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SER M. fiderations of religion, such as are the authority of ССХ.
God, conscience of our duty to him, love of him, faith in his promises, fear of his displeasure; I say, no action that is not done upon all, or some of these motives, can be said to be done “ to the glory of God," And this is the meaning of that saying among the Jews, which I mentioned before, “ that he who - obeys any command of God, but not in his naine, « shall receive no reward.” Moral actions receive their denoinination of good or evil, as well from the end, as from the matter of them; and as the best end cannot sanctify an action.bad in itself; fo a bad end and design is enough to spoil the best action we can do; and as it is great impiety to do a wicked thing, though for a religious end, so it is great hypocrisy, to be religious for mean and temporal ends.
3. That all our actions may be done“ to the glory so of God," we must not only take çarë that they be lawful in themselves, but that they be not spoiled and vitiated by any bad circumstance ; for circumstances alter moral actions, and may render that which is lawful in itself, unlawful in some cases : lo that if we would “ do all things to the glory of God, we must in some cases refrain from doing that which is lawful in itself, As when such an action that I am about to do, may through the prejudice or mistake of men, proþably redound to the dishonour and disadvantage of religion, by causing factions and divisions, by hindring some from embracing the true religion; or making others apoftatize from it, or by being any other way an occasion to înen of falling into sin, or any impediment to their salyation ; in these and the like cafes, we are bound to have that consideration of religion, that regard to the peace and unity of the church, that tenderness and charity for the souls of men, as to
deny great rule
deny ourselves the use of things otherwise lawful; SER M.
CCX. and if we do not do it we offend against a great both of piety and charity.
I shall only farther, at present, endeavour to give a brief resolution to two questions, much debated upon occasion of this rule of the apostle, of “ doing all “ things to the glory of God”.
First, How far we are bound actually to intend and design the glory of God in every particular action of our lives. To this I answer,
1. That it is morally impossible that a man should do every particular action with actual and explicit thoughts and intentions of glorifying God thereby, and therefore there can be no obligation to any such thing.
2. It is not necessary, no more than for a man that takes a journey, every step of his way actually to think of his journey's end, and the place whither he intends to go; a constant resolution to go to such a place, and a due care not to go out of the way ; and in case of any doubt, to inform ourselves as well as we can of the right way, and to keep in it, is as much consideration of the end of a man's journey, as is need. ful to bring him thither, and more than this would be troublesome and to no purpose ; the case is the very fame in the course of a man's life. From whence it follows in the
3. Place, That an habitual and settled intention of mind, to glorify God in the course of our lives is fufficient, because this will serve all good purposes, as well as an actual intention upon every particular occasion. He that doth things with regard to God, and out of conscience of his duty to him, and upon
proper motives and considerations of religion, in obedience and love to God, in hopes of his reward, and out of fear of his displeasure, glorifies God
SER M. in his actions. And if this principle be but rooted CCX.
and settled in his mind, it is sufficient to govern his life, and is virtually, and to all purposes as true and constant an intention of glorifying God, as if we did actually and explicitly propound this end to ourselves in every particular action of our lives.
Secondly, whether a man be bound to prefer the glory of God before his own eternal happiness as Moles and St. Paul seem to have done; the one in being content to have a his name blotted out of the book “ of life, the other to be “ anathema from Christ, « for the salvation of Israel ?” To this I answer.
If we could admit the supposition, that the glory of God and a man's eternal happiness might come in competition, there could be no obligation upon a man to chuse eternal misery upon any
consideration whatsoever. The preference of one thing before another, supposeth them both to be objects of our choice; but the greatest evil known and apprehended to be fo, cannot be the object of a reasonable Choice ; neither the greatest moral nor natural evil of fin, or misery. Sin is not to be chosen in any case, no not for the glory of God. The apostle makes the supposition and answers it; that “ if the truth and glory of GOD es could be promoted by his lie, yet we are not to do “ evil that good may come,” Rom. iii. 7, 8.
Nor is the greatest natural evil the object of our choice. God himself hath planted a principle in our nature to the contrary, to seek our own happiness, and to avoid utter ruin and destruction; and then sureiy much more that which is much worse, as eternal misery is, whatever some learned men, in despite of nature and common sense, have asserted to the contrary, that it is better and more desirable to be extremely and eternally miserable, than not to be ; for what is there desirable in being, when it serves to no SER M.
ССХ. other purpose but to be the foundation of endless and intolerable misery. And if this be a principle of our na-, ture, can any man imagine that Gop should frame us so, as to make the first and fundamental principle of it directly opposite to our duty ?
As to the instance of Moses, it does not reach this case; because the phrase of “ blotting out of the “ book of life,” does in all probability signify no more than a temporal death. As to that of St. Paul, it is by no means to be taken in a strict sense, but as a vehement and hyperbolical expresfion of his mighty affection to his “ brethren according to the flesh, for “ whom, says he, I could wish to be an anathema
from CHRIST.” Besides the reason of the ching, the form of the expression shews the meaning of it, I could wish, that is, I would be content to do or suffer almost anything for their falvation, infomuch that I could wish, if it were fit and lawful, and reafonable to make such a wish, to be accursed from Christ for their fakes. It is plainly a suspended form of speech, which declares nothing absolutely. But,
2. It is a vain and senseless fuppofition, that the glory of God and our eternal happiness can stand in competition. By seeking the glory of God, we naturally and directly promote our own happiness; the glory of God and our happiness, are inseparably linked together ; we cannot glorify God by sin, and so gracious hath God been to us, that he hath made those things to be our duty, which naturally tend to our felicity; and we cannot glorify God more than by doing our duty, nor can we promote our happiness more effectually than by the same way. From whence it plainly follows that the glory of God and our happiness, cannot reasonably be supposed to cross
SER M. and contradict one another; and therefore the quesССХ. .
tion is frivolous which supposeth they may come in competition. 1 Cor. xv. 58. the apostle' exhorts Christians to be “ stedfast and unmoveable, and a« bundant in the work of the Lord, knowing that « their labour shall not be in vain in the LORD. And Tit. i. 1, 2. the apostle calls himself, “ a fer« vant of Jesus CHRIST, in hope of eternal life, u which God that cannot lie hath promised.” To serve God in hope of eternal life, is to glorify God, and therefore the glory of God and our eternal happiness are never to be opposed.
I shall briefly draw two or three inferences from this discourse, and so condude.
1. See here the great goodness of God to mankind, who is pleased to esteem whatever is for the good of men to be for the glory of God; and whatever tends to the eternal salvation of our felves, or others, to be a glorifying of himself.
VII. We learn hence likewise, the excellency of the christian religion, which requires not only a consciencious care of ourselves, to do nothing but what is kawful; but likewise a charitable regard to others in the use of our liberty, in the doing or not doing of those things which we may lawfully do ; after the securing of our own happiness by doing our duty, we are to consult the edification and salvation of others, in thecharitable use of our liberty in those things which God hath left indifferent.
III. Here is a great argument to us to be very careful of our duty, and to abound in the fruits of holiness, because hereby we glorify God. co Herein s is my Father glorified,” says our Saviour, “ if ye to bring forth much fruit ;” and the apostle tells us, that “the fruits of righteousness are to the praise and