« PoprzedniaDalej »
All the irascible passions are, in their excess, diabolical. They are the fruitful sources of mifery. They would unparadise the garden of Eden, and turn the chearful light of Heaven into gloomy darkness, like the shadow in the valley of death. There is in the world much natural evil; there are pains, and diseases enough, to wean the heart from the immoderate love of it; but none of them are productive of wretchedness so great and difficult of cure as the malignant passions of pride, envy, and revenge. These estrange man from man, and convert the haunts of human creatures into dens of foxes and wolves. Cheats, calumniators, robbers, murderers, in all their variety and degrees of flagitiousness, are characters naturally flowing from hearts unsoftened, unenlightened, unhallowed by the Spirit of Grace.
But behold the Chriftian. Gentleness and sweet nefs beam from his eyes, and illumine his countenance with a mild luftre. Good humour predominates in all his demeanour. He has no concealed rage rankling in his bosom ; he has no finister and selfish views, under a studied openness of countenance. He converses with a generous frankness. His bofom is transparent. You are perfectly safe with him. He will serve you, if possible, as well as please you ; but he will never injure you purposely, or give you the smallest pain. He feels complacency in all the good he fees around him, and delights in augmenting it. His treasure is within him. His interest is in Heaven. His ambition is for objects above the world; fo that nothing in it is of value enough, in his estimation, to tempt him to resign the tranquillity of innocence, to renounce the pleasures of a friendly and benevolent difpofition. He has all the ingenuous fimplicity of the infantine age, and
you delight in him, as in the harmless babe, who sports around you, and expresses his pains and pleasures according to the dictates of uncorrupted
Such is man, when his natural asperities are smoothed, and his inborn bitterness sweetened by the benign operation of celestial influence. Compared with the mere natural man, he is an angel. Is it not desirable thus to raise human nature, and thus to improve society; thus to render the earthly existence almost an anticipation of what our imperfect imaginations picture of the heavenly ? Heathen philosophy cannot effect it. Heathen philosophy is confined to a few, in comparison with the myriads that compose the great mass of human beings; who weary themselves in pursuit of happiness on this terraqueous globe. The experiment has been tried by the philosophers of all ages, and failed. But religion can effect it. Yet what religion? A religion founded on historical faith, and heathen morality? No; it must be a vital religion-a divine influence on the heart, which is plainly promised and announced in the glad tidings of the gospel. This is the true euangelion, or GOOD NEWS t, to the human race.
It is authen
* GOODNESS is, in fcripture, a characteristic quality of the third Person of the Trinity:-Power; WISDOM, GOODNESS, these conftitute a glorious Trinity, whether called a Platonic or a Christian Trinity. Can there be harm in adoring power in God the Father, wisdom in God the Son, goodness in God the Holy Ghost; power, wisdom, and goodness combined in the Tri-une Deity, equally the objects of love and reverence to man, whether acting conjunctly or separately in his creation, his redemption, or his sanctification.
+ What News was it to mankind to tell them what Pythagoras, Socrates, Epictetus, Cicero, and many others, had told them be. fore the expediency of moral virtue, justice, temperance, fortitude, all which are often most conducive to worldly prosperity. The glad ridings were the announcing the comfort and affittance of the Holy
Ghoft, Ghost, redemption, pardon, peace, and the resurrection. This was an euangelion or acceptable message brought from heaven by him who had the SPIRIT WITHOUT MEASURE (1). Except your rigbt. eousness exceed the righteousness of the Scribes and Pharisees, ye shall in NO CASE enter into the kingdom of Heaven. Matth. v. 20. But the righteousness (or morality) of the heathens was that of the Scribes and Pharisees. It was the righteousness of the law, not of the gospel.
authenticated by the written gospel, and there is a witness within us which renders it unquestionable. Happy' they who have obeyed the voice which commands, saying, “ My son, give me thy HEART
* !” When the heart is devoted to Christ, the understanding will make no resistance to his doctrines, but humbly acknowledge the most inexplicable mysteries to be above, yet not contrary to, reason t.
On the superior Morality of the Christian Philosophy.
HE operation of divine grace being no other
than the melioration of our hearts, the purifying of the very fountain of our actions, it must of necessity lead to the practice of virtue, or, in the language of scripture, to GOOD WORKS. It is a gross calumny to say that the true doctrine of
* Proverbs, xxiii. 26. + “ This man best understands the secret and undiscernable æco. nomy; he FEELS this unintelligible mystery, and sees with his
HEART what his tongue can never express, and his metaphysics can 66 never prove."
Bishop TAYLOR. (1) John, iii. 34.
* is unfavourable to morality. It inevitably produces every thing that is lovely and useful in focial intercourse. The Holy Spirit's residence in the heart is inconsistent with vice and malevolence. It requires, indispensably, both personal purity and social e: and they who endeavour to obtain it, must begin and persevere in the practice of every
moral virtue. The love of God and of mankind are the two main springs which actuate every Christian, who is regenerated by grace.
The love of God was not enforced by heathen philosophy. The love of man was indeed frequently, though feebly, recommended; but at the same time, many difpofitions of mind were held honourable, and worthy of cultivation, which are often inconsistent with the love of man. Such are valour in offensive war, revenge, love of glory, and of conquest.
The love of God must have the most favourable influence on moral conduct; for no obedience is fo perfect as that which arises from affection. It is the alert, cordial, fincere obedience of a dutiful child to a tender parent. It anticipates his will, and is desirous, in its honeft zeal to pleafe, of going even beyond the line prescribed by parental authority.
And what is the love of God, but the love of goodness, purity, rectitude ? Love not only admires, but endeavours to imitate, the object of its affection. The love of God, therefore, produces
* “ There is, indeed," says Dr. Owen, " a great plea (or out « cry among the opponents of our doctrine) for MOR AL VIRTUE. « I wish it were more out of love to virtue itself, than out of a design “ to caft contempt on the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, as it is « delivered by the faithful dispensers of it.".
a conduct as godlike as the condition of infirm humanity can admit. Hence St. John fays, very strongly and truly, “ This is the Love of God, “ that we keep his commandments *.” It is a natural and unavoidable consequence of loving the fupreme perfection, that we imitate the qualities in which it consists-purity, justice, mercy, every thing that we can conceive of perfect goodness and beauty. Such is the first hinge of Christian morality.
And the second resembles it, in its benign effects on human nature, and the state of society.
It is the love of our fellow-creatures; not merely FRIENDSHIP, which is often founded only on petty interest and mutual amusement; but universal philanthropy, extending even to enemies. Every man under the operation of this liberal affection, is considered and cherifhed as a FRIEND and neighbour. We are taught by it to love others as ourfelves, and to do to them as we wilh they should do to us.
This extensive law of love is peculiar to our law-giver, the blessed Jefus. He calls it a new commandment. He makes it the distinguishing characteristic of the gospel. He proposes his own example, to enforce obedience to it. 66 This is
my commandment,” says he, « that ye love one another as I have loved you t."
But neither the love of God nor the love of man will exist in our hearts, in a due degree of ardour or fincerity, without the divine influence [.
1 John, v. 3. + John, xv. 12. I“ There is notbing that so sanétifies the heart, that keeps us in a such habitual love, prayer, and delight in God; nothing that so “ kills all the roots of evil in our nature ; that fo renews and perfects « all our virtues; that fills us with so much love, goodness, and “ good wishes to every creature, as this faith, that God is always “ present in us, with his light and Holy Spirit.”