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our souls of that deep and delicate sense of the value and the claims of our common nature, which springs from the “ never-failing charity” of the Gospel.
In the third place, the words which follow the text, open a wide view of the ultimate scope and tendency of Christianity.
Charity never faileth ;” but “ whether “ there be prophecies, they shall fail ; “ whether there be tongues, they shall cease ;
whether there be knowledge, it “ shall vanish away. Now we see through
a glass darkly, but then face to face.” Can it be more clearly shewn to us, that the chief part of Religion consists in the unwearied cultivation of all the charitable affections? These alone will never fail. All our present modes and forms of belief will, in a future state of being, vanish before the clear light of actual
lines of distinction, which may now seem to us like the gulf that se
parates Heaven from Hell, will disappear, probably, like the clouds which hover before the sun ; all their imperfect conceptions of Faith will then be illuminated to the pious and the sincere ; but while all the misapprehensions which divided them on earth shall for ever be done away, the bonds of Charity which united them shall be strengthened through the ages of Eternity.
How true is it, then, that the foretaste of heavenly felicity may be anticipated on earth ; that the character which unites the angels and the archangels in the presence of the Almighty Father, may, amidst our human imperfection, be partly our own; and that when “ we suffer long, “ and are kind, envy not, vaunt not our“ selves, do not behave ourselves un“ seemly, seek not our own, are not
easily provoked, think no evil, rejoice “ not in iniquity, but rejoice in the truth, “ bear all things, believe all things, hope “ all things, endure all things ;" even amidst the darkness of our present being, in which we see only as through a
glass,” we shall breathe the spirit of those who 6 behold their Maker face to “ face ;” and that, while Hope and Faith are only our guides to that bright assembly, the Charity which we cultivate here, will there, too, be our greatest reward and glory!
ON RELIGIOUS RETIREMENT.
MATTHEW, iv. 1.
“ Then was Jesus led up of the Spirit into
“ the wilderness.”
At this season we are summoned by the Church to suspend, in some degree, the usual course of our thoughts and employments, and to set apart a portion of our time for meditation and recollection. -Here, as in every other department of conduct, the example of our Saviour is held out to us; and from that world, which is the great field of our temptations, and too often, alas ! of our fall, we are required to follow Him into the wilderness, and there to become witnesses of that strength which he summoned up in the hours of abstinence and retirement, and by which he was enabled to defeat the attempts of the spiritual Enemy of man.
* Preached on the first Sunday in Lent.
To those who are much wedded to common occupations and pleasures, the notion even of a temporary secession from their allurements, appears to be dark and disagreeable. They are generally acknowledged, indeed, to lead to disappointment, yet those who are the most sensibleof their fallacies, are, perhaps, the most loath to desert them
and the distraction of thought which accompanies them, while it is quite devoid of real enjoyment, yet disqualifies the mind from deriving any satisfaction from con