« السابقةمتابعة »
becomes glorious; the affections delightful; the conduc
2dly. The great practical inference from this doctrine ing good is the only proper Employment of man.
You, my Friends and Brethren, were created for th pose; not to gain reputation, learning, wealth, know! honour, or pleasure; but to do good; not to gain ev self, or immortal life; but to ascend to heaven, and mortal life, that in that happy world you may employ of duration in an endless diffusion of beneficence, exercise of piety and praise. Make, then, the e designed your existence, and your faculties, the vol er end of all your wishes, designs, and labours.
With sober and affecting meditation set it befor form, and system, as the purpose for which you dowed, preserved, and blessed hitherto; as the p prescribed by the will of God; and as the purpo are, therefore, voluntarily, and supremely, to de Let each of you say to himself, "I was formed glorious purpose of doing good. This was the s it is my own supreme interest; it is the suprem low-creatures in me. Be this, then, the ultim thoughts, wishes, and labours; and let nothing pursuing it always. While I lawfully seek for 1 ty, learning, eloquence, power, or any other ear: solved to seek them, only in subordination to t as means, merely, to this end. To form, and t olution, give me grace, wisdom, and strength, mercies! that I may perform thy holy will, a.. resemble thy perfect and glorious character, the Amen."
This solemn proposition of the subject to y most of course, give it a distinction and impor which would induce you to keep it supremely. sight, and render it a standard, to which all yo referred for approbation or rejection; a moral would measure every thought, and pursuit; a you would distinguish every species of alloy gold. It would, also, direct your aims to a hi your efforts a nobler character. Men usuall rather compound in their affections with conscie tures, for a mixture of worldliness and virtue, th ing nothing, but the dictates of virtue. They a and not at being only, and eminently, virtuous. this is, they take it for granted, that they shall :
As objects of your kindness, always select the most deserving. The Scriptures have directed you to do good unto all men, and especially to those of the household of faith. To the soundness of this precept common sense bears, also, the fullest attestation. It was reserved for philosophy to discern, that the true and proper scenes of employing benevolence were the galley and the gaol; and that its chief aim should be not to make men good and virtuous, but to prevent thieves, murderers, and traitors from coming to the dungeon or the gibbet, which they had merited. Let your favourite object be the honest, the industrious, the sober, the virtuous; and both feel, and relieve, their distresses. Refuse not others; but give to these an universal preference. When you relieve the sufferings of the vicious and infamous, close your beneficence with solemn reproof, and pungent counsel; and remember, if you withdraw them from vice to virtue, you render them a kindness, infinitely greater, than if you elevate them to wealth and honour. In this way you will save a soul from death, and cover a multitude of sins.
With all your resolutions and efforts, you will need, every day, assistance from God. Every day, ask it in humble, fervent prayer. No real blessing ever descends to man, but as an answer to prayer. Particularly this rich and glorious blessing of a life patiently spent in well-doing, cannot be expected unless it be asked for. Three times a day retire with Daniel to your chambers. God will be there, and will grant you a glorious answer of peace.
To such a life can you want motives? Let me remind you, that it is, and, I flatter myself, it has been proved to be, not only the most honourable, but the only honourable, character; the character, which secures the secret approbation of those who do not assume it; and the open esteem, love, and praise, of those who do that it is the only character, which is truly and eminently happy; which possesses peace within, and enjoyment without; which is found in heaven, and constitutes the happiness of that exalted world that it is the character of Angels, of Christ, and of God; the beauty of the divine kingdom, the glory of Jehovah, and the source of all the good, which is enjoyed in Immensity and Eternity.
It is the only character, which will endure. The world passeth away, and the lust thereof; but he who doeth the will of God abideth for ever. The lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, the wretched inventory of a selfish, worldly mind, find all their poor, though boasted, gratifications on this side of the grave. Their miserable possessors riot, and dig, and climb, during their passing day; and then vanish, and are seen no more: where will they next be found?
He, on the contrary, who by patient continuance in well-doing hath sought for glory, honour, and immortality, will lie down in the bed of peace, will fall asleep in the Lord Jesus, and awake
with new life, and glory, beyond the grave. In the great trial, he will be found, and pronounced, to have well done, and to have been a good and faithful servant of his divine Master; and will be directed to enter into the joy of his Lord.
In the great and final day, he will be acquitted, acknowledged, and glorified, before the assembled universe; because, when the least of Christ's brethren was an hungered, he gave him meat; when he was thirsty, he gave him drink; when he was a stranger, he took him in; when he was naked, he clothed him; when he was sick, and in prison, he ministered unto him. Of so high and valuable a nature will he find this beneficence, that it will be received, and rewarded, by Christ, as done to himself. To heaven he will be an acceptable inhabitant; and meet with an open and abundant entrance into that happy world. Glorified saints will there hail him as their brother: Angels will welcome him as their companion. There, also, will he find, that he has begun a career of excellence, which will never end. Endued, there, with stronger principles and nobler powers, in a happier field, with more desirable companions, and forming all his plans of beneficence for eternal duration, he will fill up the succession of ages with a glorious and immortal progress of doing good; and become daily a brighter, a more perfect, a more divine, ornament, and blessing, to the virtuous universe.
And now, my friends and brethren, I commend you to God, and to the word of his grace, which is able to build you up in this evangelical character, and to give you an inheritance among all them that are sanctified. Amen.
THE LAW OF GOD.-THE SECOND GREAT COMMANDMENT.THE EFFECTS OF BENEVOLENCE ON PUBLIC HAPPINESS.
ACTS xx. 35.-1 have shewed you all things, how that so labouring, ye ought to support the weak; and to remember the words of the Lord Jesus, how he said, It is more blessed to give, than to receive.
IN a preceding discourse, I considered, at length, the Influence of a disposition to do good on the personal happiness of him, in whom it exists; and attempted to show, that this disposition is more productive, than any other, of such happiness. It is now my design to prove, that it possesses a no less superior efficacy in producing Public happiness; or the happiness of Society in all its various forms.
Of this disposition, commonly styled disinterested Benevolence, and denoted in the New Testament by the word, Ayarn, rendered in our translation Love, and Charity, we have an extensive, most accurate, and most beautiful, description in the 13th chapter of the first Epistle to the Corinthians. In this chapter, it is exhibited to be superior to every natural and supernatural endowment, and to every acquisition made by man. It is proved to be the source of all good, natural and moral; or rather the source of all natural, and the substance of all moral, good. It is shown to be the only real excellence of intelligent creatures; the means of their existence, and their continuance, in the kingdom, of God; and the only cause of his complacency in their character. Finally, it is declared, that this disposition shall endure until all other things, which are admired and esteemed by men, shall be forgotten; and, when they shall have ceased, together with their use and importance, shall brighten and flourish for ever.
Generally, it is declared, if I mistake not, in this chapter, that Love, in its various modifications and exercises, is the amount of all those, which are commonly called the graces of the Christian spirit; or, as they are often styled, the Christian virtues. Particularly, it is exhibited to us as long-suffering, contentment, modesty, humility, decency, disinterestedness, meekness, charitableness, hatred of iniquity, love to truth, patience, faith, hope, and fortitude. With this, the most extended and the most detailed, account of the subject, furnished by the Scriptures, all the other exhibitions, contained in the sacred volume, perfectly agree. In them all, when connected together by the mind, as may without difficulty be perceived, this great truth is abundantly shown: viz.