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mon publick worship. Above all things abstain from ridicule or reflections upon their persons and teachers; from reproaching them with the conduct of their ancestors or predecessors of the same sect; from idle reports of their absurdities or immoralities ; from groundless suspicions of their insincerity; and particularly from charging them with opinions which they disown, or consequences they do not deduce.

When you are called upon to visit the sick, collect as many of the family or others, into the sick person's room as is convenient, and make what you say a vehicle of admonition to them.

Distribute books in your parish, particularly the Tracts of the Society for the propagation of the Gospel, or such as you may select from their Catalogue. It is one of the best modes of instruction, and is in every one's power.”

OBSERVATIONS ON THE CHARACTER AND EXAMPLE OF

CHRIST, AND ON THE MORALITY OF THE GOSPEL.

In the first place, Christ was absolutely innocent: we do not find a single vice to which he was addicted, either from the accounts of his own followers, or as charged upon him by his enemies: we hear nothing like what is told of Mahomet, of his wives and concubines; nothing of his falling, like Socrates and Plato, into the fashionable vices of his country.—In the next place, his whole life, that part of it at least, which we are acquainted with, was employed in doing good, in substantial acts of kindness and compassion to all those who fell in his way, i. e. in solid virtue. In his youth he set an example of subjection and obedience to his

parents. Luke ii. 51.-By his presence of mind and judicious replies, whenever ensnaring questions were pro

posed to him, he testified the coolness and soundness of his understanding. Matt. xxi. 24. xxii. 16. xxx. 37.-By avoiding all danger, when he could do it consistently with his duty, and resolutely encountering the greatest, when his hour was come, i. e. when his own office or the destination of providence made it necessary, he proved the sedateness of his courage in opposition to that which is produced by passion and enthusiasm. Matt. xii. 14, 15. xiv. 12, 13. John iv. 1-3. compared with Niatt. xv. 17—19.By his patience and forbearance, when he had the means of

revenge in his power, he taught us the proper treatment of our enemies.-Luke ix. 54. Matt. xxvi. 53. compared with Luke xxiii. 34. By his withdrawing himself from the populace, and repelling their attempts to make him a king, he showed us the sense we ought to entertain of popular clamour and applause. John vi. 15.—By his laying hold of every opportunity to instruct his followers, and taking so much pains to inculcate his precepts, he left us a pattern of industry and zeal in our profession.-By the liberty he took with the Pharisees and Sadducees, the lawyers and scribes, in exposing their hypocrisy, their errours and corruptions, he taught us fortitude in the discharge of our duty. Matt. xxiii. Luke xi. 37–54.He spared neither the faults of his friends, nor the vices of his enemies.-By his indifference and unconcern about his own accommodation and appearance, the interest of his family and fortune, he condemned all worldly mindedness. Matt. viii. 20. xii. 46-50. John iv. 34.—He was perfectly sober and rational in his devotions, as witness the Lord's prayer compared with any of the compositions of modern enthusiasts. His admirable discourses before his death, are specimens of inimitable tenderness and affection towards his followers. John xiv. xv. xvi. xvii. His quiet submission to death, though even the prospect of it was

terrible to him, exhibits a complete pattern of resignation and acquiescence in the Divine will. John xxii. 41-44.— And to crown all, his example was practicable, and suited to the condition of human life.--He did not like Rousseau, call upon mankind to return back into a state of nature, or calculate his precepts for such a state.—He did not, with the monk and the hermit, run into caves and cloisters, or suppose men could make themselves more acceptable to God, by keeping out of the way of one another. He did not, with some of the most eminent of the Stoicks, command his followers to throw their wealth into the sea, nor with the eastern Faquirs to inflict upon themselves any tedious gloomy penances, or extravagant mortifications. He did not, what is the sure companion of enthusiasm, affect singularity in his behaviour; he dressed, he ate, he conversed like other people ; he accepted their invitations, he was a guest at their feasts, frequented their synagogues, and went up to Jerusalem at their great festival. He supposed his disciples to follow some professions, to be soldiers, taxgatherers, fishermen ; to marry wives, pay taxes, submit to magistrates ;-to carry on their usual business; and when they could be spared from his service, to return again to their respective callings*.-Upon the whole, if the account which is given of Christ, in Scripture, be a just one ;if there was really such a person, how could he be an impostor !-If there was no such person, how came the illiterate Evangelists to hit off such a character, and that without any visible design of drawing any character at all!

* The like did his forerunner John the baptist. When the publicans and soldiers, people of the two most obnoxious professions in that age and country, asked John what they were to do, John does not require them to quit their occupations, but to beware of the vices, and perform the duties of them; which also is to be understood as the baptist's own explanation of that petarCiA ELS APEON ANNOTlar to which he called his coun. trymen,

461

THE MORALITY OF THE GOSPEL.

Not beyond what might be discovered by reason; nor possibly could be; because all morality being founded in relations and consequences, which we are acquainted with, and experience, must depend upon reasons intelligible to our apprehensions, and discoverable by us.

Nor perhaps, except in a few instances, was it beyond what might have been collected from the scattered precepts of different philosophers. Indeed, to have put together all the wise and good precepts of all the different philosophers, to have separated and laid aside all the errour, immorality and superstition that was mixed with them, would have proved a very difficult work. But that a single person, without any assistance from those philosophers, or any human learning whatsoever, in direct opposition also to the established practices and maxims of his own country, should form a system so unblameable on the one hand, and so perfect on the other, is extraordinary, beyond example and belief; and yet must be believed by those who hold Christ to have been either an impostor or enthusiast.

The following are some principal articles of his system.

I. The forgiveness of injuries and enemies ;-absolutely original.

“ Ye have heard that it hath been said thou shalt love thy neighbour and hate thine enemy; but I say unto you, love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you and persecute you, that ye may be the children of your Father which is in heaven; for he maketh his sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sendeth rain on the just and on the unjust,” Matt. v. 43–45.

“ If ye forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you ; but if ye forgive not men their trespasses, neither will your heavenly Father forgive you.” Matt. vi. 14, 15.

" Then came Peter unto him, and said, Lord, how oft shall my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? till seven times ? Jesus saith unto him, I say not unto thee until seven times, but until seventy times seven : therefore (i. e. in this respect) is the kingdom of heaven likened unto a certain king which would take account of his servants ; and when he had begun to reckon, one was brought unto him which owed him ten thousand talents; but for as much as he had not to pay, his lord commanded him to be sold, and his wife and children and all that he had, and payment to be made : the servant therefore fell down, and worshipped him, saying, Lord, have patience with me, and I will pay thee all. Then the lord of that servant was moved with compassion, and loosed him, and forgave him the debt. But the same servant went out, and found one of his fellow servants, which owed him a hundred pence; and he laid hands on him and took him by the throat, saying, pay me what thou owest; and his fellow-servant fell down at his feet, and besought him, saying, have patience with me, and I will pay thee all; and he would not, but went and cast him into prison, till he should pay the debt. So when his fellow-servants saw what was done, they were very sorry, and came and told unto their lord all that was done. Then his lord, after he had called him, said unto him, O thou wicked servant, I forgave thee all that debt, because thou desiredst me, shouldst not thou also have had compassion on thy fellow-servant, even as I had pity on thee? And his lord was wroth, and delivered him to the tormentors, till he should pay all that was due unto him; so like

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