صور الصفحة
PDF
النشر الإلكتروني

he estranged and banished himself for life;this was an event so very extraordinary,—so odd and unaccountable,-that it might well confound the minds of men to answer for it. -It was not to be accounted for upon the common rules and meafures of proceeding in human life.

The apostle, therefore, fince no one else could fo well do it for him, comes, in this chapter, to give an explanation why he had thus forfaken fo many worldly advantages,which was owing to a greater and more unconquerable affection to a better and more valuable intereft,-that in the poor perfecuted faith, which he had once reproached and destroyed, he had now found fuch a fullness of divine grace,-fuch unfathomable depths of God's infinite mercy, and love towards mankind, that he could think nothing too much to part with in order to his embracing christianity;-nay, he accounted all things but lofs, that is, less than nothing, for the excellency of the knowlege of Jefus Christ.

The apostle, after this apology for himself, -proceeds, in the second verfe before the text, to give a very different representation of the

worldly and fenfual principles of other pretending teachers,-who had fet themselves up as an example for men to walk by, against whom he renews this caution:- For many walk, of whom I have told you often, and now tell you even weeping, that they are the enemies to the cross of Christ,—whose end is deftruction,-whofe God is their belly, and whofe glory is their shame, who mind earthly things,-pals,-relifh them, making them the only object of their wishes,-taking aim at nothing better, and nothing higher.—But our converfation, fays he in the text, is in heaven. -We christians, who have embraced a perfecuted faith, are governed by other confiderations, have greater and nobler views;—here we confider ourselves only as pilgrims and ftrangers. Our home is in another country, where we are continually tending; there our hearts and affections are placed; and when the few days of our pilgrimage shall be over, there shall we return, where a quiet habitation and a perpetual reft is defigned and prepared for us for ever.-Our converfation is in heaven, from whence, fays he, we also look for the Saviour, the Lord Jefus Christ, who

fhall change our vile body, that it may be fafhioned like unto his glorious body, according to the working whereby he is able to fubdue all things unto him.-It is obfervable, that St. Peter represents the state of christians under the fame image, of chriftians on earth, whofe city and proper home, is heaven :—he makes use of that relation of citizens of heaven, as a strong argument for a pure and holy life, -befeeching them as pilgrims and strangers here, as men whose interests and connections are of so short a date, and so trifling a nature, -to abftain from fleshly lufts, which war against the foul, unfit it for its heavenly country, and give it a dif-relish to the enjoyment of that pure and fpiritualized happ'nefs, of which that region muft confift, wherein there fhall in no wise enter any thing that defileth, neither whatsoever worketh abomination.— The apostle tells us, that without holiness no man fhall fee God;-by which, no doubt, he means, that a virtuous life is the only medium of happiness and terms of falvation,-which can only give us admiffion into heaven.-But fome of our divines carry the affertion further, that without holiness,-without some previ

ous fimilitude wrought in the faculties of the mind, correfponding with the nature of the pureft of beings, who is to be the object of our fruition hereafter;-that it is not morally only, but phyfically impoffible for it to be happy,—and that an impure and polluted foul, is not only unworthy of fo pure a prefence as the fpirit of God, but even incapable of enjoying it, could it be admitted.

And here, not to feign a long hypothefis, as fome have done, of a finner's being admitted into heaven, with a particular defcription of his condition and behaviour there, we need only confider, that the supreme good, like any other good, is of a relative nature, and confequently the enjoyment of it must require fome qualification in the faculty, as well as the enjoyment of any other good does;-there must be fomething antecedent in the difpofition and temper, which will render that good a good to that individual,-otherwife though (it is true) it may be poffeffed, yet it never can be enjoyed.—

Preach to a voluptuous epicure, who knows of no other happiness in this world, but what arifes from good eating and drinking ;-fuch

a one, in the apostle's language, whose God was his belly; preach to him of the abstracttions of the foul, tell of its flights, and brisker motion in the pure regions of immenfity ;represent to him that faints and angels eat not, --but that the spirit of a man lives for ever upon wisdom and holiness, and heavenly contemplations: why, the only effect would be, that the fat glutton would ftare a while upon the preacher, and in a few minutes fall fast afleep.-No; if you would catch his attention, and make him take your discourse greedily,you must preach to him out of the Alcoran,-talk of the raptures of fenfual enjoyments, and of the pleasures of the perpetual feafting, which Mahomet has defcribed;-there you touch upon a note which awakens and finks into the inmost receffes of his foul;-without which, difcourfe as wifely and abstractedly as you will of heaven, your representations of it, however glorious and exalted, will pafs like the fongs of melody over an ear incapable of difcerning the diftinction of founds.

We fee, even in the common intercourses of fociety, how tedious it is to be in the company of a perfon whofe humour is difagreeable

D

« السابقةمتابعة »