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the very least iniquity, and dreadful in the him who is awakened thereby, that, unless certainty of all his accomplishments against | God himself point out a way of escape, we it-if, for a single transgression, all the are indeed most hopelessly sunk in conpromise and all the felicity of paradise had demnation. And, seeing that such wrath to be broken up, and the wretched offen- went out from the sanctuary of this unders had to be turned abroad upon a world, changeable God, on the one offence of our now changed by the curse into a wilder- first parents, it irresistibly follows, that if ness, and their secure and lovely home of we, manifold in guilt, take not ourselves to innocence behooved to be abandoned, and his appointed way of reconciliation—if we to keep them out, a flaming sword had to refuse the overtures of Him, who then so turn every way, and guard their reaccess to visited the one offence through which all the bowers of immortality-if sin be so very are dead, but is now laying before us all hateful in the eye of unspotted holiness, that free gift, which is of many offences that, on its very first act, and first appear- unto justification-in other words, if we ance, the wonted communion between hea- will not enter into peace through the ofven and earth was interdicted-if that was fered Mediator, how much greater must be the time at which God looked on our spe- the wrath that abideth on us? cies with an altered countenance, and one Now, let the sinner have his conscience deed of disobedience proved so terribly de- schooled by such a contemplation, and cisive of the fate and history of a world- there will be no rest whatever for his soul what should each individual amongst us till he find it in the Saviour. Let him only think of his own danger, whose life has learn, from the dealings of God with the been one continued habit of disobedience? first Adam, what a God of holiness he himIf we be still in the hands of that God who self has to deal with; and let him further laid so fell a condemnation on this one learn, from the history of the second Adam, transgression, let us just think of our many that to manifest himself as a God of love, transgressions, and that every hour we live another righteousness had to be brought in, multiplies the account of them; and that, in place of that from which man had fallen however they may vanish from our own so utterly away. There was a faultless remembrance, they are still alive in the obedience rendered by Him, of whom it is records of a judge whose eye and whose said, that he fulfilled all righteousness. memory never fail him. Let us transfer the There was a magnifying of the law by one lesson we have gotten of heaven's jurispru- in human form, who up to the last jot and dence from the case of our first parents to tittle of it, acquitted himself of all its obliour own case. Let us compare our lives gations. There was a pure, and lofty, and with the law of God, and we shall find that undefiled path, trodden by a holy and our sins are past reckoning. Let us take harmless Being, who gave not up his work account of the habitual posture of our souls, upon earth, till ere he left it, he could cry as a posture of dislike for the things that out, that it was finished; and so had are above, and we shall find that our wrought out for us a perfect righteousness. thoughts and our desires are ever running Now, it forms the most prominent annunin one current of sinfulness. Let us just ciation of the New Testament, that the remake the computation how often we fail in ward of this righteousness is offered unto the bidden charity, and the bidden godli-all-so that there is not one of us who is ness, and the bidden long suffering-all as not put by the gospel upon the alternative clearly bidden as the duty that was laid on of being either tried by our own merits, or our first parents-and we shall find, that we treated according to the merits of Him who are borne down under a mountain of ini- became sin for us, though he knew no sin, quity; that, in the language of the Psalmist, that we might be made the righteousness our transgressions have gone over our of God in him. Let the sinner just look heads, and, as a heavy burden, are too unto himself, and look unto the Saviour. heavy for us; and if we be indeed under Let him advert not to his one, but to his the government of Him who followed up many offences; and that, too, in the sight the offence of the stolen apple by so dread- of a God, who, but for one so slight and so ful a chastisement, then is wrath gone out insignificant in respect of the outward deunto the uttermost against every one of us. scription, as the eating of a forbidden ap-There is something in the history of that ple, threw off a world into banishment, and apple which might be brought specially to entailed a sentence of death upon all its bear on the case of those small sinners who generations. Let him learn from this, that practise in secret at the work of their petty for sin, even in its humblest degrees, there depredations. But it also carries in it a exists in the bosom of the Godhead no great and a universal moral. It tells us that toleration; and how shall he dare, with the no sin is small. It serves a general purpose degree and the frequency of his own sin, of conviction. It holds out a most alarming to stand any longer on a ground, where, if disclosure of the charge that is against us; he remain, the fierceness of a consuming and makes it manifest to the conscience of fire is so sure to overtake him? The righ
teousness of Christ is without a flaw, and | fan and to perpetuate his hostility against there he is invited to take shelter. Under sin; and all the powers of the gospel enable the actual regimen, which God has esta- him, more and more, to fulfil the desires of blished in our world, it is indeed his only his heart, and to carry his purposes of hossecurity-his refuge from the tempest, and tility into execution. In the case of every hiding place from the storm. The only genuine believer, who walks not after the beloved Son offers to spread his own un- flesh, but after the spirit, do we behold a spotted garment as a protection over him; fulfilling of the righteousness of the law-a and, if he be rightly alive to the utter na-strenuous avoidance of sin, in its slightest kedness of his moral and spiritual condition possible taint or modification-a strenuous he will indeed make no tarrying till he be performance of duty, up to the last jot and found in Christ, and find that in him there tittle of its exactions-so, that let the unis no condemnation. true professors of the faith do what they will in the way of antinomianism, and let the enemies of the faith say what they will about our antinomianism, the real spirit of the dispensation under which we live is such, that whosoever shall break one of the least of these commandments, and teach men so, is accounted the least-whosoever shall do and teach them is accounted the greatest.
It may look to some a degradation of the
Now, it is worthy of remark, that those principles, which shut a man up unto the faith, do not take flight and abandon him, after they have served this temporary purpose. They abide with him, and work their appropriate influence on his character, and serve as the germ of a new moral creation; and we can afterwards detect their operation in his heart and life; so, that if they were present at the formation of a 2. Let us, therefore, urge the spirit and saving belief, they are not less unfailingly the practice of this lesson upon your obserpresent with every true Christian, through-vation. The place for the practice of it out the whole of his future history, as the is the familiar and week-day scene. The elements of a renovated conduct. If it was principle for the spirit of it descends upon sensibility to the evil of sin which helped the heart, from the sublimest heights of to wean the man from himself, and led him the sanctuary of God. It is not vulgarizing to his Saviour, this sensibility does not fall Christianity to bring it down to the very asleep in the bosom of an awakened sinner, humblest occupations of human life. It is, after Christ has given him light-but it in fact, dignifying human life, by bringing grows with the growth, and strengthens it up to the level of Christianity. with the strength, of his Christianity. If, at the interesting period of his transition pulpit, when the household servant is told from nature to grace, he saw, even in the to make her firm stand, against the tempvery least of his offences, a deadly provo-tation of open doors, and secret opportunication of the Lawgiver, he does not lose ties; or when the confidential agent is told sight of this consideration in his future pro- to resist the slightest inclination to any ungress-nor does it barely remain with him, seen freedom with the property of his emlike one of the unproductive notions of an ployers, or to any undiscoverable excess in inert and unproductive theory. It gives the charges of his management; or when rise to a fearful jealousy in his heart of the the receiver of a humble payment is told, least appearance of evil; and, with every that the tribute which is due on every writman who has undergone a genuine process ten acknowledgment ought faithfully to be of conversion, do we behold the scrupulous met, and not fictitiously to be evaded. This avoidance of sin, in its most slender, as well is not robbing religion of its sacredness, but as in its more aggravated forms. If it was spreading its sacredness over the face of the perfection of the character of Christ, society. It is evangelizing human life, by who felt that it became him to fulfil all impregnating its minutest transactions with righteousness, that offered him the first the spirit of the gospel. It is strengthening solid foundation on which he could lean the wall of partition between sin and obethen, the same character, which first drew dience. It is the teacher of righteousness his eye for the purpose of confidence, still taking his stand at the outpost of that tercontinues to draw his eye for the purpose ritory which he is appointed to defend, of imitation. At the outset of faith, all the and warning his hearers of the danger that essential moralities of thought, and feeling, lies in a single footstep of encroachment. It and conviction, are in play; nor is there is letting them know, that it is in the act of any thing in the progress of a real faith stepping over the limit, that the sinner which is calculaled to throw them back throws the gauntlet of his defiance against again into the dormancy out of which they the authority of God. And though he may had arisen. They break out, in fact, into deceive himself with the imagination that more full and flourishing display on every his soul is safe, because the gain of his innew creature, with every new step, and new justice is small, such is the God with whom evolution, in his mental history. All the he has to do, that, if it be gain to the value principles of the gospel serve, as it were, to of a single apple, then, within the compass
his person the worth and the lustre of a high minded integrity. It is delightful to think that humble life may be just as rich in merai grace, and moral grandeur, as the lofuer places of society; that as true a dignity of principle may be earned by him who in homeliest drudgery, plies his conscientious task, as by him who stands entrusted with the fortunes of an empire; that the poorest menial in the land, who can lift a hand unsoiled by the pilferments that are within his reach, may have achieved a victory over temptation, to the full as honourable as the proudest patriot can boast, who has spurned the bribery of courts away from him. It is cheering to know, from the heavenly judge himself, that he who is faithful in the least, is faithful also in much; and that thus, among the labours of the field and of the work-shop, it is possible for the peasant to be as brigit in honour as the peer, and have the chivalry of as much truth and virtue to adorn him.
It may appear a very little thing, when you are told to be honest in little matters; when the servant is told to keep her hand from every one article about which there is not an express or understood allowance on the part of her superiors; when the dealer is told to lop off the excesses of that minuter fraudulency, which is so currently practised in the humble walks of merchandise; when the workman is told to abstain from those petty reservations of the material of his work, for which he is said to have such snug and ample opportunity; and when, without pronouncing on the actual extent of these transgressions, all are told to be faithful in that which is least, else, if there be truth in our text, they incur the guilt of being unfaithful in much. It may be thought, And, as this lesson is not little in respect that because such dishonesties as these are of principle, so neither is it little in respect scarcely noticeable, they are therefore not of influence on the order and well-being of worthy of notice. But it is just in the pro- human society. He who is unjust in the portion of their being unnoticeable by the least, is, in respect of guilt, unjust also in human eye, that it is religious to refrain much. And to reverse this proposition, as it from them. These are the cases in which it is done in the first clause of our text-be will be seen, whether the controul of the who is faithful in that which is least, is, in omniscience of God makes up for the con- respect both of righteous principle and of troul of human observation-in which the actual observation, faithful also in much. sentiment, that thou God seest me, should Who is the man to whom I would most carry a preponderance through all the secret readily confide the whole of my property! places of a man's history-in which, when He who would most disdain to put forth an every earthly check of an earthly morality injurious hand on a single farthing of it is withdrawn, it should be felt, that the eye Who is the man from whom I would have of God is upon him, and that the judgment the least dread of any unrighteous encroachof God is in reserve for him. To him who ment? He, all the delicacies of whose prinis gifted with a true discernment of these ciple are awakened, when he comes within matters, will it appear, that often, in propor- sight of the limit which separates the region tion to the smallness of the doings, is the of justice from the region of injustice. Whe sacredness of that principle which causes is the man whom we shall never find among them to be done with integrity; that honesty, the greater degrees of iniquity? He who in little transactions, bears upon it more of shrinks with sacred abhorrence from the the aspect of holiness; than honesty in great lesser degrees of it. It is a true, though a ones; that the man of deepest sensibility to homely maxim of economy, that if we take the obligations of the law, is he who feels care of our small sums, our great sums will the quickening of moral alarm at its slightest take care of themselves. And, to pass from violations; that, in the morality of grains our own things to the things of others, it is and of scruples, there may be a greater ten- no less true, that if principle should lead us derness of conscience, and a more heaven-all to maintain the care of strictest honesty born sanctity, than in that larger morality over our neighbour's pennies, then will his which flashes broadly and observably upon pounds lie secure from the grasp of injustice. the world; and that thus, in the faithful- behind the barrier of a moral impossibility. ness of the household maid, or of the ap- This lesson, if carried into effect among you, prentice boy, there may be the presence of would so strengthen all the ramparts of sea truer principle than there is in the more curity between man and man, as to make conspicuous transactions of human business them utterly impassable; and therefore, -what they do, being done, not with eye- while, in the matter of it, it may look, in" service-what they do, being done unto the one view, as one of the least of the comLord. mandments, it, in regard both of principle and effect, is, in another view of it, one of the greatest of the commandments. And we therefore conclude with assuring you, that nothing will spread the principle of this
of so small an outward dimension, may as much guilt be enclosed as that which hath brought death into our world, and carried it down in a descending ruin upon all its generations.
And here we may remark, that nobleness of condition is not essential as a school for nobleness of character; nor does man require to be high in office, ere he can gather around
commandment to any great extent through-
will, and never can be brought within the cognizance of any of our courts of administration, will still continue to derange the business of human life, and to stir up all the heartburnings of suspicion and resentment among the members of human society. And it is, indeed, a triumphant reversion awaiting the Christianity of the New Testament, when it shall become manifest as day, that
is her doctrine alone, which, by its searching and sanctifying influence, can so moralize our world-as that each may sleep secure in the lap of his neighbour's integrity, and charm of confidence, between man and man, will at length be felt in the business of every town, and in the bosom of every family.
On the great Christian Law of Reciprocity between Man and Man.
"Therefore all things whatsoever ye would that men should do to you, do ye even so to them: for this is the law and the prophets."-Matthew vii. 12.
THERE are two great classes in human | in nearer accommodation to the feelings and society, between whom there lie certain the conveniences of men. mutual claims and obligations, which are And Christianity, on the very first blush felt by some to be of very difficult adjust- of it, appears to be precisely such a religion. ment. There are those who have requests It seems to take away all lawfulness of reof some kind or other to make; and there sistance from the possessor, and to invest are those to whom the requests are made, the demander with such an extent of priviand with whom there is lodged the power lege, as would make the two classes of soeither to grant or to refuse them. Now, at ciety, to which we have just now adverted, first sight, it would appear, that the firm speedily change places. And this is the true exercise of this power of refusal is the only secret of the many laborious deviations that barrier by which the latter class can be se- have been attempted in this branch of mocured against the indefinite encroachments rality, on the obvious meaning of the New of the former; and that, if this were remov- Testament. This is the secret of those many ed, all the safeguards of right and property qualifying clauses, by which its most luminwould be removed along with it. The power ous announcements have been beset, to the of refusal, on the part of those who have utter darkening of them. This it is which the right of refusal, may be abolished by an explains the many sad invasions that have act of violence, on the part of those who been made on the most manifest and unhave it not; and then, when this happens deniable literalities of the law and of the in individual cases, we have the crimes of testimony. And our present text, among assault and robbery; and when it happens others, has received its full share of mutilaon a more extended scale, we have anarchy tion, and of what may be called "dressing and insurrection in the land. Or the power up," from the hands of commentators-it of refusal may be taken away by an au- having wakened the very alarms of which thoritative precept of religion; and then we have just spoken, and called forth the might it still be matter of apprehension, lest very attempts to quiet and to subdue them. our only defence against the inroads of Surely, it has been said, we can never be selfishness and injustice were as good as required to do unto others what they have given up, and lest the peace and interest of no right, and no reason, to expect from us. families should be laid open to a most fearful The demand must not be an extravagant exposure, by the enactments of a romantic one. It must lie within the limits of moderaand impracticable system. Whenever this tion. It must be such as, in the estimation is apprehended, the temptation is strongly of every justly thinking person, is counted felt, either to rid ourselves of the enactments fair in the circumstances of the case. The altogether, or at least to bring them down principle on which our Saviour, in the text,
rests the obligation of doing any particular | legality would be overthrown. It is some thing to others, is, that we wish others to such fearful anticipation as this which causes do that thing unto us. But this is too much casuistry to ply its wily expedients, and for an affrighted selfishness; and, for her busily to devise its many limits, and its own protection, she would put forth a de- many exceptions, to the morality of the fensive sophistry upon the subject; and in New Testament. And yet, we think it posplace of that distinctly announced principle, sible to demonstrate of our text, that no such on which the Bible both directs and specifies modifying is requisite; and that, though adwhat the things are which we should do mitted strictly and rigorously as the rule of unto others, does she substitute another our daily conduct, it would lead to no praeprinciple entirely-which is, merely to do tical conclusions which are at all formidable. unto others such things as are fair, and right, and reasonable.
For, what is the precise circumstance which lays the obligation of this precept upon you? There may be other places in the Bible where you are required to do things for the benefit of your neighbour, whether you would wish your neighbour to do these things for your benefit or not. But this is not the requirement here. There is none other thing laid upon you in this place, than that you should do that good action in behalf of another, which you would like that other to do in behalf of
Now, there is one clause of this verse which would appear to lay a positive interdict on all these qualifications. How shall we dispose of a phrase, so sweeping and universal in its import, as that of "all things whatsoever?" We cannot think that such an expression as this was inserted for nothing, by him who has told us, that "cursed is every one who taketh away from the words of this book." There is no distinction laid down between things fair, and things un-yourself. If you would not like him to do fair-between things reasonable, and things it for you, then there is nothing in the comunreasonable. Both are comprehended in pass of this sentence now before you, that the "all things whatsoever." The significa- at all obligates you to do it for him. If tion is plain and absolute, that, let the thing you would not like your neighbour to make be what it may, if you wish others to do so romantic a surrender to your interest, as that thing for you, it lies imperatively upon to offer you to the extent of half his fortune, you to do the very same thing for them also. then there is nothing in that part of the gospel code which now engages us, that renders it imperative upon you to make the same offer to your neighbour. If you would positively recoil, in all the reluctance of ingenuous delicacy, from the selfishness of laying on a relation the burden of the expenses of all your family, then this is not the good office that you would have him to do unto you; and this, therefore, is not the good office which the text prescribes you to do unto him. If you have such consideration for another's ease, and another's convenience, that you could not take the ungenerous advantage of so much of his time for your accommodation, there may be other verses in the Bible which point to a greater sacrifice, on your part, for the good of others, than you would like these others to make for yours; but, most assuredly, this is not the verse which imposes that sacrifice. If you would not that others should do these things on your account, then these things form no part of the "all things whatsoever" you would that men should do unto you; and, therefore, they form no part of the "all things whatsoever" that you are required, by this verse, to do unto them. The bare circumstance of your positively not wishing that any such services should be rendered unto you, exempts you, as far as the single authority of this precept is concerned, from the obligation of rendering these services to others. This is the limitation to the extent of those services which are called for in the text; and it is
But, at this rate, you may think that the whole system of human intercourse would go into unhingement. You may wish your next-door neighbour to present you with half his fortune. In this case, we know not how you are to escape from the conclusion, that you are bound to present him with the half of yours. Or you may wish a relative to burden himself with the expenses of all your family. It is then impossible to save you from the positive obligation, if you are equally able for it, of doing the same service to the family of another. Or you may wish to engross the whole time of an acquaintance in personal attendance upon yourself. Then, it is just your part to do the same extent of civility to another who may desire it. These are only a few specifications, out of the manifold varieties, whether of service or of donation, which are conceivable between one man and another; nor are we aware of any artifice of explanation by which they can possibly be detached from the "all things whatsoever" of the verse before us. These are the literalities which we are not at liberty to compromise -but are to urge, and that simply, according to the terms in which they have been conveyed to us by the great Teacher of righteousness. This may raise a sensitive dread in many a bosom. It may look like the opening of a floodgate, through which a torrent of human rapacity would be made to set in on the fair and measured domains of property, and by which all the fences of