Imatges de pÓgina
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and if they sway more with us than our duty, we must repent here, or severely smart for it hereafter.

If we cannot quit the state we are in, we muft afk pardon for our temerity, and implore his mercy for having cast ourselves into a state against his will. We must incessantly implore his grace, that we may either avoid, or overcome the obstacles, that interpose between us and heaven: we must consult the wise, and follow the best methods, prudence shall prescribe, to Ay temptation. We must live in a separation from pleasure, and in the exercise of virtue.

Place me, o God in the state thy providence has designed ; not where the passions of temerity and precipitation hurry me. If I leave my destiny in your hands, I am secure ; but in danger, if I withdraw from thy providence, and turn my own carver. Into thy hands I abandon myself, my God, and give myself up wholly to thy care. Speak, and I will answer; Here I am, ready to obey thy call.

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I. EPISTLE of St. Peter, Chap. iii. Ver:

8. Finally, be ye all of one mind, having compasion one of another, love as brethren, be pitiful, be courteous :

9. Not rendring evil for evil, or railing for railing : but contrariwise, blessing ; knowing that ye are thereunto called, that ye should inherit a blefing.

10. For he that will love life, and see good days, let him refrain his tongue from evil, and his lips that they Speak no guile.

VOL. II.

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11. Let him eschew evil, and do good, let him seek peace, and exsue it.

12. For the eyes of the Lord are over the righteous, and his ears are open unto their prayers: but the face of the Lord is against thein that do cvil.

13. And who is be that will harm you, if ye be followers of that which is good ?

14. But and if ye suffer for righteousness-fake, happy are ye : and be not afraid of their terror, neither be troubled.

15. But sanctify the Lord God in your bearts: and be ready always to give an answer to every man that asketh you a reason of the hope that is in you, with meekness and fear.

The MORAL REFLECTION.

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HE apostle sets down a catalogue of vir

tues, and desires the Christians to practise them. He speaks not here to the clergy alone, but to the whole church: and recommends not these virtues, as an ornament, but as an obligation.

First, Be ge all of one mind : raise no unprofitable disputes ; tho' they begin without any ill design, they are seldom managed without heat, and often end in rancour and aversion. Conform your judgment, as much as reason will permit, to your brother's ; and when you cannot, rather let the question fall, than contend, especially if the thing be of small concern : for it is better he should remain in an innocent error,

than both should fall into a real fin. But if you judge it convenient to disabuse him, propose your reasons with calmness, to discover truth, not to overcome. Press him

not home with eagerness : this will rather heat his passion, than convince his judgment, and violate charity,

than lament upon

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than reclaim him from an error.

Some seem to discourse, merely to oppose : they criticize upon every word, and rack the most clear expressions, to reprehend them. This is against the rules of civility, as well as of christianity, and a fault against breeding, no less than a sin against charity.

Secondly, Be compassionate : compassion is a virtue, that not only moves us to assist our neighbour in his necessity, but even to partake of his afflictions. Thus St. Paul commands, to weep with those that weep : and he had such a concern for his converts, that he shared in their miscarriages: he deplored their fins as his own : Who is offended, and I burn not, 2 Cor. xi. 29. He was sensible of their weakness, and concerned at their infidelities. We are all members (as the same apostle says) of the fame body, and, as when one is out of order, all the others are discomposed; fo charity obliges us to fympathize with the members of the mystical body,

nature does with all the members of a natural. This is to follow the doctrine Christ taught, and the primitive Christians practised to a scruple ; They were of one heart, and one soul, Acts iv. 32. But those happy times are past, and we have reversed their practice, and rather grieve when our brother rejoices, and rejoice when he grieves. We often add insult to a fiction, and encrease his misery by reproaches and calumny, instead of easing him by consolation. Thus we profane the best religion by a heathen practice; and frame our lives rather by what it forbids, than by what it commands.

o Jesus! The foresight of the ruin of an ungrateful city drew fighs from thy compassionate heart, and tears from thy facred eyes. Thou didst weep for her fins, because she would not

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avert nor

lament her own, and wert sensible of her disaster, whilft she laugh'd at thy menaces. Mollify my hard heart, and teach it to pity, at least, my neighbour's misfortunes, which it neither

heal. Give me the charity to assist those, I am able, with my means ; and those I cannot, with compassion.

And to encourage more earnestly Christians to practise these virtues, and to deter them from sin, he assures them: The eyes of the Lord are over the righteous ; but the face of the Lord is against them that do evil. Over those, to hear their prayers, to comfort, and affist them: and therefore they must not despond, nor sink under the greatest pressures, but bear up against them, with assurance, that God sees their necessities, and will, in convenient time, either redress them, or give them the courage to support them with patience.

But let not the wicked imagine God sees not their disorders; because he does not punish them : The face of the Lord is against them that do evil. And he will find a time to revenge his honour, and their infidelities. If he stops his hand, it is to expect repentance : and if he spares them here, they will smart hereafter. The continual prosperity in this world of evil men, is a severe punishment, because it forebodes everlasting torments in the other.

I lift up my eyes to thee, O God, cast down thine upon me! but with the favourable regard of inercy, not of indignation; to chastise me as a father, not to condemn me as a judge.

Nay, the apostle not only assures the virtuous of God's special protection, but also tiiat they shall receive no evil from men, And who is be that will harm you, if ye be followers of that which is good. No man persecutes another, but upon appearance of some injury received : it is uncommon, and unnatural, to do ill without provocation : who will speak ill of him, who speaks well of all ? do him an injury, who studies to do good; whose carriage is civil, whose actions are innocent, and all his proceedings inoffensive? Virtue draws respect, as well as esteem, from the barefac'd finners : it awes impudence, and disarms malice itself, so that those, who have a mind to affront the good, often want courage, and feldom find an occasion: and thus virtue entitles them to God's peculiar protection and assistance; and at the fame time, is a defence against the insults of wicked men.

But tho' they should, without cause, or colour, moleft you: Fear ye not. Forgive their sin, and pity their malice. The harm falls upon themselves, they intend for you: they incur the guilt of a sin; and you gain the reward of a virtue. And thus, you fančtify the Lord God in your hearts, by a true love, by an exact confor. mity of your lives to his maxims. If

you are my protector, O God, whom need I fear? If you aflift me, what difficulty cannot I overcome ? Men assault me in vain, if you defend me : nay, the devils themselves cannot conquer me, unless I will be overcome. Nothing is a real evil but sin. Keep me innocent, and I fear no affliction : Give me thyself, and I desire nothing besides : and, oh! what can I desire, but God? And where can I find any comfort, but in the enjoyment of thee.

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