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If any be a hearer of the word, and not a doer; he is like unto a man beholding his natural face in a glass: for he beholdeth himself, and goeth his way, and straightway forgetteth · what manner of man he was. But whoso looketh into the perfect law of liberty, and continueth therein; he being not a forgetful hearer, but a doer of the work; this man shall be blessed in his deed.-James, i. 23, 24, 25.

THE apostle St. James compares looking into the perfect law of liberty, or reading the scriptures, to a man's looking at himself in a glass. Let us examine the apostle's beautiful allusion, and see what kind of men are pointed out.

In the first place, men often look into a glass through pride. They admire their own persons: they have over-weening opinions of themselves: they think themselves handsomer than any other persons.

They who look into a glass with these views, represent those men, who read the scriptures with


high notions of their own worth. Instead of abasing themselves, or humbling themselves for their deficiencies, their attention is laid out only on such passages, as tend to raise them in their own conceit. Such a reader of scripture was the Pharisee of old. He saw in it enough to thank God, that he was not like other men.- -By looking into the scripture, he found that he had no transgressions, as he thought, of any consequence to answer for-that he was strict in the performance of the most punctilious mattersand that, in fact, on comparing himself with others, he found a mighty difference in his own favour.

Others again look into a glass through vanity. They wish to trick out their persons by ornaments to set themselves off to the best advantage to gain the admiration of all, who see them.

These are often men of learning, who read the scripture to shew their skill in criticism; and raise their reputation by curious inquiries. They look into the perfect law of liberty, to shew what acute lawyers they are in expounding its deeper doctrines or in drawing from it some refined system which is probably of no value either to themselves, or others. They are engaged in some


controversy they are eager to lead the way in some debate and seek for applause by their nice interpretations, and happy accommodation of different texts. In the mean time it is probable, that neither religion, nor scripture, are in the least assisted by their learned labours. Like some necromancer of old, they raise a spectre, that they may have the credit of laying it; though it would otherwise have vanished of itself, without doing mischief to any one.

But besides those who look into a glass through pride and vanity, there is another set of men who are chiefly characterized by the apostle's comparison-such as look into a glass so carelessly as to answer no end at all. They straightway forget what manner of men they are. Now these are by far the most numerous set of christians. They never consider the perfect law of liberty as a law intended for their use. The pleasures of the world so entirely engage them, that they think not of any higher concern. They feel nothing of their soul about them: all relates to their body.

Besides these ill-disposed, and careless examiners, there are others, whom the apostle's comparison supposes to look into a glass merely to adjust any impropriety, which they may discover


in themselves. These are they who read the scriptures with two great views.

The first is, to rectify in themselves what they may observe amiss. If they look attentively into the scriptures, and compare their own thoughts, words, and actions, with what they find there; they will of course find many things daily getting wrong. We see our own faults with a tender eye. A faithful friend, who will point them out to us, is a kind of monitor. Friendship however is delicate. But he who looks into the perfect law of liberty, may be sure, if his heart go with his eyes, to see his faults laid truly before him.

The second great point he has in view, after the amendment of his faults, is to adorn himself with virtues. Many, as was observed, look into a glass to adorn themselves fantastically; he puts. on merely such ornaments as are plain, simple, and becoming, and render him in fact more agreeable to others. He adorns himself with the virtues of a christian.

This is the man, whom the apostle's comparison points out to us for imitation-this is the man, who, in the language of the text, shall be blessed in his deed.

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And he said, Nay, father Abraham; but if one went unto them from the dead, they will repent. And he said unto them, If they hear not Moses and the prophets, neither will they be persuaded though one rose from the dead.Luke, xvi. 30, 31.


passage puts the following objection into the mouth of the free-thinker.

"If a person's rising from the dead," says he, "is not a mode of evidence suited to persuade, why should Jesus offer his own resurrection from the dead, as the last and best proof of his divine commission? On his own authority we see it is of little weight; and yet his disciples are continually urging it as the strongest evidence that could be produced."

If the objector will be at the pains of considering the fact, he will find, that his statement of it is not quite exact; and that there is no disagreement between what our Saviour says, and what his apostles urged.

VOL. 1.



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