Imatges de pÓgina
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knowledge Christ for God, and continually blaspheme him: we crucify him with our oaths, and outrage him by our behaviour.

We confefs, he is the way that leads to life, by his example and precepts ; and yet we neglect to imitate that, and to comply with these. He will reprove, i. e. convince us of sin; not indeed of infidelity, because we have not believed in bim ; but of negligence and folly, in squaring our actions not by our belief, but by our passions ; in being Christians by profession, and bad ones in behaviour.

O my Saviour! I believe thou art my God who created me, as well as my Saviour who redeemed me. To thee I stand obliged for my being, and my redemption. Send down upon me thy Holy Spirit, not to condemn me as a sinner, but to comfort me as a true penitent :. let him enable me to defend thy faith with my blood, and to follow thy footsteps in spight of temptation.

EPISTLE of St. James, Chap. i. Verse

22. But be ye doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving your own selves.

23. For if any be a bearer of the word, and not a doer, he is like unto a man beholding his natural face in a glass :

24. For he beholderh himself : and goeth his way, and straightway forgetteth what manner of. man he was.

25. But whoso looketh into the perfect law of liberty, and continueth therein, be being not a forgetful hearer, but a doer of the word, this man mall be blessed in his deed.

Vol. II.

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26. If 26. If any man among you seem to be religiousa and bridleth not his tongue, but deceiveth his own beart, this mans religion is vain.

27. Pure religion and undefiled before God and the Father, is this, To visit the fatherless and widows in their afliktion, and to keep himself unSpotted from the world.

The MORAL REFLECTION.

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were, it , in St. time (as well as in ours) fome hereticks, who, to draw in profelytes, placed man's justification in faith alone, and condemned good works as unnecessary. In this epistle, he cautions all the faithful against this dangerous error ; and affures them, they deceive themselves, if they think to enter heaven without the practice of good works : But be ye doers of the word, and not bearers only, deceiving your own selves.

It is not sufficient to believe all Christ revealed, unless we also practise all he taught. He obliges us to submit our wills to the laws he imposes, as well as our understandings to the mysteries he reveals. He is our great Master, and will have the two noblest faculties of man pay him homage : And tho' he could exact this acknowledgment without a promise of a reward; yet he has been pleased, out of his goodness, to reward our obedience with a happiness as great, as it is lasting.

Those, I speak to, are not guilty of this error ; but he mentions another, from which some perhaps may not be be exempt; who, because they frequent the church, hear sermons, and expositions of scripture, with pleasure and appetite ; because the beauty of virtue raises transports of admiration, and the deformity of vice starts of horror in them ; perfuade themselves they poffefs all virtues in perfection, and hate vice to extremity. But St. James supposes we hear sermons on the excellence of virtue, and the foulness of fin, without practising that, or seriously Aying this : Be ye doers of the word, and not bearers only, deceiving yourselves. A conviction and admiration of the beauty of virtue is easily raised; when we find no opposition ; but when we come to the practice, nature revolts, and this repugnance wipes off the favourable impression, and raises as disadvantageous ideas, as the first were pleasing.

St. James ascribes this to the want of a sincere and serious consideration of the capital truths of our religion : If any be a hearer of the word, and not a doer, he is like unto a man beholding bis natural face in a glass : for be beholdeth himself, and goeth his way; and straightway forgettét's what manner of man he w.us. The apostle would say, that the gospel is a glass, which we must consult to know our defects, by comparing our lives with the instructions we find; and that he, who only considers himself slightly, and as it were in passing, is like to reap no profit by the compatison : He goeth his way, and straightway forgetteth what manner of man he was. We must not therefore be negligent hearers, or superficial readers of our duty: we must not go to ser. mons, to pass our time, but to hear our obligation ; nor now and then turn over books of devotion to entertain our curiosity, but to kindle piety. We must by a constant reading, hearing and medication, imprint Christ's laws in our hearts and me mories; and daily compare what we do, with what he commands : and this will easily persuade us not only to be hearers, but doers of the word ; and to be true Christians in practice, as well as in fpe. culation, D 2

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For when we daily consider the punishment God has prepared for finners, and the reward he promises virtue ; we shall easily resolve to avoid that, and to embrace this : when we seriously reflect on what. Christ has done, and what he has suffered for us; who will not be moved to make a return of gratitude, and to love that infinite Being, who has been fond of us to such a degree, as to stoop, even to assume our nature with all its infirmities (sin excepted) and to sacrifice on a cross, for our fakes, that life he took in the womb of his virgin Mother? It is almost impossible for such reflections not to raise sentiments of love in the moft obdurate heart : and when once we love him, we shall without pain obey his commands, and even follow his counfels. For nothing seems hard to one that loves s and thus, in St. James's phrase, we shall not be forgetful bearers, but doers of the word. And what follows, but a beatitude for our reward ? This man mall be blessed in his deed.

O! that we would but give half the time to the reading of pious books, we idle away, or spend on profane authors! that we gave but half the attention to those that teach us our duty, and move us to comply with it, we do to those that laugh at goodness, and ridicule piety! What a progress should we make in virtue ? How 'near should we come to the perfection our religion demands, and Christ requires ? With what peace of conscience should we live? With what content should we die? But alas ! It is our misfortune to misplace our care, and to take more to heart those things that lead us to our ruin, than those that secure our salvation.

St. James not only assures us, that faith alone will not justify us, but he specifies those vices we

muft Aly, and those virtues we must practise. First, · we must bridle our tongue, and keep it within the

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bounds of decency, and charity. If any man seem to be religious, and bridleth not his tongue, but deceivetl his own heart, this man's religion is vain. Without this caution, our religion is useless, our piety false ; and those deceive themselves, who think to be saved without the government of this small, but unruly member. And tho' your faith be strong enough to remove mountains, if it be not enlivened by charity, you are of no value in the sight of God. Tho? I have all faith, so that I could remove mountains, and have not charity, I am nothing, i Cor. xiii. 2.

In the first place therefore, purge your heart of all disorderly passion, and your tongue will easily be brought within the bounds of restraint, and dilcipline ; for this always follows the inclination of the heart, and pours out the corruption that lurks within : by this the heart discharges all the ill humours that oppress and stifle it: so that, if jealousy, envy, hatred, lie within, the symptoms will seize upon the tongue, and break out into detraction and calumny.

Secondly, Take not up little stories, to relate them to the person they concern ; this is a common fault even among those, who pretend to a more than ordinary piery. But let them not deceive themselves : those, who give their tongues this liberty, are far from being virtuous ; their piery is counterfeit ; their religion vain : This man's religion is vain. How displeasing such a practice is to God, he has declared in the sixth chapter of the proverbs after a most expressive manner. These fix things doth the Lord hate: pea, seven are an abomination unto him : a proud look, a lying tongue, and hands that shed innocent blood : an heart, that deviseth wicked imaginations ; feet that be swift in running to mischief : a false witnefs that speaketh lyes, and him that Soweth discord.

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