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ing to reduce to their natural equality, and to consider this equality as a source of piety. This is the meaning of the Wise Man in the words of the text, The rich and the poor meet together: the Lord is the Maker of them all.'
Let us enter into the matter. We suppose two truths, and do not attempt to prove them. First, that although the Wise Man mentions here only two different states, yet he includes all. Under the general notion of rich and poor, we think he comprehends every thing, that makes any sensible difference in the conditions of mankind. Accordingly, it is an incontestable truth, that what he says of the rich and poor, may be said of the nobleman and the plebeian, of the master and the servant. It may be said, the master and the servant, the nobleman and the plebeian meet together; the Lord is the maker of them all; and so of the rest.
It is not unlikely, however, that Solomon, when he spoke of the rich and the poor,' had a particular design in choosing this kind of diversity of condition to illustrate his meaning in preference to every other. Although I can hardly conceive, that there ever was a period of time, in which the love of riches did fascinate the eyes of mankind, as it does in this age, yet it is very credible, that in Solomon's time, as in ours, riches made the grand difference among men. Strictly speaking, there are now only two conditions of mankind, that of the rich, and that of the poor. Riches decide all, yea those qualities, which seem to have no concern with them, I mean, mental qualifications. Find but the art of amassing money, and you will thereby find that of uniting in your own person all the advantages, of which mankind have entertained the highest ideas. How mean soever your birth may have been, you will possess the art of concealing it, and you may form an alliance with the most illustrious families; how small soever your knowledge may be, you may pass for a superior genius, capable of deciding questions the most intricate, points the most abstruse; and, what is still more deplorable, you may purchase with silver and gold a kind of honour and virtue, while you remain the most abandoned of mankind, at least, your money will attract that respect, which is due to nothing but honour and virtue.
Is not God the creator of pure unembodied intelligences, who have faculties superior to those of mankind? Is not God the author of their existence as well as of ours? Because God is the creator of both,' does it follow that both are equal? God is no less the creator of the organs of an ant, than he is the creator of the sublime geniuses of a part of mankind. Because God has created an ant and a sublime genius, does it follow, that these two beings are equal? The meaning of the words of Solomon depends then on what a prudent reader supplies. We may judge what ought to be supplied by the nature of the subject, and by a parallel passage in the Book of Job. Did not he that made me in the womb, make my servant? and did he not fashion us alike "* chap. xxxi. 15. To the words of our text, therefore, The Lord is the maker of them all, we must add, the Lord has fashioned them all alike. Nothing but gross ignorance, or wilful treachery, can incline an expositor to abuse this liberty of making up the sense of a passage, and induce him to conclude, that he may add to a text whatever may seem to him the most proper to support a favourite opinion, or to cover an unworthy passion. When we are inquisitive for truth, it is easy to discover the passages of holy Scripture, in which the authors have made use of these concise imperfect sen
The second truth, which we suppose, is, that this proposition, the Lord is the maker of them all, is one of those concise, I had almost said, one of those defective propositions, which a judicious auditor ought to fill up in order to give it a proper meaning. This style is very common in our Scriptures; it is peculiarly proper in sententious works, such as this out of which we have taken the text. The design of Solomon is to teach us, that whatever diversities of conditions there may be in society, the men who compose it are essentially equal. The reason that he assigns, is, the Lord is the maker of them all.' If this idea be not added, the proposition proves nothing at all. It does not follow, because the same God is the creator of two beings, that there is any resemblance between them, much less that they are equal.
Of this kind are all passages, which excite no distinct ideas, or which excite ideas for eign from the scope of the writer, unless the meaning be supplied. For example, we read these words in the eleventh chapter of St. Paul's Second Epistle to the Corinthians, ver. 4: If he that cometh preacheth another Jesus, whom we have not preached, or if ye receive another spirit, which ye have not received, or another gospel, which ye have not accepted, ye might well bear with him.' If we attach such ideas to these words, as they seem at first to excite, we shall take them in a sense quite opposite to the meaning of St. Paul. The apostle aimed to make the Corinthians respect his ministry, and to consider his apostleship as confirmed of God in a manner as clear and decisive as that of any minister, who had preached to them. Is the proposition, that we have read, any thing to this purpose, unless we supply what is not expressed? But if we supply what is understood, and add these words, but this is incredible, or any others equivalent, we shall perceive the force of his reasoning, which is this: If there has been among you any one, whose preaching has revealed a redeemer, better adapted to your wants than he, whom we have preached to you; or if you had received more excellent gifts than those, which the Holy Spirit so abundantly diffused among you by our ministry, you might indeed have preferred him before us; but it is not credible, that you have had such teachers. you ought then to respect our ministry.
*This reading of the French bible differs a little from our translation: but a comparison of the two translations with the original, and with the scope of the place, will give the preference to the French idem? Vide Poli Synops, in loc. reading. Nonne disposuit nos in utero unus atque
We need not make any more remarks of this kind; our text, it is easy to see, ought to be classed with them, that are imperfect, and must be supplied with words to make up the sense. The rich and the poor meet together' in four articles of equality; because 'the Lord hath made them all' EQUAL in nature, or in essence; equal in privileges; equal in appointment; equal in their last end. The Lord has made them equal in nature; they have the same faculties, and the same infirmities: equal in privileges, for both are capable by the excellence of their nature, and more still by that of their religion, to form the noblest designs: equal in designation; for although the rich differ from the poor in their condition, yet both are intended to answer the great purposes of God with regard to human nature: finally, they are equal in their last end; the same sentence of death is passed on both, and both alike must submit to it. The rich and the poor meet together; the Lord is the maker of them all.' Thus the text affords us four truths worthy of our most serious attention. The first article of equality, in which men 'meet together,' is an equality of essence, or of nature; the Lord has made them all with the same faculties, and with the same infir
1. With the same fuculties. What is man? He consists of a body, and a soul united to a body. This definition, or rather, if you will, this description, agrees to all mankind, to the great as well as to the small, to the rich as well as to the poor. The soul of the poor has the same power as that of the rich, to lay down principles, to infer consequences, to distinguish truth from falsehood, to choose good or evil, to examine what is most advantageous, and most glorious to it. The body of the poor, as well as that of the rich, displays the wisdom of him, who formed it; it has a symmetry in its parts, an exactness in its motions, and a proportion to its secret springs. The laws, that unite the body of the poor to his soul are the same as those, which unite these two beings in the rich; there is the same connexion between the two parts, that constitute the essence of the man; a similar motion of the body produces a similar thought in the mind, a similar idea of the mind, or a similar emotion of the heart, produces a similar motion of the body. This is man. These are the faculties of men. Diversity of condition makes no alteration in these faculties.
2. The Lord hath made them all' with the same infirmities. They have the same infirinities of body. The body of the rich, as well as that of the poor, is a common receptacle, where a thousand impurities meet; it is a general rendezvous of pains and sicknesses; it is a house of clay, whose foundation is in the dust, and is crushed before the moth,' Job iv. 19.
ber of obvious phenomena. The soul of the rich, like that of the poor, is subject to doubt, uncertainty, and ignorance, and, what is more mortifying still, the heart of the rich, like the poor man's heart, is subject to the same passions, to envy, and to anger, and to all the disorder of sin.
They have the same mental infirmities. The mind of the rich, like that of the poor, is incapable of satisfying itself on a thousand desirable questions. The mind of the rich, as well as that of the poor, is prevented by its natural ignorance, when it would expand itself in contemplation, and explain a num
They have the same frailties in the laws that unite the soul to the body. The soul of the rich, like the soul of the poor, is united to a body, or rather enslaved by it. The soul of the rich, like that of the poor, is interrupted in its most profound meditations by a single ray of light, by the buzzing of a fly, or by the touch of an atom of dust. The rich man's faculties of reasoning and of selfdetermining are suspended, and in some sort vanished and absorbed, like those of the poor, on the slightest alteration of the senses, and this alteration of the senses happens to him, as well as to the poor, at the approach of certain objects. David's reason is suspended at the sight of Bathsheba; David no longer distinguishes good from evil; David forgets the purity of the laws, which he himself had so highly celebrated; and, at the sight of this object, his whole system of piety is refuted, his whole edifice of religion sinks and disappears.
The second point of equality, in which the rich and the poor meet together,' is in equality of privileges. To aspire at certain eminences, when Providence has placed us in inferior stations in society, is egregious folly. If a man, who has only ordinary talents, only a common genius, pretends to acquire an immortal reputation among heroes, and to fill the world with his name and exploits, he acts fancifully and wildly. If he, who was born a subject, rashly and ambitiously attempts to ascend the tribunal of a magistrate, or the throne of a king, and to aim at governing, when he is called to obey, he is guilty of rebellion. But this law, which forbids inferiors to arrogate to themselves some privileges, does not prohibit them from aspiring at others, incomparably more great and glorious
Let us discover, if it be possible, the most miserable man in this assembly; let us dissipate the darkness that covers him; let us raise him from that kind of grave, in which his indigence and meanness conceal him. This unan, unknown to the rest of mankind; this man, who seems hardly formed by the Creator into an intelligent existence; this man has, however, the greatest and most glorious privileges. This man, being reconciled to God by religion, has a right to aspire to the most noble and sublime objects of it. He has a right to elevate his soul to God in ardent prayer, and, without the hazard of being taxed with vanity, he may assure himself, that God, the Great God, encircled in glory, and surrounded with the praises of the Blessed, will behold him, hear his prayer, and grant his request. This man has a right to say to himself, the attention, that the Lord of nature gives to the government of the universe, to the wants of mankind, to the innumerable company of angels, and to his own felicity, does not prevent this adorable being from attending to me; from occupying
quired the noblest right. Thus shall we verify, in the most pure and elevated of all senses, this saying of the apostle; 'none of us liveth to himself, and no man dieth to himself. For, whether we live, we live unto the Lord; or, whether we die, we die unto the Lord whether we live therefore or die, we are the Lord's.'
St Paul proposes in the text, and in some of the preceding and following verses, to establish the doctrine of toleration. By toleration, we mean, that disposition of a Christian, which on a principle of benevolence, inclines him to hold communion with a man, who through weakness of mind, mixes with the truths of religion some errors, that are not entirely incompatible with it; and with the New Testament worship some ceremonies, which are unsuitable to its elevation and simplicity, but which, however, do not destroy its essence.
Retain every part of this definition, for each is essential to the subject defined. I say that he who exercises toleration, acts on a principle of benevolence; for were he to act on a principle of indolence, or, of contempt for religion, his disposition of mind, far from being a virtue worthy of praise, would be a vice fit only for execration. To leration, I say, is to be exercised towards him only who errs through weakness of mind; for he, who persists in his error through arrogance, and for the sake of rending the church, deserves rigorous punishment. I say, farther, that he, who exercises toleration, does not confine himself to praying for him who is the object of it, and to endeavour to reclaim him, he proceeds farther, and holds communion with him; that is to say, he assists at the same religious exercises, and partakes of the Lord's Supper at the same table. Without this cominunion, can we consider him whom we pretend to tolerate, as a brother in the sense of St. Paul? I add finally, erroneous sentiments, which are tolerated, must be compatible with the great truths of religion; and observances, which are tolerated must not destroy the essence of evangelical worship, although they are incongruous with its simplicity and glory. How can I assist in a service, which, in my opinion, is an insult on the God whom I adore How can I approach the table of the Lord, with a man who rejects all the mysteries which God exhibits there? and so of the rest. Retain, then, all the parts of this definition, and you will form a just no
tion of toleration.
This moderation, always necessary among Christians, was particularly so in the primitive ages of Christianity. The first churches were composed of two sorts of proselytes; some of them were born of Jewish parents, and had been educated in Judaism, others were converted from paganism; and both, generally speaking, after they had embraced Christianity, preserved some traces of the religions which they had renounced. Some of them retained scruples, from which just notions of Christian liberty, it should seem, might have freed them. They durst not eat some foods which God gave for the nourishment of mankind, I mean, the flesh of ani
mals, and they ate only herbs. They set apart certain days for devotional exercises: not from that wise motive, which ought to engage every rational man to take a portion of his life from the tumult of the world, in order to consecrate it to the service of his Creator; but from I know not what notion of pre-eminence, which they attributed to some days above others. Thus far all are agreed in regard to the design of St. Paul in the text.
Nor is there any difficulty in determining which of the two orders of Christians of whom we spoke, St. Paul considers as an object of toleration; whether that class, which came from the gentiles, or that, which came from the Jews. It is plain, the last was intended. Every body knows that the law of Moses ordained a great number of feasts under the penalty of the great anathema. It was very natural for the converted Jews to retain a fear of incurring that penalty, which followed the infraction of those laws, and to carry their veneration for those festivals too far.
There was one whole sect among the Jews, that abstained entirely from the flesh of animals; they were the Essenes. Josephus expressly affirms this; and Philo assures us, that their tables were free from every thing that had blood, and were served only with bread, salt, and hyssop. As the Essenes professed a severity of manners, which had some likeness to the morality of Jesus Christ, it is probable, many of them embraced Christianity, and in it interwove a part of the pe culiarities of their own sect.
I do not think, however, that St. Paul had any particular view to the Essenes, at least, we are not obliged to suppose, that his views were confined to them. All the world know, that Jews have an aversion to blood. A Jew, exact in his religion, does not eat flesh, even to the present day, with Christians, lest the latter should not have taken sufficient care to discharge the blood. When, therefore, St. Paul describes converted Jews by their scrupulosity in regard to the eating of blood, he does not speak of what they did in their own families, but of what they practised, when they were invited to a convivial repast with people, who thought themselves free from the prohibition of eating blood, whether they were gentiles yet involved in the darkness of paganism, or gentile converts to Christianity. Thus far our subject is free from difficulty.
The difficulty lies in the connexion of the maxim in the text with the end, which St. What relaPaul proposes in establishing it tion is there between Christian toleration and 'None of us liveth to himself, this maxim? and no man dieth to himself. How does it follow from this principle, whether we live, we live unto the Lord; or, whether we die, we die unto the Lord,' how does it follow from this principle, that we ought to tolerate those, who through the weakness of their minds, mix some errors with the grand truths of Christianity, and with the New Testament worship some ceremonies, which obscure its simplicity and debase its glory?
The solution lies in the connexion of the
text with the foregoing verses, and particu larly with the fourth verse, Who art thou, that judgest another man's servant? To judge in this place does not signify to discern, but to condemn. The word has this meaning in a hundred passages of the New Testament. I confine myself to one passage for example. If we would judge ourselves, we should not be judged,' I Cor. xi. 31; that is to say, if we would condemn ourselves at the tribunal of repentance, after we have partaken unworthily of the Lord's Supper, we should not be condemned at the tribunal of divine justice. In like manner, 'Who art thou, that judgest another man's servant?' is as much as to say, 'who art thou that condemnest?" St. Paul meant to make the Christians of Rome understand, that it belonged only to the sovereign of the church to absolve or to condemn, as he saw fit.
But who is the Supreme head of the church? Jesus Christ; Jesus Christ, who, with his Father, is over all, God blessed for ever,' Rom. ix. 5. Jesus Christ, by dying for the church, acquired this supremacy, and in virtue of it, all true Christians render him the homage of adoration. All this is clearly expressed by our apostle, and gives us an occasion to treat of one of the most abstruse points of Christian theology.
That Jesus Christ is the supreme head of the church, according to the doctrine of St. Paul, is expressed by the apostle in the most clear and explicit manner; for after he has said, in the words of the text, whether we live or die, we are the Lord's,' he adds immediately, for to this end Christ both died, and rose, and revived, that he might be Lord both of the dead and living.'
That this Jesus, whose,' the apostle says, we are,' is God, the apostle does not permit us to doubt; for he confounds the expressions to eat to the Lord,' and to give God thanks;' to 'stand before the judgment seat of Christ,' and to give account of himself to God; to be Lord both of the dead and living,' ver. 6. 10. 12; and this majestic language, which would be blasphemy in the mouth of a simple creature, As I live, saith the Lord, every knee shall bow to me, and every tongue shall confess to God.' ver. 11.
Finally, That Jesus Christ acquired that supremacy by his sufferings and death, in virtue of which all true Christians render him the homage of adoration, the apostle establishes, if possible, still more clearly. This appears by the words just now cited, to this end Christ both died, and rose, and revived, that he might be Lord both of the dead and living, ver. 8. 11. To the same purpose the apostle speaks in the epistle to the Philippians, He became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross. Wherefore God also hath highly exalted him, and given him a name, which is above every name; that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of things in heaven, and things in earth, and things under the earth; and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father. This is the sovereignty which Jesus Christ acquired by dying for the church.
But the most remarkable, and at the same time the most difficult article on this subject, is this. These texts, which seem to establish the divinity of Christ in a manner so clear, furnish the greatest objection that has ever been proposed against it. True, say the enc mies of this doctrine, Jesus Christ is God, since the Scripture commands us to worship him. But his divinity is an acquired divinity; since that supremacy, which entitles him to adoration as God, is not an essential, but an acquired supremacy. Now, that this supremacy is acquired is indubitable, since the texts that have been eited, expressly declare, that it is a fruit of his sufferings and death. We have two arguments to offer in reply.
1. If it were demonstrated, that the supremacy established in the forecited texts was only acquired, and not essential, it would not therefore follow, that Jesus Christ had no other supremacy belonging to him in common with the Father and the Holy Spirit. We are commanded to worship Jesus Christ, not only because he died for us, but also because he is eternal and almighty, the author of all beings that exist and because he has all the perfections of Deity; as we can prove by other passages, not necessary to be repeated here.
2. Nothing hinders that the true God, who, as the true God, merits our adoration, should acquire every day new rights over us, in virtue of which we have new motives of rendering those homages to him, which we acknowledge he always infinitely merited. Always when God bestows a new blessing, he acquires a new right. What was Jacob's opinion, when he made this vow? 'If God will be with me, and will keep me in the way that I go, and will give me bread to eat, and raiment to put on, so that I come again to my father's house in peace; then shall the Lord be my God,' Gen. xxviii. 20, &c. Did the patriarch mean, that he had no other reason for regarding the Lord as his God than this favour, which he asked of him? No such thing. He meant, that to a great many reasons, which bound him to devote himself to God, the favour which he asked would add a new one. It would be easy to produce a long list of examples of this kind. At present the application of this one shall suffice. Jesus Christ who as supreme God has natural rights over us, has also acquired rights, because he has designed to clothe himself with our flesh, in which he died to redeem us. None of us his own, we are all his, not only because he is our Creator, but because he is also our Redeemer. He has a supremacy over us peculiar to himself, and distinct from that which he has in common with the Father and the Holy Spirit.
To return then to our principal subject, from which this long digression has diverted us. This Jesus, who is the Supreme Head of the church; this Jesus, to whom all the members of the church are subject; willeth that we should tolerate, and he himself has tolerated, those, who, having in other cases an upright conscience, and a sincere intention of submitting their reason to all his decisions, and their hearts to all his commands. cannot clearly see, that Christian liberty in
cludes a freedom from the observation of certain feasts, and from the distinction of certain foods. If the sovereign of the church tolerate them, who err in this manner, by what right do you, who are only simple subjects, undertake to condemn them?" "Who art thou, that judgest another man's servant? to his own master he standeth or falleth. For none of us liveth to himself, and no man dieth to himself. For whether we live, we live unto the Lord; and, whether we die, we die unto the Lord whether we live therefore or die, we are the Lord's. Let us not therefore judge one another any more. Let us, who are strong, bear the infirmities of the weak.' This is the design of St. Paul in the words of my text, in some of the preceding, and in some of the following verses. Can we proceed without remarking, or without lamenting, the blindness of those Christians, who, by their intolerance to their brethren, seem to have chosen for their model those members of the church of Rome, who violate the rights of toleration in the most cruel manner? We are not speaking of those sanguinary men, who aim at illuminating people's minds with the light of fires, and faggots, which they kindle against all, who reject their systems. Our tears, and our blood, have assuaged their rage, how can we then think to appease it by our exhortations? Let us not solicit the wrath of Heaven against these persecutors of the church; let us leave to the souls of them who were slain for the word of God, to cry, 'How long, O Lord, holy and true, dost thou not judge and avenge our blood on them that dwell on the earth?' Rev. vi. 10.
thou that judgest another man's servant? for none of us liveth to himself, and no man dieth to himself. For, whether we live, we live unto the Lord; and, whether we die, we die unto the Lord: whether we live therefore or die, we are the Lord's.'
What we have said shall suffice for the subject, which occasioned the maxim in the text. The remaining time I devote to the consideration of the general sense of this maxim. It lays before us the condition, the engagements, the inclination, and the felicity of a Christian. What is the felicity of a Christian, what is his inclination, what are his engagements, what is his condition? They are not to be his own but to say, 'whether I live, or die, I am the Lord's.' The whole that we shall propose to you, is contained in these four articles.
I. The text lays before us the primitive condition of a Christian. It is a condition of dependance. None of us liveth to himself, and no man dieth to himself.'
But, ye intestine divisions! Thou spirit of faction! Ye theological wars! how long will ye be let loose among us? Is it possible that Christians, who bear the name of reformed, Christians united by the bond of their faith in the belief of the same doctrines, and, if I may be allowed to speak so, Christians united by the very efforts of their enemies to destroy them; can they violate, after all, those laws of toleration, which they have so often prescribed to others, and against the violation of which they have remonstrated with so much wisdom and success? Can they convoke ecclesiastical assemblies? Can they draw up canons? Can they denounce excommunications and anathemas against those, who retaining with themselves the leading truths of Christianity and of the reformation, think differently on points of simple speculation, on questions purely metaphysical, and, if I may speak the whole, on matters so abstruse, that they are alike indeterminable by them, who exclude members from the communion of Jesus Christ, and by those who are excluded? O ye sons of the reformation! how long will you counteract your own principles? how long will you take pleasure in increasing the number of those, who breathe only your destruction, and move only to destroy you? O ye subjects of the Sovereign of the church! how long will you encroach on the rights of your sovereign, dare to condemn those whom he absolves, and to reject those, whom his generous benevolence tolerates? Who art
None of us liveth to himself, for whether we live, we live unto the Lord.' What do we possess, during our abode upon earth, which does not absolutely depend on him who placed us here? Our existence is not ours: our fortune is not ours; our reputation is not ours; our virtue is not ours; our reason is not ours; our health is not ours; our life is not ours.
Our existence is not ours. A few years ago we found ourselves in this world, constituting a very inconsiderable part of it. A few years ago the world itself was nothing. The will of God alone has made a being of this nothing, as he can make this being a nothing, whenever he pleases to do so.
Our fortune is not ours. The most opulent persons often see their riches make themselves wings, and fly away. Houses, the best established, disappear in an instant We have seen a Job, who had possessed seven thousand sheep, three thousand camels, five hundred yoke of oxen, and servants with out number; we have seen the man who had been the greatest of all the men of the east, lying on on a dunghill, retaining nothing of his prosperity but a sorrowful remembrance, which aggravated the adversities that followed it.
Our reputation is not ours. One single frailty sometimes tarnishes a life of the most unsullied beauty. One moment's absence sometimes debases the glory of the most profound politician, of the most expert general, of a saint of the highest order. A very diminutive fault will serve to render contemp tible, yea, infamous, the ma who committed it; and to make him tremble at the thought of appearing before men, who have no other advantage over him than that of having committed the same offence more fortunately; I mean, of having concealed the commission of it from the eyes of their fellow-creatures.
Our virtue is not ours. Want of opportu nity is often the cause why one, who openly professes Christianity, is not an apostate; another an adulterer; another a mur derer.