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bers of society, on the part of others, still is esteemed a character sufficiently safe, a ready passport to the world of glory. But all these will, at the great trial, find with deep amazement, that nothing will be accepted by God but that contrite, believing, and obedient heart which is created in man by the Spirit of truth. Except a man be born of water, and of the Spirit,
" he cannot see the kingdom of God."
Fourthly, Another class of these persons is composed of those who place their religion in the knowledge, and not in the obedience of divine truth.
"Though I have the gift of prophecy," saith St. Paul," and "understand all mysteries, and all knowledge, and have not love, "I am nothing." You cannot but discern that this declaration is absolutely decisive, and cuts off every hope of salvation from every man who is not the subject of evangelical love. In the same manner, saith St. John, "He that loveth," or is the subject of evangelical love," is born of God, and knoweth God." "He that loveth not, knoweth not God, for God is love." Notwithstanding these declarations, there are, however, men who acknowledge the Scriptures to be the word of God, and spend much time in learning their doctrines, and who yet concern themselves with nothing farther. These men often think well, and converse well, on divine subjects. Their instructions are listened to with pleasure, received with respect, and mentioned with commendation. As they naturally love to dwell upon subjects by which they please others and gain their esteem, they are easily believed to love the truth which they make so frequently the theme of their conversation. The character thus given to them by others they readily assume to themselves, and with the aid of a little self-complacence, hesitate not to believe themselves to be Christians.
These observations are strongly descriptive of most enthusiasts. The religion of these men, to a great extent, lies in the knowledge which they imagine themselves to have acquired by extraordinary communications from heaven. This knowledge they are always eager to impart, for the purpose, as they would persuade you, of enlightening others, but with the real design of exalting themselves. Could they be prevented from
talking, or others from listening to them, the world would be surprised to find how little there was left of that religion which now makes so much bustle.
Fifthly, Another class of the same persons is formed of those who place their reliance upon their zeal.
"It is good," saith the Apostle Paul," to be zealously "affected always in a good thing," Gal. iv. 18. A cold, stupid, heartless professor of religion, absorbed in the concerns of this world, gives little evidence that his profession is sincere, and, if he be a Christian, is a disgrace to the name, and a spot upon the character of religion. Yet there is a zeal, which is not according to knowledge. St. Paul testifies this concerning the Jews, Rom. x. 2, "They have a zeal of God, but not "according to knowledge." Even Jehu could say to Jehonadab, "Come with me, and see my zeal for the Lord." Yet, we are informed, "Jehu took no heed to walk in the law of "the God of Israel with all his heart; for he departed not "from the sins of Jeroboam, who made Israel to sin." The zeal of St. Paul before his conversion was such, that, as he himself says, he was suμaivousvos, entirely mad, or absolutely delirious, in opposing Christianity.
The persons of whom I speak are not only zealous, but rely upon their zeal as being itself religion; or at least as being a primary part, and a chief evidence of their religion. Persons of this character are remarkably engaged in all those religious services which are seen by mankind, and especially in those, the performance of which is supposed to require more than ordinary earnestness in the cause of God. They are zealous often for the worship of the Sabbath; but as others in great numbers are punctual attendants upon this worship, and themselves, therefore, can acquire no distinction from such attendance, they are still more zealous about those private religious meetings which are of mere human appointment, and are voluntarily entered into by Christians for their mutual comfort and edification. Such meetings are certainly warranted by the Scriptures; and, when conducted with the order and decency of the Gospel, are both useful and commendable. Still they are not instituted by God, and can therefore hold no place
The institutions of God
in comparison with those which are. we are bound by infinite authority to observe: the appoint ments of men we may observe or not, as our judgment shall direct; effectual care being taken, however, that we do not neglect them from sloth, avarice, pleasure, or other guilty inducements. Yet I do not remember a man of this character who did not discover far more solicitude about those religious services which are not, than about those which are, of divine institution.
Zeal, which is not according to knowledge, is always censorious. Such persons are hardly willing to allow those to be Christians, who do not meet when and where they meet, think as they think, talk as they talk, and act as they act. Mild and self-governed Christianity, though far more correct, more productive of good fruit, more amiable, more evangelical, more heavenly, and incomparably less deserving of blame than their own character, passes with them for little or nothing. A great part of their business is to judge others; and it is to be feared, that they rarely remember that they themselves are to be judged.
Sixthly, Another class of the persons under consideration, is formed of those who place their hope in a faith which is without works.
"As the body without the spirit is dead," saith St. James, "so faith without works is dead also." This is a melancholy declaration to all those who wish for a cheap religion, and intend to go to heaven without self-denial. Probably not a few of them have secretly wished that this text, and the chapter in which it is contained, had never been embodied in the Scriptures. It is a pleasant thing to persuade ourselves, that we may love the world, and yet the love of the Father be in us; that the kingdom of God does consist in meat and drink, in amassing wealth, acquiring personal consequence, and in enjoying pleasure; and not in righteousness, peace, and joy in the Holy Ghost. It would gratify our feelings not a little, if there were no cross to be taken up; no violence to be done to our passions and appetites; no sacrifice to be made of our time, our labours, our property, our sensual enjoyment, to God. He
however, has determined otherwise; and we must obtain heaven in his way, or not at all. Those who will inherit the kingdom of our heavenly Father, are such as have done kind offices to the brethren of Christ, and through them to Christ himself. The fast, which God has chosen, is, that we deal our bread to the hungry; that we bring the poor, who are cast out, into our houses; when we see the naked, that we cover him; and that we hide not ourselves from our own flesh. The faith by which alone we shall be justified, is the faith which worketh by love. No mention will be made, in the final day, of the dead faith spoken of by St. James, and exhibited by him as a carcase without a soul to animate it; and, on the ground of such a faith, no child of Adam will be accepted.
II. Other persons, whom these expected to see shut out, will be accepted.
Of this number there will be, First, A multitude of such as, in this world, have lived in humble and despised circumstances. Pride always leads us to imagine ourselves better than we are, and better particularly than others. Them it depresses below, ourselves it elevates above the standard of truth. Nor does this deceitful passion employ itself less on our moral character than on our wealth, learning, office, or reputation. "God, I thank thee, that I am not as other men are," is the language of immense multitudes who would disdain to be called Pharisees. The hypocrite says, with great self-complacency, to the open sinner, "Stand by thyself, for I am ❝holier than thou." The open sinner desires to be thankful that he is no hyprocrite. The enthusiast pities the cold, rational man, because he is not distinguished by the peculiar tokens of divine favour which himself enjoys. The rational man blesses himself that he is not bewildered by the delirious vagaries of the enthusiast.
When we compare ourselves with those who are greatly beneath us in external advantages, we give ourselves more credit, and them less than we otherwise could do. A poor man is apt to be considered as more beneath us in moral worth than we should imagine, if he were rich; an ignorant man,
than if he were learned; an humble man, than if he were in an elevated station. Hence we naturally suppose, that such men are not regarded by God with the same favour which we claim to ourselves; much less can we believe them to be objects of divine favour, and ourselves objects of wrath and indignation.
Multitudes of such men are, however, sincere followers of Christ, and genuine children of God. All these, at the final day, the Judge will summon to his right hand; and their appearance in that enviable place will excite not a little astonishment in those by whom they have been despised in the present world. To see the man of rags and wretchedness clothed in fine linen, white and clean; exalted from a dunghill to a throne; translated from insignificance and contempt, to glory, honour, and immortality; and from ignorance and weakness, elevated to superior knowledge and divine wisdom; while we, in our own conceit, already wise, and great, and good, are given over to shame and abhorrence, will seem to us a wonderful dispensation.
Secondly, In this number will be found great multitudes, who have been our own friends, companions, and equals in the present world.
Nothing seems more natural than the belief, that those who have lived together as husbands and wives, brothers and sisters, friends and neighbours, companions and equals; on the same level, with the same reputation, in the same pursuits, and with the same testimonies of esteem and affection from those around them; are of the same moral character, and destined to the same allotments beyond the grave. Yet some of these are totally unlike others. Some are Christians in deed and in truth, others in name only. Some are children of God, others children of the devil. Some are heirs of endless life, and others of endless death. As unlike as are their moral characters here, will be their destiny hereafter. When the final separation is made, those who are summoned to the left hand of the Judge, will with deep amazement see their companions and equals placed on the right.
Thirdly, In this number will be included also a multitude