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desire to enter into life ; but he chose to hazard the loss of it, rather than abandon his worldly pursuits.
Whatever we do in religion, if we indulge any known sin, our religion will not carry us to heav
Whatever works we perform, if we glory in them as the foundation of our claim to heaven, and forget our dependence on the righteousnefs of the Saviour, our works are vain.
Fourthly. Our subject may lead us to reflect on the heinous nature of fin. The excellency of religion consists in its being directed to God; and the great evil of fin consists in its being committed against him. Religion is a conformity ; fin is an opposition to the divine nature. Religion is a love of God's commands and a submission to his will; fin is a hatred of his laws and a rebellion a. gainst his authority. Religion is resigning ourfelves to God's government, and yielding ourselves to his disposal ; fin is rising up against God, and setting, ourselves above him.
In this view, how horrible must fin appear ! How amazing is the guilt of those who thus have treated, and thus continue to treat the Almighty!
Do you wonder that rational men should be so stupid as to set up idols for objects of adoration, in opposition to, or in conjunction with the supreme Jehovah ? Why not also wonder at your, felves, that you should set up the interests and pleasures of the world, as the objects of your
fu. preme affection?
Fifthly. What abundant cause of rejoicing have we, that there is an allfufficient Saviour to whom we may repair ?
Had we nothing, but our own righteousness, to rest upon, we must sink in despair. Such sinful creatures as we are, have nothing to recommend them in the presence of a holy God. But Jesus has brought in everlasting righteousness, and the greatest linner may have the benefit of it. Did sinners realize their own condition, they would apply to this Saviour; they would seek him earnestly and constantly, they would cry to him day and night, and not hold their peace, till his righteousness came to them as brightness, and his fal. vation as a lamp that burneth.
To conclude : Since there is one God, the great object of religion, and one Mediator by whom we must draw near to God, and since the religion which he requires is pure and simple ; let us prove what is true and acceptable religion, take it as be has prescribed it, adopt it in its fimplicity without human additions, direct all our services to him, and do all things in the naine of Christ through whom alone we have acceptance.
Folly conspicuous in a Virtuous Character.
ECCLESIASTES X. 8.
Dead flies cause the ointment of the apothecary to send forth a finking favouri so doch a little folly him that is in reputation for wisdom and honor. THE
HE preacher here teaches us a very use. ful leffon : that the wifer and better a man is reputed to be, the greater caution he needs to use in his language and behavior, lest he viciate the reputation which he has acquired. For as dead fies, though but small insects, falling into a pot of sweet ointment, will render it rancid and dif. guftful ; fo errors and follies, small in themselves, will appear as great blemishes in the character of a man, who is highly valued for his superior vir. tue and wisdom ; and faults scarcely noticed in other men, will be imputed to him as intolerable crimes. “ The case of mer, eminent for virtue," says one, “ is peculiarly difficult, because their er. rors, though ever so small, are not easily par. doned. As in a diamond of great lustre, the eye is offended by the least speck, or the smallest cloud, which in a grofser stone would not be observed ; so in men of fingular abilities, the least infirmities are quickly difcerned and made matter of converfation, when in pesons of meaner character they would be wholly unnoticed, or easily forgiven. À little folly in a wise man, a small sin in a ftriatly honest man,a flight indecency in a very polite man, much derogates from his fame and reputation ; when the same things in men of different characters
would pass uncensured, and perhaps unobserved."
In the writings of Solomon, wisdom and folly usually signify virtue and vice. We may there. fore, by the man in reputation for wisdom, un. derstand the man eminent for virtue ; and, by a little folly, we may understand the infirmities and indiscretions incident to such a man.
The truth, then, suggested in our text will be this; thatsmall offences are easily observed, and freely cen. suredin men of distinguished reputation for religion. This we often fee to be a fact. Those
very things, which pass for indifferent in the men of the world, are condemned as criminal in men of reputed piety. Virtue and vicearethe same in their na. ture; but we judge of them differently according to the character of the persons in whom theyarefound.
There are many who appear to live without any governing regard to religion. They take no care to educate their children in sentiments of piety, or to keep up the worship of God in their families. They are much addicted to pleasure, company and amusement. Their language is sometimes profane, and often loose and unguarded. They neglect -he stated means of religion and treat with indifference the instituted ordinances of God. Thus they pass along in the world, and few take any unfavorable notice of them. If one reprove them, they are ready to vindicate themselves; and perhaps there are some, besides themselves, who will plead in their excuse, and palliate their neglects and transgressions. But if a man who professes religion, or sustains an office in the church, should for once appear to be guilty of the same exceptionable conduct, will it thus pass off unobserved? Or will it meet the same excuses? No: one rash expression from this good man will be more severely condemned, than a hundred profane oaths from the customary swearer. A single infance ofinordinate passion in him will be more talked of, than the daily ravings of those who have no rule over their spirits. If his children for once run to excess, break the fabbath, or trespass on good order, he is reproached as a man who exercises no government in his family. But youths of other families may make themselves much more vile ; and few, except they happen to suffer injury from them, will ever reprove them, or even complain, that they are not restrained. If the Christian, crouded with business or company, should sometimes omit the stated devotions of his house, this omiflion will be matter of much animadversion; but a total neglect in other people is scarcely imput. ed as a fault. If a temperate man should by accident be overtaken and disguised with strong drink, he becomes the talk of the whole neighborhood ; but a sot may get drunk half a dozen times in a week, and little is said about him, and little pains taken to reform or reftrain him.
Yea; men of immoral and vicious lives will remark with indignation in the Christian the smalleft appearance of those vices, which they themfelves notoriously indulge without remorse. They can see a note in a good man's eye, when they feel not a beam in their own. They wonder that the Christian professor can take such liberties ; but feldom think of their own iniquities. The apos, tle, in strong terms, reproves this self-deceit and blind partiality. “ Thou art inexcusable, Oman, whosoever thou art, that judgest ; for wherein thou judgest another, thou condemnest thyself ; forthouthat judgest, dostthefame thing. Thou that teachest another, teachest thou not thyself? Thou that preachest, a man should not steal, dost thou fteal? Thou that sayst, a man should not commit adultery, doft thou commit adultery? Thou that abhorreft idols, dost thou commit facrilege?”.