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their bread from door to door, or been chained to the oar of a galley for life, rather than have presumed to intrude into the church upon such base and unworthy views. It is to be feared that too many read the awful denunciations upon this head, in the prophets Jeremiah and Ezekiel, with indifference, as supposing they only relate to the Jews who lived at that time; but they are equally applicable to all who prostitute the word and worship of God to the purposes of ambition and avarice.
VI. From the foregoing particulars we may collect the idea of true Christian zeal, as exemplified in our apostle. Hardly any word in our language is more misunderstood or abused, than zeal. W It is used in the New Testament indifferently in a good or bad sense, and it is considered as a vice or virtue, according to its object and principle. It sometimes denotes envy,* indignation, or disdain, an obstinate and ignorant opposition to the truth, a misguided warmth in unnecessary things, and a contentious, disputatious temper. A zeal replete with these characters has too frequently been the bane and opprobrium of the Christian church; but it is good to be zealously affected in a good thing, and then it is sinful to be otherwise. Our passions were not given us in vain. When the judgment is well inforined, and the understanding duly enliglitened by the word of God, the more warmth the better; but this earnestness, in an ignorant or prejudiced person, is dangerous and hurtful to himself and others : it is like haste in a man in the dark, who knows not where he is going, nor what mischiefs he may suffer or occasion. False zeal spends its strength in defence of names and forms, the externals of religion, or the inventions of men; it enforces its edicts by compulsion and severity: it would willingly call for fire froin heaven; but, unable to do this, it kindles the flame of persecution, and, if not providentially restrained, wages war with the peace, comfort, and liberty of all who disdain to wear its chaias, and breathes threatening, slaughter, and destruction with an unrelenting spirit: its miklest weapons (which it never employs alone, except where it is checked by a superior power), arc calumny, contempt, and hatred ; anil the objects it seeks to worry are generally the quiet in the land, and those who worship God in spirit and in truth: in a word, it resembles the craft by which it works, and is earthly, scusual, devilish. But the true Christian zeal is a heavenly gentle flame: it shines and warms, but knows not to destroy: it is the spirit of Christ, infused with a sense of his love into the heart: it is a generous philanthropy and benevolence, which, like the light of the sun, diffuses itself to every object, and longs to be the instrument of good, it possible, to the whole mace of mankind. A sense of the worth of souls, the importance of unseen things, and the awful con
i Jer. xxiii.
u Ezek, xiü. and sxxiv. All religious parties profess a great regard to the precept, Jude, iii. "Contend earnestly for the faith.” And if noisy anger, bold assertions, harsh censures, and bitter persecuting zeal, can singły or jointly answer the apostle's design, there is hardly a party but may glory in their obedience. But if the weapons of our warfare are not carnal; if the wrath of man wurketh not the righteousness of God; is the true Christian contention can only be maintained by Scripture argumients, meekness, patience, prayer, and an exemplary conversation-if this is ihe true state of the case, where is the church or party (may I not say, where is the person) that has not sull much to learn and to practise in this point?
* Compare Acts, v. 17.; Rom. xiii. 13.; Rom. x. 2.; Phil. iii. 6.; Gal. i. 14.; Acts, xxi. 20.; Janies iii. 16. ; in all which places the word is the same that is rendered zeal in 2 Cor. ix. 2.; Col. iv, 13.; John, ii. 17.
dition of unawakened sinners, makes it, indeed, earnest and importunate : but this it shows not by bitterness and constraint, but by an unwearied perseverance in attempting to overcome evil with good. It returns blessings for curses, prayers for ill treatment, and, though often reviled and affronted, cannot be discouraged from renewed efforts to make others partakers of the happiness itself possesses. It knows how to express a becoming indignation against the errors and follies of men, but towards their personsä it is all gentleness and compassion; it weeps (and would, if possible, weep tears of blood) over those who will not be persuaded; but, while it plainly represents the consequences of their obstinacy, it trembles at“ its own declarations, and feels for
y See Rom. xii. 20, 21. This practice the apostlc recommends by the metaphor of heaping coals of fire on an enemy's head. As nietals ibat endure a moderate warmth, without alteration, are melted down and quite dissolved by an intense heat, so the hard heart, even of an enemy, may be sonetimes softened by a series, an indefatigable lieäping up, of favours and obligations. This is a nobile piece of chemistry, but almost as much out of repute and practice as the search after the philosopher's stone.
z When St Paul, speaking of the Julaizing false teachers and their adherents, says, “ I would they were even cut off which trouble you," he seems to allude to the circumcision they so strenuously enforced, Gal. v. 12. Compare Phil. iii. 2. His wish concerning these sectaries has been often perverted, to givé sanction to the rage of persecutors; but he dues not niean to cut them off from fire and sword, or tu cut them off from fire and water, but to have them excluded from communion and converse with true believers.
a How awful to declare, lo denounce the terrors of the Lord! those terrors which are represented to us by tire unquenchable, with thc additional idea viclernity, Matt. iii 12.; Mark, ix 43. As such descriptions shuck and alarm a guilty conscience, there are two different methods by which the removal of this alarm is aitimpied. Some seek and find peace and security from the blood of Jesus; and some, who are not pleased with this method, satisty themselves and
them who cannot feel for themselves : it is often grieved, but cannot be provoked. The zealous Christian is strictly observant of his own failings, candid and tender to the faults of others; he knows what allowances are due to the frailty of human nature and the temptations of the present state, and willingly makes all the allowances possible; and though he dare not call evil good, cannot but judge according to the rule of the Scripture, yet he will conceal the infirmities of men as much as he can, will not speak of them without just cause, much less will he aggravate the case, or boast himself over them. Such was the zeal of our apostle: bold and intrepid in the cause of God and truth, unwearied in service, inflexible in danger; when duty called he was not to be restrained either by the threats of enemies, the solicitations of friends, or the prospect of any hardships to which he might be exposed. He cheerfully endured hunger and thirst, watching and weariness, poverty and contempt, and counted not his life dear, so that he might fulfil the great purposes of the ministry which he had received of the Lord. But at the same time, in all his intercourse with men, he was gentle, mild, and compassionate; he studied the peace, and accommodated himself to the weakness, of all about him: when he might command, he used entreaties; when he met with hard and injurious treatment, he bore it patiently, and, if opportunity offered, requited it with kindness. Thus as he had drunk of the spirit, so he walked in the steps of his Lord and Master.
their friends with criticisms upon the terms, and tell us that the phrase “ for ever and ever” signifies a limited space; and “ fire that cannot be quenched," denotes fire that goes out of itself.
All who bear the name of ministers of Christ, would do well to examine how far their tempers and conduct are conformable to St. Paul's. Are there not too many who widely differ from him ? Where he was immoveable as an iron pillar, they are flexible and yielding as a reed waving in the wind, suiting their doctrines and practice to the depraved taste of the world, and prostituting their talents and calling to the unworthy pursuit of ambition and applause. On the other hand, in things less essential, or not commanded, they invade the rights of private judgment, and attempt to bind heavy yokes and impositions upon those whom Christ has made free ; and while they readily tolerate (if not countenance) scepticism and immorality, they exert all their strength and. subtilty to disquiet or suppress those who differ from them in the slightest circumstance, if they profess to differ for conscience' sake. But Jesus has no such ministers: their clainı is utterly vain; none but those who are ignorant of the plainest truths can allow them this character; their tempers, their behaviour, the tenour of their professed instructions, and the total want of efficacy and influence in their ministrations, plainly demonstrate that he neither sent them nor owns them.
VII. Having considered the subject-matter and the leading views of the apostle's ministry, it may not be improper to take some notice of his manner
b Matt. xxiii. 4. “ They bind heavy burdens, and grievous to be borne," a wright of traditions and observances, “and “ lay them upon men's shoulders, but they themselves will “ not move them with one of their fingers.” There is a double opposition in this passage-between to be borne and to move, and between the shoulders and a finger. It has been often found since, that those who are most impatient of restraint themselves, are most earnest in pressing yokes and bonds upon others.