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commit such dangerous fins, as without the especial mercy of God must have subjected them to Everlasting punishment ; how greatly doth it concern such faithless, sinful, and daily offending creatures, (who can afford no signs of God's peculiar favor by any extraordinary service or obedience to his Majefty) how much, I fay, doth it behove such continually to fear, left they not only fall into the crimes which the others committed, but left they grow quite dead in tre passes and fins, and all manner of ungodliness, which they were not. Thus, by confidering that the best are liable to fall, we should be led to confefs our own great weakness and natural disposition to offend, and thall consequently feel the neceflity of daily calling upon God in prayer, for grace to strengthen and defend us from the power of the tempter ; that when, through human frailty, we happen to be hurried into the commission of any fin, we may yet by true repentance and humble faith, be enabled to rise again, (as, doubtless these primitive fathers did) and not continue and grow in fin as the wicked do.
This then is our duty and our wisdom, in hearing and studying the scripture ; not to take offence at every thing that may happen to surprise our ignorance, or be too hard for our understanding, either in expresion or application. And respecting the objectionable conduct of some characters, we should take warning by the failings of other people, thereby to establish our own faith and practice; to resolve dark passages into the obfcurity that may proceed from imperfect translations, ignorance of ancient customs, and the changes of times and manners in men and things. Not to be disgusted at plain or uncouth phrases, because they do not exactly agree with the refined language and expressions of modern days, but humbly and charitably to conclude, that their meaning in the times, and by the persons they were used, had nothing improper or offensive in it;
and that most likely, the levity or depravity of our own minds, may give a loose construction, which in more honest and innocent ages could never have been effixed to them *. In short, we should be careful ever to keep in mind, that whatever is recorded in holy scripture, has passed the sanction of DIVINE PERMISSION, that (God ordered all holy scripture to be written for our learning, and not for our censure) ; and therefore we cannot be too cautious, lest by coming to this fountain of all true wisdom with a fpirit of vain and impure disputation, this rich feast of instruction be turned into a fare and a Stumbling block; and that by weighing it only by the measure of our own shallow understanding, it should be suffered to become a hurt, instead of a benefit to us. On the contrary, let us so read, mark, learn, and pray for grace to digeft these precious treasures inwardly, that we fail not of the certain and falutary food they are calculated to convey, both to strengthen, comfort, and instruct us (according to God's merciful design) in all the
profitable works of our salvation ; by such an humble, careful study of the sacred volume, we shall become thoroughly instructed in the discharge of every good work to the glory of God and the welfare of our own souls. God grant us all this grace, as often as we apply to these living oracles, through the merits and for the sake of him who hath redeemed us even our Blessed Lord and Savior Jesus Chrift : To whom, with the Father and the Holy Spirit, be all honor and glory for ever and ever. Amen.
* The forming false and unworthy constructions of Holy Writ, doth also prove the great value of competent learning of various kinds, to understand the phraseology of Scripture in the original languages ; which if the objectors poffeffed but in a moderate degree, they would be ashamed of their superficial and profane rea marks, which are founded as much in ignorance as levity of mind.
Second Part of the Homily on the fame Subje£t.
OU have already been fully shewn, the many
and great blessings and benefits derived to mankind by the knowledge of the holy scriptures. The attempts of profane and ignorant disputers, either to ridicule certain passages, or to undervalue the general authority of scripture, have likewife been equally exposed, by such plain and sufficient reasons, as discover the great folly and wickedness, of such endeavours. The arguments advanced in the former discourse, related chiefly to particular passages of the Old Testament. In order therefore to afford a ftill more complete view of the false wisdom of these profane wits, we will proceed to consider the objections that they have also made to: certain parts of the New Testament; and by a fair and pious explanation of these passages, you will be able to judge of the weakness of their reasoning, and religious principles, at the fame time.
Some shallow disputers have most absurdly affirmed, that several of our Blessed Savior's precepts seem to oppose the very end of regular government. Such as these; If any man fmite thee on the right cheek, turn to him the other also. And if any
man will sue thee at law, and take away thy coat, let him have thy cloak also. Let not thy left hand know what thy right hand doth. If thine eye, thine band, or foot offend thee, cut either of them off, and cast them from thee. And they equally object to some of St. Paul's maxims, to the same effect. If thine enemy, faith he, be an hungry give him meat, if he be thirsty give bim drink, for in so doing thou shalt heap coals of fire upon his head, Rom. xii. 20. There, and such like expressions, to inconsiderate and hasty readers; to those who judge only by the measure of the selfish principle, and natural mind, may appear to have difficulties and contradictions, which really do not exist, when tried by the pure standard of christian principle, as we shall now proceed to convince you, by a fair and consistent exposition of them. Nor is it at all extraordinary, that they should appear unreasonable to the mere natural man; because, as the Apostle observes, the natural man, (that is, the man wholly absorbed by the interests of this life, as they affect his carnal nature) cannot understand the things of God, because they are to be spiritually discerned; and he muft therefore partake of a different spirit or disposition (than that which was spoilt by a degenerated nature) before he can sufficiently enter into the truth and value of scriptural precepts. As to the first objectionable rule, they who have duly attended to the general manner of our Lord's instructing the people, will find that he frequently makes use of very sirong figures and comparisons, to describe and recommend the importance of their several duties. The case before us, is one particular proof of it ; it being a proverbial manner of expression, to signify most forcibly a meek submision to all injuries and affronts, even according to the positive example that Christ set them himself
, and thereby to point out, that where the damage of any ill usage is not great, it is more adviseable to suffer it, and pass it by, (though even on that