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duty upon every man, yet the kind, the examples of it must be guided in a great degree by each man's faculties, opportunities, and by the occasions, which present themselves. If such an occasion, as that which the text describes, present itself, it cannot be overlooked without an abandonment of religion: but if other and different occasions of doing good present themselves, they also, according to the spirit of our apostle's declaration, must be attended to, or we are wanting in the fruit of the same faith. The second principal expression of the text, "to keep himself unspotted from the world," signifies the being clean and clear from the licentious practices, to which the world is addicted. So that "pure religion and undefiled before God and the Father," consists in two things; beneficence and purity: doing good and keeping clear from sin; not in one thing, but in two things; not in one without the other, but in both; and this, in my opinion, is a great lesson and a most important doctrine.

I shall not, at present, consider the case of those, who are anxious, and effectually so, to maintain their personal innocency without endeavouring to do good to others; because I really believe it is not a common case. I think that the religious principle, which is able to make men confine their passions and desires within the bounds of virtue, with very few exceptions, strong enough at the same time to prompt and put them upon active exertions.

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Therefore, I would rather apply myself to that part of the case, which is more common, active exertions of benevolence, accompanied with looseness of private morals. It is a very common character: but I say, in the first place, it is an inconsistent character: it is doing and undoing: killing and curing: doing good by our charity, and mischief by our licentiousness: voluntarily relieving misery with one hand, and voluntarily producing and spreading it with the other. No real advance is made in human happiness by this contradiction; no real betterness or improvement promoted.

But then, may not the harm a man does by his personal vices, be much less than the good he does` by his active virtues? This is a point, in which there is large room for delusion and mistake. Positive charity and acts of humanity are often of a conspicuous nature, naturally and deservedly engaging the praises of mankind, which are followed by our own. No one does, no one ought to speak against them, or attempt to disparage them; but the effect of vice and licentiousness, not only in their immediate consequences, but in their remote and ultimate tendencies, which ought all to be included in the account, the mischief which is done by the example, as well as by the act, is seldom honestly computed by the sinner himself. But I do not dwell further upon this comparison, because I insist, that no man has a right to make it; no man has a right, whilst he is doing occasional good, and yet indulging his vices and his passions, to strike a ba

lance, as it were, between the good and the harm. This is not christianity; this is not pure and undefiled religion before God and the Father, let the balance lie on which side it will; for our text declares, (and our text declares no more than what the scriptures testify from one end to the other,) that religion demands both. It demands active virtue, and it demands innocency of life. I mean it demands sincere and vigorous. endeavours in the pursuit of active virtue, and endeavours equally sincere and firm in the preservation of personal innocence. It makes no calculation which is better, but it requires both.

Shall it be extraordinary, that there should be men forward in active charity and in positive beneficence, who yet put little or no constraint upon their personal vices? I have said that the character is common, and I will tell you why it is common. The reason is, (and there is no other reason,) that it is usually an easier thing to perform acts of beneficence, even of expensive and troublesome beneficence, than it is to command and control our passions; to give up and discard our vices; to burst the bonds of the habits, which enslave us. This is the very truth of the case: so that the matter comes precisely to this point. Men of active benevolence, but of loose morals, are men, who are for performing the duties, which are easy to them, and omitting those which are hard. They only place their own character to themselves in what view they please: but this is the truth of the case, and let any one say, whether this be religion; whether this be suf

ficient. The truly religious man, when he has once decided a thing to be a duty, has no further question to ask; whether it be easy to be done, or whether it be hard to be done, it is equally a duty; it then becomes a question of fortitude, of resolution, of firmness, of self-command, and self-government; but not of duty or obligation; these are already decided upon.

But least of all, (and this is the inference from the text, which I wish most to press upon your attention,) least of all does he conceive the hope of reaching heaven by that sort of compromise, which would make easy, nay perhaps, pleasant duties, an excuse for duties, which are irksome and severe. To recur, for the last time, to the instance mentioned in our text, I can very well believe, that a man of humane temper shall have pleasure in visiting, when by visiting he can succour the fatherless and the widow in their affliction: but if he believes St. James, he will find that this must be joined to and accompanied with another thing, which is neither easy nor pleasant; nay, must always almost be effected with pain and struggle, and mortification and difficulty, the "keeping himself unspotted from the world."




HEBREWS, xiii. 8.

"Jesus Christ the same yesterday, to-day, and for


THE assertion of the text might be supported by the consideration, that the mission and preaching of Christ have lost nothing of their truth and importance by the lapse of ages, which has taken place since his appearance in the world. If they seem of less magnitude, reality, and concern to us at this present 'day, than they did to those who lived in the days in which they were carried on, it is only in the same manner as a mountain or a tower appears to be less, when seen at a distance. It is a delusion in both cases. In natural objects we have commonly strength enough of judgment to prevent our being imposed upon by these false appearances; and it is not so much a want or defect of, as it is a neglecting to exert and use, our judgment, if we suffer ourselves to be deceived by them in religion.-Distance of space in one case, and distance of time in the other, make no difference in the real na

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