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VI.

heart : And let me add, nothing, except SERMON what flows from the heart, can render even external manners truly pleasing. For no assumed behaviour can at all times hide the real character. In that unaffected civility which springs from a gentle mind, there is a charm infinitely more powerful than in all the studied manners of the most finished courtier.

True gentleness is founded on a sense of what we owe to him who made us, and to the common nature of which we all share. It arises from reflection on our own failings and wants ; and from just views of the condition, and the duty of man. It is native feeling, heightened and improved by principle. It is the heart which easily relents ; which feels for every thing that is human; and is backward and slow to inflict the least wound. It is affable in its address, and mild in its demeanour ; ever ready to oblige, and willing to be obliged by others; breathing habitual kindness towards friends, courtesy to strangers, long-suffering to enemies. It exercises authority with moderation; administers reproof with tender

ness ;

1

VI.

ز

SEAMON ness; confer's favours with ease and mor

desty. It is unassuming in opinion, and temperate in zeal.

It contends not eagerly about trifles; is slow to contradict, and still slower to blame; but prompt to allay dissension, and to restore peace. It neither intermeddles unnecessarily with the affairs, nor

nor pries inquisitively into the secrets of others. It delights above all things to alleviate distress, and, if it cannot dry up the falling tear, to soothe at least the grieving heart. Where it has not the power of being useful, it is never burdensome. It seeks to please, rather than to shine and dazzle; and conceals with care that superiority, either of talents or of rank, which is oppressive to those who are beneath it. In a word, it is that spirit and that tenour of manners, which the gospel of Christ enjoins, when it commands us to bear one another's burdens; to rejoice with those who rejoice, and to weep with those who weep; to please every one bis neigbbour for his good; to be kind and tender-bearted; to be pitiful and courteous ; to support the weak, and to be patient towards

all men,

VI.

Having now sufficiently explained the SERMON nature of this amiable virtue, I proceed to recommend it to your practice. Let me, for this end, desire you to consider the duty which you owe to God; to consider the relation which you bear one to another; to consider your own interest.

I. CONSIDER the duty which you owe to God.

When you survey his works, nothing is so conspicuous as his greatness. and majesty. When you consult his word, nothing is more remarkable, than his atten. tion to soften that greatness, and to place it in the mildest and least oppressive light. He not only characterises himself as the God of consolation, but, with condescending gentleness, he particularly accommodates himself to the situation of the unfortunate. He dwelleth with the bumble and contrite: He bideth not bis face when the afflicted cry. He healeth, the broken in heart, and bindeth up their wounds. When his Son came to be the Saviour of the world, he was eminent for the same attribute of mild and gentle goodness. Long before his birth, it was prophesied of him that he should not

strive,

VI.

SERMON strive, nor cry, nor cause bis voice to be

beard in the streets; that the bruised reed be should not break, nor quench the smoking flax*: And after his death, this distinguishing feature in his character was so universally remembered, that the Apostle Paul, on occasion of a request which he makes to the Corinthians, uses those remarkable expressions t, I beseech you by the meekness and gentleness of Christ. · During all his intercourse with men, no harshness, or pride, or stately distance appeared in his demeanour. In his access, he was easy; in his manners, simple; in his answers, mild; in his whole behaviour, humble and obliging. Learn of me, said he, for I am meek and lowly in beart. As the Son of God is the pattern, so the Holy Ghost is the inspirer of gentleness. His name is the Comforter, the Spirit of Grace and Peace. His fruits or operations on the human mind are love, meekness, gentleness, and longsuffering I.-Thus by every discovery of the Godhead, honour is conferred upon gentleness. It is held up to our view, as pecu

2 Cor. x. I.

* Matth. xii. 19, 20. † Gal. v. 22

VL.

liarly connected with Celestial Nature. And SERMON suitable to such discoveries, is the whole strain of the gospel. It were unnecessary to appeal to any single precept. You need only open the New Testament, to find this virtue perpetually inculcated. Charity, or love, is the capital figure ever presented to our view; and gentleness, forbearance, and forgiveness, are the sounds ever recurring on our ear.

So predominant, indeed, is this spirit throughout the Christian dispensation, that even the vices and corruptions of men have not been able altogether to defeat its tendency. Though that dispensation is far from having hitherto produced its full effect upon the world, yet we can clearly trace its influence in humanizing the manners of men. Remarkable, in this respect, is the victory which it has gained over those powers of violence and cruelty which belong to the infernal kingdom. Wherever Christianity prevails, it has discouraged, and, in some degree, abolished slavery. It has rescued human nature from that ignominious yoke, under which, in former ages, the one half of

mankind

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