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LUKE 1. 6.
And they were both righteous before God,
walking in all the commandments, and ordinances of the Lord blameless.
“ ALL scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness.” Each part of the sacred volume possesses some excellence peculiar to itself, and is calculated to alarm the secure, to enlighten the inquirer after truth, or to animate the drooping, disconsolate pilgrim in his course to Zion. In the precepts of the moral law we have an interesting display of the purity of the divine character, and government; by them we are also taught the nature and necessity of that holiness without which we can neither please God on earth, nor enjoy him in heaven : In the promises of the gospel we have a lively exhibition of his love in providing a Saviour, and of his goodness in communicating to his chosen through him all the blessings of grace and glory. But perhaps no part of divine revelation is more instructive, or animating, than those which exhibit the lives of illustrious saints, either male or female. In these we behold the precepts and promises blended together, and reduced to actual life, and the effect produced on the mind as far
exceeds that of any speculation on moral virtue, as a view of the man himself is more impressive than a glance at his picture or portrait : In the historical parts of scripture we also discover the reality of religion by the change which it effects on the heart, and conduct; we admire its excellence by the excellence of those fruits which it produces, piety to God, benevolence to men, forbearance amidst injuries received, and patience under the complicated evils of life. In reading the history of the just, as presented in the inspired page, we are constrained to believe that those sayings must be faithful which effect a change so obvious and lasting; that they must be “worthy of all acceptation" which are instrumental in producing tempers so excellent in this world, and opening to our view the prospect of rewards so abundant in the world to come. Few characters presented in sacred history appear more amiable or instructive, than the honored pair which we now intend to consider. “They were both righteous before God, walking in all his commandments and ordinances blameless.
They are pronounced “ righteous before God.” This is a character which is applicable to none by nature, “for the scripture has. concluded all under sin. The Lord looked down from heaven upon the children of men to see if there were any that did understand and seek God:” and what was the result of this inquiry? “ They are all gone aside,"
he declares, “they are altogether become filthy; there is none that doeth good ; no, not one.” They are indiscriminately pronounced children of wrath ; they have not merely forfeited that favor of God which they once enjoyed, and which constituted their happiness and glory, but they are without either ability or inclination to recover it. But thanks be to God, what was impossible with man is now fully accomplished by his own wisdoin and love: Although none are righteous by nature, there are millions rendered righteous by grace ; by their interest in that divinely condescending Saviour “who is the end of the law for righteousness to every one that believeth." That righteousness which had been forfeited by the first Adam is fully restored by the obedience and blood of the second Adam, the Lord from heaven.
They were both righteous before God. It is peculiarly amiable when those who are one in the intimate, endearing bonds of nature are one in the still more intimate, endearing, indissoluble bond of grace. How is every enjoyment enhanced, how is every difficulty diminished: with what resolulution is every duty discharged, and every temptation resisted when the husband and the wife prove help meets in things spiritual no less than temporal ; when they cordially walk together in the fear of Jehovah, cheering the hopes, dispelling the fears, solving the doubts, and sympathizing in the
sorrows of each other. In the great concerns of religion infinitely rather than in any other concern “two are better than one.” Each virtue by mutual reflection shines with double lustre, and every grace burns with double ardor. « What a live coal is applied to devotion when the solitary my Father, and my God are changed into the social our Father, and our God ? How is the hope of glory ennobled and animated by the prospect of participation? Here am I, holy Father, with her whom thou gavest to be a help meet for me: we were one in interest and affection ; one in the faith of the gospel, and the practice of piety ; our prayers ascended in one stream of incense, and every gift of thy providence and grace was sweetened to each by being bestowed on the other. Sweet were our labors of love to our joint offspring ; sweet our united efforts to improve the bounty of our common parent ; sweet the sympathies of kindred spirits in sickness or health, in sorrow and in joy; in good report or in evil report; but sweeter far the consolations of religion, the prospect of life and immortality brought to light by the gospel.'
They walked in his commandments and ordinances.” As the nature of the tree is known by its fruits, and the fountain by its waters, so the condition of the man and the woman before God, is best known by their conduct before the world-All who are relatively righteous in virtue of the righteousHess of Jesus the Surety imputed, are really holy through his holiness imparted, and will aim at regulating their lives by his law. “ They are created in Christ Jesus unto good works,” and while they glorify the SAVIOUR by submitting to his righteousness, they put honor on the PRINCE by bowing to his authority. The truth of this principle is happily exemplified in the character of Zecharias and Elizabeth. Being “ righteous before God, they walked in all his commandments and ordinances.” Their religion was not that solemn.mockery which consists in calling “Lord, Lord, without doing the things which he requires,” but with the homage of their lips they offered him also the homage of their lives. In these ordinances they walked. Their obedience was not occasional, but uniform and universal. The character of no man is formed by a solitary act, either virtuous or vicious. The most circumspect are sometimes thrown off their guard, and betrayed into irregularities, and The most impudent in impiety are occasionally devout. The petrified atheist, had he honesty to speak as he feels, would sometimes utter the confession “my fiesh trembleth for fear of thee ; mine iniquity is greater than I can bear.” It is our usual deportment which fixes the stamp upon our character as men, and it is our uniform, persevering attention to the duties of religion which puts the stamp upon our character as christians. It is recorded of Enoch that he