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about such passages as these; but then we should take more abundant heed to explain them.*
Mer. It has oftentimes struck me, that much of the same excellent temper, and spirit is likewise manifested by the Apostle, not only as it respects meats and days, but also in things offered to idols: I fear that this subject: also, among common people, is but little understood.
Loveg. As we have a little time before us, we will trace that subject also. You know that the heathens in those days, adopted a superstitious trick, in offering the beasts they killed at the shambles, to some of their heathen deities. A portion of the offerings was sold, and another portion of them was eaten in the idols, temples; while some, even of the primitive Christians, of a looser cast, too many of whom were found in the Corinthian Church, were frequently seen sitting in the idols”, temples, and eating these offerings with others, as though they were idolaters too. The Apostles therefore, very justly blames them, for this lax, and wanton conduct : for though they knew that the idol was nothing, and the food neither the better, nor the worse for their superstitious conduct, yet while weaker brethren were offended thereby, that altered the case. What a spirit of love he exemplified, when he said, “If meat make my weak brother to offend, I will eat no flesh while the world stands !"
Slapd. Oh, how soon would these bitter controversies about trifling non-essentials be at an end, if all were blessed with the same spirit of love! and what a distinction the Apostle makes, between that proud “knowledge which puffeth up, and that humble love which edifieth !"
Loveg. Yes, and how kindly he apologizes for those, who in judgment differed from himself! “Howbeit, there is not in every man this knowledge ? for some with conscience of the idol, unto this hour, eat it as a thing offered unto an idol, and their conscience
• This subject is more largely explained in Dialogue the 5th.
being weak is defiled ? but meat commendeth us not to God : for-neither if we eat are we the better, neither if we eat not are we the worse.” But then we are to take heed, lest this liberty should become a stumbling block to them that are weak ; for “ if we sin against the brethren, and wound their consciences, we sin against Christ.”
Mer. Has not the Apostle some additional remarks of the same nature, in the tenth chapter of the same epistle?
Loveg. Yes, and most tender, and delightful remarks they are. Oh ! what is Christianity without the loving, and forbearing mind that was in Christ! But we will turn to them. He first observes, many things may be lawful that are not expedient, because they edify not: how beautifully therefore he directs, “Let no man seek his own, but every man another's wealth, or good!" And after some further direction, as it respects the weak consciences of others, what an admirable conclusion he draws ! “ Whether therefore ye eat, or whether ye drink, or whatsoever ye do, do all to the glory of God; give no offence, neither to the Jews, nor to the Gentiles, nor to.” your brother Christians, called “the Church of God; even as I please all men in all (lawful) things; not seeking my own profit, but the profit of many, that they may be saved."
Slapd. And I think to this we may also add that most beautiful passage, which displays so much of the same blessed temper, “ Unto the Jews, became I as a Jew, that I might gain the Jews: to them that are under the law, (ruled by the Jewish law,) as under the law;" while he acted the same towards the Gentiles, as being without law, that he might" gain them also.” “To the weak, that I might gain the weak. I am made all things to all men, that I might by all means save some; and this I do for the gospel's sake.”
Mer. Then it should appear, the crime was not in differing in judgment with others ; for it seems
they differed even with the Apostle himself, but for shewing such a contentious spirit against each other, One would think that this breed of coarse Christians, had never read the thirteenth of the first of Corinthians, concerning that charity or love, “which suffereth long, and is kind, that envieth not, that vaunteth not itself, that is not easily puffed up.”---Let me see, I forget what comes next.
Loveg. Why, that love is a modest grace; it does not behave itself unseemly:" that it is a disinterested grace; it seeketh not its own: that it is a peaceable grace; "it is not easily provoked :" that it is an affectionate grace: “it thinketh no evil.” It is also a most happy, and comfortable grace ; for it rejoiceth not in iniquity; but it rejoiceth in the truth: and lastly, it is a most patient grace; it "beareth all things, believeth all things, hopeth all things, and endureth all things."
Mer. While mankind are so corrupted, what need have we for the exercises of these graces inwards to each other! [To Mr. Lovegood.] Sir, when I first heard you preach, that naturally sent me to the Bible, and I was immediately convinced, that the religion of that book was the religion of love: and I now esteem it a mercy, that I had none of these educational prejudices to contend with.
Slapd. Do not run from the subject, my young friend, as I sometimes do, when I get into the pulpit, till my text brings me back again. What becomes of the religion of Mr. Steepleman, or Mr. Stiff, if this be the religion of the Bible ?
Loveg. Oh, my good old friend, I am more than ever convinced of this, when I consider other
passages which have such a remarkably strong reference to our tempers, and the feelings of our minds, on all these occasions, before God. How much of the mind of Christ appears in that passage to the Ephesians ! “I therefore, the prisoner of the Lord, beseech you, that ye walk worthy of the vocation wherewith ye are called, with all lowliness, and meekness, with
long suffering, forbearing one another in love, endeavoring to keep the unity of the spirit, in the bond
Mer. And what a heaven even upon earth we should enjoy, if all the people did but prove the reality of their Christianity, by following the same Apostle's advice, in “laying aside all anger, wrath, and malice;" and instead of these, “as the elect of God, holy and beloved, put on bowels of mercies, kindness, humbleness of mind, meekness, long suffering, forbearing one another, forgiving one another: if any man have a quarrel against any, even as Christ forgave us ;” and then again, "above all things put on love, which is the bond of perfectness.”
Loveg. Oh, this is Christianity indeed! I once heard of a Deist, who could ridicule the Bible, while he was entirely ignorant of its contents, and design. Bu when he was referring to the twelfth of the Romans, he was not only struck with the purity, and sublimity of the subject, but at his own wickedness, and folly, for having ridiculed a book, so wonderfully calculated to promote the good of mankind : and how admirably are these blessed tempers inculcated in the same chapter! “Let love be without dissimulation ; abhor that which is evil, cleave to that which is good ; be kindly affectionate one to another with brotherly love, in honor preferring one another.”
Slapd. Almost the whole chapter runs upon that subject; but the conclusion is most excellent: “Recompence to no man evil for evil. If it be possible, live peaceably with all men. Dearly beloved, avenge not yourselves, but rather give place unto wrath. Therefore, if thine enemy hunger, feed him ; if he thirst, give him drink; for in so doing thou shalt heap coals of fire on bis head.”
Mer. We shall have enough to do, if we quote all the passages that relate to this subject: the sum and substance of the Bible, seems to be nothing but love.
Slape. I am sure all the epistles of John, are en
tirely on that subject. “Beloved, let us love one another, for love is of God; and every one that loveth, is born of God, and knoweth God.”
Loveg. Ayo, born of God; and by that word, how evidently it appears, we have no solid proof of rege
tion, but by its effects, as produced by the grace of love ; for “ love is the fulfilling of the law.”
Mer. The doctrine of a divine change seems to me, to be the glory of the scriptures.
Loveg. Yes, and a full proof of their divine original. None but a God of almighty power, could dare to give the promise to change the heart of man, since nothing short of such an almighty power can accomplish a change so glorious.
Mer. I can put my solemn ameu to that truth; I never can be too much humbled for what I was ; nor can I ever be too thankful for what, by the grace of God, I trust I now am. Oh, that text! “ What, know ye not that your bodies are the temples of the Holy Ghost, which is in you, which ye bave of God, and ye are not your own? Ye are bonght with a price, therefore glorify God in your body, and your spirit, which are God's."
Slapd. It strikes me, I will preach upon that subject in your church, when you are gone to Locksbury.
Loveg. You cannot take a better.
Slapd. But will you try to make me a hymn, suitable to the occasion? for 1 am no poet.
Loveg. I will attempt to put a few rhymes together, to the best of my power ; I can go no farther.
Soon after this, Mr. and Mrs. Worthy, and Mrs. Merryman, came up, otherwise their profitable conversation on the new birth, might have continued. They took a further range about the pleasure grounds, and then returned to the house.
Mr. Lovegood, shortly afterwards, went his second