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uine feelings, to applaud folly, to yawn under a leth. argy of pleasure, and to sing for the hours of retire. ment and release ? Shall I sacrifice my innocent endearments, to pursue the fatal routine of your dissipation, the end of which is heaviness, and from which you return deprived of seasonable rest, robbed of peace of mind, galled by reflection, disinclined to prayer, feeling the presence of God irksome, and the approach of death intolerable ?"
« Domestic Happiness, thou only bliss •
Patience is to be displayed in bearing PROVOCATION. “It must needs be that offence will come." Our opinions, reputations, connections, offices, businesses, render us widely vulnerable. The characters of men are various ; their pursuits and their interests perpetually clash. Some try us by their ignorance, some by their folly, some by their perverseness, some by their malice. There are to be found persons made up of every thing disagreeable and mischievous ; born only to vex, a burden to themselyes, and a torment to all around them. Here is an opportunity for the triumph of patience, here is a theatre on which a man may exhibit his character, and appear a fretful, waspish reptile, or a placid, pardoning God. We are very susceptive of irritation ; anger is eloquent; revenge is sweet. But to stand calm and collected; to suspend the blow, which passion was urgent to strike; to drive the reasons of clemency as far as they will go ; to bring forward fairly in view the circumstances of mitigation; to distinguish between surprise and deliberation, infirmity and crime; or if an infliction be deem. ed necessary, to leave God to be both the judge and the executioner- This a christian should labour af. ter.
His peace requires it. People love to sting the passionate. They who are easily provoked, commit their repose to the keeping of their enemies; they lie down at their feet, and invite them to strike. The man of temper places himself beyond vexations, interruption and insult. “He that hath no rule over his own spirit, is like a city that is broken down and without walls,” into which enter over the ruins, toads, serpents, vagrants, thieves, enemies; while the man, who in patience possesses his soul, has the command of himself, places a defence all around him, and forbids the entrance of such unwelcome company to offend or discompose.
His wisdom requires it. “IIe that is slow to anger is of great undersanding; but he that is hasty of spirit exalteth folly.” “Anger resteth in the bo. som of fools.” Wisdom gives us large, various, comprehensive, sailing-round views of things : the very exercise operates as a diversion, affords the mind time to cool, and furnishes numberless circumstances tending to soften severity. Such is the meek. ness of wisdom. Thus candour is the offspring of knowledge.
His dignity requires it. “It is the glory of a man " to pass by a transgression." "Be not overcome of evil, but overcome evil with good.” The man provoked to revenge, is conquered, and loses the glory of the struggle ; while he who forbears, comes off a victor, crowned with no common laurels ; for," he that is slow to anger is better than the mighty : and he that ruleth' his spirit, than he that taketh a city.” A flood assails a rock, and rolls off, unable to make
an impression ; while straws and boughs are borne off in triumph, carried down the stream, “driven with the wind, and tossed."
It is also required by examples the most worthy of our imitation. What provocations had Joseph received from his brethren! but ke scarcely mentions the crime, so eager is he to announce the pardon : * and he said, I am Joseph your brother, whom ye sold into Egypt : now therefore be not grieved, nor angry with yourselves that ye sold me hither; for God did send me before you to preserve life.” Hear David : cthey rewarded ine evil for good, to the spoiling of my soul. But as for me, when they were sick my clothing was sackloth : I humbled my soul with fasting, and my prayer returned into my bosom. I behaved myself as though he had been my friend or brother: I bowed down heavily, as one that mourneth for his mother !". View Stephen, dying under a shower of stones : he more than pardons ; he prays; he is more concerned for his enemies, than for himself; in praying for himself, he stood, in praying for his enemies, he kneeled; he kneeled and said, “ Lord lay not this sin to their charge.!. A greater than Joseph, a greater than David, a greater than Stephen, is here. He endured every kind of insult ; but “when he was reviled, he reviled not again : when he suffered, he threatened not; but committed himself to Him that judged righteously.”
Go to the foot of the cross, and behold him suffering for us, leaving us an example “ that we should follow his steps.” Every thing conspired to render the provocation heinous; the nature of the offence, the meanness, and obligations of the offenders, the righteousness of his cause, the grandeur of his per. son ; all these seemed to call for vengeance. The creatures were eager to punish. Peter drew his sword. The sun resolved to shine on such criminals no longer. The rocks asked leave to crush them. The earth trembles under the sinful load. The very dead cannot remain in their graves. He suffers them
all to testify their sympathy, but forbids their revenge; and lest the Judge of all should pour forth is fury, he instantly cries, “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do." “llere is the patience of' a God.
CHRISTIANITY A PRACTICAL
All the doctrines of the Gospel are practical principles. The word of God was not written, the Son of God was not incarnate, the Spirit of God was not given, only that christians might obtain right views, and possess just notions. Religion is something more than mere correctness of intellect, justness of conception, and exactness of judgement. It is a life giving principle. It must be infused into the habit, as well as govern in the understanding : it must regulate the will as well as direct the creed. It must not only cast the opinions into a new frame, but the heart into a new mould. It is a transforming as well as a penetrating principle. It changes the tastes, gives activity to the inclinations, and, together with a new heart, produces a new life.
There is a class of visionary, but pious writers who seem to shoot as far beyond the mark, as mere mór. alists fall short of it. Men of low views and gross minds may be said to be wise below what is written, while those of too subtle refinement are wise above it. The one grovel in the dust from the inertness of their intellectual faculties; while the others are lost in the clouds by stretching them beyond their appointed limits. The one build spiritual castles in the air, instead of erecting them on the "holy ground” of Scripture; the other lay their foundation in the sand instead of resting it on the rock of ages. Thus, the superstructure of both is equally unsound.
God is the fountain from which all the streams of goodness flow; the centre from which all the rays of blessedness diverge. All our actions are, therefore, only good, as they have a reference to Him : the streams must revert back to their fountain, the rays must converge again to their centre..
If love of God be the governing principle, this pow. erful spring will actuate all the movements of the rational machine. The essence of religion does not so much consist in actions as affections. Though right actions, therefore, as from an excess of courtesy they are commonly termed, may be performed where there are no right affections ; yet are they a mere carcase, utterly destitute of the soul, and, therefore, of the substance of virtue. But neither can affections substantially and truly subsist without producing right actions ; for never let it be forgotten that a pious inclination which has not life and vigour sufficient to ri. pen into act when the occasion presents itself, and a right action which does not grow out of a sound principle, will neither of them have any place in the account of real goodness. A good inclination will be contrary to sin, but a mere inclination will not subdue sin.
The love of God, as it is the source of every right action and feeling, so it is the only principle which necessarily involves the love of your fellow creatures. As man we do not love man. There is a love of partiality but not of benevolence; of sensibility but not of philanthropy; of friends and favourites, of parties and societies, but not of man collectively. It is true We may, and do, without this principle, relieve his distresses, but we do not bear with his faults. We may promote his fortune, but we do not forgive his offences ; above all, we are not anxious for his immortal interests. We could not see him want without pain, but we can see him sin without emotion. We could not hear of a beggar perishing at our door with. out horror, but we can, without concern, witness an acquaintance dying without repentance. Is it not