« ForrigeFortsæt »
heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind, and with all thy strength.”—(Mark xii. 30.) Thou dost not worship a graven image: but do you set up no idol in your heart? Is there nothing which you
love more than God, or which turns away your affections from God?—You swear not-you are not perjured: but have you always spoken the truth from your heart? Have you always spoken and thought of God with reverence ? Has his name never been on your lips, while your heart was far from him ?-You profane not the Lord's day: but has each Lord's day found you advancing the work of your salvation ?-Have you always honoured your father and your mother?
You have not openly despised your father, nor set light by your mother: but have you “obeyed them in all things? for this is,” says the apostle, “well-pleasing unto the Lord.”---(Col. iii. 20.) Did you always listen to their instructions, and not forsake their advice? Have you in little, as well as in great things, in your thoughts, as in your words, felt respect unto them? Have you honoured those who are as your father and your mother, the hoary head: and in your youth reverenced the face of the old man ? You have not committed murder ;-few, blessed be God, do so:--but have you always remembered that " whosoever hateth his brother is a murderer." -(1 John iii. 15.) Have you never borne malice; -never let the sun go down on your wrath ;-never borne ill-will ?—Have you freely forgiven your brother, as fully as you pray God to forgive you your trespasses---forgiven him, if need be, seventy times seven? and are you as ready to do him good as though he had never offended you?—You have not committed adultery: but have your thoughts, as well as your actions, been always pure? Have
you never committed adultery in your heart ?-You have not stolen: but have you never defraudednever coveted ?-You have not borne false witness : —would to God more could say this !—but have you never spread an evil report of your neighbours, of the truth of which you were not certain ?-If you have not been free from all these things, and yet judgest your brother harshly, then, while you condemn the self-righteous or the Pharisee, “thou art thyself the man !” If you are conscious that you are also a sinner, then thank not God that you are not as the poor publican; but humble yourself before him for your own sins: and if you have not committed his, or any like his, thank God for having hitherto preserved you, and pray also be not tempted. 6. He that is without sin among you," says our blessed Saviour, “let him first cast a stone.”—(John viii. 7.) “ Brethren,” says St. Paul, “if a man be overtaken in a fault, ye which are spiritual,”—ye which are really endeavouring to live after the Spirit,—“ restore such an one in the Spirit of meekness: considering thyself, lest thou also be tempted. For if a man think himself to be something, when he is nothing, he deceiveth himself: but let every man prove his own work, and then shall he have rejoicing in himself alone, and not in another.”—(Gal. vi. 1, 3, 4.) That is, let every man try his own conduct by the law of God, and by constant watchfulness conform himself to it, and then he shall have cause for joy in his own improvement, not that he is better than another.
One quality was wanting in the Pharisee-humility: one quality alone weighed down all the rest, and made them worthless--spiritual pride. The error of the self-righteous is one natural to
the human heart; and therefore the more dangerous.
It is the more dangerous, because the persons most exposed to it do lead outwardly what are called good lives; and may, therefore, the more easily deceive themselves, that their heart is right with God—that they are “not as other men are.” Whoever is in any degree like the Pharisee, cannot really love God; neither can he repent truly of his sins, and so find acceptance with him. He cannot, as long as he is in this company, take the first step towards the kingdom of heaven. Be it that he is less guilty than others; yet, if he feels his guilt at all, he could not talk thus proudly. Shali he, for whom the holy, the spotless Jesus, was exposed to shame, and torture, and anguish of mind-shall he look up proudly to that heaven, which, to atone for his sins, his Saviour left, and say, “God, I thank thee that I am not as other men are ?” He who knows the number of the sins which have taken hold upon him, takes a very different posture; for “he is not able to look up: he knows that they are more in number than the hairs of his head: his heart hath failed him.”—Psalm xl. 12.)
It is by the light which the doctrine of the cross throws over all the rest of God's dealings with us, that we see clearly how much every thing else is a ground for love: it shows us, that we, as sinners, as enemies to God, deserved nothing but punishment: it shows us, therefore, that every mercy, every blessing, which we receive, is not only not deserved, but the contrary of our deservings: it teaches us to be deeply thankful for all our daily blessings, because we deserve them not: for crosses, because they instruct us in our dependence upon God for what he takes away, as well as for that which he
gives us, that we may the more turn our affections to him: for honour, because it is his gift alone, and we deserve only shame: for dishonour, because it turns our minds the more to our own natural wretchedness, and may check us in a course displeasing to him.
To the proud all is changed: he cannot love God as he ought, for his redemption, because he feels not the extremity of misery from which he has been redeemed: he may thank him that “he is not as other men are:” but he thanks him not, that he is no longer the grievous sinner which he once was;—he thanks him not, that he is not what, but for God's grace, he would have been. Pride diminishes in his eyes the greatness of his debt to God. He has been forgiven; but for what? His sins have become to him mere frailties of the weak nature which has been given him: most are forgotten, none dwelt upon,—for could he then be proud? The good qualities which he thinks that he has, so occupy his thoughts, that his sins fade from his sight. No proud man can understand the value of his redemption.
And where the blessings of redemption are not duly valued, still less will the daily blessings of life be so: the idea of merit corrupts every thing. “God has blessed him, it is true,' such an one will think, “but he has blessed others more.' God has blessed his substance; but he himself has taken pains and laboured hard; and the blessing he thinks the natural consequence and the reward: he has blessed him in his domestic affections, in his wife and his children; but he himself has been careful, he will think, to retain these blessings. God has blessed him with health; but he himself has been careful, he will think, by temperance, to retain it. Much less can he bless God for his