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may be sufficient to procure eternal happiness. All men, in some respect or degree, have some good thing in them,some tender affection, or honourable motive, as the guide of their conduct; and may, therefore, plead a regard to a portion of the divine law, from which they claim salvation. Thus does the dangerous and delusive doctrine of obtaining eternal life by moral duties, reduce men to an inextricable labyrinth, open a door to every evil practice, and oppose the pure, and holy, and encouraging invitation, to" come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need."* Thirdly. Let us observe the course which we are to pursue. It lies between these dangerous extremes. We are to avoid self-righteousness on the one hand, and an unholy conversation on the other. Be righteous, my brethren, without depending on your righteousness, and "stand fast in the liberty wherewith Christ hath made you free," without running into any thing that bears the least" appearance of evil." As far as I have learned the nature of the gospel, I understand it in this wise ;-the law of God is ever binding on man, and will accept of nothing short of perfect obedience, both in degree and duration but as there could not be life for the fallen children of Adam by such a law, the gracious parent of all flesh opened a dispensation of mercy by his beloved Son, "in whom we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of his grace." Now, in this plan of salvation and pardon, there is no violation of any of the natural and immutable perfections of the Most High: "Mercy and truth are met together; righteousness and peace have kissed each other. The Moral Governor of the universe can now just, and the justifier of him which believeth in
• Heb. iv, 16.
+ Eph. i. 7.
Psalm lxxxv. 10.
Jesus."* But because He " hath laid help on one who is mighty to save," does it prove that He has set aside his law? Or, because man is unable to keep it so perfectly as to obtain everlasting happiness by its award, doth it follow, that the Divine Legislator hath ceased to enforce it as "holy, just, and good?" Surely because the subject has lost his power fully to obey, the Almighty Potentate hath not lost his right to command! The affirmative would be a dangerous conclusion indeed.
Fourthly. We also learn from this subject, the wisdom of God in the method of the gospel. However deep and mysterious many parts of the divine dealings confessedly are, we yet see and understand sufficiently the scheme of salvation, to admire its harmonious and gracious perfection. Every part is complete: there is nothing redundant or defective. It is a system of grace which shows the divine indignation of Jehovah against all "unrighteousness of men," and which constrains every one that rightly receives it, to acknowledge himself "guilty before God." It shuts every mouth from boasting on the one hand, and fills every tongue with praise on the other. It kindles in the bosom where it dwells and operates, an hearty abhorrence of evil, and promotes a cordial and enlightened zeal for "good works." It humbles the pride of the sinner, while it exhibits the power, and displays the mercy, of the Saviour. It establishes the authority of the commandments of God; and, at the same time, opens to us a new and living way, "whereby we may enter into the holiest by the blood of Jesus."+ Such is the plan of redemption, when rightly understood and cordially embraced. In this view of it the apostle speaks, where he declares the design of the dispensation: " But of him are ye in Christ Jesus, who of God is made unto us wisdom,
and righteousness, and sanctification, and redemption: that according as it is written, He that glorieth, let him glory in the Lord." And for the development of this scheme he likewise gives thanks: Blessed be the God and
Father of our Lord Jesus Christ,' who hath blessed us with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ: wherein he hath abounded toward us in all wisdom and prudence."+ For such stupendous love and matchless wisdom, let us cherish the most unfeigned thankfulness also.
Fifthly. We learn from the sentiments of our text, the solemn duty of relative responsibility. It is more than intimated in the subject which we have now considered,— that it behoves us to teach others to observe the moral precepts of the law, as well as practise them ourselves. The one duty runs parallel with the other. We do not believe, that every man is either called or qualified to be a public teacher, who loves the Lord Jesus Christ; but we affirm, that every man, in his own sphere, is to "look not only on his own things, but also on the things of others."+ Every master of a family is to do this by giving salutary and religious counsel to his household; every man in authority to those who move within the sphere of his influence; and every private Christian to his brother and friend. Shall I suggest a motive to engage you in the discharge of this work, apart from the positive injunction of your Lord and Master? Then take the one presented in the passage before us. Most men aspire after greatness-the way to true magnificence is stated here: "Whosoever shall do and teach these commandments, shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven." So, likewise, is the promise in Daniel; " And they that be wise shall shine as the brightness of the firmament; and
* 1 Cor. i. 30, 31.
+ Ephes. i. 3, 8.
+ Phil. ii. 4.
they that turn many to righteousness as the stars for ever and ever."* O, what is the honour of being a citizen of Rome, or a member of the most august assembly under heaven, or of being a second Alexander, compared to this! And how is it to be obtained?-not by falsehood, flattery, dissimulation, cunning artifice, and dishonourable servility, -but "by patient continuance in well doing."+ In this dignified course there is real glory. Wealth may load you with titles, and surround you with parasites; power may minister to your luxuries, and elate you with pride; knowledge may subject you to the envy of some, and make you the dread of others; but only the truly good are the truly great. My dear brethren, let me therefore affectionately entreat you to seek this "honour which cometh from above." Are you striving to be great in the world, and high in the estimation of men? How uncertain your success! how worthless your prize, should ye obtain it! But here, all is sure and valuable. me, let him follow me; and where I am there shall also my servant be: if any man serve me, him will my Father honour."+
"If any man serve
Finally. The necessity of a renewed heart, in order to answer the end of our christian profession, is clearly evinced by this subject. We have been called to meditate on the perpetual obligation we are under to obey the law as the rule of action. It is a truth, which they who understand their Bibles will readily admit, that all acceptable obedience is founded in love to God. But is there any love to Him, in a heart that is wholly unsanctified and full of the world? Could it live in such a soil? What saith the Scripture?" The carnal mind is enmity against God: for it is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be. So then they that are in the flesh cannot please
Dan. xii. 3.
+ Rom. ii. 7.
John xii. 26.
God."* Can a person, under the influence of deadly lusts, "which war against the soul," "delight in the law of God after the inward man?" Nay, my brethren, such a supposition were perfect absurdity; only the "pure in heart shall see God." Take, then, the wholesome advice of the Saviour in his address to the Scribes and Pharisees; "Cleanse first that which is within, that the outside of them may be clean also."+ The promise given by the prophet is not of private interpretation-embrace it, and plead it at the divine footstool: "And I will give them one heart, and I will put a new spirit within you; and I will take the stony heart out of their flesh, and will give them an heart of flesh: That they may walk in my statutes, and keep mine ordinances, and do them: and they shall be my people, and I will be their God." May the Lord give his blessing to these reflections. Amen and Amen.
• Rom. viii. 7, 8.
↑ Matt. xxiii. 26.
Ezek. xi. 19, 20.