To the law and to the testimony: if they speak not according to this word, it is because there is no light in them.
There are three erroneous principles of morality prevalent among ourselves, expediency, honour, and custom.
1. Expediency, borrowed from the storehouse of sceptical philosophy, and placed, by its wisest defenders, as nearly as might be done, on a Christian foundation, pronounces that an action is right or wrong according as it tends to promote or to diminish general happiness. Whatever is expedient is right. Every moral precept is subject to exceptions. And of the expediency of regarding or disregarding the precept every man is in every case to judge for himself.
2. Honour, as a principle of action, refers to the estimation of the class of society in which the individual moves, and especially to the sentiments of the higher ranks, whose opinions will ever be of the most preponderating influence. Its concern respecting moral actions is limited to such as are useful in fashionable intercourse: and is particularly bestowed on those which have somewhat of splendour, commonly of false splendour, in their exterior appearance.
3. Custom is the general guide of those persons who give little thought to the investigation of principles, and take their moral opinions upon trust from others. No one of these is the Scriptural standard of conduct. They all depart from "the law and the testimony." "They speak not according to this word": therefore "there is no tight in them." Let us now advert to their effects.
I. One effect will be this: THE MORALITY PRODUCED WILL BE UNCERTAIN AND VARIABLE. From a survey of the variable morality produced by these false principles of morals, turn to the morality of the Scriptures. Behold it firm, consistent, immutable: not committing its precepts to the jurisdiction of man, and investing him with a dispensing power to suspend or to abrogate them at his discretion; but commanding him universally to be faithful in obeying them, and to leave consequences with God.
II. Another effect of the erroneous principles under examination is, that THE MORALITY PRODUCED IS LOW IN DEGREE. From the view of the debased morality originating in false principles direct your eyes again to the Word of God. Behold the morality which it teaches, worthy of Him, suited to man I Behold it manifesting itself by its holiness to be a transcript of the holiness of God! Behold it as a branch of that "godliness," which "has the promise of the life that now is, as well as of that which is to come": behold it conducing to the happiness of men, present no less than future. Behold it not partially confining its benefits to select classes of society; but with outspread arms showering them down upon all. Behold it displaying from age to age its hallowed truths, uncorrupt, unsullied, as the source from which it flows. Behold it exemplified in the fulness of perfection, by, Him who is the cornerstone of Christian morality; by the incarnate Son of God, even by Him who was "God manifest in the flesh."
III. THE MISCHIEF PRODUCED BY FALSE PRINCIPLES OF MORALITY WILL BE BEYOND MEASURE EXTENSIVE. it is on moral dispositions and moral conduct that these principles operate. And it is in the government of moral dispositions, and in the exercise of them in moral actions, that much of the employment of life consists. If religion be weakened in one point, it is weakened in all points, it is endangered in all. Ii then you are anxious, in discharging the duties of morality," faithfully" to follow the. Divine commandments, and to tread in the steps of your Lord, "search the Scriptures. By them shall every moral deed be tried at last: by them let it be directed now.
Parallel VersesKJV: To the law and to the testimony: if they speak not according to this word, it is because there is no light in them.
WEB: Turn to the law and to the testimony! If they don't speak according to this word, surely there is no morning for them.