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human affairs, in which they would no longer be impracticable, and which they have a direct tendency to produce. But until this period shall arrive, we must be content to look upon many of them as rules placed far beyond our reach, which we must endeavour constantly to approach, without expecting to be able to attain. It will be necessary to give a few instances of his mode of teaching, in order to illustrate my meaning, and to shew its propriety. When he charged those who heard his Sermon on the Mount, to take no thought for the morrow; it is evident that the injunction could only be strictly obeyed by those who lived under his immediate protection— to others an attempt to observe it could only have led them into grievous errors, and involved them in the deepest distress. In like manner, his doctrine of forgiving enemies, though it can hardly in practice be carried too far by individuals, was nevertheless illustrated in a manner which it has never been thought by any sober-minded man, was intended to be literally adopted. Whosoever shall smite thee on thy right cheek, turn to him the other also-and if any man will sue thee at the law, and take away thy coat, let him have

thy cloak also. These precepts were undoubtedly designed to inculcate a mild and placable disposition; but by no means to encourage submission to personal violence, and much less to invite its repetition: or to justify the invasion of another's property, under the cover of a groundless legal proceeding. They and the rest of them were calculated to repress as much as possible all the evil propensities of the human heart, and to substitute for them kind affections and virtuous principles. Hence they were naturally and properly terminated by that striking exhortation, Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father, which is in heaven, is perfect. That is, advance yourselves as far as possible in holinessimitate to the utmost the example I shall set you-and obey my commandments in their greatest practicable extent. This is the only sense we can affix to the injunction of being perfect. The highest human virtue must still fall infinitely short of the Divine perfection. Upon another occasion our Saviour uses the same phrase, but in the same modified sense. To the young man who enquired what good thing he should do to have eternal life? and who professed that he had kept the com

mandments, he said-if thou wilt be perfect, go and sell that thou hast, and give to the poor, and thou shalt have treasure in heaven: and come and follow me. Here it is evident that he did not enjoin this extreme act of disinterestedness and benevolence, without the qualification, that in the event of its performance, the young man should become one of his immediate disciples. Nevertheless, he hesitated, for he had great possessions: which occasioned our Saviour to remark upon the difficulty which the rich would find in entering into the kingdom of heaven: at which even his disciples were so much amazed, that they exclaimed-who then can be saved?— They were unable to conceive, that human virtue could be carried to the extent which this injunction demanded.

It was natural that the Deity, when he thought fit to send his Son into the world to instruct mankind in the principles of true religion, should give them perfect rules of conduct, which his Son only could exemplify in his own person. And although it was not to be expected that the weakness of our nature could exactly follow such rules, or imitate so bright a pattern of excellence, yet they con

tributed materially to this great end, the foundation of Christianity itself. This could not be effected without that total change in the minds of all who embraced it, whether Jews or Gentiles, which was called repentance, or a complete alteration for the better in faith, in sentiments, and conduct. This, which could not be expected at once from the generality of mankind, was nevertheless attempted, and in some degree accomplished, by many eminent individuals, who left all for the sake of our Saviour and the Gospel. And after he had quitted the world, this principle was continued and acted upon by St. Paul and the other Apostles, and many illustrious martyrs to the truth in the first ages of the Church. Insomuch that it was laid down as a maxim by St. Paul and Barnabas in their preaching, that their converts must, through much tribulation, enter into the kingdom of God: that is, that they could not then become Christians without enduring hardships of various kinds-in suffering privations to which they were unaccustomed, in relinquishing vices to which they were much addicted, in practising virtues which cost them great sacrifices-above all, in undergoing the severest

persecutions, and even death itself, rather than abandon the religion which they had adopted. That all this greatly contributed to its establishment is certain. That it was even essentially necessary to its propagation, by those human means which the Almighty in his wisdom appointed for that purpose, is extremely probable. But with its final triumph in the world, a great alteration took place in this respect. The change in manners, habits, and principles, which suddenly was effected amongst the first converts to Christianity, was in its nature and extent unexampled in the history of mankind. If any man be in Christ, (said St. Paul to the Corinthians,) he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new: that is, (say the Commentators) "his former affection to the things of this world, and his former designs to promote his worldly interests, are ceased. He is become a new or quite different man in these respects, setting his affection on things above, and pursuing his spiritual advantage."

Certain it is, that much of that tribulation, through which the first Christians were obliged to enter the kingdom of God, no longer

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