Графични страници
PDF файл
ePub

my salvation ; whom then shall I fear? the Lord is the strength of my life; of whom then shall I be afraid ?” (Ps. xxvii. 1.)

* It should here be observed, that while one property is common to every good objective characteristic, being that of a twofold object, namely the internal on which such characteristic is founded, and the external to which it relates ; there will be this peculiarity in the present class, that of good moral objectives, or good objectives in a moral relation, compared with the class which followsthat they are good for the external as well as the internal object; for the parties casually affected by them, as well as for the subject or owner who depends on them continually.

2 1

CHRISTIAN MODES.

PART I.

THE KINGDOM OF GOD IN CHRIST.

CHAPTER IV.

GOOD OBJECTIVE CHARACTERISTICS.

SEC. 3.

RELIGIOUSON INCIDENTALS,

1, Persons.--2, Places.—3, Things.

“ Take heed to thyself, that thou forsake not the Levite as long as thou livest upon thy earth.”- Deut. xii. 19.

The entire course of righteousness, or of good objective characteristics, having two species, forms or aspects, moral and religious; that by the name of morality, this of religion, or more properly of godliness, answering to the two principal objects of objective good, being man and his Maker but unequally affected by the said characteristics, as just observed; and the first or moral aspect of this fair course having also been just exhibited-hastily, it is true, and more according to licence and opportunity than according to the merits of the subject in some particulars, it will now be convenient to repeat or go over again the same fair course with a religious aspect; considering this time“what manner of persons we ought to be in all holy conversation and godliness” (Pet. II. iii. 11)—a fair flight beyond mere morality, and a step even beyond that which is properly called divine; namely, the Christian. For mere morality is an IGNIS FATUUS-a very

unsettled rule—a sort of EMPIRIC PRACTICE : which may

be beneficial by chance; orit may be otherwise, and most likely will be on great occasions, like the practice of an empiric. And even the divine species of morality above described we shall find defectiveifwestop atitỚ“having a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof” (Tim. II. iii. 5). For it cannot be said of morality alone, as of godliness, that it is great riches (Ib. I. vi. 6); since any one thing that requires another thing to make it perfect must be poverty and not riches : for morality will not include godliness: but godliness will include morality, being " profitable unto all things” (Ib. iv. 8).

Therefore to combine a perfect view of godliness, it would be necessary to recall our ideas of all the forementioned inferior appetitive good characteristics; fidelity, respect, hope, gratitude, with some more intellectual like their present object--light especially ; " as God is light” (John I. i. 5); and collect them to a point, directing all their virtue towards that adorable object which is implied in the title of the characteristic or sort. And in this review it will also be convenient, to recommence and pursue the order of detail before pursued in our corresponding view of moral characteristics just completed; as in that we had previously pursued the order of the essential constituents which are the foundation of both, v. g. of both the moral and religious forms or species.

There is a great disparity, as there had need to be indeed, between the composition of godly objective characteristics on the incidental class of essentials, and on the constituent: and yet, that the former sort should hardly have found a general name, while of the latter there are names both general and particular, as we shall soon have occasion to observe, may seem remarkable; more especially considering, that even the opposite of this, the ungodly sort of objective characteristics on incidentals, has found its proper terms for two distinctions at least. This seems a remarkable desideratum for godly objectives on incidentals, and rather hard on their subjects. For if a man was ever so just in maintaining and liberal in bestowing his means of any sort, with reference to their bountiful donor, and ever so frugal, orderly, and discreet in the care and management of the same, for God's honour and service, we could not give his goodness a proper epithet in either case : though if a man should be the reverse of this in either respect; was he a plunderer of incidentals that ought to be held sacred, or a debaser of the same by unworthy usage; we might say of his conduct, thatit was sacrilege in one case, and profanation or profaneness in the otherprofanation, if displayed in actions--profaneness, if in words.

Thenearest general term that can be assigned perhaps for godliness, or godly objectives on incidentals, may be Piety: and for its inferior distinctions, if there be none in proper terms, we may conceive a distinction however in realities notwithstanding, and name accordingly, as e. g. in respect of object; I, a special sort, consisting in such moral actions only as have a more immediate and direct allusion to the Deity ; 2, a general sort, consisting in any kind of moral actions, performed with the same concern and respect towards him, as if they naturally had that view or reference: we have noticed many of this sort under the head of moral characteristics, as some of that may be noticed under the head of godly, making a sort of godly characteristics on incidentals. ' In a general way the use of all that we have, and of all who are either lent or given to us, as well the stranger as the home-born, may be referred to the part of godliness or to the will of God, let who will be its immediate object, or the party chiefly benefited thereby : but what we are now considering is the use of our incidentals, with an especial view to their Donor: wherein there are these two parts to be regarded chiefly, the manner and the matter of such use

First, the manner of godliness on incidentals will consist, as before intimated, either in a true devotion, gift or dedication of the matter to God's honour and service, or in some

[ocr errors]

of

marked esteem or worthy usage of the same. When we come to consider the subject of the Kingdom relatively, we shall have occasion to observe how every offering of righteousness to God is offered and made by a certain medium ; wherein consists the power of godliness, and without which, righteousness can never go beyond morality or the form of godliness, if that may be called righteousness: but at present the matter of such offering, or the substance of godly objectives on incidentals, will chiefly claim our attention.

And what makes this matter, or the substance of godly objectives on incidentals both easy and interesting is, the convenience of dividing it by a division of the essential incidentals on which it is founded into three sorts or portions; being godliness l on persons, 2 on places, 3 on things.

§ 1. It would seem as if the first of these three criterions, namely, Persons, could not be reckoned among the incidentals of the kingdom. To enumerate men as the property men, as a part of their cattle, does not seem consistent with Christian modes of thinking, however common it may be found in practice: but that the lowest men in the kingdom should be considered as relatives of the same, and correlatives of the highest; all being alike the property of One who is higher than all, all being His common property. For the right or property of the objects of godly characteristics generally is ascribed to him to whom they are dedicated; and being once dedicated to him, they are his indefeasible right, His property by return as well as by egress, and HIS FOR EVER: but the property of the characteristics themselves which are founded thereon, by much the best part, He kindly concedes to their subjects: which the Psalmist notices : “And that thou, Lord, art merciful (says he) for thou rewardest every man according to his work” (Ps. Ixii. 12); being for them a profitable exchange. But we find a convenience in this distinction; which does not on consideration appear so unnatural as at first sight. Considering persons therefore as incidentals, if it be only for the occasion, let us observe what may be

« ПредишнаНапред »