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admonitions and exhortations that men are thus vain and vicious, and consequently unhappy and miserable ; since the holy scriptures abound in the most solemn commands, and in the wisest advice to a contrary practice; and point out the way by which peace and good-will may be established among mankind, as well as earnestly exhort us to fulfil ihose social duties, which, if duly observed, would certainly lead to these blessed consequences. The epistle for the day cou, tains some most valuable rules of conduct of this description, which I shall consider separately; making, as I go on, a few observa. tions upon each of them.
“ Having then gifts differing according to “the grace that is given to us, whether pro
phecy, let us prophesy according to the pro.
portion of faith; or ministry, let us wait on “ Our ministering; or he that teacheth, on “ teaching; or he that exhorteth, on exhorta" tion: he that giveth, let him do it with sim
plicity; he that ruleth, with diligence; he “ that sheweih mercy, with cheerfulness.”
The great and infinite God of heaven and earth is the equal father and friend of all mankind. “ He careth for all ;" and the only distinction which he makes is, betwixt those who love him, and those who love him not.
But although he is thus impartial
in his nature and his dealings, yet he has thought proper, in his. infinite wisdom, to appoint to the children of men different sta-. tions in society;, to make various ranks and degrees of men ; some to rule, others to obey ; some to have riches, others to live by labour. For this plan of Divine Providence there is this clear and wise reason, that, by these means, men should be bound to, and united with, each other, by their mutual wants: that the rich should depend on the labour of the poor, and the poor on the protection and bounty of the rich : that, as St. Paul says, “ the eye should not say 4 to the hand, I have no need of thee; por
again the head to the feet, I have no need " of you ;" but that the members should have an equal dependence on one another, and thus make society more happy and prosperous, than could have been the case, if all ranks of mankind had been made equal, and no distinctions of higher and lower, richer and poorer, had taken place in the world. From hence it follows, you see, that, as there are different ranks and degrees among mankind, so also there must be par. ticular duries, which these different orders are to perform. As there are governors, and rulers, and princes, so they must “ rule $ with diligence," or exercise the power with which they are entrusted, to the glory of God and happiness of mankind, with mercy, discretion, and impartiality; always remembering that they have " a master in “ heaven," who, at the last great day, will greatly reward them, if they have managed their talent well, or terribly punish them, if they have neglected or abused it. As there arę ministers of God's word, so they must “wait upon their ministry,” and fulfil their sacred office diligently and conscientiously; feeding the flock of CHRIST with so the “ words of sound doctrine ;" preaching the truth as it is in CHRIST JESUS; declaring to their hearers " the whole counsel of
God," that repentance, faith, and good works, are all necessary to salvation"; and being themselves “an ensample to the flock;" knowing this, that if they thus fulfil their high duty, “ when the chief shepherd shall
appear, they sball receive a crown of
glory, that fadeth not away;" but that, if they do not perform it, they shall be cast, with the unprofitable servant, “ into outer -6 darkness, where there is weeping and wail"ing, and gnashing of teeth,” for ever and
As there are those who are rich in " this world," so they are bound to be good stewards of the grace, and mercy, and bounty of God;: to “ have compassion on their so will lay
“ needy brethren,” “ready to give, and glad “ to distribute ;
;" “ giving alms of their “ goods, and never turning their face away “ from any poor man;" "giving with sim"plicity,” “not grudgingly or of necessity, “ for God loveth a cheerful giver ;” ever recollecting, that by so doing they
up in store for themselves a good foundation against the time to come, that they may
attain eternal life;" and that, by a different behaviour, they will, when they die, have their portion, with the wicked Dives, "s in hell,” and “ in torments.”
All these duties, my friends, are more particularly those, which the great, and the learned, and the rich, have to fulfil ; but the duties which the apostle mentions in the remainder of the epistle for the day, are such as the poorest and meanest man alive is able to exercise, and consequently must perform, under the penalty of everlasting destruction.
“ Let love be without dissimulation." Much of the happiness of human life de. pends on mutual kindness; and especially, if the lower orders of society are not kindly 66 affectioned one towards another," their situation must be truly miserable, as there are a thousand little assistances and friendly offices which they stand in need of, and which (as they have not the means of paye
ing for them) they must go without, unless they mutually afford them to one another. Let your love be manifested, therefore, in a readiness to do every service to your neighbour and fellow-creature, that it is in your power to perform. Be kind, both in your actions and words, to those around you; and let sincerity of heart, “ with love un“ feigned,” accompany every good act which you do, and every kind word that you utter. Let all be done, and said, “ as to the LORD, “ and not unto man;" convinced that God o knoweth the secrets of all hearts; and that " there is nothing covered that shall not be “ revealed, nor hidden that shall not be 65 known.”
"* Abhor that which is evil, cleave to that “ which is good.” Man consists of two parts, the flesh and the spirit; the one derived from earth, the other from heaven. That which is of the earth is earthly, and careth for the things of the earth; that which is of heaven is heavenly, and seeketh after the things of GOD. The flesh “ lusteth against the
spirit, and the spirit against the flesh.” To“ abhor that which is evil," therefore,
“ cleave to that which is good,” is to obtain a victory over the flesh, and to obey the spirit; to hate the works of the one, and to seek after the fruits of the other.