath im- theatre of display, and bursting loose from
planted, or at times hold out some beau- the framework of mortality, stand in the
teousness of aspect which he hath shed over presence of his judge, and have the ques-
them ? Shall the value of the multitude of tion put to him, What hast thou done unto
the gifts release them from their loyalty to me? This man of constitutional virtue, with
the giver; and when nature puts herself (all the salutations he got upon earth, and all
into the attitude of indifference or hostility the reverence that he has left behind him,
against him, now is it that the graces and may, naked and defenceless, before him
the accomplishments of nature can be plead who sitteth on the throne, be left without a
in mitigation of her antipathy to him, who plea and without an argument.
invested nature with all her graces, and up- God's controversy with our species, is
holds her in the display of all her accom- not, that the glow of honour or of human-
plishments ?

lity is never felt among them. It is, that The way, then, to assert the depravily of Inone of them understandeth, and none of

« AnteriorContinuar »