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converted into a desert. Then despotism plants his throne on the ruins, and stretches his iron sceptre over the miserable reliques, of the nation. Such was often the progress of political ambition in the ancient and modern Republics of Europe; and such, there is no small reason to fear, may one day be its efficacy on our own happy land. When, instead of the love of place and political distinction, the passion for power, and a determination to rule, has taken possession of the heart; the evils have been far more numerous, extensive, and terrible. These evils have been the chief themes of history in all the ages of time. It cannot be necessary, that they should be particularized by me. In some countries of Asia and Africa, the candidate for the throne secures his possession of that proud and dangerous eminence by imprisoning, for life, every heir, and every competitor; in others, by putting out their eyes; and, in others, by murdering them in cold blood. Thus nations are by this infernal passion shut out from the possibility of being governed by mild, upright, and benevolent rulers. Ambition knows no path to a throne, but a path of blood; and seats upon it none but an assassin. The adherents to an unsuccessful candidate, although supporting their lawful prince, and performing a duty, which God has enjoined, and from which they cannot be released, are involved in his ruin. Prisons are crowded with hundreds and thousands of miserable wretches, guilty of no crime, but that of endeavouring to sustain the government, and resisting usurpation. The axe and the halter, the musquet and the cannon, desolate cities, and provinces, of their inhabitants; and thin the ranks of mankind, to make the seat of the tyrant secure. Not one of these unhappy wretches was probably worse, all were probably better, men, than he, who bathed his hands in their blood. Casar fought fifty-six pitched battles, and killed one million two hundred thousand human beings, to secure to himself the Roman sceptre. More than three millions of such beings have been slaughtered to place the Modern Casar in the undisputed possession of his imperial greatness. To all these miserable sufferers, God gave life, and friends, and comforts, with a bountiful hand. Why were they not permitted to enjoy these blessings, during the period allotted to man? Because Ambition was pleased to put its veto upon the benevolent dispensations of the Creator: because, to satiate one man, it became necessary to sacrifice the happiness of millions, better than himself: because such a being could be pleased to see himself seated upon a throne, although it was erected in a stall of slaughter, and environed by a lake of blood.
MAN'S IN ABILITY
OBEY THE LAW OF GOD.
Romans viii. 7.
Because the carnal mind is enmity against God; for it is not subject to the Law of God, neither indeed can be.
In a long series of discourses, I have examined the Law of God; or the Preceptive part of the Scriptures. This examination I have distributed into two great divisions: the first involving that Summary of the Law, which, Christ informs us, contains the substance of all, that is enjoined in the Old Testament: the second, including the Decalogue; in which this summary is enlarged from two precepts to ten; and the duties, which it requires, are more particularly exhibited. In both of these divisions I have considered, as I found occasion, those Comments, also, of Christ, the Prophets, and the Apostles, which explain and enforce the various requisitions. The importance of these Precepts does more than justify; it demands the extensive place, allotted to them in this system, and the attempts, which have here been made, to recommend them to the faith, and the obedience, of this Assembly. The end of all useful speculation is practice. The use of all truth is, ultimately, to regulate the conduct of Intelligent beings. Those, which are called the doctrines of the Scriptures, are necessary, and profitable, to mankind in two respects. The first is, that they involve immediate practical duties, to a vast extent: the second is, that by teaching us our character, situation, and relations to God and each other, and the character of God, together with his relations to us, they show us the foundation of all our duty; the reasons of it; the motives to it; and the manner, in which it is to be performed. Most of these things are unfolded to us by the Precepts of the Scriptures. They are also attended by some advantages, which are peculiar to themselves. They declare our duty directly; and declare it in the form of law. An authoritative rule is given in each of them, announcing the Will of the Lawgiver, requiring our obedience, and prohibiting our disobedience, with rewards and penalties, annexed to every precept: not, indeed, annexed to every precept in form ; but so as to be always, easily present to the eyes of those for whom the law was made. Instruction, communicated in this manner, is attendcd by a force and efficacy, of which all other teaching is incapable. From these considerations, arises the importance of inculcating much, and often, the preceptive part of the Scriptures, from the Desk. I well know, that preaching of this nature has been opposed, and censured, by individuals, in several classes of Christians. By Antinomians it may be consistently censured. As these men suppose themselves released from the Law of God, as a rule of duty, by the gracious dispensation of the Gospel; they have considered the preaching of the Law as useless, and even as mischievous. Such sermons, as have urged the religious and moral duties of man, they have styled “ legal sermons,” and those, who have delivered them, “legal preachers.” By this language they have intended to insinuate, or openly to declare. that the design of such preaching was the establishment of the doctrine, that we are justified by works of Law ; and the subversion of the Evangelical doctrine, that we are justi. fied by grace, through faith in the Redeemer. That men have urged obedience to the Precepts of the Scriptures, with this design, I shall not question, any more than that the same men have pursued the same design by descanting on the doctrines of the Scriptures; and even on those, which are purely Evangelical.
But, that inculcating the practical duties, which are required of mankind in the Scriptures, is, in this sense, legal preaching, I wholly deny. If this is its true character, Christ Himself was a legal preacher. This Glorious Person in his own discourses has given these precepts, expatiated upon them, and urged obedience to them upon mankind, in a vast multitude of forms, to a great extent, and with unrivalled force and beauty. His Sermon on the Mount is an illustrious, and pre-eminent example of this nature. This error, it must be owned, has not been confined to Antinomians. Zealous men, enrolled by themselves in other classes of Christians, and deluding themselves, almost of course, by the warmth, and haste, with which they decide concerning every sub, ject, have entertained similar views, and adopted similar language. I would ask these men, To what purpose were the precepts of the Scriptures given Why are they so often, so variously, and so forcibly, urged upon mankind 2 I would ask them, Whether all Scripture is, or is not, given by inspiration of God; and whether it is, or is not, all profitable, not only for doctrine, reproof, and correction, but also for instruction in righteousness 2 If this inquiry must be answered affirmatively concerning the Old Testament; it cannot be answered negatively concerning the New. There are those, who, on the contrary, confine most or all of their discourses from the Pulpit to the precepts of the Scriptures; and either wholly, or chiefly, leave the doctrines, which they contain, out of their preaching. Such preachers are equally cen. surable with their adversaries. No justification can be pleaded for the conduct of either. This separation cannot lawfully be made by either. God has united them: they cannot, therefore, be disjoined by man. He, who preaches a part of the Gospel, cannot be said to preach the Gospel which Paul preached. He may not, indeed, utter doctrines, or precepts, contrary to those of Paul. But he purposely avoids preaching the whole Gospel of Paul; and, although not guilty of denying, or subverting, either the truths, or the injunctions, given us by the Apostle, yet, for mutilating the system, he merits severe reprehension.
Such preachers, as profess the doctrines of the Reformation.