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For, the blessed Jesus places first what is most important in itself; the apostle rises to it by a species of climax. I shall premise only, that all obligation relates to three objects, words, actions, and thoughts, and that to each of these the Christian moral code is directed.
I. The apostle injoins to live soberly. Al- . though by the term sobriety is strictly understood that becoming moderation in regard to pleasures merely sensual, and all that regards the indulgence of appetite, yet, as far as relates to self-government, and the due command of our passions and affections, the term may justly admit of a much more extensive signification, and comprehend the proper balance of all our principles merely selfish. For, when
of these is allowed to exceed its just limits, sobriety of mind is not preserved. Hence, the same apostle, in checking presumption, vanity, and pride, injoins on every Christian, “not to think more highly of himself than he ought to think, but to think soberly." This evidently shows his comprehensive sense of the term, which, in both passages, is the same in the original, being used as an adverb in the one, and in the other as a verbal substantive. Several other passages of the New Testament clearly prove that the term sobriety, and its relatives, comprehend that
a Rom. xii. 3.
due regulation of mind which prevents excess in the desires and passions chiefly centring in ourselves." “ All that is in the world,” says
the apostle John, “the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not of the Father, but of the world. The selfish principles relate to sensual indulgences; to external pomp and distinction ; to the objects of the irascible part of our nature; to the estimation of our personal consequence; to the love of ease and aversion from labour; and to the evils and distresses which befal us.
With regard to sensual indulgences, Christianity requires the most complete moderation. It places these in their proper light, as necessary for the preservation and comfort of the body, as belonging to our compound nature, as therefore lawful, but as always to be restrained within those bounds which prevent their enfeebling our corporal frame, and obscuring, obstructing, and destroying the energy of the immortal spirit. The brutal part of our composition is to be held under constant subjection to the rational, and never to be allowed to claim more than belongs to it. This is manifestly the dictate of right reason, and Christianity, far from superseding its rules, confirms and expands them.
a i Thes. V. 8. 1 Tim. iii. 2-11. Tit. . 2-4. 1 Pet. i. 13; iv. 7; v. 8. Tit. ü. 6. Acts xxvi. 25. 1 Tim. ü. 9, 15.
b Į John ii. 16.
Its entire tendency is to purify, refine, and exalt all the nobler faculties of our nature, to invigorate their exercise, and to enable them to attain their ends—the present improvement and ultimate happiness of the human soul.
Hence, Christians are required to be moderate in their pleasures, and in the indulgences of appetite, and never, on any account, to approach to licentiousness. All the impurity and madness of heathen orgies and bacchanalian feasts are strictly prohibited." Drunkenness and lust are unbecoming a wise man of whatever religion, and much more a Christian. Gluttony and epicurism, as they are equally disgraceful, are equally reprobated. No sins are more frequently or more severely condemned and threatened by the Christian law, than fornication and adultery. Chaste celibacy is commended. Marriage is declared to be honourable in all ; but it is restricted to the union of one man with one woman ; and divorce, unless on account of adul. tery, is prohibited. In a word, a sober, temperate, and decent life is injoined on every disciple of Christ. Christianity directs also its precepts to wean the soul from immoderate attachment
a Prov. xxiii. 20, 21, 29-31; xxviii. 7. Luke xxi. 34. Rom. xiii. 13. 2 Pet. ii. 13, 14, 18. 1 Cor. vi. 13, 15, 16, 18. Gal. v. 19. Eph. v. 3. Col. iii. 5. 1 Thes. iv. 3. Rev. xxi. 8. 1 Cor. vii. 37,38. Heb. xiii. 4. Matt. v. 32. Luke xvi. 10. 1 Cor. vii. 2, 10. Exod, xx. 14.
to worldly pomp, splendour; affluence, and distinction. It points out in the most striking manner, the insignificance, the unsatisfactory nature, the uncertainty and fleeting duration of all external possessions and enjoyments. It hence dictates moderation in the pursuit of wealth, honour, and power, and all that is born in this world, and perishes with terrestrial existence.a The grand ambition of a Christian is that crown of glory which is reserved in the heavens as the purchase of his divine master. In comparison of this, worldly possessions and honours are vile and contemptible. To these last the disciple of Christ assigns their true value, “and uses this world as not abusing it, convinced that the fashion of this world passeth away.'
96 The soul is imperishable, and Christianity allows not its professors to be enslaved either to the perishing body, or to a world which must also perish at its appointed time. Our religion represents us as mere “strangers and pilgrims on the earth, and as travelling towards an everlasting country. Its voice is, “ Why do you seek here your place of rest, your dignity, and your treasure ? Every thing around you is in constant fluctuation, and may to-morrow be snatched from your grasp and your view. Seek first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness ;'d seek a continuing
a Exod. xx. 17. Luke xii. 16-21. 1 Pet. i. 24. bo1 Cor. vii. 31. c Heb. xi. 13. I Pet. ii. 11. d Matt. vi. 33.
city which hath foundations, whose builder, and maker is God ;' lay up treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust doth corrupt, and where thieves do not break through nor steal.' • You brought nothing into this world, and it is certain can carry nothing out of it. Having food and raiment, be therewith content. They that will be rich fall into temptation, and a snare, and into many foolish and hurtful lusts, which drown men in destruction and perdition. For the love of money is the root of all evil; which while some coveted after, they have erred from the faith, and pierced themselves through with many sorrows.'» The Christian is not required to be absolutely indifferent to worldly possessions, to situations of distinction and power, or to reputation ; but he must never consider these as primary objects, and, when he obtains them, must direct them to their proper ends. “Every creature of God is good, and nothing to be refused, if it be received with thanksgiving. provide not for his own, and specially for those of his own house, he hath also denied the faith, and is worse than an infidel.” As we are commanded to pray for our daily bread, so we are, by this very prayer, required to employ the necessary means of honestly procuring it. The benevolent and charitable use of riches shall be
“ If any
a Heb. xiii. 14 ; xi. 10. Matt. vi. 20. 1 Tim. vi. 7-10. bi Tim. iv. 4. ci Tim. v. 8. d Matt. vi. 11. Luke xi. 3.