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according to the doctrine and example of Christ. An unholy Christian is a contradiction so direct and palpable, that one word destroys another: if as one should say, a living carcass, or a cold calenture. We must adorn the gospel of Christ by the sacred splendour of our actions. A life innocent from gross notorious sins is a poor perfection ; we must "show forth the virtues of him who hath called us to his kingdom and glory.” Men usually observe what is eminently good, or extremely bad. The excellent goodness of Christians recommends the goodness of the gospel, and ought to convince infidels that it came from the Fountain of goodness.
The primitive Christians endured the fiery trial with insuperable constancy; and the most powerful argument that inspired their courage, despising life and death, was, that Christ was their leader in those ter; rible conflicts; he was their spectator, when they encountered fierce beasts, and fiercer tyrants, for the defence of his truth, and glory of his name; and while they were suffering for him he was preparing immortal crowns for them. This St. Cyprian, in his pastoral letters to the Christians in Africa, represents with such powerful eloquence, as kindled in their breasts a love to Christ stronger than death.
The angels are propounded to us as a pattern for our imitation. Our Saviour directs our desires, that “the will of God may be done on earth, as it is done in heaven.” The will of God is either decretive or preceptive. The decretive extends to all events; nothing falls out at random, nothing by rash chance and casualty ; but all things come to pass according to the counsel of his will, by his efficiency or his permission. The preceptive will of God is the rule of our duty. “This is the will of God, even your sanctification.” This is intended here ; for it is to be performed in conformity to the obedience of the angels. But it is comprehensive of our resigned submission to the will and wisdom of God in the disposals of providence, as well as to our active subjection to his commands. We are equally obliged to ackpowledge and honour his dominion in ordering all things, as to yield obedience to his sovereignty declared in his laws. The psalmist addresses himself to the angels, as our pattern; “Bless the Lord, ye his angels, that ex cel in strength, that do his commandments, hearkening to the voice of his word.” They are the eldest offspring of God's power; glorious, heavenly, and immortal sprits. The title of angels signifies their office; their nature we do not fully know. We can tell what they are not; not flesh and blood; but negatives do not afford knowledge. It is not knowledge to declare what things are not, but what they are. Their excellency is discovered in scripture, in that the highest degree of our perfection is expressed by likeness to the angels. The perfection of beauty in Stephen is set forth : “ They saw his face às the face of an angel.” Excellent wisdom in David ; “ My lord the king is wise as an angel of God.” Perfect eloquence; “ Though I speak with the tongues of men and angels.” And the apostle, in asserting the infinite dignity of the Mediator, proves it by the argument that he is above angels; “ To which of the angels did he say, thou art my son ?” that is in a high and peculiar manner. Now, if they had not been in the highest order of creatures, the argument had not been conclusive ; yet they are infinitely below God. The heavens are not clean in his sight, the stars are not pure before him. The seraphims veil their faces and their feet in his glorious presence, and cry one to another. "Holy, holy, holy, Lord God of hosts, the whole earth is full of his glory." His separate and transcendant attributes are the foundation of their humility and subjection. * * * * The matter wherein their obedience is exercised is secret to us, the laws and admirable order in heaven are not fully discovered : but we are assured, that they continually magnify and celebrate the perfections of God. In this lower world, they are “ministering spirits to the heirs of salvation," the adopted children of God. The highest angels are not exempted from this service, nor the lowest saints excluded from the benefit of it.
The angel told Zacharias, “ I am Gabriel, that stand in the presence of God.” It implies his prepared disposition to receive and perform all his commands. It is said, “ they hearken to the voice of his word :' the first signification of his will puts them in motion. They entirely obey him ; there is no alloy, no mixture of contraries, in their principles, nothing suspends or breaks the entireness of their activity in God's service. They obey him with all their powers, and the utmost efficacy of them. It is said, “ He maketh his angels spirits, his ministers a flame of fire,” to signify their celerity and vigour in doing God's will. They fly like the wind, to rescue the saints from imminent destructive evils; and, like a flame of fire, are quick and terrible to consume the wicked. They fully perform his commands. The two angels that were sent to preserve Lot from the destruction of Sodom, while he lingered, took him by the hand, and brought him out of the city; and would not destroy it till he was safe. They freely and cheerfully obey God, esteeming his service their glory and felicity. They are styled “thrones and dominions, principalities and powers ; " but they are more pleased in the title of his angels; that is, messengers, and in the relation of his servants. They esteem it their highest exaltation and happiness to obey God. They, with as much diligence and delight, watch over the meanest saints, though never so obscure and despicable in the world, as those who are in royal dignity ; because they in it obey the orders of God. They are steady and uniform in their duty, above all temptations from hopes or fears that may slacken their endeavours and unstring the bent of their resolutions in his service. There is an eternal constancy in their obedience.
It may be said, this example is above our level in the present state ; our wings are broken, we flag, and cannot reach so high a flight. We sometimes conceive more clearly, sometimes more darkly, of our duty, We are sometimes declining, sometimes reviving and returning. We do not practise obedience with the diligence that is commanded. The weakness of the flesh controls the willingness of the spirit. How should it upbraid us, that we fall so short in the imitation of angelie ohelience, who are under equal, nay, peculiar, obligations to please Goal? The grace of God in our redemption is more illustriously visible than in their creation. The goodness of God was most free in making the angels; but it is infinite mercy in saving man from extreme misery, the desert of his disobedience. The divine power made the angels ; but men are redeemed by the dearest price, the blood of the Son of God. In this God commendeth his love to us, that when we were sinners he
his Son to die for us. Now beneficence is magnified by the principle and motive of it. Gifts are endeared by the affection of the giver; and ingenuous thankfulness chiefly respects that. All the precious benefits and vital influences that we receive are from the dearest love of God. Supposing the angels receive as great favours from his bountiful hands; yet there is a clearer discovery of his heart, his tender and compassionate love, in our salvation. How should this consideration inspire our prayers with a holy fervour, that God would enlighten our minds, to know his holy, acceptable and perfect will, incline us to choose it, and enable us to do it, as the angels, the most illuminate and zealous servants of God !
The scripture has lighted up excellent examples of holiness in the lives of the saints upon earth, for our direction and imitation. There is a great advantage in looking on examples ; they are more instructive than naked precepts, and more clearly convey the knowledge of our duty. A work done in our sight by another directs us better in the practice of it; it is more acceptable and of more powerful efficacy to reform us, than counsel and admonition by words. A reproof, if spoken with an imperious air wherein vanity has a visible ascendant, is heard with distaste, and often with disdain; but an excellent example is a silent reproof, not directed immediately to irregular persons, but discovering what ought to be done, and leaving the application to them. selves, so that the impression is more quick and penetrating than that of words. In difficult precepts, no argument is more effectual than examples; for the possibility of performance is confirmed by instances, and the prefence of infirmity is taken away. The command binds us to duty. Examples encourage us to performance. The pattern of the angels, who are pure spirits, is not so influential upon us, as the pattern of the saints, which is more correspondent and proportionate to our present state ; as the light of the stars, which are so vastly distant, is not so useful in managing our affairs, as the light of a candle that is
The saints are verily allied to us ; they were clothed with the same frail garment of flesh, they had like passions, and were in the same contagious world ; yet they were holy and heavenly in their affections and actions. They lived in civil conversation with men, and spiritual communion with God. This takes away the pretence of infirmity; for we have the same word of grace, and spirit of grace, to strengthen us.
ARBUTHNOT. **[JOHN ARBUTHNOT was born near Montrose in 1675, was educated at the University of Aberdeen, and there took his degree as Doctor in Medicine. He came to London, where he gradually established his reputation as a man of science, and eventually became Physician in Ordinary to Queen Anne. Like many men of mere professional emiuence, his reputation would have passed away had he not been the intimate friend of Pope and Swift, and won for himself the reputation of being their equal in wit. Of this triumvirate War
“Wit they had all in equal measure; and this so large, that no age, perhaps, ever produced three men to whom nature had more bountifully bestowed it, or art had brought it to higher perfection.” The three engaged in a project which was never completed to write a satire upon all the abuses of human learning. To this project we owe the Gulliver's Travels' of Swift, and the first book of the Memoirs of Martinus Scriblerus ' by Arbuthnot. Nothing can be more perfect than this fragment. Its very extravagance is the result of profound skill, contrasting and heightening the pungency of the more subtle wit with which the merely ludicrous is clothed. The passage which we select describes the christening of the great Martinus, and the wonderful doings of his father Cornelius. Arbuthnot continued to practise as a physician almost till the time of his death in 1735. His integrity and benevolence were as conspicuous as his great talents.]
The day of the christening being come, and the house filled with gossips, the levity of whose conversation suited but ill with the gravity of Dr. Cornelius, he cast about how to pass this day more agreeable to his character; that is to say, not without some profitable conference, por wholly without observance of some ancient custom.
He remembered to have read in Theocritus, that the cradle of Hercules was a shield: and being possessed of an antique buckler, which he held as a most inestimable relic, he determined to have the infant laid therein, and in that manner brought into the study, to be shown to certain learned men of his acquaintance.
1 The regard he had for this shield had caused him formerly to compile a dissertation concerning it, proving from the several properties, and particularly the colour of the rust, the exact chronology thereof.
With this treatise, and a moderate supper, he proposed to entertain his guests, though he had also another design, to have their assistance in the calculation of his son's nativity.
He therefore took the buckler out of a case (in which he always kept it, lest it might contract any modern rust), and entrusted it to his house maid, with orders that when the company was come she should lay the child carefully in it, covered with a mantle of blue satin.
The guests were no sooner seated but they entered into a warm debate about the Triclinium, and the manner of Decubitus, of the ancients, which Cornelius broke off in this manner :