« السابقةمتابعة »
ment something of a contradictory emotion, that trembles on the lip, and transpires in the manner : the heart that is true to the devil is false to itself.
But the pious, too, have their own province of humour. It may be of a sober sort; but it has an extensive range; and were it not restrained by the proximity of the peril, the partnership of a fallen nature, and the checks of conscious infirmity, the vanities and vagaries of boasting unbelief would be the fairest objects of ridicule to the well-instructed Christian. As it is, his mature and meditative mind finds appropriate amusement in the exposure of the shifts and sophistries of the disputers of this world. He sees them, in the midst of their false security, "set in slippery places:" he deplores the danger; he derides the folly. Cowper, Newton, Horne, and, in a more sarcastic vein, the Dean of St. Patrick, have shown that infidelity and impiety might give perpetual employment to wit, if charity were not in the way. The sorrows to which humanity is heir, will not allow them to make ridicule and banter the staple of conversation; but the pious mind most correctly feels, and can best expose the elaborate impertinencies and follies of artificial life. It is in the table-talk of the right-minded Christian that a pure and delicate humour is oftenest found; that humour
which is the seasoner and corrector of familiar discourse, the source at once of discipline and delight, the medium in which virtue and vivacity unite and co-operate.
Those who attempt the definition of a gentleman, are apt to lay stress on a certain dignified ease in his composure and address. Ease is not assurance; if it were, the Christian would have no advantage in this respect. The ease which belongs to a quieted temper and a trusting heart is his-permanently his. The awe and awkwardness which arise from false grounds of appreciation, he must necessarily feel in a less degree than others; first, because he feels in a stronger degree than others the humiliating truth of our common debasement; and secondly, because the value of adventitious elevation has with him no more than the respect which rationally belongs to it: human pretensions are in his mind compared with a standard, which greatly lessens their substantial disparity. The man whose thoughts are most in heaven, walks the earth with the greatest composure: the service of mammon is a service of toil and trepidation; the service of God is a "service of perfect freedom;" and the character of the service will appear in the manners. It is in the Christian mind that a generous ease finds the best soil for
its spontaneous growth. He is shame-faced only before those by whose nearer resemblance to the evangelical pattern he feels himself discredited. A strong faith weakens the hold of human opinion; it gives an air of conscious liberty to the countenance. The Christian sojourns among men, as the citizen of another state, franchised from their jurisdiction by the high privilege of his acceptance with God, in all matters which can affect his soul's estate, or the real dignity of his nature; and thus he moves Iwith a serene confidence among those from whose judgment he has an instantaneous appeal, and from whose wrongs he can fly to an invisible sanctuary.
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