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To Be Seen of Men 2 and 3

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  TO BE SEE OF ME 2 AD 3BY REV. HERY WOODWARD, B.A., July, 1838St. Matthew, xxiii, 5, ^Bur ALL THEIR WORKS THET DO, FOR TO BE SEE OF ME. I SHOULD be truly sorry, that my choosing these words, a second time, for my text, could be con- strued into a desire to dwell, in undue proportion, upon the severities of religion. It is my firm per- suasion, the nearest and dearest conviction of my soul, that Christianity is in its inmost nature, the opposite of severity ; that it is peace, and gentleness, and joy, and love. I think I can appeal to the all-seeing God, that my heart's desire and prayer to God, is that you may all taste, and bring forth, the happiest fruits of this seed of God's own plant- ing : and that, where I endeavor, with an unsparing hand, to tear the mask from those deceptions, by which an evil world would delude us in our search for happiness, and leave us, at last, a miserable wreck, upon the shores of an undone eternity, I do this, often, with greater pain, than I can well describe ; fearing lest what I mean in real anxiety for your best interests, may be thought the eflfects, merely, of an unkind, unsocial, and gloomy temper- K Digiti  zed by Google 130 SERVOS IX. ament. — ^But with this short preface, 1 proceed to the exercise of my duty. The principle, which I endeavored, in my last discourse, to establish, is that there is a system fully understood, assented to, and acted on in the world, which virtually supersedes and sets aside the law of God ; and, in reality, puts man's opinion in the place of God. And this, I affinn, is not the practice of a few, stigmatized, wicked characters, but the prevailing aqd received priqciple of actioii ; and, consequently, that the words of my te^t i^pply not to some exceptions from, but to tihe average of society. ** All their works they do, for to be seen of men/' A charge like this can be proved, only by imJ*- discing instances. And th^ morei familiar the instances are, the better they will be understood ; and the more easily their connexion with the principle laid down, will be traced, I^et this, then, be my apology, if I appear to advert to topics, which some might think below the level of the pulpit. Where the world makes a law, it is rec^ved with all that solemn reverence^ and obeyed with that alacrity, which suits the commands of the Supreme God, And, on the other hand, where God propounds a law, it has just the force, which the authority of a weak and totteri»g goverom^irf;  Digiti zed by Google 8BRM0 IX. 131 faaa. Hie law is heard — it is not disputed : but it is not obeyed. One instance which I mentioned laflt Sunday, was the wide distinction which is made, between men and women, as to the sin of drunkenness. But it will be said, there is a material di£Perence between the sexes, in point of delicacy, which, surely, should be taken into aoeount Whatever weight we may allow to this, yet, in the very sin of drinking, an instance could be shewn, where, respecting the same sex, the same complete triumph of man's authority, over God's authority, evidently appears. It might seem ludi- erousi almost, to mention it gravely, were it not a part of an awfully important system. If, then, in worldly society, a man of the world appears, evening after evening, I will not say intoxicated, but evidently a£Pected or changed, by what he has drank, it is thought a comparative trifle, But if, m tiie morning, the same symptoms appeared, is it not true, that a significant murmur, a mysterious whisper, would go round among his acquaintances, that he was a lost man ? And if the habit con- tinued, that be would gradually be avoided as' infectious, and cast out of the pale of reputable society ? ow why this broad, excessive, exag- gerated distinction, between two crimes, surely not, in themselves, very far removed from each other ? Has the Scripture, which reveals God's will, pro-  k2 Digiti zed by Google 132 SERMO IX. pounced it a deadly, unpardonable sin, to be drunk before dinner ; and a hannless levity, to be drunk after dinner ? o. How, then, is this to be ac* counted for ? In this way alone : in the former instance, the offence is considered, as being merely against God; but in the latter, it is an offence against the majesty of man's opinion. Here, again, however, it may be said, in extenu* ation, that the world's authority is on the right side, however disproportionately exercised. But this authority, I answer, x;an take the wrong side ; and be just as implicitly obeyed. For example ; it can make it a greater crime, not to pay a gambling debt, than an honest tradesman's bill; If a yoimg, inexperienced man, loses a great part; nay, the whole of his prpperty, at play, to a person whom, in his conscience^ be thinks a villain, for entrapping him ; yet if he 4oes not proceed instantly to sell all that he has, — ^to announce, perhaps^ to a new-manied wife^, while her prospects are in all their bloom, that they both are ruined, and must forthwith bid adieu to home and every earthly comfort, to pay the wages of iniquity to a sharper ;  — ^if he demur about this, he feels that the world will spurn him from its presence, and cast him
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