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stance of all Religion; but what is ftill more extraordinary, men have frequently thought, or pretended to think, that even morality itself was not neceffary in all its extent; and that of the two duties mentioned in the text, CHA, RITY and SELF-GOVERNMENT, it was fully fufficient to cultivate that which beft fuited their own conftitutions or inclinations. Açcordingly, they have very feldom paid a due regard to both thefe at the fame time; but flighting each of them in their turn, have perfuaded themselves, that the obfervance of the one would atone for the neglect or violation of the other,

These affertions might very easily be proved by facts; and it would be no unpleasing, nor perhaps unprofitable speculation, to trace the various revolutions that have happened in the opinion and the practice of mankind with regard to thefe two Chriftian virtues, But it is fufficient for my prefent purpose to observe, that as the distinguishing character of our forefathers in the last age was precifeness and feverity of manners; we, their defcendants, on the contrary, have taken up Benevolence for our favourite virtue and that the fame vigour of


mind, and national vehemence of temper, which carried them fuch remarkable lengths in the rugged paths of moral discipline, has with us taken a different direction, and a gayer look; is stirring up all the humane and tender affections within our fouls, and urging us on to the noblest exertions of generosity and beneficence.

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For to our praise it must be owned, that it will not be eafy to find any age or nation in which both private and public benevolence was ever carried to fo high a pitch, or distributed in fo many different channels, as it is amongst ourselves at this day. Numerous as the evils are to which man is naturally fubject, and induftrious as he is in creating others by his own follies and indifcretions, modern charity is ftill equal and prefent to them all, and accommodates itself to the many various shapes in which human mifery appears. It feeds the hungry, clothes the naked, vifits the fick, protects the widow, relieves the stranger, educates the orphan, inftructs the ignorant, reclaims the finner, receives the penitent. So far, then, you have have discharged, perhaps, one

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branch of your duty, but how have you performed the others? What regard, more efpecially, have you paid to that virtue which is linked with charity in the very words of the text? Whilft you "vifit the fatherlefs and "widows in their affliction, do you keep હતું yourselves unfpotted from the world?" Are you plain and fimple in diet and your attire? Are you sober, chaste, and modest ? Are you temperate in your pleasures, and difcreet in your amufements? Do you mingle folitude and reflexion with bufinefs and with fociety? Do you bridle your tongues, and moderate your defires? Do you keep your bodies under and bring them into fubjection? Do you crucify the flesh with all its affections and lufts? Do you carefully avoid every thing that may inflame and ftimulate your paffions? Are you, in fhort, as rigorous to yourselves as you are benevolent to others? If to thefe queftions your confciences can answer, with truth, in the affirmative; and if to all this you have added the fincereft fentiments of love and gratitude to your Maker, your Redeemer, your Sanctifier, then, indeed, you have been good and faithful fervants to your heavenly Master ; then may you fafely call yourfelyes difciples of


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Chrift; and, with humble reliance on his me fits, not your own, may expect to enter inta the joy of your Lord.

But if, on the contrary, there are but too evident marks among certain claffes of men of an inextinguishable thirst for pleasure and amusement, and thofe too not always of the moft innocent and reputable nature; if luxury not only prevails as a fashion, but is ftudied as a fcience; if charity is in fome perfons nothing more than a cloak for voluptuousness; if benevolence is induftrioufly and officiously, I had almost said invidiously, cried up, and magnified as the only duty of a man, nay, even of a Chriftian; whilst purity is ridiculed and set at nought, as a four, unfocial, unliumanized virtue is called aufterity, precifeness, puritanism, or any thing but what it really is; if the natural confequences of this licentious doctrine are but too visible in that rapid growth of dif foluteness amongst us, which feems to threaten the extinction of every moral and religious principle; if, in fine, the groffeft violations of decency, nay, even of connubial fidelity, are often treated with levity and gaiety, as subjects rather of pleasantry than of reproach; and are not only committed without fcruple, but


but avowed, and fometimes defended too, without a blush; if this be a faithful portrait of our manners, what infinite caufe have we, amidst all our boafted charities, to tremble at the danger of our fituation! It is incredible, it is impoffible, that the righteous Governor of the Universe can be an unconcerned fpec tator of fuch wickedness as this!

But is our BENEVOLENCE then, you will say, of no avail ? Will not that shelter us from punishment? For charity, we are told, “ shall "cover the multitude of fins *:" and, accord


ingly, we take effectual care that it shall have a multitude to cover. But whofe fins does St, Peter fay that charity fhall cover? Our own, or those of others? He may only mean, that a charitable man will not wantonly divulge, but will cover, will throw a veil over, the failings of his neighbour. But supposing, what is most probable, that our own fins are meant, what fort of fins do you think that charity fhall cover? Not, furely, thofe grofs, prefump, tuous habitual ones, which we would gladly helter under it; but those cafual flips and inadvertencies, thofe almost unavoidable er rors, weaknesses and imperfections, to which

⚫ Pet, iv, 8.


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