Imatges de pÓgina
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SERM. that the Apostle is careful to propose no VIII. worldly motive whatever, but concludes

his advice with this emphatic remark: “ He " that does good is of God; but be that does 66 evil bath not seen God;

or, in other words, hath not a proper knowledge of God. To be of God," in this passage, must needs imply, to be of the number of his faithful and obedient servants; and, therefore, in the opposition of the other part of the sentence, the wicked and disobedient are described as those who have not seen, or have no just apprehensions of God's most exalted attributes. Particularly his continual presence, and supreme authority over all the creatures of his own hands. All the laws of God may be considered as so many tests of our loyalty to him ; for every transgression is actually no less than a virtual refusal to have God to reign over us. It matters not that we were not made parties in the establishment of these laws, for our obedience is connected with our very existence. It is wholly of God's bounty that we are what we are, or rather, that we are at all; and

therefore

therefore it must needs be most absurd to SERM. pretend that God might not exact any

VIII. services he should think proper. It is, indisputably, as great an act of God's bounty to leave it to our own choice whether we will obey, or not, as to have, at first, called us into existence; by the latter act of his providence, we are rendered capable of all the enjoyments that life, either temporal or eternal, can afford; by the former, we are rendered like to the Almighty himself, in having a freedom of will allowed us, and a power of establishing the perfection of our nature, by a voluntary adherence to whatever is right and

proper : only this must be remembered, that God still retains the sovereignty. No acts of virtue will raise us to any independant state of perfection, only we shall thereby prove ourselves to be the faithful servants of him who made us, and thereby fit, at least, to receive whatever recompence or reward it may be his pleasure to bestow. Those who take a different course, and act in opposition to God's will, could not be better described

than

SERM. than in the words of the Apostle, They VIII. - that do evil bave not seen God.If they

had seen him they would know him better than to dare to disobey him; if they had wit or wisdom enough to see him, only in his works, and to discover in them his majesty, and power, and goodness, they would be equally withheld from all attempts to do evil in his sight. For as he is supremely great, surely he will not be mocked: as he is supremely wise, surely he cannot be deceived : as he is supremely powerful, surely his displeasure is not to be despised. And such knowledge of God must be a very great security ; for as it has been asserted that example has great in. fluence, a just knowledge of God must for ever prevent our following any bad example, so far as to transgress his laws. For who can be an example to us, that shall be, in any way, capable of coming into competition with God? The great in our sight, are infinitely low-in the sight of God; the powerful, weak; the rich; poor; the wise, foolish ;' besides, they can afford us no sécurity. The great that

transgress,

transgress, however jrosperous here, will SERM. be as sorely punished, in the world to viii. come, as the most lowly and obscure sinner against God's laws. Riches will

purchase no respite; power accomplish no relief. Even if we follow a multitude to do evil, with every individual of that multitude we shall have our individual share of woe and misery. And this besides should weigh with us; example, so far from being an excuse, must be a heavy aggravation, for it is as much as to side with an acknow. ledged foe to God. It is to be in confederacy against him. In which case, besides our own individual sin, we are partakers in the crimes of others; we prefer their sanction and authority, to the authority and commands of God himself. The laws of God are so addressed to every man, individually, that as we have no occasion, so we have no excuse for looking to the conduct of others, as a guide or example to ourselves. Good examples, indeed, it is well to imitate, but, nevertheless, the laws of God are so explicit, that we might act well by mere obedience to them, without any example, K

and

SERM. and surely as well in confidence of his VIII promises, as upon the encouragement of

any other man's good deeds. But if we may act well without the good example of our neighbour, surely to be deterred from acting well by his bad example, is to cast off God's law, and wilfully to reject all his precepts and admonitions. In the mean while, what encouragement is given to us, instead of following a multitude to do evil, to resist their bad example, and do good in spite of a wicked world ! If only, to do good, simply, is to be of God," or, in other words, is to be God's, that is, God's own faithful servants; surely, to be good in opposition to a host of sinners, must greatly enhance our merit in the eyes of God : and this is well worthy our consideration, for it would, surely, work great good among us,

if every man could be brought to reflect, that the more wicked the rest of the world might happen to be, the greater might be his reward for resisting the contagion of such evil doings. It is not possible to conceive a higher or more exalted character, than the inflexibly good and

upright

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