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avoids the delivery of any positive opinion.. If present at a discussion respecting some controverted occurrence, and appealed to by both sides ; he admires the excellent arguments reciprocally produced; professes himself incompetent to decide between them; or holds such a middle course a£ may not be altogether unsatisfactory' to either disputant. He attaches himself* to no party; but, endeavours to induce sill severally to regard him as well inclined to their cause. He is thought somewhat reserved, and perhaps rather timid and inconsistent: but, while his conduct is a tissue of time-serving insincerity, he is generally allowed to be "a very good fort of
Another character in high repute is the easy good-humoured man. He is so "plea"sant," as the phrase is; so cheerful; so harmless; so neighbourly! Every person whom he meets he appears delighted to fee. He is always furnished with entertaining conversation; always prepared to join in any scheme of amusement; always disposed to collect his acquaintance around him; always careful to dismiss them pleased with his society. It is thus that, possibly without possessing a single gle estimable quality, unless a gay facility of temper deserves the name; he obtains far and wide the denomination of as excellent a man as ever was born.
The last character which shall be mentioned is one, that heretofore was confined to the upper ranks: but one whose principles, in the descending contagion of fashion, have reached the middle walks of* life. I mean that character whom the world calls "a man of honour'" The man of this description studiously practices whatever is creditable, and avoids whatever is discreditable, in the class of society in which he moves. When the law of God accords with the rules of the world, he follows it: not because it is the law of God, but because it is the rule of the world. -When the laws of God and the rules of the world disagree; he prefers the world to his Maker. His language concerning moral conduct is the language of pride; and shews that reputation, not God, is the object of his worship. Ask him why he shuns any particular practice. Does he reply, "Because it is sinful?" The expression is foreign to his lips. He answers; ," Because it is mean: because it is lozv; "because it is degradhig; because it is un
"becoming a gentleman; because it is be
"neatb me: because it is dt/honourable.**
Why does he pursue a specified line of
conduct? Because it is acceptable to God?
Because it is conformable to the example
of Jesus Christ? He thinks not of such a
standards He pursues it because it has the
stamp of fashionable estimation. Destitute*
it may be, of. a grain of true religion, this
man is regarded by multitudes as a model
With the goodness of these various characters, and of others which might have been described, some praised by one set of men, some by another set, and all of them, extolled by themselves,^the world rings. In the midst of these universal encomiums, the mind naturally observes to itself; " If "all these different characters are good men, u how easy must it be to be good! And "how excellent must the world be, which "contains so much goodness!" Now, unfortunately for that view of the subject, this representation of the excellence of the world, and of the easiness of being good, is not exactly the language of the Scriptures. The Scriptures speak of the world as lying in wickedness; as being under the power of Satan. They pronounce its friendship Vd*. II. I t© to be enmity with God. They affirm that Christians are not to be conformed to this world: that we are to be crucified unto the world; that if we love the world,: we shall perish with the world. Th4st 'xvith respect to the facility of attaining goodness j the Scriptures aver that the imagination.,/$f the heart of every man is evil from r>is youth: that the heart is by nature deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked. Their common representation of a Christian life is that of a state of war; of a struggle for the mastery over sin; of wrestling against principalities and powers of darkness. They call upon us to be good soldiers of Jesus Christ; to endure hardship for Him; to take unto ourselves the whole armour of God, the shield of faith, the breast-plate of righteousness, the sword of the Spirit. They command us not to follow the multitude to do evil; but to walk in the narrow way, and strive to enter through the strait gate, if we seek to inherit salvation. They teach us, with ah immediate reference to the prevailing opinions of the world respecting goodness, how frequently that which is highly esteemed among men is abomination in the sight of God. We may therefore feel well assured, without minute 2 . ... inquiry, inquiry, that all these different descriptions of men cannot be models of goodness. "We may perhaps reasonably suspect that not one of them is good, •'i'.'While we are thus bewildered in obscurity and confusion, the word of God. holds out a lantern to our paths. The word of God sets a good man before us. Barnabas was a good man.
Here then at length we feel solid ground under our feet. If we can ascertain what was the character of Barnabas, we know what must be the character of a good man. Let us examine therefore the circumstances which the Scriptures disclose concerning him.
Barnabas, when he came, and had seen the grace of God, was glad; and exhorted them all that with purpose of heart they would cleave unto the Lord. For he was a good man; and full of the Holy Ghoft, and of faith.
I. Barnabas was full of the Holy Ghost.
What is the meaning of this expression? Not merely, nor principally, that Barnabas possessed the power of working miracles. For though he undoubtedly was favoured, like other eminent Christians of his day, with many extraordinary gifts of the Holy I 2 Spirit: