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taught by the same Divine authority, how to secure the one and to avoid the other. The sublime simplicity of the Christian morality, though in the highest degree characteristic of its sacred original, is probably the reason why it is so frequently disregarded or undervalued. Did mankind consist of nothing but philosophers, whose lives were passed in ease and opulence, in contemplative retirement, or in splendid and honourable activity, we might perhaps have expected to have found amongst the precepts of the Gospel, some of a different kind from those which we there meet with; some rules of conduct in cases which then might be common, though now they are of rare occurrence. But even then, I doubt whether the maxims of Jesus, if pursued to their legitimate consequences, would not be found amply sufficient for the regulation of human beings, in any circumstances in which they could be placed. But when we consider what the bulk of mankind always must be, in point of intellectual acquirements, what the nature of their occupations, and what the relations which they have with each other; and when we reflect that the Gospel was preached especially to the poor, doubtless, because under that description so large a por

tion of mankind is included, and because religion, which is equally the concern of all, must, to be beneficial, be rendered intelligible to all; we shall be little inclined to wonder at the plain but comprehensive character of the morality upon which, (so far as depends upon ourselves,) no less than our eternal salvation is at issue. But on the contrary, we shall recognize with sincere conviction, the Divine mind of our Lord, in that vigorous compression, with which, after having upon various occasions laid down so many admirable rules for our conduct, he summed them all up in those two great commandments, the love of God and of our neighbour; thereby establishing for ever a code of virtue, which, "he that runs may read,"-which the simplest can hardly misunderstand, and the wisest will vainly endeavour to improve.

If this be (as it evidently is,) the prominent feature of the Gospel-if addressing itself especially to the poor-and offering them heaven as the reward of those humble virtues, which their condition and circumstances would enable them to practise—if speaking occasionally to the rich, and teaching them to enter into life by keeping the command

ments-if professing itself: to be a religion calculated for, and ultimately destined to embrace all mankind in its observance-if, notwithstanding all this, it did nevertheless promulge doctrines as essential to salvation, which neither the poor nor the rich could at all comprehend-if, representing this life as a state of probation, it held out nothing by which we could be tried, seeing that the doom of all men had been irrevocably fixed from all eternity-if, offering salvation to all, upon certain conditions, it still mocked the hopes of the great majority, by assuring them that their fate would depend upon a previous and absolute election, not to be reversed by any efforts of their own-if, indeed, the volume of Revelation did contain all these palpable and grievous contradictions, must we not, however, reluctantly conclude, that it was utterly useless to us, from being utterly unintelligible? But, that it is the very reverse of all this, a simple and practical rule of life, level to the capacities of all, and equally and universally beneficial, I cannot but consider to be one of the clearest proofs of its Divine original.

But there are those, who, admitting this,

still seem to think that too much importance may be attached to the moral precepts of the Gospel: who, excellent as they are, imagine that the light of nature might have dictated some of them; who find in the writers of Pagan antiquity splendid maxims of virtue, and in their lives some instances of its practice; who, jealous of the mysteries of Christianity, which it is far from my intention to deny or to depreciate, assign them altogether a predominant place in their religious system. But to this opinion I can by no means accede. With every allowance for heathen virtue, both in speculation and practice, I must still think that the morality which Jesus taught as a whole, is not only pure, but original and Divine. Looking through all history, what traces can we find that the light of nature and the efforts of human reason are sufficient to make any approach to it? What vice can be named, however repugnant to our moral sense, when aided by Revelation, which has not been openly, and it should seem unconsciously, practised in countries highly civilized in many respects, both in ancient and modern times? Look to the horrible incests, adulteries, and murders, which so long prevailed,

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and probably still in some degree prevail, amongst the Persians1 and other eastern nations! Look to the notions of revenge and suicide, which pervaded all heathen antiquity -not to mention the licentious spirit of Mahometanism, which still overspreads so large a portion of the earth; or the aspect which human nature, in the savage state, still presents wherever it is so found! It is not that vices of all kinds are not much too frequently perpetrated amongst Christians, but that they are against Christianity, and are generally abhorred and punished; whereas, under every other religious system, many of them are publicly tolerated or admired.

But let those who think we can estimate too highly the value of Christian morals, who imagine them to be too obvious to escape the discovery of enlightened men, who conceive their promulgation to be a matter hardly of moment enough to require the especial interposition of the Deity-consider what mankind would be, were they universally obeyed, and what the Christian world is, even under their very limited observance. It will be time


See Prideaux's Connection passim.

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