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beneficence. This is the import of all his instructions, labours, and example. But it will not be questioned, that the life and instructions of Christ are the whole amouut of the Gospel. It is the whole design of the Gospel, therefore, as well as the law, to make men good, and to persuade them to do good.
lu this mighty and glorious particular no other book is like the Scriptores; none, second to them. All the works of ancient Philosophy, and modern lutidelity, if allowed to have their whole influence on the heart, would terminate in corrupting those, by whom they were read. Soine valuable truths, and some useful
precepts, they undoubtedly contain ; but these are so mingled with a mass of falsehood and licentiousness, that their entire efficacy is only depraving, and dreadful. Accordingly, not one of those, who have conformed their conduct to these writings, has been shown, with any reasonable evidence, to have been a virtuous man; or to have made it his real bu iness to amend the character, and increase the happiness, of mankind.
How illustrious a contrast is presented to us in the life of the Apostles ! Look for a moment at the conduct of St. Paul. Behold him renouncing wealth, reputation, and pleasure; the high rewards of ambition, and the fascinating charms of influence ; his family, his friends, and his country; wandering from place to place, throughout the Roman world; over land, and sea; among civilized men, and barbarians ; suffering toil and weariness, danger and persecution ; imprisoned, scourged, and stoned; yet able to say, and say with truth, “ None of these things move me; neither count I my life dear unto myself, so that I may
my course with joy, and the Ministry, which I have received of the Lord Jesus, to testify the Gospel of the grace of God.” All these labours, losses, and sufferings, this great and good man encountered for the immortal benefit of his fellow-men. For this glorious object he spent his life. For this he expired on the cross.
Contrast with the life, and death, of this Apostle the life, and character, of the ancient Philosophers, and of modern Infidels. Contemplate the affluence, ease, and luxury, in which many of them lived; the bare decency of the best, and the gross vice of almost all; their excessive pride; their insatiable lust of fame; the sanctions, which they have given, both by their example and
their precepts, to the rank indulgence of sensual appetites; their absolute destitution of efforts for the good of mankind; and their universal absorption in base and sordid selfishness; and you will behold one instructive exhibition of the philosophy, which they taught, and of its proper efficacy on the mind of man. You will,
, also, cease to wonder, that those, who imbibe this philosophy, resemble their teachers; or that those, who cordially embrace the Gospel, should in their life and conversation be followers of St. Paul.
2dly. This doctrine furnishes one of the best means for determining our own characters.
Is it the commanding object of our wishes, and designs, to do good? We have all, unquestionably, something, at which we aim, as the chief end of our labours. Is this the end? Or do we live, and desire to live, only to enjoy? If the former is our great object, we are children of God; if the latter, we are hitherto strangers to his family, and favour, and to that character, which alone can unite us to both. All good men have possessed this character; and from it have derived their title of good men.
If this be not our character ; however decent, pleasing, and amiable, in the sight of others, we have no pretensions to goodness; and are still odious in the sight of God.
3dly. This doctrine will furnish us with an universal Standard, for estimating the characters of our fellow-men.
Every man is truly estimated, according to the effect of the beneficence, of which he was the voluntary author. All men are furnished with means, and opportunities, of doing good : some with greater; some with less : but all, with those, which are real, and which, if faithfully employed, will enable them to be real benefactors to the world. Every man can glorify his Maker, and promote the happiness of his fellow creatures. Those, who cannot give, may contrive. Those, who cannot contrive, may labour. Those, who cannot labour, may pray. Some, wbo can cast only two mites into the common treasury, for the service of God, and the happiness and virtue of their fellow-men ; will be found to have done more, than a host of the rich, the great, and the splendid. Let no person, therefore, feel as if this divine employment was beyond his power.
Were this equitable standard, for estimating the characters of men, universally adopted; what mighty changes would be made in human reputation? How often would the man of science, who consumes his life in heaping up knowledge, without employing it to any useful purpose, be obliged to give place to the clown, who has never known his alphabet; and who, yet, in his own humble sphere, has laboured for the relief and the comfort of those around him ? How often would beauty of form fade away before the superior lustre of a virtuous mind, animating, perhaps, a plain, or even a deformed, person? How frequently would the tongue of eloquence falter and be dumb, before the silent but impressive language of a benevolent life, in a humble man, who had talents for nothing but doing good! How suddenly, as well as frequently, would the wreath of the statesman, and the laurel of the hero, wither before the crown of glory, achieved by a peasant; whom the one ruled with a rod of iron, and the other butchered, perhaps, to swell his power and fame! In a word, how soon would many of the great become little ; the renowned be forgotten ; the splendid sink into obscurity; and kings, and princes, and nobles, and all those proud men, whom we foolishly account happy, exchange the palace for a cottage, or the throne for a dunghill ?
In the day, when “God shall bring every work into judgment, with every secret thing, whether it be good, or whether it be evil ;" changes of this nature, endless in their multitude, and immensely important in their alternations of disgrace and glory, will actually take place. Then those, who are last in this world, will in many instances be first; and those, who are first, will in many instances be last. Then those only, who have done good, will rise to the resurrection of life: while those, who have done evil, will rise to the resurrection of condemnation. Then pride and fame, wealth and grandeur, will fade and wither beneath the beams of the Sun of righteousness. Then, too, the benevolence of the Gospel, which budded only in this unfriendly climate, will open in the eternal sunshine with life, which cannot decay; with beauty, which will never fade; and with fragrance, which will cheer heaven itself through its immortal ages. Then those, who have voluntarily done good even to the least of Christ's brethren, will be declared to have done it unto him; and will inherit the kingdom, prepared
for his followers from the foundation of the world. At the same time, also, those who have refused, or neglected, this divine employment, will be compelled, with amazement and terror, to depart from his presence into everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels. It ought to sink deep into the heart of every one of us, that no reason is alleged, at the final trial, for this immense difference in the future allotments of men, but that some have chosen, and that others have declined, to employ their time, and talents, in accomplishing this glorious object. The former are admitted into heaven, not indeed, as having merited this divine destination, but as being qualified for active and endless benefcence: the latter are shut out, because they are unfitted to pursue this illustrious end of their being.
ON THE DUTIES CONNECTED WITH A PROFESSIONAL
PREACHED TO THE CANDIDATES FOR THE BACCALAUREATE
IN 1796 AND 1805.
PROVERBS iv. 20—27.
My son attend to my words; incline thine ear to my sayings :
heart : For they are life unto those that find them, and health to all their
flesh. Keep thy heart with all diligence, for out of it are the issues of life. Put away from thee a froward mouth, and perverse lips put far
from thee. Let thine eyes. look right on, and thine eyelids look straight be
fore thee. Ponder the path of thy feet, and let all thy ways be established. Turn not to the right hand, nor to the left : remove thy foot from
These words are a part of the Instructions, given by David to Solomon; of a great and wise prince, to a promising son. The character of the Father has been rarely excelled ; his instruc
The influence, which they had on the son, was of the happiest kind ; and their tendency to profit all men was such, that God, who had originally given them to the Father, thought proper to record them in the sacred Canon, for universal use.