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recorded in the annals of the past. We have seen the fallacy of this practice in the case of your spiritual experience; the error of which I now speak, lies in endeavouring to conform yourself in all respects to some one proposed pattern. "In common life, we often see how awkwardly the most graceful peculiarities of one man sit upon another; how that which appears amiable and natural in the original degenerates into mere affectation in the copy. And so it is in the church of Christ. Though all are members of one body, yet all have not the same office;' each has his peculiar temperament, his distinctive character, his appropriate sphere." 2 It is true, there is a family likeness stamped upon the moral features of all the children of God. There are respects in which the resemblance that pervades the society of saints is universal. It is true of every man that is in Christ, that "he is a new creature; old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new:"3 old views of sin are passed away; he now sees and feels its real sinfulness: old affections are passed away; he counts all things but loss for Christ. But within the defined lineaments of this family resemblance, "the shape
2 Woodward's Essays, p. 9, &c.
and colouring of the Christian are as endlessly diversified as are the cast and mould of our natural features." It follows, therefore, that in endeavouring, in all respects, to imitate any mere human pattern, you may be running counter to the course of Divine Providence, and to the operations of that Spirit who divides to every man severally as he will.
The example of Christ alone is of universal application. No other pattern is suitable to all. In imitating Christ, you cannot be led out of your natural sphere, or thrown into a forced and affected attitude.
And now, in conclusion, some will, perhaps, be saying in their hearts that it is easy, in this and other respects, to give advice; but were the adviser placed in your circumstances, he probably would fail of adopting as his own the practice which he recommends to others. And it is this assumption, that they who can counsel others against the evil would probably themselves fall in a like temptation, that supplies, in numerous instances, an encouragement to sin. But were this, indeed, the truth, yet to derive thence an apology for your sin, what is it but to fall into the very error which has been now occupying our attention? In this instance, to measure and compare yourself with others argues
a lack of wisdom. Though all men should yield to the inroads of temptation, yet assurance is given you in the word of truth, that "God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able; but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear it."4 His very faithfulness is engaged to the fact, that "sin shall not have dominion over you." 5 66 Then let God be true,
" 6 every man a liar." And let me affectionately, but solemnly, remind those of my brethren who may be resting complacently in the applause of their fellowmortals, that they who are your flatterers and admirers now, will not be your judges in the day of reckoning. They will be only your fellowprisoners at the bar. The eternal Son of God, he who is the Truth, will preside over the solemnities of that day. He will take the judgment into his own hands; and he will conduct it on his own lofty standard of examination, and not on the maxims, or the opinions, or the habits, of an ungodly world.
4 1 Cor. x. 13.
6 Rom. iii. 4.
5 Rom. vi. 14.
7 Chalmers, vol. viii. p. 147. See Chrysostom in Matt. Hom. xvii. p. 233,
My dear brethren, the word which Christ has spoken, the same will judge you at the last day.8
* John xii, 48.
NUMBERS Xxii. 18.
"And Balaam answered and said unto the servants of Balak, If Balak would give me his house full of silver and gold, I cannot go beyond the word of the Lord my God, to do less or more."
IN reading and hearing the word of God, we are called to the exercise of spiritual discernment. We are in error if we expect to find every point which it concerns us to know, made palpable to our understanding. We must peruse the pages of inspiration with diligence and prayer; with our senses exercised by reason of use to discern both good and evil.1 Accordingly, we meet with instances not a few, in which the sins of the saints are recorded, unaccompanied by any censure. We 1 Heb. V. 14.