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if we absurdly calculate on engaging men on any 26. other principle, we shall have the mortification of di looking for them where they are not. If from promises or threatenings, or both together, peo- last ple are brought to engage in a religion whose services are irksome, they will most assuredly be neglected.
Let us then enquire what will make the duties of religion pleasureable. The Redeemer says, we “my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” What makes it so ? Not because we may indulge in all manner of sin; not because there are not arduous labours to be performed ; not because great sacrifices and sufferings are not to be endured, but · because the duties of the religion of Jesus can never be performed but from a principle of love; and love makes the labour and the burden easy and light.
What is here contended for may be seen in the gavernment of a family of children. If the parent calculates on the principles of terror, and expects to have his children faithful and obedient for fear of an unmerciful punishment, it is true the children may be, for a season, filled with dread and horror, but all this can never induce them to attend with a cheerfulness and pleasure to the commandments enjoined. And even when under the most fearful apprehensions, they will be scrupulous about the extent of their duty. They will invent a thousand ways to hold up the appearance of faithfulness where they have studied to come short. The idea may be extended still further, and the disobedient children may be exercised with punishments of cruel severity, such as can be seen to have no mercy or compassion mingled with them, and all this shall serve to alienate their hearts from the parent, to fix a settled hatred in their minds against every requirement; and instead of softening, harden their hearts, in room of inclining them to filial duties, turn their faces and affections directly the other way.-But that kind of discipline,
whose pungent severity is in the manifestations of parental love, compassion and tenderness is the most sure of its object. This is "that wisdom which dwells with prudence, and finds out knowledge by witty inventions." It so contrives the administration of chastisement, as to convince the understanding of those who are exercised by it,
that reformation is the object aimed at. It inad: vents a thousand rewards as encouragements to
obedience, and is always prompt in causing the meritorious to enjoy the fruits of their labours.
Duty itself is supreme delight when love is the Thx inducement and the labour. By such a govern
ment the ignorant are enlightened, the hard heart2. ed are softened, the disobedient reformed, and the B faithful encouraged:
In viewing this general subject, and in applying it to the christian profession, duties and rewards,
is it not most evident, that the penalty of eternal mint punishment on the one hand for our neglect, and e pare the reward of immortality and eternal life for obeespedience on the other, may both of them be laid out forts of the question entirely? Is it not evident that we chide rate our christian virtues infinitely too high, when
we presume to expect an immortal state of divine pid F and glorious felicity as their reward? What pro
portion is there between the labour in this case
and the reward expected ? Surely there is none. hoit! Nor is there any more proportion between the dethomi merits of unbelief and sin, and the endless punish
ment which has been held up as its just recom
pense. And as it is most unreasonable to expect the in the everlasting inheritance of eternal life for our
good works, so it is equally unscriptural. “This is the record, that God hath given unto us eternal
life, and this life is in his son." Why should we eje insist on labouring for that which God has been i graciously pleased to give us in Christ? Was there
ever a conclusion more unreasonable than to conTintin tendthat if our heavenly Father has, in his infi
nite mercy, given us eternal life in Jesus the Lord
from Heaven, and if we cannot merit this treas. ure, which is above all price, we will therefore turn our backs on all the commandments of our God, will blaspheme his holy name, will treat the orders of his house, his sanctuary and worship with contempt, will practice every abomination, and will teach our children to do the same! This is not “laying aside every weight, and the sin that doth so easily beset us, it is not ruộning the race which is set before us, looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him, endured the cross, de spising the shame, and is set down on the right hand of the throne of God."
How can we be the disciples of Jesus, unless we are furnished with his spirit of wisdom and love? Can we walk in his steps, do the will of our father in Heaven, patiently suffer for righteousness sake, love our enemies, and pray for them, from a different principle from that which actuated him ? If he was not induced by a principle of terror, is it not erroneous to depend on such a principle? In room of facilitating the christian race, does not this principle retard it? If the principle of fear were a sufficient incentive to move us in the duties of the christian profession, is it not plain that that love which “casteth out fear” would be of danger ous tendency ? “He that feareth is not made perfect in love.
me,” says the blessed Jesus, “keep my commandments."
To conclude : It seems a proper enquiry, in settling the mind on our general subject, whether there be, or be not, in the natural qualities of the christian profession and duties, a value, in relation to the happiness of its votary, sufficient to amount to a reasonable inducement to attend to all its requirements!
If, on careful and due examination it be found, that the duties required by the religion of Jesus, do not contain in themselves, such qualities as will afford a reasonable compensation to the faithful ia.
them, then it must be granted that propriety re
quires that some other compensation should be there allowed. But should the case be so decided, it is dit would involve another question, viz: who is so treets much more benefited by those duties as to render me it just for him to make up this supposed want ? To minare be plain, if our heavenly father requires duties of
us, which services are not of themselves sufficientI thefly productive of our benefit to afford a reasonable ning a compensation for our trouble, is he so much bene to Jesu fited by them as to render it just and proper that My he should grant the addition required? This can Te never be allowed. But surely somebody must be che benefited enough by these christian duties to ren
der it proper that they should be at the expense unless of them. Any thing that will not pay its own exnd hot penses, proves a want of wisdom in him who ur planned it.
If the scripture representation be allowed, this 18 question is easily decided. " In keeping thy comhinh mandments there is great reward.”
- This is the For I love of God, that we keep his commandments; and
his commandments are not grievous."
If righteousness here render it proper that we of receive a compensation for it, that is not found in
it, how are we to be recompensed for a life of matty righteousness in a future state ? It seems that 2009 these quertes must satisfy the rational mind, that me goodness is its own reward—that righteousness is
to be valued for its own intrinsic worth. And if we are correct in this conclusion, it follows of necessary consequence, that unrighteousness is to be avoided for its own natural qualities, which are every way repugnant to our felicity. Could we all be fully persuaded that these things are so, it is reasonable to calculate that all would be pressing into this kingdom of righteousness, as it is to be supposed that men will part with what they dislike, for that which they love and highly prize.
All traffic is ventured on this principle. The purchaser never buys with a design to loose by
his bargain. The merchant ventures his thousands at a foreign market on the calculation that his wares are so much wanted where he sende them, that they will bring from thence what to him is of greater value. The vicious will part with their vice when they are persuaded that virtue is better. Go offer a wicked man a suit of the best of clothing, if he will part with his rags, le will take you at your word. Why? because he knows he is a gainer by it. Why will he not part with his sins for righteousness? Because he believes as he has been taught, that righteousness will not pay its way, and that in order to be bo happy here he must live a sinful life.
May it please God, my friends, to incline our *** hearts to his "commandment which is a lamp," and to his "law which is a light.” And let us run with patience the race which is set before us, lookin unto Jesus as a perfect model for imitation.
Let us practice our sentiment in all our relations in life. As companions, as parents, as children, as neighbours, as citizens, and as belonging to the great family of man, made of one blood, and as children of our Father who is in Heaven, whose tender mercies are over all his works, to whom be glory for ever, through him who loved us, and hath washed us from our sins in his own blood .