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tional and vigorous, more firm and permanent, than that which flows merely from animal fpirits, from external accidents, from the love of glory, or from what the world calls a fenfe of honour.
Some perhaps will object to all that has been faid, That fuperftitious notions of religion, and a fancied approbation of the Deity, will excite fome men to perpetrate the very worst and vileft actions, in as firm and undaunted a manner as the beft Chriftians can perform the worthieft and nobleft. To this it may be answered, That it must be owned, that when the minds of men are under the influence of falfe opinions, which they conceive to be countenanced by Heaven, they will be daring and intrepid to an amazing degree. But furely false perfuafions fometimes producing very great effects, is no proof that just principles will not produce equal or fuperior ones, more certainly and more uniformly. Befides, to a difcerning eye, there are marks which distinguish those acts of magnanimity and courage which are infpired by the principles of true religion, from those which proceed from the delufions of fuperftition. The former are calm and ferene; the latter are fierce and turbulent. The firft kind are modeft and unaffected; the fecond are vain and oftentatious. The one fort, springing from an enlightened understanding and a pure heart, leave behind them a true peace of mind, which can never be extinguished or diminished;
minished; but the other fort, proceeding from an understanding darkened by fuperftition or corrupt paffions, leave behind them only an ill-grounded and delusive fatisfaction, which the first glimpfe of truth must diffipate and destroy.
Others, perhaps, will object to what has been faid, That the tendency of Chriftianity is only to form men to a kind of paffive courage, or patience under fufferings; but that it has no tendency to form them to that active courage which diftinguishes the hero from the confeffor. Let it fuffice to anfwer to this objection, That that unremitting zeal and activity which prompted the Apostle Paul, for inftance, to spend thirty years in journeys by land, voyages by fea, amidst numberlefs diffi culties, dangers, and fufferings, to propagate Chriftianity, would have operated in the fame manner, and excited to like indefatigable labours and efforts, if Providence had called him to defend his country, to fupport the rights and privileges of mankind, or to profecute any other worthy undertaking. It feems natural to conceive, that a magnanimity and activity of mind, which were manifefted in fuch an uniform and confpicuous manner through the whole of the Apostle's life, in promoting one great cause, would have difplayed themselves in a fimilar way, if he had been engaged in any other important caufe, which reason, religion, and the Cc 2 good
good of mankind, would justify and recommend.
Your time will not permit me to fhow, as a further answer to the objection, That all the finer principles and affections of the human mind impel to action in the most spontaneous manner, and even in face of oppofition and danger of the moft formidable kind; that the gospel ftrengthens thefe natural principles, and encourages the moft active efforts in every worthy caufe; and that it is only when fufferings for a good caufe cannot be avoided by righteous means, that the spirit of the gospel manifests itself in "perfect works " of patience."
Upon the whole, from the view which hath been given of the principles and precepts of Christianity, and of the fpirit of its great founder, we may conclude, that it is a spirit of power, and not of fear. And, indeed, we may fafely challenge the brightest genius, in ancient or modern times, to invent a fyftem of principles which fhall be more adapted to infpire magnanimity and courage of the most exalted kind. And if it is impoffible to devife any scheme which fhall excel Chriftianity in this refpect, all the accufations of it, as encouraging a mean and daftardly spirit, as promoting flavish principles of any kind, should be contemned, as altogether falfe and groundlefs.
The power of prejudice, in giving the most annatural turn to the plaineft things, is very
furprising. The author quoted in the begin ning of this difcourfe, in the fame chapter which is there referred to, alledges, that the true Chriftian's faith of another world, and a better life, extinguishes all concern in him for this prefent world, and this prefent life; or, at least, that it renders him incapable of any brave and courageous efforts to preferve or promote any advantages that relate only to fuch a tranfitory state. But he has given no reason that can convince any unprejudiced perfon, that a Chriftian, though of the most elevated and heavenly turn of mind, muft have a lefs warm and delicate fense of the liberties, or of any of the juft privileges, of mankind, or must have lefs zeal for the interefts of his country, his family, or friends, merely on the account of his lively hopes of another and better life beyond the grave. Befides, when we reflect, that a main part of the duty of a Christian, according to the principles of hisreligion, lies in doing good, in promoting the. happiness of others to the utmost of his power, it is not eafy to conceive how his firm hopes of immortality fhould render him indifferent to his duty, and incapable of all vigorous andmanly efforts to difcharge it. It feems to be. a more natural conclufion, that the firm hopes> of a future glorious life would animate the: real Christian to difcharge his duty with the. utmost faithfulness; and particularly, would. difpofe him to labour, with the utmoft vigour,, to do good to his brethren of mankind,, C. c. 3 though
though it should be at the expence of a tranfient and uncertain life, that is foon to be fucceeded by a permanent and eternal one. That is certainly the doctrine of the gofpel; which declares, in the moft exprefs manner, "That Chriftians ought to lay down their
lives for the brethren;" 1 John, iii. 16. Such authors as throw out thefe and the like unjuft reflections upon the Chriftian religion, are either totally unacquainted with its native purity and excellence, as it lies in the New Teftament, or they are greatly deficient in that fairness and candour of mind which ought to be a primary qualification in those who affume to themselves the office of inftructors of the world at large.
Again, we may further infer from the view which has been given of the principles of action recommended by the gofpel, that those who profefs themfelves admirers of magnanimity, bravery, and that high order of virtues, ought to be confiftent with themfelves, and admire Christianity, which affords the beft fupports and the finest examples of them. And if they would with not merely to admire thefe fhining virtues in fpeculation, but to practife them in real life, let them lay open their minds to the full influence of the fpirit of the gospel. Thofe clear views of duty, and those striking and glorious motives to the practice of it, which the gospel fets before them, are the most effectual means of forming