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a ready tongue to answer him, whenever he should come to question them. But they will find the truth too late. They also will be speechless. The tongue to which they trusted, and which has served their present ends so well with lies among their fellow men, will then be dumb. For they will find at once that he who judges them is GOD, and no mere man, and that he does not know as man knoweth ; for man, at most, knows but the outward deed, but God knoweth the heart.
§. 2. Nor will that vain pretence fare better, which does not trust to this vain confidence, but only hopes to urge successfully the one specific plea of pardonable ignorance.
If any trust to this, I beg them to consider our Redeemer's own words. If I had not come "and spoken unto them, they had not had sin; "but now they have no cloke for their sin"." These words assuredly must reach now to all to whom the Gospel has been spoken; and do they not as certainly imply, that if we have a mind to know our Lord's will, we may know it? And therefore it will be too late to turn aside the penalty of blameable neglect in the great day of trial, by any answer that we knew it not!
z John xv. 22.
Let such attend still more to that most solemn of all chapters in the book of life, the twentyfifth chapter of St. Matthew's Gospel: "Lord," (say the persons represented there as setting forth their ignorance of having done wrong-as pleading their unconsciousness of harm) "Lord, when saw we thee an hungred, or athirst, or a stranger,
or naked, or sick, or in prison, and did not "minister unto thee?" This is their plea but what does He, who is to be the Judge of all, reply to it? Verily I say unto you, inasmuch as ye "did it not unto one of the least of these my
brethren, ye did it not to me:" as clearly intimating, that they had lived continually in the midst of Christian opportunities, and therefore might have proved their knowledge and their love of Christ by shewing love unto their brethren.
In finishing the whole subject, I would (for its importance' sake) repeat, by way of summing up, the richness of instruction which an awakened Christian spirit may discover in this fiftieth Psalm. Remember, these that follow are the points on which it may at any time admonish us, if we will listen to its wisdom.
It will remind us first, in most impressive terms, of the great truth itself, that there shall be a day of judgment. It then sets forth a warning, in
regard to that, to vain professors of religion; and afterwards a still more solemn warning to the ungodly and profane. But neither does it stop its teaching there. It next exposes one great source (perhaps the greatest and the worst) of men's most strange, and otherwise quite unaccountable delusion on this awful subject; namely, that they run their desperate risks from taking up unworthy notions of the excellence and majesty of GOD. This done, it urges (as is natural) an earnest and affectionate word of counsel and intreaty; "Consider this, ye that forget God." And then, as if to leave the subject clear of all mistake, it adds a simple rule of conduct ; "Whoso offereth God thanks and praise, (not
only with the lips but in the life) he honoureth "Him; and to him that ordereth his conversa"tion right will God shew his salvation"."
Christian brethren, let us take this good direction; and let us pray for grace that "our con"versation may be in heaven", from whence "also we look for the Saviour, even our Lord "JESUS CHRIST."
z Cf. John vii. 17.
a Cf. Phil. iii. 20.
INDIVIDUAL RELIGION. FOLLY OF COMPARISONS.
GALATIANS vi. 4, 5.
Let every man prove his own work, and then shall he have rejoicing in himself alone, and not in another. For every man shall bear his own burthen.
THAT is to say, let every Christian, who would avoid deceiving himself to his own ruin, prove between God and his own conscience his own work, considered by itself, and not in comparison with another's work". And then, if his own reckoning be found in itself right and as it ought to be," he shall have rejoicing in himself." his rejoicing will be this-" the testimony of his "conscience, that in simplicity and godly sincerity, not with fleshly wisdom, but by the grace of God, he has had his conversation in the "world"."
But let him not deceive himself by vain or proud comparisons. If he have not such title of
a See the Commentary of Dr. Wells.
b2 Cor. i. 12.