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of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world; for I was an hungered, and ye gave me meat; I was thirsty, and ye gave me drink; I was a stranger, and ye took me in ; naked, and ye clothed me; I was sick, and ye visited me; I was in prison, and ye came unto me. Then shall the righteous answer him, saying, Lord, when saw we thee an hungered, and fed thee; or thirsty, and gave thee drink? When saw we thee a stranger, and took thee in; naked, and clothed thee ; or when saw we thee sick, and in prison, and came unto thee ? And the king shall answer, and say unto them, Verily I say unto you, inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me.* On the other hand, the cause expressly assigned for the condemnation of the wicked, at the day of judgment, is their omission of this charity, and their neglect in the performance of its various duties. Then shall he say also unto them on the left hand, Depart from me, ye cursed, into everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels : for I was an hungered, and ye gave me no meat; I was thirsty, and ye gave me no drink; I was a stranger, and ye took me not in; naked, and ye clothed me not ; sick, and in prison, and ye visited me not.
Then shall they also answer him, saying, Lord, when saw we thee an hungered, or athirst, or a stranger, or naked, or sick, or in prison, and did not minister unto thee? Then shall he answer them, saying, Verily I
* Matt. xxv. 34-40.
say unto you, inasmuch as ye did it not to one of the least of these, ye did it not to me. And these shall go away into everlasting punishment, but the righteous into life eternal.*
* Matt. xxv. 41-46.
NOTE.—We may certainly collect from our Lord's representation of our final judgment, that charity, or love to man, in the true scriptural sense of that word, is one of the most essential duties of our religion, and that to neglect that virtue fabove all others, which our Redeemer and our Judge has selected as the peculiar object of his approbation, and as the representative of all the other Evangelical virtues, must be peculiarly dangerous, and render us peculiarly unfit to appear at the last day before the great tribunal of Christ.Bishop Porteus's Lectures, xx.
THE DUTY OF MAN.
Micah vi. 8.
He Has SHEWED THEE, OMAN, WHAT IS GOOD; AND WHAT DOTH THE LORD REQUIRE OF THEE, BUT TO DO JUSTLY, AND TO LOVE MERCY, AND TO WALK HUMBLY WITH THY GOD.
W E find from the preceding verses of this chapter, that the Lord had a controversy with his people ; and the ground of this controversy was, their rebellion and ingratitude. God condescended to expostulate with his people, and desires them to assign their reasons, if they had any, for their having forsaken him, and neglected his worship. He reminds them, that he brought them up out of the land of Egypt, and redeemed them out of the house of bondage, and sent before them Moses, and Aaron, and Miriam, to guide and govern them in the knowledge and obedience of his laws. He reminds them also of other mercies and other deliverances, which they had either forgotten or abused. After this pathetic expostulation with the Jewish people, and this solemn reproof of their ingratitude and rebellion, they are
introduced by the Prophet as humbly sensible of the baseness of their conduct, and desirous of making atonement and satisfaction for their sins. They are represented as anxiously inquiring, Wherewith shall I come before the Lord, and bow myself before the most high God? They were anxious to appease the anger of God, and to avert his judgments from them, to obtain his forgiveness, and favour, and blessing. If it were necessary, they plainly intimate they would bring the most numerous and costly offerings. They ask if God will accept of the ordinary sacrifices, such as they offered on other occasions, and such as were required in his law. Shall I come before him with burnt-offerings, with calves of a year old ? Or else, does he expect a more costly offering, such as our kings have sometimes made upon extraordinary occasions. Will the Lord be pleased with thousands of rams, or with ten thousands of rivers of oil ? We are ready to make such a sacrifice, if it will be accepted; or else, shall we offer up our own children, as some do, to appease the anger of their offended deities. Shall I give my first-born for my transgressions, the fruit of my body for the sin of my soul? We do not refuse to do even this service, if it should be required of us. Now the answer to all this inquiry is contained in the words of the text : He has shewed thee, O man, what is good ; and what doth the Lord require of thee, but to do justly, and to love mercy, and to walk humbly with thy God. This is the most acceptable service to God; this is better than all the
sacrifices before mentioned. Let but this be done-let this duty be rightly performed, and the controversy is at an end, the difference is made up, the wrath of God is appeased; and he will show you favour, and will have mercy upon you ; he will remove his judgments, and bestow on you the blessings of his providence and grace.
The subject is further illustrated at the conclusion of the chapter, where the Lord complains of the deceitfulness and insincerity of the people. Are there yet the treasures of wickedness in the house of the wicked, and the scant measure that is abominable? Shall I count them pure with the wicked balances and the bag of deceitful weights? It is in vain to think I shall be reconciled to those who continue to practise fraud and injustice, or that I shall approve of and bless those who persist in their idolatrous and superstitious worship. While the ordinances and decrees of Omri and Ahab, two of their most wicked kings, were kept and observed, the commandments of God were disobeyed, his worship neglected, and his word despised; and therefore it was that God determined to punish this ungrateful and rebellious people with his severest judgments. For the statutes of Omri are kept, and all the works of the house of Ahab. And ye walk in their counsels, that I should make thee a desolation, and the inhabitants thereof a reproach.
Such is the introduction of the subject which is given in the context; and I shall now proceed to explain the