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maxims are by no means universally true; but might be rendered serviceable, if we made use of them, not to censure others, but to examine ourselves; not to judge our neighbours, but to let our own consciences plead, Guilty or Not Guilty.
In the case before us, some information is necessary for us all, lest, after performing actions of charity, by performing them upon wrong and sinister motives, we become exposed to the mortification of losing their reward. We may perform them merely because there is a decency and propriety in so doing; others perform them, and we should be thought meanly of were we to omit them: we may perform them out of vanity, to acquire the character of benevolent; a character to which, perhaps, upon the whole, we have no good title: we may perform them out of envy, lest a rival bear off the honour from us : we may perform them to become popular, and serve by them some secular and political interest; we may perform them in the way of commutation for a favourite sin, in the practice of which we have determined to continue, and hope thus to buy off the punishment due to it. In this last article we shall find ourselves grievously mistaken. In all the rest may be applied the words of our Lord ; “ You have your reward :" you sought the praise of men ; you obtained it: you sought not the praise of God; you obtained it not.
There is yet another motive, concerning which the determination is more difficult—when we perform an act of charity, to escape from the pain we feel at the sight of misery. We relieve the object; but it
is to relieve ourselves. We hear much of these fine feelings, from persons who reject with disdain the influence of a higher principle. God forbid we should depreciate this humane and exquisitely tender sentiment, which the beneficent Author of our nature gave us, as a spur to remove the distresses of others, in order to get rid of our own uneasiness. But it has been justly observed, that “where not strengthened by “superior motives, it is a casual and precarious in“ strument of good, and ceases to operate, except “ in the immediate presence, and within the audible
cry, of misery. This sort of feeling often forgets " that any calamity exists which is out of its own
sight; and though it would empty its purse for such an occasional object as rouses transient sensibility, yet it seldom makes any stated provision for miseries, which are not the less real because they do
not obtrude upon the sight, and awaken the ten“ derness of immediate sympathy. This is a sort “ of mechanical charity, which requires springs and “ wheels to set it a going.”
Not so the real Christian charity recommended in the text to be performed upon another motive—"If “ God so loved us”-as he hath done-“we ought « also to love one another;" a motive at once rational, pure, and permanent.
I say, a rational motive. There is indeed a feeling and an affection in the case; but they are found, ed on the highest truth and the strongest reason; they are fixed and directed by the judgement. A
Thoughts on the Manners of the Great, p. 64.
friend has done me the greatest service in the world; to his kindness I owe every good that I possess, every comfort that I enjoy. His kindness I will therefore return through life, in every instance which falls within my power. This is the principle: it is,' in short, gratitude; a principle, destitute of which, in social intercourse, the world itself scarce allows to any person more than the name of a
Such is the idea universally entertained of ingratitude to a friend, a benefactor, a master, a parent, a prince. But does ingratitude, then, change its nature, and put off its deformity, when the object is the best of friends, the most generous of benefactors, the most indulgent of masters, the tenderest of parents, and the most gracious of princes? God has made us, and redeemed us; he has given grace, and promised glory. He asks no other return, but that we love him; and, as we can bring no advantage to him by so doing, that we transfer such love, for his sake, to our brethren; and he places it to his own account. In these circumstances if we love not them, we cannot be deemed to love him. In the whole compass of our knowledge there exists not, surely, a truth which, while it speaks so warmly to the human heart, approves itself so completely to the human understanding.
The motive is likewise pure. It originates from all that is liberal, generous, and noble in the soul of man. It has been said, there is a reward
promised, and therefore it is mercenary. But they who say this, seem not sufficiently to have considered the nature of the reward. I love my friend, and desire, of course, to be with him, to enjoy his company and conversation, and to live in his presence. 10 all this there is nothing mercenary, nothing sensual or selfisho. Of such a kind is the reward promised by our heavenly Friend. The desire of it is no sign of the depravity, but of the exaltation and perfection of our souls. The body indeed will have its share, but not in its present state. It will be refined, it will be spiritualized, by the working of an almighty power, able to subdue all things to itself; it will be changed into the same image, from one degree of glory to another, and fashioned like unto that of its great Saviour and Redeemer. The reward is intellectual and divine; and would be no reward to a person who was not himself become so. The motive, therefore, notwithstanding the reward, is as pure as it is rational.
And it is as permanent as it is pure. Is vanity our motive for charitable actions ? It may cease. Is worldly interest? It may fail. Is fashion? It may vanish away. Is a feeling of compassion and sympathy? Such temperaments may change, and often do so. But the argument deduced from the love of God towards us can never fail, any more than that love on which it is founded. It meets us
c“ The self-love, which aims at the rewards of another life, “ is perfectly consistent with social; the rewards being promised " to those only who love their neighbours as themselves.” See p. 203 of the Reverend Mr. Whitaker's Sermons on Education, which well deserve the attention of all who are concerned in that useful and honourable employment.
when we arise in the morning, and when we go to our repose at night; when we behold the heavens, and the earth, and all the hosts of them serving our necessities, and ministering to our enjoyments; when we find ourselves surrounded by our families and our friends; when we go out, and when we come in; above all, when, as now, we visit his temple, and hear, from his blessed word, the history of those wonderful works that he has wrought, and of the felicity he has prepared for us in another world, when this in which we now live shall be passed away,
gone into perdition. Often as we acknowledge these favours, and praise him for the mercy wbich endureth for ever, the question should occur, How can I acknowledge them, with what face can I praise hiin for them, if
, after so much given, I am not ready, upon this principle, to give to others ? Verily, our praises, as well as our prayers, will rise up in the judgement against us, and condemn us. No--if we hope for final acceptance with our God, let us always, in our life and at our death, remember the inference in the text, and act upon it"If “ God so loved us, we ought also to love one another."
The strength of this inference, and the hold it has taken upon your minds, will appear this day, by the support afforded to an institution which needs support, and deserves it.
It needs support, as relying solely on the voluntary contributions of well-disposed persons, and must drop if they are withholden. But it can never be-In this respect, without incurring the charge of self-adulation, we may say, that all na