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therefore, this relation is well and equitably regu- | lated, in that country the poor will be happy. Now how is the matter managed with us? Except apprenticeships, the necessity of which every one, at least every father and mother, will acknowledge, as the best, if not the only practicable, way of gaining instruction and skill, and which have their foundation in nature, because they have their foundation in the natural ignorance and imbecility of youth; except these, service in England, is, as it ought to be, voluntary and by contract; a fair exchange of work for wages; an equal bargain, in which each party has his rights and his redress; wherein every servant chooses his master. Can this be mended? I will add, that a continuance of this connexion is frequently the foundation of so much mutual kindness and attachment, that very few friendships are more cordial, or more sincere; that it leaves oftentimes nothing in servitude except the name; nor any distinction but what one party is as much pleased with, and sometimes also as proud of, as the other. What then (for this is the fair way of calculating) is there in higher stations to place against these advantages? What does the poor man see in the life or condition of the rich, that should render him dissatisfied with his own?
Was there as much in sensual pleasures, I mean in the luxuries of eating and drinking, and other gratifications of that sort, as some men's imaginations would represent them to be, but which no man's experience finds in them, I contend, that even in these respects, the advantage is on the side of the poor. The rich, who addict themselves to indulgence, lose their relish. Their desires are dead. Their sensibilities are worn and tired. Hence they lead a languid satiated existence. Hardly any thing can amuse, or rouse, or gratify them. Whereas the poor man, if some thing extraordinary fall in his way, comes to the repast with appetite; is pleased and refreshed; derives from his usual course of moderation and temperance a quickness of perception and delight which the unrestrained voluptuary knows nothing of. Habits of all kinds are much the same. Whatever is habitual, becomes smooth and indifferent, and nothing more. The luxurious receive no greater pleasures from their dainties, than the peasant does from his homely fare.-But here is the difference: The peasant whenever he goes abroad, finds a feast, whereas the epicure must be sumptuously entertained to escape disgust. They who spend every day in diversions, and they who go every day about their usual business, pass their time much alike. Attending to what they are about, wanting nothing, regretting nothing, they are both, whilst engaged, in a state of ease; but then, whatever suspends the pursuits of the man of diversion, distresses him, whereas to the labourer, or the man of business, every pause is a recreation. And this is a vast advantage which they possess who are trained and inured to a life of occupation, above the man who sets up for a life of pleasure. Variety is soon exhausted. Novelty itself is no longer new. Amusements are become too familar to delight, and he is in a situation in which he can never change but for the worse.
Another article which the poor are apt to envy in the rich, is their ease. Now here they mistake the matter totally. They call inaction ease, whereas nothing is farther from it. Rest is ease. That is true; but no man can rest who has not
worked. Rest is the cessation of labour. It cannot therefore be enjoyed, or even tasted, except by those who have known fatigue. The rich see, and not without envy, the refreshment and plea sure which rest affords to the poor, and choose to wonder that they cannot find the same enjoyment in being free from the necessity of working at all. They do not observe that this enjoyment must be purchased by previous labour, and that he who will not pay the price cannot have the gratification. Being without work is one thing; reposing from work is another. The one is as tiresome and insipid as the other is sweet and soothing. The one, in general, is the fate of the rich man, the other is the fortune of the poor. I have heard it said, that if the face of happiness can any where be seen, it is in the summer evening of a country village; where, after the labours of the day, each man at his door, with his children, amongst his neighbours, feels his frame and his heart at rest, every thing about him pleased and pleasing, and a delight and complacency in his sensations far beyond what either luxury or diversion can afford. The rich want this; and they want what they must never have.
As to some other things which the poor are disposed to envy in the condition of the rich, such as their state, their appearance, the grandeur of their houses, dress, equipage, and attendance, they only envy the rich these things because they do not know the rich. They have not opportunities of observing with what neglect and insensibility the rich possess and regard these things themselves. If they could see the great man in his retirement, and in his actual manner of life, they would find him, if pleased at all, taking pleasure in some of those simple enjoyments which they can command as well as he. They would find him amongst his children, in his husbandry, in his garden, pursuing some rural diversion, or occupied with some trifling exercise, which are all gratifications, as much within the power and reach of the poor man as of the rich; or rather more so.
To learn the art of contentment, is only to learn what happiness actually consists in. Sensual pleasures add little to its substance. Ease, if by that be meant exemption from labour, contributes nothing. One, however, constant spring of satisfaction, and almost infallible support of cheerfulness and spirits, is the exercise of domes tic affections; the presence of objects of tenderness and endearment in our families, our kindred, our friends. Now, have the poor any thing to com plain of here? Are they not surrounded by their relatives as generally as others? The poor man has his wife and children about him; and what has the rich more? He has the same enjoyment of their society, the same solicitude for their wel fare, the same pleasure in their good qualities, improvement, and success: their connexion with him, is as strict and intimate, their attachment as strong, their gratitude as warm. I have no propensity to envy any one, least of all the rich and great; but if I were disposed to this weakness, the subject of my envy would be, a healthy young man, in full possession of his strength and facul ties, going forth in a morning to work for his wife and children, or bringing them home his wages at night.
But was difference of rank or fortune of more importance to personal happiness than it is, it would be ill purchased by any sudden or violent
change of condition. An alteration of circum- If, in comparing the different conditions of sostances, which breaks up a man's habits of life,cial life, we bring religion into the account, the deprives him of his occupation, removes him from argument is still easier. Religion smooths all inhis acquaintance, may be called an elevation of equalities, because it unfolds a prospect which fortune, but hardly ever brings with it an addition makes all earthly distinctions nothing. And I do of enjoyment. They to whom accidents of this allow that there are many cases of sickness, afsort have happened, never found them to answer fliction, and distress, which Christianity alone can their expectations. After the first hurry of the comfort. But in estimating the mere diversities change is over, they are surprised to feel in them- of station and civil condition, I have not thought selves listlessness and dejection, a consciousness it necessary to introduce religion into the inquiry of solitude, vacancy, and restraint, in the place of at all; because I contend, that the man who murcheerfulness, liberty, and ease. They try to murs and repines, when he has nothing to murmur make up for what they have lost, sometimes by a and repine about, but the mere want of independbeastly sottishness, sometimes by a foolish dissipa-ent property, is not only irreligious, but unreasontion, sometimes by a stupid sloth; all which effects able, in his complaint; and that he would find, are only so many confessions, that changes of this did he know the truth, and consider his case fairly, sort were not made for man. If any public dis-that a life of labour, such, I mean, as is led by the turbance should produce, not an equality (for that labouring part of mankind in this country, has is not the proper name to give it,) but a jumble of advantages in it which compensate all its inconranks and professions amongst us, it is not only veniences. When compared with the life of the evident what the rich would lose, but there is also rich, it is better in these important respects: It this further misfortune, that what the rich lost the supplies employment, it promotes activity. It poor would not gain. I (God knows) could not keeps the body in better health, the mind more get my livelihood by labour, nor would the labourer engaged, and, of course, more quiet. It is more find any solace or enjoyment in my studies. If we sensible of ease, more susceptible of pleasure. It were to exchange conditions to-morrow, all the is attended with greater alacrity of spirits, a more effect would be, that we both should be more constant cheerfulness and serenity of temper. It miserable, and the work of both be worse done. affords easier and more certain methods of sendWithout debating, therefore, what might be very ing children into the world in situations suited to difficult to decide, which of our two conditions their habits and expectations. It is free from many was better to begin with, one point is certain, that heavy anxieties which rich men feel; it is fraught it is best for each to remain in his own. The with many sources of delight which they want. change, and the only change, to be desired, is that gradual and progressive improvement of our circumstances which is the natural fruit of successful industry; when each year is something better than the last; when we are enabled to add to our little household one article after another of new comfort or conveniency, as our profits increase, or our burden becomes less; and, what is best of all, when we can afford, as our strength declines, to relax our labours, or divide our cares. This may be looked forward to, and is practicable, by great numbers in a state of public order and quiet; it is absolutely impossible in any other.
If to these reasons for contentment, the reflecting husbandman or artificer adds another very material one, that changes of condition, which are attended with a breaking up and sacrifice of our ancient course and habit of living, never can be productive of happiness, he will perceive, I trust, that to covet the stations or fortunes of the rich, or so, however, to covet them, as to wish to seize them by force, or through the medium of public uproar and confusion, is not only wickedness, but folly, as mistaken in the end as in the means, that it is not only to venture out to sea in a storm, but to venture for nothing.
SERMONS ON PUBLIC OCCASIONS.
CAUTION RECOMMENDED IN THE USE AND APPLICATION OF SCRIPTURE
A SERMON, PREACHED, JULY 17, 1777, IN THE CATHEDRAL CHURCH OF CARLISLE, AT THE VISITATION OF THE RIGHT REVEREND LORD BISHOP OF CARLISLE.
To the Right Reverend Edmund, Lord Bishop of Carlisle, this discourse is inscribed, with sen. timents of great respect and gratitude, by his Lordship's most dutiful, and most obliged servant and chaplain, W. PALEY.
Even as our beloved brother Paul also, according to the wisdom given unto him, hath written unto you; as also in all his epistles, speaking in them of these things; in which are some things hard to be understood, which they that are unlearned and unstable wrest, as they do also the other Scriptures, unto their own destruction.-2 Peter iii. 15, 16.
Ir must not be dissembled that there are many real difficulties in the Christian Scriptures; whilst, at the same time, more, I believe, and greater, may justly be imputed to certain maxims of interpretation, which have obtained authority without reason, and are received without inquiry. One of these, as I apprehend, is the expecting to find, in the present circumstances of Christianity, a meaning for, or something answering to, every appellation and expression which occurs in Scripture; or, in other words, the applying to the personal condition of Christians at this day, those titles, phrases, propositions, and arguments, which belong solely to the situation of Christianity at its first institution. I am aware of an objection which weighs much with many serious tempers, namely, that to suppose any part of Scripture to be inapplicable to us, is to suppose a part of Scripture to be useless; which seems to detract from the perfection we attribute to these oracles of our salvation. To this I can only answer, that it would have been one of the strangest things in the world, if the writings of the New Testament had not, like all other books, been composed for the apprehension, and consequently adapted to the circumstances, of the persons they were addressed to; and that it would have been equally strange, if the great, and in many respects, the inevitable alterations, which have taken place in those circumstances, did not vary the application of Scripture language.
I design, in the following discourse, to propose some examples of this variation, from which you will judge, as I proceed, of the truth and importance of our general observation.
First; At the time the Scriptures were written, none were baptized but converts, and none. 500
were converted but from conviction; and conviction produced, for the most part, a corresponding reformation of life and manners. Hence baptism was only another name for conversion, and conversion was supposed to be sincere: in this sense was our Saviour's promise," he that believeth, and is baptized, shall be saved;"* and in the same his command to St. Paul, "arise, and be baptized, and wash away thy sins:" this was that baptism, "for the remission of sins," to which St. Peter invited the Jews upon the day of Pentecost; that "washing of regeneration," by which, as St. Paul writes to Titus, "he saved us."s Now, when we come to speak of the baptism which obtains in most Christian churches at present, where no conversion is supposed, or possible, it is manifest, that, if these expressions be applied at all, they must be applied with extreme qualification and re
Secondly; The community of Christians were at first a handful of men, connected amongst themselves by the strictest union, and divided from the rest of the world by a real difference of principle and persuasion, and, what was more ob servable, by many outward peculiarities of worship and behaviour. This society, considered collectively, and as a body, were set apart from the rest of mankind for a more gracious dispensation, as well as actually distinguished by a superior purity of life and conversation. In this view, and in opposition to the unbelieving world, they were denominated in Scripture by titles of great seeming dignity and import; they were "elect," "called,' saints;" they were "in Christ;¶ they were
"a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a peculiar people."* That is, these terms were employed to distinguish the professors of Christianity from the rest of mankind, in the same manner as the names of Greek and Barbarian, Jew and Gentile, distinguished the people of Greece and Israel from other nations. The application of such phrases to the whole body of Christians is become now obscure; partly because it is not easy to conceive of Christians as a body at all, by reason of the extent of their name and numbers, and the little visible union that subsists among them; and partly, because the heathen world, with whom they were compared, and to which comparison these phrases relate, is now ceased, or is removed from our observation. Supposing, therefore, these expressions to have a perpetual meaning, and, either forgetting the original use of them, or finding that, at this time, in a great measure exhausted and insignificant, we resort to a sense and an application of them, easier, it may be, to our comprehension, but extremely foreign from the design of their authors, namely, to distinguish individuals amongst us, the professors of Christianity, from one another: agreeably to which idea, the most flattering of these names, the "elect," "called," "saints," have, by bold and unlearned men, been appropriated to themselves and their own party with a presumption and conceit injurious to the reputation of our religion amongst "them that are without," and extremely disgusting to the sober part of its professors; whereas, that such titles were intended in a sense common to all Christian converts, is well argued from many places in which they occur, in which places you may plainly substitute the terms convert, or converted, for the strongest of these phrases, without any alteration of the author's meaning, e. g. "dare any of you go to law before the unjust and not before the saints?" Is any man called being circumcised, let him not become uncircumcised:" "The church that is at Babylon elected together with you, saluteth you:"Salute Andronicus and Junia, who
were in Christ before me."'ll
Thirdly; In opposition to the Jews, who were so much offended by the preaching of the Gospel to the Gentiles, St. Paul maintains, with great industry, that it was God Almighty's intention from the first, to substitute, at a fit season, into the place of the rejected Israelites, a society of men taken indifferently out of all nations under heaven, and admitted to be the people of God upon easier and more comprehensive terms. This is expressed in the Epistle to the Ephesians, as follows:-"Having made known unto us the mystery of his will, according to his good pleasure which he hath purposed in himself, that, in the dispensation of the fulness of times, he might gather together in one all things in Christ." This scheme of collecting such a society was what God foreknew before the foundation of the world; was what he did predestinate; was the eternal purpose which he purposed in Christ Jesus; and, by consequence, this society, in their collective capacity, were the objects of this foreknowledge, predestination, and purpose; that is, in the language of the apostles, they were they
1 Pet. ii. 9. † 1 Cor. vi. 1.
"whom he did foreknow," they "whom he did "chosen in Christ predestinate;" they were before the foundation of the world;" they were elect according to the foreknowledge of God the This doctrine has nothing in it Father."+ harsh or obscure. But what have we made of it? The rejection of the Jews, and the adopting another community into their place, composed, whilst it was carrying on, an object of great magnitude in the attention of the inspired writers who understood and observed it. This event, which engaged so much the thoughts of the apostle, is now only read of, and hardly that-the reality and the importance of it are little known or at tended to. Losing sight, therefore, of the proper occasion of these expressions, yet willing, after our fashion, to adapt them to ourselves, and finding nothing else in our circumstances that suited with them, we have learnt at length to apply them to the final destiny of individuals at the day of judgment; and upon this foundation, has been erected a doctrine which lays the axe at once to the root of all religion, that of an absolute appointment to salvation or perdition independent of ourselves or any thing we can do; and what is extraordinary, those very arguments and expres sions (Rom. chap. ix, x, xi.) which the apostle employed to vindicate the impartial mercies of God, against the narrow and excluding claims of Jewish prejudice, have been interpreted to establish a dispensation the most arbitrary and partial that could be devised.
Fourthly; The conversion of a grown person from Heathenism to Christianity, which is the case of conversion commonly intended in the Epistles, was a change of which we have now no just conception: it was a new name, a new language, a new society; a new faith, a new hope; a new object of worship, a new rule of life: a history was disclosed full of discovery and surprise; a prospect of futurity was unfolded, beyond imagination awful and august; the same description applies in a great part, though not entirely, to the conversion of a Jew. This, accompanied as it was with the pardon of every former sin, (Romans iii. 25,) was such an era in a man's life, so remarkable a period in his recollection, such a revolution of every thing that was most important to him, as might well admit of those strong figures and significant allusions by which it is described in Scripture: it was a "regeneration's or a new birth; it was to be "born again of God, and of the Spirit;" it was to be "dead to sin," and "alive from the dead;" it was to be buried with Christ in baptism, and raised together with him;"** it was
a new creature," and a new creation;"‡‡ it was a translation from the condition of "slaves to that of sons;"$9 from "strangers and foreigners, to be fellow-citizens with the saints, and of the household of God." It is manifest that no change equal or similar to the conversion of a Heathen can be experienced by us, or by any one educated in a Christian country, and to' whom the facts, precepts, and hopes of Christianity, have been from his infancy familiar: yet we will retain the same language; and what has been the consequence? One sort of men, observing nothing in
1 Cor. vii. 18. Rom. xvi. 7.
T Eph. i. 9, 10; also see Eph. iii. 5, 6.
the lives of Christians corresponding to the mag-lenged, and sometimes confounded, with the question-If such expressions of Scripture do not mean this, what do they mean? To which we answer, Nothing: nothing, that is, to us; nothing to be found, or sought for, in the present circumstances of Christianity.
nificence, if I may so say, of these expressions, have been tempted to conclude, that the expressions themselves had no foundation in truth and nature, or in any thing but the enthusiasm of their authors. Others again, understand these phrases to signify nothing more, than that gradual amendment of life and conversation, which reason and religion sometimes produce in particular Christians: of which interpretation it is truly said, that it degrades too much the proper force of language, to apply expressions of such energy and import to an event so ordinary in its own nature, and which is common to Christianity with every other moral institution. Lastly; a third sort, in order to satisfy these expressions to their full extent, have imagined to themselves certain perceptible impulses of the Holy Ghost, by which, in an instant, and in a manner, no doubt, suffi ciently extraordinary, they are regenerate and born of the Spirit" they become "new creaures" they are made the "sons of God," who were before the "children of wrath;" they are "freed from sin," and "from death;" they are chosen, that is, and sealed, without a possibility of fall, unto final salvation. Whilst the patrons of a more sober exposition have been often chal
More examples might be produced, in which the unwary use of Scripture language has been the occasion of difficulties and mistakes-but I forbear-the present are sufficient to show, that it behoves every one who undertakes to explain the Scriptures, before he determine to whom or what an expression is now-a-days to be applied, to consider diligently whether it admit of any such application at all; or whether it is not rather to be restrained to the precise circumstances and occasion for which it was originally composed.
I make no apology for addressing this subject to this audience; because whatever relates to the interpretation of Scripture, relates, as I conceive, to us; for if, by any light we may cast upon these ancient books, we can enable and invite the people to read the Bible for themselves, we discharge, in my judgment, the first duty of our function; ever bearing in mind, that we are the ministers not of our own fame or fancies, but of the sincere Gospel of Jesus Christ.