網頁圖片
PDF
ePub 版

ing to the best of his ability, is certainly more in the way to heaven than he who has done nothing' of it. For if it be our duty to search after truth, he certainly that has searched after it, though he has not found it, in some points has paid a more acceptable obedience to the will of his Maker, than he that has not searched at all, but professes to have found truth, when he has neither searched nor found it. For he that takes up the opinions of any church in the lump, without examining them, has truly neither searched after nor found truth, but has only found those that he thinks have found truth, and so receives what they say with an implicit faith, and so pays them the homage that is due only to God, who cannot be deceived, nor deceive. In this way the several churches (in which, as one may observe, opinions are preferred to life, and orthodoxy is that which they are concerned for, and not morals) put the terms of salvation on that which the Author of our salvation does not put them in. The believing of a collection of certain propositions, which arc called and esteemed fundamental articles, because it has pleased the compilers to put them into their confession of faith, is made the condition cf salvation.

DUTY OF PRESERVING HEALTH.

If by gaining knowledge we destroy our health, we labor for a thing that will be useless in our hands; and if, by harassing our bodies, (though with a design to render ourselves more useful,) we deprive ourselves of the abilities and opportunities of doing that good we might have done with a meaner talent, which God thought sufficient for us, by having denied us the strength to improve it to that pitch which men of stronger constitutions can attain to, we rob God of so much service, and our neighbor of all that help which, in a state of health, with moderate knowledge, we might have been able to perform. He that sinks his vessel by overloading it, though it be with gold, and silver, and precious stones, will give his owner but an ill account of his voyage.

ROBERT SOUTH. 1033—171G.

Dn. Robert South, a divine celebrated for his wit as well as bis learning was born at Hackney, in Middlesex, in 11533, being the son of a London merchant. He entered Westminster school, under Dr. Busby, in 1047j and on the day of the execurion of Charles I., (January 20,1049,) he read the Latin prayers in the school, and prayed for his majesty by name; apparently an indication that even then he had embraced those principles of attachment to the established form of government, m church and state, of which he was through all his life a most strenuous and able champion. In one of his sermons, for instance, he maintains tnat "kings are endowed with more than ordinary sairJfity^ ard quickness of understanding; they have a singular courage and presence of mind in cases of difficulty; and their hearts are disposed to virtuous courses." One is astonished that a man of learning and sense could be so blinded by party feeling as to utter such sentiments. But he was exceedingly violent in his feelings, continuing through life to pour forth upon all sects that dissented from the church of England, as well as upon all who doubted the "divine right'' of kings to rule their subjects with unrestricted sway, his inexhaustible sarcasm, ridicule, and contempt He died in 1710.

As a writer, Dr. South is conspicuous for good practical sense, for a deep insight into human character, for liveliness of imagination, and exuberant invention, and for a wit that knew not always the limit of propriety. In perspicuity, copiousness, and force of expression, he has few superiors among English writers; which qualities fully compensate for the "forced conceits, unnatural metaphors, and turgid and verbose languago which occasionally disfigure his pages."'

THE WILL FOR THE DEED.

The third instance in which men used to plead the will instead of the deed, shall be in duties of cost and expense.

Let a business of expensive charity be proposed; and then, as I showed before, that, in matters of labor, the lazy person could find no hands wherewith to work; so neither, in this case, can the religious miser find any hands wherewith to give. It is wonderful to consider how a command or call to be liberal, either upon a civil or religious account, all of a sudden impoverishes the rich, breaks the merchant, shuts up every private man's exchequer, and makes those men in a minute have nothing, who, at the very same instant, want nothing to spend. So that, instead of relieving the poor, such a command strangely increases their number, and transforms rich men into beggars presently. For, let the danger of their prince and country knock at their purses, and call upon them to contribute against a public enemy or calamity, then immediately they have nothing, and their riches upon such occasions (as Solomon expresses it) never fail to make themselves wings, and fly away.

But do men in good earnest think that God will be put off" so? or can they imagine that the law of God will be baffled with a lie clothed in a scoff?

For such pretences are no better, as appears from that notab'e account given us by the apostle of this wind}-, insignificant charity of the will, and of the worthlessness of it, not enlivened by deeds . "If a brother or a sister be naked, and destitute of daily food, and one of you say unto them, Depart in peace, be ye warmed and filled; notwithstanding ye give them not those things which are needful to the body; what doth it profit?" Profit, does he say? Why, it profits just as much as fair words command the market, as good wishes buy food and raiment, and pass for curren*. payment in the shops.

1 aeaa—ftn article In "UetroapecU -e Review," Ix. 291.

Come we now to a rich old pretender to godliness, and tell him that there is such a one, a man of good family, good education, and who has lost all his estate for the king, now ready to rot in prison for debt; come, what will you give towards his release? Why, then answers the will instead of the deed, as much the readier speaker of the two, " The truth is, I always had a respect for such men; I love them with all my heart; and it is a thousand pities that any that had served the king so faithfully should be in such want." So say I too, and the more shame is it for the whole nation that they should be so. But still, what will you give? Why, then, answers the man of mouth-charity again, and tells you that " you could not come in a worse time; that now-a-doyy money is very scarce with him, and that therefore he can give nothing; but he will be sure to pray for the poor gentleman."

Ah, thou hypocrite! when thy brother has lost all that ever he had, and lies languishing, and even gasping under the utmost extremities of poverty and distress, dost thou think thus to lick him up again only with thy tongue? Just like that old formal hocus, who denied a beggar a farthing, and put him off" with his blessing.

Why, what are the prayers of a covetous wretch worth? what will thy blessing go for? what will it buy? Is this the charity that the apostle here, in the text, presses upon the Corinthians ?* This the case in which God accepts the willingness of the mind instead of the liberality of the purse? No, assuredly; but the measures that God marks out to thy charity are these: thy superfluities must give place to thy neighbor's great convenience; thy convenience must veil thy neighbor's necessity; and, lastly, thy very necessities must yield to thy neighbor's extremity.

COVETOUSNESS.

Of covetousness we may truly say, that it makes both the Alpha and Omega in the devil's alphabet, and that it is the first vice in corrupt nature which moves, and the last which dies. For look upon any infant, and a& ooon as it can but move a hand, we shall see it reaching out after something or other which it should not have; and he who does not know it to be the proper and peculiar sin of old age, seems himself to have the dotage of that age upon him, whether he has the years or no.

The covetous person lives as if the world were made altogether for him, and not he for the world, to take in every thing, and to part with nothing. Charity is accounted no grace with him, nor gratitude any virtue. The cries of the poor never enter into hii ears; or if they do, he has always one ear readier to let them out than the other to take them in. In a word, by his rapines and

1 "Fot If there be first a wlllinr mind. It ii accepted according to that a man hath and not accord. 'n* »o that he hath i.ot."—t Cur. vlll 12.

extortions, he is always for making as many poor as he can, but for relieving none whom he either finds or makes so. So that it is a question, whether his heart be harder, or his fist closer. In a word, he is a pest and a monster: greedier than the sea, and barrener than the shore.

God is the fountain of honor; and the conduit by which he conveys it to the sons of men are virtues and generous practices. Some, indeed, may please and promise themselves high matters from full revenues, stately palaces, court interests, and great dependences. But that which makes the clergy glorious, is to be knowing in their profession, unspotted in their lives, active and laborious in their charges, bold and resolute in opposing seducers, and daring to look vice in the face, though never so potent and illustrious.1 And, lastly, to be gentle, courteous, and compassionate to all. These are our robes and our maces, our escutcheons and highest titles of honor.

THE PLEASURES OF AMUSEMENT AND INDUSTRY COMPARED.

Nor is that man less deceived that thinks to maintain a constant tenure of pleasure by a continual pursuit of sports and recreations. The most voluptuous and loose person breathing, were he but tied to follow his hawks and his hounds, his dice and his courtships every day, would find it the greatest torment and calamity

his recreation, and to the spade and the mattock for a diversion from the misery of a continual unintermitted pleasure. But, on the contrary, the providence of God has so ordered the course of things, that there is no action, the usefulness of which has made it the matter of duty and of a profession, but a man may bear the continual pursuit of it without loathing and satiety. The same shop and trade that employs a man in his youth, employs him also in his age. Every moming he rises fresh to his hammer and anvil; he passes the day singing; custom has naturalized his labor to him; his shop is his element, and he cannot with any enjoyment of himself live out of it.

THE EYE OF CONSCIENCE.

That the eye of conscience may be always quick and lively, let constant use be sure to keep it constantly open, and thereby ready

1 This is In accordance with Ezcklcl xxxill. 1—6. The ancient prophets, faithful and fearless men, thinking more of " the heathen" at home than "the heathen" abroad, did pot reprove the Jews for the aim of the people of Kamtsch.it ka; but it was, "wash Ton, make Too clean; put away the evil of Tooa doings; seek Justice; break every yoke; loose the bands ot wlckedncas, and let the oppressed go free," fcc Whenever and wherever the pnlplt is silent on great national sins, It is false to its high and holy trust. Even bad men will respect fnlthfulncsa more than f tlmc-servlng ■Mlence.

THE GLORY OF THE CLERQY.

[graphic]

mines and galleys for and prepared lo admit and let in those heavenly beams which are always streaming forth from God upon minds fitted to receive them. And to this purpose let a man fly from every thing which may leave either a foulness or a bias upon it; let him dread every gross act of sin; for one great stab may as certainly and speedily destroy life as forty lesser wounds. Let him carry a jealous eye over every growing habit of sin: let him keep aloof from nil commerce and fellowship with any vicious and base affection, especially from all sensuality: let him keep himself untouched with the hellish, unhallowed heats of lust and the noisome steams and exhalations of intemperance: let him bear himself above that sordid and low thing, that utter contradiction to all greatness of mind— covetousness: let him disenslave himself from the pelf of the world, from that amor sceleralus habendi.1 Lastly, let him learn so to look upon the honors, the pomp, and greatness of the world, as to look through them. Fools indeed are apt to be blown up by them and to sacrifice all for them: sometimes venturing their heads only to get a feather in their caps.

THOMAS PARNELL. 1C79—1717.

Thomas Pabnxll Whs bom in Dublin in 1G79. After receiving the elo mens; of education at a grammar-school, he was admitted to the University ol Dublin; after leaving which he was ordained a deacon, in 1700, and in five years afterwards, he was promoted to the archdeaconry of Clogher. Up to this time he had sided with the Tory party, but now found it convenient tc change his politics; he therefore went over to the Whigs, who received him with open arms, deeming him a valuable auxiliary to their cause. Pameil endeavored to recommend himself by his eloquence in the pulpits of London, but from the new ministry he received nothing more substantial than caresses and empty protestations. To imbitter his disappointment, he lost, in 1712, his amiable wife, to whom he was affectionately devoted. His private friends, however, were not unmindful of his interests, and obtained for him a vicarage in the vicinity of Dublin, worth j£400 per annum: but he did not live long to enjoy his promotion. He died in 1717, in the thirty-eighth year of his age.

"The compass of ParneU's poetry is not extensive,but its tone is peculiarly delightful: not from mere correctness of expression, to which some critics have stinted its praises, but from the graceful and reserved sensibility that accompanied his polished phraseology. The studied happiness of his diction does not spoil its simplicity. His poetry is like a flower that has l>een trained and planted by the skill of the gardener, but which preserves, in its cultured Mate, the natural fragrance of its wilder air."*

The poem by which Parnell is chiefly known, is « The Hermit," which has always been a favorite with every class of readers. It is a revolving panorama of beautiful pictures, each perfect in itself. But the story is not original, as it appeared as early as the fifteenth century in a collection of tales entitled

[ocr errors][merged small]
« 上一頁繼續 »