« ՆախորդըՇարունակել »
in numerous respects, pre-eminence may be on the side of many, yet some points there are, in which they also must be subordinate, and must stand in such a relation to others, as embraces this duty of subjection. There is no power so great, no rank so exalted, as to be exempt from it: for without a regard to the welfare of others, which welfare cannot be supported without condescending aid and submissive protection, such power must run out into tyranny, and high station in life must grow into a mere pageant, and an insipid piece of ostentation.
Mankind are divided into the three classes of superiors, equals, and inferiors. The duty of subjection includes them all ; and the particular obligations of it are these :
As to Superiors, it enjoins them to shew a proper deference and condescension to all their inferiors ; to preserve a modest and unassuming deportment, such as may shew them intent on the performance of those duties which universally bind all moral agents ; and to do this without challenging any other respect to their station and outward dignity, than what results from genuine and personal merit ; – to be always affable and obliging in their behaviour, expressing kindness, not out of mere complaisancy, but sincerely, to those with whom they have intercourse ;—to study their own tempers and secret imperfections, so as to become more gentle and indulgent to others, and readier to overlook than to resent their inadvertencies ;-and, above all, to keep it firmly in remembrance, that the extent of their interest or power is abused unless it is largely employed in conferring benefits :-in short, to consider always, that the POSsession of rule and authority over others, is intended only as an instrument of good.
As to Equals, it enjoins them to cultivate a mild, peaceable, and friendly disposition ;-to “ be kindly affectioned one to another in brotherly love, in honour preferring one another ;”.— and to avoid strife, by waving those frivolous punctilios that engender nothing but discord and contention,-“ in lowliness of mind, each esteeming others better than himself,” —for thus the bond of unity will be preserved, when every one is readier to yield the superiority than to claim it, and when mutual complaisancy prevents even the least jarring or dissonance, to interrupt the harmony of life. It further enjoins them “not to look each on his own things, but every man also on the things of others ;” and to consider the interest and merits of others as well as his own ;-to make allowance for their faults, and errors, and inadvertencies ;--and to regard all their good qualities, which recommend them to his esteem and encouragement.
As to Inferiors,-it prescribes a due submission and respect to those who have rule over them. quires them to make all just returns of gratitude and cheerful obedience, for the protection and support which they administer ;-to pay a reasonable deference to persons of superior wisdom, and be ready to improve by their precepts, and to copy their good
examples ; to vindicate and defend them, when they know them to have been wronged ;—to be tender of their reputation ;-to “pay tribute to whom tribute is due, and honour to whom honour ;”--to owe no man any thing, but that debt of love, which, though always paying, yet never can be paid, since it ought to imitate the love of God to man, and, therefore, can have no limit.
This is, indeed, the universal law, the extensive tie, of nature; the observance of which recommends us to the title of sons of God, and co-heirs of the great promises made to man through Christ.
FRIENDSHIP OF THE WORLD IS ENMITY WITH
James iv. 4.
-the friendship of the world is enmity with God.
The words of any writer or speaker lose their significance and energy, unless they are understood in the sense which they are intended to convey. We cannot rightly comprehend the meaning of an author, if we do not interpret him honestly and fairly ;-and, therefore, we must endeavour to ascertain what his views are, and must make ourselves acquainted with his peculiar style of expression. Without this, we may impute to him assertions which he never intended;
- we may suppose that he writes incoherently, where he is most solid and consistent; and that he is an unsafe guide, even though his directions are sound and clear, and though he is evidently taking pains to make us wise and good.
For want of such consideration, the words of the text have, to the ears of some persons, sounded harshly ; and St. James has, therefore, been thought to have uttered a maxim indefensible by common sense, when he declares that “the friendship of the world is enmity with God.” Yet no one who carefully attends to his mode of reasoning, and to the language generally used by him and the other Apostles, can fail to discover that in a moral, religious, and Christian sense (and from him we ought to expect no other) it is a most solemn and alarming truth,—and ought to be borne in mind, as a preservative against wicked companions and against the dangers of evil communications. Let us, therefore, examine the Scriptural meaning of his expression “the friendship of the world ;” -and thence will appear the propriety and efficacy of his maxim, in regard to the duty of a Christian.
The term “world” is almost always used by the sacred writers in a bad sense, and is either expressly or tacitly put in opposition to heaven, -as “the kingdom of this world” is to “the kingdom of heaven” or the supreme kingdom and government of the Almighty. By St. John, “ the love of the world” is placed in contrast with “the love of God,” where he says, “If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him ;" —and he then explains his meaning, by adding that the love of the world consists of “the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life.”