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it is more or less characteristic of all men naturally, and of too many professing Christians ; and particularly, when any private or personal object is contemplated, or desired to be accomplished.
Agreeably with this, while David, in one Psalm, says of men in their natural state, “there is no faithfulness in their mouth, they flatter with their tongue;" in another he says
of who were ranked among the people of God, what is still applicable to many who are professedly in a state of grace, “they speak vanity every one with his neighbour; with flattering lips, and with a double heart do they speak.” To the same effect, God himself says of the Jews in a time of great degeneracy, “their tongue is as an arrow shot out; it speaketh deceit; one speaketh peaceably to his neighbour with his mouth, but in heart he layeth his wait.” In other words, while “flattery,” “a flattering tongue," and "flattering lips," are spoken of in Scripture as descriptive of unbelievers, or unworthy professors, the opposite of every such thing is set forth as distinctive of all the truly “ faithful in Christ Jesus.” Accordingly, while Elihu could say of his private conversation, “neither let me give flattering titles unto man; for I know not to give flattering titles; in so doing my Maker would soon take me away," Paul could say of his public preaching, “neither at any time used we flattering words.”
Flattery, from its very nature, is also invariably accompanied with much speciousness or fairness in manner, as well as in matter. So true is this, that it may be laid down as a moral axiom, or infallible truth, that the greater fairness is exhibited in each of these respects, the greater falseness will sooner or later be unfolded ; and that men generally flatter only to betray, or secure their own selfish and sinful ends. So it was with Satan when he tempted Eve, by saying, “thou shalt not surely die; for God doth know that in the day ye eat thereof, then your eyes shall be opened ; and ye shall be as gods, knowing good and evil.” And still, while he, as the Master, can “transform himself into an angel of light,” in order to “take men captive at his will,” his servants can no less skilfully employ the fairest but the falsest language, for the foulest
purposes. So it was with Joab, when he took Abner aside to speak with him quietly, as he pretended, and yet “smote him under the fifth rib, so that he died.” So it was with Judas when he came to our blessed Saviour, and said, “hail, Master! and kissed him ;and yet by this sign betrayed him. So it was with the false
teachers who crept into the Christian Church in primitive times, and " by good words and fair speeches deceived the hearts of the simple,” and thus entrapped them. Well, therefore, might the great poet of the world assert, “every one that flatters thee, is no friend in misery; 'words are easy, like the wind.” Well, also, might the greatest of our epic poets say of such “fair persons,” of whom Belial is the prototype, that “all is false and hollow, though their tongue drop manna.” Well, also, might Solomon declare, “when one speaketh fair, believe him not.” Especially, well might God himself say to Jeremiah respecting the Jews, who at that time were any thing but “ Israelites indeed,” “believe them not, though they speak fair words unto thee.” And well may these cautions be thoroughly trusted, and acted upon, in all ages, and in all circumstances. In fine, little as men naturally think of the evil of flattery, such is its enormity, that it is declared in Scripture, “the Lord shall cut off all flattering lips."
Thus it is evident, that flattery is so detestable a thing, that, however common it may be among those " that believe not," to all who are of "the household of faith” it may justly be said, in reference to it in every shape, “be not conformed to this world." In this respect, likewise, If not, you
should there not be an indubitable distinction between them and the men of the world? With you, my dear readers, who profess to be Christ's, is it so in this sense? are destitute of an important lineament in the Christian character; and not even in word are you true practical non-conformists to the world, or true Christians.
NON-CONFORMITY TO THE WORLD
“ In vain we talk of Jesus' blood,
And boast his name in vain,
And prove unjust to men.”
But further, all true Christians must “not be conformed to this world” in the practice of any thing like injustice or dishonesty. Every thing that partakes of the nature of injustice or dishonesty, whether slight or great, may be said to be verbally condemned by all, whether nonprofessors or professors of religion; while every thing that is just and honest is the subject of universal commendation. Nor is it too much to assert, that many, who make no pretensions to a religious character, display, in the transactions of business, the highest honour, and the strictest integrity. At the same time, how true is it of too many members of the Church, as well as of the men of the world, that their practice of the virtue of justice does not square with their pro