Imatges de pÓgina

signalized himself in general estimation,- the personal accomplishments of character yet he willingly renounced a dependence which may belong to those who have not upon all, that he might win Christ, and be the faith of the Gospel. Faith accepts of found in him, not having his own righ- the offered reconciliation, and moves away teousness, which was of the law, but that from the alienated heart those suspicions, righteousness which is through the faith of and aversions, and fears, which kept man Christ, even the righteousness which is of asunder from his God. We would not say, God by faith. He felt the force of the al- then, of the personal righteousness of a beternative, between the former and the latter liever, that it consisted in a higher degree righteousness. He knew that the one ad- of that virtue which may exist in a lower mitted of no measurement with the other; degree with him who is not a believer. It and that whatever appearance of worth it consists in the dawn, and the progress, and had in the eyes of men, when brought to the perfecting of a virtue, which, before he their relative and earthly standard, it was was a believer, had no existence whatever. reduced to nothing, and worse than nothing, It consists in the possession of a character when brought to the standard of Heaven's of which, previous to his acceptance of holy and unalterable law. Jesus Christ has Christ, he had not the smallest feature of in our nature fulfilled this law; and it is in reality; though to the external eye, there the righteousness which he thus wrought, may have been some features of resemthat we are invited to stand before God. blance. The principle of Christian sanctiYou do not then take in a full impression fication, which, if we were to express it by of Gospel security, if you only believe that another name, we would call devotedness God is merciful, and has forgiven you. You to God, is no more to be found in the unare called farther to believe, that God is believing world, than the principle of an righteous, and has justified you. You have allegiance to their rightful sovereign, is to a warrant to put on the righteousness of be found among the outcasts of banishment. Christ as a robe and a diadem, and to go It is not by any stretching out of the meato the throne of grace with the petition of sure of your former virtues, then, that you Look upon me in the face of him who hath can attain this principle. There needs to fulfilled all righteousness. You are furnished be originated within you a new virtue alwith such a measure of righteousness as together. It is not by the fostering of that God can accept, without letting down a which is old,—it is by the creation of somesingle attribute which belongs to him. The thing new, that a man comes to have the truth, and the justice, and the holiness, personal righteousness of a disciple of the which stand in such threatening array New Testament. It is by giving existence against the sinner who is out of Christ, to that which formerly had no existence. now form into a shield and a hiding-place And let us no longer wonder, then, at the around him. And while he who trusts in magnitude of the terms which are employed the general mercy of God does so at the in the Bible, to denote the change, the perexpense of his whole character, he who sonal change, which in point of character, trusts in the mercy of God, which hath ap- and affection, and principle, takes place on peared unto all men through the Saviour, all who become meet for the inheritance offers in that act of confidence an homage of the saints. It is there called life from to every perfection of the Divinity, and has the dead, and a new birth, and a total renoevery perfection of the Divinity upon his vation,-all old things are said to be done side. And thus it is, that under the economy away, and all things to become new. With of redemption, we now read, not merely of many it is a wonder how a change of such God being merciful, but of God being just totality and of such magnitude, should be and faithful in forgiving our sins, and in accounted as indispensable to the good and cleansing us from all our unrighteousness. creditable man of society, as the sunken Thus much for what may be called the profligate. But if the one and the other judicial righteousness with which every are both dead to a sense of their Lawgiver believer is invested by having the merits of in heaven,-then both need to be made alive Christ imputed to him through faith. But unto him. With both there must be the this faith is something more than a name. power and the reality of a spiritual resurIt takes up a positive residence in the mind rection. And after this great transition has as a principle. It has locality and opera- been made, it will be found that the virtues tion there, and has either no existence at of the new state, and those of the old state, all, or by its purifying and reforming in- cannot be brought to any common standard fluence on the holder of it, does it invest of measurement at all. The one distances him also with a personal righteousness. the other by a wide and impassable interNow, to apply the conception of our text val. There is all the difference in point of to this personal righteousness, the first thing principle between a man of the world and we would say of it is, that it admits of no a new creature in Christ, that there is bemeasurement whatever with the social tween him who has the Spirit of God, and worth, or the moral virtue, or any other of him who has it not,-and all the difference Y

that all old things are done away, and that all things have become new.

in point of performance, that there is between him who is without Christ, and can therefore do nothing, and him who can do all things through Christ strengthening him. There is a new principle now, which formerly had no operation, even that of godliness, and a new influence now, even that of the Holy Ghost, given to the prayers of the believer;-and under these provisions will he attain a splendour and an energy of character, with which, the better and the best of this world can no more be brought into comparison, than earth will compare with heaven, or the passions and the frivolities of time, with the pure ambition and the lofty principles of eternity.

And let it not be said, that the transformation of which we are now speaking, instead of being thus entire and universal, consists only with a good man of the world in the addition of one virtue, to his previous stock of many virtues. We admit that he had justice before, and humanity before, and courteousness before, and that the godliness which he had not before, is only one virtue. But the station which it asserts, among the other virtues, is a station of supreme authority. It no sooner takes its place among them, than it animates them all, and subordinates them all. It sends forth among them a new and pervading quality, which makes them essentially different from what they were before. I may take daily exercise from a regard to my health, and by so doing I may deserve the character of a man of prudence; or I may take daily exercise apart from this consideration altogether, and because it is the accidental wish of my parents that I should do so; and thus may I deserve the character of a man of filial piety. The external habit is the same; but under the one principle, the moral character of this habit is totally and essentially different from and of rejoicing in the Lord Jesus. There what it is under the other principle. Yet is a holding fast of our hope in the prothe difference here, is, most assuredly, not mises of the Gospel. There is a cherishing greater than is the difference between the of the Spirit of adoption. There is the justice of a good man of society, and the work of a believing fellowship with the justice of a Christian disciple. In the Father and with the Son. There is a moveformer case, it is done unto others, or done ment of affection towards the things which unto himself. In the latter case, it is done are above. There is a building up of ourunto God. The frame-work of his outer selves on our most holy faith. There is a doings is animated by another spirit alto- praying in the Holy Ghost. There is a gether. There is the breath of another life watching for his influence with all persein it. The inscription of Holiness to God verance. In a word, there is all which stands engraven on the action of the be- the Christian knows to be real, and which liever; and if this character of holiness be the world hates, and denounces as visionary, utterly effaced from the corresponding in the secret, but sublime and substantial action of the good man of society, then, processes of experimental religion. surely, in character, in worth, in spiritual and intelligent estimation, there is the utmost possible diversity between the two actions. So that, should the most upright and amiable man upon earth embrace the Gospel faith, and become the subject of the Gospel regeneration,-it is true of him, too,

Thus it is, that while none of the Christian virtues can be made to come into measurement with any of what may be called the constitutional virtues, in respect of their principle, because the principle of the one set differs from that of the other set, in kind as well as in degree, yet there are certain corresponding virtues in each of the classes, which might be brought together into measurement, in respect of visible and external performance. And it is a high point of obligation with every disciple of the faith, so to sustain his part in this competition, as to show forth the honour of Christianity; to prove by his own personal history in the world, how much the morality of grace outstrips the morality of nature; to evince the superior lustre and steadiness of the one, when compared with the frail, and fluctuating, and desultory character of the other; and to make it clear to the eye of experience, that it is only under the peculiar government of the doctrine of Christ, that all which is amiable in human worth, becomes most lovely, and all which is justly held in human admiration, becomes most great, and lofty, and venerable. The Bible tells us to provide things honest in the sight of men, as well as of God. It tells us, that upon the person of every Christian, the features of excellence should stand so legibly engraven, that, as a living epistle, he might be seen and read of all men. It is true, there is much in the character of a genuine believer which the world cannot see, and cannot sympathize with. There is the rapture of faith, when in lively exercise. There is the ecstacy of devotion. There is a calm and settled serenity amid all the vicissitudes of life. There is the habit of having no confidence in the flesh,

But, on the other hand, there is also much in the doings of an altogether Christian of that palpable virtue which forces itself upon general observation; and he is most grievously untrue to his master's cause, if he do not, on this ground, so outrun the world, as to force from the men of

it, an approving testimony. The eye of of nature, and if any believer amongst
the world cannot enter within the spiritual you be led by it not to despise these accom-
recesses of his heart; but let him ever re-plishments, but to put them on, and to ani-
member that it is fastened, and that too mate them all with the spirit of religious-
with keen and scrutinizing jealousy, on the ness,-if any hearer amongst you, beginning
path of his visible history. It will offer no to perceive his own nothingness in the sight
homage to the mere sanctity of his com- of God, be prompted to inquire, Wherewithal
plexion; nor, unless there be shed over it shall I appear before him? and not to rest
the expression of what is mild in domestic, from the inquiry, till he flee from his hiding-
or honourable in public virtue, will it ever place, to that everlasting righteousness
look upon him in any other light, than as which the Saviour hath brought in: and if
an object of the most unmingled disgust. any believer amongst you, rightly dividing
And therefore it is, that he must enter on the word of truth, shall act on the principle,
the field of ostensible accomplishment, and that though nothing but the doctrine of
there bear away the palm of superiority, Christ crucified, can avail him for accept-
and be the most eminent of his fellows in ance with God, yet he is bound to adorn
all those recognized virtues, that can bless this doctrine in all things. And knowing
or embellish the condition of society; the that one may acquiesce in the whole of
most untainted in honour, and the most dis- such a demonstration, without carrying it
interested in justice, and the most alert in personally home, we leave off with the sin-
beneficence, and the most unwearied in all gle remark, that every conviction not prose-
these graces, under every discouragement cuted, every movement of conscience not
and every provocation.
followed up, every ray of light or of truth
not turned to individual application, will
aggravate the reckoning of the great day,-
and that in proportion to the degree of ur-
gency which has been brought to bear upon
you, and been resisted, will be the weight
and the justness of your final condemnation.

We have now only time to say, that we shall not regret the length of this discourse, or even the recurrence of some of its arguments, if any hearer amongst you, not in the faith, be led by it, to withdraw his confidence from the mere accomplishments


The Principle of Love to God.


"Keep yourselves in the love of God."-Jude 21.

rests, and finds a complacent gratification,—
and to assign the circumstances, which are
either favourable or unfavourable to its ex-

It is not easy to give the definition of a
term, which is currently and immediately
understood without one. But, should not
this ready understanding of the term super-citement. All this may call forth an exer-
sede the definition of it, what can we tell cise of discrimination. But instead of dwell-
of love in the way of explanation, but by a ing any more on the significancy of the
substitution of terms, not more simple and term love, which is the term of my text, let
more intelligible than itself? Can this affec- us forthwith take it unto use, and be confi-
tion of the soul be made clearer to you by dent that, in itself, it carries no ambiguity
words, than it is already clear to you by along with it.
your own consciousness? Are we to at-
tempt the elucidation of a term, which,
without any feeling of darkness or of mys-
tery, you make familiar use of every day?
You say with the utmost promptitude, and
you have just as ready an apprehension of
the meaning of what you say, that I love
this man, and bear a still higher regard to
another, but have my chief and my best
liking directed to a third. We will not at-
tempt to go in search of a more luminous
or expressive term, for this simple affection,
than the one that is commonly employed. to behold, this is the prospect over which
But it is a different thing to throw light upon my eye and my imagination most fondly
the workings of this affection,-to point expatiate.
your attention to the objects on which it

The term love, indeed, admits of a real and intelligible application to inanimate objects. There is a beauty in sights, and a beauty in sounds, and I may bear a positive love to the mute and unconscious individuals in which this beauty hath taken up its residence. I may love a flower, or a murmuring stream, or a sunny bank, or a humble cottage peeping forth from its concealment, or in fine, a whole landscape may teem with such varied graces, that I may say of it, this is the scene I most love

The term love admits of an equally real,

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and equally intelligible application to our | when this cordiality is turned, in one stream fellow-men. They, too, are the frequent of kindliness, towards myself; when the and familiar objects of this affection, and eye of friendship has singled out me, and they often are so, because they possess cer- looks at me with a peculiar graciousness; tain accomplishments of person and of cha- when the man of tenderness has pointed racter, by which it is excited. I love the his way to the abode of my suffering family, man whose every glance speaks an effusive and there shed in secrecy over them his cordiality towards those who are around liberalities, and his tears; when he has forhim. I love the man whose heart and given me the debt that I was unable to diswhose hand are ever open to the represen- charge; and when, oppressed as I am, by the tations of distress. I love the man who consciousness of having injured or reviled possesses such a softness of nature, that the him, he has nobly forgotten or overlooked imploring look of a brother in want, or of the whole provocation, and persists in a rea brother in pain, disarms him of all his gard that knows no abatement, in a wellselfishness, and draws him out to some large doing that is never weary and willing surrender of generosity. I love the man who carries on his aspect, not merely the expression of worth, but of worth maintained in the exercise of all its graces, under every variety of temptation and discouragement; who, in the midst of calumny, can act the warm and enlightened philanthropist ; who, when beset with many provocations, can weather them all in calm and settled endurance; who can be kind even to the unthankful and the evil; and who, if he possess the awful virtues of truth and of justice, only heightens our attachment the more, that he possesses goodness, and tenderness, and benignity along with them.

Now, we would have you to advert to one capital distinction between the former and ter class of objects. The inanimate reflect no love upon us back again. They do not single out any one of their admirers, and, by an act of preference, either minister to his selfish appetite for esteem, or minister to his selfish appetite for enjoyment, by affording to him a larger share than to others, of their presence, and of all the delights which their presence inspires. They remain motionless in their places, without will and without sensibility; and the homage they receive, is from the disinterested affection which men bear to their loveliness. They are loved, and that purely, because they are lovely. There is no mixture of selfishness in the affection that is of fered to them. They do not put on a sweeter smile to one man than to another; but all the features of that beauty in which they are arrayed, stand inflexibly the same to every beholder; and he, without any conscious mingling whatever of self-love, in the emotion with which he gazes at the charms of some external scenery, is actuated by a love towards it, which rests and which terminates on the objects that he is employed in contemplating.

But this is not always the case when our fellow men are objects of this affection. I should love cordiality, and benevolence, and compassion for their own sakes; but let your own experience tell how far more sweetly and more intensely the love is felt,

There is an element, then, in the love I bear to a fellow man, which does not exist in the love I bear to an inanimate object; and which may serve, perhaps, to darken the character of the affection I feel towards the former. We most readily concede it, that the love of another, on account of the virtues which adorn him, changes its moral character altogether, if it be a love to him, solely on account of the benefit which I derive from the exercise of these virtues. I should love compassion on its own account, as well as on the account that it is I who have been the object of it. I should love justice on its own account, as well as on the account that my grievances have been redressed by the dispensation of it. On looking at goodness, I should feel an affection resting on this object, and finding there its full and its terminating gratification; and that, though I had never stood in the way of any one of its beneficent operations.

How is it, then, that the special direction of a moral virtue in another, towards the object of my personal benefit, operates in enhancing both the sensation which it imparts to my heart, and the estimate which I form of it? What is the peculiar quality communicated to my admiration of another's friendship, and another's goodness, by the circumstance of myself being the individual towards whom that friendship is cherished, and in favour of whom, that goodness puts itself forth into active exertion? At the sight of a benevolent man, there arises in my bosom an instantaneous homage of regard and of reverence;-but should that homage take a pointed direction towards myself,-should it realize its fruits on the comfort, and the security of my own person,-should it be employed in gladdening my home, and spreading enjoyment over my family, oppressed with want and pining in sickness, there is, you will allow, by these circumstances, a heightening of the love and the admiration that I formerly rendered him. And, we should like to know what is the precise character of the addition that has thus been given to my regard for the virtue of benevolence. We should like to know, if it be altogether a pure and a

words, it may enhance my affection for worth, without any change whatever in the moral character of that affection.

Now, before we proceed to consider those peculiar emotions which are excited within me, by being the individual, in whose favour certain virtues are exercised, and which emotions are, all of them, different in kind from the affection that I bear for these virtues,-let us farther observe, that the term love, when applied to sentient beings considered as the object of it, may denote an affection, different in the principle of its excitement, from any that we have been yet considering. My love to another may lie in the liking I have for the moral qualities which belong to him; and this, by way of


There is one way, however, in which this special direction of a moral virtue towards my particular interest, may increase my affection for it, and without changing the moral character of my affection. It gives me a nearer view of the virtue in question. It is true, that the virtue may just be as lovely when exercised in behalf of my neighbour, as when exercised in behalf of myself. But, in the former case, I am not an eye-witness to the display and the evo-distinctness, may be called the love of moral lution of its loveliness. I am a limited be- esteem or approbation. Or, my love to aning, who cannot take in so full- and so dis-other may consist in the desire I have for tinct an impression of the character of what his happiness; and this may be called the is distant, as of the character of what is love of kindness. These two are often alimmediately beside me. It is true, that all lied to each other in fact, but there is a real the circumstances may be reported. difference in their nature. The love of you know very well, that a much livelier kindness which I bear to my infant child representation is obtained of any object, may have no reference to its moral qualities by the seeing of it, than by the hearing of whatever. This love finds its terminating it. To be told of kindness, does not bring gratification in obtaining, for the object of this attribute of character so forcibly, or so it, exemption from pain, or in ministering clearly home to my observation, as to re- to its enjoyments. It is very true, that the ceive a visit from kindness, and to take it sight of what is odious or revolting in the by the hand, and to see its benignant mien, character of another, tends, in point of fact, and to hear its gentle and complacent voice, to dissipate all the love of kindness I may and to witness the solicitude of its inquiries, have ever borne to him. But it does not and to behold its tender and honest anxiety always do so, and one instance of this for my interest, and to share daily and proves a real distinction, in point of nature, weekly in the liberalities which it has be-between the love of kindness, and the love stowed upon me. When all this goes on of moral esteem. And the highest and around my own person, and within the most affecting instance which can be given limits of my own dwelling-place, it is very of this distinction, is in the love wherewith true that self is gratified, and that this cir- God hath loved the world; is in that kindcumstance may give rise to sensations, ness towards us, through Christ Jesus, which are altogether distinct from the love which he hath made known to men in the I bear to moral worth, or to moral excel- Gospel; is in that longing regard to his lence. But this does not hinder, that along fallen creatures, whereby he was not willwith these sensations, a disinterested love ing that any should perish, but rather that for the moral virtue of which I have been all should live. There was the love of kindthe object, may, at the same time, have its ness standing out, in marked and separate room and its residence within my bosom. display, from the love of moral esteem; for, I may love goodness more than ever, on alas! in the degraded race of mankind, there its own account, since it has taken its spe- was not one quality which could call forth cific way to my habitation, and that, just such an affection in the breast of the Godbecause I have obtained a nearer acquaint-head. It was, when we were hateful to him ance with it. I may love it better, because in character, that in person and in interest I know it better. My affection for it may we were the objects of his most unbounded have become more intense, and more de- tenderness. It was, when we were enemies voted than before, because its beauty is now by wicked works, that God looked on with more fully unfolded to the eye of my ob-pity, and stretched forth, to his guilty chilservation than before. And thus, while we dren, the arms of offered reconciliation. It admit that the goodness of which I am the was when we had wandered far in the paths object, originates within me certain feelings of worthlessness and alienation, that he dedifferent in kind from that which is excited vised a message of love, and sent his Son by goodness in the general, yet it may into our world, to seek and to save us. heighten the degree of this latter feeling also. It may kindle or augment the love Ilustrate the kind of love which we are rebear to moral virtue in itself; or, in other quired to bear to our enemies. We are re

And this, by the way, may serve to il

praise-worthy accession that has thus come upon the sentiment with which I now look at my benefactor,-or, if, by contracting any taint of selfishness, it has lost the high rank that formerly belonged to it, as a disinterested affection, towards the goodness which beautifies and adorns his character.

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