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best estimate which can be made of the value of the service which a man can render in this calling, and the nation would be no gainer by dismissing him from its service. He complies with the contract, and when he comes and shows his scars, and tells of his perils and privations, his weary marches, and his risk of life, and his separation from home and friends in the cause of his country, his country will not grudge him the pittance that he receives, for he has earned it, and merited it, and it would not be right to withhold it from him.

You employ a physician; the service which he renders you, you regard a full equivalent for what you pay him. What you receive from him in his care, attention, skill, and sympathy, you consider to be fully equal in value to the compensation which you give him. Your relief from pain, your recovery of the use of your bodily powers, or the restoration to your affectionate embrace in sound health of a wife or child, you consider as an ample equivalent for all which he asks you for his services; and were an election to be made, you would much prefer to pay the amount of the physician's fees to going through those sorrows again. What he receives from you, you feel that on every account he deserves or has earned, and it would be wrong for you to withhold it.

In each of these cases, that is true which the apostle Paul affirms, “ To him that worketh, the reward is not reckoned of grace, but of debt.” These illustrations will explain the proper sense of the word “merit.” In each instance, there is an equivalent for what is paid; in each instance, what is demanded could be enforced as a claim of right. There is no other sense in which the word merit or desert can be used. All besides this is favour or grace. If you choose to give the day-labourer, the soldier, or the professional man more than you agreed, or more than his services are worth to you, you have an undoubted right to do 80,


you would not put it on the ground of his merit or desert. You would feel that it was a gratuity which could not be enforced by justice, and that no blame would be attached to you if it were withheld. If his perils, or services, or self-denials and sacrifices, were greater than you anticipated when the contract was made, or if the service rendered was really of more value to you than the amount which you are pledged to give him, you may consider yourself bound by equity to give him more, for you feel that he has earned or merited it. Thus you would be glad to compensate, if you could, the wounded soldier who has perilled all in your defence; and on the same principle, if you could do it, you would wish to recompense the man who at the risk of his life should save your child from the devouring flame, or from a watery grave.

II. We come now to apply these principles to the case before us. Keeping this explanation of the nature of merit in view, we approach the inquiry, whether man can merit heaven? Can he be saved because he deserves it? Can he be so profitable to God that he can advance a just claim to an admission into the world of glory? If he can, then his salvation follows as a matter of course; if he cannot, he should lose no time in endeavouring to ascertain whether there is any other way by which he may be saved. In reference to this inquiry, the following considerations may be submitted :

(1.) Man can render no service to his Maker for which the rewards of heaven would be a proper equivalent. Or, in other words, the amount of service which he can render is not such as can be properly measured by the reward of everlasting life. His service to his Maker and to the universe is not of so much value that he can claim eternal life as an equivalent. We have seen that this does exist in the case of the day-labourer, the soldier, and the physician. We can see a correspondence between the service rendered and the compensation in these cases, which makes us feel that there is propriety and equity in the reward. But in reference to any connexion or correspondence between the service which man can render his Maker and the rewards of heaven, we can see no such propriety and equity. The one does not measure the other. The universe is not so much benefited by the service of man, that everlasting life and infinite happiness would be only a fair equivalent, or such that wrong would be done if that reward should be withheld. Yet is it not a fair principle, that this must be the case if man deserves or merits salvation ? Must there not have been such an amount or value of service rendered that it would be injustice to withhold the reward—injustice such as would occur in the case of the faithful day-labourer, the soldier, the physician, if their pay were withheld? That must be extraordinary service rendered to the universe, or to God, which deserves the glories of an eternal heaven as its reward. That is extraordinary service rendered to you if a stranger rescues a child from impending death, and restores him to your transported bosom, and

you feel that no compensation which you can make would be more than an equivalent. That was extraordinary service which was rendered to their country by the heroes of the American Revolution; and as the results of their patriotism and perils are seen in the unexampled prosperity of the land which they rescued, we feel that the pension of the old soldier is a very inadequate recompense. That was extraordinary virtue which led the father of his country through the trials, perplexities, and perils of that

time, and which he evinced when, having laid the foundation of our liberty, he voluntarily retired to private life, leaving the people in the enjoyment of freedom ; and we feel that no wealth which the nation had to offer, no monument of marble or of brass which art could rear, would equal the measure of his praise. But has man any such extraordinary service to render to his Maker and to the universe ? Has he done anything, can he do anything for God, and for the empire which he rules, which would make the wealth of heaven and its everlasting glories only an equitable recompense ? Obviously, there is no congruity, no fitness, no correspondence between the one and the other; and when men talk about meriting heaven, or when they feel that they deserve to be saved, they have not well considered the import of language. They use it correctly in common life. Is it not right to ask that it may be used with the same exactness in religion?

(2.) This general principle, which appears so obvious, may be illustrated with particular reference to the religious services which men render to their Maker. If man merits heaven, and is to be saved on account of his own deservings, it will be conceded that the service must be in some way connected with religion, or of such a nature that it can be regarded as the service of God. You would not feel yourself bound to pay a day-labourer if, instead of working for you, he worked all day for your neighbour, or were idle; you would not think of recompensing a soldier if he slept at his post, or fought under the standard of the enemy.

There are religious men upon the earth-men who are honestly engaged in the service of God, and who, in connexion with their religious services, are looking for the rewards of heaven. Our subject, in its progress, demands that we inquire just here whether the service which they render is of such a nature that they merit eternal life? Is it because they are so profitable to God and his cause that the rewards of heaven would be only an equivalent for the services which they render? Let us look a moment at this matter.

A man who is truly religious renders a real and a valuable service to the cause of virtue and of God. His existence is a blessing, and not a curse. The universe is made better and happier because he lives. It would be a loss to society and to the universe, if his example, his conversation, his plans of wisdom, his experience, and his generous deeds, were annihilated or had not been. When the “ rewards” of heaven are bestowed upon him, it will not be without some reference to a fitness or propriety that they should be so bestowed. There will be a sense in which every man will be rewarded according to his works.” But in reference to the bearing of this indisputable fact on the case before us, there are two or three things that deserve to be considered.

(a) One is, that your individual existence is not necessary to secure the service which is now actually rendered. God is not so dependent on you that he could not accomplish his purposes without you, or that if you should be removed, service of equal value might not be secured in some other way. By the great law of his kingdom, the agency of man is to be employed in the accomplishment of his purposes, but your individual agency is not indispensable. The services of a minister of the gospel who is eminently useful, and who is at a time of life, and has a measure of experience and learning, that seems to fit him for an important station, can be supplied by some one that God can place in his stead. When he is taken away, a mighty chasm indeed seems to be made; but his withdrawal soon ceases to be felt, for others rush in to fill his place : as the surface of the ocean soon becomes smooth, and it seems to be as full as it was before, though the waterspout has lifted up and carries away a portion of the mighty deep, or the sun has caused it to ascend in vapours; for streams and rivers all the while pour into that ocean, and keep up a constant supply. The man that was so learned and wise that it seemed as if no one else could supply his place at the head of a college, or so sagacious and prudent that it seemed as if some vast plan of benevolence depended on him, is removed; but the chasm is soon filled up-just as in storming a city, when the leader falls, some subaltern steps into his place, and leads on the conquest with the freslıness of youth, and with wisdom and valour that had been in training for this very breach which God foresaw would occur. Let us not, then, suppose that our services are indispensable to God. Let us not imagine that he is dependent on us, or is under obligation to us. In the bosom of society, there are undeveloped powers, which will more than fill our places; in the church, there is piety maturing which can do more than we can do: and the very purposes of human advancement cherished in the Divine Mind may demand our removal.

(b) The religious man will reflect, further, that his best services do not deserve heaven. A man who is truly pious, and who has any proper sense of his own imperfections, and of the glory to which he is looking forward, never feels that there is any proportion between the services which he renders to God here, and the immortal blessedness to which he hopes to be elevated hereafter. He renders no service to the cause of truth and virtue which in his own estimation is an equivalent for the rewards which he trusts are in reserve for him; and after all his toils he feels that



those rewards will be not of “debt,” but of grace, and that he is

unprofitable servant.” God has taken effectual care of this in his plan of salvation; and whoever he may be that expects heaven on the ground of his own merit, it will not be he who gives evidence that he is truly a devoted and faithful servant of God.

(c) If, however, at any time this feeling of merit or claim should arise in the mind of a truly pious man, it is effectually checked by a moment's reflection on the way in which he has been disposed to engage in the service of God at all. It is not by any native inclination or tendency of mind; it has been solely by grace. Whatever service he may render, the origin of it is to be traced back to that distinguishing mercy which led him to seek after God, when he was disposed to pursue his own ways; which recalled liim, wlien he was a wretched wanderer from the paths of truth and salvation. The case is like this :-You go into a

"market place," and find a man“idle," and inclined to be idle. You reason and remonstrate with him, and by persevering entreaty, and the offer of reward, arouse him from his indolence, and induce him to spend his time in your service. Now, however faithful he may he, or however valuable may be the services which he may render you, he will never feel that any merit is to be attributed to himself. He owes to you his industrious habits, and all which he can ever secure by his labour. Or to take a case more in point:You go into a miserable hovel, and find a wretch in the lowest stages of vice and misery. He was once a man in heart as well as in form, but now he has wholly lost the manhood of the one, and almost of the other. He is loathsome by vice and disease, and is a wretched outcast. He has no wish to be a man again ; he has no energy to arouse him from his condition ; he has no friend to take him by the hand, or even to pity him in his vices and woes. You take compassion on him. You clothe him in decent apparel. You remonstrate with him on his evil course. You remind him of what he was, and tell him of what he may be still. You rekindle the dying spark of self-respect; show him that he may yet forsake the paths of vice and again be respectable ; breathe into him gradually the wish to be virtuous and pure and happy; give him a comfortable home to dwell in, and a piece of land to cultivate as his own. You speak. kindly to him when he is discouraged ; shield him when he is tempted by his old companions; offer him ample rewards for any services which he may render you,--and he returns to the ways of industry, and rises to a condition of competency and respectability. Perchance, doing this, you have lighted on a gema of purest ray serene'

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