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mented, and, by the grace of God, ftrenuously and habitually resisted. '
Perhaps the attentive reader may have observed, that I have still kept out of view our own great interest in the service of God. The reason is, there is certainly, in every renewed heart, a sense of duty, independant of interest. Were this not the case, even supposing a desire of reward, or fear of punilhment, should dispose to obedience, it would plainly be only a change of life, and no change of heart. At the same time, as it did not arise from any inward principle, it would neither be uniform nor lasting. It is beyond all question, indeed, that our true interest is inseparable from our duty, so that self-seeking is selflosing; but still a sense of duty must have the precedency, otherwise it changes its nature, and is, properly speaking, no duty at all.
To honour God in the heart, then, and to serve him in the life, is the first and highest desire of him that is born again. This is not, and cannot be the case, with any in a natural state.-But, before we proceed to the other particular implied in this change, it will not be improper to make an observation, which I hope will have the greater weight, when the foundation of it is fresh in the reader's mind. Hence may be plainly seen the reason why prophane and worldly men have such a tendency to self-righteousness, while the truly pious are filled with an abhorrence of that souldestroying falshood. This, I dare say, appears strange to many, as I confess it hath often done to me, before I had thought fully upon the subject : that those who evidently are none of the strictest in point of morals, and have least of that kind to boast of, should yet be the most professed admirers and defenders of the doctrine of justification by works, and despisers of the doctrine of the grace of God. But the solution is easy and natural. Worldly men have no juft sense of their natural and unalienable obligation to glorify God in their thoughts, words, and actions, and there. fore all that they do in religion, they look upon as a meritorious service, and think that certainly something is due to them on that account. They think it strange if they have walked soberly, re- i gularly, and decently, especially if they have been strict and punctual in the forms of divine worship, that God should not be obliged (pardon the expression) to reward them according to their works. It is a hard service to them, they do it only that they may be rewarded, or at least may not suffer for the neglect of it, and therefore cannot but inlift upon the merit of it.
On the other hand, those who are born of God, are sensible that it is the duty of every rational creature to love God with all his heart, and to consecrate all his powers and faculties to his
Maker's service. They are convinced that, who. ever should do so without fin, would do only what is just and equal, and have no plea of merit to advance.' But when they consider how many fins Still cleave to them, how far short they come of their duty in every instance, they ask for mercy, and not for reward, and are ready to say with the Psalmist David, “ If thou, Lord, should « mark iniquities, O Lord, who shall stand : “ but there is forgiveness with thee, that thou « mayest be feared *.” To sum up this reasoning in a few words. The reluctant obedience which some pay to the divine law, is considered as a debt charged upon God; whereas real obedience is considered as a debt due to God. And therefore it must always hold, that the very imperfection of an obedience itself increases our disposition to overvalue and rest our dependance upon it.
THE next thing implied in a faving change
is, that the soul rests in God as its chief happiness, and habitually prefers his favour to every other enjoyment. On this branch of the subject I would beg the reader to observe, not
only the meaning and fubstance of the propofition, but the order in which it is placed. There must be first a devotedness of mind to God, and a supreme leading concern for his honour and glory. He must be, if I may lo speak, again restored to his original right, his dominion and throne, while the creature is reduced to its obedience and subjection. In consequence of this, there is an unfeigned acquiescence in God, as the fource of comfort, and a high esteemn' of his favour as better than life. This does not go before, nay, is hardly distinct or separated from, a sense of duty, but is founded upon it, and grows out of it. When a holy soul has seen the infinite excellence and glory of the true God, loves
him supremely, and is devoted to him entirely, · he also delights in him superlatively.
Such a person is fully convinced that those, and those alone are happy, whose God is the Lord, and that those who are afar off from him shall certainly perilh. In a natural state, as the sure consequence of sin, the transgressor Aies from God, with a dread and horror of his presence. But the renewed soul returns to him with desire, and feels an uneasiness and want that cannot be supplied but by the intimation of pardon, and sense of divine love. The warmth and fervor of devout affection is expressed in the strongest terms in scripture : “ As the hart panteth after the
56 water-brooks, fo panteth my soul after thee, “ O God. My soul thirsteth for God, for the " living God, when shall I come and appear “ before God *. Because thy loving-kindiness " is better than life, my lips shall praise thee. “ Thus will I bless thee while I live, I will lift or up my hands in thy name, my soul shall be « satisfied as with marrow and fatness, and my “ mouth shall praise thee with joyful lips 7.”
It is necessary that serving and delighting in God should be joined together on a double account. Their influence on one another is reci. procal. It is not easy to distinguish a consciencious study to serve and glorify God, from a slavish obedience through fear of divine power, but by its being inseparably connected with a delight in God, as the choice of the heart, and center of the affections. On the other hand, it is hard to distinguish cleaving to God as our portion and happiness, from an interested mercenary bargain in religion, but by its being preceded by, founded upon, nay, even resolved into, a sense of the supreme honour due to God for his infinite excellence. This reasonable service will then be attended with an unspeakable sweetness and complacency, and the all-fufficiency of God will be an unshaken security for the happiness and peace of those who put their trust in him.
* Psal. xlii, 1, 2. Pfal, lxiii. 3, 4, 5.