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Let us, therefore, inquire into the general nature of this principle, and then endeavour to elucidate its operation by tracing its influence upon our ordinary conduct.

1. To understand the nature of the principle which St. Paul here inculcates, we should observe the cases before him, in the context from which he takes occasion to prescribe this general rule.

This chapter contains advice upon three particular cases of conscience. The first respects the lawfulness of assisting at idolatrous feasts; such as were held in pagan temples, and in honour of the pagan worship. of these entertainments, some Christians, it appears, who were less careful to please God than to gratify their worldly connexions, condescended to partake, and justified their conduct by an argument of this kind; That an idol was, in fact, nothing; that it was a deity of mere imagination; and that, therefore, what was offered in sacrifice to idols had nothing in it which could pollute; that it could have contracted no defilement by this use; nor be at all less proper for food than flesh which had not been sacrificed. To this the Apostle replies, that certainly an idol was nothing; yet still, since the principle upon which idolatrous sacrifices were offered was the worship of false gods, or, as he might more fitly call it, devils, he could say no less of the compliance than that it was "holding fellowship with devils;" and, therefore, absolutely unlawful. “Ye cannot be partakers of the Lord's table, and of the table of devils.” “Do we provoke the Lord to jealousy?"

The second case was that of buying such flesh in the market: for whatever part of the animal was not consumed on the altar, or distributed for presents and entertainments, was exposed publicly to sale. And to this the Apostle gives his decided sanction. «Whatsoever is sold in the shambles, that eat, asking no question for conscience sake" Being designed for common food, it is not liable to the same objection with

what is appropriated to idolatrous feasting: for the offence does not consist in eating what was slain for sacrifice, but in eating of it on such occasions; where it is scandalously abused, to the dishonour of him who

gare it. The other is its legitimate and appointed use. Eat, therefore, without inquiry and without scruple: "for the earth is the Lord's, and the fulness thereof." He gave cattle for the use of man: nothing can annul his grant to you, but your own wilful perversion of it.

The third case respected the propriety of eating these same meats at the table of an heathen acquaintance; and this is resolved like the last. Being invited as to a common meal, you are in general to partake of it as such, without either uneasiness or remark. “Whatsoever is set before you, eat, asking no question for conscience sake.” But are you officiously told that it is a portion of the sacrifice? Or would a weak brother, who regards it as defiled, consider God as dishonoured by your participation of it? Then abstain, on both these accounts, “for his sake that shewed it;" to satisfy your informer, that you give no countenance to such things; and also, "for conscience sake;" for the sake of his conscience, who may be wounded or scandalized, or ensnared by your connivance. It might be lawful for you; but things lawful are not always expedient. It might be lawful; but it would not edify. Disregard not, then, the edification of your brother; respect his weakness. Deem it a sufficient reason for your abstinence that you might otherwise grieve him, or incur the risk of corrupting his integrity, by warranting what he esteems a crime. The principle, therefore, is the same whether you eat, or whether, under these or any other peculiar circumstances, you abstain. In both, you shew a respect to God: in the one, by enjoying his bounty with thankfulness, as he designed; in the other, by giving proof of your sincerity in his service, and by respecting even that scrupulosity in your brethren, which arises from their reverence for him. This leads to the general conclusion, not only in these cases but in all others,—“Whether ye eat or drink,” or abstain from either; in a word, “whatever ye do, do all to the glory of God.”

We see, then, that the principle here inculcated is of the soundest, most enlightened, and vigilant kind; sound, as forbidding strictly whatever is really an offence: enlightened, as it discriminates what is sinful from what only seems so to be: and watchful, in attending not merely to an action as it stands alone, but even to those possible effects of it wbich might bring dishonour to God. What is wrong in itself is not allowed on any plea of convenience, or in consideration of circumstances which may seem to palliate the evil; but is to be rejected absolutely, and without reserve. What is blameable only on account of mischiefs which it may, incidentally, produce, needs not be too scrupulously avoided, when it can have no such consequence; and yet a probability that such effects may follow, is to be considered as bringing actions the most indifferent within the catalogue of sins. The great rule of our life must be regard to God's honour; and this rule must be applied on occasions when we perhaps think little of responsibility. “Whether ye eat or drink, or whatever ye do,” says the Apostle, “do all to the glory of God.” This is the end which he proposes for all our actions. There are different ends, which we may propose to ourselves, or others may propose to us. There are uses of all his gists which he himself prescribes. There are contrary uses to which we, or others, may pervert them. Our conduct, though in itself blameless, may still be dishonourable to Him; from the light in which others may view it, and the ill effect it may have on their minds. But in all such cases what dishonours, or seems likely to dishonour, Him, is to be avoided as sin: what promotes, or bids fair to promote, His glory, must be deemed of strict obligation.

II. Having thus examined the nature of the principle, let us proceed to shew its operation in sanctifying the common actions of life.

It is not often that the best of men have a due sense of the value of Christian principle, in this point of view. And as to the world at large, they can scarcely understand the application of it. With them, religion is confined to acts of worship; morality is the principle of our duty to man; and interest, inclination, custom, convenience are to direct the vast variety of human actions, which are less perfectly of the moral kind. Thus, in all the ordinary conduct of their lives, in their business and their amusements; in the connexions they form, and the society they frequent: in the use of their time, their influence, their fortune, or their talents; in the management of their families; in their habits of personal indulgence; in their common discourse; in their general bearing and behaviour, they live altogether without regard to God. Of any end besides their own gratification; of any control, but from themselves or the world; of any duties, except decency and discretion, they have no thought; and if the glory of God be adverted to, they do not understand how it is to be made the object of their concern. There are, perhaps, few more fatal mistakes, than to suppose that God is glorified only by expressions of reverence, or acts of worship. We glorify him just as truly, when, through the whole progress of ordinary life, we keep his designs, his honour, his cause, in view, as we keep in view our own interest, or the reputation and wishes of a respeeted parent; when instead of counteracting, affronting, or injuring bim, we do him homage and service as we have occasion, and make it, generally, our object to please him. Such a principle will sanctify our whole conduct. It will set a sacred stamp of sanctity and honour even on little things. In the bold imagery of the prophet Zechariah, " there shall be upon the bells of the horses, Holiness to the Lord.” What is meapest and most insignificant shall have its use in his service, and enjoy the full privilege of a consecration. VOL. II.

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But let us take a particular instance or two. Take first the duties of any humble and laborious calling; of an husbandman, of a mechanic, of a servant, of one who must labour for a subsistence, and whose whole time is occupied in the work of his vocation. If a man submits to this lot, as a mere act of necessity: if he goes through his toil with cheerfulness, because he thus supplies his wants, or procures his humble comforts, or hopes, one day to improve his condition; though he may be acting well and wisely, in some points of view, he does nothing to the glory of God. But suppose that he thus reflects on his condition, and that he habituates himself to act from such considerations as these: “I am poor indeed, and must labour that I may live: but who has placed me in this situation? Was it not God who made us all, and who ordains for each of us what he thinks fit, making some poor and some rich; dispensing health and strength to some, and sickness or infirmity to others; bestowing on some great parts and great advantages, while he affords to others only a narrow understanding and scanty means of improvement? What though I am doomed to labour-is it not the common doom? Has not God ordained that man sball eat bread in the sweat of his brow? Is it not, in the present state of things, the necessary condition of the greater part of mankind? And, as he has appointed this lot for me, am I not doing his will when engaged in my daily occupations, as much as one who, with more leisure, is more constantly engaged in attendance upon his worship? I will therefore go to my labour cheerfully: I will pursue it diligently, as God's appointinent: I will consider this as my place in the great family of his creatures, and endeavour to serve him in it; doing the duties of my station with a humble, thankful, devoted mind; honouring him before men by its appropriate virtues; looking to him for my support; thanking him for my success; acting always under his eye, and as bound to consult his pleasure.” Such views would consecrate the labours of the day. Thus would

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