Изображения страниц


And after some further direction, as it respects the weak consciences of others, what an admirable conclusion he draws: “Whether therefore ye eat, or whether ye drink, or whatsoever ye do, do all to the glory of God; giving no offence, neither to the Jews, nor to the Gentiles, nor to your brother Christians, called) the Church of God; even as I please all men in all (lawful) things; not seeking my own profit, but the profit of many, that they may be saved.”

Slapd. And I think to this we may also add that most beautiful passage, which displays so much of the same blessed temper:

“ Unto the Jews I became as a Jew, that I might gain the Jews : to them that are under the law, (ruled by the Jewish law,) as under the law;" while he acted the same towards the Gentiles, as being without law, that he might “gain them also. To the weak became I as weak, that I might gain the weak : I am made all things to all men, that I might by all means save some: and this I do for the gospel's sake.”

Mer. Then it should appear the crime was not in differing in judgment with others; for it seems they differed even with the Apostle himself; but for shewing so contentious a spirit against each other. Onė would think that this bad breed of coarse Christians had never read the thirteenth of the first of Corinthians, concerning that charity or love, “which suffereth long, and is kind, that envieth not, that vaunteth not itself, that is not easily puffed up.”—Let me see, I forget what comes next.

Loveg. Why, that love is a modest grace; it “ does not behave itself unseemly:" that it is a disinterested grace ; “ it seeketh not its own :” that it is a peaceable grace; “it is not easily provoked :" that it is an affectionate grace : “it thinketh no evil.” It is also a most happy and comfortable grace ; for “ it rejoiceth not in

[ocr errors]

iniquity, but it rejoiceth in the truth :” and lastly, it is a most patient grace; it “beareth all things, believeth all things, hopeth all things, and endureth all things."

Mer. While mankind are so corrupted, what need have we for the exercise of these graces towards each other! [To Mr. Lovegood.] Sir, when I first heard you preach, that naturally sent me to the Bible, and I was immediately convinced, that the religion of that book was the religion of love: and I now esteem it a mercy that I had none of these educational prejudices to contend with.

Slapd. Do not run from the subject, my young friend, as I sometimes do, when I get into the pulpit, until ny text brings me back again. What becomes of the religion of Mr. Steepleman or Mr. Stiff, if this be the religion of the Bible ?

Loveg. O my good old friend, I am more than ever convinced of this, when I consider other passages which have so remarkably strong a reference to our tempers and the feelings of our minds on all these occasions before God. How much of the mind of Christ appears in that passage to the Ephesians : “ I therefore, the prisoner of the Lord, beseech you that ye walk worthy of the vocation wherewith ye are called, with all lowliness and meekness, with long-suffering, forbearing one another in love, endeavouring to keep the unity of the spirit in the bond of peace.”

Mer. And what a heaven even upon earth we should enjoy, if all the people did but prove the reality of their Christianity by following the same Apostle's advice, in "laying aside all anger, wrath, and malice;" and instead of these, “as the elect of God, holy and beloved, put on bowels of mercies, kindness, humbleness of mind, meekness, long-suffering, forbearing one another, forgiving one another: if any man have a quarrel against any, even as Christ forgave us :" and then again, " above all things put on love, which is the bond of perfectness."

Loveg. Oh ! this is Christianity indeed! I once heard of a Deist, who could ridicule the Bible, while he was entirely ignorant of its contents and design. But when he was referred to the twelfth of the Romans, he was not only struck with the purity and sublimity of the subject, but at his own wickedness and folly, for having ridiculed a book so wonderfully calculated to promote the good of mankind: and how admirably are these blessed tempers inculcated in the same chapter! “Let love be without dissimulation ; abhor that which is evil, cleave to that which is good ; be kindly affectioned one to another with brotherly love, in honour preferring one another." Slapd. Almost the whole chapter runs upon

that subject; but the conclusion is most excellent : “ Recompense to no man evil for evil. If it be possible, live peaceably with all men. Dearly beloved, avenge not yourselves, but rather give place unto wrath. Therefore, if thine enemy hunger, feed him ; if he thirst, give him drink ; for in so doing thou shalt heap coals of fire upon his head.”

Mer. We shall have enough to do, if we quote all the passages that relate to this subject: the sum and substance of the Bible seem to be nothing but love.

Slapd. I am sure all the epistles of John are entirely on that subject. “ Beloved, let us love one another, for love is of God; and every one that loveth is born of God, and knoweth God.”

Loveg. Aye, born of God; and by that word, how evidently it appears, we have no solid proof of regeneration, but by its effects as produced by the grace of love ; for “ love is the fulfilling of the law.”

Mer. The doctrine of a divine change seems to me, to be the glory of the scriptures.

Loveg. Yes, and a full proof of their divine original. None but a God of almighty power, could dare to give the promise to change the heart of man, since nothing short of such an almighty power can accomplish a change so glorious.

Mer. I can put my solemn Amen to that truth; I never can be too much humbled for what I was; nor can I ever be too thankful for what, by the grace of God, I trust I now am. Ob! that text, “ What, know ye not that your bodies are the temples of the Holy Ghost, which is in you, which ye have of God, and ye are not your own? Ye are bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body and your spirit, which are God's.”

Slapd. It strikes me, I will preach upon that subject in your church, when you are gone to Locksbury. Loveg. You cannot take a better.

Slapd. But will you try to make me a hymn, suitable to the occasion ? for I am no poet.

Loveg. I will attempt to put a few rhymes together, to the best of my power; I can go no further.

Soon after this Mr. and Mrs. Worthy, and Mrs. Merryman came up; otherwise their profitable conversation on the new birth might have continued. They took a further range about the pleasure grounds, and then returned to the house.

Mr. Lovegood, shortly afterwards, went his second journey to Locksbury, which was no less grateful and satisfactory to him, than the former. But Dr. Rationality, Mr. Discussion, and others, took the pains to procure Dr. Stately and his curate, Mr. Leadhead, to whom Mr. Fribble very readily lent the pulpit, to confute the enthusiastic notions of Mr. Lovegood. But this they did in such an absurd and contradictory manner, that they

[ocr errors]

entirely confuted themselves thereby. Dr. Stately beld him out at arms' length, with the most supercilious contempt, as being hypocritically strict, and sanctimonious in his religion, while his curate, Mr. Leadhead, could understand him no better, than that he was a preacher of faith without works; both of them charging him also with several other preposterous notions, the most contradictory and absurd; and the result was, that the people's minds were not a little confirmed in those essential truths, which Mr. Lovegood had before delivered among them, by the awkward way in which these people opposed them.

Mr. Lovegood also told about a Mr. Timid, whom he found out in that neighbourhood, who, though he preaches the gospel, yet does it in such a cold, and cautious manner, that nobody is the better for it; that he is ever pleading the necessity of so preaching, as not to give offence; and that he had no notion of exciting people's prejudices, by being too plain. Thus, while by attempting to render “the preaching of the cross” of Christ palatable to the world, so that “the offence of it might cease," neither the world nor the Church would give him credit for his design. Mr. Lovegood, however, is of opinion, that if he could be got to take some of Mr. Slapdash's elixir, which, while it warms the constitution, and is an excellent stomachic, yet never throws into a fever, it might purge him of some of his worldly prudence, and thus make him a useful minister in those parts.

As it is now high time to abridge all these events, nothing more shall be laid before the reader, than Mr. Lovegood's hymn, made for Mr. Slapdash's sermon, as mentioned above.

It seems the sermon was much in his own style. When he had to display the regenerate heart of man, under the metaphor of the living temple, his imagination

« ПредыдущаяПродолжить »