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teach us to regard covetousness as idolatry, and upon a similar ground are we to consider every unhallowed affection, as of this nature, which would exalt any created thing to that place in our esteem and confidence which is due only to God.
surely then may we know that none of the children of men can ever be permitted to enter into that heavenly kingdom of which Canaan was only an emblem and a type, unless they are first washed from their sins in the blood of Christ, and renewed in the spirit of their minds by the Spirit of God. The society, the employment, and the blessedness of heaven, can only be congenial to those whom God has prepared for them; and it could constitute no real enjoyment to the wicked, and the unregenerate, to be advanced to
‘From all your filthiness, and all your idols, will those sacred seats, if they retained, and carried I cleanse you,' Ezek. xxxvi. 25.
with them, minds alien from all the piety and IDOLATRY and wickedness were invariably con- all the purity for which their inhabitants are disnected in the history of the people of Israel, and tinguished. Have you sought to be made meet no sooner did they depart, in any case, from the for the inheritance which awaits the saints in true God, and adopt the creed of the surround-life; and that the God of very would sancpeace ing heathen, than they became characterized for tify you wholly; and that your whole spirit, and every thing flagitious, immoral, and abandoned in soul, and body, be preserved blameless unto the conduct. How untenable the sentiments of those coming of our Lord Jesus Christ? Have you who attribute little or no influence to the reli- turned to God in a spirit of deep penitence, gious opinions which men may entertain, and who mourning over past sins, and earnestly enconceive that a high standard of virtue and moral treating that he would mercifully pardon and purity may coexist with heretical, sceptical, or graciously receive you? Have you felt your infidel principles. Before God would bring back obligation to love the Lord your God with all the captivity of Israel, and reinstate them in the your heart, with your soul, with all your strength, land from which they had been cast out for and with all your mind? Has the love of Christ their sins, he showed them that he would constrained you thus to judge, that if one died effect a great spiritual change upon them, and for all, then were all dead; and that he died for cleanse them from all their filthiness, and from all all, that they who live should not henceforth live their idols. And in like manner are we taught to themselves, but to him who loved them, and in the New Testament, that before any can be gave himself for him? Is it your daily care to put in possession of the mercy of God in Christ, keep yourselves from idols, and to become more or of the inheritance which awaits the saints in and more dead unto sin and alive unto righteouslife, they require to become the subjects of a ness? Know you not that to whom ye yield change so great and decided, as to admit of being yourselves servants to obey, his servants ye are expressed by terms no less emphatic than those whom ye obey, whether of sin unto death, or of of being born again, and made new creatures. obedience unto righteousness? But God be And hence the security provided in the economy thanked, that ye were the servants of sin; but ye of grace, that the mercy of God cannot be exer- have obeyed from the heart that form of doctrine cised in vain; or, as an eminent divine has which was delivered you.' 'What fruit had ye strongly stated the subject, that the righteous- then in those things whereof ye are now ashamed? ness of Christ can never be made the covering of for the end of these things is death. But now, a dead soul. There is a necessary and insepar- being made free from sin, and become servants to able connection between regeneration and justifi- God, ye have your fruit unto holiness, and the cation, and it is only in that heart which has end everlasting life. For the wages of sin is been renewed and purified by the power of the death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Holy Spirit, that Christ can dwell, and that the Jesus Christ our Lord.' blessings of salvation can be effectually received and enjoyed.
To have restored Israel to the land of Canaan without, in the first place, renewing them to repentance, and cleansing them from their filthiness and their idols, would have been a course neither really beneficial to themselves, nor calculated to promote the glory of God. And how
God is a Spirit, and they who worship him must worship himin spirit and in truth, John
our frame; it is to worship him with the devout and holy affections which the divine Spirit imparts, and not with the cold and lifeless formality of a mere ceremonial observance; it is to prostrate our hearts before him in deep humility and self-abasement, and not to multiply idle genuflexions, or insincere and hypocritical confessions; it is to present the sacrifice of praise and thanksgiving from a pure heart fervently, and not to burn the incense of odoriferous perfumes, or of costly ob-lations. Let us ever bear in mind, when we engage in the worship of God, that we appear in the presence of the great Searcher of hearts, and that it is impossible that any vail or covering can hide us from his inspection and knowledge. Keep thy feet when thou goest into the house of God, and be more ready to hear, than to offer the sacrifice of fools, for they consider not that they do evil.' Be not rash with thy en-mouth, and let not thine heart be hasty to utter any thing before God; for God is in heaven, and thou upon earth, therefore let thy words be few.
THE particular truth which it was the design of our Lord to inculcate at this time, was that the disputes between the Jews and Samaritans, about the place where they ought to worship the Father, were on the eve of becoming altogether groundless and inept, inasmuch as every thing merely ceremonial in religion was in the act of being for ever abolished; and nothing but what was spiritual and moral, and therefore essentially immutable, was to be permitted to remain. The doctrine that God is not confined to temples built by the hands of men, but that he is every where present in the fullness of his perfections throughout the immense universe, was uniformly acknowledged, throughout all ages, by his lightened and spiritual worshippers. Under the Mosaic dispensation, however, it pleased God, for wise and holy ends, to define and limit the mode of observing his worship, and to specify the times, and the seasons, and the localities, in which sacrifice, and some of its other more solemn duties, required to be performed. But as the use of the typical and ceremonial institutions of Judaism, so also their obligation terminated simultaneously with the death of Christ, and we find at that time the finger of God putting visible dishonour upon them, to show that they were for ever abolished. Thus the sacred vail which was only lifted up once ever year when the high priest entered into the holiest of all, was rent in twain from the top to the bottom. And a short while after, when the Romans besieged Jerusalem, under Titus, voices were heard in the temple, as an ancient historian mentions, saying, Arise, let us depart;' and the very next day the abomination of desolation was seen standing in the holy place, and the whole of that splendid fabric was so completely consumed with fire and overthrown, that not one stone was left standing upon another. And now, after the lapse of a long succession of centuries, the Mosaic ritual has been so completely set aside by providence, that notwith-announces himself to us, in reference to his threestanding all the zeal and pertinacity of the Jews to resist the divine counsels, they have no where, throughout the whole world, a sacrifice, a temple, or a priest.
To worship God in truth, includes two things: the one, that our worship have truth for its substance; the other, that it be true or sincere in its exercise; it must be founded upon, and consist with, the will of God as revealed in the holy scriptures, and it must also be engaged in with unfeigned reverence and heartfelt solemnity. As to the value and importance of truth, it is essential to every thing that has a claim to the consideration of intelligent beings. It is truth which confers on science its dignity, gives to experience its use, imparts to knowledge its worth, and invests religion with its authority and sacredness. It is the glory of God that he is a God of truth, and it is the excellence of his word, and of his works, and of all his operations and promises, that they are replete with truth, and free from any mixture of deceit or error. As there can be no subject more profoundly important and interesting than religion, we are not left to our doubtful speculations regarding its doctrines, but have received from heaven an inspired revelation, containing every thing which is necessary to make us wise unto salvation. And accordingly Christ
fold offices of a Priest, a Prophet, and a King, as the way, the truth, and the life. By his atoning sacrifice he has opened up a way of access and return to the Father. By his word and The nature of the worship which God requires pirit, he has set before us the truth, which is described under two particulars, spirit and should guide us in that way; and by his divine truth. To worship God in spirit, is to worship power he communicates spiritual life to those him with the soul, or thinking principle, in contra- who are dead in trespasses and sins, and will distinction to the mere body, or material part of raise up to eternal life all his redeemed peo
ple on the morn of the resurrection. But we require to come to God with a true, that is, with a sincere and unfeigned worship, avoiding and hating the sin of drawing near to him with the service of the lips, or of presenting a faithless and hypocritical homage. In every action sincerity is essential to the validity and worth of the duty performed. No Father would esteem the professions of a child who expressed an affection he did not feel, or promised an obedience he did not render; and can you suppose that God will be mocked by such proceedings? He saith to the wicked, What hast thou to do to declare my covenant, or to take my name into your mouths? Cleanse your hands, ye sinners; purify your hearts, ye double-minded. Sincerity must be founded on faith, or a cordial and unfeigned reliance upon the merits and righteousness of the Lord Jesus Christ. It is only when we come to God in his name, that we can find acceptance for our persons, and for our services. It is a blind sincerity which acts or feels differently, the sincerity of presumption, and self-righteousness, and impenitence; and therefore it cannot be but hateful in the eyes of him with whom we have to do. Let us never engage in any act of worship or devotion without first seeking the preparation of the heart which cometh from the Lord; and that he would give us grace whereby we may serve him acceptably with reverence and godly fear.
For the invisible things of him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even his eternal power and Godhead,' Rom. i. 20.
Ir is the glory of man's intellectual being, that he can look from nature up to nature's God. He is necessarily led to conclude, that every effect must have a cause, and thus from the existence of the visible universe, and the innumerable indications of wisdom and design which it presents, is he compelled to conclude, that it is the work of a Being of Almighty power, of eternal existence, and of supreme and absolute sovereignty. Accordingly, the belief of the existence of a great first cause has prevailed among all nations, and the most degraded tribes have entertained it, no less than the most refined and learned states. In describing the creation of Adam, our great Poet has represented with much truth the first effort of his intelligence, as called forth and directed to
an inquiry after a knowledge of the Creator from whose hands he had proceeded.
'To speak I tried, and forthwith spake, My tongue obey'd, and readily could name Whate'er I saw; thou sun, said I, fair light, And thou enlighten'd earth, so fresh and gay; Ye hills and dales, ye rivers, woods, and plains; And ye that live and move, fair creatures tell, Tell if ye saw how came I thus ? how here? Not of myself. By some great Maker then In goodness and in pow'r pre-eminent ! Tell me, how may I know him, how adore, From whom I have that thus I move and live, And feel that I am happier than I know.' When we endeavour to realize the existence of God, in its eternity, immutability, and independence; when we think of him as existing in all the glory and majesty of his perfections throughout all the infinitude of past duration, and that there never was a period when he was not; how are we absorbed in adoration and amazement. And when we farther reflect that all the excellence which we discover in creation is the result of his creative wisdom and power; and that what we behold is but a single ray in comparison with the stupendous and glorious whole; and that the magnificence of the universe, in all its united splendour, may form only a partial display of the inexhaustible resources of his infinité nature, how are we overwhelmed with the contemplation of his unbounded and unsearchable perfections and attributes! He alone possesses all-sufficiency and absolute independence; needing nothing, and forming the source and support of all else that either now or ever can exist. Creation was his sovereign act, the result of his absolute good pleasure, but in no degree necessary to enhance his felicity, or in any way promote the perfection of his existence. All the goodness and mercy which so abundantly distinguish the universe, is the effect of the purest and most disinterested benevolence; for no return can be made by any of his creatures to the Creator but out of that which they themselves have received; for of him, and through him, and to him, are all things, to whom be glory for ever and ever.
'The eyes of the Lord are in every place, beholding the evil and the good,' Prov. xv. 3. THE consciousness of being an object of observation is usually felt by men to be powerfully repressive of evil, and an exciting stimulus to the practice of what is great and good. And accord
Let the thought that you have to do with an infinitely holy God, whose inspection and whose law are spiritual, and extends to every feeling as well as every action of your lives, convince you of your need of a purer and more perfect righteousness than your own. How can you, without this, appear before him in judgment. Shall you be justified by your works. Which of them is without sin, which of them needs not to receive forgiveness. The individual who cultivates the external proprieties of conduct, has still within him a heart which is deceitful above all things and desperately wicked. Who could vindicate before God the purity of all his motives, desires, principles, and designs. If we should say we are without sin, our own hearts would condemn us, and this would prove us to be perverse.
ingly it is considered a circumstance of the utmost | tion, the view entertained by the divine mind of moment to give a free and extensive circulation your proceedings and character, how would it to opinion, and to make the acts, at least of pub- overwhelm you with self-abhorrence and grief of lic men, the subject of a keen and penetrating the profoundest nature. observation, by bringing them under the attention of the community, and obtaining upon them a verdict of praise or censure. But the man who is solely guided in his conduct by a regard to human opinion, and who forgets or cares not that the eye of God continually rests upon him, is blind to a truth, of all others the most solemn and momentous, and which ought to have the chief place in the regulation and government, not only of his external actions, but of his inmost feelings and thoughts. Beneficial as the influence of human opinion may sometimes be, it is necessarily a fallible criterion, and they who would follow it implicitly are guilty of dishonouring the will and authority of God, and are exposing themselves to the danger of being led into many sins. It was the chief cause of blinding the minds of the Pharisees to the incomparable evidences which our Lord gave of his character as the promised Messiah and Saviour of the world, for they received praise one of another; in other words they countenanced and encouraged each in their contempt and rejection of his person and of his doctrines; and they cared not by repenting and believing the truth, to receive the praise which cometh from God only. It was also the inducement which prevailed upon Pilate to deliver Jesus to be crucified, contrary to his own avowed convictions of his innocence; for he was more afraid of being denounced by the malignant Jews to Tiberias the emperor as an enemy to Cesar, than to fall under the holy displeasure and condemnation of heaven.
How graciously suitable to our polluted and sinful state, are the blessings provided for us through the mediation of Christ Jesus. He presents us with a righteousness of perfect purity; becomes our Advocate and Intercessor; reconciles us unto God; imparts the spirit of adoption whereby we say, Abba, Father; and draws us to a holy and habitual engagement in the service of God by the chords of a fervent gratitude and adoring love.
Be careful to cultivate in your hearts an abiding sense of the presence of an all-seeing God, and allow it to exercise a sanctifying influence over the whole tenor of your thoughts and actions. Confiding in his mercy, seek that you may also be found glorifying him in your bodies and spirits which are his, and thereby show that you are not subject to the charge which shall be brought against false and hypocritical professors, on the great day, of receiving the grace of God in vain. Instead of evincing that spirit of enmity which actuates the unregenerate, and in consequence of which they desire not to retain the knowledge of God in all their thoughts-cultivate a holy trust and confidence in God as the Father of mercy, and the God of all grace and consolation; and rejoice that he reigneth over all, and that the whole of your interests and concerns are under his wise and holy disposal. By daily and fervent supplication at a throne of grace, entreat that the love of God may be shed abroad in your
Let the consideration, that the eye of God has rested upon you throughout the whole period of your history, and has been intimately acquainted with your every thought, and feeling, and pursuit, and action, be improved as a motive to deep and heartfelt repentance and self-abasement. It has often been remarked, that no one could even disclose to the knowledge of his most intimate friend, without shame and humiliation, his innumerable errors and sins; but how much more awful is the thought that all things are naked and open to God, and that you have never been able for a single moment to elude his inspection, or to hide yourselves from his presence. After Peter had denied his Lord, he read in his look that he had a full knowledge of all his guilt, and of all its aggravat-hearts by the Holy Spirit, and that you may be ing circumstances, and the subdued disciple at once went out and wept bitterly; and O could you realize in a similar manner, by any intima
enabled to walk before him as becometh dear children. 'O taste and see that the Lord is good; blessed is the man that trusteth in him. O fear
the Lord ye his saints, for there is no want to them that fear him. The eyes of the Lord are upon the righteous, and his ears are open to their cry. The face of the Lord is against them that do evil, to cut off the remembrance of them from the earth. The righteous cry, and the Lord heareth, and delivereth them out of all their troubles. The Lord is nigh to them that are of a broken heart, and saveth such as be of a contrite spirit,' Ps. xxxiv. 8, 9, 15—18.
'O the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! how unsearchable are his judgments, and his ways past finding out,' Rom. xi. 33.
ONE of the principal sources of the depravity and corruption of men, it has been remarked, arises from their not entertaining sufficiently pure and exalted views of the nature and attributes of God. In some cases they consider him to be altogether like unto themselves; actuated only by those views which they are pleased to impart to him, and consulting only those ends which seem to them to be consistent with the purposes of his government. Hence pride, impenitence, and unbelief are fostered in their minds; for how expect that they should submit to be taught of God, who have already anticipated, in their own conceptions, both what he is, and what he must do; and who are prepared to declare every doctrine absurd and false which transcends their thoughts, or contradicts their self-formed imaginations.
It might appear that the knowledge of God conveyed even by the first impressions of the light. of nature, was fitted to fill every mind with a profound conviction of his infinite majesty and unutterable glory, and to warn the most arrogant against presuming to fathom his counsels, or penetrate his designs. How undeniably just and reasonable, as well as pious and reverential, is the acknowledgment drawn from Zophar, in regard to the transcendant and incomprehensible nature of Jehovah. Canst thou, by searching, find out God; canst thou find out the Almighty unto perfection? It is high as heaven, what canst thou do? it is deep as hell, what canst thou know? The measure thereof is longer than the earth, and broader than the sea.'
his sovereign counsels, he has reason to say, at every step by which he advances in this sublime knowledge, 'O the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God!' More especially is this the feeling of wonder and of praise with which we should contemplate the character of God in connection with the work of redemption. That he should have selected the inhabitants of this sinful world to be the objects of his mercy, whilst fallen angels are left to endure the eternal punishment of their revolt, constitutes an act of distinguishing grace which we cannot sufficiently admire and adore. And how infinitely mysterious was the vindication of his holy law which God required before he could extend mercy to us, and which he actually provided when he ordained his Son to undertake with all its humiliation, sufferings, and woes, the work of our deliverance. The method by which he secured our redemption, and the overthrow of the kingdom of Satan, was one which, though infinitely glorious in itself, and worthy of all his perfections, would never have entered into any finite mind to conceive. What but infinite mercy could have supplied the sacrifice? and could any thing but infinite holiness have rendered it necessary that it should be presented? Most just the sentiment of the poet in reference to the infinite sublimity of God, and of all his works:
"The more of wonderful
Is heard in him, the more we should assent.
Who shall not fear thee, O Lord, and glorify thy name? for thou only art holy,' Rev. xv. 4. THIS forms a portion of the praises of the redeemed in heaven. Taking a retrospect of the administration of God, viewing in its completeness the whole of that comprehensive plan of which at present we can see only a small part, its every aspect, all its events, and all their bearings, serve to impress them with a profound and universal feeling of the infinite unutterable holiness of God. At present clouds and darkness surround the throne of God, and the devout inquirer is often painfully perplexed, in attempting to reconcile the ways of providence with the acknowledged excellencies The more an individual becomes conversant and perfections of the Supreme Judge and Ruler with the nature, the perfections, the counsels, and of all. To understand, for instance, why sin was the works of God, his decrees of providence, his permitted to enter, and to spread its fatal effects wonders of grace, his mighty judgments, and through so extensive a portion of the dominions