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You want to carry all your points, and do what you please; and we, in a violent stretch of courtesy, will grant you have none but good ends in view, but must, at the same time, take leave to demur to your manner, both in point of agreeableness and prudence. If the agreeable way in everything is the best, it must be more so in you, who was peculiarly calculated to please. How do you shock us with the reverse !
Your manner is likewise altogether foolish, and shews you know not where your power is placed. It is not placed, as you imagine, in a knack of disputing, nor in the brandish of a high hand, nor, when these fail, in fits, either brought on by struggles too violent for your wretched frame of body, or opportunely pretended, as the last shift. No, your power lies in managing the softer and gentler passions. Here you might be irresistible, and do everything, did not the insolence of your spirit set you above this amiable method. In the other way you can do nothing that will not cost you a thousand times more than it is worth. But I foresee you will be more apt to be angry at the most useful advice from a man, than at your own folly and pride; I therefore earnestly beseech you, as you regard your vows, and fear God, to hear Him at least, who saith unto you and all other married women, “Wives, submit yourselves unto your husbands, as unto the Lord; for the husband is the head of the wife, even as Christ is the head of the Church. Therefore, as the Church is subject unto Christ, so let the wives be to their own husbands in everything. Let the wife see that she reverence her husband. Wives, submit yourselves unto your own husbands, as it is fit in the Lord. Ye wives, be in subjection to your own husbands.” This last precept is followed by another, enjoining meekness and quietness of spirit, and forbidding an expensive vanity in dress. Compare your conduct, and the spirit it proceeds from, with these words of God, and judge for yourself, whether you know better than He does what you should do. Consider also, that these precepts
DO YOU MEAN TO AMEND ?
are positive, unconditional, and leave you no excuse for a failure in your duty, let your husband's behaviour be what it will.
Now tell us, both of you, whether, after all, you are determined to go on as heretofore, and give us a proof of less sense in two pretenders to rationality, than we often find in two oxen or sheep, who grow more tractable, and go more quietly in their yoke, the longer they have carried it; whether you are still resolved, at your own expense, to shew the world a monster, with one body and two heads, each of them furnished with two faces, to smile or frown on each other, as dissimulation or rancour shall set their features; and whether, in a word, you can think of any longer racking your minds between the wide extremes of fond and angry fits, in so swift successions, that all the good part of mankind are ama
nazed, how, after such transports of tenderness, you can ever hate each other; and all the bad, how it is possible, from hatred so keen, to return again to instances of endearment not exceeded between those who never quarrelled. Here is the very sting of your condition. These starts of affection serve but to give you more thorough sense of the mutual hatred which immediately follows, and fills you with bitterness of soul. Could you live asunder, or avoid all occasions of kindness, you might at length take sanctuary in indifference. A palsy might take the place of this ague in your passions, and once for all benumb those too exquisite feelings, which contrariety, at present, rubs into rawness, and keeps perpetually alive. Time, which alleviates other miseries, would then cease to aggravate yours. What an enemy would you think him, who should deprive your food of all its relish, or cook it for you with gall; who should roh your nights of sleep, poison every moment of your time with grief or vexation, throw all your affairs into confusion, and ruin both the morals and fortunes of your children! This enemy you are (I do not say to each other, but) you, the husband, to yourself; and
you, the wife, to yourself; for want of considering that you cannot hurt or vex her, nor you hurt or vex him, without equally hurting, vexing, and tormenting yourself, for you can have but one and the same condition.
It was well for the interests of religion, that during a very difficult period, viz., from 1787 to 1809, the see of London was filled by a prelate so judicious and so faithful to his Master, as Dr Beilby Porteus. The services which he rendered, as the opponent of the slave trade, as the early patron of the Bible Society, and as the assiduous promoter of the better observance of the Sabbath, deserve to be held in lasting memorial.
Enforced by his own well-known personal worth, his sermons produced a great impression. A series of lectures on Matthew, which he delivered on the Fridays of Lent, drew together a concourse, such as had seldom been seen at a weekday service; and the reader will not the less rejoice at their popularity, because he feels that in order to be popular now, such a course would need to possess attractions which he cannot detect in the published specimens.
Beilby Porteus was born at York, May 8, 1731, and died at Fulham, May 13, 1809.
The next remarkable feature in the character of the centurion is his humility. How completely this most amiable of human virtues had taken possession of his soul, is evident from the manner in which he solicited our Saviour for the cure of his servant: how cautious, how modest, how diffident, how timid, how fearful of offending, even whilst he was only beg
ging an act of kindness for another! Twice did he send messengers to our Lord, as thinking himself unworthy to address Him in his own person; and when, at our Saviour's approach to his house, he himself came out to meet Him, it was only to entreat Him not to trouble Himself any further; for that he was not worthy that Jesus should enter under his roof.
This lowliness of mind in the centurion is the more remarkable, because humility, in the gospel sense of the word, is a virtue with which the ancients, and more particularly the Romans, were totally unacquainted. They had not even a word in their language to describe it by. The only word that seems to express it, humilitas, signifies baseness, servility, and meanness of spirit—a thing very different from true Christian humility; and indeed this was the only idea they entertained of that virtue. Everything that we call meek and humble, they considered as mean and contemptible. A haughty, imperious, overbearing temper, a high opinion of their own virtue and wisdom, a contempt of all other nations but their own, a quick sense and a keen resentment, not only of injuries, but even of the slightest affronts, this was the favourite and predominant character among the Romans; and that gentleness of disposition, that low estimation of our own merits, that ready preference of others to ourselves, that fearfulness of giving offence, that abasement of ourselves in the sight of God which we call humility, they considered as the mark of a tame, abject, and unmanly mind. When, therefore, we see this virtuous centurion differing so widely from his countrymen in this respect, we may certainly conclude that his notions of morality were of a much higher standard than theirs, and that his disposition peculiarly fitted him for the reception of the gospel. For humility is that virtue which, more than any other, disposes the mind to yield to the evidences, and embrace the doetrines of the Christian revelation. It is that virtue which the gospel was peculiarly mean to produce, on which it lays the
greatest stress, and in which, perhaps, more than any other, consists the true essence and vital principle of the Christian temper. We therefore find the strongest exhortations to it in almost every page of the gospel. “I say to every man that is among you,” says St Paul, “not to think more highly of himself than he ought to think, but to think soberly. Mind not high things: be not wise in your own conceits, but condescend to men of low estate. Stretch not yourselves beyond your
Blessed are the poor in spirit, says our Lord, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Whosoever shall humble himself as a little child, the same is greatest in the kingdom of heaven. Though the Lord be high, yet hath he respect to the lowly. As for the proud, he beholdeth them afar off. Humble yourselves in the sight of the Lord, and he shall lift you up. God resisteth the proud, but giveth grace to the humble. Learn of me, says our Saviour, for I am meek and lowly in heart, and ye shall find rest unto your souls."*
Such were the distinguished virtues of this excellent centurion, the contemplation of whose character suggests to us a variety of important remarks.
The first is, that the miracles of our Lord had the fullest credit given to them, not only (as is sometimes asserted) by low, obscure, ignorant, and illiterate men, but by men of rank and character, by men of the world, by men perfectly competent to ascertain the truth of any facts presented to their observation, and not likely to be imposed upon by false pretences. Of this description was the centurion here mentioned, the Roman proconsul Sergius Paulus, Dionysius a member of the supreme court of Areopagus at Athens, and several others of equal dignity and consequence.
Secondly, the history of the centurion teaches us, that there is no situation of life, no occupation, no profession, however
* Rom. xii. 3, 6. 2 Cor. x. 14. Matt. v. 3; xviii. 4. Psalm cxxxviii. 6. James iv. 6, 10. Matt. xi. 29.