« הקודםהמשך »
We are moreover his redeemed servants ; and as such, are under the strongest mo- ! tives to love and trust him.
This deserves to be more particularly considered, because it opens to us another view of the human nature, in which we should often survey ourselves, if we desire to know ourselves; and that is as depraved or degenerate beings. The inward contest we so sensibly feel, at some seasons especially, between a good and a bad principle, (called in scripture-language the flesh and the spirit,) of which some of the wisest heathens seemed not to be ignorant*; this, I say, is demonstration that some way or other the human nature has contracted an ill bias, (and how that came about the facred scriptures have sufficiently informed us,) and that it is not what it was when it came originally out of the hands of its maker; so that the words which St. Paul fpake with reference to the Jews in particular, are juftly applicable to the state of mankind in general, “There is none righ“ teous, no not one ;-they are all gone
* Λυγρη γαρ συνοπαδος, ερις βλαπτεσα λεληθιν
Pythag. Aur. Carm.
o out of the way, they are together be“ come unprofitable, there is none that “ doth good, no not one *.”
This is a very mortifying thought; but an undeniable truth, and one of the first principles of that science we are treating of; and very necessary to be attended to, if we would be sensible of the duty and obligations we owe to Christ as the great Redeemer ; in which character he appears for the relief and recovery of mankind under this their universal depravity. · The two miserable effects of the human apostacy are, 1. That perverse dispofitions grow up in our minds from early infancy, that foon fettle into vicious habits, which render us weak, and unwilling to obey the dictates of conscience and reason, and is commonly called the dominion of fin. And, 2. At the same time we are subject to the displeasure of God, and the penalty of his law; which is commonly called the c011demnation of fin. Now in both these respects did Christ, “ the Lamb of God, i come to take away the fin of the world;" that is, to take away the reigning power
of it by the operation of his grace; and in the condemning power of it by the atone
ment * Rom. iii. 10, 127
ment of his blood; to fahetify us, by his fpirit, and justify us his death. By the former he reconciles us to God, and by the latter he reconciles God to us; and is at once our righteousness and strength. He died to purchase for us the happiness we had forfeited, and sends his grace and fpirit to fit us for that happiness he hath tħus purchased. So complete is his redemption! lo suitably adapted is the remedy he hath provided, to the malady we had contracted ! O blessed Re.
deemer of wretched ruined creatures, “ how unspeakable are the obligations I * owe thee! But, ah! How insensible “ am I of those obligations ! the saddest “ fymptom of degeneracy I find in my « nature, is that base ingratitude of heart, “ which renders me so unaffective with " thine astonishing compassions. Till I “ know thee, I cannot know myself; and as when I survey myself, may I ever think “ of thee! may the daily consciousness of “ my weakness and guilt'lead my thoughts 66 to thee ; and may every thought of thee “ kindle in my heart the most ardent glow " of gratitude to thee, thou divine, com« passionate friend, lover, and Redeemer 5 of mankind.” Whoever then he be that calls himself
a Christian, that is, who professes to take the gospel of Christ for a divine revelation, and the only rule of his faith and practice ; but, at the same time, pays a greater regard to the dictates of men, than to the doctrines of Christ'; who loses fight of that great example of Christ, which fhould animate his Christian walk, is unconcerned about his fervice, honour, and intereft, and excludes the consideration of his merits and atonement from his hope and happiness; he forgets that he is a ChriStian ;--- he does not consider in what relation he stands to Christ, (which is one great part of his character,) and consequently discovers a great degree of selfignorance.
(3.) Self-knowledge moreover implies a due attention to the several relations in which we stand to our fellow-creatures ; and the obligations that result from thence.
If we know ourselves, we shall remember the condescension, benignity, and love that is due to inferiors; the affability, friendship, and kindness we ought to show to equals ; the regard, deference, and honour we owe to superiors; and the candour, integrity and benevolence, we owe to all.
The particular duties requisite in these relatiors are too numerous to be here menu
tioned. Let it suffice to say, that if a man doth not well consider the several relations of life in which he stands to others, and does not take care to preserve the decorum and propriety of those relations, he may juftly be charged with felf-ignorance.
And this is so evident in itself, and so generally allowed, that nothing is more common than to say, when a person does not behave with due decency towards his superiors, such a one does not underfad himself. But why may not this with equal justice be said of those who act in an ill manner towards their inferiors? The expression, I know, is not so often thus applied; but I see no reason why it should not, since one is as common, and as plain an instance of self-iga norance as the other. Nay, of the two, perhaps men in general are more apt to be defective in their duty and behaviour towards those beneath them, than they are towards those that are above them; and the reason seems to be, because an apprehenfion of the displeasure of their superiors, and the detrimental consequences which may accrue from thence, may be a check upon them, and engage them to pay the just regards which they expect : h there being no such check to restrain