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benefit for our fellow men.. Even human estimates of what is great and heroic, will generally be found to rest upon some deep moral principle. Disinterestedness is a noble quality, and there is nothing more dignified than self-devotion. Virtue herself joins in the admiration with which admiring nations regard the heroes who have not hesitated to die for their country.
Profitably indeed shall we reflect upon the mighty ruin which was drawn down by the wonderful man whose history we have been considering, if we can bring away from it something of the spirit of self-devotion by which he showed his earnestness in the cause for which he had lived, but to which he had been false in a moment of weakness. We may not seem to be in much danger of being called upon to exhibit the spirit of martyrdom. But our religion is of niggard growth, our faith deserves not the name, if we are not ready to sacrifice our lives for the cause of God. I would not invite you to embarrass yourselves by any self-examination with a view to imaginary circumstances.
But it is well for us to ascertain as carefully as we can, the amount of principle which we exhibit in our actual condition. How far then are we performing the duties of our calling? We are not called to such an office as Samson, but in our warfare with our spiritual enemies we need the purity of the Nazarite, and the giant's strength. Without faith we shall fall. However successful we may sometimes appear, some insinuating sin, some Dalilah, may gain an ascendancy over us, and give us bound and blinded to our foes. From the lap of pleasure we shall fall into a bondage worse than that of the Philistines. Sin will hold us fast, and hale us to its temples, to exhibit wild sport which only marks its captive's degradation. If divine grace ever awaken us, we must, like Samson, show ourselves men, and be ready to perish so that we destroy these accursed foes. Even if we have not like him fallen into scandalous sins, we must reproach ourselves with unbelief, with coldness of heart, with idolatry, with worldliness, Dalilah has often had our hearts, and shorn us of our strength. It is well we have to deal with a God of mercy. It is well that we have the record that "the blood of Jesus Christ cleanseth from all sin.” Oh, for faith in this gracious truth ! Oh, for greater love to Him who has done such things for us! May He give us grace to live in faith and purity, and to triumph in our death, in the assurance of His mercy
“Let your conversation be without covetousness;
and be content with such things as ye have : for he hath said, I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee.”
PERSONS who habitually attend the house of God, are not very likely to be polluted with gross and scandalous sins. The admonitions of conscience which suggest the duty of public worship, are soon stifled by a course of licentiousness; and the sense of decency which brings others to the sanctuary, can have no force with those who do not shrink from open profligacy. Those of us who do not “ forsake the assembling of ourselves together” in this holy place, are in most danger from sins of a more subtle and secret kind. The enemy is not likely to assail us with open violence; but he is not the less formidable because he directs against us the mine and the ambush. It would be to fight with a shadow, to denounce from this place the grosser forms of intemperance; it is only a seasonable and necessary duty to expose the danger of covetousness and discontent.
Such is the deceitfulness of our hearts, such the extent of our depravity, that we are ever ready to recompense ourselves for giving up one sin, by indulging in another. If we have abandoned a more flagrant iniquity, we are not careful to ascertain whether the principle of transgression is effectually mortified, or whether it is still manifesting itself in any other way. We are too apt to acquiesce in the favourable appearance, and to conclude that, because we are not chargeable with what is so criminal in others, we are ourselves blameless; or that, because we have given up one acknowledged sin, it follows, as a matter of course, that we have gained so much in the pro