Imatges de pÓgina
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over my organs of sense, as to command a liking, or a taste for the performance. The illustration is homely; but it is enough for our purpose, if it be effective. I may accomplish the doing of what God bids; but have no pleasure in God himself. The forcible constraining of the hand, may make out many a visible act of obedience, but the relish of the heart may refuse to go along with it. The outer man may be all in a bustle about the commandments of God, while to the inner man God is an offence and a weariness. His neighbours may look at him, and all that their eye can reach may be as clean as snow-water can make it. But the eye of God reaches a great deal farther. He is the discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart, and he may see the foulness of spiritual idolatry in every one of its

Let any one man do, then, what all men think it possible for him to do, and he will wear upon his person the visible exhibition of much to recommend him to the favourable judgment of his fellows. He will be guilty of no one transgression against the peace and order of society. He will be correct, and regular, and completely inoffensive. He will contribute many a deed of positive beneficence to the welfare of those around him; and may even, on the strength of his many decencies, and many observa-receptacles. The poor man has no more tions, hold out an aspect of religiousness to conquered his rebellious affections, than he the general eye of the world. There will has conquered his distaste for wormwood. be a wide and most palpable distinction of He may fear God; he may listen to God; character between him, and those who, at and, in outward deed, may obey God. But large from the principle of self-control, re- he does not, and he will not, love God; and sign themselves to the impulse of every while he drags a heavy load of tasks, and present temptation; and are either intem- duties, and observances after him, he lives perate, or dishonest, or negligent of ordi- in the hourly violation of the first and nances, just as habit, or the urgency of their greatest of the commandments. feelings and their circumstances, may happen to have obtained the ascendancy over them. Those do not what they might, and what, in common estimation, they can do; an is just because the man has put forth all his strenuousness to the task of accomplishing all that he is able for, that he looks so much more seemly than those who are beside him, and holds out a far more engaging display of what is moral and praiseworthy to all his acquaintances.

Would any parent among you count it enough that you obtained a service like this from one of your children? Would you be satisfied with the obedience of his hand, while you knew that the affections of his heart were totally away from you? Let every one requirement, issued from the chair of parental authority, be most rigidly and punctually done by him, would not the sullenness of his alienated countenance turn the whole of it into bitterness? It is the heart of his son which the parent longs after; and the lurking distaste and disaffection which rankle there, can never, never be made up by such an obedience, as the

II. I will not be able to convince you how superficial the reformation of all these doings is, without passing on to the 31st verse, and proving, that in the pure eye of God the man who has made the most co-yoked and the tortured negro is compelled pious application in his power of snow-to yield to the whip of the overseer. The water to the visible conduct, may still be an service may be done; but all that can miobject of abhorrence; and that if God enter nister satisfaction in the principle of the into judgment with him, he will make him service, may be withheld from it; and appear as one plunged in the ditch, his though the very last item of the bidden perrighteousness as filthy rags, and himself as formance is rendered, this will neither mend an unclean thing. There are a thousand the deformity of the unnatural child, nor things which, in popular and understood soothe the feelings of the afflicted and the language, man can do. It is quite the general mortified father. sentiment, that he can abstain from stealing, and lying, and calumny,-that he can give of his substance to the poor, and attend church, and pray, and read his Bible, and keep up the worship of God in his family. But, as an instance of distinction between what he can do, and what he cannot do, let us make the undoubted assertion, that he can eat wormwood, and just put the question, if he can also relish wormwood. That is a different affair. I may command the performance; but have no such command

himself, and is able to perform it, and if he can read much of his Bible, and utter many prayers in private, that he can do it, --and if he can assemble his family on the morning and the evening of every day, and go through the worship of God along with them, that all this he can do,-that all this lies within the compass of human agency.

God is the Father of spirits; and the willing subjection of the spirit is that which he requires of us. "My son, give me thy heart;" and if the heart be withheld, God says of all our visible performances, "To what purpose is the multitude of your sacrifices unto me?" The heart is his requirement; and full, indeed, is the title which he prefers to it. He put life into us; and it is he who hath drawn a circle of enjoyments, and friendships, and interests around us Every thing that we take delight in, is min

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DEPRAVITY OF HUMAN NATURE.

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istered to us out of his hand. He plies us | quiesce in what he reckons to be the exaggerations of orthodoxy upon this subject; nor can he at all conceive how it is possible that, with so much of the semblance of godliness about him, there should, at the same time, be within him the very opposite of

every moment with his kindness; and when at length the gift stole the heart of man away from the Giver, so that he became a lover of his own pleasure, rather than a lover of God, even then would he not leave us to perish in the guilt of our rebellion.godliness. It is, indeed, a difficult task to Man made himself an alien, but God was carry upon this point the conviction of him not willing to abandon him; and, rather who positively loves the Sabbath, and to than lose him for ever, did he devise a way whom the chime of its morning bells brings of access by which to woo, and to welcome the delightful associations of peace and of him back again. The way of our recovery sacredness,-who has his hours of prayer, is indeed a way that his heart was set upon; at which he gathers his family around him, and to prove it, he sent his own eternal Son and his hours of attendance on that house into the world, who unrobed him of all his where the man of God deals out his weekly glories and made himself of no reputation. lessons to the assembled congregation. It He had to travel in the greatness of his may be in vain to tell him, that God in fact strength, that he might unbar the gates of is a weariness to his heart, when it is atacceptance to a guilty world; and now that, tested to him by his own consciousness; in full harmony with the truth and the jus- that when the preacher is before him, and tice of God, sinners may draw nigh through the people are around him, and the prothe blood of the atonement, what is the fessed object of their coming together is to wonderful length to which the condescen- join in the exercise of devotion, and to grow sion of God carries him? Why, he actually in the knowledge of God, he finds in fact beseeches us to be reconciled; and, with a that all is pleasantness, that his eye is not tone more tender than the affection of an merely filled with the public exhibition, and earthly father ever prompted, does he call his ear regaled by the impressiveness of a upon us to turn, and to turn, for why should human voice, but that the interest of his we die? if, after all this, the antipathy of na- heart is completely kept up by the succesture to God still cleave to us; if, under the sion and variety of the exercises. It may power of this antipathy, the service we be in vain to tell him, that this religion of yield be the cold and unwilling service of taste or this religion of habit, or this reconstraint; if, with many of the visible out-ligion of inheritance, may utterly consist works of obedience, there be also the strug- with the deep and the determined worldliglings of a reluctant heart to take away ness of all his affections,-that he whom from this obedience all its cheerfulness, is he thinks to be the God of his Sabbath is not not God defrauded of his offering? Does the God of his week; but that, throughout there not rest on the moral aspect of our all the successive days of it, he is going character, in reference to him, all the odious- astray after the idols of vanity, and living ness of unnatural children? Let our outer without God in the world. This is demondoings be what they may, does there not stration enough of all his forms, and all his adhere to us the turpitude of having deeply observations, being a mere surface display, revolted against that Being whose kindness without a living principle of piety. But has never abandoned us? And, though pure perhaps it may serve more effectually to in the eye of our fellows, and our hands be convince him of it, should we ask him, how clean as with snow-water, is there nothing his godliness thrives in the closet, and what in our hearts against which a spiritual law are the workings of his heart, in the abmay denounce its severities, and, the giver stract and solitary hour of intercourse with of that law may lift a voice of righteous ex- the unseen Father. In church, there may postulation? "Hear ye now what the Lord be much to interest him, and to keep him saith: Arise, contend thou before the moun- alive. But when alone, and deserted by all tains, and let the hills hear thy voice. Hear the accompaniments of a solemn assembly, ye, O mountains, the Lord's controversy, we should like to know with what vivacity and ye strong foundations of the earth: he enters on the one business of meditating for the Lord hath a controversy with his on God, and holding converse with God. people, and he will plead with Israel. O Is the sense of the all-seeing and ever-premy people, what have I done unto thee, sent Deity enough for him; and does love and wherein have I wearied thee? testify to God brighten and sustain the moments of solitary prayer? The mind may have against me." enough to interest it in church; but does the secret exercise of fellowship with the Father bring no distaste, and no wearines along with it? Is it any thing more than when the business of devotion is thus un the homage of a formal presentation? An peopled of all its externals, and of all i

It is not easy to lay open the utter nakedness of the natural heart in reference to God; or to convince the possessor of it, that, under the guise of his many plausibilities, there may lurk that which gives to sin all its hideousness.

The mere man of ordinances cannot ac

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accessaries; when thus reduced to a naked | pentance, and called upon the people to exercise of spirit, can you appeal to the frame their doings, he told them of one longings, and the affections of that spirit, as mightier than he, who was to baptize with the essential proof of your godliness? And the Holy Ghost and with fire. do you never, on occasions like this, discover that which is in your hearts, and detect their enmity to him who formed them? Do you afford no ground for the complaint which he uttered of old, when he said, "Have I been a wilderness unto Israel, and a land of darkness?" and do you not perceive that with this direction of your feelings and your desires away from the living God, though you be outwardly clean, as by the operation of snow water, he may plunge you in the ditch, and make your own clothes to abhor you.

We shall conclude this part of our subject with two observations.

First. The efforts of nature may, in point of inadequacy, be compared to the application of snow water. Yet there is a practical mischief here, in which the zeal of controversy, bent on its one point, and its one principle, may unconsciously involve us. We are not, in pursuit of any argument whatever, to lose sight of efforts. We are not to deny them the place, and the importance which the Bible plainly assigns to them; nor are we to forbear insisting upon their performance by men, previous to conversion, and in the very act of conversion, and in every period of the progress, however far advanced it may be, of the new creature in Jesus Christ our Lord. We speak just now of men, previous to conversion, and we call to your remembrance the exainple of John the Baptist. The injudicious way in which the doings of men have been spoken of, has had practically this effect on many an inquirer. Since doing is of so little consequence, let us even abstain from it. Now the forerunner of Christ spake a very different language. He unceasingly called upon the people to do; and this was the very preaching which the divine wisdom appointed as a preparation for the Saviour."He that hath two coats, let him impart to him that hath none; and he that hath meat, let him do likewise.""Exact no more than that which is appointed."."-" Do violence to no man; neither accuse any falsely, and be content with your wages." Was not John, then, it may be said, a mere superficial reformer? Had he stopped short at this, he would have been no better. His teaching could have done no more than is done by the mere application of snow water. But he did not stop here. He told the people that there was a preacher and a preaching to come after him, in comparison of which he and his sermons were nothing. He pointed the eye and the expectation of his hearers full upon one that was greater than himself; and, while he baptized with water unto re

And, Secondly, That you may be convinced of the utter necessity of such a bap tism, let us affirm the inadequacy of all the fairest virtues and accomplishments of nature. God has, for the well-being of society, provided man with certain feelings and constitutional principles of action, which lead him to a conduct beneficial to those around him; to which conduct he may be carried by the impulse of these principles, with as little reference to the will of God, as a mother, among the inferior animals, when constrained by the sweet and powerful influences of natural affection, to guard the safety, and provide for the nourishment of her young. Take account of these principles as they exist in the bosom of man, and you there find compassion for the unfortunate; the shame of detection in any thing mean, or disgraceful; the desire of standing well in the opinion of his fellows; the kindlier charities, which shed a mild and a quiet lustre over the walks of domestic life; and those wider principles of patriotism and public usefulness which, combined with an appetite for distinction, will raise a few of the more illustrious of our race to some high and splendid career of beneficence. Now, these are the principles which, scattered in various proportions among the individuals of human kind, gave rise to the varied hues of character among them. Some possess them in no sensible degree; and they are pointed at with abhorrence, as the most monstrous and deformed of the species. Others have an average share of them; and they take their station amongst the common-place characters of society. And others go beyond the average; and are singled out from amongst their fellows, as the kind, the amiable, the sweet-tempered, the upright, whose hearts swell with honourable feeling, or whose pulse beats high in the pride of integrity.

Now, conceive for a moment, that the belief of a God were to be altogether expunged from the world. We have no doubt that society would suffer most painfully in its temporal interests by such an event. But the machine of society might still be kept up; and on the face of it you might still meet with the same gradations of character, and the same varied distribution of praise, among the individuals who compose it. Suppose it possible, that the world could be broken off from the system of God's administration altogether; and that he were to consign it, with all its present accommodations, and all its natural principles, to some far and solitary place, beyond the limits of his economy-we should still find ourselves

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in the midst of a moral variety of character; | upon your compassion? and, instead of a and man, sitting in judgment over it, would desultory instinct, excited to feeling by a say of some, that they are good, and of moving picture of sensibility, and limited in others, that they are evil. Even in this effect to a humble fraction of your expendidesolate region of atheism, the eye of the ture, he call upon you to love your neighsentimentalist might expatiate among beau-bour as yourself, and to maintain this prin

ous and interesting spectacles,-amiable ciple at the expense of self-denial, and in mothers shedding their graceful tears over the midst of manifold provocations? You the tomb of departed infancy; high-toned love your children-still indispensably integrity maintaining itself unsullied amid right. But what if he should say, and he the allurements of corruption; benevolence has actually said it, that you may know plying its labours of usefulness; and patri- how to give good gifts unto your children, otism earning its proud reward, in the testi- and still be evil? and that if you love father, mony of an approving people. Here, then, or mother, or wife, or children, more than you have compassion, and natural affec- him, you are not worthy of him? The lustion, and justice, and public spirit-buttre of your accomplishments dazzles the would it not be a glaring perversion of lan-eye of your neighbourhood, and you bask guage to say, that there was godliness in with a delighted heart in the sunshine of a world, where there was no feeling and glory. But what if he should say, that his no conviction about God. glory, and not your own, should be the constant aim of your doings? and that if you love the praise of men more than the praise of God, you stand, in the pure and spiritual records of heaven, convicted of idolatry? You love the things of the world; and the men of the world, coming together in judgment upon you, take no offence at it. But God takes offence at it. He says,— and is he not right in saying?—that if the gift withdraw the affections from the Giver, there is something wrong; that the love of these things is opposite to the love of the Father; and that, unless you withdraw your affections from a world that perisheth, you will perish along with it. Surely if these, and such like principles, may consist with the atheism of a world where God is unthought of and unknown,-you stand convicted of a still deeper and more determined atheism, who under the revelation of a God challenging the honour that is due unto his name, are satisfied with your holding in society, and live without him in the world.

In the midst of this busy scene, let God reveal himself, not to eradicate these principles of action--but giving his sanction to whatsoever things are just, and lovely, and honourable, and of good report, to make himself known, at the same time as the Creator and Upholder of all things, and as the Being with whom all his rational off spring had to do. Is this solemn announcement from the voice of the Eternal to make no difference upon them? Are those principles which might flourish and be sustained on a soil of atheism, to be counted enough even after the wonderful truth of a living and a reigning God has burst upon the world? You are just ;-right, indispensably right. You say you have asserted no more than your own. But this property is not your own. He gave it to you, and he may call upon you to give to him an account of your stewardship. You are compassionate;-right also. But what if he set up the measure of the sanctuary

SERMON V.

The Judgment of Men, compared with the Judgment of God.

“With me it is a very small thing that I should be judged of you, or of man's judgment—he that judget me is the Lord."-1 Corinthians iv. 3, 4.

III. WHEN two parties meet together on | ferent case of man's entering into judgment the business of adjusting their respective with his God. Job seems to have been claims, or when, in the language of our aware of this difference, and at times to text, they come together in judgment, the have been humbled by it. In reference to principles on which they proceed must de- man, he stood on triumphant ground, and pend on the relation in which they stand often spoke of it in a style of boastful vindito each other: and we know not a more cation. No one could impeach his justice. fatal or a more deep laid delusion, than that No one could question his generosity. And by which the principles, applicable to the he made his confident appeal to the rememcase of a man entering into judgment with brance of those around him, when he says his fellow-men, are transferred to the far dif- of himself, that he delivered the poor that

cried, and the fatherless, and him that had | if there be any emphasis in the consideranone to help him; that the blessing of him tion, that he is God, and not man; or any that was ready to perish came upon him, delusion in conceiving of him, that he is and he caused the widow's heart to sing altogether like unto ourselves,-may not for joy; that he put on righteousness, and it all that ready circulation of praise, and of clothed him, and his judgment was as a acknowledgement, which obtains in society, robe and a diadem; that he was eyes to the carry a most ruinous, and a most bewitching blind, and feet was he to the lame; that he influence along with it? Is it not possible was a father to the poor, and the cause that that on the applause of man there may be he knew not, he searched out. On these reared a most treacherous self-complacency? grounds did he challenge the judgment Might not we build a confidence before of man, and actually obtained it. For we God, on this sandy foundation? Think are told, because he did all this, that when you not, that it is just this ill-supported conthe ear heard him, then it blessed him, and fidence which shuts out from many a heart when the eye saw him, it gave witness unto the humiliating doctrine of the gospel? Is him. there no such imagination as that because There is not a more frequent exercise of we are so well able to stand our ground mind in society, than that by which the before the judgment of the world, we shall members of it form and declare their judg- be equally well able to stand our ground bement of each other-and the work of thus fore the judgment-seat of the great day? Are deciding is a work which they all share in, there not many who, upon this very prinand on which, perhaps, there is not a day ciple, count themselves rich and to have of their lives wherein they are not called need of nothing? And have you never upon to expend some measure of attention met with men of character, and estimation in and understanding-and we know not if society, who, surrounded by the gratulations there be a single topic that more readily of their neighbourhood, find the debasing engages the conversation of human beings- views of humanity, which are set before us and often do we utter our own testimony, in the New Testament, to be beyond their and hear the testimony of others to the comprehension; who are utterly in the dark, virtues and vices of the absent-and out of as to the truth and the justness of such reall this has arisen a standard of estimation- presentations, and with whom the voice of and it is such a standard as many may God is therefore deafened by the voice and actually reach, and some have actually ex- the testimony of men? They see not themceeded-and thus it is, that it appears to re-selves in that character of vileness and of quire a very extended scale of reputation guilt which he ascribes to them. They are to take in all the varieties of human charac- blind to the principle of the text, that he is ter-and while the lower extremity of it not a man; and that they may not be able is occupied by the dishonest, and the per- to answer him, though they may be able fidious, and the glaringly selfish, who are to meet the every reproach, and to hold out outcasts from general respect; on the higher the lofty vindication against every charge, extremity of it, do we behold men, to whom which any one of their fellows may prefer. are awarded, by the universal voice, all the And thus it is, that many live in the habitual honours of a proud and unsullied excel-neglect of a salvation which they cannot lence and their walk in the world is digni- see that they require; and spend their days fied by the reverence of many salutations in an insidious security, from which nothing --and as we hear of their truth and their but the voice of the last messenger, or the uprightness, and their princely liberalities, call of the last trumpet, shall awaken them. and of a heart alive to every impulse of sympathy, and of a manner sweetened by all the delicacies of genuine kindness; who does not see that, in this assemblage of moral graces and accomplishments, there is enough to satisfy man, and to carry the admiration of man? and can we wonder if, while we gaze on so fine a specimen of our nature, we should not merely pronounce upon him an honourable sentence at the tribunal of human judgment, but we should conceive of him that he looks as bright and faultless in the eye of God, and that he is in every way meet for his presence and his friendship in eternity.

To do away this delusion, we shall advert to two leading points of distinction between the judgment of men and that of God. There is a distinction founded upon the claims which God has a right to prefer against us, when compared with the claims which our fellow-men have a right to prefer against us; and there is a distinction founded upon that clearer and more elevated sense which God has of that holiness without which no man shall see his face, of that moral worth without which we are utterly unfit for the society of heaven.

The people around me have no right to complain, if I give to every man his own;

Now, if there be any truth in the dis-or, in other words, if I am true to all my tinction of our text; if a man may have the promises, and faithful to all my bargains; judgment of his fellows, and yet be utterly and if what I claim as justice to myself, I unfit for contending in judgment with God; most scrupulously render to others, when

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