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lo the next place ; bis peculiar doctrines are not like any thing of human contrivance. “Never man spake like this man." One of the first names given to that dispensation of things which he came to introduce, was the kingdom, or the reign, of heaven. It was justly so called ; being thus distinguished, not only from the religion of Moses, the sanctions whereof related to the present life, but also from every human scheme of moral, political, or ecclesiastical legislation.
The views of the heathen moralist extended not beyond this world ; those of the Christian are fixed on that wbich is to come. The former was concerned for his own country only or chiefly; the latter takes concern in the happiness of all men of all nations, conditions, and capacities. A few, and but a few, of the ancient philosophers, spoke of a future state of retribution as a thing desirable, and not improbable : revelation speaks of it as certain ; and of the present life as, a, state of trial, wherein virtue or holiness is necessary, not only to entitle us to that salvation which, through the mercy of God, and the merits of his Son, Christians are taught to look for, but also to prepare us, by habits of piety and benevolence, for a reward, which none but the pure in heart can receive, or could relish.
The duties of piety, as far as the heart is concerned, were not much attended to by the heathen lawgivers. Cicero coldly ranks 'them with the social virtues, and says very little about them. The sacrifices were mere ceremony. And what the Stoics taught of resignation to the will of heaven, or to the decrees of fate, was so repugnant to some of their other tenets, that little good could be expected from it. But of every Christian virtue, piety is an essential part. The love and the fear of God must every moment prevail in the heart of a follower of Jesus ; and whether he eat or drink, or whatever he do, it must all be to the glory of the Creator. How different this from the philosophy of Greece and Rome!
In a word, the heathen morality, even in its best form, that is, as two or three of their best philosophers taught it, amounts to little more than this : “Be useful to yourselves, your friends, and your country ; so shall you be respectable while you live, and honoured when you die ; and it is to be hoped you may receive a reward in another life.” The language of the Christian lawgiver is different. « The world is not worthy of the ambition of an immortal being, Its honours and pleasures have a tendency to debase the mind, and disqualify it for future happiness. Set therefore your affections on things above, and not on things on the earth. Let it be your supreine desire to obtain the favour of God; and, by a course of discipline, prepare yourselves for a re-admission into that rank which was forfeited by the fall, and for being again but a little lower than the angels, and crowned with glory and honour everlasting.”
What an elevation must it give to our pious affections, to contemplate the Supreme Being and his Providence, as revealed to us in Scripture! We are there taught, that man was created in the image of God, innocent and happy : and that he had no sooner fallen into sin, than his Creator, instead of abandoning him, and his offspring, to the natural consequences of his disobedience, and of their hereditary depravity, was pleased to begin a wonderful dispensation of grace, in order to rescue from perdition, and raise again to happiness, as many as should acquiesce in the terms of the offered salvation, and regulate their lives accordingly.
By the sacred books, that contain the history of this dispensation, we are further taught, that God is a spirit, unchangeable, and eternal, universally present, and absolutely perfect ; that it is our duty to fear him, aš a being of consummate purity and inflexible justice, and to love him as the Father of Mercies, and the God of all consolation ; to trust in him as the friend, the comforter, and the almighty guardian of all who believe and obey him ; to rejoice in him as the best of Beings, and adore him as the greatest. We are taught, that he will make allowance for the frailties of our nature, and pardon the sins of those who repentand, that we may see, in the strongest light, his peculiar benignity to the human race, we are taught, that he gave his only Son as our ransom and deliverer ; and we are not only permitted, but commanded, to pray to him, and address him as our Father :
We are taught, moreover, that the evils incident to the state of trial are permitted by him, in order to exercise our virtue, and prepare us for a future state of never-ending fe. licity ; and that these momentary afflictions are pledges of his paternal love, and shall, if we receive them as such, and ve. nerate Him accordingly, work out for us “an exceeding great and eternal weight of glory.” “ If these hopes and these sentiments contribute more to our happiness and to the purification of our nature, than any thing else in the world can do, surely that religion, to which alone we owe these
sentiments and hopes, must be the greatest blessing that ever was conferred on the posterity of Adam.
Christianity proposes to our imitation the highest examples of benevolence, purity and piety. It shows, that all our actions, purposes, and thoughts, are to us of infinite importance ; their consequence being nothing less than happiness, or misery, in the life to come: and thus it operates most powerfully on our self-love. By teaching, that all man-, kind are brethren ; by commanding us to love our neighbour as ourselves; and by declaring every man our neighbour, to whom we have it in our power to do good, it improves benevolence to the highest pitch. By prohibiting revenge, malice, pride, vanity, envy, sensuality, and covetouspess; and by requiring us to forgive, to pray for, and to bless our enemies, and to do to others as we would that they should do to us, it lays a restraint on every malevolent and turbulent passion; and reduces the whole of social virtue to two or three precepts ; so brief, that they cannot be forgotten ; so plain, that they cannot be misunderstood; so reasonable, that no man of sense controverts them; and so well suited to human nature and human affairs, that every candid mind may easily, and on all occasions, apply them to prac. tice.
Christianity recommends the strictest self-attention, by this awful consideration, that God is continually present with us, knows what we think, as well as what we do, and will judge the world in righteousness, and render unto every man according to his works. It makes us consider conscience, as his voice and law within us ; purity of heart, as that which alone can qualify us for the enjoyment of future reward ; and mutual love, or charity, as that without which all other virtues and accomplishments are of no value : and, by a view of things peculiarly striking, it causes vice to appear a most pernicious and abominable thing, which cannot escape punishment. In a word, “Christianity,” as Bishop Taylor well observes, " is a doctrine in which nothing is superfluous or burdensome ; and in which there is nothing wanting, which can procure happiness to mankind, or by which God can be glorified."
The vision of Carazan: or, social love and beneficence recom
CARAZAN, the merchant of Bagdat, was eminent throughout all the east for his avarice and his wealth ; his origin is obscure, as that of the spark which by the collision of steel and adamant is struck out of darkness ; and the patient labour of persevering diligence alone had made him rich. It was remembered, that when he was indigent he was thought to be generous ; and he was still acknowledged to be inflexibly just. But whether in his dealings with men, he discovered à perfidy which tempted him to put his trust in gold, or whether in proportion as he accumulated wealth, he discovered his own importance to increase, Carazan prized it more as be used it less : he gradually lost the inclination to do good, as he acquired the power; and as the hand of time scattered snow upon his head, the freezing influence extended to his bosom.
But though the door of Carazan was never opened by hospitality, nor his hand by compassion, yet fear led him constantly to the mosque at the stated hours of prayer : he performed all the rites of devotion with the most scrupulous punctuality, and had thrice paid his vows at the temple of the prophet. That devoiion which arises from the love of God, and necessarily includes the love of man, as it connects gratitude with beneficence, and exalts that which was moral to divine, confers new dignity upon goodness, and is the object not only of affection but reverence. On the contrary, the devotion of the selfish, whether it be thought to avert the punishment which every one wishes to bë inflicted, or to insure it by the complication of hypocrisy with guilt, never fails to excite indignation and abhorrence. Carazan, therefore, when he had locked his door, and turning round with a look of circumspective suspicion, proceeded to the mosque, was followed by every eye with silent malignity ; the poor suspended their supplication, when he passed by ; though he was known by every man, yet no man saluted
Such had long been the life of Carazan, and such was the character which he had acquired, when notice was given by proclamation, that he was removed to a magnificent building
in the centre of the city, that his table should be spread for the public, and that the stranger should be welcome to his bed. The multitude soon rushed like a torrent to his door, where they beheld him distributing bread to the hungry, and apparel to the naked, his eye softened with compassion, and his cheek glowing with delight. Every one gazed with astonishment at the prodigy ; and the murmur of innumerable voices increasing like the sound of approaching thunder, Carazan beckoned with his hand : attention suspended the tumult in a moment; and he thus gratified the curiosity which procured bim audience.
• To him who touches the mountains and they smoke, the Almighty and the most merciful, be everlasting honour! be has ordained sleep to be the minister of instruction, and his visions have reproved me in the night. As I was sitting alone in my haram, with my lamp burning before me, computing the product of my merchandise, and exulting in the increase of my wealth, I fell into a deep sleep, and the band of Him who dwells in the third heaven was upon me. I be.' held the angel of death coming forward like a whirlwind, and he smote me before I could deprecate the blow. At the same moment I felt myself lifted from the ground, and transported with astonishing rapidity through the regions of the air. The earth was contracted to an atom beneath : and the stars glowed round me with a lustre that obscured the sun. The gate of paradise was now in sight; and I was intercepted by a sudden brightness which no human eye could behold. The irrevocable sentence was now to be pronounced ; my day of probation was past; and from the evil of my life nothing could be taken away, nor could any thing be added to the good When I reflected that my lot for eternity was cast, which not all the powers of nature could reverse, my confidence totally forsook me; and while i stood trembling and silent, covered with confusion and chilled with horror, I was thus addressed by the radiance that flamed before me.
5 Carazan, thy worship has not been accepted, because it was not prompted by love of God; neither can thy righter ousness be rewarded, because it was not produced by love of man : for thy own sake only, hast thou rendered to every man his due; and thou hast approached the Almighty only for thyself. Thou hast not looked up with gratitude, nor around thee with kindness. Around thee, thou hast indeed beheld vice and folly; but if vice and folly could justify tby"