« AnteriorContinuar »
general, to think candidly and favourably of
others. The sentiments of the mind take their
colour frequently from the inclinations of the heart, and such as we know ourselves, we imagine others to be. A good man will not easily think evil of his fellow creatures, but will give to all the credit of virtue, till experience and the evidence of facts have convinced him that they do not deserve it. Caution, however, and the sense of that malignity which is the disgrace of our species, should not be totally absent from the thoughts of a good man. Too indiscriminate a charity of opinion may make him the dupe of villainy, and the generosity of his spirit and his sentiments may contribute to the success of designing wickedness. In such a case he would have reason to lament, that while he had attended to one of his master's precepts, he had neglected another; and would be convinced that, in a world like this, the wisdom of the serpent was by no means less necessary than the innocence of the dove. The good, however, which he hopes and thinks of mankind will gratify both his expectations and his benevolence, when he beholds
it practised; and the visible exercise of justice and veracity will yield him the most perfect satisfaction. For, IX. Charity rejoiceth not in iniquity, but rejoiceth in the truth. The happiness which virtue gives is not derived alone from the private and personal practice of it. Every true friend to piety and goodness has a real pleasure in their success, and generously and happily interests himself in it. . In the success of iniquity charity cannot rejoice, because that success is prejudicial to the common welfare; but the prevalence of truth, the prosperity of goodness, and the establishment of justice, cannot but be grateful to that extensive benevolence which embraces human kind, and rejoiceth in the visible happiness of the world. That charity would, indeed, be narrow and imperfect, which should not comprehend the general interests of virtue, nor concern itself beyond the limits of personal connections. The evangelical charity takes a wider range, and having at heart the universal happiness of mankind, rejoiceth, upon those principles, when truth and righteousness flourish on the earth.
It is, moreover, her supreme delight when the religion of her divine Master prevails among men; that exalted philanthropist, with whom she existed from the ages of
sER Mo N xv.
THE EVANGELICAL CHARITY,
- 1 Cor. xiii. 7. Charity beareth all things, believeth all things, hopeth all things, endureth all things.
THAT meek and submitting spirit, that patient suffering, and silent resignation, by which the Author of our religion was so amiably distinguished, could not but be included among those moral graces, which are comprehended under this extensive term of charity. - X. Charity beareth all things; endureth all things, Patience is not less peculiarly an attribute of Christianity than it was of that philosopher of old, which went under the name of Stoicism. But the patience of a Christian is of a very different nature, and founded on principles very opposite to that of the Stoic.
The former arises from the disposition of the heart; the latter rested on an ideal fortitude; the mere philosophy of the brain. The former has its origin in humility; the latter was the offspring of pride. The Christian is resigned as a being dependent on, and submissive to, the dispensations of Providence: the principles of the Stoic's patience were centered in himself, and consisted in a vain and unnatural affectation of despising exterior evils. The Christian acknowledges the power of calamity, and the distresses of pain, but submits to them from a religious acquiescence in whatever the supreme Governor of the universe is pleased to permit: the Stoic idly endeavoured to persuade himself that there was no such thing as evil in the world, and, destitute of the comforts that attend a resignation on religious principles, languished under the irresistible attacks of misery, while he was making fruitless efforts to believe that misery had no existence. - - Behold here, how superior is that wisdom which cometh from above, to the unassisted searches of human reason how blind and bewildered were the children of philosophy, compared to those that walk in the light of the living God! How vain were their attempts to find a remedy for the evils of life,