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wall of a church-yard, if overtaken by a cular manner in which he intends to do it, shower of rain, though the church doors we repose on his word. Assured of the restand invitingly open, than take shelter sult, we are neither very inquisitive about within it, while divine service is performing the mode nor the detail. But do we treat It is a less annoyance to him to be drenched our Almighty friend with the same liberal with the storm, than to enjoy the conveni- confidence? Are we not murmuring beence of a shelter and a seat, if he must en-cause we cannot see all the process of his adjoy them at the heavy price of listening to ministration, and follow his movements step the sermon.
by step? Do we wait the development of While we condemn the beggar, let us his plan, in full assurance that the issue will look into our own hearts; happy if we can- be ultimately good ? Do we trust that he is nct there detect somewhat of the same in- as abundantly willing as able, to do more for dolence, indisposedness, and distaste to seri- us than we can ask or think, if by our susous things! Happy, if we do not find, that picions we do not offend him, if by our infiwe prefer not only our pleasures and enjoy-delity we do not provoke him? In short, ments, but, I had almost said, our very do we not think ourselves utterly undone, pains, and vexations, and inconveniences, to when we have only but Providence to trust communing with our Maker! Happy, if we to? had not rather be absorbed in our petty We are perhaps ready enough to acknowcares, and little disturbances, provided we ledge God in our mercies, nay, we confess can contrive to make them the means of oc- him in the ordinary enjoyments of life. In cupying our thoughts, filling up our minds, some of these common mercies, as in a bright and drawing them away from that devout day, a refreshing shower, a delightful sceneintercourse, which demands the liveliest ex- ry, a kind of sensitive pleasure, an hilarity of ercise of our rational powers, the highest spirits, a sort of animal enjoyment, though of elevation of our spiritual affections ! Is it not a refined nature, mixes itself with our devoto be apprehended, that the dread of being tional feelings; and though we confess and driven to this sacred intercourse is one adore the bountiful Giver, we do it with a grand cause of that activity and restlessness, little mixture of self-complacency, and of which sets the world in such perpetual mc- l human gratification, which he pardons and tion ?
accepts. Though we are ready to express a gene-But we must look for him in scenes less ral sense of our confidence in Almiglity animating, we niust acknowledge him on'ocgoodness, yet what definite meaning do we casions less exhilarating, less sensibly graannex to the expression? What practical tifying. It is not only in his promises that evidences have we to procluce, that we real-God manifests his mercy. His threatenings ly do trust him? Does this trust deliver us are proofs of the same compassionate love. from worldly anxiety? Does it exonerate us He threatens, not to punish, but by the from the same perturbation of spirits, which warning, to snatch from the punishment. those endure who make no such profession? We may also trace marks of his hand, not Does it relieve the mind from doubt and dis- only in the awful visitations of life, not only trust ? Does it tranquillize the troubled in the severer dispensations of his proviheart, does it regulate its disorders, and com-dence, but in vexations so trivial that we pose its fluctuations? Does it sooth us under should hesitate to suspect that they are preirritation ? Does it support us under trials ? vidential appointments, did we not know Does it fortify us against temptations? Does that our daily lite is made up of unimportant it lead us to repose a full confidence in that circumstances rather than of great events, Being whom we profess to trust? Does it As they are, however, of sufficient imporproduce in us, that work of righteousness, tance to exercise the Christian tempers and , which is peace,' that effect of rightcousness, affections, we may trace the hand of our which is quietness and assurance for ever?' heavenly Father in those daily little disapDo we commit ourselves and our concerns to pointments and hourly vexations, which ocGod in word, or in reality? Does this impli- cur even in the most prosperous state, and cit reliance simplify our desires ? Does it in which are inseparable from the condition duce us to credit the testimony of liis word of humanity. We must trace that same and the promises of his Gospel? Do we not beneficent hand, secretly at work for our even entertain some secret suspicions of his purification, our correction, our weaning faithfulness and truth in our hearts, when from life; in the imperfections and disawe persuade others and try to persu.de curigreeableness of those who may be about us; selves that we unreservedly trust laim. in the perlerseness of those with whom we
In the preceding chapter we endcavowed transact business, and in those interruptions to illustrate our want of love to God, by our which break in upon our favourite engagenot being as forward to viridicate the divine meits. conduct as to justify that of an 105,intance! 1 preperhaps too much addicted to our The emme illustritis: 111!" , sin lei""? siL tas ir tire ton fint of ar lucidictoir?in lif üreti
r ini ,"!,!, even out illus engage to do us a kresy, tos no inficisure, but while we say it is good for us not think it necessary to explain the parti- I to be here, the divine vision is withdrawn, VOL. I.
and we are compelled to come down from reward of your unperformed charity, though the mount. Or, perhaps, we do not improve not the gratification of the performance. If our retirement to the purposes for which it it was not pure, you are rescued from the was granted, and tv which we had resolved danger attending a right action performed to devote it, and our time is broken in upon on a worldly principle. You may be the to make us more sensible of its value. Or better Christian though one good deed is we feel a complacency in our leisure, a pride subtracted from your catalogue, in our books; perhaps we feel proud of the By a life of activity and usefulness, you good things we are intending to say, or me- had perhaps attracted the public esteem.ditating to write, or preparing to do. A An animal activity had partly stimulated check is necessary, yet it is given in a way your exertions. The love of reputation bealmost imperceptible. The hand that givesgins to mix itself with your better motives. it is unseen, is unsuspected, yet it is the same You do not, it is presumed, act entirely or gracious hand which directs the more im- chiefly for human applause ; but you are too portant events of life. An importunate ap- sensible to it. It is a delicious poison which plication, a disqualifying, though not severe begins to infuse itself into your purest cup. indisposition, a family avocation, a letterimYou acknowledge indeed the sublimity of portant to the writer, but unseasonable to higher motives, but do you never feel thai, us, breaks in on our projected privacy ; separated from this accompaniment of self, calls us to a sacrifice of our inclination, to a they would be too abstracted, too specularenunciation of our own will. These inces- tive, and might become too little productive sant trials of temper, if well improved, may both of activity and of sensible gratification? be more salutary to the mind, than the finest You begin to feel the human incentire nepassage we had intended to read, or the su- cessary, and your spirits would flag if it were blimest sentiment we had fancied we should withdrawn. write.
This sensibility to praise would gradually Instead theu of going in search of great tarnish the purity of your best actions. He mortifications, as a certain class of pious who sees your heart, as well as your works, writers recommend, let us cheerfully bear mercifully snatches you from the perils of and diligently improve these inferior trials prosperity. Malice is awakened. Your which God prepares for us. Submission to most meritorious actions are ascribed to the a cross which he inflicts, to a disappoint- most corrupt notives. You are attacked ment which he sends, to a contradiction of just where your character is least vulneraour self-love, which he appoints, is a far bet-ble. The enemies whom your success raised ter exercise than grcat penances of our up, are raised up by God, less to punish own choosing. Perpetual conquests over im- than to save you. We are far from meaning patience, ill-temper, and self-will, indicate that he can ever be the author of evil; he a better spirit than any self-imposed morti- does not excite or approve the calumpy, but fication. We may traverse oceans, and scale he uses your calumniators as instruments mountains on uncommanded pilgrimages, your purification. Your fame was too dear without pleasing God; we may please him to you. It is a costly sacrifice, but God rewithout any other exertion than by crossing quires it. It must be offered up. You our own will,
would gladly compound for any, for every Perhaps you had been busying your ima- other offering, but this is the offering be gination with some projected scheme, not chooses: and while he graciously continues only lawful, but laudable. The design was to employ you for his glory, he thus teaches radically good, but the supposed value of you to renounce your own. He sends this your own agency, might too much interfere, trial as a test, by which you are to try your might a little taint the purity of your best self. He thus instructs you not to abanda Intentions. The motives were so mixed that your Christian exertions, but to elevate the it was difficult to separate them. Sudden principle which inspired them, to defecates sickness obstructed the design. You patu- from all impure aclmixtures, rally lament the failure, not perceiving that, By thus stripping the most engaging em however good the work might be for others, Iployments of this dangerous delight, by the sickness was better for yourself. An act iusing some drops of salutary bitterness into of charity was in your intention, but God our sweetest draught, by some of these illsaw that your soul required the exercise of tasted but wholesome mercies, he graciousa more difficult virtue ; that humility and re- ly compels us to return to himself. By tsignation, that the patience, acquiescence, king away the stays by which we are perand contrition of a sick bed, were more ne-petually propping up our frail delights, the cessary for you. He accepts the meditated fall to the ground. We are as it were der work as far as it was designed for his glory, ven back to Him, who condescends to it but he calls liis servant to other duties, which ceive us, after we have tried every thing were more salutary for him, and of which else, and after every thing else has failed as the master was the better judge, Ile sets and though he knows we should not hart aside his work, and orders him to wait; the returned to Him if every thing else had as more difficult part of his task. As far as failed us. He makes us feel our weakce your motive was pure, you will receive the that we may have recourse to his strengu, he makes us sensible of our hitherto unper-object for inspiration to have confined its inceived sins, that we may take refuge in his structions to any one period, when its pureverlasting compassion,
pose was the conversion and instruction of the whole unborn world. That these converts were miraculously called out of dark
ness into the marvellous light of the gospel' CHAP, IX.
-that they were changed from gross blind
ness to a rapid illumination that the emChristianity Universal in its Requisitions. bracing the new faith exposed them to per
secution, reproach and ignominy-that the It is not unusual to see people get rid of few had to struggle against the world--that some of the most awful' injunctions, and laws, principalities and powers which supemancipate themselves from some of the port our faith opposed theirs—these are dismost solemn requisitions of Scripture, by af- tinctions of which we ought not to lose fecting to believe that they do not apply to sight: nor should we forget that not only them. They consider them as belonging ex- all the disadvantages lav on their side in clusively to the first age of the Gospel, and this antecedent condition, but that also all to the individuals to whom they were imme- the superiority lies on ours in that which is diately addressed; consequently the neces- subsequent, sity to observe them does not extend to per- But howerer the condition of the external sons under an established Christianity, to he-state of the Church might differ, there can reditary Christians.
be no necessity for any difference in the inThese exceptions are particularly applied terior state of the individual Christian. On to some of the leading doctrines, so forcibly whatever high principles of devotedness to and repeatedly pressed in the Epistles. The God and love to man they were called to act, reasoners endeavour to persuade themselves we are called to act on precisely the same. that it was only the Ephesians, who are if their faith was called to more painful exdead in trespasses and sins'-that it was on- ertions, if their self-denial to harder sacri. ly the Galatians who are enjoined not to fices, if their renunciation of earthly things fulfil the lusts of the flesh'-that it was only to severer trials, let us thankfully rememthe Philippians who were 'enemies to the ber this would naturally be the case at the cross of Christ.' They shelter themselves first introduction of a religion which had to under the comfortable assurances of a geo-combat with the pride, prejudices and engraphical security. As they know that they mity of corrupt nature, invested with temare neither Ephesians, Galatians, nor Phi- poral power :--That the hostile party would lippians, they have of course little or nothing not fail to perceive how much the new relito do with the reproofs, expostulations, or giod opposed itself to their corruptions, and threatenings which were originally directed that it was introducing a spirit which was in to the converts among those people. They direct and avowed hostility to the spirit of console themselves with the belief that it the world. I was only these pagans who walked ac- But while we are deeply thankful for the cording to the course of this world-who diminished difficulties of an established were strangers from the covenants of pro- | faith, let us never forget that Christianity mise'—and who were 'without God in the allows of no diminution in the temper, of no world.'
abatement in the pirit, which constitued a But these self-satisfied critics would do Christian in the first ages of the church, well to learn that not only 'circumcision or Christianity is precisely the same religion uncircumcision,'--but baptism or no bap- now as it was when our Saviour was upon tism 'availeth nothing,' (I mean as a mere earth. The spirit of the world is exactly form) but a new creature.' An irreligious the same now as it was then. And if the professor of Christianity is as much 'a stran- most eminent of the apostles, under the imger and foreigner, as a heathen; he is no mediate guidance of inspiration were driven
more a fellow citizen of the saints,' and of to lament their conflicts with their own corthe household of God than a Colosian or rupt nature, the power of temptation, comGalatian was, before the Christian dispen-bining with their natural propensities to sation had reached them.
evil, how can we expect that a lower faith, But the persons to whom the Apostles a slackened zeal, an abated diligence, and preached had, before their conversion, nolan interior holiness will be accepted in us? vices to which we are not liable, they had Believers then were not called to higher decertainly difficulties afterwards from which grees of purity, to a more elevated devotion, we are happily exempt. There were indeed to a deeper humility, to greater rectitude, differences between them and us in external patience and sincerity, than they are called situation, in local circumstances, references to in the age in which we live. The prowhich we ought certainly to take into the mises are not limited to the perio<l in which account in perusing the epistles. We allow they were made, the aid of the Spirit is not that they were immediately, but we do not confined to those on whom it was first allow that they were exclusively, applicable poured out. It was expressly declared by to them. It would have been too limited an St. Peter on its first effusion, to be promised not only to them and their children, but totions, rank them in point of religion with all who were afar off, even to as many as the savages of Africa." It shows how little a the Lord their God should call.'
way that reason, which manifested itself If then the same salvation be now offered with such unrivalled vigour in their poets, as was offered at first, is it nct obvious that it orators and historians, as to make them stiil must be worked out in the same way? And models to ours, could go in what related to as the same Gospel retains the same autho- religion, when these polished people, in the rity in all ages, so does it maintain the same objects of their worship, are only on a par universality among all ranks. Christianity with the inhabitants of (taheite, has no by-laws, no particular exemptions, It furnishes the most incontrovertible proof no individual immunities. That there is no that the world by wisdom knew not Gal, appropriate way of attaining salvation for a that it was at the very time, and in the very prince or a philosopher, is probably one country, in which knowledge and taste has reason why greatness and wisdom have so attained their utmost perfection, when the often rejected it. But if rank cannot plead porch and the academy had given laws to its privileges, genius cannot claim its dis- human intellect, that aiheism first assumed tinctions. That Christianity does not owe a shape, and established itself into a school of its success to the arts of rhetoric or the so- philosophy. It was at the moment when the phistry of the schools, but that God inten- mental powers were carried to the highest ded by it to make foolish the wisdom of pitch in Greece, that it was settled as an inthis world,' actually explains why the dis- fallible truth in this philosophy, that the puters of this world' have always been its senses were the highest natural light of manenemies.
kind. It was in the most enlightened age It would have been unworthy of the infi- of Rome that this atheistical philosophy nite God to have imparted a partial religion. was transplanted thither, and that one of There is but one gate,' and that a 'strait' her most elegant poets adopted it, and reone; but one 'way,' and that a 'narrow'dered popular by the bewitching graces of one there is but one salvation, and that a his verse: common one. The Gospel enjoins the It scems as if the most accomplished nasame principles of love and obedience on all tions stood in the most pressing need of the of every condition ; offers the same aids un- light of Revelation ; for it was not to the der the same exigencies; the same sup- dark and stupid corners of the earth that ports under all trials ; the same pardon to the apostles had their earliest missions all penitents; the same Saviour to all be- One of St. Paul's first and noblest exposilievers; the same rewards to all who'en- tions of Christian truth was made before the dure to the end.' The temptations of one most august deliberative assembly in the condition and the trials of another may call world, though, by the way, it does not apfor the exercise of different qualities, for the pear that more than one member of the performance of different duties, but the areopagus was converted. In Rome, soine same personal holiness is enjcined on all. of the apostle's earliest converts belonged to External acts of virtue may be promoted the imperial palace. It was to the metroby some circumstances, and impeded by polis of cultivated Italy, it was to the 'reothers, but the graces of inward piety are of gions of Achaia,' to the opulent and luxuriuniversal force, are of eternal obligation, ous city of Corinth, in preference to the
The universality of its requisitions is one barbarous countries of the uncivilized of its most distinguishing characteristics. In world, that some of his first epistles were the pagan world it seenied suflicient that a addressed. few exalted spirits, a few five geniuses Even natural religion was little understood should soar to a vast superiority above the by those who professed it; it was full of comass; but it was never expected that the scurity till viewed by the clear light of the mob of Rome or Athens, should aspire to Gospel. Not only natural religion remand any religious sentiments or feelings in com- to be clearly comprehended, but reason itmon with Socrates or Epictetus. I say re- self remained to be carried to its highest pitch ligious sentiments, because in matters of in the countries where Revelation is professe taste the distinctions were less striking, for ed. Natural Religion could not see itselt by the mob of Athens were competent critics its own light, Reason could not extricate it. in the dramatic art, while they were sunk self from the labyrinth of error and ignoin the most stupid and degrading idolatry, rance in which false religion had involved the As to those of a higher class, while no sub- world, Grace has raised Nature, Rerciaject in science, arts or learning was too lofty tion has given a lift to Reason, and taught her or too abstruse tor their acquisition, no ob- to despise the follies and corruptions which ject in nature was too low, no conception of obscured her brightness, If nature is nos a depraved imagination was too impure for delivered from darkness, it was the helping their worship. While the civil and politi- hand of Revelation which raise her fros cal wisdom of the Romans was carried the rubbish in which she lay buried. to such perfection that their code of lawsi Christianity has not only given us right has still a place in the most enlightened conceptions of God, of his holiness, of the countries, their deplorably gross supersti- way in which he will be worshipped ; it has not only given us principles to promote our frame of society would be cemented and happiness here, and to insure it hereafter ; consolidated into one indissoluble bond of but it has really taught us what a proud phi- universal brotherhood. This divinely enlosophy arrogates to itself, the right use of acted law is the seminal principle of justice, reason. It has given us those principles of charity, patience, forbearance, in short, of examining and judging, by which we are en- all social virtue. That it does not produce abled to determine on the absurdity of false these excellent eilects, is not owing to any religions. For to what else can it be ascri- defect in the principle, but in our corrupt bed,' says the sagacious bishop Sherlock, nature, which so reluctantly, so imperfectly
that in every nation that names the name obeys it. If it were conscientiously adopted, of Christ, even reason and nature see and and substantially acted upon, received in condemn the follies, to which others are its very spirit, and obeyed from the ground still, for want of the same help, held in sub- of the heart, human laws might be abrogajection ?
ted, courts of justice abolished, and treaties Allowing however that Plato and Anto- of morality burnt ; war would be no longer nius seemed to have been taught of heaven, an art, nor military tactics a science. We yet the object for which we contend is, that should suffer long and be kind, and so far no provision was made for the vulgar. from .seeking that which is another's,' we While a feint ray shone on the page of should not even 'seek our own.' philosophy, the people were involved in But let not the soldier or the lawyer be darkness which might be felt. The million alarmed. - Their craft is in no danger. The were left to live without knowledge, and to world does not intend to act upon the divine die without hope. For what knowiedge or principle which would injure their profeswhat hope would be acquired from the pre- sions; and till this only revolution which posterous, though amusing, and in many good men desire actually takes place, our respects elegant mythology, which they fortunes will not be secure without the exmight pick up in their poets, the belief ertions of the one, nor our lives without the of which seemed to be contined to the popu- protection of the other. lace.
All the virtues have their appropriate place But there was no common principle of and rank in Scripture. They are introduhope or fear, of faith or practice ; no motive ced as individually beautifully and as reciof consolation, no bond of charity, no com- procally connected, like the graces in the munion of everlasting interest, no reversion- mythologic dance. But perhaps no Chrisary equality between the wise and the igno- tian grace ever sat to the hand of a more rant, the master and the slave, the Greek consummate master than Charity. Her inand the barbarian.
coniparable painter, St. Paul, has drawn A religion was wanted which should be of her at full length in all her fair proportions. general application. Christianiiy happily Every attitude is full of grace, every lineaaccommodated itself to the common exi- ment of beauty. The whole delineation is gences. It furnished an adequate supply to perfect and entire, wanting nothing the universal want. Instead of perpetual Who can look at this finished piece withbut unexpiating sacrifices to appease imagi- out blushing at his own want of likeness to nary deities,
it? Yet if this conscious dissimilitude in
duce a cordial desire of resemblance, the Gods, such as guilt makes welcome,
humiliation will be salutary. Perhaps a it presents .one oblation once offered, a full, more frequent contemplation of this exquiperfect, and sufficient sacrifice, oblation and site figure, accompanied with earnest ensatisfaction for the sins of the whole world.' deavours for a growing resemblance, would It presents one consistent scheme of morals gradually lead us, not barely to admire the growing out of one uniform system of doc- portrait, but would at length assimilate us trines; one perfect rule of practice, de- to the divine original. pending on one principal of faith ; it offers grace to direct the one and to assist the other. It encircles the whole sphere of duty with the broad and golden zone of coalescing charity, stamped with the inscrip
CHAP. X. tion a new commandinent give I unto you, that you love one another. Christianity,
Christian Holiness. instead of destroying the distinctions of rank, or breaking in on the regulations of society, / CHRISTIANITY then, as we have attempby this universal precept, furnishes newted to show in the preceding chapter, exfences to its order, additional security tohibits no different standards of goodness apits repose, and fresh strength to its subor-plicable to different stations or characters. dinations.
No one can be allowed to rest in a low deWere this command, so inevitably produc-gree, and plead his exemption for aiming tive of that peculiarly Christian injunction no higher. No one can be secure in any of doing to others as we would they should state of piety below that state which do unto us,' uniformly observed, the whole I would not have been enjoined on all, had