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exercise of gratitude, and the remembrance of the poor ; and the seeking the praise of God, rather than the praise of men ; in fine, the expansion of selfishness into universal benevolence.
Now, all these Commandments being not only reasonable and equitable, but salutary ; will not a prudent regard to our own interest induce us to observe them? In the ordinary allotment of things, does not obedience to divine precepts conduce to health, to a prolonged life, public utility, and domestic comfort ? The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom ; a good understanding have all they, that do his commandments. He who serves God is the true wise man; and, he can want nothing, who has God for his friend. Every instance of God's beneficence to us is a persuasive argument for our obedience ; and if we withhold it, will witness against us. No one of God's laws can be violated, without injuring ourselves, as well as dishonouring the Lawgiver. "Is it not just for a ruler to punish his rebellious subjects, a judge his convicted criminals, a father his undutiful children, and a master his slothful servants ; and is it not likewise equitable for the benevolent Creator to take vengeance on his incorrigible enemies ? Let him therefore that standeth, take heed lest he fall; let him take warning, not to forfeit the favour of his bountiful Father by disobedience. Let us all be in earnest to judge our own souls, that we may escape the condemnation of the final Judge. Let us begin to think less of our virtues, and more of our sins. It is the privilege of a reflecting being, to seclude himself, at devoted seasons, from the allurements of pleasure and business, and to turn his meditations inward to commune with his own heart. Whatever imperfections we may discover in our nature, it is the concern of virtue and religion to mend them. The sensual man is like a hungry man, who dreameth that he eateth ; but he awaketh, and his soul is empty. No undevout man ever found acceptance with God. The wicked have no homes purchased for them in heaven ; no guardian angel to escort their bereaved souls to their friends in glory ; no Saviour to welcome them at the resurrection of their bodies ; but, with
awful consternation, must they at last hear the despised Jesus denounce them to a cheerless, hopeless, agonizing condemnation. Come then, one and all ; come, all ye imperfect saints, and reforming sinners, to the compassionate Saviour ; to Him, who is the Way, the Truth, and the Life ; and on our bended souls let us unite and pray : Lord, have mercy upon us, and incline us to keep all these thine holy Laws in our hearts, we beseech thee,'
BELIEF AND UNBELIEF.
St James iv, 8.
DRAW NIGH TO GOD, AND HE WILL DRAW
NIGH TO YOU.
What a glorious promise is that, from the first sainted Bishop of Jerusalem. If we, weak, imperfect children of the earth draw nigh to the most high and holy Father in the Heaven of Heavens, he will draw nigh to us. Wonderful and humbling, yet animating condescension!
In the ensuing sermon, I propose to exhibit the duty and utility of that Belief in Revelation, that drawing nigh to God, which induces Obedience ; and the impiety and detriment of that Unbelief, that withdrawing from God, which induces Disobedience ; primarily, as it regards the character and situation of man in this world ; and ultimately, as it regards his hopes and happiness in a future world.
THERE MUST BE
SOME COMMON OBJECT OF RE.
If our supreme affection terminate on ourselves, and no being, created or uncreated, be regarded but for our own sakes, it is manifest there can be no union beyond the sphere in which other beings become voluntarily subservient to our wishes. The Supreme Being, if our plan do not comport with his, will be continually thwarting us ; and so we shall be always at variance with him. And as to created beings, those individuals whom we desire to be subservient to our wishes, having the same right, and the same inclination to require that we should be subservient
to theirs, will also be continually thwarting us; and so we shall always be at variance with them. In short, nothing but an endless succession of discord and confusion can be the consequence.' Thus, there can be no union, without a common object of regard.
WHO IS SO NATURALLY THIS OBJECT OF REGARD, AS OUR CREATOR ?
1. The benevolence of God is strictly infinite ; is ever in action ; and pervades his entire moral character. The original and main design of each particular thing seems evidently to be benevolent ; although all the blessings experienced by mankind are bestowed on sinful beings. We are prone to diminish both the number, and the greatness, of our blessings, because they are so common. Our health, food and raiment, are means of enjoyment to us daily, throughout our lives. Our friends and connexions also continually, and extensively contribute to our happiness. The pleasantness of seasons; the beauty and grandeur of the earth and heavens; the various kinds of agreeable sounds ever fluctuating on our ears ; the immensely various and delightful uses of language; the interchanges of thought and affection ; the peace and safety afforded by the institution of governments; the power and agreeableness of motion and activity ; the benefit and comfort afforded by the arts and sciences, particularly by those of writing, printing, and numbering ; and the continual gratification found in employment ; are all, in a sense, daily and hourly sources of good to man; all furnished, either directly or indirectly, by the hand of God.'
2. Even for the evils, which men suffer in the present world, God has furnished many alleviations, and many remedies. Besides, the evils which men are called to endure, are no doubt less than they deserve for their sins. Even the best men stand in need of afflictions. Before I was afflicted, says the Psalmist, I went astray ; but now have I kept thy word. The vanities of this world, riches, and pleasures, and honours, are apt to allure and engross the heart. Trials and bereavements show us their unsubstantial, unsatisfying nature ; "pluck us by the arm in our downward course, and conduct us back to safety and
THE BENEFITS OF BELIEVING
peace.' God doth not willingly afflict, nor grieve the children of men.
3. What has not God done to enjoin and procure the veneration, love, and obedience of sinful man, in sending them a Divine Revelation ? Behold the succession of prophets, the grandeur of miracles, the humiliation, the enduring life and agonizing death, the breaking from the grave, rising on high, and constant intercession, of the Saviour. Behold the sweet influences of the Spirit of Grace. And behold the strong foundation, and beautiful superstructure of his Church, which is gradually rising from the earth to the heavens. Surely, therefore, the Creator should be our supreme Object of Regard.
It is not only our duty to reverence and love our Creator, but it will be for our interest thus to do, in both worlds.
1. It will be for our interest in this world. Not only does belief produce virtue, and unbelief vice; but also, virtue produces belief, and vice unbelief. This sentiment is forcibly exemplified by Dr Andrew Fuller. How is it,' he asks, that in countries where Christianity has made progress, men have almost universally agreed in reckoning a true Christian, and an amiable, open, modest, chaste, conscientious, and benevolent character, as the same thing? How is it also, that to
say of a man, he rejects the Bible, is nearly the same thing, in the account of people in general, as to say, he is a man of a dissolute life? If there were not a general connexion between these things, public opinion would not so generally associate them. Individuals, and even parties, may be governed by prejudice; but public opinion of character is seldom far from the truth. Besides, the prejudices of merely nominal Christians, so far as my observation extends, are equally strong, if not stronger, against those Christians, who are distinguished by their devout and serious regard to the Scriptures, than against professed infidels. 'How is it then to be accounted for, that although they will call them fanatics, enthusiasts, and other unpleasant names, yet it is very rare that they reckon them immoral ? If, as is sometimes the case, they accuse them