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counteracting nature, we attempt to extinguish our sympathies, we never can effect it, till we have stupified our minds to a deplorable degree. Some, indeed, have taken pains to overcome these affections, as if they were a weakness and a disgrace ; yet few, if any, have ever been able to exclude them entirely from their hearts, though they may, for that purpose, affect to turn away their eyes, and close their ears, and shun the scenes and objects which, they know, would, in spite of their artificial care, excite and move them. Take a person of the most resolute and hardened temper :-shew him a scene of real distress ;--and it will, for the moment, rouse the natural sensibility of his bosom. He
indeed, hasten to escape from it ;-he may, for the sake of effacing its impression, hurry away to the resorts of pleasure or the employments of business ;-he may succeed in such attempts, till, by often repeating them, he has blunted every sensation of kindliness ; -but it cannot be doubted, after all, that such methods are altogether unnatural, inhuman, and unchristian.
A tender and pathetic story, a fabulous representation of misery and distress, can make an impression upon the phlegmatic hearts of men, can throw a gloom upon their countenances, and sometimes even extort their tears. How, then, does it happen, that we do not, in the general conduct of mankind, discover more of this compassionate temper? Why is it, that men are so frequently deaf to the wants, and regardless of the miseries that others are suffering around them? It is, because, instead of answering the calls, and fulfilling the dictates of their affections, they strive to suppress those affections. They betake themselves to amusements, to idle diversions, to any thing that can drive away the uneasiness of compassion, and suspend or banish the thought of it. We, therefore, usually find, that those persons who are the most immersed in pleasure or in business, have less feeling for others than those have, whose circumstances place them within the view of the poor and the afflicted.
Thirdly. There are certain remedies that, by obviating the defects of compassion, or preventing its excess, will make it highly ornamental to our reasonable nature, and fix it in the most lovely point of view as a Christian virtue.
The remedies, briefly, are these. We should consider the natural temperament of our hearts, as it really is in itself:--and this would teach us that we have within us a strong and tender affection towards others, which is ready to act, if we will but allow it. We should also consider the methods which reason apd duty prescribe for its exercise. We should not avoid the occasions that may present themselves to us. of exerting its influence. Enough of these will constantly occur, without our seeking. If we determine not to fly too hastily from them, they will affect us; and, when once we are affected, we may easily learn what is proper to be done. Let us follow our natural heart was always open to the soft and gentle impression of pity and benevolence. In this he was, morally speaking, the express image of his heavenly Father ; for the Almighty Godhead, abundant in all perfections, is represented to us as “ full of compassion and mercy.” “God is good, and doeth good.” He is as ready to assist and relieve his creatures, as a human father is to pity his own children.
STING OF DEATH.
1 CORINTHIANS xv. 55.
O death, where is thy sting? O grave, where is thy victory?
The certainty of a future state is the very life and soul of religion, and the clear discovery of it is the peculiar glory of the Christian revelation. That God has ensured such a state for man, is a proof not only of his heavenly wisdom, but of his goodness ;--of his wisdom, as providing rest and recompense from the toils and troubles of the present life, -and of bis goodness, in making that recompense not penurious but abundant, inasmuch as it is eternal. Man was formed with a capacity for higher and greater things than the present life affords ;-he has an understanding eager for great designs, and piercing forward from one degree of knowledge to another ;-he has desires and a craving after happiness, which nothing earthly can supply or satiate. That such a being, then, should be formed only to fill a small circle
of years at the utmost, and should afterward sink into nothing, is absurd even to imagine. His reason strongly suggests to him that he was designed for a longer duration ; and the goodness of God has declared him to be a candidate for eternity.
Man, when he came originally from the hands of his Almighty Creator, was perfect, according to his degree, and was sufficiently enabled to have supported his dignity. He was able to have avoided sin, and, therefore, was capable of being raised to immortality, without passing through the cold and gloomy region of the grave. But he transgressed and fell. He became the slave of sin, and, of course, the victim of death. That immortality, which was to have been the consequence of his unsinning obedience, was forfeited by disobedience, and gave place to corruption and the tomb.
The transgression of Adam affected all his posterity, and shortened their date of life. It not only contracted their life to a narrow period of “ few and evil days,” but it also made them the subjects of sin and destruction. But the mercy of God did not leave his creatures in so forlorn and abandoned a condition. He supported them, for a long time, with hopes and promises of deliverance,-and, at length, at the period prefixed by his own all-wise determinations, he sent his blessed Son to execute this important commission, and to free mankind from their thraldom. He, the Saviour of the world, appeared in human nature for this gracious purpose.