Imágenes de páginas
PDF
EPUB

pressing the practice of good works. He is not afraid to ascribe our justification to them. He says expreily, that a man is justified by works, and not by faith only-, Jam. II. 24. Others indeed, since his time, have been more timorous: but really I see no reason why we should be afraid to speak after an inspired writer.

Thus we have seen that both the old and new testament abound with precepts of religion and virtue. And now (to apply these things to our present purpose) can a man hide these precepts in his heart, and yet Jin against God f I think not. In the beginning of this discourse it was taken notice, that this phrase, to hide the word of God in the heart, implied a high esteem of it, and a strong affection for it. And is it likely, that a man who hath a high esteem of the precepts of God's word, and a strong affection for them, will deliberately and habitually break them? No: these things are utterly inconsistent. A man's conduct will be regulated by his judgment and his affections. What he esteems and loves, that to be sure he will -practise. So that if the phrase will admit of this explication, we need

fay say no more to prove that he who hides the precepts of God's word in his heart, will not Jin against him. The connexion appears at first sight. But suppose it will not, and that it means no more than to read them, and seriously meditate upon them; yet still it will not be difficult to make out, that he who in this sense hides them in his heart, will not sin against God.

For 1. the authority of the lawgiver will move him to the obedience of them. Where the word of a king is, there is power; says Solomon, Eccles. VIII. 4. Now he who hath prescribed these laws is king of kings, and lord of lords: he hath made us, and not we ourselves: he preserves us, and bestows innumerable mercies and favours upon us: and therefore, upon these accounts, he hath a right to our subjection and service.

But 2. besides the authority of the law-giver, there is a native beauty and comeliness in the precepts themselves. They all approve themselves to the reason of mankind; and have something in them so wonderfully attractive of esteem and admiration, that hg who takes any pains to think and meditate upon them, can scarce fail of being allur'd to the practice of them. We will instance but in two; and they shall be purity and peace. What is purity, but a freedom from sensual affections, a giving to the foul that superiority and command over the body which is by nature its due? Now is it not fit that the meaner and more ignoble part of our frame should be kept in subjection to the more noble and excellent? Our natures are partly angelical and partly brutal. Which is it most comely to give the preference unto? Is the lise of angels, or that of brutes, the more excellent? And then for peace j who doth not discern a beauty in that? To be peaceable, is to be free from those turbulent passions which make a man a burden to himself and to all about him. Anger is no ornament either to the mind or body. It brings- clouds and tempests on the one, which was before calm and serene; and throws the other out of its natural shape into a thousand violent forms; so that one would think the person seized with some acute distemper. A contentious man is no lovely spectacle, 'Tis not so pleasant to see a man seeking to provoke his neighbour, as it is

"to to see him endeavouring to pacify him when provoked. 'Tis not so beautiful to widen breaches, as to heal them; to enflame differences, as to •econcile them.

Thus you see in these two virtues of purity and peace there is a decency and a beauty which is not in the opposite vices: and so it Were easy to make out of the rest. All virtue is amiable. It must needs be so> because it is an imitation of God. And if the precepts of virtue, or, which is all one, the precepts of God's law, are so reasonable and lovely j how can that man who hides them in his heart, sin against God? For the hiding them in the heart must at least mean the frequent contemplation of them: and whosoever doth this. in good earnest, will be won over to the love of them: and he who loves them, will scarce allow himself to break them.

III. The word of God is full of promises to encourage men to the practice of virtue and goodness: and therefore he who is conversant with it will not sin against God. Under the law many temporal blessings were annexed E unto unto obedience: such as long life, health, riches, honour and reputation, a numerous posterity, success in business, protection from evil, victory over enemies, and every thing else that has a tendency to make life comfortable and delightful. There is a long catalogue of them inLevicXXVI. Deut. XXVIII. and Psalm XCI. But tho old testament promises belong chiefly to the body; yet there are not wanting some which relate immediately to the foul. There is the promise of pardon of sin to the truly penitent, Prov. XXVIII. 13. He that covereth his Jins shall not prosper, but whoso confefseth andforsaketh them /hall have mercy. Isa. LV. 7. Let the wicked forsake his way, and the unrighteous man his thoughts; and let him return unto the Lord, and he will have mercy upon him; and to our God, for he will abundantly pardon. There are promises of inward peace to the righteous. Psalm CXIX. 165. Great peace have they who love thy law, a?id nothing shall offend them. Isa. XXVI. 3. Thou wilt keep him in per jeel peace whose mind is staled on thee, because he trusteth in thee. Isa. XXXII. 17. The work of righteousness shall be peace 5 and the effect of righteousness, quietness and assurance

« AnteriorContinuar »