It is a system forming an essential part of Christian character. It requires that the great themes of our meditation be spiritual and eternal, that the mind be so imbued with thoughts of God, his government and law, of Christ, his love, his sufferings and death, of the restorative scheme thereby wrought out, of its relation to this apostate world, of our responsibilities as co-workers with Christ in spreading the knowledge of his name, and of the consequences both to ourselves and others of fidelity to our trust—it requires that these thoughts be so thoroughly impressed, and the heart so permeated, warmed, and animated by their influence, that they shall become, as it were, inherent elements of moral action, involuntarily suggesting themselves as often as occasions for their operation arise. But all this is but another process of thought and emotion descriptive of the spiritually minded. It also requires the same intellectual and moral discipline which is essential to the formation of the benevolent character. This does not consist in a single act, a single out-gushing of generous activity, but in a series of generous actions, flowing from an established principle; a principle pervading the whole soul, never wavering, never succumbing to the biddings of selfishness. But the benevolent character thus deeply laid is the Christian character. The scheme further requires consistency of moral and religious conduct. While it no more demands regular and persevering beneficent action than it demands other Christian duties, it imperiously demands regular and persevering beneficent action as an essential branch of Christian conduct, inevitably resulting from those immutable principles which form the basis of the Christ-like character. Thus the particular or individual system grows, by a moral necessity, out of the general system of thoughts, affections, and volitions, here unfolded; it being a moral impossibility for one cordially to adopt the latter, in all its length and breadth, without determining upon such a private system of beneficence as his means, his relations to God and to the wants and woes of our species, demand. To refuse this system of benevolent principles and correspondent actions, therefore, is to refuse to be spiritually minded; is to refuse to exhibit consistency of holy conduct; is to refuse to exert all our powers and embrace all opportunities to do good; in a word, it is to wear a blot on our Christian name which many waters can never wash out.
Hence the beauty of the system,—general and particular—here presented, is that, resting down on the eternal and changeless foundations of the spiritual universe, and consequently harmonizing with the spirit of Revelation and with the laws of mind, it rises up and expands into a beautiful exhibition of the fruits of the Gospel, the legitimate product of its holy precepts. It gives no encouragement to the idea that God’s favor may be secured, or duty done, by any mere external system of munificence, any farther than the external system proceeds from right affections and sound principles. It must originate in the renewed heart, be nourished by the life of grace, and increase its productiveness as light and holiness increase in the soul. In its perfect development, it is the full and symmetrical development of the Christian character.