Imagens das páginas

that of all other men whatsoever : for, where. | this glorious enterprize, which he unwearias, they have selfish passions deeply rooted edly pursued even till he had finished it by in their breasts, and are influenced by them his death. in almost every thing they do, Jesus was so entirely free from them, that the most The generality of mankind are prone to severe scrutiny cannot furnish one single retaliate injuries received, and all seem to action in the whole course of his life, where- | take a satisfaction in complaining of the in he consulted his own interest only. No, cruelties of those who oppress them ; wherehe was influenced by very different motives ; as the whole of Christ's labeurs breathed the present happiness and eternal welfare of nothing but meekness, patience, and for sinners, regulated his conduct ; and while giveness, even to his bitterest enemies, and others followed their respective occupations, in the midst of the most excruciating torJesus had no other business than that of ments. The words, “ Father forgive them, promoting the happiness of the sons of men, for they know not what they do,” uttered nor did he wait till he was solicited to ex. by him when his enemies were nailing him tend his benevolent hand to the distressed : to the cross, fitly express the temper which 6 he went about doing good, (and always he maintained through the whole course of accounted it) more blessed to give than to his life, even when assaulted by the heaviest receive ;” resembling God rather than man. provocations. He was destined to sufferHe went about doing good ; benevolence ings here below, in order that he might raise was the very life of his soul ; he not only his people to honour, glory, and immordid good to objects presented to him for re tality, in the realıns of bliss above ; and lief, but he industriously sought them out, therefore patiently, yea joyfully, submitted in order to extend his compassionate assist to all that the malice of earth and bell could

inflict. He was vilified, that we might be

honoured ; he died, that we might live for It is common for persons of the most ex ever and ever. alted faculties to be elated with success and applause, or dejected by censure and dis To conclude: the greatest and best men appointments ; but the blessed Jesus was have discovered the degeneracy and cornever elevated by the one nor depressed by ruption of buman nature, and shewn them the other. He was never more courageous, | to have been nothing more than men : but than when he met with the greatest opposi- , it was otherwise with Jesus. He was supetion and cruel treatment ; nor more buin- rior to all the men that ever lived, both ble than when the sons of men worshipped with regard to the purity of his manners, at his feet.

and the perfection of his virtue. He was

holy, harmless, undefiled, and separate from: He came into the world inspired with the sinners. grandest purpose that ever was formed, that of saving frometernal perdition, not a single | Whether we consider him as a teacher, nation, but the whole world ; and in the or asa man, “he did nosin, neither was guile execution of it, went through the longest | found in his mouth." His wbole life was, and heaviest train of labours that ever was perfectly free from spot or weakness; at the sustained, with a constancy and resolution, same time it was remarkable for the greaton which no disadvantageous impression est and most extensive exercises of virtue. could be made by any accident whatever. But never to have committed the least sin, Calumpy, threatenings, bad success, with in word or in deed ; never to have uttered many other evils constantly atiending bim, any sentiment that could be censured, upon served only to quicken bis endeavours in the various topics of religion and morality, No. 18.

3 z


which were the daily subjects of his dis- | ambition. His Gospel teaches us that we courses ; and that through the course of a are made for eternity; and that our present life filled with action, and led under the life is to our future existence, as infancy is observation of many enemies, who had to manhood. But, as in the former, many always access to converse with him, and things are to be learned, many hardships to 'who often came to find fault, is a pitch of be endured, many habits to be acquired, perfection evidently above the reach of and that by a course of exercises, which human nature ; and, consequently, he who in themselves though painful, and possibly possessed it must have been divine.

useless to the child, yet are necessary to fit Such was the person who is the subject

him for the business and enjoyments of

manhood : So while we remain in this in. of the evangelical history.'. If the reader,

fancy of human life, things are to be learn. by reviewing his life, doctrine, and mira

ed, hardships to be endured, and habits to cles, as they are here represented to him,

be acquired, by a laborious discipline, which, united into one series, has a clearer idea of

however painful, must be undergone, bethese things than before, or observes a beauty in his actions, thus linked together,

cause necessary to fit us for the employwhich taken separately do not appear so

ments and pleasures of our riper existence

in the realms above; always remembering fully ; if he feels himself touched by the

that whateyer our trials may be in this charaeter of Jesus in general, or with any of his sermons and actions in particular,

world, if we ask for God's assistance, he has

promised to give it. Enflained, therefore, thus simply delineated in writing, whose |

with the love of immortality and its joys, principal charms are the beauties of truth : '

let us submit ourselves to our heavenly above all, if his dying so generously for

teacher, and learn of him those graces, which men strikes him with admiration, or fills

alone can render life pleasant, death desirhim with joy in the prospect of that pardon

able, and fill eternity with extatic joys. wbich is thereby purchased for the world : let him seriously consider with himself, what improvement he ought to make of the di.vine goodness.

CHAP. XLV. Jesus, by his death, hath set open the gates of immortality to the sons of men ;

Remarks on the peculiar Nature of the and by his word, spirit, and example, gra

Christian Religion, the Principles it ciously offers to make them meet for the

irculcates, and its fitness to render glorious rewards in the kingdom of the hea

Men holy andhumble here, and happily venly Canaan, and to conduct them into

glorified hereafter,. 'the inheritance of the saints of light. Let us, therefore, remember, that being born

W E cannot close this delightful scene of under the dispensation of his gospel, we

the Life of our dear Lord and Saviour have from our earliest years, enjoyed the

more comfortably, than by considering the best means of securing to ourselves an in

benefits resulting from a due attendance to terest in that favour of God, which is life;

his doetrines to all, who shall by faith, and that loving-kindness, which is better

receive and embrace the same. than life.

We have been called to aspire after an Probably none have been greater enemies exaltation to the nature and felicity of the | to the progress of religion than those who Almighty, exbibited to mortal eyes in the delineate it in a gloomy and terrifying form : man Christ Jesus, to fire us with the noblest | nor any guilty of a more injurious calumny against the gospel, than those who repre- , refined system of morality? No, certainly, sent its precepts as rigorous impositions, it is a great deal more. It is an act of grace, and unnecessary restraints.

a stupendous plan of Providence, designed

for the recovery of mankind from a state True religion is the perfection of human of degradation aud ruin, to the favour of the nature, and the foundation of uniform ex Almighty, and to the hopes of a happy imalted pleasure ; of public order and private mortality through a Mediator. happiness. Christiavity is the most excellent, and the most useful institution, having Under this dispensation, true religion the “ promise of the life that now is, and consists in a repentance towards God, of that which is to come.” It is the voice of and in faith in the Lord Jesus Christ, as reason; it is also the language of scripture, the person-appointed by the supreme autho" the ways of wisdom are ways of pleasant rity of heaven and earth, to reconcile aponess, and all her paths are peace ;" and our state man to his offended Creator; as a blessed Saviour himself assures us, that his sacrifice for sin ; our vital head and governprecepts are easy, and the burthen of his ing Lord. This is religion, as we are religion light.

christians. And what hardship, what ex

action is there in all this? Surely none. The christian religion is a rational service, Nay, the practice of religion is much easier a worship in spirit and truth, a worship than the servitude of sin. worthy of the majesty of the alipighty to receive, and of the nature of man to pay. Our rational powers, all will readily agree, It comprehends all we ought to believe, are impaired, and the soul weakened, by and all we ought to practise ; its positive sin. The animal passions are strong, and rights are few, in plain and easy significancy, and manifestly adapted to establish a sense of God: objects of sense make powerful of our obligation to God and Christ. ... impressions on the mind. Weare, in every ,

situation, surrounded with many snares and The gospel places religion not in abstruse temptations. In such a disordered state of speculation and metaphysical subtilties; things, to maintain an undeviated path of not in outward shew, and tedious ceremony; duty, cannot be effected by poor weak man. not in superstitious austerities and enthusi There are, however, generous aids afforded astic visions, but in purity of heart, and us, to persevere in the ways of the Lord. holiness of life. The sum of our duty, according to our great Master himself, consists The gracious Author of nature has planted in the love of God, and of our neigh- l in the human breast a quick sense of good bour ; according to St. Paul, in denying and evil : a faculty which strongly dictates ungodliness and worldly lusts, and in living right and wrong: and though by the soberly, righteously, and godly, in this strength of appetite and warmth of passion, present evil world ; and according to St. men are often burried into immoral pracJames, in visiting the fatherless and widows tices, yet in the beginning, especially when in affliction, and in keeping ourselves un- | there has been the advantage of a good eduspotted from the world. This is the con- | cation, it is usually with reluctance and stant stream and tenor of the gospel. . This opposition of mind. What inward struggles it inculcates most earnestly, and on this it precede! What bitter pangs attend their lays the greatest stress.

sinful excesses! What guilty blushes and

uneasy fears! What frightful prospects and But is the christian system only a repub- pale reviews! Terrors are upon them. lication of the law of nature, or merely a / and a fire not blown consumeth.thens."


of God: Poose the dictates erstrong, and


To make a mock at sin, and to commit sun. Though all without may be clouds iniquity without remorse, is an attainment and darkness, there is light in the heart of that requires length of time, and much pain- a pious man. “He is satisfied from himself, ful labour; more labour than is requisite and is filled with peace and joy in believing." to attain that habitual goodness which is In the concluding scene, the awful moment the glory of the man, the ornament of the of dissolution, all is peaceful and serene. christian, and the chief of his happiness. The immortal part quits its tenement of

clay, with the well-grounded hopes of asThe soul can no more be reconciled to cending to happiness and glory. acts of wickedness and injustice, than the body to excess, but by suffering many Nor does the gospel enjoin any duty but bitter pains, and cruel attacks.

what is fit and reasonable. It calls upon all

its professors to practise reverence, submisThe mouth of conscience may, indeed, / sion, and gratitude to God: justice, truth, be stopped for a while, by false principles : and universal benevolence to men; and to its secret whispers may be drowned by the maintain the government of our own minds. noise of company, and stiffed by entertain. And what has any one to object against this? ments of sense ; but this principle of cons From the least to the greatest commandment science is so deeply rooted in human nature, of our dear Redeemer, there is notone which and, at the same time, her voice is so clear impartial reason can find fault with. “His and strong, that the sinner's arts will be un- | law is perfect; his precepts are true and able to lall her into a lasting security. righteous, altogether.” Not even those ex

cepted which require us to love ourenemies, When the hour of calamity arrives ; when to deny ourselves, and to take up our cross." sickness seizeth, and death approacheth the To forgive an injury is more generous and sinner, conscience then constrains him to manly than to revenge it ; to controul a listen to her accusations, and will not suffer licentious appetite, than to indulge it ; to the temples of his head to take any rest. suffer poverty, reproach, and even death “ There is no peace to the wicked :” the itself, in the sacred cause of truth and intefoundations of peace are subverted, they grity, is much wiser and better, than, by are at utter enmity with their reason, with base compliances, to make “ shipwreck of their conscience, and with their God.

faith and a good conscience.”

Not so is the case of true religion. For Thus in a storm at sea, or a conflagration when religion, pure and genuine, forms the on the land, a man with pleasure abandons temper, and governs the life, conscience his lumber to secure his jewels. Piety and applauds, and peace takes her residence in virtue are the wisest and most reasonable the breast. The soul is in its proper state. things in the world :-vice and wickedness There is order and regularity both in the the most irrational and absurd. faculties and actions. Conscious of its own integrity, and secure of the divine approba The all-wise Author of our being hath so tion, the soul enjoys a calmness not to bede. | framed our natures, and placed us in such scribed. But why do I call this happy frame relations, that there is nothing vicious, but cilmness only? It is far more than mere what is injurious; nothing virtuous, but calmness. The air may be calm, and the what is advantageous to our present interest, day overcast with thick mists and dark both with respect to body and mind. Meekclouds. The pious and virtuous mind | ness and humility, patience and universal resembles a serene day, enlightened and charity, and grace, give a joy "unknown enlivened with the brightest rays of the I to transgressors."

The divine virtues of truth and equity is easy; because God, who knoweth are the only bands of friendship, the only | whereof we are made, who considereth that supports of society. Temperance and we are but dust,” is ever ready to assist us. sobriety are the best preservatives of health The heathen sages themselves bad some and strength; but sin and debauchery im- | notion of this assistance, though guided only pair the body, consume the substance, re by the glimmering lamp of reason. But duce to poverty, and form the direct path to what they looked upon as probable, the an immature and untimely death. Now gospel clearly and strongly asserts. We this is the chief excellency of all laws; and there bear the apostle exhorting, “Let us what will always render their burden plea come boldly to the throne of grace, that we sant and delightful is, that they enjoin may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in nothing unbecoming or injurious.

time of need.” We there hear the blessed

Jesus himself árgving in this convincing Besides, to render our duty easy, we

manner: “ If ye, being evil, know how to have the example, as well as the commands,

give good gifts unto your children, how of the blessed Jesus. The masters of morali

much more shall your heavenly Father give ty among the heathens gave excellent rules

the Holy Spirit to them that ask him ?” for the regulation of men's manners ; but they wanted either the honesty, or the cou

I would not here be anderstood to mean, rage, to try their own arguments upon them

that the agency of the spirit is irresistible, selves. It was a strong presumption that

and lays a necessitating bias on all the faculthe yoke of the Scribes and Pharisees was

ties and affections. Were this the case, grievous, when they laid “ heavy burdens precepts and prohibitions, promises and upon men's shoulders,” which they them. threatenings, would signify nothing ; and selves refused to touch with one of their

duty and obligation would be words without fingers. Not thus our great la wgiver, Je

a meaning. The spirit assisteth in a mansus Christ, the righteous. His behaviour

ner agreeably to the frame of human nature; was, in all respects, conformable to his

not controling the free use of reason, but doctrine. His devotion towards God, how

by assisting the understanding, influencing sublime and ardent! Benevolent towards the will, and moderating the affections. men, how great and diffusive! He was in But though we may not be able to explain his life an exact pattern of innocence; for the mode of his operations, the scriptures he " did no sin; neither was guile found in

warrant us to assert, that, when men are his mouth.” In the Son of God incarnate, is

renewed and prepared for heaven, it is exhibited the brightest, the fairest resem

«s through sanctification of the spirit, and blance of the Father, that earth or heaven

belief of the truth.” How enlivening the ever beheld, an example peculiarly persua

thought ! how encouraging the motive! We sive, calculated to inspire resolution, and to

are not left to struggle alone with the difficulanimate us to use our utmost endeavours to

ties which attend the practice of virtue, in imitate the divine pattern, the example of

the present imperfect state. The merciful " the author and finisher of our faith, of

Father of our spirits is ever near to help our him who loved us and gave himself for us.infirmities, to enlighten the understanding, Our profession and character, as christians, to strengthen good resolutions, and, in obliges us to make this example the model concurrence with our own endeavours, to of our lives. Every motive of decency, make us conquerors over all opposition.

Faithful is he to his promises, and will not gratitude, and interest, constrain us to tread

suffer the sincere and well-disposed to be the paths he trod before us.

tempted above what they are able to bear, We should also remember that our burden What can be desired more than this ? To No. 18.

4 A

emble of the present

« AnteriorContinuar »