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he is near," who "rejoice and are glad in him." Nor need they have any fears, as long as it remains with them, because it will be an effectual protection against all that the malignity of Satan can devise, to withdraw them from that inheritance prepared for them in perpetuity, amid the "goodly fellowship of the prophets, the noble army of martyrs, and all the glorious company of Heaven." They need have no apprehensions of forfeiting the divine mercy, whilst they continue in this holy state, for "the Lord seeketh such to worship him." Although they have no fears, whilst they continue to "serve God, and keep his commandments," humility, nevertheless, will not forsake those who "worship him in spirit and in truth;" for humility is inseparable from a just view of our own natural state, of our redemption by Christ, the meritless condition of man, and the consequent plenary mercy of God. Humility is, in fact, the touchstone of pure religion: and it is, therefore, perfectly compatible with a full reliance on the participation in those joys and transports, which are assured to those "who by patient continuance in well doing, seek for glory and honour and immortality." It greatly exalts our confidence by attributing our salvation solely to the merits of Christ, and nothing to our own. Confidence in the merits of the Redeemer, which none but a righteous man can really possess, for to such only can they be available, will keep him above those debasing terrors
which nothing save the consciousness of a neglect of religion, or of a very inadequate practice of it, can excite within the human breast.
St. Paul advises, that we should "take unto us the whole armour of God, that we may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all to stand." We shall remember that this armour comprises the "sword of the spirit," and whilst we contend with such a powerful weapon of defence, we need have no fears of falling under "the fiery darts of the wicked;" but, on the contrary, shall have abundant reason to exclaim, "thanks be to God, that giveth us the victory through Jesus Christ." It is then, upon the whole, undeniably evident, that nothing can possibly arise to the righteous man, to make him long and seriously miserable, if he devoutly "follow that which is good:" since, if he does so, he draws from the records of His immutable word, "with whom is no variableness, neither shadow of turning," the cheering assurance, that "his rest shall be glorious," when the issue of the last general assize shall have been determined for ever.
THE SAME SUBJECT CONTINUED.
1 PETER, III. 13.
"And who is he that will harm you, if ye be followers of that which is good?"
IN considering these words, I have already occupied your attention by the first inference, to which the subject led me-namely, that it is to our interest to be righteous. Now, if it be admitted, as I then endeavoured to show-first, that the righteous are placed above the reach of moral injury from the ungodly; secondly, that they are beyond the influence of evil; thirdly, that the interests of this life, being with them not primary, but secondary objects, its afflictions cannot make them miserable whilst they have the consolations of religion; and, lastly, that they need have no fears, so long as they continue to be "followers of that which is good:" I say, if these points were severally established, then the proposition laid down
is at once clearly determined, that it is to our interest to be righteous. Hear the Prophet Ezekiel, too, in confirmation of this truth:-" When the wicked man turneth away from his wickedness that he hath committed, and doeth that which is lawful and right, he shall save his soul alive. Because he considereth, and turneth away from all his transgressions, he shall surely live and not die." But, "when the righteous turneth away from his righteousness, and committeth iniquity, and doeth according to all the abominations that the wicked man doeth, shall he live? All his righteousness that he hath done shall not be mentioned in his trespass that he has trespassed, and in his sin that he has sinned, in them shall he die." Here, then, is at once a full confirmation of this important doctrine, and it not only shows, that it is to our interest to be righteous, but that it is also to our interest to continue so.
I pass on, to the second deduction from this truth, which is the subject now to be considerednamely, that, then it must be against our interest to be unrighteous. This will sufficiently appear to us, if we consider, first, that unrighteousness leads even in this world to more suffering than enjoyment. "They that plow iniquity and sow wickedness," says the Patriarch, "reap the same." "Though it be sweet in their mouths, though they hide it under their tongues, though they spare it and forsake it not, yet it is the gall of asps within