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his glory, and are distinguished from other men by the whole tenour of their conduct, and not merely by their principles. These things are as observable in the old, as in the new, Testament: for true religion has been essentially the same ever since the fall of Adam, though many circumstantial alterations have taken place: and indeed the perfections of God, the wants of a sinner, and the nature of holiness and happiness are in themselves immutable.
I shall therefore, without further introduction, proceed to discourse on the words of the text, as applicable to Christians, with an authority proportioned to their peculiar advantages. "These "words which I command thee this day," even the great doctrines and precepts of the Bible, "shall be in thy heart; and thou shalt teach them "diligently unto thy children; and thou shalt talk of
them, when thou sittest in thy house, and when "thou walkest by the way, and when thou liest
down, and when thou risest up: and thou shalt "bind them for a sign upon thine hand, and they "shall be as frontlets between thine eyes; and
thou shalt write them upon the posts of thy "house, and on thy gates." It is, alas! too obvious, that professed Christians do not generally observe either the letter or the spirit of this exhortation: nay, that numbers of them would censure or ridicule any of their acquaintance who should practise according to it! Whether this prove that most men are Christians only in name, or whether some more satisfactory account can be given of the undeniable fact, every one must determine for himself.
I shall endeavour from the words of the text, I. To point out some of the leading principles of our holy religion, which especially demand our unremitted attention:
II. Explain and illustrate the exhortation, and suggest the most effectual methods of reducing it to practice:
III. Shew the reasonableness of such a conduct.
And may the Lord vouchsafe us his special help and blessing, while we meditate on this important subject! For it is astonishing and lamentable to observe how slightly even they who seem to be religious pass over such urgent exhortations. So that, while a vast majority of mankind are altogether asleep in sin, the rest seem not to be half awake to matters of infinite and eternal importance.
I. In pointing out some of the leading principles of our holy religion, which especially demand our most earnest attention, we cannot begin more properly than with the perfections and authority of God, and our relations and obligations to him. Though most men allow these truths, yet their conduct in this respect, marks very strongly the distinction between the religious and irreligious part of mankind. Who can imagine, that the gay, the sensual, the covetous, or the ambitious, have a constant and serious recollection of that holy, omnipresent, omniscient, and almighty God, in whom we all profess to believe? May we not rather conclude, that "God is not in all their "thoughts;" at least, that they do not willingly consider his character as described in the sacred scriptures? Do such men habitually recollect the majesty and authority of the Lord, their obligation
or accountableness to the Creator and Judge of the world? Do they act under a constant sense of his all-seeing eye? Do they endeavour to please him in their most secret and common actions, or by their inmost thoughts and motives? Do they seek happiness in his favour, and liberty in his service? Or do they, when conscious of having offended, rely on the mercy of God, and seek an interest in the salvation of his Son, as the grand object of their deliberate choice, and most fervent desires? I apprehend that the most admired and applauded characters, in Christian countries, are as entire strangers to this course of life as the very pagans themselves. But the true believer walks with God; the thoughts of his presence and perfections frequently possess his mind, and habitually influence his conduct; and, in his various occupations and pursuits, he seeks " not to please men, "but God that trieth the hearts."
It is indeed one great end of preaching, to convince men that religion does not consist in coming once or twice a week to public worship, or at stated seasons to the Lord's table: and that these are only appointed means of bringing them habitually to acknowledge God in every part of their conduct; that their actions, conversation, and dispositions, may be influenced by a sense of his presence and authority; that pious meditations, ejaculations, and praises may habitually spring from the temper of their minds, as occasion requires; and that their daily employments, regulated by genuine picty, may be a constant succession of services to their Master who is in heaven.-Who can deny that the law of God requires this at our hands?
that the example of Christ recommends and enforces it? or that the apostle inculcates it, when he says, "Whether ye eat, or whether ye drink, "or whatever ye do, do all to the glory of God?" Perfection indeed cannot here be attained; nor can we say what measure of this habitual recollection is essential to genuine piety: but, if this be the nature of true religion when perfected, it must proportionably be the same in its lowest degrees. If we do not propose to ourselves a high standard, our actual attainments will be very low: and, if the nature of our religion differ from all our ideas of the worship and holiness of angels, we shall doubtless be finally excluded from their society, as incapable of their holy felicity.
The eternal world is another subject, which demands our unremitted attention. Death and its important consequences; and the awful realities of that solemn season, when "all that are in the graves shall hear the voice of the Son of God, " and shall come forth, they that have done good "to the resurrection of life, and they that have "done evil to the resurrection of damnation;" should be familiar to our thoughts, and frequently be made the subject of our conversation. Eternity -the shortness of time-the uncertainty of lifethe importance of this fleeting season of preparation for the tribunal of God—the sin, the folly and infatuation, of wasting it in the eager pursuit of perishing things, or in frivolous and pernicious amusements: by frequently recurring to these topics, we should endeavour to excite ourselves, and to "exhort one another daily, while it is called to-day, lest any of us should be hardened by the
"deceitfulness of sin." A mispent day, or even an idle hour, must on reflection give pain to the man who duly considers the words of Christ, " Watch "and pray always, that ye may be accounted worthy to escape all those things which are coming on the earth, and to stand before the "Son of man:" "Let your loins be girded about "and your lamps burning, and ye yourselves like "unto men that wait for their Lord:" "Be ye, "therefore, ready also; for in an hour that ye "think not the Son of man cometh."
Our chief business is not with men: our grand interest is not placed in earthly objects. The Lord himself is "he with whom we have to do;" and, if we are indeed believers, "we look not at "the things which are seen, but at the things "which are not seen; for the things which are "seen are temporal, but the things which are not 66 seen are eternal." This was the case with all that "cloud of witnesses" who have gone before us. "Enoch walked with God, and was not, for "God took him." Moses preferred "the reproach "of Christ" and the sufferings of God's people, to the riches, honours, and pleasures of Egypt; for he "had respect to the recompense of the re"ward." The Old Testament saints "all died in "faith, not having received the promises, but "having seen them afar off; and were persuaded "of them, and embraced them, and confessed "that they were strangers and pilgrims upon the "earth." The primitive Christians" suffered joyfully the spoiling of their goods, knowing that
they had in heaven a better and a more enduring substance." They "counted not the sufferings