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of expence which their pleasures occasion, accounts in a great measure for the fatal reverse that takes place in their character. It not only drains the sources whence the streams of beneficence should flow, but often obliges them to become oppressive and cruel to those whom it was their duty to have patronised and supported.

PURITY of heart and conduct must therefore be held fundamental to charity and love, as well as to general piety and virtue. The licentious, I know, are ready to imagine, that their occasional deeds of bounty and liberality will atone for many of their private disorders. But besides that such plans of compensation for vices, by some supposed virtues, are always fallacious, the licentious may be assured, that it is an appearance only of charity, not the reality of it, to which they can lay claim. For that great virtue consists not in occasional actions of humanity, in fits of kindness or compassion, to which bad men may be prompted by natural instinct; but in the steady and regular exercise of those good affections, and the discharge of those important duties towards others, for which the licentious are in a great measure disqualified. Their criminal propensities direct their inclinations to very different objects and pursuits; and often determine them to sacrifice the just rights of others, sometimes to sacrifice the peace and the reputation of the innocent, to the gratification of their passions. Such is the pernicious influence which the love of pleasure has on the good qualities of its devoted votaries. The impure heart is like the stagnant and putrefying lake which sends forth its poisonous exhalations to corrupt and wither every plant that grows on its banks.


THE second qualification annexed to charity in the text is, that it be of a good conscience. By this I understand the Apostle to mean, that charity be in full consistency with justice and integrity; that the conscience of the man, who purposes to perform actions of benevolence, be free from the reproach of having neglected the primary duties of equity. For, undoubtedly, justice is a virtue primary to charity; that is, it must go before it in all its exertions. One must first do justly before he can pretend that he loves mercy. Religion, my friends, in order to render it useful to mankind, must be brought down by its teachers from the sublimity of speculation to the functions and occupations of ordinary life. It is my duty to admonish you, that you must, in the first place, be fair in all your dealings with others; you must discharge the debts you owe; you must pay the wages due to your servants and dependants; you must provide for your own family, and be just to the claims of relations; then, and then only, you can, from a good conscience, as the text enjoins, perform acts of generosity and mercy.

This leads to a reflection which here deserves our attention; that in order to fulfil that charity which is the end of the commandment, oeconomy, and good order in private life, ought to be carefully studied by all Christians. This is more closely connected with a good conscience, than many seem inclined to admit. Economy, when prudently and temperately conducted, is the safeguard of many virtues; and is in a particular manner favourable to the exertions of benevolence. He who by inconsiderate conduct is injuring his circumstances, will probably in time lose the inclination, and certainly is depriving himself of

fulfilled. Many preparatory events must take place, before the world is ripe for final judgment. Whether this be the case or not, none of us with certainty know. But allow me to remind you, that to each of us an event is approaching, and not far distant, which shall prove of the same effect with the coming of the day of the Lord. The day of death is, to every individual, the same as the day of the dissolution of the world. The sun may continue to shine; but to them who are laid in the grave, his light is finally extinguished. The world may remain active, busy, and noisy; but to them all is silence. The voice which gives the mandate, Return again to your dust, is the same with the sound of the last trumpet. Death fixes the doom of every one, finally and irrevocably. This surely is an event which none of us can remove in our thoughts to a remote age. To-morrow, to-day, the fatal mandate may be issued. Watch therefore; be sober, be vigilant; ye know not at what hour the Son of Man cometh.

HAVING now treated both of the creation and dissolution of the world, I cannot conclude without calling your thoughts to the magnificent view which these events give us, of the kingdom and dominion of the Almighty. With reverence we contemplate his hand in the signal dispensations of Providence among men; deciding the fate of battles; raising up, or overthrowing empires; casting down the proud, and lifting the low from the dust. But what are such occurrences to the power and wisdom which He displays in the higher revolutions of the universe; by his word, forming or dissolving worlds; at his pleasure, transplanting his creatures from one world

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charge. Their affairs are allowed to run into confusion. Economy and good order are neglected. The innocent, in great numbers, suffer materially through their mismanagement: And all the while they assume to themselves the praise of being generous and goodhearted men. This surely is not that charity which the Gospel enjoins; and which, in its very essence, involves good conscience and integrity. He, who pretends to do good to his brethren without first doing them justice, cannot be accounted their real friend. True charity is not a meteor, which occasionally glares; but a luminary, which in its orderly and regular course, dispenses a benignant influence.

THE third and last adjunct connected in the text with charity is, that it be of faith unfeigned. Faith, in the Scripture sense of it, includes the whole of religious principles respecting God, and respecting Christ. Good principles, without good practice, I confess, are nothing; they are of no avail in the sight of God, nor in the estimation of wise men. But practice not founded on principle, is likely to be always unstable and wavering; and, therefore, the faith of religious principles enters, for a very considerable share, into the proper discharge of the duties of charity.

It will be admitted that, without faith, our duties towards God cannot be properly performed. You may be assured that your duties towards men will always greatly suffer from the want of it. Faith, when pure and genuine, supplies to every part of virtue, and in particular to the virtue of charity, many motives and assistances, of which the unbeliever is destitute. He who acts from faith, acts upon the high

principle of regard to the God who hath made him, and to the Saviour who redeems him; which will of ten stimulate him to his duty, when other principles of benevolence become faint and languid, or are crossed by opposite interests. When he considers himself as pursuing the approbation of that Divine Being, from whom love descends, a sacred enthusiasm both prompts and consecrates his charitable dispositions. Regardless of men, or of human recompence, he is carried along by a higher impulse. He acts with the spirit of a follower of the Son of God, who not only has enjoined love, but has enforced it by the example of laying down his life for mankind. Whatever he does in behalf of his fellow-creatures, he considers himself as doing, in some degree, to that Divine Person, who hath said, Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me. * Hence charity is with him not only a moral virtue, but a Christian grace. It acquires additional dignity and energy from being connected with the heavenly state and the heavenly inhabitants. He mingles with beings of a higher order, while he is discharging his duty to his fellow-creatures on earth, and, by joining faith and piety to good works, he completes the character of a Christian.

THUS I have endeavoured to explain the full sense of that comprehensive view of religion which is given in the text. I have shown in what respects charity, joined with the pure heart, the good conscience, and faith unfeigned, forms the end of the commandment. Let us ever keep in view those essential parts of a

* Matth. xxv. 40.

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