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organs of an ant, than he is the creator of the sublime geniusses of a part of mankind. Because God hath created an ant and a sublime genius, does it follow, that these two beings are equal ? The meaning of the words of Solomon depends then on what a prudent reader supplies. We may judge what ought to be supplied by the nature of the subject, and by a parallel passage in the book of Job. Did not he, that made me in the womb, make my servant? and did he not fashion us alike? * chap. xxxi. 15. To the words of our text, therefore, The Lord is the maker of them all, we must add, The Lord hath fashioned them all alike. Nothing but gross ignorance, or wild treachery, can incline an expositor to abuse this liberty of making up the sense of a passage, and induce him to conclude, that he may add to a text whatever may seem to him the most proper to support a favorite opinion, or to cover an unworthy passion. When we are inquisitive for truth, it is easy to discover the passages of holy scripture, in which the authors have made use of these concise imperfect sentences.
Of this kind are all passages, which excite no distinct ideas, or which excite ideas foreign from the scope of the writer, unless the meaning be supplied. For example, we read these words in the eleventh chapter of St. Paul's second epistle to the Corinthians, ver. 4. If he, that cometh, preacheth another Jesus, whom we have not preached, or if ye receive another spirit, which ye have not received, or another gospel, which ye have not accepted, ye might well bear with him. If we attach such ideas to these words, as they seem at first
* This reading of the French bible differs a little from our translation : but a comparison of the two translations with the original, and with the scope of the place, will give the preference to the French reading. Nonne disposuit nos in utero unus atque idem? Vide Poli Synops. in loc.
to excite, we shall take them in a sense quite opposite to the meaning of St. Paul. The apostle aimed to make the Corinthians respect his ministry, and to consider his apostleship as confirmed of God in a manner as clear and decisive as that of any minister, who had preached to them. Is the proposition, that we have read, any thing to this purpose, unless we supply what is not expressed? But if we supply what is understood, and add these words, but this is incredible, or any others equivalent, we shall perceive the force of his reasoning, which is this: If there hath been among you any one, whose preaching have revealed a Redeemer, better adapted to your wants than he, whom we have preached to you; or if you have received more excellent gifts than those, which the holy Spirit so abundantly diffused among you by our ministry, you might indeed have preferred him before us: but it is not credible, that you have had such teachers : you ought then to respect our ministry.
We need not make any more remarks of this kind; our text, it is easy to see, ought to be classed with them, that are imperfect, and must be supplied with words to make up the sense.
The rich and the poor meet together in four articles of equality; because the Lord hath made them all EQUAL in nature, or in essence ; equal in privileges ; equal in appointment ; equal in their last end. The Lord hath made them equal in nature ; they have the same faculties, and the same infirmities : Equal in privileges ; for both are capable by the excellence of their nature, and more still by that of their religion, to form the noblest designs : Equal in designation ; for although the rich differ from the poor in their condition, yet both are intended to answer the great purposes of God with regard to human nature: Finally, they are equal in their last
and; the same sentence of death is passed on both, and both alike must submit to it. The rich and the poor meet together; the Lord is the maker of them all. Thus the text affords us four truths worthy of our most serious attention.
The first article of equality, in which men meet together, is an equality of essence, or of nature ; the Lord hath made them all with the same faculties, and with the same infirmities.
1. With the same faculties. What is man? He consists of a body, and of a soul united to a body. This definition, or rather, if you will, this description, agrees to all mankind, to the great as well as to the small, to the rich as well as to the poor. The soul of the poor hath the same power as that of the rich, and to lay down principles, to infer consequences, to distinguish truth from falshood, to choose good or eyil, to examine what is most advantageous, and most glorious to it. The body of the poor, as well as that of the rich, displays the wisdom of him, who formed it; it hath a symmetry in its parts, an exactness in its motions, and a proportion to its secret springs. The laws, that unite the body of the poor to his soul, are the same as those, which unite these two beings in the rich; there is the same connexion between the two parts, that constitute the essence of the man; a similar motion of the body, produceth a similar thought in the mind, a similar idea of the mind, or a similar emotion of the heart, produceth a similar emotion of the body. This is man. These are the faculties of men. Diversity of condition makes no alteration in these faculties.
2. The Lord hath made them all with the same infirmities. They have the same infirmities of body.. The body of the rich, as well as that of the poor, is a common receptacle, where a thousand impurities meet; it is a general rendezvous of pains and sickness; it is a house of clay, whose foundation is in the dust, and is crushed before the moth, Job. iv. 19.
They have the same mental infirmities. The mind of the rich, like that of the poor, is incapable of satisfying itself on a thousand desirable questions. The mind of the rich, as well as that of the poor, is prevented by its natural ignorance, when it would expand itself in contemplation, and eclaircise a number of obvious phenomena. The soul of the rich, like that of the poor is subject to doubt, uncertainty, and ignorance, and, what is more mortifying still
, the heart of the rich, like the poor man's heart, is subject to the same passions, to envy, and to anger, and to all the disorder of sin.
They have the same frailties in the laws, that unite the soul to the body. The soul of the rich, like the soul of the poor, is united to a body, or rather inslaved by it. The soul of the rich, like that of the poor, is interrupted in its most profound meditations by a single ray of light, by the buzzing of a fly, or by the touch of an atom of dust. The rich man's faculties of reasoning and of self-determining are suspended, and in some sort vanished and absorbed, like those of the poor, on the slightest alteration of the senses, and this alteration of the senses, happens to him, as well as to the poor, at the approach of certain objects. David's reason is suspended at the sight of Bathsheba ; David no longer distinguisheth good from evil; David forgets the purity of the laws, which he himself had so highly celebrated, and, at the sight of this object, his whole system of piety is refuted, his whole edifice of religion sinks and disappears.
The second point of equality, in which the rich and the poor meet together, is an equality of privileges. To aspire at certain eminences, when providence hath placed us in inferior stations in society, is egregious folly. If a man, who hath only ordinary talents, only a common genius, pretend to acquire an immoral reputation among heroes, and to fill the world with his name and exploits, he acts fancifully and wildly. If he who was born a subject, rashly and ambitiously attempt to ascend the tribunal of a magistrate, or the throne of a king, and to aim at governing, when he is called to obey, he is guilty of rebellion. But this law, which for: bids inferiors to arrogate to themselves some privileges, doth not prohibit them from aspiring at others, incomparably more great and glorious.
Let us discover, if it be possible, the most miserable man in this assembly ; let us dissipate the darkness that covers him ; let us raise him from that kind of grave, in which his indigence and meanness conceal him. This man, unknown to the rest of mankind; this man, who seems hardly formed by the Creator into an intelligent existence; this man hath, however, the greatest and most glorious privileges. This man, being reconciled to God by religion, hath a right to aspire to the most noble and sublime objects of it. He hath a right to elevate his soul to God in ardent prayer, and, without the hazard of being taxed with vanity, he may assure himself, that God, the Great God, encircled in glory, and surrounded with the praises of the blessed, will behold him, hear his prayer, and grant his request. This man hath a right to say to himself, The attention that the Lord of nature gives to the government of the universe, to the wants of mankind, to the innumerable company of angels, and to his own felicity, doth not prevent this adorable being from attending to me; from occupying himself about my person, my chil