« VorigeDoorgaan »
Paul could wish himself ac- rupt the earth with her fornicasursed from Christ for his breth- tion, and hath avenged the blood ren the Jews. Still he approved of his servants at her hand.” the final ruin of Christ's enemies. As the inhabitants of heaven exIf any man love not the Lord Jer press perfect benevolence in sus Christ, let him be anathema, praising God for the destruction maranatha. The same regard to of his enemies ; so David was justice disposed him to say; truly benevolent in praying for Alexander, the coppersmith, did the same event. How will it be me much evil. The Lord reward at the final judgment, when all kim according to his works. the wicked will be separated
The truly benevolent from the righteous, and receive may desire the destruction of their awful doom? In the exerthose, who are finally rebellious. cise of perfect benevolence the Benevolence supremely regards righteous will say, amen, to the God and his kingdom. The irrevocable sentence, depart, ye glory of God and the blessedness cursed. of his kingdom are infinitely My dear friend, how complete, more desirable, than the happi- how remediless must be the ness of individuals. No one in destruction of the wicked, if it the exercise of benevolence tri- fulfil the desire of all holy beings. fles with the happiness of others, Let David's imprecations remind or desires their misery for its us of our awful doom, if we own sake. The virtuous citizen die impenitent.
All the wise desires that the murderer, the and good will unitedly say of us, robber, and the midnight assassin let them be punished with evermay be detected and receive their lasting destruction. How can we just deserts ; not because he is hope for salvation, except in the malicious and desires their mis- present life ve repent, and beery for its own sake, but for the come reconciled to God, so that peace of society, and the honour we can rejoice not only in his of its just laws. So, while the mercies, but in his judgments. Psalmist had no direct pleasure And let us also remember that in the punishment of others; the same benevolence, which yet for the glory of God and the will dispose us to acquiesce in good of his people, he prayed for the just punishment of sinners, divine wrath upon the wicked. will lead us, by fervent prayer, He knew that the glory of God and zealous, unwearied exertion, required the destruction of his to seck their salvation, while it incorrigible enemies. As God is an accepted time and day of would be honoured by that mercy.
ZETA. event; so would the blessedness of saints and angels be promoted. This accords with the language of the heavenly hosts ; Alleluia, THE PERFECTION OF CHRIST'S salvation, glory, and honour, and
EXAMPLE power unto the Lord our God; Jesus Christ came into the for true and righteous are his world, not only as a Redeemer, judgments, for he hath judged but also as an Instructor. The ihe great whore, which did cor religion which he taught to men,
he exemplified in his own life. This may operate to the good of And his example is perfect. It its objects ; but not to the injuis such as had never appeared in ry 'of others. Though there the world before, and has never are some particular virtues, or appeared since.
branches of virtue, which his It is a comprehensive example. worldly condition never called There are, indeed, some virtues, into action, yet he has exempliwhich he could not directly ex- fied all the radical & fundamental emplify, as there were some re- virtues of religion. If we introlations, which he did not sustain. duce these into our practice, othBut be exbibited other more gen- ers will follow, when occasion eral virtues, which, being form- calls. ed in the heart, and drawn into There are many examples repractice, will lead to the exercise corded in Scripture for our imiof all. That universal benevo- tation. These, though excellent lence, which appeared in him, in the main, were not perfect in will, in all our intercourse with every thing. They were chiefly mankind, dispose us to justice, eminent for single and particular fairness, and fidelity ; virtues virtues. Moses was celebrated which he could not so directly for his meekness ; Job for his paexhibit in his life, having never tience ; David for his devoutness ; made a secular profession his Elijah for his zeal ; John for his business, nor worldly gain his suavity of temper. But in the object. By his attention to life of Christ every virtue is disfriends, by his affection to breth- played in its full lustre. It is a ren, and by his care for his dis- great advantage to see our whole ciples, he has shewn parents and duty marked out in a single life, heads of families, how they ought and to contemplate it in one to walk in their houses, though view, without the trouble of sehe never sustained the natural lecting from a number of examrelation of a father. He ex- ples the best things, and putting pressed a particular affection for them together in one character. natural relatives and chosen This is done to our hands in the friends ; but he never shewed pattern of Christ. His example any exceptionable partiality to is suited to the case of all Christhem. Natural affection in him, tians, in all times and places. It as a man, had its just operation ; is designed for universal benefit ; but it had no influence on his and therefore is abstracted, as conduct in the capacity of a Sa- much as possible, from peculiar viour. To his relatives he of- situations, and adapted to cirfered no easier terms of salva- cumstances common to mankind. tion, and no higher advantages If he had appeared as a temporal to obtain it, than what he offer- prince, or an opulent nobleman, ed to others. And indeed, his he might have given an excelbrethren were not the first who lent pattern of justice and liberbelieved in bim. Those were ality to the rich and powerful ; . his brethren, sisters and parents, but he could not so well have exwho did the will of his heavenly hibited the duties of those in Father. Thus he has stated the private life, or in a moderate contrue bounds of natural affection. dition. His example therefore * would have been much less use this is an object of faith, not of ful on the whole ; for the rich sight. In Christ the perfect and great make but a small pro- character of God is <brought portion of mankind. But as he down to mortal view in such a appeared in a low condition, he soft and easy light, that we can was able to exhibit the virtues, bebold it without terror, and conwhich immediately concern the template it without amazement. great body of the human race, That God is a being of holiness, and to exhibit them in an easy justice, truth and goodness, we and familiar manner, adapted to believe ; and that we ought to be their observation. This exam- like him in these perfections, we ple was not raised by worldly dig- acknowledge. But it is a mighty nity above the sight, but by hum. advantage to see these perfecble poverty brought down to the tions familiarly exemplified in inspection of common people. him, who came from the bosom Every one may see in it some of the Father, and manifested thing pertinent to himself. Ev. himself in our flesh. en the rich and great may learn
The divine character is perfrom Christ the duties of their fect; but there are many things high station ; for though he ap- essential to religion in man, peared as a private and a poor which can have no place in the man, yet his works proved him Deity ; such as meekness, buto be a messenger from heaven. mility, resignation and self deThe poor from him may learn nial. Of these virtues we have the duties of their humble con- an example in Jesus Christ, who, dition ; for though he was rich, being in the form of God, humyet for their sakes he became bled himself, and was made in poor.
the likeness of men. Christ's example was without The example of Christ, as it defect. Other examples may be was human and suited to the encouragements to virtue ; this condition of man, so it was cononly is a standard of virtue. In descending, and adapted to the every other example, however condition of every man. There good, find imperfection. was nothing in it distant and reThere is, at best, a mixture of served, dark and intricate ; but wisdom and folly, of rectitude it was all free and open, easy to and depravity, of good and evil; be understood, and level to the and before we imitate it, we must weakest capacity. He never plaseparate the mixture, expunge ced religion in austerity of manthe faults, supply the defects, ners, peculiarity of habit, mortiand place the good by itself. fication of body, refinement of But in the example of Christ speculation, or depth of learnthere is virtue without defect, ing; but he made it to consist in purity without blemish, humility the strict virtues and plain duties without meanness, innocence of a holy heart and life ; in love without weakness, wisdom with- to God and charity to men; in out artifice, constancy without humility, meekness, patience and stiffness.
contentment. He carried on a The divine character is the simple, uniform design to bring standard of moral perfection. But glory to God, and happiness to
men. There is nothing in all and the difficult virtues, which this, but what every man may were most distinguished in easily understand. By reading Christ, have been least apparent the life of Jesus one may better in the great men of the world. learn what it is to be a good in this respect he exceeded all man, than by turning over all others, and gave the most undethe volumes of ancient or modern niable evidence of the goodness philosophers,
of his heart, and the excellency Another excellency of Christ's of his religion. example is, that it agrees with Such an example, while it his own instructions: It is no- marks out the course which we thing else, but his own rules re- are to pursue, should animate duced to practice. He was not our resolution to enter upon, like the Scribes and Pharisees, and to persevere in that course. who laid on men's shoulders Jesus, as a man, had, indeed, heavy burdens, which they many advantages, which
would not move with one of their have not. He was born holy,' · fingers; and who daily contra, and free from those inordinate dicted in practice, what they propensities, which are common strenuously enjoined in precept. to us. He was anointed with He acted fully up to his own the Spirit above his fellows. system, and in prosecution of it The Spirit was given him withdid many things far more hard out measure. In him dwelt the and difficult, than what he re- fulness of the Godhead. But quires of us. In this he differs still, as a man, he was compassed from other teachers, who go far- with our infirmities, and temptther in precept than in pattern. ed as we are. And he knows
It is a recommendation of how to have compassion on us, Christ's example, that in it the and his grace is sufficient for us. most difficult virtues of religion Sensible of our weakness, we are most conspicuous ; such as may be strong in the grace, meekness under provocations, which is in him. love of enemies, the forgiveness We may perhaps think it of injuries, contempt of worldly would have been a greater enriches and honours, labour and couragement to us to have seen, self-denial in doing good, and our duty practised by one, who patience and resignation under came near to us in weakness ; great afflictions ; and yet all by one, who was no more than a these are modest virtues, which man. But then we must conmake no ostentation of them- sider,' that the Son of God, selves, and are feast apt to at. though without any sinfulness tract the notice and esteem of in his flesh, was made in the the world. The virtues of likeness of our sinful flesh; he those, whose characters have bare our infirmities, and sufferusually been celebrated, are ed being tempted. His exameither of the easy, or of the ple therefore could not have showy kind; such as may be come nearer to our case, withe practised without self-denial, or out wanting that perfectioit, sach as will excite admiration in which is its highest recommenthe spectators.
The modest dation, and which makes it an Vol. II, No. 5.
infallible rule for our conduct in he believes one system of religlife.
ious opinions, or another. Tho'. The perfection, which appear- such apparent indifference in ed in Christ, is proposed to us, our societies may conceal strong as the object of our aim ; but prejudices against the general not required as the condition of faith of the reformed church, our salvation. Through the and a secret persuasion, that he righteousness of this great Re- embraces and will preach those deemer, God accepts that peni- lax sentiments, for which they tence, which renounces sin with have a strong predilection. abhorrence, and that faith, which · Now from whatever motive purifies the heart, and which such negligence in our churches, humbly and ardently aspires to and under whatever; specious the measure of the stature of names and fair pretences it may 'the fulness of Christ. In him seek to hide itself, it is an evil believers are complete ; for to of great magnitude ; .as will apthem he is made wisdom, right- pear from the following conside eousness, sanctification and re- rations. demption.
First. It is a violation of inTHEOPNILU3. spired precepts. By some di
rect commands, and by many plain intimations, God urges upon Christian churches the importance of using the most watchful care respecting the re
ligious sentiments of their teach(Continued from page 173.)
If there come any unto you, The increasing indifference of says John, and bring not this qur churches respecting the theo- doctrine, that is, the doctrine of logical opinions of ministers, is an Christ, which he preached, reevil proper to be noticed in this ceive him not into your house, survey. In general, very little neither bid him God speed'; for inquiry is made concerning the he that biddeth him God speed, is religious qualifications of a partaker of his evil deeds. They, preacher. The question, wheth- who, from choice or negligence, er he embraces the doctrines of encourage those preachers, who the gospel, often exposes to con- hold not the true doctrine of tempt the person, who offers it. Christ, are, in a measure, chargeChurches manifest an undue re- able with all the fatal effects of gard to the external accomplish- their errors. Paul gives a similar ments of ministers, with a cor- direction. I beseech you, brethresponding inattention to the pu- ren, mark them, who cause divisrity of their sentiments and the ions and offences contrary to the sanctity of their lives. It is not un- doctrine, which ye have learned, frequently the case, that a man and avoid them. Not very unis introduced into the sacred of- like this is the injunction of Solfice, when it is not known either
Cease, my son, to hear from his preaching, or conversa- the instruction, which causeth 10 tion, or from the proceedings of err from the words of knowledge. the ordaining council, whether Christ inculcates caution on the