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the period when the chaotic and confused state of our earth was reduced to order and arrangement, and when it was stocked with the various animate and inanimate objects which exist upon it. But to know these points, and to know when the heaven and the earth were made out of nothing, are things widely different. Let us not therefore be too curious about those things which are wisely hidden from us. Let us rather make good use of such as we do know, and endeavour to profit by them, for the sake of Jesus Christ, who suffered death upon the cross, for the purpose of restoring us unto God.

SERMON II.

CEREMONIAL SUBSERVIENT TO PRACTICAL

RELIGION.

MICAH vi. 6, 7, 8.

"Wherewith shall I come before the Lord, and bow myself before the high God? Shall I come before him with burnt offerings, with calves of a year old? Will the Lord be pleased with thousands of rams, or with ten thousands of rivers of oil? Shall I give my first-born for my transgression, the fruit of my body for the sin of my soul? He hath shewed thee, O man, what is good; and what doth the Lord require of thee, but to do justly and to love mercy, and to walk humbly with thy God?"

THE prophet Micah was sent by the Almighty for the purpose, if it had been possible, of reclaiming

the inhabitants of Israel and Judah at a time when idolatry prevailed over the two countries to a most serious and lamentable extent. At the same time, moreover, that the infatuated and ungrateful descendants of Abraham were offering their religious homage to the ministers of Satan, and to the images of those who were no gods, it is sufficiently clear

that they were practically and intimately acquainted with almost every species of immorality and vice, which are the necessary consequences of a false and impious system of religion.

In the midst, however, of this mass of impiety and wickedness, it would appear that the people had not discarded from their practice the whole of the precepts which were enforced in the law of Moses. It was, nevertheless, to the least important parts of this law to which they continued their adherence. This, however commendable and praiseworthy it might have been, as long as they maintained their consistency by endeavouring to perform the whole of its injunctions alike, became an abomination to the Almighty when he perceived that the offering up of sacrifices proceeded from a corrupt heart rather than from a pious, upright, and benevolent disposition. The prophet Micah, therefore, reasons with his countrymen on the folly and inconsistency of their proceedings, by asking them whether they supposed that the Almighty would be satisfied with their sacrifices alone, when they altogether disregarded the other more numerous and important duties, without which these offerings could be neither useful to themselves nor acceptable to God. The rebuke is conveyed in a series of questions proposed to himself;-" Wherewith shall I come before the Lord, and bow myself before the high God? Shall I come before him with burnt offerings, with calves of a year old? Will the Lord be pleased with thousands of rams,

or with ten thousands of rivers of oil? Shall I give my first-born for my transgression, the fruit of my body for the sin of my soul?" To which he immediately rejoins, "He hath shewed thee, O man, what is good; and what doth the Lord require of thee, but to do justly, and to love mercy, and to walk humbly with thy God."

From the few observations which have been offered, it is not too much to infer that the law of Moses, to which the Israelites were directed to refer for the regulation of their social and religious conduct, consisted of two branches, the ceremonial and the moral. And precisely the same remark may be made in respect of the law of Christ; and, in short, every law of which we can form a conception seems more or less to partake of this twofold division. Whether, indeed, this last observation be rigidly and indisputably true, may, perhaps, admit of doubt. One thing, however, is certain, that the moral or religious improvement of mankind is the sole design of

any law whatsoever, and consequently where the performance of rites and ceremonies is prescribed, this is only done for the purpose of providing a cause in order to produce an effect. When, therefore, men are precise in their performances of ritual forms and ceremonies, and lay a stress upon the propriety and necessity of these, at the same time that they neglect those weightier and more important matters, those moral and religious duties to which it is clear that these must be subservient, their practice and their disposition are precisely of that Pha

risaical description which the Saviour of the world so indignantly and so contemptuously condemned, several hundred years after the delivery of the rebuke contained in our text. "Wo unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye pay tithe of mint, anise, and cummin, and have omitted the weightier matters of the law, judgment, mercy, and faith: these ought ye to have done, and not to leave the other undone."

It is here proper to observe, that a period of more than seven hundred years had intervened between the preaching of the prophet Micah and that of our Lord and Saviour, Jesus Christ. We therefore perceive that the habits and dispositions of the Jews, in their public and national capacity, were closely assimilated at each extreme of this protracted interval of time. Such as were the Jews in the time of the prophet Micah, such they were in the time of Jesus Christ, and such we naturally presume they were during the whole or the greater part of the period which elapsed between the ministry of the one and that of the other. Hypocrisy and deceit were the prevailing crimes applicable to all. All of them alike offered a species of ceremonial and unsubstantial homage at the shrine of the God of their fathers; all of them alike neglected that submission to the will of God, and that charitable and benevolent disposition to their fellow mortals, whom fortune had placed in a less elevated and commanding situation than themselves. And here, again, it is remarkable how

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