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While he, who had once sparkled in society with all the charms of gay vivacity, and had been the delight of every circle in which he was engaged, remains dispirited, overwhelmed, and annihilated, in the evil day.
Such are the failings incident to persons of mixed and imperfect goodness; such the defects of a character formed merely of the amiable without the estimable qualities of man.
It appears from this, that we must not place too much trust in the fair appearances, which a character may at first exhibit. In judging of others, let us always think the best, and employ the spirit of charity and candour. But in judging of ourselves, we ought to be more severe. Let us remember him whom our Lord beheld, and loved; and who yet fell short of the kingdom of heaven. Let us not forget, that something more than gentleness and modesty, than complacency of temper and affability of manners, is requisite to form a worthy man or a true Christian. To a high place in our esteem, these qualities are justly entitled. They enter essentially into every good man's character. They form some of its most favourable distinctions. But they constitute a part of it; not the whole. Let us not, therefore, rest on them entirely, when we conceive an idea of what manner of persons we ought to be.
LET piety form the basis of firm and established virtue. If this be wanting, the character cannot be sound and entire. Moral virtue will always be endangered, often be overthrown, when it is separated from its surest support. Confidence in God, strengthened by faith in the great Redeemer of mankind, not only amidst the severer trials of virtue, gives constancy to the mind; but, by nourishing the hope of immortality, adds warmth and elevation to the affections. They whose conduct is not animated by religious principle, are deprived of the most powerful incentive to worthy and honourable deeds.
Let such discipline, next, be studied as may form us to the active and manly virtues. To natural good affections, we can never entirely trust our conduct. These, as has been shown, may sometimes be warped into what is wrong; and often will prove insufficient for carrying us rightly through all the duties of life. Good affections are highly valuable; but they must be supported by fixed principles, cultivated in the understanding, and rooted in the heart. Habits must be acquired of temperance and self-denial, that we may be able to resist pleasure, and endure pain, when either of them interfere with our duty; that we may be prepared to make a sacrifice of any worldly interest, when the voice of God and conscience demand it. Let us always remember, that without fortitude of mind, there is no manhood; there can be no perseverance in virtue. Let à sacred and inviolable regard for truth reign in our whole behaviour. Let us be distinguished for fidelity to every promise we have made ; and for constancy in every worthy friendship we have formed. Let no weak complaisance, no undue regard to the opinions of men, ever make us betray the rights of conscience. What we have once, upon due consideration, adopted as rules of conduct, to these let us adhere unshaken. However the world may change around us, let it find us the same in prosperity and adversity ; faithful to God and virtue; faithful to the convictions of our own heart. What our lot in the world may be, is not ours to foresee or determine. But it is ours to resolve, that, whatever it shall be, it shall find us persevering in one line of uprightness and honour.
By such discipline, such attentions as these, we are to guard against those failings, which are sometimes found to stain the most engaging characters. Joining in proper union the amiable and the estimable qualities, by the one we shall attract the good; and by the other, command respect from the bad. We shall both secure our own integrity, and shall exhibit to others a proper view of what virtue is, in its native grace and majesty. In one part of our character, we shall resemble the flower that smiles in spring; in another, the firmly-rooted tree, that braves the winter storm. For remember we must, that there is a season of winter, as well as of spring and summer, in human life; and it concerns us to be equally prepared for both.
A HIGHER and more perfect example of such a character as I now recommend, cannot be found, than what is presented to us in the life of Jesus Christ. In him we behold all that is gentle, united with all that is respectable. It is a remarkable expression which the Apostle Paul employs concerning him ; I beseech you by the meekness and gentleness of Christ. * Well might these qualities be singled out, as those for which he was known and distinguished. We see him in his whole behaviour affable, courteous, and easy of access. He conversed familiarly with all who presented themselves; and despised not the meanest. With all the infirmities of his disciples, he calmly bore; and his rebukes were mild, when their provocations were great. He wept over the calamities of his country, which persecuted him ; and apologised and prayed for them who put him to death. Yet the same Jesus we behold awful in the strictness of his virtue, inflexible in the cause of truth; uncomplying with prevailing manners when he found them corrupt; setting his face boldly against the hypocritical leaders of the people; overawed by none of their threatenings; in the most indignant terms reproving their vices and stigmatising their characters. We behold him gentle, without being tame; firm, without being stern ; courageous, without being violent. Let this mind be in us, which was also in Jesus Christ; and we shall attain to honour both with God and with man.
* 2 Cor. x. i.
On the SACRAMENT of the Lord's Supren, as a
PREPARATION for DEATII.
[Preached at the Celebration of the Sacrament of the
MATTHEW, xxvi. 29.
But I say unto you, I will not drink henceforth of this
ITH these words of our Blessed Lord the
Evangelist concludes his account of the institution of the sacrament of the Supper. It is an institution which, solemn and venerable in itself, is rendered still more so by the circumstances which accompanied it. Our Lord had now, for about three years, continued to appear in his public character in the land of Judea. He had, all along, been watched with a jealous eye, by his enemies; and the time was come when they were to prevail against him. A few friends he had, from the beginning, selected, who, in every vicissitude of his state, remained faithfully attached to him. With these friends he was now meeting for the last time on the very evening in which he was betrayed and seized. He perfectly knew all that was to befall him. He knew that this was the last meal in which he was to join with those who had been the companions of all his labours, the