« EelmineJätka »
our hearts that we are not still better. We must also shew our humility by being the ready observers of every divine law. We must think that the same power, which made us, has also a sufficiency of wisdom to guide and govern us, and that, therefore, our understandings are to be directed by the truth, and our wills by the choice of God. We must farther express our humility by frequency and fervency in our adorations: we must go often to God in prayer and praise, be zealous in public attendances, enter the sanctuary with holy thoughts, composed countenances, and raised affections; we must be patient and resigned amidst the afflictive dispensations of God, receive and use his blessings with sobriety, and piously look forward to an eternal reward, not as the fruit of our own services, but the effect of his divine mercy.
When thus we think, when thus we act, we truly walk humbly with God: and let us be assured, that a human creature can never appear more amiable, than when, divesting himself of all false pretensions, and acknowledging his own unworthiness, he kneels afar off, and without daring so much as to lift up his eyes to heaven, smites upon his breast, and adopts the language of the humble publican, - God be merciful to me a
Thus, then, we see it is incumbent on every man to practise the great duties of justice, mercy, and humble walking before God. It now remains only, that I close the whole with a few short inferences from what has been said.
First then: Hath God shewed us what is good ? Let no man then pretend to say, that he does not know, or cannot find, his duty. This is an express contradiction to the text, which was dictated-by. the infinite God himself. Has a man a Bible in his house, and yet ignorance of duty in his head! This is because he will not, and not because he cannot, know God.
Secondly, Doth Gód require what is good? Then how great is the folly of those, who think that Christ came to the destruction of virtue. This is a bold representation of God indeed, that he should by his prophets, in the Old Testament, give laws of virtue and righteousness, and afterwards by his. Son, by the evangelists and apostles, in the New Testament, cançel and destroy them.—Will it be said by the advocates of antinomianism, that God hath shewed us faith, and this is good? True: it is good, as it influences to the three great requisites, of doing justly, loving mercy, and walking humbly with God. But let a man once separate it from these
moral, unchangeable duties, and it will be impossible to find in him one single vestige of a true Christian.
Thirdly, Are we commanded to be merciful? Then I infer, that a barely just man is very
far from being a perfect Christian. He, who considers his neighbour in no higher instances than those of bare justice, does not consider himself as a sinner, and that if God should act towards him as he does towards his fellow-creatures, he could not find mercy. If God had been severely just to his laws, we should never have had the opportunities we now have from mercy. And surely we may do something from compassion to others, when so much has been expressed to ourselves. What will it avail that a man is strictly just in his house or shop, if he has no mercy, no tenderness, no charity, for the distressed members of Christ? The gains of justice, if not employed in acts of mercy, will only plead 'our condemnation at last. It is the merciful man only, that shall, now, and eternally, find mercy.
Fourthly, Must we walk humbly with God? Then I infer, that religion is not one single instance, but a continued train, of love and duty. It is not the passing work of a day, but the cull
tinued business of a whole life. Can a man, who has a journey to go, and sits down in idleness the whole day, accomplish it by a few hasty steps at night? Much less can we reach heaven by an occasional repentance, and dying professions of love. The profits of religion only attend the practice of it. Whenever, therefore, we cease from it, we divest ourselves of its present and future rewards; for it is not what we have done, but what we are doing through every day, which must constitute our character and consolation.
Fifthly, Must we walk humbly with God? Then I infer, that we must have an outward lustre before men, as well as an inward glory before God. Inward religion is the foundation, but outward profession must be built upon it. The one recommends us to men, the other insures our approbation with God. It must centre in the heart, but it must stream out into life. It must command the soul, but dart through the body, and irradiate our outward actions. The man, therefore, who walks humbly with God, will walk acceptably among men.
And now, upon the whole, what better things can we practise, than those which God has shewed us to be good? What better precepts
can we conform to, than those which have so much of God in them? What better words can we take for our meditation, than to do justly, love mercy, and walk humbly with God? Let us not separate any of them from practice: for all must unite to make us good and happy men. Let us be just, but not so as to be unmerciful: Let us be merciful, but not so as to forget walking humbly with God. : And finally, let us advance in these things: that so our ingrease of days may be an increase of hope in Godt