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life-bread, clothing, and fuel,—Hark! I say, do you not, amidst these complicated distresses, this instant, hear the loud cries of many hungry, naked, cold, sick, and almost ready to perish?
I know you hear them, and have come, with open heart and open hand, to relieve them. This was the chief purpose of the present solemnity; and I have your instructions to press it home, as the best exercise of those principles in which you profess most eminently to shine. Nor will your practice, I trust, ever fall short of your profession; or give room to apply the prophet's sarcastic rebuke, either to yourselves, or your preacher—"Lo! thou art unto them “as a very lovely song, of one that hath a pleasant “ voice, and can play well upon an instrument—for
they hear thy words, but they do them not.” No, Brethren! you will never suffer this to be justly said of you; but, on the contrary, that you are always as ready to do as to hear.
Many of you will remember, that near the fourth part of a century-a period that hath been big with important events and revolutions—hath passed away, since our last meeting in this place, on a similar occasion. Let the poor, then, have reason to consider our present meeting, as a Jubilee to them, rather than to us.
And while I address you on this subject, I would, at the same time, beg leave to address the whole of this numerous and respectable auditory—for Charity is the concern of all; and we are peculiarly called to its highest exercise at this particular time.
But a few days have passed, since we were joining together in the Song of Angels; giving thanks and “ glory to God in the highest” for the birth of a Saviour, and the Spiritual deliverance accomplished by Him. In a few days* more, we are again, by special appointment, to offer up Thanksgivings to God for whatever temporal blessings and deliverances we have received through His goodness. On both accounts, one of the best sacrifices of Thanksgiving which we can offer, is—to raise the drooping Mourner; cheer the lonely heart of Woe; and be the instruments of Heaven for increasing the number of the Thankful.
This is the return of Gratitude which Christ peculiarly requires; namely, that, from the consideration of his unbounded Love to us, our heart should overflow with Love to each other. Such Love is justly stiled" the fulfilling of the whole Law,”—the sum and substance of all obedience. For true Religion being an emanation from on high, cannot but shed Light upon the understanding, and Love upon the heart-even that Love, which, when genuine, will gradually consume every thing that is gross and earthly within us; and mount up our affections, at last, in a pure flame, to the Omnipotent Source of all Love.
Deeds of Love are the chief employment of the Angels of God; and, into a soul which overflows with Love and Charity, heaven may be said to have descended, while on earth. The other virtues and
* The Thanksgiving day appointed for December 30
graces bring us nearer to God, as it were, by slow approaches; but, by the Divine virtue of Charity, we are borne into His direct presence, as in a fiery chariot! This is the only Virtue which we can carry with us into the other world: Our Faith, after Death, shall be swallowed up in Sight, our Hope in enjoyment; but our Charity, when we shake off this mortality, shall then only begin to have its full scope, enlarging itself into unbounded dimensions, as the main ingredient of our happiness, in the regions of eternal Love!
But I will detain you no longer, Brethren!— You all pant to have a foretaste of the joy of Angels, by calling forth into immediate exercise this heavenly virtue of Charity; whereby you will give* Glory to the THRICE BLESSED THREE, Father, Son, and Holy Ghost, one God over all!
• At the word “ Glory," the Brethren rose together; and, in reverential posture, on pronouncing the names of the Tri-Une God, accompanied the same by a correspondent repetition of the ancient sign or symbol of Divine homage and obeisance; concluding with the following response i Amen! So let it ever be!"
LUCIUS Quintius CINCINNATUS was a Patrician of Rome. In the two hundred and ninety-third year of the city, his son Cæso, a youth of high spirit, great credit, and consummate bravery, exasperated the tribunes of the people, by some severe animadversions upon their conduct; and was accused of treason. A day was appointed for his trial, and ten securities (which was the first instance of bail) taken for his appearance ; each being bound in the sum of three thousand asses, about nine pounds thirteen shillings and nine pence, sterling. Apprehensive of a trial, where his accusers were to be his judges, he retired into voluntary banishment among the Etrurians, before the day fixed for his appearance. His father refused to suffer the securities to pay the forfeiture, which fell short of one hundred pounds, sterling; and sold all his estate, to satisfy the public justice, except about four acres and a mean cottage, on the farther side of the Tiber, afterwards called the Quintian Meadows. To this little spot he retired, and supported himself in an humble, virtuous, and obscure independency, by the labour of his own hands, and of some slaves; never crossing the river to visit the city, or take part in public affairs.
About a year afterwards, he was elected consul, and called from his retreat. He discharged his high office with dignity; appeased the tumults of the city ; restored the administration of justice; refused to set the bad example of suffering himself to be elected consul a second time, contrary to law; and retired to his mean cottage and small farm, superior to all public resentment on account of his private family wrongs.
About two years afterwards, the Æqui, having made war upon Rome, shut up the consul Minucius within his camp near the city; and brought him to the extremity, either of starving by famine, or surrendering at discretion. In this sad emergency,
Cincinnatus was declared Dictator, and a deputation of the senate sent to bring him from his retreat. The venerable patriot was at his plough “covered only from his reins to his knees, with a
cap on his head.” When he saw the deputies, with their croud of attendants approaching, he stopped his oxen; and asking, if all was well, ordered his wife Racilia in haste to bring his gown, that he might be covered, in respect to his visitants. Being clothed, and the dust and sweat wiped from his face, (we may presume by the hands of his faithful Racilia) he was saluted Dictator;* clothed with the purple; and, preceded by the Lictors, with their axes, desired to step into a boat and follow them to Rome. At the awful voice of his country, he paid an instant and silent obedience; dropped a few domestic tears-uttering at last only these words—“My field, then, will not be sown this year-Racilia! take care of our household affairs !''
He conquered the Æqui; rescued the consul; took Corbio, the enemy's principal city; made them pass under the yoke; returned to Rome with their general in chains; was honoured with a splendid triumph; refused to increase his little wrecked fortune, by accepting any share of the spoils, or conquered lands; abdicated the Dictatorship the sixteenth day; and returned again to his little farm." Happy times ! admirable simplicity!" says Rollin.t
This is the Cincinnatus whose character is briefly touched in the foregoing Sermon; but, as if magnanimity and moderation were the hereditary qualities of the name and family, there was
Livy's words are, (iii. 26.) Satin' salva essent omnia? Togam propere è Tugurio proferre, Uxorem Raciliam jubet.-Absterso Pulvere ac Sudore, velatus processit; Dictatorem eum Legati gratulantes consalutantin Urbem vocant; qui terror sit in exercitu, exponunt.
+ Rollin and some other Moderns, following Dionysius, mention all those circumstances of his being found at the plough, half naked, covered with dust, &c. when he was sent for to be Consul, about two years before. But, on account of the tumults in the city, the election of Consuls did not take place that year, till the month of December; a season neither suitable for the plough, nor corresponding with dust, sweat, and a half naked body. I have, therefore, followed Livy, as better informed than the Greek historian; though, without doubt, Cincinnatus on both occasions was found busy in his rural labour.