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law of Love and Charity, this ostentatious spirit met with His early reprehension. Although he did not annul the Old Testament motives to Love and Alms. giving, he added new ones, infinitely more powerful and animating. He placed life and immortality before us. He taught us tliat we were candidates for an Eternity of Glory, which none could be fit to inherit, but they who having the Love of God shed abroad in their hearts, did, for his sake, Love all his Creatures, and prepare their souls for the final enjoyment of Him, through the constant exercise of every act of kindness and mercy here below. And in the rapturous glimpses which he gives us of this future and eternal bliss, and of that awful process and sentence which is to fix the doom of mankind-Charity to the Poor, the Sick, and the Needy, is made the grand Preparation of the Heart, for all that we can hope to enjoy from him.
Nor was it by Doctrines alone, but by constant and living Example, that this heavenly Temper was inculcated by Him. As his errand into the world was at first proclaimed by choirs of angels to be “ Glory to God on high, with Peace and Good-will " to Men on carth”-So Good-will to men was the leading principle of his whole life; which was at last closed with an act of Good-will so stupendously great, that both men and angels were left astonished at the benevolence thereof-For he died to save sinners-He breathed out his last in “ Love which
passeth knowledge*”—constituting Love as the
grand criterion, whereby all who should afterwards profess his name, might be truly known* as his.
In this evangelic view, well might Love be stiled a New Law; as founded not in a mere regard to Almighty Justice, or fear of Almighty Judgment; but in a heart that is cast into the very mould of Love itself-in a Temper that is Angelic, nay even Seraphic, Godlike, Divine; and already so raised above this world, as to be daily ripening for the world to come!
Following this doctrine of Love, given by our blessed Saviour, nay living in it, and feeling it in all its divine efficacy, his faithful Apostles constantly pressed it home to men, upon his own heavenly principles. Thus we find St. James, in the text read to you, placing all Religion in a heart thus set loose to the world—thus breathing the dictates of Huma. nity and Love.
“ Pure Religion, and undefiled before God (our “ Saviour) and the Father, is This To visit the “ Fatherless and Widows in their affliction, and to “ keep ourselves unspotted from the world.”
But the fervent Apostle St. Paul, of all others, with his usual zeal, enters the fullest into this subject. His 12th and 13th chapters to the Corinthians, are one continued lecture on our Saviour's heavenly Doctrine of Charity; which, by a sublime train of argument, he exalts above all other Virtues and Graces—even above those truly Evangelic OnesFaith and Hope.
If, therefore, we would wish to understand this essential Doctrine aright, and to be truly actuated by the Life and Spirit of Heavenly Love, a short analysis of our Apostle's arguments, will be of the ut. most use; and also be the best introduction I can give to the recommendation of that particular Branch of Charity; for which I have the honour to be appoint. ed an humble advocate before you.
There had started up, in the Church of Corinth (as there hath, alas! in many churches since) a set of Men, who being elated with an over-weening conceit of their own Spiritual Gifts— the strength of their Faith, and the ardour of their Hope, in Christ Jesus-made that a plea for lording it over their Brethren; and for Spiritual Pride, rash condemnation, and censorious contempt of others; contending that those endowed with superior Gifts and Acquisitions, were as the Head, Heart, and Vital parts of the Body, while others were as the meaner Members.
Saint Paul attacks them on their own principles; and, by a beautiful Allusion to the Body Natural, proves that Christians of lower attainments, were as much Members of Christ's Mystical body, as those of the highest; and that to condemn or judge unchari. tably of them, was as much a Schism in the Body Mystical, as if, in the Body Natural, “ the Foot should
say, because I am not the Hand; and the Ear, “ because I am not the Eye—that therefore they are “ not of the Body. For if the whole were an Eye, “ where were the Hearing? If the whole were Hear“ ing, where were the Smelling?”
Just so in the Body Mystical. “ Are all Apostles? " are all Prophets? are all Teachers? are all Workers “ of Miracles? Have all the Gifts of Healing? Do all “ speak with Tongues? Do all Interpret?”
You do well, says he, to covet earnestly these “ best of Gifts.” But, would you have the true Spirit of your Master Christ, and be his Followers indeed?-Behold, I will shew you “ A more excellent way,” than that of striving to make yourselves great by Boasting of
of your own Acquisitions, however eminent.
He then begins his divine Sermon on Charity: and surely, my Brethren, he could not have delivered himself with a more glorious and fervent Zeal, had he lived to see those fiercer Contentions, that Havoc and Destruction, which the want of this Gospel-virtue of Charity hath introduced into modern times--that Spirit of Bitterness and Violence; that Thirst of Imperiousness and Dominion; that presumptuous Censure and religious Railing; that Sırife for modes and opinions, unessential to Christianity; that Desire of obtruding our own distinguishing Tenets on those around us, rather than the common Commandments of Christ; that Earnestness of compelling their Faith, rather than provoking their Love and Obedience by our good example--all which unchristian Temper hath been, like the worm at the root of Jonah's Gourd, eating out the very Vitals of Religion; and hath often made this world more like an Aceldama, or field of Blood, than the peaceful Heritage of the meek and lowly Jesus. For most certain it is, from sad experience, that when once this temper begins to prę.
vail, not only the Love of God is forgotten, but along with it the Love of our neighbours also; and the Heart, by habits of bitterness, censoriousness, contention, violence and revenge, becomes gradually callous, and dead to all the softer impressions of humanity, mercy, and good will.
Saint Paul, determined to give an early check to this growing evil in the Churches, attacks it with an undlaunted firmness, and truly Apostolic ardor.
Suppose, says he, that you had all those gifts and acquisitions, whereof yon so fondly glory-suppose your eloquence so great, that you could speak with the tongues of men and angels; your knowledge so enlarged, that you could understand all mysteries, and interpret all difficulties; your desire of alms-giv. ing such, that you could bestow all your goods to feed the poor; your mortification to the world so strong,
had subdued all carnal appetites; your Faith sufficient even to remove mountains; your hope in Christ so fervent, that you could give your bodies to be burnt for the Truth of his doctrines--Yet, for all this, I tell you, that “ if you have not Charity, you are Nothing!” All these Gifts and Acquisitions all these good Deeds-are of no estimation in the sight of God, if they are not ministerial to that Love which is the fulfilling of the whole Law; and are not performed in “ that more excellent way of Charity," Which is the Spirit of the Gospel, and the very badge of Christian Perfection!
For eloquence, employed to puff up the vanity of the possessor, and not exerted, in the spirit of Love