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“he that will carry us to old age, and even to hoar hairs :” (Isai. xlvi. 4:) in prosperity; by the wise man not glorying in his wisdom, nor the mighty man in his might, nor the rich man in his riches; but every one of them “in this, (as God says) that he understandeth and knoweth me; that I am the Lord which exercise lovingkindness, judgment, and righteousness in the earth : for in these things I delight saith the Lord :” (Jer. ix. 23, 24 :) in adversity; thinking with Job, “Though he slay me, yet will I trust in him ;” (Job xiii. 15;) and with David, “Our heart is not turned back, neither our steps gone out of thy way; no, not when thou hast smitten us into the place of dragons, and covered us with the shadow of death ;” (Ps. xliv. 19, 20;) and with another holy man, “Although the fig-tree shall not blossom, neither shall fruit be in the vines; the labour of the olive shall fail, and the fields shall yield no ineat; the flock shall be cut off from the fold, and there shall be no herd in the stalls: yet I will rejoice in the Lord, I will joy in the God of my salvation.” (Hab. iii. 17, 18.) But the most intimate and substantial enjoyment of God that we can have to cheer us through our earthly pilgrimage under all circumstances, is found in the perception and practice of his commandments: these are the songs that he gives us continually; making us wiser than our enemies, our teachers, and even our elders : (Ps. cxix. 98, 99, 100.) as David signified.—“Thy statutes (says he) have been my songs in the house of my pilgrimage. I HAVE THOUGHT UPON THY NAME, O LORD, IN THE NIGHT SEASON: AND HAVE KEPT THY LAW.” (Ib. 54, 55.)
Without this practical knowledge of God, the “rejoicing in spirit” might evaporate like empty perfume, and leave its enjoyer in the state of a mere ascetic or religious dotard; but by that it is fixed and substantiated: when ye “are doers of the Word, and not hearers only, deceiving your own selves." (Jam. i. 22.) For we cannot enjoy God without knowing somewhat, or having
some definite idea of him: “And hereby we do know that we know him, IÉ WE KEEP HIS COMMANDMENTS.” (John I. ii. 3.)
One might dwell on this delightful theme for ever; and description still fall short of the real reward of a sincere pursuit, a faithful knowledge, and hearty enjoyment of that one Object, of all that we can conceive the wisest, worthiest, best. “ For since the beginning of the world, men have not heard, nor perceived by the ear, neither hath the eye seen, O God, beside thee, what he hath prepared for him that waiteth for him. Thou meetest him that rejoiceth and worketh righteousness, those that remember thee in thy ways. Behold, thou art wroth; for we have sinned: but in these is continuance; and we shall be saved.” (Isai. Ixiv. 4, 5.)
At the last hour, on the closing of our enjoyments for this life, and their total dispersion-"yea, even like as a dream when one awaketh,” (Ps. lxxiii. 19,) may we enjoy God in an assured hope of salvation by his mercy; and may that blessed Object of our dearest enjoyment in this life continue still, as we expect, a source of increasing delight to us in the next, and through all the life to come, in the name of Father, Son, and Holy Ghost!
THE GENERAL AND PARTICULAR
ESTIMATION OF MANKIND *.
“ Honour all men : love the brotherhood.”
PET. I. ii. 17.
Men are so connected among themselves in the present stage of their existence by the different ties of consanguinity, principle and interest, that generally speaking, as St. Paul says, “ No man liveth to himself, and no man dieth to himself, but whether we live, we live unto the Lord; and whether we die, we die unto the Lord;” (Rom. xiv. 7,8;) so we may say, that no man liveth or dieth to himself entirely, but partly to other men: we can hardly find one but may be of some relative importance either in life or death. The life of one man may be but as a drop in the full bucket, and his death but as a drop taken from it-in an universal relation: but in a particular relation, as one of a family, sect, or party, his life and death may be a greater object. Hence there appear two different rates or degrees of Estimation owing to mankind, the general and particular, and in which we are all liable to be regarded, and to regard each other, when we be not too much engrossed with a pitiful regard for ourselves. These two rates or degrees are naturally deduced from my text, and also form, I conceive, an appropriate subject for my present audience, and for the occasion of their anniversary meeting
* A Club Sermon.
For I must be allowed to consider this as a meeting of persons who are unanimous in its professed purpose, however they may differ on other points : that purpose being to offer together a common tribute of gratitude to the Creator for his goodness and mercy to all his creatures, to their own species more particularly; and herein again, first to the parties and individuals to whom they are nearly related, and lastly to themselves. A FRIENDLY SOCIETY must not be supposed to make this distinction with an unfriendly view towards any objects, but with a view to freshen their love and esteem for all in the various degrees of proximity,—especially in the two main degrees before mentioned; and to cement a brotherly feeling in the bond of gratitude and devotion which they owe to their common parent, as it is written—“ perfecting holiness in the fear of God.” (Cor. II. vii. 1.) In this view therefore I shall be happy to assist them by a discourse on the two forementioned rates or degrees of personal estimation or regard, the general and the particular ; deducing the same from my text,
“ Honour all men : love the brotherhood." But first I should observe to you in order to prevent misconception of the latitude and relative importance of these two expressions, Honouring and Loving, that each of them is here to be taken in a limited and peculiar sense; as, judging from the text, it might otherwise seem to be meant that honouring was an easier part than loving throughout; which we know it is not, and may so be proved by a distinct consideration of either part. Therefore I shall now endeavour 1, to explain the doctrine ; and 2, to review the practice, as we find it,
1, of honouring all men;
2, of loving the brotherhood. § 1. To explain the Doctrine and the peculiarity of ex. pression just alluded to in either part according to the probable meaning of the venerable author in my text, our easiest way will be to consider 1, the Object; 2, the Matter; 3, the Qualification proper to each successively ; as for example,
1. First in honouring all men: where 1, All men are the Object; 2, honouring is the Matter of the duty or accident; and 3, an excellent gift, its proper Qualification.
1, By all men therefore we are not to understand Every man; but men generally, or as one should say, Mankind; the being or essence of man; man in the abstract without any reference to family, sect, party, or any other distinction, that of character not excepted. For All men is a common person ; Every man a distinct person, though not proper or peculiar. All men have no natural distinction, nor moral either; being made up, not only of the same essential, but also of the same characteristic constituents, - likewise invested with the same incidentals or circumstances, and so far one, which Every man is not. For every man will have his proper constitution both natural and moral, as well as his proper circumstances; as the apostle says, “ Every man hath his proper gift of God; one after this manner and another after that:" (Cor. I. vii. 7:) where. by he becomes a distinct person ; and consequently, a distinct object to all men, either for love or aversion-for honour or contempt. And therefore while we honour all men as we ought; we must be allowed at the same time, to look upon every man differently according to “ his proper gift;" and not only to honour him, if he deserve it; but to honour him also in proportion to his desert, as far as the same may be perceived.
2, For our accommodation or convenience in this respect, there are in the Matter of honour two kinds, and many degrees to each : which I shall review in succession, that I may shew, if I am allowed, what sort of honour is due to all men, or how all men ought to be honoured ; the said two kinds being 1, external ; 2, internal.
-1, Of these the first, or external, honour, reaches only to outward demonstrations, such as are used in salutation and other civilities usually understood by the term POLITENESS, among ourselves; though there be no such word in Scripture. And this being the lowest, or cheapest kind of honour, is conceded to all men without hesitation; though even this kind, poor as it may seem, be not allowed to EVERY man; as every man does not deserve to be so honoured, whether on account of his personal demerit, or on account of his not honouring All men as he should.
There are those who do not honour their own species, any more than they honour their own dogs, if they do so much. Such men cannot deserve even an external reverence : they should not so much as be bowed to. For of course if they do not honour their fellow men whom they have seen, they cannot honour the divine Being whom they have not seen; (John I. iv. 20;) and who consequently will not honour them with any of his superior gifts; as he says, “Them that honour me I will honour, and they that despise me shall be lightly esteemed." (Sam. I. ii. 30.) There are numbers who only honour Mammon: and who among the more enlightened would ever honour one of these poor