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of God, denands it. Thus speaks the universal law of love: “Whatsoever ye would that men should do unto you, even şó do ye unto them; for this is the Law and the Prophets." This divine precept, which obliges us to do good to men's bodies, applies, with tenfold energy, to their spiritual wants: and to shew its bearing on this subject, let us suppose a case. If we ourselves were, by a reverse of our present condition, poor deluded Heathens, wandering in woods, without
distinct knowledge of God and our Saviour, or any guide to put us in the way to heaven; barassed with guilt, and liable to perish everlastingly-and if we had heard that some of our fellowcreatures, though at a great distance from us, were in possession of a book coming from God, which was able to enlighten and to save us--should we not wish them to commiserate our unhappy state? Should we not cry, in impassioned language, “ Come over, and help usos": Bring us, on the wings of love, that Blessed Volume which contains the Gospel of peace, the grand charter of our salvation; in order that we may be delivered from our guilt and fears, and, attain the blessed hope of everlasting life!
Now this case is exactly realized, in the spiritual condition of inillions of Asiatics, `Africans, and Americans, who importunately ask for our religious aid. Of course, then, we are obliged, by the rule of Gospel charity, to act precisely in the same way towards them, as we, under the same circumstances, should wish them to act towards us.
If, then, we can contentedly leave unenlightened nations to their dreadful fate, where is our compassion to our fellow-creatures? Where is our mercy and charity, if we'refuse to communicate to thein
#Acts xvi. 9.
some crumbs of that bread of life, which has been sent to us from heaven, on purpose that we might distribute it amongst all mankind: Where is our philanthropy, if we suffer so large a portion of the world to continue in gross darkness? Where is our love to our dying Saviour, if we remain indifferent to the diffusion of that grace which He died on the cross to purchase? Where is our desire for the ex, tension of the Church, if we strive not to make her doctrine known in Heathen lands? Where is our patriotisın, if we have no wish to bind up our country with the prayers and benedictions of mankind ? If we stop our ears against the cries of the Pagan world, how shall we escape the guilt of having suffered those to perish from whom we have withheld the means of grace and the hope of everlasting glory?
10. Whilst, however, our mercy is to shine so conspicuously in a regard to men's spiritual necessities and miseries, we must never forget that the wants of their bodies demand our generous assistance.
When the needy and distressed object solicits your charity, you will cheerfully exercise compassion towards him. You will pity the poverty of the indigent, and relieve their wants ; dealing out, with a liberal hand, bread to those who are perishing with hunger, and clothing to cover the nakedness of those who have no garments to defend themselves from the severity of the weather.
The case of the disconsolate widow and the hapless orphan should touch our hearts with sympathy for their peculiar grief: and if they need our aid, it should be readily afforded.
Indeed, we should not be backward to visit tbe abodes of woe, pitying the sorrowful, and pouring the
balm of consolation into their wounded spirits. In the cottages of the poor, many an object will arrest our attention, that calls for the utmost stretch of charitable feeling. There we shall not unfrequently see the honest industrious poor destitute of those necessary comforts which our liberality may contribute to supply. Thus, like Job, by the distribution of our bounty, we shall become « eyes to the blind, feet to the lame, and a father to the poor, the destitute, and afflicted. The blessing of him that was ready to perish will come upon us; and we shall make the widow's heart to sing for joy."
“ If we possess but little, let us do our diligence gladly to give of that little ;” and maintain a charitable feeling towards the necessitous.
If we have no alms to give, and no bread to communicate to the hungry, still we can discover a merciful temper towards them, by interceding with the God of all consolation to support them under the pressure of their trouble, in due time to deliver then, and to make their affliction a sovereign medicine to heal their souls.
Finally, as Christians, we shall display a spirit of mercy and forbearance towards those who are under our power, from injuries which they have done us. Instead of wishing to pursue the offender with pains and penalties and death, we shall exercise compassion, where he confesses his offence, and asks forgiveness ; unless the exercise of mercy would prove injustice and cruelty to society.
If any have contracted debts for which they are answerable to you, it is much more humane to forego the rigorous execution of the law, where not idleness and vice, but the appointment of Providence, has dis
Job xxix. 12---17.
abled the debtor from satisfying your just demands. Add not sorrow to those honests breasts which God has wounded. “ Be ye therefore merciful, as your Father also is merciful'.”
f Luke vi. 36.
ON JUDGING CHARITABLY OF OTHERS.
John vii. 24.-Judge not according to the appearance, but
judge righteous judgment. A CHRISTIAN, knowing how many there are who are fond of misrepresentation, and calumny, and evil speaking, learns the expediency of shewing the utmost candour in forming a judgment of inen's conduct; especially where any doubt remains with regard to the motive from which it may spring.
But when the actions of men are palpably such as not only law and reason, but the word of God, clearly condemn, it would be the greatest want of charity to their souls to flatter them with a hope of escaping the wrath of Heaven, unless they find repentance unto life. To think favourably, or to justify the wickedness, of the sworn enemies of God, such as thieves, murderers and drunkards, and self-righteous, covetous, sensual, profane, lying, revengeful, and inalicious persons, would be acting the cruel part of assisting the Devil to delude their souls, till they are lost for evera. “These are sins which go before men to judgment",” and stamp those who commit them with the seal of condemnation. But, setting aside instances like these, there are a 1 Cor. vi. 9, 10.
bi Tim. v. 2t.
many actions of a doubtful aspect. Here there is scope for the display of charitable feelings and opinions. And, in cases of this kind, it is contrary to the law of Christian charity to form a rash judgment, or to condemn men, when there is no sufficient reason to justify a peremptory sentence.
"1. Judge charitably of men's words, when there is any thing in them that will admit of a favourable construction. It is a
It is a proof of a captious mind, waiting for an opportunity of doing mischief," which inakes a man an offender for an unadvised word." It is probable that many expressions, that have for a time kindled our resentinent against others, have been, in some instances, well intended, and, in others, totally mistaken ; as an explanation of their meaning has fully proved. Our own experience, therefore, should correct our judgment, and make us dread the guilt and injustice of affixing a bad signification to words of a doubtful meaning. In our intercourse with others, let us never torture their expressions with a view to make them speak a malevolent language ; but, where no circumstance positively forbids it, let us be always ready to interpret what is said as spoken with a good design.
2. With respect to the intentions of men, as they can only be fully known to God, the great searcher of hearts, we must be cautious how we impute evil, where it is not manifest. It is not for us to sit in judgment on the motives of others, which are often different from what we, in the hurry of a inoment, have been led to suppose. It is not difficult to blast and tarnish the most honourable action, by ascribing it to a bad origin; or to sanction the greatest vilIsa. xxix. 21.
ce 1 Cor. xiii. 4-8.