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- The people
imputing unto men their trespasses. that walked in darkness have seen a great light; they that dwell in the land of the shadow of death, upon them hath the light shined." Wherever the revelation from heaven goes, may we address the favoured inhabitants—“ Arise, shine, for your light is come, and the glory of the Lord is risen upon you.”
In the third place, we learn from this subject, that if idolaters were inexcusable under the light of nature, much more inexcusable are idolaters under the light of the Gospel.
And yet, as early as the fifth and sixth centuries were efforts made to revive and reestablish the idolatrous system. I need not speak of the attempts of the Emperor Julian, who had been educated in the christian religion, but who afterwards apostatized from it, and who employed his learning, his talents, his artifices, and his power, for suppressing the doctrine of Christ, and re-establishing the ancient idolatry. Nor need I say, that in the beginning of the eighth century the Pope of Rome ordained by law that idolatrous worship should be offered throughout the papal dominions. Hence the bloody and continued persecutions which assailed those who refused to acknowledge a system which is as much opposed to the light of nature, as it is to the light of the Gospel. Hence the difficulties, the cruelties, the imprisonment and death, which the reformers from popery had to encounter all over Europe, and in no country more violently than in our native land. Often in cold, and
, in multiplied necessities and distresses, did they meet on the sides of the mountains, and under the vault of heaven, to hear the word of God, and to convey
to their posterity the heritage of God's testimonies. Through tears, and at the expense of their blood, that heritage has reached us, and we enjoy the blessedness of the people who know the joyful sound. Let us value our inestimable privileges, and not yield to an idolatrous and antichristian church that has fundamentally departed from the doctrines of the Prophets and the Apostles
that has blasphemously assumed to itself the prerogatives of God, -that still places itself in direct and avowed opposition to the light and the circulation of the gospel,--and that inculcates, with all its might and its authority, the worship of images. Let us keep ourselves from idols, and thus shew our gratitude to God, and to the great and good men, on the fruits of whose labours and sufferings we have entered. “Stand fast in the liberty wherewith Christ has made you free, and be no more entangled with the yoke of bondage.” Let us give the supreme love of our hearts, our worship, and obedience, to the God and the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, through whose tender mercy the “ day-spring from on high hath visited us, to give light to them that sit in darkness and in the shadow of death, and to guide our feet into the way of peace.”
The duty which is by implication enjoined in the third commandment, is the reverence of God; and the sin prohibited is the opposite of this duty,-impiety, and profaneness. The exercise of reverence of the divine character and perfections is essentially connected with the love of God. It is awakened in the mind by the contemplation of the attributes and works of the Almighty. Humility is its kindred affection, and is produced by a just estimate of ourselves, of our condition and attainments. We shall, therefore, proceed to a consideration of the nature of humility, which may be placed among the duties we owe to God, since without it there can be no true reverence of his character.
Humility is a relative term, and implies a comparison of ourselves with objects above us. It proceeds from a just estimate of our own condition and character as dependent, weak, and sinful creatures. Does pride become the highest created being, who depends every moment on Him whose nature and perfections are infinitely removed from him? Far less does it become man, whose foundation is in the dust, whose path, though it should conduct him to wealth, and rank, and honour, speedily terminates in the grave. What is he in relation to God? A sinner, a rebel against the authority of heaven, against whom the sentence is
passed, “Dust thou art, and unto dust thou shalt return:” so that he may say to corruption, “ Thou art my father; and to the worm, Thou art my mother and
When we consider the character, condition, and attainments of men, we see much ground for lowliness of mind, but none for pride. Are we not entirely dependent upon God and upon one another for the blessings and enjoyments of human life? What elevation of rank, what accumulation of property, can exempt men from a dependence, for much of their daily comfort, on their fellow-creatures ? Or, are our attainments in knowledge and virtue such as should inspire us with self-gratulation? How deplorable has been the condition of mankind in all ages, when destitute of the light of revelation ! How profound has been their ignorance concerning things the most necessary, and things the most awfully important! They have lived without God, worshipped the host of heaven, have deified their fellow-creatures, and even the most loathsome reptiles: and even where the light of truth shines, how reluctant are human beings to admit it, and to put off the works of darkness, and to walk as children of light! They are most sinful and rebellious in regard to God, they are often deceitful, slanderous, envious, and oppressive in regard to one another, and they are, in regard to themselves, foolish, enslaved, and miserable. The termination of this career of folly and guilt, in so far as this world is concerned, is
Surely, then, the man who takes a just view of his character and condition ;-of his character as a violator
of the law of God, and as meriting his displeasure, as prone to error and to sin, and, therefore, to the neglect of the means of his true happiness; and of his condition in all its relations to God, to his fellowcreatures, to eternity, and to himself, must feel his own unworthiness and nothingness, and, consequently, must be humble. When he looks to the purity of that God whose love should regulate every feeling of his heart, and to the extent and the authority of that law of which he is the subject, and compares with this the tenor of his thoughts and of his life, can any other feeling arise in his heart than that of the man,
who, standing afar off, would not lift up so much as his eyes to heaven, but smote upon his breast, saying, God be merciful to me a sinner!"
The arrogance which leads a being who depends every moment for his health, his reason, his comfort, his existence, on the will of another, and who can by no artifices clear himself, even to his own satisfaction, from the charge of sin, to say to his fellow-creatures, “ Stand by, for I am holier than thou,” is, indeed, founded on extreme ignorance, as it is on presumption. This arrogance, which is so natural to man, and which he is so apt to cherish from the most trifling circumstances,-circumstances which distinguish him from those who are lower than himself, not in moral worth, but in external rank and situation in society ; is reprehended in language of peculiar severity by our Lord, and represented as forming a barrier to an entrance into the kingdom of heaven.
Christian humility is recommended to us by many considerations,—by its being pleasing to God,-by