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regularity, with becoming reverence of body, with heartfelt submission of soul; in short, whether you are serving Him in all the appointed means, avoiding superstition on the one hand and cold indifference on the other.
Most probably you have not blasphemed the holy name of God by perjury or profane swearing. To most of you there is no temptation ; and a general sense of propriety has raised you above this horrid sin. But perhaps unmeaning and careless prayers in Jesus' name have been uttered by your lips ? perhaps you have, either at home or abroad, irreverently read or lightly thought upon His blessed Word? perhaps you have neglected His holy ordinances? or perhaps you have profaned His holy place by worldly, or vain, or wandering imaginations ? thus sinning, as did the Jews of old, when they made God's temple “ an house of merchandize, and a den of thieves.”
In obedience to the fourth Commandment, you probably do not neglect the public and decorous observance of the Sabbath. But, before the service of the sanctuary begins, how are you employed ? Is the rising sun, rejoicing to run his course, an emblem of your awakening souls ? Do you carefully call to mind why this day was instituted ?-to commemorate weekly the creation of the world, and the resurrection of the world's Redeemer. Does serious and devout meditation upon these events bring you with minds prepared to receive the full benefit of the public ordinances of religion? Does rest from worldly business give certain evidence that you are actually and actively engaged in spiritual exercises ? When your public devotion is ended, how proceeds the day? Is it sanctified in your homes? Do all around you, over whom you have control, learn by your precept and example, to "call the Sabbath a delight," and to “keep it holy?” Or, on the contrary, do you come with careless hearts, and leave without profit, to pass the remaining hours of the day in idle talk, unnecessary business, or indolent self-indulgence ? If this be the case, believe me, you are, beyond the shadow of a doubt, strangers to heartfelt piety: you “are doing yourselves great harm ;" and notwithstanding your appearance in God's house, and your punctual observance of this appointed duty, you are acting as suicides, periling the welfare of your immortal souls.
Let us proceed in like manner through the second table of God's Commandments. And with regard to the fifth, which stands first upon it, let me examine you : I should rather say, let me assist you in self-examination.
I may be addressing some whom death has recently deprived of tender parents,—some who, loving those parents affectionately, have served them with joy and gladness. Yet, let not even such persons persuade themselves that they must therefore stand acquitted in God's sight of all wilful violation of this “first Commandment with promise;" for perhaps you have been inattentive to, and unmindful of the other relations, which con
nect you with your fellow-creatures, besides your father and mother,--such as the various connexions existing between king and subject, between superior and dependent ? Viewing, then, the precept in this extended light, who expects to receive the promised reward ? Who has punctually fulfilled the various duties which that precept has enjoinedhonour, submission, and reverence to all, to whom they are justly due ?
Again, I trust I am addressing persons clear of all blood-shedding ; persons who have never wilfully harboured designs against the life of any man. Yet to how many may I point out the sixth Commandment, and exclaim, as I would to a murderer or suicide, “Do thyself no harm”! You have violated this precept, I must tell you, if you have ever wished for the death of those who are interfering with your own advancement ; if you have ever unreasonably quarrelled with a neighbour ; if you have cherished envious or malicious feelings; or if you have omitted to cultivate a meek, forbearing, and forgiving disposition. Again, I do not accuse you
and flagrant violations of the seventh Commandment ; but, after our blessed Saviour's example, I warn you to judge yourselves as strictly by the spirit as by the letter. Ask yourselves whether, with all your outward purity of conduct, the secret lust of the heart, indulged and cherished unknown save to God and each individual, has not ranked you amongst offenders. For, take the Commandment in an extended
any carnal wish been indulged and left uncurbed, as regards appetite, or conversation, or habit ? Oh ! how that all-searching eye, “which neither slumbers nor sleeps," must detect sin in every heart! How many characters appearing to the human eye temperate, and mortified, and chaste, must seem to God impure, and utterly unfit for the sanctified abodes of men, who have been made perfect in the blood of the Lamb !
Again, it is written, “ Thou shalt not steal.” Have you never incurred a debt which you did not fully expect to be able to repay? Have you never wasted your substance ? exacted more than was due ? withheld a just demand ? availed yourselves of another's wants ? nor taken advantage of his ignorance? Have you violated no trust, nor abused any loan ? If you have, you have sinned against the eighth Commandment, and "are doing yourselves great harm.”
You are solemnly forbidden to accuse any man falsely. Have you observed this law-you, who never took an oath in public, and never gave false evidence upon a formal trial ? Before you venture to reply, consider well your daily habits. Perhaps in social intercourse you have mis-stated facts ? have maliciously or uncharitably reported of a neighbour ? have published without necessity another's faults ? or perhaps you have underrated the good, overrated the bad, and without giving testimony to their worth, have suffered the innocent to be traduced ?
But who can stand the test of the tenth Commandment, which Paul declares to have first convinced him of his sinful nature ? “I had not known sin,” he says,
“ but by the law; for I had not known lust, except the law had said, Thou shalt not covet.” (Rom. vii. 7.) Who, tell me, is innocent?
as Article xi. of our Church expresses it, “who is accounted righteous before God”? The Scriptures declare that “there is none that doeth good, no not one.” (Ps. xiv. 3.) We are commanded not to covet; and yet have we not, one and all, detected ourselves offending? In fact, we do so, whenever we murmur against the dispensations of heaven, so many of which are past our finding out, and are so trying to our faith, because so much opposed to our natural inclinations.
We do so, whenever we pine for the honours, or wealth, or comforts of others; whenever we envy those in prosperity; whenever we undervalue our own gifts, and are at all forgetful of Divine favours; or whenever our pursuit after earthly possessions interferes with religion, and induces an inattention to spiritual con
Oh! how deep and searching are the Commandments of God, who trieth the very hearts and reins of all His creatures ! How incontestably do they prove that man is day after day “doing himself great harm”!
When the terrified Philippian was convinced of this, he acted in a manner which, having been recorded for our learning, well deserves our closest