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neighbour (meaning all mankind) as ourselves.” “Love worketh no ill to his neighbour." Therefore, if you have true benevolence, you will never do any thing injurious to individuals, or to society. Now, all crimes whatever. are (in their remote consequences, at least, if not immediately and apparently) injurious to the society in which
4. It is impossible to love Gon, without desiring to please him, and, as far as we are able, to resemble him ; therefore, the love of God must lead to every virtue in the highest degree. We may be sure, we do not truly love him, if we content ourselves with avoiding flagrant sins, and do not strive, in good earnest, to reach the greatest degree of perfection of which we are capable. Thus do these few words direct us to the highest Christian virtue. Indeed, the whole tenor of the gospel is to offer us every help, direction and motive, that can enable us to attain that degrec of perfection on which depends our eternal good.
CHAPTER XCVI. OF THE EXAMPLE SET BY OUR SAVIOUR, AND HIS
CHARACTER. 1. WHAT an example is set before us in our blessed Master? How is his whole life, from earliest youth, dedicated to the pursuit of true wisdom, and to the practice of the most exalted virtue! When you see him at twelve years of age, in the temple amongst the doctors, hearing them, and
asking them questions on the subject of religion, and astonishing them all with his understanding and answers, you will say, perhaps, “ Well might the Son of GOD, even at those years, be far wiser than the aged; but can a mortal child emulate such heuvenly wisdom? Can such a pattern be proposed to my imitation »
2. Yes, certainly ; remember that he has bequeathed to you his heavenly wisdom, as far as it concerns your own good. He has left you such declarations of his will, and of the consequences of your actions, as you are, even now, fully able to understand, if you will only attend to them. If, then, you will imitate his zeal for knowledge, if you will delight in gaining information and improvement, you may now become a wise unto salvation"
3. Unmoved by the praise he acquired amongst these learned men, you see him meekly return to the subjection of a child, under those who appeared to be his parents, though in reality he was their LORD. You see him return to live with them, to work for then, and to be the joy and solace of their lives; till the time came when he was to enter on the scene of public action, for which his heavenly Father had sent him from his right hand, to take upon him the form of a poor carpenter's son.
4. What a lesson of humility is this, and of obedience to parents! When, having received the glorious testimony from heaven, of his being the beloved Son of the Most High, he enters on his public ministry, what an example does he give us, of the most extensive and constant benevolence ! How are all his hours spent in doing good to the souls and bodies of men ! The meanest sinner is not beneath his notice. To reclaim and save them, he condescends to converse familiarly with the most corrupt, as well as the most abject.
5. All his miracles are wrought to benefit mankind 3 not one to punish and afflict them. Instead of using the almighty power, which accompanied him, to the purpose of exalting himself, and treading down his enemies, he makes no other use of it, than to heal and to save. When you read his sufferings and death, the ignominy and reproach, the sorrow of mind and torment of body to which he submitted ; when we consider that it was all for our sakes, “that by his stripes we are healed,” and by his death we are raised froın destruction to everlasting life ; what can be said, that can add any thing to the sensations you must then feel?
6. No power of language can make the scene more touching than it appears in the plain and simple narrations of the evangelists. The heart that is unmoved by it, can be scarcely buman; but the emotions of tenderness and compunction, which almost every one feels in reading this account, will be of no avail, unless applied to the true end-unless it inspires you with a sincere and warm affection towards our blessed LORD ; with a firm resolution to obey his command; to be his faithful disciples; and even to renounce and to abhor those sins which brought mankind under divine condemnation, and from which we have been redeemed at so dear a rate.
7. As our motives to virtue are stronger than those which are afforded to the rest of mankind, our guilt will be proportionably greater, if we depart from it. Our Saviour appears to have had three great purposes, in de scending from his glory, and dwelling amongst men. The first, to teach them true virtue, both by his example and precepts. The second, to give them the most forcibla inotives to the practice of it, by “bringing life and immortality to light ;" by shewing them the certainty of a res. urrection and judgement, and the absolute necessity of obedience to the laws of God. The third, to sacrifice himself for us, to obtain, by his death, the remission of our sins, upon our repentance and reformation, and the
of bestowing on his sincere followers the inestimable gift of immortal happiness.
CHARACTER OF ST. PAUL. 1. THE character of St. Paul, and his miraculous con. version, demand your particular attention. Most of the apostles were men of low birth and education ; but St. Paul was a Roman citizen, that is, he possessed the privi. leges annexed to the freedom of the city of Rome, which was considered as a high distinction, in those countries that had been conquered by the Romans.
2. He was educated among the most learned gect of the Jews, and by one of their principal doctors. He was a man of extraordinary eloquence, as appears not only in his writings, but in several speeches in his own defence, pronounced before governors and courts of justice, when he was called to account for the doctrines he taught.
3. He seems to have been of an uncommonly warm temper, and zealous in whatever religion he professed ; this zeal, before his conversion, shewed itself in the most unjustifiable actions, by furiousig persecuting the inno cent Christians ; though his actions were bad, we may be sure his intentions were good ; otherwise we should not have seen a miracle employed to convince him of his enistake, and to bring him into the right way.
4. This example may assure us of the mercy of God towards mistaken consciences, and ought to inspire us with the most enlarged charity and good will towards those whose erroneous principles mislead their conduct. Instead of resentment and hatred against their persons, we ought only to feel an active wish of assisting them to find the truth; since we know not whether, if convinced, they might not prove like St. Paul, chosen vessels to promote the honour of God, and of true religion. . The remarkable conversion of St. Paul is one of the strongest arguments of the truth of Christianity.
CHAPTER XCVIII OF THE EPISTLES - Candor and Benevolence. 1. THE Epistles make a very important part of the New Testament. You cannot be too much employed in reading them. They contain the most excellent precepts and admonitions, and are peculiarly useful in explainirg more at large several doctrines of Christianity, which we could not fully understand without them. There are, indeed, in the epistles of St Paul, many passages hard to be understood. Such, in particular, are the first eleven chapters to the Romans; the greater part of his Epistles to the Corinthians and Galatians; and several chapters of that to the Hebrews.
2. Instead of perplexing yourself with these more obscure passages of scripture, you would do better to em-., ploy your attention chiefly to those that are plain ; and to judge of the doctrines taught in the other parts, by comparing them with what you find in these. It is through the neglect of this rule, that many have been led to draw the most absurd doctrines from the holy scriptures.
3. Observe in particular in your perusal, the twelfth, thirteenth, fourteenth and fifteenth chapters of the Epistles
o the Romans. In the fourteenth chapter, St Paul has in view the difference between the Jewish and Gentile converts; the former were disposed to look with horror on the latter, for their impiety in not paying the same regard to the distinction of days and meats as they did; and the latter, on the contrary, were inclined to look with
contempt on the foriner for their weakness and superstition.
4 Excellent is the advice St. Paul gives to both parties. He exhort's the Jews not to judge, and the Gentiles not to despise; remembering, that the kingdom of heaven is not meat and drink, but righteousness, and pedice, and joy in the Holy Ghost: Endeavour to conform yourselves to this advice; to acquire a temper of universal candour and benevolence; and learn neither to despise nor condemnn any persons on account of their particular modes of faith and worship, Remember always, that goodness is confined to no party; that there are wise and worthy men among all sects of christians; and that, to his own master, every one must stund or fall,
5 Read those passages frequently, which, with so much fervor and energy, excite you to the praciice of the most exalted piety and benevo ence. If the effusions of a heart, warmed with the tenderest affection for the whole human race; it precept, warning, encouragement, example, urged by an eloquence, which such affection only could inspire, are capable of influencing your mind, you cannot fail to find, in such parts of his Epistles as are adapted to your understanding, the stronget persuasives to every virtue that can adorn and improve your nature,
THE FPISTLES OF ST. JAMES, ST. PETER, AND THE
FIRST OF ST. JOHN.-Faith in Christ, and the Love of God and Man.
1. THE Epistle of St. James is entirely practical, and exceedingly fine ; you cannot study it too much. It seems particularly designed to guard Christians against misunderstanding some things in St. Paul's writings, which have been fatally perverted to the encouragement of a dependence on faith alone, without good works.
2. But the more rational commentators will tell you, that, by the works of the law, which the Apostle asserts to be incapable of justifying us, he means not the works of moral righteousness, but the ceremonial works of the