« PreviousContinue »
our hearts, it will be impossible for us to give admittance to the feelings of malevolence towards any of his creatures.
Our passions oflen appear contradictory, because we are at different times under the influence of different inclinations, and impelled by different desires. But every good, and amiable, and generous affection that we cherish, tends to incline our hearts to exercise affections that are akin to it; while every selfish and malevolent passion tends to render us still more selfish and malevolent. This we all know to be true from every day's experience. Suppose you wished to touch the heart of a friend in favour of some very poor distressed object, whom you greatly commiserated: what moment would you think most favourable for your purpose? Would it be when you saw this friend agio 4 tated
tated by resentment, and expressing all the fury of rage and disappointment? No: you would be too wise for this. You would never expect that your friend, while under the influence of such passions, would listen to your tale of pity. You would wait for a more favourable moment: and what moment would appear- to you more favourable, than that in which you saw his heart glowing with fervent gratitude towards a benefactor, from whom he had just received some signal instance of affection?
Thus you may perceive in what manner the continual exercise of the feelings of reverence, and love, and gratitude towards God, prepares the heart for exercising all the kind and benevolent affections towards man. There is throughout the whole system of revelation, nothing incongruous. One part supports and assists another. If we are commanded to subdue all the malevolent passions, we are at the same time taught how to conquer them; and if we sincerely and conscientiously follow the instructions we have received from Divine wisdom, evil passions may assail, but they will never reign over us. tures. I now proceed to take a more particular view of the additional light thrown upon the foundation of moral principle, and the consequent advantages derived to virtue from the instructions of our Saviour.
I may appeal to you in the words of St. Paul: — " Remember ye not, "that when I was yet with you I "told you these things?" "Now "our Lord Jesus Christ himself, and "God even our Father, which hath "loved us, and given us everlasting "consolation and good hope through "grace, comfort your hearts, and sta"blish you in every good word and "work!"
The chief advantage derived from the gift of reason is, that it enables man to profit by experience. To a proper application of the knowledge accumulated from this source, we owe all the improvements of society, all the wisdom of philosophy, and all the laws that govern the several states and kingdoms of the world.
Wherever the inestimable gift of reason had been most effectually improved, there virtue was painted in the fairest colours, and vice described as most hateful and injurious. Among the heathens many wise men had from time to time arisen, who gave excellent instructions concernG 6 ing