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avoid the chambers of anguilh. · He submits to the force of this Divine counsel: To bim that is afflicted, pity pould be foewed from his friend. Io a special manner, when he perceives any poor or in want, he will not be over inquifitive how they came into such circumstances ; but his soul will be drawn out to deal his bread to the hungry, according to his ability and their necessity. Wbofo batb this world's goods, and feetb bis brotber bave need, and Jouttetb up his bowels of compassion from him, bow dwelletb the love of God in him! He who is wife to salvation knows, on the one hand, the benediction which Christ pronounced, Blessed are the merciful, for they foall obtain mercy; and on the other, he trembles at the denunciation of our Apostle,—They fall have judgment without mercy, who have sewed no mercy. Therefore, my bre. thren, let us be all attention to the exhortation of St Paul to the Colossians, As the elect of God, put on bowels of mercy.
The fixeb constituent of true religion is, that it is full of good fruits. Full of mercy and good fruits.—The description rises upon us. Religion is not a barren tree, but brings forth in abundance; and the fruits which it produces are good, such as promote the glory of God, and the highest interest and happiness of man. Herein, faith our Lord to his followers, is my Father glorified, that ye bear much fruit, so all ye be my disciples. By good fruits are undoubtedly meant all the outward duties of piety and righteousness which we owe to God and our neighbour. Thus religion will always produce morality and good works. In vain we make a show of religion, and hope for the blessings of it without good morals. Good works are essential to true religion in all adult persons. The latter cannot exist without the former. Let your light so shine before men, that others, seeing your good
works, may be induced to glorify their Father which is in heaven. This is the great end of their renovation or conversion. Tbey are the workmanship of God, created unto good works. This was a principal deGgn of Christ's coming into the world ; of his humiliation and paffion, that he Joould purify to bimself a peculiar people, Zealous of good works. Hence it is absolutely certain, that the subjects of this heavenly religion must be, in some confiderable measure, habitually adorned with good fruits.
A seventh property of this excellent wisdom is, that it is without partiality. The Greek term signifies being without a partial, wrangling, suspicious, judging temper ; so that there is no English word fully expressive of the original. The really pious will not be guilty of base wrangling, undue surmises, or unreasonable suspicions ; they will not be given to hafty or partial judging, respecting perfons, through outward fplendour or party affection. They are not such as those described by St Jude, who have mens persons in admiration because of advantage. They do not suspiciously enquire into the faults of others, nor deal partially among men. They esteem and treat every one according to his apprehended worth, and carry themselves superior to the mean spirit of partiality, uncandid conjecture, and destructive cenforiousness. Uprightness, integrity, candour, and honour, attend them in all their comınerce with mankind. But,
Eightbly, The last branch of this beautiful delineation of true religion is, that it is without bypocrisy. It wears no malk, disguise or deceitfulness. Those managements and practices which the world count wise, consisting in craft and guile, it cannot away with. It is fincere, open, steady, and uniform, and consistent with itself. Carnal men oftentimes pretend to be what they are not; and many of them for strange purposes will pretend to be re
ligious, ligious, but they cannot posibly hold out, or act uniform. ly to the end; and when the irregularity of their conduct flashes the conviction of absurdity and inconsistency upon them, they will sometimes 'drop the mask, and appear what they always really were. But the truly good man's principal care is, to be what he seems.—The desires of his heart are to be devoted to God in Christ in sincerity; to walk in duty with a true mind, and to do the things which are honest in the fight of all men. He intends not, by a profession of Christianity, to impose upon God, the church, or mankind. His love to God and his neighbour is without diffimulation, abhorring that which is evil, and cleaving to that which is good. Honesty and faithfulness dwell with him. Chicanery, cunning, tricking, and art. fulness enter not into his habitation. An undissembled fincerity marks all his conduct, and shines in all his conversation. The pure breathings of their hearts are, to be able to say with the great Apostle of the Gentiles, Our rejoicing is this, the testimony of our confcience, that in fimplicity and godly fincerity, not with fleshly wisdom, but by the grace of God, we have had our.conversation in the world.—Let us see that we have that faith which is unfeigned, and love not only in word and tongue, but in deed and in truth.
I procecd to close this subject with a very brief im. provement.
1. It must awaken in every mind sentiments of sorrow and lamentation. Alas! if these things be so, how small the number of the truly pious or good! How few, how very few can the most extensive charity observe, who are first pure, then peaceable, gentle, and easy to be entreated, full of mercy and good fruits, without partiality, and witbout bypocrify! May we not justly take up the lamentasion of the weeping Prophet, and say, O that our head
were waters, and our eyes a fountain of tears, that we might weep day and night, over the pain of the daughter of our people ; over decayed love, loose morals, and wasted religion! Is it not a melancholy truth, that many in all the assemblies of our people are treacherous men? they bend their tongues like their bow for lies; they are not valiant for the truth upon the earth; for they proceed from evil to evil, and know not me, faith the Lord. What serious mind, without pain, can contemplate mankind, and behold one wallowing in all impurities; another governed by angry and peace destroying passions ; one addicted to knavery and dishonefty; a second outraging the sacred laws of truth ; a third indulging himself in gross intemperance ; a fourth belching out torrents of profanity, &c. Tears ran down the Psalmist's eyes when he beheld men tranigressing God's law. How should true Christians mourn over the abominations which every where almost abound in these days of degeneracy! .
2. This doctrine naturally leads us to examine and try ourselves, whether we possess that wisdom which comes down from above, or whether we are the subjects of true religion as described in the Divine oracles. God has issued this injunction, Try your own felves. Wherefore, let us bring ourselves to this touchstone of fincerity Of what sort is our religion? Is it the wisdom from beneath, which is earthly, sensual, devilish, full of envy, malice, confusion, and every evil work? Or, is it the wisdom that descendeth from above, that is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, and easy to be entreated, full of mercy and good fruits, without partiality, and without bypocrisy. Our Saviour affirms, The tree is known by his fruits. What fruits does our religion produce ? Let us solemnly bring ourselves to this doctrine, as to a criterion, by which we may learn our real state and character.
Are Are we pure? Are our hearts purified by Divine grace? Are we opposed in heart to fin, and do we abhor all moral defilements? Do we avoid evil company, vi. cious conversation, and prohibited indulgences ? Do we delight in God; meditate on things holy and spiritual ; striving to keep our minds pure and pious ? Is Christ Je. sus, and the way.of salvation through faith in his blood, precious to us?
Are we peaceable.? cultivating peace with God; fol. lowing the things which make for peace among man. kind; maintaining peace in our consciences, families, neighbourhood and church? Do we avoid wrath, angry disputations and contention ?
Are we gentle? Are we moderate, patient, meek, modeft, harmless and inoffensive?
Are we easy to be entreated? easily perfuaded to that which is rational, decent, just and proper? Are we readily induced to forsake that which is wrong, and to praca tise that which is good ?
Are we full of mercy? tender, kind, and compassionate ; ready to forgive those that offend, to pity the wicked, feel for the distressed, and relieve the poor and miserable ?
Are we full of good fruits? Do we make it an object of our attention to do good to all as we have opportuni. ty? Are we diligent and careful in the performance of duty towards God and man? Are we doing justly, loving righteousness, and practising Strict honesty? Are we rich
in good works, and do others seeing our works glorify - God?
Are we without partiality? Are we free from groundless fufpicions, evil surmisings, rasa judgings, underband dealings, finister and partial decisions ? When we are