Imágenes de páginas
PDF

penury with tranquillity and patience, as well as to enjoy abundance with moderation. He who commands us to use this world as though we used it not, prohibits not only all intemperance in eating and drinking, and excessive delicacy, ambition, pride, haughtiness, and squeamishness in our furniture, our habitations, and our apparel; but every care and affection, which would either seduce or disturb us from thoughts of the heavenly life, and attention to the improvement of our souls. Now it was anciently and truly observed by Cato, That there is a great concern about adorning the body, and a great carelessness about virtue; and it is an old proverb, That they who are much engaged in the care of the body, are generally negligent of the soul. Therefore, though the liberty of the faithful in external things cannot be reduced to certain rules, yet it is evidently subject to this law, That they should indulge themselves as little as possible; that, on the contrary, they should perpetually and resolutely exert themselves to retrench all superfluities and to restrain luxury; and that they should diligently beware lest they pervert into impediments things which were given for their assistance. V. The other rule will be, That persons whose property is small should learn to be patient under their privations, that they may not be tormented with an immoderate desire of riches. They who observe this moderation, have attained no small proficiency in the school of the Lord, as he who has made no proficiency in this point can scarcely give any proof of his being a disciple of Christ. For beside that an inordinate desire of earthly things is accompanied by most other vices, he who is impatient under penury, in abundance generally betrays the opposite passion. By this I mean, that he who is ashamed of a mean garment, will be proud of a splendid one; he who, not content with a slender meal, is disquieted with the desire of a more sumptuous one, would also intemperately abuse those dainties, should they fall to his lot; he who bears a private and mean condition with discontent and disquietude, would not abstain from pride and arrogance, should he rise to eminence and honours. Let all, therefore, who are sincere in the practice of piety, earnestly endeavour to learn, after the apostolic exam

ple, “both to be full and to be hungry, both to abound and to suffer need.” (!) The Scripture has also a third rule, by which it regulates the use of earthly things; of which something was said, when we treated of the precepts of charity. For it states, that while all these things are given to us by the Divine goodmess, and appointed for our benefit, they are as it were deposits entrusted to our care, of which we must one day give an account. We ought, therefore, to manage them in such a manner that this alarm may be incessantly sounding in our ears, “Give an account of thy stewardship.” (m) Let it also be remembered by whom this account is demanded; that it is by him who hath so highly recommended abstinence, sobriety, frugality, and modesty; who abhors profusion, pride, ostentation, and vanity; who approves of no other management of his blessings, than such as is connected with charity; who hath with his own mouth already condemned all those pleasures which seduce the heart from chastity and purity, or tend to impair the understanding. VI. Lastly, it is to be remarked, that the Lord commands every one of us, in all the actions of life, to regard his vocation. For he knows with what great inquietude the human mind is inflamed, with what desultory levity it is hurried hither and thither, and how insatiable is its ambition to grasp different things at once. Therefore, to prevent universal confusion being produced by our folly and temerity, he hath appointed to all their particular duties in different spheres of life. And that no one might rashly transgress the limits prescribed, he hath styled such spheres of life vocations, or callings. Every individual’s line of life, therefore, is as it were a station assigned him by the Lord, that he may not wander about in uncertainty all his days.A And so necessary is this distinction, that in his sight all our actions are estimated according to it, and often very differently from the sentence of human reason and philosophy. There is no exploit esteemed more honourable, even among philosophers, than to deliver our country from tyranny; but the voice of the celestial Judge openly condemns the private man who lays violent hands on a tyrant. It is not my design, however, to stay to enumerate examples. It is sufficient if

(l) Phil. iv. 12. - (m) Luke xvi.2. Vol. IK. 2 C

we know that the principle and foundation of right conduct in every case is the vocation of the Lord, and that he who disregards it will never keep the right way in the duties of his station. He may sometimes perhaps achieve something apparently laudable; but however it may appear in the eyes of men, it will be rejected at the throne of God; beside which, there . be no consistency between the various parts of his life.) Our life, therefore, will then be best regulated, when it is directed to this mark; since no one will be impelled by his own temerity to attempt more than is compatible with his calling, because he will know that it is unlawful to transgress the bounds assigned him. He that is in obscurity will lead a private life without discontent, so as not to desert the station in which God hath placed him. It will also be no small alleviation of his cares, labours, troubles, and other burdens, when a man knows that in all these things he has God for his guide. The magistrate will execute his office with greater pleasure, the father of a family will confine himself to his duty with more satisfaction, and all in their respective spheres of life will bear and surmount the inconveniencies, cares, disappointments, and anxieties which befal them, when they shall be persuaded that every individual has his burden laid upon him by God. Hence also will arise peculiar consolation, since there will be no employment so mean and sordid (provided we follow our vocation) as not to appear truly respectable, and be deemed highly important in the sight of God.

CHAPTER XI.

justification by Faith. The Name and Thing defined.

I THINK I have already explained with sufficient care, how that men, being subject to the curse of the law, have no means left of attaining salvation but through faith alone; and also what faith itself is, what Divine blessings it confers on man, and what effects it produces in him. The substance of what I have

[ocr errors]

advanced is, that Christ, being given to us by the goodness of God, is apprehended and possessed by us by faith, by a participation of whom we receive especially two benefits. In the first place, being by his innocence reconciled to God, we have in heaven a propitious Father instead of a judge; in the next place, being sanctified by his Spirit, we devote ourselves to innocence and purity of life. Of regeneration, which is the second benefit, I have said what I thought was sufficient. The method of justification has been but slightly touched, because it was necessary, first to understand that the faith, by which alone we attain gratuitous justification through the Divine mercy, is not unattended with good works, and what is the nature of the good works of the saints, in which part of this question consists. The subject of justification, therefore, must now be fully discussed, and discussed with the recollection that it is the principal hinge by which religion is supported, in order that we may apply to it with the greater attention and care. For unless we first of all apprehend, in what situation we stand with respect to God, and what his judgment is concerning us, we have no foundation either for a certainty of salvation or for the exercise of piety towards God. But the necessity of knowing this subject will be more evident from the knowledge itself. II. But that we may not stumble at the threshold (which would be the case were we to enter on a disputation concerning a subject not understood by us) let us first explain the meaning of these expressions, To be justified in the sight of God, To be justifted by faith or by works. He is said to be justified in the sight of God, who in the Divine judgment is reputed righteous, and accepted on account of his righteousness: for as iniquity is abominable to God, so no sinner can find favour in his sight, as a sinner, or so long as he is considered as such. Wherever sin is, therefore, it is accompanied with the wrath and vengeance of God.) He is justified who is considered not as a sinner, but as a righteous person, and on that account stands in safety before the tribunal of God, where all sinners are confounded and ruined. As, if an innocent man be brought under an accusation before the tribunal of a just judge, when judgment is passed according to his innocence, he is said to be justified or acquitted before the judge; so he is justified before

God, who, not being numbered among sinners, has God for a
witness and assertor of his righteousness. Thus he must be
said, therefore, to be justified by works, whose life discovers
such purity and holiness, as to deserve the character of right-
cousness before the throne of God; or who, by the integrity of
his works, can answer and satisfy the Divine judgment. On the
other hand, he will be justified by faith, who, being excluded
from the righteousness of works, apprehends by faith the
righteousness of Christ, invested in which, he appears, in the
sight of God, not as a sinner, but as a righteous man. Thus we
simply explain justification to be an acceptance, by which God
receives us into his favour and esteems us as righteous per-
sons: and we say that it consists in the remission of sins and
the imputation of the righteousness of Christ.)
III. For the confirmation of this point there are many plain
testimonies of Scripture. In the first place, that this is the pro-
per and most usual signification of the word, cannot be denied.
But since it would be too tedious to collect all the passages
and compare them together, it shall suffice to have suggested
it to the reader; for he will easily observe it of himself. I will
only produce a few places, where this justification, which we
speak of, is expressly handled. First, where Luke relates that
“the people that heard Christ justified God;” and where Christ
pronounces that “wisdom is justified of all her children:” (n)
To justify God, in the former passage does not signify to con-
fer righteousness, which always remains perfect in him, al-
though the whole world endeavour to rob him of it; nor, in the
latter passage, does the justifying of wisdom denote making
the doctrine of salvation righteous, which is so of itself; but
both passages imply an ascription to God and to his doctrine
of the praise which they deserve. Again, when Christ repre-
hends the Pharisees for “justifying themselves,” (o) he does
not mean that they attained righteousness by doing what was
right, but that they ostentatiously endeavoured to gain the cha-
racter of righteousness, of which they were destitute. This is
better understood by persons who are skilled in the Hebrew
language; which gives the appellation of sinners not only to

(n) Luke vii. 29, 35. (o) Luke xvi. 15.

[ocr errors]
« AnteriorContinuar »