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18. But is there no way to prevent this? To continue Christianity among a people? Allowing that diligence and frugality must produce riches, is there no mean to hinder riches from destroying the religion of those that possess them? I can see only one possible way: find out another who can? Do you gain all you can, and save all you can? Then you must in the nature of things grow rich. Then if you have any desire to escape the damnation of hell, give all you can; otherwise I can have no more hope of your salvation, than for that of Judas Iscariot.
19. I call God to record upon my soul, that I advise no more than I practise. I do, blessed be God, gain, and save, and give all I can. And so, I trust in God, I shall do, while the breath of God is in my nostrils. But what then? I count all things but loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Jesus, my Lord! Still
"I give up every plea beside,
Lord, I am damn'd! but thou hast died!”
ON KNOWING CHRIST AFTER THE FLESH.
2 CORINTHIANS V. 16.
"Henceforth know we no Man after the Flesh: yea, though we did know CHRIST after the Flesh, yet now henceforth know we him no more."
1. I HAVE long desired to see something clearly and intelligibly written on these words. This is doubtless a point of no small importance; it enters deeply into the nature of religion: and yet what treatise have we in the English language, which is written upon it? Possibly there may be such; but none of them has come to my notice, no, not so much as a single sermon.
2. This is here introduced by the Apostle in a very solemn manner. The words literally translated run thus: He died for all, that they who live,-all who live upon the earth, might not henceforth, from the moment they knew him, live unto themselves,-seek their own honour, or profit, or pleasure, but unto him,—in righteousness and true holiness, ver. 15. So that we from this time,-that we know him by faith, know no one, either the rest of the Apostles, or you, or any other person, after the flesh. This uncommon expression, on which the whole doctrine depends, seems to mean, We regard no man, according to his former state, his
country, riches, power, or wisdom. We consider all men only in their spiritual state, and as they stand related to a better world. "Yea, if we have known even Christ after the flesh," which undoubtedly they had done, beholding and loving him as a man, with a natural affection, yet now we know him so no more. We no more know him as a man, by his shape, voice, or manner of conversation. We no more think of him as man, or love him under that
3. The meaning then of this strongly figurative expression, appears to be no other than this. From the time that we are created anew in Christ Jesus, we do not think, or speak, or act, with regard to our blessed Lord, as a mere man. We do not now use any expression with relation to Christ, which may not be applied to him not only as he is man, but as he is "God over all, blessed for ever."
4. Perhaps, in order to place this in a clearer light, and at the same time guard against dangerous errors, it may be well to instance in some of those, that in the most plain and palpable manner know Christ after the flesh. We may rank among the first of these the Socinians, those who flatly "deny the Lord that bought them;" who not only do not allow him to be the supreme God, but deny him to be any God at all. I believe the most eminent of these that has appeared in England, at least in the present century, was a man of great learning and uncommon abilities, Dr. John Taylor, for many years Pastor at Norwich, afterwards President at the Academy at Warrington. Yet it cannot be denied, that he treats our Lord with great civility: he gives him very good words: he terms him "a very worthy personage," yea, "a man of consummate virtue."
5. Next to these are the Arians. But I would not be thought to place these in the same rank with the Socinians. There is a considerable difference between them. For, whereas the former deny Christ to be any God at all, the latter do not: they only deny him to be the great God! They willingly allow, nay, contend, that he is
a little God. But this is attended with a peculiar inconvenience. It totally destroys the Unity of the Godhead. For, if there be a great God, and a little God, there must be two Gods. But waving this, and keeping to the point before us. All who speak of Christ as inferior to the Father, though it be ever so little, do undoubtedly "know him after the flesh :" not as "the brightness of the Father's glory, the express image of his person, as upholding,' bearing up "all things," both in heaven and earth, "by the word of his power," the same powerful word, whereby of old time he called them all into being.
6. There are some of these, who have been bold to claim that great and good man, Dr. Watts, as one of their own opinion: and in order to prove him so, they have quoted that fine soliloquy, which is published in his posthumous works. Yet impartial men will not allow their claim, without stronger proof than has yet appeared. But if he is clear of this charge, he is not equally clear, of "knowing Christ after the flesh," in another sense. I was not aware of this, but read all his works with almost equal admiration, when a person of deep piety as well as judgment, was occasionally remarking, "That some of the Hymns printed in his Hora Lyrica, were, (as he phrased it,) too amorous and fitter to be addressed by a lover to his fellow-mortal, than by a sinner to the most High God." I doubt, whether there are not some other Writers, who, though they believe the Godhead of Christ, yet speak in the same unguarded
7. Can we affirm, that the Hymns published by a late great man, (whose memory I love and esteem,) are free from this fault? Are they not full of expressions, which strongly savour of "knowing Christ after the flesh?" Yea, and in a more gross manner, than any thing which was ever before published in the English Tongue? What pity is it, that those coarse expressions should appear in many truly spiritual Hymns! How often in the midst of excellent verses, are lines inserted which disgrace those that precede
and follow? Why should not all the compositions in that book, be not only as poetical, but likewise as rational and as scriptural as many of them are acknowledged to be?
8. It was between fifty and sixty years ago, that by the gracious Providence of God, my brother and I, in our voyage to America, became acquainted with the (so called) Moravian Brethren. We quickly took knowledge what spirit they were of, six and twenty of them being in the same ship with us. We not only contracted much esteem, but a strong, affection for them. Every day we conversed with them, and consulted them on all occasions. I translated many of their hymns for the use of our own congregations. Indeed, as I durst not implicitly follow any man, I did not take all that lay before me, but selected those which I judged to be most scriptural, and most suitable to sound experience. Yet I am not sure, that I have taken sufficient care, to pare off every improper word or expression, every one that may seem to border on a familiarity, which does not so well suit the mouth of a worm of the earth, when addressing himself to the God of heaven. I have indeed particularly endeavoured, in all the Hymns which are addressed to our blessed Lord, to avoid every fondling expression, and to speak as to the Most High God, to him that is, “in glory equal with the Father, in majesty co-eternal."
9. Some will probably think, that I have been overscrupulous, with regard to one particular word, which I never use myself either in verse or prose, in praying or preaching, though it is very frequently used by modern Divines, both of the Romish and Reformed Churches. It is the word dear. Many of these frequently say, both in preaching, in prayer, and in giving thanks, "Dear Lord, or dear Saviour;" and my Brother used the same in many of his Hymns, even as long as he lived. But may I not ask, Is not this using too much familiarity with the great LORD of heaven and earth? Is there any scripture, any passage, either in the Old or New Testament which justi