Изображения страниц



No man wishes to bestow labour in vain: and if the fruit of labour is nothing but danger, that is worst of all. Such must be the labour of those who undertake to feed dogs with holy things; or cast what is valuable before swine: for dogs may be fed with common things; and it is an act of profaneness to give them holy things; for which the dogs are no better; and the giver is much worse. Swine have no knowledge of any thing valuable; if it is not eatable (which is all they think of) they despise and tread it under their feet. Instead of being obliged, they are disappointed and provoked; instead of thanking the person who treats them so much out of their own way, they will turn again upon him and rend him.

Any wise man would so little wish to be thus employed, that the precept, in the letter of it, is scarcely necessary; but in the spirit of it there is great sense and reason. For these dogs and swine are unholy

men; who are so called, because they are like the dogs and swine, in their manners and disposition. The holy thing, here meant, is the Gospel; and its value is expressed by pearls, things rare and precious. Therefore we will first consider the nature of this holy thing: then the persons to whom it will do no good, and ought not to be given. The reason is, because the attempt will be unsuccessful and dangerous. When this is made to appear, some admonition proper to the case may arise, as a conclusion from the whole.

The holy thing here spoken of is first to be considered. This is the Gospel; and a holy thing it is in its nature, because it comes from God, who is the fountain of holiness, and must, as such, partake of his nature. But it is chiefly so, when we consider that the end of it is to communicate holiness to man, and lead him to holiness and purity of life. It calls men to be separated from this world, which lieth in wickedness, and to become members of the kingdom of God. From thenceforth it sets new objects before them, new good and new evil, and inspires them with new affections, with love for the one, and hatred for the other. Its objects being all of an high and spiritual kind, the precepts which are intended to lead us to them are all pure and holy, and the sum total of them all is expressed in that one precept of the law, "Be yeholy, for I am holy." Man is to be made fit for the presence of God; but that cannot be, unless he becomes such as God is. Therefore the Gospel.saith, "Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God:" no other persons will be fit for it; it is therefore the design of the Gospel to make them such. And this it doth, not by restraining men from sin, as the laws of the land and the terror of punishment do; but by inspiring them with an admiration of purity, and a love towards it;


for the sake of God who is purity itself. The Gospel, as an introduction to the kingdom of heaven, must be a lesson of holiness: it cannot be otherwise: and poor blind mistaken men, who would make it consistent with unholiness, know nothing about it, and can have no share in it. How precious then is the Gospel, if it can lead man to the glorions presence of God! It is therefore represented to us by something more precious than gold itself, even by pearls: "cast not your pearls," saith the text. And in another text, the kingdom of heaven, which is still no other than the Gospel, is like unto a merchant, seeking goodly pearls: who, when he had found one pearl of great price, went and sold all that he had and bought it. So apposite is this comparison, that even the history of the pearl will afford us moral instruction. Pearls do not lie in the way every common observer; they lie deep in the ocean; he that would obtain them must seek for them; and he that would purchase the best of them all must give a great price. So also must he who would purchase the Gospel; he must seek it—he must give-the whole world for it; nothing less will buy it; and he who would have it for less, shews that he is not worthy of it. The world, as men commonly understand and use it, is one great lie: he that would have the truth, must give it up. "We have left all," said the disciples; and they did right: they were merchants that knew how to reckon, and how to estimate: they were therefore assured what they should have in return: this pearl would make them amends for ali they had given up.

But this pure, this holy, this inestimable treasure, is not to be thrown away upon those who are incapable of possessing it. It is not to be given to dogs or swine. A dog is incapable of that which is holy:

if he were fed with a limb from a sacrifice, it would in that capacity be nothing to him: he would upon it, as upon any common thing*. Give a pearl to a swine, and it becomes a thing of no value. It is the same with men. To many of them the Gospel signifies no more, than if you were to give a sacrifice to a dog and its value is no more seen or understood, than when pearls are cast before the filthiest beasts in nature; who tread them under foot as they would the mire of the streets. The author of the epistle to the Hebrews bids us think of what sore punishment they must be worthy, who have trodden under foot the Son of God, and counted the blood of the covenant wherewith they were sanctified, an unholy thing; regarding these sacred and precious things as dogs and swine would regard and treat the greatest treasures of the world. But of that sore punishment such persons do not think, because they are insensible of their own unworthiness. From the animals by which they are denoted, we may learn what temper they are of, and what is the true reason of their contempt and insensibility. The chief qualities by which dogs and swine are distinguished, are greediness, impudence, and uncleanness. These qualities are odious in the worst of beasts; but how much more so, when they are found in men worst of all, when they are found in Chistians; I mean in those who are so called. And first, for their greediness.

To a bad man this world is the great object. He thinks he never can have enough of it; and he is resolved to get it by any manner of means.

As one dog

*The ancient Greeks had holy or sacred places; they had even sacred islands; but into such places it was not lawful to transport a dog. See Xenoph. Cyneg, cap. v. § 23.

[ocr errors]

will snatch the meat from the mouth of another, so will he take to himself the property, the prospects, the character, of another man. The dog is all for the present time; so is he. The dog sees nothing beyond it; no more doth he: if the appetite is supplied, it is all he looks for. When the dog is hunting, he thinks of nothing but his prey; and the man of the world, in all his pursuits, thinks only of what he shall catch. The prophet complains of bad watchmen under the name of greedy dogs, which can never have enough; looking every one for his own gain from his quarter.-Isa. lvi. 11. Such men think only how they may get, and have and enjoy; as the dog when he is hunting thinks only how he shall overtake and devour. How incessant are the labours of some men in this chace hunting the world; hunting-one another; and snatching whatever they can from those who are upon the same hunt with themselves! These are the men who are so fond of the doctrine of equality; they admire it of all things: but this shows their true character; for a pack of dogs are all equal; all have the same rights; all are born to hunt and devour. No dog gives any thing to another dog: his rule is, to have it all to himself: and so little justice or mercy is there among these animals, when the devouring principle takes place, that it is not an uncommon accident for one poor beast to be marked out for a victim; in which case the rest fall upon him, and tear him to pieces.

That fatal distemper of madness, communicable to men and all four-footed beasts, and so dreadful in its effects, begins wholly (to the best of our knowledge) in the species of dogs; and is therefore distinguished by the name of canine madness. Distempers of the

« ПредыдущаяПродолжить »