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is, that our festivity degenerate not into intemperance; our amusements into dissipation; our freedom into-licentiousness. Though it bids us s not to love the world” extravagantly, nor 64 to conform to it” criminally, yet it no where enjoins us to flee from it; but rather, after the example of our blessed Lord, to live in it, and to overcome it. A sullen, solitary, indolent retirement, is far from being conformable to the true spirit and temper of our religion, which is active, lively, and animated throughout. Consider its precepts, consider the example of those who taught it, and you will find that the predominant quality in both is an UNIFORM, UNREMITTED, CILEARFULNESS. John the Baptist, it is true, the precursor, and herald of the Gospel, assumed the
appearance of austerity and rigour. He came, "! neither eating nor drišiking. He lived in 6. the wilderness, had his raiment of ca-,
-mels hair, and a leathern girdle about his “.loins, and his meat was locusts and wild 54 honey. A very proper demeanor this for
: him, whose province it was to prepare the minds of men for the Gospel, by repentance and self-denial, to uill and dress the soil, to kill
in it every rank and noxious weed, to render it clean and
and moist with the tears of contrition, fit for the reception of that good seed which bis illustrious follower was in a short time coming to sow in it. When he appeared, the scene was changed. The Saviour of the world came (as he himself is, pleased to express it) “ eating and drinking.” He came with all the marks of good-humour and good-will to men. He went to marriage feasts. The
first miracle he worked was, to promote their chcarfulness; and he mingled in those happy meetings with so much ease and freedom, with so little affectation of mo. roseness or reserve, that his enemies gave him the name (a name which he treated with the mosť sovereign contempt) - of a gluttonous
man, and a wine-bibber, a friend of pub“ licans and sinners *.” Every mark of respect and attention that was shown him, he accepted with the most engaging and graceful condescension; nor did he even disdain the rich perfume, which the liberal hand of Mary poured upon him, notwithstanding the ill-timed murmurs of his more fastidious followers. Al* Matth. xi. 19.
though he himself, by his own example, plainly countenanced the practice of fasting at proper times, and under proper restrictions, yet he would not suffer his disciples to fast while he was with them. The time would come, he told them, when they would have abundant occasion to fast. But when the bridegroom was with them, they ought to know nothing, but joy; and that joy should not be interrupted by unseasonable severities and anticipated sor
He reproved the hypocritical Pharisees for the ostentatious sadness of their countenances on such occasions; and enjoined his own followers, whenever they did practise an extraordinary abstemiousness, to preserveeven in the midst of their humiliations, their wonted neatness of attire and chearfulness of appearance. “ The hypocrites,” says
he, disfigure “ their faces, that they may appear unto men
to fast: but thou, when thou fastest, anoint “ thine head and wash thy face: that thou
appear not untò men to fast, but unto thy “ Father which is in secret: and thy Father 6 which seeth in secret, shall reward thee “ openly *.". His discourses were of a piece * Matth. vi, 16, 17,
with his deportment: they were socihing, comfortable, refreshing. The form of words, which he made use of generally when he cured diseases, was « Son, be of good cheer,
thy sins be forgiven thee;" He was .con: stantly endeavouring to support the drooping spirits of his disciples by the molt èncouraging expressions; and when he found himself, at length obliged to explain to them the hardships they were to undergo for his sake, the conclusion was,
". In the world ye shall have « tribulation ; but be af good cheer; I have " overcome the world*."
The same spirit diffused itself to the apos. tles, evangelists, and disciples, who maintained, throughout the whole course of their ministry a certain vigour and vivacity of mind, which no calamity could depress. Their writings are fult of exhortations “.to rajoice evermore ; " to shew
with cheartulness; to count «« it all joy, .eren when we fail into tempta* tion.” The language of the text, the language
of; the whole Gospel, is, Rejoice in " the Lord alway: and again I say, Rejoice." Hence it is plain, that a constant clear fulness
.* Jolan xvi.-33.
w the distinguishing character of thie Christian religion: that it animated both the precepts and the conduct of those who taught it, and was considered by them as a necessary concomitant in the performance of every part of qur duty.
„But the Gospel does not stop here. It not only. commands us to be chearful; this it might very easily de; but what is of still more importance, it assists us in becoming so ; it. affords the best and most effectual helps toward abtaining thet happy and satisfied temper, that constant : serenity and composure of mind, without which all the wealth and grandeur of the world are insipid and worthless things.
I. The first assistance of this kind it gives us is, that constant and enlivening employment which it finds for our thoughts. The human mind, we all know, is restless and active ; and if not otherwise engaged, will turn its activity ipward, will prey upon
and devour itself, and become the destroyer of jts own happiness. A very large proportion of the evils which press the heaviest upon us, are purely imaginary, are the creation of our own hands, and arise from me other cause than the having rething else to