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by the golden rule of the text, fears no evil, and is molested by no just reproach. He can meet his neighbour without the averted face, the downcast eye, the faltering tongue, the trembling hand. Armed with the panoply of a good conscience, he can meet the world, nor dread its scrutiny, nor shudder lest he should be put to shame and confusion of face. Better than all this, he can meet his God, not glorying in himself, not relying upon his personal merits; but still firmly persuaded of the divine mercy and benevolence; firmly persuaded that, for the sake of Christ, his humble heart and renovated spirit, his faithful obedience and holy conversation, will be accepted in love, and rewarded in glory. And nothing more is requisite to make him happy. He has renounced every false way. He has embraced the good part which Mary chose. He has forborne to do that which his conscience enlightened by the gospel would not allow, and therefore he looks backward and forward with pleasure; backward to a life devoted to the service of his Maker; forward to an eternity to be spent in songs of praise and scenes of joy.

Such then are the causes, succinctly and of course partially adverted to, such the causes for the saying, which is written, “Happy is he that condemneth not himself in that thing which he alloweth." The method to be adopted, in order that we may be justified in applying it to ourselves, may be more difficult to describe. I will embark in the attempt, and at the same time enjoin upor every hearer to be equally disposed to learn and to practise what he learns.

Consideration is the first lesson it teaches. We usually act without it; without troubling ourselves in morals or in religion to pause, to think, to consider our ways. And strange to say, this very inconsideration is often made the apology for our errours. We sin against the strongest light and the brightest evidence. But then we did not mean to sin. We had not really much time to reflect about it. In great haste, we did so and so, wrong we admit, and yet for these reasons no doubt very excusable in the eye of God. But O ye simple ones, crieth wisdom "uttering her voice in the streets," "How long, ye simple ones, will ye love simplicity?" If I understand any thing of the bible, it is not even the sincerity, with which a man does that which is wrong, thinking it to be right, that shall excuse him when he comes to appear in the presence of


God. "I verily thought with myself, that I ought to do many things contrary to the name of Jesus of Nazareth," was the language of Paul speaking of himself as Saul of Tarsus. But as an Apostle, he declares in reference to this very conduct, and notwithstanding the then state of his mind, that he was "a blasphemer, a persecutor and injurious." He never attempted to justify himself, by pleading either ignorance or sincerity in extenuation of his crimes. He rather freely condemned them. He freely pronounced himself guilty, though he "obtained mercy, because he did it ignorantly in unbelief."

And can you think, he would have done otherwise, if, when fully apprized of a more perfect way, he had allowed himself to blaspheme, to persecute, to become injurious from the want of reflection? Nothing could be more absurd. God commands us to reflect. For what else, did he give us minds endowed with the capacity? For what else, doctrines and precepts requiring to be canvassed in order to be thoroughly understood? The answer is obvious. It demolishes the whole fabrick of this vain, this idle, this presumptuous plea. He gave us these things, that we might ponder our paths; that we might rise above the level of the brutes, and examine the nature and the consequences of every action, before we permitted it to transpire. A contrary doctrine would hallow the vilest habits. For as has been shrewdly observed, "man is a bundle of habits," acting for the most part, as he has acted before, Swearing, for instance, because he has learned to swear. Slandering, lying, defrauding, and so on, because through use, they have become incorporated with the genius of his whole spirit, soul, and body. But will arguments derived from such a source palliate the guilt of the robber or the murderer? I have not so learned the jurisprudence of our country; nor must you so learn the pure and holy commandments of God. You must rather learn to think wisely and well, to weigh each motive by which you are influenced, and forming your habits after mature deliberation to become attached to those only, that are virtuous; so attached, that it would not be less difficult to change them, than it would be to turn the rapid stream, or bend the knotted oak.

Nor to guide you in your course of conduct, to make you truly happy in your pursuits, can you too frequently search the scriptures. I think but poorly of the moral sense, that is not founded and form


ed upon them. It may do for the heathen, confined as they are to the natural law, written upon the fleshly tables of their hearts, by the unseen finger of God. But for the Christian: What faith can he have in that blighted moral sense, which taught the Spartan, it was a virtue to steal, and the Messenian, the height of piety to sacrifice his daughter to appease the wrath of Apollo; which still instructs the new-made widow of the East to give her body to be burned, and her own child to light the funeral pyre? Before I can believe, that we want no better rule, than a natural conscience, to direct us in the way we should go, some higher testimony is requisite than these flagrant violations of the Christian maxims of right and wrong.

And even then, what are we to do in all those cases, where moral guilt or innocence is referrible to the divine law alone? The sin of Adam consisted in mere disobedience. The fruit, he plucked and ate, was as harmless in itself, as any that is reared in our gardens. It was only because it was forbidden, that he offended and fell. So of many of the duties enjoined in the scriptures. Who can show, that they have any other binding force, than what is given them by the counsel and determination of God? To murder, if it had not been probibited, you might object, that one man's life is as dear as another's. To theft, that its authorized permission would impair the only principles upon which society can be held together. But what crime would there be in not praying to God, in not believing in Jesus, in not loving your enemies, in not submitting to baptism, in not partaking of the bread and wine in remembrance of the death and sacrifice of Christ, until his coming again? What crime would there or could there be in these omissions, provided the observances themselves had not been expressly commanded? I deny, that in such case there would have been any, the slightest guilt; none that could have inflicted a wound upon our moral susceptibility; none that could have drawn down upon our heads the displeasure of a God, whose will was unknown, whose ways were past finding out. And hence the necessity in these, and similar particulars, of having our understanding informed, and our conscience enlightened. Natural means will not avail. I read no such requirements in the heaven above, or in the earth beneath. To discover them, the bible itself must be read; and being read, in order to be truly happy, we must not ask for higher

authority; we must not be obliged to condemn ourselves for their non-performance, for allowing ourselves to omit duties prescribed by the Almighty, and enforced by the most solemn sanctions.

Cheerfulness in obedience is also an important characteristick of a good conscience. I have no faith in observances, which are irksome and galling to the observer. What pleasure can the galleyslave take in the oar to which he is chained? What merit has he in labours performed under the excitement of lash and stripe? And so with the professed Christian. Does he inwardly loathe his profession? Having embraced it in the moment of alarm, does he continue it through servile fear? I would not give a straw for his conscience. I consider the dissembling compact between his body and soul, no better than the compounding of felony in the criminal law. It is the sacrifice of his passions on the altar of form and show. It is bargaining for heaven, as a man bargains for liberty, by paying the price he would gladly retain. But the true Christian, who alone possesses the right to appropriate to himself the heart-cheering declaration of the text, the true Christian loves religion for religion's sake. He loves the whole round of its duties. He loves them for their purity, for their holiness, for their conformity to truth and reason, for the present peace they bring, as well as the future hopes they inspire. He puts me in mind of that faithful dove of Noah, who flew to execute his master's will; of that dutiful and affectionate child, who has only to divine a parent's wishes in order to execute them; last and best, of that holy Jesus, whose meat it was to do the will of God. On such grounds, and with such views, he may well be happy. He has no occasion to condemn himself for pretending to be what he is not; for wearing a mask, to conceal from the world the hidden mystery of guilt. But his soul is equally transparent with his actions. He can sing with grace and melody in his heart to the Lord. He can cry out with truly Apostolick fervour, "God forbid, that I should glory save in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom the world is crucified unto me, and I unto the world."

Finally, Brethren, there is, and there must be, great tenderness of conscience with the Christian. Tenderness with regard to himself: He must be perfectly satisfied, that what he is about to perform is right, morally and intrinsically right, not merely in his own judgment, but in the judgment of God. A doubt will force him to pause

until that doubt be removed. If there be more than a doubt, if it grows into a conviction, not all the entreaties of friends, nor all the frowns of foes can cause him to violate the intimations of his own internal monitor. If he should happen to err in opinion, he will be sure not to err grossly in practice. If he should encounter the reproaches of those he loves, he will at least spare himself the accusations of a wounded spirit.

Tenderness moreover in relation to others: It is now too late to attempt an analysis of that statement about meats and drinks, which precedes the text. The Apostle sums up his argument with peculiar felicity, where he says, "It is good neither to eat flesh, nor to drink wine, nor any thing whereby thy brother stumbleth or is made weak." Whence we learn, that in things indifferent in our own estimation, and yet evil in the estimation of others, something is due to the prejudices, some little personal sacrifice to the weakness of friends, or if you please to their superstition. I will illustrate my meaning by a familiar example. Suppose that a Christian should consider the amusement of a publick ball perfectly innocent and harmless; that he could enjoy it, without impairing his piety, or cooling the ardour of his love for Christ. Others entertain a very different opinion. They assert, that it is attended with a waste of time, and a depravation of morals. And what under such circumstances would be the advice of Paul? Give it up. "For" A BALL "destroy not the work of God. All things indeed are pure; but it is evil for that man who" DANCES "with offence." What as a general rule would be the conduct of the sincere believer? He would listen to that advice. He would follow it. He would "follow after the things which make for peace, and things whereby one may edify another." And this I call a proper tenderness of conscience for the prejudices of others, if the opinion of Paul is to be relied upon, in giving his decision in a case strictly in point. It does not require, that I should cease to do what is positively good, because some enthusiast has taken it into his head, that it is positively bad, But what terrible calamity would befall Christians, and I might add the human race, if there were no balls? They could still pray as devoutly, and believe as sincerely, and obey as cheerfully, and love God as fervently, as they now do. I do not think, provided the amusement were universally admitted to be innocent, that its loss would abstract very materially from their happiness, and this I

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