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like Nebuchadnezzar, may your understanding return unto you, and with him, may you learn to praise, and honour, and extol the King of Heaven and of earth, who hath not left you at liberty to reject his holy law without self-condemnation.
Thus the very declaration of the moral duties of the gospel to those who must, and do confess that they are reasonable, lays them under the strongest obligation to practise them. The eye is not more formed to discern a difference between white and black, or the taste to distinguish between sweet and bitter, than the mind is to perceive the diftinction between good and evil : nor is it more absurd, to call black white, or bitter sweet, than it is unnatural to reject the good, and choose the evil.
But the obligation of Christians to take upon them the yoke of Christ, does not arise merely from its reasonableness. This obligation is enforced by the highestauthority, no less than that of God himself : for to the Christian religion God hath given the strongest attestations, having appeared at various times, and in divers manners, to establish the law, the prophets, and the gospel ; so that refusing to
receive them, is refusing to acknowledge the authority of God.
The different appearances of the Almighty are recorded for our instruction; and since they are sufficiently attested, they ought to produce a similar effect upon us, to that which they would have done, had we been witnesses of them. When God descended upon Mount Sinai in thunder and lightning, and the voice of the trumpet waxed exceedingly loud', it was to deliver that moral law, which Christ came not to destroy, but to confirm ; and when we hear it as delivered by the Almighty, do we not tremble at his word, and reverence his authority? Let all nations bow before him, and let all people serve him. The same eternal Being who appears through the Old Testament as the God of majesty and glory, appears also, though in a different manner, and adds his fanction to the New. He, who under the forme tions, had discovered himself in his terrors, as an emblem of the law, condescends, under the gospel, to shew himself less in the light of majesty than of love, as an emblem of the
í Exod. xix. 19.
mildness of this latter dispensation. His Spi, rit descended on his Son like a dove, and he declared, This is my beloved Son; hear ye hims. Here no fire is called from Heaven to destroy a rebellious rące, no immediate judgment is inflicted for dishonouring, not the servant, but the Son : on the contrary, the most marvellous works of beneficence and mercy, which required the immediate interposition of Heaven, are performed. And are not these so many proofs, that the religion which we profess, comes recommended by the divine authority? The works that I do, faith our Saviour, bear witness of me, that the Father bath fent me h.
To the still, small voice of God, therefore, which speaks within our minds, and enjoins obedience to the laws of piety, justice, and charity, there is superadded the clear declaration of the fame God in the scriptures, enjoining us to honour and obey the Son, as we ought to honour and obey the FatherDo I speak to an assembly of men, who despise, and daringly reject, this authority ? Will you join with the impious king who hardened his
heart, heart, and said, Who is the Lord, that I should obey his voice? I know not the Lord, neither will I bearken to himi Surely not, my brethren : you reverence the authority of God. Remember, then, that it is the Son of God, by the authority of his Father, who says, Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me.
• Matt. xvii. s.
h John v. 36,
But I proceed to consider our obligations to submit to the yoke of Christ, arising either from explicit, or implied acknowledgments: and on this subject, there are several things which I will throw together as briefly as possible. When you were baptized, did not your parents, or some others, become bound to train you up in the religion of Christ, and to instruct you in its principles and have you not always considered this as a virtual engagement in your name? I know you never renounced it formally ; but did you ever really endeavour so much as to satisfy your own minds for your neglect of it? Or, when you deliberately reflect on this engagement, and your departures from it, do you not feel a secret conviction, informing you that you are blamable What is the language of
i Exod. v. 2.
your religious profession, of your retaining the name of Christians, of your claiming the outward privileges belonging to such ? Every time that you address God, either in public, or in private, is it not a confeffion that you ought to obey his precepts? If you ever commemorated the death of Christ, or if you now propose to do it, is not this a solemn ratification of your baptismal vows? If you call him Lord, Lord, and yet do not the things which he prescribes, must you not own that your behaviour is altogether unworthy and inconsistent ? For, can any conduct be more inconsistent or contradictory, than to call him master, and yet refuse his authority ? May he not justly say to you, If I be a master, where is my fear ? and if I be a father, where is mine bonourk? Whenever you join, therefore, in any act of religion, and yet refuse obedience to the laws of the gospel, you acknowledge the justness of an authority, to which, notwithstanding, you refuse to submit; a conduct which your own hearts can certainly never approve of.
k Mal. i. 6.