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of your faith. We often meet with complaints, as though we would fain make out that men have no religion at all,and are told that their religion is as good as their neighbours, and satisfies themselves. More especially in the present day, this difficulty opposes itself to the increase of true and lively godliness. stir has been made in all places upon the matters of religion; the Gospel has become in a certain sense popular. Every one has been called to pay attention to it; and, almost against their wills, men have been obliged to hear much upon the subject. That much good has followed from this stir, I would fain believe; but this evil has grown up along with it whereas, formerly, little or no thought was given to the subject at all; now, the great object of most men is to seem to be religious" at as little expense as possible of personal convenience, and with as little sacrifice as may be of worldly spirit and carnal affections.
A man will follow the vain trifles and unprofitable cares of this life with all his heart and all his soul, and give but a few hurried, interrupted moments to serious consideration of better things; and yet, as far as outward appearances go, he will "seem to be religious." Thus,. the impossible thing which our blessed Lord warned us of, is attempted to be accomplished; and we wish to unite the service of God and the service of mammon, which He has declared can never be joined together.
Our professions lead us to flatter ourselves that we live as becometh Christians. Let us then ask ourselves, do we live in communion with God? Is ours the worship and the service which the early disciples of our Lord Jesus Christ, and the first Christian Church, were wont to render to their Lord? Is ours the warmth of devotion-the fervency of spirit—the earnest desire of heart—the stedfast and uninterrupted course of prayer and praise, which used to rise up
before Him as incense from the first christian altars? Is ours the unity of faith-the brotherly love and union-the disinterested "rejoicing with them that rejoice, and weeping with them that weep?" Is ours the open and avowed pursuit of the "kingdom of God and his righteousness;" and the simple reliance upon the promise of Scripture for worldly matters, which was shown in the lives and habits of the early Christians? Where is the daily service—the crowded Sabbath congregation the teachable seeker of the word of God, from the lips of his appointed ministers? Brethren, in this matter there is verily a fault among us-both ministers and people.
I have said that our object, and that of the christian world at large, of late years especially, has been to seem to be religious" with as little trouble as possible. Many things have helped us in this object. We have all the outward semblance of a living, active, devotional Church of Christ. We have
churches, ministers, congregations; those churches are lawfully consecrated and set apart as God's houses of prayer; those ministers are rightly sent, in the line of due episcopal ordination from the time of the apostles continued in our church; those congregations have been duly baptized, and each individual has been publicly received into the congregation of Christ's Church. The word of God is read and preached among us, and the sacraments are duly administered; what more is required, then, for us to 66 seem to be religious?" What was there of old among Christian communities which we do not possess, and without which "our religion is vain ?" Is it, that high and mysterious doctrine is not preached and insisted upon among us, to the comparative. exclusion of moral duties? Is it that our prayers are printed forms only, and our sermons written? Is it that the church services are wanting in spirituality, and that persons without ordination or authority are not allowed
to teach and to preach their own private views and interpretations of holy Scripture, whether agreeing with the doctrine of the Church or not? In short, is the outward form and fashion of our religion in fault, or the hearts, and lives, and conversations of those who use it? Brethren, I answer without hesitation, it is our own fault, not our Church's fault. If our religion is only seeming, it is not because we are too much given to forms, but because we observe them too little, neither understanding their true meaning, nor their right use. For what saith the apostle in my text? “If any man among you seem to be religious, and bridleth not his tongue, but deceiveth his own heart, this man's religion is vain." Here we see the evil which lies at the bottom of vain and mere seeming religion. It is, that we "bridle not our tongues, but deceive our own hearts."
We must, then, bring our religion to this touchstone, and see whether it will stand the trial. Now, there are degrees