Imatges de pÓgina
PDF
EPUB

lotments, therefore, it would consider as the best possible, upon the whole, for the time, and the circumstances; because they were determined by this wisdom and goodness. If a man, possessed of such a mind, were afflicted; he would not despise the chastening of the Lord, nor faint when he was rebuked of him; but he would remember, that whom the Lord loveth, he chasteneth; and that he Scourgeth every son whom he receiveth. In this character of a son, with filial affection, and reverence, to the Father of his spirit, while thus employed in the eminently parental office of chastening him for his good, he would sustain his afflictions with patience, fortitude, and submission; would endeavour to derive, and would certainly derive, from them, the peaceable fruits of righteousness. His min I would become more and more serene, patient, and enduring; more sensible of his dependence on God; more resigned to his disposal; and more intimately possessed of fellowship with the Father and his Son Jesus Christ. Every day, and by means of every affliction, he would become more weaned from the world, more spiritually-minded, less dependent for his happiness on outward objects, and more effectually sustained by the peace and joy of the Gospel. In such a mind, passion would daily lose its inordinate and mischievous dominion; and reason, conscience, and piety, daily increase theirs. The views, and feelings, which assimilate him to an animal, would gradually lessen; and those, which constitute him a rational being, continually increase. The distinction in the scale of moral existence, for which he was originally formed, he would gradually acquire; and in the end would find Limself an inhabitant of heaven, fitted by a wholesome discipine for an immediate participation of its pure and unfading enjoyments.

in prosperity, the same man would acknowledge God as the giver of all his blessings. The enjoyments allotted to him, he would regard not as acquired from his Maker by bargain and sale, purchased by works which himself had wrought, and earned by his own industry and ingenuity; but as gifts, descending from the Author of all good, as sovereign and merciful communications from the eternal Benefactor. To this Benefactor all his affections, prayers, and praises, would ascend: and the character, which this glorious Being would sustain in the view of such a mind, would be the proper and transcendent character of JEHOVAH.

It is the lot of all men to be more, or less, injured by their fellow-men. In the sufferance of these injuries, most men become impatient, angry, and revengeful; and usually look no farther, while smarting under the infliction, than to the hand, from which it is immediately derived. But such a mind will remember, that the injuries, done by men, are also Providential chastisements from God, directed by the highest wisdom, and accomplishing the most desirable purposes. However untoward, therefore, however painful, his sufferings may seem for a season; he will consider them,

chiefly, as necessary parts of a perfect Providence, and as real, though mysterious means, of accomplishing perfect good. In this view, they will appear comparatively light; and will be sustained with equanimity, and even with comfort. The promises of the Gospel, ever present, and ever fresh, will steadily furnish additional and abundant consolation. In these, he will find his own good secured beyond defeat; and will both hope, and quietly wait for, the salvation of God. Fashioned, and tempered, in this manner, into submission, patience, and meekness, the work af righteousness will, in such a mind, be peace; and the effects of righteousness, quietness, and assurance for ever.

In this vast particular, therefore, extending to so many objects, spreading its influence over all the days and hours of life, man would gain, beyond measure, by assuming this divine disposition. The spirit of doing good would be, in his bosom, a well of water. flowing out unto everlasting life. The delightful nature of benev olent affections, the animating enjoyment inherent in beneficence. would gild with sunshine the gloom of affliction, and add new beauty and splendour to seasons of prosperity. Towards God it would be exercised in the whole course of diversified obedience; particularly in complacency and gratitude, reverence and resignation; the proper efforts of a good mind to render to him according to his benefits. Towards man, it would operate in the production of hap piness, and the relief of distress; the employment of God himself, and peculiarly the source of his own infinite happiness. Thus would it unceasingly do good, and gain good: and, while he, who was the subject of it, diffused enjoyment through his own bosom, he would extend it also to all around him.

It has doubtless been observed, that I have illustrated this subject, hitherto, by applying it to the circumstances of an individual. It is hardly necessary to remark, that what is thus true of one man must be equally true of all others, who are governed by the same spirit. This contentment, therefore, this serenity, this exquisite enjoyment, would, if such a disposition universally prevailed, be felt by a whole community, and diffused over the world. Every man would thus act; thus gain; thus enjoy. What a mass of happiness would in this manner be accumulated; and how would the darkness of this melancholy world be changed into a glorious resemblance of everlasting day!

II. The same spirit would do Justice to all men.
Love rejoiceth not in iniquity.

Justice is either Commutative, or Distributive. Commutative justice is rendering an equivalent for what we receive, whether of property, or kind offices. Distributive justice is the rendering of such rewards, as are due to those who obey law, and government, and of such punishments, as are due to those who disobey and rebel. In both senses, Justice is the mere measure of benevolence. a change would be wrought in this world by an exact fulfilment of

What

Commutative Justice only! With what astonishment should we see every debt paid at the time, and in the manner, in which it was due! every promise faithfully fulfilled! every loan of money, utensils, or other property, returned without injury or delay! every commodity sold according to its real value, and that value truly declared! every character carefully and justly defended, and none unjustly attacked! every kindness gratefully felt, and exactly requited! How great a part of human corruptions would cease! How great a part of the customary litigations would be swept away! What a multitude of prosecutions would vanish! What a host of hard bargains, cheats, and jockeys, would be driven from among men! How soon would the judge find himself enjoying a comparative sinecure, and the jail crumble into ruin for want of inhabitants!

But this mighty change would be still increased by the reign of Distributive Justic In its Laws, the Legislature would regard only the good of its subjects. In his decisions, the Judge, and in his administrations, the Executive Magistrate, would be governed by the same great and general interest. Of course laws would be usefully formed, and equitably administered; and the public peace, approbation, and prosperity, would be uniformly secured.

To the government, the people at large would willingly render the same justice, as being influenced by the same principle. Jus tice, in an important sense, is due from the people to their rulers; and can be either rendered, or denied. When rendered, much good, and when denied, much evil, is always done to the community. If the Benevolence of the Gospel governed men of all classes, this justice would be rendered cheerfully, and universally. Strong in the public confidence, Rulers would be at full liberty to devise, and pursue, every useful measure, without danger of slander or opposition, without faction or tumult. The community would be a great and happy family, peaceful, harmonious, and safe; and, at the head of it, Magistrates would be the common parents, actuated by no design, and busied in no employment, but to render themselves as useful, and the people as happy, as was in their power. How different such a nation from those, that have hitherto existed in this tumultuous world!

[ocr errors]

III. The same spirit would invariably speak Truth.
Love, saith St. Paul, rejoiceth in the truth.

Truth is the basis of society, in all worlds where society exists. Angels could not be social without it. Thieves and robbers support their dreadful social state by speaking it to each other. To be social beings at all, we must exercise confidence. But we cannot confide, where truth is not spoken. Lying, in all its forms, is the gangrene of society; and corrupts the mass just so far as it spreads. The sense of falsehood is a sense of danger; a sense of danger is distress. Suspicion, jealousy, hatred, malignant de

signs, and the dreadful execution of those designs, grow, successively, out of deception. Under the united dominion of these evils, the mind, in which they exist, becomes gradually a seat of wo; a haunt of dreadful passions and dreadful expectations. In the progress of intellectual nature, a world of beings thus situated, would be a collection of fiends; and convert their residence into a hell. On this globe, where much truth is spoken, and where falsehood is only mixed; where the spirit, and the art, of deceiving are imperfect; a great part of our sufferings, as well as of our sins, is formed by violations of truth.

What a mighty and glorious change would at once be accomplished in the circumstances of mankind, were truth to become their only and universal language! Were no false facts hereafter to be declared, no false arguments to be alleged, no false doctrines to be taught, no false pretentions to be made, no false friendships to be professed, and no false colourings to be employed, to discourage and deform truth; what a host of villains would vanish! What a multitude of impositions, treacheries, and distresses, would fade out of the picture of human wo!

To realize the nature, and extent, of this mighty change, cast your eyes, for a moment, over the face of this melancholy world. Behold all the interests of Man exposed, and hazarded; his peace invaded; his purposes frustrated; his business ruined; and his hopes blasted, by the various votaries of falsehood: his private affairs molested by lying servants; his friendship abused by treacherous friends; his good name dishonoured by slanderous neighbours; his learning and science perverted by philosophists; his rights and privileges wrested from him by fraudulent governments; and his salvation prevented by religious impostors. How immense is the abuse, which he suffers; how comprehensive; how minute: spreading every where, and reaching to every thing, which is important, which is dear to the heart! Thieves and robbers conceal, and ac complish, their malignant invasions of property and happiness un der the darkness of midnight; and fly with terror and haste the detecting eye of day. The wretches, of whom I have spoken, shroud themselves in moral darkness, and equally dread the exploring beams of truth. Were this glorious light of the universe to burst the clouds which envelope our darkened world, and exhibit in clear and distinct view all things as they are; what a host of enemies, what a crowd of spectres would fly from the dreadful detection! See the Tale-bearer, hurrying from the indignant hisses of those, whom he has pierced into the innermost parts of the soul! The Perjurer shrinks from the abhorrence of those sacred tribunals of justice, which his enormous guilt has dishonoured and defiled; and trembles at the expected infliction of that divine wrath which he has impiously invoked. The Liar sneaks from the haunts of man, while infamy pursues his flight with her hiss of contempt, and her whip of scorpions. The Sophist immures himself in his

[graphic]

cell, amid the foul animals who are its proper inhabitants: while justice inscribes over the entrance," Here is buried the betrayer of the souls of men." The Seducer, loathed, execrated, torn by a frenzied conscience, and wrung with remorse and agony, hurries out of sight, to find his last refuge among his kindred fiends. Behind them, the whole train of deceivers, appalled, and withered, vanish from the searching beams; and sink down to the regions of darkness and despair. The earthly creation, which has groaned, and travailed in pain, together, until now, under the vast miseries, which these enemies of God and men have wrought, wherever they have roamed, is lightened of the insupportable burden. The gloom disappears; and universal nature smiles to behold its Redemption drawing nigh. Tribunals of justice are purified at once. Individuals, families, and neighbourhoods, feel their wounds close; their breaches vanish; and their peace return. Religion rides in triumph through the world; and God is pleased to dwell anew among

men.

Truth, on the other hand, is the foundation, on which rests the Moral Universe; the stability of the divine kingdom; the light of heaven; the glory of Jehovah. The Truth, is one of the peculiar names of HIM, who is the brightness of the Father's glory, and the express image of his person. Truth is the great bond, which unites angels to each other, and to their God; the chain, which binds together the intelligent system; preserving all the parts in harmony and beauty, and arranging the worlds, of which it is composed, around the great Centre of light, happiness, and glory.

IV. From the same disposition would spring, universally, those Kind Offices, which are its immediate offspring, and which constitute the peculiar amiableness of Intelligent beings.

Love suffereth long and is kind.

The interchanges of conduct between such beings, are in their nature, and variety, endless. From inferiors to superiors, they assume the name of our veneration, homage, respect, reverence, submission, and obedience; together with many others of the same general nature. From superiors to inferiors, they are in the like manner varied through all the shades of authority, government,

« AnteriorContinua »