Imatges de pÓgina

be carried much farther. We meant to acquiesce in this, confessedly harmless, indulgence: constant use makes it insipid; and then we venture on one of a suspicious character. Being now on the confines of vice, we are easily pushed into that quarter ; with some doubt and hesitation, at first; but scruples give way, as the habit strengthens, and all vices being connected with each other, especially all of one sort, we, by degrees, make the trial of all: and thus, from an innocent fancy, or inclination, indulged too freely, at setting out, we slip insensibly, and beside our purpose, into manifest, perhaps universal, dissolution.

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So salutary, so divine is the resolution of the Apostle! All things are lawful for me : but I will not be brought under the power of any.

To interdict amusements, altogether, to the vivacity of youth, would be severe and cynical. They are abundantly too numerous, at present, and too much frequented: but many of them are supposed to be, and some, without doubt, are, in themselves, lawful. Of these, only, I am now speaking: and even of these it must be affirmed, that the unrestrained use of them is not expedient; as, for the other reasons sug

gested to you in this discourse, so chiefly, because it degrades the man, and enslaves him.

To conclude; the safe and manly part is, to be temperate in all things 6: to make our pleasures, the occasional relaxation b of the mind, and by no means the employment of it: not, perhaps, to affect a total abstinence from them, which the world would account an incivility; but resolutely to forbear all vicious, or but suspected pleasures: and, for the rest, to keep a great deal on this side of what is thought allowable in the use of them.

$ 1 Cor. ix. 25.

h Ludo-uti quidem licet ; sed, sicut somno et quietibus cæteris, tùm cùm gravibus seriisque rebus satisfecerimus.

Çic. Off. L. i. $9.

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Ye have heared that it hath been said, an eye for an eye, and a tooth for u tooth. But I say unto you, that ye resist not evil: but whosoever shall smite thee on thy right cheek, turn to him the other also: And, if any man will sue thee at the law, and take away thy coat, let him have thy cloke also: And whosoever shall compel thee to go a mile, go with him twain.

I SUPPOSE, if these words had been found in any book whatsoever, except the Bible, no man of sense could have entertained the least doubt of their meaning. But, while one sort of readers think they do honour to God's word by taking every precept in the inost strict and rigid sense, and another, by the same mode of interpretation, hope to dishonour it, we may expect that, between them, the usual rules of criticism will be


little regarded.

The text refers us to a law of Moses, which established the jus talionis, or right af reta. liationa. This law, in the main, is consonant to natural equity; was of general use and authority in ancient times; has, with some modification, been adopted by legislators of all times; and was peculiarly fit, or rather necessary, in the Mosaic institute, composed in a very remote age of the world, and addressed to a fierce and barbarous people,

But this, so reasonable law, had undergone a double abuse in our Saviour's time. What was designed, in the hands of the magistrate, to prevent future injury, was construed into an allowance of private and personal revenge: And, again, what was calculated to prevent great and outrageous injuries, was pleaded in excuse for avenging every injury. The Jews retaliated, at pleasure, on those that offended them, and for the slightest offence.

a Exod. xxi. 24.

Our divine Master, then, without derogating from the law, when administered in due form, and, on a suitable occasion, applies himself to correct, these so gross perversions of it-I suy unto you,

that ye resist not evil--that is, that ye do not retaliate on the person, that does you an injury, in the way of private revenge; or even of a public suit, for small and trivial injuries.

You see, our Lord's purpose was, to oppose the mild spirit of the Gospel to the rigid letter of the law, or rather to an abusive interpretation of it. And this purpose is declared in three familiar and proverbial sayings, which, together, amount to thus much ; " That, when “ a small or tolerable injury is sustained by

any one, either in his person, or property, or “ liberty, it is far better (and was, thencefor“ ward, to be the law of Christians) to endure “ patiently that injury, or even to risk a' repe“tition of it, than, by retaliating on the ag

gressor, to perpetuate feuds and quarrels in " the world."

That such is the meaning of the text, would appear more evidently, if the injuries specified were, further, considered with an eye to the sentiments and circumstances of the Jewish

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