« ՆախորդըՇարունակել »
SERM.the consideration of the goodness of God, II. which appears to all his creatures, and his
mercies which are over all his works, would lead men to hope he will not be extreme to mark the unallow'd defects of them who are uprightly endeavouring to do his will lo far as they know it, and are diligently using the best means in their power to know it better : yet it must be acknowledged an invaluable priviledge, to have an express declaration to this purpose from God himself well attested, and that it is a condescension every way worthy of his wisdom and his grace.
Sincerity in doing the will of his heavenly Father is that which Christ indispensably requires of all his disciples, that is, doing it with a true intention, with the conscious approbation of their own minds, and with good affections. He has in another part of this sermon on the mount (chap. vi. taught us the difference in the examples of prayer and alms-giving, between external works to appearance good, but really hypocritical, as being done only to be seen of men, and such as are sincere and acceptable, being done from a real inward love of goodness, and with a true intention to approve ourselves to God. One would think it should
be no great difficulty for a man reflecting on SERM. himself to know the springs of action in his II. own mind, and the motives which determine him; whether he is influenced by private, selfish, and corrupt views, or if he acts in those works which outwardly appear virtuous and religious from hearty good-will to his fellow-creatures, love to God, and a desire of being approved by him; yer many impose upon themselves, imagining they do the will of God so far as is absolutely necessary to their acceptance, when really they do it not. This mistake arises from a supine negligence in self-examination, or the strong prejudices of a heart hardened thro' the deceitfulness of fin..
And generally the false cover under which the insincerity of the heart, and disobedience of the conversation are disguised, is what I mentioned before, a vehement zeal in the
profession, and in the externals of religion, or the resolutions of a future amendment and obedience, which men fondly flatter themLelyes will be accepted.
But, be not deceived, God is not mocked, whatso. ever a man soweth, that shall be also reap. For be that soweth to the flesh Mall of the flesh reap corruption, but he that
foweth to the
spiritshall Vol. II. E
Serm. of the spirit reap life everlasting *. And he II. only who doth righteousness, as St. John teaches,
not who profesleth or purposeth it, is righteous, Let it be further observed, that if we do the will of God in the sense in which our Saviour requires it as the condition of entering into the kingdom of heaven, we must do it universally. A partial obedience will never please him. To single out some of his commandments, which we will obey because they do not interfere with a favourite vice, or selfish interest, whilst we obstinately continue in the violation of others as plainly declared to us, but which stand in direct opposition to a prevailing lust, this is to rebel against God. A case of this kind we have in the 15th chapter of the ist Book of Samuel, and the guilt of it is fully represented. A commandment was given from God to Saul, which he executed in part only, boasting of it, however, to Samuel, that he had performed the commande ment of the Lord. But when Samuel challenged him upon his apparent failure for that he heard the bleating of the sheep and the lowing of the oxen, he palliated the omission by several excuses, such as the importunity of the people, and the pretence of a pious design to offer
* Gal. vi. 7, 8,
the cattle in facrifice to God, still insisting Serm. that he had obeyed the voice of the Lord, as
II. verse 20. but Samuel rejects all his defences verse 22. saying, Hath the Lord asgreat delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices as in obeying the voice of the Lord ; behold, to obey, is better than facrifice, and to bearken than the fat of rams ; and adds in the 23d verse, Rebellion is as the fin of witchraft, and subbornness is as iniquity and idolatry. Rebellion against the true God, by disobeying his commandments is like serving a false God ; and a pretended obedience to God which is only partial, while men seem in some things to do his will, but omit other things as plainly en. joined, and will stubbornly conduct their profest obedience according to their own pleasure or humour, this is really not ferving God at all; for the mind which is truly devoted to him, must be determined by his supreme authority, both as to the matter and manner of obedience whenever his will is made known ; and no pretence can be more unreasonable and trifling than that we do the will of God, because we do it in some instances, when we knowingly neglect it in others And, therefore, wilfully to transgress any one E 2
Serm. of the divine precepts is to work iniquity, so II.
as to expose ourselves to this sentence of Christ at the last day ; Depart from me, I know you not : to offend thus in one point is to be guilty of all : neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners, Jhall inherit the kingdom of God: if a man habitually indulge himself in
deli. berate sin unrepented of, and unreform’d, is death.
A persevering continuance in well doing, 'is also necessary to our obtaining eternal life ; to them only which endure to the end, is the promise made that they shall be faved; but if any man draw back, faith God, my Soul mall have no pleasure in him: and the prophet has expressly assured us in his name When the righteous man turneth away from his righteousness, and committetb iniquity, and
* Ezek. xviii. 24: