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dience to God at all. But when the Christian is devoted to God, ready at his call, and equally disposed to any employment assigned him in providence, he then may be said indeed to do his will. 3. A third character of obedience is, that it be universal, without any exception. Saul, and the children of Israel, had complied so far with the order given them, that the greatest part both of the people and substance of Amalek was destroyed; but he stopped short, and knowingly left unsinished what had been injoined him by the fame authority.
2. From what hath been said on this subject, you may see, that the true notion of obedience is inconsistent with the notion of merit, as if we could lay our maker under some sort of obligation. This is as fatal and dangerous an error as any whatever, to think we may merit at the hand of God, and yet very common. Nay, it seems to be natural to us all, with great difficulty restrained, and never in this life wholly overcome. You see how Saul justisied himself,. and said, "Yea, but I have obeyed the voice of "the Lord." But, in the judgement of God, there was no consideration had of what he had done, but a severe sentence of condemnation upon him for what he had neglected. True obedience is always considered, in this light, as a. debt due to God, for the performance of w-hich nothing can be claimed, but for the neglect of which a penalty is incurred. I wish this were
properly attended to. The guilt of transgres. sion is plainly inconsistent with the merit of obedience. If we are liable to punishment for not obeying, the right of our maker to our s. 1 vice must be complete, there is no room to plead a. ny merit in compliance, and the reward .nust be of grace, and not of debts. Thus, 1 thinks it is always felt by good men-; and the more that they are devoted to-God, they are the leCj disposed to avail themselves of any thing they have done, and the more inclined to aik forgiveness for what hath been either.omitted, or ill
3. From what hath been said, you may learn the great defects of our obedience in general. If we consider the characters of true obedience, implicit, impartial, and universal, we must be' sensible what great blemishes attend every act of duty to God which we perform. We stiall alway? sind something amiss, either in its extent, its principle, or its end.' What reason this. for humiliation? what a powerful argument to every Christian to live a life of continual dependence on divine strength to enable him to obey, and divine mercy to accept of his* imperfect obedience? Nothing but great ignorance of themselves, or great inattention to what passes in their own hearts, can embolden men to put considence in themselves. And indeed their doing so is commonly attended with very mortifying effect?. When God leaves them, in fatherly displeasure, to prove and try them, or-when be
Vol. I. F f lea\ie»
leaves sinners to themselves, to sill up the measure of their iniquities, it soon affords aiatisfying'. proof, that in us, that is, in our flesh, dwelletlv no good thing. To will may be present with. us, but to do that which is good, we sind not. 4. In the last place, Suffer me earnestly to exhort you to make it your daily study, not onlyto keep the commandments of God, but to take particular notice from what principle your oba' dience flows. See how much there is in it of self, denial, of devotedness to God, of subjection to . his providence. One act of silent submission, or a quiet application to those duties that are immediately necessary, though neither easy nor ho' nourable, is of much more value, than a long tract of activity and zeal in a public and visible sphere of action, sweetened by reputation andapplause. As the submissive Christian lives upon the Creator alone, independent of the creature; so the obedient Christian serves his God and Redeemer alone, without paying any regard to the esteem or approbation of his fellow-sinners. In this way only is your obedience given to God, and in this way only wilt you sind it pleasant or prositable to yourselves. If you keep clearly and closely to the command of God, and have not so much as any other desire, or inclination, than to know what it is, you will hardly ever be mistaken. But if you allow other motives to have place, if you take upon you to judge of what is most* proper or expedient, or even practicable, you will pollute every part of
your duty, and sind yourselves often involved in impenetrable darkness. If what is duty be the: inquiry, and interest set aside, if duty be the object of your attention, and events left to God,. you will find unspeakable consolation from it in the mean time, as well as the success more effectually secured than it could possibly have been . by any anxiety or foresight of your own. Let God then have the unadulterated obedience of all his creatures; and let us ask of him, according to his promise, "to work in us to will and "to do of his good pleasure.""
The End of the First Volume.
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