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SELF-DECEIT OF THOSE WHO ARE HEARERS, BUT
NOT DOERS OF THE WORD.
JAMES i. 22. doers of the word, and not hearers only,
deceiving your own selves.
AN important and necessary caution! and if so in the times of the Apostles, then more especially in our days, my brethren; when many make a great part, if not the whole, of their religion to consist in hearing; as if they served God, by being only taught how to serve him, or did their duty, by being only told how to do it. A more dangerous and fatal delusion cannot be practised by " the Father of lies”
upon any of his miserable victims, than that which
such persons practise upon themselves. And accordingly the Spirit of truth graciously and plainly admonishes them by the mouth of his Apostle, that they, who do so, o deceive their own selves.”
In order to understand the full meaning of the admonition, let us first consider what is intended by “ the word,” of which the Apostle speaks : what by.“ the doing" of the word; and what by “the hearing” of it; and whence it is, that there are many “ hearers," who are not “ doers” of it. It will then be an easy task to show, that such persons “ deceive their own selves.”
" the word” then we are to understand that which was delivered to mankind by the inspired messengers of God, and is transmitted to us in the books of the Old and New Testaments. In this it bath pleased the Most High God to declare his mind, and to reveal to us both himself and his will. In this he hath made known to us, what he would have us believe; what he would have us do; and what he would have us not do. In this he discloses the
punishment, which will fall upon the unbeliever and the sinner; and the happiness, which he hath prepared for them that love and obey him. And this is called “ the word,” by way of eminence, because it infinitely surpasses all other words. It is not the word of men ; it is not the word of angels : it is not the word of
any created being: but it is the word of almighty God himself, “ who at sundry times and in divers manners spake in time past unto the fathers by the Prophets, and hath in these last days spoken unto us by his Son.” It was God himself, who spake; and it is hence not more frequently than properly denominated - his word :" when therefore we hear it delivered, we are to look upon it and receive it, “ not as the word of men, but, as it is in truth, the word of God :” we are still to represent to ourselves the almighty Creator of the world speaking to us his creatures, and telling us what he would have us do.
II. By“ doing the word” we are to un. derstand the regulation of our hearts and lives according to its directions; the practice of what it commands, and the avoiding of what it forbids : a fear of the threatenings, which it denounces, a trust in the promises, which it makes, and a belief in the truths, which it reveals. To regulate our language and our conduct, our thoughts and our affections, agreeably to the rules, which the word prescribes—this is to be
a Heb. i. 1.
doers of the word.”
For example, the word commands that “ Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, with all thy soul, and with all thy mindb.” Do you in obedience to the precept, set your affection upon God, as the supreme object of your desires ? Then
Co doers of the word.”—The word commands you,
" Whatsoever ye would that men should do unto you, do ye even so to them.” Is it your practice to observe in your
intercourse with men this golden rule of Christian charity? Then are ye “ doers of the word.”—The word admonishes you, that “ all who know not God
Matt. xxii. 37.
c Matt. vii. 12.
and obey not the Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ, shall be punished with everlasting destructiond.” Do you cherish a holy fear of this alarming denunciation, and do you make it your study and endeavour to know God and to obey the Gospel of Christ? Then are ye
66 doers of the word.” The word assures you, “I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee." In humble dependence on the truth of the promise, can you boldly say'' with the Apostle, 56 The Lord is my helper, and I will not fear what man shall do unto mef?” Then are ye
so doers of the word.”—The word
66 I and the Father are one." Do you firmly assent to the truth of this proposition upon the word of him who spake it; and do you really believe that the Father and the Son are one Being, one God? Then again are ye “ doers of the word." In short, they who hear any part of the word of God declared to them, and believe and live according to what they hear, they are “ doers of the word, and not hearers only.” N 2 Thess. i. 8. • Heb. xiii. 5.
Heb. xiii. 6. John x. 30.