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SERMON prospects should carry away our whole at:
tention from the present world, where undoubtedly lies the chief scene of human action, of human duty. But while we act as inhabitants of the earth, we ought at the same time so to remember our connection with a better world, as not to debase ourselves with what is mean, not to defile ourselves with what is impure, not to entangle
ourselves among what is ensnaring, in the · present state. Let neither its advantages
elate, nor its disappointments deject us; but with an equal spirit, with a mind full of immortality, let us pass through all the changes of this mortal life.
Finally, Let the discoveries of future happiness inspire us with suitable gratitude to God and Christ; to the eternal Father, who originally decreed such rewards for the righteous ; and to the Son, who acts in the high character of the Dispenser of the divine mercies, and the great Restorer of the fallen race of men. Particularly when approaching to God in solemn acts of devotion, such as we are at this day to perform, let gratitude be alive and ardent in our heart. The com memoration of our Saviour's death is in a
high degree suited to awaken every emotion SERMON of tenderness and love. It brings before us,
IX. under one view, all the obligations which we lie under to this great benefactor of mankind. When just ready to suffer for our sake, he instituted this holy sacrament, and said, Do this in remembrance of me.- Whom, O blessed Jesus ! shall we ever remember, if we are capable of forgetting Thee? Thee, to whom we owe the forgiveness of sin, and the restoration of divine favour ; our victory over death, and our hope of life eternal ! Thou hast enlarged our views beyond these territories of disorders and darkness. Thou hast discovered to us the city of the living God. Thou settest open the gates of that new Jerusalem ; and leadest us into the path of life. Thou from age to age gatherest out of every nation, and kindred, and people, that multitude which stand before the throne. Thou bringest them out of great tribulation. Thine are the white robes with which they are invested; thine, the palms which they bear; and by Thee they are placed under the light of the divine countenance for ever.
i Corinth. xiii. 5.
Charity-thinketh no evil. SERMON DELIGION and Government are the
1 two great foundations of order and comfort among mankind. Government restrains the outrages and crimes which would be subversive of society, secures the property, and defends the lives, of its subjects. But the defect of government is, that human laws can extend no farther than to the actions of men. Though they protect us from external violence, they leave us open on different sides to be wounded. By the vices which prevail in society our tranquillity may be disturbed, and our lives in various ways embitterred, while government
can give us no redress. Religion supplies SERMON the insufficiency of law, by striking at the root of those disorders which occasion so much misery in the world. Its professed scope is to regulate, not actions alone, but the temper and inclinations. By this means it ascends to the sources of conduct; and very ineffectual would the wisest system of legislation prove for the happiness of mankind, if it did not derive aid from religion, in softening the dispositions of men, and checking many of those evil passions to which the influence of law cannot possibly reach.
We are led to this reflection by the description given in the context of charity, that great principle in the Christian system. The Apostle places it in a variety of lights, and under each of them explains its operation by its internal effects; not by the actions to which it gives rise, but by the dispositions which it produces in the heart. He justly supposes, that, if the temper be duly regulated, propriety of action will follow, and good order take place in external behaviour. Of those characters of charity I have chosen one for the subject of this Discourse, which S 2
SERMON leads to the consideration of a virtue highly
important to us, both as Christians and as members of society. I shall endeavour, first, to explain the temper here pointed out, by shewing what this description of charity imports, that it thinketh no evil; and then to recommend such a disposition, and to display the bad effects of an opposite turn of mind.
I. Let us consider what this description of charity imports. You will easily perceive that the expression in the text is not to be understood in a sense altogether unlimited; as if there were no occasion on which we are to think unfavourably of others. To view all the actions of men with the same degree of complacency, would be contrary both to common understanding, and to many express precepts of religion. In a world where so much depravity abounds, were we to think and speak equally well of all, we must either be insensible of the distinction between right and wrong, or be indifferent to that distinction when we perceived it. Religion renders it our duty to abkor that which is evil; and, on many