Obrazy na stronie
PDF
ePub

my duty towards God, and my duty towards my neighbour.” The common treatises on morals make the division of duty to God, to our neighbour, and to ourselves. But probably, a more judicious division is found in that of the Church. Strictly, indeed, we owe all duty to God. But when the division is made with a reference to the person who is the immediate object of the duty; it would seem, that there should be con. templated two parties—the party from whom it is to come, as well as the party to whom it is to be directed.

The catecumen is then questioned, on the two heads of duty. On the first he answers

answers" My duty towards God is to believe in him;" that is, in his existence, in his perfections, in his providence, and in his

“ To fear him:" that is, to revere his high character, and to be in dread of his judgments. But the principle is not a slavish fear, which leads to superstitious practices; because it is coupled with “ to love him:" this expressed to be" with all my mind, with all my soul, and with all my strength:” that is, whatever comes under the denomination of the understanding, or of the will, or of the affections, having a direction to this object, in himself supremely lovely, without the dimi. nution of fault, or of imperfection.“ To worship him:” in an acknowledgment of his transcendant ex. cellencies.“ To give him thanks:" for his mercies of creation, of providence, and of redemption. “ To put my whole trust in him:” the reasons of which are in his all-sufficiency, in our own weakness, and in the indubitable fact, that in all created being, there is no where a stay of dependence, accommodated to the exigences of life, and much less to those of death. To call upon him:” in expression of the sense of our dependence, and supplication for whatever is needful for our souls or for our bodies. “ To honour his holy name and his word:” noi merely to avoid the profanation of his name; but never to speak, or even to think of it, otherwise than with reverence. That the like reverence of mind, evidencing itself in speech, should be extended to his w rd, follows from its being his; with the important circumstance attached to it, that it is given by him, to make us wise unto salvation. “And to serve him:” in obedience to his precepts. And this “ truly:" the obedience being not only in act, but in the mind. “ yll the days of my life:" not occasionally, nor as an obligation which can have an end.

grace.

Then the catecumen answers to the question" What is thy duty towards thy neighbour?”. “ My duty towards my neighbour is to love him as myself:” Which means, not the losing of the sense of private interest, in the pursuit of the good of all; it being obvious of such general love, that it is inconsistent with the charities due, in different proportions, to individuals; but the yielding to whatever is excellent and commendable in another, of the same praise and the same esteem, as if it were a property of our character. “To do unto all men, as I would they should do unto me:” That is, as I might reasonably expect them to do, on the supposition of an exchange of character and of situation. For without this limi. tation, and if unreasonable expectations are compre. hended, the precept might exact the surrender of all private right; and would even often interfere with private and ith publick duty. “To love, honour, and succour my father and mother:" to love them for benefits received; to honour them because of their au. thority, and of any personal respectability possessed; and to succour them, by maintenance if need require and means enable; and by those personal attentions, which increasing years will more and more require; and for which there is alsays ability, if respect and aff ction be not wanting. " To honour and obey the civil authority:" With the implication of respect to the persons in whom it is vested. For without this, it is a mere abstract idea, and not the duly required of us on the subject, in the Scriptures. “ 'To submit myself to all my teachers, spiritual pastors, and masters:” this, with a

reference to their stations, to the duties attached to them, and in order to give to instruction įts due ef. fect; extending also to personal character, so far as it is possessed of respectability or of merit. “To order myself lowly and reverently to all my betters:” There will always be different degrees of honour, annexed to different stations and spheres of life; and although this may be abused by some, with an arrogancy which is unamiable; yet it will not justify in others, the insolence which aims at the impracticable project of levelling all distinctions.“ To hurt nobody by word or deed:” While some have claims on us for benefits; all have the right to expect, that we do them Do har.ii. And indeed, when we consider the innumerable ways, in which we may inadvertently, if not wilfully injure others in their interests, in their reputation, and in their feelings; we shall perceive, that innocency in all these points is no inconsiderable property, in what is required of a conscientious person, “ To be true and just in all my dealings:” This is a branch of innocency; whịch, however, is usefully specified, in a line wherein it is the most likely to be wounded; and may serve to correct the low idea en. tertained by some of moral honesty, as if it were an ordinary virtue; whereas the contrary is known to those who have had considerable experience of life. To bear no malice nor hatred in my heart:” These being the passions, which, when they issue into act, are the causes of the most fagrant crimes; so that they may be considered as existing in their seeds or principles, even when latent in the mind. “ To keep my hands from picking and stealing:" Integrity in business was provided for before. But as the Cate. ehism was designed for various descriptions of persons, who have little to do in the concerns of the prominent vocations of life; there is use in a clause, which seems levelled at the temptations of persons of the lowest conditions; and to which the children of people of any condition may be exposed. “ And my tongue from evil speaking, lying and slandering:"

Where there is no malice nor hatred, there may be much of evil speaking and of slander. And as to ly. ing, no one can be ignorant, at what an early stage of childhood, it becomes of importance to exercise the strictest vigilance in this respect.“ To keep my body in temperance, soberness, and chastity:" There is no impropriety in bringing this under the head of social duty; because, within the bounds of natural appetite, there can be no sensual excess, which does not injure others, always by a bad example; com. monly by its consisting in men's corrupting of one another; and sometimes by an invasion of the rights of those, who have no participation in the sin. “ Not to covet nor desire other men's goods:" This summary of the last of the commandments, is not made without that which opposes to the evil its antidote. " It is--but to learn to labour truly to get my own liv. ing.” It supposes every person to have a calling, in which the supply of necessities is the return to care and labour. And the sentiment is correct. For al. though some have support arising from their possessions; yet the judicious management of these may amount to an occupation: and if it do not, the exi. gencies of society open occasions of usefulness; so as to give no excuse for idleness in any. " And to do my duty in that state «f life, into which it shall please God to call me.” Here, worldly business is considered as not merely a mean of the support of the person engaged in it, but as connected with duties to those who have an interest in the success of it; for this is almost always an attendant circumstance. The connecting of temporal occupation with a divine calling, is an idea which the Catechism has taken from scripture, and is a motive to the conducting of all the concerns of the former, under a sense of the responsibility implied in the latter.

These are the requisitions, which the Church considers as the high and leading sense of the Ten Commandments. And we ought not to leave the present contemplation of them, without acknowledging the

propriety of that comment on them, made by the great law-giver through whom they were transmitted to his nation--"These words which I command thee this day, shall be in thine heart; and thou shalt teach them diligently unto thy children; and shalt talk of them when thou sittest in thine house, and when thou walkest by the way, and when thou liest down, and when thou risest up. And thou shalt bind them for a sign upon thy hands, and they shall be as frontlets between thine eyes. And thou shalt write them upon the posts of thine house, and upon thy gates.” The spirit of this beautiful passage must be, that not only the publick, but the domestick arrangements of the Israelites should be such, as would often and of course present these golden rules to their contemplation; and that for the impressing of them on the minds of their children, they should make use of the opportunities which arise incidentally, out of the most ordinary occurrences of life. The admonition is alike seasonable to Christian people; who are indeed re. lieved from the burden of the ritual law of Moses; but on whom the obligation of the moral code still lies; it being, like the divine perfections on which it is founded, eternally the same.

There is indeed a point of view, in which we may now behold this admirable code, different from any wherewith the Israelites were privileged. What is here referred to, is most persuasively brought before us in the following passage of the twelfth chapter of the Epistle to the Hebrews; in which the apostle, after telling them:-"Ye are not come to the mount that might be touched and that burned with fire, nor unto blackness and darkness and tempest, and the sound of a trumpet and the voice of words;" going on with the other awful circumstances attendant on the deli. very of the law; thus contrasts with them the same subject, as displayed by the Christian dispensation.

-" But ye are come unto Mount Zion, and unto the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, and to an innumerable company of angels; to the general

« PoprzedniaDalej »