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even in neglecting to make due inquiry and examination into the proofs that such a revelation has been made ? If he obstinately declines this investigation, and yet maintains his disbelief, what are his claims to candour or integrity? And if to this indifference to the truth, he adds the spirit of proselytism in disseminating his opinions, can the fruits of his labours be otherwise than most pernicious ?

What shall we say, again, of the orthodox formalist in religion, who wraps himself up in the conscious superiority of polemical skill, and is quick-sighted in discovering every flaw in the creed of others, but little heedful of those milder graces of the Christian character which diffuse its benefits far and wide, or perhaps of that personal vigilance and selfdiscipline, without which the most accurate and profound knowledge of the truth will be powerless as to any spiritual improvement, and bring no fruit to perfection ? Institute also the same inquiry respecting the most ardent promoter of what he deems evangelical truth, who, in his zeal for the glory of God and the riches of his grace, overlooks the practical consequences of his doctrine, and leads the ignorant and unwary to rely upon partial and imperfect views of this dispensation of mercy and truth, by resting on its promises only, to the neglect of its conditions. Will the fruits of such doctrine be good and praiseworthy, however strong the self-persuasion of their saving effect ?

The same application might be made of this test to almost every species of religious error ; to every one, at least, that puts to hazard doctrines of essential importance to the Christian character ; since there is no essential truth in Revelation which is purely speculative, none which is not immediately connected with practical duty. Even its most mysterious doctrines, so far as they are revealed to us, are productive of great moral consequences, by their influence on the heart and the affections, by their enlargement of the intellectual faculties, by the objects of contemplation they present to the mind, and by the insight they give us into the great purposes for which we were created, and the duties thence incumbent upon us towards God and man.

This inseparable connection between faith and practice, as it evidently forms the basis of our Lord's admonition in the text, so ought it ever to be kept in view as the main preservative against inculcating a dry, spiritless, heathenish kind of morality on the one hand,

66

and an intoxicating, fanatical, and presumptuous spirit on the other. Together with our Lord's maxim, we may take with us, whether in judging ourselves or others, St. Peter's comprehensive rule, “ Add to your

faith, virtue; and to virtue, knowledge ; “ and to knowledge, temperance; and to

temperance, patience; and to patience, god“ liness ; and to godliness, brotherly kind“ ness; and to brotherly kindness, charity. “ For if these things be in you, and abound, they make

you
that

ye

shall neither be bar“ ren nor unfruitful in the knowledge of our 66 Lord Jesus Christ." These are the fruits by which the true disciples of Christ are to be discerned. Ye shall know whether teachers are leading you in the way wherein ye should

go, by this conformity of their doctrine with the

pure word of God, and by their instructions to “ hold the faith in unity of “ spirit, in the bond of peace, and in right

eousness of life.” Ye shall know whether ye yourselves are in the way of salvation, by first “ examining yourselves whether ye be in “ the faith,” and next considering what effect that faith produces on your life and conversation. In these inquiries, no prejudices, no partialities must be suffered to warp

the judgment; since on the issue of them de

your

pends the everlasting welfare both of soul and body. Let not the ardour of faith supersede vigilance in practical duties ; neither let any conceit of self-righteousness, or vain reliance on human strength, lead to a disregard of those primary and fundamental truths of the Gospel, that Atonement through Christ, and that Sanctification through the Holy Spirit, without which not one of the fallen race of man can be assured of acceptance.

“ If we would judge ourselves,” says St. Paul, “ we should not be judged.” That we may be enabled so to do in an effective manner, let us go to the throne of Grace, and pray for help to Him who “giveth liberally, “and upbraideth not.”

Let us beseech him to “take from us all ignorance, hardness of “ heart, and contempt of his word;” and say, with the fervency of the devout Psalmist, Try me, O God, and search out the reins my

heart: look well if there be any way “ of wickedness in me; and lead me in the “ way everlasting.”

16 of

SERMON IX.

JOHN xx. 29.

Jesus saith unto him, Thomas, because thou hast

seen me, thou hast believed: blessed are they that have not seen, and yet have believed.

IT is no inconsiderable proof of the credibility of the Christian religion, that some of its first disciples and teachers had been slow in their belief of it, and had required more than ordinary means of conviction to remove their doubts and misapprehensions.

Notwithstanding they were daily witnesses of such wonders as might be expected to overwhelm ordinary minds, and to subdue even the most stubborn; yet do we find the Apostles themselves not unfrequently interposing questions and surmises which indicated something of a wavering disposition ; and calling for additional signs and tokens, when more than might reasonably be demanded had already been vouchsafed.

It is no less a proof of the veracity of the Sacred Writers, that they have not been

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