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WORLDLY DEALINGS OF THE CHRISTIAN
WHAT pure religion forms, it finishes; the totality of its principle is marked in the smallest lineaments of the Christian gentleman. Like the blood which dispenses the living energy through the whole corporeal frame, Christian morality runs through the whole contexture of conduct, giving to every part a similar basis and consistence. In the veritable Christian we see an entire scheme of behaviour, agreeing with itself under all diversities of circumstances: all his dealings and negotiations are under the guarantee of this pervasive and coercing principle; in his traffic with men he remembers his compact with Heaven, and the federal vow that is upon him.
The mere gentleman, perhaps, in the best worldly conception of the character, rejects the soil and slough of a bargain. If it be true that the little arts of deceptious dexterity are thrown off from the generous mind by a simple effort of its nature, it is equally true that in the same nature where this generosity prevails, are found
the dangerous excesses and spurious qualities which belong to that sentiment of honour which is bred out of the habits of society; but where the feelings and associations of the gentleman are regulated and confirmed by the permanent influence of Christian motives and sanctions, the moral of life is simplified and assimilated in all its possible predicaments, and the whole of the social man is brought under one rule of decisive application-the rule of righteous reciprocity, which the glorious Gospel has pronounced.
One might expect that the gentleman, as such, independently of the Christian obligation, would be secured by his worldly honour, if he hold that principle in its extended sense, from every thing that has the odour or colour of fraud; yet the gentleman, so called, is often little scrupulous of evading the payment of a tax, or of dealing in prohibited or uncustomed goods, to the injury of the revenue and the fair trader, however disgraceful to his port and breeding such a practice should be deemed, taking his standard no higher than his chivalrous origin and the legend and device of his escutcheon. But the Christian gentleman lives under a law which is explicit and decisive on the subject; which requires him to render unto all their dues; tribute to whom tribute, custom to whom custom. If a Christian
professor commit or countenance an act so pregnant with meanness, falsehood, and violence, he brings the stigma of hypocrisy upon himself, and a scandal upon the service of his Master.
Among men, the proper test of the presence and influence of religion is its visible occupation of the conscience. If it be real, it runs through the character in its whole length and breadth. Then it is that the entire conduct is restricted within those lines of circumscription, of which the clear written declaration of the divine will has furnished the directory rule. Speculative religion, or that which plays about the heart, or that which glows in the fancy, or that which enshrines itself in human eloquence, leaves a large area about the centre of busy life free from its intermeddling; but the religion of the conscience is every where intrusive, crossing our common paths, meeting us at every turn, and dispersing over all the concerns of active existence luminous indications of the divine will. It is an oracle which requires no formal consultation, no journeys to its shrines; it is ever in ministerial attendance, coming at every call, at hand in every exigence, anticipating the casuistry of the passions, those false prophets within us, and showing, in fiery traces, all the interceptive lines by which God has restricted the path of his
The true Christian is known as much in the little as in the great things of life: he sees the transgression in the principle. “The fear of the Lord is clean," and therefore every unclean practice, whether in his contracts, his engagements, his money transactions, his common intercourse, his manners, or his conversation, is under the control of an incessant monitor. It is true, we are contemplating a rare specimen; but the Gospel of Jesus has settled the standard, and placed it above human interference. It is in a graceful symmetry, or an union of the parts into one consistent and refulgent whole, that the perfection of the Christian gentleman resides. As there may be a greatness known to the sculptor, which owes something to the neglect of proportion; so what to man's perceptions is heroic, is often the result of a colossal grandeur: but the character of gentleman rejoices in the combination and consent of its parts; and when the character of Christian accedes to it, its dimensions are enlarged, while its proportions are maintained; and this is the state of man to which the epithet of great does in truth belong, though the multitude allow nothing to be great but that by which society is convulsed, or a domineering spirit is let loose upon the world,
EDUCATION OF THE CHRISTIAN GENTLEMAN.
THERE is a strange want of adaptation in our scholastic institutions to the production of a character at all answering to the Christian model: none of our methods lead up to it. To keep the proper destiny of man in the view of a child; to present life as a whole to his contemplation, and as a gift bestowed for a certain end; to inculcate a principle of steady direction; to fill the soul with a consciousness of the claims upon it, and of its essential relations and affinities; to set in their right order the first impelling powers; to institute a determinate progression; to place before each his personal vocation, and to open in clear perspective the lines of specific duty comprehended in the great practical plan of God's moral government, are things unthought of in our schools of highest reputation for the formation of gentlemen. If Christianity be true, and if it do really involve all that is most worthy of attainment, the education of the country is rotten at the core. It has no prospective or final connexion with the Christian scheme of commutative forbearance and love, nor is any one