« 이전계속 »
sees and Philosophers were, alike, ignorant and unbelieving. We profess to know, and to, believe.
Let us, then, take heed what we hear; lest our knowledge and belief add terrors to that day, when the neglected word shall sit in judgment upon us.
PREACHED NOVEMBER 24, 1765.
Rom. xvi. 19.
I would have you wise unto that which is good,
and simple concerning evil.
OUR blessed Lord had given it in charge to his followers to be wise as serpents, and harmless as dovesa. And the Apostle explains and enforces this command of his Master, when he enjoins us in the words of the text, To be wise unto that which is good, and simple concerning evil.
I confine myself, at present, to the former part of the text, and shall enquire into the properties or characters of CHRISTIAN WISDOM.
a Matth. X. 16.
This wisdom consists in the prosecution of what the Scriptures declare to be the true end of man, and by such means as they prescribe
That end is the SALVATION of our souls; and the means, which lead to it, are FAITH and OBEDIENCE.
Thus far there can be no mistake. The wise Christian is he who is intent on securing his eternal interest; and who, to that end, fortifies his mind with a firm belief of the doctrines, and conducts his life according to the precepts, of the Gospel.
I. But PERFECT WISDOM, which consists in a strict attention to these several particulars, and according to the true worth of each, is rarely the lot of human nature. And there are two ways, in which we are most apt to forfeit our pretensions to it. ONE is, when our minds, wholly taken up with the ultimate object of their hopes, neglect the means which are appointed to bring them to it: The OTHER, when we rest in the intervening means themselves, without a due regard to that final purpose, for the sake of which they were ap pointed.
1. The FORMER of these defects we may observe in those persons who, from a too warm and enthusiastic turn of thought, are for subliming all piety into the trances of mystic contemplation ; as if morality and faith scarce deserved their notice; and the beatific vision were as 'well the object, as end of the Christian life. Here the fault lies in an impatience to come at the point we propose to ourselves, without observing the proper methods which are to put us in possession of it; and is much the same phrenzy as we should charge on those travellers, who, being on their way towards a distant country, stop short in the contemplation of all the wonders they have heard reported of it, without pursuing their journey, or indeed without taking one step towards it.
2. The OTHER defect of wisdom is seen in those less sanguine, and, in truth, lukewarm Christians, who do not, indeed, altogether neglect the subservient duties of their profession, but, as not enough considering the prize of their high calling, grow remiss in the exercise of them : in which they too much resemble those same travellers ; who, when taking the ordinary means of arriving at their journey's end, fall into an idle way of loitering on the road, and use not that dispatch and diligence in their stages, which an earnest consideration of the end, they have in view, should naturally inspire.
II. But this duty of Christian wisdom is further violated, when, with a full respect to our final hopes and expectations, and a general intention to pursue them by the means appointed in holy Scripture, we do not, however, observe the due hounds and measures of each ; that is, when, of the two appointed means of salvation, a pure faith, and right practice, we chuse to ourselves a favourite, and incline too much to one, at the expence
of the other. For,
1. With regard to the distinct provinces of FAITH and MORALITY, we know there are those, who, provided they are but sound and orthodox in their opinions, that they give an entire assent to the several articles of their creed, and submit their faith to the entire direction of Scripture, or perhaps of the church with which they communicate, suppose the affair of moral practice of much less importance; and conclude their devotion for this acceptable sacrifice of a right faith will excuse their making somewhat too free with the article of obedience. Such persons there have been and still are in