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any thing truly virtuous. Nothing is morality, strictly speaking, but that which is in some degree a conformity to the moral law; and nothing contains the least degree of conformity to the moral law, unless it include the love of God, and our neighbor. There is therefore no such thing as morality in wicked men. On the contrary, the carnal mind is enmity against God, and is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be. That which constitutes the essence of genuine morality, namely, the love of God and man, contains the sum of practical religion. Repentance, faith, and every species of obedience, are but different modifications of love. If we love God, we cannot but repent of having offended and dishonored him. If we love God in his true character, and bear genuine benevolence to man, we cannot but love a Savior, and embrace a salvation which proclaims glory to God in the highest, peace on earth, and goodwill to men. A rejection of Christ by the Jews, afforded a proof that they had not the love of God in them. If we love God, we shall love his image in those that are born of him. In fine, if we love God, we shall keep his commandments, and his commandments will not be grievous.*
It is common for professed infidels, and other enemies to true religion, to cry up morality as something opposed to it; and hence, it may be, some have thought proper to cry it down: yea, many, who, by their practice, have proved themselves friendly to a holy life, have yet, on this account, it should seem, found it necessary so to distinguish between morality and religion, as to represent the former as something vastly inferior in its
* John v. 42. 43.
1 John y. 1. 3.
nature to the latter. But it ought to be considered, that the morality on which the enemies of true religion love to dwell is of a spurious kind; it does not consist in the love of God in his true character, or of men in such a way as to rejoice in what contributes to their greatest good. It is a morality essentially defective; it leaves God and religion out of the question, and is confined to what are called the social virtues, or things which every man in his dealings with men finds it his interest to promote. When we hear such characters cry up morality, instead of coldly admitting it to be a very good thing, in its place, but insisting that religion is something of an entirely different nature, we ought cordially to allow the importance of genuine morality, and insist upon it, that, if this were attended to, true religion could not be neglected. Such characters would then discover their dislike to our morality, as much as they now do to what is called religion. Such a statement of matters, though it might grate on their. inclinations, must however approve itself to their consciences. Every man feels himself obliged to act upon the principles of morality, let us then drive home that point in which we have their consciences on our side. Let us say with the poet,
«Talk they of morals, O thou bleeding Love!
While you speak of religion as a something entirely distinct from morality, such a character will rest contentedly in the neglect of the one, and think himself happy, inasmuch as you allow him to possess the other: but could you prove to him that morality, if genuine, would comprise the love of God, of Christ, of the gos
pel, and of the whole of true religion, it would plant a thorn in his bosom which he would find it difficult to extract.
Secondly, If the foregoing principles be true, it will follow that men in general are either obliged to perform spiritual actions, or allowed to live in sin, and perform sinful actions. In the voluntary actions of a rational creature, there is no medium between what is good and well pleasing, and what is evil and offensive in the sight of God. All our actions are, in some mode or other, the expressions of love, or they are not: If they are, they are spiritually good; they are acceptable to God through Jesus Christ. Whether we eat, or drink, or whatsoever we do, if it be done to the glory God, this is godliness. The actions performed may be simply natural, but the end to which they are directed, and which determines their nature, denominates them spiritual. On the other hand, iiy areas, there is no :.:. ty of their being any other than sinful. The want of love is itself a sin, it is a sinful defect relating to principle; and whatever is done otherwise than as an expression of love,let it wear what fade it may,it is a sinful action. We ourselves esteem nothing in a fellow creature which is not in some mode or other the expression of love. If a wife were ever so assiduous in attending to her hus
if he were certain that her heart was not with him, but gone after another, and that no part of her assiduity was the effect of love to him, he would abhor her very endeavors to please him, and nothing that she did would be acceptable in his sight.
Instead of its being a question, whether God requires any thing of carnal men which is spiritually good, it is
evident from scripture and the nature of things, THAT HE REQUIRES NOTHING BUT WHAT IS SO. It has been alledged that the obedience which God required of Israel by the Sinai covenant was merely external, and did not extend to the heart. Their government, it is said, was a theocracy: God acted towards them under the character of a civil governor; and if so, it is supposed, he must forbear to take cognizance of the heart, which is beyond the province of creatures to inspect. That God acted towards Israel as a civil governor is admitted, and that it belongs not to a civil governor, in his executive capacity, to take cognizance of the heart, is also admitted. In the bestowment of rewards and punishments, he must act from what is apparent in the lives of men, having no other medium by which to judge of the temper of their hearts: But it is not so with respect to legislation, or the formation of the laws. No civil government upon earth will allow its subjects to hate it in their hearts, provided they do but carry it fair in their conduct. The spirit of all laws, in all nations, requires men to be sincere friends to their country; but as there is no medium for mortals to judge of the heart, but that of an overt act, it is fit that this should be the established rule for the dispensation of rewards and punishments. It was thus, I conceive, in the government of God over Israel. Every precept contained in the Sinai covenant required the heart, or, which is the same thing, some genuine expression of it; but under its administration punishments were not always inflicted, nor rewards conferred according to what men really were, but what they appeared to be, or what they would have been judged to have deserved if a fellow-creature had sat in
judgment upon them. It was on this principle that Ahab's punishment was averted on his humbling himself before God. So far was the divine Legislator from rer quiring mere external obedience by the Sinai covenant, that the grand preliminary to that covenant was thus expressed: “If ye will obey my voice INDEED, and keep my covenant, then ye shall be a peculiar treasure unto me above all people.' And what is meant by obeying his voice indeed is sufficiently evident by the subse. quent addresses of Moses, Joshua, Samuel, and others; in many of which it is observable that though the blessings promised were external, yet the proviso on which the promises were made was nothing less than a heart sincerely devoted to God. “If ye will hearken diligently to my commandments, TO LOVE THE LORD YOUR GOD, AND TO
YOUR HEART, AND YOUR SOUL, I will give you the rain of your land in his season; the first rain, and the latter rain, that thou mayest gather in thy corn, and thy wine, and thine oil. Take heed to yourselves that your HEART DECEIVED, and ye turn aside, and serve other gods, and then the Lord's wrath be kindled against you, and he shut up the heaven that there be no rain, and that the land yield not her fruit, lest and ye perish quickly from off the good land which the Lord giveth you. Take diligent heed to do the commandment which Moses the servant of the Lord charged you, TO LOVE THE LORD YOUR GOD, AND TO WALK IN ALL HIS WAYS, AND TO CLEAVE UNTO HIM, AND TO SERVE HIM WITH ALL YOUR HEART, AND WITH ALL YOUR SOUL!--ONLY FEAR THE LORD, AND SERVE HIM IN TRUTH, WITH ALL YOUR HEART: For consider
SERVE HIM WITH ALL
Exod. xix. 5.