Зображення сторінки
PDF
ePub

then settled at Savannah, in Georgia, used to say, with great earneftness, “ That Paul of Tarsus was one of the finest writers I have ever read. I wish the thirteenth chapter of his first letter to the Corinthians, were wrote in letters of gold. And I wish every Jew were to carry it with him wherever he went.” He judged, (and herein he certainly judged right) that this single chapter contained the whole of true Religion. It contains whatsoever things are just, whatfoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely: if there be any virtue, if there be any praise, it is all contained in this.

In order to see this in the clearest light, we may consider, First, What the Charity here spoken of is :

Secondly, What those things are which are usually put in the place of it. We may then,

Thirdly, Observe, that neither any of them, nor all of them put together can supply the want of it.

I. 1. We are, first, to consider, What this Charity is ? What is the nature, and what are the properties of it?

St. Paul's word is Again, exactly answering to the plain English word, Love. And accordingly it is so rendered in all the old translations of the Bible. So it ftood in William Tindal's Bible, which I suppose was the first English tran. sation of the whole Bible. So it was also in the Bible published in London, by the authority of King Henry the Eighth ;. so it was likewise in all the editions of the Bible that were successively published in England during the reign of King Edward the Sixth, Queen Elizabeth, and King James the First. Nay, so it is found in the Bibles of King Charles the First's reign: I believe to the period of it. The first Bibles I have seen wherein the word was changed, were those printed by Roger Daniel, aud John Field, Printers to the Parliament, in the year 1649. Hence it appears, that the alteration was made during the reign of the Long Parliament, then it was that the Latin VOL. VIII.

B

word

[ocr errors][merged small]

word Charity was put in the place of the plain English word Love. It was an unhappy hour this alleration was made ; the ill effects of it remain to this day: and these may be observed not only among the poor and illiterate: not only thousands of common men and women, no more understand the word Charity, than they do the original Greek; but the same miserable miftake has diffused itself among men of education and learning. Thousands of these also are mislead thereby, and imagine that the Charity treated of in this chapter refers chiefly, if not wholly, to Outward Actions, and to mean little more than Almsgiving? I have heard many Sermons preached apon this chapter : particularly before the University of Oxford. And I never heard more than one, wherein the meaning of it was not totally misrepresented. But had the old and proper word, Love, been retained, there would have been no room for misrepresentation.

2. But what kind of Love is that whereof the Apostle is speaking throughout the chapter ? Many persons of eminent learning and piety, apprehend that it is the Love of God. But from reading the whole chapter numberless times, and considering it in every light, I am thoroughly persuaded that what St. Paul is here directly speaking of is the love of our neighbour. I believe whoever carefully weighs the whole tenor of his discourse, will be fully convinced of this. But it muft be allowed to be such a Love of our neiglibour, as can only spring from the Love of God. And whence does this Love of God flow? Only from that faith which is of the operation of God: which whoever has, has a direct evidence, that God was in Christ, reconciling the world unto himfelf. When this is particularly applied to his heart, so that he can say, with humble boldness, The life which I now live, I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me: then, and not till then, the love of God is shed abroad in his heart. And this love sweetly constrains them to love every child of man with the love which is here

spoken

spoken of: not with a love of esteem or of complaisance ; for this can have no place, with regard to those, who are, (if not his perfonal enemies, yet) enemies to God and their own fouis; but with a love of benevolence, of tender goodwill to all the fouls that God has made.

3. But it may be aiked, “ If there be no true love of our neighbours, but that which springs from the love of God; and if the love of God flows froin no other fountain than faith in the Son of God: does it not follow that the whole Heathen world is excluded from all possibility of salvation ? Seeing they are cut off from faith: for faith cometh by hearing. And how shall they hear without a Preacher? I answer, St. Paul's words, spoken on another occasion are applicable to this, What the law Speaketh, it Speaketh to them that are under the law. Accordingly that sentence, He that believeth not shall be damned, is spoken of them to whom the Gospel is preached. Others it does not concern, and we are not required to determine any thing touching their final state. How it will please God, the Judge of all, to deal with them, we may leave to God himself. Only this we know, that he is not only the God of the Christians only, but the God of the Heathens also : that he is rich in mercy to all that call upon him, accordiug to the light they have ; and that in every naiion he that feareth God and worketh righteousness is accepted of him.

But to return. This is the nature of that Love, whereof the Apostle is here speaking. But what are the properties of it, the fruits which are inseparable from it? The Apostle reckons up many of these; but the principal of them are there,

First, Love is not puffed up. As is the measure of love, so is the measure of humility. Nothing humbles the soul so deeply as love: it casts out all “ high conceits, engendering pride,” all arrogance and over-weaning, makes us little, and poor, and base, and vile in our own eyes. It abases us both

before

B 2

before God and man; makes us willing to be the least of all, and the servants of all, and teaches us to say, "A mote in the sun beam is little, but I am infinitely less in the presence of God.

5. Secondly, Love is not provoked. Our present English translation renders it, is not easily provoked. But how did the word easily come in? There is not a tittle of it in the test: the words of the Apostle are simply these, o napočèvetan. Is it not probable, it was inserted by the translators with a design to excuse St. Paul, for fear his practice should appear to contradict his doctrine? For we read Aits xv. ver. 36, and seq. And fome days after, Paul said unto Barnabas, Let us go again and visit our brethren in every city, where we have preached the word of the Lord, and see how they do. And Barnabas determined to take with them, John, whose firname, was Mark. But Paul thought not good, to take him with them who departed from the work. And the contention was fo sharp between them that they departed asunder one from another : and so Barnaba's took Mark, and failed unto Cyprus: and Paul chose Silas and departed : being recommended by the brethren unto the grace of God. And he went through Syria unto Cilicia, confirming the Churches.

6. Would not any one think on reading these words, that they were both equally sharp ? That Paul was just as hot as Barnabas, and as much wanting in love as him? But the text says no such thing, as will be plain, if we consider first the occasion. When St. Paul proposed, that they should again visit the brethren in every city, where they had preached the word, so far they were agreed. And Barnabas determined to take with him John, because he was his sister's son, without receiving or asking St. Paul's advice. But Paul thought not good to take Him with them who had departed from them from Pamphylia (whether through sloth or cowardice) and went not with them to the work. And. undoubtedly he thought right:

he

he had reason on his side. The following words are 244 iyiveto traçoćuquòs; literally, And there was a fit of anger. It does not say, in St. Paul, probably it was in Barnabas alone, who thus supplied the want of reason with passion: so, that they departed afunder. And Barnabas resolved to have his own way, did as his nephew had done before, de. parted from the work, took Mark with him, and failed to Cyprus. But Paul went on in his work, being recommended by the brethren, to the grace of God: (which Barnabas seems not to have staid for.) And he went through Syria and Cilicia, confirming the Churches. From the whole account, it does not appear that St. Paul was in any fault : that he either felt any temper, or spoke any word, 'contrary to the law of love. Therefore not being in any fault, he does not need

any excuse.

or

7. Certainly he who is full of love is gentle towards all men. He in meekness instructs those that oppose themselves, that oppose what he loves the most, even the truth of God, that holiness without which no man shall see the Lord; not knowing but God peradventure may bring him to the knowledge of the truth. However provoked, he does not return evil for evil, or railing for railing. Yea, he blesses those that curse him, and does good to them that despightfully use him and perfecute him. He is not overcome of evil, but always overcomes evil with good.

8. Thirdly, Love is long-suffering. It endures not a few afronts, reproaches, injuries: but all things which God is pleased to permit either men or devils to inflict. It arms the soul with inviolable patience: not harsh, ftoical patience, but yielding as the air, which making no resistance to the froke, receives no harm thereby. The Lover of mankind remembers him who suffered for us, leaving us an example that we might tread in his steps. Accordingly if his enemy kunger, he feeds him, if he thirft, he gives him drink; and by

fo

« НазадПродовжити »