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principally in view; and how well did they qualify him "to preach the Gospel "to the poor!"
Whom can we conceive so able to persuade them of the dignity and the hap piness of a virtuous life, as one whom they saw before them exhibiting, amidst all the depression of outward fortune, the utmost grandeur of human virtue.! Even at this distance of time, my bre thren, with what a feeling of exultation must the poor and lowly contemplate the history of him, who, although the Son of God, yet submitted to all the severest hardships of poverty and contempt; and where, among the writings of men, will they find instructions equally simple and applicable to their condition, with those words of divine wisdom, which draw their illustrations from the humblest employments of life, and which were originally addressed to unlettered fishermen ?
Surely this entire absence of earthly distinction, this appearance of simple and unostentatious benevolence, is a proof of the mission of our Lord infinitely more striking, to every right mind, than if he had come with the splendours of conquest, or with the pride of science; and that love, which descended to embrace the most helpless of the race of man, is impressed with more interesting marks of the divine origin from which it proceeded, than all the miracles and signs which accompanied it in its progress!
At the same time, if no corresponding effects had followed from this benevolent design, we might have doubted of its wisdom, and have been inclined to class it with those splendid projects for the improvement of the world, which enthusiasm sometimes suggests, but which are too often found inconsistent with the present condition of our nature. Let us then, in the
third place, look to its effects.-If` we consider the opinions of the populace in every Christian country, on the great subjects of Morals and of Religion, we shall find that they are commonly sound and reasonable, to a degree that was seldom, perhaps, attained by the wisest men of antiquity. Even in those countries where the Gospel is most vitiated by superstition, the great leading principles of moral and religious wisdom are still prevalent; and in those where it is taught in its purity, we may perceive the lowest, and, in other respects, the most ignorant of men, fully aware of those lofty truths, on which all the dignity of their nature depends." Go," says Sherlock, "in"to our villages, you will there find a firm "persuasion of the unity of God, who “made heaven and earth, and all things "in them: The meanest of the people "will tell you, that an honest heart is
"the only acceptable sacrifice to God, "and that there is no way to please him, "but by doing justly and righteously."
In every Christian country, accordingly, innumerable instances are to be met with, even in the humblest fortune, of the most cheerful dependence upon Providence, and the steadiest adherence to duty, those genuine fruits of the Gospel which, wherever they spring, whether in the cottage or in the palace, convert them equally into the abodes of happiness and contentment. These are circumstances, indeed, the extent of which cannot be very easily estimated, because they depend so much upon the virtue of individuals. Besides that, the obscurity of lowly virtue hides it from the eyes of the world; and those who are not willing to find it will often doubt of its existence. Without inquiring into particulars, however, we may be satisfied,
that the effects of the Gospel on the minds of the multitude must have been great, from the fact of its long establishment, which has thus given scope to all its benevolent tendencies to operate. Its doctrines have been believed, and its moral sanctions recognised, for upwards of eighteen hundred years, and, during all this extended period, “the poor have had it preached to them."
Here, then, my brethren, is no system which has flourished only for a season, and has then ceased among men. The very establishment of the Gospel proves distinctly that it was no system of impracticable enthusiasm, but that it was suited to the character and the condition of human nature. From its first origin to the present time, it has never ceased, notwithstanding the frequent follies and crimes, alas! of those to whom it has been entrusted, from spreading the same equal