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rifices a son or a daughter on the forming the duties, which he has bloodstained altars of frantic su- enjoined, this religion cannot be perstition. Separated from the sincerely embraced if we regard principles of truth, sincerity, God in any other light, than that therefore, instead of being valua. in which he has been pleased to ble, is dangerous in the highest make himself known to us; or degree. fi fosters the spirit of neglect the performance of these superstition, and is the parent of duties. For instance, though we the most enormous crimes. should succeed in persuading
But what is truth? or where ourselves, that God is altogether is it to be found? To men, who such as we are, indifferent to the acknowledge the inspiration and principles and conduct of his authority of Scripture, the answer worshippers : we may be perfectis obvious. That God is holy ly sincere in this persuasion, and and just; that men are depraved under its influence be guilty of and guilty, and therefore obnox- the most aggravated sins. But ious to punishment; but that if we have received from him. God sent his Son, and he volun- self an unequivocal assurance tarily came into the world, by that he looketh on the heart and his obedience and sufferings as a trieth the reins of the children of propitiation for sin, to reconcile men, and that whosoever commen unto God by his own blood; mitteth sin is worthy of death, that repentance and faith, both though we should forget or decommunicated to individual sin- spise this truth, or not feel its in. ners by the influence and energy fuence, if it has been made known of the Holy Spirit, are the only to us, our sincerity in a contrary effectual means of being interest. conviction will never be sused in the redemption proclaimed tained as a satisfactory apology through the Saviour; and that for our disobedience. Or, if we holiness, or a transformation of should believe that our supposed the heart and character into the good works will procure the parresemblance of the divine image, don of sin and acceptance with is the only sare preparation for God, while he has made a diathe heavenly state. These are metrically opposite declaration, the few simple truths, which the that "by the deeds of the law gospel reveals, as the object of a no flesh living can be justified," sinner's knowledge and belief. though we should maintain our These, known and believed, are own opinion, ever so firmly or the foundation of Christian sin- sitcerely, we must be regarded cerity : so essential to its exist- as real, though perhaps not ence, that whoever disbelieves avowed enemies of the cross of and rejects them, practically pro. Christ, and as such, be justly nounces against himself a sentence chargeable with neglecting the of exclusion from the blessings of great salvation. In a word, if the gospet.
we have received the revelation The danger of mistake on this of truth and daty, if we acknowls point is so imminent, that some edge its authority, and have ac. illustration of it may not be un. cess to know and read it for necessary. If then religion con. ourselves, or to hear it explained sist in worshipping God, and per- by others'; unless we sincerely
believe and cordially obey it, prospects of approaching misery, however much we may deceive and the most alluring invitations ourselves or impose on others, of promised mercy, are presents we are only almost, not altogeth. ed in vain. The profession of er Christians. The truth is not religion may be made, the conin us, and our sincerity in error, duct may be free from open un. when we have the means of be- godliness; but a lifeless form is ing undeceived, instead of excus- all thạt exists. But he, who de. ing us, must aggravate our con- sires in sincerity and truth to serve demnation before God.
the Lord. Christ, is all ardor and 2. Sincerity in the profession of alacrity. Constitutional temper Christianity is ipseparable from ardor may incline him to sloth, but if and diligence in discovering what is he feels the importance of religtruth and duty.
ion, lie will shake off this dispoThe situation of some men is sition so unfavourable to every unquestionably much more fa- dignified pursuit, and make sal. vourable than that of others, for vation his chief concern. Unacacquiring Christian knowledge. quainted with arts and sciences But if the mind is at all capable he may be ; but he will study the of reflection, and interested in in. word of God, and derive from it quiring after truth, eyen in the a knowledge and a wisdom, as most unfavourable situation, sin, much more excellent and valuacerity will lead to the most earnest ble than that, which earthly desires, and issue in the attainment learning can afford, as the soul of considerable knowledge on re- is than the body, and the glories ligious subjects. Sincerity in of heaven than the pleasures of what is known, is all that is or the world.
He is anxious to can be required; yet, it will not know the will of God concerning allow a man to be satisfied with a all his faith and duty, that he low degree of knowledge, but may cordially embrace the one, will powerfully incite him to se- and diligently perform the othriousness and diligence in exam- er. Having an object of everining what is revealed, that he lasting importance before him, may be thorougbly furnished unto he pursues it with ardor, and is every good word and work. Ig- daily advancing toward its posnorance is often the source of er- session.
His heart is engaged ; ror in opinion, corruption in his affections seek a reconciled morals, and ruin to the soul.
God in Christ, as their supreme And if the opportunity and good; and by this he is distinmeans of knowledge be delibe- guished both from the hypocrite, rately and wilfully neglected, it and from the formalist. is impossible that the plea of His mind being thus under the sincerity can be of any avail. power of the truth as it is in Jc.
Sincerity, therefore, is directly op- sus, opened to discern the imposed to indifference.' It is indeed portance not only of acting altogether incompatible with sạch conscientiously in what is alreaa spirit. To him, who submits dy known to be right, but of acto the influence of religious in- quiring more extensive and acsensibility, the most alarming curate knowledge concerning the
path of duty, surveys every ob- enemy, or obtained from a source, ject, from which this knowledge to which he had formerly the may be derived, with a look of strongest aversion. Points of earnest desire, and animating difficulty he will bring before the hope. The Scriptures are exam- Lord; and though he does not ined, and both the precepts, neglect the ordinary means of which it inculcates, and the char- direction, he will look upward to acters, which it describes, are se- Him, whose wisdom can guide riously and attentively studied. in the most perplexing path, The conduct of Providence to him whose power can remove or self and others; the privileges, overcome the most alarming dif. which he enjoys; the talents, ficulties. “Lord, what wilt which he possesses, and which he thou have me to do! Speak, ought to cultivate ; and the situ- Lord, for thy servant heareth! ation into which he has brought It is as my meat and drink to do himself, or has been unintention- thy will." These are the exally, or unexpectedly led, are re. pressions of a mind, where relig, viewed, and the duties, which all ious sincerity reigns; and mark of them require, deliberately and a spirit essentially opposite to that devoutly considered.
He may self satisfaction and confidence, have acted improperly in the which formalists feel; and to past, and may see abundant cause that constant struggle between for the deepest contrition, and their real and their assumed charthe course, which is now marked acter, which hypocrites expe. out for him, may be painful to rience. natural feeling and beset with 3. Sincerity in the profession of numerous difficulties or dangers ; Christianity is uniformly connected but sincerity will impel him, nei. with a minute and universal regard ther to revolt from the one, nor to duty. to shrink at the other. He will There may be little external not be deterred from inquiry, by difference between the religious the fear of having his prejudices conduct of the sincere and that shocked, his sentiments altered, of the hypocritical Christian. or his habits reproved, for he is Both are punctual in attending willing to renounce every thing the house of God, in performing that he has maintained most ob the private exercises of devotion, stinately, or cherished most fond. in reading the Scriptures, and ly, if convinced that it has not offering up the forms of prayer been the will of God.
and praise. They both profess Having obtained information, an attachment to the doctrines of he will not consult with flesh and godliness, and seem to be equalblood, but resolutely obey the ly circumspect in their moral call of duty, and “ follow on” conduct. Yet, on attentively exwith increasing ardor “ to know amining their characters, we disthe Lord.” He wishes to be cover many unequivocal marks guided by a conscience enlight- of an important and essential difened in the mind of God, and is' ference. therefore open to
conviction, The hypocrite or the formalist is though the truth, which produ- satisfied with observing the stated ces it, should be learned from an solemnities of religious worship
with a general conformity of con- indeed be a reasonable, a living, duct to the divine law; and with and a holy offering. He will external decency of manners; deeply lament, and ingenuously even while his heart is filled with confess in his secret devotions, the most ungodly principles, and those plain omissions of duty, unsanctified desires. His chief those open acts of sin, those comanxiety is to secure himself from pliances with what he perceives to the charge of that very hypocrisy have been inconsistent with his of which he is inwardly con- character, those ebullitions of scious; to enjoy the reputation passion, and those intemperances of a saint, while he is in truth a of language of which he is condetermined sinner ; to reconcile scious; nay, even those unholy God and Mammon, religion and thoughts and impure desires, the world. If this can be par which, though unknown to the tially attained, he does not hesi- world, are not concealed from tate in secret to commit the most the eye of Him, who searcheth Aagrant sins. Like an actor on the hearts and trieth the reins of the stage, his character is assum- the children of men. These, ed, and he labours to support it; the hypocrite never thinks of, and but behind the scenes, he is desti- to their criminality the formalist tute of all that excellence and is insensible ; but the truly sindignity, which in the eye of the cere Christian views them in the public, he so successfully imi- light of the gospel, as the retates.
maining members of the old Not so the man, who sincerely man, which is corrupt with his and from the heart, engages in deceitful lusts, which must be the service of God. His public resisted and crucified, to enable character is indeed externally the him to serve God in spirit and in same; but this character is not truth. He therefore labours to assumed for a season only, or to maintain a conscience void of ofattain some worldly end. It is fence towards God as well as toreal, and therefore continues wards men ; guards against sins when he retires to his private of the heart ; watches and rewalk. He knows that the dispo- sists those risings of unbelief by sitions ought to be pure, as well which the Holy Spirit is griev. as the actions blameless ; that to ed ; and which are the begin. feel no solicitude to have the nings of desires and resolutions, heart sanctified, is to cleanse only which, if carried into action, "the outside of the cup and would destroy his comfort and platter,” to substitute appearance disgrace his profession. He defor reality, and shew for worth ; sires to love God more and to have a greater regard to the serve him better; and mourns opinion of the world than to the on account of the coldness of his judgment of God. It will, love and the imperfections of his therefore, be his anxious desire service. and habitual study tu have the It is evident that this tenderprinciples of godliness strength- ness of conscience must influence ened within him, that when he his conduct in his private retirepresents to the Lord the sacri. ment and domestic intercourse, fice of Christian conduct, it may when secluded from the compa ry and occupations of the world. this misconduct, and uniformly As Christian sincerity is inimical leads the mind to humiliation to every art of injustice and and repentance when concious of fraud in the transactions of busi- being thus guilty. Like the apos, ness, even when there is little tle Paul, he “counts not that he probability or even possibility of has already attained, either is al. detection, it is equally hostile to ready perfect, but this one thing every thing that encourages self he does, forgetting those things deceit or hypocrisy, in his secret which are behind, and reaching intercourse with God, It re- forth unto those which are before, proves, and represses languor in he presses towards the mark, for devotion : excites to fervor of the prize of the high calling of spirit and cheerfulness of service: God in Christ Jesus.” removes and prevents carelessness Reader ! examine thy own in duty; and aims at the total heart. Withdraw thy attention destruction of that deceitfulness from the scenes of life : from the of sin, which endeavours to com- character of other men; from pensate for the commission of one the thousand objects which would trespass by abstinence from anoth- interrupt the intercourse with er, or by diligence and fidelity in thyself; and survey the princithose parts of obedience, where ples by which thy heart is actua, neglect or unfaithfulness would ted; compare thy conduct with be more easily noticed, and more thy professions, and both with the certainly condemned.
standard of truth and duty, which Finally, sincerity will not ad. the gospel contains. mit either of reserve in the obedi. Reader: Art thou trusting ience that Christianity requires, that thou art righteous and despi. or of palliation for neglecting it, sing others; or satisfied with out, but embraces the whole extent ward decorum of manners; or and every particular instance of ignorant of the devices of a deceit, duty arising from the circum- ful heart, or led away by error ştances, the station and the rela: from the path of Christian doctions, in which a Christian is plac. trine? Thy condition is danger, ed. All that is known to be du, ous, thy hopes of heaven are ty, he must study to perform, fallacious! Hast thou never pray: whatever hazard may be incur, cd; or dost thou neglect daily red, or difficulties encountered, prayer for grace to guide thy feet or trials endured. In all places into the way of peace? Thou and at all times sincerịty should must be treading in the way of animate the heart, and direct the death ! Destruction awaits thee conduct. Imperfection, indeed, in the land of spirits, except thou is inseparable from the present repent ! service, even of the most advance Reader! Hast thou never sus. ed Christian. There is always peeted the danger of thy state as something which he ought to a transgressor of the law of God haye done, which he has neglec. or dost thou not with an earnestted; or something from which he ness of mind proportioned in ought to have abstained, which some measure to the importance he has performed; but sincerity, of the subject, ask the direction instead of vindicating, condemns and blessing of God, that thoy