« PreviousContinue »
" behaviour of that man was dishonourable : yes, in another bis honour was impeached." Of the preceding picture I mean not indifcriminately to affirm that there are not exceptions to the likeness. But let any perfon, who has affigned even a flight measure of attention to the subject, pronounce whether, in each of the cafes defcribed, the reprefentation be not accurately conformable to the general features of the original. Has the pulpit escaped the contagion? Comparatively it has preserved itfelf pure. Would to Heaven that in fome of its compofitions the public eye had not difcerned traces and mixtures, which preclude me from afcribing to it unfullied purity! The lips of the priest fhould keep knowledge; and they should feek the law at his mouth: for he is the messenger of the Lord of Hofts (g)• Never may the paftor feed his flock with an intermixture of poisonous herbage! Never may he lead them to drink of ftreams, which flow from an unhallowed fountain!
Whence is this jargon? Has it founded its dominion on the application by St. Paul of the term honourable to marriage (b); on the testimony of approbation borne by the fame apoftle to things of good report (i); and on
(b) Heb. xiii. 4.
(g) Malachi, ii. 7.
thofe paffages of the Scriptures in which holiness is defcribed as entitled to respect and praife? Very different are the foundations of its fway. It reigns, because multitudes love the praife of men more than the praife of God. It reigns, becaufe they receive honour one of another; and feek not that honour which cometh from God only (k).
What is this idol, which men worship in the place of the living God? What is this principle, which they enthrone in degradation of his fovereign word? Honour implies the favourable eftimation entertained of an individual by others of his own line and place in fociety. The votary of honour may delude himself with the idea that, whatever be the ordinary expreffions of his lips, his heart is dedicated to religion. But his heart is fixed on his idol, human applause. In the place of the love and the fear of God he fubftitutes the love of praise and the fear of fhame. In the place of confcience he subftitutes pride. For the dread of guilt he subftitutes the apprehenfion of difgrace.
My thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, faith the Lord. That which is highly esteemed among men is abomination in the fight of God (1). Woe unto you,
(E) John, v. 44. xii. 43. (1) Ifaiah, lv. S. Luke, xvi. 15.
who thus put darkness for light, and proportionally thrust aside into darkness the light of the world, the oracles of the Moft High. Ye are they, like the Pharifees of old, who justify yourfelves before men. Ye are they, who teach for doctrines the commandments of men. Ye are they, who make the commandments of God of none effect by your traditions (m). Ye are they who uphold the duellift. Ye are they who take the sword out of the hands of the law; and commit to every man the vindication of his real or imaginary wrongs. Ye are they who prefer the difcharge of a gaming debt to the payment of the juft demand of the famished tradesman. Ye are they who establish a principle of morality, baseless because not founded upon religion; fcanty in its comprehenfion, because tolerant of many crimes and indifferent to numerous virtues; and however highly efteemed among men, abominable in the fight of God, because exalted in neglect or in contempt of his word, regardless of his fervice and his glory.
My brethren! The profeffed object of this difcourfe is now fulfilled. You have distinctly furveyed a fufficient variety of examples felected to difplay the fin, which in the paffage
(m) Luke, xvi. 15.
Matth. xv. 6. 9.
of Scripture before us the prophet had in contemplation. And your confciences atteft the juftice of the woe denounced against every inftance of that fin by the Spirit of God. What is the warning voice which, while we ponder on these examples fingly or collectively, refounds in our ears? To the law and to the teftimony. If they speak not according to this word, it is because there is no light in them. Thus faith the Lord: ftand ye in the ways, and fee, and ask for the old paths where is the good way, and walk therein; and ye shall find reft for your fouls (n). Let not the fumes of a heated imagination bewilder you into enthusiasm. Let not the natural averfion of the heart from religion chill you into lukewarmness. Conceive not that it is religion. to obey fome of the commandments of God, and knowingly to perfevere in difobeying one. Conceive not that it is charity to explain away the heiroufnefs of fin; or cénforioufnefs to pronounce that to be guilt which God has pronounced to be guilt, that to be the fubject of punishment which God has averred that He will punifh. Let not your minds be corrupted from the fimplicity which is in Chrift into a habit of referring to that unauthorised and miferable arbiter of
(#) Haiah, viii. 20. Jerm. vi. 16.
morals, that ideal power before which the world bows down in fenfelefs adoration, the principle of honour. My fon! Give, I pray thee, glory to the Lord God. Woe unto you, if in any of the inftances which have been specified, or in any analogous example, you are deluded to call evil good and good evil, to put darkness for light and light for darkness, to put bitter for fweet and fweet for bitter! Woe unto you if you wilfully become the niftrument of feducing others into fimilar delufions! Stand faft on the fure rock, the facred Word. Let ignorance mifunderstand the gofpel: let indifference strip it of its energy: let pride, let fenfuality, let worldly mindednefs frame to themselves fchemes of religion conformable to the corrupt principle in accommodation to which they are feverally framed. Let the language of ignorance, of indifference, of pride, of fenfuality, of worldly mindedness, on topics of piety and morality, be unrighteousness, be folly, be madnefs. In God, in His counfels, in His recorded law, there is neither variableness nor fhadow of turning. Jefus Chrift, the Judge of all, is the fame yefterday, and to-day, and for ever. Measure thou all things by that standard, by which thou fhalt thyfelf be measured. Weigh all things