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The Duties of the Divine Law.

The Scriptures furnish us with many excellent precepts to help us in the practice of the law. Some of the more important of these I will bring to your recollection.

He hath shewed thee, O man, saith the prophet Micah, what is good for thee. And what doth the Lord require of thee, but to do justly, to love mercy, and to walk humbly with thy God?

Our blessed Saviour hath told us, that the weightier matters of the law are justice, mercy, and truth. And again that, on the love of God, and of our neighbour, hang all the law and the prophets. Love worketh no ill to his neighbour, saith St. Paul; therefore love is the fulfilling of the law. And St. John, whosoever shall confess that Jesus is the Son of God; God dwelleth in him, and he in God. God is love, and he that dwelleth in love, dwelleth in God, and God in him. God is, as it were, made up of love and goodness; his delight is in the happiness of his creatures, and particularly is his love made known to us, in that he sent his only begotten Son into the world, that we might live through him. No

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The Duties of the Divine Law.

thing can be clearer than that the will of God is always to do good, and create happiness; this is the end of all his laws. In conformity with the purposes of God, therefore, we are bound to apply diligently the powers he has given us, to make ourselves happy, and to propagate and diffuse happiness around us, as far as the consequences of our actions can reach.

We must, however, always keep in mind that, the happiness proper for us, does not consist in the loose pleasures of the fancy—in the pride, vanity, and conceit, with which the heart beguiles itself; nor in the fleeting and uncertain enjoyments of the body, neither in costly raiment, or dainty meals-nor in the pageantry that delights the eye-nor in any of the exquisite gratifications of sense. The productions of this earth, in subservience to the attainment of a Heavenly inheritance, are, it is true, intended, for our use and enjoyment. But the felicity, to which our Almighty Benefactor particularly commands the direction of our efforts, is mutual, spiritual, and eternal. The will of God cannot be executed by the selfish, the sensual, or the worldly.


The Duties of the Divine Law.


We must not, then, fix our affections on the perishable things of the present existence. Our thoughts should be so detached not only from the vanities but from all the allowable goods of the world, that the desire of them may not tempt us to do harm either to ourselves or to others. Whatsoever things we even honestly possess, we are to use moderately, so as not to injure our bodies, or corrupt our minds. life, health, and reason are all gifts of God, talents committed to our trust to be applied to the best advantage, and improved to the utmost; the intemperance that shortens life or debilitates it with disease, restless thoughts and unwary rovings of the imagination that weaken or destroy the nobler powers of the mind, are all abuses of the bounty of providence; because they abridge the means it has given us of accomplishing the purposes for which we exist. He, who contracts the period of his probation by any thing but the discharge of duty, takes so much from the labour of love divinely allotted him, and puts himself under the necessity of meeting his Judge with the task of existence only in part performed.

The Duties of the Divine Law,

We are not allowed to desire, or suffer our thoughts to dwell on possessing, the property of another, lest we should be tempted to de prive him, in any way, of the possession, or in the slightest degree, to lessen or impede his enjoyment of it. We are required to be as careful not to infringe on the rights of a neigh bour as to guard our own. And, it is to be observed, these rights consist not merely in money, lands, or goods, or in whatever may be called tangible wealth, but likewise in his fair character and high reputation, his acquirements, his talents, his mental and bodily pow ers, even his innocent recreations and amuse→ ments. A good name is more estimable than riches, and the possessor is sometimes more painfully effected, and sustains more injury, in the loss of it, than in the loss of fortune. Yet this dear possession is treated with very little ceremony; where it is not aspersed, it is often depreciated.

The honourable advantages resulting to a neighbour from these possessions, men hesitate not to impede, often at the mere instigation of a malicious and envious mind. If they cannot entirely


The Duties of the Divine Law.


entirely prevent the fruit of his industry and endowments, they will yet try to make it the bread of bitterness, only because he is more prósperous than themselves, and they were born as well as he was. They behave as if they assumed that, he has no right to rise above them; although he does so either by the use and improvement of superior powers, which the Almighty Giver designed to be improved and exercised; or by a better application of equal powers, whereby he proves himself a more faithful servant of his Heavenly Master in the larger increase of the same talent. This is a wrong which the righteous Judge will be sure to mark in the great day of retribution.

We are not only to do no harm, but we are to do all possible good. Even if an enemy be hungry, we are to feed him, if he be naked, we are to clothe him; if he be in sickness or distress, we are to administer relief and consolation. We are to bestow, when we have opportunity, the benefits of instruction, advice and admonition, informing the ignorant, reclaiming the offender, or rousing the unwary to vigilance.

In all this, however, our attention should

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