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SERMON religion is calculated to promote a spirit of i humanity and compassion among men, by
those very means which it employs for inspiring devotion towards God. We are now drawing nigh to the Supreme Being through a Mediator, for whose compassion we pray, on account of the experience which he has had of our frailty. We trust, that having been acquainted with distress, he will not despise nor abhor the affliction of the afflicted. The argument by which we plead for his compassion, concludes still more strongly for mutual charity, and sympathy with one another. He who, in the midst of the common sufferings of life, feels not for the distressed; he who relents not at his neighbour's griefs, nor scans his failings with the eye of a brother, must be sensible that he excludes himself from the commiseration of Christ. He makes void the argument by which he pleads for his mercy ; nay, he establishes a precedent against himself. Thus the Christian religion approves itself as worthy of God, by connecting devotion in strict union with charity. As in its pręcepts the love of God and the love of man are joined, so in its institutions the SERMON exercise of both is called forth ; and to V. worship God through the mediation of a compassionate High Priest, necessarily supposes in the worshippers a spirit of compassion towards their own brethren.
On the Love of PRAISE.
John, xii. 43:
the praise of God, SERMON THE state of man on earth, is mani
festly designed for the trial of his virtue. Temptations everywhere occur ; and perpetual vigilance and attention are required. There'is no passion, or principle of action in his nature, which may not, if left to itself, betray him into some criminal excess. Corruption gains entrance, not only by those passions which are apparently of dangerous tendency, such as covetousness, and love of pleasure; but by means of those also which are seemingly the most fair and innocent, such as the desire of esteem and
praise. Of this the text suggests a remark- SERMAX able instance. When our Lord appeared
od VI. in the land of Judea, the purity of his doc-trine, and the evidence of his miracles, procured him a considerable number of fol, lowers, chiefly among the lower classes of men. But the Pharisees, who were the leading, and fashionable sect, galled with the freedom of his reproofs, decried him as an impostor. Hence it came to pass, that though some of the rulers believed in him, yet, because of the Pharisees, they did not confess him. Rulers, persons who, by their rank and education, ought to have been superiour to any popular prejudice, were so far overawed by the opinions of others, as to stifle their conviction, to dissemble their faith, and to join with the prevailing party, in condemning one whom in their hearts they revered : for which this reason is given, that they loved the praise of men, more than the praise of God. Since, then, the love of praise can mislead men into such culpable and dishonest conduct, let us, with some attention, examine the nature of this passion. Let us consider how far it is an allowable principle --of action ; when it begins to be criminal ;
SERMON and upon what accounts we ought to guard
in against its acquiring the entire ascendant.
We are intended by Providence to be connected with one another in society. Single unassisted individuals could make small advances towards any valuable improvement. By means of society our wants are supplied, and our lives rendered comfortable ; our capacities are enlarged, and our virtuous affections called forth into proper exercise. In order to confirm our mutual connexion, it was necessary that some attracting power, which had the effect of drawing men together, and strengthening the social ties, should pervade the human system. Nothing could more happily fulfil this purpose, than our being so formed as to desire the esteem, and to delight in the good opinion, of each other. Had such a propensity been wanting, and selfish principles left to occupy its place, society must have proved an unharmonious and discordant state. Instead of mutual attraction, a repulsive power would have prevailed. Among men who had no regard to the approbation of one another, all intercourse would have been jarring and offen
8 . sive.