Imágenes de páginas

at the last Œ)ay, and not to me only, but to all that by Faith look for his Appearance.

Lastly, The Danger of deserting the Faith is no less dreadful and inexpressible; for our Saviour in the fame place tells us, 'That he that believeth not, shall be damn'd: where Hell is made the Portion of Unbelievers, and the hottest place of it is prepar'd for such as revolt from the Christian Faith.


Mat. xix. latter part of the i jth Verse.

Jf thou wilt enter into Life, keep the Commandments.

IDiscours'd the last time of the Second Condition requir'd and promis'd in the Baptismal Covenant, which taught us what to believe, viz. AU the Articles of the Christian Faith. I proceed now to the

Third Condition requir'd in it, which directs us what we are to do; and that is, To keep God's holy Will and Commandments, and to walk in the fame all the days of our Life. "Whereas the former gave us the great Rule of Faith to direct our Belief; this instructs us in the great Rule of Liso and Manners to regulate our Practice. Of this I shall treat at this time from these words of our Saviour, If thou -wilt enter into Life, keep the Commandments.

The Words are part of an Answer to a Question put to our Saviour by a certain Man, who, in the Verse before the Text, came to him and ask'd him, faying, Good Master, what good thing shall I do, that I may have eternal Life* To whom our Saviour replies in the words read, If thou wilt enter into Life, keep the Commandments. To the fame purpofe our Catechism teaches us, If we will enter into Life by the "Door of Baptism, we must keep God's holy Will and Commandments, and walk in the fame all the days of our Life.

For the Explication of this part of our Vow, we must enquire,

t First,

First, What is meant here by God's holy Will and Commandments.

Secondly, What by keeping his holy Will and Commandments.

thirdly, What by walking in the fame all the days of our Life.

Fourthly, I must shew this to be a necessary Condition of Life and Salvation.

For the First : By C7od's holy Will we are to understand his reveal'd Will, as 'tis made known to us, either by the Light of Nature, or by the Light of Scripture; for both these ways he hath discover'd his Mind and Will unto Mankind. By the Light of Nature we are taught many great and important Truths; as, That there is a God, That he is to be wor/hip'd, That Right and Justice is to be done to all Men, and that we mould do to others as we would be done by ourselves. These and many other Principles of Religion are engraven on our very Natures, and may be learn'd by the plain Deductions of common Reason. This is a good Rule as far as it reaches, and helps to direct us in many weighty Duties both towards God and Man. Indeed this was all the Rule the Gentile World had to walk by, for they having no written Law, were (as the Apostle tells us) a Law unto themselves, having the Law of God written in their Hearts; their 'thoughts the mean while hearing witness, and their Conscience accusing or excusing one another: Rom. 2. For which reason they were said to be left without Excuse, in Matters wherein they acted contrary to this natural Light.

But where this was defective, God Almighty hath supply'd it to the Christian World by the Light of Scripture; he hath spoken to us in these latter days by his Son, whom he hath made Heir of all things, by whom also he made the World. This Son of God, who lay in the Bosom of the Father, hath reveal'd to us his whole Mind and Will; so that we are not left to the blind and uncertain Conduct of Nature, but have a more sure Word 0s" Prophecy, whereunto we do well to take heed, as to a Light mining in a dark place. He hath given us his Word, to be a Light unto our Feet, and a Lanthorn unto our Taths; by this he hath directed us how to walk, so as to please him and prosit ourselves. This is the holy Will of God.


By his Commandments, we are to understand that Law which was sirst given by Moses on Mount Sinai, and after enlarg'd and expounded by Christ on the Mount of Olives; in which he hath fully instructed us in our Duty, and given us Precepts that far surpass not only the dark Directions of natural Light, but the obscure Revelation of Moses's Law. In a word, we have there the most excellent Rules for the Conduct of our Lives here, and to bring us to eternal Life and Happiness hereafter. These are his Commandments.

But, Secondly, What is it to keep God's holy Will and Commandments? In answer to which, 'Tis not barely to know the Will of God, or to keep his Commandments in remembrance, but to live in obedience to the one, and observation of the other; to make God's Will the Guide of our Lives, and his Commandments the Rule of our Actions. So that the great Duty here requir'd and expected from us, is Obedience; which being the last and great Condition of the baptismal Covenant, must be unfolded to you. To which end I shall, as briefly as I can, explain the Nature and Qualisications of true Obedience. For the Nature of it; 'tis the conforming our Lives and Actions to the Will and Ways of God: for his Will being the Measure and Standard of all Virtue and Goodness, is to be the Rule of our Lives, and the Measure of our Obedience. Accordingly his Commandments teach us to demean ourselves towards God with all Piety and Devotion, to put our whole Trust in him, and to honour his holy Name and his Word. Towards Men they direct to all Acts of Justice, Honesty, and Charity; and likewise to all Sobriety, Meek- . ness, Patience, and Contentedness towards ourselves. Now when we lead our Lives by these Directions, and square our Actions by these Rules, then do we shew ourselves to be his Servants. So that as we are to try the Soundness of our Doctrines by the Touchstone of the Creed, so are we to examine the Goodness of our Doings by the Standard of the Commandments. But how is our Obedience to God's Will and Commandments to be qualify'd, to render it acceptable? Why it must have three Qualisications to that end, viz. Sincerity, Integrity, and Constancy.

1st, I fay, our Obedience must be accompany'd with Sincerity; that is, it must be true undissembled Service, void of all Hypocrify or corrupt Designs in serving him: To this end, it must proceed from an inward Principle of Love, in2 dining dining us to obey his Laws for his own fake, and because he commands them. Where this is wanting, Men do not observe God's Will, but their own; neither do they so much serve God, as themselves. True Evangelical Obedience is hearty and sincere, 'tis done as unto God, and from an inward Desire to please him; 'tis not mov'd, like an Engine, by the Wheels of Interest; nor acted by ByEnds or external Motives in his Service; but proceeds from a Principle within, which keeps good Men as much, yea, more to their Duty in secret, than in the sight of Man. God cares not for a heartless Service, he hates thofe unwilling Sacrisices that must be dragg'd to the Altar. His Call is, My Son give me thy Heart! where this is, he accepts of weak and imperfect Services; but where this is wanting, the most grand and pompous Shews are an Abomination to him. God indeed does not forbid us all Love to ourselves, nor will us to cast off" all regard to our own Interest in his Service: No, he propofes to us great Rewards, as Motives to Obedience ; and the most eminent Saints have ever had an eye to the Recompence of Reward. So that this alone cannot corrupt our Service, or render our Obedience insincere; 'tis the joining the love of Sin with the serving of God that corrupts the Duty, and'tis the designing or preferring any temporal Ends in his Service that wholly mars the Offering: and therefore that we may obey and serve God acceptably, it must come from the Heart, and not be embas'd by sinister and secular Ends.

zdly, Another Qualisication of true Obedience, is Integrity; which imports the Obedience of the whole Man to the whole Law or Will of God. It must be intire in respect to the whole Man; that is, all the Faculties and Powers both of Soul and Body, are to be exercis'd and employ'd in his Service. Our blessed Saviour requires us, To love the Lord our God, with all our Heart, with all our Soul, and with all our Mind; meaning, that thofe noble Faculties of our Understanding, Will, and Affections, should be all principally bent towards God, and that we are to labour to know, love, and serve him above all things. Besides which, he wills us to love him with all our Strength 5 that is, with all oar bodily Powers, all the Members whereof are to be employ'd, not in the Service of Sin, but to be Instruments of Righteousness and Holiness unto' God; our Mouths are to be open'd to shew forth his


Praise; our Tongues to be Heralds to proclaim his Honour; our Hands to be lifted up in daily Supplications unto God, and open'd in charitable Dispositions to our distressed Neighbours; our Feet to be swift, not to shed Blood, but to run the Paths of God's Commandments. Thus must our Obedience be intire, in respect of the Subject, by being the Service of the whole Man. Moreover,

It must be intire in respect of the Object, by being extended to the whole Will and Law of God. Then jball I not be ajlyamed (says the Psalmist) when I have refpetl to all thy Commandments. 'Tis the Universality of our Obedience that recommends it unto God, for that manifestly shews it to proceed from a Principle of Love and Sense of Duty to him : Zachary and Elizabeth are commended for walking in all the Commandments of the Lord blameless, Luke r. 6. Indeed, the Authority of God equally running thro' all his Liws, there can be no reason why we should observe one and despise another; unless it be from seme By-end, and Partiality to ourselves, which is enough to debase our Service, and render it unpleasing to him. He that said, 'Thou shalt not commit Adultery; said also, Tboushalt not steal; so that tho thou avoidest Adultery, yet if thou steal, thou art a Transgressor of the Law. Yea, St. James declares, 'That if-we keep the whole Law, and offend but in one Toint, "joe are guilty of all; because such a partial Observance proceeds not from the true Motive of Obedience, which is the divine Authority: for that being stamp'd on all his Laws, would make them all current, and extend our Obedience as far as that reaches, even to all the Commandments. So that our Obedience cannot be sincere, unless it be universal. Again, It must be intire, not only as to the Object, but as to the Time; it must hold out and extend to the whole Course of our Life: Which is the

Next Qualisication of true Obedience, viz. Constancy and 'Perseverance to the end. And this will lead me to the

Third Thing propounded to be spoken to; which was, To shew what is meant by walking in the fame all the days of cur Life. By which no more nor less can be meant, than that we do not faulter or tire in our Christian Course, but persevere and hold out to the end : our Obedience must be constant as well as sincere, and continue all the days of our Life. 'Tis not enough to serve and obey God now and then, by sits and starts, to be warm and zealous


« AnteriorContinuar »