Sivut kuvina
PDF
ePub

the sufferings of a life to come. What are shame, or poverty, or even the horrors of a guilty conscience, in comparison with a death like that of Judas, and the perils of eternal judgment, into which he plunged impenitent!

Once more, the duellist, if he meets his adversary in malice or revenge, to inflict an injury, outrages every principle of the charity inculcated in the Gospel; if his concern is only and purely to preserve his own reputation, he provokes his antagonist to commit a crime, from which he recoils himself with horror. In the latter case, the offence against charity is little less heinous, though the method of offending is a little more circuitous. Private challenge and private combat never can be consistent with the precepts of the Gospel, or the religion of Christ.

But these are matters of which human law takes cognisance, and of which we happily may be spared the full picture in this place. Let us also guard our

selves from stepping into the path that leads towards them. It is a forgiving temper, and a sincere regard for the welfare of our fellow-creatures, that our Lord seemed to prefer to every other virtue. He enjoins love and charity more frequently on these truly Christian points of duty he is more earnest in his appeal to our hearts and hopes, than on any other. He makes forgiveness of our neighbour the very condition, on which alone we can expect or ask forgiveness of God.

MO

SERMON VIII.

THE SEVENTH COMMANDMENT.

Exodus, xx. 14.

Thou shalt not commit adultery.

This commandment is directed against the class of sensual excesses. It enjoins us to subdue the body, and all those carnal lusts and affections, that a fallen nature has implanted in man. Sensual enjoyments are to be put under constraint, and submitted to the laws of virtue and religion. They are not altogether proscribed. In this the treatment of them differs from that of the malignant passions. The latter are to be put out; to be utterly quenched ; to be entirely

superseded by the antagonist affections, love, mercy, meekness, charity. But the senses have been bestowed on man for his happiness, and, if regulated, will conduce to his welfare. The appetite, of which the excess is gluttony and drunkenness, is of itself necessary to the support of the body. It may not be eradicated, or extinguished, lest life itself should be endangered. But it must be subdued, it must be held in restraint, and guarded within due bounds.

The subjugation of natural appetites is a distinctive feature of Christianity, which again and again enjoins us to crucify the old man with his affections, and to put on the new man, in self-constraint, purity, and godliness. “Put ye on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make not provision for the flesh, to fulfil the lusts thereof." The teaching of other schools has lent its sanction to indulgence, and dressed up images to fan the flame of a

1 Rom. vi. 6. 2 Eph. iv. 22, 24.

3 Rom. xiii. 14. favourite desire. The polished heathen of antiquity enshrined his deities in sensual pleasure, and worshipped them with voluptuous excess. Mahomet promised his disciples a paradise of that license unwearied in another world, to which he imposed no restraint in this. And, under an earlier dispensation, even the servants of God himself seem to have been permitted a liberty inconsistent with the happiness of society as it is now constituted. But the Gospel at once and throughout insists on the duty of selfdenial and self-control. “Walk in the Spirit, and ye shall not fulfil the lusts of the flesh.”i Our Lord well knew, that the happiness of man consists in the quietude, not in the excitement of unruly affections; that their strength will fail, if not pampered by luxurious aliments; and their harassing activity be lulled to rest, if denied all objects of occupation. Our very amusements become insipid,

1 Gal. v. 16.

« EdellinenJatka »