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commission, most commonly practised. The more common any sin is, the more it is our duty to shun it.
We must observe this direction against all considerations whatever ; common fame,-worldly profit,-gratifications of sense and appetite. We must not regard numbers on the other side,--the wealth and high station of offenders-relations, friends, or intimate acquaintance,-evil counsel, (Prov. i. 10,)-nor example, which is an abiding and unwearied kind of solicitation, and has great power.
The law of God, and not custom, is our rule, and by that we shall be judged at the last day. We are warned not to “ follow a multitude," and it will be a poor excuse to say, we did not regard the warning. If we sin with others, we must suffer with others.
That a multitude participate with us in torment, will not lessen our sense of it.
To have companions in poverty, disgrace, and such comparative evils, greatly lessens the affliction; but it is otherwise in positive evils, such as in strong pain. To see the torments of others, and hear their shrieks and groans, will add to our misery. And then, one will upbraid and curse another.
Set the example of persons eminent for singular piety, against those of a contrary stamp. As Enoch, Noah, Lot, Joshua, Elijah, Daniel, the Angel in Milton,
“ The Seraph Abdiel, faithful found
Though single- .." Learn from a heathen the importance of persevering in well doing :-One day when the people were coming out of the theatre, Diogenes was going in, making his way with difficulty against the crowd. Being asked, why he did so ? he replied, “I endeavour to do this through my whole life ;' i. e. to be singular, to act differently from the generality.
Think of the honour and happiness of such in this life.
Observe how the persons mentioned in the preceding instances have been honoured, while the memory of their wicked persecutors has perished. All wise and good men are sure to honour them; nay, and the wicked themselves secretly approve of them. Christ and his Apostles were most singular, most persecuted, and yet most honoured through all succeeding ages.
Such shall be rewarded gloriously in a future state. (Luke xxii. 29.)
“ Servant of God, well done! well hast thou fought
Hence we may learn one necessary part of the character of a Christian. Like his Master, he is “ separate from sinners.” Such a singularity is truly honourable.
This should engage those, who have followed 66 a multitude," to separate themselves from them. This, it is true, will require self-denial, resolution, and fortitude, and a disregard of the scorn, the sneers, and reproaches of men. But it will be only acting like Lot, in leaving Sodom and escaping to the mountain ; or like Noah, I do not say in building the ark, for we have not the ark to build, which is to save us; it is already built to our hands,-I mean the church of Christ, and Christ himself,—but like Noah in his entering into the ark. Let them take the same angel, Abdiel, for their example in this case.
“ From amidst them forth he pass’d, Long way through scorn, which single he sustain'd
Superior, nor of violence fear’d ought.” The good that might arise from thus separating themselves from the ungodly is incalculable, not only to themselves but to their family, friends, neighbourhood, and companions in sin especially. If it should not be a mean of their thorough conversion, it may, at least, make them less wicked; may break up their sinful meetings, and disperse them.
If it be our duty to be singular, it is a sin to be ashamed of such singularity. The reproof of a gentleman to his friend, watching an opportunity to escape, unobserved, from a place of ill resort, is worth mentioning.
,” said he, “ from that place; you need not be ashamed to leave it, but you should have been ashamed to go to it.” “ The just man is laughed to scorn of his neighbour.” (Job xii. 4.) But we must scorn the scorners," as
God doth, (Prov. iii. 34,) and like the angel, of whom it is said,
.... “ With retorted scorn, his back he turn'd
On those proud towers, to swift destruction doom’d.” “ Fear not them which kill the body, but are not able to kill the soul; but rather fear him which is able to destroy both soul and body in hell.” (Matt. x. 28.)
We have need of peculiar help from on high, which shall be imparted. “Be strong and couragious, be not afraid, nor dismayed for the king of Assyria, nor for all the multitude that is with him ; for there be more with us, than with him. With him is an arm of flesh; but with us is the LORD our God to help us, and to fight our battles.” (2 Chron. xxxii. 7.) “My grace," says Jesus, “is sufficient for thee; my strength is made perfect in weakness.” (2 Cor. xii. 9.)
That we may be ever decided in religion, and secured in future against the sin of “ following a multitude to do evil,” we must get our sinful nature changed; the tree made good, that the fruit may be good.
We must unite ourselves and associate with the “ wise," that we may be a wise." (Prov. xiii. 20.)
THE SCRIPTURES TO BE LAID TO HEART
AND DILIGENTLY TAUGHT.
DEUT. vi. 6-9. These words, which I command thee this day, shall be in thine
heart: and thou shalt teach them diligently unto thy children, and shalt talk of them when thou sittest in thine house, and when thou walkest by the way, and when thou liest down, and when thou risest up.
And thou shall bind them for a sign upon thine hand, and they shall be us frontlets between thine eyes. And thou shalt write them upon the posts of thy house, and on thy gates.
Such was the doctrine of Moses the man of God, and great lawgiver of the tribes of Jacob, while that people were still in the wilderness. And such was the doctrine of their wisest and best
kings after they were settled in Canaan. David's description of a blessed man 'is, that “his delight is in the law of the LORD; and in his law doth he meditate day and night.” (Psalm i. 2.) And with respect to his children, his language is, “Come, ye children, hearken unto me; I will teach you the fear of the LORD.” (Psalm xxxiv. 11.) Solomon had the same views with his father David, (Prov. vii. 1;) he exhorts, “My son, keep my words, and lay up my commandments with thee. Keep my commandments, and live; and my law as the apple of thine eye. Bind them upon upon thy fingers, write them upon the table of thine heart.” And, “ Train up a child in the way
he should go ;
and when he is old, he will not depart from it.” (Prov. xxii. 6.) Such also was the doctrine of their greatest prophets ; “My words which I have put in thy mouth,” says Isaiah, “ shall not depart out of thy mouth, nor out of the mouth of thy seed, nor out of the mouth of thy seed's seed, saith the LORD, from henceforth and for ever.” (Isai. lix. 21.) Nor was such doctrine as this only suited for, and delivered to the Jewish Church. It is the doctrine of the Apostles of our Lord and Saviour to the Christian Church. “Let the word of Christ,” says St. Paul, “dwell in you richly in all wisdom ; teaching and admonishing one another in psalms, and hymns, and spiritual songs." (Col. iii. 16.) “Fathers, provoke not your children to wrath ; but bring them up in the nurture and admonition of the LORD.” (Eph. vi. 4.) And, what said the “ Word made flesh,” the wisdom of God incarnate, on these two points? “Search the Scriptures; for in
have eternal life ;” (John v. 39;) and “ Suffer little children, and forbid them not to come unto me; for of such is the kingdom of heaven.” (Matt. xix. 14.) Nay, the God and Father of our LORD JESUS CHRIST himself, spoke thus from heaven, to that great general and saviour of Israel, who was commissioned to lead the LORD's host over Jordan into Canaan,—a remarkable type of our Joshua, who conducts the ransomed of the Lord into the heavenly Canaan, and is the Author of eternal salvation unto all them that obey him,"_" This book of the law shall not depart out of thy mouth; but thou shalt meditate therein day and night, that thou mayest observe to do according to all that is written therein; for then thou shalt make thy way prosperous, and then thou shalt have good success.” (Josh. i. 8.) And of the Father of the faithful he testified, “I know him, that he will command his children and his household after him, and they shall keep the way of the LORD, to do justice and judgment; that the LORD may bring upon Abraham that which he hath spoken of him.” (Gen. xviii. 19.) So that it appears, that this is no trivial doc
trine, and that Moses was not singular in inculcating it. It has been the doctrine of the Church of God in all ages, and under every dispensation of divine grace, Patriarchal, Mosaic, Prophetic, and Christian. But, what is this doctrine? It is here set in a clear point of view. 66 These words &c.” Observe,
I. THE WORDS CONCERNING WHICH THE COMMAND IS GIVEN ;
THEIR NATURE AND IMPORTANCE.
The term words, frequently, both in the Old and New Testaments, means things or subjects, about which words are spoken. “I will do this thing," noyoy, Septuagint. (Exod. xxxiii. 17.) “How sweet are thy words unto my taste.” (Psalm cxix. 103.) 66 Thou hast the words of eternal life.” (John vi. 68.) these words might be preached to them the next sabbath.” (Acts xiii. 42.)
Moses here means the whole divine revelation made to them, including—The history of past facts and events; of the prophecies, promises, threatenings, &c., contained in the book of Genesis, and former part of Exodus. These were the foundation of the whole Mosaic dispensation.— The Moral law, grounded on God's redeeming and entering into covenant with the children of Israel; “I am the Lord thy God, which have brought thee out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of bondage.” (Exod. xx. 2.) It contains the sum of our duty to God and our neighbour.— The Ceremonial law, respecting the priesthood, expiations, purifications, &c.; emblematical of the priesthood of Christ, his atonement and intercession, the sanctifying influences of the Spirit, and other blessings of Christianity.—The Political law; for they were under a theocracy, and God was their King. This was emblematical of the kingdom of Christ, termed in the New Testament the “ kingdom of God,” and the “ kingdom of heaven.”
To the Jewish people, in after ages, " these words” refer to that dispensation as further explained, unfolded, and enforced by the prophets.- To us, under the New Testament dispensation, they include the more clear, full, and perfect revelation made by Christ and his Apostles, which we are still more bound to have in our hearts than the Israelites were to have that of Moses and the Prophets.-We need not wonder at the injunction concerning these words, or things revealed, or concerning the Scriptures in general, if we consider,
Their supernatural origin. They were “ given by inspiration of God," (2 Tim. iii. 16.) “ Holy men of God spake as they were moved by the Holy