Billeder på siden

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

assistance for the discharge of the obligation, by an exposition of the apostle's exhortation, in reference to the government of the heart, and the conduct of life.

Throughout this chapter sin is described as a person who rules men with unlimited power, when they have once willingly submitted to his influence and authority. The text commands that we should not admit the prevalence of sin to the direction of the will, so far as to obey it in any of our actions, thoughts, words, or desires-Neither yield ye your members, as instruments of unrighteousness unto sin. By members we are here to understand the faculties of the mind, as well as the members of the body; and the prohibition is, not to let the mind or the body become instruments of unrighteousness in the service of sin. Contrary to this, the affirmative precept in the latter part of the text is that we put ourselves in entire obedience to the will of God, making both the mind and the body the instruments of righteousness in his service.

To set the matter clearly before you, I shall


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


take both sides of the precept. But it may necessary previously to shew what is the service, that we are commanded to perform, and that also, which we are required to forbear. My method, therefore is this

First-to explain to you, the nature and effects of sin, with the will and law of God in his moral government of mankind.

Secondly to consider the course of thought and action, by which men break this law, and surrender themselves to the service of sin.

Thirdly to shew the direction of thought, and conduct of the mind, by which we may give both our minds and bodies to fulfil God's law, in works of righteousness.

First I have to shew the nature and effects of sin, with the will and law of God in his moral government of mankind.

As God is necessarily good, He must delight in the happiness of his creatures; consequently it must be his will to effect their happiness; and whatsoever impedes their happiness must be resistance to his will. As his will is to produce happiness, whatsoever be opposed to

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

[ocr errors]

his will is productive of pain and misery. We learn, from the transgression of our first parents, that sin is resistance to his will. Resistance to his will, is an infringement of his equitable aud benevolent rule of conduct; and that is unrighteousness. Sin, therefore, is unrighteousness. Consequently, resistance to the will of God, impediment to the happiness of his creatures, and sin or unrighteousness, are all the same thing, and productive of pain and misery.

...This argument, however, holds good, in all its parts, only in respect to a state of innocence. To creatures, who have resisted his will, God wills the misery and suffering proper to the sinful condition, to which they have degraded themselves. Much as He desires the happiness of the creature, He cannot design the happiness of those creatures, who disobey Him; who impede either their own well-being, or that of any other creature. For, thereby He would confound his own moral government; encourage the disobedient to the injury of the obedient; violate all rule of justice; and defeat his own righteous purposes.

But, the happiness of the intellectual crea


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

ture is not to be estimated by the external circumstances of our probationary and cor rupted being. When sin entered into the world, by Adam's transgression, man became the inheritor of toil and suffering: he was to eat his bread in the sweat of his face: the ground was cursed for his sake; it was to bring forth thorns and thistles: and, only by the labour of his hands, was he to procure a sustenance better than that of the beast of the field.

Hence we clearly see that trouble and afffiction are the inheritance of man: in his present state they are unavoidable. The pleasures, nay even the proper sustenance, of this life cannot be obtained without suspension or privation of enjoyment, or some endurance of what is opposed to enjoyment. And, since the unjust or slothful person will take to his own use what has been acquired by the labour of another, or that, of which the civil institutions, under which he lives, do not allow him the use or possession; punishment must be threatened, and often inflicted, by human means, to deter from this invasion of a neighbour's rights. The Almighty may also see it necessary,

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

necessary to execute jndgement by his secret dispensations, as well as by the known agency of those, who, in the course of his superintending providence, are appointed to power and authority over their fellow creatures.

Therefore, to understand the duties, which God exacts from us for the benefit of mankind, we must consider man chiefly in reference to a future state. For we see that designed impediment to the enjoyments of the creature, in this state of sin and corruption, is not necessarily unrighteousness, or hinderance of the Divine will: on the contrary it may be, and often is, direct obedience to it. Not only is authority divinely granted to civil governors for the punishment of guilt; but by the appointed order of Providence in the natural world, the innocent often suffer with the guilty. Besides this, we find, in sacred history, instances recorded of chosen persons directed by the manifest determination of Heaven, to execute especial vengeance upon the wicked.

In this fallen state, then, to determine what is sin, or unrighteousness, or hindrance of the will of God, we must take all the known and


« ForrigeFortsæt »