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shake kingdoms? That made the world as a wi!derness, and destroyed the cities thereof, that opened not the house of his prisoners?'
Isaiah, chap. 14.
3. CHRIST'S PARABLE OF THE PRODIGAL SON.
A CERTAIN man had two sons. And the younger of them said to his father, Father, give me the portion of goods that falleth to me.' And he divided unto them his living.
And not many days after, the younger son gathered all together, and took his journey into a far country, and there wasted his substance with riotous living. And when he had spent all, there arose a mighty famine in the land, and he began to be in want. And he went and joined himself to a citizen of that country: and he sent him into his fields to feed swine. And he would fain have filled his belly with the husks that the swine did eat, and no man gave unto him.
And when he came to himself, he said, How many hired servants of my father's have bread enough and to spare, and I perish with hunger! I will arise and go to my father, and I will say unto him, Father, I have sinned against heaven, and before thee, and am no more worthy to be called thy son: make me as one of thy hired servants.' And he arose, and came to his father.
But when he was yet a great way off, his father saw him, and had compassion, and ran, and fell on his neck, and kissed him. And the son said unto
him, 'Father, I have sinned against heaven, and in thy sight, and am no worthy to be called thy son.' But the father said to his servants, Bring forth the best robe, and put it on him, and put a ring on his hand, and shoes on his feet. And bring hither the fatted calf, and kill it, and let us eat and be merry: for this my son was dead, and is alive again; he was lost, and is found.' And they began to be merry.
Now his elder son was in the field: and as he came and drew nigh to the house, he heard music and dancing. And he called one of the servants, and asked what these things meant? And he said unto him, 'Thy brother is come, and thy father hath killed the fatted calf, because he hath received him safe and sound.' And he was angry, and would not go in: therefore came his father out, and entreated him. And he answering said to his father, Lo, these many years do I serve thee, neither transgressed I at any time thy commandment; and yet thou never gavest me a kid, that I might make merry with my friends. But as soon as this thy son was come, which hath devoured thy living with harlots, thou hast killed for him the fatted calf.' And he said unto him, 'Son, thou art ever with me, and all that I have is thine. It was meet we should make merry and be glad for this thy brother was dead, and is alive again; and was lost, and is found.'
St. Luke, chap. 15.
TENDENCY OF CHRISTIANITY TO PROMOTE THE PRESENT INTEREST OF INDIVIDUALS AND OF SOCIETY.
WHOEVER reflects upon the nature and tendency of the Christian institution, must soon perceive it to be perfectly well calculated for promoting the present interest of men, and making the societies of the world flourish and prosper. To show how truly Christianity is adapted to this purpose, let us consider what the things are on which the happiness of particular men, and of society, chiefly depend. It must be evident to every one upon the least reflection, that the greatest part of his private happiness arises from a virtuous temper and state of mind, and a course of actions agreeable to it; from the dispositions of reverence, love, gratitude, and submission to the great author and governor of all things, and trust in his providence ; from humanity, justice, and kindness to men; from the moderation of all the appetites and passions of the soul, and the keeping them in subjection to the directions of reason and conscience. Whoever attends to the several sorts of pleasant perceptions that he enjoys, will acknowledge, if he speaks ingenuously, that the pleasures which he receives from the exercise of these good dispositions and affections, are by far the most noble and satisfying of any with which he is acquainted; that they affect him in the most lively manner, and are steady and permanent in their nature, and of constant use to support and revive him in any misfortunes and adversities, which may happen to him in the world; besides, that they are usually attended with other most valuable comforts and plea
sures of life. It is likewise evident, that the greatest happiness of society proceeds from the virtue and good conduct of men; particularly from their being well affected towards the public, and employing the several talents, powers, and advantages which they may be possessed of, for promoting the common good; from the magistrates framing and executing wise and righteous laws, and the subjects paying a just respect to lawful authority, and contributing cheerfully to the necessary support of the government and constitution; from the diligence and industry of men in the business of an honest calling; from their observing the maxims of truth, justice, meekness, compassion, and charity, in their conversation and dealings with one another, and their performing readily all the social and relative duties of life. Both reason and experience assure us, that these are the things from whence the public happiness directly and immediately flows, and that they will never fail to make a society flourish in prosperity and glory. Now when this is considered, it will be very easy to show the tendency of the Christian religion to promote the present happiness of men, and the peace and welfare of this world. For let any one read the Gospel with the least attention and impartiality, and he must needs see, that the great design and business of it is to press and inculcate all those virtues, which are the source both of public and private happiness; that it strictly enjoins all the branches of piety towards God, and awful veneration of his majesty; strong love and gratitude for his mercies, perfect resignation to his will, and a firm confidence in his
power and goodness; that it indispensibly requires an exact performance of all the duties of justice, faithfulness, compassion, and goodness towards men, and will not allow us to gratify our private desires and inclinations, in any instances, to the prejudice and detriment of others; that it insists. particularly upon those duties and virtues, the practice of which affects the order and happiness of the public; requiring magistrates to provide for the safety and welfare of the communities in which they govern, by a steady and impartial administration of justice, and subjects to honour and obey magistrates, as persons set over them for their good, and to support and assist them in the just execution of their offices, and in maintaining the harmony and order of society; commanding all men to fulfil the duties of their several relations; to be laborious and diligent in their callings, that, instead of being burthensome to the community, they may have wherewithal to communicate to the necessities of the indigent members of it; to be perfectly honest, true, and equitable in all their commerce and intercourse in the world, to cultivate a spirit of humanity, meekness, forgiveness, condescension, and universal benevolence; not to confine their good-will to any one party or denomination, but to do good, as they have opportu nity, to all; and to be ready to sacrifice every private interest, even life itself, for the common benefit and interest of their brethren. This is the constant strain and tenour of cur holy religion; these are the things which it inculcates most affectionately and earnestly upon us, and on which it lays the greatest stress; assuring us, that they