Billeder på siden

the admiring eyes of mortals, and exert its energies for their happiness; but neither to attract their applause, nor to build up their interests, must be its highest aim. The rule of our conduct, as to its chief end, is thus explicitly and comprehensively laid down: "Whether therefore ye eat or drink, or whatsoever ye do, do all to the glory of God." This is not mere advice, but a command-and it is a command extending to all our conduct. To glorify God, is to act so as that his authority shall be recognized and upheld by us in the world; it is to be seen submitting to his will, and behaving so as that his word and ways shall be better thought of by mankind. Our actions must appear to have a reference to God; and without this, they cannot partake of the character of religion, however excellent and beneficial they may seem.

But perhaps this disposition of mind will be best illustrated by exhibiting an example of it; and where shall we find one suited to our purpose? Every mind will perhaps immediately revert to HIM who was love incarnate; and we might indeed point to every action of his benevolent career as a display of the purest philanthropy: but as his example will hereafter be considered, we shall now select one from men of like passions with ourselves; but we must go for it to "the chamber where the good man meets his fate," rather than to the resorts of the healthy and the active; for it seems as if the brightest beauties of this love were reserved, like those of the setting sun, for the eve of its departure to another hemisphere. How often have we beheld the dying Christian, who, during long and mortal sickness, has

exhibited, as he stood on the verge of heaven, something of the spirit of a glorified immortal. The natural infirmities of temper, which attended him through life, and which sometimes dimmed the lustre of his piety, disquieted his own peace, and lessened the pleasure of his friends, had all departed, or had sunk into the shade of those holy graces which then stood out in bold and commanding relief upon his soul. The beams of heaven now falling upon his spirit were reflected, not only in the faith that is the confidence of things not seennot only in the hope which entereth within the vail, -but in the love which is the greatest in the trinity of Christian virtues. How lowly in heart did he seem-how entirely clothed with humility! Instead of being puffed up with anything of his own, or uttering a single boasting expression, it was like a wound in his heart to hear any one remind him either of his good deeds or dispositions; and he appeared in his own eyes less than ever, while, like his emblem, the setting sun, he expanded every moment into greater magnitude in the view of every spectator. Instead of envying the possessions or the excellencies of other men, it was a cordial to his departing spirit that he was leaving them thus distinguished: how kind was he to his friends!--and as for enemies, he had none; enmity had died in his heart, he forgave all that was manifestly evil, and kindly interpreted all that was only equivocally so. Nothing lived in his recollection, as to the conduct of others, but their acts of kindness. When intelligence reached his ear of the misconduct of those who had been his adversaries,

he grieved in spirit, even as he rejoiced when told of their coming back to public esteem by deeds of excellence. His very opinions seemed under the influence of his love; and, as he wished well, he believed well, or hoped well, of many of whom he had formerly thought evil. His meekness and patience were touching, his kindness indescribable: the trouble he gave, and the favours he received, drew tears from his own eyes, and were acknowledged in expressions that drew tears from all around. There was an ineffable tenderness in his looks, and his words were the very accents of benignity. He lay a pattern of all the passive virtues; and having thus thrown off much that was of the earth, earthly, and put on charity as a garment, and dressed himself for heaven, in its ante-chamber, his sick room, he departed to be with Christ, and to be for ever perfect in love.

There was a man in whom this was realized, and some extracts from his invaluable Memoir will prove it; I mean Mr. SCOTT, the author of the Commentary.

"His mind," says his biographer, “dwelt much upon love: God is love, and he that dwelleth in love dwelleth in God, and God in him. Faith worketh by love. He seemed full of tenderness and affection to all around him. One evidence,' he said, I have of meetness for heaven: I feel much love to all mankind-to every man upon earth to those who have most opposed and slandered me.' To his servant he said, I thank you for all your kindness to me. If at any time I have been hasty and short, forgive me, and pray

[ocr errors]


to God to forgive me; but lay the blame upon me, not upon religion.""

"His tender affection for us all is astonishing in such a state of extreme suffering, and cuts us to the heart. He begged his curate to forgive him, if he had been occasionally rough and sharp. I meant it for your good, but, like every thing of mine, it was mixed with sin; impute it not, however, to my religion, but to my want of religion.' He is so gentle and loving-it is so delightful to attend upon him, that his servants, finding themselves in danger of contention which should wait upon him, agreed to take it by turns, that each might have her due share of the pleasure and benefit; and yet he is continually begging our forgiveness for his want of patience and thankfulness. His kindness and affection to all who approached him were carried to the greatest height, and showed themselves in a singularly minute attention to all their feelings, and, whatever might be for their comfort, to a degree that was quite affecting-especially when he was suffering so much himself, often in mind as well as body. There was an astonishing absence of selfish feelings even in his worst hours he thought of the health of us all; observed if we sat up long, and insisted on our retiring; and was much afraid of paining or hurting us in any way. Mr. D. said something on the permanency of his Commentary;

Ah! he cried, with a semi-contemptuous smile; and added, you know not what a proud heart I have, and how you help the Devil.' He proceeded: 'There is one feeling I cannot have, if I would: those that have opposed my doctrine, have slandered

me sadly; but I cannot feel any resentment; I can only love and pity them, and pray for their salvation. I never did feel any resentment towards them; I only regret that I did not more ardently long and pray for their salvation.'-This is love, and how lovely is it!"

Can we conceive of a more beautiful exemplification of the virtue I am describing? and this is the temper we ought all to seek. This is the grace, blended with all our living habits, diffused through all our conduct, forming our character, breathing in our desires, speaking in our words, beaming in our eyes; in short, a living part of our living selves. And this, be it remembered, is religion-practical religion.

« ForrigeFortsæt »