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ed for their attention to the outward duties of religion, and for associating with religious persons, to have it said of them, that they are very strict in their way, but they do not regard the truth; that they are exorbitant in their charges; that they can be talking and disputing about religion over their cups; that they are the worst in the world for paying their debts; that they are covetous, morose, or idle, overbearing, and such like charges. These things are often maliciously designed mis-representations; yet others of them, it is to be greatly feared, are often found to be true. Every one, therefore, professing the faith, should remember the apostolic advice, and think upon what are judged the most excellent, and practise them, “ Whatsoever things are true," agreeable to God's holy word, and the generally-acknowledged principles of a well-regulated state of society—“ honest,” all those ways which are agreeable to simplicity, and integrity, and which are devoid of knavery and dissimulation in all their forms—“just,” rendering to all their dues, " tribute to whom tribute, custom to whom custom, fear to v hom fear, honour to whom honour;" doing to all as we would they should do unto us—"pure," avoiding all improper places, persons, and connexions; never suffering our principles to be corrupted by bribery, applause, or the charge of singularity—“ locely,” discovering upon
occasions unaffected courtesy of manners, benevolence of disposition, consistency of character, and liberality of sentiment
_" and of good report,” the advocates and promoters of whatever ennobles human nature, ameliorates the miseries of our suffering fellow-creatures, and that is calculated to spread and diffuse happiness through the world, and especially the highly favoured land of our nativity. Phil. iv. 8. If, said he, there be any virtue or any praise, think on these things; that is, to practise and enforce them.
As all this conduct has a constant tendency to keep us on our guard, and to strengthen habits of virtue in us, it has also a good effect upon our hearts, and proves helpful to us when nothing will satisfy our souls till they are filled with righteousness, and are made pure in his sight, who has said, “ Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.”
But as it is possible to preserve a fair character in the world, and yet in the sight of God to be enslaved by some secretly besetting evil, or some weaknesses which are known only to a few who have an opportunity of observing us more narrowly, it is of absolute necessity, for peace and personal holiness, that we gain a complete ascendency or control over ourselves. The scripture speaks out upon this subject, “ If ye live after the flesh, ye shall die; but if ye, through the Spirit, do mortify the deeds of the body, ye shall live. Mortify, therefore, your members which are upon the earth, fornication, uncleanness, inordinate affection, evil concupiscence, and covetousness, which is idolatry. Put off the old man with his deeds—the deceitful lusts.- Walk not as other Gentiles walk in the vanity of their mind.-Abstain from fleshly lusts which war against the soul.–Let all bitterness, wrath, anger, clamour, and evil speaking, be put away from you, with all malice,” &c. This will require no small degree of resolution, as it is like cutting off the right hand or foot, and the pulling out of the right eye; yet without it there is no entering into that state of communion with God, which it is the christian's privilege to enjoy. Giving way to any thing which the conscience condemns, undermines our confidence in him, opens a way to various temptations, causes the mind to suspect its own sincerity, and to question its past experience of spiritual things; all which is destructive to its prosperity and happiness. It is well with those that can declare in his sight who knows all that is passing in the heart, I love the Lord, and all false ways I utterly abhor. Such are prepared to receive much from God, and he will make them like Eden, or a field which he hath blessed.
THE LORD'S DAY, Or all the precepts of the moral law no one bas been sispected to partake so much of the spirit of the Jewish ritual as the sabbath. Indeed, there have been found those who, not having observed this day particularly spoken of in the New-Testament, have concluded that it was abolished with the other ritual institutions, and that no particular day whatever is set apart for the immediate exercises of religion. But it should be remembered that it was instituted long before the time of Moses, and could have no reference at all to the deliverance of Israel from Egyptian bondage, or to their becoming God's covenant people. It is true indeed that it formed a prominent feature in their ceremonial, and we may conclude by what is said, Exod. xvi. 23, &c. that it was not because they did not know of its first appointment from the creation, but because they had neglected and profaned it, and were brought back again to a better observance of it; for it is there spoken of before it was formally announced in the decalogue, or incorporated into their religious code. We may also remark, that no new reason is assigned for its observance on that occasion, nor any mention made o thei Egyptian deliverance, when the Lord spake to them from the mount, any more than the rest: it is there referred solely to the work of creation, and his resting from it. And can it be supposed that about two thousand years from the creation should pass away before the Lord revealed his will concerning a matter which throughout the writings of the prophets is considered of the greatest importance, especially if we look at the promises made to those who carefully observed it, and the threatenings and punishments which followed its violation? To me it seems very improbable. The shadowy dispensation of the law was to expire when Christ, the true substance, and the blessings of his kingdom, were fully come; but there were in the Jewish economy things so excellent in themselves as not to be dispensed with; which the wisdom of our Redeemer has taken, as it were, from the ruinous pile, and brought into his spiritual, glorious, and eternal building. The moral law, for instance, and those laws which sprang from, and are illustrative of it; which, so far from being abolished, are by him explained, enforced, and confirmed in the fullest manner in his sermon on the mount.
He does not indeed speak pointedly and distinctly of etery command, nor was it necessary. It was sufficient that he described some of its limits, and set forth its divine and spiritual nature. Perkaps they could bear no more; yet we may suppose that all was afterwards explained to the apostles in his private conferences with them, especially the few veeks he conversed with them after his resurrection..
And can it be that he should adopt nine of the commandments, and leave out a tenth without some reason assigned, or some kind of intimation why he did so? So far is this from being the case, that “ Till heaven and earth pass, one jot or tittle shall in no wise pass from the law, till all be fulfilled. Whosoever, therefore, shall break one of these least commandments, and shall teach men so, shall be called the least in the kingdom of heaven." As the ceremonial law did pass away, the moral law must be meant, which, epitomized by himself, is the supreme love of God, and the fervent and subordinate love of man.
The greatest difficulty is to account for the transfer of the Rest, or Holy Sabbath, from the seventh to the first day of the week. We know that the present state of things does not admit of a constant sabbath ; but when the necessities and labours of life shall cease, the saints of God will enjoy an endless rest and sabbath above. In the mean time the pious christian who would keep a constant rest, but for the reason above assigned, will never be persuaded that God intends him to be less holy, or to spend less time in his immediate worship than his ancient church. lle, therefore, sees it right, in addition to his daily sacrifices of praise and thanksgiving, to add one day in seven in a more devout and solemn manner, not only to acknowledge the God of nature, but that gracious Redeemer who, having subdued all his enemies, rose triumphantly over death and the grave, obe taining a far greater deliverance for us than Israel of old; and because the first day was set apart for the same purposes by his earliest followers both before and after the penning of the New Testament, and who must have been better judges of this matter than those who have lived in later times, he therefore observes with them the same day.
Jesus was pleased to appear to his disciples after he was risen from the dead on that day, Luke xxiv. 13, 36, John xx. 19, 26; which was afterwards dignified by the descent of the Holy Spirit, and the effusion of his grace.
At Troas, on that day, the disciples came together to break bread, (to receive the Lord's supper) and St. Paul preached to them, and kept them till late in the night. It was on that day that he expected to collect for the poor, because on that day they were assembled together, Acts xx. 7, 1 Cor. xvi. 2. And he gave orders that in this respect the Galatian should follow the custom of the Corinthian church, and doubtless for the same plain reason.
We observe St. John, in the Revelation, speaks of being in the Spirit on the Lord's day. This expression denotes some particular day. All days indeed are the Lord's, but this is an unusual phrase, and is not applied to days in general; what then can it mean, if not the christian sabbath? The christian church has observed this day from the beginning. It is allowed that those of its members who were of Jewish extraction, did observe the Jewish sabbath for a while, to accommodate themselves to their neighbour's prejudices, as they did several other ceremonies; but they kept holy the first day of the week also. There is, however, no wisdom in differing from the usage of the church universal; since, if we consider the revolutions of time, and the distances of places and climates, it is impracticable to observe it in all parts of the world exactly in one and the same time, without causing the greatest confusion. It is best so to apportion our time, that a seventh part of it may be devoted to the service of God, according to his gracious designs; and we cannot do better than spend it in the best and most scriptural manner, and at the same time as the rest of our christian brethren do, where the providence of God may cast
Some have thought by changing it to the first day of the