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says, “Why call ye me, Lord, Lord; whilst ye do not the things which I command you?” - "How careful was the Apostle of the Gentiles to guard his doctrine from abuse, by enforcing its moral tendency, and by cautioning his converts lest any of them should receive the grace of God in vain. Like a wise master-builder, after he had laid a right foundation in Christian principles, he was peculiarly solicitous to raise upon it a goodly superstructure, consisting of all the ornamental fruits of a devoted life. Composed of such holy materials, he well knew the spiritual fabric would endure that fiery process
" which is to try every man's work, of what sort it is." We are, indeed,“ saved by grace, through faith : and that not of ourselves ; it is the gift of God: not of works, lest any man should boastf.” Yet, at the same time that we inflexibly maintain this cardinal point, we must give all diligence to shew the reality and genuineness of our faith, by an unreserved conformity to his Divine will.
Both our Lord and his Apostles maintained that the doctrines which they taught had a direct tendency to promote the cause of practical godliness. When our Saviour had explained to his hearers the spirituality and extent of the Law, he immediately enforced his instructions, by requiring obedience thereto, as the strongest proof of their regard to him, and of their personal interest in those important truths which he had laid before them:-“Therefore, whosoever heareth these sayings of mine, and doeth them, I will liken him unto a wise man, who built his house upon a rock; and the rain descended, and the floods came, and the winds blew, and beat upon • 2 Cor. vi. l. .. e 1 Cor. iii. 13. Ephes. ii. 8,9.
that house, and it fell not ; for it was founded upon a rock. And every one that heareth these sayings of mine, and doeth them not, shall be likened unto a foolish man, which built his house
the sand; and the rain descended, and the floods came, and the winds blew, and beat upon that house, and it fell; and great was the fall of its."
To a belief, then, of the doctrines of Christ, must be joined a suitable attention to the duties of the Gospel ; by which we shall evince “ that we love God, and are the called according to His purpose. Every sincere believer thus proves the genuine quality of his faith, by works of righteousness, which demonstrate his meetness for the heavenly state.
We shall glance at those duties which the Christian is bound to perform, and by the due observance of which his progress and comfort in the walk of faith will be greatly advanced.
Love to God is essential to true religion, and con-. stitutes the grand difference betwixt the enemies and the friends of Christ 68. Love is the strongest passion that can sway the human breast. It has tamed the most savage heart, and inclined it to acts of mercy and kindness. It improves the conduct of the worst men, in proportion as they yield themselves up to its power; and it gives a polished sweetness to the manners of the virtuous and wise, which diffuses pleasure among all who participate its benign effects. When this passion, therefore, is separated as much as possible from the alloy which too often mixes with it, it is not improperly selected by our Maker as the most certain criterion of our re
Mat. vii. 24-28. 86 John xxi. 15–17.
ligious sincerity:-“ If ye love ane, keep my commandments. Unreserved obedience is the necessary result of a holy affection towards God.
And there can be no doubt, but that he is every way entitled to our regard; whether we contemplate his character, perfections, and loving-kindness, or the relation we bear to him. “A son honoureth his father, and a servant, his master : if I then be a father, where is mine honour? and if I be a master, where is my fear? saith the Lord of Hosts'."
Now, when the truths of the Gospel are received into a regenerate heart by faith, they excite and increase admiring love of the Divine perfections, as displayed in all the works of God; but especially in that marvellous instance of his goodness to us, redemption by Jesus Christ. Hence arise fervent desires after that happiness which is found in contemplating his glory, and enjoying his love. Then “the soul is athirst for God;" and, in proportion to the prevalence of this holy affection for the supreme good, all inferior objects lose their attractions.
There are some properties, which our love to God must possess; and by which it must discover itself, to render it acceptable.
1. Our regard for God' should be sincere : for how can He be gratified with the hypocritical professions of worldly men, who do “but flatter with their lips, and dissemble in their double hearts ?" Let us, if we would testify a suitable regard for God, love him with all our heart, with all our soul, with all our mind, and with all our strength". Love to God must be deeply rooted in the breast, before it is capable of acting as a governing principle, to constrain us to honour and magnify his name.
John xiv. 15. i Mal, i. 6. ii Mark xii. 30.
2. It is necessary that our affection for God should be fervent, to obtain his acceptance. He expresses the claims which he has to our service and respect, in unqualified terms: “My son, give me thine heartk.' Hence we learn that he will have our undivided and warmest love, if he acknowledge us as dutiful children. He expects us to prefer Him to every other object; and our obligations to Him require it.
Of course, then, God can never approve of those insincere professors, who give the largest share of their hearts to the enjoyment of sinful pleasures, and with the rest try to conciliate his favourk. Weshould not long retain in our employment a servant who would entirely neglect his duty one part of the day, and perform it but carelessly, or indifferently, the other. And can we suppose that God, to whom we owe perpetual obedience, will relax his demands, and be satisfied, if we devote only some little fragments of our time and attention to him; whilst we give all the remainder to the gratification of carnal desires ?
3. To ensure the approbation of God, our love must be constant, and uninterrupted in its exercise. Some run well for a time in the Christian course: they discover much zeal; and even outshine the saints of the Most High in the apparent ardour of devout affections. But their pretended love soon expires, when chilled by the blasts of temptation, or reproach for Christ's sake ; and then they “ draw back, and walk no more with him!." . In opposition to these momentary feelings of regard, let us cherish in our bosoms a steady and permanent and increased love to God, a hallowed flame of affection, which neither temptation nor unbelief shall be able to extinguish. * Prov. xxiii. 26. kk Mat, vi. 24. John vi. 66. Luke viii. 13.
4. We cannot fix any degree, at which our love to God should stop; since it is impossible that it should ever reach those excellencies of the Divine Being which challenge it. Excessive attachment to a created object is extremely culpable ; because it alienates the heart from God, whose property it is. But the highest expression of love to Jehovah falls infinitely short of a suitable return for his unequalled goodness to us, both in redemption and providence. There is no danger, therefore, of running into excess in this respect. Christians may laudably indulge the sacred ambition of striving who can love him most, and serve him best. And, after all, they will admit that the warmest display of their affections toward such a Being is poor, and disproportionate to his glorious perfections.
5. Our regard to God is most suitably evidenced by a respect to his commands. How shall we be able to prove our esteem for him, if we neglect his injunctions, and refuse to honour his authority ? Shew, then, your attachment to his service, by obedience to his will, rather than by mere expressions of regard,-by works of righteousness, more than by professions, which are only sincere when they terminate in a holy life. Christ measures our esteem for him by this standard: “He that hath my commandments and keepeth them, he it is that loveth me; and he that loveth me, shall be loved of my Father; and I will love him, and manifest myself unto him. He that loveth me not, keepeth not my sayings m.
Indeed, there is no motive sufficiently powerful to dispose us to avoid what God dislikes, and to do what he enjoins, but genuine affection for him. We are always ready to do any thing in our power for
m John xiy. 21-25.