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even so do unto them: what is this, but, in other words, thus speaking to us : Love thyself o man, and I will reward thee for it; promote as much as possible thy own interest and happiness, that happiness to which but one way can lead thee, the love of thy God and of thy neighbour. This surely, is not the language of a cruel tyrant, or an unkind master, it is the tender goodness of an indulgent father, who exhorts his beloved fons to use all the means in their power to make themselves hap. py; who himself lays down rules for their conduct, points out the direct path, and leads them into it; and after all, desires no reward for this unspeakable tenderness but reciprocal love and affection; no return, but the pleasure and satisfaction of seeing them in the full enjoyment of that bliss which himself had taught them to obtain.
Religion is pleasant, because it gives room for the exercise of every humane and every social virtue; there is not a passion of our mind productive of joy and happiness which it does not raise and inflame. If love, friendship, gratitude, charity, justice, or benevolence, have any pleasures to bestow, they are all owing to Religion, which teaches, which inspires, which encourages them. Besides the natural complacency and satisfaction which attends the performance of any noble action, must it not be an additional joy to reflect, that religion fanctifies, that heaven approves of it; that God himself has commanded, and will hereafter reward us for it?
It is pleasant, says the orator, to be virtuous and good, for that is to excel many others; it is pleasant to mortify and subdue our lusts, for this is victory; it is pleasant to command our appetites and passions, and keep them within the bounds of reason and religion, for this is empire. What pleasure then can equal that which thus satisfies every desire of our fouls, fooths our pride, flatters our ambition, and rewards our self-love.
We have seen, then, what those duties are which religion enjoins; all plain, easy, and practicable; but to men swallowed up in luxuries and debaucheries the easiest talk may feem burthenfome; the mind as well as the body, by long disuse, may be rendered unfit to bear the smallest exercise: floth and indolence will reduce it to a state of weakness and delicacy, that shall make it feel the weight of a feather.
But if what religion enjoins be easy, no less reasonable is what the forbids; injustice, cruelty, avarice, intemperance, hatred and uncharitableness. And are these the ways of pleasantnefs? Can any of these administer any real or folid fatisfaction? Are not remorse, disease, and infamy, the offspring of avarice and intemperance? Does not lust carry a scorpion in its bofom to fting and torment itself? Does not injustice return the poisoned cup to our own lips? Does not hatred and uncharitableness banish peace and tranquility? Or do those ever taste of happiness themselves, who pro. cure misery to others? The ways therefore of
religion must be the ways, the only ways of pleasantness, since the least step we take out of them leads us into the road of pain, guilt, and misery; and if she needed a further recommendation, a greater could not be added than what follows, All her paths are peace.
Great peace have they, says the psalmist, which love thy law; a peace which can be understood by those only who have themselves felt it: and fúrėly, were it not a pleasure which the bad man had either never tasted or utterly forgot, he would not miss it for all the imperfect, unsatisfactory and transient joys which sense could bestow. 'And as that peace which religion alone can insure to us, is a happiness which the world cannot give; so is it a blessing which the world cannot take away; when riches are flown from us, when health and prosperity are gone,
and sickness and misfortune visit us; when our friends despise and desert us, and our enemies laugh us to scorn, this last kind guest still remains, to raise, to invigorate, and support us: even when the ways of pleasure are no more, when pain and adversity have driven out every gay and chearful thought, and despair seems ready to seize on and torment us, Peace steps in, and saves us from deftruction; sends her daughter Hope to comfort and relieve us; and when she can no longer preserve us here, conveys us with a chearful relignation to her own native seat, the regions of bliss and immortality,
Let us then endeavour to make that which is our duty and our interest, our pleasure and our happiness: as God loveth the chearful
giver, so doubtless will he praise the chearful receiver also. Melancholy and discontent, fears and despondency, were sent to appal the guilty, and depress the heart of the wicked and deceitful man; the Lord is with us, of whom then shall we be afraid ¿ Let us come before him with thanksgiving, and shew ourselves glad in him. When we see men bleft with all the good things of this life, even in the hosom of plenty and prosperity, given up a prey to melancholy and despair, is it not greatly to be feared that there is something wrong within, some deadly guilt that weighs upon the heart, some inveterate poison which the antidote of riches can never cure, which the pomp of this world can never remove? Will not the force of such examples terrify and alarm us? will it not, ought it not to convince mankind, that to be happy, we muit be good; and to be at peace, we must be innocent?
The fear of the Lord maketh a merry heart; and he that hath a merry heart hath a continual feast. Joy and happiness are ever in the dwellings of the righteous.
Let us then endeavour to perform the easy duties of our religion with a decent and a manly order, not like the slaves of barbarians tug the oar and drag the chains of fervitude in sullen silence, but like happy and contented fervants, whose pleasure, whose privilege, and happiness it is to obey a generous and a noble malter; one who is not extreme to mark what is done amiss; who is omniscient to know all our actions, and omnipotent to reward them;
a master, who, when our service is finished, will in the great day, if we have shewn the least pleasure in serving him, falute' us with, C Well have ye done
my good and faithful fer-vants, enter ye into the joy of your Lord.”
Hlefjed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the
kingdom of heaven.
UR blessed Saviour's sermon on the mount,
of which the beatitudes (the subject of our present consideration) form so distinguished a part, hath ever been looked upon as the great rule and standard by which Christians are to direct their life and conduct, and as it contains the sum and substance of that new law which Christ came down from heaven to inculcate and enforce: a law which differed as much from the Mosaic dispensation in the manner of its delivery, as in the subject matter of it. The law given from Mount Sinai was attended, we know, by a train of circumstances so awful and tremendous, as to strike terror and astonishment into the hearts of all who heard it; 56 with thunder and lightning, and the voice