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dition, in which man loved divine "knowledge," and "righteousness," and "holiness." We will not follow the detailed proof through all the other points; of "purity," and "love," and mercy:" it will be quite sufficient to examine these three; namely, knowledge, holiness, and righteousness.
§. 1. Now, with respect to knowledge-one might surely look to see, if natural leaning were to good, in any place where all the means of grace and of religious teaching are abundantly provided, people walking in the paths of grace, and loving knowledge. I do not mean, that we must see a few, nor even a good many, here and there, possessed of such desire; but all, without exception. All would be seeking to know God; to learn his will, to trace his way, that they might truly follow it. All would, in such case, love his holy word, and study it, and teach it to their children. All would alike be found
ashamed of being ignorant of holy things, "by
reason of use having their senses exercised to "discern both good and evil'."
It is not possible but this must be, were man's condition what it ought to be, and what it was originally. But do we see things thus ?
Heb. v. 14.
or, if they be not so, what is it that we see instead?
In the room of knowledge and the love of knowing divine truth, what thousands do we find refusing light, and choosing-aye, preferringdarkness ! not only not desirous of religious understanding, but with an absolute distaste of it. Now only think, as reasonable men-put the fair question to your own consciences-how cruel, that in a Christian kingdom like to this, so full of opportunities and spiritual advantages, there should be found multitudes as effectually ignorant of every saving truth pertaining to their souls' welfare, as if they had been born and bred in heathen darkness! Nor this among the lower classes only, where we might expect most ignorance; of whom we might be the more readily disposed to think according to the Prophet's language, "Surely these are poor; they are foolish; "for they know not the way of the Lord, "nor the judgments of their God!" No: we may "get us to numbers of the great men, and
speak unto them," and find the case not much otherwise. We may find thousands among them, of every order and degree, as substantially unacquainted with true knowledge, as if the light See, by and by, Sermon XVI. Jerem. v. 4, 5.
had never shone upon them! as ignorant of their just Christian responsibility, every man in his own particular person", of their stewardship and trust in this life, of their own personal unworthiness and need of a Redeemer, as if there were no Gospel known!
And this, (it much concerns us to observe,) not for want of knowledge altogether, nor of the means and power of acquiring it far otherwise. We shall find many persons of this sort extremely clever persons; it may be, full of information upon this world's matters; well versed in other things, except Religion: many too that have keen relish enough-some, very possibly, too much for reading or for study, upon subjects that are not spiritual. Give them some light or unimportant intelligence; some book of amusement, or of business; or serve them with some loose or wicked trifling that may stimulate the passions of the moment; and they will attend readily enough; perhaps, eagerly. But ask their notice to the Bible, or divine subjects; "call
upon them to hear Sermons;" strive to awaken them to knowledge of themselves, and of their Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ; and they will turn away in weariness! It is to knowledge of the
"See Sermon IX.
truth alone that they are so averse; their disinclination does not lie, by any means, against all attainments whatsoever, but against spiritual attainments; their ignorance is not of worldly wisdom, not of things useful in their present generation, but of heavenly wisdom: they understand things profitable to the body, but will not give attention to the weightier claims of things profitable to the soul.
And is not this most strange and most distressing, when God has done so great things for us?-If such a statement be not true, do not receive it; but if it be, whence does the evil come?
§. 2. Before we give an answer to this question, let us very shortly take up the two other points of holiness, and righteousness.
Now, supposing men were naturally holywhat must be their universal conduct? We needs must find the awful name of the Divine Majesty accounted holy, and reverenced accordingly. If Christ hath, in his holy word, appointed any special ordinances, and bid us to observe and keep them; if God hath ever chosen an especial day unto himself for his own honour and service, and by a law once given to his chosen people to reverence the same, left us to draw the lesson,
that some such special honour and corresponding tribute will be at least acceptable to Him always; must we not find such separate and chosen day for God's honour esteemed still as the "holy of "the Lord," and "accounted a delight?"
Again; if man were in himself righteous, (by which I mean in this place just and upright,) what must be the consequence? Where man is walking every day in company with many brethren, whose happiness, together with his own, depends so much upon their treatment of each other; it is not possible but we should witness every where a course of fair and just and righteous dealing, of every man toward his neighbour. Every man would answer to the beautiful description in the fifteenth Psalm; every one would be the citizen of Zion" there delineated. He would be one "that walketh uprightly, and "worketh righteousness, and speaketh the truth "in his heart; one that backbiteth not with "his tongue, nor doeth evil to his neighbour, "nor taketh up a reproach against his neigh"bour; one that setteth not by himself, but "is lowly in his own eyes, but he honoureth "them that fear the Lord; one that if he has
sworn (or promised) to his neighbour, disap
pointeth him not, though it were to his own