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or of fome other favourite preceptress selected from the band of moral virtues: an observance too which proves itself by ftanding thus infulated to have originated rather from worldly motives, than from that genuine folicitude to please God, which draws around it the whole affemblage of Chriftian graces ? Is he religious, who, proudly fuftaining himfelf on the ftaff of fome imaginary merit, bows himself not down at the foot of the cross displayed before him; feels not his knees tremble under him; feels not the radical corruption of his heart; the enormity of every offence against his Heavenly Benefactor and King; "the ineftimable love of God in the "redemption of the world by our Lord Jefus "Chrift;" the riches of the mercy which exchanges his helpless depravity, his prospects of eternal death, "for the means of grace, "and the hope of glory?" Woe be unto them who thus call evil good: who put a withered branch for a living tree who truft to that which they have done, and look not to which they have left undone who regard that which they have done as though it were perfect, and wrought by ftrength of their own; and wilfully perceive not that every good work is the fruit of the Spirit of God,


and that the best of human works are unholy in the eyes of Jehovah, and are rendered pure and acceptable before Him only through the imputed righteousness of Chrift.

IV. We may in the next place produce as illuftrative of the general propofition before us those who reprefent the palliation of fin as charity; and brand with the character of cenforiousness all opinions and defcriptions of guilt conformable to the Scriptures.

The higher ranks of life may be thofe, in which this offence appears the most glaring: but it pervades, and perhaps equally overfpreads, every clafs in fociety. From the mouth of these apologifers no fin receives its appropriate denomination. Some lighter phrafe is ever on the lips to obfcure or to cloke its enormity, perhaps to transform it into a virtue. Is profaneness noticed? It is an idle habit by which nothing is intended. Is extravagance named? It is a generous difregard of money. Is luxury mentioned? It is a hofpitable defire to fee our friends happy. What is worldly-mindednefs? It is prudence. What is pride? It is proper fpirit, a due attention to our own dignity. What is ambition? A laudable defire of diftinction and pre-eminence; a juft fense of our own



excellence and defert. What is devotednefs to fashion? It is a due regard to the customs of the polite world. What is over-reaching? It is understanding our business. What is fervility? It is skill in making our way to advancement. What are intemperance and fins of impurity? They are indecorums, irregularities, human frailties, cuftomary indifcretions, the natural and venial confequences of cheerfulness, company, and temptation; the unguarded ebullitions of youth, which in a little time will fatiate and cure themfelves. Now all this is candour: all this is charity. If a reference be made to religion, these men immediately enlarge on the mercy of God. If constrained to speak of His threatenings, they advert to them diftantly, briefly, with affected tenderness, as to a fort of law' in dead letter held forth to terrify guilt and to confine it within reasonable bounds; but a law which they intimate that the justice of the Deity will never permit him to enforce. To paint fin in its genuine colours: to denounce the wrath of God against all ungodliness and unrighteoufnefs of men: to proclaim from the word of infpiration that obftinate perfeverance against light and knowledge in any one unholy difpofition or practice will exclude from the kingdom of Heaven:


to unfold the terrors of hell, of everlasting damnation, of the lake of inextinguishable fire, of the abodes of thofe whofe fmoke afcendeth for ever and ever: this is pharifaical punctilioufnefs, intolerable rigour, illiberal fuperftition, the frenzy of bigotry, the bitterness of nilanthropy. The fons of candour and charity turn away with contempt. Nay, they profefs to be roufed with honeft indignation against persons who thus mifreprefent the counfels of a God, who would have all men to be faved: and ftand forth in defence of his attributes injured and degraded by merciless preachers, who affume to themselves the character of His ambaffadors, while they bar the gates of Heaven against the workmanship of His hands.

If those who thus abufe the name of Chrif tian charity; who thus ftrip fin of its hei nousness, and the Scriptures of their fanctions; belong not to the class of deceivers, who put darkness for light and light for darkness, bitter for fweet and fweet for bitter to whom shall the description of the prophet be applied? If the prefumptuous ignorance, the secret love of fin, the obtrufive and peftilent example, difplayed by thefemen, efcape the penal denunciation: where fhall the woe find its objects? V. There

V. There yet remains to be specified an exemplification of the guilt menaced with vengeance by the prophet: a perversion of principle which, while the lower ranks are happily too little refined to be infected with it, taints with a greater or a lefs degree of its deceitful influence the bulk of the middle and higher claffes of the community.

Out of the abundance of the heart the mouth Speaketh (f).

What is the principle of conduct to which in the transactions of polished life the appeal is ufually made? Attend a court of justice. Is an arbitrator recommended? It is because he is a man of honour. Is a plaintiff or a defendant noticed with complacency? It is because his proceedings have been honourable. Go to the fenate. By what criterion are applause and cenfure apportioned there? By the rule of honour. Vifit the circle of private fociety. The character of an individual is the theme of difcuffion. Animated eyes and eager voices speak his praife. Why? Because he is a man of perfect bonour. Another perfon is named. Difapprobation contracts every brow, and sharpens every tongue. For what reason? "In fuch a transaction the

(ƒ) Luke, vi. 45


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