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gave to virtue all its charms, and formed the heart of man to love and to admire them.
Be not deceived, then, into a rejection of that doctrine which. forms the great basis of a sinner's religion, by the specimens of moral excellence which are to be met with in society; or by. the praise which your own virtues extort from an applauding neighbourhood. Virtue may exist, and in such a degree too, as to constitute it a lovely object in the eyes of the world, but if there be in it no reference of the mind to the will of God, there is no religion in it. Such virtue as this has its reward in its natural consequences, in the admiration of others, or in the delights of conscious satisfaction. But we cannot see why God will reward it in the capacity of your master, when his service was not the principle of it, and you were therefore not acting at all the part of a servant to him,-nor do we see how he can reward it in the capacity of your judge, when, in the whole process of virtuous feeling, and virtuous sentiment, and virtuous conduct, you carried in your heart no reference whatever, for a single moment, to him as to your lawgiver. We do not deny that there are many such examples of virtue in the world; but then we insist upon it, that they cannot be put down to the account of religion. They often may, and actually do, exist in a state of entire separation from the religious principle; and in that case, they go no farther than to prove that your taste is unvitiated, that your temper is amiable, that your social dispositions promote the peace and welfare of society; and they will be rewarded with its approbation. Now, it is well that you act your part as a member of society; and religion, by making this, one of its injunctions, gives us the very best security, that wherever its influence prevails, it will be done in the most perfect manner. But the point we labour to impress is, that a man may be what we all understand by a good member of society, without the authority of God as his legislator, being either recognized or acted upon. We do not say that his error lies in being a good member of society. This, though only a circumstance at present, is a very fortunate one. The error lies in his having discarded the authority of God, or rather, in his never having admitted the influence of that authority over his
heart, or his practice. We want to guard him against the delusion, that the principle which he has, can ever be accepted as a substitute for the principle he has not,-or, that the very highest sense of duty, which his situation as a member of society, impresses upon his feelings, will ever be received as an atonement for wanting that sense of duty to God, which he ought to feel in the far more exalted capacity of his servant, and candidate for his approbation. We stand on the high ground, that he is the subject of the Almighty,-nor shall we shrink from declaring the whole extent of the principle. Let his path in society be ever so illustrious, by the virtues which adorn it; let every word, and every performance, be as honourable as a proud sense of integrity can make it; let the salutations of the market-place mark him out as the most respectable of the citizens; and the gratitude of a thousand families ring the praises of his beneficence to the world: If the actor in this splendid exhibition, carry in his mind no reference to the authority of God, we do not hesitate to pronounce him unworthy,―nor shall all the execrations of generous, but mistaken principle, deter us from putting forth our hand to strip him of his honours. What! is the world to gaze in admiration on this fine spectacle of virtue ; and are we to be told that the Being, who gave such faculties to one of his children, and provides the theatre for their exercise, that the Being, who called this moral scene into existence, and gave it all its beauties,-that he is to be forgotten, and neglected as of no consequence? Shall we give a deceitful lustre to the virtues of him who is unmindful of his God, and with all the grandeur of eternity before us, can we turn to admire those short-lived exertions, which only shed a fleeting brilliancy over a paltry and perishable scene? It is true that he who is counted faithful in litt will also be counted faithful in much; and when God is the principle of this fidelity, the very humblest wishes of benevolence will be rewarded. But its most splendid exertions without this principle, have no inheritance in heaven. Human praise, and human eloquence, may acknowledge it; but the Discerner of the heart never will. The heart may be the seat of every amiable feeling, and every claim which comes to it in the shape of human misery may find
a welcome; but if the love of God be not there, it is not right with God, and he who owns it, will die in his sins: he is in a state of impenitency.
Having thus disposed of those virtues which exist in a state of independence on the religious principle, we must be forced to recur to the doctrine of human depravity, in all its original aggravation. Man is corrupt, and the estrangement of his heart from God, is the decisive evidence of it. Every day of his life the first commandment of the law is trampled on,-and it is that commandment on which the authority of the whole is suspended. His best exertions are unsound in their very principle; and as the love of God reigns not within him, all that has usurped the name of virtue, and deceived us by its semblance, must be a mockery and a delusion.
We shall conclude with three observations, First, there is nothing more justly fitted to revolt the best feelings of the human heart against orthodoxy, than when any thing is said in its defence, which tends to mar the credit or the lustre of a moral accomplishment so lovely as benevolence. Let it be observed, then, that substantial benevolence is rarely, if ever, to be found apart from piety, and that piety is but the hypocrisy of a name, when benevolence, in all the unweariedness of its well doing, does not go along with it. Benevolence may make some brilliant exhibitions of herself without the instigation of the religious principle. But in these cases you seldom have the touchstone of a painful sacrifice, and you never have a spiritual aim, after the good of our imperishable nature. It is easy to indulge a constitutional feeling. It is easy to make a pecuniary surrender. It is easy to move gently along, amid the visits and the attentions of kindness, when every eye smiles welcome, and the soft whispers of gratitude minister their pleasing reward, and flatter you into the delusion that you are an angel of mercy. But give us the benevolence of him, who can ply his faithful task in the face of every discouragement,-who can labour in scenes where there is no brilliancy whatever to reward him, -whose kindness, is that sturdy and abiding principle which can weather all the murmurs of ingratitude, and all the provocations of dishonesty,-who can find his way through poverty's
putrid lanes, and depravity's most nauseous and disgusting receptacles,—who can maintain the uniform and placid temper, within the secrecy of his own home, and amid the irksome annoyances of his own family,-who can endure hardships, as a good soldier of Christ Jesus,-whose humanity acts with as much vigour amid the reproach, and the calumny, and the contradiction of sinners, as when soothed and softened by the poetic accompaniment of weeping orphans, and interesting cottages,and, above all, who labours to convert sinners, to subdue their resistance of the gospel, and to spiritualize them into a meetness for the inheritance of the saints. We maintain, that no such benevolence, realizing all these features, exists, without a deeply seated principle of piety lying at the bottom of it. Walk from Dan to Beersheba, and, away from christianity, and beyond the circle of its influences, there is positively no such benevolence to be found. The patience, the meekness, the difficulties of such a benevolence, cannot be sustained without the influence of a heavenly principle,--and when all that decks the theatre of this world is withdrawn, what else is there but the magnificence of eternity, to pour a glory over its path, and to minister encouragement in the midst of labours unnoticed by human eye, and unrewarded by human testimony? Even the most splendid enterprizes of benevolence, which the world ever witnessed, can be traced to the operation of what the world laughs at, as a quakerish and methodistical piety. And we appeal to the abolition of the slave trade, and the still nobler abolition of vice and ignorance, which is now accomplishing amongst the uncivilized countries of the earth, for the proof, that in good will to men, as well as glory to God, they are the men of piety who bear away the palm of superiority and of triumph.
But, Secondly, If all Scripture and all observation, are on the side of our text, should not this be turned by each of us into a personal concern? Should it not be taken up, and pursued, as a topic in which we all have a deep individual interest? Should it not have a more permanent hold of us, than a mere amusing general speculation? Are not prudence, and anticipation, and a sense of danger, all linked with the conclusion we have at**
tempted to press upon you? In one word, if there be such a thing as a moral government on the part of God,-if there be such a thing as the authority of a high and divine legislature, --if there be such a thing as a throne in heaven, and a judge sitting on that throne,-should not the question, What shall I do to be saved? come with all its big and deeply felt significan. cy into the heart and conscience of every one of us? We know that there is a very loose and general security upon this subject, that the question, if it ever be suggested at all, is disposed of in an easy, indolent, and superficial way, by some such presumption, as that God is merciful, and that should be enough to pacify us. But why recur to any presumption, for the purpose of bringing the question to a settlement, when, upon this very topic, we are favoured with an authoritative message from God,-when an actual embassy has come from him, and that on the express errand of reconciliation ?--when the records of this embassy have been collected into a volume, within the reach of all who will stretch forth their hand to it ;-when the obvious expedient of consulting this record is before us? And surely, if what God says of himself, is of higher signification than what we think him to be, and if he tell us not merely that he is merciful, but that there is a particular way in which he chooses to be so ;—nothing remains for us but submissively to learn that way, and obediently to go along with it. But he actually tells us, that there is no other name given under heaven, whereby man can be saved, but the name of Jesus. He tells us, that it is only in Christ, that he has reconciled the world unto himself. He tells us, that our alone redemption is in him whom God hath set forth to be a propitiation through faith in his blood, that he might be just, while the justifier of him who believeth in Jesus;-and surely, we must either give up the certainty of the record, or count these to be faithful sayings, and worthy of all acceptation.
Lastly, The question may occur, after having established the fact of human corruption, and recommended a simple acquies. cence in the Saviour for forgiveness, What becomes of the corruption after this? Must we just be doing with it as an obstinate peculiarity of our nature, bearing down all our powers