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SERM. servance of God's Commands proceeds from
a lively Faith in God, and Love to him. For human Laws, or our own Security, our Character or Reputation, or perhaps our ndtural Tempers and Inclinations, may all, or either of them, frequently restrain our oute ward Actions, or prompt us to the exerting of fome outward Behaviour, from which Men may think us honest and just : But a Man that acts only from such Influences, and keeps God's Commandments from such Motives, by no means keeps them in the Sense of the Text. The keeping the Commandments which the Apostle means, is that on which the Psalmist pronounces a Blessing : Blessed are they that keep bis Testimonies, and seek kim with their whole Heart, Pf. cxix. 2. For if this be not the Case ; if the Heart suggest not the Virtue we pretend ; or if it be not weaned from the Vice we forbear ; we are but Deceivers of ourselves, and Liars to God. An Action we must abstain from, we must also abbor : what we ought not to do, we ought to loath. Since if our Mind hankers, where our Hands are withheld ; we are but like a Lion chained, which, though tied up from doing Mischief, retains his Lionith Disposition Itill.
And as thus our Obedience must be sincere S ERM. as to its Principle; so in the next Place must it be regular and constant in its Practice. For good Aations, cxerted only now and then, by Fits and Starts, are no Signs of a true Obedience, which must be settled and resolved. It cannot indeed be expected that, whilst we are in this State of human Weakness or Frailty, our Obedience should never be interrupted, that it should always go on evenly and smoothly, without any Fault : This I doubt is incompatible with our unglorified State. But still so much is expected of a Christian, as that he should not only abu stain from living in the Habit of any Sin, but also from wilfully committing any single AET of Şin. For so much at least muft be-intended by the Apostle, when he tells us that Whosoever is born of GOD, does not commit Sin, and cannot fin, Ch. ïï. 8, 9. This cer tainly must mean that a Man that is regene, rate, hath such an inward Frame of Heart, such a Disposition of Soul, as renders any fingle Act of Sin exceedingly odious and hateful to him. Insomuch that if at any time he flips through Surprize, or Want of Attention, he immediately recollects and condemns himself for it : And recovering his Fall, he more
SERM. attentively watches his Steps for the future :
But being still apprized of his own Weakness, he makes it a constant Petition in his Prayers, that when through Frailty he forgets God, God would in Mercy remember him : That as he often falls by the evil Inclination of his own Nature, he may always speedily rise again by the Help of his Grace.
But thirdly; As the keeping the Commandments, which the Text intends must be fincere and constant; so must it be universal alfo: i.e. One Commandment must be kept as well as another, and all of them as strictly and religiously as one. For St. James tells us, that whosoever shall keep the whole Law, and yet offend in one Point, be is guilty of all, James ii. 10. For as the Man is hurt, when only one Member of him is bruised or wounded ; so by breaking of one Link of that Chain of Duties of which Religion confifts, the Law is violated. And therefore a Person that so offends is guilty of the Breach of the Law in general, notwithstanding he should observe all the rest. For the Law is one universal Body, one perfect Rule of Righteousness : And one and the same Law-Giver is the Author of it all: Whose Authority consequently is infringed by the Breach of any
one Part as well as of another. For be that SER M. said, Do not commit Adultéry, said also, Do not kill : Now if thou commit no Adultery, yet if thou kill, thou art become a Transgreffor of the Law.
Nor muft we content ourselves with an uniform, universal Observance of his moral Precepts only ; but must regularly and duly obey his pohtive Institutions also. For whatever Delight some Men may take in comparing pohtive and moral Duties together, and in Thewing how much one is preferable to the other, although both be required, and one as a necessary Means to the other ; yet I am sure that, so long as Disobedience is itself an Immorality, they will find it a very difficult Talk to prove any Man moral, that disobeys the positive Commands of his Maker.
-But farther still : Not only the Observance of Christ's standing Laws, but also a Compliance with his extraordinary Will, a patient Submission to all manner of Trials, whenever he shall please to call us to them, must be included in what St. John means by keep
bis Commandments. The young Man in the Gospel, Mark x. 17-22. had kept fo many of the Ten Commandments from his Youth, that Jesus is said, when he bebeld him, Val. I.
SER M. to have loved him : And yet the Lack of one
thing, the not selling 'what he had and giving it to the Poor, the not taking up his Cross and following our Lord, when He commanded, but prizing his Riches more than Christ, kept him from being Christ's Disciple. It is true, such a Self-Denial, and total Rehgnation of all a Man has, is not a Duty ordinarily incumbent upon every Christian : But every Man, who, when called to it, refuses it, is not a Christian. For unless a Man, in the Course of his Obedience, gains such an Alcendant over his Passions, as to be ready, whenever Occasion calls, to part with every thing for Christ's fake, he is none of Christ's, Mat. x. 37, 38. Luke xiv. 26, 27. He himself has given us to understand, that unless we be resolute enough to forego every Relation and Blessing of this World, that thwarts or interferes with his Precepts and Commands ; unless we can willingly and chearfully submit to any Crosses or Interruptions to our worldly Felicity ; unless for his fake we can postpone and renounce the nearest and dearest Relations in Life ; yea, and lay down our own Lives also for his Honour and Glory; we are not to flatter ourselves that we are his Disciples; for such he will never acknowledge us to be,