Obrázky na stránke
PDF
ePub
[ocr errors]

he who in a matter of property, stands forward for another to swear what he knows to be untrue, is guilty of perjury: but no less so is he, who enticed or bribed him to commit it, And the family who partake of and consume the goods acquired by any member of it, using with their privity means that are unlawful, are all guilty of the sin of stealing them. Whoever sits in the seat of the scorner, whoever frequents the tables of those who are in the known habit of taking the name of God in vain, will certainly not stand clear of the offence, to which he lends an unreproving countenance, and a tacit acquiescence.

Fifthly.—Where any sin is forbidden, it is expected that we shall avoid all temptations and incentives to it: where a duty is commanded, it is expected that we study and make use of all the natural means, which may make its practice easy and habitual. What are called duties to ourselves, are among these means, and to this connection they owe much of their obligation ; for undoubtedly without self-government, without a due regulation of the heart and its affections, we should be perpetually liable to commit offences against God, and to yield readily to temptations to transgress against our neighbour. Thus drunkenness is a vice, not expressly in words forbidden in the decalogue; and yet it is evidently against the Spirit of the whole moral law,

putting to hazard and to casualty the observance of every part of it. There is no one vice to which a drunken man has not gone half-way, and if he does not complete the course, on him rests no part of the praise of forbearance.

The Sixth, and last observation I shall make is, that the violation of the Commandment does not depend on the act being accomplished which it forbids: the crime is in the intention, whether the external act follows or fails.

“ Out of the heart proceed evil thoughts."* Human laws can only take cognizance of overt acts, but he who knows the secrets of the heart judges by it and its counsels of what defiles the man. The purity of the Gospel morality identifies the very thought of the crime with the crime itself. The tenth Commandment is introduced, more strongly to fortify man against those injuries which some of the other Commandments had forbidden, by forbidding even the desire to commit them. Our Lord gives that Commandment universally, and incorporates in equal crime, the desire to break the Commandment and its actual violation. “ It has been said by them of old time thou shalt not commit adultery, but I say unto you,” says our Lord, " that whosoever looketh on a woman to lust after her, hath committed adultery with her,

* Matthew xiv. 19.

in his heart."* Who will say that the hired assassin will at the great tribunal, stand clear of the charge of murder, because by chance his victim did not pass through the street, in which he lay in wait to kill him?

These now are the Commandments given by the mouth of the Lord to his people, and explained to the Christian Church by the comments of its founder. Ye are, my beloved brethren, the Israel of God: the promise which was to Abraham through the righteousness of faith, is through faith in Christ Jesus yours also, my brethren. If ye are followers in the faith with faithful Abraham, so be ye also followers of him in his obedience. If

ye are the Israel of God, keep the Commandments which God hath given you.

" These words,” saith the Lord, “which I command thee this day, shall be in thine heart, and thou shalt teach them diligently unto thy children, and shalt talk of them, when thou sittest in thine house, and when thou walkest by the way, and when thou liest down, and when thou risest up.”+

Lord have mercy upon us, and write all these thy laws in our hearts we beseech thee.” * Matthew v.

+ Deuteronomy vi. 6, 7.

28.

SERMON XI.

ON THE COLLECT-EPISTLE AND GOSPEL,

THE NICENE CREED, &c.

JEREMIAH XXXVI. 8.

Reading in the book the words of the Lord in the Lord's house.

We enter now on that important office of our Church which comprises the Collect, Epistle, and Gospel, of the day. We here read portions of God's holy word specially selected for our edification, to which the Church prefixes a prayer, containing a supplication for the relief of some of our necessities, introduced by, and grounded on, some special praise of God's holy name. The whole office is suited to the occasion, marking out according to the divisions of the year in our Scriptural history, some one of the events of our Lord's life, or perhaps a testimonial to the acts or character of some of his Disciples. The portions of Scripture read relate to and delineate these : the Collect prefixed accords with these objects, and not unfrequently by its expressions intimates its analogy. Of the Collects it has been before observed, that they are almost all of one form : each contains one petition, and each recites a special attribute or act of the Deity, on which that petition rests its hope of success. They usually begin with an address to our heavenly Father, lauding his greatness or his goodness; calling to remembrance some of the marvels of his mighty acts, or the transcendent excellence of some of his adorable attributes : on these we beseech him to receive our supplications, and of his grace to give us that deliverance in peril, that support under temptation, that strength in our infirmity, that comfort in our adversity, which he alone can bestow. Each Collect concludes by virtually deprecating all self-sufficiency, all merit on our part, inasmuch as it represents us, as looking only to the merits of our gracious Redeemer, and by his intercession and for his sake alone, entertaining the hope of our prayers meeting acceptance. Thus in the Collect which begins by declaring, that God " by his never-failing Providence ordereth all things both in Heaven and Earth,” we beseech him “ to put away from us all hurtful things, and to give us those things which be profitable for us, through Jesus Christ our Lord."*

* Collect for the Eighth Sunday after Trinity.

« PredošláPokračovať »