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unless the same caution obtained among modern Christians which was observed among the ancient heathens. With them, men and women never danced together; but always in separate rooms. This was always observed in ancient Greece, and for several ages at Rome; where a woman dancing in company with men, would have at once been set down for a prostitute. Of playing at cards, I say the same as of seeing plays. I could not do it with a clear conscience. But I am not obliged to pass any sentence on those that are otherwise minded. I leave them to their own Master: to him let them stand or fall.
5. But supposing these, as well as the reading of plays, novels, newspapers, and the like, to be quite innocent diversions, yet are there not more excellent ways of diverting themselves for those that love or fear God? Would men of fortune divert themselves in the open air? They may do it by cultivating and improving their lands, by planting their grounds, by laying out, carrying on, and perfecting their gardens and orchards. At other times they may visit and converse with the most serious and sensible of their neighbours: or they may visit the sick, the poor, the widows, and the fatherless in their affliction. Do they desire to divert themselves in the house? They may read useful history, pious and elegant poetry, or several branches of natural philosophy. If you have time, you may divert yourself by music, and perhaps by philosophical experiments. But above all, when you have once learned the use of prayer, you will find, that as
"That which yields or fills All space, the ambient air, wide interfused Embraces round this florid earth:"
so will this; till through every space of life it be interfused with all your employments, and wherever you are, whatever you do, embrace you on every side. Then you will be able to say boldly ;—
"With me no melancholy void,
My weariness of life is gone,
And only Jesus know."
VI. One point only remains to be considered; that is the use of money. What is the way wherein the generality of Christians employ this? And is there not "a more excellent way ?",
1. The generality of Christians usually set apart something yearly, perhaps a tenth or even one eighth part of their income, whether it arise from yearly revenue, or from trade, for charitable uses. A few I have known, who said, like Zaccheus, "Lord, the half of my goods I give to the poor." Oh that it would please God to multiply those friends of mankind, those general benefactors! but,
2. Besides those who have a stated rule, there are thousands who give large sums to the poor: especially when any striking instance of distress is represented to them in lively colours.
3. I praise God for all of you who act in this manner. May you never be weary of well doing! May God restore what you give, seven fold into your own bosom! But yet I show unto you a more excellent way."
4. You may consider yourself as one, in whose hands the Proprietor of heaven and earth, and all things therein, has lodged a part of his goods, to be disposed of according to his direction. And his direction
is, that you should look upon yourself as one of a certain number of indigent persons, who are to be provided for out of that portion of his goods, wherewith you are entrusted. You have two advantages over the rest the one, that "it is more blessed to give than to receive;" the other, that you are to serve yourself first; and others afterwards. This is the light wherein you are to see yourself and them. But to be more particular. First: If you have no family, after you have provided for yourself, give away all that remains; so that
"Each Christmas your accounts may clear,
This was the practice of all the young men at Oxford, who were called Methodists. For example: one of them had thirty pounds a year. He lived on twenty-eight, and gave away forty shillings. The next year receiving sixty pounds, he still lived on twenty-eight, and gave away two and thirty. The third year he received ninety pounds, and gave away sixty-two. The fourth year he received a hundred and twenty pounds. Still he lived as before on twenty-eight; and gave to the poor ninety-two. Was not this a more excellent way? Secondly: If you have a family, seriously consider before God how much each member of it wants, in order to have what is needful for life and godliness. And in general, do not allow them less, nor much more than you allow yourself. Thirdly: This being done, fix your purpose, to "gain no more. I charge you in the name of God, do not increase your substance! As it comes daily or yearly, so let it go: otherwise you "lay up treasures upon earth." And this our Lord as flatly forbids, as murder and adultery. By doing it, therefore, you would, "treasure up to yourselves wrath against the day of wrath, and revelation of the righteous judgment of God."
5. But suppose it were not forbidden, how can you, on principles of reason, spend your money in a way, which God may possibly forgive, instead of spending it in a manner which he will certainly reward? You will have no reward in heaven, for what you lay up: you will, for what you lay out: every pound you put into the earthly bank is sunk : it brings no interest above. But every pound you give to the poor, is put into the bank of heaven. And it will bring glorious interest: yea, and as such will be accumulating to all eternity.
6. Who then is a wise man, and endued with knowledge among you? Let him resolve this day, this hour, this moment, the Lord assisting him, to choose in all the preceding particulars the "more excellent way:" and let him steadily keep it, both with regard to sleep, prayer, work, food, conversation, and diversions; and particularly, with regard to the employment of that important talent, money. Let your heart answer to the call of God, "From this moment, God being my helper, I will lay up no more treasure upon earth: this one thing I will do, I will lay up treasure in heaven: I will render unto God the things that are God's: I will give him all my goods, and all my heart!"
SERMON XCV.-An Israelite Indeed.
"Behold an Israelite indeed, in whom is no guile,” John i, 47.
1. SOME years ago, a very ingenious man, professor Hutcheson of Glasgow, published two treatises, on the original of our ideas of beauty and virtue. In the latter of these he maintains, that the very essence of virtue is, the love of our fellow creatures. He endeavours to prove, that virtue and benevolence are one and the same thing; that every temper is only so far virtuous, as it partakes of the nature of benevolence; and that all our words and actions are then only virtuous, when they spring from the same principle. "But does he not suppose gratitude, or the love of God, to be the foundation of this benevolence?" By no means: such a supposition as this never entered into his mind. Nay, he supposes just the contrary: he does not make the least scruple to aver, That if any temper or action be produced by any regard to God, or any view to a reward from him, it is not virtuous at all; and that if an action spring partly from benevolence, and partly from a view to God, the more there is in it of a view to God, the less there is of virtue.
2. I cannot see this beautiful essay of Mr. Hutcheson's in any other light, than as a decent, and, therefore, more dangerous attack upon the whole of the Christian revelation: seeing this asserts the love of God to be the true foundation, both of the love of our neighbour, and all other virtues and accordingly, places this as "the first and great commandment," on which all the rest depend, "Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy mind, and with all thy soul, and with all thy strength." So that, according to the Bible, benevolence, or the love of our neighbour, is only the second commandment. And suppose the Scripture to be of God, it is so far from being true, that benevolence alone is both the foundation and the essence of all virtue, that benevolence itself is no virtue at all, unless it spring from the love of God.
3. Yet it cannot be denied, that this writer himself has a marginal note in favour of Christianity. "Who would not wish," says he, "that the Christian revelation could be proved to be of God? Seeing, it is, unquestionably, the most benevolent institution that ever appeared in the world." But is not this, if it be considered thoroughly, another blow at the very root of that revelation? Is it more or less than to say, "I wish it could; but, in truth, it cannot be proved?"
4. Another ingenious writer advances an hypothesis totally different from this. Mr. Wollaston, in the book which he entitles, "The Religion of Nature Delineated," endeavours to prove, that "truth is the essence of virtue;" or, conformableness to truth. But it seems, Mr. Wollaston goes farther from the Bible than Mr. Hutcheson himself. For Mr. Hutcheson's scheme sets aside only one of the two great commandments, namely, "Thou shalt love the Lord thy God;" whereas, Mr. Wollaston sets aside both: for his hypothesis does not place the essence of virtue, in either the love of God or of our neighbour.
5. However both of these authors agree, though in different ways, to put asunder what God has joined. But St. Paul unites them together in teaching us to "speak the truth in love." And undoubtedly, both truth and love were united in him, to whom He who knows the hearts
of all men gives this amiable character, "Behold an Israelite indeed, in whom is no guile."
6. But who is it, concerning whom our blessed Lord gives this glorious testimony? Who is this Nathanael, of whom so remarkable an account is given in the latter part of the chapter before us? Is it not strange, that he is not mentioned again in any part of the New Testament? He is not mentioned again under this name; but probably he had another, whereby he was more commonly called. It was generally believed by the ancients, that he is the same person who is elsewhere termed Bartholomew: one of our Lord's apostles, and one that, in the enumeration of them, both by St. Matthew and St. Mark, is placed immediately after St. Philip, who first brought him to his Master. It is very probable, that his proper name was Nathanael; a name common among the Jews; and that his other name, Bartholomew, meaning only the son of Ptolemy, was derived from his father: a custom which was then exceeding common among the Jews, as well as the heathens.
7. By what little is said of him in the context, he appears to have been a man of an excellent spirit: not hasty of belief, and yet open to conviction, and willing to receive the truth, from whence soever it came. So we read, verse 45, "Philip findeth Nathanael," (probably, by what we term accident,) " and saith unto him, We have found him, of whom Moses in the law, and the prophets did write, Jesus of Nazareth." "Nathanael saith unto him, Can any good thing come out of Nazareth?" Has Moses spoke, or did the prophets write of any prophet to come from thence? "Philip saith unto him, Come and see;" and thou wilt soon be able to judge for thyself. Nathanael took his advice, without staying to confer with flesh and blood. "Jesus saw Nathanael coming, and saith, Behold an Israelite indeed, in whom is no guile !" "Nathanael saith," doubtless with surprise enough," Whence knowest thou me?" “Jesus saith, Before Philip called thee, when thou wast under the fig tree, I saw thee." "Nathanael answered and said unto him," (so soon was all prejudice gone!) "Rabbi, thou art the Son of God! Thou art the King of Israel !”
But what is implied in our Lord's character of him? no guile?" It may include all that is contained in that advice,
"In whom is
"Still let thy heart be true to God,
Thy words to it, thy actions to them both."
I. 1. We may first observe, what is implied in having our hearts true to God? Does this imply any less than is included in that gracious command; "My son, give me thy heart?" Then only is our heart true to God, when we give it to him. We give him our heart in the lowest degree, when we seek our happiness in him: when we do not seek it in gratifying" the desire of the flesh;" in any of the pleasures of sense; -nor in gratifying "the desire of the eye;" in any of the pleasures of the imagination, arising from grand, or new, or beautiful objects, whether of nature or art ;-neither in "the pride of life;" in "the honour that cometh of men;" in being beloved, esteemed, and applauded by them: no, nor yet in what some term, with equal impudence and ignorance, the main chance; the "laying up treasures on earth." When we seek happiness in none of these, but in God alone, then, we, in some sense, give him our heart.
2. But in a more proper sense, we give God our heart, when we not only scek, but find happiness in him. This happiness undoubtedly begins, when we begin to know him by the teaching of his own Spirit · when it pleases the Father to reveal his Son in our hearts, so that we can humbly say, "My Lord and my God ;" and when the Son is pleased to reveal his Father in us, by "the Spirit of adoption crying in our hearts, Abba, Father," and bearing his "testimony to our spirits that we are the children of God." Then it is that "the love of God also is shed abroad in our hearts." And according to the degree of our love, is the degree of our happiness.
3. But it has been questioned, whether it is the design of God, that the happiness which is at first enjoyed by all that know and love him, should continue any longer than, as it were, the day of their espousals? In very many, we must allow, it does not: but in a few months, perhaps weeks, or even days, the joy and peace either vanishes at once, or gradually decays. Now, if God is willing that their happiness should continue, how is this to be accounted for?
4. I believe, very easily. St. Jude's exhortation, "Keep yourselves in the love of God," certainly implies, that something is to be done on our part, in order to its continuance. And is not this agreeable to that declaration of our Lord, concerning this and every gift of God; "Unto him that hath, shall be given, and he shall have more abundance: but from him that hath not,"—that is, uses it not, improves it not," shall be taken away even that which he hath," Luke viii, 18.
5. Indeed, part of this verse is translated in our version, "That which he seemeth to have." But it is difficult to make sense of this. For if he only seemeth to have this, or any other gift of God, he really hath it not. And if so, it cannot be taken away: for no man can lose what he never had. It is plain, therefore, o doxe exev, ought to be rendered, what he assuredly hath. And it may be observed, that the word doxew, in various places of the New Testament, does not lessen, but strengthen the sense of the word joined with it. Accordingly, whoever improves the grace he has already received, whoever increases in the love of God, will surely retain it. God will continue, yea, will give it more abundantly whereas, whoever does not improve this talent, cannot possibly retain it. Notwithstanding all he can do, it will infallibly be taken away
II. 1. Meantime, as the heart of him that is "an Israelite indeed" is true to God, so his words are suitable thereto : and as there is no guile lodged in his heart, so there is none found in his lips. The first thing implied herein is, veracity: the speaking the truth from his heart: the putting away all wilful lying, in every kind and degree. A lie, accord ing to a well known definition of it is, falsum testimonium, cum intentione fallendi: a falsehood known to be such by the speaker, and uttered with an intention to deceive." But even the speaking of a falsehood is not a lie, if it be not spoken with an intent to deceive.
2. Most casuists, particularly those of the church of Rome, distinguish lies into three sorts: the first sort is malicious lies; the second, harmless lies; the third, officious lies: concerning which they pass a very different judgment. I know not any that are so hardy as even to excuse, much less defend malicious lies; that is, such as are told with a design to hurt any one: these are condemned by all parties. Men are