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its own particular ease, or pampering, or pleasure; let any man's fair knowledge of the world declare what class of persons, as a class, are so self-pleasing, and so humoursome, as those of random and profane habits. The very name-u man of pleasure-tells what such are!
And is not the pretender to religion apt to have an eye, too commonly, to present praise, or compensation, or advantage? Does he not also often "seek his own?" It were unworthy of this sacred place, to follow either the details which might give proof of this, or those which should convict the sensual and profane of this branch of self-seeking also: but none who truly mark the ways of life will doubt, that it may be too certainly affirmed of both, that (each in his own way) they seek, and verily they have, in some vain praise or profit of this world, “ all their good things" and "their reward."
§. 4. Once only more. Charity" rejoiceth not "in iniquity:" profaneness and vain ostentation of religion can and do rejoice in it. The careless and the sensual delight in it, for company and sanction's sake: it is, in fact, the levelling of men through fellowship in like iniquities that gives so many sins and specially those most familiar ones, of all uncleanness and excess-their popu
larity and strength. This fellow-feeling in offence it is, which builds up on the ruins of the real Christian grace that most unhallowed counterfeit, which in the common speech of unreflecting men so shamefully usurps the name of charity, but is-in very many-nothing better than mere human weakness, establishing a covering itself, "but not of God's Spirit, that it may add "sin to sin." The proud and really self-righteous find their pleasure in iniquity, by reason that it feeds their evil appetite for vain comparison with others *.
But this branch of our contrast has been in part anticipated, in showing what the way of charity on this head is; and time admonishes to a conclusion.
Behold then, Christian brethren, both the ways of error and of truth, in respect of all our dealings with our brethren, in the life that now is; the wrong, which needs must end in all unhappiness; and "the more excellent," which leads to life eternal. It were a mockery to ask, which should be chosen? But, as you would yourselves desire to cleave to the more excellent, let me (for one thing) beg of you to fix this thirteenth chapter of Corinthians within your memories, and in your hearts. Let
" Isaiah xxx. 1.
* See Serm. XIII.
this be a familiar test, by which to prove your own selves. You will not then be ever left without a safe and an unerring guide. But only care to prove yourselves in his sight, to whom the heart is known. The world will try to lead you wrong, not only by its positive enticements, but by endeavouring to frighten you as well through a false charge of want of charity, because you will not fall in with its own humours, nor measure practices by its deceitful rule. Judge yourselves only, therefore, as before the Lord; and so walk patiently in this good way, as ye approve the things that are more excellent. And if your walk begin in FAITH, and be sustained by HOPE of heaven to be won for Jesus Christ's sake, it shall attain the happy end of seeing God in that state, where CHARITY is made perfect".
Cf. Serm. IV. and note on Serm. V. p. 97.
Cf. 1 John iv. 12. iii. 2.
THE FAIR WARNINGS OF THE JUDGMENT TO COME, BOTH TO THE SUPERFICIAL AND PROFANE.
PSALM 1. 21.
These things hast thou done, and I held my tongue, and thou thoughtest wickedly, that I am even such a one as thyself: but I will reprove thee, and set before thee the things that thou hast done.
FEW passages in Scripture, taken by themselves as a detached summary of doctrine fitted to stir up the mind by way of remembrance, will be found more rich in spiritual instruction, of the highest order, than this fiftieth Psalm. Let us attend to it, with humble prayer for grace to give us understanding of its most healthful lessons, together with a heart to follow them.
It is not necessary to discuss questions as to its author or its date, or points of that kind. It is entitled in our Bibles "a Psalm of Asaph." At any rate, it would appear to be of later date than David's days; and therefore is not likely to
be one of his Psalms. But this is not very material. That it has an eye to Gospel times, and to the introduction of a purer dispensation, of which the rule should be-"I will have mercy "and not sacrifice"-seems very clear; and may be traced more clearly still through a comparison with that familiar chapter of the prophet Micah, (I mean the sixth, which is familiar from being read among the circle of our chosen lessons every year) which surely looks the same way".
But, waving all particular inquiries of this kind, let us consider it, in singleness of impres
a Mr. Townsend, in his Chronological Arrangement of the Old Testament, places it among the "Psalms written during "the captivity." The later the date assigned, the more it will be found to harmonise with the view here taken.
"Within this period (i. e. from the reign of Solomon to "the end of the Babylonian captivity) the prophets bring the "idea of religion nearer to the Gospel in a great and material "point, by explaining the inferior value of the Ceremonial "Law, and giving notice of its future abrogation. Where"with shall I come before the Lord, and bow myself before "the most high God?' Not with burnt-offerings and sacrifices, But he hath shewed thee, O doth the Lord require of thee,
answers the prophet Micah.
man, what is good; and what "but to do justly, and to love mercy, and to walk humbly "with thy God.' And Hosea I desire mercy and not sacrifice, and the knowledge of God more than burnt"offerings." Davison on Prophecy, pp. 377, 8. first edition.