« ПредишнаНапред »
cessantly prompting them to execute schemes for the good of mankind, and did not applaud their exertions in the cause of human nature, did not glow with admiration of their virtue, did not enter into their feelings, and suppose himself acting with them the generous and benevolent part? The genuine and unbiassed language of nature will be found to differ in nothing from the words of our Saviour: This is my commandment, THAT YE LOVE ONE
To cultivate this principle, therefore, we have no need to force our inclinations, but only to give them free scope. Benevolence is a native plant of the human mind ; and, if the weeds of wicked and selfish passions are removed, it will infallibly spring up and flourish.
brethren, to love one another is the law of your religion. Every system, whether of government or religion, has some prevailing principle which pervades the whole, and gives life and animation to all its parts. Thus fear has been said to be the principle of despotism, honour of monarchy, and virtue (or publick spirit) of a republick. The slightest attention to the christian system must convince us that it's ruling principle is love. From love the
whole scheme originated ; the manner of it's accomplishment displays the most wonderful and unequalled love; the state of happiness to which it leads, is described as a state of perfect harmony and love : love is commanded as the ruling principle, and represented as the characteristick feature of all it's disciples. To love one another, to live at peace with all men, to be daily employed in acts of goodness, to be slow to wrath, to forgive the wrongs of the injurious, to cultivate meekness, gentleness and kindness, are the constant precepts of that charitable religion which proceeded from the God of love, and was proclaimed by the Saviour of men : That religion whose benign influences have dispelled the ignorance and barbarity which had hitherto overspread the greatest part of the earth, enlightened and civilized the human mind, softened and refined the manners of society, restrained the ravages and cruelties of war, promoted peace on earth and good will among men, mitigated the severity of punishment, and taught us to consider all men as the children of one universal parent, who is good unto all, and whose tender mercies are over all his works.
Finally, we ought to love one another, if we consider how much this principle contributes to the happiness of society and the
perfection of human nature. It is not the man of great talents, but the man of a good heart, who is most useful to his fellow-creatures. To do acts of publick and extensive utility, to scatter plenty over a land, to raise a fallen or support a sinking state, are indeed noble exertions, and call forth the admiration and gratitude of mankind. But they are the lot of only a few men in an age or nation. Whereas the situation of no man prevents him from cultivating a benevolent heart : there is not a day nor hour of our lives wherein we may not wish well and do good to our neighbour. Indeed, did this principle universally prevail,the labours of the legislator, of the hero and of the patriot would be, in a great measure, unnecessary. Were men actuated by true brotherly love, they would respect the rights of their neighbour, without the injunctions of law, or the fear of punishment. Wars and rumours of war would be heard no more; the animosities, discords and debates which agitate private society, would instantly give place to peace and mutual good-will. Then,and not till then,may
we expect the fulfilment of those happy predictions that the wolf and the lamb shall lie down together, and a little child shall lead them. Then the wilderness and the solitary place would be glad, the desert would rejoice and blossom as the rose.
Then they would not hurt nor destroy in all the holy mountain of the Lord. And can we conceive greater perfection in human nature? Behold how pleasant and how comely it is for brethren to dwell together in unity! It is as the dew of Hermon, as the dew that descended on the mountains of Zion.
Indeed we cannot form a more exalted idea of the happiness of the higher mansions, where every thing, like the calm and untroubled ocean, reflects the serenity of God's countenance ; where the angers, quarrels, dissentions and storms which render this sea of life so troublesome and tempestuous, are all blown over, and where the reign of universal peace, harmony and love has begun, never to terminate.
Thus, my brethren, I have endeavoured shortly to illustrate and recommend the love of your neighbour, on a day sacred to the memory of that beloved disciple, whose writings breathe so much of that spirit of love which
his intimacy and friendship with his master must have inspired; a day rendered still more memorable by being the anniversary of a society whose fundamental principle is brotherly love, shining forth in the fair fruits of peace and harmony, charity and good works—a
, society the most liberal in its plan, the most benevolent in its intention, and the most inoffensive in its conduct, that ever was instituted in the world—a society which encourages and observes the most profound respect for the Supreme Being, the great architect of nature-a society which embraces the whole human race, considers all mankind as one blessed family of brethren, and unites men of all ranks and conditions, of all parties and sects, of all nations and religions--a society which inculcates rectitude and moderation of conduct by the most significant emblems-a society from whose meetings all strife and vain argument, all riot and intemperance are, by the laws of it's institution, carefully excluded—a society whose ears have been ever open to the cry of the indigent and needy—a society
— which, if it did not stand secure in its own intrinsick excellence, might well claim respect from its high antiquity and the nume