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And what think we, now, of this picture? Is there truth and nature in it? Are we at all concerned in this representation, and do we discover any resemblance to it in what is passing elsewhere, I mean in modern times, and even in Christian societies? If we do, let us acknowledge with honesty, but indeed with double shame, that, like the Pagans of old, we have the art to pervert the best things to the worst purposes; and that the lusts of men are still predominant over the wisest and most beneficent institutions of civil justice.
Indeed, as to ourselves, the mild and equitable spirit of our laws might be enough, one would think, to inspire another temper: but when we further consider the divine spirit of the Gospel, by which we pretend to be governed, and the end of which is charity, our prodigious abuse of both must needs cover us with confusion,
The instruction, then, from what has been said, is this: That, since, as St. James observes, all our wars and fightings with each other proceed only from our lusts, and since these have even prevailed to that degree as to corrupt the two best gifts, which God, in his mercy, ever bestowed on mankind, that is, to make Religion and Law subservient to our bitter animosities; since all this, I say, has been made appear in the preceding comment on the sacred text, it becomes us, severally, to consider what our part has been in the disordered scene, now set before us: what care we have taken to check those unruly passions, which are so apt, by indulgence, to tyrannize over us; and, if this care has been less than it ought to have been, what may be the consequence of our neglect. We should, in a word, take heed, how we bite and devour one another; not only, as the Apostle admonishes, that we be not consumed one of another ; but lest, in the end, we incur the chastisement of that Law, we have so industriously perverted, and the still sorer chastisement of that RELIGION, we have so impiously abused.
PREACHED APRIL 29, 1770.
1 Tim. i. 5.
The end of the Commandment is Charity, out
of a pure heart, and of a good conscience, and of faith unfeigned.
THE Apostle, in the preceding verse, had warned Timothy against giving heed to fables and endless genealogies : by Fables, meaning certain Jewish fictions and traditions applied to the explication of theological questions, and not unlike the tales of the pagan mythologists, contrived by them to cover the monstrous stories of their Gods; and, by GENEALOGIES, the derivation of Angelic and Spiritual natures 9, according to a fantastic system, invented by the Oriental philosophers, and thence adopted by some of the Grecian Sects. These fables and genealogies (by which the Jewish and Pagan converts to Christianity had much adulterated the faith of the Gospel) the Apostle sets himself to expose and reprobate, as producing nothing but curious and fruitless disputations ; being indeed, as he calls them, endless, or interminabler ; because, having no foundation in the revealed word of God, they were drawn out, varied, and multiplied at pleasure by those, who delighted in such fanatical visions.
Then follows the text. The end of the Commandment, is CHARITY: out of a PURE HEART: and of a good CONSCIENCE ; and of FAITH UNFEIGNED-As if the Apostle had said, “I have cautioned you against this pernicious folly : but, if ye must needs deal in the
of Mythology and Genealogy, I will tell you how ye may employ your ingenuity to more advantage.
Take Christian Charity, for your theme: mythologize that capital Grace of your profession ; or, deduce the parentage of it, according to the steps, which I will point out to you. For it springs immediately out of a pure heart ; which, itself, is derived from a good conscience ; ' as that, again, is the genuine offspring or emanation of faith unfeigned. In this way, ye may gratify your mythologic or genealogical vein, innocently and usefully's; for ye may learn yourselves, and teach others, how to acquire and perfect that character, which is the great object of your religion, and the end of the Commandment.”
a Called Æones. See Grotius r 'Απεράνθους.
Let us, then, if you please, attend to this genealogical deduction of the learned Apostle ; and see, if the descent of Christian charity be not truly and properly investigated by him.
I. CHARITY, says he, is out of a pure heart : that is, it proceeds from a heart, free from the habits of sin, and unpolluted by corrupt affections.
To see with what propriety, the Apostle makes a pure heart the parent of charity, we are to reflect, that this benevolent temper, which inclines us to wish and do well to others, is the proper growth and produce, indeed, of the human mind, but of the human mind in its
s Dat nobis et Paulus brevem yered Royíay, sed perutilem. GROTIUS.