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HEBREWS xii. 14.
Follow peace with all men, and holiness, with.
out which no man mall see the Lord.
THE great end and design of our holy
1 religion, next to the main view of reconciling us to God, was to reconcile us to each other ;-by teaching us to fubdue all those unfriendly difpofitions in our nature, which unfit us for happiness, and the social enjoyment of the many blessings which God has enabled us to partake of in this world, miserable as it is, in many respects.—Could christianity persuade the professors of it into this temper, and engage us, as its doctrine requires, to go on and exalt our natures, and, after the subduction of the most unfriendly of our passions, to plant, in the room of them, all those (more natural to the soil) humane and benevolent inclinations, which, in imitation of the perfections of God, should dispose us to extend our love and goodness to our fellowcreatures, according to the extent of our abilities;—in like manner, as the goodness of God extends itself over all the works of the creation :-could this be accomplished,—the world would be worth living in ;—and might be considered by us' as a foretaste of what we should enter upon hereafter.
But such a system, you will say, is merely visionary ;-and, considering man as a creature fo beset with selfishness, and other fretful pafsions that propensity prompt him to, though it is to be wished, it is not to be expected. But our religion enjoins us to approach as near this fair pattern as we can; and, if it be possible, as much as lieth in us, to live peaceably with all men ;-where the term,- If possible, I own, implies it may not only be difficult, but sometimes impossible.—Thus the words of the text,-Follow peace,-may by some be thought to imply,—that this desireable blessing may sometimes fly from us;—but still we are required to follow it, and not cease the
pursuit, till we have used all warrantable me. thods to regain and settle it:- because, adds the Apostle, without this frame of mind, no man shall see the Lord. For heaven is the region, as well as the recompence, of peace and benevolence; and such as do not desire and promote it here, are not qualified to enjoy it hereafter.
For this cause, in Scripture language, peace is always spoke of as the great and comprehensive blessing, which included in it all manner of happiness;—and to wish peace to any house or person, was, in one word, to wish them all that was good and desireable. Because happiness consists in the inward complacency and fatisfaction of the mind; and he who has such a disposition of soul, as to acquiesce and rest contented with all the events of providence, can want nothing this world can give him.–Agreeable to this,—that short, but most comprehensive, hymn sung by angels at our Saviour's birth, declaratory of the joy and happy ends of his incarnation,--after glory, in the first, to God,—the next note which founded was, Peace upon earth, and good
will to men.-It was a public wish of happi. ness to mankind, and implied a folemn charge to pursue the means that would even lead to it.-And, iu truth, the good-tidings of the gospel are nothing else but a grand message and embassy of peace, to let us know, that our peace is made in heaven. ..
The prophet Isaiah stiles our Saviour the Prince of Peace, long before he came into the world;—and to answer the title, he made choice to enter into it at a time when all nations were at peace with each other; which was in the days of Augustus,—when the temple of Janus was shut, and all the alarms of war were hushed and silenced throughout the world.-At his birth, the host of heaven defcended, and proclaimed peace on earth, as the best state and temper the world could be in to receive and welcome the Author of it.His future conversation and doctrine, here upon earth, was every way agreeable with his peaceable entrance upon it;--the whole course of his life being but one great example of meekness, peace and patience.--At his death, it was the only legacy he bequeathed to his fol
lowers :—My peace I give unto you.—How far this has taken place, or been actually enjoyed,—is not my intention to enlarge upon, any further than just to observe how precious a bequest it was, from the many miseries and calamities which have, and ever will, ensue from the want of it. If we look into the larger circle of the world, what desolations, dissolutions of government, and invasions of property !--what rapine, plunder, and profanation of the most sacred rights of mankind, are the certain unhappy effects of it !--fields dyed in blood,—the cries of orphans and widows, bereft of their best help, too fully instruct us.-Look into private life, behold how good and pleasant a thing it is to live together in unity;--it is like the precious ointment poured upon the head of Aaron, that run down to his skirts ;-importing, that this balm of life is felt and enjoyed, not only by governors of kingdoms, but is derived down to the lowest rank of life, and tasted in the most private receffes ;-all, from the king to the peasant, are refreshed with its blessings, without which we can find no comfort in any