תמונות בעמוד

selves wretched. These persons, renouncing the domestic ties, and honest endeavours of each man for his own, would bring human beings together in their schemes of society on the even terms of a tribe of herding animals, and so style themselves socialists. * What God established from the beginning, and repeated in his commandments, is by these men branded with an evil name, and thrown oủt of their system. According to them there should be no property, no marriage. They teach that “ thou shalt not steal," " thou shalt not commit adultery,” are but mischievous and absurd restraints on due and natural freedom. But before they reject the commandments, they are obliged to deny their Author. They are, indeed, corrupt and abominable in their doings, and in action liken themselves to the beasts that perish, but first they have in their folly, said in their hearts there is no God. As even by their own showing, their system could not stand without resorting to this last, frightful impiety, it is at once self-condemned and accursed. More need not be said to expose and confute it. I would not at all have noticed it in your ears, did I not regard the occasion of meditating on God's special commandments, as a most

* The condemnation here pronounced is simply of those who avow and practice the alleged impieties.

fitting opportunity for arming your minds against a modern shape of sin disowning those very commandments, and the principles of human nature which they so clearly evince, and thus by just consequences involving the denial of the Creator himself. God has indeed shown that he knows what is in man.

Let it be remembered that I have in these last remarks been speaking not

so much to the young, as to their seniors, but still through them for the young, that through the faith and steadiness of the fathers, the children also may be established. The commandments do indeed lift up a warning against the errors of those who are seen to go astray, but much is yet behind in their nearer and immediate work within our own hearts, and belonging to the very simplest being who knows as much as that there is good and evil. We have just seen that they who reject the rules of life which our Maker has laid down for us, are not only practically without God in the world, but are driven on to the denial of his being as well as of his revelation. The man who trusts his reason alone, and regards not even that as a gift, looks not to any power above him.

In the same way, even if we allow that it is from God that we have knowledge of our duties, yet if for the performance of them we think our own strength and goodness sufficient, the self-confidence is still as impious and fatal, for in that case Christ would have died in vain. Who is so blindly daring as to make boast of his own righteousness ? Let us look even but a little into our consciences, and this not after the manner of dissemblers with God, who would think it enough not to be charged with the gross and visible burden of being murderers, adulterers, or robbers, but let us extend the test to the letter, and to the spirit too, of every one of these commandments, and then see whether of our mere selves we must not be found guilty at the judgment-seat of the searcher of hearts. If the review be carried back through our lives, we must, I apprehend, every one of us discern a fearful array of misdeeds, too vast not to be kept in sight, too glaring to be indistinct. Happy indeed are they, to whom, even through the huge and monstrous mass of past offences, the way of return has been opened by the hand of the Mediator and the blood of the atonement! But surely in order to be convinced of our sinfulness, it is not required of necessity, that we should have an eye merely to what is distant in past time, or grossly palpable to human notions. Sin is, alas! ever too readily present both in our hands and in our hearts. Brethren, here we But suppose

are met while hours yet remain to fill up the light of a sabbath day.* If we may hope that sin is less about our paths at one time than another, we may trust that for the last few hours we have comparatively been safe from its snares. that for what has passed in our souls since this morning dawned on our eyes, God should call us into judgment, and say to each one of us, Thou shalt be tried, whether for even this half-day of thy life, through a few hours specially mine own, thou hast walked by my commandments, which thou once didst promise to keep-Let us then be brought to the test, and ask ourselves first whether when all around is just now marked with sacredness, and should have been reminding us that the Lord he is God, HE has not been displaced from our hearts by some fond earthly fancy? Has there not been some creature of clay, or some tempting delight to sense or imagination, which we have set up as an idol, to which we have turned aside, and worshipped ? Even in this our solemn assembly, in this our profession of service, has not the name of the Lord met our ears unheeded, or idly and irreverently passed our lips? Has not the world been too much with us amidst

* The Lecture was originally intended for a Sunday after


the visible separation and rest of the sabbath, and is there not iniquity even in our holy things ? Has there been no undutiful behaviour or feeling towards those to whom honour is due, no selfsufficient contempt for the just authorities and ordinance of man? Has no angry passion ruffled the calm of our souls, has no unkindness or resentment entered with us into the house of the Lord ? Have our hearts been clean from every impure desire, every polluting imagination? Has there been no dream of advantage to ourselves by overreaching or depressing our neighbour? Have we fancied the advance of our own credit by using others' defects as a foil, or throwing their merits into the shade ? Has there been no discontent with our worldly portion, no fretfulness under the circumstances of our lot, no envy of the supposed greater happiness awarded to others, no desire for the good things of this life except as the Lord shall appoint them? I am persuaded, that if you have gone along with me in thus questioning your hearts, offences in the freshness even of this day's commission have risen to your recollections, for I know that in many things we all offend daily. Thus then have the commandments been broken by you. What end therefore are we now going to say that they serve? It is that by them the


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