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Which I take so to refer to difference of years, that it hath some aspect likewise to the relation of those that are under the discipline and government of the elders, apesbútspor ; who, though not always such in years, ought however to suit that name in exemplary gravity and wisdom. It is no seigniory, but a ministry; yet there is a sacred authority in it, when rightly carried, which both duly challenges, and effectually commands, that respect and obedience which is fit for the right order and government of the house of God.
The Spirit of Christ in his ministers is the thing that makes them truly elders, and truly worthy of double honour; and without that, men may hunt respect and credit by other parts; and the more they follow it, the faster it flies from them ; or if they catch any thing of it, they only grasp a shadow.
Infer. Learn you, my brethren, that obedience which is due to the discipline of God's house. This is all we plead for in this point. And know, if
you refuse it, and despise the ordinance of God, he will resent the indignity as done to him. And Oh! that all who have that charge of his house upon them, would mind his interest wholly, and not rise in conceit of their power, but wholly employ and improve it for their Lord and Master, and look on no respect to themselves, as for its own sake desirable, but only so far as is needful for the profitable discharge and advancement of his work in their hands! What are human differences and regards, how empty a vapour ? And whatsoever it is, nothing is lost by single and 'entire love of our Lord's glory, and total aiming at that: Them that honour him he will honour; and those that despise him, shall be despised.
But though this (likewise) implies, I conceive, somewhat relative to the former subject, yet certainly its full scope is more extensive, and directs us, touching the difference of years, to yield the subjection, that is, the respect and reverence, which is due from younger to elder persons.
*1 Sam. ii. 30.
The presumption and unbridledness of youth requires the pressing and binding on of this rule: And it is of undeniable equity, even written in nature, due to aged persons. But, doubtless, those
this due fruit in that season the most, who have ripened it most by the influence of their grave and holy carriaye. The hoary head is indeed a crown; but when? when found in the way of righteousness". There it shines, and 'hath a kind of royalty over youth ; otherwise a graceless old age, is a most despicable and lamentable sight. What gains an unholy old man or woman, by their scores of years, but the more scores of guiltiness and misery? And their white hairs speak nothing but ripeness for wrath. Oh! to be as a tree planted in the house of the Lord, bringing forth fruit in old age. Much experience in the ways of God, and much disdain of the world, and much desire of the love of God, a heavenly temper of mind and frame of life; this is the advantage of many years. But to have seen and felt the more misery, and heaped up the more sin, the greatest bundle of it aguinst the day of wrath, a woful treasure of it, threescore, or threescore and ten, years a gathering, and with so much increase every dlay ; no vacancy, no dead years, no, not a day wherein it was not growing! How deplorable a case !
A sad reflection to look back, what have I done for God? and to find nothing, but such a world of sin committed against him? How much better he that gets home betimes in his youth, if once delivered from sin and death, at one with God, and some way serviceable to him, or desiring to be so, and hath a quick voyage, having lived much in a little time.
2. The precept also regulates the carriage of all men to each other : All of you be subject one to another. This yet further dilates the duty, makes it universally mutual, one subject to another. This directly turns about the vain contest of men, that arises from the natural mischief of self-love ; every one would carry it, and be best and highest. The b Prov. xvi. 31,
c Psal. xcii, 12, 13,
very company of Christ, and his exemplary lowliness, and the meanness of himself and those his followers, all these did not bar out this frothy foolish question, Who should be greatest ; and it was so far disputed, that it occasioned heat about it, a strife amongst themd. Now, this rule is just opposite, each strive to be lowest, subject one to another.
This doth not annul either civil or church government, nor those differences that are grounded upon the law of nature, or of civil society ; for we see immediately before, that such differences are allowed, and the particular duties of them recommended ; but it only requires that all due respect, according to their station, be given by each Christian to another ; and though there cannot be such a subjection of masters or parents to their servants and children, as is due to thein from these, yet a lowly meek carrying of their authority, a tender respect of their youth, receiving of an admonition from them duly qualified, is that which suits with the rule. And, in general, not delighting in the trampling on, or abusing of any, but rather seeking the credit and good esteem of all as our own, taking notice of that good in them, wherein they are beyond us; for all have some advantage, and none hath all. And, in a word, and it is that of St. Paul, like this of our Apostle here”; In honour preferring one another, q. d. Let this be all the strife, who shall put most respect each on another, according to the capacity and station of each one ; in giving honour, yo each one before another.
Now, that such carriage may be sincere, no empty compliment, or court holy water, (as they speak), but a part of the solid holiness of a Christian ; the Apostle requires the true principle of such deportment, the grace of humility. That a Christian put on that, not the appearance of it, to act in as a stage-garment, but the truth of it, as their constant habit, Be ye clothed with humility. It must appear in your outward carLuke xxii. 24.
e Rom. xii, 10. 1 Τη τιμή αλλήλες προηγούμενου.
riage; so the resemblance of clothing imports ; but let it appear, as really it is, so the very name of it imports. It is not ταπεινοφανία, but ταπεινοφροσύνη, not a shew of humility, but heart lowliness, humility of mind.
As it is the bent of humility to hide other graces, so far as piety to God, and our brethren will permit, so it would willingly hide itself; loves not to appear but as necessity urges : Appear it must, and doth somewhat more appear than many other gracés do, though it seeks not to appear. It is seen as a modest man or woman's apparel, which they wear not for that end that it may be seen, and do not gaudily flaunt and delight in dressing ; though there is a dėčency as well as necessity, which they do and may have respect to, yet that in so neat and unaffected a way, that they are a good example even in that point. Thus humility in carriage and words is as the decorum of this clothing, but the main is the real usefulness of it,
And therefore, a truly humble man desires not much to appear humble ; yea, were it not for disedifying his brethren, he would rather disguise aad hide not only other things by humility, but even humility itself; and would be content, upon mistake of some words or gestures, to pass for proud and vain, being humble within, rather than to be big in his own eyes, under a semblance of outward lowliness; Yea, were it not that charity and piety do both forbid it, he would not care to do some things on purpose that might seem arrogant, to carry humility unseen, that doth so naturally delight in covering of all graces, and is sorry that it cannot do so without being seen itself, as that garment that covers the rest must of necessity be seen itself. But seeing it must be so, it is with the least shew that may be, as a dark veil cast about rich attire hides their shew, and makes very little itself.
This therefore is mainly to be studied, that the seat of humility be the heart. Although it will be seen in the carriage, yet as little as it can; as few
words as may be concerning itself; and those it doth speak must be the real thoughts of the mind, and not an affected voice of it differing from the inward sense ; otherwise humble speech and carriage only put on without, and not fastened in the inside, is the most refined and subtle, and indeed the most dangerous kind of pride. And this I would recommend as a safe way: Ever let thy thoughts concerning thyself be below what thou utterest; and what thou seest needful or fitting to say to thy own abasement, be not only content (which most are not) to be taken at thy word, and believed to be such by them that hear thee, but be desirous of it; and let that be the end of thy speech, to persuade them, and gain it of them, that they really take thee for as worthless and mean as thou dost express thyself.
Inf. 1. But how little are we acquainted with the real frame of Christianity ? the most living without a rule, not laying it to their words and ways at all, nor yielding so much as a seeming obedience to the gospel ; others take up a kind of profession, and think all consists in some religious performances, and do not study the inward reserve of their heart-evils, nor labour to have that temple purged ; for the heart should be a temple, and it stands in much need of sweeping out the filthiness, and putting out idols. Some there be, who are much busied about the matter of their assurance, still upon that point, which is lawful indeed, and laudable to inquire after, yet not so as to neglecť other things more needful. It were certainly better for many, when they find no issue that way, to turn somewhat of their diligence to the study of Christian graces and duties in their station, and to task themselves for a time, were it to the more special seeking, first of some one grace and then of another, as meekness and patience, and this particularly of humility. To be truly heart-humble, many men despise it in others, but some that will commend it in tlie general, or in some of those in whom they behold it, yet' seek not to put it on themselves: They love to be more gay, and to seem to be somebody,