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· We have discoursed at large of the Friendship which ought to prevail in Christian families, and are naturally led from thence to recommend the duty of Hospitality. The connection of the words chosen for this purpose, merits our particular attention. The apostle had reprobated in very severe terms the kind of hospitality, falsely so called, which obtained among the pagans—their excess of wine, revellings, banquetings, and abominable idolatries. Of the Christians these pagans were used to speak in the most reproachful manner, because they ran not with them to the same excess of riot. But, says the apostle, these miserable debauchees who laugh at your temperance, shall shortly give an account of themselves to him that is ready to judge the quick and the dead. For, to this purpose was the gospel preached to the Gentiles who were dead in sin, as well as to you; that such of them as are recovered from this wretched state, however judged and reviled like you by their former companions, might henceforth live a truly spiritual and divine

So he goes on to remind Christians, that there will quickly be an end to all the vain pleasures and concerns of the present life; and that therefore they should be sober and watch unto prayer. And above all things, adds he, be careful to maintain fervent love to one another ; for love will cover a multitude of sins : it will induce you to find out the best excuse you can for the sins of others, and will encourage a cheerful hope in your breasts, that through the mercy of God you shall obtain forgiveness for your own numberless errors and failings. And thus is the admonition in our text introduced-Use hospitality one to another, without grudging. As if he had said, “ Though we wish to confirm you in your just abhorrence of the intemperate mirth and jollity of wicked men, we do not mean that you should be morose, gloomy, and selfish. No. Enjoy the good which Providence has bestowed upon you, and be generous and hospitable to one another.”

life a.

a There is a considerable difficulty in determining the true sense of this passage. Some have supposed, that by them that are dead the apostle means such Christians as then suffered martyrdom in the cause of religion; and that the sense is, “ the gospel brought good tidings to them, for it assured them that however their bodies were condemned by men to death, their immortal spirits should live together with God in heaven.” Some render the words thus, “ To this purpose the gospel was preached to them that are dead in sin, that they who are according to men in the flesh, that is, live a sensual life, may be condemned; and they who live according to God in the spirit, that is, a holy life, may live, that is, be finally saved.” Some think there is a reference here to ch. iii. 19. and understand the apostle to speak of antediluvian sinners, hereon founding an opinion respecting the salvation of some of them.

See WOLF. Curæ Philolog. Dod. in loc. &c.

Use hospitality, or, be ye hospitable, that is, be ye lovers of strangers a: be well disposed to them, receive them into your houses, entertain them there, shew them all the kindness in your power. As strangers the apostle had described those to whom he addresses this epistle, in the first verse of the first chapter: and that was the proper description of the Jews scattered through the Roman provinces ; they were strangers in regard of Judea, their own proper country. But that is not the idea here intended : the original word taken by itself means strangers in general, those who are such as not being of our house, or among the number of our domestics. A particular regard, indeed, the apostle might have to travellers, persons who came from remote countries; and especially those who were sent out by the churches to preach the gospel. But it is, evident his views are extended further, for he adds, Use hospitality to one another. It is to be reciprocal among Christians, so far as their ability will admit. And it is to be practised without grudging, without grumbling b; in the most easy, cheerful, and cordial manner.--Now in order to set this subject of Hospitality in its proper light, we must consider more particularly,

First, Of whom it is required:
Secondly, To whom it is to be practised:
Thirdly, The duty itself: and,
FOURTHLY, Our obligations to it.

First, Let us enquire of whom this duty of Hospitality is required.

To this it is replied that the principle is required of all, but the duty itself of those only whose circumstances will admit of it. Hospitality is a species of charity to which every one is not competent. But the temper from which it proceeds, I mean a humane, benevolent, generous temper; that ought to α Φιλοξενοι. .

b Aysu yoy Toouoy.

prevail in every breast. The opposite of it, a private, selfish, avaricious disposition, is most detestable. No one in whom it predominates can be a Christian : indeed he who is of this character is not worthy of the name of a man. Where there is a propensity to covetousness, (and in some there is naturally a stronger propensity to it than in others) reason and religion teach that every possible endeavour should be used to overcome it. And if men would but sit down and consider, how contemptible this vice renders them in the eye both of God and man, how effectually it defeats all those noble objects of general good which ought to occupy the human mind, what a sure source it is of anxiety and wretchedness to him in whose breast it prevails, and the absolute uncertainty both of the acquisition and continuance of worldly wealth; if men, I say, would duly consider these things, methinks the tyranny of this accursed demon in their breasts would be shook, if not totally subdued. But it is beyond the power of general reasonings and persuasions, to extricate the abject slave to this vice from his chains. The grace of God, however, will ennoble the sordid mind, raise the affections from low and grovelling pursuits, and convert a base and selfish into an open and generous spirit. The arguments which the gospel proposes to this end, are admirably adapted to convince the judgment and move the heart. What man who believes that the Son of God from pure motives of compassion assumed human nature, and suffered the vilest death, to save him from the greatest miseries, can possibly have a hard, contracted, unfeeling heart ! Entering into the spirit of this divine truth, and having his infinitely benevolent Saviour in full view before his eyes, his bosom must needs catch fire, his whole soul dilate, and his wide-extended arms embrace all his brethren of mankind. Such is the real character of a genuine Christian. And a man of this character, if he has it in his power, will be hospitable.

: But ability is the principal question to be discussed here. Some are miserably poor, and it is not to be expected that their doors should be thrown open to entertain strangers. Yet the cottage of a peasant may exhibit noble specimens of hospitality. Here distress has often met with pity, and the persecuted an asylum. Nor is there a man who has a house to sleep

in, but may be benevolent to strangers. But the particular expressions of liberality required of us are to be regulated by our circumstances, of which we shall hereafter more largely speak. In the mean time, as it is the wish of every good man to have it in his power to fall in with the admonition in our text; it

may

be of use to dwell a few moments on two virtues, of the last importance to be cultivated to that end: I mean Industry and Economy.

Self-indulgence is the bane of charity, it contracts the soul, and makes it insensible to the noble feelings of generous love. And sloth, the usual attendant of self-indulgence, though it may not instantly consume a man's property; yet prevents the improvement of it, and thereby precludes him from the ability of gratifying a social disposition. Self-indulgence and sloth, therefore, should be carefully guarded against. Cherish in your breasts, Christians, love to others. Be happy in the idea of their happiness, and especially in that of being yourselves the instruments of promoting it. This god-like temper will rouse you from the soft slumbers of ignominious indolence, and prompt you to exertions that will quickly put it in your power, with the blessing of God, to be at once hospitable and happy. The man who is urged to diligence by a generous spirit, is more likely to succeed in his affairs, than the wretch whose object is to hoard up what he gets, or at best to consume it upon himself. His generosity will give vigour to his faculties, add spírit to his exertions, and secure him the favour of all inge-. nuous people he has to do with. And as his affairs prosper, so his object, the gratification of this noble passion for doing good, will be attained: his friends will share the smiling fruits of his hospitality, and he feel a greater pleasure in communicating than they in receiving them. For it is more blessed, as our Saviour says, to give than to receive a.- Aquila was a diligent man, he wrought hard at the occupation of tent-making, God succeeded his labours, and he had the joy of entertaining a Paul and an Apollos, and many other excellent people in his house.

But, in order to our acquiring an ability to be hospitable, it is necessary that we should be prudent as well as industrious.

a Acts xx. 35.

Extravagance is very nearly as inimical to this duty as sloth : this prevents our obtaining the means of generosity, that deprives us of them as soon as we possess them. Economy, therefore, is to be strictly regarded. How the line is to be drawn between profusion and parsimony, in the entertainments we make for our friends, may be shewn hereafter. But this is not the only thing, economy is to be observed in the management of all our affairs. No idle unmeaning expence is to be incurred by any branch of the family. Waste is on no account to be connived at under the notion of plenty. The servants are to be narrowly watched, the daughters to be bred up to housewifery, and the prudent eye of the mistress to pervade through every department of her house. From such an unremitting attention to domestic concerns very great advantage will result to the interests of hospitality. The saving of this or that expence upon ourselves, and the ingenuously managing this or that entertainment, so that it shall be plentiful and yet not costly ; will enable us to receive more strangers into our house than we otherwise could.- Priscilla we may be sure was as prudent as her husband Aquila was industrious : for otherwise they could not have been so hospitable, as it appears from Scripture history they were. But, without referring particularly to characters of this sort, such as Abigail, Dorcas, and the like; it shall suffice to recommend the diligent study of the character of the virtuous woman in the Proverbs, in order to inspire mistresses of families with economy, and to teach them its impor, tance to the object before us.

Of all those who have ability this duty is required. But there are persons of certain characters and stations in life who are more especially obliged to it: as particularly magistrates and others in civil offices, who would forfeit the esteem of the public, and greatly injure their usefulness, were they not to observe the rites of hospitality. But those whom the apostle seems to have chiefly in his eye are ministers, and such private Christians as are qualified by their particular offices in the church, and their affluent circumstances, to be eminently useful

As to the former, it is a qualification expressly required of a Christian bishop, that he be given to hospitality a.

al Tim. iii. 2.

in this way.

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