- Sermon I. the Rising Generation Exhorted to Adopt the Religion of Their Christian Forefathers.
- Sermon II. Hope In God.
- Sermon III. On the Means and the Importance of Grace.
- Sermon IV. Corruption of Heart the Source of Irreligion and Immorality.
- Sermon V. Against Despair and Suicide.
- Sermon VI. On the Folly and Danger of Thoughtlessness.
- Sermon VII. Perseverance In the Religious Principles Taught In Youth, and Particularly In Faith and Hope, Recommended.
- Sermon VIII. Good Intentions the Least Fallible Security For Good Conduct.
- Sermon IX. Religion the Chief Concern of Life.
- Sermon X. On Conformity to Fashion and the Customs of the World
- Sermon XI. On Seeking a Remedy For Sorrow, In Vice and Dissipation.
- Sermon XII. Christian Politeness
- Sermon XIII. On the Duty of Preventing Evil, By Actual Coercion, As Well As By Advice and Remonstrance.
- Sermon XIV. On Pursuing Visionary Schemes of Happiness, Without Attending to Scripture, and Revealed Religion
- Sermon XV. the Pride of Human Learning and False Philosophy, a Great Obstacle to the Reception of Christianity.
- Sermon XVI. On the Duty of Servants.
- Sermon XVII. On the Wickedness and Misery of Envy and Contention.
- Sermon XVIII. the Cunning Oe the Wicked Inconsistent With Wisdom.
- Sermon XIX. On the Snares of the Devil, and Means of Escaping Them.
- Sermon XX. Moderation Necessary to All Solid and Durable Enjoyment.
- Sermon XXI. Happiness to Be Found Rather In the Enjoyment of Health and Innocence, Than In the Successful Pursuits of Avarice and Ambition.
- Sermon XXII. On the Duties of the Preacher and the Hearer.
- Sermon XXIII. * On the Benefits to Be Derived From the Sight of a Funeral.
- Sermon XXIV. a Preparatory Persuasive to the Sacrament of the Lord's Supper.
- Sermon XXV. the Prospect of Perpetual and Universal Peace to Be Established On the Principles of Christian Philanthropy.
- Sermon XXVI. On the Necessity of Increasing the Places of Public Worship On the Establishment; and On the Duty of Supporting the Objects of the Philanthropic Society.
- Sermon XXVII. the Support of the Magdalen Hospital Recommended.
- Sermon XXVIII. the Education of the Poor Recommended.
the support of the magdalen hospital recommended.
[Preached at the Chapel of the Magdalen Hospital on the Anniversary, 1812.]
John, xi. 33.—When Jesus saw Mary weeping, he groaned in the spirit and was troubled.
This remarkable emotion in the mind of our Saviour terminated in a flood of tears; and some interpreters in ancient times, have been greatly perplexed by the passage; conceiving that tears, the natural effect of grief and pity, were unworthy the character of their Lord, and detracted much from his personal dignity. In their zeal for the honour of Christ some of them had been presumptous enough to erase from the New Testament, not without sentiments of indignation, the disgraceful verse, as they conceived it, in which it was related that “Jesus wept;” thus, with the awkward hand of officious correction, defacing that beautiful picture of our Saviour which the spirit of God had delineated, with perfect simplicity, in the Gospel. They knew not that tears of compassion can never be symptoms of an unbecoming debility, and that the sacred fountain which flows from the heart, through the channel of the eyes, is among the most honourable distinctions of human nature. But the mistake of those who thus took offence at a weeping Saviour arose from considering him'solely in the high character of his unblended Divinity. It may be proper therefore to premise a remark on the divinity and humanity of Christ, before we consider that propensity to pity and sympathetic feeling which distinguished his ministry, and which may furnish an appropriate topic for our present contemplation; because it was an humble imitation of that sympathy which raised the roof under which we are now assembled.
The union of; divinity and humanity in our Lord is indeed a high and mysterious point in Christian theology; but not effected in him, as certain heretics of antiquity supposed, by substituting the divine spirit in the place of the rational soul of man; for such a substitution would indeed have degraded his divinity, by rendering it obnoxious to passion, and at the same time overwhelmed or absorbed his humanity. The true doctrine seems therefore to be, according to our excellent church, founded on the Scripture, that the human nature in our Lord was complete; that he was truly a man; consisting of a rational soul and a human body; and that his divinity was superadded by the communication of the holy spirit; superadded in a degree infinitely greater than in any son of Adam, so that while it was compatible with real and complete humanity, it exempted him from the possibility of sin, and rendered him capable of the finest sensibilities of human nature without a participation of its infirmity.
To him the Holy Spirit of God was communicated, not as to us, by measure, but in unlimited plenitude; and indeed this union in our Lord of the spirit of God with the rational soul of man, differed only in degree, from that communion of the same spirit, which is the acknowledged privilege of every believer under the operation of divine grace.
So that Jesus, elevated as he was to divinity, by a superior participation of the Holy Spirit, was still completely a man; and, as we learn from the sacred history, felt as a man the sentiment of compassion. This clearly appears from the tenor of his life narrated in the gospel; and we are expressly told by the Apostle to the Hebrews, that he was touched with the feeling of our infirmities, and in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin. He felt pity; pity is a lovely sentiment, yet most truly a passion; and the gospel records instances enough to prove that our Saviour indulged this passion in its fullest force. He said himself, on one occasion, I have compassion on the multitude; and performed a stupendous miracle to gratify the impulse; again we are told, Jesus moved with compassion, put forth his hand to the kneeling leper, and saith to him, Be thou clean. On many other occasions he felt and acted so as to combine with the tenderness of a human philanthropist the power of the great God Almighty.
Never, surely, did the adorable Author of our religion appear in a light more amiable than when his humanity sympathized with the suffering of some wretched mortal in this vale of woe. And we must remember, that he came to teach us by his example as well as by his doctrine; and who is there among his faithful followers, looking down from the superior height of fortune, rank and education, on the miseries of the wandering multitude below, but must feel a sentiment of pity, and wish to relieve their distresses; to rectify their errors, to call them home to the good Shepherd, who has promised to feed and refresh them in the green pasture by the side of the waters of life?
In humble imitation of our Saviour's example, and in obedience to his precepts, we are this day assembled to promote a charitable institution which takes compassion on those whom we have every reason 'to believe He, with all his purity and superiority, would have pitied and relieved. There is a well-known fact related in the gospel, from which the Institution derives its name, and which justifies our belief, that the penitents of this house would have excited his compassion. This Institution has indeed now stood the test of time, has often been powerfully recommended to you from this place, and is still well and wisely supported. An address indeed is required on these annual solemnities; but it is now made rather in conformity to a laudable practice at the commencement of it, than from any conviction of its absolute necessity at present; rather to remind you of what you know than with the hope of throwing new light on an exhausted subject, or of suggesting fresh topics of persuasion to the minds of those whose fostering bounty and parental patronage most clearly evince that they are already and most completely persuaded.
Nevertheless, it is at all times meet and right, and our bounden duty, to teach and preach the primo indispensable evangelical doctrine of Christian charity, previously therefore to adverting to the particular Institution for which I am this day to solicit your additional support, I shall exhort you to improve the fine feelings of sympathy, which you derive from a kindly nature, to a gospel virtue; to meliorate the wild stock of native sensibility by grafting upon it the grace of charity, by refining and subliming it with the spirit of Christian love, and by advancing a capricious sentiment to the dignity of a religious principle. Thus will your affections become auxiliaries to virtue, and nature lead directly to grace.
The life, the very soul and essence of the Christian religion, as you well know, is benevolence and love; that powerful agent in the moral world, which like the elastic fluid of the philosophers in the physical, animates, connects, and ennobles the whole system of intelligent nature.
It does indeed plainly appear, that charity is represented in the gospel, as a duty no less necessary than justice, as a mutual right, and reciprocal claim of humanity. Under the gospel it may be authoritatively declared, no duty can be less safely evaded, or with less impunity violated. They indeed, who can imagine themselves Christians, and yet continue in a spirit and in practices contrary to charity, may at the same time, fancy themselves good and religious persons, though they live in the actual and constant commission of the greatest crimes; and if such can tranquillize their consciences, and evade the law of love, as promulgated. in the gospel, they may with equal facility infringe every law, and justly arrogate to themselves a notable discovery, the art of becoming Christians without Christianity.
I may then with confidence affirm, that in mercy to ourselves and our own souls, we must take especial heed, that whatever we bestow on this, or any other occasion, with a profession of charity, proceed from the right principle, which is no other in a Christian man, than the pure spirit of Christian love; no other than goodness of heart, inspired or improved by gospel grace.
Goodness, indeed, after all the honours lavished on greatness, by orators and poets, and painters and sculptors, is doubtless the most brilliant ornament; the last polish and perfection of human nature, and what is goodness but a disposition of the heart to produce good and to diminish evil? and what good so great as the happiness of a human being, what evil so sore as misery? But goodness, firm in the principle, and uniform in the practice, is neither taught by nature nor by philosophy. It is the lesson learned in the school of Christ; of him who begins the work of improving human nature, by meliorating the heart; by purifying and sweetening the fountain from which all genuine virtue (and I speak not of the glittering counterfeits which pass current in the world) must originally and purely, and solely emanate.
He who gives then, on occasions like these, even with lavish munificence, from vain glory, does not give, but sells his favour, for popular applause. He who gives with an ill grace, and solely because he is importuned, does not give, but purchases, at an equivalent price, exemption from trouble. He who gives in requital for former service, does not give, but pays a debt and ungenerously deems it a favour. He who gives to confer an obligation, hoping to receive, at a future time, a greater gift, does not give, but places out his money usuriously, taking advantage of another's indigence. All these givers may perhaps do good by their gifts; yet, paradoxical as it may appear, they do good, without doing a good deed, because the corruption of the motive vitiates the virtue.
But charity, the kind, friendly, philanthropic disposition of one human being to another, superinduced by grace, adds an intrinsic value to every act even of the purest morality. It refines and exalts human nature by a kind of amalgamation of it with a particle of the divine, causing a resemblance and approximation to Deity, for in the energetic language of Scripture, God himself is love. Man without it, gradually degenerates, even to a brutal nature; with it, he becomes little lower than an angel. The spirit of real charity pervades, vivifies, and hallows every relative duty. When it looks up to God it is piety or reverential affection; when it refers to man, it is humanity; to superiors, respect; to inferiors, humility; to equals, courtesy; to the poor, bounty; to the stranger, hospitality; to the neighbour, kind offices—-and to the delinquent, mercy, pardon, reconciliation.
Such is charity; too little understood by the multitude. A donation—a mere pittance—thrown into the receptacle at the temple gate, for form's sake, for decency's sake, in compliance with custom, obtains the name and the praise of charity. Deplorable mistake; for charity is a kind, softened, subdued, affectionate heart; a divine gift, improving on humanity, an evangelical grace; the very spirit of our Lord and Saviour. I may give all my goods to feed the poor, and yet have not in my selfish, obdurate bosom, one atom of charity. Though much may be given by man, yet not a particle of the gift may be acceptable to God; who seeth in secret, and appreciates the motives. It may, according to the Wise Man's expression, be bread cast upon the waters; and yet castaway entirely and for ever. It is lost, as far as concerns the donor, who gives indeed his gold and silver, a valuable gift in the world's eye; but gives it without charity, and annihilates the virtue. It is the affectionate heart, urged to act by the Christian principle, which transmuted the widow's mite into a talent of gold; and the cup of cold water into a cordial of life; both of them, however small the gift in the eye of men, the most celebrated acts of munificence in the world's whole history.
But enough on the general topic of charity, more than enough I am conscious, before those, many of whom, by their long, uniform, habitual beneficence, have shown that they are already well acquainted with its nature, and better qualified to give than to receive a practical lesson of benevolence.
From the general subject, I am naturally led to the particular Institution, which calls upon us this day to practise our principles, and evince the spirit of the gospel, by imitating the compassionate tenderness of him whose mercy to Mary Magdalen suggested the foundation and gave it its name.
The original facts recorded in the gospel, and the thousand facts that have succeeded of a similar kind within these walls, owe their origin to Christ's compassion, I must attribute this, and the various other houses of mercy, which mark this vicinity in particular, and our country in general, wholly and solely to the Christian religion. You will allow me to identify the spirit of Christ, with Christ himself; and the works done in consequence of that spirit's operation, with the works of love and mercy done by himself, when the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, and man beheld his glory full of grace and truth. And in this sense I may say with confidence it is He that founded, it is He that endowed, it is He that supports all these mansions of mercy, all these heaven-directed monuments of charity, which every where adorn our nation, and constitute the glory of the Christian name. They testify that the spirit of Christ is still with us; that our Lord and Saviour still does mighty works of mercy among us; and whatever names may appear recorded on the mural inscriptions of the eleemosynary fabrics around, the founder is Christ; the charter the gospel; His the work; be His the glory.
And here it is impossible not to remark the benignity of our Saviour to the woman mentioned in the gospel, and his lenity in particular to female delinquency. It was singularly tender, compassionate and amiably venerable. He displayed it on several occasions; and the history of the penitent and affectionate Mary, fully justifies and strongly recommends the peculiar mode of charity cherished in this hospital. The soothing-words which he spake on that occasion, still strike the ear of the repentant sinner, like the sweetest melody, and though they encourage not presumption, yet they dissipate the clouds of despair, and justify us even in extreme cases, in diffusing the sunshine of hope, and promising to penitence, pardon and peace.
There have been times in our own country when stern virtue, austere sanctity, turned away from the deplorable suppliant, the frail and fallen sister, the child of penury and sorrow, with all the apathy of pride, as an object too loathsome for the supercilious eye of virtuous pity. In the days of our forefathers, when ostentatious piety was a courtly fashion, a piety blended with excessive rigour of an apparent morality; a morality, which comprehended not the imbecilities of compassion; it was deemed meritorious to triumph over the fallen; to persecute the prostrate penitent, the almost infantine victim perhaps of another's vices, even with ecclesiastical censure and public penance; to leave her to her sufferings, to deem her out of the pale of charity, to prohibit the poor solace of sympathy and withhold a single mite from the polluted hand to save the unhallowed miscreant even from famine; at a time too when there were no poor laws, and little claim to parochial assistance. And this severity of indignant virtue, this over acted delicacy of outrageous honour, plumed itself on a fancied perfection of religious excellence, approaching to the angelic. Not to forgive, as we would hope to be forgiven, seemed to be, in puritanical times, exemplary religion. Religion did I say?
It was in truth atheism and barbarity, under the semblance of sainthood; holding in one hand a scourge of scorpions, and in the other (with all the attitudes and grimaces of devotion,) the book of prayer and God's charter of mercy to man. What if the measure, with which they meted to a wretched sister, a penitent and a suppliant, should in the hour of their utmost need, be measured to them again∗ Then would they be tempted to say, in the language of the prophet, to the hills “cover us,” and to tbe mountains “fall on us.”
Happy they who in a more liberal and enlightened age, have not so learned Christ, as to have forgotten the imbecility of our common nature, forgotten their own want of forgiveness, the sins of their youth, and their own misery and dependance. How little do the implacable avengers of their fellow mortal's delinquency recollect the Apostle's words, so strikingly introduced and so emphatically pronounced, “This is a true saying, and worthy of all men to be received, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners;” a passage to be considered, whenever objections are made to this Institution, by the spiritual pride of the over righteous Pharisee. Christ came into the world to save sinners, and to accomplish his benignant purpose, we are expressly told, conversed with publicans and sinners; for they that were whole needed not a physician, but they that were sick. As a physician of souls, his treatment of the weaker patient, we have seen, was peculiarly mild and parental. Pure as the holy spirit of heaven was his moral doctrine, and spotless his life as the crystalline eye, yet was it totally exempt from rigour. Innocent himself, a true Lamb of God; yet could he view the sinner with strong feelings of compassion; and so also must his faithful followers, if they hope to partake the mercies of the gospel, which they will one day implore.
But let a cautionary suggestion be in this place interposed, to guard against mistake: our charity to the persons and the souls of sinners must not, in the smallest degree, diminish a just abhorrence of the sin and the shame of immorality; and it is a wise regulation of human society, a rule never to be violated, that the notoriously vicious are to be kept with strict decorum at a due distance, and prohibited, yet not with rudeness or harshness, all equality and familiarity of indiscriminate association. This law of human intercourse is a strong fence and barrier of virtue; but perfectly consistent with the nicest observance of it is the other indispensable law, the law of love, which our Saviour came into the world purposely to promulgate and countenance. The decencies of life, the dignity, the reserve of immaculate virtue, must be sacredly maintained; and acts of charity to the sinner come with peculiar grace and effect from those who do maintain them inviolate, with the pure delicacy of innocence, and all the matron-like majesty of habitual rectitude. Let virtue then continue like the sun, to shine with undiminished glory; a glory all her own; but be it remembered, that the sun, without losing any thing of its lustre, irradiates the darkest clouds, and unsusceptible of pollution, emits its rays, with indiscriminate light and heat, on the noisome nettle and the rose of Sharon. So is it no derogation from the beauty of virtue, that from her awful eminence, she looks down with a tear of pity and a smile of charity, on the wretchedness of vice, while, like the sensitive plant, she shrinks from its proximity and shudders at its contagion.
With pleasure I behold this assembly of Christians, within these walls, who exhibit in their conduct of this charity, the just and delicate discrimination which I have described. Their abhorrence of the turpitude of the transgression. increases, rather than destroys, their commiseration of the transgressor; for they are aware that no evil is so much an object of a Christian's pity, as a state of sin unrepented. They know that moral evil aggravates all physical evil. Their religion is the religion of Christ, and the religion of men; men, not indulging visionary ideas of unattainable purity and perfection, but making every candid allowance for human infirmity. They come not from the chillness of the cloister or the seclusion of the cell; but have studied man, amid the haunts of man, as he really exists, in the many-coloured affairs and vicissitudes of real life. They have duly considered the errors of youth, the impetuosity of passion, the peculiar disadvantage under which poverty and ignorance labour, with respect to the preservation of innocence, the carelessness of parents in humble life, the forlorn state of the orphan, and the illegitimate foundling, thrown into the wide world, without a guide or protector, often without a parent or a friend; they have considered also the aid which one human being is enabled, by a few temporal and external advantages, to afford to another; and, above all, they have sought and obtained, by prayer and alms, the benevolent spirit of the gospel, which they profess to believe, and which they know to be all friendly to man, full of love and mercy; not extreme to mark what is done amiss, but offering pardon, without limits, to repentance without hypocrisy. Thus, it appears, they have thought, thus they have felt, thus they have acted; and lo∗ here is the result; a house of God, and a house of mercy, with a goodly establishment, that has subsisted, (affording blessings innumerable and inestimable to thousands of sufferers,) during the space of more than half a century. They have not, like the modern philosophers, rested in speculation; they have not acquiesced in reading, or hearing, or writing, or applauding, declamatory panegyrics on benevolence and universal philanthropy, so general, universal, and comprehensive as not to attend to particulars, but have actually done the good which they contemplated with complacency. No fallacy is here, and there can be no deception. We stand at this moment under their sheltering roof, we see their arrangements, we know that the recipients of their benefits are personally present, in the act of returning thanks to God and them for protection, and for the opportunity of returning to innocence; all whose ways are ways of pleasantness, and all whose paths are peace. What have we to do this day, the visitors and strangers, but to imitate their example, by contributing a share to the work, and partaking in the satisfaction of this their labour of love.
What sore evils, what pungent sorrows, that labour of love is calculated to remove or to alleviate, I shall not, on the present occasion, attempt to describe. The melancholy sombrous picture of the Magdalen's sorrows has often been exhibited from this place; and I fear I shall weary the constant attendants in this house of prayer and mercy, were I again to present to view my imperfect delineation of scenes, which by this time have become familiar even to satiety. Who indeed can adequately paint the agony of a father's and a mother's heart, who sees a daughter, the lamb fostered in their bosoms, still an object of love to them at least, become an outcast, a vagabond, a hireling of lawless profligacy and brutality, the most forlorn and helpless of the human species; with a form perhaps tremulously tender, at an age which the laws consider and treat as infancy; little able to bear the slightest breath, yet exposed, without shelter or refuge, to the bitterest blast of adversity.
Can a man born as he is of a woman; a man, recollecting the tender ties of a mother, a wife, a sister; a man owing, as we all do, so much from the cradle to the grave, to the care, the peculiar skill and tenderness of women, in sickness and in health, in prosperity and adversity, in all circumstances and situations in life; can any man, I say, thus allied and circumstanced, and who is not thus circumstanced, behold an unfortunate, however blameable, tribe of females, such as a corrupt metropolis must always exhibit, in extreme distress, whose poverty and hard necessity is often the sole cause of their continuing a life of infamy and woe, penitent too, without an endeavour at least to rescue them—without holding out the hand to lift up the poor shivering sufferer from the mire of sin and misery, the gulf of perdition? I will not insult human nature, by asking the question.
Now this before us is an association of Christian men; men, who prove their claim to the manly character and the Christian character, by their compassion to women, of whom we, the hardier sex, are constituted by God and nature the protectors and defenders, under all the attacks to which their weakness is particularly exposed. And what joy is theirs, when they restore her who was lost, but is found, to the eager arms of the forgiving father, and to the fostering bosom of some wretched Rachel, who is weeping, not because her child is not, for that were sometimes comparatively a happy consummation, but because she was lost to all that rendered life comfortable, creditable, tolerable. Rachel receives her child from their house as one that was dead and is alive again, nor shall her grey hairs be brought, by her she bore and cherished in her bosom, with sorrow to the grave. The scene of restoration and reconciliation is indeed such an one, as angels might leave a while the beatific vision, and stoop down to behold with delight and rapture. But you have seen not only the picture so often pencilled with glowing colours from this place, but you have seen what is infinitely better, the originals, and I do apologize for trespassing on your patience one moment by a faint representation, not only not necessary, but which I know may nauseate by a too frequent obtrusion. Life presents many a sad tragedy; but the pathos may be destroyed by familiarity with the scene. And why do I say more? why indeed have I said so much? The cause, of which I am this day to be the humble and delegated pleader, wants not, in this audience, any advocate. It has often, I know, been powerfully pleaded by my predecessors; it has been sufficiently pleaded by your own hearts, it speaks for itself, and it has spoken most audibly and effectually, as thousands can testify, with acclamations of gratitude. It is indeed the cause of that part of the species which must ever be most interesting, and in whose honour and welfare society in general, and every man in particular, is most nearly and deeply concerned. Such are our clients? and for what do they sue? An opportunity to rise from their fall, the means of restoration to virtue and to peace. This is the boon they ask, and it is sure to be granted.
It has indeed been most generously granted by you; and I trust will continue so long as Christianity shall remain the national religion.
But you will allow me to remind you, though I am sensible, this also is a topic which requires no importunate obtrusion, that pecuniary aid is at this time greatly required. Let those in particular, who are not constant contributors, who are here only on occasions like this, rejoice in the opportunity of sharing in the blessing of giving liberally and cooperating with the Society; not listening to the cavils of objectors, or the doubts of the cold-hearted or over-scrupulous, or to the nice discriminations of some who palliate their parsimony, by hesitating in their selection among the various modes of beneficence; rather let them, on the principle of embracing the time present, the opportunity that occurs, do good at once and effectually, while they have it in their power, while the divine grace supplies a proper occasion, and inclines their hearts to Christian compassion; let them obey even the momentary impulse of pity, remembering, that the case for which their charity is now solicited, is one, which, (as the facts in the gospel lead us to believe,) Christ would himself treat with the tenderest compassion.
There is, it is to be observed and lamented, a kind of fashion in the modes of eleemosynary benefaction. Haply it may be said, that any charity, is at any time, the favourite of so capricious a dictatrix of human conduct. Some good is doubtless done, even by the desultory beneficence of caprice. But yet it is a culpable fickleness, which forsakes and neglects the good old institutions of our fathers, to the utility of which experience has set her seal, to gratify a feverish thirst for novelty, merely in affectation of a more judicious selection, where peradventure, there is little cause for preference; and the rule should be, that where good is evidently produced, and the grace of charity duly called forth and exercised, there should be to the rich, at least, who can patronise different institutions at the same time, no hesitation, in contributing, whenever occasion occurs, to the welfare and continuance of them all. They are all honours to the country; all blessings to the poor; all acceptable to heaven; and all entitled to the support of every real Christian, furnished with ability.
Let us, who are now convened by the grace of God for the purpose, be steadfast and immovable, in supporting an Institution to which time has given its sanction. Let us rejoice that this is a charity, not confined to the relief of bodily diseases or temporary distress, but extending its influence to the mind, and contributing to save souls alive; a sublime charity, charity to the soul of an immortal creature, which no alteration of modes or external circumstances can ever render useless or obsolete. The charitable act which we shall do this day will be the means, long after the objects shall have left this house, of creating or preserving in them “a clean heart,” and of “renewing a right spirit within them “convincing them through life, and in all their future relations “that he that soweth lo the flesh, shall of the flesh, reap corruption; but he that soweth to the spirit, shall of the spirit reap life everlasting.”
The compassion of our Saviour is to be our model. We feel the momentary impulse, let us obey it as he did, before the world and its cares, and its pleasures, and its vanities erase the impression. Come unto us, let us say, to the fallen daughter of affliction, come unto us, thou that labourest and art heavy laden with sin and its wages sorrow, and we will refresh you. Our doors of mercy are open to thee, when every other door, but that which leadeth to destruction, is closed upon thee. Thou hast no friend, and no father and no mother; they hide themselves from thee in shame and sorrow; but we will be unto thee as a friend, a father and a mother, till thy reformation shall restore thee to them all, and they shall open their arms to receive the penitent mourner, wearied and sorely bruised and wounded in the dismal, thorny, miry path, into which thou hast strayed; here shalt thou find pity; nor pity only, but rest, a home, food, a shelter, raiment, and instruction in thy duty to God, thy neighbour, and thyself; and he who came to bind up the broken heart and to heal the bruised, will pour balsam into thy wounds. Thy days of bitterness shall soon be past, and pious sorrow, by the grace of God, turned to holy joy. He who sincerely repents (said a father of the church) has almost recovered his innocence; and sincere repentance, under the law of love, which Christ established, is by his divine favour, restoration and recovery, pardon and salvation.
May God give thee grace to avail thyself of this invitation, and us also grace to proceed in this and every other work which may improve our charity, and secure to ourselves the compassionate regard of that High Priest, who on earth felt pity for the suffering sinner, and still, though exalted to heaven, is touched with a feeling of all our infirmities.