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word that fell from his lips is more precious than all the treasures of the earth; for his “ are the words of eternal life!" They must therefore be laid up in your heart, and constantly referred to, on all occasions, as ihe rule and direction of all your actions; particularly those very comprebensive moral precepts he has graciously left with us, which can never fail to direct us aright, if fairly and honestly applied : such as “ whatsoever ye would that men should do unto you,
do ye even so unto them.” There is no occasion, great or small
, on which you may not safely apply this rulé for the direction of your conduct: and, whilst your heart honestly adheres to it, you can never be guilty of any sort of injustice or unkindness. The two great commandments, which contain the summary of our duty to God and man, are no less easily retained, and made a standard by which to judge our own hearts.-"To love the Lord our God, with all our hearts, with all our minds, with all our strength, and our neighbour (or fellow-creature) as ourselves.”_" Love worketh no ill to his neighbour;" therefore if you have true benevolence, you will never do any thing injurious to individuals, or to society. Now, all crimes whatever are in their remoter consequences at least, if not immediately, and apparently) injurious to the society in which we live. It is impossible to love God, without desiring to please him, and, as far as we are able to resemble him ; therefore the love of God must lead to every virtue in the higbest degree: and, we may
be sure, we do not truly love him, if we content ourselves with avoiding flagrant sins, and do not strive, in good earnest, to reach the greatest degree of holiness we are capable of. Thus do those few words direct us to the highest Christian virtue. Indeed, the whole tenor of the gospel is to offer us every help, direction, and motive, that can enable us through Jesus Christ to attain eternal life.
What an example is set before us in our Blessed Master! How is his whole life, from earliest youth, dedicated to the pursuit of true wisdom, and to the practice of the most exalted virtue! When you see him, at twelve years of age, in the teinple amongst the doctors, hearing thein, and asking them questions on the subject of religion, and astonishing them all with his understanding and answers--you will say, perhaps,—“Well might the Son of God, even at those years, be far wiser than the aged; but, can a mortal youth erulate such heavenly wisdom? Can such a pattern be proposed to my imitation ?”-Yes,-remember that he has bequeathed to you his heavenly wisdom, as far as concerns
your own good. He has left you such declarations of his will, and of the consequences of your actions, as you are, even now, fully able to understand, if you will but attend to them. If, then, you will imitate his zeal for knowledge, if you will delight in gaining information and improvement, you may even now become “wise unto salvation.” Unmoved by the praise he acquired amongst these learned men, you see him meekly return to the subjection of a child, under those who appeared to be his parents, though he was in reality their Lord : you see hiin returu to live with them, to work for them, and to be the joy and solace of their lives; till the time came, when he was to enter on that scene of public action, for which his heavenly Father bad sent him from his own right hand, to take upon him the form of a poor carpenter's son. What a lesson of humility is this, and of obedience to parents !-When, having received the glorious testimony from heaven, of his being the beloved Son of the most High, he enters on his public ministry, what an example does he give us of the most extensive and constant benevolence !-how are all his hours spent in doing good to the souls and bodies of men !--not the meanest sinner is below his notice:to reclaim and sare them, he condescends to converse familiarly with the most corrupt, as well as the most abject. All his miracles are wrought to benefit mankind; not one to punish and afflict them. Instead of using the almighty power, which accompanied him, to the purpose of exalting himself and treading down his enemies, he makes no other use of it than to heal and to save.
When you come to read of his sufferings and death, the ignoming and reproach, the sorrow of mind, and torment of body which he submitted to-when you consider, that it was for our sakes--" that by his stripes we are healed". and by his death we are raised from destruction to everlasting lite; po power of language can make the scene more touching than it appears in the plain and simple narrations of the evangelists. The heart that is unmoved by it can be scarcely human; but the emotions of tenderness and compunction, which almost every one feels in reading this account, will be of no avail, unless applied to the irue end unless it inspire you with a sincere and warm affection towards your blessed Lord--with a firm resolution to obey his commands to be his faithful disciple, and ever to renounce and abhor those sins, which brought mankind under divine condemnation, and from which we have been redeemed, at so dear a rate. Remember that the title of Christian, or follower of Christ, implies a more than ordipary degree of holiness and goodness. As our motives to virtue are stronger than those which are afforded to the rest of mankind, our guilt will be proportionably greater if we depart from it.
Our Saviour appears to have had three great purposes in descending from his glory, and dwelling amongst men. The first, to teach them true virtue, both by his example and precepts: The second, to give them the most forcible motives to the practice of it,"
by bringing life and immortality to light;" by shewing them the certainty of a resurrection and judgment, and the absolute necessity of obedience to God's laws: The third, to sacrifice himself for us, to obtain by his death the remission for our sins upon our repentance and reformation, and the power of bestowing on his sincere followers the inestimable gift of immortal happiness.
What a tremendous scene of the Last Day does the gospel place before our eyes !-of that day when you shall awake from the grave, and behold the Son of God, on his glorious tribunal, attended by millions of celestial beings, of whose superior excellence we can now form no adequate idea :- When, in presence of all mankind, of those holy angels, and of the great Judge himself, you must give an account of your past life, and hear your final doom, from which there can be no appeal, and which must determine your fate, to all eternity. Then think, if for a moment yon can bear the thought, what will be the desolation, shame, and anguish of those wretched souls, who shall hear these dreadful words, “ Depart from me, ye cursed, into everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels.”— Oh! may you never become one of those undone, lost creatures, may God's
you a better use of that knowledge of tris will, which he has vouchsafed you. Let as therefore turn from this horrid, this insupportable view, and rather endeavour to imagine, as far as is possible, what will be the sensations of your soul, if you shall hear our leavenly Judge address you in these transporting words, " Come, thou blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you, from the foundation of the world.”— Think what it must be, to become an object of esteem and applause, not only of all mankind together, but of all the host of heaven, of our blessed Lord himself; nay, of his and our almighty Father-to find your frail flesh changed
in a moment into a glorious celestial body, endowed with perfect beauty, health and agility-to find your soul cleansed from all its faults and infirmities; exalted to the purest and noblest affections, overflowing with divine love and rapturous gratitude to have your understanding enlightened and refined- your heart enlarged and purified !-and every power, and disposition of mind and body, adapted to the highest relish of virtue and bappiness !-- Thus accomplished, to be admitted to the society of amiable and happy beings, all united in the most perfect peace and friendship, all breathing nothing but love to God, and to each other, -with them to dwell in scenes more delightful than the richest imagination can paint-free froin every pain and care, and from all possibility of change or satiety :-but, above all, to enjoy the more immediate presence of God himself to be able to comprehend and admire his adorable perfections in a high degree, though still far short of their infinity-to be conscious of his love and favour, and to rejoice in the light of his countenance! But here all imagination fails: we can form no idea of that bliss which may be communicated to us by such a near approach to the source of all beauty and all good:-we must content ourselves with believing that it is what mortal eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither hath it entered the heart of man to conceive. The crown of all our joys will be to know that we are secure of possessing thein for ever. What a transporting idea!
Can you reflect on all these things, and not feel the most earnest longing after immortality? Do not all other views and desires seem mean and tritling, when compared with this! And does not your inmost heart resolve that this shall be the chief and constant object of its wishes and pursuit, through the whole course of your life? If you are not insensible to that desire of happiness, which seeins woven into our nature, you cannot surely be unmoved by the prospect of such a transcendent degree of it; and thre continued to all eternity, perhaps continually increasing. You cannot but dread the forfcitüre of such an inheritance as the most insupportable evil :--remember then the conditions on which alone it can be obtained, God will not give to vice, to carelessness, or sloth, the prize he has proposed to virtue. You have every help that can animate your endeavours :- you have written laws to direct you—the example of Christ and his disciples to encourage you—the post awakening inoliit's to engage you—and you have, besides, the comfortable promise of constant assistance from the Holy Spirit, if you diligently and sincerely pray for it. Let not all this mercy be lost upon you—but give your attention to this your only important concern, and accept, with profound gratitude, the inestimable advantages that are thus affectionately offered you.
Though the four Gospels are each of them a narration of the life, sayings, and death of Christ; yet, as they are not exactly alike, but some circumstance and sayings, omitted in one, are recorded in another, you must make yourself perfectly mistress of them all.
The ACTS OF THE APOSTLES, who were endowed with the Holy Ghost, and authorised by their divine Master, come next in order to be read. Nothing can be more interesting and edifying than the history of their actions of the piety, zeal, and courage, with wbich they preached the glad tidings of salvation-and of the various exertions of the wonderful powers conferred on them by the Holy Spirit, for the confirmation of their mission.
The character of St. Paul, and his miraculous conversion, demand your particular attention : most of the apostles were men of low birth and education ; but St. Paul was a Ronan citizen; that is, he possessed the privileges annexed to the freedom of the city of Rome, which was considered as a high distinction in those countries that had been conquered by the Romans. He was educated amongst the most learned sect of the Jews, and by one of their principal doctors. He was a man of extraordinary eloquence, as appears not only in his writings, but in several speeches in his own defence, pronounced before governors and courts of justice, when he was called to account for the doctrines he taught. He seems to have been of an uncommonly warm tcmper, and zealous in whatever religion he protessed: this zeal, before his conversion, shewed itself in the most unjustifiable actions, by furiously persecuting the innocent Christians : but, though his actions were bad, we have reason to believe his intentions were good. This affords us an example of the mercy of God towards mistaken consciences, and ought to inspire us with the most enlarged charity and good will towards those whose erroneous principles mislead their conduct: instead of resentment and hatred against their persons, we ought only to feel an active wish of assisting them to find the truth, since we know not whether, if convinced, they might not prove, like St. Paul, chosen vessels to promote the honour of God, and of true