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mind, as the daylight fills the vault of heaven. The cheering presence of the sun displaces nothing; it interferes with nothing; it requires no room; it clears no space, for itself to occupy. It still is every where: it pervades all nature; it enlivens every thing, and gladdens all the prospect. All things, in a word, but darkness, can dwell with light. And so it is with the love of God. The love of God excludes no duties, but animates them all; and sets the heart at liberty, to run the way of God's commandments. With one thing only it is at variance, and that is sin: because sin resists this pure and sacred principle, and opposes the love of God; precisely as, in the material system, darkness is opposed to light. It is at variance with sin, in every shape; in its subtlest disguises, in its most distant approaches, however sanctioned by custom, and though a united world were on its side. For the love of God assimilates the soul to God: and the man who is thus renewed, after the image of Him that created him, hates all sin; because his religion is not form-it is not bodily exercise, mysterious rites, and magic ceremonies. It is a stream that issues from the fountain of all purity. It is a beam that flows from the Father of lights, and from the God of glory. It is the anticipation of heaven. It is the coming forth of the soul,
from the imprisonment of its nature; to rejoice in the early dawn, and to inhale the morning breeze, which usher in the cloudless, glorious, endless day of eternity. The man who is thus attracted by Almighty goodness, is no calculator in religion. He does not look about, to see how far this or that individual may go, in serving and in loving God; lest he should do more than is necessary, and so take on himself an unfair proportion of the common burden. No his is a fidelity, which no influence can warp, no example can seduce: a flame which many waters cannot quench, neither can the floods drown it. He loves God for his own sake, and walks in all his commandments; because they are the joy and rejoicing of his heart; because that in keeping of them, there is great reward.
But I must conclude. Do you, my brethren, believe the statements which I have made? Or do you doubt whether religion be, indeed, that blessing, which I have represented it to be? Go, then, into your closets, and ask of God. Ask, whether any man ever yet trusted in the Lord, and was confounded. Ask that blessed Saviour, who loved you, and gave himself for you, whether he is now less compassionate or mighty to save, than when to his little flock, in the midst of a hostile world, he said, " My peace I leave with you-my
peace I give unto you;" or when he invited every child of misery, in those comfortable words, "Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.” Ask him, whether he is now less competent to fill the boundless capacities of the soul, than when he said to the woman of Samaria, "Whosoever drinketh of the water that I shall give him, shall never thirst;" or when he announced himself as the true manna, and living bread that came down from heaven; adding, in words which I pray God to bring home, by his Spirit, to all your hearts, “ He that cometh to me, shall never hunger, and he that believeth on me, shall never thirst."
EXODUS, Xxiii. 2.
"THOU SHALT NOT FOLLOW, A MULTITUDE TO DO EVIL.”
MAN is, by nature, a social being; and is formed with wants, and wishes, and affections, suited to that condition. Amongst other tendencies, which thus qualify him for such a state of life, there is implanted in his original constitution, a proneness to conform himself to the habits of his fellowmen; to imitate what he sees them practise; to like what he sees them like; to go with the stream of custom; and, as my text expresses it, to "follow a multitude." We are all of us, though we seldom think of it, or advert to it, daily, and hourly, yielding to the influence of this principle. Every thing we do, almost, in the common routine of life, is done in a way, which grows out of this unconscious imitation. The manners of those who are strangers to our country, prove this clearly. In a thousand nameless instances, we are struck with a difference between a foreigner and ourselves. And all this arises from the fact, that men are in the habit, in numberless trifles,
of conforming to what they are accustomed to see, without perceiving it.
Nor are we forbidden, by the laws of religion to comply with customary habits, where those habits are laudable or indifferent. Thus far, the imitative disposition, wisely implanted in us, may be, and ought to be indulged. But against the perversion of so powerful a tendency, a strict and jealous guard is wanting. And, in thus guarding us, the language of my text is plain and positive: "Thou shalt not follow a multitude, to do evil.”
Such a warning is the more necessary, because false reasoning often conspires with natural disposition, to lead persons astray, in this particular. They behold the great majority of men, pursuing either a sinful, or, at least, a careless course; and consider that what has so many suffrages, must be right." Is it reasonable," say they, "to suppose where we see multidudes, on the one side, and an insulated few, on the other, that the multitudes are wrong, and the few right? Are the peculiar opinions of a mere handful of individuals, to be set in the balance, against the convictions of all around them; against the general sense, and common suffrage, of mankind?"
To such reasonings we might, at once, reply, that this rejection of the doctrines of the cross, by the world at large, has been expressly foretold in