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obligation of kind, and charitable affections. It represseth pride, as leading to contempt and hautiness—envy, as prompting to ill-will-injustice, as a violation of other men's rights intemperate anger, as exciting to violence, and every other affection which might interfere with the comfort of of others. It also teacheth the practice of those civilities which tend to render men agreeable to one another in the social intercourse. Though not inculcated by particular precepts, the school of Christ is the school of true politeness, obliging all its disciples by the general law of love, to render to every man such respect and attention, as is due to the different ranks of society.
A Christian may very innocently be ignorant of many forms of civility practised in the world; but, he is obliged to aim at rendering himself agreeable to others, or to speak better, to render others pleased with themselves. There is indeed a great sacrifice of sincerity in the complaisance of the fashionable world. A Christian may be complaisant without such an expense.
That benevolence which the Gospel inspires will prompt the true follower of Christ, to comply so far as he knows, with those forms of respect to others, which the custom of the country he lives in, hath established. There can be no doubt that the conversation and manners of Jesus Christ were on all oca casions, graceful, obliging, and endearing: and I
feel confident in the opinion, that the Apostle Paul was an accomplished gentleman. The poor, without the advantages of culture, and by the difficulties of their condition, are often rendered fretful, impatient, suspicious of injuries, and seldom capable of those fine feelings which true benevolence inspires, and in their conversation and manners are too generally gross and degradedThe Gospel leads to true refinement in all these respects; and what is still more important; improves the moral sentiment. The poor by it, learn to be just, sober, chaste, and decorous ; patient under injuries, and as the apostle beautifully expresseth it, “ to bear the burden of one another.” Such a temper renders them comfortable, by being pleased with themselves, and softens that asperity which almost always attends a difficult and pinching condition. Send them the Gospel therefore, and you teach them by being the followers of Jesus Christ, to practise “ whatsoever things are true; whatsoever things are venerable; whatsoever things are just; whatsoever things are pure; whatsoever things are lovely; whatsoever things are of good report;" and to be well esteemed by men of just and correct sentiments.
3. The poor are in peculiar need of consolation. Habit indeed, may in some measure, reconcile them to their sufferings; but, still they are entitled to sympathy, and require that consolation
which the world cannot give them. The Gospel alone can afford them such support as indigence requires. Hunger, insufficient cloathing, bad lodging, and the other inconveniences which attend a state of poverty, require peculiar aids to sustain the heart from falling into incurable despondence. These wants can be patiently supported by the Gospel alone. That presents to the hungry soul the bread of life; to the naked a vesture of righteousness and honor, and an house to live in not made with hands, &c. It presents hope, an hope that cannot make ashamed--the true solace of life, when worldly good hath forsaken it. It is in hope that all men live-present enjoyment is insufficient—there is perpetually a chasm in the soul, which requires to be supplied by something unpossessed, but anticipated, and this anticipation is life itself. The hope of pardon and peace with God, of a state of eternal rest and enjoyment, after the pains, the labors, and the sorrows of time have ceased, is the only true consolation which the
poor can enjoy.
The tidings of such benefits procurable “without money, and without price,” cannot otherwise than console the wretched, and render them patient under their present difficulties, if not contented and cheerful-Contented and cheerful I have often seen them enjoying the benign effects of the Gospel. No one need wonder that the pious poor
can be happy in their poverty. The energies of the Gospel when they reach the heart, exhibit such views, excite so many agreeable feelings, and invigorate with hope, that no condition of life can be so unhappy as not to find relief in the doctrines of Jesus Christ. He who feeds on the bread of life, requires less sustenance than other men.
The little he takes is rendered more nutricious from the thankfulness and charitable affections with which he eats it. Not unconnected with this sentiment is, that fine passage in the ad of the Acts, though deprived of its chief beauty in our common translation—" And the disciples continuing daily with one accord in the temple, and breaking bread from house to house, did eat their meat with gladness, and singleness of heart, in a charitable frame of temper towards others, praising God, and having, not as our translation renders it, favor with all the people, but good will towards them.” They felt happy themselves from the calm energies of the Holy Spirit operating to elevate their minds to true greatness of sentiment, and they wished happiness even to those whom they knew to be enemies of him from whom they derived all unspeakable joy. This benign and heavenly temper
is ever the effect of the love of God diffused thro’ the heart. With such dispositions, how much better is the little which the pious poor possess, (as Solomon observes) than the riches of many
wicked?” The poor are apt to be ashamed of their poverty, but poverty, when not occasioned by mismanagement, is no just cause of reproach. A certain Pope, if I remember rightly, used to boast that he was born in an illustrious house. His meaning was, that it had so many chinks and crannies, that the light entered in every direction. He was not ashamed to contrast the obscurity of his birth-place, with the splendor of the vatican. Into whatever house the light of Christ enters, that house, though made of the meanest materials, is rendered truly illustrious. The oblations of prayer and of praise which are there daily offered to God, engage the presence of him who dwelleth “ in light unapproachable and full of Glory.” The language of piety and kindness which is there spoken; the benevolent wishes and prayers which are sent up to heaven for all men, consecrate the dwellings of the pious poor, and render even the cottage a figure of heaven. 4. The Gospel improves the motives on which
The first, is piety towards God-the second, benevolence towards men--the third, a concern for their own salvation. Higher than these there are no principles by which the conduct of men can be directed. These motives indeed, take in every thing that can interest the feelings of rational beings—These motives are indispensible-injunctions of the Gospel; and this alone, of all