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the distant prospect of the promised land; thus placing it in the porch of heaven, and on the confines of eternity.
2. Love prepares the soul for making greater attainment in all other parts of religion. It is produced by knowledge and faith; but, by a reaction, it increases the power of its own cause. It is just that state of heart, which is adapted to the growth of all the plants of religion, that without it are soon spoiled by the impure droppings of our own corrupt and selfish affections. How much will our growth in knowledge be aided by this state of soul! "If any man will do the will of God," said Christ, "he shall know of the doctrine, whether it be of God, or whether I speak of myself." Disposition prepares for knowledge. When Zoroaster's scholars asked him what they should do to get winged souls, such as might soar aloft in the bright beams of truth, he bade them bathe in the waters of life; and upon being required to state what they are, replied, "The four cardinal virtues, which are the four rivers of Paradise." The reason why truth prevails no more in the world, is because there is so little love. Our views are contracted and dim, not because of the narrowness of the prospect, or the want of a sun to enlighten it, but because both the luminary and the scene are veiled by those mists which our corruptions send up from our hearts to becloud our understandings. The holier we are, the clearer will the truth appear to our intellect, and the better able shall we be to bear the brightness of its glory: even as our Lord declares, that it is purity of heart which must prepare us to sustain the beatific vision. The pagan sages also prescribed to their pupils a
certain moral disposition, as essential to advancement in knowledge; and so does Christianity. Plato taught, that he who, by universal love and holy affection, was raised above the dominion of selfishness, came into the nearest union with God, and attained to the highest intellectual life: and this is the unction of the Holy One, mentioned by the Apostle whereby we know all things. Our souls are too clouded and too agitated by the bad feelings of our hearts, to make great attainments in holy light. The moral excellence of the truth is hidden from us; it passes before us in dark outline, an awful and majestic form; we see its back parts, but we discover not the brightness and the beauty of its countenance, as we might do, on account of our want of holy conformity to its nature, and of fitness for its fellowship. Let us, then, grow in love, that we may grow in knowledge.
And with respect to faith, the more we are brought to feel the influence of the great scheme of redeeming love, in transforming us into its own image, and causing us to love others, as God for Christ's sake has loved us, the more firm will be our conviction of the divine origin of the plan which has thus wrought so marvellous a change upon us. He that believeth hath the witness in himself, in the revolution of feeling of motive and of aim, which has been produced in his soul. To him the experimental evidence of the truth of the Gospel appears with a brightness which none of the rest possess. He is himself an evidence of the divine power which accompanies the truth. No subtle argumentation can reason him out of the consciousness of that change and deliverance which he has experienced
:from- predominant selfishness to love. If all Christians acted fully up to their principles, and drank as deeply as they might do, and should do, of the spirit of charity, the impress of heaven would be so clearly enstamped upon the church, that the divinity of the Gospel could no longer remain a matter of question with any. Who can doubt the heavenly origin of that system which has raised him not only to a heavenly hope, but to a heavenly temper ?
3. The credit and honour of religion require that we should seek after higher attainments in love. It is well known by all who possess only the most superficial acquaintance with the Word of God, that the end and design of the great scheme of revealed truth, a scheme which occupied the councils of heaven from eternity, and was accomplished by an incarnation of God himself; that the end for which the Son of God was crucified,-a mystery which angels desire to look into,—was not merely to bring a set of notions into the world, and to induce men to change one class of opinions and forms for another, still leaving the heart of man as impure and selfish as ever: on the contrary, it is known that God has come down to our nature, to raise us to his; that the whole plan of salvation terminates in the renewal and perfection of the human race in the principles of purity and benevolence. It has been declared, wherever Christianity has travelled, that the essence of religion is love. Hence expectations, which, though rising high, are well founded, have been indulged in reference to the benign and holy temper of the followers of the Lamb. Men have said, "Let us see how those Christians conduct
themselves." What disgust and disappointment have been, in many cases, and to a wide extent, the result! Has the church of God yet answered to its own professions, or to the expectations of its spectators and enemies? Has religion derived all the advantage, in the way of attestation and recommendation, which it should, from the conduct of its friends? Are they seen everywhere so meek, so just, so kind, so candid, so benevolent, so humble, as to excite admiration, and to extort the concession that the principles which could produce such conduct must be from heaven? On the contrary, have not multitudes who judge of Christianity, not as they should do by itself, but by the conduct of its professors, received, from the offensive exhibitions of pride, and selfishness, and malice, which they are doomed to witness sometimes in the church, an unutterable disgust, an invincible prejudice against Christianity? Where is the spirit of charity which was exhibited in the great Author of Christianity, and which is enjoined in his precepts, and contained in his system?—is a question a thousand times asked, even by those who live in a Christian land, but who see little there of universal love. Creeds and catechisms, forms and ceremonies, devotional seasons and religious observances, will be thought of little worth, and will do little to ensure the esteem and to engage the imitation of mankind, in the absence of that disposition which all these things are adapted and intended to produce. The world's demand of the church is for love: "We have had," say they, enough of opinions; let us now have actions: we have had more than enough of articles of faith; let
us now see more of the fruits of love." And how shall we meet that demand? Not by exhibiting less of truth, but more of love: not by giving up our creeds, or our forms, but by carrying them out into all the beautiful effects of beneficence and purity.
Christians; the character of religion is entrusted to our keeping, and we are continually defaming it, or raising its reputation; and are either betraying it into the hands of its enemies, or conciliating their esteem towards it. It is high time for us to be more aware of our responsibility; high time for us to consider that we are perpetually employed in increasing or diminishing the ignominy of the cross. The good conduct of professors is a converting ordinance, and an edifying one too. "Let your light so shine before men, that they, seeing your good works, may glorify God your heavenly father." "Shine as lights of the world, holding forth the word of life." How? Not by attachment to doctrine merely no; the light of truth will do nothing without the light of love. A fiery zeal for truth, unaccompanied by love, is the meteor that misleads, or the lightning that kills, or the eruption that overwhelms and consumes;-all of which men are afraid of, and retire from: but a zeal for the truth, which is accompanied by benevolence, and produces it, is like the orb of day,-men come to its light, and flock to the brightness of its rising.
O that my feeble voice could be heard, and my counsel followed, when I call the followers of Christ to a serious consideration of the necessity, for the sake of the credit of religion, of being like their great Saviour and leader! O that my words could