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a well informed mind, is an excellence in any character : It is especially amiable in the young. A youth of this description will probably grow “in wisdom,
and in favour with God and men.” When a Jewish scribe answered our Lord discretely, he was thus ad. dressed, “Thou art not far from the kingdom of God.” Informed on the effential and weighty matters of religion, he was prepared for further instruction.
Superadded to just doctrinal sentiments in religion, the pious man has a correspondent love to it. The love of the truth conduces naturally, and by the exprefs encouragement of the Father of lights, to all necessary and useful information. The lover of truth shall not be left to any fatal error. Religion then is amiable, as it involves probity of mind; a desire of knowledge with a view to practice, and not merely or chiefly with a view to amusement.
Secondly, The excellence of the character of the righteous appears from hence, that it involves fupreme love to the greatest and best of Beings, and universal charity.
“ The first and great commandment is, Thou shalt “ love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and foul, “ and strength, and mind. And the second, Thou shalt “ love thy neighbour as thyself.” The two commandments are connected. To the one or the other may be referred all the law and the prophets; and the whole of Christianity, the end of which “ is charity,
out of a pure heart, and of a good conscience, and of “ faith unfeigned.” The acclamation of the heavenly hofts gives us an idea of the gospel ; “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will towards men.” In the Author of our faith, we have the highest possible instance of friendship to all mankind, guilty before God, and under condemnation. If, for a good man, fome might even dare to die, this bears no resemblance to the voluntary death of the just for the unjust,
Behold the love of God, in appointing his only begotten and well beloved Son to the most excruciating and ignominious death for the sake of apoftates, that he might magnify his mercy, his holiness, and his law-that the malignity of sin might appear, and righteousness and peace embrace each other. If he delivered his own Son for our offences, the great
evil of fin and the greatness of the mercy which pardons it are equally manifest. We add, the wonderful friendship of him who “ gave himself for us, an offer“ ing and facrifice to God for a sweet smelling favor. “I delight to do thy will, O my God! yea, thy law “ is within my heart.”. This will was, that he should offer his body a sacrifice for our sins. He therefore “ humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, " even the death of the cross.” Can we compute the fum at which the ransom of our souls was valued ? Can we comprehend the heighth and depth, the length and breadth of the love of our Redeemer, who “ though “ he was rich, for our fakes became poor, that we " through his poverty might be rich? The cup which
my Father giveth me, thall I not drink it? Father,
glorify thy name. For the joy set before him, he “ endured the cross”-the joy of magnifying the law, accomplishing the prophecies, seeing his leed, and bringing to glory all who should embrace his offers. He “ went about doing good; was holy, harmless, " and separate from finners—when reviled, he reviled “ not again ; and when he suffered, he threatened “ not; but committed himself to him who judgeth
righteously.” He “ came not to be ministered un“ to, but to minister, and give his life a ransom for “ many.” He closed the scene with a prayer for his murderers, and commended his spirit into the hands of his Father.
The gospel of Christ has its fource in the original love of God. He first loved us, or no Saviour would have been provided. Redemption, therefore is the
effect, not the cause, of the love of God. felf-moved in finding a ransom. God is love-essen, tially and immutably good. He appears most amiable and glorious as he is revealed by Jesus Christ, reconciling the world to himself-A JUST GOD AND A SAVIOUR. To be his children, we muft “ love our enemies, bless " them who curse us, do good to them who hate us, “ and pray for them who despitefully use and persecute
us." We must forgive, to seventy times seven, those who trespass against us. Their trespasses, which we are commanded to forgive, are but as an hundred pence to ten thousand talents, at which our tresspasses against God must be set. This immense debt he freely cancelleth, upon the condition of our forgiving our debtors. Look to the Saviour on the cross, fervently praying for them who crucified him," Father, forgive " them; for they know not what they do.” Can you but learn to“ put away all bitterness, and wrath, and
anger, and malice?" Can you but learn to be kind, tender-hearted, and to forgive one another ? The Saviour hath made this the characteristic by which his disciples may be known, that they love one another. This they learn of him. This they are taught of God. His religion teaches to do good to all as we have opportunity. His parable of the man who fell among thieves, and of the good Samaritan who had mercy on him, best explains who is our neighbour, and is an admirable comment on the precept, “Love thy neigh« bour as thyself.” Charity, as St. Paul has faid, is superior to gifts, faith and zeal. It “ suffereth long, « and is kind; envieth not; vaunteth not itself; is “not puffed up; doth not behave itself unseemly; “ seeketh not her own; is not easily provoked; think“eth no evil ; rejoiceth not in iniquity, but rejoiceth « in the truth ; beareth all things, believeth all things,
hopeth all things, endureth all things, and never es faileth."
If an en
Such is charity, or true love to God and men. Is not this an excellent way. Must not he who poffefseth this spirit be pronounced more excellent than his neighbour of another spirit ? He can scarce fail to conciliate the esteem of men. However he may poffibly be treated by them, they can but approve and venerate his character; place superior confidence in him, and wish to die his death.
Those, who have this spirit of love, rejoice in the gifts, virtue, usefulness, health and happiness of others ; and contribute thereto as God giveth ability and opportunity. They wish to others more good than they can do them. They “ rejoice with them who do
rejoice, and weep with them who weep. If it be “ possible, they live peaceably with all men.
emy hunger, they feed him; and if he thirst, give " him drink, thus heaping coals of fire upon his head."
Such is the spirit of the gospel. Is it not an excellent spirit? Can those who walk according to this rule be otherwise than amiable? This view of the Chriftian religion may well recommend it to the choice of the young. Would you approve the things that are excellent,
then cast in your lot with the friends of piety. Kind affections to kindred and friends, gratitude to benefactors, a peculiar attachment to those of our own country or communion, may be more or less common to good and bad men. For finners love those who love them, and do good to those who do good to them, and lend to those of whom they hope to receive. Christian benevolence embraces strangers and foreigners as well as our fellow-citizens—the evil and unthankful as well as those who have laid us under special obligations. It gives, not expecting to receive, unless from Him who liberally rewardeth charitable deeds. It embraces in Christian fellowship good men of all denominations, not confining true religion to any one church; but“ endeavouring to keep the unity of the Spirit in “ the bond of peace :” Instead of widening the breach between contending parties, it endeavours to unite them. There is in the Christian spirit nothing morose. It “ is peaceable, gentle, and easy to be intreat“ed, full of mercy and good fruits." It would be to the reputation, edification and comfort of profeffors, and to the honour of the gospel, did they think more on these effentials, inftead of maintaining end. less and senseless controversy on the circumstantials of religion. “ For the kingdom of God is not meat and “ drink; but righteousness, and peace, and joy in the “ Holy Ghoft."
3. We observe further, in illustration of the amiableness and excellence of religion, that it involves the various virtues of self-government: For instance, purity, fobriety, mortification, self-denial, contentment, meekness, humility, refignation, patience, and fortitude. Thefe virtues are all comprehended in keeping under the body, striving for the mastery, and living foberly—in crucifying the flesh with the affections and luftslearning of Christ, who was meek and lowly ; who came not to do his own will; but, in all he did, and in all he suffered, had in view the glory of God, the finishing his work while it was day. He left his disciples a perfect example of active and passive obedience. Their hope in him is an incentive to purify themselves as he is pure, hold faft their profelion, and never be weary in well doing.
The Chriftian character is the same in all circumstances, stations and relationsunifo:m and fixed: It implies principles, maxims and prospects taken from another and better world than this—an heart purified by faith which overcomes the world.
Are the saints the excellent of the earth? Do glorified faints and angels excel yet more? Is there an excellency in him who is higher than the angels, and whom they all worship? Is the blessed God, who is glorious in holiness, to be praised for his excellent greatness and