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holy and humble spirit in all our intercourse with him, the performance of our duties towards each other will be of no avail. We may be liberal in our transactions with our fellow-men, eminent for our integrity and benevolence; yet we may be proud and self-righteous, like the Pharisees of old. Our tempers and dispositions may be far removed from contrition of heart, or humiliation before God. Our very strictness in the fulfilment of the outward demands of human duties, (so to speak,) may arise from motives that have not the fear or the love of God for their origin; and may tend only to show how the heart can deceive itself with outward observances, while its affections are still unsanctified, and its desires still fixed upon unworthy objects.
On the other hand, the bypocrite may rely on the fancied devotion of his apparent zeal for God's honour, and upon his outward observance of religious observances ; yet his character will show its deficiencies when tried by the test of his performance of the relative duties. Any attempt to form a character pleasing to God, on any other basis than the just combination of these great and fundamental virtues, is utterly vain : judgment, mercy, and faith, those“ weightier matters of the law,” must be regarded with due attention by those who desire to do that which is well pleasing in the sight of God. And when we have endeavoured to do justly and to love mercy, let us examine whether these our endeavours spring from the only efficient source, a truly religious feeling. Let us examine whether we, who are before the world, just and benevolent, are also humble in our walk with God. Let us consider whether our private hours, those moments when no human eye is
upon our actions; whether our secret thoughts, those imaginations of our hearts, of which no human breast except our own is conscious; let us consider, I say, whether these our secret things are indeed as blameless, and as pure, as holy and compassionate, as our external conduct would argue
them to be ; and whether, under all cir. cumstances, we can utter that prayer of the Psalmist, “Examine me, O Lord, and try me; search out my reins and my heart. Look well if there be any way of wickedness in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.”
It only remains to make one remark on this beautiful and comprehensive passage of Scripture. Many persons will be found to quote this very text, with a view to show that there was no necessity for the revelation of Christian doctrines, when such an epitome of our duty was already given. Such persons will be ready to deny the necessity of regeneration, or the efficacy of faith in order to justification; as if the rules here laid down were alone sufficient for our salvation. But this proceeds from a mistaken
notion of the whole matter. Christianity does not contradict this beautiful summary
practical religion : it rather explains and illustrates its requirements. It shows that which, without its light, man could not have fully discerned, namely, “ how he shall walk humbly with his God.” It shows him, in the manifestation of Jesus Christ, the only method of acceptance with the Father ; and in propounding the efficacy of his atonement, it gives a confidence and hope to the soul, that could not find wherewith she should come before the Most High, and bow herself before the Lord : and this exhibition of divine mercy, thus providing that acceptable atonement which the thousand rams of the Levi. tical sacrifices prefigured ; thus bringing in the First-born into the world to die for the sins of men, does of itself generate the feeling of humble penitence, and confident faith towards this merciful God. Here, then, is the foundation of every other excellence; here is the great master motive from which all other virtues spring ; here is the great model for our imitation ; here is the all-prevailing assistance to us in our pursuit after that excellence which is proposed for our example. Justice and mercy, integrity and benevolence, truth and uprightness, here shine forth with their full splendour. “ Be ye merciful even as your Father which is in heaven is merciful.”“ We love him because he first loved us; and if God so loved us, we ought also to love one another.” And surely, a greater than prophet spake that golden rule of human actions; that most accurate guide of relative duty ; that most excellent interpretation of the true principle of human intercourse : “ Whatsoever ye would that men should do unto you, even so do unto them.” Thus is Christianity consistent with the law and the prophets ; thus is it the completion of the divine will, “ the power of God, and the wisdom of God unto salvation.”
A DAY APPOINTED FOR JUDGMENT.
Acts xvii. 30, 31. But now God commandeth all men every where to
repent ; because he hath appointed a day, in the which he will judge the world in righteousness, by that man whom he hath ordain. ed; whereof he hath given assurance unto all men, in that he hath raised him from the dead.
It is of some importance to the due influence of Christianity upon our hearts, that we should obtain a correct estimate of the full extent and value of those benefits which we have received from the revelation of Jesus Christ. And in forming this estimate, we must examine the state of human knowledge upon the most important of all subjects, namely, the character and attributes of God, and our relation to him as his responsible and moral creatures; not only as that know