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in the midst of a moral variety of character;| upon your compassion ? and, instead of a and man, sitting in judgment over it, would desultory instinct, excited to feeling by a say of some, that they are good, and of moving picture of sensibility, and limited in others, that they are evil. Even in this effect to a humble fraction of your expendidesolate region of atheism, the eye of the ture, he call upon you to love your neighsentimentalist might expatiate among beau- bour as yourself, and to maintain this prin
ous and interesting spectacles,-amiable ciple at the expense of self-denial, and in mothers shedding their graceful tears over the midst of manifold provocations? You the tomb of departed infancy; high-toned love your children ;-still indispensably integrity maintaining itself unsullied amid right. But what if he should say, and he the allurements of corruption; benevolence has actually said it, that you may know plying its labours of usefulness; and patri- how to give good gifts unto your children, otism earning its proud reward, in the testi- and still be evil? and that if you love father, mony of an approving people. Here, then, or mother, or wife, or children, more than you have compassion, and natural affec- him, you are not worthy of him? The lustion, and justice, and public spirit--but tre of your accomplishments dazzles the would it not be a glaring perversion of lan- eye of your neighbourhood, and you bask guage to say, that there was godliness in with a delighted heart in the sunshine of a world, where there was no feeling and glory. But what if he should say, that his no conviction about God,
glory, and not your own, should be the In the midst of this busy scene, let God constant aim of your doings ? and that if reveal himself, not to eradicate these princi- you love the praise of men more than the ples of action—but giving his sanction to praise of God, you stand, in the pure and whatsoever things are just, and lovely, and spiritual records of heaven, convicted of honourable, and of good 'report, to make idolatry? You love the things of the world; himself known, at the same time as the and the men of the world, coming together Creator and Upholder of all things, and as in judgment upon you, take no offence at the Being with whom all his rational off- it. But God takes offence at it. He says, spring had to do. Is this solemn an- and is he not right in saying ?-that if the nouncement from the voice of the Eternal gift withdraw the affections from the Giver, to make no difference upon them? Are there is something wrong; that the love of those principles which might flourish and these things is opposite to the love of the be sustained on a soil of atheism, to be Father; and that, unless you withdraw your counted enough even after the wonderful affections from a world that perisheth, you truth of a living and a reigning God has will perish along with it. Surely if these, burst upon the world? You are just ;-right, and such like principles, may consist with indispensably right. You say you have as the atheism of a world where God is unserted no more than your own. But this thought of and unknown,-you stand conproperty is not your own. He gave it to victed of a still deeper and more determined you, and he may call upon you to give to atheism, who under the revelation of a God him an account of your stewardship. You challenging the honour that is due unto his are compassionate;-right also. But what name, are satisfied with your holding in if he set up the measure of the sanctuary | society, and live without him in the world.
The Judgment of Men, compared with the Judgment of God.
With me it is a very small thing that I should be judged of you, or of man's judgment—he that judget
me is the Lord."-i Corinthians iv. 3, 4.
III. WHEN two parties meet together on | ferent case of man's entering into judgment the business of adjusting their respective with his God. Job seems to have been claims, or when, in the language of our aware of this difference, and at times to text, they come together in judgment, the have been humbled by it. In reference to principles on which they proceed must de- man, he stood on triumphant ground, and pend on the relation in which they stand often spoke of it in a style of boastful vindi10 each other: and we know not a more cation. No one could impeach his justice. fatal or a more deep laid delusion, than that No one could question his generosity. And by which the principles, applicable to the he made his confident appeal to the rememcase of a man entering into judgment with brance of those around him, when he says liis sellow-men, are transferred to the far dif- l of himself, that he delivered the poor that
cried, and the fatherless, and him that had | if there be any emphasis in the consideranone to help him; that the blessing of him tion, that he is God, and not man; or any that was ready to perish came upon him, delusion in conceiving of him, that he is and he caused the widow's heart to sing altogether like unto ourselves,-may not for joy; that he put on righteousness, and it all that ready circulation of praise, and of clothed him, and his judgment was as a. acknowledgement, which obtains in society, robe and a diadem ; that he was eyes to the carry a most ruinous, and a most bewitching blind, and feet was he to the lame; that he influence along with it? Is it not possible was a father to the poor, and the cause that that on the applause of man there may be he knew not, he searched out. On these reared a most treacherous self-complacency? grounds did he challenge the judgment Might not we build a confidence before of man, and actually obtained it. For we God, on this sandy foundation ? Think are told, because he did all this, that when you not, that it is just this ill-supported conthe ear heard him, then it blessed him, and fidence which shuts out from many a heart when the eye saw him, it gave witness unto the humiliating doctrine of the gospel ? / Is him.
there no such imagination as that because There is not a more frequent exercise of we are so well able to stand our ground mind in society, than that by which the before the judgment of the world, we shall members of it form and declare their judg- be equally well able to stand our ground bement of each other-and the work of thus fore the judgment-seat of the great day? Are deciding is a work which they all share in, there not many who, upon this very prinand on which, perhaps, there is not a day ciple, count themselves rich and to have of their lives wherein they are not called need of nothing? And have you never upon to expend some measure of attention, met with men of character, and estimation in and understanding--and we know not if society, who, surrounded by the gratulations there be a single topic that more readily of their neighbourhood, find the debasing engages the conversation of human beings views of humanity, which are set before us and often do we utter our own testimony, in the New Testament, to be beyond their and hear the testimony of others to the comprehension; who are utterly in the dark, virtues and vices of the absent-and out of as to the truth and the justness of such reall this has arisen a standard of estimation presentations, and with whom the voice of and it is such a standard as many may God is therefore deafened by the voice and actually reach, and some have actually ex- the testimony of men ? They see not themceeded-and thus it is, that it appears to re- selves in that character of vileness and of quire a very extended scale of reputation guilt which he ascribes to them. They are to take in all the varieties of human charac-blind to the principle of the text, that he is ter-and while the lower extremity of it not a man ; and that they may not be able is occupied by the dishonest, and the per-| to answer him, though they may be able fidious, and the glaringly selfish, who are to meet the every reproach, and to hold out outcasts from general respect; on the higher the lofty vindication against every charge, extremity of it, do we behold men, to whom which any one of their fellows may prefer. are awarded, by the universal voice, all the And thus it is, that many live in the habitual honours of a proud and unsullied excel- neglect of a salvation which they cannot lence and their walk in the world is digni- see that they require; and spend their days fied by the reverence of many salutations in an insidious security, from which nothing --and as we hear of their truth and their but the voice of the last messenger, or the uprightness, and their princely liberalities, call of the last trumpet, shall awaken them. and of a heart alive to every impulse of To do away this delusion, we shall adsympathy, and of a manner sweetened by vert to two leading points of distinction all the delicacies of genuine kindness; between the judgment of men and that of who does not see that, in this assemblage God. There is a distinction founded upon of moral graces and accomplishments, there the claims which God has a right to preis enough to satisfy man, and to carry the fer against us, when compared with the admiration of man? and can we wonder if, claims which our fellow-men have a right while we gaze on so fine a specimen of our to prefer against us ;--and there is a disnature, we should not merely pronounce tinction founded upon that clearer and more upon him an honourable sentence at the clevated sense which God has of that holitribunal of human judgment, but we shouldness without which no man shall see his conceive of him that he looks as bright and face, of that moral worth without which we faultless in the eye of God, and that he is are utterly unfit for the society of heaven. in every way meet for his presence and his. The people around me have no right to friendship in eternity.
complain, if I give to every man his own; Now, if there be any truth in the dis- or, in other words, if I am true to all my tinction of our text; if a man may have the promises, and faithful to all my bargains; judgment of his fellows, and yet be utterly and if what I claim as justice to myself, I unfit for contending in judgment with God; I most scrupulously render to others, when
they are in like circumstances with myself. We cannot bring forward any rigid comNow, let me do all this, and I earn amongst putation of this matter. But we appeal to my fellows the character of a man of the experience of your own history, and to honour and of equity. Did I live with such your observation of others, if a man might a character in an unfallen world, these vir- not, without any painful, or any sensible tues would not at all signalize me, though surrender of enjoyment at all, stand out to the opposite vices would mark me out for the eye of others in a blaze of moral reuniversal surprise and indignation. But putation--if the substantial citizen might it so happens that I live in a world full of not, on the convivialities of friendship, be corruption, where deceit and dishonesty are indulging his own taste, and at the very common ;-where, though the higher de- time be securing from his pleased and sagrees of them are spoken of with abhor- tisfied guests, the attestations of their corrence, the lower degrees of them are looked diality-if the man of business might not at with a very general connivance ;-where be nobly generous to his friends in adverthe inflexibility of a truth that knows not sity, and at the same time be running one one art of concealment, and the delicacy of unvaried career of accumulation-if the an honour that was never tainted, would man of society might not be charming greatly signalize me ;-and thus it is, that every acquaintance by the truth and the though I went not beyond the strict require- tenderness of his expressions, and at the ments of integrity, yet by my nice and un- same time, instead of impairing, be heightvarying fulfilment of them, should I rise ening his share of that felicity, which the above the ordinary level of human reputa- Author of our being has annexed to human tion, and be rewarded by the most flatter-intercourse-if a thousand little acts of acing distinctions of human applause.. commodation from one neighbour to an
But again, I may in fact give to others other, might not swell the tide of praise and more than their own; and in so doing I may of popularity, and yet, as ample a remainearn the credit of other virtues. I may der of pleasurable feeling be left to each as gather an additional lustre around my cha- before. And even when the sacrifice is racter, and collect from those around me more painful, and the generosity more rothe tribute of a still louder and more rap- mantic, and man can appeal to some mighty turous approbation. I may have a heart reduction of wealth as the measure of his constitutionally framed to the feeling and beneficence to others, might it not be said the exercise of compassion. I may scatter of him, if the life be more than meat, and on every side of me the treasures of benefi- the body than raiment, that still there is cence. I may have an eye for pity, and a left to him more than he can possibly surhand open as day for melting charity. I render ? that, though he strip himself of all may lay aside a large proportion of my his goods to feed the poor, there remains Wealth to the service of others, -and what to him that, without which all is nothingwith a bosom open to every impulse of pity, ness,—that a breathing and a conscious man, and with an eye ever lighted up by the he still treads on the face of our world, and smile of courteousness, and with a ready bears his part in that universe of life, where ear to all that is offered in the shape of the unfailing compassion of God still concomplaint or supplication, I may not go be-tinues to uphold him,—that instead of lying yond the demands of others, but I may wrapt in the insensibility of an eternal go greatly beyond all that they have a right grave, he has all the images of a waking to demand, and if I signalize myself by existence around him, and all the glories rendering faithfully to every man his due, of immortality before him,-that instead of ---Still more shall I signalize myself by a being withered to a thing of nought, and kindness that is never weary, by a liberality gone to that dark and hidden land, where that never is exhausted.
lall is silence and deep annihilation, a thouNow, we need not offer to assign the pre- sand avenues of enjoyment are still open to cise degree to which a man must carry the him, and the promise of a daily provision is Exercise of these gratuitous virtues, ere he still made sure, and he is free to all the can obtain for them the good will, and the common blessings of nature, and he is good opinion of society. We need not say freer still to all the consolations, and to all by how small a fraction of his income, he the privileges of the gospel. may thus purchase the homage of his ac- Thus it appears that after I have fulfilled quaintances,- at how easy a rate he may all the claims of men, and men are satissend away one person delighted by his af- fied, -that after having gone, in the exerfability; or another by the hospitality of cise of liberality, beyond these claims, and bis reception; or a third by the rendering men are filled with delight and admiration, of a personal service; or a fourth by the that after, on the footing of equal and indirect conveyance of a present,-or, finally, dependent rights, I have come into judgfor what expense he may surround him- ment with my fellows, and they have self by the gratitude of many poor, and the awarded to me the tribute of their most blessings and the prayers of many cottages. I honourable testimony, the footing on which
I stand with God still remains to be at what is due to him, by what is due to our tended to, and his claims still remain to be fellows in society. He made us, and he adjusted, and the mighty account still lies upholds us, and at his will the life which is uncancelled between the creature and the in us, will, like the expiring vapour, pass Creator,-between the man who, in refer- away; and the tabernacle of the body, that ence to his neighbours, can say, I give every curious frame-work which man thinks he one his own, and out of my own I expa- can move at his own pleasure, when it is tiate in acts of tenderness and generosity only in God that he moves, as well as lives, amongst them, and the God who can say, and has, his being, will, when abandoned You have nothing that you did not receive, by its spirit, mix with the dust out of which and all you ever gave is out of the ability it was formed, and enter again into the unwhich I have conferred upon you, and this conscious glebe from which it was taken. wealth is not your own, but his who be- It was, indeed, a wondrous preferment for stowed it, and who now calls upon you to unshapen clay to be wrought into so fine an render an account of your stewardship,- organic structure, but not more wondrous between the man who has purchased, by a surely than that the soul which animates fraction of his property, the good will of it should have been created out of nothing; his acquaintances, and the God who asserts and what shall we say, if the compound his right to have every fraction of it turned being so originated, and so sustained, and into an expression of gratitude, and devoted depending on the will of another for every to his glory,-between the man who holds moment of his continuance, is found to up his head in society, because his justice, spurn the thought of God, in distaste and and the ministrations of his liberality, have disaffection away from him ? When the distinguished him, and the God who de-spirit returns to him who sitteth on the mands the returns of duty and of acknow-throne; when the question is put, Amid all ledgement, for giving him the fund of these the multitude of your doings in the world, ministrations, and for giving what no money what have you done unto me? When the can purchase,-for putting the principle of rightful ascendency of his claims over every life into his bosom,-for furnishing him movement of the creature is made manifest with all his senses, and, through these in- by him who judgeth righteously; when lets of communication, giving him a part, the high but just pretensions of all things and a property, in all that is around him, being done to his glory; of the entire heart for sustaining him in all the elements of being consecrated in every one of its rehis being, and conferring upon him all his gards to his person and character, of the capacities, and all his joys.
whole man being set apart to his service, Now, what we wish you to feel is, that and every compromise being done away, the judgment of men may be upon your between the world on the one hand, and side, and the judgment of God be most that Being on the other, who is jealous of righteously against you—that while from his honour:when these high pretensions the one nothing is heard but admiration and are set up and brought into comparison gratitude, from the other, there may be such with the character and the conduct of any à charge of sinfulness, as, when set in or- one of us, and it be inquired in how far we der before your eye, will convince you, that have rendered unto God the ever-breathing he by whom you consist, is defrauded of gratitude that is due to him, and that obeall his offerings,-that, while all the com-dience which we should feel at all times to mon honesties and humanities of social life, be our task and our obligation; how shall are acquitted to the entire satisfaction of we fare in that great day of examination, others, and to the entire purity of your if it be found that this has not been the own reputation in the world, your whole tendency of our nature at all ? and when heart and conduct may be utterly pervaded he who is not a man shall thus enter into by the habit of ungodliness,-that, while judgment with us, how shall we be able to not one claim which your neighbours can stand ? prefer, is not met most readily, and dis- Amid all the praise we give and receiv charged most honourably, the great claims from each other, we may have no claims of the Creator, over those whom he has to that substantial praise which cometh formed, may lie altogether unheeded; and from God only. Men may be satisfied, but he, your constant benefactor, be not loved, it followeth not that God is satisfied, Un
and he, your constant preserver, be not der a ruinous delusion upon this subject, depended on,--and he, your most legiti- we may fancy ourselves to be rich, and mate sovereign, be not obeyed, -and he, have need of nothing, while, in fact, we are the unseen Spirit, who pervades all, and naked, and destitute, and blind, and miseraupholds all, be neither worshipped in spirit ble. And thus it is, that there is a morality and in truth, nor vested with the hold of aof this world, which stands in direct opporightful supremacy over your rebellious sition to the humbling representations of affections.
the Gospel; which cannot comprehend God is not man; nor can we measurel what it means by the utter worthlessness
and depravity of our nature; which pas- dishonesty, which have a disturbing effect sionately repels this statement, and that too on the enjoyments of others, and these on its own consciousness of attainments others will still retain their kindliness for superior to those of the sordid, and the profli- the good-humoured convivialist,--and he gate, and the dishonourable; and is fortified will be suffered to retain his own taste, and in its resistance to the truth as it is in Jesus, his own peculiarities; and, though it may by the flattering testimonials which it gathers be true, that chastity, and self-control, and to its respectability and its worth from the the severer virtues of personal discipline various quarters of human society. . and restraint, would in fact give a far more
A just sense of the extent of claim which happy and healthful tone to society than at God has upon his own creatures, would lay present it possesses, yet this influence is open this hiding-place of security: would not so conspicuous, and heedless men do not lead us to see, that to do some things for look so far: and therefore it is, that in spite our neighbours, is not the same with doing of his many outward and positive transall things for our Maker; that a natural gressions of the divine law, many an indiprinciple of honesty to man, is altogether vidual can be referred to, who, with his distinct from a principle of entire devoted average share of the integrities and the senness to God; that the tithe which we be- sibilities of social life, has stamped upon stow upon others is not an equivalent for a \ him the currency of a very fair every-day total dedication unto God of ourselves, and character, who moves among his fellows of all which belongs to us; that we may, without disgrace, and meets with acceptance present those around us with many an of- throughout the general run of this world's fering of kindness, and not present our companies. bodies a living sacrifice to God, which is If such a measure of indulgence be exour reasonable service; that we may earntended to the very glaring iniquities of the a cheap and easy credit for such virtues | outer man, let us not wonder though the as will satisfy the world, and be utter errors of the heart, the moral diseases of strangers to the self-denial, and the spiritu- the spirit, the disorganization of the inner ality, and the mortification of every earthly man, with its turbulent passions, and its desire, and the affection for the things that worldly affections, and its utter deadness to are above ;-all of which graces enter as the consideration of an overruling God, essential ingredients into the sanctification should find a very general indulgence pi the gospel.
among our brethren of the species. Bring But this leads us to the second point of a man to sit in judgment over the depravidistinction between the judgment of man ties of our common nature, and unless and that of God, even his clearer and more these depravities are obviously pointed elevated sense of that holiness without against the temporal good of society, what which no man shall see his face, and of can we expect, but that he will connive at that moral worth without which we are the infirmities of which he feels himself to utterly unfit for the society of heaven. be so large and so habitual a partaker ?
Man's sense of the right and the wrong What can we expect but that his moral may be clear and intelligent enough, in so sense, clouded as it is against the discernfar as that part of character is concerned | ment of his own exceeding turpitude, will which renders us fit for the society of earth. I also perceive but dimly, and feel but obThose virtues, without which a community | tusely, a similar turpitude in the character could not be held together, are both urgently of others? What else can we look for, than demanded by that community, and highly that the man who fires so promptly on the appreciated by it. The morality of our reception of an injury, will tolerate in his earthly life, is a morality which is in direct fellow all the vindictive propensities ?-or. subservience to our earthly accommodation; that the man who feels not in his bosom á and seeing that equity, and humanity, and single movement of principle or of tendercivility, are in such visible and immediate ness towards God, will tolerate in another connexion with all the security, and all the an equally entire habit of ungodliness? enjoyment which they spread around them, or, that the man who surrenders himself to it is not to be wondered at, that they should the temptations of voluptuousness, will perlarow over the character of him by whom ceive no enormity of character at all in the they are exhibited, the lustre of a grateful unrestrained dissipations of an acquaintand a superior estimation. And thus it is, ance?-and, in a word, when I see a man that even without any very nice or exqui- whose rights I have never invaded, who site refinement of these virtues, many an has no complaint of personal wrong or ordinary character will pass ;-and should provocation to allege against me, and who that character be deformed by the levities, shares equally with myself in nature's or even by the profligacies of intemperance, blindness and nature's propensities, I will he who sustains it may still bear his part not be afraid of entering into judgment with among the good men of society;-and keep him;--nor shall I stand in awe of any peneaway from it all that malignity, and all that I trating glance from his eye, of any indig