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this man rob the blessed Redeemer of the purchase of his most precious blood, and bring everlasting destruction upon his own soul at the same time? Yet ali the while vainly dreams that he is doing justly, and hopes that be shall be saved on that account!
He then who would do justly to his own soul, must have a special regard to his everlasting interests, and must make it the first and the grand business of his life, to secure a proper right and title to eternal salvation. How exceeding. ly awful are the words of our Lord, “What would it profit a man, if he should gain the whole world, and lose his own soul; or what would a man give in exchange for his soul ?" Let any one seriously consider the worth of his own soul, and then in justice to it, he will see that he ought to have its interests very deeply at heart. And therefore it must follow, in order that when time with us shall be no more, we may enter into that rest, that state of eternal glory and blessed, ness, which God hath provided for them who love him. We must take all possible care, and use every means which the Lord hath appointed, to obtain that measure of grace which will so sanctify and spiritualize our whole soul, as that we may enter into, and take possession of the everlasting king. dom of God.
" Strive,” saith the Redeemer of Israel, “ to enter in at the strait gate." And having entered in, we may add the words of an Apostle, “Give all diligence to make your calling and election sure.' Here then, common justice to our souls, requires that we first take care to enter by the strait gate, into the favour and family of God, and to use all possible diligence, that when we have entered in, we may abide there, in the enjoyment of our Father's love, and on the experience of all the riches of his grace, till he has finished his work in us, and we also have finished the work which he has given us to do, so that in death, we may bear him say, " Come up hither, and take thy seat with me.” Here then we do justice to our oivn soul. But, O! how strange, and how deeply affecting the consideration !-a man takes all possible care of his body,-if any disease comes upon him, no care, no pains, no expence is wanted, every thing must be done that the best physician sball order or direct. The man manages bis temporal concerns with the utmost prudence. His business is regularly attended, his house and every thing about it is kept in the utmost order, and no one thing is suffered to go out of repair: But alas, look at the man in another point of view, as a candidate for heaven, and you see his soul lying all in ruins,-bis everlasting interests disregardedy-and eter
nal things treated with neglect, if not with contempt! And this is the justice which the man does to a soul which can never die? Happy then, supremely happy, are they who know the worth of their own soul, and take proper care of it.
Let us now consider that justice which we owe one anos ther, considered, 1. As members of civil, and 2. Of religious society. As members of civil society, our blessed Lord hath given us this rule, “ Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself.” And lest any one should think, the man cannot be considered as my neighbour whom I may justly look upon as my enemy, our Lord hath also said, “Love your enemies; do good to them that hate you, and pray for them who persecute you.” Here then we see how we are to act towards our enemies, to love them. Now love worketh no ill to its neighbour; therefore we cannot hurt even our enemy, in his character, his person, or his property ; we cannot be guilty of evil-speaking, slandering, or backbiting : we can do him no harm, either in his own person, or any belonging to him, or hurt him in bis property. But, on the contrary, the Apostle gives this excellent advice, “ If thy enemy be hungry, feed him, if he thirst, give him drink," and so heap hot buroing coals of melting kindness upon his head, and by so doing overcome evil with good, and win him over to the Lord Jesus Christ.
To our neighbours in general, as we owe them the sincerest good-will, and must wish them to be every way as happy as ourselves; it follows of course, that in all our dealings with them we must act by the strictest rules of equity. Hence, we cannot wrong them on any consideration. We dare not over-reach, or defraud them. We can take no sort of advantage of their ignorance or necessity, or in any wise, or on any account, distress them. But this is but a very small part of our duty, to take care that we do no harm to any one; for love is an active principle, and therefore if we love our neighbour, we must delight to do him all the good in our power, whether of a temporal or of a spiritual nature. Tbis commandment is exceeding broad indeed, and he that would do justly as directed therein, will surely want abundantly more help from above, than any mere formalist ever yet supposed was to be received in the present world. The most deeply pious, among the children of God, those who enjoy the highest degrees of divine grace, and experience the closest communion with God, with respect to this command, may well say, “ Lord, who is sufficient for these things?” Those, and only those, who constantly walk in the light of Gel's countenance, in whose minds the sacred fire
of divine love is kept continually burning, --whose souls are full of spiritual life, of holy zeal for the glory of God, so that being filled with the tenderest pity, and with the most ardent love to their fellow-creatures, they are ever ready to spend and be spent for their good. Ready to feed the hun- . gry, to clothe the naked, to relieve the distressed, and, in a word, to do all possible good to every one within the circle of their acquaintance, according to their power. The grand end of life, surely is to bless mankind, and to communicate happiness to all around us: “O my soul,” saith the holy Psalmist, “ thou hast said unto the Lord, Thou art my Lord; my goodness extendeth not unto thee; but to the saints which are upon earth.” No; our goodness cannot possibly extend unto the Lord, he can receive nothing at our hand. If then we do any good upon earth, if we are at all useful in our generation, it must be to our.fellow.creatures. And our relations, our friends, and acquaintance, have this claim upon us, to make them as happy as it is in our power to make them. Alas! for those cold frozen souls, who knowing nothing of the power of Divine Grace, are yet nevertheless building all their hopes of heaven upon doing justly ;--they are weighed in the balance and found utterly wanting, and are at an infinite distance from that in which they glory.
As members of Christian society, we are called to do justly. As we feel the sincerest good-will to all men, as before observed, so towards the household of faith we feel a peculiar, and a most sacred affection. We are one with these, as they are one with Christ, our common Saviour. Towards these, as the chosen of God, we put on bowels of mercies, humbleness of mind, meekness, and long-suffering. Towards these we feel kindly affectioned, ready to counsel, comfort, en. courage, support, and defend on all occasions. In these we delight, as the excellent of the earth, the children of our heavenly Father. Over these we rejoice, as fellow-heirs with us of the grace of Christ, and the glory which shall ere Jong be revealed; with whom we trust we shall live in unity and harmony, to the day of eternity. The Apostle's advice respecting these is,- Be pitiful, be courteous, and tenderhearted one towards another," And again : “ See that ye Jove one another, with a pure heart, fervently.” But alas?
formalist do in this business? Just nothing at all, or worse than nothing. Instead of loving the children of God, it is most likely, that this poor carnal heart is filled with enmity and bitterness towards them. He seriously thinks them righteous over-much, and therefore
they are a very dangerous' set of men, who are to be avoided. He looks upon them as wild enthusiasts, who have very extravagant nocions of religion, therefore they are to be treated as enemies to civil society. Nay, it is well if he do not join in the common cry, Away with such men from the face of the eartb, they are not fit to live ;” and therefore he cordially hates, he seriously despises, he says all manner of evil of them, and heartily cries out, “ Down with them, down with them even to the ground." Here we see him in his own native colours, we see what manner of spirit he is of. God indeed says, “ Touch not mine anointed, and do my children no harm ;" but notwithstanding this, was it in his power, he would banish them all from the face of the earth. God also saith, “ He that toucheth these, toucheth the apple of mine eye." But being blinded by the god of this world, he vainly thinks that in persccuting these men, he is doing God service. At such a distance from doing justly, or doing unco others, as he would that men should do unto him, is the man who knows not God, or the power
of his grace, and is seeking to establish his own righteousness, as the ground and foundation of his acceptance with God. The inore we consider the state of such a person's mind, whether towards God or his neighbour, the more we shall be satisfied, that it is altogether the reverse of what it ought to be.
We now come to enquire what is to be understood by, Loving mercy.”
The words are remarkably strong and expressive. It is not only said, Thou shalt be merciful, or thou shalt exercise mercy towards those who shall appear to thee to be in distress, but what is abundantly more, “Love mercy.'
There are persons in the world, whose minds are naturally inclined to acts of mercy more than others. They are of a humane, compassionate, tender-hearted turn, and are led sympathize with those whom they see to be in distress, and from a sense of their duty towards God, readily reliere them. We may add to this, that some persons have greatly improved their minds by reading, and by conversing with those who are of a benevolent disposition; they have imbibed liberal sentiments, and catholic principles, and have learned to know that the grand end of life is to do good. Hence men of this stamp appear amiable, are useful members of civil society, and do a great deal of good in the world: And this will be more especially the case, if they enjoy a degree of the fear of God, which some of them, no doubt, do. But notwithstanding all this, when we consider thai every
man has got an immortal spirit within bin, bound for eternity ; that this spirit of his, is naturally in a fallen state, in a guilty, helpless, and ruined condition ;--that most men are utterly insensible of this; are living without God in the world;-are trampling the laws of God under their feet ;are rejecting the offers of mercy and grace made unto them in the Gospel; and therefore they certainly are in danger of perishing everlastingly: Let it also be considered, such is the mercy of God towards mankind, that in order to redeem them out of that wretched and ruined state, be sent his wellbeloved Son into the world, to seek and save them ;-that Jesus Christ, our infinitely blessed Redeemer, actually came down from heaven, took human nature upon him, and in that nature suffered death upon the cross, in order to bring'us out of the miserable bondage of sin and the devil, into the marvellous light and glorious liberty of the sons of God; that he has borne the punishment due to our sins; --that he was made a curse for us ;-and that he has procured present and eternal redemption for us : Now let all this be seriously considered, and then say, -What mercy .ought to be exercised towards the perishing, but never-dying souls of men ? Has God himself exercised such mercy to. wards them ? And are not we to resemble our heavenly Father ? Has Christ done and suffered so much for them, and shall we, regardless of this, do nothing in order to save them? Alas! What signifies our compassion towards the dying bodies of men, if at the same time, we can see their precious souls dropping into hell, and give ourselves little or no concern about them? O where is our tender pity, and bowels of mercies? Where are our sighing, weeping, bleeding hearts? We daily see ourselves surrounded with sinners of all sorts, and they are in the high road to everlasting destruction ; but the awful sight is become familiar, by its being so common, that we are little affected with it. If this is in deed the case with us, I then ask, Where is our love of mercy ? Surely if we have any knowledge at all of the worth of immortal souls, and of the inconceivable danger to which they are exposed, then we can make no pretentions to the love of mercy, if we do not labour beartily in every possible way, in order to save those souls for whom Christ hath died. As we ought to offer up our daily prayer to God for them, so likewise we ought to watch for opportunities to speak a word for God to them. "A word in season, how good is it." “ In the morning sow thy seed, and in the evening withhold not thy hand; for thou knowest not which shall prosper, this or that.” Duty is ours; and if our minds are kept in a