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suits have familiarized them with the vast, and the grand, and the interesting: and they think to sanctify these in a way of their own. The feeling of the Infinite in nature, and the beautiful in art; the flights of poetry, of love, of glory, alternately elevate their imagination, and they denominate the splendid combination, Christianity. But "the new cloth" will never assort with "the old garment.”
These elegant spirits seem to live in a certain lofty region in their own minds, where they know the multitude cannot soar after them; they derive their grandeur from this elevation, which separates them with the creature of their imagination, from all ordinary attributes, and all associations of daily occurrence. In this middle region, too high for earth, and too low for hea ven; too refined for sense, and too gross for spirit; they keep a magazine of airy speculations, and shining reveries, and puzzling metaphysics; the chief design of which is to drive to a distance, the profane vulgar but the real effect, to separate themselves and their system from ali intercourse with the wise and good.
God could never intend we should disparage his own gift, his highest natural gift, intellectual excellence. But knowing that those who possessed it, would be sufficiently forward, not only to value the talent, but to overvalue themselves for possessing it, he knew aso that its possessors would require rather repression than excitement. Accordingly, we do not recollect any eulogy on mere intellectual ability either in the Old or the New Testament. In the Old, indeed, there is the severe censure of a Prophet on its vain exercise; "thy wisdom
and thy knowledge have perverted thee:" and in the New, the only mention of "high imaginations," is accompanied with an injunction, "to cast them down," and this in order to the great and practical end of "bringing every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ."
Saint Paul was deeply sensible of the necessity of circumscribing the passions, the powers, and the genius of men within due limits. He knew that they were not to be trusted to their own operation, without positive institutions, fixed laws, prescribed bounds. To subdue the pride and independence of the human heart, he knew to be no less requisite than to tamé the sensual appetites. He was aware, that to fill the imagination with mere pictures of heroic virtue would not suffice for a creature like man, under the influence of that disorderly and inflammable faculty, without the infusion of holy habits, and the prescription of specific duties and defined rules. In fine, the disciple of Paul learns not so much to give play to his fancy, as to submit his will; and the first question which seems presented in his pages is not this, "How bright are thy concep.
tions?" but "How readest thou?"
The subject is too important, as a matter of caution, not to be placed in every possible light. Let us remember, then, that admiration is not conviction. There is something in perfection of every kind, which lays hold on a heart glowing with strong feelings, and a mind imbued with true taste. On this ground, even Rousseau could be the occasional eulogist of Christianity. He could institute a comparison between the
son of Sophroniscus and the Son of Mary, with a pen, which seems plucked by the fallen spirit from a seraph's wing. His fine imagination was fired with the subiime of Christianity, as it would have been with a dialogue of Plato, a picture of Raffaelle, or any exhibition of ideal beauty.
Longinus, a still more accomplished critic in intellectual beauty than Rousseau, amongst the various illustrations of his doctrine in his beautiful work, quotes the Almighty fiat at the creation, “Let there be light, and there was light," as a perfect instance of the sublime. He calls it "a just idea, and a noble expression of the power of God." Yet, though struck with this passage of the Jewish legislator, whom he coolly calls, "no ordinary person," he was satisfied with the beauty of the sentiment, without examining into that truth which is the spring and fountain of all beauty. Though he lived so late as the third century, yet he does not appear to have inquired into the truth of the Christian revelation and thus but too lamentably demonstrated, that the taste may give its most favourable verdict to a system which had yet made no impression on the heart.
Saint Paul found in the wants of man something that could not be supplied; in his sorrows, something that could not be consoled; in his lapse, something that could not be restored by elegant speculation or poetic rapture. He found that the wounds inflicted by sin could not be healed by the grace of composition; and that nothing but the grace of the Gospel could afford a remedy adequate to the demand. Let us, then, give our willing admiration to every species of true genius.
Let us retain our taste for what is really excellent even in heathen models. But when called upon to identify the impressions of taste with the infusions of piety, let us boldly reply with the Prophet, " What has Ephraim to do any more with Idols ?"
SAINT PAUL'S TENDERNESS OF HEART.
AMONG the peculiarities of Christianity, it is one of the most striking, that they who, in Scripture language, love not the world, nor the things of the world, are yet the persons in it who are farthest from misanthropes. They love the beings of whom the world is composed, better than he who courts and flatters it. They seek not its favour nor its honours, but they give a more substantial proof of affection,-they seek its improvement, its peace, its happiness, its salvation.
If ever man, on this ground, had a pre-eminent claim to the title of philanthropist, that man is the Apostle Paul, The warmth of his affections, as exhibited in a more general view in the narrative of Saint Luke, and the tenderness of his feelings, as they appear more detailed throughout his own Epistles, constitute a most interesting part of his very diversified character.
This truth is obvious, not only on great and extraordinary occasions, but in the common circumstances of his life, and from the usual tenor of his letters.
There are persons, not a few, who, though truly pious, defeat much of the good they intend to do, not always by a natural severity of temper, but by a repulsiveness of manner, by not cultivating habits of courtesy, by a neglect of the smaller lenient arts of kindness. They will indeed confer the obligation, but they confer it in such a manner as grieves and humbles him who receives it. In