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more instant and vigorous pleader in our breasts to excite us to acts of charity. As far, indeed, as it is ingrafted in us, it is mere instinct; but when we cultivate and cherish it, till we love mercy, when we dwell upon every tender sentiment that opens our mind and enlarges our heart, then it becomes a virtue. Whosoever thou art whose heart is hardened, and waxed gross, put thyself in the room of some poor unfriended wretch, beset perhaps with a large family, broken with misfortunes, and pining with poverty, whilst silent grief preys upon his vitals; in such a case what wouldst thou think it reasonable thy rich neighbours should do? That, like the Priest and the Levite, they should look with an eye of indifference, and pass by on the other side; or, like the good Samaritan, pour balm into thy wounded mind? Be thyself the judge! and whatever thou thinkest reasonable thy neighbours should do to thee, go thou and do likewise unto them.

Consider next the pleasure derived from benevolence. Mean and illiberal is the man whose soul the good of himself can entirely engross. True benevolence, extensive as the light at' the sun, takes in all mankind. It is not indeed in your power to support all the indigent, incurable, and aged; it is not in your power to train up in the paths of virtue many friendless and fatherless children: but if, as far as the compass of your power reaches, nothing is deprived of the influence of your bounty, and where your power falls short, you are cordially affected to see good works done by others; those charities, which you could not do, will be placed to your account. To grasp thus the whole system of reasonable beings, with an overflowing love, is to possess the greatest of all earthly enjoyments, is to make approaches to the happiness of higher natures, and anticipate the joy of the world to come. For it is impossible, that the man who, actuated by a principle of obedience to his Creator, has cherished each generous and liberal movement of the soul, with a head ever studious to contrive, a heart ever willing to promote, and hands ever ready to distribute to the wood of bis fellow-creatures, should notwithstanding be doomed to be an associate for ever with accursed spirits, in a place where benevolence never shed its kindly beams but malice and anguish, and blackness of darkness, reicn for ever and ever. No, the riches which we have »iven awav will abide with us forever. The same habit of love will accompany us to another world. The bud which hath opened here will blow into full expansion above, and beautify the paradise in the heavens.



Matthew V. 19.

Whosoever therefore shall break one of these least commandments, and shall teach men so, lie shall be called the least in the kingdom of heaven.

npHE Roman Catholics divide sins into two classes, the .*• venial and the mortal. In the first class, they include those slight offences which, as they say, are too inconsiderable to offend the Deity; and, in the second, those great and aggravated transgressions which expose men to the divine vengeance in the world to come. Although this distinction, which overthrows the law of morality, is abjured by all Protestants, yet something like it is still retained by great numbers of men. What the Papists call venial sins, they call sins of infirmity, human failings, imperfections inseparable from men. And their own favourite vices, whatever they be, they call by these names. Cruel is the condition of the human kind, say they, and rigorous the spirit of the Christian law, if we are to lie under such terrible restrictions; if breaking one of the least commandments shall exclude us from the Jdngdcm of God. Will the Great Creator be offended by a few trivial transgressions; with little liberties, which terve only for amusement? If others take a general toleration, shul) we not have an indulgence at particular times? if «earc prohibited from turning back in the paths of virtue, may we not make a random excursion? If we arc not allowed to taste the fruits, may we not at least crop the blouoms of the forbidden tree? While the waters of pleasure Bow so near, and look so tempting, shall we not be pumiuui to taite and live? Will the Great Judge of the world condemn as to eternal punishment, for the indulgence of a wandering inclination, for the gratification of a sudden appetite, for a look, a word, or a thought?

As this is the apology of vice, which, at one time or another, all of you make to yourselves, I shall now shew you the dangerous nature and fatal tendency of those offences you call little sins. And in entering upon the subject, Christians, I must observe to you, that tlie attempt to join together the joys of religion, and the pleasures of sin, is altogether impracticable. The Divine law regulates the enjoyments as well as the business of life. You are never to forget one moment that you are Christians. The joys, which you are allowed to partake of, are in the train of virtue. While you arc pilgrims in the wilderness, if you return to Egypt again, you forfeit your titlo to the promised land. You have left the dominions <>r sin, you have come into another kingdom; and if now you revolt to the foe, you are guilty of treason, and may expect to meet with the punishment which treason deserves. How shall we distinguish then, you say, between the sins of infirmity, into which the best may fall, and the violation of those least commandments which exclude from the kingdom of God? I answer, the text makes the distinction. Sins of infirmity proceed from frailty and surprise. The temptation comes upon men unexpected; the foe meets them unprepared; and, in such cases, the most circumspect may be off their guard, and the best natures may fall. But those sins, which exclude from the kingdom of God, are from deliberation and full consent of the mind. The persons who commit them, as the text says, "teach men so:" they justify themselves in what they do, and sin upon a plan. Their evil intentions are not occasional and transient, but permanent and governing; they sleep and wake upon their bad designs, and carry them along in their going out and coming in; and thus, forming evil habits, make their lives a system of iniquity. Whoever does so, though it be only in the violation of what he reckons the least commandment, shall be called least in -the kingdom of heaven; that is, shall be excluded altogether from it.

It is proposed, at this time, to set before you the evil nature and dangerous tendency of the least transgressions. And,

1. It may be observed, that it is a series of little actions

that marks the characters of men. Human life is not composed of great event*, but of minute occurrences: and . it is not from a man's extraordinary exertions, but from his ordinary conduct, that we form our judgment of his character. When a great event is transacting, a man is on his guard, he is prepared to act his p»rt well, and often, on such occasions, in the hour of exhibition, he appears to the world a different person from what he really is But in the series of little actions, in the detail of ordinary life, the turn of mind discovers itself, the temper unfold-, the character nppears. It is then, when a man is himself. the ma«k falls off, and the true countenance is displayed.— Human life, then, being a circleof petty transactions, and the temper of men being known from their conduct in little affairs, our character for virtue will depend on our performance of what the world calls the least of the commandments. This is not peculiar to virtue. What is it that constitutes the happiness of domestic life? Not the singular and uncommon situations, but the familiar and the ordinary: not the striking events that fly abroad in the mouths of the people, but the daily round of little things which are never mentioned. A miser may have a feast, and be a miser still; he only is a happy man who has his enjoyments every day. With very great talents, and without any remarkable vice, a man may become a most disagreeable member of society, by his neglect of the attentions and civilities and decorum of life. In like manner, without being guilty of any enormous sin, by the habitual * neglect of inferior duties, and by the practice of little offences, a man may sin unto death.

A good life is one of those pictures whose perfection arises trom the nice and the minute strokes. It is not one blazing star, but the host of lesser lights, which forms the beauty of the heavens. In like manner, how does the Gieat Judge at the last day decide the fate, and determine the character.-, of men? You reckon sins of omission but little sins, yet, on account of these, the sentence of everlasting condemnation is passed. Because ye gave no bread to the hungry, no water to the thirsty, and no raiment to the naked, relieved not the oppressed, and visited not the prisoner, therefore, "depart into everlasting fire,

{>ri|>nred tot the devil and his angels." In like manner, K determines the character of the righteous, not from the striking and splendid virtues which they exhibited to the world, but from the performance of the Inferior duties of daily life: "Come ye blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world." Why? Is it for the splendid works of pietj-, for building temples to the Deity, or dying as martyrs, to the Chrisrian faith? No. Men may build temples, . without love to the Deity; they may die as martyrs, without real religion; but because ye have given food to the hungry, drink to the thirsty, and raiment to the naked; actions of life in which ye must have been sincere, because ye never expected that such actions would be heard of, and the practice of them grew so much into habit, that ye scarcely thought it a virtue to perform them. II. These little sins attack the authority of the Divine Legislator as much, or perhaps more than great sins.— Evil thoughts are as expressly prohibited in the Divine law as evil deeds. The same God who says, thou shalt not kill, says thou shalt not hate thy brother in thy heart. "What sentiment must you entertain of the Majesty in the Heavens, when his command cannot restrain you from the coramision of the least sin? Hath not God forbidden tho impure desire, and the malicious intention, as well as adultery and murder? And is it not as much his will that he should be obeyed in those commandments as in these? Have you a dispensation granted you to take the name of God in vain in common conversation, any more than you have to swear falsely before a civil magistrate? Have you more liberty allowed you to wound your neighbour's character than you have to shed his blood? No: the prohibition extends to the one as well as to the other. The same authority, that forbids the action, forbids the desire. The same law which says, thou shalt not steal, says also, thou shalt not covet. But you say, that the indulgences you plead for are with regard to things in their own nature indifferent. Alas! if you had proper ideas of a God possessed- of infinite perfection, nothing that he commands or forbids would appear indifferent. To you it may appear a matter of little moment or concern, what the strain of your thoughts is, or how the tenor of your conversation runs; but when you iearn that your thoughts are known in heaven, and that by your words you shall be justified or condemned, these assume a more serious form, and become of infinite importance. But if the things, for which you beg an indulgence, are in their

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