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viour, especially as it had been used in a similar manner by one of their prophets. Thus faith the Lord, Stand ye in the ways, and fee, and ask for the old paths, where is the good way, and walk therein, and ye shall find reft to your souls a.
In prosecuting this subject, after saying a few things upon the nature and extent of the Christian law, which is here called the yoke of Christ, I propose to lay before you the obligations we are under to submit to it, and to confirm the sense of these obligations by several arguments, especially those suggested in the text. We shall be best able to discover the nature of the Christian law, by attending to the design for which it was published. Now it was published with this view, to recover the fallen race of mankind, and to restore them to the image of God, by rectifying their irregular appetites, by cultivating in their minds every disposition that is virtuous and praise-worthy. The excellence of this law, therefore, consists in its fitness to answer these ends. As Christ came to - destroy the kingdom of Satan, and to purify to himself a peculiar people sealous of good works', his rules and precepts are all calculated for restraining vice, and promoting holiness ; or, to use the words of an apostle, to teach us, that denying ungodliness, and worldly lusis, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly.
1 Jer. vi. 16.
This law, which is pure, as the nature of God, the fountain whence it proceeded, is as extensive as the principles of our nature would allow, or as was necessary to fit us for a more perfect and comprehensive state, to which the present is preparatory. Thus it comprehends all the duties we owe to God, every branch of piety, as love, gratitude, reverence, fear ; all the virtues of humanity, justice, charity, meekness, forbearance, with a variety of other duties that arise from different situations and circumstances in life; the virtues of teinperance, sobriety and chastity, to which we are so powerfully excited, by being represented as temples of the living Godd, as habitations of God through the Spirit
The law of the Lord Jesus extends not to our actions only, but it engages those who
comply comply with it to regulate their words, and to preserve purity in their most secret and retired thoughts. Like a medicine, which not only operates upon the larger organs, but penetrates the nerves, and affects the finest fibres, the Christian law extends to the nicest movements of the soul, and is intended to influence every principle by which the soul can be actuated.
b Tit. ii. 14.
Tit. ii. 12. d 2 Cor. vi. 36.
Eph. ii, 22.
I proceed now to lay before you some of the obligations you are under to submit to the law of the gospel, or to take upon you the yoke of Christ. May I speak in the simplicity of the gospel, and may the Spirit of Christ aid me in declaring your duty, in exciting you to comply with it !
In the first place, then, you are under the strictest obligation to submit to the law, or yoke of Christ, because its reasonableness approves itself to your own minds.
When God formed man at first, he did not leave him to act in any manner that humour or passion might prompt him, but constituted him so, then when he should difcern any thing to be reasonable or proper to be done, even supposing he should be willing to forego the advantages with which the do
ing it might be attended, or to suffer the evils in which the omitting it might involve him, yet this should not satisfy him, but a departure from his duty should, moreover, be attended with a present sense of guilt, or illdeserving, independent of the consequences. When any scheme of religion is laid before a man, which he acknowledges to be reasonable, and with which, notwithstanding, he refuses to comply, he no longer uses the liberty of a man, but is domineered over by some appetite, or passion, or habit of subjection, for which his own heart condemns him. Suppose, therefore, that there were nothing more in Christianity, but a simple detail of the different branches of our duty, we should be under the strictest obligation, from the very constitution of our nature, to comply with it; and our refusing to comply would, upon reflection, have filled us with uneasiness. Man is not left, like the brutes, to follow the present strongest impulse of his mind, but has another superior faculty, which claims the privilege of a lawful master, and is intitled to have its commands obeyed. The question with man ought not to be, which is the strongest propension, but which is the most reasonable. In this licentious age, it is necessary to insist upon this obligation, because many satisfy themselves in their ima piety and irregularities, by saying, that they are under no formal obligation to comply with the laws of religion, having done nothing to ratify the engagements into which others may have entered on their account. I am sure this is not the language of a man who uses his reasonable faculties. Your obligation to religion does not arise from the vow of your parents, or others, though it may be strengthened by that vow, but from the nature which God has given you. Before you disown this obligation, then, renounce your nature. Acknowledge at once, that the boasted powers of reason and of conscience, you undervalue and contemni Forsake the fociety of men. You claim the privilege of indulging every appetite and passion, without restraint. Herd with the beasts of the field: in similar pleasure you spend your days. Degraded man! O that I could fufficiently discover you to every eye as a monument of folly and of vice, that you might be pointed at by others, and that the contagion of your example might not spread. No! rather § 2