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shall be anxious to respect and to support that authority which concurs with the best desires of our own hearts in alleviating the distresses of the weak and the oppressed-which effects by compulsion what we should ourselves try to accomplish by admonition, in restraining the wicked—and finally, which protects those good actions by which we ourselves hope to obtain the favour of Almighty God. Be it then our earnest endeavour to co-operate with them in the high and momentous office to which they are peculiarly called. Let us, by our example, discourage the evil works which they are more especially appointed to punish; and in our prayers let us supplicate for them that assistance from above
may enlighten their understandings, and strengthen their resolutions in the administration of public justice to the terror of the profligate, the security of the honest and industrious, and the advancement of all our fellow-subjects and fellow-christians in knowledge, virtue, and true religion.
SERMON XXVIII a.
Colossians iv. 5.
Walk in wisdom toward them that are without, redeeming the
Among the evidences by which we would establish the truth, or illustrate the importance of Christianity, few are entitled to higher consideration than the spirit, which actuated the persons to whom the propagation of it was more immediately committed. In the choice of topics, they avoided foolish and unlearned questions, knowing that they would engender strife, that they produced no profit, and tended to the subverting of the hearers. (2 Timothy, chap. ii.)
In the use of language they shunned all the artificial and meretricious ornaments of eloquence merely human, and were accustomed, like their Heavenly Master, to teach with authority, because they were conscious of relating facts which they knew to be real—or of revealing doctrines which they were commissioned to propound from aboveor of enforcing duties which were closely connected with the temporal and eternal welfare of mankind.
In the regulation of their own personal conduct, they mingled discretion with zeal, and moderation with firmness. They yielded to the prejudices, and complied with the customs of those, who were without the pale of the Christian Church-of Jews and Gentiles, so far as concession was at once compatible with innocence, and was likely to conciliate the favourable opinion of their converts. Without exposing themselves to the malignity of their enemies by ostentatious defiance or perverse opposition, they encountered every danger which it was really necessary
for them to incur in executing the arduous and momentous office, which had been consigned to them. Not content with observing in their own deportment the precept of their blessed Master, who had instructed them to unite the wisdom of the serpent with the harmlessness of the dove, they endeavoured to restrain among their followers every deviation from decorum and prudence. They were anxious to recommend their cause by its visible and salutary influence upon the judgment, the disposition, and the actions of those who espoused it. They gave no wanton offence to the captious Jew or the fastidious Gentile. They exhorted their followers to beware lest their good should be evil spoken of—to provide things becoming and honourable in the sight of all men-to imitate the example as well as to obey the commands, of Christ himself, in letting the light of his Gospel so shine before men, that seeing the good works of those who professed it, they might be the more readily disposed to glorify their Father, who is in heaven.
In many parts of the Sacred Writings we meet with the most animated, or the most solemn exhortations to patience and fortitude-to the voluntary renunciation of worldly distinctions, pleasures and conveniences to the calm endurance of scoffs and wrongs, of bonds and stripes, of imprisonment and even death itself. These sacrifices of good, these aggravations of evil, were, in many cases, to be expected in the first conflicts of Christianity with the errors, the vices, and the malevolent passions of the Jews and the Heathens; and therefore for such extraordinary and heroic acts of virtue, provision was made not only by the predictions and example of our Lord himself, but by the earnest and frequent preachings of his Apostles. The efficacy of their advice was, however, to be promoted in the more ordinary course of things by milder means—by the use of discretion and vigilance-by gentleness and forbearance to those who were without-by such endeavours to “redeem the time” as were suggested by sound wisdom, and were not inconsistent with religious sincerity. Of this kind certainly is the direction given to the Colossians in my text; and as some difficulty has arisen about the interpretation of the original words, I hope that I may,
without impropriety, respectfully deliver my opinion upon their import before an audience peculiarly capable of judging upon subjects of sacred criticism, and peculiarly interested in ascertaining the sense of every precept, which is connected with the practice of Christians in all ages, or with the credit of those persons by whom Christianity was first propagated.
Scholars are divided in their sentiments upon the concluding words of my text τον καιρόν εξαγοραζόuevos. Hammond, who acknowledges that the English version redeeming the time is imperfect and obscure, yet observes that any other literal translation could hardly be given in our own tongue, unless we were to say buying out or gaining the time. He adds, what indeed other commentators had remarked, that the expression was borrowed from the Greek translation of Daniel in chapter ii. and verse 8th, when the Magicians and Chaldeans, who had been called upon to interpret the dream of Nebuchadnezzar, and had been threatened with death if they were unable to interpret it, endeavoured, as says our translation, to gain the time, by which it is meant, says he, that they looked for delay, and so consulted for their own safety. Le Clerc agrees with Hammond on the circumstance of delay, but I think that although delay is implied, something more is also signified.
It is observed, that in the 4th verse of the 2d chapter, Daniel begins to write in the Syriac or Chaldee, and continues to do so down to the 8th chapter, either because the events there recorded chiefly affected the Chaldeans, or because the history of those events was drawn by Daniel from the public records of Babylon written in the Chaldean tongue. Be the cause, however, what it may, the fact is certain ; and accordingly in the margin of our Bible, we have the word buy given as the sense of