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to acknowledge before the world. So true it is, that all morality is defective without piety toward God; and that a fair external decorum may exist, as the pharisaical righteousness of old, beautiful perhaps to the eye, but, like a wbited sepulchre, concealing a mass of death and putrefaction. The fact is, there is no right conduct ; none that is acceptable in the sight of God; none that is worthy of our confidence and love, but what proceeds from a heart renewed and sanctified by the Holy Spirit. And so long as we direct our intercourse among our fellow-men merely by what are called the rules of common honesty and morality; so long as we keep out of view our allegiance to the dread Sovereign of the universe, in the most minute concerns and duties of life ; so long, in fine, as we remain unrenewed in the temper of our minds, and neglect to act from a principle of love to God, and to the souls of those around us ; so long, let our external deportment be what it may, we are building our hopes of safety upon the sand, and have reason to fear lest we meet with final and irremediable destruction. These solemn truths are everywhere inculcated in Scripture ; but in no part of it more explicitly and forcibly. than in our text : “ Whatsoever ye do, do it heartily as to the Lord, and not unto men.” While we attempt to discover the true import of this command, may the Spirit of Truth enable us to examine ourselves most faithfully, to see whether we do indeed recognise its authority, and conform our conduct to its holy requisitions !
I propose to consider very briefly, 1st the circumstances under which the words of the text were written, and the character of those to whom they were addressed : 2dly, to examine the nature of the command which they contain"; and 3dly, The extent of this command.
I. Let us consider the circumstances under which the text was written, and the character of those to whom it was addressed.St. Paul was visited, near the close of his first confinement at Rome, by Ephaphras, a member of the church planted at Colosse. From him the Apostle learned the condition of the Christians in that large and flourishing city. They had, most probably, received the rudiments of the religion of Jesus from Paul himself, and were converted by his preaching, to the faith. He felt, no doubt, a lively interest in their welfare. He saw them like a handful of corn upon the top of the mountains ; a weak and defenceless band in the midst of a vast pågan people. „To animate and encourage them in their Christian, course, and to guard them against falling into error and temptation, he sends them the Epistle from which the text is taken. In drawing it to a close, he is inindful to enjoin upon them the importance of a strict attention to all the duties which they owed to their fellow-men : for he well knew that the religion which he taught was a religion of kindness and love, serving not only to prepare men for the future world ; but also in this, enabling them to adorn
their several stations and conditions in life with the graces of an honest, upright, and benevolent demeanour. In this advice he did not overlook the lowest of his fellow Christians.
“ Servants," says he,“ obey in all things your masters according to the flesh ; not with eye-service, as men pleasers, but in singleness of heart, fearing God: and whatsoever ye do, do it heartily as to the Lord, and not unto men, knowing that of the Lord ye shall receive the reward of the inheritance ; for ye serve the Lord Christ." The persons thus addressed were slaves ; subject, no doubt, some of them to the tyranny of austere and cruel masters. Their occupation was of the most servile kind, yet the Apostle is careful to teach them, that it is not enough to regulate their conduct by the common rules of honesty and prudence. Whatsoever they do they must do it heartily, as to the Lord, and not unto men.
II. I proceed to examine the nature of the com-: mand in our text.
In order the better to understand its true import, let us consider, first, what it forbids ; and, secondly, what it enjoins.
It forbids us in general to do any thing as unto men ; that is, to act under any circumstances, with a mere regard to any influence of our fellow-men upon our safety of happiness. They can affect our temporal welfare in a thousand different ways ; they can aid us by their friendship: they can injure us by their hatred : they can build up our worldly
fortune by all the arts of patronage and support : they can load us with caresses in private life, and crown our reputation with honour. They can trample us also under foot, and can consign us to poverty and shame. How hard is it, my brethren, to resist such'mighty influences ; to rise superior to the fear or favour of man; to acquire that Christian heroism and independence of character which will enable us to abandon, as mercenary and sinful, all motives of conduct terminating in a mere regard to our earthly comfort and security !
But let us consider, a little more particularly, what these motives are which our text forbids.
1. It forbids, as a sinful motive of conduct, a regard to mere reciprocity of interest.-One act of kindness, according to the maxims of the world, deserves a return of favour. What think you, my brethren, is the extent of this principle ? How many make it their sole rule of intercourse with their fellow-men! How few are free from its influence! How many kind words and actions, adorned with the shew of disinterested love and affection, are dealt out, like the goods of traffic, on the mere score of barter ! An equivalent must be paid for them, -good measure too, pressed down, and shaken together, and running over.
But how different a lesson of tonduct did our Saviour enjoin upon his followers ! Hear his own words— Give to him that asketh thee; and from him that would borrow of thee, turp not thou away. Ye have heard that it hath been said, Thou shalt
love thy neighbour, and hate thine enemy: but I say unto you, Love your enemies; bless them that curse you; do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you and persecute you ;
that ye may be the children of your Father which is in heaven : for he maketh his suń to rise on the evil and on the good, and sendeth rain on the just and on the unjust. For if ye love them which love you, what reward have ye? Do not even the publicans the same? And if
salute your brethren only, what do ye more than others ? Do not even the publicans so ? Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect.”
2. Our text forbids, as a sinful motive of action, a mere regard to the reputation which our good conduct may procure us in the world. There is a homage which vice pays to virtue. There is a foresight which calculates, on the mere principles of loss and gain, that apparent honesty is the best policy. There is a prudence which is wise enough to cover the vilest passions of the breast with the semblance of virtue. There is a vanity which delights in the esteem of the good, and is willing to enjoy the reputation of moral worth, by preserving a fair outside.' Indeed, it is to be feared, that many of those whom we call moral men-nay, that some who are deemed pious-maintain such appearances simply from a "regard to their character. They know that public opinion is in favour of an honest and Christian demeanour; and they keep within