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those who 'trusted in riches, to become his disciples at a time when belief in him so essentially affected men in their secular concerns : nay, he compared this difficulty to a natural impossibility, if human means only were considered. God, however, was able to effect their conversion, by the illustrious evidence to the gospel which from time to time he would vouchsafe.
When our Lord girded himself, washed the feet of his disciples, and gave them this exhortation, “ If I, your Lord and Master, have washed your feet, ye also ought to wash one another's feet;" his action derived its particular propriety from eastern customs, and his precept, though immediately addressed to the apostles, was designed to teach all his disciples in general lowliness and condescension to their fellow creatures : agreeably to his admonition in another place, “Whosoever will be great among you, let him be your minister ; and whosoever will be chief among you, let him be your servant :” which is in like manner addressed to the Twelve with peculiar pertinency ; and the truth conveyed by it, “He that humbleth himself shall be exalted,” will be verified among all Christians both in this world and the next.
I have only one observation more to suggest on this topic of unreasonable commands. When our Lord, at the last paschal supper, gave this advice to his disciples, " "Now, he that hath a purse let him take it, and likewise his scrip: and he that hath no
• John xiii. 14.
Matt. xx. 26, 27
• Mark I. 24 xxii. 36.
sword, let him sell his upper garment, and buy one ;” he meant to signify that distress and danger approached, and that it behoved each of them to provide for his subsistence and safety in such a way as prudence directed. In their circumstances men usu. ally procured swords : and therefore he expressed their situation by saying, that, in the common course of human affairs, such weapons would be considered as necessary The disciples mistook the tendency of his words, when they answered, “Behold, here are two swords :" with which they were probably furnished for security on their journey either * from robbers or wild beasts. Our Lord replied, “ It is enough :” intimating that the Apostles were not to understand him as requiring that they should employ force in his defence or their own : and this he plainly declared when he immediately subjoined that his being numbered among the transgressors must needs be accomplished in him, and also when he commanded Peter to sheath the sword which he had rashly drawn, with this remarkable admonition, that “all who take the sword should perish by the sword.”
* Grot. in loc.
y Matt. xxvi. 52. Chubb, in his posthumous Works, v. 1. 9—26. bas objected to most of the precepts here explained : particularly to Matt. v. 34- -7, 39, 44, 45. vi. 19-28, 34. xix. 21-24. Luke xiv. 12, 13. xxii. 35, 36. And Bolingbroke says : “Of the second sort [directed more immediately to Christ's disciples] are certain duties enjoined in this sermon, and in other parts of the gospel, which seem fit enough for a religious sect, or order of men like the Essenians, but are by no means practicable in the general society of mankind. To resist no injury, to take no care for the morrow, to neglect providing for the common necessaries of life, and to sell all to follow Christ, might be properly exacted from those who were his companions, and his disciples in a stricter sense, like the scholars of Pythagoras, admitted within the curtain ; but reason and experience both shew that, considered as general duties, they are impracticable, inconsistent with natural instinct, as well as law, and quite destructive of Society.” Works, 410. v. ir. 300.
WHETHER HIS TEACHING IS DEFECTIVE.
IN the compass of Christ's instructions we find a great variety of duties explicitly taught or plainly implied. Some of his precepts are very comprehensive : as “ Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself:
Whatsoever ye would that men should do unto you, do ye even so unto them : • Render unto Cesar the things which are Cesar's ; and unto God the things which are God's.” But what the evangelists have recorded of his public preaching may rather be called a specimen of the manner in which he taught, than a full detail of all his admirable lessons. It must also be considered that our Lord promised to shew the Apostles plainly of the Father, after his departure from them; and that the Holy Spirit was to guide them into @ all truth, particularly into such as their prejudices could not bear till their minds were gradually enlightened. So that our Lord's ministry was not the whole of the gospel dispensation ; but only an introductory part.
a Matt. xix. 19. ib. vii. 12 ib. xxii. 21. * John xyi. 25. - ib. 13. rib. 12.
I shall add, though it is a digression from my immediate subject, that the inspired teachers of Christianity not only consider the moral part of the Old Testament as obligatory on all, but also presuppose the law of reason, and build on it as a foundation. They do not prove certain actions to be virtuous or vicious; but mention them as previously known to be such, and as accordingly approved or condemned by our 5 conscience. With regard to religious duties, no defect in them has been alleged. And if they do not distinctly recount, and formally enjoin, every moral, political and domestic duty, let reason distribute the general precepts or prohibitions of revelation into all their particulars, let it shew the analogy of one case to another, let it even supply whatever omissions can be discovered : for it extends to all the various parts of human duty, whereas many are foreign to the proper business of revelation ; it is our primary law, of perpetual and universal obligation. The sacred writings have their due excellence and perfection, if they abound in the most important, religious and moral truths, and if they incidentally teach political and social duties ; furnishing the outline of these latter subjects, without filling up the parts. The omissions imputed to them are easily supplied by reason, and can only be forcibly objected to books of strict method and system ; not to teachers who choose a " different manner of delivering their precepts, the propriety of which I shall illustrate in its proper place.
& Rom. ii. 15.
h See c. ü. sect. 1.
The following are some of the general passages which occur in the epistolary parts of the New TesSt. Paul says, “ If there be i
any virtue, if there be any praise, think on these things.” Again: “The law is made for the ungodly and for sinnersfor liars, for perjured persons; and if there be any other k thing that is contrary to sound doctrine.” And St. John advances this general assertion, that “sin'is the transgression of the law.”
As to particular omissions, it has been objected that Christianity does not recommend patriotism. But, besides the general answer already suggested, sivni 47.2it may
be said that Christ himself afforded an example of it by the affectionate regard which he expressed for Jerusalem, and by shedding tears at the foresight of its desolation ; and that the Apostle Paul was a follower of Christ in this as in other respects, and declared his readiness to " suffer temporal de. struction for the sake of his brethren, and kinsmen according to the flesh. It may further be replied that universal benevolence comprehends patriotism; and that, the closer the ° tie is, whether religious or social, corresponding duties are proportionably required of us : that the most splendid acts of patriotism are among Christian virtues ; a P disinterested regard for others, and a readiness even to die for them when the importance of the case requires it : and that enjoining patriotism in direct terms would have been recommending a duty which, in one sense
11 epist. iii. 4. on Luke xjii.
• Gal. vi. 10. 1 Tim. v.8.
Phil. iv. 8. * I Tim. i. 9, 10. 34. xis. 41, 2.
* Rom. ix. 3. ? 1 Cor. x. 24. xii. 5. 1 Jolin iii. 16.