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sentiment of duty, grounded on a certain sanctity of principle, as deeply carved as the quarterings on the field of his escutcheon, were wont in our early days to be the characteristics of the nobleman and gentleman of England.
This character, indeed, was not strictly Christian, but it displayed the power of Christian principles, which, even by their secondary operation, modified ferocity into courage, licentiousness into freedom, sense into sensibility, appetite into love. Cradled in the forest, the British character grew, under the rough discipline of stormy conjunctures, to a singular hardihood of moral texture, and Christianity completed its stature, and filled out its proportions. This was the source of the magnanimous self-devotion which displayed itself so often in war and in council; and not seldom in the dungeon and on the scaffold. It was seen in that peculiar gravity and composure which distinguished the dying moments of some of our great progenitors, whose decorous deaths have sealed our chartered rights, and purchased the inheritance of our liberties.
Travelling through the land with the scales of justice in her hands, Christianity, imperfect as it was, familiarized to the people the maxims of equity and equality, and maintained in the
THE POLITICS, &c.
public mind an elasticity against the pressure of unjust rule, ready to profit by every opportunity of expansion. Her action was constant, while that of oppression was irregular and vacillating; and such was the virtue of the constitution under her ascendancy, that as intelligence proceeded, and enlarged its boundary, the polity of England kept on a par with this progression. Struggles and conflicting tendencies were natural and unavoidable; superstition and tyranny fought for their lives, and in military language, sold their lives dear. They had their victims on the scaffold and at the stake; innocence and loyalty were immolated, but the perfume of the sacrifice diffused a fragrance through the land; and the stream of those pure libations quickened every seed of patriotism, with which the soil of England had been early sown, into vigorous vegetation and life.
THE LITERATURE OF THE CHRISTIAN GENTLEMAN.
THE Christian gentleman is by supposition a man of letters. Liberal learning is a constituent of his character. Indolence and sensuality are twin sisters. If our baser nature assumes the command, the understanding puts on its livery; and it accords with all practical observation, that knowledge and superstition are in an inverse proportion. It is because truth challenges inquiry, that Christianity is the religion of research, the assertor of intellectual freedom, and the partner of philosophy in its highest acquisitions.
It says to the inquirer after truth, examine my pretensions; investigate my muniments and my documents; trace my course from my first commencement; apply to me every fair test of moral evidence; try me by the soundest canons of critical learning; ask what history records of that paradoxical power, by which passions, prejudices, and propensities have been overruled, and nature bent into subserviency to an invisible vocation, and a glory beyond the grave; and tell me whether you do not find me to possess
incentives to stimulate the finest capacities of man's intelligence and genius.
These are the invitations and challenges of Christianity; and it is among its properties and peculiarities that it equally addresses itself to all degrees of intelligence: it descends into the vales of ignorance, and crowns the summits of knowledge; it ministers to man wherever it finds him, in his elevations and in his depressions; it is milk to the suckling, and meat to the wise; it is confirmation to the strong, and a staff to the feeble: where learning is not, it supplies the vacancy; where it is, it secures its advantages: by the divine efficacy of its perfect principles, it carries society forward, consolidates the powers of the intellect, and makes its accumulations at once permanent and productive.
Thus the Christian gentleman graduates fast in the best school of learning. The more he knows of his Saviour and the Bible, the more correct and chastised is his general knowledge; the more the exercise of his faculties is secured from disturbance, and the more amenable he becomes to the discipline of truth and the delights of genuine taste.
Learned society and literary habits are often the friends of presumptuous error, and act a plausible but treacherous part in their influence
on principles. But the Christian gentleman is in no danger from these distracting tendencies; his security lies no less in the subordination of his faculties than in his right estimate of things without. Where the values of objects are computed in their relation to eternity, and the interests of the soul stand in their due priority, there is neither contradiction nor vacillation in the movements within, and the powers of the intellect are sustained in an equable progression. There is a silliness characteristic of the wisest in their generation where the religious mind is wanting; an interest in trifles, a mean standard of worth, and a littleness of pursuit. Sound religion, by engaging the whole mind on the side of truth, adjusts, these discordances; there is in it a rectifying influence, that puts all the capacities on a right poise and position for effective operations.
There is in evangelical religion an expansive principle, that seems to spread out the soul and enlarge its border. Learning in the service of religion is essentially liberal. What charter is so complete as that which opens to the capacities a celestial range-a range commensurate with man in the most extended relations of his being? Unsanctified science loses itself in a labyrinth of second causes, fritters down knowledge into