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imitate Abraham, in a bright part of his character. (Gen. xviii. 19.) He may shew the things which he has learned to his children, that they may shew them to their children; that the children yet unborn may praise the Lord. He may pray for them and with them, and give them the best instructions which he can; and he may generally procure them still better instructions, recommend those instructions by his example, enforce them by his paternal authority, and seek a blessing on them by his prayers.
do so much, though poor, that it may be fairly said, few have done so much, whose children have not been blessed and blessings.
Is he a servant or labourer? He may, by conscientious industry, strict integrity and faithfulness, patient endurance of unmerited ill usage, force even an ungodly master to say, “ This is my best servant: I dare trust him ; but I cannot trust those who join with me in ridiculing his religion.' He may, and probably will, bring some of his fellow servants to say, “ We will go
with « God is with you."
: He is not called to preach the gospel ; but he may strengthen the hands of his pastor, by his example, his prayers, his attention to his family, his constant serious attendance at the place of worship, and at the Lord's table, and by his pious conversation.
He cannot give large sums to charities; but, saving many a shilling which others waste, he may have his mite to give, as a token of his good will, and to ensure from Christ the commendation, “ He did what he could.” He can do little for the
poor? but, when in health, and his family in health, he can give a sixpence or shilling in aid of a contribution to a poor sick neighbour, or one whose family is sick ; and when he is sick, or his family, others will do the same for him; and this will make them all pray for one another, and thank God for one another.
He has not much in his power: but a little spare time, the gift of speech, if used in such conversation as is suited “ to the use of edifying,” to minister grace to the hearers, and the influence which every consistent Christian is sure to acquire in his own retired circle, will enable him, especially as he advances in years, to do much good among his relations and neighbours.
Finally, he is not fit for a missionary: he cannot give much to Missionary Societies ; but his
prayers in his family and closet, and in social worship, will do much to kindle and keep alive the holy flame; and to bring a blessing on all which others do to promote the glorious cause.--It were easy to add to these hints, of what a poor man may do for Jesus Christ. But how much more may rich men, learned men, merchants, and, above all, ministers, do! “ He that is faithful in little is 66 faithful also in much :” but, “ where much is
given, much will be required.”
Your constant reader,
'Επει δίδαξον, ει τι θέσφατον πατρί
For, teach me, if it was answered by the oracle 'to my father, that he should be slain by one of “his sons; how canst thou justly reproach me in * this respect, who was not then begotten by my
father, or conceived by my mother? If, being 'born as fatally unhappy as I was, coming in the
way of my father I slew him; not knowing what ' I did, nor to whom; on what ground canst thou ‘justly condemn this involuntary action?'Sophocles, Ed. Col. 969.
“ There is,” says Solomon, “ no new thing “ under the sun ;” (Eccl. i. 9, 10.) and Sophocles here introduces Edipus speaking in the very language of many moderns, both among those who pervert, and those who oppose, certain doctrines of the holy scriptures. He considers the oracle of Apollo to Laius, that he should be slain by his son, as a full excuse, if not justification, of Édipus in killing his father. Edipus, if there be any truth in the story, had a much better excuse for his conduct, which he here slightly touches
on. He supposed himself, without the least suspicion of a mistake, to be the son of other parents. He met Laius, and, being insulted by him, he retaliated and slew him, with his attendants ; without knowing who he was, much less thinking him to be his father. He afterwards went to Thebes, of which place Laius had been king; and there met with Jocasta, the widow of Laius, and married her; never suspecting that she was at all related to him, (much less that she was his own mother,) till his children by her were grown up.
His furious passion and fierce revenge against offending strangers were, indeed, highly reprehensible; but he was not intentionally guilty of parricide and incest: his will was not concerned; he did these things unwittingly: yet he rests his apology or defence chiefly on the oracle concerning the event; of which he was wholly ignorant at the time; and which was not, and could not be, in any degree, the motive of his conduct.
Contrasted with this instance of heathen fatalism, and the deductions made from it, (which exceedingly resembles antinomian pseudo-Calvinism ;) let us consider the words of scripture. “ The Son of man goeth, as it is written of him ; “ but wo unto that man by whom the Son of man “ is betrayed: it had been good for that man if “ he had not been born." “Him, being delivered “ by the determinate counsel and foreknowledge “ of God, ye have taken, and by wicked hands “ have crucified and slain.” “For, of a truth,
against thy holy child Jesus, both Herod, and “ Pontius Pilate, with the gentiles and the people “ of Israel, were gathered together, for to do “ whatsoever thy hand and thy counsel deter“mined before to be done.” 1 Numerous other passages to the same purpose might easily be adduced; but these may suffice for our present argument.
From these it is undeniably plain, that the most explicit and particular prophecies, though they render the event predicted unalterably certain, (“ for the scripture cannot be broken;") do not, in the judgment of Christ and his apostles, in the least infringe upon man's free agency, deduct from his responsibility, or excuse, in the smallest degree, the conduct of those who, by breaking the commands of God, fulfil his predictions.
The reasons of this are obvious. The commands of God, not the prophecies, are the rule of our conduct: men do not break his commands simply to fulfil his predictions; but to gratify their own corrupt passions; though they often endeavour to make the prophecies an excuse for their conduct. They meant it for evil; but God meant “it for good.” If indeed they acted from this motive, they would“ do evil that good may "come.” In general they either do not know, or do not think about, the prophecies, while fulfilling them; they act freely, without any compulsion : they follow their own inclination, they fulfil the prophecies ; “ howbeit they meant not so."
Indeed, divines in general, though discordant in other things, agree that the prophecies, however express and intelligible, do not interfere with