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show themselves profoundly ignorant of the nature of religion, and may too often be suspected of being strangers to its influence. For, as the apostle John reasons, He that loreth not his brother whom he hath seen, how can he love that God whom he hath not seen ? *

At the same time, while I ascribe to charity that high place in the system of religion, which justly belongs to it, I am not to be understood as confining all religion to this disposition alone. With much wisdom and propriety, the text hath annexed to it certain adjuncts, without which neither the character of a good man can be completed, nor charity itself exercised to advantage. To the consideration of these I now proceed; and I enter the more readily on this branch of the subject, as there is ground to believe, that many pretend to possess charity, without properly understanding its nature and efficacy. There has been always an unhappy tendency among men to run to extremes, on one side or other, in matters of religion. As one set of men, who employ all their zeal on right belief, are prone to undervalue good practice; so another set, who wish to be esteemed rational Christians, are inclined to rest the whole of their duty on charitable deeds, while they overlook certain dispositions and habits which ought always to accompany them. It is therefore of importance that the mistakes of both these classes of men 'should be rectified, in order that religion may be held forth to the world in its complete form, and in its full and undiminished lustre.

The first qualification of charity pointed out in the

* 1 John, iv. 20.

text is purity; charity out of a pure heart. Purity includes the virtues which belong to the individual, considered in himself, and with respect to the government of his desires and pleasures. It hath its seat in the heart; but extends its influence over so much of the outward conduct, as to form a great and material part of the character. They are only the pure in heart, we are told by our Saviour, who can see God.* It is also true, that they are only the pure in heart who can properly discharge their duties towards mankind. Inordinate love of pleasure, intemperance, sensuality, and a course of irregular life, are inconsistent, not only with the general character of a good man, but also with the peculiar exercises of charity and benevolence. For nothing is more certain than that habits of licentious indulgence contribute to stifle all the good affections; to harden the heart; to nourish that selfish attachment to our own vicious pleasures which render us insensible to the circumstances and wants of others. A profligate man is seldom found to be a good husband, a good father, or a beneficent neighbour. How many young persons have at first set out in the world with excellent dispositions of heart; generous, charitable, and humane; kind to their friends, and amiable among all with whom they had intercourse? And yet how often have we seen all those fair appearances unhappily blasted in the progress of life, merely through the influence of loose and corrupting pleasures; and those very persons who promised once to be the blessings to the world, sunk down in the end to be the burden and nuisance of society! The profusion of expence which their pleasures occasion, accounts in a great measure for the fatal reverse that takes place in their character. It not only drains the sources whence the streams of beneficence should flow, but often obliges them to become oppressive and cruel to those whom it was their duty to have patronised and supported.

* Matth. v. 8.

PURITY of heart and conduct must therefore be held fundamental to charity and love, as well as to general piety and virtue. The licentious, I know, are ready to imagine, that their occasional deeds of bounty and liberality will atone for many of their private disorders. But besides that such plans of compensation for vices, by some supposed virtues, are always fallacious, the licentious may be assured, that it is an appearance only of charity, not the reality of it, to which they can lay claim. For that great virtue consists not in occasional actions of humanity, in fits of kindness or compassion, to which bad men may be prompted by natural instinct; but in the steady and regular exercise of those good affections, and the discharge of those important duties towards others, for which the licentious are in a great measure disqualified. Their criminal propensities direct their inclinations to very different objects and pursuits; and often determine them to sacrifice the just rights.of others, sometimes to sacrifice the peace and the reputation of the innocent, to the gratification of their passions. Such is the pernicious influence which the love of pleasure has on the good qualities of its devoted votaries. The impure heart is like the stagnant and putrefying lake which sends forth its poisonous exhalations to corrupt and wither every plant that grows on its banks.

The second qualification annexed to charity in the text is, that it be of a good conscience. By this I understand the Apostle to mean, that charity be in full consistency with justice and integrity; that the conscience of the man, who purposes to perform actions of benevolence, be free from the reproach of having neglected the primary duties of equity. For, undoubtedly, justice is a virtue primary to charity ; that is, it must go before it in all its exertions. One must first do justly before he can pretend that he loves mercy. Religion, my friends, in order to render it useful to mankind, must be brought down by its teachers from the sublimity of speculation to the functions and occupations of ordinary life. It is my duty to admonisha you, that you must, in the first place, be fair in all your dealings with others; you must discharge the debts you owe; you must pay the wages due to your servants and dependants; you must provide for your own family, and be just to the claims of relations ; then, and then only, you can, from a good conscience, as the text enjoins, perform acts of generosity and mercy. •

This leads to a reflection which here deserves our attention; that in order to fulfil that charity which is the end of the commandment, ceconomy, and good order in private life, ought to be carefully studied by all Christians. This is more closely connected with a good conscience, than many seem inclined to admit. Economy, when prudently and temperately conducted, is the safeguard of many virtues; and is in a particular manner favourable to the exertions of benevolence. He who by inconsiderate conduct is injuring his circumstances, will probably in time lose the inclination, and certainly is depriving himself of the means of being serviceable to his brethren. Some important exertions, indeed, there are of charity, which have no connection with giving or bestowing. Candour, forgiveness, gentleness, and sympathy, are due to our brethren at all times, and in every situation of our own fortune. The poor have opportunities for displaying these virtues, as well as the rich. They who have nothing to give can often afford relief to others, by imparting what they feel. But, as far as beneficence is included in charity, we ought always to remember, that justice must, in the first place, be held inviolably sacred.

The wisdom of Scripture remarkably appears, in the connection pointed out by the text, between charity and good conscience, or integrity ; a connection which I apprehend is often not attended to so much as it deserves. Among the frugal and industrious, great regard is commonly paid to justice. They will not defraud. They will not take any un. lawful advantage in their dealings: And, satisfied with this degree of good conscience, they are strangers to that charity which is the end of the commandment. They are hard and unfeeling. They are rigid and severe in their demands. They know nothing of humanity, forgiveness or compassion. — Among another class of men, who have been more liberally educated, and who are generally of a higher rank in life, justice is apt to be considered as a virtue less noble than charity; and which may, on some occasions, be dispensed with. They are humane, perhaps, and tender in their feelings. They are easy to their dependants. They can

can be liberal, even to profusion. While, at the same time, they are accumulating debts, which they know themselves unable to dis

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