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"This was a lesson so new, and so utterly unknown, till taught by his doctrines, and enforced by his example, that the wisest moralists of the wisest nations and ages represented the desire of revenge as a mark of a noble mind, and the accomplishment of it as one of the chief felicities attendant on a fortunate man. But how much more magnanimous, how much more beneficial to mankind, is forgiveness!
"It is more magnanimous, because every generous and exalted disposition of the human mind, is requisite to the practice of it; for these alone can enable us to bear the wrongs and insults of wickedness and folly with patience; and to look down on the perpetrators of them, with pity rather than indignation; these alone can teach us, that such are but a part of those sufferings allotted to us in this state of probation; and to know, that to overcome evil with good, is the most glorious of all victories.
"It is the most beneficial, because this amiable conduct alone can put an end to a continual succession of injuries and retaliations; for every retaliation becomes a new injury, and requires another act of revenge for satisfaction. But would we observe this salutary precept, "To love our enemies, and to do good to those who despitefully use us,' this obstinate benevolence
would at last conquer the most inveterate hearts, and we should have no enemies to forgive. How much more exalted a character, therefore, is a Christian Martyr, suffering with resignation, and praying for the guilty, than that of a Pagan hero, breathing revenge, and destroying the in
"Yet, noble and useful as this virtue is, before the appearance of this religion, it was not only unpractised, but decried in principle, as mean and ignominious, though so obvious a remedy for most of the miseries of this life, and so necessary a qualification for the happiness of the next.
"Another precept, first noticed and first enjoined by this institution, is, charity to all men. What this is, we may best learn from the admirable description contained in the following words: 'Charity suffereth long, and is kind; charity envieth not; charity vaunteth not itself, is not puffed up; doth not behave itself unseemly; seeketh not her own; is not easily provoked; thinketh no evil; rejoiceth not in iniquity, but rejoiceth in the truth; beareth all things, believeth all things, hopeth all things, endureth all things.'
"Here we have an accurate delineation of this bright constellation of all virtues, which consists not, as many imagine, in the building of monasteries, endowment of hospitals, or the distribu
tion of alms; but in such an amiable disposition of mind, as exercises itself every hour in acts of kindness, patience, complacency, and benevolence to all around us; and which alone is able to promote happiness in the present life, or render us capable of receiving it in another.-And yet this is totally new, and so it is declared to be by the author of it; 'A new commandment I give unto you, that ye love one another; as I have loved you, that ye love one another; by this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another.' This benevolent disposition is made the great characteristic of a Christian, the test of his obedience, and the mark by which he is to be distinguished. "This love for each other is that charity just now described, and contains all those qualities which are there attributed to it; humility, patience, meekness, and beneficence: without which we must live in perpetual discord, and consequently cannot pay obedience to this commandment of loving one another. This commandment is so sublime, so rational, and so beneficial; so wisely calculated to correct the depravity, diminish the wickedness, and abate the miseries of human nature, that did we universally comply with it, we should soon be relieved from all the inquietudes arising from our own unruly passions,
anger, envy, revenge, malice, and ambition; as well as from all those injuries, to which we are perpetually exposed, from the indulgence of the same passions in others. It would also preserve our minds in such a state of tranquillity, and so prepare them for the kingdom of heaven, that we should slide out of a life of peace, love, and benevolence, into that celestial society, by an almost imperceptible transition."
THE EFFECTS OF CHRISTIANITY.
We shall concur with Soame Jenyns in the observation that "before the appearance of Christianity, all nations, the Jewish only excepted, were immersed in the grossest idolatry, which had little or no connexion with morality, except to corrupt it by the infamous examples of their imaginary deities. They all worshipped a multitude of gods and demons, whose favour they courted by impious, obscene, and ridiculous ceremonies; and whose anger they endeavoured to appease by the most abominable cruelties.
"In the politest ages of the politest nations in the world, at a time when Greece and Rome had carried the arts of oratory, poetry, history, architecture, and sculpture, to the highest perfection, and had made no inconsiderable advances in those of mathematics, natural and even moral philosophy, yet in religious knowledge they had