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happiness to mankind, and implied a solemn charge to pursue the means that would ever lead to it : and, in truth, the good tidings of the gospel are nothing else but a grand message and embassy of peace, to let us know that our peace is made in heaven.
The prophet Isaiah styles our Saviour the Prince of Peace, long before he came into the world; and to answer the title, he made choice to enter into it at a time when all nations were at peace with each other ; which was in the days of Augustus, when the temple of Janus was shut, and all the alarms of war were hushed and silenced throughout the world.
-At his birth, the host of heaven descended, and proclaimed peace on earth, as the best state and temper the world could be in to receive and wel. come the Author of it.-His future conversation and doctrine here upon earth, was every way agreeable with his peaceable entrance upon it ; the whole course of his life being but one great example of meekness, peace, and patience. At his death, it was the only legacy he bequeathed to his followers :
.“ My peace I give unto you."-How far this has taken place, or been actually enjoyed, is not my intention to enlarge upon any further than just to observe how precious a bequest it was, from the many miseries and calamities which have and ever will ensue, from the want of it. If we look into the larger circle of the world, what desolations, dissolutions of government, and invasions of property what rapine, plunder, and profanation of the most sacred rights of mankind, are the certain unhappy effects of it !--fields dyed in blood, the cries of orplans and widows, bereft of their best help, too fül-, lg instruct us.Look into private life, behold how good and pleasant a thing it is to live together in unity !-it is like the precious ointment poured up. on the head of Aaron, that run down to his skirts ; -importing, that this balm of life is felt and enjoyed, not only by governors of kingdoms, but is derived down to the lowest rank of life, and tasted in the most private recesses ;-all, from the king to the peasant, are refreshed with its blessings ; without which we can find no comfort in any thing this world can give. It is this blessing gives every one to sit quietly under his vine, and reap the fruits of his labour and industry :-in one word, which bespeaks who is the bestower of it. It is that only which keeps up the harmony and order of the world, and preserves every thing in it from ruin and confusion.
There is one saying of our Saviour's, recorded by St. Matthew, which, at first sight, seems to carry some opposition to this doctrine :-" I came not to 6 send peace on earth, but a sword.”- But this reaches no farther than the bare words, not entering so deep as to affect the sense, or imply any contradiction :-intimating only,—that the preaching of the gospel will prove in the event, through sundry unhappy causes, such as prejudices, the corruption of mens hearts, a passion for idolatry and superstition, the occasion of much variance and divi. sion even amongst nearest relations ;-yea, and ofttimes of bodily death, and many calamities and per. secutions, which actually ensued upon the first preachers and followers of it. Or the words may be understood,-as a beautiful description of the inward contests and opposition which Christianity would occasion in the heart of man,- from its oppositions to the violent passions of our nature, which would engage us in a perpetual warfare.This was not only a sword, a division betwixt nearest kindred—but it was dividing a man against him. self ;-setting up an opposition to an interest long established,-strong by nature,-more so by uncontrolled custom.- This is verified every hour in the struggles for mastery betwixt the principles of the world, the flesh, and the devil ;-which set up so strong a confederacy, that there is need of all the helps which reason and christianity can offer to bring them down.
But this contention is not that against which such exhortations in the gospel are levelled ;-for the scripture must be interpreted by scripture, and be made consistent with itself. And we find the dis. tinguishing marks and doctrines by which all men were to know who were Christ's disciples, was that benevolent frame of mind towards all our fel. low-creatures, which, by itself, is a sufficient secur. ity for the particular social duty here recommended :--so far from meditations of war,--for love thinketh no evil to his neighbour;--so far from doing any, it harbours not the least thought of it ;-but, on the contrary, rejoices with them that rejoice, and weeps with them that weep.
This debt Christianity has highly exalted; though it is a debt that we were sensible of before, and acknowledged to be owing to human nature ; which, as we all partake of,—so ought we to pay it in a suitable respect ; for, as men, w are allied together in the natural bond of brotherhood, and are members one of another. We have the same Father in heaven, who made us, and takes care of us all. Our earthly extraction too, is nearer alike than ihe pride of the world cares to be reminded of :-for Adam was the father of us all ; and Eve the mother of all living.–The prince and the beggar sprung from the same stock, as wide asunder as the branches are. So that, in this view, the most upstart family may vie antiquity, and compare families with the greatest monarchs. We are all formed too of the same mould, and must equally return to the same dust.-So that, to love our neighbour and live quietly with him, is to live at peace with ourselves : he is but self-multiplied, and enlarged into another form ; and to be unkind or cruel to him, is but, as Solomon observes of the unmerciful, to be cruel to our own flesh.-As a farther motive and engagement to this peaceable commerce with each other, God has placed us all in one another's pow. er by turns, in a condition of mutual need. and dependence. There is no man so liberally stocked with earthly blessings, as to be able to live without another man's aid. God, in his wisdom, has so dispensed his gifts, in various kinds and measures, as to render us helpful, and make a social intercourse indispensable. The prince depends on the labour and industry of the peasant ; and the wealth and honour of the greatest persons, are fed and support: ed from the same source.
This the apostle hath elegantly set forth to us, by the familiar resemblance of the natural body ;wherein there are many members, and all have not the same office; but the different faculties and op: erations of each, are for the use and benefit of the whole. The eyc secs not for itself, but for the other
members ;-and is set up as a light to direct them : -the feet serve to support and carry about the other parts ; and the hands act and labour for them all. It is the same in states and kingdoms, wherein there are many members, yet each in their several functions and employments; which, if peaceably discharged, are for the harmony of the whole state. Some are eyes and guides to the blind ;-others, feet to the lame and impotent ;-some supply the place of the head, to assist with council and direction ;-others the hands, to be useful by their labour and industry.- To make this link of dependence still stronger, there is a great portion of mutability in all human affairs, to make benignity of temper not only our duty, but our interest and wis. dom.- There is no condition in life so fixed and permanent as to be out of danger, or the reach of change :--and we all'may depend upon it, that we shall take our turns of wanting and desiring.-By how
many unforeseen causes may riches take wing! -The crowns of princes may be shaken, and the greatest that ever awed the world have experienced what the turn of the wheel can do. That which hath happened to one man, may befall another; and, therefore, that excellent rule of our Saviour's ought to govern us in all our actions Whatsoever ye 66 would that men should do to you, do ye also unto " them likewise.”—Time and chance happen to all ; and the most affluent may be stript of all, and find his worldly comforts like so inany withered leaves dropping from him.-Sure, nothing can better become us than hearts so full of our dependence, as to overflow with mercy, and pity, and good-will towards mankind ! To exhort us to this is, in other