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When such vast consequences depend upon the choice we make in life, it is certainly our first concern to examine the condition of our souls, that we may recover ourselves, if we are in a state of wrath, or that we may advance ourselves, if we are in a state of grace. If
upon a steady search into our own hearts and a strict review of our own lives we have reason to fear that we are the Children of the Wicked, it is incumbent on us, as we would escape the wrath to come, to resort to the throne of grace for pardon through the merits of our blessed Lord, to repent of our sins without delay, to devote ourselves to God and goodness, and to redeem the time so long misspent in sin by a double diligence in the service of the Lord.
If on the other hand we have room to hope that we are the Children of the Kingdom, it is equally incumbent on us, as we would ensure and increase our reward in heaven, that we implore of God a continuance of his grace to support us in the better way, that sustained by his gracious aid we persevere therein
with all diligence and patience, and that serm. we labour to conform ourselves to the likeness of God in every branch of imitable virtue.
As the instruction which the parable conveys is Relative, we may hence derive a lesson, that concerns us all as connected in society with our fellow-creatures and fellow-christians; which is, that we be cautious of judging and condemning others. An ardent and intolerant spirit not according to true knowledge has too much prevailed in the Church of the meek and lowly Jesus. And men in their intemperate warmth for what they arrogantly judged to be the true and only way, have too frequently forgotten that spirit of meekness and charity, so conspicuous in him whom they acknowledge for their Lord. How many examples does the history of the Christian Church record of men in authority presumptuously taking the prerogative of judging out of the hand of the Almighty, and by the sword of the civil power attempting to eradicate opinions which they called heresies out of the field of the Lord! On the other hand how different is the lesson which our holy
SERM. Teacher gives in his own instructive
life! On his preparing to enter into a village of the Samaritans they would not receive him, because his face was as though he would go to Jerusalem; by which he was supposed to chuse the temple of Sion for the place of public worship in preference to their temple on Mount Gerizim. His Disciples James and John were so much offended at this inhospitable treatment, that they said to their Master, Lord, wilt thou that we command fire to come down from heaven and consume them, even as Elias did? But he turned and rebuked them, saying, Ye know not what spirit ye are of. For the Son of man is not come to destroy Inen's lives, but to save themm
'In the present age of the world, more distinguished for indifference than for zeal in religious concerns, there is no great need of teaching toleration in practice. But yet it may not be needless to preach toleration in sentiment. If therefore we fall into the way of men, who differ from us whether in religious discipline or doctrine, let not this
provoke us to transgress the law of Chris
tian charity, which ought to bind us all serm. in brotherly affection. If we cannot be altogether of one mind, we may notwithstanding be of one heart. As long as men are united with us in the fundadamental principles of faith in Jesus Christ, we should remember, as the Apostle teaches, that through him we both have access through one Spirit unto the Father: and therefore we should account them not as strangers and foreigners, but fellow-citizens with the Saints and of the household of God". For this reason also, as the Apostle exhorts in the sequel of the same epistle, we should walk worthy of the vocation wherewith we are called, with all lowliness and meekness, with long-suffering, forbeuring one another in love, endeavouring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace o
If men indeed are erroneous, not in their opinions, but in their practice, if they have fallen into that worst of heresies, the heresy of a wicked life, there indeed we have more reason to be dissatisfied with their conduct. But who made us judges of our brethren? To
* Eph. ii. 18, 19.
• Eph. iv. 1, &c.
SERM, their own Master' only do they stand
or fall. And if a righteous God endures them why should we, who are also guilty in his sight, presume to be intolerant? Though their conduct be accounted evil, yet they may be less reprehensible than appearance or report may make them: or if they are really, as wicked as they seem, they are still within the reach of
grace, they are still within the compass of repent
To the charity of sentiment we are also to add the charity of conduct. The same principle of our religion, which enjoins us not to judge our brethren, or to look for errors in them while we overlook the sins in ourselves P, enjoins us at the same time to look, not only at our own, but also at another's wealth; that is, to consult the temporal, and still more the spiritual wealth or welfare of our brethren, and by the united means of good conversation and good example to reclaim them from a state of sin, and to promote their progress in the way of righteousness.
P Matt. vii. 3.
1 Cor. x. 24,