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when they livingly neglect the duties of public worship as a means conducive to it, are deluded by errors of thought, which it would be advisable and advantageous to remove. But errors which have taken root in man are not to be removed by the mere opposite speculation of truths in the understanding. In order to eradicate errors from their possession in the mind, it is indispensable that we should live contrary to them, and thus, to scrupulously and punctually fulál those duties to which we have adverted, and which no one desirous of being estimated as a Christian, can feel himself at liberty to neglect.
These doctrinal views on the subject before us, in which it is determined that to worship the Lord, is to become principled in what is good and true from Him, to remove what is evil and false from ourselves, to exalt the Lord, and become humble in both heart and mind, must necessarily disclose to us the profound reason why this worship is required. We must perceive that it is for our happiness, since in the proportion in which this duty is well performed, we become principled in a state of goodness from the Lord, which goodness is the foundation and means, of entering into the enjoyment of all the promises. It must readily be seen that there is nothing that man can do which can add to his glory—that there are no thoughts which man can conceive that are adequate to the greatness and majesty of the infinite,-and, therefore, it must appear that mau's worship of Him, can only be acceptable and pleasing, in so far as it evinces man's possession of those good things which are the object of his choice and regard, and that thus the Lord has instituted public worship as a means of their attainment and promotion.
How very encouraging must these doctrines and duties appear to those who have properly apprehended them. How admirably are they calculated to disarm the neglectful of their excuses, and induce upon them the affection of obedience. It certainly must be seen that the duty of public worship is a rational service, and that they who neglect its provisions transgress, as well the perception of their faculties, as they do the commandment of the Lord. They cannot be satisfied with themselves, nor can the church be satisfied with them, because both may be improved by proper attention to the duty which we have attempted to induce you to observe,-and to induce you to do so for no other reason than because it is preeminently calculated to promote your individual welfare,— because it is instrumental in building up the church to which you have attached yourselves, and because thereby her wisdom may be increased, and the boundaries of her virtues be extended. The worst of evils infuse themselves into the mind at those periods when men neglect their proper duties; and how loose and unprepared, not to say unwilling, are they who have neglected the obligations of the Sabbath to commence the necessary duties of the week. But by the affectionate observance of those obligations, consolation is derived for the tribulations that have been endured in the week, conjunction is promoted between themselves and heaven, and intelligence and strength are procured to enable them to enter upon those other duties and obligations which devolve upon them, and which have their quality improved by the states of society they have so acquired. This is not a duty of one class of society but of all, young and old, male and female. Let them on the return of the Sabbath, reflect that they are spared to see a day which angels never saw, but that a duty is required of them in which the angels are unceasingly employed; and let affection for its observance break through the mists and obscurities of contrary desires, and then shall we be delighted in seeing that you are gathered in the name of Him who, under such conditions, has promised his presence in the midst.
The consideration of these truths is pressed upon you with much earnestness and affection. It is not in accordance with the proper genius of the ministry of the New Church, to attempt to procure obedience to the commandment of the Lord by exciting your fears, through the description of frightful pictures of the infernal world. We know this: the divine laws must be complied with from principles of love, and thus no genuine obedience can flow from motives of fear; wherefore, we wish to lead you by the use of reason, or the Word, which is the lamp thereof, into the paths of duty which the church requires, and which your interests need; and in the performance of this work of use we only employ a light which you yourselves may use, and make as lucid as you please. Perhaps, however, fidelity may require us to say, that the state by which this light is unbeeded or extinguished is one of a perilous and dismal character; which is too plain a truth to employ any argument to induce you to avoid. Now to God, &c. Amen.
ON THE CHARACTER OF THE JUST MAN UNDER THE
LAW, AND UNDER THE GOSPEL.
BY REV. W. MASON.
Deut. xvi. 20. " That which is altogether just shalt thou follow, that thou
mayest live, and inherit the land which the Lord thy God giveth thee." It is impossible for a well instructed mind to read such a passage in the Holy Word as this, and, at the same time, to advert to that soul-destroying doctrine that man cannot keep the commandments, without experiencing feelings of astonishment, not unmixed with indignation. How bereft of all sound intelligence in spiritual things must that mind have become, which can believe that God created man to live in society, and commanded him to live in love, without giving him those capabilities which are suitable to the end for which he created him. What mind, but such an one as scruples not to think all manner of evil of the Divine Being, can believe that the great and good God gave to man commandments, as if he possessed the ability to observe them, while, at the same time, he knew that he was utterly unable to do so?
And to whom was our text addressed? Of whom was it required, that they should be “altogether just"? Was the command addressed to an unfallen portion of the human race? Was it addressed to a nation remarkable for its high standard of morality, and its practical adherence to it? Just the reverse! The command was addressed to a people in whom the noblest traces of humanity appear to have been almost extinguished ; to a people in whom the true dignity of man had dwindled almost into the likeness of the lower animals; a people remarkable for their selfish pride, and that obstinate kind of ignorance which must ever accompany an extravagant degree of self-importance; in short, a people whose own annals represent them as having been delivered from cruel bondage in Egypt, by means of stupendous miracles wrought by the true God in their behalf, and immediately after, as forgetting all his wonderful works, and as dancing round a golden calf, insanely crying out, “ these be thy gods, O Israel, which brought thee up out of the land of Egypt”(Exod. xxxii. 4). Well might the Great Being, to whom they had thus conducted themselves with unparalleled ingratitude, declare unto Moses, “1 have seen this people, and, behold, it is a stiff necked people" (verse 9).
And yet such a people as this were not excused from obeying the divine laws, but were required to follow “ that which is altogether just;" and Christians are not ashamed, with all their peculiar and inestimable advantages, conferred upon them by Redeeming Love and Mercy,—they are not ashamed to place themselves below this “stiff-necked people,” by saying, “it is impossible for us, fallen creatures as we are, to follow that which is 'altogether just ;' we are unable to keep the commandments !" And is this the miserable result of God becoming man for man's salvation ? Was it for this that « our Saviour Jesus Christ abolished death, and brought life and immortality to light through the gospel?”(1 Tim. i. 10.) Can it be true, that “the great God and our Saviour Jesus Christ gave himself for us, that he might redeem us from all iniquity, and purify unto himself a peculiar people zealous of good works ?”(Titus i. 13). If man has no power to keep the commandments, can the statement of the Evangelist be true, “that to as many as received the Lord Jesus, to them gave he power to become the sons of God ?"(John i. 12.) In vain is it written in the last chapter of the Word of God, “Blessed are they that do his commandments,” if it is impossible that any such blessed persons should exist in the world!
But eternal glory to the Father of mercies! an antidote has been provided for this wide spreading, and all desolating pestilence the doctrine that man cannot keep the commandments. The descent of the “New Jerusalem" has commenced. The tree of life, which is situated in the midst of the holy city, is again become accessible; "and the leaves of that tree are for the healing of the nations.” Blessed are they who are willing to enter the holy city; who are willing to apply the healing leaves of the tree of life to their own spiritual maladies; and who, by doing the divine commandments, have become privileged to partake of its lifebestowing fruits.
It must needs be, that the all just and righteous God, under every dispensation of his Truth, adapts his requirements to the capacities of those to whom they are addressed. It is fully admitted, that although the Israelite was capable of following that which is "al
together just,” he could only do so in a degree inferior to that of which a Christian is capable; and this, again, is inferior to that which may, and should, distinguish a Christian of the “New Jerusalem." Not that this difference of degree is outwardly discernible, for justice is the same in its outward manifestations in all cases, whether its inward springs or motives be relatively interior or exterior ; pure or of a mixed character. The degree in which any person is actually just in the sight of the all-seeing God, is according to the quality of the inward springs of his conduct; the purity of the affections of charity and of the truths of faith, in which his acts of justice or righteousness originate.
It is, therefore, highly expedient, that we, my brethren, should obtain a clear view of the extent of our spiritual capacity, in order that we may establish in our minds a solemn conviction of what is required of us, so that in our proper degree, we may be followers of that which is “altogether just " in the sight of our God. We believe that we have been favoured with the clearest views of Divine Truth, and that we have full power to conform to their sacred and elevated standard. With this belief, then, ought inseparably to be associated, a deep sense of our responsibility to render a corresponding return of fidelity and obedience. And what, in other words, does our determination to do this, through divine assistance, imply? It implies that the Lord, in his mercy, has rendered us capable of a certain extent of improvement, and thus of appropriating from himself a certain amount of heavenly blessings, and therefore, that it is incumbent upon us to ascertain what is the extent of this capacity, in order that we may not defeat our gracious Father's intention, but realize the great and good things which his bountiful provision has placed within our reach. Let us, then, apply our minds on the present occasion, to ascertain the respective characteristics of that justice which was required of old from the Israelites, under the law, and which is now required from Christians, under the Gospel dispensation.
It has been already observed, that the quality of justice depends upon the quality of the ruling motive, or upon the nature of the end which the individual has in view in yielding obedience to the divine command to “do justly.” But it may be well to observe in addition, that no other justice is referred to in the Holy Word but such as stands connected with the fear of God, and a reverential regard to his authority. All justice that originates only in the fear of man, or in the hope of man; in the fear