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that they were not of us.” And our Lord stands by watching the process, telling us of “ the hour of temptation which shall come upon all the earth,” exhorting us to “ try them which say they are apostles, and are not,” and to “hold fast that which we have, that no man take our crown.”
Meanwhile, it is an encouragement to us to think how much may be done in way of protest and teaching, by the mere example of those who endeavour to serve God faithfully. In this way we may use against the world its own weapons; and as its success lies in the mere boldness of assertion with which it maintains that evil is good, so by the counter assertions of a strict life and a resolute profession of the truth, we may retort upon the imaginations of men, that religious obedience is not impracticable, and that Scripture has its persuasives. A martyr or a confessor is a fact, and has its witness in itself; and while it disarranges the theories of human wisdom, it also breaks in upon that security and solitude into which men of the world would fain retire from the thought of religion. One prophet against four hundred disturbed the serenity of Ahab, King of Israel. · When the witnesses in St. John's vision were slain, though they were but two, then “they that dwelt on the earth rejoiced over them, and made merry, and sent gifts one to another, because these two prophets tormented them that dwelt on the earth.” Nay, such confessors have a witness even in the breasts of those who oppose them, an instinct originally from God, which may indeed be perverted into a hatred, but scarcely into an utter disregard of the Truth, when exhibited before them. The instance cannot be found in the history of mankind, in which an antiChristian power could long abstain from persecuting. The disdainful Festus at length impatiently interrupted his prisoner's speech; and in our better regulated times, whatever be the scorn or malevolence which is directed against the faithful Christian, these very feelings show that he is really a restraint on vice and unbelief, and a warning and guide to the feeble-minded, and to those who still linger in the world with hearts more religious than their professed opinions; and thus even literally, as the text expresses it, he overcomes the world, conquering while he suffers, and willingly accepting overbearing usage and insult from others, so that he may in some degree benefit them, though the more abundantly he loves them, the less he be loved.
HUMAN RESPONSIBILITY, AS INDEPENDENT OF
Preached November 4, 1832.
Gen. iii. 13.
“ The serpent beguiled me, and I did eat:"
The original temptation set before our first parents, was that of proving their freedom, by using it without regard to the will of Him who gave it. The original excuse offered by them after sinning was, that they were not really free, that they had acted under a constraining influence, the subtilty of the tempter. They committed sin that they might be independent of their Maker; they defended it on the ground that they were dependent upon Him. And this has been the course of lawless pride and lust ever since; to lead us, first, to exult in our uncontrollable liberty of will and conduct; then, when we have ruined ourselves, to plead that we are the slaves of necessity.
Accordingly, it has been always the office of Religion to protest against the sophistry of Satan, and to preserve the memory of those truths which the unbelieving heart corrupts, both the freedom and the responsibility of man;—the sovereignty of the Creator, the supremacy of the law of conscience as His representative within us, and the irrelevancy of external circumstances in the judgment which is ultimately to be made upon our conduct and character.
That we are accountable for what we do and what we are,—that, in spite of all aids or hindrances from without, each soul is the cause of its own happiness or misery,—is a truth certified to us both by Nature and Revelation. Nature conveys it to us in the feeling of guilt and remorse which implies self-condemnation. In the Scriptures, on the other hand, it is the great prevailing principle throughout, in every age of the world, and through every Dispensation. The change of times, the varieties of religious knowledge, the gifts of grace, interfere not with the integrity of this momentous truth. Praise to the obedient, punishment on the transgressor, is the revealed rule of God's government from the beginning to the consummation of all things. The fall of Adam did not abolish, nor do the provisions of Gospel-mercy supersede it.
At the creation it was declared, “ In the day that thou eatest ... thou shalt surely die.” On the calling of the Israelites, the Lord God was proclaimed in sight of their lawgiver as “merciful and gracious, long-suffering, and abundant in goodness and truth; keeping mercy for thousands, forgiving iniquity and transgression and sin, and that will by no means clear the guilty.” And when Moses interceded for the people, with an earnestness which tended to the infringement of the Divine Rule, he was reminded that he could not himself be really responsible for others. “ Whosoever hath sinned against Me, him will I blot out of My book.” The Prophetical Dispensation enforced the same truth still more clearly. “With the pure Thou wilt show Thyself pure, and with the froward Thou wilt show Thyself froward.” “The soul that sinneth, it shall die; make you a new heart and a new spirit, for why will ye die?” And after Christ had come, the most explicit of the inspired expounders of the New Covenant is as explicit in his recognition of the original rule. “Every man shall bear his own burden ... Be not deceived:. God is not mocked; for whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap.” Even in his Epistle to the Romans, where he is directly engaged in declaring another, and at first sight opposite doctrine, he finds opportunity for confessing the principle of accountableness. Though exalting the sovereign power and inscrutable purposes of God, and apparently referring man's agency altogether to Him as the vessel of His good pleasure, still he forgets not in the very opening of his exposition to declare the real independence and responsibility of the human will. “He will render to every man according to his deeds; ... tri