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attribute, we are commanded to “be merciful, even as our Father who is in heaven is merciful. - Blessed are the merciful, for they shall obtain mercy.” When the question was asked the lawyer, which of the three was neighbour to the suffering traveller in the parable ? his answer was, “ He that showed mercy on him.” Luke vi. 36; Matt. v. 7; Luke x. 27.
God is faithful. “He is not man, that he should lie; nor the son of man, that he should repent. Hath he said, and shall he not do it; or hath he spoken, and shall he not make it good ? — Thy counsels of old are faithfulness and truth. — Thy word, O Lord, is forever settled in heaven; thy faithfulness is unto all generations.” Numb. xxiii. 19; Isa. xxv. 1 ; Ps. cxix. 89, 90. The Scriptures direct us to imitate this feature of the divine character. “ Most men will proclaim every one his own goodness; but a faithful man who can find ? - He that heareth these sayings of mine and doeth them, I will liken him unto a wise man, which built his house upon a rock : And the rain descended, and the floods came, and the winds blew, and beat upon that house; and it fell not : for it was founded upon a rock. — Trust in the Lord, and do good : so shalt thou dwell in the land, and verily thou shalt be fed. - The Lord preserveth the faithful. — He that is faithful in the least, is faithful also in much.” Prov. XX. 6; Matt. vii. 24, 25; Ps. xxxvii. 3; xxxi. 23; Luke xvi. 10.
In short, we are informed, that God is love. This comprises his essence and fulness. And as he so loved the world as to send his Son to save it, we are directed to love him, and our fellow-men. “Beloved,” says the faithful apostle, “if God so loved us, we ought also to
love one another." Love to God will prompt us to seek his face; to strive for new acquisitions in divine knowledge; to be humble before him, and submissive to his holy will and pleasure.
These remarks are intended to show, that to be truly religious is to imitate our heavenly Father. So that here we behold the doctrinal and practical blended. There is not a single moral precept laid down in the New Testament, that is not connected with some important doctrine. Let men practise the true doctrine, and obedience to the best precepts will be manifested in their conduct. There can be no mistake here. If a man has a poor doctrine, he must draw his good precepts and practice from some other. For a corrupt tree will not bear good fruit. Grapes come not of thorns, nor figs of thistles. The character of our heavenly Father here set forth, conveys the true, the safe, and salutary doctrine to mankind. If we follow this, we shall not wander in darkness, but be blessed with the light of divine truth. True doctrine and practice were never more clearly held up to the view of men, than in the language of our Lord to his disciples; “I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you and persecute you ; that ye may be the children of your Father which is in heaven; for he maketh his sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sendeth rain on the just and on the unjust." Matt. v. 44, 45.
We have thus attempted, in general terms, to define the religion of Christianity; presuming thus far on the concurrence of the candid reader in our opinions of its simplicity, utility, and deep importance to mankind. But
let us remember this, that it is one thing to define religion, and another thing to practise it. To embrace or declare a sentiment or system, is not to live as they may direct. An intelligent writer has truly remarked, “ It is easy to investigate doctrines and to weigh evidences; and there is a delightful sense of intellectual vigor in detecting error, and exposing sophistry, and demonstrating the triumph of truth. It is comparatively easy also, and it is delightful to a regulated mind, to rise above the events of ordinary life, and to ascend in exalted contemplation, to those higher regions, where shine forth in a peculiar manner the Divine perfections; to luxuriate amid the wonders of creation, the wonders of Providence, and, it may be also, the mysteries of grace. But after the mind has been disciplined to these high pursuits, a more difficult exercise remains; and that is, to look within, and determinedly to press the question respecting our own moral condition, and how far we are under the influence of the truth which we profess to believe.”*
It is my purpose to come to this inquiry with every reader who desires not only to hear the word of God, but to do it. To those who “say and do not,” whose idea of religion extends not beyond the formal profession of a certain faith, or the continual fighting with arguments from the lips and pen in its defence, I do not expect to afford much edification in these pages. If I can make any suggestions, which shall serve to assist the humble seeker after “ the righteousness which is of God by faith,” in his good work, my labors will be amply rewarded. I shall, therefore, “use great plainness of speech” in the observations which follow; as my object is the moral benefit of both writer and reader. We here speak together as believers in the Father of all; as those who reverence the Gospel and the character of its author; as seekers after practical righteousness and truth. We desire not only to profess Christ, but to be his true disciples. And in order to this, it is proper that we commence the work with our own hearts; seeking that assistance which reason enlightened by God's holy word will give us, and humbly believing, that to all those who strive to be doers of the word and not hearers only, the light of divine wisdom will be freely imparted, and the path of Christian peace so distinctly seen, that “the wayfaring man, though a fool, need not err therein."
* Abercrombie on Christian Faith and Character.
SELF-EXAMINATION is a Christian duty of the first importance. Indeed, there can be no true Christian who does not practise it. And by self-examination we mean that work of the soul, which extends far beyond nominal faith, and takes hold on the motives, and regulates the actions. It implies, that we know ourselves as reason and revelation represent us; as we are seen by that great Being who made us, and from whose sight no weakness, no sin, can be hidden ; that we not only with the mouth make confession of faith, but with the heart believe unto righteousness.
“ Examine yourselves whether ye be in the faith; prove your own selves.” This is a gospel injunction. It comes from a faithful apostle of the Lord Jesus, and is entitled to our careful attention. We are liable to be deceived. Error and sin máy creep in upon us unawares, and the light that is in us prove dareness. It has been truly said, that “a person ignorant of his own heart, is like a merchant, who knows not the state of his accounts, while every liable to become a bankrupt; or like the crew of a leak vessel who are insensible to their danger.” The Christian should see that these comparisons apply not to him. Self-examination is neglected in the Christian community. A disposition to be watching, and noting, and declaring the faults of others, is here witnessed, while we are at the same time neglecting to cor