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SÉR M. the least, that the true Price of Duties is

there justly stated; Men are callid off
from resting in the outward Shew of Re-
ligion, in Ceremonies and Ritual Obser-
vances; and taught rather to practise
(that which was shadow'd out by these
Rites, and to which they were design'd
to lead) sound inward Virtue, and Piety.

The several Composers of these Hymns
were Prophets; Persons, whiofe Bufi-
ness it was, not only to foretel Events,
for the Benefit of the Church in succeed-
ing times, but to correct and reform
also what was amiss in that Race of
Men, with whom they liv'd and con-
vers’d; to preserve a foolish People from
Idolatry, and false Worship; to rescue
the Law from corrupt Glosses, and su-
perstitious Abufes; and to put Men in
mind of (what they were so willing to
forget) that Eternal and Invariable Rule,
which was before these Positive Duties,
would continue after them, and was to
be observ'd, even Then, in preference to
them.

Thé

I.

The Discharge, I say, of this part of SERM. the Prophetick Office taking up so much foom in the Book of Psalms; this hath been one reason, among many others, why they have been always so highly esteem'd; because we are from hence furnish'd with a proper Reply to an Argument commonly made use of by Unbelievers; who look upon all reveald Religions, as Pious Frauds, and Impoftures, on the account of the Prejudices they have entertain'd in relation to That of the Jews : The whole of which they first suppose to lie in External Performances, and then easily persuade themfelves, that God could never be the Author of such a mere Piece of Pageantry, and empty Formality, nor delight in a Worship which consisted purely in a Number of odd unaccountable Ceremonies. Which Objections of theirs we should not be able thoroughly to answer, unless we could prove (chiefly out of the Psalms, and other Parts of the Prophetick Writings) that the Jewish Religion was somewhat more than bare Outside and Shew; and that Inward Purity, and B 2

the

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SER M. the Devotion of the Heart was a Duty

Then, as well as Now. One great Instance of this Proof we have in the Words now before

us;

which are taken from a Pfalm of Asaph, written on purpose to set out the Weakness and Worthlesness of External Performances, when compar’d with more Substantial and Vital Duties. To enforce which Doctrine, God himself is brought in, as delivering it. Hear, O my People, and I will speak; 0 Ifrael, and I will testify against thee : I am God, even thy God. The Preface is very folemn; and, therefore, what it ushers in, we may be sure, is of no common Importance: I will not reprove thee for tly Sacrifices, or thy Burnt-Offerings, to have been continually before me. That is, I will not So reprove thee for any

Fai. lures in thy Sacrifices and Burnt-offerings, as if These were the Only, or the Chief Things I requir'd of thee. I will take no Bullock out of thy House, nor He-goat out of thy Folds. I prescrib'd not Sacrifices to thes, for my Own sake, because I needed them: For every Beast of the Forest is mine, and the Cattle up

on a thousand Hills. Mine they are, and SER M. were, before ever I commanded thee to win offer them to Me; so that (as it follows) If I were hungry, yet would I not tell thee ; for the world is Mine, and the fulness thereof. But can ye be so grofs and sensless, as to think me liable to Hunger and Thirst? as to imagine that Wants of That kind can touch me? Will I eat the Flesh of Bulls, or drink the Blood of Goats?

Thus doth he expoftulate severely with them, after the most

graceful manner of the Eastern Poetry. The Issue of which is, a plain and full Resolution of the Case, in those few Words of the Text. Offer unto God Thanks: giving. Would you do your Homage the most agreeable Way? would you render the most acceptable of Services ? Offer unto God Thanksgiving.

The Use I intend to make of these Words is, from hence to raise some Thoughts about that very excellent and important Duty of Praise and Thankfgiving : A Subject, not unfit to be difcours'd of, at this Time ; whether we

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consider,

I

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SERM. consider, either the more than ordinary

Coldness that appears of late in Mens
Tempers towards the Practice of this
(or any other) Part of a warm and af-
fecting Devotion; the Great Occasion of
setting aside this particular Day in the
Kalendar, fome Years ago ; or the New
Instances of Mercy and Goodness, which
God hath lately been pleas’d to bestow
upon us : answering at last the many
Prayers and Fastings, by which we have
befought him so long for the Establish-
ment of their Majesties Throne, and for
the Success of their Arms; and giving
us, in his own good time, an Opportu-

nity of appearing before him in the more PL xlii. 4.

delightful Part of our Duty, with the
voice of Joy and Praise, with a multi-
tude that keep Holy-days.

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Offer unto God Thanksgiving----Which that we may do, let us enquire first, how we are to Vnderstand this Command of Offering Praise and Thanksgiving unto God; and then how Reasonable it is, that we should comply with it,

Our

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