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eradicated, as well as overborne, could as of Christ, is, through his means, to obtain
We know that the impression which who created us.
APPLICATION OF CHRISTIANITY
COMMERCIAL AND ORDINARY AFFAIRS OF LIFE.
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
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
perpetual and the unfailing habit of subor-man, is to fasten on the radical element of
lity is never felt among them. It is, that The way, then, to assert the depravily of Inone of them understandeth, and none of