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“rally arise from that generous principle, viz. all the duties of jufice, equity, and humanity. Lastly, we might expect that his authority should be interposed in favour of those virtues which more immediately respect ourselves, and the government of our appetites and passions; so that in all things we be chaste and temperate, no flaves to violent and unreasonable passions, or to any affection of mind by which we might debase our natures, or expose ourselves to the temptation of disturbing and injuring others.
THE duties of piety, or devotion, con
1 fisting of a right disposition of mind with respect to God, and the actions which flow from that difpofition, are, in a manner, peculiar to the Jewish and christian religions; being almost unknown to the Gentile world. But in the scriptures very great Itress is defervedly laid upon them.
In general the fear and love of God, and an habitual regard to his inspection, authority, and example, are represented in the fcriptures as the most effectual guard, and the most powerful and animating principle of virtue; and every branch of virtue is conftantly spoken of as his express command, and as an observance of the laws which he has thought proper to prescribe as the rule of our conduct. Sentiments of this kind are expressed with an infinite diversity of manner through the whole of the Old and New Testament; so that the difference, in this respect, between the books of fcripture and the best moral pieces of the heathen writers is exceedingly striking.
When Joseph was tempted to commit adultery in the most private manner, he replied, Gen. xxxix. 9. “ How can I do this “ great wickedness, and sin against God?” Solomon also says, Prov. ix. 10.“ The “ fear of the Lord is the beginning of wis
« dom?” and Prov. xvi. 6. “ By the fear “ of the Lord, men depart from evil.” We are exhorted to be “ holy, because God is “ holy,” Lev. xix. 2. 1 Pet. i. 16; to “ be “ perfect, even as our father who is in heaven “ is perfect,” Matt. v. 48. and also to “ be “ followers of God as dear children,” Eph, V. I. And, for this reason, to “ be kind to “ one another, tender hearted, forgiving one “ another, even as God in Christ hath “ forgiven us." Ch. iv. 32.
On the other hand, it is mentioned as characteristic of the wicked, that “ there “is no fear of God before his eyes.” Pf. xxxvi. I. and « that God is not in all his “ thoughts.” Pl. x. 4.
The disposition of mind which we are required to cultivate, with respect to God, is represented in the scriptures as a mixture of filial reverence, love, and confidence, as to a most affectionate father, and equitable moral governor ; and has in it nothing of that terror and anxiety, which is inspired by a subjection to a cruel or capricious being.
On this account, we are sometimes com manded to “ serve the Lord with fear, and “ rejoice with trembling.” Pf. ii. 11. and at other times to “serve himn with gladness,” Pf. c. 2. Upon the whole, it means a perfect attachment of soul to this greatest and best of beings, so as to have no will but his, and to respect no interest or authority whatever in comparison with his.
Our Lord, quoting from the law of Moses, says, that “ the firit and greatest “ commandment is, Thou shalt love the “ Lord thy God with all thy heart, and “ with all thy soul, and with all thy mind,” Matt. xxii. 37; and we are exhorted by him, Luke xii. 4. “ Be not afraid of them “ that kill the body, and after that, have no “ more that they can do. But I will fore“ warn you whom you thall fear: fear him, “ who after he hath killed, hath power to “ cast into hell; yea, I say unto you, fear “ him.” Upon this principle, the apostles Peter and John say, with confidence, to the chief priests and rulers of the Jews, Acts iv. 19. “ Whether it be right in the fight
“of God to hearken unto you, more than “unto God, judge ye.”
This habitual regard to God, and entire confidence in him, is also represented as the best support of the mind under all the difficulties and trials of life. David fuys, Pf. xvi. 8. “ I have set the Lord always be“ fore me: because he is at my right hand, “I shall not be moved.” The prophet Isaiah, exciting to confidence in God, says, ch. xxvi. 3. “ Thou wilt keep him in “ perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on “ thee.” Solomon also gives this excellent advice, Prov. iii. 5. &c. “ Trust in the “Lord with all thine heart; and lean not “ unto thine own understanding. In all thy “ ways acknowledge him, and he shall di“rect thy paths:” and the apostle Peter encourages christians, in time of trial, to “cast their care upon God, who careth for “ them.” i Pet. v.7.
From a firm persuasion that every thing is under the direction of a wife and good providence, we find in the scriptures, such