Billeder på siden

The Duties of the Divine Law.

Many of you, my brethren, have not large establishments to direct; but most of you have some in your employ, over whom you have influence. I do not see why the cultivators of the soil, or the tradesman, artizan, or manufacturer, may not direct their labourers or servants, as effectually as the lord of a stately mansion and large domain may order his household and dependents. If you, then, would advise your servants or workmen, as they look for your favour, to be punctual in their attendance on divine worship, in the observation of the Sabbath, and the great festivals; to lead religious, honest, and temperate lives in obedience to the laws of God and of society, taking care to exemplify all these things in your own conduct; can it be supposed that this warning and admonition would be lost upon them? If you do not give this advice; you will incur a measure of responsibility for their wickedness. If you counsel them to a duty, which you do not perform yourselves, you lose your labour. However earnestly you exhort them to godliness, to public and private prayer, to a behaviour habitually sober, or


The Duties of the Divine Law.

derly, and pious; if you shew, at the same time, quite an opposite practice in your own lives; you must, in all reason, expect that they will be equally profane, irreligious and immoral with yourselves; and a still heavy account will lie against you for their offences. By setting a good example, and giving salutary precept, where it may avail, a man discharges an im portant civil duty, and acts his part for the salvation of others; although he may at the same time have too little regard to the secret keeping of his own heart. Upon this point he is at issue with the great searcher of all hearts. God will punish the secret sinner and the hypocrite; but he will also recompense the turning of others to righteousness: and in a com parison between him, who remissly obeys God, and him, who openly rejects His revelation, or denies His providence, the difference is much in favour of the former.

I have thus endeavoured briefly to place be fore you some of the more comprehensive, and important heads of duty, in which we are daily called upon to obey the commands of God, and

The Duties of the Divine Law.

in the neglect of which we cannot lead such a life of righteousness, as will be found acceptable to our blessed Redeemer, when he shall appear in glory to pass everlasting judgement on both the quick and dead. There are other virtues necessary constituents of the Christian character, which in the shortness of time, I have omitted to specify; but those are inculcated in the precepts which I have cited, or they will appear in the full discharge of the duties I have enjoined. He, for instance, who fulfils the duties of love to God, and his neighbour, will be candid in his judgements, and gentle in manners.; charitable in thought, mild and placable in disposition. He, who loves God as he ought to do, will learn and obey His will. He, who knows, and obeys His will, will not cherish even a thought that is offensive to Him; much less by any act of lust or intemperance will he impair the powers, which God has given him, for His service in holiness and righteousness.

I have said nothing of faith, because this must be admitted into the idea of every Christian virtue. I have shewn you, on other occasions, that no action can be pleasing to God,

The Duties of the Divine Law.

which does not spring from faith; no action can be acceptable in the Christian, which does not rest upon faith in Christ. Faith is the foundation and principle of every thing that the Divine creating mind will account as righte ousness in the creature.

Before I conclude, my brethren, let me again exhort you to a religious observance of the laws of your country. Do not imagine that you may evade or violate these laws for your own pleasures or interests. They are to be kept in every particular by the good man; and can the devout Christian break them? Deceive not yourselves with such a thought. They are a part of God's universal law, which is not to be broken in a single point. Look at the example of your Saviour, consider the injunction of his apostle, and you will then render tribute, honour, and obedience, where, by the ordinances of Heaven and earth, and the custom of the whole civilized world, they are justly due.

Chuse now, after all you have heard, whether you will keep your souls in keeping the divine law; or, whether will despise your

own ways, and die.




The Christian must serve God with the faculties of the whole Man.

Romans 6. 12, 13.


Let not sin, therefore, reign in your mortal body; that should obey it in the lusts thereof. Neither yield ye your members as instruments of unrighteousness unto sin: but yield yourselves unto God, as those that are alive from the dead; and your members as instruments of righteousness anto righteousness.

N this, and the two following chapters, St.


Paul shews that, the doctrine of justification by faith does not take away the utility of the moral law; and, he likewise disproves an allegation made by the enemies of the true religion, that the apostles encouraged their disciples to sin, to the end that God's grace might more abound in their pardon. His argument is this. If (as he had taught in the preceding chapter)

« ForrigeFortsæt »