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sumption and folly of pretending to be his disciples, and not regulating their lives by his precepts and directions.

It was necessary to give you this abridged account of our Lord's divine sayings in this admirable discourse, as he refers us to them in the concluding part of it, where he lays such infinite stress on not merely knowing but doing them; on which I propose to lay before you a few out of many useful reflections which it suggests to us. And

I.

In agreement with what he here makes to be of such infinite consequence, every thing in his religion tends and leads to holy and virtuous practice.

When in his lifetime he went about preaching every where that men should repent, who were desirous of becoming his disciples; it was enjoining them to amend and reform their lives, or they could not belong to him. When his apostles after him called the nations to repentance, i. e. to turn from dead works to serve the living God, of whom they had hitherto been ignorant; it was because God had appointed a day in which he would judge the

world

world in righteousness by that man whom he had ordained; (Acts xvii.) and that they might lead such lives as to be fit to appear before his tribunal. Doing the will of God as taught by our great Master Christ, attending to his sayings, is to be the business of his followers in every stage of life. There is no time, place, circumstance, or situation, which does not afford scope and opportunity for the performance of our christian duty in one shape or other. Our obedience at first will be weak, interrupted, defective: but we are to proceed forward, correcting each day the errors and faults of the past; and though absolute perfection belongeth not to any creature, nor the perfection of christian obedience to us in our present beginning state, yet are we to aim at it, and be advancing towards it, till our life and christian course are finished together.

"If thou wilt enter into life, (Matt. xix. 17.) keep the commandments," was our Lord's counsel and reply to a serious young person that came to him; there is no other road or door of entrance for mortals.

II.

Prayer is the appointed means and instru

ment

1

ment by which the divine influence and assistance is brought down to us, to enable and strengthen us in the pursuance of our duty. As such is the duty considered and treated by our Lord and his apostles, it does not appear that we can have any hope for this divine aid, without a hearty and assiduous application to God in prayer for it.

But it was, and ever will be, a maxim in true religion, (John ix. 31.) "that God heareth not sinners: but if any man be a worshiper of God, and doeth his will, him he heareth."

"The sacrifice of the wicked (saith the divine wisdom, Prov. xv. 8.) is an abomination unto the Lord." And the apostle John, writing to the Christians of those times, and not speaking probably of any thing peculiar to them, but of the efficacy of prayer in general, when offered up with right dispositions, and for such things as were necessary to carry them on in the virtue and holiness of the gospel, says; (1 John iii. 22.) "Whatsoever we ask we receive of God, because we keep his commandments, and do those things that are pleasing in his sight."

Here the keeping of the commandments, is expressly made the reason of receiving what

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we pray for; and therefore the prayers of him that keepeth them not will, for that very reason, be ineffectual and vain.

III.

Mankind, however, fascinated by and attached to worldly things, indolent and averse to secret application to God and the strict demands of virtue made by the gospel, have been prone in all ages to find out substitutes for it, and to render the way to heaven smooth and easy, without having the trouble of forsaking their evil practices and vicious habits.

Hence, to name only one instance, the Lord's supper, ordained and intended for a public memorial of the infinite goodness of God in the gospel, and of the exemplary sufferings and virtue of Christ, and to carry us to the imitation of his excellent character throughout the whole period of our life, has been superstitiously converted into a private solitary ordinance that is supposed efficacious to procure the forgiveness of past sins, and a passport to convey to heaven's gate and bliss those who have lived before without all serious thought, and polluted with many crimes.

But this and many other the like pretences

are

are precluded, by our Lord's making the keeping of his sayings the only mark of true wisdom in his followers, and what will recommend them to acceptance with God at the last.

The proper change of heart and affections, the suitable dispositions and habits that are to fit us for his presence, are not to be brought about and generated but by a continued train of virtuous actions; not by a pious wish or a few good thoughts in any part of life, or at the close of it.

This that our Lord so strongly declares, of the utter unavailableness of an external profession, and of knowledge without the practice of religion, we find to have been the frequent theme and subject of others of God's messengers and prophets before him.

IV.

It does not detract from the necessity of keeping the sayings of Christ, that he sometimes said to persons who had been sinners, upon their coming to him, and dismissing them; "Thy faith hath saved thee."

For in some of the instances where this language was used, it certainly referred only to

the

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