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God? And how can we otherwise hope to be the subjects and favourites of the Prince of peace?
Is humility another part of an amiable character! Who was ever humble as the Son of God? The brightness of his Father's glory, and the express image of his person, who emptied himself, and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men, and humbled himself yet lower, even to the death of the cross, and to the dust of the grave; Phil. ii. 6-9. Therefore the Father loved him, and the Father exalted him. This is the man, the God-man, who calls us to the practice of this virtue; Learn of me, says he, for I am meek and lowly, and ye shall find rest for your souls; Mat. xi. 29. What folly and madness is it for dust and ashes to be proud, when God's own Son was humble? And he gives us a noble instance to assure us that humility is a lovely quality: When the rich young man in the gospel came and kneeled before him to ask his advice, Jesus looked upon him and loved him; and would have left it upon record in his word, that there was something lovely in a modest and humble carriage, even where the saving grace of God was wanting: Mark x. 21.
Meekness and patience are the next things I mentioned, that go to make up the character of a lovely person. But who was meek as the Son of God is? What affronts did he endure even while he was inviting sinners in the most affecting language to their own eternal happiness? What shameful mockery did he sustain? What loads of malicious and infamous blasphemy? But when he was reviled, he reviled not again; 1 Pet. ii. 23. as a sheep before her shearer is dumb, so opened he not his mouth; Is. liii. 7. O when shall we learn to imitate our blessed Lord, and forbear and forgive as he did.
How was his patience tried to the utmost? And that not only in the fruitless and thankless labours of his life among a cruel and insolent race of men, but in the approaches of his bloody death. When the blessed Redeemer lay agonizing in the garden, or hung bleeding on the cross, to see him oppressed with the weight of the wrath of God due to our sins, conflicting with the rage of devils, forsaken by his friends, and surrounded with the profane insults of barbarous men: What a mournful and moving spectacle! And yet there is something divinely amiable in it, to behold him all over calm and patient, and meditating immortal and forgiving love. What unworthy followers are we of the blessed Jesus, the Lamb that was slain, when upon every occasion we take fire, and break out into an impatient fury?
But if I should enter upon the last instance of a lovely cha~ racter, and begin the mention of love, how far beyond all example, and beyond all description, is the love of our Lord Jesus!
How tender were the compassions of his heart! How extensive the benevolence of his soul! What melting language of love dropped from his lips hourly! And how were his mortal and immortal powers employed in procuring infinite blessings for sinful men, in distributing them amongst the rebellious! O that we could learn to think, and speak, and act like our blessed Saviour whose life and whose death was a rich and various scene of divine and human love!
III. I might draw further arguments from the examples, and from the writings of the apostles and holy men in the primitive days of christianity; when they were all of one heart and one soul, and did every thing to please and serve their fellowchristians. I would mention the epistles of St. John; what a divine spirit of love breathes in them! But next to our Lord Jesus, I should rather turn your eyes and thoughts to the temper and conduct of St. Paul, the greatest of the apostles, and the nearest to Christ. How did he please all men, not seeking his own profit, but their salvation, even as Christ pleased not himself? And he leaves us his own example in subordination to his Lord, Be ye followers of me, even as 1 also am of Christ; Rom. xv. 1-3. and give none offence, neither to Jew nor Gentile; 1 Cor. x. 32. Who is there sorrowful among you, and I sympathize not? Who is weak, and I am not weak? Who is offended, and I do not share in the pain? 2 Cor. xi. 29. I bear and endure all things for the elect's sake, that they may be saved; 2 Tim. ii. 10. How lovely was his behaviour in all respects? His epistles are full of it, it shines through every page: His character demands a volume to describe it, all worthy of our imitation and our wonder.
But I must hasten to the last motive derived from christianity, and that is the nature and design of the gospel itself. It is the most lovely of all religions. Wisdom, humility, peace, patience, meekness, moderation, and love, run through every part of the covenant of grace, like so many bright and beautiful colours joined together in the rainbow, that stretches its glory round the lower sky, and seals an ancient and everlasting peace between earth and heaven.
There is therefore the most sovereign and constraining obligation laid upon us christians, to do all things that are lovely, that we may make our holy religion appear like itself, and cause christianity to be beloved of men. Every christian is in some degree entrusted with the honour of Christ, and with the credit and renown of his gospel. Let us be watchful then to take all opportunities, and use all pious methods to make our hope appear glorious, and set the name of Christ in its own amiable light, and to adorn the doctrine of God our Saviour.
How dishonourable and shameful a thing is it for a christian to have an unlovely carriage, or to shew any thing in his conduct that is rough and forbidding! What a blemish does it cast upon the gospel which he professes! Let us talk what we will of the sublimer glories of christianity, and profess an acquaintance with the deepest mysteries, yet with all our flaming zeal for the faith, we may become scandals to the gospel, if we abandon the practices of love. The world will judge of our religion by our temper and carriage. We give occasion therefore to the world to upbraid us, What do you more than others? If we, who pretend to be christians, who have professed the most lovely of all religions, are guilty of practices unworthy of the sacred name: When they see our carriage as bad as others, they will be ready to cry out, "What is your beloved more than another beloved? What are your doctrines better than others, if your practice differs not from others! And are you willing it should be said of you, that you are the occasions of shame and scandal to the name and religion of Christ?
We should do all things that are amiable in the sight of men, that the gospel may have the glory of it: Shall I say, the gospel of Christ deserves it at our hands? If the gospel brings so rich a salvation to us, it is fitting we should bring a great deal of honour to it. How honourable is it to the gospel of Christ, when persons of a rough, crabbed, sour temper, are converted by this gospel, are become christians indeed, and are made all over amiable, and soft, and obliging in their deportments; when they carry it like new creatures, like persons that are clanged indeed, that have much of the spirit of love in them, the temper of the gospel, and the temper of heaven! It is this gospel, as I have said before, that turns lions into lambs, and ravens into doves, the most savage creatures into mild and gentle.
While we are thus engaged in the practice of love, we have no need to abandon our zeal for the truth; but we should separate our divine zeal from all our own guilty passions, lest instead of honouring God, we should destroy his children. The servant of the Lord may be bold and stedfast in the defence of the gospel, but he must be gentle towards all men, ready to teach, and patient under injuries. He must not strive like a hero for victory, but when any oppose themselves to the truth, he must instruct them in meekness; 2 Tim. ii. 24. While we are peaceful and harmless, we may be at the same time prudent and wise; our Lord Jesus has joined these two characters; Mat. x. 16. And it is a very lovely inscription for a disciple of Christ to wear in all his public and private conversation, wise as serpents, and harmless as doves. Thus we may guard ourselves from the malice of the world, while we attempt to win them by all the sacred methods of humanity and divine goodness.
HYMN FOR SERMON XXVIII
Christian Morality, viz. a Lovely Carriage.
Their frame is prudence miv'd with love;
Is a lovely thing to sce
When envy, strife, and wars begin
Mark how the sons of peace come in,
Their minds are humble, mild and meek,
Such was the Saviour of mankind,
Lord, can these plants of virtue grow
Thy grace can form my nature so
And make my heart like thine.
Christian Morality, viz. Things of good Report, &c.
PHILIP. iv. 8.-Whatsoever things are of good report,-think on these things.
Οσα εύφημα, &c.
THE value of a good name was so great under the Jewish dispensation, that the Spirit of God does not think it beneath his care to recommend it to his chosen people, by the mouth of Solomon, the wisest of men. It is better and more worth than precious ointment; Eccl. vii. 1. It was counted an ornament and entertainment at public feasts, to have rich oils poured upon the head; the price of some of them was exceeding great; they gave refreshment to the natural spirits, and spread a perfume through all the company. But a good name is of greater price, it is a rich ornament to the character of him that possesses it, and has a considerable influence toward his happiness; so that to use the words of Solomon again; Prov. xxi. 1. It is rather to be chosen than great riches.
The blessed apostle of the Gentiles is of the same mind, and he recommends to the christian world, the practice of those things that are of good report, which is the way, whereby a good name is to be obtained. He had just before recommended to us the things that are lovely in the eyes of men, and such as will render us well-beloved among our neighbours. Now he invites us to the practice of those things that are of good report in the world, such as will procure us reputation, and a good name, where we may live, especially among the wise and sober part of mankind. This hath some difference in it from the former, though it must be granted, that all things that are lovely, have also a tendency to obtain a good name.
There are many things in the conduct of life, which do not so directly offer themselves to us, as parts of neeessary justice, piety, or goodness. But yet they are such as bear a good character in the world, and they give to the man that practises them, a good reputation among his fellow creatures: on the contrary, there are several other practices, which is not easy to prove directly sinful, yet they are of ill report, and they ought not to be Dd