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reform, that they think them utterly unworthy of a reasonable religion. This the most eminent of their fraternity has declared in express terms.* On the other hand, the Author of our Religion declares, that he came “ to preach the Gospel to the poor.” Here, then, you see opposed to each other the spirit of CHRISTIANITY and the spirit of Philosophy. Judge ye for yourselves, which is most worthy of God and beneficial to man, and make your choice accordingly. If you take Philosophy for your guide, you will despise the humble employment of diffusing religious knowledge among the common people; but if you choose Christ for your master, you will give a proof of it this day, by patronizing a Society that forms itself on his model, and professes to carry on the great work of reformation which He begun, in the very way which he pointed out, “ by “preaching the Gospel to the poor.”
M. Voltaire, speaking of certain superstitious sects in China, has these very remarkable words: “ Ces sectes sont “ tolerées a la Chine pour l'usage du Vulgaire, comme des « alimens grossiers faits pour le nourrir ; tandis que les magi“ strats & les lettres, separés en tout du peuple, se nouris“ sent d'une substance plus pure. Il semble en effet que la e populace ne merite pas une religion raisonnable." Essai sur l'Histoire Generale, tom, i. p. 33, 24.
“ strat d'une suberite pas une 1. p. 33, 24
1 Cor. ix. 25.
THAY T STRIVE
EVERY MAN THAT STRIVETH FOR THE MAS
TERY IS TEMPERATE IN ALL THINGS: NOW THEY DO IT TO OBTAIN A CORRUPTIBLE CROWN, BUT WE AN INCORRUPTIBLE..
THE design of this passage is plainly to
recommend the great Christian duty of being “ temperate in all things ;” that is, of obtaining an entire command over our passions; or, as it is expressed a few verses after, of " keeping under our bodies, and bringing 6 them into subjection.” This self-government is indispensably necessary, both to the real enjoyment of the present life, and to the possession of everlasting happiness in the next. But then, like every thing else that is valuable, it is as difficult to acquire, as it is useful and excellent; and it stands in need
of the most powerful arguments to recommend and enforce it. One of the strongest is here urged by St. Paul. To raise the courage and invigorate the resolution of the Corinthians, to whom the Epistle is addressed, and of all others engaged in the same state of warfare with their corrupt inclinations, he reminds them of the immortal prize they are contending for, that crown of glory which is to recompense their virtuous conflict. And to give this still greater weight, he compares their rewards with those proposed to the competitors in the wellknown games orsports which were celebrated near Corinth. In these, all that was contended for, was nothing more than “a cor“ ruptible crown,” a wreath composed of perishable leaves: whereas, the prize of the Christian is an incorruptible one, a crown of glory that fadeth not away, an eternity of real and substantial happiness in Heaven. And yet, poor and contemptible as the reward was in those games, they who strove for the mastery in them, were temperate in in all things, were content to exercise the strictest discipline and abstemiousness, to
abridge themselves both in the quantity and the quality of their diet, to renounce every pleasure and every indulgence that tended to weaken the body, and voluntarily to undergo many hardships in order to prepare themselves for the contest, and “ to run so “ that they might obtain.” How is it possible, then, after this, for the Christian to complain of the difficulties he has to encounter in this his state of probation, and when celestial rewards are held up to his view, to shrink from the severities through which he must arrive at them? If he has any honest ambition in his nature, will he not emulate the ardour and activity of these Grecian combatants? Will he not cheerfully go through a similar course of preparatory discipline? Will he not impose upon himself a little moderation in his pleasures, a little self-government and self-denial? Will hę not contentedly give up a few trivial indulgencies, and transient gratifications, in order to secure a prize infinitely more glorious than theirs; a crown incorruptible, felicity eternal, commensurate to the existence, and suited to the capacity of an immortal soul?
To this irresistible strength of argument, St. Paul subjoins, as an additional motive, his own example.“ I therefore,” says he, “ so run, not as uncertainly,” not heedlessly and ignorantly, but with a perfect knowledge of the course I am to pursue, the rules I am to observe, the prize I am to aim at, and the conditions on which it is to be attained. I do not act at random, but upon sure grounds. My views are steadily fixed on the grand point, and I press forwards in the way marked out with unwearied vigour and perseverance. “ So fight I, not as one that “ beateth the air.” In this Christian combat I do not mispend my activity, and exert my powers to no purpose; I do not fight with my own shadow, or with an imaginary antagonist*, wasting my strength on the empty air ; but I strive for the mastery in good earnest ; I consider myself as having real enemies to combat, the world, the flesh, and the devil; I know that my life, my salvation, my all, is at stake; and therefore, in imitation of the competitors in the Isthmian
* See the commentators