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“ Blessed are the poor in spirit; for theirs is the kingdom of heaven;" and again, “Whosoever exalteth himself shall be abased, and he that humbleth himself shall be exalted.” The heathen moralists, who prided themselves on the excellence and dignity of their nature, would have been at a loss to comprehend these say: ings. Such precepts are in fact directly opposed to their systems of philosophy. Yet what Christian is not aware that lowliness of mind and a broken spirit lie at the very root of moral excellence, and are useful beyond almost every other grace, in promoting the order and happiness of our species ?
Lastly, the charity enjoined upon us in the New Testament is very different from that arbitrary and uncertain benevolence, which is dictated by our natural feelings. Christian charity is indeed a virtue of heavenly birth and efficacy. It springs immediately from love for God; and having thus a right origin, it spreads towards the whole family of man, embraces enemies as well as friends, extends to thoughts as well as actions, and is steadily directed to the spiritual as well as temporal good of our neighbour. Were that second great commandment, “Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself," allowed to take the range assigned to it in the gospel, it would soon put an end to all malice, oppression, and bloodshed, and would convert this contentious world into one unvarying scene of harmony and peace.
In drawing a comparison between the ethics of the ancient philosophers, and the moral law contained in Scripture, we again address ourselves to the scholar. But in making our appeal to the man who reads his Bible only, we may inquire of him whether that law does not meet the best feelings of his mind, and coincide in all its parts with the decisions of his conscience; whether it is not marvellously clear and comprehensive; whether he does not find it, under the influence of the Holy Spirit, a safe guide in all the exigencies of life, and lastly, whether he is not happy and at rest, precisely in the degree in which he conforms himself to its rules. If he be a person of integrity and reflection, he will be sure to answer these questions in the affirmative; and in doing so, he will furnish himself and others with a satisfactory evidence that the law of Christianity, is the LAW OF GOD..
The harmonious view presented to us in Scripture of the moral attributes of God, and of the law by which he governs mankind, is truly philosophical; for the ethical virtues, such as holiness, justice, truth, and benevolence, can never change their tendencies. They are the same in their nature and character, whether they be regarded as the essential attributes of the Creator, or as th
as the borrowed graces of the creature. Hence it follows, that as the face of a man is seen reflected in a glass, so are the moral attributes of the Deity seen reflected, under whatsoever diminution, in the conduct and character of those persons, who believe and obey him. So it was with our first parents before their fall; and we may presume it to have been chiefly for this reason, that they are said to have been formed in the " image," and after the " likeness," of God.
This image or likeness which was lost in man by the fall, is restored to him by redemption ; and believers in Jesus Christ again become, although at an immeasurable distance, “ followers of God."
It is evident that on this doctrine is founded that awful precept, “ Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect.”
Since however the Almighty and his attributes are infinite, and in various respects above our reach, and since we are called to the practice of many virtues which peculiarly belong to our dependent state as creatures, it is a delightful evidence of the wisdom and love of God, that in his incarnate Son he has provided us with a model, at once persect, and accommodated to all our need. In him, the whole law of God is embodied, and as it were personified, for the instruction of mankind.
The first moral quality which we ought to notice in the character of our Saviour, is purity of heart. It was his own doctrine that “ blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God." He is described by one apostle, as
a lamb without blemish and without spot;" and by another, as holy, harmless, undefiled, separate from sinners.” It is expressly declared that he “ did no sin ;' that “in him is no, sin ;" and
the doctrine of his perfect purity is proved, by the fact, that his death was expiatory; for except the offering be spotless, there can be no atonement made by it, for sin.
With stainless purity, in Jesus, was united a perfect integrity. He was the “just,” as well as " the holy, one.” “Righteousness" was “the girdle of his loins, and faithfulness the girdle of his reins.” No "guile” was
“ found in his mouth.” He was himself “ the truth." He spake the plain truth to the most powerful of his enemies, and unmasked their hypocrisy in open day.
In publicly reproving iniquity, in pronoun ing woes on Jerusalem and other rebellious cities, in driving the buyers and sellers out of the temple, and in calling upon all men to repent because the kingdom of heaven was at hand, he displayed an undaunted courage, and a resistless zeal for the honour of God. His disciples remembered that it was written of him, " The zeal of thine house hath eaten me up.”
Yet these qualities were greatly distinguished froni rashness. During the course of his ministry he evinced a remarkable degree of prudence ; and in conformity to his own precept,