Billeder på siden
PDF
ePub

als, no duty is done in speaking the truth. It is the same with respect to meekness.

We may be angry and not sin ; and we may sin in not being angry. We do well to be angry when God is dishonored, or when our neighbors are grossly injured. Meekness is commendable as far as it proceeds from a, concern for the preservation of peace with men, and from respect to the command of God.

For these reasons, “ charity suffereth long, and is not easily provoked.” But if we are not influenced by this principle, nor these motives, however long we may suffer abuses without resentment, there is no more virtue in it, than in the patience of a stump or stone.

It is the same respecting humility. To be kindly affectioned, and thence in honor to prefer others, is amiable : but that lowliness of mind which arises from no disposition to render honor to whom it is due, however it may make us cringe and give place, can be nothing but despicable meanness, or the want of a manly spirit. And thus it is respecting all other things which are accounted moral virtues, or christian graces. There is nothing gracious or virtuous in them, any further than they imply a truly generous disposition. Benevolence, as now explained, is the life and soul of every thing spiritually good.

By way of improvement;

1. It should hence seem, that it might be known, without much difficulty, what a man's

true character is-whether he have any real religion or not. The specific difference between a saint and an unregenerate sinner, being reduced to a single point, one would think, that difference might be discovered, to the certain knowledge of a real christian, that he has, and of the false professor, that he has not, this all decisive mark of grace. Yet,

2. It concerns us to search and look, and it may hence be seen needful to search diligently, whether

If no

we have this root of the matter in us.

There are many counterfeits of a benevolent temper and conduct. There are many ways in which self-love may put on the appearance of social or divine; and there are many lower instincts of kindness, which are apt to be mistaken for real goodness of heart. thing short of disinterested, impartial, universal benevolence, will stand the final test, what reason is there to fear that multitudes will at last find themselves to have been fatally deceived ?

Lastly ; Let christians hence be excited to covet, and by practice, and all other proper means, to cultivate, this all-important virtue.

“ Exercise thyself unto godliness,” was the counsel of Paul to Timothy. As our bodily limbs, so the habits of the soul, are strengthened by exercise. Let us then, in this way, as well as by reading, meditation and prayer, seek to invigorate the law of kindness—the royal law, according to the scriptures. I conclude with the exhortation, Col. iii. 12, 14. “ Put on, therefore, as the elect of God, holy and beloved, bowels of mercies, humbleness of mind, meekness, long-suffering :And above all these things, put on charity, which is the bond of perfectness.”

SERMON VIII.

ON SELF-LOVE ; OR REGARDING ONE'S OWN HAP,

PINESS.

HEBREWS XI. 26.

For he had respect unto the recompence of the reward.

Must not then the doctrine be false, , which supposes

disinterestedness, essential to all real virtue or religion ? Moses, the great law-giver of Israel, was certainly an eminent saint: and his early choice to which these words have reference, has always been thought an illustrious instance, not only of a strong faith in the promises of God, but also of extraordinary piety and true patriotism : Yet, in thus choosing, it seems he was influenced by selfinterest. An expectation of being a gainer by it in the end, was his governing motive. Nor is this mentioned at all to his reproach ; but rather in his commendation. “ By faith, Moses, when he was come to years, refused to be called the son of Pharaoh's daughter ; choosing rather to suffer affliction with the people of God, than to enjoy the pleasures of sin for a season ; esteeming the reproach of Christ, greater riches than the treasures in Egypt: for he bad respect unto the recompence of the reward.

In order to a just statement, and right understanding of this matter, it is now proposed,

I. To consider what the recompence of reward was, to which Moses had respect; and how far he was influenced by this motive. And,

IỊ. To inquire what the doctrine of scripture is, and what is the dictate of common sense, concerning self-love, and acting from motives of self-interest.

In the first place, let it be considered, what the recompence of reward was, to which Moses had respect.

Possibly the honor of delivering the people of God from their cruel oppressions in Egypt, and the expected happiness of inheriting with them the promised land of Canaan, flowing with milk and honey, might be motives of some weight with him. It is not to be believed, however, that any thing of an earthly nature was his principal, much less his only object. Nor are we to imagine that any temporal recompence, is at all intended by the apostle in our text. Unquestionably, the reward here meant, is the same that is spoken of in the tenth and sixteenth verses of this chapter ; as what Abraham, and others before mentioned, sought, desired and looked for“ A city that hath foundations; a better country, that is, an heavenly.” Though little is said in the Old Testament scriptures, of the future blessedness of the righteous, compared with the gospel, wherein Christ hath brought life and immortality to light ; yet according to the apostle, those ancient patriarchs had some faith and hope of another world. And, beyond a doubt, the crown of righteousness—the inheritance incorruptible, and undefiled, and that fadeth not away, which animated the christian martyrs, is to be understood in our text, by the recompence of the reward.

« ForrigeFortsæt »