Gambar halaman

nor continues to be necessary. Nor is there any sufficient reason to suppose, that this resemblance to our present bodies will be retained in our future bodies, or be at all wanted. Upon the whole, the conclusions, which we seem authorised to draw from these intimations of Scripture, are,

First, That we shall have bodies.

Secondly, That they will be so far different from our present bodies, as to be suited, by that difference, to the state and life, into which they are to enter, agreeably to that rule, which prevails throughout universal nature; that the body of every being is suited to its state, and that, when it changes its state, it changes its body.

Thirdly, That it is a question by which we need not at all be disturbed, whether the bodies, with which we shall arise, be new bodies, or the same bodies under a new form ; for,

Fourthly, No alteration will hinder us from remaining the same, provided we are sensible and conscious that we are so, any more than the changes, which our visible person undergoes even in this life, and which from infancy to manhood are undoubtedly very great, hinder us from being the same, to ourselves and in ourselves, and to all intents and purposes whatsoever.

Lastly, That though, from the imperfection of our faculties, we neither are, nor, without a constant miracle upon our minds, could be made, able to conceive or comprehend the nature of our future bodies; yet we are assured, that the change will be infinitely beneficial; that our new bodies will be infinitely superior to those, which we car. ry about with us in our present state; in a word, that, whereas our bodies are now comparatively vile (and are so denominated), they will so far rise in glory, as to be made like unto his glorious body; that, whereas, though our pilgrimage here, we have borbe, that which we inherited, the image of the earthy, of our parent the first Adam, created for a life upou this earth; we shall in our future state, bear another image, a new resemblanc

th lif k

e Alle kam, want, the second man,

***** that of the Lord from





this uses copie' are we the sons of God; and it

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

ur what we shall be: but we know vull appear, we shall be like him ; sed him as he is. And every man that

name in him, purifieth himself, even as he Na the text tells us " that every man, that man was hope in him, purifieth himself, it must

intending to describe the natuin hot and genuine effects of this hope, ra** jsexhaps that the actual effects, or at least as * which in point of experience, universally #thom it. As hath already been observed, hole text relates to sincere Christians, and teise słone : the word we, in the preceding of it, comprises sincere Christians and no

Therefore the word every man must be sited to the same sort of men, of whom he was

ding before. It is not probable, that in the butie sentence he would change the persons and Balusters concerning whom he discoursed; so

it had been objected to St. John, that, in w of fact every man did not purify himself the bad this hope in him, he would have replied,

ve, that these were not the kind of persons Nad in his view; that, throughout the whole of art, he had in contemplation the religious » and character of sincere Christians and

Vhen, in the former part of the text,

being the sons of God, of we being undoubtedly meant sincere Chrisit would be strange if he meant

jatter part of the text, which is luation of the same discourse, of the · nay, a portion of the same sentence.

I have said thus much in order to obviate the contrariety, which there seems to be between St. John's assertion and experience. Experience, I acknowledge, proves the inefficacy in numerous cases of religious hope and religious motives; and it must be so: for if religious motives operated certainly and necessarily; if they produced their effect by an infallible power over the mind, we should only be machines necessarily actuated ; and that certainly is not the thing, which a moral agent, a religious agent, was intended to be. It was intended that we should have the power of doing right, and consequently, of doing wrong: for he who cannot do wrong,cannot do right by choice ; he is a mere tool and instrument, or rather a machine, which ever he does. Therefore all moral motives, and all religious motives, unless they went to deprive man of his liberty entirely, which they most certainly were not meant to do, must depend for their influence and success upon the man himself.

This success, therefore is various, but, when it fails, it is owing to some vice and corruption in the mind itself. Some men are very little affected by religious exhortation of any kind, either by hearing or reading. That is a vice and corruption in the mind itself. Some men, though affected, are not affected sufficiently to influence their lives. That is a vice and corruption in the mind, or ra: ther in the heart; and so it will always be found : but I do not so much wonder at persons being unaffected by what others tell them, be those other's who they may, preachers or teachers, or friends, or parents, as I wonder at seeing men not affected

by their own thoughts, their own meditations : , yet it is so; and when it is so, it argues a deep

corruption of mind indeed. We can think upon the most serious, the most solemn subjects, without any sort of consequence upon our lives. Shall we call this seared insensibility shall we call it a fatal inefficacy of the return of principle within us? shall we confess, that the mind has lost it government over the man?

These are observations upon the state of morals and religion, as we see them in the world ; but whatever these observations be, it is still true, and this is St. John's assertion, that the proper, na. tural, and genuine effect of religious hope is to cause us to strive “ to purify ourselves, even as he is pure.” St. John strongly fixes our attention, I mean as he means, such of us as are sincere Christians, upon what we are to be hereafter. This, as to particulars, is veiled from us, as we have observed, by our present nature, but as to generals ; as to what is of real importance and concern for us to know (I do not mean but that it might be highly gratifying and satisfactory to know more,) but as to what is of the first importance and concern for us to know, we have a glorious assurance of, we have an assurance, that we shall undergo a change in our nature infinitely for the better; that when he shall appear glorified as he is, we shall be like him. Then the point is, what we are to do, how we are to act under this expectation, having this hope, with this prospect placed before our eyes. St. John tells us, are to purify ourselves, even as he is pure.'

Now what is the scriptural meaning of purifying ourselves can be made out thus. The contra. ry of purity is defilement, that is evident; but our Saviour himself hath told us what the things which le a man are, and this is the enumeration; thoughts, adulteries, fornications, murders, 5, covetousness, wickedness, deceit, laciviousan evil eye, blasphemy, pride, foolishness; the reason given, why these are the real pro

defilements of our nature, is, that they proceed rom within, out of the heart; these evil things come from within, and defile the man. The seat, therefore, of moral defilement, according to our Saviour, is the heart by which we know, that he always mannt the affections and the disposition :

erefore, of moral purity, must neces

ame; for parity is the reverse of nsequently, to purify anrselves, is

[ocr errors]

to cleanse our hearts from the presence and pollution of sin, of those sins, particularly, which reside in, and continue in the heart. This is the purgation intended in our text. This is the test of purgation enjoined upon us.

It is to be noticed, that it goes beyond the mere control of our actions. It adds a farther duty, the purifying of our thoughts and affections. Nothing can be more certain, than that it was the design of our Saviour, in the passage here referred to, to direct the attention of his disciples to the heart, to that which is within a man, in contradistinction to that which is external. Now he, who only strives so control his outward action, but lets his thoughts and passions indulge themselves without check or restraint, does not intend to that which is within him, in contradistinction to that which is external. Secondly, the instances, which our Saviour has given, though, like all instances in Scripture, and, to say the truth, in all ancient writings, they be specimens and illustrations of his meaning, as to the kind and nature of the du. ties, or the vices which he had in view, rather than complete catalogues, including all such duties or vices by name, so that no other but what are thus named and specified were intended : though this qualified way of understanding the enumerations be right, yet even this enumeration itself shews, that our Saviour's lesson went beyond the mere external action. Not only are adulteries and fornications mentioned, but evil thoughts and lasciviousness; not only murders, but an evil eye; not only thefts, but covetousness or covetings. Thus by laying the axe to the root, not by lopping off the branches, but by laying the axe to the root, our Saviour fixed the only rule, which can ever produce good morals.

Merely controlling the actions, without govern. ing the thoughts and affections, will not do. In point of fact it is never successful. It is certainly Ast a compliance with our Saviour's command

« SebelumnyaLanjutkan »