Immagini della pagina
[merged small][merged small][merged small][ocr errors][merged small]

Only let your converfation be as it becometh the guffel of Chrift.


E have already confidered the most effential doctrines contained in the gofpel of Chrift, and the influence that the cordial belief of fuch interefting truths might be expected to have upon our temper and practice.

[ocr errors]

I am not fenfible that any of the conclufions I drew were ftrained, or even obfcure. To me they appeared, and, after the most ferious and impartial examination, still do appear, fo reasonable and obvious, and withal fo moderate, that I cannot think they are liable to any just objection.

At the fame time, as they present to our view a state of things fo widely different


[ocr errors]

from that which daily paffeth before our eyes, I fhall now proceed to confider the LAWS or precepts of our holy religion; that, from the review of thefe, we may discover, with still greater certainty, what the converfation is that may be faid to become the gospel of Chrift.

BUT before I defcend to particulars upon this extenfive fubject, I must beg your aftention to a few remarks I have to make

upon the precepts or laws of the gofpel in general.

With regard to their authority, there can be no doubt. He who enacted them hath an unquestionable right to our most perfect obedience; " In the beginning was the "In "Word, and the Word was with God, and "the Word was God: all things were made " by him, and without him was not any "thing made that was made." We are

therefore his property in the most abfolute and unlimited fenfe of that expreffion. He called us into being when as yet we were not, and every moment he fuftains that existence which he gave us; for " in him we

[ocr errors]
[merged small][ocr errors][merged small]
[ocr errors]

is fo neceffarily dependent upon him, that with regard to foul, and body, and outward eftate, we have nothing but what we daily receive from his liberal hand. Befides this original and unalienable right to govern us, there is another title, which, as Christians, we profefs to acknowledge, and ought always to do it with the warmest and most humble gratitude; I mean, the right he hath obtained by redemption and purchafe. As his natural fubjects, we bound to ferve him to the utmost extent of the powers he hath given us and this ori ginal obligation, instead of being relaxed or impaired, is rather confirmed and strengthened by the mercy he hath shown us as the objects of his grace: "We are not our

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]


own, we are bought with a price ;" and are therefore bound, by the united ties of gratitude and justice, " to glorify our Re"deemer, both with our bodies and fpirits, "which are his.'

[ocr errors]

But what I would chiefly lead your attention to, is the nature and properties of


thofe laws to which our fubjection and obe dience are required.

They are all holy, juft, and good,” refulting from the very frame our Creator hath given us, and from the relation we bear to himself, and to other beings with whom his Providence hath connected us. Hence it follows, that they are equally incapable of repeal or abatement. The laws of men are local, temporary, changeable, and always partake of the imperfection of their authors. Some of them are fo obfcure, that they need another law to explain them; and it often happens that the commentary is darker than the text. The beft of them take their aim from fome temporal evil that is either prefently felt, or foreseen in its caufe; and the highest end they propose, is to restrain from injuries of the groffer kind: they do not even pretend to be a rule of moral conduct; they prohibit and denounce vengeance against theft, robbery, murder, and the like; but lay no restraint upon heart-hatred, covetoufness, and envy. They tell us in what inftances injustice or cruelty become exceffive


[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]


and intolerable; but where do we find it written in any body of human laws, "Thou "fhalt love thy neighbour as thyself;" and, "All things whatsoever ye would that men "fhould do unto you, do ye even fo unto "them?" Whereas the laws of the gofpel extend to the heart as well as to the life, and fpeak to all men without exception, at all times, and in every fituation. They utter their voice with fuch precifion and perfpicuity, that none can be at a lofs to difcover their meaning. They do not bend to the humours of men, nor accommodate themfelves to thofe flexible maxims and cuftoms which by turns prevail in this or the other age and country; far lefs do they grow obfolete, as human ftatutes do, which by long difufe lofe their force, and become void: like their great Mafter, what they were yesterday they are the fame to-day; and in every fucceeding period their efficacy will continue till time itself shall be no more. And, therefore, when I repeat the words of this facred book, you are to confider them as fpoken to yourselves in particular; and no lefs binding upon you

« IndietroContinua »