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rupt fashions, which were probably, like the fashions of other counties, temporary and local; but it struck at that worldliness, which is the root and stock from which all corrupt fashions proceed.

The prophet Isaiah, who addressed himself more par. ticularly to the Israelitish women, inveighed not only against vanity, luxury, and immodesty, in general; but with great propriety blamed even those precise instances of each, to which the women of rank in the particular coun. try he was addressing were especially addicted ; nay, he enters into the minute detail* of their very personal decorations, and brings specific charges against their levity and extravagance of apparel; meaning, however, chiefly to censure the turn of character which these indicated. But the Gospel of Christ, which was to be addressed to all ages, stations, and countries, seldom contains any such detailed animadversions ; for thongh many of the censura. ble modes which the prophet so severely reprobated, continued probably to be still prevalent in Jerusalem in the days of our Saviour, yet how little would it have suited the universality of his mission, to have confina ed his preaching to such local, limited, and fluctuating customs! not but that there are many texts which actu. ally do define the Christian conduct as well as temper, with sufficient particularity to serve as a condemnation of many practices which are pleaded for, and often to point pretty directly at them.

Had Peter, on that memorable day when he added three thousand converts to the Church by a single sermon, narrowed his subject to a remonstrance against this diversion, or that public place, or the other vain amusement, it might indeed have suited the case of some of the female Jewish converts who were present ; but such restrictions as might have been appropriate to them, would probably not have applied to the cases of the Parthians and Medes, of which his audience was partly composed ; or such as might have belonged to them would have been totally inapplicable to the Cretes and Arabians; or again, those which suited these would not have applied to the Elamites and Mesopotamians. By such partial and circumscribed addresses, his multifarious audience, composed

* Isaiah, chap. iii.

of all nations and countries, would not have been, as we are told they were, "pricked to the heart.” But when he preached on the broad ground of general repentance Wand remission of sins in the name of Jesus Christ," it was no wonder that they all cried out, "What shall we do?" These collected foreigners, at their return home, must have found very different usages to be currected in their different countries ; of course a detailed restriction of the popular abuses at Jerusalem, would have been of little use to strangers returning to their respective nations. · The ardent apostle, therefore, acted more consistently io cominu. nicating to them the large and comprehensive spirit of the Gospel, which should at once involve all their scattered and separate duties, as well as reprove all their scattered and separate corruptions ; for the whole always includes a fart, and the greater involves the less. Christ and his disciples, instead of limiting their condemnation to the peculiar vanities reprehended by Isaiah, embraced the very soul and principle of them all, in such exhortations as the following: Be ye not conformed to the world;"- If

any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in "him :"-" Thefashion of this world passeth away." Our Lord and his apostles, whose future unlimited audience was to be made up out of the whole world, attacked the evil heart, out of which all those incidental, local, and popular corruptions proceeded.

In the time of Christ and his immediate followers, the luxury and intemperance of the Romans had arisen to a pitch before unknown in the world ; but as the same Gospel which its Divine Author and his disciples were then preaching to the hungry and necessitous, was afterwards to be preached to high and low, not excepting the Roman Emperors themselves ; the large précept, "Whether ye eat bor drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God," was likely to be of more general use, than any separate ex. hortation to temperance, to thankfulness, to moderation as to quantity or expense; which last, indeed, must always be left in some degree to the judgment and circumstances of the individual.

When the Apostle of the Gentiles visited the "saints of Cesar's household,” he could hardly fail to have heard, nor could he have heard without abhorrence, of some of the fashionable amusements in the court of Nero. He


must have reflected with peculiar indignation on many things which were practised in the Circensian games : yet, instead of pruning this corrupt tree, and singling out even the inhuman gladiatorial sports for the object of his con. demnation, he laid his axe to the root of all sin, by preach. ing to them that Gospel of Christ of which he was not "ashamed ;” and shewing to them that believed, that "it

was the power of God, and the wisdom of God.” It is somewhat remarkable, that about the very time of his preaching to the Romans, the public taste had sunk to such an excess of depravity, that the very women engaged in those shocking encounters with the gladiators.

But, in the first place, it was better that their right practice should grow out of the right principle; and next, : his specifically reprobating these diversions might have had this ill effect, that succeeding ages, seeing that they in their amusements came somewhat short of those dreadful excesses of the polished Romans, would only have plumed themselves on their own comparative superiority ; and on this principle, even the bull-fights of Madrid might have had their panegyrists. The truth is, the apostle knew that such abominable corruptions could never subsist to. gether with Christianity; and, in fact, the honour of abol. ishing these barbarous diversions was reserved for Con. stantine, the first Christian Emperor.

Besides, the apostles, by inveighing against some purticular diversions, might have seemed to sanction all which they did not actually censure : and as, in the lapse of time and the revolution of governments, customs change and manners fluctuate ; had a minute reprehension of the fash. ions of the then existing age been published in the New Testament, that portion of Scripture must in time have be. come obsolete, even in that very same country, when the fashions themselves should have changed. Paul and his brother apostles knew that their epistles would be the ora. cles of the Christian world, when these teinporary diversions would be forgotten. In consequence of this knowledge, by the universal precept to avoid “the lust of the flesh, "the lust of the eye, and the pride of life,” they have prepared a lasting antidote against the principle of all cor. rupt pleasures, which will ever remain equally applicable to the loose fashions of all ages, and of every country, to the end of the world. VOL. II.


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Therefore to vindicate diversions, which are in them. selves unchristian, on the pretended ground that they are not specifically condemned in the gospel, would be little less absurd than if the heroes of Newmarket should bring it as a proof that their periodical meetings are not con. demned in Scripture, because St. Paul, when writing to the Corinthians, did not speak against these, or because, in availing himself of the Isthmian games, as a happy illus. tration of the Christian race, he did not drop any censure on the practice itself : a practice which was indeed as much more pure than the races of Christian Britian, as the moderation of being contented with the triumph of 'a crown of leaves, is superior to that criminal spirit of gambling which iniquitously enriches the victor by beggaring the competitor.

Local abuses, as we have said, were not the object of a book whose instructions were to be of universal and lasting application. As a proof of this, little is said in the Gospel of the then prevailing corruption of polygamy ; noth. ing against the savage custom of exposing children, or even against slavery ; nothing expressly against suicide or du. elling; the last Gothic custom, indeed, did not exist among the crimes of Paganism. But is there not an implied prohibition against polygamy in the general denunciation against adultery? Is not exposing of children condemned in that charge against the Romans, that "they were with 66 out natural affection ?". Is there not a strong censure against slavery conveyed in the command to "do unto só others as you would have them do upto you ?” and against suicide and duelling, in the general prohibition against murder, which is strongly enforced by the solemn manner in which murder is traced back to its first seed of anger, in the sermon on the mount.

Thus it is clear, that when Christ sent the Gospel to all nations, he meant that that Gospel should proclaim those prime truths, general laws, and fundamental doctrines, which must nécessarily involve the prohibition of all individual, local, and inferior errors ; errors which could not have been specifically. guarded against, without having a distinct Gospel for every country, or without swelling the divine volume into such inconvenient length as would have defeated one great end of its promulgation.* And while

* “To the poor the Gospel is Prea bed." Luke yü. 22

its leading principles are of universal application, it must always, in some measure, be left to the discretion of the preacher, and to the conscience of the hearer, to examine whether the life and habits of those who profess it are conformable to its spirit.

The same Divine Spirit which iodited the IIoly Scriptures, is promised to purify the hearts and renow the na. tures of repenting and believing Christians; and the compositions it inspired are in some degree analogous to the workmanship it effects. It prohibited the vicious practices of the apostolical days, by prohibiting the passions and principles which rendered them gratifying; and still working in like manner on the hearts of real Christians, it corrects the taste which was accustomed to find its prop. er gratification in the resorts of vanity; and thus effectu. ally provides for the reformation of the habits, and iņfuses a relish for rational and domestic enjoyments, and for whatever can administer pleasure to that spirit of peace, and love, and hope, and joy, which animates and rules the renewed heart of the true Christian.

But there is a portion of Scripture, which, though to a superficial reader it may scem but very remotely con. nected with the present subject, yet to readers of another cast, seems to settle the matter beyond controversy : In the parable of the great supper, this important truth is held out to us, that even things good in themselves may be the means of our eternal ruin, by drawing our hearts from God, and causing us to make light of the offers of the Gospel. One invited guest had bought an estate, ao. other had made a purchase, equally blaineless, of ox. en; a third had married a wife, an act not illaudable in itself. They had all different reasons; but they all agreed in this, to decline the invitation to the supper. The worldly possessions of one, the worldly business of another, and what should be particularly attended to, the love to his dearest relative, of a third, (a love, by the way, not only allowed, but commanded in Scripture) were brought forward as excuses for not attending to the important busi. ness of religion. The consequence, however, was the same to all..

"None of those which were bidden shall "taste of my supper." Ifthen things innocent, things necessary, things laudable, things commanded, become sinful, when by unseasonable or excessive indulgence they detain

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