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world as his spiritual representatives. Your spirituality is, in his eyes, your only glory; it is the only mark by which he distinguishes you from the world, the only part of your nature which he owns for his offspring; you cannot therefore open your souls to the ingress of the world, or leave them unfortified against its influence, without consenting to lose your great distinction, and being guilty of treason against the King of souls.
In effacing from your minds the image of the earthy, his design is to impress on them the image of the heavenly; that you may show forth his likeness, and circulate his praise in the world. If he admits you to stand in the light of his presence, it is not that you may absorb and conceal it; but that, as prepared mediums, you may transmit the glory of his throne to others. He has made you the subjects of a kingdom which disdains the boundaries of time and place, that your benevolence may know no limits. In approaching his altar as his royal priesthood, you are to speak as intercessors for the race; in offering thanksgiving, you are to be the organ and voice of the gratitude due to him from the world. And having enrolled yourselves as his subjects and servants, you are to apply your hand to the vast machinery of his providence, and to mingle with the operations of his almighty love, in restoring to harmony the disorders of the universe.
He has given to you his own Spirit, that even here you may become naturalized to a spiritual element, and be changed into it: and that when you are called to join the great community of spirits, where the tody itself is to be sublimated into spirit, you may not be found wanting in any heavenly function, but may enter on it as on the enjoyment of your native state.
ON THE TENDERNESS AND BENEVOLENCE OF OUR
'Learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart : and ye shall find rest unto
"And all bare him witness, and wondered at the gracious words which proceeded
out of his mouth.'
In perusing the writings of many a moral instructor, the only abatement from our edification arises from the unwelcome recollection of his character. His statements of truth are forcible, his illustrations clear, his appeals affecting; but the remembrance of the contradiction which existed between his doctrine and life returns, the spell by which he held us is dissolved, a shadow falls on the page, and his most arrowy appeals drop pointless and short of our hearts. But in listening to the instructions of our blessed Lord, the recollection of his character is not merely welcome, in order to do them justice, it is essential. There have been others, indeed, who have owed the success of their teaching partly to their moral excellences; but such is the excellence of his character that, could we only bring to the perusal of his instructions a vivid conception of it, we should no longer have to deplore their inefficacy; could we only come to them under the full influence of that idea, nothing could long resist their power; as often as we returned to them, they would receive so strong a reinforcement of impression from that association, that they could not fail to pass farther and farther into the mind, making for themselves a home in the heart, changing the soul into their own form and quality and thus ver
ifying his own description of them, that they are spirit, and they are life.
His original hearers, be it remembered, enjoyed this advantage; whether or not they availed themselves . of it is a distinct consideration; they often enjoyed the privilege of beholding his miracles of mercy; and, instantly on the same spot, they listened to the gracious words which proceeded out of his, mouth; while yet they were under the arrest of some new display of majesty, his doctrine dropped as the rain, his speech distilled as the dew, It will not be irrelevant then, if, to place ourselves as nearly as possible in their position, we briefly advert to the excellencies of our Lord's character; especially to those which relate to the particular qualities of his teaching, now under consideration. We shall then point out some of his corresponding characteristics as a teacher; and, finally, present examples from his teaching illustrative of his tenderness, benignity, and compassion.
I. In attempting to pourtray the moral perfection of Christ, we feel that we are contemplating one who is fairer than the children of men ; standing in the presence of Him who is altogether lovely. O for the pen of that disciple whom Jesus loved; who selected his Lord's humility and love as things most congenial with his own taste; and leant on his sacred bosom till he became imbued with the heavenly love which dwelt there! O for the aid of the Holy Spirit, the Spirit of Christ, to unveil his excellencies to our view; that, while we are beholding, we may be changed into the same image; may have our taste purified and exalted into sympathy with his transcendant character ! Of the early history of Christ, indeed, we have but two or three slight incidental notices; but who can read even these notices, slender as they are, in the light of his after
life, without finding in them a warrant for the imagination to indulge itself with a picture of his early perfection. If his youth and his early manhood corresponded with his subsequent life, how cloudless and blessed must have been the morning of such a day, and how happy they who stood in its light. Unlike the virtues of ordinary humanity, which are grafted, and stunted, and hardly preserved with incessant care, his nature contained in itself the seeds of all worth, and every seed became a fruit; every hour beheld him put forth some additional bud of promise. Like the earth when first it was sown by the hand of God, and held in its bosom the germs of a universal paradise, his nature brought with it all the elements of excellence. Goodness rejoiced in it as in its native soil. His life was as the garden of the Lord; for there grew in it every thing pleasant to the sight and good for food: obedience, which ran at the first call of duty; prudence, rendering the present subservient to the future; sensibility, responding to the softest tones of nature, and the clear transparency of truth: and native courtesy and love, that clasped every thing lovely to its soul, and became one with it. What wonder was it that, thus adorned and distinguished, he should have increased in favor with God and man,' have become the fa. vorite of heaven and earth. Had the first probation been to be made again, one individual tried as the representative of all the race, and heaven proposed as the prize of success, who would not have thought of him ? all eyes would have involuntarily turned to him, all hearts would have confided the great probation to his hands, and have looked on heaven as secure.
Emerging, at length, from the obscurity of his early life, he came to Nazareth, where he had been brought up: and, as his custom was, he went into the synagouge on the sabbath day, and stood up for to read. And there was de
livered unto him the book of the prophet Isaiah. And, when he had opened the book, he found the place where it is written, The Spirit of the Lord is upon me because he hath anointed me to preach the gospel to the poor; he hath sent me to heal the broken-hearted, to preach deliverance to the captive, and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty them that are bruised, to preach the acceptable year of the Lord. And he closed the book, and he gave it again to the minister and sat down. And the eyes of all them that were in the synagouge were fastened on him. And he began to say unto them, This day is this scripture fulfilled in your ears. Such, then, in his own estimation, was the nature of his divine commission; and he fulfilled it. His whole life was a comment on this text.
If our subject permitted, we should love to linger on the purity of his character; for this, though by no means the most attractive feature to a sinful race, is one of the most remarkable. And here, be it observed, he sought not to preserve his holiness unspotted, by avoiding contact with the world; he was not indebted for his purity to the privacy of a recluse. From the moment he became a public character, his field was the world; he domesticated himself, if I may say so, and desired to be numbered as one of the human family; he sought to become the heart of the world; and, in the prosecution of that object, he turned not aside from a personal encounter with the Tempter himself. From every thing which the world contained of great and good, his nature selected and drew to itself aliment and life, while it rejected all the pernicious ingredients with which the purest elements on earth are defiled.
He passed through a scene in which, at every step he took, a thousand malignant influences were waiting to dart on him, ' Yet he did no sin, neither was guile found in his