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like the man unfurnished with the wedding garment, must be struck dumb, must be covered with confusion. Is our heart warm with brotherly love 2 Good manners will put expressions of civility into our mouths; but has a power from on high implanted the royal law of charity in our breasts? The character of a gentleman requires a deportment accessible, obliging, and courteous: has the spirit of Christianity taught us to love, “not in word,” or plausible appearance only, “but in deed and in truth?” Do we love our neighbours, not merely on account of some relation they bear us, or some services they have done us, but because they are creatures of the blessed God, are the objects of his providential care, and capahle at least of being conformed to his image? Do we love them, because we hope that the Lord Jesus Christ has bought them with his blood, is willing to make them partakers of his Spirit, and members of his mystical body? 'Are we sincerely concerned for their present welfare and their eternal happiness? Do we embrace all opportunities of promoting both the one and the other, embrace them with the same alacrity, and improve them with the same zeal which actuate us in seeking our own felicity ? If they exceed us in all that is amiable, and all that is prosperous, do we contemplate their superior excellence with a real complacency, and their more abundant success with a real satisfaction ? Do we dislike to hear, and abhor to spread, defamatory tales, even when our adversaries are the men whom they tend to blacken? When rudely affronted, or causelessly abused, do we pity the offenders for the wrong done to their own souls, rather than kindle into resentment at the indignity offered to ourselves? When greatly injured, are we slow to anger, and not easily provoked * Are we much more willing to be reconciled than to fo– ment displeasure and prosecute revenge? In a word, do we ‘love our enemies; bless them that curse us; do good to them that hate us, and pray for them which despitefully use us and persecute us?'t Without this low.
ing and lovely disposition, “we abide,’ says the apostle, “in death,” are destitute of spiritual, and have no title to eternal life. , Let me add, Are all our graces and all our works * clothed with humility?” This should be the dress in which they severally appear, as well as the bond of connexion which unites them all.f. Do we maintain a very low opinion of our own accomplishments, and in * honour prefer others to ourselves?'t habitually sensible that we are less than the least of the divine mercies, and the very chiefest of sinners ? I might easily have branched out the preceding subjects into a much greater variety of interrogatory articles, but I intend only to present you with a specimen. Your own meditations will enlarge the sketch, and supply what is defective: only let me beg of you, my dear friend, to try your state by this touchstone, to prove your conduct by this standard ; and may the Father of lights give you an understanding to discern the exact purity and sublime perfection of his holy law! Have you lived in the uninterrupted observance of all these duties, avoiding whatever is forbidden, and obeying whatever is commanded? Your outward behaviour, I know, has been free from notorious violations; but has your inward temper been preserved from all ungodly motions, and from every irregular desire? Is there no enmity in your heart to any of the precepts, nor any backwardness, nor any failure in performing each and every injunction? - When you put these questions to yourself, remember, that if you fail in one point, or in any degree, you are guilty of all.$ If your conformity be not persevering as well as perfect, you incur the penalty, and are abandoned to the curse; you stand charged before the Judge of the world with all the guilt of all your sins,
terested ; how extensive; how triumphant! Must not all the boasted benevolence of the philosopher and moralist strike sail to this evangelical charity? Must not both moralist and philosopher acknowledge the necessity of a divine operation thus to enlarge, exalt, and refine their social affections?
* 1 John iii. 14.
+ 1 Pet. v. 5. The unusual word eykoufogadóe is supposed to have both these significations,
t Rom. xii. 10. # James xi. 10. Gal. iii. 10.
both original and actual: and there is not one circumstance, nor one aggravation of any of your iniquities, overlooked or forgotten, unless, renouncing all your personal performances, you place your whole affiance on a Saviour's atonement and a Saviour's righteousness. I think you will not dare to put the issue of your everlasting state upon the former footing; which is not only hazardous, but must be inevitably ruinous. You will infinitely rather choose to acknowledge yourself a poor insolvent, and plead the unsearchable riches of your Redeemer's obedience.
To those who believe, the law, though strict, is not terrible; because, be its precepts of holiness ever so extensive, they have been most completely fulfilled by their glorious Surety; be its penal sanctions ever so rigorous, they have been satisfied to the utmost by their great Mediator. Believers, therefore, may make their boast of their adorable Sponsor; they may “sit under his shadow with great delight,” while the thunderings of Mount Sinai, and all the terrors of the legal dispensation, tend only to increase and quicken the refreshing sense of their safety: just as the possessor of a plentiful estate in some peaceful and prosperous country reposes himself under the shade of his vine or the shelter of his fig tree; and hearing of the wars which embroil, or the plagues which depopulate, other uations, tastes with augmented relish his own felicity.
Let me close with the affectionate and emphatical wish of an inspired epistolary writer; that “the Lord of peace may give’ my dear Theron “peace, always, by all means !” Then I shall think my wishes are accomplishing, and this blessing is at the door, when he sees the purity of the divine law, sees the depravity of his own nature, and the impossibility of being justified without an interest in the great Mediator's righteousness; that righteousness which, as it is the only hope and the constant joy, is therefore the darling theme of your ever faithful
P. S. Shall I abridge the preceding letter, and con**Cant. ii. 3, # 2. Thess, iii. 16.
tract the whole into those two great commandments, which made the first awakening impressions on my own mind f * Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart: Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself.” Amazing! said your Aspasio. Are these the commands of God; as obligatory as the prohibition of adultery, or the observation of the sabbath? Then has my whole life been a continual act of disobedience. Not a day, no, nor an hour, in which I have performed any duty. This conviction struck me, as the handwriting upon the wall struck the presumptuous monarch; it pursued me as Saul pursued the Christians, not only to my own house, but even to distant cities; nor ever gave up the great controversy till, under the influences of the Spirit, it brought me, “weary and ‘heavy laden,” to Jesus Christ.
Theron, convinced of theiniquity of his life and the evil of his heart, sees the necessity of a better righteousness than his own-Desires a farther explanation and a fuller proof of the doctrine under debate. '
* DRAR Aspasio,
self; I shall ever entertain the meanest opinion of my own either moral or religious qualifications.
where is that intense and supreme love of God which his transcendent perfections challenge, and his ineffable goodness claims? where that firm and joyful reliance on Christ Jesus, in any degree proportioned to his infinite merits and inviolable promises? where that cordial and tender affection for my fellow Christians which is due to the servants of a divine Redeemer, the people whom he ransomed by his agonies, and purchased with his very blood? Where is the incense of holy contemplation and refined desire? . where the flame of fervent devotion and ever active zeal, such as become the living temple of God, in which his most immaculate and glorious Spirit vouchsafes to reside These fundamental graces, like the grand organs in the animal system, should impart health to the soul, and spread the beauty of holiness through all the conversation. But these, alas! far from beating with a vigorous and uniform pulse, hardly heave with life, only just struggle now and then with . some faint, intermitted, uneven throes.
How seldom do my actions spring from gratitude to the everlasting Benefactor, or aim at the glory of his super-excellent majesty! In addressing the King immortal, invisible, how languid are my affections, and how wandering is my attention; how great my unbelief, and how little my reverential awe; I receive innumerable mercies; but where are my returns of correspondent thankfulness I am visited with many gracious chastisements, but without proper resignation or due improvement. Alas! for my heartless devotions, my lifeless virtues, and the multitude of my refined iniquities! Hid behind the mask of outward decency, and some customary forms of religion, I was altogether unacquainted with my spiritual state: I fancied myself “rich and increased with goods, and to have need of nothing;' even while I was ‘wretched, and miserable, and poor, and blind, and naked.”
If I look back, and review the years of youth and - manhood, what has been the tenor, what is the aspect
... " - * Rev. iii. 17. . . .