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of the brutes that perish. Now I beseech you to mark well this fact, because without doing this, you will not be enabled duly to appreciate the value of our text as applied to ourselves. Man then, I repeat, in a state of natural impurity, and unredeemed by Divine Grace, loses all knowledge of the Creator, and thereby becomes reduced to a level with the beasts of the field. Recollect, moreover, that the natural instinct of the brute tribes prompts them to revenge any injury that is offered them, as far as they have it in their power, for the sake of

the sake of revenge alone, and for the gratification which this affords them. Such a practice as this too well our own feelings, to allow us in any way to doubt of its applicability to mere animal instinct. The Almighty, therefore, being well acquainted with the feelings of fallen and imperfect man, was graciously pleased to humour his prejudices in this respect, and to allow him to exact an equal compensation for an injury sustained, provided he did not imitate the worse practices of brutes, by being himself the aggressor in an act of violence against another. When however our Lord appeared, the purity of his institutions would no longer admit of so imperfect and so incomplete a morality as this. have heard,” said he, “that it hath been said, an eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth : but I say unto you that ye resist not evil.” And if the Christian should plead his human imperfection as unequal to the performance of that, which was not imposed upon the disciple of Moses merely because

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he was unable to perform it, in such a case I would refer him to the declaration which the Almighty once made to St. Paul : “My grace is sufficient for thee: my strength is made perfect in weakness.” The Christian, therefore, instead of indulging in so unbecoming a complaint, ought rather to imitate the language of the just named Apostle, and with him exclaim, “by the grace of God I am what I

The power, indeed, with which the Christian is invested, is infinitely greater than that which was given to men before the advent of Jesus. He has been baptized “unto the Holy Ghost.” He has been regenerated and “born anew of water and of the Spirit.” His whole composition, in short, has been changed and renewed; by such means is he enabled to do things to which the Jew was altogether unequal, and for such a reason is he expected in his strength to do more than the Almighty thought proper to exact from the Jew in his weak

“ Unto whomsoever much is given, of him shall be much required : and to whom men have committed much, of him will they ask the more.”

Now, let us endeavour, bearing in mind the foregoing observations, to apply the words of our text properly and correctly to ourselves. The prophet Micah very justly rebuked the Jews for performing a few of the least essential and the least important of God's commands, at the same time that they systematically neglected many of the most important of these, to which the former were altogether preparatory and subservient. The persons with whom


the prophet remonstrated, however, after all that can be advanced against them, did more, nay, they did infinitely more than a vast number of Christians, men whose nature has been changed, to whom so much additional power has been given by the gracious and ready help of the Holy Spirit, and from whom much more is in consequence expected. Many are the particulars respecting our moral and religious duties which are recorded in the New Testament, as express injunctions of our Lord and Saviour: but I will ask, whether many persons do not satisfy themselves with the performance of a very insignificant portion of these? whether they do not consider the giving of a few pence in charity to their needy brother, or a lukewarm and perhaps an irregular attendance in the house of God, as a sufficient warranty for the neglect of all others, as a species of composition satisfactory to themselves and equally satisfactory to the God who is entitled to every thing that they possess, or that they have within their power? What, however, is to be objected to in the conduct of those to whom the prophet applied the words of our text, if a parsimonious charity and an unwilling attendance in the assembled congregation be sufficient to secure the approbation of the Almighty? The testimony of the prophet proves that they were in the habit of dedicating their possessions to the honour of God, and of worshipping him in his holy temple. " 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 ?” In acts of charity to their neighbours, or even their poorer relatives, we know indeed, on the testimony of our Lord, that his countrymen were most disgracefully backward. Yet must their numerous sacrifices have cost them infinitely more than the alms and the charitable donations of many of us here assembled. In truth, brethren, I do not hesitate to affirm, that in matters of a religious nature, that is, in respect of obedience to the commands of God which are recorded in the Holy Scriptures, many—very many who call themselves Christians, can allege little in favour of their conduct, more than that they come to church on the return of every Sabbath, and occasionally contribute an insignificant portion of what they possess to support a needy brother from sinking under the combined effects of poverty and disease. The Jews, however, I repeat, the identical objects of the prophet's reproof, did this indeed almost to excess; yet was their homage to the Lord altogether unacceptable, accompanied only by so qualified an obedience to his commands as the surrender of a certain portion of their time and their possessions. To suppose, that this would cancel the weightier and more numerous obligations, was absurd.

“ 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 ?” Be assured, brethren, that such a question can only receive for its answer, that the Almighty will not be satisfied with such offerings, vain and unavailable as they are when given alone. “Yet 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?”

In these concluding words of our text, therefore, we have conveyed to us a summary of our Christian duty. The obligations which they impose are of less limited extent when applied to the Jew, than they are when applied to the disciple of Christ. The debt of the Christian, in truth, is greater than that of the Jew, because, as a larger sum has been entrusted to his care, greater interest is of course expected. Consider, therefore, how awful and alarming must be your situation, if it should turn out that you pay less, when even more is required of

you. The yoke of external forms and ceremonies is indeed infinitely less under the Christian than it was under the Mosaic dispensation ; but if any thing is to be inferred from this, it is that the Christian has more time to devote to works of piety and charity, and in consequence he will be expected to submit himself to the influence of these with greater regularity and decision. But, alas! how many are there who endeavour to persuade themselves that the injunction of the prophet which we are now considering, is sufficiently and satisfactorily complied with by them. Were the question proposed to any individual here present, whether, in a general way at least, he did justly, and loved mercy,

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