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faced, and to which the world, notwithstanding all its mutability, can yet afford opportunities of exertion, which have ever been felt as solid and unperishing good. Whenever we cultivate the sentiments of love, or seek to promote the good of mankind, we feel that we are entering upon a course which brings both immediate and permanent satisfaction. We then feel that we live, not only in our own feeble existence, but in the affections and breasts of our fellow-creatures ; and connecting ourselves, not with the fleeting dreams of worldly good, but with the hearts and the souls of mankind, we are conscious of a stability of happiness which cannot be torn from us!
It is in this manner that, in all ages, the truly benevolent and humane have ever believed that they have secured real good. Even while they might have but a very shadowy perception of a future state of being, they have felt that there was something really excellent in their present condition; and, while their Hope and their Faith might not be awakened by the Gospel, they yet had an intuitive perception, that “ Charity never “ faileth.”
It is, however, to the Gospel, and to the faith which it inspires, that we are, in the second place, to ascribe the perfection of Charity; and however noble the efforts of humanity may have been in former
periods of the world, there is yet something in the description of the Apostle, which we feel cannot apply to them. We must ascribe to the faith of the Gospel that inspiring conviction, that man is not the creature of a day; that every
individual who breathes the breath of life is the destined heir of an eternal existence; and that all the weakness and infirmities of our present being cannot smother the lurking spark of immortality.
From this sentiment, my brethren, the charity of the Christian puts on the elevated form ascribed to it by the Apostle. It is not only in public life, when the good of a nation, or of the world, warms the imagination of the Patriot or the Philanthropist,—it is not only amidst domestic affections, when the kind instincts of nature give a delightful colouring to all the exertions of duty,—nor is it only where our feelings are interested by suffering virtue, or by some striking appearance of human calamity,-it is not in such scenes alone, that the universal and omnipresent spirit of Christian charity finds itself animated into action. Wherever it looks
the face of man, there it beholds one for whom the Son of God died, and to whom he has proclaimed immortal life. In this high aspect, all the littleness of present existence, all its darkness and defilement vanish as if they had
no being : the obscurities and the deformities of poverty, the narrowness and weakness of vulgar understandings, even the degradations of vice, cannot oppose the sublime interest with which the sight of every thing human inspires it; and in the most bounded sphere of life, it can yet exercise those warm and animated affections, which, lighted by the torch of Heaven, descend to bless the shivering outcasts of mortality.
It is this circumstance which gives to the Charity of the Gospel that constant and watchful character, which, according to the description of the Apostle, carries it into every department of conduct. He describes it as existing not in those actions chiefly where we commonly think it is only to be found. We may“ give our goods “ to the poor,” or “ our body to be burn“ ed," and yet “ have not charity." These splendid acts of bounty, or of martyrdom,
may possibly proceed from the weakness of human vanity. But when, deeply feeling the nature of that sacred tie which connects us even with the weakest or the worst of mankind, we “ suffer long, and are
kind,” amidst their errors and offences, when, triumphing in the accomplishments and virtues of others, we are superior to the low selfishness of “envy,”—when fearful to esteem ourselves more than our brethren, we “ vaunt" not in vain glory: when, attentive even to the least feelings of every human being, we are careful on no occasion to 6 behave ourselves un
seemly,”—when, amidst our constant regard to the rights of others, we push not to the utmost the pursuit of our own,”— when we are “ not easily provoked,” 66 when we think no evil :"_in these instances, my brethren, which penetrate into every scene and action of human life, we can most surely indicate the prevalence in