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SER M. ligion; that they have habitually in all IV. their Actions a conftant Regard to God,

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and a fincere Defire to promote the Knowledge of Truth and the Practice of Virtue and Goodness amongst Men. This was the Temper of Abraham; Upon account of which, That Great character is given him in the Text, with a repeated Affurance of the Bleffings defigned him : I know Him, that he will command his children and his household after him, and they shall keep the way of the Lord, to do Juftice and Judgment; that the Lord may bring upon Abraham, That which he hath Spoken of bim.

THE words, He will Command his Children and his household after him, seem to imply, as if it was in Abraham's power to undertake for thofe that were to come after him, what they fhould do; and as if They were originally under an obligation to perform what he should require of them. Which in general, 'tis evident, cannot be true: Because then it would follow, that All Other Heads of Families had the fame Authority likewife; and consequently, the pofterity of every family, lying under the fame obli


IV. n

gation, would be under a neceffity, where- SER M. ever any False religion prevailed, to continue for ever in the profeffion of such falfe Religion: Directly contrary to Abraham's own Practice, who, being born a

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mong an idolatrous and corrupt people,
gat him out from his country, and from his
kindred, and from his Father's boufe,
Gen. xii. 1. Neither, where the Truth
itself prevails, is it fufficient that Thofe
who come after, follow it barely upon the
Command of thofe who went before: Be-
cause, though it be indeed, by Chance,
the Truth only, which they follow; yet,
They not knowing it to be fo, but follow-
ing it merely upon fuch a principle, as
would equally have made them follow A-
ny Errour, 'tis, with regard to the Mora-
lity of Their Act, the very fame thing as
if they were not in the Truth. But in
Some particular Cafes, and with regard to
Jome particular things, fuch Circumftan-
ces there may be, as may make it very rea-
fonable for Parents and Governours to
Command their children and their boufe-.
bolds after them; and very reasonable for
Thefe, to be under the ftricteft Obligation
to obey fuch Commands.
Where things are


SER M. in their own nature abfolutely and confefSedly indifferent, there the Command of proper Superiours is manifeftly the Only Rule of Action. On the other fide; where things are already made neceffary by a fuperiour obligation, as where there is a clear and express Command of God; or where things are intrinfically and effentially obligatory in their own nature, as is the Study of Truth with Sincerity and Impartiality, and the Practice of all moral and eternal Virtues; there the instruction and direction, and Example and Authority of natural Superiours, is the proper means of laying before ignorant and thoughtless minds, and of inforcing upon them, those original and antecedent Obligations. This latter, was the cafe of Abraham in the Text: He was to command his children and his household after him, that they should keep the way of the Lord, to do Justice and Judgment: that they fhould worship the True God in oppofition to Idols, and that they should practise Jufice and Righteousness towards Men. The things were in themselves neceffarily, of intrinfick eternal obligation; and the Command of Abraham, was the fetting That obligation

obligation before their eyes; teaching SERM, IV. them to fee it, and have a just sense of it, reminding them to attend to it, and preffing and inforcing it upon their Minds, In This cafe therefore, Abraham might well undertake, (and 'tis his great Commendation that he did fo,) to command (as far as in him lay) his children and bis household after him: Because the things themselves, together with His Command, clearly carried along with them their own evidence and conviction. grounds and reafons of which conviction nevertheless, in the midst of univerfally corrupt and idolatrous nations, might very poffibly and probably, in His family, as well as in all those around him, not have been attended to; had they not been feconded by His Inftruction, Example, and Command. I know Abraham,


that he will command his children and his boufebold after him, and they fhall keep the way of the Lord.

Another Inftance, wherein there seems to be an Obligation laid upon Posterity, by an Act of thofe who went before them; is the cafe of Circumcifion. Gen. xvii. 9. God faid to Abraham, thou shalt


SER M. keep my Covenant, thou and thy feed after IV. thee, in their generations: -Every man

child among you, fhall be circumcifed, -for an everlasting covenant: And the-man-child whois not circumcifed, that foul fhall be cut off from his people; he hath broken my Covenant. Circumcifion, was a Token of the Covenant between God and That people; and an Obligation upon the circumcised perfon, to keep the Law: Yet 'tis evident an infant at eight days old, could not give his Confent, to take upon himself any fuch Obligation. The Reason why the Obligation was valid upon him notwithftanding was This. God was pleafed to promife to Abraham and his Pofterity such and fuch particular Bleffings, as were entirely a free Gift, and which he was not in justice under any obligation to have promised. These Bleffings, he limited to the Conditions of a particular Covenant; and the Seal or Token of that Covenant, was the ceremony of Circumcifion. Now if the perfon who, without his own confent, was circumcifed the eighth day, would not afterwards perform the conditions of That Covenant;

-that is eight days old,


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