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the bounds of decency, or they affect activity in doing good, from a simple regard to their own private interest, and to enjoy the honour with which virtue is always adorned among the wise and good.
But here, again, listen to the words of our Saviour: the precept was given in reference to a particular class of external duties, but its spirit applies equally to all. “ Take heed, that ye do not your alms before men, to be seen of them ; otherwise ye have no reward of your Father which is in heaven."
3. Our text forbids, as a sinful motive of conduct, a mere regard to any evil which our fellow-men may inflict upon us.—The dread of human laws imposes no inconsiderable restraint upon the most abandoned. The jail and the gibbet are arrayed with terrors, which it is hard for those who are influenced by no principle of honesty or honor to resist. But, alas ! it is not only among the dregs of human society that we find men governed by this servile spirit of fear : its operations are more extensive than one would at first imagine. The dread of shame or disgrace is felt by all ranks of men, and produces no inconsiderable share of that external decorum which we observe in the world. In proof of this, let us look, my hearers, into our own hearts. How often do we ask ourselves the question
“What will be thought and said of this or that course of conduct ? Conscience and duty impel me to it ; but if I pursue it, shall I not be injured in my property, reputation, or life ?” On the other hand, how often dpes inclination prompt to sin,
while nothing deters from the commission of it but the fear of man! “ Public opinion will in this be against me : on the whole, I shall lose even in my worldly interest by yielding to the suggestions of my sinful heart. I will choose the least of two evils, and abstain from the appearance of crime, that I may avoid disgrace or punishment.” Such motives, whatever shape they may assume, however subtle and refined may be their workings in the human breast, are denounced in our text as unworthy and sinful. Nor is the conduct that proceeds from them at all acceptable in the sight of God, how much soever it may appear like obedience to his will.
I have thus considered three classes of motives which are forbidden in our text-a mere regard to reciprocity of interest, to the reputation of good conduct in the world, or to any evil which our fellow-men may inflict upon us.
Let us now consider what the text enjoins as the only proper motive of conduct : “ Whatsoever ye do, do it heartily as to the Lord.”—It cannot be denied that God, as our Creator, our preserver, our constant Benefactor, and our rightful Sovereign, has a claim upon our perpetual allegiance and service. We are his property, and shall he not do what he pleases with his own ? We are his children, and shall we not render him a filial respect and obedience"? We are his subjects, and shall we not submit to the wholesome laws of his empire ? Now he requires us to love him with our whole soul
and strength and mind, and that whether we eat or drink, or whatever we do, we should do all to his glory. It is true, we cannot be constantly engaged in immediate acts of devotion to God. Our present state of being does not permit this, nor is it required by our holy religion. We have much to do with our fellow-men in the various relations of life. We must have food and raiment. Domestic cares devolve upon the father of a family, and civil duties upon the magistrates and rulers of the land. But our text. teaches, that all these pursuits must be sanctified by a spirit of love to God, and of obedience to his will; because, by thus performing the duties of life, we keep constantly in view our allegiance to our Maker and his dominion over us : because, by thus performing them, we imitate the example of Him who is set forth as a pattern to all believers, and whose chief object was to do the will of him that sent him ; because, by thus performing them, we are voluntarily and cheerfully subservient, in some humble degree, to the wise designs of Providence, in relation to the government and economy of this world ; because, by thus performing them, we purify and ennoble every motive of conduct, are guarded against what is vite and selfish and sinful, and become meet for that future world of bliss, the delight of whose inhabitants is to do the will of God; in fine, because by thus performing the duties of life, we let our light so shine before men, that others,
seeing our good works, may glorify our Father who is in heaven. Thus to act is to do all things heartily as to the Lord.
III. Let us consider, thirdly, the extent of the command in our text : “ Whatsoever ye do, do it heartily as to the Lord, and not unto men.” Most men are willing to acknowledge a general obligation of obedience to the will of God. They professedly recognize him as the Sovereign of the Universe ; as the Controller, by his providence, of this lower world; as the final Judge of their conduct; and as that Being whom they ought, in some way or other, to serve. But, alas! they honour him with their lips, while their hearts are far from him. Proclaim in their hearing the injunction of Scripture, " Whether ye eat or drink, or whatever ye do, do all to the glory of God," and they call it a hard saying, and complain of its Author as an austere master. But surely, if God'has a right to any of our services, he has a right to them all. If we are bound to act from a principle of love and obedience to him in the more important concerns of life, we are equally bound to do so in those of less moment. The command of the text, therefore, applies to every event and circumstance of our lives. In all, in each of these events, however minute and trifling, we are - tequired to act, either with a direct reference to God, enabling us to realize his inmediate presence,
his lawful authority over us, and the constant claim which he has to our cheerful and grateful obedience; or, at least, with a prevailing temper of mind to exhibit and prove the existence of such principles in the breast.
Having thus attempted to unfold the meaning of the text, let us attend to a few reflections by way of improvement.
In the first place, let no one complain of the injunction of our text, that it is too austere, that it lays too great à restraint on human motives and conduct, that an obedience to it would rob this life of all interest and importance, and that its strictness makes no allowance for the frailties and imperfections of our nature. I say, let no one thus complain who considers the condition of those persons, to whom the command—“ Whatsoever ye do, do it heartily as to the Lord, and not unto men”-was originally addressed. Think of the slaves at Colosse-poor, degraded, abject_deprived of what we deem the greatest of all earthly blessings, Libertycondemned to a perpetual, irksome bondage-and subject, no doubt, some of them, to the iron rule of a cruel master. They are taught by the Apostle, that it is not enough to regulate their conduct by the wary principles of mere prudence; that something more is necessary than common morality and honesty ; that God requires of them, because they are his servants, á strict obedience to their earthly