« PreviousContinue »
four commandments of the first table; and in the observance of both these, that is in spirit as well as in the letter, containing the ten commandments of God delivered from mount Sinai, consists the “whole duty of man.” Thus should we materially advance our progress towards “the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ.”
We have now considered what the precept embraced by the text directly forbids, and what it indirectly enjoins. It forbids us to speak of any one evil which we do not know to be true, and at the same time commands us not to keep back any truth concerning him of which the promulgation would tend to his advantage. The duty of obedience in both these particulars is as easy as it is absolute. Let us therefore embrace the advice of the Apostle, and “speak every man truth with his neighbour, for we are members one of another.”
HABAKKUK, CHAP. I. VERSE 15.
all of them with the angle: they catch them in their net, and gather them in their drag ; therefore they rejoice and are glad."
There is a prevailing disposition in the human heart, fraught indeed sometimes with good, but more frequently with evil, to persuade, if not all with whom we come in contact, at least all within the influence of our control, to adopt our peculiar views, not only on worldly matters, but especially on those which have a reference to the condition of our souls when this “ corruptible shall have put on incorruption, and this mortal shall have put on immortality.” It was the besetting sin of the Pharisees that “they compassed sea and land to make one proselyte, and when he was made, they rendered him tenfold more the child of hell than themselves.” It was not their object to bring converts to God,
but simply to secure votaries to their own exclusive creed, in order to advance their civil consequence among their community, and thus obtain for themselves a greater weight of political influence, This is but too often the motive of proselyteism, or one equally base, and to which we are to attribute the extreme zeal of many, in promulgating their startling and licentious doctrines.
It is lamentable to be reduced to the necessity of confessing that there is far more activity generally displayed in the service of Satan than of God. We see the demagogue, anxious to persuade the mob by whom he is cheered and supported, that the subversion of the government, to whom they are indebted for the security both of their lives and properties, would be an act that shall chronicle their names for immortality ;—we see the reviler of God's law, who would fain demonstrate to the “greedy ears” of the deluded multitude who“regard not the works of the Lord nor the operation of His hands,” that the church of Christ ought to be banished from a christian land; - we see the needy declaimer, whom idleness and profligacy have reduced to merited destitution, whose vices and wants naturally render him an enemy to those who “ fare sumptuously every day,” only because he has no “substance” to “spend in riotous living” — we see such persons devote
their days and nights, with an earnestness worthy of a better cause, to seduce others to their own selfish theories, and to realize the objects of their profligate wishes. “They zealously affect you, but not well,” because their object is really not the advantage of those whom they “gather in their drag,” as the prophet significantly expresses it, but their Own.
Motives should be examined when actions are weighed; in fact, they should be cast in the same balance; and how often will the former be found to strike the beam, while the reverse scale sinks with the dead weight of an inert and useless ponderosity. Those actions to which I have referred have not the living principle.
They are as fictitious as the zeal which produced them-a zeal too hot to be pure, too effervescent to be disinterested. It is betrayed by its vehe
It is the frothy scum of the caldron, not the limpid bubbling of the fountain. Energetic but temperate persuasion is the great characteristic of true zeal, whilst turbulent declamation, which throws a fiery coating over trite and hollow sophistries, is a sure indication of the reverse. “By their fruits shall ye know them : do men gather grapes from thorns, and figs from thistles ?” And what is the conduct of such men towards those among whom they throw the bait of a specious but slippery dog