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our neighbour, than to injure his estate. It is wrath and hatred that boils up the blood into fury and revenge, and moves us to smite our neighbour with the fist of wickedness; nor is the guilty passion allayed till it has practised mischief to his body, or his reputation, or his family, or to something that belongs to him. Hence proceed murders and death, and all the train of evils and injuries of the cruel and bloody kind. It was from this principle that Cain slew Abel his brother, that the sons of Jacob sold Joseph into slavery: It was from this principle that Sanballat and Tobiah joined their rage and their counsels against the Jews, that they might hinder the rebuilding of Jerusalem, and endeavour to destroy the builders, and throw down the work; Neh. ii. 10.
I hope there are no examples of this flagrant injustice to be found among us who profess piety. But are there none of us guilty of some lesser injuries rising from the same principle? Are there none of us that indulge our tongues to backbite and slander, to make our neighbours look odious, or to make ourselves easy or merry? This is to play the madman, who casts abroad fire-brands, arrows, and death,-and saith, Am 1 not in sport? Prov. xxvi. 18, 19. Are there none of us that delight to teaze, and vex, and torture our neighbour by disagreeable speeches and sly reproach? Do we never envy and provoke one another, contrary to the apostle's express prohibition? Gal. v. 26. Do we not take pleasure to repeat the things that make each other uneasy, in order to vent the gall within us, and scatter the venom upon our neighbour's good name? This is malice and unrighteousness together; a complicated crime, which one would think should be abhorred by every christian, if one did not frequently see and feel the practice of it among the professors of the name of Christ. I might well compare such creatures to a wasp or hornet, who first teaze and disquiet us with their endless humming, and ere we can get rid of them, they fix their painful sting in our flesh; though neither the pain nor the teazing vexation they give us, can procure any conveniency to those peevish insects, those noisy animals of a little angry soul.
If we are poor, this evil humour tempts us to envy the riches of our neighbour, and we magnify and exalt them beyond the truth, that we may give some colour to our splenetic and uneasy carriage. If we are afflicted, or in pain, we envy the welfare and the ease of others, we enlarge our paraphrases upon their blessings, and blacken their character, that they may appear unworthy of such favours, and worthy of our indignation and envy. "When shall the time come, O Lord Jesus, thou king of righteousness, and king of peace, when shall that day appear, that Ephraim shall not envy Judah, nor Judah molest Ephraim?
When shall it be that no ravenous beast shall come near Zion, and there shall be nothing to hurt or destroy in all thy holy mountain?"
The last spring of injustice that I shall mention, is unbelief, and distrust of the providence of God. When persons are iu low circumstances, they are sometimes hurried by the power of this temptation to use sinful means in order to obtain what they want, or at least what they fancy they want for the comfortable - support of life. The word of God has many engaging promises in it, to those who are diligent in their duty: Though the soul of the sluggard desireth, and hath nothing; yet the soul of the diligent shall be made fat: Prov. xiii. 4. It is the hand of a diligent man that maketh rich, for it hath the blessing of the Lord upon it. God can increase the handful of meal in the barrel, and lengthen out the stream of oil from the little cruse, that the debts of the widow may be paid thereby, and her family find provision; 1 Kings xvii. 12, 14. And even since the days of miracles have ceased, there are many christians who have lived by faith, and have found wonders of support, not much inferior to this ancient miracle.
But those who know not the way of living by faith, are too ready to indulge themselves in some little pilfering or cheating methods to procure a subsistence. Thus unbelief has a plain tendency to unrighteousness, but he that believeth shall not make haste; Is. xxviii. 16. He that believes the care of God toward his own people, and puts his trust in his Redeemer, who is Lord of all things, he that lives upon the covenant of God daily he shall not make haste to make himself rich, or to possess himself of the comforts of life by any methods of injustice; his faith and diligence shall be rewarded at least with daily bread.
And now having finished this subject, I must beg pardon of my reader for insisting so largely on those two virtues, justice and truth, in my text. But they are of so divine a necessity to make up the character of a christian, they are of so valuable importance to the glory of the gospel, and so shameful an inroad has been made upon them in various instances in our degenerate age, that I was willing to attempt something to retrieve this part of godliness: And O may the convincing and sanctifying Spirit of God attend it with his sacred influences, that those who are called by the sacred name of christian, may never bring a blemish upon it by deserving the characters of false and unjust!
[The Second Part of this Sermon.]
The next virtue mentioned in my text, is purity; whatsoever things are pure, think on these things. The sense of this word aya in the Greek, is extended so far by some critics, as to include temperance in eating and drinking, as well as chastity and me
desty in all our words and behaviour; and thus it signifies almost the same with sobriety, and implies a restraint upon all the excessive and irregular appetites that human nature is subject to. Under these two heads I shall treat of purity briefly, and shew under each of them how the light of nature, and how the gospel of Christ requires the practice of it.
I. Temperance in eating and drinking may be included in this command of purity, for we can hardly suppose the apostle omitted so necessary a virtue, and it is not mentioned at all, if it be not implied here. It is not beneath the doctrine of christianity to condescend to give rules about the most common affairs of human life, even food and raiment. It is a piece of impurity to imitate the swine, and to gorge ourselves beyond measure; to give up ourselves to fulfil every luscious appetite, and every luxurious inclination of the taste.
An indulgence of this sort of vice, what infinite disorders doth it bring upon mankind! If a man would read the character of a drunkard painted in very bright and proper colours, and receive the foulest ideas of it in the fairest oratory, he cannot find a better description than Prov. xxiii. 29-32. Who hath woe? Who hath sorrow? Who hath contentions? Who hath babbling? Who hath wounds without cause? Who hath redness of eyes? They that tarry long at the wine, they that go to seek mixed wine. Look not therefore upon the wine when it is red, when it giveth its colour in the cup, when it moveth itself aright. Some men in our age well understand what Solomon here means. But at the last it biteth like a serpent, and stingeth like an adder. The pleasure will be attended with intolerable pain and mortal injury, when the excess of liquor shall work like so much venom poured into the veins, and cast thee into diseases as incurable as the biting of any serpent; it will do thee more mischief than an adder with all his poison. There are many that have felt the words of Solomon true, when their voluptuous sins have been dreadfully recompensed with ruin to their soul and body.
But the inspired writer dwells upon the loathsome subject, and bids us mark the particular effects of it: Thine eyes shall behold strange women, and thine heart shall utter perverse things; Prov. xxiii, 33, that is, says a learned paraphrast* upon the text, "thy thoughts will not only grow confused, and all things appear to thee otherwise than they are; but lustful and adulterous desires will be stirred up, which thou canst not rule, and thy mouth being without a bridle, will break forth into unseemly, nay, filthy, scurrilous, or, perhaps, blasphemous language, without respect to God or man.' Yea, thou shalt be, saith the wise man, as he that *Bishop Patrick.
lieth down in the midst of the sea, or as he that lieth upon the top of a mast; ver. 34. that is, "Thou wilt sottishly run thyself into the extremest hazards, without any apprehensions of danger, being no more able to direct thy course, than a pilot who snores when a ship is tossed in the midst of the sea; no more able to take notice of the peril thou art in, than he that falls asleep on the top of a mast, where he was set to keep the watch." They have stricken me, shalt thou say, and I was not sick; they have beaten me, and I felt it not. When I shall awake, I will seek it yet again; ver. 35. It is as if the wise man had said, "That to complete thy misery, thou shalt not only be mocked, and abused, and beaten, but thou shalt be as senseless as if no harm had befallen thee: And no sooner wilt thou open thine eyes, but thou wilt stupidly seek an occasion to be drunk, and be beaten again."
My friends, have ye never seen a drunkard make that odious figure, in which Solomon represents him? You find human nature is constant to itself: It appears now in Britain, just as it is described in the days of old at Jerusalem in all its vicious excesses. There is a great degree of likeness between our forefathers' intemperance, and their children of late posterity. One would think one such a spectacle as this, or the mere report of it, with an assurance of the truth, should be enough to forbid our lips the excess of liquor, and to set a guard upon ourselves in the hour of temptation.
Not only those who overwhelm themselves with strong drink, and forget reason and themselves, but those that are mighty to drink wine, have a severe censure cast upon them, and a curse in the book of God: Is. v. 11. not only woe to them, that rise up early in the morning, that they may find strong drink, and continue till night, till wine inflame them; but woe to them that are mighty to drink wine, even though they are not utterly overcome by it, to the disorder and disgrace of their understandings, verse 22. The reason is, because nature will not bear such a quantity of wine or strong liquors at first; and it is presumed men have forced nature beyond its original capacity, and thus have grown up, by degrees of sin, to such a strength in drinking. These are they that call evil good and good evil, and that glory in their shame.
Hearken to thy father's advice, O youth, and despise not thy mother's counsel; hear thou, my son, and be wise, and guide thine heart in the way of temperance. Be not among wine-bibbers, amongst riotous eaters of flesh; ver. 19. Youth is greedy of pleasure, and in danger of being corrupted by it; therefore avoid the society of drunkards and gluttons. You see they are joined together in the prohibition and threatening of the word of Ged," for the glutton and the drunkard shall both come to po
verty." A wanton indulgence of the taste will tempt men to revelling and riot, thence follows a neglect of all business; and many a prodigal, who had a fair estate, is by this means become a beggar or a prisoner. Let us be watchful therefore when we sit down at a plentiful table, and put a knife, as it were, to our throat, if we feel the danger of a sharp and wanton appetite; let the guard of our virtue be as sharp and active as our thirst or hunger. Let us not be desirous of feasting ourselves with dainties, for they too often prove deceitful meat: And though they are never so tempting to the palate, yet they may disturb the health of the body, or indispose the mind for the service of virtue. But this leads me to the next general head, and that is, To consider how the light of nature condemns this vice, this sort of impurity.
If it were my business to make a flourish with learned citations, it were an easy matter to bring the Greeks and Romans hither to pass sentence upon the glutton and the drunkard, and all the luxury of the taste; for it is too mean an indulgence either for a man or a christian. It does not become human nature to endanger the welfare of all its powers, and enslave them all to the single sense of tasting, "I am greater, says Seneca, and born to greater things, than to be a slave to this body, or to live merely to become a strainer of meats and drinks." The wisest of men, and the best writers of all ages, even in the heathen nations, have passed their heavy censures on these impure and brutal follies, whereby we are reduced to the rank of beasts that perish, or perhaps sunk below them by the practices of intemperance; for there are but few of that lower rank of creatures, who swill themselves beyond the demands of nature; or, at least, beyond what nature is able to bear.
Let us argue a little upon this head from the principles of reason, and consider that the chief designs of food are these two, the support of our nature, and the refreshment of our spirits. Therefore give food to him that is hungry, that life may be mainfained: Give drink to him that is thirsty, to assist the supports of life, and to refresh it. Give strong drink to him that is ready to faint, that his spirits may be recruited; and wine to him that is heavy of heart, that he may forget his sorrows; Prov. xxxi. 6, 7. It is evident that every thing, which goes beyond the mere necessity of nature for its support, does not presently become sinful; because the refreshment of nature is also one end and design of our food. Remember that the supports of nature are designed by the God of nature to make us fit for all the services and duties of life, and the refreshments of it are ordained by the same Author of nature, to render us chearful in the discharge of those du