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The Pharisees, indeed, carried their vanity very far. “When thou doest alms," says our SAVIOUR, "do not sound a trumpet before thee as the hypocrites," (or Pharisees) "do" that is, do not proclaim, as it were by sound of trumpet, thine own almsgiving, or other good deeds. Do not publish thine own praises. The vanity of the Pharisees was gross; but all vanity is forbidden. The good breeding of modern times usually restrains even those who are vain at heart, from extolling themselves; and yet it leaves to them a thousand indirect means of self-exaltation. Indeed, vanity itself sometimes renders men proficients in the art of seeming to lay aside their vanity; for it is a polite and creditable art: and therefore, although the well-bred person of modern days may seem far removed from the sin of the Pharisees, although he may not sound a trumpet before him as they did, yet he may be as vain as a Pharisee in his heart. But let us each examine ourselves strictly on this general subject. Are we prompted to perform those good things which we do, chiefly by the desire of appearing well before men? Do we love, not so much to do right, as to be thought to do right? Ask yourselves this question: "Supposing all my acquaintance to recommend something which I know to be wrong, should I dare to act against their judgment? And supposing them all to frown upon me for doing right, should I proceed to do it?" If your conscience cannot give a reply, which is in any degree satisfactory, then you, like the Pharisee, are under the dominion of the love of praise. Men in general are enslaved by this principle. Witness the endeavours which they use to conform their conduct to public opinion; witness their own acknowledgment that their leading motive is a regard to character; witness their attention to external acts of virtue, and their inattention to secret and self-denying duties; witness their dread of being thought singular. There is, indeed, an extreme of vice into which they rarely fall. But is not Christian virtue practised almost as rarely? Is not true holiness almost as much


avoided as gross sin? And for the same reason; both are discreditable. It is discreditable to be very profligate, to lie, or to steal. It is also discreditable in this age to be accounted stricter than others in religion; and therefore, men choose to be neither in one extreme, as they call it, nor in the other; that is, neither to practise Christian virtue, nor to yield themselves up to notorious vice. Regard to character is the motive to all that middling kind of virtue which most abounds and since regard to character is the motive, since all is done in order to be seen of men, they shall have no reward from their Father which is in heaven. These persons are not in favour with God; these are not the true Christians. We must look to persons who are aiming at a higher virtue, at a virtue to which love of reputation will not carry them, in order to find even the existence of true Christian grace. Alas! how inany decent and respectable persons would find themselves unchristianized if they would attend to this one considera


But let our attention be turned chiefly to ourselves. And does our imagination never present to us the idea of some admiring friend or group of friends, whose expected praise is the incentive to the diligence which we are using, to the self-denial which we are practising, and to the honourable deeds which we are performing? Is our mind apt to ruminate on the complimentary things likely to be said to us, by this or the other man? Is it a very mortifying thing to us, to be disappointed of some expected praise, and a bitter thing to be blamed ? Does our heart sink at the thought of having to face unpopularity and reproach ?— On what principle do we choose our friends and acquaintance? Do we cultivate familiarity chiefly with those who gratify our vanity, with those who flatter our persons, admire our wit, judge highly of our talents, respect our judgment, and approve our sayings? and on the contrary, do we dislike those, however amiable and excellent, who perceive our faults, who are too conscientious to flatter us

as others do; or whose manifest superiority is a disadvantage to us?

Some there are even in this age who exhibit the coarsest vanity; who speak continually of themselves; who recount the things which they have done; and announce what they intend to do. These may almost literally be said to sound a trumpet before them as the Pharisees did. They certainly do not take care not to let their left hand know what their right hand doeth. But let us rather inquire whether we are not circuitously and indirectly seeking our own praise. Some endeavour to reflect honour on themselves by speaking highly of personages with whom they are intimate. Some, in short, seek a reputation for humility by the modest things which they say; some, the praise of candour, by the liberal things which they say; some, a name for kindness, by the soft things which they say; some, a character for judgment, by the prudent things which they say. The love of praise, it is to be feared, is the mainspring of common conversation; and they, who have never examined their hearts, are little aware how strong is this principle within them. It dictates to many men almost every thing which they either speak, or think, or do. The Pharisees therefore were not singular. They sought praise in one manner; we, in another they by alms and ostentatious prayers; we, perhaps by our whole conversation and conduct. Let us be fearful of this principle; which is often the greatest foe to true virtue, though it is the chief prop of that virtue which is false





And when thou prayest, thou shalt not be as the hypocrites are: for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and in the corners of the streets, that they may be seen of men. Verily I say unto you, they have their reward. But thou, when thou prayest, enter into thy closet, and when thou hast shut thy door, pray to thy Father which is in secret; and thy Father which seeth in secret shall reward thee openly.

But when ye pray, use not vain repetitions, as the heathen do for they

think that they shall be heard for their much speaking.

Be not ye therefore like unto them: for your Father knoweth what things ye have need of, before ye ask him.

RELIGION in one view of it, is a secret thing. It consists in a secret converse between the invisible GoD and the soul. Our SAVIOUR taught that it consisted not in the parading prayer of the Pharisees, in the magnificence of the worship of the temple, or in the vain repetitions of the heathen. Our pious reformers, in like manner, affirmed that it consisted not in the solemnities of the mass; in the grandeur of churches; or in the vain repetition of the Latin prayers of the papists. Again, religion at this day, consists not in the mere forms, however decent, of our established worship; in the regularity of our attendance at church; in the careful articulation of our responses; nor in any outward forms of religion. And I will add, that Christianity consists not in the mere extemporaneousness of prayer, ncz in modes of worship peculiar to any dissenting congregation. Religion consists not in being frequent at public worship, and seldom engaged in secret prayer at home "But CHRIST warns us agains. such suppositions as this. thou," says He," when thou prayest, enter into thy closet, and when thou hast shut thy door, pray unto thy Father

which is in secret; and thy Father which seeth in secret shall reward thee openly."

The religion of many persons is merely outward. They do almost every thing, even in religion, to be seen of men They suit their religious conduct to the religious taste of the present time, just as the Pharisees accommodated their conduct to the more devout taste of the people of their day Secret prayer is the great test of a Christian. There is something in public prayer, as well as in social prayer, which may serve to amuse the mind, to gratify the ear, and to draw the attendance even of an irreligious person; but in secret prayer, when no eye is upon us, but that of Gon, we have a far better proof of the internal piety of the heart. "Verily," says our SAVIOUR, in reference to the Pharisees, they have their reward." As the Pharisee had his reward for the ostentatious prayers which he put up,-in the estimation which he obtained; so now, the decent attender on the public worship of God has some temporal recompense for his attendance. He is rewarded, if he be a servant, for the regularity of his church-going, by his master's approbation of this act of obedience. He is rewarded, if a master, by the respect and good opinion of his graver acquaintance; he is rewarded, if a father, by the more decent and dutiful behaviour of the children who accompany him to the place of his customary worship. Perhaps, he is also paid by the self-complacency which he feels in having performed, as he conceives, his religious duty; he is paid by the thought, that, because he has rendered to GOD the homage of his public prayers, he shall be received into heaven. "Verily," however, says our SAVIOUR, "they have their reward." Such persons have their reward in this world; they shall not have it in the world to come. They have their whole recompense now; there remains no further blessing for them from GoD in a future life. They were decent at public worship; and they have had the temporal advantages of this their decency. They meant to set an example to children and servants; and those

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