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the firm and practical belief of it! If it is false, they still are in as good a condition as the unbeliever. The man, therefore, who refuses assent to this great tenet is, in the most favourable view of his case, no gainer ; and, supposing the more reasonable alternative, that he has wilfully or superciliously rejected the truth, he is undone for ever. Who, then, that possesses a sound understanding, would hazard his soul, by choosing, of the two probabilities, that which is the more unsafe? Judgment, reason, and prudence, are all on the affirmative side of the question,-yielding numberless pleasures, fervent hopes, and glad expectations, through life,—and securing, when life ends, a calm and holy dissolution. An assent to the negative side generally sinks men into debauchery and intemperance, and hurries them to the grave in the prime and flower of their age. And if it proves, at last, that they have deceived themselves, whither, O whither can they flee, to escape the vengeance of their Almighty Judge! What tongue can declare, what imagination can conceive, the shame and horror, the pain and confusion, with which they will be overwhelmed! Where is the rock that can hide them? Where is the mountain that can cover them? No reserve will avail them,- no evasion can be resorted to. There will be no mirth to allevi- . ate their condemnation ; every thing cheerful and enlivening will, for ever, be withdrawn :--they will be consigned to eternal chains and darkness, and heart-corroding woe.
Be it our care to follow after godliness, in the faith of Jesus Christ, assured as we are, that “ when the earthly tabernacle of our frail body is dissolved, we have a house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens."
Let us bless our heavenly Father for revealing to us his will, and providing for us a remedy against sin and perdition. Let us adore our glorious Redeemer, for bringing to light the soul-refreshing assurance of life and immortality. Let us profit by the aids of the Divine Spirit, that our hearts and consciences may be pure, our lives holy, and our final reward certain.
JOHN xi. 33.
When Jesus therefore saw her weeping, and the Jews also
weeping which came with her, he groaned in the spirit, and was troubled.
Religion and the human affections are mutually related ; and they presuppose each other. Without religion, there can be no well-guided affection ; and without the affections, it is obvious that there can be no religion. The manner in which they reciprocally act, is one of the best evidences of God's wisdom and goodness, and opens a wide field of meditation, by which every man living may improve himself in the highest and most valuable of all knowledge.
When the Almighty had finished his work of creation, “ he saw every thing that he had made ; and, behold, it was very good.”
In the survey, therefore, of human nature, as well as in that of the material world, we find, upon careful examination, that every thing is adapted to some good purpose,
and is perfect in its kind. As a skilful anatomist can point out in our bodies the use of every joint, and muscle, and nerve, and prove
it to be the most suitable that could have been planned for the ends to which it is designed ; so he that carefully and judiciously analyzes the mind, by distinctly examining the use and tendency of every affection and passion, must pronounce every part not only to be good in its final purpose,
but also to be the work of most extensive knowledge, and of Almighty Power.
The wisdom of God in the structure of the human mind becomes more conspicuous, the more closely and distinctly it is examined. All the faculties, and all the workings of thought, and sentiment, and imagination, are so many separate proofs of this truth. I shall confine myself, at present, to the consideration of that feeling to which the words of the text relate, and which is termed pity, or compassion. That there is such a quality in the mind, no one can be so rash as to deny. Many, however, have attempted to extinguish it ;---many, indeed, have extinguished it in themselves,—though they have not been able to repress it in others, because nature itself recoils against them, ---nature in its unsophisticated and genuine state. Many have laboured, by perplexity of argument to refine it away ; but they never have succeeded. To rectify any mistake respecting it, and to enforce and regulate its operations, is an endeavour both rational and useful, and is particularly incumbent on every Christian. I purpose, therefore,
First. To examine it as it is in itself,
Secondly. To consider the abuses of it, either by excess or defect,—and
Thirdly. To propose such a regulation of it, that it may be truly a Christian virtue.
First. If we examine the sentiment of compassion as it is in itself, we shall, at the same time, be led to a knowledge of the wise ends for which it was implanted in us by our benevolent Creator. The readiest and most convincing method of doing this, is, to shew how it existed, and how it was exercised, in Him who is the pattern of all perfection--in the Son of God, who took upon him the nature of man, and who was, in all points, “made like unto his brethren,” though without imperfection and without sin.
And here it will be sufficient to assert, as a general observation, that the life of Christ was marked throughout with meekness, gentleness, and compassion. His very character, indeed, of the Saviour, is a presumption of it. The Prophets describe him as pre-eminently distinguished by these qualities. His miracles of love and mercy are a continuous proof of it. Even his cheerfulness partook largely of the pathetic ; and he seldom appeared at a feast or an entertainment, at which he did not, by some memorable instance, prove that he sympathized in the afflictions and sufferings of mankind, and that he was ever prompt to relieve them.
The chapter from which my text is taken, informs