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“ horreinus ignota: naturalis præterea tene“ brarum metus est, in quas adductura mors s6 creditur*.”
Now when a Sceptic is so pressed by unquestionable and incontrovertible evidence, as to be forced to admit, that all the beforementioned great and amazing changes in the minds and conduct of the human species have been effected by the operation of a new set of doctrines divulged to the world, and that he is compelled to admit, that in these doctrines every thing suggested by human philosophy which was beneficial to man has been retained, and every thing in it false and injurious to the happiness of man has been rejected and discarded; that these doctrines have established temporal and eternal felicity on a basis never before taught, founding it on charity and universal benevolence to man, on internal holiness, on an ardent and sincere love of God, and in a joyful expectation of an immortal and everlasting happiness; instead of its being placed in a vain-glorious knowledge, in obeying the dictates of a conceited, arrogant, impracticable philosophy, in a cruel, unfeeling ambition of
* Sen. Epist. lxxxii.
conquest, and in an ostentatious display of a piety, in which the heart had no concern, and which consisted merely in pompous
lustrations, and gaudy and expensive sacrifices : when this Sceptic likewise reflects, that these doctrines, by their native virtue and energy, have abolished that idolatry, superstition, and bigotry, which were so much the disgrace of humanity, and so productive of its essential misery; is it possible for him to imagine or suppose all this knowledge could be imparted, and all this change effected in the huinan mind, merely by the son of a carpenter? It is impossible, I think, for any man in his right senses to do so.
This high knowledge, this sublime information, was divulged to the human race by the Son of God; these great and beneficial changes were wrought in the minds of men by him; and the man who ascribes either the one or the other to the operation of a mere mortal, as far as he can, by so doing, dishonours the Son of God, robs him of his glory, and subjects himself to this awful and tremendous denunciation of our Redeemer, and which he expressly says he shall pass on those who deny him ; “ He that denieth me before men, “ shall be denied before the angels of God.”
A fearful and awful judgment, well worthy the serious and solemn consideration of the ungrateful and inconsiderate Sceptic.
Another peculiarity in the doctrines of our blessed Saviour is, that they not only corrected the errors of philosophers with respect to the nature of true wisdom, but they equally corrected those of kings and statesmen with regard to that of genuine ambition. The heathen world was entirely ignorant of the nature of true ambition, or of the utmost possible excellency to which the human species is permitted to aspire. Before the promulgation of the Gospel, the object of human ambition was almost universally agreed by kings and princes to consist in worldly splendor, in conquest, and martial glory; the pursuit of which, if it did not militate against the honour and mercy of God, it certainly did against the happiness of man. The Gospel of Jesus Christ corrects these false ideas, and evinces its heavenly nature and extraction by its sublime intelligence; and, by the way in which it defines ambition, it informs us, that its proper object is indeed a superior station, but not one merely of a temporary, but of an eternal and everlasting nature; a superior
station not in this life, but in another and a better : it acquaints us, that it consists with respect to this life in the promotion, not in the destruction, of the welfare of mankind. Instead of assigning the post of honour to the man of warlike achievements, the mild and merciful doctrines of the religion of Christ assign it to those who excel in piety and benevolence; to those who love the Lord their God with all their heart, and their neighbour as themselves : they assign it to those men who promote peace, who avoid every species of oppression, who visit the fatherless and widows in their affliction, who relieve the distressed, who feed the hungry, clothe the naked, and cultivate in their breasts universal love and good-will to the human species. Thus as God was pleased, by the Mosaic dispensation, to correct the false ideas of the world with regard to theology ; our Saviour, in his Gospel, has been pleased to correct its false ideas with respect to true glory: and as, by the Mosaic revelation, man was informed of the excellency of his nature by the intelligence, that he was created in the image of God; by the Gospel he is informed to what end and object that excellency may aspire ; no less than to an endeavour to be “ perfect as God is per
“ fect," that is, in this life to imitate him in such of his attributes as are imitable, and to the attainment of glory, honour, and immortality in the one to come.
This Scriptural idea of ambition is heavenly and sublime; by a sincere endeavour to love, honour, and obey God, and to promote the welfare of man, its object is the aspiring to the favour of God on the most just and solid grounds. In this ambition the noblest end is pursued by the noblest means; in it there is neither vanity, vexation, .nor disappointment, which cannot justly be said of any other; indeed it may be truly affirmed, that all other ambition, when compared with this, is vain and frivolous, temporary and perishable; and is neither the proper object, nor worthy the dignity of man's nature, to set his heart on. The warrior and statesman will both be of this opinion respecting the nature of ambition on their death-bed, however their minds, in the ardour of health and youth, may be deceived and infatuated by the false glare of worldly glory; of the real emptiness of which the miserable end of the two greatest heroes we read of in history, and who so remarkably pursued it, is a just illustration. Alexander the Great, instead of ruling with justice and mercy in