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world around me, and of the conduct of my fellow men, confirms the humiliating truth. Almighty God! let me not deceive myself in the estimate which I form of my spiritual character and state. Let me not flatter the vain-glorious emotions of my heart, by false ideas of my purity and perfection. Let me not seek to cast a veil over the enormity of my sins, and thereby weaken the emotions of penitence, the conviction of my need of the atoning merits and purifying grace of my Redeemer. Almighty God! search through all the folds of my heart; detect my secret vices; bring to light my errors and transgressions; expose to my awakened conscience all the aggravations of my guilt; that thus humbled, convicted, and alarmed, I may see no way of escape from thy displeasure, but through the merits and mediation of Jesus Christ, my blessed Lord and Redeemer. Amen.
Man in his Natural State.
The subject of the morning meditation continued.
BOASTEST thou, that thou art exempt from the stains of guilt which pollute the rest of thy race? Bring thy powerful pleas to the tribunal of conscience. Estimating highly the opinion of the world, perhaps thou hast always sought to regulate thy conduct by the
laws of honour. Calculating from motives of worldly prudence, thou hast been, in all thy dealings, honest and just. Desirous of the applause of men, or, from the impulse of a blind sympathy, thou hast been generous and charitable. Are these then thy pleas for exemption from the general sentence of guilt?
Carry thy claims to integrity and virtue higher. Allow that thou hast been honourable, that thou hast been just, that thou hast been generous and liberal, from the best motives. Allow that no gross crimes have marked thy conduct; that thy life, on the contrary, merits the reputation of being exemplary and upright. Allow that thou hast not obtained the homage due to virtue, by imposing on the world a correct and honourable exterior, while thy principles have been base and sordid. Allow that, when urged by interest and restrained by no fear of detection, thou hast not secretly practised the arts of injustice and dishonesty, which thou dost affect openly to abhor. Allow that, while just and true in thy intercourse with others, thou hast not been regardless of the duties to thyself. Allow that thou hast faithfully cherished the virtues of temperance, soberness, and chastity; and hast never indulged in the secret commission of vices which dishonoured thy nature.
Carry still higher thy pretensions in the scale of virtue. Allow that thou dost cherish reverential ideas of the attributes, the providence, and the dispensations of God; that
thou dost not wilfully profane his name, nor speak lightly of his sacred word. Allow that thou dost entertain a high esteem for his sacred word; defending it, as an excellent code of religious and moral duties, against the libertine attacks of scepticism.. Allow that, from some sense of thy obligations to God and regard for the order of society, thou dost reverence the institutions of religion, and attend on the ministrations of the sanctuary. Advance thy pretensions thus high and few of those who disclaim the imputation of their depravity can advance these bold pretensions. They are conceded to thee. These things thou hast done. On these thou dost rest thy claims to rectitude, to exemption from guilt. On these thou dost found a proud title to the favour of God.-O my soul! before thou dost thus presume to encounter the holy inspection of thy Almighty Judge, and to stand at his tribunal on the claims of thy own merit, let thy conscience answer for thee, the solemn inquiry, What hast thou left undone ?
It is not superficial negative virtue which will constitute the perfection of thy nature, and satisfy the claims of thy Maker and Judge. Thy exemption from guilt, thy claims to innocence and uprightness, thy pretensions to the favour of God, must be founded on a sincere, supreme, universal obedience to his laws. This obedience is demanded by thy obligations, which reason will acknowledge, to devote to the God that made thee, to the great
est and best of beings, thy supreme homage. By a powerful dictate of thy nature, thou art urged to admire and esteem excellence and goodness. Humble and feeble degrees of virtue in man, attract and receive thy warm regard. Oh! then, are not the most sacred fervours of admiration and love justly due to that Almighty Being who centres, in an infinite degree, every excellence in his adorable person, and from whom emanates every ray of goodness and bliss that illumines the universe? On thee, O my soul, this Almighty Being has exercised his bounty-thee he has crowned with the gifts of his love. To him, therefore, thou art bound by the most powerful obligations. From him thou hast derived thy existence; every noble power that exalts thee in the scale of being; all those aspiring desires, which limit thy powers of enjoyment only with the fruition of infinite perfection. On him, whose all-pervading spirit sustains universal nature, thou art dependent for every present enjoyment which swells thee with delight; for every blessing which, in the anticipated fruition, fills thee with transport.-Behold the claims of God to thy homage and obedience. I speak not now of the riches of his mercy in Jesus Christ; I speak not now of that infinite compassion which urged the Almighty Father to yield his only Son a sacrifice for thy sins; I unfold not now that stupendous mystery of love, into which angels desire to look, and which their most ardent
adorations but feebly celebrate. The infinite mercy of thy God, who spared thee, the wilful transgressor of his law, the contemner of his authority and justice, who even gave, for thy ransom from that misery and death into which sin had plunged thee, his beloved Son-the infinite grace of God in thy redemption, constitutes a claim to love more ardent than thy affections, even when inflamed with a coal from the altar of heaven, will be able to render. But the glory of this redemption is raised on the ruins of thy fallen nature; and while thou dost deny, or only imperfectly realize, thy guilt, fruitless would be the attempt, by displaying the wonders of redeeming mercy, to enforce thy obligations to thy God. I present, therefore, only the acknowledged claims of God to thy homage and obedience; and say,—if the graces and charms of goodness are calculated to command esteem and love; if a dependent creature feels deeply seated in his nature a sense of obligation to his Maker and Preserver;-on whom should thy supreme love be exercised, to whom should thy exalted obedience be rendered, but to him who, possessing in himself infinite perfection and happiness, has displayed on thee the glories of his goodness?
Say, then, my soul, hast thou rendered to God that love which is, on his part, the claim. of acknowledged right; on thine, the dictate of generous gratitude and duty? Hast thou loved him, as in justice and in gratitude thou