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red, it is true, to forget ourselves, but we are required to remember HIM. We have indeed much sin to lament but we have also much mercy to adore. We have much to ask, but we have likewise much to acknowledge: Yet our infipite obligations to God do not fill our heart balf as much as a petty uneasiness of our own ; nor HIS infinite perfections as much as our own snjallest.want line
The great, the only effectual antidote to self-love is to get the love of God, ands of our neighbour firmly rooted in the heart. Yet let us eyer bear in mind that depen dence on our fellow creatures is as carefully to be avoided as love of them is to be cultivated. There is none but God on whom the principles of love and dependence form. but one duty.
godt u tvalg og min 90
ON THE CONDUCT OF CHRISTIANS IN THEIR INTER“,
COURSE WITH THE IRRELIGIOUS.OR$
THE combination of integrity with discretion is the precise point at which a serious christian must aim in his intercourse, and especially in his debates on religion, with men of the opposite description. He must consider bim. selfas not only having his own reputation but the bonour, of religion in his keeping. While he must on the one hand " set his face as a flint" against any thing that may be construed into compromise or evasion, into denying or concealing any christian truth, or shrinking from any commanded duty, in order to conciliate favour;, he must, on the other hand, be scrupulously careful never to main, tain a christian doctrine with an unchristian temper. In endeavouring to convince he migst be cautious not need. lessly to irritate, He must distinguish between the hop, i our of God and the pride of his own character, and never be pertinaciously supporting the one, under the pretence that he is only maintaining the other. The dislike tuns excited against the disputant is at once transferred to the principle, and the adversary's unfavourable opinion of religion is augmented by the faults of its champion. At the
same time the intemperate champion puts it out of his power to be of any future service to the pian whom his offensive manners have disgusted.
A serious christian, it is true, feels an honest indignation at hearing those truths on which his everlasting hopes depend, lightly treated. He cannot but feel his heart rise at the affront offered to his Maker. But instead of calling down fire from heaven on the reviler's head, he will raise a secret supplication to the God of heaven in his favour, which, if it change not the heart of his oppopept, will not only tranquilize his own, but soften it towards his adversary; for we cannot easily hate the man for whom we pray.
He who advocates the sacred cause of christianity should be particularly aware of fancying that his being religious will atone for his being disagreeable; that his or. thodoxy will justify his uncharitableness, or tris zeal make up for his indiscretion. He must not persuade himself that he has been serving God, when he has only been grati. fying his own resentment; when he has actually by a fiery defence prejudiced the canse which he might perhaps have advanced by temperate argument, and persuasive mildness. Even a judicious silence under great provocation is, in a warm femper, real forbearance. And though " to keep silence from good words” may be pain and grief, yet the pain and grief must be borne, and the si. lence must be observed. .
We sometimes see imprudent religionists glory in the attacks which their own indiscretion has invited. With more vanity than truth they apply the strong and ill chosen term of persecution, to the sneers and ridicule which some impropriety of manner or some inadvertency of their own has occasioned. Now and then it is to be teared the censure may be deserved, and the high professor may possibly be but an indifferent moralist. Even a good nian, a point we are not sufficiently ready to concede, may have been blamable in some instance, on which bis censurers will naturally have kept a keen eye.' On these occasions how forcibly does the pointed cantion recux, which was implied by the divine moralist on the mount, and enforced by the Apostle Peter, to distinguishi for whose sake we are calumniated.
By the way this sharp look out of worldly men on the professors of religion, is not withont very important uses.
While it serves to promote circumspection in the real christian ; the detection to which it leads in the case of the hollow professor, forms a broad and useful line of distinction between two classes of characters so essentially distinct, and yet so frequently, so unjustly,and so maleyolently confounded.
The world believes, or at least affects to believe, that the correct and elegant minded religious man is blind to those errors and infirmities, that eccentricity and bad taste, that propensity to diverge from the strait line of prudence, which is discernible in some pious but ill-judg. ing men, and which delight and gratify the enemies of true piety, as furnishing them with so plausible a ground for censure. But if the more judicious and better informed christian bears with these infirmities, it is not that he does not clearly perceive and entirely condemn them. But be bears with what he disapproves for the sake of the zeal, the sincerity, the general usefulness of these defective characters: These good qualities are totally overlooked by the cepsurer, who is ever on the watch to aggravate the failings which christian charity laments with out extenuating. It bears with them from the belief that impropriety is less mischievous than carelessuess, a bad judgment than a bad heart, and some little excesses of zeal than gross immorality, or total indifference."
We are not ignorant how much truth itseif offends, . though unassociated with any thing that is displeasing. This furvishes an important rule not to add to the una., voidable offence; by mixing the faults of our own charac- . ter with the canse we support ; because we may be certain that the enemy will take care never to separate them. He will always voluntarily maintain the pernicious association in his own mind. He will never think or speak of religion without connecting with it the real or imputed bad qualities of all the religious-men he knows or has heard of.in
! ! Let not then the friends of truth unnecessarily increase the number of her enemies. Let her not have at once to sustain the assaults to which her divine character inėy. itably subjects her, and the obloquy to wbich the infirmities and foibles of her injndicions, and if there are any such, her unworthy champions expose her.
But we sometimes justify our rash violence under coloar that our correct piety cannot endure the faults of
others. The Pharisees overflowing with wickedness themselves, made the exactness of their own virtue a pretence for looking with horror on the publicans, whom our Saviour regarded with compassionate tenderness, while he reprobated with keen severity the sins and especially the censoriousness of their accusers. “Charity," says ar admirable French writer, « is that law which jesus Christ came down to bring into the world, to repair the divisions which sin bas introduced in it; to be the proof of the reconciliation of man with God, by bringing him into obedience to the divine law; to reconcile him to himself by subjugating his passions to his reason ; and in fine to reconcile him to all mankind, by curing him of the desire to domineer over them." · But we put it out of our power to become the instruments of God in promoting the spiritual good of any one, if we stop up the avenue to his heart by violence or imprudence. We not only put it out of our power to do good to all whom we disgust, but are we not liable to some responsibility for the failure of all the good we might have done them, had we not forfeited our infuence by our indiscretion? What we do not to others, in relieving their spiritual as well as bodily wants, Christ will punish as not having been done to himself. This is one of the cases in which our own reputation is so inseparably connected with that of religion, that we should be.. tender of one for the sake of the other...
The modes of doing good in society are various. We should sharpen our discernment to discover them, and our zeal to put them in practice. If we cannot open a man's eyes to the truth of religion by our arguments, we may perhaps open them to its beanty by our moderation, Though he may dislike Christianity in itself, he may, from admiring the forbearance of the Christian, be at last led to admire the principle from which it flowed. If he, have hitherto refused to listen to the written evidences of religion, the temper of her advocate may be a new evidence of so evgaging a kind, that his beart may be open..., ed by the sweetness of the one to the verities of the other. He will at least be brought to allow that that religion cannot be very bad, the fruits of which are so amiable. The conduct of the disciple may in time bring him to the feet of the master. A new combination may be formed in his mind. He may begin to see what he had supposed
antipathies, reconciled, to unite two things which he thought as impossible to be brought together as the two poles, le may begin to couple candour with Christianity.
But if the mild advocate fail to convince, he may persuade ; even if he fail to persuade, he will at least leave on the mind of the adversary such favourable impressions, as may induce him to inquire farther. ' He may be able to employ on some future occasion, to more effectual purpose, the credit which his forbearance will have obtained for him, whereas upcharitable vehemence will probably have for ever shat the ears and closed the heart of his opponent against any future intercourse.
But even if the temperate pleader should not be so hap. py as to produce any considerable effect on the niind of bis antagonist, he is in any case promoting the interests of his own soul; he is at least imitating the faith and patience of the saints ; he is cultivating that “meek and quiet spirit of which his blessed master gave at once the rule, the injunction and the praise.
If « all bitterness and clamour and malice and eyil speaking” are expressly forbidden in ordinary cases, surely the prohibition must more peculiarly apply to the case of religious controversialists. Suppose Voltaire and Hume had been left to take their measure of our religion (as one would really suppose they had) from the defences of Christianity lay their very able contempora. ry Bishop Warburton. When they saw this Goliath in talents and learning, dealing about his ponderous blows, attacking with the same powerful weapons, not the ene. mies only, but the friends of Christianity, who happened to see some points in a different light froin himself ; not meeting them as his opponents, but ponncing on them as his prey, not seeking to defend himself, but tearing them to pieces; waging offensive war, delighting in unprovoked hostility-when they saw him thus advocate the christian cause with a spirit diametrically opposite to Christi. auity, would they not exultingly exclaim, in direct opposition to the exclaination of the apostolic age, “ see how these Christians kate one anothier!” Whereas kad his vast powers of mind and astonishing compass of knowledge been sanctified by the angelic meekiness of Archbisliop Leighton, they would have been compelled to acknowledge, if Christianity be false, it is after all 90 amiable that it deserves to be true. Might they not have