9. Besides, it must not be forgotten, that Christianity professes to prepare us for the next life. It is nothing strange then, if principles, which avowedly direct the science of morals to present beneficial results in the community, should show to the greater advantage in their own selected field of action. Exalted virtue cannot be fully appreciated, nay, is seldom recognized on the public stage of life, because it addresses itself to an unseen tribune. Its actual manifestations on this confused and shifting scene are but partial; just as the most perfect form loses its outline and its proportions, when cast in shadow on some irregular surface.

10. Let it be assumed, then, as not needing proof, that the freedom of thought, enlightened equitableness, and amiableness, which are the offspring of civilization, differ far more even than the piety of form or of emotion from the Christian spirit, as being "not pleasant to God, forasmuch as they spring not of faith in Jesus Christ, yea, rather, 'doubtless,' having the nature of sin."

11. How then, after all, must the gift be described, which Christianity professes to bestow? I proceed, in answer to this question, to consider what is said on the subject by Scripture itself, where alone we ought to look for the answer. Not as if any new light could be thrown upon the subject, or any statements made, which have not the assent of sober Christians generally, but in order to illustrate and enforce an all-important truth; and, while at every season of the year practical views of Christianity are befitting, they are especially suggested and justified by the services of humiliation in which we are at present engaged.