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we extenuate the fault and sin of his nature, we are false witnesses for God. In seeking to please man we corrupt the truth of God. Man can save himself, or he cannot-he must be justified by his own works or by another's. - If we affirm that he can justify himself, and work out his own salvation by his own merits, and the Bible on the contrary declares that he cannot, but that by Christ alone he can be saved—again we are guilty of pernicious error we are faithless to our trust. The truth must be preached ; and whenever it is preached in its fulness, offence will be taken by the men of this world, who have their portion in this life.
“What, then, is truth?” Infinitely important it is for every one, on his own behalf, and as accountable for himself to God, to solve this question! The injunction is not only “Take heed how ye hear,” but also “Take heed what ye hear.” Truth and error are both taught within the pale of our own church, and they cannot both be right.
“ The spirits must be tried, whether they be of God.” There is a great and essential difference-the difference between light and darkness, truth and falsehood. The example of the Bereans is left on record as a guide to us all on these points: it is related of them “that they were more noble than those in Thessalonica, in that they received the word with all readiness of mind, and searched the Scriptures daily, whether those things were so. O that a spirit of anxious inquiry, and a humble search after truth, might be awakened among us!
us! What the world thinks is of small importance —whether it approves or condemns—and the ever-varying opinions and prejudices of men should not weigh with us as the small dust in the balance: the only serious inquiry is, What saith the Scriptures? how readest thou ? By that test we shall be tried in the last day; and if it then appear that we were among the number of those who could not endure sound doctrine”—who sought out to themselves flattering and soothing teachers, who would speak "peace, peace, when there was no peace;" teachers who encouraged us in a course of vanity and worldliness, and kept back things profitable to us, heavy will be our guilt, and great our condemna. tion. May the Lord grant us the hearing ear, the seeing eye, and the understanding heart; that we may know the joyful sound of the gospel and rejoice in it—that we may
o discern the voice of the good Shepherd-may hear it and follow him, refusing to follow a stranger.” May the Lord himself guide us into all truth, and préserve us from every error of man's device!
ON HEARING THE WORD.
JAMES i. 22–25.
“ BUT BE YE DOERS OF THE WORD, AND NOT HEARERS ONLY, DE
CEIVING YOUR OWN SELVES. FOR IF ANY BE A. HEARER OF THE WORD, AND NOT A DOER, HE IS LIKE UNTO A MAN BEHOLDING HIS NATURAL FACE IN A GLASS: FOR HE BEHOLDETH HIMSELF, AND GOETH HIS WAY, AND STRAIGHTWAY FORGETTETH WHAT MANNER OF MAN HE WAS. BUT WHOSO LOOKETH INTO THE PERFECT LAW OF LIBERTY, AND CONTINUETH THEREIN HE BEING NOT A FORGETFUL HEARER, BUT A DOER OF THE WORK, THIS MAN SHALL BE BLESSED IN HIS DEED.”
Among all the subjects of profound scientific research to which the powers of the human mind have been applied, there is one of universal interest, and of overwhelming importance, which has ever been too much neglected. To grapple with its difficulties, no extraordinary depth of understanding or superiority of intellect are requisite--neither exuberance of imagination, nor acuteness of perception, but rather a humble mind, and a sincere and upright disposition. This science is SELF-KNOWLEDGE; a science attainable by all who honestly seek it, though it is a prize of no easy acquirement. How many are the obstacles opposed to us in our pursuit of it! self-love, and self-flattery, the treachery of our own deceitful hearts, the corruption of our whole nature ---these all unite to cloud our judgment, pervert our reason, and tempt us ever to pronounce in our own case a favourable though mistaken verdict. And to these must often be added the prejudices of an erroneous education, the influence of bad habits, the false eulogiums of mistaken friends, and the general maxims of a world that opposes itself to the truth; against such a combination of false witnesses, the conscience of man will be feeble and inefficient, except it be enlightened and strengthened by the truths of revelation.
Blessed be God that we have in his word a faithful mirror, by the help of which we may attain, if we will, to a true knowledge of ourselves; and it is only because men will not study their own characters as revealed in this book, that they come to such erroneous conclusions, and are so frequently the dupes of self-deception. It is to one species of self-deception that the apostle James calls our attention in the passage before us, viz. that of resting satisfied with merely attending upon the means of grace, and listening to the truths of God's word, while the heart and life continue uninfluenced by them; that of observing the form while we deny the power of godliness. "Be
doers of the word,” saith he, " and not hearers only, deceiving your own selves.” And having illustrated, by a familiar figure, the character and conduct of those who are merely hearers and not doers of the word, he shows the blessedness of those who attentively consider the truths of the gospel, lay them up in their hearts, and practise them in their lives.
In dependence, therefore, upon that heavenly aid, by which alone we can either think or do any thing right, let us proceed to study the character, I. OF THE FORGETFUL HEARER; and, II. OF THE ATTENTIVE AND PRACTICAL HEARER.
I. And here we should seriously consider the nature of that DIVINE WORD, which is despised or neglected by many hearers. It is that powerful instrument by which souls are enlightened and saved. “ Of his own will begat he us WITH THE WORD OF TRUTH. And again,t the apostle exhorts us “to receive with meekness the engrafted word;” and why? “for," saith he, “it is able to save your souls.” The preaching of the gospel, of which St. James is speaking throughout this
passage, is indeed a mighty weapon, though wielded by feeble hands; it is the channel of spiritual life and death to thousands; it is God's appointed ordinance, by which he gathers together his people out of a sinful world, and by which he utters his mighty voice among the
+ Ver. 21.
* Ver. 18.