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arising from temporal inconveniences, sometimes from the habit and structure of his mind; but however they come, they must be met with that holy spirit which Christ exhibited in the day of his suffering; that grace and patience which distinguished him, under trials unknown to the most wretched of the human kind. He, who bore our sins and carried our sorrows, bore a weight of grief heavier than the cross itself. And this was our inheritance. "If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross and follow me 1." This is the proof. I need that every man has his cross. The test is, his manner of supporting it.
The derivation of the word mortification certifies its use, in conformity with its spiritual application in Scripture. A tendency to deadness in every part. When the body mortifies, it dies; when the mind mortifies, spiritual death decidedly ensues. But the kindness and love of God in Christ, leaves it not in this melancholy state of bereavement. A spiritual resurrection restores it again to animation and life. "If ye live after the flesh, ye shall die; but if ye through the Spirit do mortify the deeds of the body, ye shall live?" "Arise from the dead, and Christ shall give thee light." A deadness to sin is the Christian's death; a life unto God is the Christian's resurrection. Happy those who partake of this death,
Matt. xvi. 24.
2 Rom. viii. 13.
3 Eph. v. 14.
and this resurrection! In the same sense St. Paul addresses the Colossians; and through them every faithful servant of the Saviour. "Set your affections on things above, and not on things on the earth, for ye are dead, [and buried by baptism, in the water of regeneration',] and your life is hid [deposited, like treasure, in a secret and a sacred place,] with Christ in God 2."
X.-The Nazarite's Vow.
MANY of the ceremonial laws of Moses, though temporary and local, are entitled to respect, and in many cases, to the imitation of Christians. They were instituted for the promotion of the purposes of divine providence in selecting "a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people ";" a people, in whom the promises of the patriarchal times, as well as of their own, should be fully accomplished. It is likely, then, that though the shadow were dispersed, the substance of good that was in it would remain, not indeed intrinsically, for the law which ordained it, was to be abolished; but as there is an inherent virtue in all the ordinances of God, we may fairly infer that moral benefits are inseparable from them.
The injunctions of the Rechabites, and the laws of
1 Rom. vi. 4. Col. ii. 12.
2 Col. iii. 23.
3 1 Pet. ii. 9.
the Nazarites, are neither of them obligatory, since the introduction of the new covenant of Christ. who will say, that temperance and abstinence are not Christian graces, as well as Jewish virtues? Who will say that times and seasons do not produce a beneficial conformity of customs and manners? But, however valuable habits originate, it is a great blessing to society to see them perpetuated in a succession of holy families. The injunction of a good father was the spring-head of this holy stream. "Jonathan, the son of Rechab, shall not want a man to stand before me for ever." The race was not exhausted at the time of our blessed Saviour's appearance; it remained under the names of Ebionites and Essenes, and there is reason to believe, that these were among the earliest converts of the Gospel.
The word nazar, in the Hebrew language, signifies a separation; or, to separate from others by the profession of some special act of religion. The Nazarites, or professors of this seclusion, vowed a singularity or separation of this nature unto the Lord for life, or sometimes for a shorter period; that they would neither drink wine nor strong drink, nor suffer a razor to come upon their heads, (symbolic of the purity of person,) and to be accounted in a special manner holy unto the Lord. The sect of the Nazarites long formed a portion of the Jewish polity; and that their vow of
1 Jer. xxxv. 19.
separation was not inconsistent with a better state of things, is evident from the example of St. Paul, who took this vow upon him. The Jewish constitution was not then dissolved, and the apostle being a Jew, was at liberty to act at his own discretion. The Council of Jerusalem decreed that such a vow was not obligatory on the Gentiles, which set at rest any discussion on the subject. But neither converted Jews, nor Gentiles, were prohibited from such religious obligations as they might feel respectively beneficial to themselves. On such occasions, we may say with the apostle, I have no commandment from the Lord, yet I give my judgment 2.
But there is a state of the true and spiritual Nazarite, in which we have a commandment from the Lord, and which deeply concerns every member of the society to which it belongs; I mean the baptismal covenant, and the vow which every Christian makes, to continue God's faithful soldier and servant unto his life's end. The Christian conversation, then, should be indeed select; as select as it is possible to be, consistent with the ordinary duties of human life. Religious abstraction from every demoralizing pollution is our Nazarite's vow. But I would not be understood to mean the painful struggles or superstitious seclusion of the anchorite, nor yet the haughty separation of "Stand aside, for I am holier than thou";" but that
1 Acts xxiv. 5.
21 Cor. vii. 6.
3 Is. lxv. 5.
humble and complacent deportment, which distinguishes the offence from the offender; which rejects the sin, whilst it is interested for, and endeavours to reclaim the sinner.
Thus it was with St. Paul, when he became, in a religious sense, "all things to all men, that he might gain the more Thus also with a greater than St. Paul, the innocent Jesus, when he sat at the Pharisee's table, and called publicans and sinners to repentance. Personal feeling, perhaps, may be severely taxed by such associations, but the Christian breast expands, when the prospect of a converted friend, or a converted stranger, stands within its reach.
This it is to be the true Nazarite: and this is the true consecration of the body to holy purposes, to feel and execute that vow which operates towards our own, and others' salvation. For what is so likely to produce this holy disposition as temporary seclusion? and what so effectual to confirm it, as to perform our vow where St. Paul performed his, in the temple of the Lord? This is truly a school of personal reformation; and the pious promoter of Lenten-contemplations becomes the Christian Nazarite.
Christianity certainly encourages no vows, but those which have a religious end, and to be accomplished by religious means. Rash vows it altogether denounces. The danger of monastic vows has been often experienced, even among those who promote
11 Cor. ix. 22.