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ence.

would have no worth, or rather 110 exist

If we be temperate and chaste, then self-government being the hardest of all duties, is the surest test of obedience. Now

every one of these propositions is true ; but the misfortune is, that only one of them is thought of at the time, and that the one which favors our own particular case and character. The comparison of different virtues, as to their price and value, may give occasion to many nice questions; and some rules might be laid down upon the subject; but I contend, that the practice itself is useless, and not only useless, but delusive. Let us leave, as I have already said, our virtues to themselves, not engaging our minds in appreciating either their intrinsic or comparative value; being assured that they will be weighed in unerring scales. Our business is with our sins.

Again, the habit of contemplating our spiritual acquirements, our religious, or moral excellencies, has, very usually, and, I think, almost unavoidably, an unfarourable effect upon

Our

A man

our disposition towards other men. who is continually computing his riches, almost in spite of himself, grows proud of his wealth. A man, who accustoms himself to read, and enquire, and think a great deal about his family, becomes vain of his extraction. He can hardly help becoming so. A man, who has his titles sounding in his ears, or his state much before his eyes, is lifted up by his rank. These are effects, which every one observes; and no inconsiderable degree of the same effect springs from the habit of meditating upon our virtues. Now humble-mindedness is a christian duty, if there be one. It is more than a duty; it is a principle. It is a principle of the religion ; and its influence is exceedingly great, not only upon our religious, but our social character. They, who are truly humble-minded, have no quarrels, give no offence, contend with no one in wrath and bitterness : still more impossible is it for them to insult any man, under any circumstances.

But the way to be humble-minded is the way I am pointing out, viz. to think less of our virBb 2

tues,

tues, and more of our sins. In reading the parable of the Pharisee and the Publican, if we could suppose them to be real characters, I should

say of them, that the one had just come from ruminating upon his virtues, the other from meditating upon his sins. And mark the difference; first, in their behaviour: next, in their acceptance with God. The Pharisee is all loftiness, and contemptuousness, and recital, and comparison; full of ideas of merit; views the poor Publican, although withdrawn to a distance from him, with eyes of scorn.

The Publican, on the contrary, enters not into competition with the Pharisee, or with any one. So far from looking round, he durst not so much as lift up his eyes; but casts himself, hardly indeed presumes to cast himself, not upon the justice, but wholly and solely upon the mercies of his Maker; “God be nerciful to me a sinner."

We know the juugnent which our Lord himself pronounced upon the case, “I tell you, this man went down to his house justified rather than the other," Luke xviii. 14. The more therefore we are like the Publican, and the less we are like the Pharisee, the more we come up to the genuine temper of Christ's religion.

Think then less of your virtues; more of your sins. Do I hear any one answer, I have no sins to think upon; I have no crimes, which

;

, lie upon my conscience? I reply, that this

may be true with respect to some, nay, with respect to many persons, according to the idea we cummonly annex to the words, sins and crimes; meaning thereby acts of gross and external wickedness. But think further: enlarge your views. Is your obedience to the law of God what it ought to be, or what it might be? The first commandment of that law is,

“ thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, with all thy mind, and with all thy strength.” Is there, upon the subject of this con mandment, no matter for thought, no room for amendment ? The second commandment is, “ thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself.” Is all with us, as it should be, here? Again, there is a spirituality in the commands of

Christ's

Christ's religion, which will cause the man, who obeys them truly, not only to govern his actions, but his words; not only his words, but his inclinations, and his dispositions, his internal habits, as well as external life. “ Ye have heard that it hath been said of old time, Thou shalt not commit adultery: But I say unto you He that looketh on a woman to lust after her;". that is, he who voluntarily indulges, and entertains in his mind an unlawful desire, “ hath committed adultery with her already in luis heart,” is, by the very entertainment of such ideas, instead of striving honestly and resolutely to banish them from his mind, or to take his mind off from them, à sinner in the sight of God. Much the same kind of exposition belongs to the other commandments; not only is murder forbidden, but all unreasonable, intemperate anger and passion; not only stealing but all hard and unfair conduct, either in transacting business with those, who are upon a level with us, or, where it is more to be feared, towards those, who are in cur power. And do not these points open to us a field of inquiry,

how

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