Imatges de pÓgina

more divided in their judgment, with regard to harmless lies, such as are supposed to do neither good nor harm. The generality of men, even in the Christian world, utter them without any scruple, and openly maintain, that if they do no harm to any one else, they do none to the speaker. Whether they do or no, they have certainly no place in the mouth of him that is "an Israelite indeed." He cannot tell lies in jest, any more than in earnest. Nothing but truth is heard from his mouth. He remembers the express command of God to the Ephesian Christians: "Putting away all lying, speak every man truth to his neighbour," Eph. iv, 25.

3. Concerning officious lies, those that are spoken with a design to do good, there have .been numerous controversies in the Christian church. Abundance of writers, and those men of renown for piety, as well as learning, have published whole volumes upon the subject, and in despite of all opposers, not only maintained them to be innocent, but commended them as meritorious. But what saith the Scripture? One passage is so express, that there does not need any other. It occurs in the third chapter of the epistle to the Romans, where the very words of the apostle are, verses 7, 8, "If the truth of God hath more abounded through my lie unto his glory, why am I yet judged as a sinner?" (Will not that lie be excused from blame, for the good effect of it ?) "And not rather, as we are slanderously reported, and as some affirm, that we say, let us do evil that good may come? Whose damnation is just." Here the apostle plainly declares, 1. That the good effect of a lie is no excuse for it: 2. That it is a mere slander upon Christians to say, "They teach men to do evil that good may come :" 3. That if any, in fact, do this; either teach men to do evil that good may come, or do so themselves; their damnation is just. This is peculiarly applicable to those who tell lies in order to do good thereby. It follows, that officious lies, as well as all others, are an abomination to the God of truth. Therefore, there is no absurdity, however strange it may sound, in that saying of the ancient father, "I would not tell a wilful lie, to save the souls of the whole world."


4. The second thing which is implied in the character of an Israelite indeed," is sincerity. As veracity is opposite to lying, so sincerity is to cunning. But it is not opposite to wisdom, or discretion, which are well consistent with it. "But what is the difference between wisdom and cunning? Are they not almost, if not quite the same thing?" By no means. The difference between them is exceeding great. Wisdom is the faculty of discerning the best ends, and the fittest means of attaining them. The end of every rational creature is God: the enjoying him in time and in eternity. The best, indeed the only means of attaining this end, is, "the faith that worketh by love." True prudence, in the general sense of the word, is the same thing with wisdom. Discretion is but another name for prudence ;-if it be not rather a part of it; as it is sometimes referred to our outward behaviour;-and means, the ordering our words and actions right. On the contrary, cunning (so it is usually termed among common men, but policy among the great) is in plain terms, neither better nor worse than the art of deceiving. If, therefore, it be any wisdom at all, it is "the wisdom from beueath;" springing from the bottomless pit, and leading down to the place from whence it came.

5. The two great means which cunning uses in order to deceive, are, simulation, and dissimulation. Simulation is, the seeming to be what we are not; dissimulation, the seeming not to be what we are; according to the old verse, Quod non est, simulo: dissimuloque quod est. Both the one and the other we commonly term, the hanging out of false colours. Innumerable are the shapes that simulation puts on in order to deceive. And almost as many are used by dissimulation for the same purpose. But the man of sincerity shuns them, and always appears exactly what he is.

6. "But suppose we are engaged with artful men, may we not use silence or reserve, especially if they ask insidious questions, without falling under the imputation of cunning?" Undoubtedly we may : nay, we ought on many occasions, either wholly to keep silence, or to speak with more or less reserve, as circumstances may require. To say nothing at all, is, in many cases, consistent with the highest sincerity. And so it is, to speak with reserve, to say only a part, perhaps a small part of what we know. But were we to pretend it to be the whole, this would be contrary to sincerity.

7. A more difficult question than this, is, "may we not speak the truth in order to deceive? Like him of old, who broke out into that exclamation, applauding his own ingenuity, Hoc ego mihi puto palmarium, ut vera dicendo eos ambos fallam. This I take to be my master piece, to deceive them both, by speaking the truth.'" I answer; a heathen might pique himself upon this; but a Christian could not. For although this is not contrary to veracity, yet it certainly is to sincerity. It is, therefore, the most excellent way, if we judge it proper to speak at all, to put away both simulation and dissimulation, and to speak the naked truth from our heart.

8. Perhaps this is properly termed, simplicity. It goes a little farther than sincerity itself. It implies not only, first, The speaking no known falsehood; and, secondly, The not designedly deceiving any one; but thirdly, The speaking plainly and artlessly to every one when we speak at all: the speaking as little children, in a childlike, though not a childish manner. Does not this utterly exclude the using any compliments? a vile word, the very sound of which I abhor: quite agreeing with our poct :—

"It never was good day,

Since lowly fawning was called compliment.

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I advise men of sincerity and simplicity never to take that silly word into their mouths; but labour to keep at the utmost distance both from the name and the thing.

9. Not long before that remarkable time,

"When statesmen sent a prelate cross the seas,
By long famed act of pains and penalties,"

several bishops attacked bishop Atterbury at once, then bishop of Rochester, and asked; "My lord, why will you not suffer your servants to deny you, when you do not care to see company? It is not a lie for them to say, your lordship is not at home. For it deceives no one. Every one knows it means only, your lordship is busy," He replied, "My lords, if it is (which I doubt) consistent with sincerity, yet I am sure it is not consistent with that simplicity which becomes a Christian bishop."

10. But to return. The sincerity and simplicity of him in whom is no guile, have likewise an influence on his whole behaviour: they give a colour to his whole outward conversation; which, though it be far remote from every thing of clownishness and ill breeding, of roughness and surliness; yet is plain and artless, and free from all disguise; being the very picture of his heart. The truth and love which continually reign there, produce an open front, and a serene countenance; such as leave no pretence to say, with that arrogant king of Castile, "When God made man, he left one capital defect: he ought to have set a window in his breast;"-for he opens a window in his own breast, by the whole tenor of his words and actions.

11. This then is real, genuine, solid virtue. Not truth alone, nor conformity to truth. This is a property of real virtue; not the essence of it. Not love alone: though this comes nearer the mark: for love, in one sense, "is the fulfilling of the law.' No: truth and love united together, are the essence of virtue or holiness. God indispensably requires “truth in the inward parts," influencing all our words and actions. Yet truth itself, separate from love, is nothing in his sight. But let the humble, gentle, patient love of all mankind, be fixed on its right foundation, namely, the love of God springing from faith, from a full conviction that God hath given his only Son to die for my sins; and then the whole will resolve into that grand conclusion, worthy of all men to be received: "Neither circumcision availeth any thing nor uncircumcision, but faith that worketh by love."

SERMON XCVI.-On Charity.

"Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, and have not charity, I am become as sounding brass, or a tinkling cymbal.

"And though I have the gift of prophecy, and understand all mysteries, and all knowledge; and though I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, and have not charity, I am nothing.

"And though I bestow all my goods to feed the poor, and give my body to be burned, and have not charity, it profiteth me nothing," 1 Cor. xiii, 1-3.

We know, "all Scripture is given by inspiration of God," and is therefore true and right concerning all things. But we know, likewise, that there are some Scriptures which more immediately commend themselves to every man's conscience. In this rank we may place the passage before us: there are scarce any that object to it. On the contrary, the generality of men very readily appeal to it. Nothing is more common than to find even those who deny the authority of the Holy Scriptures, yet affirming, "this is my religion: that which is described in the thirteenth chapter of the Corinthians." Nay, even a Jew, Dr. Nunes, a Spanish physician, then settled at Savannah, in Georgia, used to say, with great earnestness, "That Paul of Tarsus was one of the finest writers I have ever read. I wish the thirteenth chapter of his first letter to the Corinthians were wrote in letters of gold. And I wish every Jew were to carry it with him wherever he went." He judged, (and herein he certainly judged right,) that this single chapter contained the whole of true religion. It contains "whatsoever things are

just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely: if there be any virtue, if there be any praise," it is all contained in this.

In order to see this in the clearest light, we may consider,

1. What the charity here spoken of is:

II. What those things are which are usually put in the place of it. We may then,

III. Observe, that neither of them, nor all of them put together, can supply the want of it.

I. 1. We are first, to consider, what this charity is? What is the nature, and what are the properties of it?

St. Paul's word is Ayarn, exactly answering to the plain English word love. And accordingly it is so rendered in all the old translations of the Bible. So it stood in William Tindal's Bible, which I suppose was the first English translation of the whole Bible. So it was also in the Bible published by the authority of king Henry VIII. So it was likewise, in all the editions of the Bible that were successively published in England during the reign of king Edward VI., queen Elizabeth, and king James I. Nay, so it is found in the Bibles of king Charles the First's reign: I believe, to the period of it. The first Bibles I have seen, wherein the word was changed, were those printed by Roger Daniel and John Field, printers to the parliament, in the year 1649. Hence it seems probable that the alteration was made during the sitting of the long parliament: probably it was then that the Latin word charity was put in place of the English word love. It was in an unhappy hour this alteration was made: the ill effects of it remain to this day; and these may be observed, not only among the poor and illiterate; not only thousands of common men and women, no more understand the word charity, than they do the original Greek ;—but the same miserable mistake has diffused itself among men of education and learning. Thousands of these are misled thereby, and imagine that the charity treated of in this chapter refers chiefly, if not wholly, to outward actions, and to mean little more than almsgiving! I have heard many sermons preached upon this chapter; particularly before the University of Oxford. And I never heard more than one, wherein the meaning of it was not totally misrepresented. But had the old and proper word love been retained, there would have been no room for inisrepresentation.

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2. But what kind of love is that whereof the apostle is speaking throughout the chapter? Many persons of eminent learning and piety apprehend that it is the love of God, But from reading the whole chapter numberless times, and considering it in every light, I am thoroughly persuaded that what St. Paul is here directly speaking of is the love of our neighbour. I believe whoever carefully weighs the whole tenor of his discourse, will be fully convinced of this. But it must be allowed to be such a love of our neighbour, as can only spring from a love of God. And whence does this love of God flow? Only from that faith which is of the operation of God; which whoever has, has a direct evidence that "God was in Christ reconciling the world unto himself." When this is particularly applied to his heart, so that he can say, with humble boldness," the life which I now live, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me;" then, and not till then, "the love of God is shed abroad in his heart." And this love sweetly

constrains him to love every child of man with the love which is here spoken of; not with a love of esteem or of complacence; for this can have no place with regard to those who are (if not his personal enemies, yet) enemies to God and their own souls; but with a love of benevolence, of tender good will to all the souls that God has made.

3. But it may be asked, "If there be no true love of our neighbour, but that which springs from the love of God; and if the love of God flows from no other fountain than faith in the Son of God; does it not follow, that the whole heathen world is excluded from all possibility of salvation? Seeing they are cut off from faith: for faith cometh by hearing; and how shall they hear without a preacher ?" I answer, St. Paul's words, spoken on another occasion, are applicable to this; "What the law speaketh, it speaketh to them that are under the law." Accordingly, that sentence, "He that believeth not shall be damned," is spoken of them to whom the gospel is preached. Others it does not concern and we are not required to determine any thing touching their final state. How it will please God, the Judge of all, to deal with them, we may leave to God himself. But this we know, that he is not the God of the Christians only, but the God of the heathens also; that he is "rich in mercy to all that call upon him," according to the light they have; and that " in every nation, he that feareth God and worketh righteousness, is accepted of him."

4. But to return. This is the nature of that love, whereof the apostle is here speaking. But what are the properties of it; the fruits which are inseparable from it? The apostle reckons up many of them; but the principal of them are these.


First, Love is not puffed up. As is the measure of love, so is the measure of humility. Nothing humbles the soul so deeply as love: it casts out all "high conceits, engendering pride;" all arrogance and overweening; makes us little, and poor, and base, and vile in our own eyes. It abases us both before God and man; makes us willing to be the least of all, and the servants of all, and teaches us to say, mote in the sun beam is little, but I am infinitely less in the presence of God."

5. Secondly, Love is not provoked. Our present English translation renders it, "it is not easily provoked." But how did the word easily come in? There is not a tittle of it in the text: the words of the apostle are simply these, ou Tapoğuvεral. Is it not probable, it was inserted by the translators, with a design to excuse St. Paul, for fear his practice should appear to contradict his doctrine? For we read, (Acts xv, 36, et seq.) "And some days after, Paul said unto Barnabas, Let us go again and visit our brethren in every city, where we have preached the word of the LORD, and see how they do. And Barnabas determined to take with them John, whose surname was Mark. But Paul thought not good to take with them one who departed from the work. And the contention was so sharp between them, that they departed asunder one from the other: and so Barnabas took Mark, and sailed unto Cyprus; and Paul chose Silas, and departed; being recommended by the brethren unto the grace of God. And he went through Syria and Cilicia, confirming the churches."

6. Would not any one think, on reading these words, that they were both equally sharp? That Paul was just as hot as Barnabas, and as

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