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all thy mind”—thus engaging in love to the first and best of Beings, all the powers of the understanding, all the energies of the will, and all the affections of the heart; directing the understanding to exercise on him who is the fountain of truth, her most exalted contemplations; exciting the will ever to choose, as the supreme good, the infinite source of perfection; and awakening all the affections to seek, in the fruition of the Author of all purity and bliss, full and unalloyed felicity.
The important circle of relative and social duties the Gospel also regulates by a single precept, equally comprehensive and impressive—“ Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself.” Are we eagerly attentive to our own interest and advantage? alive to the claims of our own reputation and character ? and resolute in vindicating ourselves from the attacks of calumny and malice? When prosperity pours into our lap her treasures, are we elated with joy ? and when overwhelmed with calamity, do we cast around the look of supplication for the sympathizing heart to share our woes, for the benevolent hand to succour us? This is the measure of our duty to our fellow-men established by the Gospel. Their interest we are to consider as our own; their reputation and character we are to defend and vindicate with the same bold and honest zeal with which we would repel attacks on our own; with the same emotions are we to hail the prosperity which brightens their path, as if its beams cheered our own; and the adversity which assails them, should awaken in us kindred emotions of grief and solicitude. Sacred spirit of Christian morals! by teaching us to do unto others as we would they should do unto us, thou dost make our own feelings, wants, and interests, the measures of the kindness and the good offices we are to render to our fellow-men. Sublime spirit of the Gospel of Christ! thou dost excite in the soul those tender and amiable dispositions, which, if their sway were universal, would render the society of men on earth an image of the hallowed and peaceful fellowship of the blest in heaven.
Review the precepts of the Gospel with respect to the important branch of duties which we owe to ourselves. The virtues of humility and of meekness, of temperance and of chastity, are explained and urged in terms the most clear and forcible, and are all summed up with the most impressive and affecting energy, in the one sublime and luminous precept: “ Blessed are the pure
in heart, for they shall see God.” Exalted precept! which, not satisfied with correcting the exterior, with adorning the outside of our character, dost explore with divine light the inmost recesses of the heart; and dost insist on that universal and sacred purity which will qualify us for the fruition and enjoyment of God. In the code of the Gospel only thy lustre shines. The gods of unenlightened reason were beings sensual and impure. Impure and sensual were their votaries; for the heathen laws of morals were destitute of that enlightening power, which, searching every faculty of the soul, expels the darkness of impurity, and establishes the reign of holiness and
peace. You thus perceive, that the Gospel of Christ. illuminates by the splendour and fulness of its revelations, and the simplicity and clearness of its precepts. Its illuminating power is still further inereased by the splendid example which it exhibits.
It is in example that principles display their force and power; it is example which so strongly illustrates duty, which softens its rigour, which removes from it the difficulties that intimidate, and which sheds on it a lustre that attracts, and animates, and excites to ardent persevering virtue. The rules of morals which heathen philosophers delivered, were clothed in all the charms of elegant diction, and enforced by all the graces of majestic and persuasive elocution; but their influence was yet partial and feeble, because, besides other defects and imperfections, they were destitute of the enlightening, fascinating, and impressive power of example. Principles which did not exert their commanding sway over those who professed them; rules of morals, which, while they were designed to impress the excellence and enforce the practice of virtue, still left the teachers who delivered them under the sway of their passions, and their vices were deemed fallacious apd visionary; intended merely to gratify the vain curiosity of the aspiring understanding, and to amuse and interest the imaginations of men.
What exalted lustre then is shed on the sacred precepts of the Gospel! what decided superiority over every other system, does our holy religion possess in the perfect example of its divine Author ! Not only did Jesus Christ unfold the most splendid view of the divine nature and attributes, and exhibit, in the most perspicuous and animating light, the extensive circle of religious, moral, and social duties—he forcibly illustrated his precepts, and impressed them on the hearts and affections of men, by that perfect and spotless example in which every virtue was displayed in its highest
purity, and every duty exhibited in its brightest lustre.
This example was indeed perfect, for it was the example of him in whom dwelt the fulness.of the Godhead. Amidst the brilliant lustre with which human example glows, we have to lament some blemishes that alloy its brightness. But the example of Christ was animated by the attributes of his divine nature. Imperfection and impurity came not near bis hallowed person. Clad with the garments of eternal righteousness, he was " holy, harmless, undefiled." On every virtue that he practised, he shed the light of divine glory; in every duty that he discharged, he exhibited the splendour of divine holiness.
And his example thus perfect was universal.
Even in the possession of the most brilliant talents, man, from the weakness and error to which his nature is subject, is not calculated to shine in all the various characters and situations of life.
, ? individual can be found the sublime talents and powers necessary to meet all the varying calls of duty, and to shine forth with perfect lustre in every change of situation. To exhibit with the highest splendour all the varied and opposite virtues of our nature, and to shine forth with the highest excellence in all the numerous and variously modified relations of duty, was alone the attribute of bim who united to a human a divine nature.
And his example thus perfect, discharging every duty to the uttermost—thus universal, extending to every virtue-was also familiar, coming down to the level of ordinary scenes and ordinary duties. Vol. III.
Lastly. The light of the glorious Gospel is dispensed in the illuminating grace of the Holy Spirit.
The natural weakness of the powers of the human mind, and the opposition of its prejudices and passions to the exalted and holy truths of the Gospel, would seem to indicate the necessity of divine illumination, of a constant communion between the soul and that Being who is the only source of spiritual knowledge. That the mode of this communion is inscrutable, constitutes no objection to it; for no truth which relates to the divine mind and the divine operations can be brought within the comprehension of our finite faculties. The doctrine of divine illumination and grace, seems indeed to be a sentiment of nature: it is the foundation of all those invocations for direction and aid which the wise and good, in every age, have addressed to the infinite though unknown fountain of truth, and goodness, and power. Grateful then should we be that the Gospel provides those illuminations of the Holy Spirit, by which we are enlightened to discern and to receive the great truths of salvation, and guided " in the ways of God's laws, and in the works of his commandments.”
When then, my brethren, the light of the glorious Gospel thus illuminates by the splendour of its revelations, the clearness of its precepts, the brightness of the example which it furnishes, and the grace of the Holy Spirit which it dispenses, let it not be our condemnation that light has thus come into the world, and we have chosen darkness rather than light. How inestimable is that Gospel which thus affords full and infallible instruction on those