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imitating the pattern of this great Mercy, he embraces all men within the scope of his charity, and carries his Christian regards to all that aim at pleasing God by obedience to the Son of his love and the Word of his power. This is that friendship which has been christened charity by the Gospel, and this is that charity which is friendship to all the world. It is a friendship and charity which separate those who possess them from all commerce with impiety, but give the widest influence to Christian counsel and holy practice. In the religion of the Christian gentleman there is something frank, natural, and simple, shall we say manly? not so, certainly, in the sense of that word as it comes from the mouth of a worldly person, but as it indicates the cordial and resolute adoption and profession of the truth, abstracted from party feelings, corporate distinction, or silent self-adulation. Neither is it meant, by animadverting on the language in which the religion of a peculiar class is apt to express itself, to narrow the free and frequent exercise of pious conversation, or to reduce the space it occupies in religious companies. If this is a life of preparation for another which is to last for ever; if our Almighty Father has reconciled us to himself by a way of stupenduous grace and mercy; if he has scat
tered his beneficence over the whole face of his creation, it is but a consequence of natural gratitude to pass much of our time in talking of his power, his glory, and his goodness; but there is nothing in all this to justify a principle of sequestration or exclusion, or to warrant the pretensions of a privileged order.
The Christian gentleman, though of no religious corps, has generally the fate of being assigned over by each class to some other. However fervent in spirit, his professions range within the limits of a strict moderation: his views are singly directed to the glory of God and the good of man; he carries his religion, or rather the spirit of his religion, into all his intercourse and converse with society; but he carries no banner or motto before him, his creed is written in his practice, and blazoned in his victories over pride, passion, and temper.
FAMILIAR TALK OF THE CHRISTIAN GENTLEMAN.
THE table-talk of the Christian gentleman is that part of his conduct in which he particularly declares himself. It is in the competency only of considerable minds to season social intercourse with wit, or to enrich it with the tributary products of ready wisdom: but there is a complacent turn of thought and morality characteristic of the well-educated and well-furnished Christian, which, with little advantage from experience, conciliates and fixes attention. It can hardly happen, but by a very cross combination of circumstances, that a father can fail of being the centre of attraction to his family, where religion joins its voice to that of nature to enforce his claims. To guide domestic conversation, and to give to it its proper tone; to make it profitable and irreproachable, the multiplier of thoughts, the medium of a spiritual commerce, a mutual provocation to virtuous resolves and manly purposes, is the province which the Christian father must fill in his family, or he does not reach the level of his station.
There are other besides his children to whom the domestic and familiar talk of a Christian belongs. His servants have a property in it: they have a claim upon it in virtue of their ignorance. An awful accountability waits upon the accents of a parent in the midst of children and domestics, whenever he approaches what belongs to their peace, touches the consecrated lines which distinguish truth from error, right from wrong, reason from prejudice, or affects in whatever degree the principles by which we live to God, to ourselves, and to society.
There is a garniture with which Christian morality decorates common discourse, for which no other gifts or graces can be adequately substituted. A natural dignity, a composure of manner, a quiet eye, a complacent regard, are among the exterior advantages which it confers: they denote its specific presence, its peaceful domicile in the bosom. When the passions and principles are not under its control, the countenance betrays an inward riot. Something unrectified, tumultuous, alarmed, suspicious, or fierce-something that carries the mark of Cain, that tells of inborn corruption, that discovers the alienated mind-gathers about the brow of a godless person, speaks in his gestures, and breaks through the disguise of artificial breeding.
Thus it is that a real Christian heart is fundamental to that graceful composition of the social man, emphatically called the gentleman. The religious gentleman is such in his countenance; he carries in his forehead his credentials from above, and the seal of his designation and calling. He comes with a sort of diplomacy into the world, bearing the badge and collar of his great Master, whose willing agents are not only in his holy service, but in his holier similitude.
In a peculiar sense, the Christian gentleman must be absent from the world: not, indeed, from the intercourse of business with the world; such an abstraction may not be consistent with his duties and engagements; neither does it comport with his general character and necessary relations to withhold himself from the commerce of good offices and cheerful hospitality: but he must separate himself by a decided line from the loose practices and careless demeanour of worldly men. He who sets God always before him, cannot "sit among the ungodly," without a depression of spirit. The communication with the godless he cannot altogether avoid: he cannot avoid the contact, but he may avoid the intermixture. As he has his delights, with which they cannot intermeddle, so does the nature of their pleasures exclude his participation. There