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and life. Here is nothing of idolatry, nothing of folly and superstition. Here is no worshipping day by day in an idol's temple, till our corrupted mind transfers to its idol the glory of the living God, and bestows upon it that faith, which, as it had folly or wickedness for its foundation, so it has one or both for its fruit. And when we have thus bestowed our faith upon our idol, and stand ready to believe and do its bidding, then comes the second curse of this wretched state: that whereas Christ's words are spirit and life, and to do them is life everlasting ; so the idol's words are some folly or ungodliness, which to hearken to and obey is death. Then what in Christ's service is devotion, in the idol's is fanaticism: what in the service of the All-wise and All-righteous and All-merciful, is a wise, a holy, but still a most charitable zeal, becomes naturally, in the service of the evil idol, a mad, a dishonest, and a bitter bigotry, calling evil good and good evil; and putting the sign of its idol, whatever it may be, in the place of the sign of God's Spirit, the departing from all iniquity. This is that evil one which, according to St. Paul's prophecy, has thrust himself into the temple of God, has exalted himself above all that is called God or that is worshipped; and claiming that faith and obedience which are due to Christ alone, has so shown himself to be as God.

But the real Christian faith in Christ's promises

and Christ's threatenings, and which is in danger of being supplanted by a false and idolatrous faith in man's superstitions, is indeed what we all require daily. Where is the man of us, however earnestly be may love Christ's words, who can pretend that he believes them with the same undoubting faith that he would do, if he knew and loved Christ better? If Christ is in some degree manifest to us, yet is it so far as to fulfil His promise, that He and His Father would come to us, and make their abode with us? Conceive, if that were the case, how entire would be our confidence in all God's words; how steadily should we look beyond the grave and see the river's further shore. For what makes death clear or dark to us, is exactly our greater or less knowledge of God: I do not mean a pretended knowledge of His nature, but a knowledge of His goodness to us, and of His holiness; that if we are with Him, whether it be in life or in death, we shall be safe and happy. And it is a knowledge also of His terrors, that it is indeed a fearful thing to find ourselves in His hands for the first time, when He comes to judgment. For then will be fulfilled in us that Scripture, “ We shall look on Him whom we pierced.” Here we knew Him not, and therefore carelessly offended Him; but then we must know Him, and shall find that the evil done or the good not done to one of the least of our brethren, was a wrong

or a neglect to Him. And one way of learning to know Him here, is that recommended to us in the same chapter from which my text is taken; where it says, “Let us consider one another, to provoke unto love and to good works ;” and of what kind of considering he is speaking, and that our love should look beyond our neighbour's bodily good, is plain from the verse following: “Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, but exhorting one another;" not serving and loving God alone by ourselves, but striving to sympathize with others and to get others to sympathize with us, that we may love each other the better from all loving Him. This is the very bond of our Christian communion; this is the meaning of our receiving it together. As far as it is a communion with Christ alone, we might receive it each by ourselves; but the Church wisely orders it otherwise, because Christ is not alone nor are we alone: He is the head of His body the Church, and we are members one of another, and we cannot come to Him alone. O that we might feel this more and more, and all draw one another towards Him; then we should be indeed one with Him and He would be one with us; and being thus with Him in this life, we should be with Him for ever in happiness, and not fall into His hands as a God of judgment.


December 4, 1836.




St. James, i. 27.

Pure religion, and undefiled before God and the Father, is this:

To visit the fatherless and widows in their affliction, and to keep himself unspotted from the world.

The word here translated “religion,” is one which occurs very seldom in the New Testament. It denotes commonly the outward service of religion, as consisting in rites and ceremonies; and as these were supposed too often to be the real service of God, so the title of “religious” might be and was applied to persons, who in their lives and hearts scarcely served God at all. Hence the language of the Apostle in the text, and in the verse immediately before it, declares how much the word had been misused, and how it should be used properly. His religion or service to God is vain, who bridles not his tongue; whereas his is the true religion or

service to God, who visits the fatherless and widows in their affliction, and who keeps himself unspotted from the world. Such is the meaning of the text; let us now proceed to consider it more fully.

It has been the fate of certain passages of Scripture to be continually made use of for party purposes, and to be used for the sake of giving the authority of Scripture to views and doctrines to which in reality the Scripture is either adverse or indifferent. Thus worldly men are for ever quoting the text, “ Christ's kingdom is not of this world;" in order to prevent the Gospel from being admitted as the world's law. Others, who would represent differences of religion as of no consequence, quote the words of St. Peter, that “ in every land he who feareth God, and worketh righteousness, is accepted of Him.” A third set are fond of applying to the practice of using written forms of prayer in the church, the expression of St. Paul, which has not the slightest relation to it, about “ holding fast the form of sound words;" while there have been others no less absurd, who have quoted, as condemning the repetitions in our Church service, our Lord's words to His disciples, telling them, “ when they pray, not to use vain repetitions.” So also with the words of the text; they also have been used in vidiously to decry what we commonly call devotion or religious affections,

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