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keeps under his body, lest he should be a castaway,
manifested in his conversion, he celebrates in terms of high admiration, because it was designed, not for his sake only, but rather for the general good of mankind. He gives - thanks for the success of the gospel in particular places; because hence the riches of God's gracę would be known in places remote, and in ages to come. He admires the dispensation of divine mercy to guilty men; because hereby the manifold wisdom of God would be more clearly seen in heavenly places. He regards all men, and all moral be. ings, as one family, one grand community, under Jesus their head. He wishes to see christians all united in love, and studying the things which make for the common salvation.
That which made so mighty a change in Paul, was the cordial reception of the gospel. As soon as this began to operate in his heart, his views were enlarged—his prospects were extended-his benevolence stretched wider and wider its arms, until it embraced the whole system of rational creatures. The man, who like Paul, would enlarge his mind, must not content himself with a cold, speculative belief of the gospel ; but cultivate in his heart the spirit and genius of Christ's religion.
3. The enlargement of the mind depends much on social intercourse, especially on social worship:
He who withdraws himself from the world, will be apt to think of his fellow men worse than they deserve. The prophet Elijah, in his gloomy cave,
pronounced all men his enemies, and grew weary of life. God calls him to come forth, mingle with mankind, and attend 'the duties of his office; assuring him, that, corrupt' as the nation was, there were many good men remaining. Abraham, before he conversed with the people of Gerar, thought surely the fear of God was not in that place; but, on acquaintance, he found in it picty enough to rebuke his misconduct.
By performing the duties of social life, we strengthen and improve the social affections. In conversing with mankind, we meet with many agreeable characters; see many worthy actions; receive many instructive sentimefits, which, other. wise, would have escaped our notice. By the re. ciprocal exchange of good offices we become interested in each other's happiness.
In this view, religious society is of great utility, When christians statedly assemble together to invoke the same Father, in the name of the same Mediator, and unite their voices in imploring the same blessings, each for his fellow worshippers, as 'well as for himself, they consider themselves as a fraternity, all standing in the same relation to God, and all related to one another. Feeling each other's wants, and rejoicing in each other's prosperity, they almost forget the distinctions of interest. The church of Christ is one ; all particular churches are members of the same general community ; and all should endeavour to keep the unity of the spirit in the bond of peace, and by love serve one another.
The breast, in which christian love dwells, must be enlarged. There is no place for it with those who are straitened in their own bowels; for this af. fection does not confine its regards to a particular sect or society, it embraces all churches of the Saints.
Nothing is more inconsistent with enlargedness of heart, than a customary neglect of social worship. It has often been observed, that they who withdraw from the assemblies of the saints, contract an unsocial sourness toward mankind, a suspicious distrust of their neighbours, and disaffection to those around them; or else they run into sentiments of infidelity and irreligion.
And it is obvious to every one, that those chris. tians, who, either through mistaken zeal, or acci. dental disgust, separate from their brethren, and form new sects, soon lose that liberality and enlargedness of heart, which are among the beauties and glories of religion. They persuade themselves to believe, and allow themselves to speak, of their fellow christians, many unkind and unfovourable things, which, if they would mingle with them, they would know to be without foundation.
Honest christians may think differently. But, if once they begin to magnify their differences into causes of disunion, they will soon come to condemn, perhaps to hate one another. Let them walk together, hand in hand, and maintain fellowship in the things in which they are agreed; and they will easi.
see that the things in which they differ are but small, compared with the other.
The animosities between different sects of christ. ians are much increased by their standing at a dis'tance. If they would mingle in the civil and religious life, they would see, that religion is not confined to any one sect, but may be found in others, as well as their own.
4. Prayer is of great use to enlarge the mind.
This is a sacred converse with God. It is the opening of our desires and feelings to him. It is an exercise well adapted to raise our hearts above this world, and elevate our affections to divine and heavenly objects. Will the christian, who has
been employed in communion with his God, imme. diately return to the vanities and follies of the world ? Will he at once forget where he has been, what he has been doing, and the high privilege, which he has enjoyed ? By a regular devotion, we set God always before us, and live in his presence. How grand and solemn the thought, that we are surround. ed with the Deity, and filled with his fulness-that his eye observes our ways, and his counsel guides our steps—that his ear attends our requests, and his bounty supplies our wants ?
Converse with God supposes a belief of his prov. idence. If we believe that he is good to us, we must believe that he is also good to others. And if our fellow men are objects of his care, as well as we, they ought to be objects of our benevolence, as well as we of theirs.
From that universal providence, which prayer acknowledges, we are led to view all men as our brethren, belonging to the same household with us. We are taught that we must pray for all men, for this is acceptable in the sight of God our Saviour. We must then wish well to all ; otherwise our prayers will contradict the sentiments of our hearts.
Thus prayer enlarges the soul, exalts our thoughts of God and his providence, and extends the circle of our benevolence to all his creatures,
From what has been said, we see that many have mistaken ideas of real greatness of mind.
Do you imagine, that you discover an enlarged soul, when you throw off the fear of God and a fu. ture judgment—when you trample on the precepts and spurn the threatenings of scripture-when you despise what your serious neighbours revere—when you set up your reason in opposition to revelation, and your humour in opposition to divine institutions? Do you call it greatness of mind, to rise into high resentment for trifling wrongs--to utter pass Vol. II.
sionate language when you receive an offence to revenge an injury and revile an enemy?-You greatly mistake the matter. Piety and submission to God, humility and modesty in your language and deportment, meekness and condescension when of. fences happen, goodness and benevolence to all men; these are the things which indicate an enlarged mind. Pride, passion, revenge, precipitancy and contentious zeal, discover a low, small, contracted sout. The glory and greatness of the divine character are goodness and mercy. The dignity of man is likeness to God.
Our subject teaches us, that the gospel is a most noble institution, wherever it comes with power, it mends the heart and adorns the life ; makes men more useful to others, more agreeable in all relations, more capable of enjoying themselves. If any man be in Christ, he is a new creature.
We learn farther, that the gospel bears plain marks of a divine original. Wherever it produces its proper effect, it enlarges the heart, elevates the affections, inspires with unbounded benevolence, and makes men like to God. So divine a religion must have a divine original. Wisdom, so pure and peaceable, so full of mercy and good fruits, must be wisdom from above.
He who believes, has the witness in himself. Having experienced the transforming power of the gospel on his own heart, he feels an unwavering conviction that it is from God.
The man, who rejects the gospel of Christ, as a human invention, has never known its divine efficacy. He is a stranger to that humility, meekness, condescension, benevolence and heavenliness, which it uniformly inculcates, and in which greatness of mind consists. The more the soul is enlarged, the more it will be delivered from, and secured against, sceptical thoughts.