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God proclaimed in the creation of man in inno- covenant, his promise, his law; his people also, cence—in the conscience which is planted in every and their calling, are holy; in like manner is breast–in the moral government which is estab- his sabbath holy; his prophets, priests, and lished in the world, in virtue of which God rewards angels. His Son and his Spirit also are eminently the righteous and punishes the wicked! Above holy. all
, how impressive is the proof which is to be How desirable is it to feel that there is a great found in his word: in the moral law—which is holy, unseen Being who sees and knows all, to whom and just, and good, and still more in the scheme the most secret desire of evil is as open as the of redemption, so nobly devised to recover sinners most proclaimed action of the life! How imporfrom the consequences of its violation. How tant to feel that the holy One of Israel, whose boly must God be, that sooner than spare sin he eyes are pure and piercing as a flame of fire, is would not spare an only begotten and well-beloved ever with us! What a check is the faith of this
Son, nor withhold the Holy Spirit, to renew and fitted to exert upon thoughts of causeless anger, sanctify those who were redeemed, and that unchaste desires, covetous affections, purposes of though often grieved and provoked by their per- revenge! Who can be wilfully impure under the versity. No testimonies to the divine holiness very eye of Purity? Who can be careless about can be so striking as these. But it may not be progress in holiness, when the God of holiness is unsuitable to think of the testimonies to the holi- present, and invites and encourages to be holy as mes of God contained in the words and images of he is holy? Let Christians be well persuaded of scripture.
the indispensable necessity of personal holiness. The prophet addressing Jehovah says, Thon It assimilates to the most glorious, excellent, art of purer eyes than to behold evil, and canst and lovely of beings, and what else ought they not look upon iniquity.' So far from being supremely to desire? What happiness can be indifferent to moral evil, or favouring, or loving so great as being like God. If we admire and
God cannot so much as look upon it, so ab- follow what is perfect among men, shall we not korrent is it to His pure and holy nature. The much rather imitate the perfections of the everheavens, with all their brilliancy and splendour, blessed Jehovah, from whom indeed all that is are said not to be clean in his sight, and the beautiful in human taste and morals has been stars not to be pure before him. It is said, derived, as a small and mudded stream from a Behold he putteth no trust in his servants, and fountain of exhaustless purity? We cannot pleaslis angels he chargeth with folly.' How incon- antly spend a day in the society of one whose ceivably holy then is God! Of him it is declared, likings and dislikings do not accord with our own, thon art not a God that hath pleasure in wicked- and how then, if unsanctified, can we expect to ness, neither shall evil dwell with thee.' Nay, in spend a happy eternity with God? Rememberregard to evil, it is said that God not only is not ing the words, “ Ye shall be holy, for I the Lord
shall not, but cannot be tempted, neither your God am holy,ʻlet Christians be exhorted to tempteth he any man.' The thing is impossible. press forward after holiness in all its extent, in His holy nature forbids the most distant ap- thought, speech, and deportment. The simple proaches to it. He is represented as “very light, character of God as holy, his moral loveliness, in whom is no darkness at all. The angels and should animate to much watchfulness and many a archangels of heaven are introduced as celebrat- holy exertion; but happily there is more than this. ing the praise of God's holiness above every There is an ample provision of means for the exother perfection, as exclaiming, “Holy, holy, holy, press purpose of sanctifying. The work of the Son the Lord of hosts, the whole earth is full of removes every obstacle to the holiness of the believbis glory,'—of the glory of his holiness, and he ing soul, and supplies the best motives to its athimself is represented as swearing by his holiness: tainment, at once showing the evil of sin, and
high and essential a part does he account it of proclaiming the holy love of God. And it is the himself
. Nay, not only is God holy in himself, express office and the work of the Holy Spirit, the Holy One of Israel, but he is so holy that the Third person of the adorable Trinity, to renew every thing connected with him partakes of the and sanctify the soul froin day to day, yea, it is same quality. Whatever he touches becomes His joy and delight to do so. Oh let Christians marked with purity—his name is boly, and so avail themselves of these means, and employ them
his throne, and place, and heaven,—they are to the uttermost; and consider, for their encourall holy,—so is his hili habitati
and agement, that the higher their sanctification here, mountain, and house my
Erk, the greater their glory hereafter. And let the hins winner be satisfied, that he cannot be made holy
o are holy, and so
till he is at peace with God; that the first of which the exhortation is composed. Though step to his being sanctified, is as a perishing to a superficial eye the parts may seem to run sinner to submit to the righteousness of Em- into each other, they convey separate ideas. The manuel. Let him, as he would receive the Holy word of God does not deal in idle repetitions. Spirit, first receive Christ the Redeemer. And Christians are required to think on whatsoever the better to encourage him to this, let him things are true'—not merely to acquire the remember that that great and awful Jehovah, of knowledge of divine things on suitable evidence, thrice sacred sanctity, before whom the angels of but solemnly to realize all the great truths which heaven vail their faces with their wings, invites regard God the Father, Son, and Holy Ghostand beseeches him to lay down the weapons of ourselves as sinners—the way of salvation—ou his warfare. Let him think that a tear of com- duty and privileges—the day of future accoun passionate love stands in that pure and piercing and retribution; we are to picture these and eye, which cannot look upon sin, and before many others vividly forth to our minds, as i which the heavens are not clean, and is ready to they were actually present, and as if we coul fall for the guiltiest of men. Let him think of converse with them. Farther, Christians an the blended purity and mercy of God, and at exhorted to think on “whatsoever things ar once be melted into contrition for sin, and be honest;' in other words, uprightly to follow ou aroused to a new and holy obedience.
the convictions which meditation on divin truths has awakened. It is well known hov prone the mind is, where it has become enlight
ened, to shrink from its own convictions, how i TWENTY-THIRD DAY.EVENING. attempts to smother and evade them, in order t
shun the pain of a new and more exact cours * Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, of obedience. How important, then, the call, i whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things
cases of mental and moral discipline, to persona are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatso
honesty! Where is the use of meditating upoi ever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of the great truths of natural or revealed religion good report; if there be any virtue, and if if the moment they become practical, the min there be any praise, think on these things,' dishonestly turns aside from the conviction? Phil. iv. 8.
Having exhorted to a suitable consideration d Let us attend to the exhortation to mental and truth, and an honest application of it, the aposti moral discipline to which the apostle calls. It next calls us to practise, in all our dealings with forms the conclusion of a practical address to a our fellow-men, “whatsoever things are just much-loved church. Paul's counsels, in regard This embraces a very comprehensive class o to God and themselves and their fellow-men, duties. The Christian is not only to be scrupu were too numerous to be detailed; therefore he lously just in all his transactions with his fellows: embraces them all in a comprehensive statement. men, even the smallest—owe no man anything *Finally'—to conclude the whole—whatsoever -he is to be just to the character and reputatio things are true'—not one or a few or many, of his neighbours, and he is to call himself strictly but all things, of whatever class, which are to account, as in the sight of God, for the manner true— whatsoever things are honest, &c.— in which he discharges his duties in the variou meditate on them, judge, reason, draw infer- relations of life, as a superior, a parent, or 1 ences, make practical applications of them. And master; an inferior, a child, or a servant; a in case any should be bewildered by calls so equal, a friend, or neighbour. He is to medi general, the apostle adds his own example: tate on the responsibilities of justice, as appli * Those things which ye have both learned, and cable in his case, and consider whether he i received, and heard, and seen in me, do: and employing all his talents and means of usefulnes the God of peace shall be with you. This is a as he may and ought to God's glory and the noble farewell; to exhort men to think upon good of his fellow-men. Passing from such congood, and nothing but good, and that not as a templations, he is to think on “whatsoever thing matter of mere speculation or vague desire, but are pure.' He is to take full and persevering for the purpose of imitation. It is like a cele-account of all the personal virtues, particularly brated painter calling upon his more youthful of the state of his heart before God, the motives pupils to study all the finest models of ancient of his actions, the prevailing current of his desires and modern times.
and affections. He is to see that these be pure, Meditate for a little upon the different parts such as a holy God and his own conscience approve. This may be a severe, but it is a most words before us. Property lies at the foundanecessary portion of moral discipline.
tion of society, and the eighth commandment The last part of the exhortation regards what recognises and protects it. Our bountiful Creator is “ lovely' and of 'good report. However cor- has given dominion over the world to man, and rect and excellent the character, which, with the implanted in his nature the capacity and the divine blessing, will grow up under the discipline principle impelling him to appropriate a share already described, it is essential to the perfection of it for present, and to lay up another share for and beauty of the whole, that the lovely and future use. In proportion to the importance of the praiseworthy be added. It is well known property as an institution of God, conducive to that there are a class of virtues, which even the the welfare of society and the progress of true world, with all its blindness, is compelled to religion, is the guilt of its violation, and yet how admire; these are the higher graces, such as extensively is it violated, and how varied the meekness under provocation, forgiveness of in- forms! There may be little scope for robbery or juries, patience under protracted suffering, self-theft in a savage state of society, where there are denying charity to the worthless. These and few articles to steal, and the offending parties can sinilar virtues are lovely in themselves, and readily be detected and punished; but the printhey are universally well reported of. They ciple of unrighteous appropriation as part of our recommend the gospel to general honour and corrupted nature always exists, and with the acceptance, the more especially, if not satisfied artificial wants and temptations of society is with an accidental manifestation, the Christian brought into enlarged activity. Innumerable seeks for and seizes opportunities of exercising are the ways in which men violate the eighth them, and so glorifying his Father who is in commandment. To what is the immense civil heaven. The Christian character is truly lovely. and criminal codes of a commercial nation directed, It is intended, as it is fitted, to awe and attract if not the protection of property and the punishand lead to universal imitation. Let the believer ment of those who violate its laws? The Chriskeep this in mind, and think practically and to tian happily cannot tell of the endless forms of purpose on whatsoever is lovely and of good fraud and forgery, theft and stealing and robreport.
bery, idleness and profusion, covetousness, avarice, There are some fine sayings, and self-denied gambling, and a thousand others; but our laws, and generous doings, to be met with even in and criminal courts, and prisons, and penal settlethe writings of Heathenism—such sayings and ments, and wretched families, can bear melan
as may make many professed Christians choly testimony to the existence and prevalence ashamed; but it is not to the contemplation of of the breaches of God's law, in these great leadthese that the believer is called. In the words ing outlines, not to allude to less direct or minor
he is exhorted to meditate on the cases. And is it necessary to say any thing of works and ways of God, as manifested in nature the punishment? The decalogue uttered from and providence, and especially the whole revela- Sinai, by the mouth of Jehovah himself, profions of the scriptures in their practical applica- claimed, Thou shalt not steal," and both God tions. He is called to think on all that is great and man have in every age concurred in expressand good, as exemplified in the history of scrip- ing their strong displeasure against the sin. The ture saints. And how lofty is the devotion of law of Moses enjoins, • Thou shalt not oppress an the psalmist, how profound the piety of the hired servant, that is poor and needy; at his day prophets, how heroic the spirit and conduct of thou shalt give him his hire, neither shall the sun the apostles! What a record of moral wonders go down upon it, lest he cry against thee unto the is the eleventh of the Hebrews! What a halo Lord, and it be sin unto thee. Here the simple of glory encompasses the martyrs of Jesus in withholding of the wages of a servant for a seaPrery age! How undying and diffusive is their son, is accounted oppression, and a crying sin
Parallel to this, is the address of the apostle James to the rich men of his day: “Behold the
hire of the labourers who have reaped down your TWENTY-FOURTH DAY.—MORNING. fields, which is of you kept back by fraud, crieth:
and the cries of them which have reaped are 'Thou shalt not steal, Exod. xx. 15.
entered into the ears of the Lord of Sabaoth;' and That God is the God of society as well as of what is the denunciation which he utters regardindividuals and families, is proclaimed in the ling them? It is in these words, “Weep and
howl for your miseries that shall come upon will certainly entail eternal death, and that the you; your gold and silver is cankered; and the dread doom of Achan and his house is its type. rust of them shall be a witness against you, and Let no one plead the community of property shall eat your flesh as if it were fire.' And what practised in the earliest days Christianity, as was the declaration of God by Ezekiel ? He inconsistent with the views of which have been says, that the man who hath oppressed the poor stated. Even were a community of goods in some and the needy, or who has not restored the pledge, aspects sanctioned by the word of God, this would shall surely die, and that his blood shall be upon never countenance fraud or theft. In all states him, (xviii. 13). Still more impressive is the of society the eighth commandment remains the language of the apostle Paul. Addressing Chris- same. The institution referred to was evidently tians he says, “Be not deceived;' implying that peculiar, intended to meet a particular exigencyeven they were apt on such subjects to deceive the persecution of the first Christians,—and disthemselves or to be deceived by others; "neither appeared with the circumstances which created it. thieves, nor covetous, nor extortioners shall inherit Moreover, it was quite voluntary, and we have the kingdom of God;' in other words, they shall be no reason to believe was universally adopted, even doomed to the kingdom of Satan. Our blessed by the primitive believers. It can be pleaded Lord though when upon earth a poor man, exposed with justice only to the effect of strongly recomto the privations and temptations of poverty, yet mending disinterestedness, and self-denial, and litdid not, like many in similar circumstances, indi-erality among Christians in days of special trial. cate any prejudice against property, or encourage others to entertain it. On the contrary, he sacredly guarded its rights, saying, “ Render unto Cæsar the things which are Cæsar's, and unto God the TWENTY-FOURTH DAY.-EVENING. things which are God's, and denounced eternal death against those who should steal, and die with
Then it shall be, because he hath sinned, and is their sin unrepented of and unatoned
guilty, that he shall restore that which he took From the commandment before us, let Chris
violently away, or the thing which he hath detians be on their guard against dishonesty in any
ceitfully gotten, or that which was delivered of its forms. All circles and professions in life
him to keep, or the lost thing which he found
Lev. vi. 4. have their peculiar temptations. Let Christians be scrupulous in giving to all what belongs to The law of restitution may be contemplated under them, and in maintaining the trusts reposed un- two lights: 1. As proving the justice of God; 2. broken. Let them be rigidly honest and upright And as furnishing a test of the sincerity of man. even in small matters. The eighth commandment Both aspects are most important. It is of higla is a law which is absolute, not admiting of moment to know the character of God; and that degrees. The least theft is a great sin, and if character is marked by unswerving justice. It successfully practised will lead to others. And is also of great value to have good tests at hand as the root of much of the breaches of this law is by which we may readily ascertain the reality of either inordinate love of the world, or a sup- men's repentance, where they profess to be sorry posed necessity, occasioned by men's own idleness for sin, and to turn anew to God. The principke ‘or prodigality, so let Christians keep the world of restitution secures both. in its own place, and be at once busy in their Where a man has taken away what belongs to proper callings, and frugal in the use of God's another, or has found it, he is required to restore gifts. Thus will they be kept from all temptation it to the owner. What applies to property also to violate the law, Thou shalt not steal.' Let applies to character. If one has, in any form or them remember that to steal in any form or degree degree, injured the good name of another, he is is mean as well as sinful, and cannot plead even bound to make reparation, by clearing the reputhe apologies of passion which may be urged in tation which he has assailed, and taking such behalf of other crimes. Let them consider that other steps as may be necessary to place the it is a most ungrateful return for God's good- character in the same estimation in which it was ness, as the patron and protector of society; that before. Restitution is demanded by God. Conit aims a blow at the civilization and regeneration science and common sense bear witness to it, of the world, through the lawful use of property; even in heathen lands; and the requirement of the that it is an indulgence of that love of the world divine word, both under the Jewish and Chriswhich is one of the leading enemies of the spi- tian dispensations, is most explicit. It is involved ritual life; above all, let them remember that it in the great law proclaimed from Sinai by the lips of Jehovah himself, “Thou shalt not steal.' | himself. It is, so to speak, a picture of Deity, Perinission to steal, or to retain what is stolen, and it expressly requires restitution and reparais plainly inconsistent with the decalogue. The tion wherever there has been an offence which law of Moses, too, is clear. A man is to restore admits of either. that which he took violently away, or the thing The second point is as a test of sincerity. which he has gotten deceitfully, or what was Men are prone to deceive themselves, and in nodelivered him to keep or the lost thing which thing more than their repentance. There are two was found. The cases in which restitution is to kinds of it, the genuine and the spurious. Now be made are minutely detailed, that there may be restitution supplies an admirable standard for asno excuse for withholding on the plea of ignor- certaining what is genuine. Not but that a man ance. Nay, not satisfied with a bare restitution, may restore property, and make reparation to the Mosaic law required compensation in addi-character, and still be impenitent in heart. But, tion, two-fold, four-fold, and even five-fold. The at least, no man can be said truly to repent, who case of Jacob, after receiving corn without pay- refuses, though he has it in his power, to make restiment, returning the money in the mouth of the tution. If he truly repents, he will restore; nay, he sacks to Egypt, shows what was the idea of will be forward to do so, and while he confesses his restitution which then prevailed. And Samuel, sin he will deeply regret should he, in the proviat a later day, gave evidence of the influence dence of God, be unable to make reparation for of the same sentiment, 1 Sam. xii. 3. Not to the injury which he has inflicted. This at once multiply illustrations, what were the spirit and tries sincerity. Many have no objections to confess conduct of Zaccheus when he became a new man their sins to God, but are utterly averse, even through the faith of the gospel? He said, “Behold, though they have the means, to make any restituLord,...if I have taken any thing from any man tion to man. This plainly shows that there is no by false accusation, I restore him four-fold. And cordial approbation of the law of God, which is what was the Master's approbation? This day essential to true repentance. It proves, whatever
salvation come to this house. It is plain, may be their confessions, and tears, and convicthen
, that the law of God imperatively requires tions of sin, that they hate the law as hard, and restitution. And that not as an artificial or wish it altered, and that after all their grief does arbitrary appointment, but as a moral command not proceed from the sin which they have comment, seated in the very nature of God. There mitted against God, but because He will not change may be some things which do not admit of resti- his law to suit them. Let them consider that distution, or in a very imperfect form. Who can honesty, in small things, is a proof of radical restore the life or the chastity of others, where dishonesty in heart, and proves that it is owing they have been taken away? Who can undo the to circumstances alone, and not to principle, that njury to character which a wide-spread lie may they are not the most abandoned thieves. As the indict? But wherever the case admits of restitu- principle of restitution requires them to pay debts tion
, justice demands that it be rendered. Yea, which have been contracted, let them feel that it the very fact that restitution is in some cases also forbids them to incur debts which they have no impossible
, is just a reason why in all cases where reasonable prospect of paying. Let thein search it can be made, it should be the more cheerfully not only their hearts, but their substance. And yielded
. There may be many cases where the if they find any thing which has been unlawfully laws of society do not demand restitution, as where come by, let them not attempt to enjoy it: let them parties become subsequently able to discharge cast it out. Where they cannot find the owner, debts from which they had been previously re- let them give it to the poor, or to the service of kased; but the law of God, and the spirit of God, but let them not retain it; they cannot do true religion, I humbly apprehend, call upon so, and truly repent of their sins, nor can they such persons to restore what they owed. Many receive any blessing on their basket, or their store, casuistical questions may be started in con- from the hands of God. Nection with restitution, as to whether children should enjoy property doubtfully or unlaw
TWENTY-FIFTH DAY.-MORNING. fully acquired by parents, and many others; but it is believed that in the great majority of
• He that tilleth his land shall have plenty of cases, a sound judgment and enlightened con
bread: but he that followeth after rain persons science, under the regulation of the word of God,
shall have porerty enough, Prov. xxviii. 19. will find no serious difficulty. We see, then, The “natural man,' in the language of scripture, the justice of God. His law is another name for is emphatically an idle man. Hence we see men