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SERMON

XVI.

The Subject continued.

By WILLIAM LEECHMAN, D. D.

2 TIM. i. 7.

For God hath not given us the Spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a found mind.

Now proceed to confider the SECOND ingredient of the Chriftian spirit, mentioned in the text, viz. the fpirit of love.

I

As love, in the New Teftament, when spoken of in general, ufually fignifies the love of our brethren, we fhall, in what follows, principally treat of it in this sense: first, By fhewing, that love, tendernefs, and humanity, is moft certainly the genius of Christianity; and, fecond, By endeavouring to point out the excellency of this fpirit, in the degree and to the extent in which the gofpel defcribes and enjoins it.

Now, the first of these, That the genius of Christianity is love, furely needs no long or laboured proof to a Chriftian audience. The primary doctrines of this religion are, That God

God is love, and dwells in love: That the whole fyftem of his government is kind and benign: That the fcheme of redemption took its rife from the original benignity and mercy of the great Father of all : That the great Redeemer was animated with the fame fpirit of benignity and compaffion, in undertaking, and in executing every step of it: And that the confummation of this glorious plan will be the total deliverance of many myriads of the human race from fin and death, and their final establishment in a state of perfect virtue and of immortal felicity and glory. It cannot be contefted, that thefe doctrines favour and encourage the spirit of kindness and beneficence.

And when we attend to the preceptive and fentimental parts of the gofpel, we find, that the fpirit of love breathes in all of them. That the precepts of Chriftianity tend to reftrain and fupprefs all the malevolent paffions, and to promote the culture and improvement of the kind and friendly ones, can admit of no doubt: That Chriftian morality ftrikes at the root of that selfish and worldly temper which stands in direct oppofition to the fpirit of love, is evident from the whole ftrain of the doctrine of its great Author and his apostles, as well as from the fhining examples they have given of generofity and difinterestedness in their own lives.

Further, That the religion of Jefus not only aims at fuppreffing and extinguishing the VOL. III. D d

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felfish and worldly fpirit, and the whole malignant tribe of paflions which spring from it, but tends to cherish and invigorate all the benign and friendly difpofitions, is evident, beyond all doubt, from the moft curfory view of the New Testament. To mention all the particulars on this fubject, would be to tranfcribe a great part of the morality of the gofpel. Let it fuffice to select a few paffages. "By this," fays our Saviour, "all men fhall "know that ye are my difciples, if ye love "one another." And, in another paffage, he infifts upon a forgiving temper, as indifpenfably neceffary in order to our acceptance with God: Matth. vi. 14. "For if ye for"give men their trefpaffes, your heavenly

Father will alfo forgive you: but if ye forgive not men their trefpaffes, neither "will your heavenly Father forgive you." How perfectly he exemplified this fublime precept in the courfe of his own life, and at the conclufion of it, is well known to every one who has read the gospel-history. The apoftles of our Lord inculcate the fame kind of precepts with the greatest warmth and earneftnefs: Eph. iv. 31. 32. " Let all bitterness, "wrath, anger, clamour, and evil-speaking,

be put away from among you, with all "malice; and be ye kind one to another, tender-hearted, forgiving one another, even as God, for Chrift's fake, hath forgiven you." Further, The points of light in which ChriAianity places our fellow-men, are fuch as are fuited

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tender manner.

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fuited to affect us in the most powerful and - We are all, whether high or low, rich or poor, learned or unlearned, equally the children of the fame great family, and equally under the protection, and at the difpofal, of the Almighty and All-wife Providence of the fame great Parent of all. We are all fellow-travellers through this ftate of pilgrimage, in which we are all exposed to the like wants, dangers, and diftreffes. We have all the like imperfections and infirmities, equally liable to fail in our duty to one another, and therefore equally ftanding in need of forgiveness at one another's hands. -We are all equally labouring in the fame state of darkness and corruption, of guilt and mortality: And we are all equally dependent for our hopes of deliverance from these great evils, on the fame great friend and faviour of the human race, Jefus the Son of God.

Thefe views of our brethren of mankind are certainly fitted to bring down the most lofty looks, and to convince the proudest of the fons of men, that, notwithstanding all the diftinctions and pre-eminences on which they value themselves, they are, in reality, on a level, in the most important refpects, with the poorest and loweft of the human race. - And all those who lay open their hearts to the full influence of fuch views, will feel fuch humane and tender fentiments arife within them, as the ancient Eaftern author expreffes in the following pathetic words: "If I did despise D d 2

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"the caufe of my man-fervant, or maid-fer<< vant, when they contended with me; what "then fhall I do when God rifeth up? and "when he vifiteth, what shall I anfwer? Did "not he that made me in the womb make him? and did not one fashion us in the "'womb?" Job, xxxi. 13. 14. 15.

It is our great happinefs in the Chriftian world, that the facred writings abound with fuch fublime precepts, and fuch tender fentiments, as have been mentioned. But let us take care, left, through our familiarity with them, we lose the juft fenfe of their excellence and importance. Let us always remember, that, whatever our notions about these precepts and fentiments of the gospel may be, they are furely divine instructions, and worthy to ferve for leffons to the whole race of mankind: they are leffons that bear the most ftriking characters of that tenderness of heart, that elevation of mind, that total fuperiority to all selfish and worldly paffions, which dif tinguished the divine Author of our religion; and they are the most convincing proofs, that humanity and love, in the highest perfection, is the genius of Christianity.

As was propofed, in the second place, let us allow our thoughts to dwell a little on the excellencies of the spirit of love. First, then, love is the most amiable and the most beautiful of all objects of contemplation. Goodnefs, genuine goodnefs, where-ever it appears, charms the heart of man. The native indications

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