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principle of right conduct, the original source and fountain from which all Christian graces flow; from whence the "living waters" of religion take their rise, and branch out into all the various duties of human life. Other motives may frequently lead us to what is right. Instinct, constitution, prudence, convenience, a strong sense of honour and of moral rectitude, will in many cases prompt us to worthy actions; but in all cases they will not, especially in those of great danger and difficulty, and self-denial; whereas the love of God, if it be hearty and sincere, will equally regulate the whole of our conduct; will, on the most delicate and trying occasions, engage us to renounce our dearest interests and strongest inclinations, when conscience and duty require it at our hands. A man without any religion at all may do good occasionally, may act laudably by chance; his virtue may break out sometimes in sudden temporary gleams; but whoever wishes to be habitually and uniformly good, must have the vital principle of piety working at his heart, and by a constant regular warmth producing constant and regular fruits of righteousness.
Let not then either the sober moralist, or the gay man of the world, any longer treat this most holy affection with derision and contempt, as a mere ideal unintelligible notion, fit only for the cloistered monk, or the superstitious devotee. It is, on the contrary, one of the most useful, one of the most practical sentiments belonging to our nature, adapted no less to active than to contemplative life, and entirely calculated to promote all the great purposes of social happiness and universal good. This is not a time, God knows, for weakening any of those ties, which bind men down to their duty, much less for dissolving that strongest of all bonds, affectionate allegiance to the great Sovereign of the universe; which, as the Scripture expresses it, constrains us to every thing that is right and good, from this powerful, this irresistible motive; because the Author of our being, the Author of every blessing we enjoy, demands it from us, as a proof of our gratitude, as the best, the only return we can make to his unbounded goodWithout this, every system of ethics, however specious or plausible it may seem in
theory, will be found on trial imperfect and ineffectual. And it is one of the many invaluable benefits we owe to the Gospel, that by the addition of this governing principle, this master affection, to all the other grounds of moral obligation, it has given virtue every assistance that heaven and earth can furnish; it has given us the completest and most efficacious rule of conduct that was ever offered to mankind.
JOHN iii. 19.
THIS IS THE CONDEMNATION, THAT LIGHT IS COME INTO THE world, AND MEN LOVED DARKNESS RATHER THAN LIGHT, BECAUSE THEIR DEEDS WERE EVIL.
WHEN the several parts of the text
are reduced to their proper order, they give us the four following distinct Propositions:
That Light is come into the world:
That the reason is, because their deeds
And that the consequence of this choice will be condemnation.
It may be worth our while to bestow a little consideration on each of these particulars.
In this enlightened age, it will be thought no paradox to assert that "light is come into the world." The position is true in more senses than one; but there is only one that can suit this passage. The light here meant
can be no other than that divine one of revelation, which "brought life and immortality*” along with it. The Christian dispensation is constantly and uniformly described in holy writ under this figure, from the time that the first faint glimmerings of it appeared at a distance, till it shone forth in its full lustre and glory under the Gospel. Indeed there seems to be scarce any other image, that could so fitly and adequately represent it to us. It is of the same use to the spiritual that the light of the sun is to the natural, world. It gives life, health, and vigour, to God's new creation; it makes the "day of salvation" to dawn upon us; it opens to us