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*was not of the world,” but aspire at being detail of all the noble faculties with which he made perfect in one, together with our fore- is endowed; but shall confine myself to that runner, and now exalted Lord.
capacity of knowing, loving, and resembling This inestimable privilege belongs only to his Creator, which constitutes at once his exChristians; it is the gospel alone which thus cellence, his dignity, and his felicity. For unites us to God here, by the mediation of a though we often see this capacity for holiness Saviour. This is confirmed by the discourse and perfection, giving way to criminal and of our Lord with his disciples, in the eleventh odions sentiments, and a being amiable by of Matthew, where he says, “verily I say his nature, become the perpetrator of atrounto you, that among them that are born of a cious crimes; nevertheless we cannot help woman, there hath not risen a greater (pro- perceiving that this depravity is contrary to phet) than John the Baptist; notwithstanding nature; consequently accidental and transibe that is least in the kingdom of heaven (in tory; and must sooner or later he destroyed my church) is greater than he." Let us by the complete development of his excellent therefore rejoice in the grandeur of our voca- faculties. tion, as members of the Church of Christ; let But I have said in the second place, that es not rest contented with those external man is by his nature good, and formed for social marks of union, which can only draw upon love. Many are the evidences I could bring our heads accumulated mischief, if they do forward in support of this truth, but from Dot produce a spiritual and vital union with amongst them 1 shall select only the most God; which being began here, will go on in- simple and apparent. creasing to perfection for ever and ever. If man is made after the Divine image; his
Let us now examine the sixth consequence, nature must be gond, and formed to love his which finws from the infinite goodness of God, neighbour as himself
. for God is love ; therefore which is a disposilion to love our neighbour without goodness he can never resemble a as ourselves ; in furnishing us with the most Being perfectly good. He may by his inte). powerful motives to this sincere and universal lectual powers, bear some rresemblance to his charily.
Maker, but these are only given to render him Thongh every sincere Christian finds rea- capable of distinguishing and of loving whatson to lament, that the gospel does not pro- ever is by its nature amiable and excellent: dace as much good in the world as might na. he must therefore resemble his heavenly tnrally follow from its excellent institutes; Father, in his sincere and universal love of Devertheless it has so far enlarged the minds his brethren. of men, since it has been disengaged from the It is true however, that in this love an eg. dreadfalerrors and superstitions that disfigured sential and necessary difference must remain it before the reformation; and none I believe between God and man. An indigent and dewill need now to be told who is their neigh- pendent creature, cannot love with the disbour; they acknowledge, however their ac- interestedness of a perfect and self-sufficient tions may deny, that their fellow creatures, Creator. But though a sense of bis wanis, beings of the same common nature, are their and a necessity of supplying them may somebrethren: and this is true without distinction times deprive him of leisure, or of means to of good or bad; friends or enemies; believers shew his benevolence, by actual benefits; or unbelievers; countrymen or strangers; all yet unless blinded and led astray by some are our neighbours.
disorderly passion, it will not prevent his What then is implied in loving all men as resembling his Maker, by sentiments of uniwe do ourselves? It is to be interested in their versal good-will; and so far will his own happiness, as sincerely as we are in our own, wants be from stifling his benevolence, that and for this perfect charity the love of God they will excite in him a more lively and furnishes us with the most powerful motives. active compassion for the relief of his fellow It is worthy of being remarked that this per- creatures. "I conclude then that man is nafect, this aniversal charity, from which not turally inclined to goodness and benevoeven our enemies are excluded; was never lence, because he is the child of God, whose equally insisted upon, till the goodness and image he bears. infinite love of God to all men, was manifest- The nature of happiness, furnishes us with ed in the gospel; where it is given as a new a second proof of this truth. If man is formed commandment.
for happiness, he is formed for charity. HapI do not say however of charity, as I did piness consists in the full exercise and deof joy, and of love to God, that his infinite velopment of our faculties. Now among goodness is their only foundation ; because those the most active, the most lively, and the it is in the nature of man, to love his fellow most delightful in its exercise, is the faculty beings; whence it is evident on the one of loving. The heart, is the seat of this facul. band that man is by his nature amiable ; and ty and formed for love, as the eye is for sight, on the other, that he is by his nature good, and the ear for hearing. Those cold, insenand formed for social love : these important sible, and unnatural hearts, whose love is truths I shall endeavour to set in the clearest centred in themselves, must be wretched ; light.
happiness will fly before them, and elude their In the first place I assert, that the nature of eager grasp. This is the situation of all such man is amiable, and worthy of being loved. I as seek their happiness in the world, and not need pot, in order to prove this, enter into a lin God. Wealth, honours, and dower, though
they excite such ardent desires, have a mark | are formed, and which we shall one day enjoy.. of falsily stamped upon them, which proves It was necessary thus particularly to demonthe good they confer to be counterfeit, not real; strate the natural inclination of man to googe for they can only yield exclusive happiness, ness and charity; in order to establish that celeswhich belongs to some, only in consequence tial virtue on its true foundation. But it must be of the privation of it to others; thence an op- observed also that I assert this, as it relates position which divides mankind, gives rise to human nature in its principle, and not in io continual wars in public, and to discords that animal and degraded state to which carand animosities in private life, which stifle nal and worldly passions lead. For potwiththe natural sentiments of charity and brother- standing any inherent good in man, he may ly love; and in their siead place insensibility, be, and alas! continually is, drawn aside by disdain, and a barbarous and inflexible cruel- the jarrings and contentions of his own temty, properly called inhumanity; and give their poral interest, with those of his neighbour; possessors a stronger resemblance to savage and when this selfishness is become habitual beasts, than to huinan creatures.
and predominant, he is in danger of degeneFar different is that happiness for which rating into the most cruel and ferocious aniwe were designed; it is composed of true, of mal in the universe. It is therefore necessaspiritual blessings; such as the pure and ry for man in order to his following his natulively rays of truth will afford to the mind, ral bent to charity, that he should be freed and virtuous sentiments to the heart. It is a from the slavery of his passions, for St. Paul communicalive happiness which expands and observes, that "charity proceeds out of a pure becomes greater the more it is diffused. Our heart;" to obtain this emancipation he has Saviour who was well acquainted with our need of continual and powerful motives, capanature, and with the felicity suited to it, has ble of exciting him to virtue, and of supdeclared that it is more blessed to give, than pressing every emotion of covelousness, of to receive; as St. Paul records in the twenti. anger, and hatred, the instant they arise in eth chapter of the Acts.
his soul. If therefore we are convinced of Besides, in order to confirm this by repre- the infinite goodness of the Supreme Being senting it under another, and perhaps more we shall find therein every possible motive of striking point of view; man is formed for so- charily. ciety, and must therefore be of a kind and be- They may be reduced to three, as they Jevolent nature, and inclined to love his neigh relate to our own interest, to that of our neigh. bour as himself. That he is a social being is bour, and to charity considered in itself. evident from the declaration of his Maker, who With respect to the first of these, Divine said, it is not good for man to be alone,” | Goudness has strictly connected our particular which is true both in a physical, and moral interest with that of our neighbour; because sense.
in requiring our supreme love, it produces on With respect to the former of these, scli- the one hand an indifference to worldly objects, tnde is not good for man; because destitute and on the other makes us see in our neighbour of the assistance of others, he could not procure a second self, instead of a rival and conipetilor. a supply of his wants, but inust either perish, The love of God, by detaching us from the or drag on a miserable existence. He is world, and purifying us from carnal passions, therefore formed for society. But can it pro- destroys every obstacle to charity, and leaves mote his happiness if he is not a sociable being, it to fiuw in an uninterrupted course. The that is, if his heart is not naturally disposed happiness of others becomes necessary in ose sincerely to love his fellow-beings. Suppose der to our own, and we desire it with equal for a moment a community among which no sincerity. Thus our interests become so one was any way concerned for the welfare strictly united, that in labonring to promote of the rest; this society without any bond those of our neighbour, we are inevitably adof union, far from procuring happiness to vancing our own. any one of its members, would be a horrible Placing the supreme affection of our souls theatre of odious crimes, and shocking misery on a being whose adorable goodness renders
That it is not good for man to be alone, is him the object of our love, we cannot fail of not less true, considered in a moral view; for seeing in our neighbour a second self, solitude would cause him to feel a dreadful “ for he who loveth God, loveth his brother void; by leaving unsatisfied the greatest, the also.” Can we love God for the multitude most imperious wants, a necessity of loving. of his tender mercies, and take no interest in, He could neither soften his troubles by pour- or concern for, the creatures who are the obing them in the heart of a being like himself; jects of them? This is impossible. We may nor increase his enjoyments, by sharing them; therefore conclude that we do not love God in a word, he could not fail of being misera-laright, if we do not love our neighbour as ble. But draw him from this solitude, place ourselves. him in a society of beings like himself, ration- The second motive for charity relates to our al, enlightened, pious and good, cemented by neighbour, whom th: infnile goodness of the that charity which St. Paul calls the bond of Deily makes us behold as an object worthy of perfectness, and he will be as completely hap- love. Are we not endowed with similar na. py as his nature will admit. The picture 1 tures, partakers of the same celestial vocahave just drawn, is not the effect of fancy or tion, objects of the same love, and sharers in imagination; it is a faithful, but humble the same redemption? We need therefore skeuch of the celestial society for which we only consider our neighbour as an equal
partner with us in the love and favour of God, whose delight is to shower down on all hapand as a brother and companion in future fe- piness and joy; doing good even to the licity; in order to experience fervent charity. evil and unthankful?" Where, amidst the
Bit should our neighbour be our enemy, immense universe, could such a being be should his hatred incline him to seek our in- placed to find happiness? In solitude he jury; must we then forget our own interests would be destitute, forlorn, and miserable; to advance those of an implacable and cruel and in society he would be an unwelcome, and foe? The knowledge we have of God re- unhappy intruder. solves this question, by shewing us, what is But when on the contrary our heart is enindeed our true interest ; it teaches us to view larged by charity, which makes us sincerely our bitterest enemy, as an instrument in his desire, and zealously pursue every opportunihand, incapable of proceeding farther than ty of promoting the happiness of our fellow he shall permit. We may, by every lawful creatures; then it is that we resemble the means, preserve ourselves from the effects of best of beings, that we bear his image, and bis malice, as we would avoid sickness, or that in our measure and degree, we are mere any other calamity ; but by keeping our eye ciful, as our Father in heaven is merciful," or fixed on the adorable goodness of the First as St. Matthew expresses the words of our Cause, we shall never give way to the bitter- Saviour, that we are “perfect even as our ness of resentment, but shall behold the blind Father in heaven is perfect.' ness and wirkedness of our enemy, with the It will be obvious to all who are conversant compassion is deserves; for of all the unhap- with scripture, that as among the Divine py beings that cover the earth, none ought perfections, goodness and mercy, are the most mpore to excite pity, than the wicked. Poor, frequently and strongly mentioned ; so no vretehed creatures! slaves to the worst of virtue is so largely commended, or so strongly masters, their own horrid passions, and en- enforced as charity: I request my reader to gaged, as the wise man observes, in a deceit- peruse the thirteenth chapter of the first of sui work; shall not we, beings of the same Corinthians, which contains a description of natore, and liable to the same errors, feel our charity, and gives it the pre-eminence over hearts melt with compassion for creatures who every other virtue. Let us also collect some kiviw not what they do? No other sentiment of the most remarkable texts on that subject. can possibly become (s.
The first of which is taken from the above The wickedness and cruelty of our enemy, mentioned chapter, we cannot carry our subby exciting our compassion, enables us to see mission to the divine will farther, than to give him, as God himself beholds him. Odious our body to be burned; and nevertheless this and detestable as his present state of vice act will profit us nothing if we are destitute Enders him; yet when the means Divine Wis- of charity: disqualified for a society of spirits dom shall employ for his correction and who dwell in perfect love, we shall be ex. amendment, shall have produced their effect; cluded, and have our portion with the reprowhen he is washed and purified, he will be bate. How positively does this decision come our companion in eternal felicity. At shew, that we cannot be acceptable to God, present he persecutes and injures us; but a without charity. time will certainly come, when he will do us The end and design of the gospel dispensajustice, and make us ample amends, Far tion is our purification from all iniquity. But then from being ever overcome of evil," let wherein consists this important change? St. os resolve to “overcome evil with good;" Paul informs us, " that the end of the comand in the true spirit of Christianity; if our mandment is charity out of a pure heart: this enemy hunger " let us feed him, if he thirst is the end of the gospel; and if love prevail let us give him drink ;” thus shall our charita- in our hearts, we shall be workers together ble treatment melt down his resentment, as with God in his great plan of universal salvazoals heaped on the head of a crucible, dis- tion; for we shall desire happiness to be ex. solve the metal it contains: we must, there. tended, and labour to promote it. But while fore, according to the cominand of our Sa- our minds are strangers to these benevolent vimur, return blessing for cursing, and pray desires, while they are cold and indifferent to for our enemies. Such are the powerful mo- the interests of others; we may be assured tives, with which the infinite goodness of God that this happy change, this renovation of furnishes us, for the love of our fellow crea.. mind, is font yet wrought in us; and that tures; even for the wicked, and our implaca- whatever may be the virtues to which we ble enemies.
make pretence, we are tases in the field, I cane now to consider, thirdly, charity in whose portion is to be hurned. But when itse f. as the mot excellent and glorious rirlue the gospel, which seta forth the infinite good. thai con possibly adorn our nature. Sentio'nese of God, has inflamed our hearts with men's of kindness, of brotherly love, and charity to our neighbour; then are we such as charity, are such as can alone constitute any he would have lis to be, and prepared for a resemblance between the huinan, and Divine communion with the God of charity; in a mure. Destiinte of them, can we hope tn' word, we are the wheat which will be gathered berp any likeness to a heing who is love? in', his garner. Were werven possessed of every other virtue, 'The last example I mean to cite in favour what analogy could be found in a creature of this divine virtue, we meet with in the whose sole care, attention and pursuits were twenty-fifth chapter of St. Matthew from tho confined to his own interests; and a being thirty-first verse to the end.
After having perused the awful and interest- | my promise of drawing proofs from reason and ing picture of a fature judgment which it scripture for every thing I have advanced ; contains ; let us reflect for a few moinents and am able to declare, in the presence of bim, upon a scene at which we shall every one be before whose tribunal I must account for every present: “ for 'we must all appear before the action; that I have not endeavoured to impose judgment seat of Christ,” there to receive the any thing on the faith of others which I do not glorious sentence of absolution and pardon, believe true, on these two great foundations. or of condemnation and punishment. We see That the Supreme Being is perfectly good, that we shall be judged solely concerning our is so capital and interesting a truth, that the charity, and acquitted or condemned, in pro- whole of religion hangs upon it. When I am portion as we have cultivated, or suppressed assured that goodness is the foundation, and this most excellent of virtues. We are told happiness the end of all the ways of God, to by St. James that " if we fulfil the royal law, myself and every creature; hope is the anchor according to the scriptures, and love our of my soul, sure and steadfast; for though neighbour as ourselves; we do well.” This "his ways should be in the deep and his paths is the law of our judge, by which we shall be in the mighty waters;” though I should extried; because it was his great, his new, his perience every external evil; no affliction shall special commandment: “for he that loveth shake my confidence, never will I dishonour, his brother, abideth in light, and there is none by a moment's mistrust, a being who has in Occasion of stumbling in him :" for every one mercy commanded me "to cast all my care “that loveth is born of God, and knoweth God." upon him;" because “ he careth for me."
In the sentence which our celestial King, But if I entertain any doubts on this subour Divine Judge will issue from his glorious ject, by the admission of any doctrine incomthrone, let us observe the tenderness of chari- patible with it, alas ! in losing this assurance, ty, tempering the authority of a sovereign i have lost my all; and religion presents master.' He places the least and meanest of nothing to my mind but terror and desolation. the human race, among his brethren ; and the prospect of futurity fills me with alarm, speaks of the smallest office of charity granted, and immortality distracts me. The greatest or refused them, as if immediately regarding of beings, without perfect goodness, is no himself. How affecting is the idea, that longer an object infinitely amiable to me; and whenever we minister to the necessities of a together with the love of God must every poor mortal, our Saviour considers the benefit pious sentiment expire. Should charity reas if done to himself. Let us not lose sight main, because the native inmate of my being, of this truth, and we shall never refuse to alas! it could only aggravate and insure my succour the distressed; or wish to evade any misery. So true is it that the whole of religion opportunity of doing them all the good in our depends on the doctrine of the infinite goodness power.
Descend, o divine charity! animate our And if religion is thus founded, it must folhearts with thy celestial flame; form our per- low of necessity, that every doctrine incompatifection, constitute our delight, and render us ble with goodness is false, absurd, and even peracceptable to the God of charity ; before nicious and fatal to the last degree. I have whom destitute of thee, we are nothing. Come therefore in the whole of this treatise, in esand unite us forever to the greatest and best tablishing the doctrine of perfect goodness, of beings, and to his living image, our be- and following it in its consequences; connevolent Redeemer. Render us merciful, that stantly com hated such erroneous opinions, as we may obtain mercy; teach us sincerely to represent the Creator of the human race, as a forgive, even until seventy times seven, that being whose power will be employed in inwe may receive the pardon of our innumera- flicting never ending torments on a considerable offences. Sublime delightful virtue, thou ble portion of his creatures, and hate esshalt never fail, but shalt form the blessed- tablished the non-eternity of future torments. ness of the blessed, and be a river of pleasure Let not mankind be induced to suppress this of which they shall drink for ever in the glo- truth, from any apprehended abuse of it; berious abodes of heaven.
cause this is tacitly to deny, that it is the will I quit with regret this delightful subject, of God that all men should come to the knowwhich has furnished matter for my sjxth and ledge of the truth; and to affirm, that some are last consequence, drawn from the infinite best conducted to salvation by ignorance and goodness of God; and I flatter myself, I have error. It is also to assert that in order to promade it appear that the knowledge of the perfect duce the love of God in the heart of man, he goodness of the Divine Nature, contains every must be represented to them as a being infipossible motive that can lead us to love our neigh- nitely cruel. But lest sinners should abuse bour as ourselves. I have shewn the union of this truth so ill understood, it is necessary it interest that subsists among mankind; the should be rightly explained to them; that they amiableness and excellence of human na may not give themselves up to fatal illusions, ture; and lastly the attractive beauty and either respecting the severity, or the mercy of dignity of charity in itself, as the most glori- God. God! Thon Being supremely good! ous virtne that can adorn an intellectual cause the precious ray of thy truth to illumibeing, and without which, it is impossible to nate every heart, that they may be filled with be happy in any state.
thy love and thy fear; and to effect this, open I have now completed what I proposed on this the lips of thy ministers, that they may shew subject. In what I have said I have adhered to forth thy praise. Amen.