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pose the errors, prejudices, and vices of the times? Were power and splendour his object, when he declined the pressing instances of thousands of people, who, having been miraculously fed by his bounty, would have fain taken him by force and made him a king? Did he affect ease and self-gratification, when travelling on foot from village to village to preach the gospel, he denied himself often the common refreshments of life? Did he aim to please himself, when, though he had it in his power to escape them, he submitted to the vilest indignities that could be cast on him? On the contrary, what illustrious proofs did he give of the generosity of his heart, in his unremitting exertions for the temporal and spiritual good of mankind ! Now we see him amidst a crowd of poor, abject, wretched beings, the blind, the deaf, the halt, and the like, dispensing with a gracious smile, the blessings of health, ease and happiness among them. Now raising the dead from their graves, and delivering them again into the embraces of their mourning relatives. Now entering the cottage of the helpless widow, and mingling his tears with hers: and now taking little children into his arms, and blessing them. And then we behold him in the temple, and in the streets of Jerusalem, in the towns of Galilee and Judea, and in the chief places of concourse, instructing the people with unwearied attention, pouring tears of anguish over their spiritual maladies, and beseeching them to accept life and salvation at his hands. In short, from the instant he appeared on the stage of action to the tragical moment he passed off it, all concern for his own temporal interests was absorbed in that he nobly felt for others.
Forgive me that I have enlarged so particularly on this head of discourse. Example hath usually greater efficacy than precept. It teaches and persuades at one and the same time. And
cannot help, flattering myself with the hope that, with these patterns before our eyes, we shall feel ourselves irresistibly impelled to the duties of a public spirit. It remains now to be observed,
5. And lastly, that generously to consult the interest of others, is in effect to consult our own interest. This is an argument addressed to a passion which
every feels, a passion which cannot be eradicated from the human
breast, and which, when duly regulated, will not fail to operate to the general good.--Here let us advert a moment to the refined and exalted pleasure, which results from the idea of being the instruments of communicating happiness to our fellow-creatures. What a gratification must it be to a man of a generous spirit, to rescue a family from poverty and wretchedness, and to restore cheerfulness and joy to the gloomy mansion of the widow and fatherless! How exquisite must be the sensations of an affectionate parent, whilst he realizes, in all the future honour, happiness, and usefulness of his rising offspring, the rich and lasting fruits of his unwearied attention to their best interests! How great must be the satisfaction which that man feels, who from the purest motives risks his case, honour, and life, in the defence of the civil and religious liberties of his country, and especially if his prudent and spirited efforts to that end prove happily successful! And O who can describe the joy that must circulate around the heart of the faithful minister of Christ, who, amidst all his painful labours in the cause of truth and religion, has ground to believe that this and that immortal soul will, through his means, escape the miseries of hell, and attain to the felicity and glory of heaven! Whatever be the self-denial, pain, and affliction, which men endure, whilst thus nobly forgetful of their own things, they look attentively on the things of others; it is all more than compensated by these refined pleasures which accompany their pursuits, and will be infinitely more so by the glorious rewards which shall in the end be con, ferred on them. It was a saying which frequently dropped from the lips of our divine Master, in the days of his pilgrimage here on earth, It is more blessed to give than to receive a. And this saying of his has been found to be true by the happy experience of thousands.
It is further to be observed, that our seeking the interest of others is the laying them under an obligation to seek our interest. It is not indeed every one that discharges the obligation. Some have it not in their power, and too many, so disingenuous is their nature, have it not in their disposition. Horrid instances there are in our world of base ingratitude! Yet the man who is habituated to acts of benevolence, and cheerfully spends his life in the service of his fellow-creatures, will meet with many returns of kindness. They who have shared of his beneficence will, at least some of them, mingle their tears with : his when he is in affliction, and step forth to his assistance in the hours of danger and distress. The blessing of him that was ready to perish, will come upon him; and the prayer of the widow, whose heart he has caused to sing for joy a, will ascend to heaven on his behalf. How fair the inheritance which many of a public spirit have enjoyed in the affections of thousands around them! What tears of genuine sorrow have been poured over their remains, when committed to the silent grave! And how sweetly have their characters been embalmed in the grateful bosoms of numerous surviving friends and relatives ! But even admitting that gratitude were to take its final farewell of our world, and that the generously looking on the things of others were a direct means, through the miserable perverseness of mankind, to entail upon us poverty, neglect, and abuse; yet such disinterested conduct will not fail to meet the divine approbation, and to be largely rewarded in another world.
a Acts xx. 35.
And here we are naturally led to speak of the evidence aris. ing from the character we have been recommending to the uprightness of a man's heart towards God. There is no genuine Christian who does not prefer the divine favour to every other enjoyment, and who does not wish above all things to have the grand question, whether he is in friendship with Heaven, de cided to his satisfaction. Now what better evidence can a man possess upon this important point, next to the witnessing of the Holy Spirit, than what results from his participating the same divine temper, which actuated the blessed Jesus in all he did and suffered for our sakes? Let this mind be in you, says the apostle in the verse following the text, which was also in Christ Jesus. And what was this mind but that which we have been so largely describing in this discourse? God is love. His moral perfections are all of them so many different modifications of love. The gospel is a superstructure which wisdom has erected on this foundation, love. And love is the feature which prevailed in the countenance of our Saviour, and expressed itself more strongly than any other excellence in all his actions here on earth. And now, can a man have this same mind in him which Christ had ? Can he feel in his breast a tender sympathy for the distressed? Can he passionately wish the happiness of all around him? Can he make their welfare his object, even to his own injury? Can he, in a word, be actuated in all these ex. ertions for the public good, by the duty he owes to God, and the love he bears to his divine Master?And at the same time not be a good man, a real Christian, a believer in the sense of the New Testament? It is impossible. Would we then enjoy the sweet satisfaction resulting from a humble hope, that we are reconciled to God through Jesus Christ, and are the heirs of future happiness and glory? O then let us be persuaded, from the noblest motives, to look not on our own things only, but also on the things of others!
a Job xxix. 13.
Thus have we held up to your view the duties of a public spirit, and endeavoured to allure you to the practice of them by every possible argument-arguments drawn from the relation we stand in to orie another--the express will of God signified to us in various ways--the frame and tenor of the gospel-the most illustrious examples---and our own truest interest. Two or three reflections shall close the whole.
1. What sad cause have the best of us for deep humiliation before God! Ah! my brethren, we have all failed in the duties we owe one another, and in the fervour of that disinterested and generous temper which ought to have impelled us to them. Do we not look back with shame, regret, and sorrow upon profitableness of our past lives ? Are we not pained at our very hearts with the thought, that we have lived so much to ourselves, and so little to the good of others ? Does it not grieve us to recollect the many fair opportunities we have missed of serving the interests of our fellow-creatures ? And is it not afflicting to the last degree to reflects that the flattering prospects of worldly ease, honour, and emolument, have too often impeded, if not wholly obstructed, our nobler pursuits? How numerous have been our defects and failings in every character we sustain, and in every station of life we fill? And how great are the ag gravations of our guilt! Let us humble ourselves in the dust before God. And at the same time, let us not be unduly discouraged; but rather,
2. Rejoice that God of his mercy is disposed, for the sake of the generous interposition of his Son in our favour, to pardon all these our offences, and to accept and save us. How free and unmerited is the love of God! And how unspeakably great the condescension and grace of our Lord Jesus Christ ! To expiate the guilt of all those omissions we have been lamenting, he wept, and bled, and died. The tenderest offices of kindness he has rendered us, though we have been so parsimonious in our favours to others. The veil of charity he has thrown over our ingratitude, selfishness and baseness; and entitled us, who had no claim at all upon the bounty of Heaven, and little upon that of our fellow-creatures, to the noblest fruits of divine benevolence. O may we then be persuaded,
3. Henceforth to live not unto ourselves, but unto him that died for us, and rose again! To look not on our own things, but every one of us on the things of others ! The least return we can make to him for all his generosity to us, is to imitate the example he has set us, and to contribute all that lies in our power to the happiness of our fellow-immortals.
FAMILY RELIGION IN GENERAL.
JOSHUA XXIV. 15.- -As for me and my house, we will serve
the Lord. A MORE striking scene can scarcely be beheld, than that exhibited to our view in the history before us-Joshua, the servant of the Lord, and the successor of Moses, at the head of a numerous household, with a countenance which piety and age had made serene and venerable, publicly announcing his own personal regard to religion, and offering his example in the government of his family to the imitation of all the tribes of Israel.