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and intolerable ; but where do we find it · written in any body of human laws, “Thou
“ shalt love thy neighbour as thyself;" and, “ All things whatsoever ye would that men « should do unto you, do ye even fo unto 66 them?” Whereas the laws of the gospel extend to the heart as well as to the life, and speak to all men without exception, - at all times, and in every situation. They utter their voice with such precision and perfpicuity, that none can be at a loss to discover their meaning. They do not bend to the humours of men, nor accommodate themselves to those flexible maxims and customs which by turns prevail in this or the other age and country; far less do they grow obfolete, as human statutes do, which by long disuse lofe their force, and become void: like their great Master, what they were yesterday they are the fame to-day; and in every succeeding period their efficacy will continue till time itself fhall be no more. And, therefore, when I repeat the words of this sacred book, you are to consider them as spoken to yourselves in particular ; and no less binding upon you
in their most simple and obvious meaning; than they formerly were upon those to whom they were primarily addressed.
One thing further I would recommend to your notice, viz. that the laws I am speaking of are the laws of Him 6 who loved us, " and gave himself for us, an offering and “ facrifice to God of a sweet-smelling fa“ your;" and therefore we may rest affured, that they are kind as well as righteous, and fuited with perfect wisdom to be the means of promoting our truest interest. They are laws which he himself hath magnified and made honourable; not only by answering all their demands, fo far as his high character would permit, or his peculiar circumstances afforded occafion; but likewise by expiating the guilt incurred by the transgression of them, and bearing in his own person the punishment that was due to the offending creature.
This last consideration sets the obedience required of us in a moft endearing point of light. It is not the servile talk of a hireling who labours for his wages, but the ingenuous and grateful service of a loving
child. Christ hath purchased the glorious inheritance; and to all who believe on him, eternal life is the free gift of God through the merit of his blood : so that nothing is required of thein, but what tends to purify and perfect their natures; that, by a growing resemblance to the Father of their fpirits in this state of discipline, they may be rendered meet for the full and everlasting enjoyment of him, when death, by diffol. ving the earthly tabernacle, shall pull down all that remains of the first Adam, and bring a final release from the body of fin.
Having premised these general remarks, I fall now proceed to remind you of those particular precepts to which our conformity is required by the gospel of Christ. And we are happily furnished with a short, but most comprehensive, summary of them, by this fame Apostle in his epistle co Titus, chap. ii. 11. 12. The grace of God that bringeth salvation, bath appeared to all men; teaching us, that denying ungodliness, and worldly lufts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly in this present world.
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To these general heads, all the particulare may be reduced that belong to a conversation becoming the gospel of Christ. And here indeed I might stop short, and only call upon you to weigh with candour and impartiality, the full meaning and import of the expressions here used. • What do you understand by ungodliness, and worldly lusts? Do these terms reach no farther than to the grosser acts of impiety and sensual indulgence ? And is nothing more intended by denying them, than a prudish reserve and shyness to comply with their demands; or such a feeble resistance as yields after a short and very imperfect struggle? Surely none of you can seriously entertain this opinion. · You certainly must admit, that no exception is made of any species or degree whatıoever, either of ungodliness or worldly affections ; and that by denying them, the Apostle could mean now thing less, than such a refusal as proceeds from an inward abhorrence of them, even the most vigorous, determined, and persevering resistance of all their solicitations. Again, What do you understand by lin ving soberly, righteously, and godly in this prefent world? — Doth fobriety mean no more, than that species of moderation which is commonly opposed to surfeiting and drunkenness? Or admitting that it excludes every kind of excess in gratifying our bodily appetites, do you imagine that it leaves the mind at full liberty, so that we may lay the reins upon the neck of our passions, and suffer them to run wild without any controul in perfect consistency with that fobriety which the Apostle recommends ? .
Will you call a man righteous, merely because he cannot be charged with any gross acts of fraud, injustice, and oppreifion, though perhaps, in the course of a lawful business, he may sometimes use a little artifice to impose upon the simplicity or ignorance of his neighbours ? Or, supposing him to be strictly honest in his dealings, doth the righteousness which the gospel enjoins lay him under no obligation to feed the hungry, to clothe the naked, and to succour the distressed, according to his ability? Is every man to be reputed godly; who Y 2 ;