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they are in like circumstances with myself. | We cannot bring forward any rigid computation of this matter. But we appeal to the experience of your own history, and to your observation of others, if a man might not, without any painful, or any sensible surrender of enjoyment at all, stand out to the eye of others in a blaze of moral reputation-if the substantial citizen might not, on the convivialities of friendship, be indulging his own taste, and at the very time be securing from his pleased and satisfied guests, the attestations of their cordiality-if the man of business might not be nobly generous to his friends in adversity, and at the same time be running one unvaried career of accumulation-if the man of society might not be charming every acquaintance by the truth and the
Now, let me do all this, and I earn amongst my fellows the character of a man of honour and of equity. Did I live with such a character in an unfallen world, these virtues would not at all signalize me, though the opposite vices would mark me out for universal surprise and indignation. But it so happens that I live in a world full of corruption, where deceit and dishonesty are common; where, though the higher degrees of them are spoken of with abhorrence, the lower degrees of them are looked at with a very general connivance ;--where the inflexibility of a truth that knows not one art of concealment, and the delicacy of an honour that was never tainted, would greatly signalize me;-and thus it is, that though I went not beyond the strict require-tenderness of his expressions, and at the ments of integrity, yet by my nice and un- same time, instead of impairing, be heightvarying fulfilment of them, should I rise éning his share of that felicity, which the above the ordinary level of human reputa- Author of our being has annexed to human tion, and be rewarded by the most flatter- intercourse-if a thousand little acts of acing distinctions of human applause. commodation from one neighbour to anBut again, I may in fact give to others other, might not swell the tide of praise and more than their own; and in so doing I may of popularity, and yet, as ample a remainearn the credit of other virtues. I may der of pleasurable feeling be left to each as gather an additional lustre around my cha- before. And even when the sacrifice is racter, and collect from those around me more painful, and the generosity more rothe tribute of a still louder and more rap-mantic, and man can appeal to some mighty turous approbation. I may have a heart reduction of wealth as the measure of his constitutionally framed to the feeling and beneficence to others, might it not be said the exercise of compassion. I may scatter of him, if the life be more than meat, and on every side of me the treasures of benefi- the body than raiment, that still there is cence. I may have an eye for pity, and a left to him more than he can possibly surhand open as day for melting charity. I render? that, though he strip himself of all may lay aside a large proportion of my his goods to feed the poor, there remains wealth to the service of others,-and what to him that, without which all is nothingwith a bosom open to every impulse of pity, ness,-that a breathing and a conscious man, and with an eye ever lighted up by the he still treads on the face of our world, and smile of courteousness, and with a ready bears his part in that universe of life, where ear to all that is offered in the shape of the unfailing compassion of God still concomplaint or supplication, I may not go be- tinues to uphold him,-that instead of lying yond the demands of others, but I may wrapt in the insensibility of an eternal go greatly beyond all that they have a right grave, he has all the images of a waking to demand, and if I signalize myself by existence around him, and all the glories rendering faithfully to every man his due, of immortality before him,-that instead of -still more shall I signalize myself by a being withered to a thing of nought, and kindness that is never weary, by a liberality gone to that dark and hidden land, where that never is exhausted. all is silence and deep annihilation, a thou
Now, we need not offer to assign the pre-sand avenues of enjoyment are still open to cise degree to which a man must carry the him, and the promise of a daily provision is exercise of these gratuitous virtues, ere he still made sure, and he is free to all the can obtain for them the good will, and the common blessings of nature, and he is good opinion of society. We need not say freer still to all the consolations, and to all by how small a fraction of his income, he the privileges of the gospel, may thus purchase the homage of his acquaintances, at how easy a rate he may send away one person delighted by his affability; or another by the hospitality of his reception; or a third by the rendering of a personal service; or a fourth by the-that after, on the footing of equal and indirect conveyance of a present,-or, finally, dependent rights, I have come into judgfor what expense he may surround him- ment with my fellows, and they have self by the gratitude of many poor, and the awarded to me the tribute of their most blessings and the prayers of many cottages. honourable testimony, the footing on which
Thus it appears that after I have fulfilled all the claims of men, and men are satisfied,-that after having gone, in the exercise of liberality, beyond these claims, and men are filled with delight and admiration,
what is due to him, by what is due to our fellows in society. He made us, and he upholds us, and at his will the life which is in us, will, like the expiring vapour, pass away; and the tabernacle of the body, that curious frame-work which man thinks he can move at his own pleasure, when it is only in God that he moves, as well as lives and has his being, will, when abandoned by its spirit, mix with the dust out of which it was formed, and enter again into the unconscious glebe from which it was taken. It was, indeed, a wondrous preferment for unshapen clay to be wrought into so fine an organic structure, but not more wondrous surely than that the soul which animates it should have been created out of nothing; and what shall we say, if the compound being so originated, and so sustained, and depending on the will of another for every moment of his continuance, is found to spurn the thought of God, in distaste and disaffection away from him? When the spirit returns to him who sitteth on the throne; when the question is put, Amid all the multitude of your doings in the world, what have you done unto me? When the rightful ascendency of his claims over every movement of the creature is made manifest by him who judgeth righteously; when the high but just pretensions of all things being done to his glory; of the entire heart being consecrated in every one of its regards to his person and character; of the whole man being set apart to his service, Now, what we wish you to feel is, that and every compromise being done away, the judgment of men may be upon your between the world on the one hand, and side, and the judgment of God be most that Being on the other, who is jealous of righteously against you-that while from his honour-when these high pretensions the one nothing is heard but admiration and are set up and brought into comparison gratitude, from the other, there may be such with the character and the conduct of any a charge of sinfulness, as, when set in or- one of us, and it be inquired in how far we der before your eye, will convince you, that have rendered unto God the ever-breathing he by whom you consist, is defrauded of gratitude that is due to him, and that obeall his offerings,-that, while all the com-dience which we should feel at all times to mon honesties and humanities of social life, be our task and our obligation; how shall are acquitted to the entire satisfaction of we fare in that great day of examination, others, and to the entire purity of your if it be found that this has not been the own reputation in the world, your whole tendency of our nature at all? and when heart and conduct may be utterly pervaded he who is not a man shall thus enter into by the habit of ungodliness,-that, while judgment with us, how shall we be able to not one claim which your neighbours can stand? prefer, is not met most readily, and discharged most honourably, the great claims of the Creator, over those whom he has formed, may lie altogether unheeded; and he, your constant benefactor, be not loved, -and he, your constant preserver, be not depended on, and he, your most legitimate sovereign, be not obeyed, and he, the unseen Spirit, who pervades all, and upholds all, be neither worshipped in spirit and in truth, nor vested with the hold of a rightful supremacy over your rebellious affections.
I stand with God still remains to be attended to, and his claims still remain to be adjusted, and the mighty account still lies uncancelled between the creature and the Creator,-between the man who, in reference to his neighbours, can say, I give every one his own, and out of my own I expatiate in acts of tenderness and generosity amongst them, and the God who can say, You have nothing that you did not receive, and all you ever gave is out of the ability which I have conferred upon you, and this wealth is not your own, but his who bestowed it, and who now calls upon you to render an account of your stewardship,between the man who has purchased, by a fraction of his property, the good will of his acquaintances, and the God who asserts his right to have every fraction of it turned into an expression of gratitude, and devoted to his glory,-between the man who holds up his head in society, because his justice, and the ministrations of his liberality, have distinguished him, and the God who demands the returns of duty and of acknowledgement, for giving him the fund of these ministrations, and for giving what no money can purchase, for putting the principle of life into his bosom,-for furnishing him with all his senses, and, through these inlets of communication, giving him a part, and a property, in all that is around him, for sustaining him in all the elements of his being, and conferring upon him all his capacities, and all his joys.
God is not man; nor can we measure
Amid all the praise we give and receiv from each other, we may have no claims to that substantial praise which cometh from God only. Men may be satisfied, but it followeth not that God is satisfied. Under a ruinous delusion upon this subject, we may fancy ourselves to be rich, and have need of nothing, while, in fact, we are naked, and destitute, and blind, and miserable. And thus it is, that there is a morality of this world, which stands in direct opposition to the humbling representations of the Gospel; which cannot comprehend what it means by the utter worthlessness
and depravity of our nature; which pas-dishonesty, which have a disturbing effect sionately repels this statement, and that too on the enjoyments of others, and these on its own consciousness of attainments others will still retain their kindliness for superior to those of the sordid, and the profli- the good-humoured convivialist, and he gate, and the dishonourable; and is fortified will be suffered to retain his own taste, and in its resistance to the truth as it is in Jesus, his own peculiarities; and, though it may by the flattering testimonials which it gathers be true, that chastity, and self-control, and. to its respectability and its worth from the the severer virtues of personal discipline various quarters of human society. and restraint, would in fact give a far more happy and healthful tone to society than at present it possesses, yet this influence is not so conspicuous, and heedless men do not look so far: and therefore it is, that in spite of his many outward and positive transgressions of the divine law, many an indi
A just sense of the extent of claim which God has upon his own creatures, would lay open this hiding-place of security: would lead us to see, that to do some things for our neighbours, is not the same with doing all things for our Maker; that a natural principle of honesty to man, is altogether vidual can be referred to, who, with his distinct from a principle of entire devoted- average share of the integrities and the senness to God; that the tithe which we be-sibilities of social life, has stamped upon stow upon others is not an equivalent for a him the currency of a very fair every-day total dedication unto God of ourselves, and character, who moves among his fellows of all which belongs to us; that we may without disgrace, and meets with acceptance present those around us with many an of- throughout the general run of this world's fering of kindness, and not present our companies. bodies a living sacrifice to God, which is our reasonable service; that we may earn a cheap and easy credit for such virtues as will satisfy the world, and be utter strangers to the self-denial, and the spirituality, and the mortification of every earthly desire, and the affection for the things that are above;—all of which graces enter as essential ingredients into the sanctification of the gospel.
But this leads us to the second point of distinction between the judgment of man and that of God, even his clearer and more elevated sense of that holiness without which no man shall see his face, and of that moral worth without which we are utterly unfit for the society of heaven.
Man's sense of the right and the wrong may be clear and intelligent enough, in so far as that part of character is concerned which renders us fit for the society of earth. Those virtues, without which a community could not be held together, are both urgently demanded by that community, and highly appreciated by it. The morality of our earthly life, is a morality which is in direct subservience to our earthly accommodation; and seeing that equity, and humanity, and civility, are in such visible and immediate connexion with all the security, and all the enjoyment which they spread around them, it is not to be wondered at, that they should throw over the character of him by whom they are exhibited, the lustre of a grateful and a superior estimation. And thus it is, that even without any very nice or exquisite refinement of these virtues, many an ordinary character will pass;-and should that character be deformed by the levities, or even by the profligacies of intemperance, he who sustains it may still bear his part among the good men of society,-and keep way from it all that malignity, and all that
If such a measure of indulgence be extended to the very glaring iniquities of the outer man, let us not wonder though the errors of the heart, the moral diseases of the spirit, the disorganization of the inner man, with its turbulent passions, and its worldly affections, and its utter deadness to the consideration of an overruling God, should find a very general indulgence among our brethren of the species. Bring a man to sit in judgment over the depravities of our common nature, and unless these depravities are obviously pointed against the temporal good of society, what can we expect, but that he will connive at the infirmities of which he feels himself to be so large and so habitual a partaker? What can we expect but that his moral sense, clouded as it is against the discernment of his own exceeding turpitude, will also perceive but dimly, and feel but obtusely, a similar turpitude in the character of others? What else can we look for, than that the man who fires so promptly on the reception of an injury, will tolerate in his fellow all the vindictive propensities?—or, that the man who feels not in his bosom a single movement of principle or of tenderness towards God, will tolerate in another an equally entire habit of ungodliness?— or, that the man who surrenders himself to the temptations of voluptuousness, will perceive no enormity of character at all in the unrestrained dissipations of an acquaintance?—and, in word, when I see a man whose rights I have never invaded, who has no complaint of personal wrong or provocation to allege against me, and who shares equally with myself in nature's blindness and nature's propensities, I will not be afraid of entering into judgment with him;-nor shall I stand in awe of any penetrating glance from his eye, of any indig
nant remonstrance from his offended sense | has foundations. Surrounded as he is by the of what is righteous, though there be made perishable admiration of his fellows, he is bare to his inspection all my devotedness altogether out of affection, and out of ac to the world, and all my proud disdain at quaintance, with that Being with whom he the insolence of others, and all my anger has to do; and it will be found, on the great at the sufferings of injustice, and all my in- day of the doings, and the deliberations of difference to the God who formed me, and the judgment-seat, that as he had no relish all those secrecies of an unholy and an un- for God in time, so is he utterly unfit for his heavenly character, which are to be brought presence, or for his friendship in eternity. out into full manifestation on the great day of the winding up of this world's history.
It is said of God, that he created man after his own image, and it was upon losing this image that he was cast out of paradise: and ere he can be again admitted; the image that has been lost must again be formed on him. The grand qualification for the society of heaven is, that each of its members be like unto God. In the selfish and sensual society of earth, there is many a feature of
Man and man may come together in judg-resemblance to the Godhead that is most ment, and retire from each other in mutual readily dispensed with; and many an indicomplacency. But when man and God vidual here obtains applause and toleration thus come together, there is another prin- among his fellows, though there is not one ciple, and another standard of examination. attribute of the saintly character belonging There is a claim of justice on the part of to him. Let him only fulfil the stipulations the Creator, totally distinct from any claim of integrity, and smile benignity upon his which a fellow-creature can prefer, and friends, and render the alacrity of willing while the one will tolerate all that is con- and valuable services to those who have sistent with the economy and the interest never offended him, and on the strength of of the society upon earth, the other can such performances as these, may he rise to tolerate nothing that is inconsistent with a conspicuous place in the scale of this the economy and the character of the so- world's reputation. But what would have ciety in heaven. God made us for eternity. been the sad event to us, had these been He designed us to be the members of a the only performances which went to illus family which never separates, and over trate the character of the Godhead,-had which he himself presides in the visible he been a God of whom we could say no glory of all that worth, and of all that moral more, than that he possessed the one attri excellence, which belong to him. He formed bute of an unrelenting justice, or even that us at first after his own likeness; and ere we he went beyond this attribute, in the exercan be re-admitted into that paradise from cise of kindness to those who loved him, which we have been exiled, we must be and in acts of beneficence to those who had created anew in the image of God. These never offended him? Do we not owe our spirits must be made perfect, and every taint place and our prospect to the love of God of selfishness and impurity be done away for his enemies? Is it not from the riches from them. Heaven is the place into which of his forbearance and long-suffering, that nothing that is unclean or unholy can enter; we draw all our enjoyments in time, and and we are not preparing for our inherit- all our hopes for eternity? Is it not be ance there, unless there be gathering upon cause, though grieved with sinners every us here, the lineaments of a celestial cha- day, he still waits to be gracious; that he racter. Now, a man may be accomplished holds out to us, his heedless and wayward in the moralities of civil and of social life, children, the beseeching voice of reconciliawithout so much as the semblance of such tion; and puts on such an aspect of tendera character resting upon him. He may ness to those who have not ceased from have no share whatsoever in the tastes, or their birth to vex his Holy Spirit, and to in the enjoyments, or in the affections of thwart him every hour by the perverseness paradise. There might not be a single trace of their disobedience? This is the godlike of the mark of the Lamb of God upon his attribute on which all the privileges of our forehead. He who ponders so intelligently fallen race are suspended; and yet against the secrets of the heart, may be able to the intimation of which, nature, when urged discover there no vestige of any love for by the provocations of injustice, rises in himself, no sensibility at all to what is such a tumult of strong and impetuous re amiable or to what is great in the character sistance. It is through the putting forth of of the Godhead,—no desire whatever after this attribute, that any redeemed sinners his glory, no such feeling towards him are to be found among the other society of who is to tabernacle with men, as will heaven; but into which no member shall qualify him to bear a joyful part in the be admitted out of this corrupt world, till songs, and the praises of that city which there be stamped and realized on his own
It is a very capital delusion that God is like unto man,-"Thou thoughtest that I was altogether such a one as thyself; but I will reprove thee, and set thy sins in order before thine eyes. Now consider this, ye that forget God, lest I tear you in pieces, and there be none to deliver."
person, that feature of the divinity to which i speak of the splendid career of beneficence he owes a distinction so exalted. And tell that he had run,-and in the recollection of us, ye men who are so jealous of right and the plaudits that had surrounded him, he of honour, who take sudden fire at every could boldly challenge the inspection of all insult, and suffer the slightest imagination his neighbours, and of all his enemies, on of another's contempt, or another's unfair- the whole tract of his visible history in the ness, to chase from your bosom every feel-world. He protested his innocence before ing of complacency;-ye men whom every them, and even so long as he had only heard fancied affront puts into such a turbulence of God by the hearing of the ear did he adof emotion, and in whom every fancied in- dress him in the language of justification. fringement stirs up the quick and the re- But when God at length revealed himself,— sentful appetite for justice-how will you when the worth and the majesty of the stand the rigorous application of that test Eternal stood before him in visible array,by which the forgiven of God are ascer- when the actual presence of his Maker tained, even that the spirit of forgiveness is brought the claims of his Maker to bear in them, and by which it will be pronounced impressively upon his conscience, it was whether you are indeed the children of the not merely the presence of the power of highest, and perfect as your Father in God which overawed him; it was the preheaven is perfect? sence. of the righteousness of God which But we must hasten to a close, and will, convinced him,—and when, from the bright therefore, barely suggest some other mat- assemblage of all that was pure, and holy, ters of self-examination. We ask you, to and graceful in the aspect of the Divinity, think of the facility with which you might he turned the eye of contemplation downobtain the approbation of men, without be- ward upon himself,-O it is instructive to ing at all like unto God in the holiness of be told, how the vaunting patriarch shrunk his character. We ask you to think of the into all the depths of self-abasement at so delight which he takes in the contempla- striking a manifestation; and how he said, tion of what is pure, and moral, and righ-"I have heard of thee by the hearing of the teous. We ask you to think how one great ear, but now mine eye seeth thee; whereobject of his creation, was to diffuse over fore I abhor myself, and repent in dust and the face of it a multiplied resemblance of in ashes." himself, and that, therefore, however fit you may be for sustaining your part in the alienated community of this world, you are most assuredly unfit for the great and the general assembly of the spirits of just men made perfect,-if unlike unto God who is in the midst of them, you have no congenial delight with the Father of all, in the contemplation of spiritual excellence. Now, are you not blind to the glories and the perfections of that Being who realizes this excellence to a degree that is infinite? Does not the creature fill up all your avenues of enjoyment, while the Creator is forgotten? In reference to God, is there not an utter dulness and insensibility of all your regards to him? If thus blind to the perception of that supreme virtue and loveliness which reside in the Godhead, are you not, in fact, and by nature an outcast from the Godhead? And an outcast will you ever remain, until your character be brought under some mighty revolutionizing influence which is able to shift the currency of your desires, and to over-rule nature with-have you never thought, on seeing the all her obstinate habits, and all her fond bed of the sufferer surrounded by other and favourite predilections. comforters than those of the Patriarch,when, from morning to night, and from night to morning, the watchful family sat at his couch, and guarded his broken slumbers, and interpreted all his signals, and tried to hide from his observation the tears which attested him to be the kindest of parents,-when the sad anticipation spread its gloomy stillness over the household, and
We may as well think of seeking a refuge in the applause of men, from the condemnation of God, as we may think of seeking a refuge in the power or the skill of men, from the mandate of God, that our breath shall depart from us. And, have you never thought, when called to the chamber of the dying man,-when you saw the warning of death upon his countenance, and how its symptoms gathered and grew, and got the ascendency over all the ministrations of human care and of human tenderness,when it every day became more visible, that the patient was drawing to his close, and that nothing in the whole compass of art or any of its resources, could stay the advances of the sure and the last malady,
These are topics of great weight and great pregnancy; but we leave them to your own thoughts, and only ask you at present to look at the vivid illustration of them that may be gathered out of the history of Job. In reference to his fellows, he could make a triumphant appeal to the honour and the humanity which adorned him, he could
It is indeed a small matter to be judged of man's judgment. He who judges us is God. From this judgment there is no escape, and no hiding place. The testimony of our fellows will as little avail us in the day of judgment, as the help of our fellows will avail us in the hour of death.