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CONTENTS OF VOL. II.
THE DUTIES OF BENEVOLENCE CONSIDERED AND
PHIL. II. 4.-Look not every man on his own things, but every man also on the things of others.
As man was made for society, it is the duty and interest of every one to contribute what lies in his power to the general good. This is a plain dictate of nature, and is abundantly confirmed and enforced by Scripture. Whoever considers the divine benevolence which breathes through the gospel, and which shone so illustriously in the countenance of its great author the Lord Jesus Christ, must clearly see that it is impossible for a man to be a genuine Christian, without feeling, in a degree at least, that generous warmth which a public spirit inspires. When the Sun of Righteousness first arose upon this miserably cold and benighted world, the balmy influence of his grace diffused itself through the breasts of thousands. Men who had hitherto lived in strife, hateful and hating one another, now felt their fierce and malevolent passions subside and die away, and their bosoms glow with all the godlike ardour of divine friendship and love.
Of this character the apostle Paul was an eminent instance. No man better understood the gospel, and no man ever drank more deeply into the spirit of it than he did. In his sermons and epistles he soberly reasons on the great truths of Christianity, and in the course of his life shews what admirable effects the belief of those truths is capable of producing. Persuaded of their divine authority, and feeling their efficacy on his heart,
he suffers himself to be transported, under the influence of the noblest enthusiasm, into a series of the most benevolent exertions for the good of mankind. With a disinterestedness that reflects a real lustre upon his character, he assures the Philippians in this context, that the spread of the gospel, though it were by men whose motives were base and unfriendly to himself, afforded him a sublime joy. And however he could not but ardently wish, fatigued as he was with the incessant labours of his public ministry, to be dismissed hence to the society of the blessed above, yet for their furtherance and joy of faith he was willing to abide in the flesh. And having thus, upon the most generous grounds, conciliated their affections to himself, he improves the interest he had therein to the purpose of animating them to the duties of a public spirit, If there be, says he, any consolation in Christ, if any comfort of love, if any fellowship of the Spirit, if any bowels and mercies; fulfil ye my joy, that ye be like-minded, having the same love, being of one accord, of one mind. Let nothing be done through strife, or vain-glory, but in lowliness of mind let each esteem other better than themselves. And so he adds in our text, Look not every man on his own things, but every man also on the things of others.
No pains, I presume, need be taken to shew that this admonition is as properly addressed to us as to the Philippians, especially those of us who are united in the bands of Christian fellowship. It consists, you see, of two parts. The apostle earnestly dissuades us from a private selfish spirit, and as passionately exhorts us to a public and benevolent spirit.
FIRST, Each of these tempers we will explain. And then, SECONDLY, Consider our obligations to avoid the one, and to cultivate the other.
FIRST, Let us explain the evil we mean to dissuade you from, and the duty we wish to recommend.
I. The evil we are cautioned against is, a private and selfish spirit-Look not every man on his own things.
In the same manner the apostle addresses the Corinthians, Let no man seek his own: but every man another's wealth a; reminding them in another place, that Charity seeketh not her own b. By our own things he means our own proper interests
a 1 Cor. x. 24.
b 1 Cor. xiii. 5.