« הקודםהמשך »
EXPLANATION OF THE NAMES OF PERSONS, ETC.
neroth ; as well as the Lake of Gennesareth, from the neighbouring district of that name. This inland sea, or rather lake, is about eighteen miles long, and six broad; the river Jordan flows through it with a strong current.
The Testament of Christ is a document which cannot be too generally, too accurately, or too familiarly known. It is the refuge which shelters and the fountain which refreshes. It is emphatically the Book of Life, both present and eternal. It prohibits those irregularities of passion and of appetite by which so many are degraded and destroyed. It enforces by the most awful sanctions, and, at the same time, by the most endearing motives, that conduct which makes communities harmonious, and individuals happy. It supplies the poor with reasons for contentment, the rich with inducements to abound in liberality. It calls
upon men, every where, to repent of past offences, and to bring forth fruits meet for repentance; to resist, and so to overcome, those selfish and those vicious propensities which our mortal nature always prompts us to indulge. To attain to perfect mastery over ourselves, by making voluntary sacrifices to duty, is the freedom and the victory which Christianity secures to its true and willing votaries.
Even as affecting our earthly condition, it is, therefore, worthy of all acceptation. The universal experience of past history teaches, that under no form of government, under no condition of existence, is man to be maintained in a state of personal or social happiness, or even of permanent dignity, except under the influence and the sanctions of religion. It gives him a pure and perfect rule of life a rule to which his duty binds him to pay constant, unintermitted obedi
It aims at the purifying of his moral nature, the renewal within him of the defaced image of God; and its moral precepts for this end are enforced by an everlasting sanction. Nor let it be objected that none, not even the best of men, lives up, or nearly up, to the acknowledged rule of Christian life. It is much, very much, to have continually offered to man's thoughts a high and unvarying standard of morality, which his heart wholly approves, humbling him for the infirmity of his practice, teaching him the necessity of repentance, and promising him the aid which cometh from above, both to forgive, to strengthen, and to sanctify.
But mere belief in the reality and truth of Christianity is nothing worth, unless it influence the will ; and that is rarely, if ever, determined to energetic action by a simple perception of the greatest positive good. Hence, though the found.
ation of religion must be laid in the understanding, in order to become operative it must be built up in the heart. But in the exercise of the affections, as well as in the conduct of the understanding, the Christian rule of life is simple — the Christian light is clear. Love unfeigned — the love of God and of our neighbour — is made an abiding and efficient principle, guiding us to a pure and holy practice, from which we never can depart without being conscious of our error or our negligence. The affections are spiritualised, and rendered the very source and spring of virtue. Gratitude for an immortal and inestimable benefit ever pervades the soul, and thankfulness and joy fill all the Christian's heart. The will of God is his law. Conscience governs all his voluntary actions. To keep that conscience void of offence is his study. And, amid the sundry and manifold trials and changes of this mortal life, his eye
of faith is ever firmly fixed upon the high and happy destiny which finally awaits him, even the enjoyment of God's glorious presence in heaven, for ever and for ever!
And if this be the teaching of the Gospel ; if it impart this glad, and gentle, and affectionate faith ; if it keep the heart fresh, the soul pure, the mind healthy, dignified, and free; if it thus consecrate the life to truth and love; surely it will prove our greatest happiness, as well as our highest duty, both to cultivate it earnestly within ourselves, and to communicate it diligently to others. That which it is good to obtain, it is glorious to bestow. It is the privilege, as well as the binding duty, of every true believer, to con.tribute, in his degree, to hasten the coming of his Redeemer's kingdom. While, therefore, we relieve the earthly wants of our brethren, and gladly distribute the bread that perisheth in the using, let us also introduce, and recomme
mend, the immortal and immortalising bread of heaven. That charity which ministers nothing to the soul of man is infinitely defective. It is a needful thing, indeed, to scatter kindnesses and comforts, if we can, along the path of mortal life, but yet the doing this alone is very little, if we leave all beyond darkened in the gloom of ignorance and uncertainty, or sunk in the gulf of sin and desolation, The law of the Lord teaches a far different les
Freely ye have received,” our Saviour tells us, freely give.”—“ Let everyone of us please his neighbour for his good to edification.”—“Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself.” - “ These words, which I command thee this day, shall be in thy heart, and thou shalt teach them diligently to thy children, and shalt talk of them when thou sittest in thy house, and when thou walkest by the way, and when thou liest down, and when