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own, ye are bought with a price; therefore glorify your Redeemer in your bodies and in your spirits which are his:" “ Ye were some time darkness, but now are yé light in the Lord; walk as children of the light:" and, “ If ye call on the Father, who, without respect of per. sons, judgeth according to every man's work, pass the time of your sojourning here in fear; forasmuch as ye know that ye were not redeemed with corruptible things, as silver and gold, but with the precious blood of Christ, as of a Lamb without blemish and without spot?” Would you think it creditable, or even possible, that with such great and interesting objects in their eye, they could deliberately and wilfully trample upon bis autho. rity, by breaking his laws; or arraign the wisdom and justice of his government by fretting and murmuring against any of his dispensations? Doth it not seem far more likely, that they would habitually be disposed to say,
6 Lord, what wilt thou have me to do?” “O that my ways were directed to keep thy statutes !” Or if at any time they should be exercised with trials and sufferings, that the language of their lips and hearts would be, “ Here am I, let the Lord do unto me as see meth good unto him :" “ The Lord gave, and the Lord hath taken away, blessed be the name of the Lord ?”
These conclusions appear so reasonable, and indeed so moderate, that, were it possible for us to forget that we ourselves are parties to the cause in question, I am verily persuaded this whole audience would readily acquiesce in them without one dissenting voice. Let us then proceed to inquire, in the
Second place, What influence the faith of the gospel might be expected to have upon the conduct of such creatures in their social intercourse one with another?
It might suffice to observe in general, that the su
preme love to their God and Saviour, which the true faith of his rich and unmerited grace could not fail to inspire, would naturally, and even necessarily, lead them to listen with becoming attention and reverence to all the intimations of his will, and habitually dispose them to perform, with alacrity and zeal, what duties soever he should be pleased to enjoin. Upon this obvious principle, then, nothing more would be needful for the illus. tration of this head, than to collect from the sacred recorols the several laws concerning truth, justice, mercy, beneficence, and any other precepts that regarded them in their social state; as we should not be able to entertain a doubt, that, so far as the imperfection of their nature permitted, these would be the invariable rules of their conduct. But as the laws of the gospel are after. wards to be considered apart by themselves, I shall at present confine our inquiry to the influence which a se. rious belief of the great doctrines of Christianity might be supposed to have upon those kinds of intercourse which more immediately pertained to their common salvation. Say, then, doth it not appear highly probable, that they who relished the joyful tidings, while they made them the subject of their own delightful meditation, would likewise take pleasure in imparting them to others, especially to those with whom they were most intimately connected ? that parents in particular would rehearse and commend them to their children; and that in every family, the God of all grace, and the Saviour of a lost world, would be presented with the morning and evening sacrifices of humble adoration, of fervent prayer, and of thankful praise?
How would they behave, do you think, to such of their brethren, if any such there were, who neglected the great salvation, and still remained in their natural state of distance and alienation from God? Would they regard them with supercilious contempt, or treat them with harsh severity? would they lay aside all concern for their recovery, and leave them to perish in their fol. ly? or ratber, would they not look upon them with an eye of the tenderest pity; and, regarding them as crimi. nals, who, though at present under an awful sentence of condemnation, may nevertheless obtain mercy, even as they themselves have obtained mercy? would they not take hold of every favourable opportunity, nay, may we not conclude, that they would even seek out opportunities of awakening them to a sense of their guilt and danger, that they might feel themselves constrained to implore the protection of that good Shepherd who laid down bis life for the sheep, and came from heaven to earth to seek and to save that which was lost?
View them once more in their intercourse with those who have obtained the same grace, and are become coheirs of the same incorruptible inheritance. Would you not take it for granted, that they could not be long together, without talking of those matters that most nearly concerned them? Surely none could suspect, that in a company of such persons, it woulil ever be reckoned a breach of good manners to introduce any thing that related to their Father in heaven; to his house with many mansions, where they all hoped to dwell; or to that precious Redeemer, who hath gone before to prepare a place for them. Might it not rather be expected, that besides occasional converse upon subjects of so interesting a nature, they would choose to set apart some portions of time for the sole purpose of " comforting themselves together, and edifying one another,” according to the early practice of the Christians at Thessalonica, which our Apostle so highly commends, 1 Thess. v. 11. ?
Thus have I given you my cool, deliberate sentiments upon the practical influence of the great doctrines of the gospel, and that kind of conversation towards God and man which is best suited to the belief of them. Should any indeed be so perverse as to resist the influence of these doctrines, and counteract their native and most ob. vious tendency, while at the same time they acknowledged the evidence of their truth, it would not at all surprise me, to see them crowding, from day to day the public theatres, that the regularity and decorum of a fictitious representation might draw their attention away from that real and ill-conducted medley in which they themselves acted their disgraceful parts. I should not wonder to behold them flying with eagerness to cards and dice, and seeking aid from every engine of dissipation and noise, to conceal the lapse of time, and to bear down the clamours of an accusing conscience. It would not even surprise me to see them rushing headlong into the baunts of riot and debauch, that the intoxicating cup might either stupify or madden their reason; which, if left to its sober exercise, would anticipate the evil day, and torment them before the time. Such things as these I should expect to see; but for none of them could I find any place at all in the natural and orderly state of reasonable creatures, whose temper and conduct, as I have all along supposed, were formed and regulated by the doctrines of the gospel.
How far my reasoning upon this branch of the subject hatb been just will more fully appear afterwards. It no doubt exhibits to our view a state of things widely different from what we at present behold; wbich, I am aware, may furnish us all with matter of humbling and painful reflection. This, however, shall not discourage me from proceeding in my inquiry; as I well know, that if, “by the sadness of the countenance the heart be made better,” we shall in the issue be infinite gainers, and obtain from him, who is “the comforter of those that are cast down,” “the oil of joy for mourning, and the garments of praise for the spirit of heaviness."
May God dispose and enable us all to “judge righteous judgment." Amen.
PHILIPPIANS i. 27.
your conversation be as it becometh the gospel
We have already considered the most essential doctrines contained in the gospel of Christ, and the influ. ence that the cordial belief of such interesting truths might be expected to have upon our temper and practice.
I am not sensible that any of the conclusions I drew were strained, or even obscure. To me they appeared, and, after the most serious and impartial examination, still do appear, so reasonable and obvious, and withal 60 moderate, that I cannot think they are liable to any just objection.
At the same time, as they present to our view a state of things so widely different from that which daily pass. eth before our eyes, I shall now proceed to consider the Laws or precepts of our holy religion ; that, from the review of these, we may discover, with still greater certain.