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he estranged and banished himself for life; this was an event so very extraordinary,--fo odd and unaccountable,that it might well confound the minds of men to answer for it. -It was not to be accounted for upon the common rules and meafures of proceeding in human life.
The apostle, therefore, fince no one else could so well do it for him, comes, in this chapter, to give an explanation why he had thus forsaken so many worldly advantages, which was owing to a greater and more unconquerable affection to a better and more valuable interest,—that in the poor persecuted faith,which he had once reproached and destroyed,- he had now found such a fullness of divine grace,—such unfathomable depths of God's infinite mercy, and love towards mankind, that he could think nothing too much to part with in order to his embracing christianity;—nay, he accounted all things but lofs,—that is, less than nothing, for the excellency of the knowlege of Jesus Christ.
The apostle, after this apology for himself, -proceeds, in the second verse before the text, to give a very different representation of the
worldly and sensual principles of other pretending teachers,—who had set themselves up as an example for men to walk by, against whom he renews this caution :- For many walk, of whom I have told you often, and now tell you even weeping, that they are the enemies to the cross of Christ,—whose end is destruction,---whose God is their belly, and whose glory is their shame, who mind earthly things,-- papeles—relish them, making them the only object of their wishes,-taking aim at nothing better, and nothing higher.--But our conversation, says he in the text, is in heaven.
We christians, who have embraced a perfecuted faith, are governed by other considerations,—have greater and nobler views;_here we consider ourselves only as pilgrims and strangers.–Our home is in another country, where we are continually tending; there our hearts and affections are placed; and when the few days of our pilgrimage shall be over, there shall we return, where a quiet habitation and a perpetual rest is designed and prepared for us for ever.-Our conversation is in heaven, from whence, says he, we also look for the Saviour, the Lord Jesus Christ, who
fhall change our vile body, that it may be fa
fhioned like unto his glorious body, according 'to the working whereby he is able to subdue all things unto him.-It is observable, that St. Peter represents the state of christians under the same image, of christians on earth, whose city and proper home, is heaven :-he makes use of that relation of citizens of heaven, as a strong argument for a pure and holy life, -beseeching them as pilgrims and strangers here, as men whose interests and connections are of so short a date, and so trifling a nature,
to abstain from fleshly lusts, which war ágainst the soul, unfit it for its heavenly country, and give it a dif-relish to the enjoyment of that pure and spiritualized happ ness, of which that region must confist, wherein there shall in no wise enter any thing that defileth, neither whatsoever worketh abomination.
The apostle tells us, that without holiness no man fhall see God;—by which, no doubt, he means, that a virtuous life is the only medium of happiness and terms of salvation,—which can only give us admission into heaven.-But some of our divines carry the assertion further, that without holiness, --without some previ
ous fimilitude wrought in the faculties of the mind, corresponding with the nature of the purest of beings, who is to be the object of our fruition hereafter ;-that it is not morally only, but physically impofsible for it to be happy,--and that an impure and polluted soul, is not only unworthy of fo pure a presence as the spirit of God, but even incapable of enjoying it, could it be admitted.
And here, not to feign a long hypothesis, as some have done, of a finner's being admitted into heaven, with a particular description of his condition and behaviour there, we need only consider, that the supreme good, like any other good, is of a relative nature, and consequently the enjoyment of it must require fome qualification in the faculty, as well as the enjoyment of any other good does;--there must be something antecedent in the disposition and temper, which will render that good a good to that individual,—otherwise though it is true) it may be possessed, yet it never can be enjoyed.
Preach to a voluptuous epicure, who knows of no other happiness in this world, but what arises from good eating and drinking ;--fuck
a one, in the apostle's language, whose God was his belly; --preach to him of the abstracttions of the soul, tell of its flights, and brisker motion in the pure regions of immensity ;represent to him that faints and angels eat not, --but that the spirit of a man lives for ever upon wisdom and holiness, and heavenly contemplations:-why, the only effect would be, that the fat glutton would stare a while upon the preacher, and in a few minutes fall fast asleep.-No; if you would catch his attention, and make him take your discourse greedily,— you must preach to him out of the Alcoran,talk of the raptures of sensual enjoyments, and of the pleasures of the perpetual feasting, which Mahomet has described;—there you touch upon a note which awakens and links into the inmost recesses of his soul ;-without which, discourse as wisely and abstractedly as you will of heaven, your representations of it, however glorious and exalted, will pass like the songs of melody over an ear incapable of discerning the distinction of sounds.
We see, even in the common intercourses of society,—how tedious it is to be in the company of a perfon whose humour is disagreeable