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religious character, they were full of conceit of their own superior goodness, and of contempt for every other human being. But the same temper, with some slight modifications, which occasionally diversify its aspect, is still the governing disposition of the heart. I hope, however, the discussion of the topic included in this beatitude, will be sanctified to make us meek, mild, and compassionate ; that we may, at length, realize the infinite good which it promises to such individuals. “ Blessed are the merciful, for they shall obtain mercy.”

My brethren, in the course of my ministerial labours among you, I have had occasion frequently to observe, that the religion which Christianity distinctly inculcates is practical in its nature, and holy in its tendency. We have just as much real and scriptural piety, as we have of the love and fear of God, in our heart, and no more. The repetition of this sentiment cannot be deemed unnecessary, for on all the vital truths of the gospel we need " line upon line, and precept upon precept." The heart of man is prone to presume where it has no right to presume, and to take the liberty, from the fulness of Christian privilege, to neglect the perceptive part of inspired truth. It is, however, the happy and lovely union of your duties with your mercies that I would recommend, as the most scriptural and effectual method of having “your fruit unto holiness, and the end everlasting life.”

The disposition mentioned in the text is another of the divine tempers, which always adorns the religion of the Lord Jesus Christ wherever it is visible. And that I may present it fully to your view, I propose,


May the Father of mercies condescend to assist our meditation on these particulars, and make them profitable to our hearts.


This is easily illustrated, and a few words will be sufficient to define it. Observe, therefore, that it is a compassionate temper of soul, which inclines us most tenderly to pity the wretched and needy, and prompts us to send them relief as far as we can.

This seems to be the meaning of the Apostle, in the emphatic exhortation ;–“ Put on, therefore, as the elect of God, holy and beloved, bowels of mercy;"* that is, be clothed with a tender and sympathizing spirit, apt to be affected with another's woes, and ready to show them mercy in their distresses. If you faithfully obey this injunction, it will make you fruitful in plans of beneficence, and active in their execution. A man of a compassionate spirit will not always tarry till the tale of sorrow is brought to his ear, or the pitiable sufferer meets his eye as he walks abroad. No; he will go in search of the bed of pain—the house of mourning. He will visit the spot of retiring and uncomplaining grief, there to share the burden of affliction with the patient sufferer. He will weep with them that weep, and rejoice with them that rejoice.

Of this blessed and benignant disposition, let us remark two things. The first is, that it has regard to the misery of man; that misery which may be included under the general term, affliction, brought upon him as the fruit of sin. “To him that is afflicted, pity should be shown from his friend,”+ is the inculcated maxim of Christian philanthropy. Again, “ Pure religion and undefiled before God and the Father is this, to visit the fatherless and

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widows in their affliction, and to keep himself unspotted from the world."* Of the same kind is the strong animadversion of St. John-“But whoso hath this world's goods, and seeth his brother have need, and shutteth up his bowels of compassion from him, how dwelleth the love of God in him?”+ The multiplied and accumulated distresses of our fellow creatures, constantly require the exercise of this tenderness. I may mention the time of sickness ; the day of poverty and need; the period of bereavement and separation; all of which are occasions for the display of this lovely virtue. Oh! how beautiful, how exquisitely beautiful, is the picture of its exemplification in the case of Job. The breath of slander and calumny had compelled him to plead his own cause, and defend himself against the charge of cruelty. “Did not I weep for him that was in trouble? was not my soul grieved for the poor?"|

“When the ear heard me, then it blessed me; and when the eye saw me, it gave witness to me: because I delivered the poor that cried, and the fatherless, and him that had none to help him. The blessing of him that was ready to perish came upon me; and I caused the widow's heart to sing for joy. I put on righteousness, and it clothed me: my judgment was a robe and a diadem. I was eyes to the blind, and feet was I to the lame. I was a father to the poor: and the cause which I knew not I searched out.”'S To such a delineation nothing can be added, without disfiguring the scene.

Let us, therefore, remark, secondly, that Christian mercy has a special regard to the maladies of the soul. Spurious is that charity which pities the sorrows and relieves the necessities of the body, while the immortal—the undying spirit is left to perish in ignorance and guilt! Whatever

James i. 27. + 1 John iii. 17. Job xxx. 25. Job xxix. 11-16.

this compassion may be, it is not the compassion of Christ, who “came to seek and save the lost;" to weep over the impenitent and irreclaimable; and, finally, to become "obedient unto death, even the death of the cross,” for their salvation. A sinner, without a Saviour, is the most affecting object that Christian mercy can behold.

The man who has truly seen, and properly felt, his own danger, will cherish a tender concern for the everlasting interests of others. He believes their spirits capable of an endless existence; he reposes on the testimony of Scripture—that heaven is bliss; that hell is perdition: and the dismal spectacle of a soul, obviously without the balm of Gilead to heal its deeply festering wounds, is, of all objects, the most distressing to his heart. And shall we not strive to extend the healing remedy to such wounded spirits? Will you, my brethren, enjoy your religious privileges, and

fare sumptuously every day,” in this happy land of gospel liberty, without one merciful effort to relieve the thousands who, like Lazarus, morally considered, full of pain and disease, are lying at your gates, and craving a little of your abundance of the recovering blessing? Forbid it, prayers of David _“God be merciful unto us, and bless us; and cause his face to shine upon us: that thy way may be known upon the earth, thy saving health among all nations.”* Forbid it, tears of Jeremiah_“Oh that my head were waters, and mine eyes a fountain of tears, that I might weep day and night, for the slain of the daughter of my people !'+ Forbid it, spirit of Paul “For I could wish that myself were accursed from Christ for my brethren, my kinsmen according to the flesh.”! And, above every other consideration, forbid it, love of Christ, to which we owe our all, and which passeth knowledge in its heights, and depths, and lengths, and breadths.

+ Psalm lxri. 1, 2.

+ Jer. ix. 1.

Rom ix. 3.

Yes, we will have compassion on the ignorant, and on them that are out of the way.

My God, I feel the mournful scene ;
My bowels year o'er dying men;
And fain my pity would reclaim,
And snatch the firebrand from the flame.

" But feeble my compassion proves,

And can but weep where most it loves ;
Thine own all-saving arm employ,
And turn these drops of grief to joy."

Such is the province and spirit of Christian mercy.


Under this branch of my subject, enlargement is wholly unnecessary; the Scripture gives us all needful information on the point. Know, then, that this temper is a fruit of divine grace, and not a natural endowment of the mind. It is implanted by the spirit of God in the heart, and is cherished by a believing apprehension of the infinite love of Jehovah in the work of redemption. Nature has implanted in all creatures, rational and irrational, an instinctive tenderness towards their species, which is doubtless a wise ordination of Providence for their preservation and existence. We see much that resembles the generous benevolence of the text in many individuals of kind and humane affections towards the unhappy. But, alas! a large proportion of these, it is to be feared, can make a mock at sin, and even oppose the efforts which Christian mercy has devised to save men from everlasting ruin. Now, it is evident, that in such persons the spirit of Christ is wanting. Their conduct is like the case, hypothetically stated by St. Paul,—“And though I bestow all my goods to feed the poor, and though I give my body to be burned,

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