Imatges de pÓgina

men would teach, to a state of utter perdition?

In these melancholy and despondent views, there is, in general, a mixture of selfishness and pride, with an excess of folly. It surely requires no effort of the understanding to perceive, that, if men had gone on from a period indefinitely remote, in a state of degeneracy from one race to another, we should long before this have resembled fiends more than men ; and that our vice and wickedness could be equalled only by our helplessness, our misery, and ignorance. Let us, then, indulge juster, more charitable, and more consoling sentiments. Let us consider ourselves as parts of a vast and regular, but complicated system, that is advancing under the providence of our gracious Creator to ulterior perfection. Let the sure prospect of succeeding, to a certain extent, animate all our efforts, remembering that every individual by his virtues, or his crimes, either promotes, or retards, the plan of divine benevolence: and, lastly, let those who think that the profession and practice of religion are compatible with that harsh and gloomy temper of mind, which borders on misanthropy, remember the words of the holy evangelist-" If a man say, I love

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God, and hateth his brother, he is a liar." It is added, in the verse immediately following, "And this commandment have we from him, That he who loveth God, love his brother also."



JOHN. VI. 12.

When they were filled, he said unto his disciples, Gather up the fragments that remain, that nothing be lost.

THE positive precepts of our blessed Lord, dispersed throughout the holy Gospel, are not many; but the practical inferences that might be drawn from his words and conduct, on various occasions, are numerous and important. The more we consider them, the more we shall be impressed with a high sense of their value, and a conviction of their being truly worthy of that divine Wisdom which inspired them.

Every thing he said, or did, seems admirably adapted to the general improvement of man. Had the rules of conduct, and the maxims of duty, which the evangelists have recorded,

been as voluminous as the apophthegms of heathen philosophers, they would not have been remembered; and had they been given in a more abstract form, or as the result of tedious discussions, they would not have been so impressive, nor so generally understood.

The text furnishes us, also, with an instance of our Lord's inculcating the duties of man in the most pleasing and efficacious manner. Having, by his first miracle of love, furnished wine in abundance for the marriage in Cana of Galilee ;—and having, on the present occasion, administered to the necessity of a numerous multitude, that were in want of food, he took the favorable opportunity of cautioning his dis- ': ciples against Waste. "Gather up the fragments that remain," says he, " that nothing be lost."

From his sentiments and conduct n this, and some other occasions, as well as from the sanction which he gave, by his presence, to the entertainments of the Publicans and Pharisees, we may clearly infer, that the benevolent spirit of Christianity allows the enjoyment of plenty to every man; and it was not till "they were all filled," (as another evangelist records) that our Saviour addressed his disciples in the words of the text. Every one, therefore, according

to the different gradations of society, which re-i ligion recognises, is permitted to live in a manner suitable to his situation, rank, and fortune. The rich, indeed, are more especially required not only to relieve the wants of the poor, but to "shew hospitality" to others; and in them any { thing like avaricious meanness, or selfish parsimony, is odious and degrading.

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But let us remember, that in almost every thing relating to the conduct of life, the per fection of wisdom lies in that happy medium, which is equally remote from opposite extremes.) Excess, even of virtue, we may be assured, will degenerate into vice or folly; and, therefore, to pass the boundaries of propriety, is always to enter the wilderness of error.

That divine authority, which bids us "use! the things of this world as not abusing them," and which directs us in our daily prayers to offer to our Father which is in heaven" the

earnest petition, "that he would give ùs day by day our daily bread," cannot but be outraged and offended at Waste, wherever it may be found, of the necessaries of life; and that for many reasons, which a slight consideration of the subject will suggest.

First, it is surely the most shameful ingrati


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