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fixed corresponding principle, otherwise the fea. tures will daily change, and a variable character appear. Indeed, our decisions upon character can seldom be true, when founded on transient evidence. But higher evidence we cannot expect, unless men act upon principle, and no principle can be so powerful and extensive in its influence as the love of God and the Redeemer. Wherever this prevails, the mind aspires to every degree of moral excellence, and there is perhaps no branch of that excellence, in which its operation is more certain, and apparent, than that of charity. Hence we read, “ That love is of God, and every one " that loveth is born of God, and knoweth God. 66 He that loveth not, knoweth not God, for God “ is love. He that dwelleth in love, dwelleth in 66 God, and God in him. But whoso hath this “ world's goods, and seeth his brother have need, « and shutteth

up

his bowels of compassion from “ him, how dwelleth the love of God in him ?” Wherefore adds the apostle, addressing himself to professing Christians, “ My little children, let us “ not love in word, neither in tongue, but in deed.” Thus it appears, that beneficent love to men is at once a natural consequence and proof of knowing the love of God, and loving him,

Men, destitute of this principle, and who do not pretend to act under its influence, may exhibit remarkable instances of charity. These, it is not my business at present to trace to their various sources, far less, to reprobate the beneficial actions to which they give rise. In as far as they are useful to society, they merit public praise. I cheerfully offer my tribute of grateful acknowledgment, while I regret their want of that noblest and most operative principle, which would render them completely amiable and praise-worthy. If, while strangers to its influence, they do so much good, what would they not do, how much more extensively useful would they not be, were love to God, and his son, the ruling passion in their minds? Without derogating from their liberality, permit me to say, that in their state of alienation from the life and love of God, we can have little dependance on their continuing or abounding in that sort of goodness. Nay, their circumstances, and views, in this condition, rather tend to blunt their sensibilities, to put restraints upon their generous exertions, and to give them a confined, partial, or capricious direction. Ignorant of, or inattentive to the divine character, they can have no perfect standard of excellence. Self, or the

creature in some form or other, is substituted in the place of the Creator and Redeemer of mankind. With such inferior objects in their eye, virtuous emulation can rise to no high pitch. They are actuated merely by selfish and worldly motives, and the best impressions which these can make on their minds must be temporary and fluctuating; their operation is exceedingly limited, or easily interrupted. Nay, when there exist no higher principles of human conduct, must we not rather suspect that, instead of beneficence, very different and opposite effects will more frequently follow, even malevolent affections and injurious practices. The Scriptures therefore, in describing the character of apostate men, represent them, as not only enemies to God in their minds, and by wicked works, but as naturally “ living in ma“ lice and envy, hateful and hating one another." Whatever more favourable construction we may attempt to put upon these declarations of Scripture, I am confident that it will be admitted by all, that they, whose character is formed and maintained under the influence of supreme love to God, and the Saviour, must excel in all goodness, and particularly in the most liberal charity. Must not the lover, the admirer of the divine

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character, wish above all things to imitate it in every

imitable perfection? If the enmity of the carnal mind discover itself in refusing subjection to the law of God, when that enmity is slain, and friendship restored, must not the will of God become the will of the man? Can he hear the divine command without echoing back, that to love God is

with all the heart, and with all the understand

ing, and with all the soul, and with all the “ strength, and to love his neighbour as himself, “ is more than all burnt-offerings.” If " his eyes “ are turned away from beholding vanity," to the contemplation of divine excellence, greatness, and grace, must not his soul expand with the enlarged prospect before him, and in a manner partake of the divine nature? If he is made wise, spiritually to understand, and faithfully to trace the ways

of providence; if he thus perceives, that “ God is

good to all, and that his tender mercies are over « all his other works,—that he makes his sun to • shine and his rain to descend on the just, and “ the unjust,--that his eyes go to and fro to show “ himself mighty, in behalf of those whose hearts " are perfect towards him;" must not love to so bountiful a benefactor, effectually prompt him “ to do good to all, especially to those of the

“ household of faith, yea to be merciful as his 66 Father in heaven is merciful ?" When his divinely illuminated mind takes all these views of God, as arising from, and connected with the grand scheme of man's salvation, how is his heart enlarged and moved with generous sentiments ? Can he think of “ God so loving the world, as to

give his only begotten Son,” and with-hold any possible return of affection and duty ? Can he contemplate, and experience “ the grace of our “ Lord Jesus, in becoming poor to make many “ rich," without feeling and exerting at once all the warmth of gratitude and of a similar benevolence? Having the divine character strongly represented to his mind by the Spirit of truth, “the “ desire of his soul is henceforth towards him, 6 and the remembrance of his name;" he feels and confesses indeed that his goodness cannot ex. tend to an object infinitely glorious, but, in the highest admiration and love, of this supreme, divine perfection and grace, he is ambitious to imitate these in the exercise of all goodness “ to " the saints, as the excellent ones of the earth," yea, and to all his fellow-men: His own enemies, and the irreligious and profane are not excluded from his benevolent regards.

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