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primary rule of conduct, we may commit great errors, and confound our own imperfect notions of utility and the general good with those unerring rules of right and wrong, which rest upon the solid basis of the Divine will.

Our line of conduct then, with respect to this apostolical rule, is sufficiently clear. A reverential fear of God will lead us first to inquire what is His will ; and determine us to act in no respect contrary to it, whatever may be the circumstances in which we are placed. The love of our fellow-creatures and a regard to our own special exigencies will next induce us to weigh well the probable consequences of

every
action
upon

ourselves and others, and determine us to act, or refrain from acting, as the occasion may demand. In the exercise of our judgment in this respect, discretion and charity will be requisite :-discretion, to prevent the good we intend from being perverted to evil;— charity, to guard against any possible injury to others, as well as to ourselves. Thus may the purest zeal for religion, the most scrupulous adherence to our own personal duties, and the most enlarged good-will towards mankind, be rendered compatible with each other. And then only may we truly say

with the Apostle, that we have “ exercis“ ed ourselves to have always a conscience 66 void of offence towards God and towards

men ?.”

9 Acts xxiv. 16

SERMON XXIII.

EPHESIANS iv. 3.

Endeavouring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the

bond of peace.

WHEN our blessed Lord intimated to his disciples his design of bringing the Gentile world, together with the Jews, into the Gospel-covenant, he emphatically declared that there should then be “ ONE fold and ONE

Shepherd a.” The Jews were no longer to enjoy exclusively the privilege of being the chosen people of God; but all nations, kindreds, and tongues, were to have the offer of salvation, and to be united in one universal church, under one head, Jesus Christ. The Gentiles were no longer to worship, as heretofore, “ gods many and lords many ";" but were to acknowledge that only Lord and Saviour, whose coming the prophets and the patriarchs had foretold, and who was now to be generally revealed to mankind as the

a John x. 16.

bl Cor. viji. 5.

proper object of their faith and worship. This was the foundation laid for that unity and universality of religious belief, which so preeminently distinguishes the Christian dispensation ; a dispensation, not partial or tempo rary, like that of the Jews, nor undefined and multiform, like the discordant systems of heathen superstition; but comprehending in its sphere the whole human race; yet at the same time so clearly defined as to the terms and conditions on which its benefits were to be received, that none could avail themselves of those benefits who would not keep within the fold, and obey the voice of the good Shepherd, who “ knoweth his sheep, and is “ known of them.”

Conformably with this representation, our Lord elsewhere describes the connection between himself and his disciples, and their connection also with each other, under a similitude implying the closest and most inseparable kind of union :-“ I am the vine, and ye are the branches. He that abideth in

me, and I in him, the same bringeth forth “ much fruit: for without me ye can do “ nothing d.” He prays also for the Apostles, and for all that should believe on Him

c John X. 14.

d John xv. 5.

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