Imágenes de páginas

redemption of their souls through the mediation of Christ, they lived in a state of fear, and trembled, lest, by breaking again the commandments of God, they should relapse into sin: which apprehension operated, by the power of the Spirit, (with which God filled the soul,) so powerfully, as to enable them to display to the world that pure righteousness that excited astonishment, especially when their former and their present characters were contrasted; so that they attracted the notice, and moved the admiration, of mankind. By their bright example many were induced to seek the same regeneration, from the same pure and holy source, and which was Christ: whence the name Christian, which was first given in Antioch, in the year 42. The followers of the Lord, therefore, mortified all their evil propensities, and secluded themselves; or rather, the grace of God weaned them from the former irregular habits in which they had indulged, and those vain and empty misnamed pleasures, which those called great, virtuous, wise, and dignified, erroneously sought in midnight revels and guilty dissipation. • The influence of God's Spirit at length operated more powerfully on the soul, and Christians uniting themselves,became a bond of holy love and affection, surpassing even that of mammon : consequently they became brothers and sisters under one Father) —the Lord of hosts is his name. Every action of the heart became in the highest degree social; entertain* ing to all men, not excluding the greatest criminal, sentiments of generous benevolence. They were observed moving in various directions, exercising charity and humanity, and displaying the most inflexible integrity; firm in their faith, patient in sufferings, forbearing in persecutions; and in defence of the truth, ever ready to offer themselves a free and willing sacrifice, which they deemed but their reasonable service; and fathers to the fatherless, husbands to the widow, liberators of the slave and the captive, feeders of the hungry and the poor, clothing the naked, succouring the indigent, affording shelter to the destitute, healing the sick, and comforting the afflicted: as soldiers, the most dauntless, intrepid, and subordinate: as subjects, paying tribute to whom tribute was due; peaceful, laborious, and honest: as men, hospitable, sterling, and kind.

So that at length, my love, God poured his Spirit into the hearts of kings and princes, and opened the eyes of the world to behold these bright luminaries, and seek also their righteousness, and to do the works of Qod. Constantine the Great was the first to adopt Christianity as the religion of his state; and at length it became that of our own country, my love. But mark the effects of its becoming a national religion: men born in that nation thought themselves by birthright Christians; as the Jews thought themselves Israelites, because born of Jews: but the case is widely different. Instead of being born of a Christian nation, to obtain for us the salvation of our souls, and the name of Christian, we must be born of God. Instead of having Abraham for our ancestor, we must be born of the God of Israel. We must consider remorse in a guilty mind, a reasonable sentiment in such a fallen race as we decidedly are, my love: that bound and fettered as we are in the bondage of our sin, we must seek for a deliverance through Jesus Christ: and being delivered, we repent, rejoice, and sin no more. This is being, my child, no longer Christian by name and profession, but in heart, in soul, in mind, in strength: in a word, we must be Christians in spirit, truth, and deed. That all men may become such, it is our bounden duty, my child, when in our closet retired from the world, to beseech the Lord of hosts, the God of Israel.

"From realms of endless bliss above,

Lord, bend thy pitying eye below;

And far thy Son's redeeming love,

To wretched men thy mercy shew.

Beset with sorrow, sin, and woe,

And doom'd to all-terrific death j

The only solace, God, bestow,

Tb« triumph of exulting faith,"

But, my dear Mamma, if they had outward virtue, surely it is evidence, as you have often told me, of the fruits of the Spirit.

My love, virtue and righteousness are of very distinct significations. When we talk of virtue, it is in a very different sense to righteousness.

Virtue, my love, signifies that moral excellence 'which relates to the practice of men towards each other, being the practice or doctrine of the duties of life: but righteousness, my love, relates to the practice of men towards God, being the practice and duties of religion. Virtue and morality, therefore, are in terms synonymous. There are many virtuous and moral men in the world, but who have not the least religion.

Then it would be wrong, Mamma, to call a Christian a moral and virtuous man.

These excellencies are not so limited, my child. While he is strictly moral and virtuous, he is also righteous: that is, while he is conspicuous for the performance of all the moral duties of life relating to the practice of men towards each other, he does all in devotional dependance upon God, for the glory of God: for his soul is full of religion. You therefore do not describe a Christian, when you call him merely a moral man, a term not known in Scripture. The moral men whom our Lord describes were the Pharisees; the righteous his disciples. The former God despised, because they did all things to glorify themselves, and not to the glory of God.

But were not the scribes and Pharisees the expounders of the law of God? ,' So it was supposed, my love; but instead of teaching the doctrine of God, they taught the doctrine of «aen. So have we ministers who do the same, who teach morality and virtue, and not the righteousness of God. A minister of the name of Blair is an instance, my love, who writ discourses to men which aretermedsermons; hetaught thismoralityand virtue: while another minister, to show you tho contrast, by name Milner, quite in opposition to the former doctrine, taught the righteousness of Jesus Christ. The former greatly pleased the heart of man, because it made him something. The latter, however, suited not his pride; for it humbled him to nothing, to the earth whence he was made.

Then, Mamma, whenever I talk of Christianity and religion, I must not apply to it the term of morality and virtue.

Nay, my love, righteousness is the language which accords with Scripture, and is acceptable to ©od. Moralists, as they are termed, have noticed four cardinal virtues, which are prudence, temperance, justice, and fortitude; and if a man have

« AnteriorContinuar »