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exactly the declarations of the prophet and the Redeemer harmonize with each other in respect of the unfeeling exactions and impositions of those who professed to praise and obey the God of Israel. Attend to the exclamation of the prophet, which he addressed to those of his age and country who were in power and authority. Hear, I pray you, O heads of Jacob, and ye princes of the house of Israel! Is it not for you to know judgment? Who hate the good, and love the evil; who pluck off their skin from off them, and their flesh from off their bones; who also eat the flesh of my people, and flay their skin from off them; and they break their bones, and chop them in pieces, as for the pot, and as flesh within the caldron. Then shall they cry unto the Lord, but he will not hear them: he will even hide his face from them at that time, as they have behaved themselves ill in their doings." The exclamation of our Lord, which may be considered an almost exact parallel of the preceding, is the following, which will be easily recognized by the most ordinary reader of the New Testament. "Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye devour widows' houses, and for a pretence make long prayers; therefore ye shall receive the greater damnation."
It is therefore most evident, that injustice, oppression, and wrong, in respect of their fellowcreatures, and most inexcusable neglect and disobedience in respect of their duty to God, were the prevailing crimes among the descendants of the
twelve tribes, for a period of at least seven or eight hundred years. This, I mean, is a fact which is rendered most clear and indisputable by a comparison of the respective addresses and exhortations of the prophet Micah and of Jesus Christ. If we go back, however, into the history of this nation beyond the life of the former of these, we shall find that the charge which applies to the children will, in scarcely an inferior degree, apply to their fathers. Nay, more than this, if we direct our attention, not to the Jews alone of this or of that period, not to one or more nations or communities as distinct in this respect from the rest of our fellow creatures, but to the inhabitants of the entire world, and of every age of the world, we shall find that all have been most sadly wanting,-all most grossly and unpardonably criminal, precisely in the same respect as were the Jews who lived during the period to which we have before alluded. Many, indeed, it is to be hoped, are the exceptions to this rule, which, in the best of cases, is of by far too general a nature; for wherever we look, in whatever direction we turn our eyes, we shall most assuredly perceive that obligations of small moment are attended to, by those who do not hesitate to disregard duties the most decided and of the most vital importance, and such as are enjoined as a necessary and indispensable condition of our salvation and happiness hereafter.
Enougli, brethren, must have been said to convince you, that my chief object in selecting the
words of the text as a subject for our present meditations, has been to ascertain whether the rebuke which the prophet Micah applied to the Jews, might with equal, or perhaps with less propriety be applied to any of us. Were a question of this nature to be proposed to me, my answer would be, that many of us here assembled are quite as culpable as were those who were the primary objects of the prophet's reproof; and on the other hand, that small are they in number whose irregularity and neglect in the performance of God's commands, would not in some, though it may be a smaller degree, merit a similar censure.
The whole duty of a Christian is undoubtedly summed up in the concluding words of our text. The particulars of this duty are of course to be found enumerated with a greater degree of nicety and precision in the New Testament of our Lord and Saviour, Jesus Christ, than in that portion of the revealed word which comprehends the writings of Moses and the prophets. The reason of this is, that the Almighty, in his unbounded condescension and mercy, did not exact from his creatures the whole of the moral duties at once. Owing to the transgression and fall of our first parents, man became sadly degenerate and corrupt. In comparison with the perfect goodness of God, in comparison even with his own previous state of purity and innocence, "his heart," to adopt the language of the Psalmist, "became deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked." It was under the influ
ence of an ungodly spirit of jealousy and ill-will, which had been imparted to him by the archdeceiver, Satan, as a necessary consequence of his disobedience to the divine will, that Cain, the firstborn of our race, was prompted to destroy his brother Abel. It is clear, therefore, that man's nature became changed; from having been pure and perfect, it became impure and imperfect; it became loathsome and abominable in the sight of Him whose eyes were too pure to behold iniquity. Nor, indeed, did the human species become improved as they advanced in age and experience. On the contrary, the more remote were the branches from the parent stalk, which, at least, had been at one time perfect, that is, the more distant were the lives of men from that of their forefather Adam, who had both seen and conversed with the Almighty before he had foolishly disobeyed his command, the more disobedient and corrupt does he seem to have become; so that in the time of the patriarch Noah, God saw the impossibility of reclaiming mankind from their state of wickedness and sin! One only and dreadful alternative remained, which was to destroy them from off the face of the earth, which they had polluted and disgraced. Noah and his family, however, were different from the rest of their species, and on account of their comparative goodness were saved from the universal destruction, and from them a new race proceeded; still did the same degeneracy ensue. The descendants of Noah, like those of Adam, seem to have advanced in
sin in the same ratio as their lives were nearer to or more remote from that of their ancestor who had escaped the deluge. Abraham, therefore, was selected as a superior mortal, as the father of another race, in order that, among the whole of his creatures, a small and insignificant portion at least might continue their allegiance to Jehovah, and acknowledge Him as their Creator and Preserver. Again, however, did the influence of Satan increase and prevail; an influence which had never been destroyed, though, in some few cases, as we have seen, it had been by no means ineffectually resisted by the personal character of the individual, aided by the superintending power which it is evident that God has never withdrawn from any of his creatures, until their own wilful and unnecessary wickedness has rendered them undeserving of its continuance. The race, therefore, which were descended from Abraham increased in sin and in forgetfulness of God, in the same measure as did the descendants of Adam and of Noah ; that is, the more remote was the age in which they lived from that of their peculiar ancestor, whose personal righteousness had procured him many -terviews with, and an accurate knowledge of God, the more extensive and irresistible did their wickedness appear. Great as must have been the reputation for righteousness of Isaac and Jacob, still must they be admitted as inferior to that of their father Abraham. However this may be, like a foul leprosy, like an hereditary disease which had passed