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in his best manner) the hand trembling with age and with avarice, grasping the world with the greatest eagerness when it least needs it.
God hath given to mankind good laws, but are they written on men's hearts? God hath given to us great and precious promises, but where is the man that leans on them? He hath uttered threatenings, but no man regards them. He hath implanted conscience in the human breast: conscience is asleep, and needs to be awakened ; and when awake, she awakes only to meet the resistance of passion, instead of a mind open to yield to the force of conviction. He hangs up to our view the lost characters and broken fortunes of many men: we deplore their ruin, and pass on to our own. Against all the perfections of Deity, baptised people continue to offend : they offend against his wisdom, by arraigning the plans of his government — they offend against his faithfulness, by believing neither his promises nor his threatenings — they oifend against his goodness, for who is grateful for the displays of divine bounty towards him? Ask the man who came from the North some years ago in a state of poverty, but who has now acquired affluence — ask bim if his heart is more alive to the distresses of his brother than it was formerly — ask him if he be more constant in his attendance on the house of God ?-if he watch more carefully over his own soul than he did formerly? The reverse of all these is the true case. The man who possesses calmness and forbearance sufficient patiently to bear the illusage of an enemy, is a man you seldom meet with. Now, in every page, in every line of the divine conduct towards a guilty world, is written forbearance, patience, long-suffering. To speak out, it is God alone who is competent to bear with this world. Were the gorernment of the world committed to angels, the mildest seraph would not suffer the thunder to lie still.
There are persons who are enslaved by their lusts—who live in the indulgence of secret irregularities; and by this means are prevented from surrendering themselves honestly and fully to the control of the Son of God. It was a severe retort which a young man lately made to an infidel who was speaking against the divine legation of Moses. He had made many objections to the character of that holy man; and the young Christian said to him, “There is something in the history of Moses that will warrant your opposition to him more than any thing you have yet said ?” What could this be? “ He wrote the ten commandments.”
There is in bad men an inward aversion to the word of God, especially those parts of it which have most of the divine holiness in them. A bad man may be charmed with the denunciations of vengeance against Babylon in the 14th chapter of Isaiah, with the speech of Jehovah to Job, with the pathetic history of Joseph, or the interesting tale of Ruth ; but let such a man bring his heart to the touchstone, to the morality of the character of Jesus Christ, to the law of God as explained in the sermon on the Mount, extending to the thoughts and desires of the heart, to the practical Epistles of St. Paul, to the Epistle of Jude, and to the last chapter of 2d Peter, where the glory and majesty of the Divine law are depicted; and then let him ask himself how stands his heart affected towards these Scriptures? and these are the touchstones.
Luke, x. 30. A certain man is supposed to be travelling from Jerusalem to Jericho, about twenty miles to the east, and to have fallen among thieves. He is stripped, wounded, and left half dead : by chance there came by a certain priest that way, and our Lord says, “ When he saw him, he passed by on the other side.” Now, it is difficult to account for this conduct in a man who was a professed teacher of that religion which says, “ thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself.” He had often read to the Jews in the synagogue, and in the temple, the law of the Lord, “ Thou shalt not see thine enemy's ox or his ass fall down under his burden, and decline to relieve him:” 'tis impossible to suppose, that a man who was in the habit of reading these things should be destitute of the natural feelings of humanity; but then it is probable that the selfishness of his heart would lead him to seek for apologies and excuses; for generosity is an expensive virtue, and therefore with selfish people very unpopular. “ There lies,” might he say, “ a wretched object indeed; he is of our own nation; I sincerely pity him, and hope that God will send him relief; but I have myself no skill in surgery; my journey requires haste; and the same band of assassins that robbed him may be concealed in the next jungle, and may attack me: I leave him to the care of Providence :"> and in this manner he might contrive to evade the duty of relieving him, and stifle the genuine workings of humanity. He has scarcely passed by — for he was afraid to approach him, lest his feelings should get the better of his judgment,--he has scarcely passed by on the other side, when a Levite came: he, too, was of the sacred order, though inferior to the other, and well acquainted with the law of his God. There appears at first to have been more humanity in his temperament; he was probably composed of softer clay, for he approaches him : he sees him a brother, stripped, wounded, half dead, but neither speaks a word to comfort him, nor stretches forth a hand to help him: he had some materials now for his family at night; for it is said that there are some men who diligently inquire into the misfortunes of others, to supply their minds with a subject for idle conversation ; or perhaps their feelings are interested, - and it is very possible to deceive ourselves by putting feeling in the room of works : there are people who dwell upon scenes of distress in all the popular tones of pity and commiseration, but do not
minister relief. Now, our feelings will not clothe a naked child; our feelings will not feed a hungry family ; our feelings, if they are good for any thing, must ripen into works — solid and substantial works of goodness. Abandoned by the priest, and insulted by the Levite, the poor man feels his spirit sinking within him; he raises himself up, and casts an exploring eye along the road, in hope that the providence of God might send him aid ; for misery is skilful in presenting to the imagination the means of relief, though often building on ideal foundations. In the distance he sees a person approaching, and cherishes a hope that this man may have a heart different from the other two; but, as he draws nearer, and he discerns by his clothing that he is not a Jew, but a Samaritan, a new tide of misery rushes in upon his mind. “ A Samaritan!” he would say; “ ah! he will insult me; he will fasten some religious quarrel upon me; he will begin to dispute about Mount Gerizim and Mount Zion, in place of helping me.” A Samaritan! Let us, my brethren, in regard to those who have formed, as we think very unjust, or at least very unfavourable sentiments concerning us — let us study to put them right, as this Samaritan put the Jew right; for, as soon as he saw him, he had compassion on him. He, too, might have little skill in surgery; his journey might require haste; the same band of robbers that had wounded the poor Jew might be in the distance ready to attack him; but he had no time to think on these matters; he was resolved to apply the little medical skill he possessed the best way he could. He had heard that oil and wine were good for fresh wounds, and he made use of them, though destined for his own support; he knew that the God of heaven approved of his conduct, and he was resolved to convince one Jew at least, that a man might be a Samaritan and not have a devil. In this excellent spirit he proceeds, he binds up his wounds, and lays him on his own beast. 0! it was a scene most interesting to a good heart! He leads the beast carefully
along, avoiding the stones and rugged places in the road, holding it by one hand, and applying the other to the object of the care of his heart. Angels of God, in their visits to Mount Zion, would stop to contemplate such a scene; and thus he brings him to the inn, provides for him according to his ability; and tells the landlord, (who was probably a man of a similar disposition, for he makes no hesitation in confiding him to his care,) that on his return he would repay any farther expense that might be incurred. The smallness of the sum (two Roman pennies, worth, in the present state of exchange, about four or five shillings of our money) ought not to be urged in bar of the praise of the good man; for our Lord designedly laid the scene among the poor of the people, that it might be of more general utility; and in their bosoms, perhaps, may often be found ripened and mellowed the purest and best affections of the regenerated soul.
The“ briars and thorns” spoken of in our text, Hebrews, 6th chapter, 7th and 8th verses, include those dispositions of mind and correspondent actions which are offensive to God, hurtful to man, and useless in themselves ; more particularly the virulent and obstinate rejection of Christ and of his salvation by multitudes who have been baptized into the faith of Christ, and who hear the Gospel. They sit as God's people sit, and hear as God's people hear; and it may be, if the preacher possess powers to captivate their understanding or their heart, he may be to them what Ezekiel was to his hearers, as one who has a pleasant voice, and can play well upon an instrument. And the administration of the Gospel becomes a sort of sanctimonious entertainment; the mind is never seriously interested,—it is at play with its subject; the heart does not feel the truth,—the opposition to the authority of the Son of God still remains in the mind. “ We will not have this man to reign over us.” The full Gospel, in