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you; if you would enjoy them in a found ftate, or would have a clear and lively impression of them, let me beseech you to comply with the Apostle's exhortation, and to “prove your own works.” So shall ye have your rejoicing in yourselves, and never be ashamed. Amen.
Therefore, to him that knoweth to do good, and
doeth it not, to him it is fin.
THE unfruitful lives of professing Chri.
1 stians is a very general and a just complaint. But few of those who retail this complaint, are heartily inclined to remove the cause of it. We are melancholy examples of that which we pretend to laments and we cease not to strengthen the inte. rests of a party which we condemn. David, when he was treating with Araunah the Jebusite, for the purchase of his threhing floor, in order to rear an altar to God, refused to accept of it without a price, because he would not “ oftei burnt offerings “ unto the Lord his God, of that which « cost him nothing." But, alas ! our gene, VOL. III. H
ral contest seems rather to be, who shall be most penurious in his offerings to God, and who shall purchase heaven with the easiest service. Many have unhappily deceived themselves into an opinion, that nothing but positive acts of rebellion will subject them to punishment. They place much confidence in what is called a harmless inoffensive life, as if it were virtue enough not to be abandoned to vice. They seem to aim at nothing higher, than that of which the Pharisee made his boast, when he gave thanks to God that he was not as other men, nor even as the humble publican. But, in the passage which I have now read to you, the Apostle directs us to a much safer test of our conduct; a tett which leaves us no room for mistake. The question is not, What vices have you forborne ? but, What virtues have you practised? You say that you are not idolaters. Well, --but do you reverence and love the true God? You are not adulterers ;- but do you study temperance and fobriety in all things ? You are not slanderers ;-—but are you as tender of your neighbour's good name as of your own?
If ye are strangers to these positive virtues, then all the advantage ye can pretend to is this ; ye are finners of a lower order, than if ye had added positive transgressions to your neglect of doing good: but still you are finners ; for, according to the Apostle, not to do good is fin.
This text evidently contains the two following propositions :
ift, That men fin, not only when they positively tranfgress the law of God; but also, when they do not fulfil the duties which the law requires to the utmost of their power. And,
adly, That our guilt is more highly aggravated, when we neglect the duties which are known to us; or when we decline opportunities of doing good, though we know that it is our duty to embrace them.
These propositions I will endeavour to illustrate and confirm; and will then conclude with a practical improvement of the subject.
First, I begin with showing you that men sin, not only when they positively tranfgress the law of God; but also, when they H2
do not fulfil the duties which the law requires, to the utmost of their power.
Were we to look upon God as an austere and selfish Being, who employed his laws only as a fence about his own private interests ; then indeed, not to violate them might be considered as fufficient to comply with their defign. The kings of this earth are forced to enclose their little allotment of honour, and to use their authority as a flaming fword, to ward off insults from their prerogatives. But it is not so with God. The Creator of heaven and of earth can have no dependence on the workmanship of his own hands. His prerogatives cannot suffer, nor can his glory be impaired by the feeble and impotent attempts of his creatures. His laws therefore could never be intended for his own security, but for our benefit. They are expressions of his goodness, rather than of his sovereignty; and his great view in enacting them, seems to have been, to bind us by his authority to consult our present interest, and to render ourselves capable of everlasting felicity. Judge then whether a law which hath in view this