Page images

manded so to keep the perfection of the perfect law of God, as thereby, as of merit, to earn our salvation; but we are most expressly commanded to give up the will to obey the whole, and not to leave any part wilfully and perseveringly unfulfilled. It is the surrender of the will, the affections, the judgment, the whole man, soul and body, which our merciful God requires, and not the perfect fulfilment of the sacred law. Every one, whatever be his station in the world, so giving himself up to God, becomes progressively advancing in the spiritual life: he moves on His Redeemer's service, through faith in His name, and through trust in His grace; and He illustrates, in himself, the rich scriptural imagery of the great body of natural light, in shining more and more unto the perfect day."

[ocr errors]

A very little consideration will shew the perfect justice of the holy Apostle's reasoning, and his awful inference. All the law proceeds from God, and the Christian fulfils the condition of obedience, not of merit, in his part of the Covenant of Grace, only when he shews the will prepared to keep the whole law. A wilful and systematic breach of any one portion of the law, is a direct violation of our baptismal promise," to walk in the commandments of God all the days of our life,"

and it is trifling with the power and wisdom of God, and tempting His goodness, to suppose, for one moment, that because we observe some portion of His doctrines and precepts, we may disregard and disobey others. Neither the covenant of works in Paradise, nor the covenant of grace since the fall, ever permitted so manifest a contradiction in the moral government of Almighty God.

If we examine the usual practice of those who thus professedly or virtually act upon this sad anti-Christian practice in daily life, its monstrous perversion from the truth and simplicity of the Gospel will, perhaps, be still more plainly seen. Take the course of reasoning usually adopted to silence an uneasy conscience, by those who live in the pursuit and enjoyment of what the world calls pleasure. As Christians by profession, they believe the Gospel which commands them "not to be conformed to this world;" which tells them, with the dreadful threat of what will issue against such at the judgment, that they "who live in pleasure are dead while they live." Such have an excuse at hand, and wilfully breaking some one or other of the commandments of God, deem it, or wish to deem it a pardonable thing to drink of the of some favorite, forbidden, or excessive


[blocks in formation]

pleasure, while they really strive in other points, to keep the law.

It is the same with those who suffer themselves to be overwhelmed with worldly business of any kind, trade, profession, or other calling; and in their hurried care of a pursuit too toilsome, too harassing, too much of the spirit of an encumbered Martha's anxiety, practically forget that other call, the "one thing needful." And yet they have their excuse at hand: their means are small; their families' demands are urgent; their success in life smiles upon them; and they force a hope upon a mind not herein at perfect rest, that some worldly plea will be accepted for the omission of duties, which the shortness of time, the awfulness of eternity, the value of the soul, and the command of God, ever hold uppermost in the whole of the Christian life.

Resistance, moreover, to the command, that we strive to keep the whole law, is also made and pleaded for by those, who sadden the walk of this sufficiently dreary pilgrimage of life, to themselves and others, by the unkind and angry feelings of a temper not subdued. They form a hope that allowance will be made for bodily ailments, or for frequent provocations; but they seem to forget, that for every spiritual ill, a remedy is offered

in the Gospel of Jesus Christ; forgiveness of the repented past, grace and strength for an amending future.

Nearly allied to this violation of the law, under a pretended sanction in the keeping of a part, is that which proceeds from the tongue. Go into the various scenes of human life, the domestic circle, the rounds of pleasure, the walks of business, the festive board, among all conditions of mankind, and see whether the inspired assurance of an Apostle be not abundantly confirmed by sad existing fact: that "the tongue is a fire, a world of iniquity; that it defileth the whole body, and setteth on fire the course of nature; and that itself is set on fire of hell ;""an unruly evil, full of deadly poison."* But we must all at once see the weakness of the excuse made by such an one in the commission of sins condemned by God. Can example, can the poor excuse of others' sin, excuse his? will long-indulged habit be received in answer to the inquiry which will one day be made by the great Judge of all men? If one sin committed by the profess ing Christian be more than any other at variance with his principles, and shew his belief vain, it must be the sin of the tongue.

Can the tongue which systematically utters what every heart condemns, be influenced at

*St. James..

all by real religion? If the sacred name of the Most High be regarded as an unhallowed thing, and be made the mere expletive of trifling intercourse between man and man; if from the mouth of the Christian matured by years, words which the heart condemns issue in the presence of earthly hearers, and those hearers perhaps living under the influence of such an example, or pained by the commission of a sin like that, surely there cannot be any real belief of the assurance recorded as a warning to all, "that for every idle word that men shall speak, they shall give account thereof at the day of judgment."

[ocr errors]

Thus, if we examine into the reasonable interpretation of the solemn text before us, Whosoever shall keep the whole law, and yet offend in one point, he is guilty of all,' and compare the rule with our own observation or personal experience of the real state of human belief, we cannot but conclude, that a determined adherence to any one known sin, the continued and wilful omission of any one known duty, will assuredly condemn the guilty: "the soul that" so "sinneth, it shall die.'

[ocr errors]

It is, doubtless, an appalling, but not an unjust condemnation. Sin, of all kinds, is in itself a condemning thing: the authority which hath enjoined one duty, hath enjoined every

« PreviousContinue »