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to, as to say,-Is-thy servant a dog, that he should do this thing?-And, though these beginnings do not necessarily produce the worst,(God forbid they should), yet, they cannot be committed without these evil seeds are first sown: As Cain's causeless anger (as Dr. Clark observes) against his brother, to which the apostle alludes, ended in taking away his life;and the best instructors. teach us, that, to avoid a sin,-we must avoid the steps and temptations which lead to it.
This should warn us to free our minds from all tincture of avarice and desire after what is another man's. It operates the same way, and has terminated too oft in the same crime. And it is the great excellency of the Christian religion,that it has an eye to this, in the stress laid upon the first springs of evil in the heart;-rendering us accountable, not only for our words,but the thoughts themselves,-if not checked in time, but suffered to proceed farther than the first motions. of concupiscence.
Ye have heard, therefore, says our Saviour, that it was said by them of old time,- -Thou shalt not kill;-but I say unto you,-Whosoever is angry with his brother without a cause, shall be in danger of the judgment;and whosoever shall say to his brother, Raca,-shall be in danger of the council;-but whosoever shall say, "Thou fool,"-shall be in danger of hell-fire. The interpretation of which, I shall give you in words of a great scripturist, Dr. Clark,as follows: That the three gradations of crimes are an allusion to the three different degrees of punishment, in the three courts of judicature amongst the Jews. And our Saviour's meaning was,That every degree of sin, from its first conception to its outrage,every degree of malice and hatred,— -shall receive from GoD a punishment proportionable to the offence. Where
as, the old law, according to the Jewish interpretation, extended not to these things at all-forbade only murder and outward injuries. Whosoever shall say, "Thou fool," shall be in danger of hell-fire. The sense of which is not, that, in the strict and literal acceptation, every rash and passionate expression shall be punished with eternal damnation ;- (for who then would be saved?) but that at the exact account in the judgment of the great day, every secret thought and intent of the heart shall have its just estimation and weight, in the degrees of punishment which shall be assigned to every one in his final state.
There is another species of this crime, which is seldom taken notice of in discourses upon the subject, and yet can be reduced to no other class: And that is, where the life of our neighbor is shortened,and often taken away, as directly as by a weapon, by the emphirical sale of nostrums and quack medicines,which ignorance and avarice blend. The loud tongue of ignorance impudently promises much, and the ear of the sick is open.--And as many of these pretenders deal in edge-tools, too many, I fear, perish with the misapplication of them.
So great are the difficulties of tracing out the hidden causes of the evils to which this frame of ours is subject,-that the most candid of the profession have ever allowed and lamented how unavoidably they are in the dark. So that the best medicines, administered with the wisest heads, shall often do the mischief they were intended to prevent.-These are misfortunes to which we are subject in this state of darkness; but when men, without skill,-without education, without knowledge either of the distemper, or even of what they sell,make merchandize of the miserable,- and, from a disho
nest principle-trifle with the pains of the unfortunate, too often with their lives, and from the mere motive of a dishonest gain ;-every such instance, of a person bereft of life by the hand of ignorance, can be considered in no other light than a branch of the same root. -It is murder in the true sense; which, though not cognizable by our laws,- -by the laws of right, every man's own mind and conscience must appear equally black and detestable.
In doing what is wrong, we stand chargeable with all the bad consequences which arise from the action, whether foreseen or not.-And as the principal view of the empiric, in those cases, is not what he always pretends-the good of the public,but the good of himself,it makes the action what it is.
Under this head, it may not be improper to comprehend all adulterations of medicines, wilfully made worse through avarice. If a life is lost by such wilful adulterations,and, it may be affirmed, that in many critical turns of an acute distemper, there is but a single cast left for the patient-the trial and chance of a single drug in his behalf;if that has wilfully been adulterated, and wilfully despoiled of its best wirtues,- -what will the vender answer?
May God grant we may all answer well for ourselves, that we may be finally happy.
Sanctity of the Apostles.
MATT. xi. 6.
Blessed is he that shall not be offended in me.
HE general prejudices of the Jewis nation concerning the royal state and condition of the Saviour who was to come into the world, was a stone of stumbling, and a rock of fence to the greatest part of that unhappy and prepossessed people, when the promise was actually fulfilled.- Whether it was altogether the traditions of their fathers,-or that the rapturous expressions of the prophets, which represented the MESSIAH'S spiritual kingdom in such extent of power and dominion, misled them into it,- -or, that their own carnal expectations turned wilful interpreters upon them, inclining them to look for nothing but the wealth and worldly grandeur which were to be acquired under their deliverer; whether these, or that the system of temporal blessings helped to cherish them in this gross and covetous expectation,-it was one of the great causes for their rejecting him." This
fellow, we know not whence he is," was the popular cry of one part ;- -and they, who seemed to know whence he was, scornfully turned it against him, by the repeated query,Is not this the carpenter, the son of Mary, the brother of James and Joses, and of Juda and Simeon ?— and are not his sisters here with us?—And they were offended at him.So that, though he was prepared by GoD to be the glory of his people Israel, yet the circumstances of humility, in which he was manifested, were thought a scandal to them.Strange that he who was born their king, should be born of no other virgin than Mary the meanest of their people, for he
hath regarded the low estate of his handmaiden ; and one of the poorest too,- -for she had not a lamb to offer,--but was purified, as Moses directed in such a case, by the oblation of a turtle-dove:That the SAVIOUR of their nation, whom they expected to be ushered amidst them with all the ensigns and apparatus of royalty, should be brought forth in a stable, and answerable to distress ;........subjected all his life to the lowest conditions of humanity ........ That whilst he lived, he should not have a hole to put his head in, nor his corpse in when he died,but his grave too, must be the gift of charity:-These were thwarting considerations to those who waited for the redemption of Israel, and looked for it in no other shape, than the accomplishment of those golden dreams of temporal power and sovereignty, which had filled their imaginations. The ideas were not to be reconciled: And so insuperable an obstacle was the prejudice on one side, to their belief on the other, that it literally fell out, as Simeon prophetically declared of the MESSIAH,that he was set forth for the fall, as well as the rising again, of many in Israel.
This, though it was the cause of their infidelity, was however no excuse for it. For, whatever their mistakes were, the miracles which were wrought in contradiction to them, brought conviction enough, to leave them without excuse ;— and besides, it was natural for them to have concluded, had their prepossessions given them leave, -that he, who fed five thousand with five loaves and two fishes, could not want power to be great;
and therefore needed not to appear in the condition of poverty and meanness, had it not, on other scores, been more needful to confront the pride and vanity of the world, and to show his followers what the temper of Christianity was by the temper of its first institutor-who, though