Imágenes de páginas

that shall come will come, and will not tarry. The just shall live by faith: but if any man draw back, my soul, faith the Lord, ball have no pleasure in him. Be not ye of them who draw back unto perdition : but of them. that believe to the saving of the foul (i).

(1) Heb. x. 36–39.


Goodness illustrated by the Character of


Acts, xi. 22—24. They sent forth Barnabas, that he should go es far as Antioch: who, when he came, and had seen the grace of God, was glad, and exhoried them all, that with purpose of heart they would cleave unto the Lord. For he was a good man, and full of the Holy Ghost and of faith.

IN the management of worldly transac* tions, the foundness of the principles upon which we conduct ourselves is a circumstance of priine moment to our success. If the man of science builds his fpeculations on a groundless theory, and sustains them by an unphilosophical process; shall not they terminate in emptiness and dis


appointment? If the Commander embarked in a perilous enterprise, has formed an erroneous judgement concerning its nature, and measures its facilities or its difficulties by a false standard; shall not the event be disastrous ? Is it not then of inexpresfible concern that, in pursuing the interests of eternity, you should contemplate them with discerning eyes; and estimate, by a true criterion, every particular which is essential to the attainment of your object? The man of science may renew his labours on a firmer basis. The Commander, reaping wifdom from defeats, may conquer in another campaign. Not so the departed fpirit, wilfully estranged, while in the body, from the path of final happiness. Disappointment in that pursuit is ruin for ever. .

There are few fubjects respecting which a more conspicuous variety of judgement prevails than exists with regard to goodness. How numerous, how discordant are the standards by which it is measured! Enter the crowded circle of society, and advert to some of the different characters, to which you hear the term Good continually and confidently applied.

First: there is the decent and orderly man. He is so regular in his attendance

. on

on the ordinances of the church, so punctual in his dealings, so free from gross and open vice, so unobstrusive in demeanour, so decorous in all his proceedings ; that he speedily establishes his claim to the title of a good man. If, when called upon to applaud him as such, you venture to pause for additional information : if, before you deliver your opinion, you wish to obtain grounds for judging whether, while he bears the form of godliness, he also manifests the power thereof; whether his religion is an outside coat, a superficial varnish, or a principle of penetrating influence, warming and governing the heart: you are instantly decried as cenforious and uncharitable and never to be satisfied. “What," you are asked, “ is goodness; if so respect“able and exemplary a man as this is not so good ?"

Then comes the liberal man, and prefers his claim. His pretensions are instantly admitted. He is so open-hearted and be. nevolent; so prompt to empty his purse; so kind to the poor; so hospitable to his friends! If you begin to examine, however modestly, however in conformity with ambiguous appearances, whether his liberality may not be thoughtless profufion ; whe

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]


ther his, benevolence may not be a mere natural feeling; whether his hospitality may not be the indulgence of sensuality and ostentation; whether other parts of his conduct uphold or contradict the supposition of his goodness: you are encountered with vehement declarations that a better man never existed ; and are silenced with the perverted text, that charity covereth a multitude of sins.

Then comes an opposite character; the industrious and frugal man. So much laudable diligence in his business; so much care to provide for his family; so much exertion, so much patience; so much perseverance, so much self-denial ; such exemption from parade, from noise, from extravagance, from dissipation : here is an example of laborious virtue! If you intimate a doubt whether his labours exemplify any disposition beyond covetousness; you are treated as a man determined to find fault, as one whom neither generosity nor frugality can please.

The next person who demands notice is the cautious man. His object is never to give offence. He says civil things of every person ; yet not so civil of any person as to excitc the jealousy of another. He

« AnteriorContinuar »