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appears that the speaker meant nothing by his soft words, we are pleased no longer. Every man's own experience teaches him this. And we all know that if a man continues to flatter, after his insincerity is dis covered, it is disgustful, not agreeable. Therefore, even this fashion able way of lying, is to be avoided, by all that are desirous of pleasing their neighbour to his lasting advantage.
6. Nay, whoever desires to do this, must remember, that not only lying, in every species of it, but even dissimulation, (which is not the same with lying, though nearly related to it,) is displeasing to men of understanding, though they have not religion. Terence represents even an old heathen, when it was imputed to him, as answering with indignation; "Simulare non est meum :" "Dissimulation is no part of my character." Guile, subtlety, cunning, the whole art of deceiving, by whatever terms it is expressed, is not accounted an accomplishment by wise men; but is, indeed, an abomination to them. And even those who practise it most, who are the greatest artificers of fraud, are not pleased with it in other men, neither are fond of conversing with those that practise it on themselves. Yea, the greatest deceivers are greatly displeased at those that play their own arts back upon them.
II. Now if cruelty, malice, envy, hatred, revenge, ill nature; if pride and haughtiness; if irrational anger; if lying and dissimulation, together with guile, subtlety, and cunning; are all and every one displeasing to all men, especially to wise and good men; we may easily gather from hence, what is the sure way to please them for their good to edification. Only we are to remember, that there are those in every time and place, whom we must not expect to please. We must not, therefore, be surprised, when we meet with men who are not to be pleased any way. It is now, as it was of old when our Lord himself complained, "Whereunto shall I liken the men of this generation? They are like unto children sitting in the market place, and saying to each other, we have piped unto you, but ye have not danced: we have mourned unto you, but ye have not wept. "But leaving these froward ones to themselves, we may reasonably hope to please others, by a careful and steady observation of the few directions following.
1. First, Let love not visit you as a transient guest, but be the constant temper of your soul. See that your heart be filled at all times, and on all occasions, with real, undissembled benevolence; not to those only that love you, but to every soul of man. Let it pant in your heart; let it sparkle in your eyes; let it shine on all your actions. Whenever you open your lips, let it be with love; and let there be in your tongue the law of kindness. Your word will then distil as the rain, and as the dew upon the tender herb. Be not straitened or limited in your affection, but let it embrace every child of man. Every one that is born of a woman has a claim to your good will. You owe this not to some, but to all. And let all men know, that you desire both their temporal and eternal happiness, as sincerely as you do your own.
2. Secondly, If you would please your neighbour for his good, study to be lowly in heart. Be little and vile in your own eyes, in honour preferring others before yourself. Be deeply sensible of your own weaknesses, follies, and imperfections; as well as of the sin remaining in your heart, and cleaving to all your words and actions. And let this spirit appear in all you speak or do. "Be clothed with humility."
Reject with horror that favourite maxim of the old heathen, sprung from the bottomless pit; Tanti eris aliis, quanti tibi fueris: "The more you value yourself, the more others will value you." Not so; on the contrary, both God and man "resist the proud :" and as God giveth grace to the humble;" so humility, not pride, recommends us to the esteem and favour of men, especially those that fear God.
3. If you desire to please your neighbour for his good to edification, you should, thirdly, labour and pray, that you may be meek, as well as lowly in heart. Labour to be of a calm, dispassionate temper; gentle towards all men. And let the gentleness of your disposition appear in the whole tenor of your conversation. Let all your words and all your actions be regulated thereby. Remember, likewise, that advice of St. Peter: as an addition to your gentleness, "Be merciful;" be courteous: be pitiful; be tenderly compassionate to all that are in distress; to all that are under any affliction of mind, body, or estate. Let
"The various scenes of human wo,
Weep with them that weep. If you can do no more, at least mix your tears with theirs; and give them healing words, such as may calm their minds, and mitigate their sorrows. But if you can, if you are able to give them actual assistance, let it not be wanting. Be as eyes to the blind, as feet to the lame; a husband to the widow, and a father to the fatherless. This will greatly tend to conciliate the affection, and to give a profitable pleasure, not only to those who are immediate objects of your compassion; but to others likewise, that " see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven."
4. And while you are pitiful to the afflicted, see that you are courteous towards all men. It matters not, in this respect, whether they are high or low, rich or poor, superior or inferior to you. No, nor even whether good or bad, whether they fear God or not. Indeed the mode of showing your courtesy may vary, as Christian prudence will direct: but the thing itself is due to all the lowest and worst have a claim to our courtesy. It may either be inward or outward; either a temper or a mode of behaviour. Such a mode of behaviour as naturally springs from courtesy of heart. Is this the same with good breeding, or politeness? (which seems to be only a high degree of good breeding :) nay, good breeding is chiefly the fruit of education; but education cannot give courtesy of heart. Mr. Addison's well known definition of politeness, seems rather to be a definition of this: "A constant desire of pleasing all men, appearing through the whole conversation." Now this may subsist even in a high degree, where there has been no advantage of education. I have seen as real courtesy in an Irish cabin, as could be found in St. James's, or the Louvre.
5. Shall we endeavour to go a little deeper to search the foundation of this matter? What is the source of that desire to please, which we term courtesy? Let us look attentively into our heart, and we shall soon find an answer. The same apostle that teaches us to be courteous, teaches us to honour all men: and his Master teaches me to love all men. Join these together, and what will be the effect? A poor wretch cries to me for an alms: I look, and see him covered with dirt and rags. But through these I see one that has an immortal spirit, made to know, and love, and dwell with God to eternity. I honour him for
his Creator's sake. I see, through all these rags, that he is purpled over with the blood of Christ. I love him for the sake of his Redeemer. The courtesy, therefore, which I feel and show towards him, is a mixture of the honour and love, which I bear to the offspring of God; the purchase of his Son's blood, and the candidate for immortality. This courtesy let us feel and show towards all men; and we shall please all men to their edification.
6. Once more. Take all opportunities of declaring to others the affection which you really feel for them. This may be done with such an air, and in such a manner, as is not liable to the imputation of flattery and experience shows, that honest nen are pleased by this, full as much as knaves are by flattery. Those who are persuaded that your expressions of good will towards them are the language of your heart, wii be as well satisfied with them, as with the strongest encomiums which you could pass upon them. You may judge them by yourselves, by what you feel in your own breast. You like to be honoured: but had you not rather be beloved?
7. Permit me to add one advice more. If you would please all men for their good, at all events speak to all men the very truth from your heart. When you speak, open the window of your breast: let your words be the very picture of your heart. In all companies, and on all occasions, be a man of veracity: nay, be not content with bare veracity; but " in simplicity and godly sincerity, have all your conversation in the world ;" as 66 an İsraelite indeed in whom is no guile."
8. To sum up all in one word: if you would please men, please God! Let truth and love possess your whole soul. Let them be the springs of all your affections, passions, tempers; the rule of all your thoughts. Let them inspire all your discourse; continually seasoned with that salt, and "meet to minister grace to the hearers." Let all your actions be wrought in love. Never "let mercy or truth forsake thee: bind them about thy neck." Let them be open and conspicuous to all; and "write them on the table of thy heart:" "So shalt thou find favour and good understanding in the sight of God and man."
SERMON CVI.-The Duty of Constant Communion.
THE following discourse was written above five and fifty years ago, for the use of my pupils at Oxford. I have added very little, but retrenched much; as I then used more words than I do now. But I thank God, I have not yet seen cause to alter my sentiments in any point which is therein delivered. J. W
"Do this in remembrance of me," Luke xxii, 19.
It is no wonder that men who have no fear of God, should never think of doing this. But it is strange that it should be neglected by any that do fear God, and desire to save their souls: and yet nothing is more common. One reason why many neglect it is, they are so much afraid of "eating and drinking unworthily," that they never think how much greater the danger is, when they do not eat or drink at all. That I may do what I can to bring these well meaning men to a more just way of thinking, I shall,
I. Show that it is the duty of every Christian to receive the Lord's supper as often as he can: and,
II. Answer some objections.
I. I am to show that it is the duty of every Christian to receive the Lord's supper as often as he can.
1. The first reason why it is the duty of every Christian so to do, is, because it is a plain command of Christ. That this is his command, appears from the words of the text: "Do this in remembrance of me:" by which, as the apostles were obliged to bless, break, and give the bread to all that joined with them in these holy things; so were all Christians obliged to receive those signs of Christ's body and blood. Here, therefore, the bread and wine are commanded to be received, in remembrance of his death, to the end of the world. Observe too, that this command was given by our Lord, when he was just laying down his life for our sakes. They are, therefore, as it were, his dying words to all his followers.
2. A second reason why every Christian should do this, as often as he can is, because the benefits of doing it are so great, to all that do it in obedience to him: viz. the forgiveness of our past sins, the present strengthening and refreshing of our souls. In this world we are never free from temptations. Whatever way of life we are in, whatever our condition be, whether we are sick or well, in trouble or at ease, the enemies of our souls are watching to lead us into sin. And too often they prevail over us. Now, when we are convinced of having sinned against God, what surer way have we of procuring pardon from him, than the "showing forth the Lord's death," and beseeching him, for the sake of his Son's sufferings, to blot out all our sins?
3. The grace of God given herein confirms to us the pardon of our sins, and enables us to leave them. As our bodies are strengthened by bread and wine, so are our souls by these tokens of the body and the blood of Christ. This is the food of our souls: this gives strength to perform our duty and leads us on to perfection. If, therefore, we have any regard for the plain command of Christ, if we desire the pardon of our sins, if we wish for strength to believe, to love and obey God, then we should neglect no opportunity of receiving the Lord's supper; then we must never turn our backs on the feast which our Lord has prepared for us. We must neglect no occasion, which the good providence of God affords us, for this purpose. This is the true rule: so often are we to receive as God gives us opportunity. Whoever, therefore, does not receive, but goes from the holy table when all things are prepared, either does not understand his duty, or does not care for the dying command of his Saviour, the forgiveness of his sins, the strengthening of his soul, and the refreshing it with the hope of glory.
4. Let every one, therefore, who has either any desire to please God, or any love of his own soul, obey God, and consult the good of his own soul, by communicating every time he can; like the first Christians, with whom the Christian sacrifice was a constant part of the Lord's day's service. And for several centuries they received it almost every day four times a week always, and every saint's day beside. Accordingly, those that joined in the prayers of the faithful, never failed to partake of the blessed sacrament. What opinion they had of any who turned his back upon it, we may learn from that ancient canon:
any believer join in the prayers of the faithful, and go away without receiving the Lord's supper, let him be excommunicated, as bringing confusion into the church of God."
5. In order to understand the nature of the Lord's supper, it would be useful carefully to read over those passages in the gospel, and in the first epistle to the Corinthians, which speak of the institution of it Hence we learn that the design of this sacrament is the continual remembrance of the death of Christ, by eating bread and drinking wine, which are the outward signs of the inward grace, the body and blood of Christ.
6. It is highly expedient for those who purpose to receive this, whenever their time will permit, to prepare themselves for this solemn ordinance, by self examination and prayer. But this is not absolutely necessary. And when we have not time for it, we should see that we have the habitual preparation, which is absolutely necessary; and can never be dispensed with on any account, or any ccasion whatever. This is, first, a full purpose of heart to keep all the commandments of God and, secondly, a sincere desire to receive all his promises.
II. I am, in the second place, to answer the common objections against constantly receiving the Lord's supper.
1. I say, constantly receiving: for as to the phrase of frequent communion, it is absurd to the last degree. If it means any thing else than constant, it means more than can be proved to be the duty of any man. For if we are not obliged to communicate constantly, by what argument can it be proved, that we are obliged to communicate frequently? Yea, more than once a year? or once in seven years? or once before we die? Every argument brought for this, either proves that we ought to do it constantly, or proves nothing at all. Therefore, that indeterminate, unmeaning way of speaking, ought to be laid aside by all men of understanding.
2. In order to prove that it is our duty to communicate constantly, we may observe that the holy communion is to be considered either, 1. As a command of God: or 2. As a mercy to man.
First, as a command of God. God our mediator and governor, from whom we have received our life and all things, on whose will it depends, whether we shall be perfectly happy or perfectly miserable from this moment to eternity; declares to us that all who obey his commands, shall be eternally happy; all who do not shall be eternally miserable. Now one of these commands is, "Do this in remembrance of me." I ask then, why do you not do this, when you can do it if you will? When you have an opportunity before you, why do not you obey the command of God?
3. Perhaps you will say, "God does not command me to do this as often as I can:" that is, the words "as often as you can," are not added in this particular place. What then? Are we not to obey every command of God, as often as we can? Are not all the promises of God made to those, and those only, who "give all diligence;" that is, to those who do all they can to obey his commandments? Our power is the one rule of our duty. Whatever we can do, that we ought. With respect either to this or any other command, he that, when he may obey it if he will, does not, will have no place in the kingdom of heaven.
4. And this great truth, that we are obliged to keep every command