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and come forth from before him; thousands of thousands shall minister unto him, and ten thousand times ten thousand shall stand before him. The judgment shall be set, and the books shall be opened!”
Reader, thou shalt be there! No covering shall be able to veil thee from that dreadful presence! The rocks and the hills cannot hide thee from the glance of his omniscient eye. Then will be unveiled all thy past wickedness before assembled worlds; then the secret recesses of thy soul, which in the days of thy vanity thou didst think were hidden from every eye, shall all be laid open. The mask which thou didst wear before thy fellow-creatures will be removed, and thou shalt stand a deformed and odious spectacle before the bar of thy offended Judge. And what, poor thoughtless sinner, shall be thy plea? Wilt thou then plead the general mercy of God? Wilt thou then urge thy outward morality of conduct? Will all the thousand apologies thou hast made to thyself and to others for thy thoughtlessness and folly, then stand the test of the judgment-seat of Christ? Wilt thou plead thy privileges ? Lord, I have eaten and drunk in thy presence, and thou hast taught in our streets." Thy privileges abused shall add to thy condemnation, and thy sentence shall be passed, “ Bind him hand and foot, and take him away, and cast him into outer darkness; there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth."
May a stranger, then, affectionately give thee counsel ? Why thus bent upon thy ruin? Why putting away from thee mercy when it is offered? Why delaying to come to the Saviour, when he invites thee near? Why appointing a future time to be happy, whilst the door to happiness is at present open? Thou mayest delay till the door be shut, " and then thou shalt seek to enter in, and shalt not be able!”
THE ENGLISH MONTHLY TRACT SOCIETY,
27, RED LION SQUARE.
J.&W. Rider, Printers, Bartholomew Close, London.
MORALITY NOT CHRISTIAN HOLINESS.
All error, both doctrinal and practical, may be traced up to the universal depravity of human nature; yet error is modified by ten thousand external circumstances which arise from time to time in the progress of events. Hence every age and class of persons is marked by its appropriate and characteristic error; and without entering further into detail, it appears
that a prevailing feature in the error of the times is this,-a substitution of human morality for evangelical religion, or a mere nominal Christianity for the power of godliness.
Morality, in the vague and popular sense in which it is frequently employed, is too difficult for us to define; the fact is, it is a hack word that means anything, everything, or nothing, according to the ever-changing forms of the fashion which adopts it. We take morality in the fullest signification, to comprehend all those practical duties which by the consent of all, except idiots and atheists, man owes to God and his fellow-creatures. We intend, however, to view it, in the following remarks, in that restricted signification which applies it to all ethics except those which spring purely from evangelical principles : this latter, in order to avoid ambiguity and confusion, we shall denominate Christian holiness.
Morality, then, according to the definition thus given, sets about the performance of its various duties on merely natural principles. Self is the starting point, self the scope, and self the termination of its career. Analyse every system of human ethics that ingenious minds have framed, and you will find, after a wearisome discussion about the nature of good and evil, virtue and vice, that they have no higher motives, object, or end, in all their conduct than the honour, advantage, or gratification of self. This morality makes no reference to the total depravity of human nature, has very
low views of the extent and turpitude of sin; while renewal of the heart, and spiritual influence and assistance from the direct operation of the Holy Ghost, are doctrines which, if known at all, are known only to be ridiculed and despised as the dream of enthusiasts and fanatics. The fear of future punishment, that slavish terror which “has torment,” a consciousness of guilt, even where the revealed law of God is not clearly understood, and other equally base and servile principles, goad on the soul, as a planter his negro, to self-righteous efforts. Thus it seeks to obtain the favour of heaven, that is, some supreme but “ unknown God,” who rules over rational and accountable creatures, and will after death summon them to his tribunal to give an account of their conduct. Whenever the votaries of such a system fail, as they continually do, of reaching even this defective standard of obedience, they endeavour to make compensation by unavailing sighs and tears, by self-inflicted mortifications either of mind or body, and all the other endless devices in the ritual of will-worship, equally imperfect, ridiculous, and vain.
Thus morality aims at the accomplishment of its desires, rolling for ever the Sisyphean stone of unattainable duty, yet obliged after innumerable disappointments to soothe its pride with this, its best and only consolation
" I see the good, and I approve it too ;
Condemn the wrong, and yet the wrong pursue !" In the case of those who from living in a Christian country have acquired a general notion of the doctrines of scripture, as merely speculative truths, the morality which they exhibit is of a more specious character, and is frequently mistaken for vital piety. They present on the altar of a sincere and honest heart a sacrifice which they imagine cannot but be acceptable to the Almighty, especially when coupled with the atonement of the good and merciful Redeemer; that is to say, they would establish, by a mixture of their own and the Saviour's merits, a claim, as they suppose, if not on the justice, yet at least on the mercy of God. They profess to believe the Bible, to take it as their rule of life; and they form a great part of the visible church, and share in all her external rights and privileges. They have been baptized, they receive the sacrament.
What more can they require ? if they are not good Christians, who are? They admire the sacred volume as a most ancient and wonderful book; they are delighted with the history and polity of the Jews; they melt with sympathetic tenderness over the touching incidents in the life of Joseph; while, on the Continent, they testify their admiration of it on the stage as an interesting and popular drama, which, of course, like all other stage representations, is calculated to teach the practice of virtue and morality! The story of Ruth, also, has a powerful hold on their feelings; all the sensibilities of nature are awakened at this most interesting and poetic of all narrations. The fervid and sublime imagery of Zion's bards and seers fills their soul with admiring awe; and it is not surprising, since even infidel poets have stolen some of their brightest ideas from this sacred source; they have plucked a laurel from the groves of Palestine, compared with which the classic wreaths of Greece are worthless weeds; they have mingled the waters of Siloam with the streams of Helicon, or their fame would not have been so great as it is.
Then, if we come to the New Testament, that has a peculiar charm with these advocates of morality. The parables, except indeed in their spiritual application, are exquisitely beautiful, so ingenious, so pointed, so adapted to convey instruction to all classes without the offensiveness of personal appeal: while the sermon on the mount is beyond all praise, the best, if not the only essential portion of holy writ, full of practical precepts, and inculcating sound morality. But the epistles, those, so they blindly and impiously talk, are often puzzling and perplexing, especially when they lay down certain doctrines as the only foundation of good practice, and express certain enthusiastic notions about grace and faith, with other abstruse points, which, even by the confession of an apostle himself, are “hard to be understood.”
Such are some of the leading views, and such the phraseology, or more properly the cant of men of morality, of a vast number of educated respectable persons living in protestant England, and wearing the outward badge of a Christian profession. With respect to civil and social duties, their practice is equally defective. They may be just and honest in their dealings, they may heave a sigh or drop a tear over a fellow-creature in distress, they may give a portion of their goods to feed the poor, they may erect an hospital or endow a church, they may acquire a name among men, and their character be without a stain or a flaw in the judgment of the world ; yet pride, ostentation, and selfrighteousness being the great spring of all their actions,