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able and despised, the wealthy and the needy, the master and the servant, shall lie down in the dust." Lay hold of that covenant of peace, which is ordered in all things and sure. Hear a great and constant truth : What is a man profited, though he should gain the whole world and loose his own foul, or what hall a man give in exchange for his foul ? How many a Lazarus is now in Abraham's bofom; and how many a rich man, that once lived delicately on earth, is at this moment tormented in hell-fire ! The Gospel of peace is now preached in your ears. Believe in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ, and ye shall be saved. I cannot promise that you thall be rich, but all things necessary are assured to you by the Divine promise; food and raiment, support under trials, strength for duty, and in the world to come, everlasting resta
ALEXANDER MACWHORTER, D.D. Minister of the First Presbyterian Church, Newark, New
JAMES iü. 17.
able, gentle, and easy to be entreated, full of mercy and
THE Saviour of the world, in the dawning of the
1 Gospel, predicted, That there should arise false Christs and false prophets, and shew great signs and wonders, infomuch that, if it were possible, they fould deceive the very ele&t. That men should cry, some, Lo, bere is Cbrift! and others, Lo there! This prophecy, for the confirmation of the truth of Christianity, has been fulfilled in every period of the Christian era. But, perhaps, in no season, and in no part of the globe, hath it received stronger illustration than it doth in the present time in this
western world. Has there been an age in which greater numbers of sects and parties, and variations of parties, have existed than the present? Yet, if there be any in this assembly, in these desultory days of levity, wandering, separation, and unsteadiness, who are sincerely seeking religion, and defiring to know wherein it confifts, or what it is, here is an infallible description of it, given by the inspired Apostle James; a man who had sweet experience of its power, and a certain understanding of its happy effects. The Apostlé, in this chapter, in order more strongly to fhew wherein true religion lies, points out many deviations from it in its professors; and at length, more fully and clearly to characterize it, he introduces two sorts of wisdom ; a wisdom which defcendeth not from above, and a wisdom that is from above.
The former wisdom, which is from beneath, he thus delineates. It is earthly, Jensual and devilish. This, with propriety, may be styled carnal wisdom, or a delupve religion, which, like the hypocrite's hope, will fail its polfeffor, when God takes away his soul. This wisdom is described in its origin and fruits. Its source is negatively intimated. It defcendeth not from above, that is, from heaven, or from God; therefore, the fountain of it must be in earth, or hell, or both. Its delineation fully declares this, when it is affirmed to be earthly and devilish. It is carnal, worldly, covetous, hoarding. Whatever garb it may put on, it secretly hates nobleness, generoîty, charity and kindness. It is sensual; propense to all fleshly gratifications, to intemperance, flothfulness and uncleanness, as far as these fenfual indulgences may not be checked or prohibited by the superior influence of meanness and avarice. It is devilish, malicious, cunning, crafty and deceitful. This is the nature of that wisdom or religion which is from beneath. What other streams can be
supposed to flow from such a fource, than those St James mentions, to wit, bitter envyings, strife, boasting and falsehood ? Envyings, with stri& juftness, are termed bit. ter, because they are so in their operation and consequences. Envy, what a bitter 'corroding passion ! Solomon of old pronounced it, the rottenness of the bones! It is like scaled bones making their way through ulcerated flesh. Envy sometimes gives uneasiness to its object, but always torments the breast in which it is harboured. What stage in life is free from this unhappy temper? The great envy the greater; the middling rank those before it ; the poor, the rich ; the foolish, the wise ; and the lowest class of the human fpecies has a thousand objects, against which their feeble envy is directed, and from which it rebounds to invigorate their misery.
Strife is the next fruit of this carnal religion, and it receives in all its exertions strong reinforcements from envy. Wbere ftrife is, there is confufion and every evil work. He loveth transgresion, that loveth strife. It is aided by pride, and their combination often create a world of mischief. Who can enumerate the evils which strife introduces into families, neighbourhoods, congregations, towns, and even nations ? Alienation of affections, reproaches, fander, wars and bloodshed, generally take their origin from strife and envy.
Boasting is another effect of this inferior wisdom. Glory not, faith our Apostle. He well knew how congenial boasting or glorying is to our nature, from whence it springs; and it is of the highest importance to be guarded against it. Of all kinds of boasting, there is none produces a more loathsome odium than a person's boasting of his religion.
The Apostle mentions falsehood as a further fruit of this unhappy earthly and sensual religion. Lie not against
the truth. Lying is a base vice, but never more so, than when it falls from the lips of high professors, or is accompanied with the appearances of great fan&tity...
Having thus described the religion that is from beneath, the inspired penman proceeds to direct our attention to another sort of wisdom in the words of our text. But the wisdom that is from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, and easy to be entreated, full of mercy and good fruits, without partiality, and without hypocrisy.
The term Wisdom, in scripture, is frequently used to express precisely the same thing that we mean by Relic, gion. This is generally the use of it in the Proverbs of Solomon, and in his other writings. The Pfalmift employs it for the same purpose when he says, So teach us to number our days, that we may apply our bearts unto , wisdom; that we may devote ourselves to the study and practice of true religion. This is the evident sense of it in this chapter, and especially in this verse before us. The reason, perhaps, why the inspired writers chose so often to express religion by the word wisdom was, be. cause real religion or piety confifts greatly in knowledge, discretion, and prudence, which are the eminent conftituents of what we commonly call wisdom. Knowledge is so effential a part of religion, that it is said, They who know God are born of bim; and, Those who know Jesus Cbrift have life eternal. Mere knowledge is not sufficient of itself to constitute wisdom without prudence and discretion also. It is not every knowing man that is a wise man. It is not enough for a man to have a large Daare of religious knowledge in speculation, but he must be able, and actually make a right improvement and application of his knowledge, in order either to be truly wise or good. A person must not merely be acquainted in theory with the character of God, the nature of his go . Z