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“ wicked" one; and condemned, not because he a. bused his talent, but because he “hid it in a napkin.'?
every tree that BRINGETH NOT FORTH GOOD " FRUIT is hewn down and cast into the fire: he that “ doeth not righteousness is not of God, neither hę " that loveth not his brother."
Secondly. The UNION of these excellencies is worthy of our notice. We commonly see them combined in the Scripture. It is said of a good man, “He is gracious and full of compassion, and righteous.” “He hath dispersed, he hath given to the poor ; his
righteousness endureth for ever.” It is said also, that “ Pure and undefiled religion before God and " the Father is this, to visit the fatherless and wid. “ows in their affliction, and to keep himself unspot“ted from the world.” And this enables us to recti. fy the mistake of those who are always endeavouring to separate what God has joined together. Some place their religion entirely in charity, and in one equivocal exercise of it; for all they mean by charity is alms-giving, and “this covers a multitude of “sins.” And some trust in themselves that they are righteous and despise others, who never seem to have read that “the end of the commandment is charity “out of a pure heart and a good conscience and faith “unfeigned;" that “charity is the bond of perfect- . “ness;" that “ by this shall all men know that we are “his disciples if we love one another."
Thirdly. From these arises a criterion, by which we are to judge of the reailty and genuineness of religion. Not that these are the only marks which we are to employ; there are many other evidences in the Scriptures, and some of them of a more experimental kind, which we dare not depreciate ; but all the rest will be vain and delusive if unaccompanied with this righteousness and this love. These are the never-failing consequences of Divine Grace. These enter deeply into the character.
These are indispensable. By these we shall be tried hereafter ; by these we should form our judgment here. The judge him, self proposes this rule. . « In this the children of God “ are manifeft, and the children of the devil : he that “ doeth not righteousness is not of God, neither he
that loveth not his brother.”
Let me conclude by calling upon you to think of this, in forming a judgment of OTHERS. It is a serious thing to deprive a fellow-creature of religion, and to exclude him from eternal life ; and what authority have you for doing so, if his life be exemplary, and righteousness and charity blend and prevail in his character? You say, perhaps, a man 'may appear to possess these things when he is a stranger to the reality, or his practice may flow from no inward or gracious principle. We allow this; and it becomes such, a person to examine himself, to see whether his heart be right with God, and whether his views and his dispositions be such as the Gospel requires ; but when I form a judgment concerning him, the case is materially altered ; I have nothing to do with his motives ; I cannot search his heart ; his life and conversation only fall under my cognizance, and these are my rules, “by their fruits ye shall know them.” When will this necessary difference influence the opinions of individu. als ? When will it be regarded by our churches in the
admission of members to communion? When we find nothing objectionable in a candidate, who tells us to keep him back till we find something satisfactory? “ In this
« the children of God are manifeft, and the children “ of the devil: he that doeth not righteousness is not “ of God, neither he that loveth not his brother."
Above all, do not forget this in judging YOURSELVES. I presume you wish to know your spiritual condition, and that you are not willing to leave your eternal salvation to a mere peradventure-Perhaps, I shall be saved ; perhaps, I shall be loft!! “ Wherefore, Breth“ ren, give all diligence to make your calling and elec“ tion sure." But beware how you proceed in the enquiry, Remember that there are marks and evi. dences which cannot lead you to a certain and safe conclusion. Do not place your confidence in specu. lative opinions ; be not influenced by particular feel- . ings, which having much of animal nature in them, may sometimes elevate and sometimes depress you while your state is the same ; do not wait for sudden impressions, and visionary suggestions ; but remember that the witness and the seal of the spirit are his work and influences; “ hereby we know that we dwell in “ him and he in us, because he hath given us of his
Spirit ; any man have not the Spirit of Chrift, “ he is none of his."
Here then lay the stress. Try yours by your prevailing dispositions, and the tenour of your lives. Ma. ny I know deride such a ftandard; it is legal. They derive their assurance from some other source ; especially from “ a direct act of faith ; or in other words, from a persuasion into which they work themselves,
without being able to assign any reason whatever to juftify it, save the conciousness itself. They not only reject good works like others as causes of salvation, but they reject them even as evidences too. They are not satisfied like others to exclude them from their juftification' ; they exclude them even from their sanctification too, which with them means only a relative change. May you be preserved, my dear Brethren, from this dreadful perversion of “ ungodly men, who “ turn the grace of God into lasciviousness." Remember nothing can be so' awful as final deception ;' and nothing can more certainly expose you to it, than imagining yourselves the favourites of Heaven, while you are strangers to the renewing power of divine Grace, and your tempers and lives are under none of the PURIFYING and AFFECTIONATE influences of the Gospel. “The secret of the Lord is with them that FEAR him."
“ The Meek will he guide in judgment, " and the MeeK will he teach his way." They, to whom there is no condemnation because they are in Christ, “WALK not after the flesh, but after the 6 SPIRIT.” « He that is born of God OVERCOM“ETH THE WORLD.” “ By this we know that we do
KNOW him, if we KEEP HIS COMMANDMENTS." These are the true sayings of God; and such is the invariable reference of the Scripture.
Suffer me then to ask you what you know of these things. Are you doing righteousness ? and are you doing it, not reluctantly, but with pleasure not occasionly, but constantly ? not partially, but without reserve ? Do you “ esteem all his commandments con"cerning all things to be right," and do “ you hate false way
way?” Are your infirmities your afflic tions; and do you derive from them motives to vigilance and prayer; or are you satisfied and careless under them? Do you “ love your brother also ?" Do you regard all your fellow-creatures and fellow christians? And as you have opportunity, do you do good unto all men ; especially unto “those who are of the « household of faith?” Does this principle actuate you to afford them relief, to bear their burdens, to seek their welfare, and serve them at the expense of self-denial ?
If this be not your condition, it is well to know it; and it will be your mercy to lay it to heart. For your case, though bad, is not desperate. If you are now sensible of your sin, and really desirous of conversion, he calls, he encourages you. « make ye clean, put away the evil of your doings “ from before mine eyes; cease to do evil : learn to “ do well: seek judgement, relieve the oppressed, judge " the fatherless, plead for the widow. Come now, “ and let us reason together, saith the Lord; though
your sins be as scarlet, they shall be white as snow;
though they be red like crimson, they shall be as óc wool. Let the wicked forsake his way, and the un“ righteous man his thoughts: and let him return un
to the Lord, and he will have mercy upon him; “ and to our God for he will abundantly pardon.” And what he' requires, he also bestows. Read his promises a in connection with his commands. While the one determines your work, the other insures your ability for the performance of it. Beseech Him to. create in you a clean heart, and to renew a right spir.
“ Wash ye,