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religion frequently occur in the facred S ER M, writings; and are extremely useful. By the comprehensive energy with which they express the great lines of our duty, they both imprint them on our memory, and bring them home to our conscience with force. In the progress of this dis-, course, I hope to make it appear, that the words of the text afford a most enlarged and instructive view of religion in all its chief parts.
The Apostle pronounces charity to be the end or scope of the commandment, that is, of the law of God. At the same time, in order to prevent mistakes on this most important subject, he subjoins to charity certain adjuncts, as necessary to qualify it, and to render the Christian character complete. These are the pure heart, the good conscience, and faith unfeigned. In treating of these, I shall shew the nature of their connexion with charity, and the importance of their being always united with it.
SERM. The end of the commandment is charity. The Charity is the same with benevolence or
love; and is the term uniformly employed, in the New Testament, to denote all the good affections which we ought to bear towards one another. It consists not in speculative ideas of general benevolence floating in the head, and leaving the heart, as speculations too often do, untouched and cold. Neither is it confined to that indolent good nature, which makes it rest satisfied with being free from inveterate malice, or ill-will to our fellow-creatures, without prompting us to be of service to any. True charity is an active principle. It is not properly a single virtue; but a disposition refiding in the heart, as a fountain whence all the virtues of benignity, candour, forbearance, generosity, compassion, and liberality, flow, as so many native streams. From general good will to all, it extends its influence particularly to those with whom we stand in nearest connection, and who are directly within the sphere
of our good offices. From the country SE R M. or community to which we belong, it . II. descends to the smaller associations of neighbourhood, relations, and friends ; and spreads itself over the whole circle of social and domestic life. I mean not that it imports a promiscuous undistinguishing affection, which gives every man an equal title to our love. Charity, if we should endeavour to carry it so far, would be rendered an impracticable virtue, and would resolve itself into mere words, without affecting the heart. True charity attempts not to shut our eyes to the distinction between good and bad men.; nor to warm our hearts equally to those who befriend and those who injure us. It reserves our esteem for good men, and our complacency for our friends. Towards our enemies it inspires forgiveness and humanity. It breathes universal candour, and liberality of sentiment. It forms gentleness of temper, and dictates affability of manners. It prompts corresponding sympa
SER M. thies with them who rejoice and them
who weep. It teaches us to flight and despise no man. Charity is the comforter of the afflicted, the protector of the opprefled, the reconciler of differences, the interceffor for offenders. It is faithfulness in the friend, public spirit in the magistrate, equity and patience in the judge, moderation in the sovereign, and loyalty in the subject. In parents it is care and attention; in children it is reverence and submission. In a word, it is the foul of social life. It is the sun that enlivens and cheers the abodes of men. It is like the dew of Hermon, says the Psalmist, and the dew that descendeth on the mountains of Zion, where the Lord commanded the blesfing, even life for evermore*.
Such charity, says the text, is the end of the commandment. This assertion of the
* Psal. cxxxiii. 3.
Apostle is undoubtedly consonant to all s E R M. that reason can suggest on the subject of religion. For, on considering the nature of the Supreme Being, reason gives us much ground to believe, that the chief design of all the commandments which he has given to men, is to promote their happiness. Independent and self-sufficient, that Supreme Being has nothing to exact from us for his own interest or felicity. By our services he cannot be benefited, nor by our offences injured. When he created the world, it was benevolence that moved him to confer existence. When he made himself known to his creatures, benevolence in like manner moved him to give them laws for their conduct. Benevolence is the spring of legislation in the Deity, as much as it was the motive of creation. He issued his commands on earth on purpose that by obedience to them, his creatures might be rendered happy among themselves in this life, and be prepared for greater happiness in another. Charity, especially when