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(3.) The observance of this facred rule of equity would have the most happy influence upon human fociety, and would make this world a little paradise. If men did to others whatever they would have others do to them, such a conduct would put an end to a great part of the miseries of mankind. Then there would be no wars and tumults among the nations, no jealousies and contentions in families, no oppreffion, fraud, or any form of injustice, no jars, animosities, and confusions in neighbourhoods; but human fociety would be a company of friends, and justice, equity, love, charity, kindness, gratitude, sympathy, and all the amiable train of virtues, would reign among them. What an happy state of things would this be! How different from the present! And shall not each of us contribute all in our power to bring about such a glorious revolution ?
(4.) The observance of this rule is a piece of pru.. dence with regard to ourselves. It is of great importance to our happiness in this world, that others hould treat us well. There are none of us absolutely independent of others; we are not able to stand as the butt of universal opposition; or if we are now in happy circumstances, we stand upon a slippery place, and may foon fall as low as our neighbours. Now the readiest way to be treated well by others, is to treat others well ourselves. If you would have others to behave agreeable to you, you must do fo to them; do what you expect from them. Men often complain of bad neighbours, when they are the occasion of it, by being bad neighbours themselves. There is hardly any place fo bad, but a benevolent inoffensive man may live peaceably in it; but the contentious will always meet with contention ; for they raise the storm which disturbs them. Therefore, if no other argument has weight with you, for your own fakes observe this divine rule.
(5.) I shall only add, that unless you conscientiously observe the duties of social life, you cannot enter
the the kingdom of heaven. Not only fins done immediately against God, and the omifsion of duties to him, but also fins against our fellow-creatures, and the omission of the duties we owe to them, will exclude men from the kingdom of God. Of this we have abundant evidence in scripture. I need only refer you to two comprehensive passages, 1 Cor. vi. 9, 10. Gal. v. 19, 20, 21. in which you see that all unrighteousness, hatred, variance, strife, envy, extortion, and the like, which are offences against men, will as certainly shut the gates of heaven against you as idolatry or herefies, which are fins against God. The most plausible experiences, the greatest diligence and zeal in devotion, and the most promising profesfion of religion, will never bring you to heaven, tho' absolutely necessary in their place, unless you also abound in good works towards men. And shall this argument have no weight with you? Is your eternal salvation an insignificant thing with you? Are you proof against the terrors of everlasting destruction? If you would enjoy the one, and escape the other, "Do to others what you would have them do to you.'
I shall conclude with one or two reflections.
(1.) If this be the rule of our conduct, alas ! how little true morality is there in the world! Men seem to act as if they were entirely detached from one another, and had no connection, or were not at all concerned to promote each other's interest. Self-interest is their pursuit, and self-love their ruling paffion; if that be but promoted, and this gratified, they have little or no concern besides. Let their neigh. bours look to themselves, they have no business with them. If I shall only mention one particular case under this general rule, namely, commerce and bargaining, what a scene of iniquity would it open.! Men seem to make this their rule, to get as much for what they fell, and give as little for what they buy, as they can : they hardly ever think what the real value of the thing is, and whether the other party has a toler
able able bargain of it: 'Let him look, say they, to that; it is none of their care.' Alas! my brethren, where are the laws of justice and charity, when men behave in this manner; and yet, alas ! how common is such a conduct in the commercial world!
(2.) We ought to examine our own conduct in this respect, and it will go a great way to determine whether our religion be true and sincere, or not. If we make conscience of social duty, it is a promising fign that God has written his law in our hearts. But if we can willingly indulge ourselves in any finful and mean conduct towards men, we may be sure our religion is vain, whatever our pretension be. Let us feel then the pulse of our fouls, whether it beats warm and full, both with the love of God and the love of our neighbour. Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, or venerable, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report ; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, let us think on these things. Phil. iv. 8.
. SERMON XXXI.
DEDICATION TO GOD ARGUED FROM REDEEMING
1 Cor. vi. 19, 20. What! know ye not that ye are not
your own? For ye are bought with a price : thereforc glorify God in your body, and in your Spirit, which are God's.
TY first and last business with you to-day is to I l afsert a claim which perhaps you have but little thought of, or acknowledged. In the name of Vol. II.
God * The discourse is said by the author to be Sermons preparatory to the Lord's Supper,
God I enter a claim to you, to the whole of you, soul and body, and whatever you poffefs ; to every one of you, high and low, old and young, freemen as well as llaves ; I enter a claim to you all as God's right, and not your own : and I would endeavour to bring you voluntarily to acknowledge his right, and by your own free act to surrender and devote yourselves to him, whose you are, and whom therefore you are bound to serve.
It is high time for me to affert, and for you to acknowledge God's right to you ; for have not many of you behaved as if you thought you were your own, and had no master or proprietor ? Have you not practically said, with those insolent finners the psalmist mentions, Our lips are our own, who is Lord over us? Psalm xii. 4. for have you not refused to employ your tongues for the honour of God, and spoke what you pleased, without any controul from his law ! Have you not said by your practice, what Pharaoh was bold and plain enough to speak out in words, Who is the Lord, that I should obey his voice? Exod. v. 2. Have you not aimed at pleasing yourselves, as if you were not bound to please the sú. preme Lord of heaven and earth, whose authority confines the stubborn powers of hell in chains of everlafting darkness, and sets all the armies of heaven in motion to execute his sovereign orders ? Have you not followed your own inclinations, as if you were at liberty to do what you pleased? Or if you have in some instances restrained yourselves, have not the restraints proceeded, not from a regard to his authority, but from a regard to your own pleasure or interest ? Have you not used your bodies, your souls, your estates, and all your possessions, as if they were jour own absolutely and independently, and there were no God on high, who has an original and superior claim to you, and all that you are and have ? Do not your own consciences convict you of these things? Is it not then high time for you to be made
Aances, ded, not to your bodies if they there
sensible whose right you are? that you are not your own, but God's.
This reason would render this subject very seasonable at any time. But there is another reason which peculiarly determines me to make choice of it to-day, and that is, the greatest business of this day is to surrender and devote ourselves to God as his servants for ever. In fo folemn a posture as at the Lord's table, in so affecting an act as the commemoration of that death to which we owe all our hopes of life and happiness, and with such solemn emblems as those of bread and wine in our hands, which represent the broken body and flowing blood of Jesus, we are to yield ourselves to God, and seal our indenture to be his. This is the folemn business we are now entering upon. And that we may perform it the more hearti. ly, it is fit we should be sensible that we are doing no more than what we are obliged to do, no more than what God has a right to require us to do, seeing we are not our own, but his.
The apostle speaks of it with an air of surprise and horror, that any under the profession of christianity should be so stupid as not to know and acknowledge that they are not their own, but God's. What! says he, know ye not--that ye are not your own? As if he had faid, Can you be ignorant in fo plain a point as this? Or can you be so hardy, as knowing the truth, to practise contrary to knowing it ? Knowing you are not your own, dare you act as if you were your own? Acknowledging that you are God's, dare you withhold from him his property? Will a man rob God? Shall not his professed servants ferve him? Since your bodies and your fouls are his, dare you use them as if they were absolutely your own, and refuse to glorify him with them?
The same claim, my brethren, is valid with regard to you, which the apostle here asserts with regard to the Corinthians. You are no more your own than they were ; you are as much God's property as they were.