« AnteriorContinuar »
thers. This noble testimony of Christian love, has the most powerful influence in warming the heart, and enlivening the affections in prayer. It happens frequently, that those who have hardly a word to say for themselves, and whose desires are quite heavy and languid as to what regards their own interest, no sooner come to supplicate for others, than they are enabled to pour out their whole Couls before God with the greatest fulness of expreslion, and enlargement of affection; as if it were the purpose of God, to invite us to this exercise, by honouring it with a particular mark of his acceptance and approbation. Oh that it would please God to revive among professing Chiistians a spirit of prayer, that when they cannot unite in sentiment, they may unite in prayer; that when impiety and immorality are bold and insolent, they may oppose them by prayer; and that when they are flandered, insulted, or abused by their enemies, they may find unspeakable comfort in imitating their dying Saviour, loving them that hate them, bleliing them that curse them, and praying for them who despitefully use them and persecute them. I conclude with the words of the apostle, Jude, ver. 2.f. 25.
" Now unto him that is able to keep “ you from falling, and to present you faultless “ before the presence of his glory with exceed« ing joy, to the only wise God, our Saviour, s be glory and majesty, dominion an.. power, « both now and ever. Amen."
Hath the Lord as great delight in burnt-offer.
ings and facrifices, as in obeying the voice of the Lord? Behold, to obey is better than fa. crifice; and to hearken, than the fat of rams.
Hat obedience is due to God from all his
intelligent creatures, I suppose none here present will deny. It is the original unchange. able law of creation, which every after-discovery served not to undetermine, but to support and confirm. It was the religion of man in his primitive Rate of innocence; and it shall be the religion of heaven, when we shall see our Maker as he is.. The very excellence of truth itself lies in its influence on holiness, and the very purpose of every facred institution is to form our minds to a habit of obedience, and subjection to the will of God.
In the mean time, it is of the utmost moment, that we have clear and just conceptions of the nature and principles of obedience, and that we guard against the errors that are often commit. ted on this subject. Some, from a partial or excellive attachment to one branch of duty, are
apt to disparage another ; and some are apt to make a merit of their zeal or diligence in one duty, as if it would procure indulgence for them in the wilful neglect of another. From the lao. guage in the remarkable passage of scripture which I have chosen for my text, it is plain, that facrifices, or the outward worship of God, are sometimes made a cover for the neglect of obedience. Nor are there wanting other passages where complaints are brought against the same mistake. On the other hand, this passage where the text lies, and another expreflion akin to it in the gospel, “I will have mercy, and not “ facrifice," have been often grossly misapplied, to bring contempt upon every positive inftitu. tion, and even upon the whole exercises of pie. ty; and that by such persons as do very little honour either to themselves or their opinions, by the perfection of their obedience. I have cho. fen these words, with a view to the information and conviction of both these sorts of persons, and for the instruction and edification of those who desire to walk in the straight path of duty, without turning to the right hand or to the left. In discoursing further upon them, I propose,
1. To open a little, and make a few remarks on the history which gave occasion to the words of the prophet.
2. To Thew in what respects it is, that obe. dience is opposed and preferred to sacrifice, or justly called better, as in the words of the text.
3. In the last place, To make some applica. tion of the subject.
I. FIRST, then, I am to open a little, and make a few remarks upon the history which gave occasion to the words of the prophet. This will be the more proper, that the setting this part of the sacred story in a clear light, will both afford us some excellent instructions, and also obviate the cavils of unreasonable men. The people called Amalekites were derived, and had their name, from one Amalek, the fon of Efau's eldest son Eliphaz, by a concubine, (Gen. xxxvi. 12.). The first mention we have made of them as a people, was their being engaged in a very unjuft war with the children of Israel, (Ex. xvii. 8.). This provoked God to determine, or at least upon this occasion he was pleased to intimate, their being devoted to utter destruction ; as Exod. xvii. 14. 15. 16. “And the Lord said
unto Moses, Write this for a memorial in a « book, and rehearse it in the ears of Joshua: “ for I will utterly put out the remembrance of « Amalek from under heaven, And Moses built « an altar, and called the name of it Jehovah“ nisli. For he said, Because the Lord hath « sworn, that the Lord will have war with Ama“ lek from generation to generation."
The injustice and impiety of this action of the Amalekites, which provoked God, not only to threaten, but to swear their destruction, may be learned from the account of this matter given us in Deut. xxv. 17. 18. 19. « Remember what “ Amalek did unto thee by the way, when ye
were come forth out of Egypt : how he met othee by the way, and smote the bindmost of
" thee, thee, even all that were feeble behind thee,
when thou wast faint and weaży; and he fear. « ed not God. Therefore it shall be, when the “ Lord thy God hath given thee rest from all “thine enemies round about, in the land which “ the Lord thy God giveth thee for an inherit.
ance to possess it, that thou shalt blot out the “ remembrance of Amalek from under heaven ; “ thou shalt not forget it.” From this it apo pears, that the Amalekites attacked the Israelites unprovoked, and without any cause ; for the Israelites neither intended to possess themselves of their country, nor were they so much as passing by their borders, which might have given them some cause of suspicion. Without any thing of this fort, they came out of their own country, to attack the Israelites in the wilderness, either in consequence of the old grudge between Esau and Jacob, or from a principle of covetousness, to seize upon the riches which they heard the children of Israel had brought out of Egypt.
It is further observed, that they cut off those that were faint and weary, when the distressed condition of that people seemed rather to call for compassion and help. This was unjust and cruel; and discovers them to have been a lavage and profligate people ; especially if one circum. Stance more be taken notice of, that they did all this in open defiance and contempt of God. They had no doubt heard, that he interested himself in a particular manner in the preserva. tion of the Israelites, and was, in a literal sense,