Imágenes de páginas
PDF
EPUB

port of the cause and kingdom of Christ, is one of the strongest expressions of ... In the illustration of this important duty, let it be understood, that, by self-denial is not meant, a malevolent disposition towards ourselves; nor a disregard of our own interest and welfare. All that is meant by it is, that we be willing to make sacrifices of our own interest and welfare, and even of our own lives, as cases may require, for the sake of the greater interest of others, or the greater general good. Self-denial does, by no means imply, that we are regardless of ourselves; but that we impartially regard others as we do ourselves. This is the very idea of the doctrine under consideration; and this is according to the spirit of the divine law. In the scriptures, we find particular laws and statutes, almost innumerable; but, all are comprehended in this saying, namely, “Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself”— “Love worketh no ill to his neighbor, therefore, love is the fulfilling of the law.” Selfishness, on the other hand, naturally worketh ill to his neighbor; and is, therefore, the violation of the whole law. Every step we take, on the selfish principle, exposes our neighbor’s interest or char. acter; and, what is infinitely more to be dreaded is, that it is reproachful to the ever blessed God; even to the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost. It is reproachful to the law, to the gospel, and to the grace of God. Thus evident it is, that holy love appears and operates, in works of self-denial, and pure disinterested benevolence. The doctrine of self-denial, though derided by the wise men of the world, as an affectation of being righteous overmuch; is clearly a fundamental and practical doc. trine of the holy scriptures. It is also a plain dictate of reason. It is a doctrine which distinguishes between virtue and vice; and which commends itself to the consciences of all the friends of truth and godliness. This holy principle is celebrated by the Apostle, under the name of charity; and it is called the bond of perfectness. The highest attainments in wisdom and knowledge, the most splendid gifts of utterance, and even the gift of

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors][ocr errors][merged small][merged small]

miracles and prophecy; the greatest possible liberality
to the poor, and even the sacrifice of life in the best of
all causes, without charity, or holy love, are accounted
as * Charity alone contains the essence of reli-
gion. “Charity suffereth long and is kind; charity
envieth not; charity vaunteth not itself, is not puffed
up, doth not behave itself unseemly, seeketh nother own,
is not easily provoked, thinketh no evil, rejoiceth not in
iniquity, but rejoiceth in the truth: beareth all things, be-
lieveth all things, hopeth all things, endureth all things.”
It is added, that “ charity never #. It shall abide
forever, while faith and hope shall terminate in vision
and fruition.
From the view of what the Apostle denominates
charity, “ which is the bond of perfectness,” it is evident,
that self-denial is a leading feature in the real christian’s
character. He suffereth long, and is kind. “Charity
Seeketh not her own.” Christian self-denial, which con-
sists in a denial of selfishness, consists in regarding all
rational, and even all sensitive beings, with a candid and
impartial eye; and in regarding all interests and objects
according to their intrinsic value and importance. Pri-
Yate good is, by no means, to be neglected, because it
is private, and not public good. “He that provideth not
for his own, and especially for them of his own house;”
whether it be in spiritual or temporal things, “ hath de-
nied the faith, and is worse than an infidel.” Private
good is as necessary to the man of true benevolence as to
others. But in his view, its importance does not consist
in its being his own private good, so much as in its being
to real good. If it comes to himself, he rejoices, and is
thankful for it. And if it comes to others, he also re-
joices and is thankful. For, in some good measure, he
loves his neighbor as himself.
On the subject of self-denial, we may further observe,
that a very great and o part of this dut
consists in love to our enemies. On the selfish princi-
ple, which is now, as it was in the time of Christ's
ministry, a very popular principle ; the moral law is,
“Thou shalt love thy neighbor;” that is, thy friendly

neighbor, “ and hate thine enemy.” But on the principle which is now advocated, the moral law as uttered § the mouth of the Saviour, is “Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them that despitefully use you, and persecute you.” . This important command is enforced irresistibly, by the example of our Heavenly Father. “For he maketh his sun to rise on the evil and on the good ; and sendeth rain on the just, and on the unjust.”. All, both bad and good, friends and enemies, share alike, and in common, the bounties and blessings of a merciful providence. Yea, the divine example of love to enemies extends further. For, says the beloved John, “God commendeth his love towards us, in that when we were sinners, Christ died for us. We are o: to love the most vile and ungrateful—to do good and lend, hoping for nothing again.” “For if ye love them that love you, what reward have ye P Sinners also love those that love them.” “And do not even the publicans so P’’ The duty of love to enemies, gives ample support to the doctrine of self-denial. And this love is most evidently holy, and disinterested. By this love, wherever it o christians are clearly distinguished from the ungodly world. By this Christ distinguished himself, as the holy and merciful Saviour. For, soardent was his love to his enemies, that he spent his last breath, under their torturing hands, in prayer for them : “Fa: ther, forgive them, for they know not what they do.” Is it ossible, that any man, who has heard of the life and j of the blessed Redeemer, should reject, for a moment, the great doctrine of self-denial, and love to enemies P. In this, above all things, Christ was distinished; and “If any man have not the spirit of Christ, #. is none of his.” By all that has been said, however, respecting selfdenial and love to enemies, it is not to be understood, that we are to have delight in them ; or to love them, with a love of complacency. To love them with delight, or complacency, would exclude the idea of self-denial ; and would imply, that we ourselves possess the same

[ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors]

odious character, and are pursuing the same wicked courses. The holy Psalmist, speaking of the enemies of God, expressed, in the strongest terms, his utter abhorrence of them. “ Do I not hate them, O Lord ' that hate thee P and am I not grieved with them that rise up against thee P I hate them with perfect hatred—I count them mine enemies.” The Lord also has infinite abhorrence of the wicked. “ The wicked, and him that loveth violence, his soul hateth.” “God judgeth the righteous, and God is angry with the wicked every day.” Innumerable are the expressions of his anger, and hatred, though his very name and nature are love. Christ, whose benevolence was infinite, and whose love to his enemies was wonderful ; was affected with a holy indignation against stupid unbelievers. “He marvelled because of their unbelief.” And “ He looked round about upon the captious multitude with anger, bein grieved for the hardness of their hearts.” He felt an expressed the highest indignation against those sinners, for whom, in infinite benevolence and mercy, he laid down his life on the cross. Thus we see a wide difference between a love of complacency, and a holy, disinterested love of benevolence. Complacency is a hol affection, when it has for its object a holy character. But when it has for its object a wicked character, it is a wicked affection. Accordingly, we find, that love to the Christian brethren, viewing them in their true character, is an evidence of a saving change of heart. “We know that we have passed from death unto life, because we love the brethren.” Can we but only be assured, that we delightin those very things, in which the true christian character consists, we may be well satisfied, that we have passed from death unto life. Cordial complacency and fellowship with real christians, cannot exist in the unreenerate heart. But if our love of christians be an interested and selfish affection, it is no evidence of real religion; nor of a holy complacency. It is, on the contrary, an evidence, that we are strangers to the nature of true religion; and liable to perish in a vain delusion.

REMARKS.

1. In attending to this subject, which exhibits the moral nature of the religion which we profess, as consisting essentially in self-denial, and holy love or benevolence; we are strongly impressed with the idea, that such doctrine as this is certainly from God. As the Apostle says, such doctrine as this Is Not AFTER MAN. It is most directly opposed to the views and feelings of every natural heart. From whence then could it proceed, but from the inspiration of the Almighty P

2. The doctrine of self-denial, and true benevolence is altogether a practical doctrine. , Let it be ever so well investigated, and ever so firmly believed, it can be of no advantage to us, unless it be put in daily practice. To what purpose can it be, to hold the truth in unrighteous: mess £ It will but aggravate our damnation. “For it had been better for us not to have known the way of life, than after we have known it, to turn from the holy commandment.” “If ye know things, therefore, happy are ye, if ye do them.”.....AMEN.

, ESSAY XXIII. Submission to God.

ONE of the most precious fruits of self-denial is a hunble and cordial submission to God. This is a duty which is enerally acknowledged, and even most commonly pro#. by mankind, especially on their dying beds. Happy would it be, could we discover, in all instances, goo evidence, of the sincerity of this profession. But of this evidence, we have reason to fear, there is, in many in: stances, a great deficiency. For there is what is called a forced submission? as well as one that is voluntary, and

[ocr errors]
« AnteriorContinuar »