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mane or a gracious temper would spare: An abhorrence against what is criminal, is so fair a plea for this, and looks so like virtue in the face, that, in a sermon against rash judgment, it would be unseasonable to call it in question; and yet, I declare, in the fullest torrent of exclamations which the guilty can deserve, that the simple apostrophe, "Who made me to differ: Why was not I an example?"-would touch my heart more, and give me a better earnest of the commentator's, than the most corrosive period you could add. The punishment of the unhappy, I fear, is enough without it; and, were it not, it is piteous, the tongue of a Christian, whose religion is all candor and courtesy, should be made the executioner. We find, in the discourse between Abraham and the rich man, tho' the one was in heaven, and the other in hell, yet still the patriarch treated him with mild language: Son !-Son, remember that thou in thy life-time, &c. &c. And in the dispute about the body of Moses, between the archangel and the devil, (himself,) St. Jude tells us, he durst not bring a railing accusation against him :-It was unworthy his high character, and indeed might have been impolitic too; for if he had, (as one of our divines notes upon the passage) the devil had been too hard for him at railing,-it was his own weapon,—and basest spirits, after his example, are the most expert at it.
This leads me to the observation of a fourth cruel inlet to this evil, and that is, the desire of being thought men of wit and parts, and the vain expectation of coming honestly by the title, by shrewd and sarcastic reflections upon whatever is done in the world. This is setting up trade upon the broken stock of other people's failings,-perhaps their misfortunes :— -So much good may it do them with what honor they can get,the farthest extent of which, I think is to be praised, as we do some sauces,with tears in our eyes. It is
a commerce most illiberal; and as it requires no vast capital, too many embark in it; and, so long as there are bad passions to be gratified, and bad heads to judge, with such it may pass for wit, or at least, like some viie relation, whom all the family is ashamed of, claim kindred with it even in better companies. Whatever be the degree of its affinity, it has helped to give wit a bad name, as if the main essence of it was satire. Certainly there is a difference betwen bitterness and saltness, that is between the malignity and the festivity of wit: The one is a mere quickness of apprehension, void of humanity, and is a talent of the devil; the other comes down from the Father of spirits, so pure and abstracted from persons, that willingly it hurts no man; or, if it touches upon an indecorum, it is with that dexterity of true genius, which enables him rather to give a new color to the absurdity, and let it pass. He may smile at the shape of the obelisk raised to another's fame; but the malignant wit will level it at once with the ground, and build his own upon the ruins of it.
What then, ye rash censurers of the world ! have ye no mansions for your credit, but these from whence ye have extruded the right owners ? Are there no regions for you to shine in, that ye descend for it into the low caverns of abuse and crimination? Have ye no seats-but those of the scornful to sit down in? If HONOR has mistook his road, or the VIRTUES in their excesses, have approached too near the confines of VICE, are they therefore to be cast down the precipice? Must BEAUTY for ever be trampled upon in the dirt, for one-one false step? And shall no one virtue or good quality, out of the thousand the fair penitent may have left, shall not one of them be suffered to stand by her ?---Just Gop of heaven and earth!
But thou art merciful, loving and righteous, and lookest down with pity upon those wrongs thy servants do unto each other: Pardon us, we beseech thee, for them, and all our transgressions; Jet it not be remembered, that we were brethren of the same flesh, the same feelings and infirmities. O my GOD! write it not down in thy book, that thou madest us merciful, after thy own image; that thou hast given us a religion, so courteous, so good tempered, that every precept of it carries a balm along with it to heal the soreness of our natures, and sweeten our spirits,-that we might live with such kind intercourse in this world as will fit us to exist together in a better.
Felix's behavior towards Paul, examined.
ACTS XXIV. 20.
He hoped also that money should have been given him of Paul, that he might loose him.
NOBLE object to take up the consideration of the Roman governor!
"He hoped that money should have been given " him!" -For what end? to enable him to judge betwixt right and wrong!--and, From whence was it to be wrung? from the poor scrip of a disciple of the carpenter's son, who left nothing to his followers but poverty and sufferings.
And was this Felix!-the great, the noble Felix!-Felix the happy the gallant Felix, who kept Drusilla J-Could he do this ?Base passion! what canst thou not make us do ?
Let us consider the whole transaction. Paul, in the beginning of this chapter, had been accused before Felix, by Tertullus, of very grievous crimes,-of being a pestilent fellow-a mover of seditions, and a profaner of the temple, &c. To which accusations the apostle, having liberty from Felix to reply, makes his defence from the 10th to the 22d verse, to this purport. He shows him, first, that the whole charge was destitute of all proof; which he openly challenges them to produce against him, if they had it :That, on the contrary, he was so far from being the man Tertullus had represented, that the very principles of the religion with which he then stood charged, and which they called heresy, led him to be the most unexceptionable in his conduct, by the continual exercise which it demanded of him, of having a conscience void of offence at all
times, both towards GoD and man: That, consistently with this, his adversaries had neither found him in the temple disputing with any man, neither raising up the people, neither in the synagogue, or in the city; for this, he appeals to themselves: That it was but twelve days since he came up to Jerusalem for to worship;-that during that time, when he purified in the temple, he did it as became him, without noise, without tumult; this he calls upon the Jews who came from Asia, and were eye-witnesses of his behavior, to attest ;and, in a word, he urges the whole defence before Felix in so strong a manner, and with such plain and natural arguments of his innocence,as to leave no color for his adversaries to reply.
There was, however, still one adversary in this court, tho' silent, yet not satisfied..
-Spare thy eloquence, Tertullus! roll up the charge: A more notable orator than thy self is risen up; it is AVARICE, and that too, in the most fatal place for the prisoner it could have taken possession of,-it is in the heart of the man who judges him.
If Felix believed Paul innocent, and acted accordingly, that is, released him without reward, this subtle advocate told him he would lose one of the profits of his employment ;-and if he acknowledged the faith of CHRIST, which Paul occasionally explained in his defence,-it told him he might lose the employment itself: So, notwithstanding the character of the apostle appear. ed (as it was) most spotless, and the faith he professed so very clear, that, as he urged it, the heart gave its consent,-yet, at the same time, the passion rebelled, and so strong an interest was formed thereby, against the first impressions in favor of the man and his cause, that both were dismissed; the one to a more convenient hearing, which never came,—the other to the hardships of a pri