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is satisfied, and I am free. I will sue out my right, and demand my liberty!"
In addition to this, one of the company observed, he did not see what the greater part of them had to do with the proclamation, unless it were to give it a hearing, which they had done already. "For," said he,
pardon is promised only to them who are willing to submit; and it is well known that many of us are unwilling; nor can we alter our minds on this subject."
After a while, however, some of them were brought to relent. They thought upon the subject-matter of the proclamation, were convinced of the justness of its statements, reflected upon their evil conduct, and were sincerely sorry on account of it. And now the mediation of the prince appeared in a very different light. They cordially said Amen to every part of the proceeding. The very things which gave such offence while their hearts were disaffected, now appeared to them fit, and right, and glorious. "It is fit," say they, "that the king should be honored, and that we should be humbled; for we have transgressed without cause. It is right that no regard should be paid to any petition of ours for its own sake; for we have done deeds worthy of death. It is glorious that we should be saved at the intercession of so honorable a personage. The dignity of his character, together with his surprising condescension and goodness, impresses us more than any thing else, and fills our hearts with penitence, confidence, and love. That which in the proclamation is called grace, is grace; for we are utterly, unworthy of it; and if we had all suffered according to our sen tence, the king and his throne had been guiltless. We embrace the mediation of the prince, not as a repara tion for an injury, but as a singular instance of mercy. And far be it from us that we should consider it as designed to deliver us from our original and just allegiance to his majesty's government! No, rather it is intended to restore us to it.-We love our intercessor, and will implore forgiveness in his name; but we also love
our sovereign, and long to prostrate ourselves at his feet. We rejoice in the satisfaction which the prince has made, and all our hopes of mercy are founded upon it: but we have no notion of being freed by it previously to our acquiescence in it. Nor do we desire any other kind of freedom than that which while it remits the just sentence of the law, restores us to his majesty's government. O that we were once clear of this hateful and horrid conspiracy, and might be permitted to serve him with affection and fidelity all the days of our life! We cannot suspect the sincerity of the invitation, or acquit our companions on the score of uncillingness. Why should we? We do not on this account acquit ourselves. On the contrary, it is the remembrance of our unwillingness that now cuts us to the heart. We well remember to what it was owing that we could not be satisfied with the just government of the king, and afterwards could not comply with the invitations of mercy: it was because we were under the dominion of a disaffected spirit; a spirit which wicked as it is in itself, it would be more wicked to justify.Our counsel is, therefore, the same as that of his majesty's messengers, with whom we now take our stand. Let us lay aside this cavilling humor, repent, and sue for mercy in the way prescribed, ere mercy be hid from our eyes!"
The reader, in applying this supposed case to the mediation of Christ, will do me the justice to remember, that I do not pretend to have perfectly represented it. Probably there is no similitude fully adequate to the purpose. The distinction between the father and the son is not the same as that which subsists between a father and a son amongst men: the latter are two separate beings; but to assert this of the former would be inconsistent with the divine unity. And with respect to the innocent voluntarily suffering for the guilty, in a few extraordinary instances this principle may be adopted; but the management and application of it, generally require more wisdom and more power than
mortals possess. We may by the help of a machine, collect a few sparks of the electrical fluid, and produce an effect somewhat resembling that of lightning: but we cannot cause it to blaze like the Almighty, nor thun-, der with a voice like him.
An Inquiry into the scripture meaning of Charity. By the Rev. JOHN WITHERSPOON, D. D. L.L. D.
Na note in the sermon on Acts iv. 12. " Neither is
any the reader will find,
that I have intimated two things: 1. That if a favorable judgment of the opinions of others be the scripture meaning of charity, then certainly some bounds must be set to it; and it must be praise or blame-worthy, according to the cases in which it is exercised. 2. That I am inclined to think, that this is not the meaning of the word in scripture; but that it means an ardent and unfeigned love to others, and a desire of their welfare, temporal and eternal; and may very well consist with the strongest abhorrence of their wicked principles, and the deepest concern for their dangerous state. At the same time it was hinted, that this subject deserved a more distinct and full illustration. I was sufficiently aware, even at the time of writing, that this declara tion would bring down upon me the high displeasure of certain persons. And so indeed it happened, tổ such a degree, that some, according to their wonted candor, and (in their own sense) most charitable inter pretation, have affirmed, that I had, in that passage, openly declared against charity. This hath induced me, on notice of a second edition being intended, to offer a few reflections on this subject; which I hope shall be conducted in as cool and critical a manner as can in reason be desired, that I may not offend against charity, even when writing upon the subject.
VOL. II. No. 1.
Let us begin by settling precisely the subject of the inquiry. It will, or at least ought to be, acknowledged, that with many the current meaning of the word charity is, to have a favorable opinion of the sentiments of others, who are supposed to differ from us; that is to say (for it is not very easy to define it clearly) to think, that they are innocently mistaken in judgment, and that they have as honestly inquired after truth as ourselves; and therefore to conclude, that as persons truly sincere, and acting according to their light, they shall meet with the final acceptance of God. That this is the meaning with many, if it should be denied, I prove from the following circumstance, that charity in sentiment, or charity in general (except when it is taken in a limited sense, as signifying bounty to the poor) is always applied to those who differ from us, and never to those who agree with us; and indeed it is about the difference that it is supposed to be exercised.
1. Now, the first thing I observe upon this is, that if the above be the scripture meaning of charity, then certainly some bounds must be set to it; and it must be praise or blame-worthy according to the cases in which it is exercised. I make this supposition, because though it is proposed in the course of these remarks, to show, that the above is not the scripture meaning of the word; yet there is really, within certain limits, a duty of this kind prescribed to us in scripture, but never called charity. The duty I mean is mutual forbearance, and guarding against rash judgment; but it is remarkable, that neither in the description of this duty, nor in the arguments urging to the practice of it, is the word charity, or the necessity of charity, ever once introduced.* The proper objects of forbearance
* I do not know whether I should call it an exception from this, that in one passage, when the Apostle Paul is speaking of the opposite sins, of judging others on the one hand, or despising them on the other, he introduces walking charitably. But it is in a sense quite opposite to what it would have been used in by one pleading for the modern charity. It is not the man who judges rashly that he charges
are matters of indifference, or rather matters of comparatively small moment; and the sin of rash judging consists in believing things to be of more moment than they are, and attributing outward actions or expres sions to bad motives or principles, without necessity. I say, without necessity; because it is allowed by every judicious and accurate writer upon rash judging, that a person cannot be chargeable with this sin, merely for thinking ill of another's temper or practice, upon clear and irresistible evidence. To do otherwise in many. cases, is either wholly impossible, or argues a weakness of understanding; which cannot be the object of approbation, nor consequently of imitation.
Let us therefore suppose, that this duty of forbearance, which indeed I take to be wholly distinct in its nature, is the charity so strongly recommended, and so highly applauded in scripture, and that it is to be exercised with regard to the opinions of others. In that case it must have certain bounds, for the following rea
1. If it were otherwise, we should then either want a meaning for many declarations and precepts in scripture: or, which is worse, should perceive them to be evidently absurd and ill founded. That I may not tire the reader, I shall not adduce the tenth part of what is said on this subject in scripture; but must beg leave of him to weigh the following passages, and to make some reflections on their manifest purpose: Jude v. 3, 4. " Beloved, when I gave all diligence to write unto you of the common salvation, it was needful for me to write unto you, and exhort you, that ye should earnestly contend for the faith which was once delivered unto the saints. For there are certain men crept in unawares, who were before of old ordained. to this condemnation, ungodly men, turning the grace of our God
with uncharitableness, but him who despiseth his weak brother, and is at no pains to avoid giving offence: Rom. xiv. 15., " But if thy brother be grieved with thy meat, now walkest thou not charitably: destroy not him with thy meat for whom Christ died."