« 上一頁繼續 »
their minds to a firmnefs and fortitude of the moft excellent kind.
To conclude: Let all of us be careful to nourish our fouls with the fpirit of the gofpel; fo that, deriving ftrength and vigour from it, we may, on all occafions, exert true fortitude in refifting every thing that is evil, and cleaving to every thing that is good. Let us be ever on our guard to withstand, in the moft determined manner, every impulse of ungoverned paffion, every temptation to a departure from that equity of difpofition, that benignity of temper, that purity of heart, and that integrity of life, which becomes the defciples of the holy Jefus; and, particularly, let us arm ourselves with manly refolution, to defpife that fcorn and ridicule which the vicious and unprincipled take a pleasure in employing to feduce the unguarded and unexperienced into the fnares of vice, or into a neglect and contempt of all religion.
We ought always to remember, that though we are not called to the national fenate, to fhew our refolution and firmness in oppofing public measures which we conceive hurtful to the ftate, nor into the field of battle to fignalize our bravery, nor to the scaffold of martyrdom to prove our conftancy and fortitude; there are abundance of other opportunities in the daily intercourfes of fociety, and ordinary train of life, for the most important exertions of courage and manhood. Private and ordinary life is the field of battle where
every Christian is called to exercise his courage "in fighting the good fight of faith." It is here we must learn to conquer ourselves, and to establish an empire in our own bofoms, over every mean, every fenfual, every selfish, and every worldly paffion. The victories gained here, though concealed from the eyes of men, may be more fignal and glorious in the fight of God, than those that are gain. ed in the moft confpicuous and most admired scenes of public life. The maxim of Solomon, "That he that ruleth his own fpi. "rit, is mightier than he that taketh a city," is a fundamental maxim of all found philofophy, as well as of Chriftian morality. The conqueft over bad propenfities, inclinations, and habits, is the firft ftep of the Christian life; and when this is obtained, the nobler principles of the heart will operate with ease and freedom, and difplay their power through the various scenes of life, in the ftedfaft pro. fecution of every thing virtuous and praiseworthy.
Before I proceed to the fecond affertion in the text, permit me to fuggeft, that it particularly becomes thofe who are affociated for the noble purpose of propagating Chriftian knowledge, to exert themfelves with vigour in that honourable and important work. They. ought to fuffer nothing to difconcert or difcourage them, but to animate one another. from the encouraging confideration in the text, That God hath not given Christians the. spirit.
fpirit of fear, but of power, and fuffer nothing to disconcert or discourage them; they may reft fully affured, that the spirit of that religion which it is the end of their affociation to promote, is the power of "God unto "falvation to every one that believeth."
Our Saviour himself has plainly intimated, that the gospel is the great mean which the wifdom of Providence has chofen to enlighten, to fanctify, to blefs, and to fave mankind. No man," fays he, "knoweth the "Father fave the Son, and he to whomfoever "the Son will reveal him." At another time, he declares, in like manner, "That
་ no man cometh to the Father, but by him.” And, on other occafions, he affumes to himfelf the glorious character and office of being "the light of the world." The history of the world for near eighteen hundred years, confirms the truth of thefe declarations: for, in fo far as any juft and worthy ideas of God, of Providence, of a future ftate, and of pure morality, are yet to be found among the nations of the world, they are derived from the gofpel of the Son of God. Even Mahometan countries are no exception to this; for whatever is good and pure in that religion, is manifeftly borrowed from the facred writings of the Jews and Chriftians. Now, from what is paft, and from the predictions of fcripture about what is to come, we have reafon to think, that the fame divine religion fhall be the chief mean henceforward of fpreading thefe
these bleffed doctrines, till the knowledge of God, and of Jefus Chrift his Son, cover the face of the whole earth. Government and laws, philofophy and arts, may give their aid; but the fpirit of Chriftianity must be the infpirer and conductor of all other means of civilization and improvement. No ftronger incitement furely can be given to a fociety which have chofen for the object of their af fociation the propagation of the religion of Jefus, than this, That they are co-operating with the grand scheme of Providence, laid before the foundation of the world, "to turn 66 men from darknefs unto light, and from 66 the fervice of fin and Satan, to the fervice "of the living God."
The fuccefs which this noble undertaking hath already had, and which appears to the conviction of every one, from the number of fchools, no less than 172, which are fupported by it, and in which 7270 scholars are inftructed in reading, writing, and arithmetic, must prove a new and powerful excitement to the Society itself to persevere with zeal and alacrity in their labours of love.
Befides thefe fchools for acquiring neceffary knowledge, there are twelve fchools on a fecond patent, in which girls are taught and trained up to industry in fuch kinds of work as are fuited to their fex, and the condition of life for which they are defigned. It may furely be expected, that the view of thefe bleffed effects which this worthy inftitution
has already produced, and is daily producing, will excite and encourage all the true friends of religion and humanity, to contribute, every way in their power, to the fupport and advancement of a design fo manifeftly calculated to promote both the temporal good of fociety, and the eternal interefts of immortal fouls.