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LECTURE XXXIX.

MATTHEW vii. 12.

" THEREFORE ALL THINGS WHATSOEVER YE WOULD THAT

MEN SHOULD DO TO YOU, DO YE EVEN SO TO THEM :
FOR THIS IS THE LAW AND THE PROPHETS."

THESE words appear to be the summary of all the doctrines and precepts which the Saviour has explained and inculcated. They contain what has been called, “the golden rule of equity,” and have been thus paraphrased by Dr. Watts :

Be you to others kind and true,

As you'd have others be to you ;
And neither do nor say to men
Whate'er you would not take again."

It has been often said, not perhaps under the influence of the kindest feelings, that persons

of

every denomination, who profess evangelical piety, are not so honourable in their dealings as men who make no profession at all. I shall not, this morning, endeavour to disprove the charge, slanderous and unjust as it is, or attempt to develop the of any particular church or sect among m in which it and Head of the whole; and they who

uile there are their supplications, as the ground not as becometh have no scriptural authority to ey inmunion of saints, then, my beloved brethren, and with impartial fairthe propitiation of his Son. ..ve no occasion to dread anxious and painful appre

But if it were otherwise, Christ Jesus there is a s

une; and the failure of those throne thou mayest bold scribed to the imperfect manner up thy tears, hush thy 40 I believe that any man who will joice that thy Fathr, his honest convictions, if he knows friend, and will grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, will ask him." Am Surely it would be the height of injus

the other ten disciples with hypocrisy, denied, and Judas betrayed, the Lord.

the object of wisdom to turn every event new tund account; and the insinuation of the wicked, w*) I have thus adverted, should become a strong

went to discharge, with the most punctual and nutztending integrity, every duty of the second table. The Aamotion of this spirit in your hearts is the principle aim The text is an obvious conclusion, drawn from the facts

in the preceding verses. There the Saviour exhibits boundless benignity of our heavenly Parent, both as a pattern for paternal imitation, and as a powerful incentive to the ready performance of every Christian duty, and spiritual exercise.

“Therefore all things whatsoever ye would that men should do to you, do ye even so to them ; for this is the law and the prophets.” Let us explain,

sarrer,

w the present discourse.

stated

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I. THE RIGHTEOUS RULE OF CONDUCT HERE LAID

DOWN.

I begin by remarking, that while there is a close affinity between the precept in the text, and that in another part

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vangelist,* there is still a material difference

That reads, “thou shalt love thy neighthis commands us to do unto him what

to do unto us. In both cases the

-the measure of self-love is to be the and duty towards others. That, howof charity; this of equity and righteousis truly worthy of the lips of Him who spake maxim is exclusively found in the pages of ation. The sages of antiquity have said many fine ogs of the fitness of virtue; and the learned Grotius taught his disciples never to do an injury to another, which they would not have another do to them.” This is an excellent sentiment, but it falls far short of the precept in the text, inasmuch as it is wholly negative, and admonishes us with respect to what we must not, rather than what we must, perform. Still it is too sublime for the selfish heart of man to dictate of itself; and the strong probability is, that it was derived either from the sacred writings of the Old or the New Testament. And it is likewise deserving observation, that the most beautiful maxims of morality which the heathen taught, were quite uninfluential on the conduct of the multitude, because they were not given by divine authority, were unaccompanied by renewing grace, and could exhibit no motive of sufficient efficacy to produce obedience. To gratify and advance the corrupt propensities of the heart is the constant aim of unsanctified nature; and hence one grand design of the gospel is to turn the current of the passions into a proper course, and subdue them into obedience and love to the King of kings. But this is too mighty an achievement for the cold and spiritless dictations of the moralist to effect;

Chap. xxii. 39.

sources of enmity and hatred of the truth in which it originates. Suffice it to observe, that while there are doubtless many

“whose conversation is not as becometh the gospel of Christ,” in every visible communion of saints, yet taken as a whole, and examined with impartial fairness, the followers of Christ will have no occasion to dread the issue of such investigation. But if it were otherwise, still the truth would be the same ; and the failure of those who espouse it must be ascribed to the imperfect manner of its reception. Nor do I believe that any man who will speak according to his honest convictions, if he knows any thing of the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, will affirm otherwise. Surely it would be the height of injustice to charge the other ten disciples with hypocrisy, because Peter denied, and Judas betrayed, the Lord. It is, however, the object of wisdom to turn every event to some good account; and the insinuation of the wicked, to which I have thus adverted, should become a strong inducement to discharge, with the most punctual and unbending integrity, every duty of the second table. The promotion of this spirit in your hearts is the principle aim of the present discourse.

The text is an obvious conclusion, drawn from the facts stated in the preceding verses. There the Saviour exhibits the boundless benignity of our heavenly Parent, both as a pattern for paternal imitation, and as a powerful incentive to the ready performance of every Christian duty, and spiritual exercise. “ Therefore all things whatsoever ye would that men should do to you, do ye even so to them; for this is the law and the prophets.” Let us explain,

I. THE RIGHTEOUS RULE OF CONDUCT HERE LAID

DOWN.

I begin by remarking, that while there is a close affinity between the precept in the text, and that in another part

of this same evangelist,* there is still a material difference between them. That reads, “ thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself ;” this commands us to do unto him whatever we desire him to do unto us. In both cases the appeal is to ourselves—the measure of self-love is to be the measure of our love and duty towards others. That, however, is the rule of charity; this of equity and righteousness: and it is truly worthy of the lips of Him who spake it. The maxim is exclusively found in the pages of Revelation. The sages of antiquity have said many fine things of the fitness of virtue; and the learned Grotius taught his disciples “never to do an injury to another, which they would not have another do to them.” This is an excellent sentiment, but it falls far short of the precept in the text, inasmuch as it is wholly negative, and admonishes us with respect to what we must not, rather than what we must, perform. Still it is too sublime for the selfish heart of man to dictate of itself; and the strong probability is, that it was derived either from the sacred writings of the Old or the New Testament. And it is likewise deserving observation, that the most beautiful maxims of morality which the heathen taught, were quite uninfluential on the conduct of the multitude, because they were not given by divine authority, were unaccompanied by renewing grace, and could exhibit no motive of sufficient efficacy to produce obedience. To gratify and advance the corrupt propensities of the heart is the constant aim of unsanctified nature; and hence one grand design of the gospel is to turn the current of the passions into a proper course, and subdue them into obedience and love to the King of kings. But this is too mighty an achievement for the cold and spiritless dictations of the moralist to effect;

* Chap. xxii. 39.

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