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tion, separate from great excellence. But as that would be a feeble mind, which should be composed of inferior qualities only, so that would be an imperfect one, in which they were wanting. To all the strong lines of character, Saint Paul added the lighter touches, the graceful filling up which finish the portrait.
But in a character which forcibly exhibits all the great features of Christianity, these subordinate properties do not only make up its completeness, they give also an additional evidence of the truth and perfection of a religion which makes such a provision for virtue, as to determine that nothing which is right, however inconsiderable, can be indif ferent. The attention to inferior duties is a symptom of a mind not satisfied with its attainments, not so full of itself, as to fancy that it can afford to be negligent; it is indicative of a mind humble enough
to be watchful, because it is suspicious of itself; of a conscience ever on its guard, that its infirmities may not grow into vices, nor its occasional neglects into allowed omissions. But it is chiefly anxious, that its imperfections may not be brought as a charge against religion itself; for may not its enemies say, if he is neglectful of small and easy duties, which cost little, is it probable that he will be at much pains about such as are laborious and difficult? Saint Paul never leaves an opening for this censure. He always seems to have thought small avenues worth guarding, small kindnesses worth performing, small negligences worth avoiding and his constant practical creed is, that nothing that is a sin is small; that nothing that is right is insignificant. But Saint Paul was an accurate master of moral proportion. He took an exact measure of the positive and rela tive value of things. If he did not treat smaller objects as great ones, if he did
not lift proprieties into principles, he by no means overlooked them; he never wholly neglected them. He graduated the whole scale of doctrine and of action, of business and of opinion, assigning to every thing its place according to its worth.
Though he did not think the dissention in religious opinions between two individuals, Euodias and Syntyche*, of as much importance as the contentions and schisms in the church of the Corinthians, yet he thought it of sufficient importance to be healed; and anxiously desired to reconcile them, to "make them of "one mind in the Lord." He knew that disunion is not only unfavourable to the piety of the persons at variance, but that, while it gratifies the enemies, it injures the cause, of religion.
But if he gives their due importance
*Philippians, ch. iv.
to inferior though necesary duties, he draws a still nicer line in regard to matters in themselves indifferent. The eaters of herbs and the eaters of flesh are alike, in his estimation, as to the act; but when the indulgence in the latter becomes a temptation to an undecided believer, then, even this trifling concession was no longer a matter of indifference. It became then a just ground for the exercise of self-denial, which perhaps he was not sorry to have the oppor tunity of enforcing.
He knew that there were persons who profess to have made a great proficiency in piety, who are not defective in point of cheap attainment, but are defective in the more difficult attainments which involve self-denial; persons who, though very spiritual in their conversation, are somewhat selfish in their habits; who talk much of faith, and yet decline the smallest sacrifice of ease; who profess to do
do all for Christ, but do little for his poor members. He wished to see a high profession always accompanied with a corresponding practice. The Israelites, who were so forward to exclaim, "all "that the Lord hath commanded us we "will do," went and made them a golden calf.
In the mind of our apostle, all is consistent. He that said, "Let the same "mind be in you which was in Christ "Jesus," said also, let all things be done decently and in order. Right things must be done in a right manner. This simple precept indicates the soberness of Paul's mind. An enthusiast has seldom much dislike to disorderly conduct; on the contrary, he has generally a sovereign contempt for small points, indeed for every thing which does not exclusively tend to advance the one object, whatever that may be, which is nearest his heart.