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to be. Here, then. :1132 panioning mercy on the para Ic GE: NEDxrer is extended to us by the inertes: A Christ: at least so the Scriptures represets
In our duties towards one another, it may be said, that our performances are more adequate to our obligation, than in our duties to God; that the subjects of them lie more level with our capacity; and there may be truth in this observation. But still I am afraid, that
, both in principle and execution our performances are not only defective, but defective in a degree which we are not sufficiently aware of. The rule laid down for us is this, “ to love our neighbour as ourselvre." Which rule, in fact, enjoins, that our benevolence be as strong as our self-interest : that we be as anxious to do good, as quick to discover, as eager to embrace, company opportunity of doing it, and as active and rescita, ne persevering in our endeavours to do it, as to ir» maron for ourselves, and active in the pursuit ** vir Aoi nterest. Now is this the case *** 19; '10-11 not, we fall below our rule. In the 1138,67.. 100 m2 Christ, to whom this mile *. m mouth, you may read how inprird ample proves, what some tear W... thing; namely, ot' bene sierr? 1:23 * $,"; as self-interest. They firmi bend, tas ng men to the knowledge Cots that greatest possible gaitian was the highestellaendaaரaas And, accontingus, et outils work and fit on with eaters persevemne tam
making of a fortune. They could not possibly have done more for their own sakes than what they did for the sake of others. They literally loved their neighbours as themselves. Some have followed their example in this, and some have, in zeal and energy,
followed their example in other methods of doing good. For I
I do not mean to say, that the particular method of usefulness, which the office of the apostles cast upon them, is the only method, or that it is a method even competent to many. Doing good, without any selfish worldly motive for doing it, is the grand thing : the mode must be regulated by opportunity and occasion. To which may be added, that in those, whose power
of doing good, according to any mode, is small, the principle of benevolence will at least restrain them from doing harm. If the principle be subsisting in their hearts, it will have this operation at least. I ask therefore again, as I asked before, are we as solicitous to seize opportunities, to look out for and embrace occasions, of doing good, as we are certainly solicitous to lay hold of opportunities of making advantage to ourselves, and to embrace all occasions of profit and self-interest ? Nay, is benevolence strong enough to hold our hand, when stretched out for mischief? Is it always sufficient to make us consider what misery we are producing, whilst we are compassing a selfish end, or gratifying a lawless passion of our own? Do the two principles of benevolence and self-interest possess any degree of parallelism and equality in our hearts, and in our conduct? If they do, then so far we come up to our rule. Wherein they do not, as I said before, we fall below it.
When not only the generality of mankind, but even those who are endeavouring to do their duty, apply the standard to themselves, they are made to learn the
humiliating lesson of their own deficiency. That such our deficiency should be overlooked, so as not to become the loss to us of happiness after death; that our poor, weak, humble endeavours to comply with our Saviour's rule should be received and not rejected ;-I say, if we hope for this, we must hope for it, not on the ground of congruity or desert, which it will not bear, but from the extreme benignity of a merciful God, and the availing mediation of a Redeemer. You will observe , that I am still, and have been all along, speaking of sincere men, of those who are in earnest in their duty, and in religion : and I say, upon the strength of what has been alleged, that even these persons, when they read in Scripture of the riches of the goodness of Go!, of the powerful efficacy of the death of Christ, of his mediation and continual intercession, know and feel their hearts that they stand in need of them a...
In that remaining class of duties, which 2: duties to ourselves, the observation we have mais the deficiency of our endeavours applies nike mer with greater force. More is here wants: ???: mere command of our actions. The heart It ", be regulated ; the hardest thing in the world 19:21:25:
The affections and passions are to be kept in 2002: constant evil propensities are to be contar-yord. I apprehend, that every sincere man is conv.W unable he is to fulfil this part of his duty, even whis own satisfaction: and if our conscience and “God is greater than our conscience, and knoweth all things.” If we see our sad failings, He must,
God forbid that any thing I say, either upont the other branches of our duty, should damp deavours. Let them be as vigorous and as steu they can. They will be so if were
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SALVATION FOR PENITENT SINNERS.
LUKE VII. 47.
Wherefore I say unto thee, Her sins, which are many,
are forgiven ; for she loved much.
It has been thought an extravagant doctrine, that the greatest sinners were sometimes nearer to the kingdom of heaven than they whose offences were less exorbitant, and less conspicuous : yet, I apprehend, the doctrine wants only to be rationally explained, to show that it has both a great deal of truth, and a great deal of use, in it; that it may be an awakening religious proposition to some, whilst it cannot, without being wilfully misconstrued, delude or deceive any.
Of all conditions in the world, the most to be despaired of, is the condition of those who are altogether insensible and unconcerned about religion ; and yet they may be, in the mean time, tolerably regular in their outward behaviour ; there may be nothing in it to give
; great offence; their character may be fair ; they may pass with the common stream, or they may even be well spoken of; nevertheless, I say, that, whilst this insensibility remains upon their minds, their condition is more to be despaired of, than that of
person. The religion of Christ does not in any way apply to them : they do not belong to it; for are they to be saved by performing God's will ? God is not in their thoughts; his will is not before their eyes. They may
do good things, but it is not from a principle of obedience to God that they do them. There may be many crimes, which they are not guilty of; but it is not out of regard to the will of God, that they do not commit them. It does not, therefore, appear, what just hopes they can entertain of heaven, upon the score of an obedience which they not only do not observe, but do not attempt to observe. Then, secondly, if they are to hope in Christ for a forgiveness of their imperfections, for acceptance, through him, of broken and deficient services, the truth is, they have recourse to no such hope; beside, it is not imperfection with which they are charged, but a total absence of principle. A man who never strives to obey-never indeed bears that thought about him, must not talk of the imperfection of his obedience: neither the word, nor the idea, pertains to him ; nor can he speak of broken and deficient services, who in no true sense of the term hath ever served God at all. I own, therefore, I do not perceive what rational hopes religion can hold out to insensibility and unconcernedness; to those who neither obey its rules, nor seek its aid ; neither follow after its rewards, norsue, --I mean, in spirit and sincerity, sue,—-for its pardon. But how, it will be asked, can a man be of regular and reputable morals, with this religious insensibility: in other words, with the want of vital religion in his heart? I answer, that it can be in this way. A general regard to character, knowing that it is an advantageous thing to possess a good character; or a regard generated by natural and early habit ; a disposition to follow the usages of life, which are practised around us, and which constitute decency; calm passions, easy circumstances, orderly companions, may, in a multitude