Page images

own example, to enforce obedience to it. This is my commandment,' says he, 'that ye love one another as I have loved you.''

But neither the love of God nor the love of man will exist in our hearts, in a due degree of ardour or sincerity, without the divine influence. The natural man loves the world and himself too well, to admit, whatever he may pretend or profess, affections so liberal, sublime, and disinterested. He loves mammon more than God; and as for the love of his fellow-creatures, he wears a false appearance of it, a studied politeness, courteousness, and affability, for the sake of availing himself of their assistance in gratifying' avarice, ambition, and the love of pleasure; but he hates, envies, or utterly neglects, all who contribute neither to his sordid gain, nor to his personal gratification. Grace alone can soften and liberalize his contracted bosom. Grace alone can render him sincerely, secretly, and impartially virtuous; and the best Christian is the best member of civil society.

Let him who doubts the excellence of Christian morality, read our Saviour's sermon on the mount, with the discourses formed upon it by Blair, Blackall, and other great divines of the English church. He will be struck with its pre-eminent beauty and utility. Indeed the whole body of English sermons founded on the gospel, exhibits a system of morality which the world never saw before, and which would never have existed without the evangelical code. I earnestly recommend

i John, xv. 12.

? James Blair, M. A. president of William and Mary Col. lege in America.

to general perusal bishop Gastrell's little book, entitled, Christian Institutes.


The true Genius and Spirit of Christianity produc

tive of a certain tenderness of Conscience, or feeling of Rectitude, more favourable to right Con.. duct, than any Deductions of unassisted Reason or heathen Morality.

A MAN, rightly disposed by the influence of genuine Christianity, becomes a law unto himself, in all circumstances and situations. A divine temper, superinduced by divine energy on the heart, produces right conduct, just as a tree grafted with a kindly scion, brings forth fruit both delicious and salutary, under the natural operation of showers and sunshine.

A true Christian has constantly impressed upon his mind a sense of God's presence, and a conviction that he is responsible to his Father in heaven for all his conduct. This keeps him in awe, mixed with love. He fears to do wrong, not with a servile fear, but an affectionate reverence for his all-powerful friend, who has shown him great favour, and at the same time required, in return for it, obedience to his injunctions, as a condition of its continuance. He loves God from his heart; an affection, which comprehends in it the love of every thing that is good in moral conduct, every thing pure and holy in his own person, every thing beneficent to society.

The residence of the Holy Ghost in the Christian's heart increases his moral sensibility. He sees with greater acuteness the good and beautiful' in behaviour; he feels with additional vi. vacity the emotions of benevolence. It gives him pain, it does violence to his very nature, thus sublimed, to act basely, unjustly, unkindly. He knows that the divine principle within him will not in habit a polluted shrine; but will take offence and depart, if the temple be profaned by immorality.

Casuistry, or long and abstruse reasonings on the moral fitness or unfitness of actions, are totally unnecessary to the man whom the heavenly teacher has instructed. His determinations admit not such cold delay or doubtful hesitation. His heart turns, like the needle to the pole, with tremulous, yet certain propensity, to the point of rectitude. From the infirmity of human nature, and the violence of temptation, he may decline a little to the right or to the left; but the attraction to heaven and virtue still acts upon and prevents his total aberration. Touched by heaven, he acquires a kind of polarity, which causes him to point thither without any inclination to deviate.

Hence he is above the schools of the heathen moralists. He displays that superiority which Jesus Christ most justly claims over Socrates. Yet he may enjoy the beautiful compositions of the ancients, if his education has enabled him to understand them. He may be pleased and instructed with their fine observations on life and manners, and the great advances they made in ethics, by the light of nature. But though he may derive great benefit from them, though he may be both informed and advised by them, yet be sees them defective, and finds that they are not absolutely necessary to accomplish the Christian, who, by the written word of Scripture, accompanied by the Spirit's ministration, becomes sufficiently enlightened for the practice of the purest morality, and wise unto salvation. By Christian philosophy, he experiences not only illumination, but assistance: he is taught the way that he should go, and led by the hand in his journey.


2 Res delicata est Dei Spiritus. Tertull.-" The Spirit of God is delicate," i. e. easily disgusted with moral impurity.

I conclude, then, from this tender sensibility to right and wrong, and this propensity to kindness, which the supernatural agency of the Spirit causes in the heart, that true Christianity, such as is founded on the vital influence of the Spirit, makes the best moralists, and most useful and worthiest members of society. And as Christian philosophy is attainable by all, and not confined to the rich or the learned, it appears to me, that even politicians, who consider only the prosperity and peace of nations, would evince the highest wisdom, in first cultivating it themselves, and then encouraging it, by all prudent modes, among the people.

When a whole community shall become, by the preaching of evangelical doctrines, and the example of the great, subject to the power of conscience, warmed with the love of God, and all mankind,“ just and good, true and sincere, meek, humble, tender-hearted, and compassionate; content, temperate, pure, and heavenly-minded; then will men become each a law to himself,” and all civil government will be greatly facilitated, while the general happiness is secured without wars and fightings, without tumult and discord, without capital punishments, without any of that severe coercion, which creates partial evil for the sake of the general security.

Such a state, it will be said, is chimerical and Utopian. I fear, in the present corruptions of Christianity, it may be visionary. But every approach to it is desirable, as it is an approach to the happiness and perfection to which man is formed to aspire; and therefore, it will behove all those who possess power, not for sordid purposes, but the general good, to hasten and extend the reign of grace. They should say, with heart as well as voice, 'thy kingdom come.'


The great Advantage of Christian Philosophy being

taught by a commanding authority.

When mere men teach, they submit their lessons to the judgment of their hearers, who usually assume the office of critics, while they appear in the character of disciples. They will learn only what

« PreviousContinue »