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them to be. Let us then, whilst we leave to our brethren of every confession the most entire liberty of conscience, honour and value our own sacred services and our own wise and scriptural system of church polity. Let us be careful to worship the Lord according to them, in the beauty of holiness. Let us aim at obtaining a meek, solid, decent, cheerful, and permanent religion. Let us be grateful to God for our scriptural and truly devotional Liturgy ; and in using its prayers, confessions, and thanksgivings, let us ever add the POWER of piety to these instructive FoRMS. Let us thus endeavour to obey the command of our Saviour, when speaking of the smaller observances of the law, compared with the weightier matters of it, These ought ye to have done, and not to leave the others undone.
CHRISTIAN MEEKNESS AND FORGIVENESS,
COLOSSIANS, 11. 12, 13. "Put on therefore, as the elect of God, holy and
beloved, bowels of mercies, kindness, humbleness of mind, meekness, long-suffering, forbearing one another, and forgiving one anoother; if any man have a quarrel against any,
even as Christ forgave you, so also do ye. It is the peculiarity of the Christian faith that it not only forbids the commission of sin, but enjoins the actual practice of holiness, Other systems may have attempted to frighten men from vice, this alone teaches them to love obedience. Nor is it merely the public and inore heroic virtues which it enforces, but the retired and lowly ones also, which were little regarded by the heathen moralists, inuch as the happiness of mankind depends upon them. ACF cordingly the Apostle Paul, after he had exhorted the Colossian converts in the verses preceding the text, to mortify those corrupt passions which were, so to speak, the members of the old man; proceeds in the words now read to direct them to cultivate the opposite graces. And in doing this, he proposes, after his usual manner, those peculiarly Christian motives by which alone men can be effectually enabled to perform them. Hence in considering this subject, we must notice,
· I. The Christian graces or virtues here enjoined by the Apostle.
II. The Christian motives by which he enforces them.
We begin by reviewing,
I. THE CHRISTIAN VIRTUES HERE ENJOINED BY THE APOSTLE.
These are in the whole seven-bowels of mercies, kindness, humbleness of mind, meekness, long-suffering, forbearing of one another, and forgiving of one another. They may perhaps, however, be reduced to three heads. Bowels of mercies and kindness may be classed under the more general term coMPASSION. Humbleness of mind, meekness, and long-suffering, appear to be all parts or effects of LOWLINESS OF SPIRIT ; whilst the' forbearing of one another, and the forgiving of one another, may be considered under the topic of FORGIVENESS OF INJURIES. The first class regards our duty to others who are in misery; the second is designed to lead us on to the proximate duties arising from the or
dinary obligations and infirmities of life; the third carries us forward to a right conduct in respect to persons who are unjust and contumelious. These several graces are said to be PUT ON, because, as garments cover and adorn the body, so do holy tempers adorn the soul. Thus in other passages of Scripture we are exhorted to be clothed with humility, and to put on the Lord Jesus Christ; and in the verses which precede the text Christians are described as putting off the old man with his deeds, and putting on the new man, which is renewed in knowledge after the image of Him that created him. · The Apostle begins with enjoining a TENDER COMPASSION for the miseries and wants of others. We are to put on BÓWELS OF MERCIES, to cultivate that deep and real sympathy for the calamities of our fellow-creatures which kindles the whole soul and opens and touches the very heart. The expression is common in the Holy Scriptures, and especially in the Old Testament. It denotes, not only the act of relief, but the most tender affection in affording it. The Apostle places this first, because it is from hence that all benevolent actions should flow. The sympathetic commiseration of Christian love. is often of itself a greater support to the afflicted than any mere external gift. The objects of this virtue are those who have no helper, as the widow and the orphan; and in general the poor, the sick, and those who are overwhelmed with any sudden calamity. As often as such are placed in our way, like the wounded traveller in our Lord's parable, we are to have compussion on them, and go and bind up their wounds, pouring in oil and wine. Apathy and hardness of heart are least of all suitable to a Christian, who owes every thing himself to the compassion and mercy of God, and who is taught to be affected with the evils of those who partake of the same nature with him, since he may himself have need in turn of the like sympathy. We sin, not in having affections, but in using them amiss. He that hath this world's good, and seeth his brother have need and shutteth up his bowels of compassion from him, how dwelleth the love of God in him? It is no sufficient discharge of this duty to give alms even with profusion: we must visit the widow and fatherless in their affliction ; we must see for ourselves, as : opportunity allows, the case of woe; we must weep with them that weep, we must have compassion one of another, and be merciful, even as our Father which is in heaven is merciful. .