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in two mites, has exerted an influence, for eighteen hundred years throughout the Christian world; and will continue to do so, till the consummation of all things. Let no individual, then, presume to say, that his example is unimportant: for God, who seeth not as man seeth, can cause the humblest offering to give new impulse to the charities of a neighbourhood, or nation. It is important, likewise, to maintain uniformity in the practice of giving, whenever there is a reasonable expectation.. For, one individual, by withholding, may dampen the ardour of many. And the most generous benefactor may suffer materially in his character, and thus injure the general cause, if on some occasions he exhibit a total want of kindly feeling, and incur, whether justly or not, the charge of meanness.
In addition to pecuniary gifts, every person, however limited his influence may seem to be, should inquire seriously, in what manner his peculiar circumstances, or talents, may enable him to advance the Gospel. Some inay combine the industry of a neighbourhood, or of an extensive circle of acquaintance, in works of Charity. Some have the tongue of persuasion, or the pen of a ready writer, and may enkindle others
"With thoughts that breathe and words that burn."
Some, by a word fitly spoken, may, with the blessing of God, put it into the heart of a single family, here and there, to support a Missionary, or to educate a Christian Minister. Some, by the extensive circulation of a Tract, or other Religious Publication, may accomplish a thousand fold more, than by pecuniary gifts. In almost every village, there is perhaps some one individual, who, by a little self-denying effort, might bring all its families under the influence of Periodical intelligence; and thus, indirectly, aid all our benevolent institutions. Every individual, male or female, by occupying the talent which God has given, may secure that blest eulogium, She hath done what she could. At present, the impression is very general that some five or ten years hence, we shall look back with surprise on the little that is now doing. A plain confession that, with all our self-complacency, we are very far from doing what we could; and are therefore verily guilty. At the same time, according to the usual ratio of deaths, in less than ten years, about THREE HUNDRED MILLIONS of our race must pass into eternity-most of them now ignorant of the only Name given under heaven, whereby men can be saved. Who, then, that knows these facts, can refrain from new and memorable efforts for spreading the knowledge of Jesus Christ? Finally; what thou doest, do quickly: for time is on the wing. This year thou shalt die. This night thy soul may be required of thee. Thousands are dying every hour: And soon will the Judge descend with power and great glory, to reward every man according to his works. This will be the rule of evidence on that great day. And no other is needful, for now settling the question, whether you be in Christ, a new creature. Here is room for demonstration, what God you are serving-for what world you are preparing what is your great object of pursuit-what your rule of action —what your heart. And here may be at once decided, what shall be your transport or terror, when the heavens and the earth are shaken by the voice of the arch-angel and by the trump of God.
1 CORINTHIANS, i. 29.—That no flesh should glory in his presence.
THE gospel found the citizens of Corinth immersed in vice, and devoted, with an almost idolatrous attachment, to the false philosophy, and artificial eloquence of the Greeks. They had their masters in each of these departments, who attracted crowds of pupils, and who, as rivals, were sustained, and cheered in their competitions for intellectual fame, by the praises of their respective followers. After their professed reception of Christianity, the Corinthians still clung, with fond tenacity, to the wisdom of words; valued to excess miraculous gifts; boasted of their attainments in knowledge; and sought in the preachers of the gospel the same attributes, which they had been accustomed to admire in their heathen teachers. Hence parties arose, and divided the church with unhallowed contentions. Each had his favourite leader, who was applauded, chiefly for his supposed proficiency in the rules of reasoning, or his skill in the artifices of a studied rhetoric; while, in the eyes of his partial friends, it was a crime even to call in question his superiority to all competitors. From the heat and acrimony of their disputes, it seemed as if the Corinthians ascribed the success of the gospel to the decorations with which it was recommended to the world; and it was too plain, that, with all their professions, they had little experimental acquaintance with its transforming power. To correct their errors, and to humble their pride, is evidently a prime object of the apostle, in the context. He reproves their divisions, their party zeal, and their extravagant antipathies and predilections, as hearers of the word; he gives to the gospel the praise of achieving, through a divine influence, the salvation of men n; and he pours contempt on those distinctions, by which the hearts of the Corinthians had been inflated." We preach Christ crucified, unto the Jews a stumbling-block, and unto the Greeks foolishness; but unto them which are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God, and the wisdom of God. Because the foolishness of God is wiser than men, and the weakness of God is stronger than men. For ye see your calling, brethren, how that not many wise men after the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble, are called," or have called you to the knowledge of Christ, and his salvation; "but God hath chosen the foolish things of the world to confound the wise; and God hath chosen the weak things of the world® to confound the things which are mighty; and base things of the world, and things which are despised hath God chosen, yea, and things which are not, to bring to nought things that are; THAT NO FLESH SHOULD GLORY IN HIS PRESENCE."
The text, in its connexion, suggests this sentiment: IT IS THE PURPOSE OF GOD, IN THE DISPENSATIONS OF HIS GRACE, TO STAIN THE PRIDE OF ALL
1. In illustration of this sentiment we remark, first, that the general plan of grace, disclosed in the gospel, originated wholly with God.
Men, proud of their sagacity, and impatient of submission, would prescribe to their Maker himself, the principles by which he should act,— regulate, by their limited views of public justice, his conduct towards all intelligent beings, and arraign him, for acquittal or condemnation, at the tribunal of their own infallibility. Not a few of the theological controversies, with which the church has been agitated, relate rather to what is becoming in God, than to what he has actually done, or revealed it as his purpose to do. All would see the conceited folly of a child, who should dispute vehemently against political measures he could not comprehend, or who, incapable of pursuing the steps of a mathematical demonstration, should pronounce as impossible and absurd, all the grand results of the Newtonian philosophy;-yet it is not so readily conceded that a creature of yesterday, confined to a little spot, and deriving his all from an intelligence and benevolence above him, is of too narrow an understanding to explore the heights, and fathom the depths, and grasp the infinitude of God Almighty. This diminutive creature, to whom his own existence is a mystery, to whom every insect, every blade of grass, every ray of light, is pregnant with wonders, would prescribe what is to be done in all worlds; ordain a new Providence upon earth; kindle a brighter radiance in the heavens; and dissolve by a touch the chains, and bolts, and prison-walls, prepared by eternal justice, for rebels and outlaws. But self-sufficient as man is, he has not been consulted upon any of the great purposes of infinite wisdom. No inquiry was made of him, concerning his own existence and allotments, or the rank and condition that should be assigned to other beings. He was not asked, whether sin should be permitted to mar this beautiful creation; nor was he allowed to suggest a single hint on the possibility, or the means of human salvation. On all such subjects God determines as he pleases. At the very outset then, pride feels itself neglected and scorned. Where is the wise? where is the scribe? where is the disputer of this world? Hath not God made foolish the wisdom of this world?"
2. The plan of salvation itself is eminently fitted to abase human pride,
Man would have a scheme of mercy, flattering to the notions, he loves to entertain, of his own dignity and excellence, exalting him to happiness, and grandeur, and immortality, as his birth-right; and giving him, what the lofty-minded stoic had feigned-a kind of equality with God, in independence and virtue. He would enjoy his elevation, here and hereafter, with such conscious self-complacency and proud contempt as are felt by the bloated sons of wealth, passing by the hovels of the poor, or the homely forms that ply life's vulgar occupations. He would carve for himself his high destiny. He would mark with his own finger the way that conducts to glory. If God must interpose, let it be such an interposition, as shall proclaim the worthiness and importance of the objects of his kindness, no less than the omnipotence, and majesty, and righteousness, and mercy, of their Deliverer. Let there be wonders on earth, and signs in heaven. Let the heavens cleave asunder, and a visible arm of strength be let down
from the regions of eternal day. "Are not Abana and Pharpar, rivers of Damascus, better than all the waters of Israel? May I not wash in them, and be clean ?"
The plan, which the Most High has revealed, annihilates all such aspiring imaginations. It assumes as a first principle, that man, allied in intellect to angelic minds, is yet despoiled by all his moral loveliness, a spiritual bankrupt, a rebel, bound over to everlasting perdition. To him, his Father's house has no attractions; his Father's presence creates in his bosom only gloom, and terror, and despair. Christianity tells him plainly, that he cannot be justified, that he cannot advance one step towards justification, by all his resolutions, his tears, his sacrifices, his sufferings. If he repent, it is because his obstinacy is subdued, and his heart melted, by the sovereign energy of the Holy Spirit. If he is pardoned, it is through the blood and righteousness of an incarnate God. "He was made sin for us, who knew no sin, that we might be made the righteousness of God in him. Christ is the end of the law for righteousness, to every one that believeth." Yes; another receives all the glory; while the sinner, casting himself at the footstool of eternal mercy, counts all things but loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus his Lord. Where are his duties and his virtues now? Salvation by the cross! How it puts to shame and to silence all his boastings, and lays his honours in the dust.
3. The circumstances under which the great Author of salvation appeared and lived in the world, were adapted to stain the pride of all human glory.
Prophecy had described the promised Deliverer as a King, higher than the potentates of the earth, extending his dominion over all the nations and tribes of men; and the Jew, warmed by these descriptions, had invested his Messiah in all the pomp of wealth, the splendours of royalty, and the terrors of military conquest. To him, who should proclaim himself as their supreme Sovereign, and claim their undivided homage, the Gentiles also would naturally ascribe an external magnificence, such as they had been accustomed to admire, in their own monarchs, heroes, and statesmen; they would in imagination gather around him all the fascinations of genius, science, rank, affluence, and power;-and we may easily conceive the disappointment they would feel, should they behold him treading in the lowliest walks of life, choosing as his associates the humble and unlearned, familiar with all the forms of blameless poverty, and neither coveting, nor commending any of those honours, with which the world loves to encircle the brow, and eternize the names of her favourites. Such was the disappointment of both Jews and Gentiles, at the manifestation of the Son of God. It was a manifestation, that seemed purposely to mortify and shame all the notions of superiority and greatness, they had ever before cherished. "The Son of man came not to be ministered unto, but to minister, and to give his life a ransom for many.” As no sound of trumpets, no human acclamations signalized the nativity of him, whose birthplace was a stable in Bethlehem, and whose parentage corresponded to the lowliness of his infancy; so no subsequent events of his life, in the view of the worldly ambitious, served to redeem him from the disgrace of his original obscurity. Fame, as the reward of secular exploits, he never sought he treated it as worthless. Profound as was his wisdom, he never displayed it for his own aggrandizement; and vast as was his power,
he never exerted it, but in deeds of beneficence. He seemed like humility, meekness, gentleness, and purity, personified; going forth, under a load of sorrow, to teach, by his own example, the littleness of all sublunary grandeur; to bless the miserable, though his enemies; and to kindle in the bosoms of men, such affections and hopes, as should displace, or consume all the elements of earthliness, sensuality, and vain-glory. Remote from the halls of princes, and the schools of learning, he was disciplined to the toils of his future ministry, by acts of filial duty, and by the labours of an occupation as severe in its requisitions, as it was unhonoured and unsung, After his entrance upon the more public services of his embassy, when his divinity was attested by miracles on earth, and voices from heaven, he confinued to evince the same indifference he had manifested in the lowly character of the carpenter, to all the proud distinctions of human greatness. While he preached righteousness, healed diseases, and put in requisition all the powers of nature, to sustain his authority, as the Legis fator and Redeemer of mankind; he still exhibited an unostentatious simplicity, and submitted to the most humiliating offices of philanthropy. Wealth and equipage, he had none. "The foxes have holes, and the birds of the air have nests; but the Son of man hath not where to lay his head." So tre lived; and, in full coincidence with the undeviating testimony of his Fife, his death seemed like a designed inversion of all the notions engendered by pride. In his whole history, from the manger to the cross, there was nothing which did not present an example of a taste, a spirit, a character, as hostile to the ordinary principles that govern human beings, as contentment is opposed to avarice,-unobtrusive modesty to the pageantry of power, and patient endurance of every evil, to the fierceness and restlessness of ambition.
4. In his selection of individuals to the blessings of his kingdom, God exercises a sovereignty, which pours contempt on all the pride of man.
He looks upon the whole family of Adam as rebels, who have forfeited his Kindness; and from the corrupt mass he separates to himself such portions, as he had predestinated to so exalted a privilege. For he saith to Moses, "I will have mercy on whom I will have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I will have compassion. So then, it is not of him that willeth, nor of him that runneth, but of God that showeth mercy." In his choice of men "to the adoption of sons," the peculiar reasons for his preference are always concealed; and his conduct is often marked by a conspicuous disregard of all that confers elevation and influence among the sons of pride.
Is genius an envied distinction? Coveted as its honours are, they procure no favour with him who hides the things of his gospel from the wise and prudent, and reveals them unto babes. To men of no intellectual pretensions, the Word of God often comes with resistless power, conquering all their obduracy, and impressing on their hearts his own lovely image; while minds, fitted for the loftiest and widest views, and formed to draw in their train hosts of inferior intelligences,-swelling with the consciousness of independence and might, turn away with sullen scorn from a religion, which publishes good tidings to the meek, and which would prostrate at a Saviour's feet all the high powers of the soul, and all its proud imaginations.
Is learning honourable among men? We would not wrest from the scholar one of his hard-earned laurels: we admire his industry; we are thankful for his discoveries; and, if guided by the love of virtue and of truth, we assign to him no ordinary rank among the benefactors of his species.