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ble quality; men of great talents, and eminent acquisitions on other subjects, will fall or be driren, from their own ignorance or others' fury, into the ranks of hypocrisy and unbelief; the ambitious will avail themselves of our religious passion for political or interested purposes; and, while we shall be filled, even to loatbing, with accounts from every sect of the prodigious progress of its own faitb, ignorance will sit brooding over the land, warming into life and mischievous activity a thousand passions miscalled piety; and a religion will prevail, of which it is one of the characteristic duties to represant as infidel every intelligent and conscientious inquirer, who does not take the draught, as it is offered bim, or who does not fill his cup at some one of tbe fountains, wbicb party has consecrated. Indeed, it may be set down as a maxim, that all the advantages, which may, at any time, appear to be gained by making religion a passion, and faith an unenlightened principle, are completely coonterbalanced by the inevitable increase of hypocrisy, infidelity and bigotry, with which such a state of things is attended.

T'he effect of knowledge in diffusing charity, is not less conspicuous, than its influence on piety. If we take charity in its common acceptation, we shall find, that an enlarged and cultivated mind often dispos esmen to acts of generosity. It extends the sphere of kind observation, and divests us of that sordidness and prejudice, which so often restrain the exercise of bounty, and directs us to proper objects of our good will and exertion. But it is in the promotion of charity, in opposition to what is called, uncharitableness, that religious knowledge is most eminently successful. Not that the most learned men have been uniformly the most catholic. There is often a pride of opinion among the learned, which learning alone will not cure. There is, also, a love of dominion in vigorous minds, which makes abad use of the maxim, that

knowledge is power. But, if we would hope ever 1o correct thai denouncing and dogmatizing spirit, which has been so disgracefully common in the cbristion' world, it is only to be effected by giving men some conception of the difficulties, which attend the discovery of truth. He, who, deriving his faith from the unexamined authority of numbers, has never felt these difficulties, or, being persuaded of some private operations or influences, of which he thinks himself the favoured subject, cannot be made to feel them, must be expected either to pity or despise those, who do not admit these compendious ways of arriving at truth. If he is a good man, he will be tempted to pily those, who have not ceased to doubt ; if he is a proud man, he will triumpb in his own fancied superiority; if he is a weak man, he will suspect, avoid, or calumniate those, who are not so well established as himself in every article of faith. He, alone, cannot easily condemn others, whom it has cost much pains, and lime, and prayers, to form bis own opinions. Religious knowledge reveals to us this most important fact, which alone can cure our religious vanity, and consequent uncharitableness—the fact, that there is not a single communion in christendom without its wise men and its saints; veither is there a question among those, which have been most fiercely disputed in the cbristjan world, which is not maintained and rejected by men of piety and intellectual endowments apparently equal. He, therefore, who undertakes to pronounce, in an unqualified manner, on the indispensible connexion of any mere opinion in theology with holiness here, or happiness hereafter, can only be cured by enlarging his sphere of inquiry, by being taught to feel the real difficulties, which allend on many of those articles of popular faith, wbich are osten most confidently maintained, when they are least understood.

2. We proceed now to consider the influence of piety on knowledge and charity.

It was the uniform doctrine of our Saviour, that nothing so effectually promotes faith bere, as a pious disposition; or unbelief, as a wicked or bypocritical mind. It is almost superfluous to observe, ibat these remarks of our Saviour on belief and unbelief, may be applied to religious knowledge and ignorance. If any man will do my will, says our Saviour, be sball know of my doctrine, whether it be of God. This sentiment is thus expressed in other places : No man can come unto me, except the father, who has sent me, draw him; that is, unless he is induced to it by regard to God, or a principle of religious obedience. The wise, that is, the pious, sball understand, but none of the wicked shall understand.

This connexion between religious knowledge and sentiments of piety, is entirely natural and intelligi. ble. The fear of God is the beginning of wisdom. That man only will preserve a mind open to conviction, and faithfully use every assistance within his reach for the discovery of truth, who lives under the habitual conviction, that he must give an account of himself, in this respect, to God. To such an one wisdom is the principal thing. The merchandize of it is better than the merchandize of silver, and the gain thereof, than fine gold. She is more precious ihan rubies; and all things, we can desire, are not to be compared to her. He, who has a deep and unaffected sense of the greatness and goodness of God, will receive with joy every new ray of divine truth; he will feel the impiety, as well as the uncharitableness, of closing the sources of religious inquiry; and feel the sacredness of that obligation, whích lies on every man to form, without prejudice or interested motives, his religious opinions. He will rejoice in the extension of a spirit of research, confident that, under the government of God, the progress of inquiry will be the progress of truth, and that truth cannot be ultimately unfavourable to virtue.

By this I do not mean, that piety alone will furnish us with an extensive knowledge of this religion; and much less, that be, who only prays over the scriptures, will thoroughly understand them, without the use of the requisite helps. But it is with the scriptures, as with every other book, he will best understand, who is most capable of entering into the spirit of the author; and if any one good affection rather than another may be said to predominate in the books of scripture, it is the spirit of piety. They are distinguished from all other writings by this character, that they are a history of the dispensations of God. He is the great object every where presented to our view. Every other agent, who appears in the scene, is subordinate; and the eternal relations of man to God and to the life to come, are the topics, on which every thing in scripture has an immediate bearing.

The influence of piety on the progress of charity, also, is great and important. It is true, the two sentiments may exist with different degrees of intensity in different minds; and some persons, from observing a mistaken zeal in many good men for the glory of God, and from hearing acts of devotion too often made the vehicle of uncharitable feelings, have been led to think these two qualities separable at least, if not some times irreconcilable. But far from us be the attempt, to put asunder what God hath joined together. Let us leave it to saints, who lived under a less generous dispensation of religion, to mingle imprecations with the accents of contrition. It is the uniform language of our Saviour and his apostles, that every christian must present to God his petitions for pardon, in peace with all men, and with wishes of salvation for all. I should think it entirely superfluous, to multiply proofs of the inseparable connexion, every where held out in the christian scriptures, between


charity, in all its forms, and the love of God, which is the sum of godliness. With regard to beneficence, that great branch of charity, let ibis passage suffice: But whoso bath this world's goods, and seeib his brother bave peed, and shutteth up bis bowels of compassion from him, how dwelleth the love of God in bim ?

It is not easy to conceive, how any man addressing God, the common Father of all mankind, and considering, how little is known of God, except that he is our gracious parent, can bring to his prayers any other, than a heart of charity. But it sometimes happens, that we worship God, as altogether such an one as ourselves.

We make bim a party to our own prejudices. We clothe him with our own passions. We set up an idol, who smiles or frowns according to our wishes. Instead of imitating tbe almighty and impartial Father of all mankind, we make a God, who imitates ourselves. Thus, every odious quality of the human mind becomes associated with our religion. Our devotions become the nutriment of our passions ; our habits of communion with God are become habits of excommunication of others. If we attend to God's providences, we interpret them all according to our own uncharitable principles; and the lower of Siloam always falls, where we had expected the blow. If we discern bis footsteps, it is only in the narrow path, whiclı our vain imaginations have marked out for him ; and his cause is identified with the ebullitions of our own vanity and spleen. Now, when piety is thus degraded, as it sometimes is, every in crease of piety is only an increase of ill-will; we shut up our bowels of compassion against those, whom, we think, God has shut out of his covenant, and engage in boly warfare-against what ?—not against our own vanity, presumption, obstinacy and malignity, or ibe sins, which most easily beset us, but against ibe enemies of the true faith. These we call to choose

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