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what can support the sinking soul? While unhappy sinners find that they have been toiling for that which satisfieth not, and feel themselves forsaken at this awful period of their utmost need; they who, by patient continuance in well-doing, have made God their friend, will have a rod and a staff put into their hands to support them through the valley of the shadow of death. The everlasting arms being spread under them, they will lie down to rest, with the blessed expectation of a joyful resurrection to glory, and honour, and immortality.


The World is apt to esteem what God abominates.

LUKE xvi. 15.

That which is highly esteemed among men is abomination in the sight of God.

THIS declaration of our blessed Redeemer, who was full of grace and truth, ought to humble the pride of the human heart; to make us sensible of the difficulty of forming a right judgment in all things; to apprize us of the danger to which we are continually exposed, of being misled by prejudice and passion in our opinions respecting the affairs of this world-the real value of earthly things, and the true merit of human conduct.

The words of the text were addressed to the haughty and hypocritical Pharisees. They assumed the appearance of rigid mortification and scrupulous sanctity; they were nevertheless extravagantly fond of the pomp and power of this world; they were more solicitous to secure the applause of men, than to gain the approbation of heaven: as we are informed in some of the preceding verses of this chapter, they were covetous, notwithVOL. II.


standing all their affectation of abstraction from the world; they heard our Lord's discourses, but they derided him because he exposed their hypocrisy and pride; and this extorted from him the severe rebuke, "Ye are they which justify yourselves before men; "but God knoweth your hearts: for that which is highly esteemed among men is abomination in the sight of God."

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Thus we learn, that these words of our Lord refer to a particular case; to the situation of the Pharisees, who, by rigorous attention to the external ceremonies of their religion, imposed upon the people, and obtained credit for virtues which they by no means possessed; and, of course, while they were justified by men, were condemned by the righteous judgment of God; while they were highly esteemed by those who can look only at the surface of things, they were held in abomination by him who knoweth the motives that actuate the heart.

But, it may be observed of many other objects of human pursuit, that in the eye of right reason, they are of little value, perhaps highly prejudicial" that which " is much esteemed among men, is of no estimation in "the sight of God." It shall be the business of the following discourse, by various instances, to exemplify the truth of this observation; and then to draw from it some practical improvement. It is the perfection of wisdom, to know our true felicity, and to employ the most effectual means for the attainment of it. But, through the fatal influence of sin, the light of man's understanding is obscured, and the rectitude of his will perverted: in many cases, he perceives not his real interest; and, it too often happens, that even when he


knows the good, he is not inclined to pursue it. Look round the world: a scene of perplexity and tumult is presented to our view: every where we behold men in great commotion, with subtilty supplanting, with violence assaulting, with cruelty oppressing each other: all eagerly engaged in the prosecution of some favourite 'scheme; and all apparently determined, at every hazard, to accomplish their purposes. But, what are commonly the objects of these ardent affections, these violent pursuits? Will not dispassionate reason say, "They << may be highly esteemed among men; but surely, in "the sight of God they are of little estimation." To man, who was made for immortality, of what real value are all the stores of wealth, the ensigns of wer, the glitter of parade, the fickle shouts of applause, which he may now enjoy? These relate only to this perishable body, which must soon be deposited in the grave: they can effect us only in time; and we must soon enter upon an unchangeable eternity. Yet these fleeting possessions engage the affections, and influence the conduct of the greater part of mankind: they prompt to the commission of every crime; they banish, for the most part, present tranquillity of mind; and, they have no favourable aspect on futurity: we need not, therefore, hesitate to conclude, that they are "abomi"nation in the sight of God." His commandment is, “Thou shalt worship the Lord thy God, and "him only shalt thou serve:" but mammon is the god of this world. This is the golden image which has been set up by human folly; and nations and languages fall down and worship. Before this false god, all kinds of music are heard to play; the trumpet


sounds the dreadful signal to war and slaughter, and the psaltery and dulcimer invite to luxury and wanton dissipation.

To break the fetters of servitude, to escape from the rod of the oppressive tyrant, to secure the freedom and felicity of civil society, are unquestionably noble exertions of the generous mind. But, if there be truth in the intimations of reason, and the express declarations of Revelation, "that we must hereafter render an "account of the deeds done in the body; that vice "will be miserable, and virtue for ever happy;" of how little importance is it, to secure our temporal interests, to the total neglect of our everlasting concerns; to call ourselves free, while we are the slaves of vice; to have the liberty of acting as we please on earth, only to precipitate ourselves the more speedily into the pit of utter darkness, where there is weeping, and wailing, and gnashing of teeth.

Were we to form our opinion from the general tenour of human conduct, we must necessarily conclude it to be a very prevalent sentiment among men, "that if the end be laudable, it will sanctify the most "iniquitous means." But, in the estimation of dispassionate reason, in the sight of God, nothing can justify unrighteousness and cruelty; nothing can excuse the folly of attempting to advance our temporal well-being, by the corruption and the consequent wretchedness of the immortal soul. Let us, therefore, in the course of our conduct, take heed, not only that our intentions be upright; but that the means also which are employed for the accomplishment of them be pure and laudable. Let us ever remember, that

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