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what course of feeling and conduct it is most opposed.
An uncharitable temper is not “ longsuffering" and is not “kind :” as when a man readily takes offence at the injustice, perversity, or folly of his neighbour, and refuses to hold communication with those whom he deems to be unworthy of his love ; forgetful of the proposed example of that Father in heaven who “maketh his sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sendeth rain on the just and on the unjust.” (Matt. 5. 45.) An uncharitable temper envieth : as when a man grudges those whom he censures, the very enjoyments for which he finds fault with them, and longs for the blessings in which others partake, for this very reason that he has denied them to himself. An uncharitable temper doth vaunt itself and is puffed up: as they for instance (Note VIII.) are apt to be, more or less, who conceive themselves alone to be the elect, and all the rest of mankind condemned for ever. An uncharitable temper doth behave itself unseemly: as in neglecting the ordinary duties of social life, in disrespect to parents, in disregard to brothers, sisters, and friends, in uncourteousness to all who are esteemed reprobate. It seeketh its own : that is, sets up high claims to superiority, and is rigorous in enforcing respect and deference to its opinions, even from those whom nature and revelation unite to place in authority. It is easily provoked; being ready on slight occasions to disoblige others, and to thwart their inclinations. It thinketh much evil of others : making no allowances for difference of information, and different circumstances of trial, but supposing that all are necessarily condemned who have not attained unto its own degree of outward piety. It rejoiceth in iniquity : whereof we have instances in the propensity too common amongst mankind, and especially amongst the assertors of their own piety, to report with diligence the failings and offences of those, from whom they differ in opinion or in practice. And instead of rejoicing in the truth; there is reason to fear that it views the truth with a gloomy and melancholy disposition, finds more of gall than sweetness in the word of God, and is more ready to lament over his dispensations, than to give thanks unto Him for the victory.
An uncharitable temper far from bearing all things, will not bear with a fellow creature in any the slightest discordance from its own views, but harshly dissolves all friendship that would furnish any thing, for it to bear with at all. Far from believing all things, it will not give credit to another for one single motive or good thought, save those that are exhibited in some outward class of actions arbitrarily defined. Far from hoping all things, it despairs of the present piety and ultimate salvation of those who differ from its own views. Far from enduring all things, it throws off the restraints of every social order, of every domestic tie, and sets up a system for itself, to which every one within its sphere must bend, or be condemned,
In thus commenting on St. Paul's de
scription of charity, and contrasting it with the qualities of an uncharitable temper, let me not be thought to have overstrained the meaning of his expressions, in order to make them apply to the character of that class of opinions and practices, which I am trying to prove inconsistent with the Gospel. Look over the chapter for yourself, and consider its general purport, the occasion on which it was written, and the meaning of each particular verse. Though many of the verses include various cases, besides those to which I have applied them, I should think you will be convinced that the application is just, as far as it extends. And of this I feel confident, that henceforth you will at least conscientiously examine each new opinion you adopt, and each new practice you contemplate, and try them by their agreement with the spirit of the chapter here explained. You might thus by degrees become amongst the number of those, who unite every fresh progress in piety with a fresh advance in Christian charity, who never
discover a new fault in themselves without new sympathy for the failings of their fellow creatures; who know that there is much wickedness in the world, yet pronounce not who are the wicked; but walk uprightly in the midst of a sinful generation, too watchful over their own hearts
into the faults of others, too severe towards themselves to be censorious towards the failings of the rest of mankind.
I have thus referred to those notions of nonconformity to the world, to which
you are perhaps inclined, and have shewn how I conceive them to be connected with an uncharitable temper of mind, and to be dangerous to the spiritual welfare of all who entertain them. I shall in some of the following discourses treat of a few particular topics, which tend to illustrate more fully the principle of charity itself; and to prove that this most excellent of gifts is in strict harmony with the kind of nonconformity to the world before recommended.
For the present let it in conclusion be observed, that the system here recom