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DIVINE & MORAL:
A SACRED HYMN SUITED TO EACH SUBJECT.
Designed for the Use of Christian Families,
AS WELL AS FOR THE
HOURS OF DEVOUT RETIREMENT.
IN TWO VOLUMES.
BY ISAAC WATTS, D.D.
FAMILTON, PATERNOSTER ROW ; R. OGLE, HOLBORN;
AND M. OGLE, GLASGOW,
Christian Morality; namely, Gravity, Decency, &c.
Phil. IV. 8.-Whatsoever things are honest, or grave,
fc. think on these things.
*OJ2 osuyž &c.
INCE the translation of the Bible into the English
and so necessary a service to the church, I feel a sensible regret whensoever there is occasion to complain of it, or to correct it. In the main, I may venture to say boldly, it teaches us all the necessary doctrines and duties of Christianity in a very ample and complete manner, and sets them in an evident light; And what the Spirit of God spoke in ancient times in Greek and Hebrew, is sufficiently manifested to us, for our salvation, in the English Bible. · But in this part of the verse, which I am now to discourse of, the word which we render honest, is not so well translated as I could wish: for honesty is contained in the words true and just, which go before, and follow my text. But the Greek oexvòs, more properly signifies, grave, decent, or venerable ; and so you find it in the margin, which will oftentimes help you, VOL. II.
when the word in the English text is not so expressive of the original sense. The same word σεμνός, is rendered grave in several other places of scripture : It is three times so expressed in the third chapter of the first epistle to Timothy, ver. 8.
« The deacons * must be grave. Ver. 11. Their wives also must be grave. ver. 4. A bishop must have his children in subjection with all gravity.'
It is a word that is used in Greek authors to represent the character of an aged man, a philosopher, or'a magistrate, among the heathens. It carries in it the idea of an honourable gravity, and a venerable decency of behaviour ; and this is what the apostle recommends to the practice of Christians. It is as if he had said, " The character of every common Christian should have something in it so honourable, as may command a sort of veneration and respect from all persons they converse with, as much as the character of a wise old man, a magistrate, or a philosopher, does in the heathen world."
To improve this subject, I shall shew,
IV. Lay down a direction or two, in order to obtain it.
First, This gravity and venerable decency, which the apostle recommends in my text, may be supposed to consist in these three things. .. 1. A moderation and decency in our apparel.
2. A gravity and sobriety in our speech and conversation. . 3. Honour, decency, and dignity in our whole deportment and behaviour.
1. A moderation and decency in our apparel, such as becomes the profession of persons whose chief or. nament is religion and godliness. This the apostles, both St. Peter and St. Paul, each in their turn, insist upon, as a necessary qualification of women
who profess-Christianity, and as an ornament to the doctrine of the gospel of Christ. 1 Pet. iii. 2, 3. 'Let
your conversation be with fear: whose adorning let it not be that outward adorning of plaiting the hair, and wearing of gold. And in 1 Tim. ii. 9, 10. the apostle Paul bids l'imothy, the young evangelist, teach the same doctrine and practice; in like manner I will
also that women adorn themselves in modest apparel, - with shamefacedness and sobriety, as becometh wo' men professing godliness. Not that all Christians must utterly abandon those richer and more costly methods of ornament, gold or pearls, which the apostle there makes mention of; for every one of us should wear, such raiment as suits our character and our age, our. company and business in the world : But let not these be our chief ornaments, still remembering that we are Christians; and let our apparel, as well as our conversation, shew, that we despise trifles, and thus maintain the dignity of our high and holy calling.
Here, saith a learned commentator*,,“ It is wor" thy to be noted by the women, that this precept
ought not to be slighted by them, as of little moment, seeing it is so carefully inculcated by the two chief
apostles of the Jews and Gentiles, St. Peter and St. " Paul; and the contrary is represented as a practice “ opposite to godliness.”
Nor while you are dressing, should you forget that you are sinners, and therefore should put on shanetacedness ; for all our ornaments and clothing are but a memorial of our first sin and shame. And when we take a pride in our garments, it looks as if we had forgotten the original of them, the loss of our innocence,
Nor is this sort of advice to be confined to the few male world: For as the same author expresses it, “ If it be so unbecoming a Christian woman to be “ thus concerned in adorning and tricking up her. " body, it must be much more unbecoming a Chris
* Dr. Whitby.