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We should rejoice to see more simplicity, among both preacher and hearers, with a more steady and thoroughly principled devotion to the great objects of the Christian vocation; but we perceive on every hand too much of a sickly and languid taste, which has no relish for that which is plain and solid, and receives with pleasure only stimulants. We confess that notwithstanding all this, there is much in the present state of things to afford us pleasure, and we know that beneath this flowery, and, therefore, most unpromising, surface, there is a vein of “pure and undefiled religion;" but we feel it to be an inviolable duty to contribute, in our humble measure, to detect and expose those glittering trifles, which to the common injury, are too often substituted for spiritual realities.
How often do they seem
Like a remember'd dream ;
In sparkling ruin lies,
Unite those Broken Tics.
The kindred that we loved,
To distant scenes removed;
And closed their weary eyes,
Can sever human tics.
They too are gone ou changed,
Ire darken d and estranged :
With cold averted eyes,
And mourn our Broken Ties.
Could bear their lot of pain,
Unclouded yet remain ?
Who reigns beyond the skies :
By faith's enduring ties.
Is sent in pitying love,
And seek its flight above :
And every joy that dies,
Aud trust to holier tics.
SERMON JOB, II. 4.-And Satan answered the Lord and said, skin for skin; yeu, all that a man hath, will he give for his life.
Satan was once an angel of light ; and, it is supposed, the highest in rank among the principalities and powers of heaven. And though, by his apostacy, he lost his holiness; yet he has not lost his intelligence. He is still a creature of great knowledge, penetration and subtilty. He knows more than he did before his fall, and is as wise to do evil, as the holy angels are to do good. Though this Arch A postate is an invisible spirit; yet he is represented in sacred scripture,'as being very conversant with mankind; and very busy in this world, doing his works of darkness, tempting men to sin, working in the children of disobedience, and going about as a roaring lign, seeking whom he may devour.
This enemy of all righteousness was upon one of his mischievous excursions, when the Lord found him, and held the conversation with him, recorded in the first chapter of the book of Job. there was a day when the sons of God came to present themselves before the Lord, and Satan came also among them. And the Lord said unto Satan, Whence comest thou? Then Satan answered the Lord, and said, From going to and fro in the earth, and from walking up and down in it. And the Lord said unto Satan, Hast thou considered my servant Job, that there is none like him in the earth a perfect and an upright man, one that feareth God and escheweth evil: Then Satan answered the Lord, and said, Doth Job fear God for nought? Hast thou not made a hedge about him, and about his house, and about all that he hath on every side ? Thou hast bless ed the work of his hands, and his substance is increased in the lando But put forth thy hand now, and touch all that he hath, and he will curse thee to thy face.”
The dispute which here arose between Satan and his Maker, was not respecting the nature of goodness, or moral perfection. Satan well knew, from his own former experience, what it was to be perfect, and with all his impudence, was ashamed to deny it. But the dispute was, respecting the real character of Job. God called him a perfect and upright man. The envious accuser of the brethren, insinated that all his goodness was mercenary—that he served God
only because God prospered him in his wordly interest. To refute this censorious suggestion of the adversary, God permitted him to try his servant, “ And the Lord said unto Satan, Behold, all that he hath is in thy power; only upon himself put not forth thy hand. Sa Satan went forth from the presence of the Lord. "As this work was very gratifying to his malicious disposition, he immediately set about it with alacrity. “ And there was a day, when his (Job's) sons and his daughters were eating and drinking wine in their eldest brother's house: And there canie a messenger unto Job, and said, The oxen were ploughing and the asses feeding beside them; and the Sabeans fell upon them, and took them away; yea, they have slain the servants with the edge of the sword; and I only an escaped alone to tell thee. While he was yet speaking, there came also another, and said, The fire of God is fallen from heaven, and hath burned up the sheep, and the servants, and consumed them; and I only am escaped alone to tell thee. While he was yet speaking, there came also another, and said, The Chaldeans made out three bands, and fell upon the camels, and have carried them away, yea, and slain the servants with the edge of the sword; and I only am escaped alone to tell thee. While he was yet speaking, there came also another, and said, Thy sons and thy daughters were eating and drinking wine in their eldest brother's house: and behold there came a great wind from the wilderness, and smote the four corners of the house, and it fell upon the young men, and they are dead; and I only am escaped alone to tell thee.” Job stood this trial, severe as it was, without the least failure. “Then Job arose, and rent his mantle, and shaved his head, and fell down upon
the ground, and worshipped, and said, Naked came I out of my mother's womb, and naked shall I return thither: the Lord gave, and the Lord hath taken away; blessed be the name of the Lord. In all this Job sinned not, nor charged God foolishly.”
But all this did not silence the cavils of Satan. He still presumed to question God's integrity. “ Again there was a day, when the sons of God came to present themselves before the Lord, and Satan came also among them, to present himself before the Lord. And, the Lord said unto Satan, From whence comest thou? And Satan answered the Lord, and said, From going to and fro in the earth, and from walking up and down in it. And the Lord said unto Satan, Hast thou considered my servant Job, that there is none like him in the earth, a perfect and an upright man, one that feareth God, and escheweth evil? And still he holdeth fast his integrity, although thou movedst ine against him, to destroy him without cause. And Satan answered the Lord, and said, Skin for skin; yea, all that a man hath, will he give for his life.”
Satan here suggests, that Job had maintained his integrity in ap
pearance only; lest God should kill him, if he did not. He basely insinuates, that God's servant had silently given up his substance, his servants and his children, to save his lise. The principle, upon which he argued, was this, that a wicked man may be induced to give up what he values less, in order to preserve what he values more; as his goods to save his friends, and his friends to save his life. The Lord did not call in question the soundness of this principle; but virtually admitted it, by giving Satan leave i to touch his bone and his flesh,' with sore boils, so that he really apprehended that it was God's intention 'to slay him.'
Hence, the single idea, to which I shall confine my observations, in the sequel of the discoursc, is this: The wicked are willing to part with a less private good, to secure a greater.
By the wicked, are meant, such as Satan represented Job to be, those who are not perfect and upright, who have no goodness of heart, but are impenitent, unregenerate sinners.
That the wicked are willing, when occasion requires, to part with a less private good to secure a greater, appears from the following considerations.
1. They can do this without any self-denial. Whether there can be any such thing as real self-denial, will not now be made a question: but if there is, it is very certain, that the wicked do not pos
They often deny the possibility of it, and still more frequently the existence of it; and they rarely, if ever, profess to exercise it, in the true and proper sense. As self-denial is made a condition of the gospel, so it is a distinguishing property of a good
If the wicked ever truly denied themselves, there could be no distinction made between saints and sinners. The wicked, therefore, would never be willing to part with a less private good to secure a greater, unless they might be so without self-denial. But they may; for no self-denial is necessary, in order to relinquish a less private good, when, without such a sacrifice, a greater private good must be lost. Such a sacrifice is gratifying self, instead of denying it. In such a case, no loss is sustained, on the whole, but an actual saving is made. There is no self-denial in giving a dollar to save an eagle-in giving an eagle to save a limb—or in giving all one has, to save his life. Without the least degree of self-denial, the wicked may ever be willing to give up a less private good to secure a greater. And,
2. Mere selfishness will prompt them to do this. That the wicked may be actuated by selfish motives, I believe is never called in question by any one. Though it is often maintained, that no man ought to be, or can be really disintereste'l; yet it is granted by all, that men may be, and often are, selfish. The manner in which men
scrutinize the motives and guard against the machinations of their fellow-men, makes it manifest, that they more than suspect them capable of being influenced by selfish feelings, desires and designs
. The sacred writers represent mankind as naturally lovers of their own selves, and as all seeking their own things.
Now, it is the very nature of selfishness, to excite one to promote his private, personal interest, in the best manner, and to the highest degree. But to part with a less good to secure a greater, is certainly to promote one's interest, all things considered. Every one considers it as advancing his interest on the whole, to give a part of his property to secure the remainder against shipwreck or conflagration. To give even all one's possessions, however great, as a price for his life, would generally be considered as a good bargain. This is what mere selfishness prompts all the wicked to do.
3. It is impossible, that the wicked should ever have a selfish motive for declining to part with a less private good to secure a greater. That can never be a selfish motive, which induces one, knowingly and designedly, to injure himself—to sacrifice a greater private good to a less-to relinquish his own highest interest. But unless the wicked may do all this from some selfish motive; it is impossible that they should ever have a selfish motive for refusing to part with a less private good, when they perceive it to be indispensably necessary to secure a greater. Unless, therefore, the wicked may be supposed to act from higher motives, than a regard to private interest; unless, indeed, they may be supposed to act from pure disinterested benevolence; they must ever feel willing to part with a less private good to secure a greater.
4. It appears from fact, that the wicked are willing to part with a less private good to secure a greater. They have ever expressed such a willingness, both by words and deeds. In all ages and all parts of the world, they have readily relinquished a part of their property, when necessary to save the rest. They have deprived themselves of rest and sleep, of food and raiment, in order to accu mulate riches, or to obtain honour and power. Many have actually parted, not only with all their property, but with their limbs
, to save their lives.
And though the wicked have often refused to part with what was really necessary to secure private good; yet it is believed, thať no instance can be named, in which they ever refused to part with what appeared to them at the time to be necessary to secure a greater good. The principle advanced by the subtle Adversary, and virtually admitted by the Lord, holds true in all cases.
The wicked are universally willing to part with a less private good to secure a greater,
Skin for skin; yea, all that a man hath will be give for his life.”