« НазадПродовжити »
walk better than the Gentiles walk, to do more for God, and mankind, than they,
But my Brethren, are we not only rational be. ings, and enjoy the benefit of revelation in gene- . ral, but is the revelation that we enjoy the last, and and most perfectthat God has made to man? are we christians ? then is cur obligation to walk worthy of so high and so holy a calling unspeakably strong. . Yea, well may we say with the apostle, which way shall we think to come off, or escape, if we be found to neglect so great salvation. Have we the will of God most clearly revealed to us, without the least cloud or obscurity, by persons commissioned from God for that very purpose, who wrought the most stupendous miracles in proof of their divine mission? More especially, have we the instructions of Jesus Christ, who brought life and immortality to light? who was sent for the express purpose of teaching with the greatest clearness and authority, and likewise of exemplifying in his own person, that most important of all doctrines, a resurrection. to immortal life ; dying in the most public manner, and rising from the dead in such circumstances as that no historical fact was ever more strongly attested; were his disciples particularly commissi, oned to teach this religion to all nations (since God
the father of all is no respecter of persons) and have we fewer rites and ceremonies to attend to in our Worship of this one true and living God, whom as being a spirit we are taught to worship in spirit and truth? In all these important respects have we so much the advantage of Jews, and does not God and the world expect from us a more pure and rational worship, a more disinterested and unconfined benevolence, and a greater weanedness from the world, in consequence of having our views more directly pointed to another; so that we can only consider ourselves as strangers and pilgrims here below.
The religion of Christ lays us under obligation to live as he did, to resemble him in the temper of our minds, and the course of our conduct, which is ás. the apostle says, not to be conformed to this world, but to be transformed, by the renewing of our minds, setting our affections on things above, where Christ_mow is at the right hand of God. my friends says our master, if ye do whatsoever I conjmand you. To obey his commands, and to copy after his example, is to confess him before men, and such only as .confess him in this manner, will he confess, and acknowledge to be his, before his H,
heavenly father, and the holy angels, at the last day.
The virtue and the piety. we observe in many Jews, and even Mahometans, ought to shame us who are christians. They have not near so many advantages as we are possessed of, and yet, with all their disadvantages, many of them, I fear, will rise up to our shame and confusion of face at the last day, when they will be justified, and we condemned. Let their firm faith, and indefatigable zeal, excite our emulation. What in them is imferfect, let us supply; what in them is good, let us exceed; and let it not be said that the devotion or Lenevolence of any disciple of Jesus, fell short of that of a scholar of Moses, or of Mahomet.
Lastly, is the christianity that we profess of the purest kind; are we protestants, is our worship free from those' superstitious ceremonies with which the church of Rome has unnaturally load ed it, and many of which still remain in the partially reformed church of England ? taught not to lay that undue stress upon external acts, such as baptism, confirmation, and absoluti, on, which their established faith either positively enjoins, or gives too much encouragement to do?
Are we trained up in the sound belief that nothing buta good heart and an exemplary life are pleasing to Almighty God, and will recommend us to his favour and acceptance? Is this our faith? permit me to say, that so pure and spiritual a profession lays us under obligations to live lives in the highest degree pure and spiritual, worthy of a pure and undefiled religion.
The end of all knowledge is practice, and it would ill become us to shew the zeal that we do by forming ourselves into separate societies, and being at the expence of supporting them, by which we hold out to the world our idea of their importance, if we thought they were merely matters of speculation, and had no connection with mord duty. If we contend for such great doctrines as those of the unity of God, and the equity of h's moral government, against those who infringe upon them, by teaching that there are three persons intitled to the same rank of God, equally objects of religious worship ;. If we believe that the favour of Almighty God is not purchased by the sufferings or merits of another for us, and that, independent: ly of a regard to their future character, no particu. lar individual of our race is predestinated to enjoy his favour to the exclusion of others, we sce in the
strongest light the importance of giving this one God our undivided homage, and putting our in, tire confidence in him.
If we hold that men do not become the children of God in consequence of any miraculous new birth, depending on nothing but the arbitrary will of God, which he may impart at any time, even at the last moment of life, but are sensible that a character acceptable to God is formed as other parts of a character are formed, by early habits, and continued practice, which necessarily require time, we certainly see in a stronger light than a thers do the great importance of personal holiness, and the necessity of personal exertion, and therefore it may be the more expected from us that we be up, and doing, working out our Salvation with fear and trembling, knowing that with the ordinary fayour of divine, providence, our success with respect to the blessings of another life depends upon ourselves, just as much as the provision that we make for the things of this life. We equally owe all both to God, and to ourselves, at the same time.
Let our lives, my brethren, be as pure, as our sentiments, equally worthy of God and of Christ, and we shall be indeed the light of the world, the