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abound? God forbid. The thing is so monstrous and unnatural, that 'tis impossible to think of it without horror and indignation.
Once more: if we consider the justice of God j that is a thought which is apt to check the motions of sin, and excite to holiness and virtue. The scripture assures us, that God will bring every work into judgment, with every secret thing, whether it be good, or whether it be evil: and that he will render to every man according to his deeds; to them who by patient continuance in welldoing seek for glory, honour, and immortality, eternal life; but to those who do not obey the truth, but obey unrighteousness, indignation and wrath, tribulation and anguish. Now who that seriously considers this, and represents the divine being to himself under the notion of a judge, can dare to allow himself in a course of sin? he must be a most hardened, impudent wretch that can do it. For he exposes himself to the severest punishments that can be in* siicted.
Finally, in whatsoever view we consider the divine being, we shall always $nd him opposite to sin. So that fee who 3 enter* entertains these notions concerning God, and makes them familiar to his mind, as he will do if he converses much with the word of God, cannot habitually sin against him.
II. The word of God abounds with precepts of religion and virtue; and therefore he who is conversant with it, will abstain from sin and wickedness. This is the scope of our bibles from the beginning to the very end of them; to recommend true piety and godliness, and discourage irreligion and vice.
The old testament is full of exhortations to the fear and the love of God; which are general names, comprehending the whole of religion. Particular duties are there also enumerated; especially in the decalogue, which is a summary of our duty both to God and our neighbour. As full as the Jewish religion was of ceremony, yet ceremony was not all that it requir'd. The numerous fasts and feasts, the sacrifices and baptisms which it appoints, and the various rules which it prescribes about external religion, are all accounted nothing in comparison of internal piety and devotion, and the practice of moral righte-?
ousness. See for this purpose, 1 Sam. XV. 22. And Samuel said, Hath the Lord as great delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices as in obeying the voice of the Lord? Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice, and to hearken, than the fat of rams. Psalm LI. 16, 17. 'Thou deforest not sacrifice, thou delightest not in burntoffering. The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit: a broken and a contrite heart, O God, thou wilt not despise. Micah VI. 6—8. Wherewith /hall I come before the Lord, and bow myself before the high God? Shall I come before him with burnt offerings, with calves of a year old? Will the Lord be pleased with thousands of rams, or with ten thousands of rivers of oil? Shall I give my first-born for my transgression, the fruit of my body for the fin of my soul? Tie hath Jhewed thee, O man, what is good; and what doth the Lord require of thee, but to do justly, and to love mercy, and to walk humbly with thy God?
And if moral virtue is so much inculcated in the old testament, much more in the new. What is Christ's sermon on the mount but a system of moral precepts? And not only this, but all his other discourses do some
way way tend to promote virtue, and discourage vice. In short, this was the very design of his coming into the world. For this purpose the Son of God was manifested, that he might destroy the works of the devil j i John III. 8. He gave himself for us, that he might redeem us from all iniquity, and purify unto himself a peculiar people, zealous of good works; Tit. II. 14. He hath introduced liberty, but not a liberty to sin. He hath freed men from the law of Moses, but not from the law of nature. Nay, for this very reason he seems to have abolished the former, that men might have more leisure to attend to the latter. His appearance is so far from loosing our obligation to the law of nature, that on the contrary it hath much confirmed it; if so be a clearer explication of its precepts, the promise of a greater strength to enable us to perform them, and of a greater happiness to reward the performance, have &ny thing in them to enforce an obligation.
To our Saviour we may add his apostles; who concur with him in the same design of promoting practical religion apd godliness. If you read the epistle
tQ to the Romans, you will find that the apostle takes up the first part of it in demonstrating the mercy of God to the gentile world, in revealing the gospel unto them, and taking them to be his ople in the room of the Jews, whom rejected because of their stubborn infidelity. And the use which he makes of this doctrine in the latter part of the epistle, is to exhort to the following virtues; viz. purity, humility, diligence in our callings, joyfulness, patience, devotion, alms-giving, a pitiful and compassionate temper, peaceableness, forgiveness of injuries, obedience to magistrates, universal love and benevolence, temperance and sobriety, and mutual charity and forbearance between christians of different sentiments. The fame apostle pursues the same method in several other of his epistles; particularly those to the Galatians, Ephesians, and Coloflians; in which half is doctrinal, and half preceptive.