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ON RELIGIOUS EXCITEMENT.
MICAH vi. 8.
“He hath showed thee, O man, what is good ; and what doth the LORD require of thee, but to do justly, and to love mercy, and to walk humbly with thy God?”
A text like the present is the more remarkable because our Blessed LORD more than once alludes to this, or something of this kind, in the Old Testament, and speaks of the expression as that on the right understanding of which the whole of His Gospel depended,
Go ye and learn what that meaneth, I will have mercy, and not sacrifice.” This passage is also much worthy of attention on this account, that it very beautifully describes in a few words the whole of true religion : “to do justly, to love mercy, to walk humbly with God.” But on the present occasion I would speak of it in another point of view, that in which it is more especially here introduced: the purport of this verse is to say, that after all it is no great sacrifice that God requires of us, but only a small matter; not something set afar off at the other end of the world, but that which lies close at our home, before our very doors, and at our feet. We have not to stretch ourselves beyond our measure, but only to stoop down, as it were, and remove the stumbling-block from before our steps.
In the preceding verses the sinner had asked, as if moved by a sense of his condition, and desirous to think of some great satisfaction which might atone for his grievous offences, " Wherewith shall I come before the LORD, and bow myself before the High God? shall I come before Him with burnt-offerings ?— Will the
Lord be pleased with thousands of rams, or with ten thousands of rivers of oil ? Shall I give my first-born for my transgression, the fruit of my body for the sin of my soul ?” And the answer to this is, He hath showed thee, O man, what is good ; and what doth the Lord require of thee, but to do justly, and to love mercy, and to walk humbly with thy God?”
Here is a sinner crying out in the midst of great sins, such as the Prophet so pathetically laments; and we are shown, that under such circumstances there is a danger of our mistaking the whole matter, and being, in consequence, no better than we were before. For, of course, when any one seriously considers what sin is, and what its consequences are through all eternity, and of what infinite moment it must be to please or to displease Almighty God, then we naturally think of what great thing we can do; for the greatest thing we can do seems but very little to express what we would wish. But these suggestions are not usually from the good Spirit of God; He does not, for the most part, call us to any thing distant and out of the way; He continues still to plead with us day by day,—not to do those evil things which we have been accustomed to do, not to leave undone day by day those things which we daily ought to do.
The same thing is described in the Book of Deuteronomy; where Moses had set forth at length the great blessings of obedience, and the certain and irremediable woes of disobedience, after the most earnest appeals he adds :--" This commandment which I conjmand thee this day, it is not hidden from thee, neither is it far off. It is not in Heaven, that thou shouldest say, Who shall go up for us to Heaven, and bring it unto us, may hear it, and do it? Neither is it beyond the sea, that thou shouldest
say, Who shall go over the sea for us, and bring it unto us, that we may hear it, and do it? But the word is very nigh unto thee, in thy mouth, and in thy heart, that thou mayest do it?” The confession of Christ crucified (which St. Paul ? says this alludes to), and those duties which belong to us all as His followers, are so obvious, that they find the way to the mouth all the day long and to the heart: every one may learn from his own words and his own thoughts that his amendment is a thing which lies about his daily path; here his repentance must begin ; 1 Deut. xxx. 12. 13.
3 Rom, x. 6.
that we says the
and this he knows full well. It is in his mouth and in his heart. His very words and thoughts are a witness of it.
In the Gospels, again, we find an instance which seems to bear much on this subject, when the rich young man comes running and kneeling to Christ, and humbly asking, “ Master, what good thing shall I do that I may attain eternal life?” Perhaps what he meant was very much the same as is here asked by the Prophet Micah, Shall I come before Him with burnt offerings of some very costly nature? Will the Lord be pleased with thousands of rams, or with ten thousands of rivers of oil ?” And our Lord's reply to him may signify very much the same as what HE here expresses by His own Prophet. He hath showed thee, O man, what is good; and what doth the LORD require of thee, but to keep His commandments?" "What good thing shall I do?”
young man; and our LORD seems to have answered him long before by His Prophet, saying, “He hath showed thee, O man, what is good—to do justly, to love mercy, and to walk humbly with God.” This contains every part of our duty to God and man.
And thus it is said of Wisdom, that “she is easily seen of them that love her ; ” and that “whoso seeketh her early" "shall find her sitting at his doors.” She goes about “seeking such as are worthy of her : showeth herself favourably unto them in the ways, and meeteth them in every thought.” For all other things you may travel far, and compass sea and land, and engage in vast undertakings, as they do who would be great and rich in this world; but to be humble, and just, and merciful, you need not go far beyond your own doors, your own ways, and words, and thoughts. One or two familiar circumstances may be mentioned, as an illustration of that temper in mankind which these passages of Holy Scripture seem to allude to. Among the many various kinds of religion which have sprung up in modern times, there is one which exceeds all others in blasphemy and wickedness, called Mormonism, which calls upon persons to go to a distant place in America to await, as it is blasphemously pretended, the coming of the last Day. And many thousands of wretched creatures have gone there with great expense and trouble ; but yet, with regard to the only religion that can save their souls, common honesty, the love of mercy, and humility in the sight of God, it does not