صور الصفحة
النشر الإلكتروني
[ocr errors]

gentleness is force: his empire is that of complacency, consistency, and love.

To treat humility as the source of authority, may have the air of paradox; but it is a fact remarkably evidenced in the government of a Christian family. If the Christian father must ground his jurisdiction on the Gospel, and decide parlour controversies by an appeal to that standard, his personal veneration for it must be first attested by a profound and practical submission to its ordinances. The humility of the parent, when exhibited as a Christian grace, is a constraining pattern, the tendency of which is to keep up a perpetual recognition of the engagements of our religious professsion, to establish a family compact of reciprocal forbearance, and to purify the whole atmosphere of home by the fire of the altar; his talk, his walk, all his communication will combine to enunciate his Christian character. Before his children he will move with a special awe of the consequences of each word and act. It will be his great care

Ut sanctam filius omni

Aspiciat sine labe domum, vitioque carentem



THERE is a distinct society among men which we designate by the name of " the Religious World;" and to this community the Christian gentleman does necessarily belong. But within this line of circumscription there are many classes and grades of Christians, more or less imbued with the proper evangelical spirit. To impute insincerity to any within this circle would be inconsistent with candour or Christian charity. It may be allowable, however, to remark, that there is in some men a tendency to shut up religion within their own arbitrary enclosure; to surround it with technicalities and interdicts. which do not belong to it; to make it speak a language of peculiar and private dictation, and to hold in virtual excommunication a very large portion of sound and serious Christians. None without the shibboleth can enter the sacred barriers; and with it, men of little understanding and narrow sentiment are easily admitted. To be spiritually separated from the world is the sacrifice required by Christianity from its true pro

fessors; but it is from the world that lieth in wickedness, from the god of this world that blindeth the mind, from the rulers of the darkness of this world, from the lust of the eye and the pride of life, that we are to be separated; not from those who in manners and opinions differ by some shades from ourselves, or who, though equally anxious for the soul's safety and for the extension of Gospel truths, are less often than themselves at religious meetings, having families, perhaps, to provide for or instruct, or being, perhaps, less conversant with a certain phraseology by which these exceptious persons measure the progress of Christian attainments.

The Christian gentleman would, probably, be soonest found on the outside of this exclusive and mystic circle; his charities and affections delight in a clear horizon and extensive ken; in the substances of things rather than their circumstances; in the genuine expression of feeling and the rectitude of the heart, rather than in the trammels of an unvaried phraseology and an exclusive medium of religious communication : he loves wisdom, and virtue, and goodness, and beneficence, wherever he finds them, and all "the impresses of God on the spirits of brave men;" he sees also that the Father of Heaven sendeth rain upon the just and the unjust; and,

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.

« السابقةمتابعة »