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ful, indeed, to a depraved generation, but derogatory from the majesty of God. But the Christian religion, by teaching us that God is a spirit, and, therefore, is to be worshipped only in spirit and truth, has at once cut off all pretences for external expressions of our reverence, farther than as they minister to, or proceed from, the internal reverence of a devout mind. It commands us, therefore, not to offer to him the blood of slain beasts, but the better sacrifice of an humble and contrite heart :-not to circumcise the flesh, but the spirit, with the lusts and passions thereof:-not to observe new moons and sabbaths, but to keep the weightier matters of the law, mercy, judgment and truth :
- not to abstain from the leaven of bread, but from the leaven of malice and wickedness :-not to make clean the outside of the cup and of the platter, but to cleanse the extortion and excess that is within :-in one word, to shew our reverence of the Supreme Being, not by positive and ritual observances, or corporeal severities, but by pure and undefiled hearts ; by a meek and gentle spirit; by unfeigned coutrition for our past sins ; by sincere gratitude for the blessings we have received; by a humbie submission to his will; by a steady obedience to his commands; and by a firm reliance upon his providence, amidst all the changes and chances of this mortal life. This is the worship commanded in the Gospel,--this the adoration of a Christian :--pure, rational, and easy; equally removed from the unhallowed abominations of gentile corruption, and the burthensome pomp of Judaic observances,
Nor is the Gospel doctrine less excellent in the several branches of duty, which relate to our neighbour and ourselves. For what virtue is there, which can make perfect the man of God, which is not there taught and enjoined, in its utmost purity and extent ?Was it said to them of old time, Thou shalt not kill? The Gospel cutteth off all tendency to murder, by expressly forbidding all causeless anger against our brother, all contemptuous treatment, or even harsh and hasty condemnation of him; which are generally the forerunners of this black and horrid crime.-Was it said to them of old time, Thou shalt not commit adultery? The Gospel not only forbids the adulterous act, but all adulterous thoughts ;-commands us to restrain the first incentives to lust, by plucking out the adulterous eye ;--declaring, that “ whosoever “ looketh upon a woman to lust after her, hath " already committed adultery with her in his “ heart." _Was it said to thein of old time, i Thou shalt not foreswear thyself, but shalt
perform unto the Lord thine oaths ?” The Gospel not only forbids perjury, but all rash, vain, and idle swearing, as proceeding from an evil principle, and as being derogatory from the révérence due to the Supreme Being. --Was it said to them of old time, “ An eye for an eye, " and a tooth for a tooth?" The Gospel forbids us to harbour any revengeful thoughts, requires us to bear small injuries with patience, and even to suffer the greatest without malice or anger.
er.Was it said to them of old time, “Thou shalt “ love thy neighbour and hate thine enemy?” The Gospel, on the contrary, commands us to love all men, even our very enemies, to bless them that curse us, to do good to them that hate us, to pray for them that despitefully use us and persecute us :-in one word, in all circumstances of life, to do to others what we would they should do unto us; as being all members of the same family, all children of the same God, all subject to the same common infirmities, and, therefore, all standing in need of mutual forbearance and forgiveness.
Nor is the morality of the Gospel less new and perfect in other instances, which relate more immediately to ourselves. It commands us to banish all selfish passions ; to deny all ungodliness and worldly lusts; to keep our faculties in
their due subordination to reason; to hunger and thirst after righteousness ; to be meek and lowly in heart; to despise the riches of the world ; to set our affections on things above; to bear evil without repining, and good without presumption; to be contented in our station; in one word, to be patterns and examples of righteousness, sobriety and godliness, and to endeavour to be perfect, even as our Father, which is in heaven, is perfect.
Such are the practical duties taught and enjoined by the Christian religion ; which contain ali the morality of former times, augmented, refined, and improved ; digested into one clear and uniform system ; enforced by the wisest and most cogent motives; delivered in the most pathetic, intelligible, and persuasive language; and suited to every man's particular circumstances, station, and capacity in life.
And, lastly, what is another excellence of the Christian religion, it affords us the noblest examples of the practicability of these duties, in the lives of its divine author and his disciples.
Had the Christian religion been the product of sequestered wisdom and inactive speculation; had it been taught, like the philosophy of old,
only only in porticos and groves, we might, we must have adınired it as a most ingenious and sublime theory:—but we should never, perhaps, have thought of executing •what it enjoined, or of reaching that excellence' we admired.
We should have been apt to have considered it as the baseless fabric of a vision, beautiful, but unsubstantial; pleasing to the imagination, but useless to the common purposes of life. But when we see all its precepts drawn forth into action, and humanity able to do what divinity taught ;—when we behold our great Lawgiver submitting to his own laws, and himself performing what he requires of others ;-when we see him meek and lowly in heart, submitting to poverty; insult, tortures and death, without complaint or murmur;-nay, what is more, when we see men of like passions with ourselves, poor, illiterate, timid fishermen and mechanics, reaching the sublimest heights of this pure religion, and practising its most arduous duties amid the corruptions and opposition of the world ;-our opinion must then be changed, and we can have no pretence either for denying the truth of Christianity, or the possibility of becoming Christians indeed. And such examples almost every page of the New Testament holds forth to our view; it shews us a set of men called forth to almost unparelleled trials and sufferings, for a