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be ever so decent and siguificant, ever so expressive of inward things: supposing them ever so helpful, not only to the vulgar, whose thought reaches little farther than their sight; bat eren to men of understanding, men of stronger capacities, as doubiless they may sometimes be: yea, supposing them, as in the case of the Jerrs, to be appointed by God himself; yet Ten during the period of time, wherein that appointment remains in force', true Religion does not principally consist therein; nay; strictly speaking, not all. How much more must this hold concerning such Rites and Forms as are only of human appointment! The Rcligion of Christ rises infinitely higher, und lies immensely deeper, than all these. These are good in iheir place; jusi so far as they are in fact subservient to true Religion. And it rere superstition to object against them, while they are applied only as occasional lielps to human weakness. But let no man carry them farther. Let no man dream that they have auy intrinsic worth; or that religion cannot subsist without them. This were to make then an abomination to the Lord.
5. The nature of religion is so far from cousisting in thesc, in Forms of worship, or Bites and Ceremonies, that it does not properly consist in any outward actions, of what kind socver. It is true, a man cannot bave any Religion who is guilty of vicious, immoral actions; or wbo does to others, what he would not they should do unto him, if he were in the same circumstances. And it is also truc, that he can have no real Religion, who knows to do good, and docth it not.” Yet may a man both abstain from outward evil, and do good, and still have no religion. Tea, tilo persons may do the same outWard work; suppose, feeding the hungry, or clothing the maked; and, in the mean time, one of these may be truly religious, and the other have no religion at all: for the one may act from the love of God, and the other from the love of praise. So manifest it is, that although true religion naturally leads to every good word and work, yet the real nature thereof lics deeper still, crcu in " the hidden man of the hicart."
6. I say of the Heart. For neither does Religion consist in Orthoclory, or Right Opinions; which, although they are not properly outward things, are not in the heart, but the understanding. A man may be orthodos in crery point; he may not only espouse right opinions, but ucalously defend them against all opposers; he may think justly concerning the
incarnation of our Lord, concerning the ever-blessed Trinity, and every other doctrine, contained in the Oracles of God; he may assent to all the three Creeds,-that called the Apostles', the Vicene, and the Athanasian; and yet it is possible he may have no Religion at all, no more than a Jew, Turk, or Pagan. He may be almost as orthodox,—as the Devil; (though indeed, not altogether; for every man errs in something; whereas we cannot well conceive him to hold any erroneous opinion ;) and may, all the while, be as great a stranger as he to the religion of the heart.
7. This alone is Religion, truly so called: this alone is in the sight of God of great price. The Apostle sums it all up in three particulars, “Righteousness, and Peace, and Joy in the Holy Ghost." And, first, Righteousness. We cannot be at a loss concerning this, if we remember the words of our Lord, describing the two grand branches thereof, on which “hang all the Law and the Prophets:" “ Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy mind, and with all thy soul, and with all thy strength. This is the First and great Commandment,” (Mark xii. 30.) the first and great branch of Christian Righteousness. Thou shalt delight thyself in the Lord thy God; thou shalt seck and find all happiness in him. He shall be “thy shield, and thy exceeding great reward," in time, and in eternity. All thy bones shall say, “ Whom have I in heaven but thec? And there is none upon carth that I desire beside thee!” Thou shalt hear, and fulfil his word, who saith, “My son, give me thy heart.” And, having given him thy heart, thy inmost soul, to reign there without a rival, thou mayest well cry out, in the fulness of thy heart, “ I will love thee, O Lord, my strength. The Lord is my strong rock, and my defence; my Saviour, my God, and my might, in whom I will trust; my buckler, the horn also of my salvation, and my refuge."
8. And the Second Commandment is like unto this; the second great branch of Christian Righteousness is closely and inseparably connected therewith ; even “ Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself." Thou shalt love,- Thou shalt embrace with the most tender good will, the most earnest and cordial affection, the most inflamed desires of preventing or removing all evil, and of procuring for him every possible good, -Thy neighbour ;-that is, not only thy friend, thy kinsman, or thy acquaintance: not only the virtuous, the friendly, him that loves thee, that prevents or returns thy kindness; but every
child of man, crcry human creature, every soul which God hath made; not excepting him whom thou never hast scen in the flesh, whom thou kuowest pot, either by face or name; not excepting him whom thou knowest to be evil and unthanksul, him that still despitefully uses and persecutes thee: bim thou shalt love as thyself ; with the same invariable thirst after his lappiness in cvery kind; the same u wcaricd care to screen him from whatever might grieve or hurt, either his soul or body.
9. Now is not this lore " the fulfilling of the law? The som of all Christian rightcousuess:' - Of all inward righteousness ; for it necessarily implics “ bowels of mercy, humbleness of mind,'' (seeing “love is not putled up,'') “gentleuess, meckBess, longsuffering :” (for love “is not provoked ;” but
beliereth, hopeth, endureth all things :') And of all outward righteousness; for “love worketh no cril to his neighbour, cither by word or decu. It cannot willingly either burt or griere any one. And it is zealous of good works. Every lover of mankind, as he hath opportunity, "deeth good unto alleen, being (without partiality, and without hypocrisy) “full of mercy, and good fruits.
10. But trne religion, or a heart right toward God and man, implies Happiness, as well as lioliness. For it is not only Righteousness, but also “ Peace and Joy in the Holy Ghost.” What peacc? The l'eace of God, which God only can give, and the world cannot take away; the peace which “ passeth all understanding,” all (barely) rational conception; being a supernatural sensation, a divine taste of “the powers of the world to come;” such as the natural man knoweth not, how wise soerer in the things of this world, nor, indeed, can he know it, in his present state, “because it is spiritually disccrned.” It is a peace that banishes all doubt, all painful certainty; the Spirit of God bearing witness with the spirit of a Christian, that he is a chill of God. And it banishes fear, all such fear as hath torment; the fear of the wrath of God; the fear of hell; the fear of the Devil; and, in particular, the fear of death : hc that hath the peace of God, desiring, if it were the will of God, “ to depart, and to be with Christ."
11. With this peace of God, wherever it is fixed in the soul, there is also“ Joy in the Holy Ghost ; ” Joy wrought in the heart by the Holy Ghost, by the crer-blessed Spirit of God. He it is that worketh in us that calu, humble rejoicing in God, through Christ Jesus,“ by whom we have now received the
atonement," katakayn, the reconciliation with God; and that enables us boldly to confirm the truth of the royal Psalmist's declaration, "Blessed is the man," (or rather happy,) un DK, “ whose unrighteousness is forgiven, and whose sin is covered.' He it is that inspires the Christian soul with that even, solid joy, which arises from the testimony of the Spirit that he is a child of God; and that gives him to “rejoice with joy unspeakable, in hope of the glory of God;” hope both of the glorious image of God, which is in part, and shall be fully “ revealed in him ;” and of that crown of glory which fadeth not away, reserved in heaven for him.
12. This holiness and happiness, joined in one, are sometimes styled, in the inspired Writings, “the Kingdom of God,” (as by our Lordin the text,) and sometimes, “the Kingdom of Heaven.” It is termed “the Kingdom of God," because it is the immediate fruit of God's reigning in the soul. So soon as ever hc takes unto himself his mighty power, and sets up his throne in our hearts, they are instantly filled with this “righteousness, and peace, and joy in the Holy Ghost.” It is called “the kingdom of heaven," because it is (in a degree) heaven opened in the soul. For whosoever they are that experience this, they can aver before angels and men,
Everlasting life is won:
Glory is on earth begun:” According to the constant tenor of Scripture, which every where bears record, God “ hath given unto us eternal life, and this life is in his Son. He that hath the Son” (reigning in his heart) “hath life,” (even life everlasting.) (1 John v. 11, 12.) For “this is life eternal, to know thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom thou hast sent." (John xvii.3.) And they, to whom this is given, may confidently address God, though they were in the midst of a fiery furnace,
· Thee,-Lord, safe shielded by thy power,
Thee, Son of God, JEHOVAH, we adore ;
For where thy presence is display'd, is heaven.” 13. And this kingdom of God, or of heaven, is at Hand, As these words were originally spoken, they implied, that the lime was then fulfilled, God being “ made manifest in the flesh," when he would set up his kingdom among men, and reign in the hearts of his people. And is not the time now
fulfilled ? For, “Lo! (saith he) I am with you always, you who preach remission of sins in my name,
eren unto the end of the world.” (Matt. xxviii. 20.) Wheresoever, therefore, the Gospel of Christ is preached, this his “kingdom is nigh at hand.” It is not far from
every one yon. Ye may this hour enter thereinto, if so be ve hearken to this voice, “ Repent yc, and believe the Gospel."
II. 1. This is the way: Walk ye in it. And, first, “Repent; that is, know yourselves. This is the first Repentance, previous to Faith; even conviction, or self-knowledge. Awake then, thou that sleepest. Know thyself to be a sinner, and what manner of sinner thou art. Know that corruption of thy inmost nature, whereby thou art very far gone from original righteousness, wherehy " the flesh Justeth” always “contrary to the Spirit,” through that “ carnal mind” which “is enmity against God,” which “is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be." Know that thou art corrupted in every power, in erery faculty of thy sonl; that thou art totally corrupted in every one of these, all the foundations being out of course. The eyes of thine understanding are darkened, so that they cannot discern God, or the things of God. The clouds of junorance and error rest upon thee, and cover thee with the Shadow of death. Thou knowest nothing vet as thou oughtest to know, neither God, vor the world, nor thyself. Thy will is 310 longer the will of God, but is utterly perverse and distorted, averse from all good, from all which God loves, and prone to all evil, to every abon ination which God hateth. Thy atlections are alienated from God, and scattered abroad over all the carth. All thy passions, both thy desires and aversions, thy joys and sorrows, thy hopes and fears, are frame, are cither uuduc in thcir degree, or placed on undue objects. So that there is no soundness in thy soul; but " from the crown of the bead to the sole of the foot,
(to lise the strong expression of the Prophet,) there are only "wounds and bruises, and putrefying sores.”
2. Such is the inbred corruption of thy heart, of thy very inmost nature. And what manner of branches canst thou expect to grow from such an evil root? Hence springs lobelief; cver departing from the living God; saving, “Who is the Lord, that I should serve him? Tush! Thou, God, carest not for it: Hence Independence; affecting to be like the lost High: Hence Pride, in all its forms; teaching thee to say, “I am rich, and increased in goods, and hare need or nothing." From this