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devote themselves to the Service of their SERM. rightful Lord, and pay such an Obedience VII. to God and our Saviour as shall be act m o cepted by him for Righteousness.
If we reflect, how much Duty we owe to God, and what mighty Obligations we are under to our most gracious Redeemer, for all he has done and suffered for us, yet how little we perform, and how poorly we discharge the Debt of Gratitude unto him, we shall find but small Grounds to rank ourselves among his Servants, to boast of belonging to his Family, or to think our Offices entitled to a Reward from his Bounty.
However, as Christ Jesus, our heavenly Master, experimentally has felt, whereof we are made, having been himself subject, according to the Flesh, to all the finless Infirmities of our Nature, he does not therefore demand or expect from us more than we are able to do: A Service complete in all its Parts, without Fault or Defect, being in Man's present Circumstances impracticable. He does not forfeit his Lord's Favour, nor is he turned off, as incorrigible, even after repeated Misdemeanours. The Readiness and the Ability of Angels is not looked for at his R3
SERM. Hands; but that Service only, which the
VII. Incumbrance of the World and the Flesh m permits him to fulfil..
Would we indeed be Fellow-servants with the Saints and savingly of God's Houfhold, the most express Clauses in our Covenant-charter require us to become or do our Part towards becoming new Creatures, begotten again unto good Works. Thus it runs in one place, If ye love me, keep my Commandments, and ye are my Friends if ye do whatsoever I command you (b), and in another, Hereby do we know, that we know him, if we keep his Commandments. He, that saith, I know him, and keepeth not bis Commandments, is a Liar, and the Truth is not in him. But whoso keepeth his Word, in bim verily is the Love of God. perfekted : Hereby we know, that we are in bim. He, that saith, be abideth in him, ought himself To also to walk, even as be walked (€).
Yet that none may be terrified by the supposed Hardship of the Conditions, we are assured, that the Obedience indispensably 'bound upon all Christians, is not a perfekt, exact and unsinning Obedience ; such an one
(6) St. John xv. 14.
(c) 1 St. John ij. 3, 4, 5, 6.
only is demanded, as in our weak depraved Serm. State, we are able by God's Help to per-. VII. form. The main Business in this Service is always to maintain a Purity of Heart, though not of Life,---to bewail our Frailties and Infirmities, and implore his Pardon of them through the Merits of his dear Son ; and when we have fallen, as all of us are liable to fall, into wilful Sin, not to rest in à drowsy Thoughtlessnels under the Pollution, left we awake suddenly in eternal Misery, but to return hastily to God with true Penitence of Soul, and keep a better Watch over our Ways for the future.
The best of Men have been fubject to moral Defilements, --- have been sensible of numerous false Steps in the Course of their Service to God,---have humbly acknowledged them before him, and have not rendered themselves the less acceptable to him by such Acknowledgments. They have been conscious of many Failures in their Duty, have deplored their Weakness, and upon their so doing have doubtless received Pardon for the past, and Grace to strengthen them for the Time to come.
Many likewise have through Ignorance
Serm. or Mistake transgressed the Divine Laws; VII. and altho' such an unhappy Turn of Mind
does not justify Misbehaviour, or make Wrong to be Right, yet it must alleviate the Guilt of Offending: So that this Sort of undutiful Servants also, who rather blunder than disobey, may modestly hope for Mercy, if they prostrate themselves at their Lord's Feet, and in the Words of the Psalmist pray, every one, Cleanse thou me from my fecret Faults (d), or in the Language of the Publican, say, God, be merciful to me a Sinner (e),
Some, again, are hurried into Sin by Surprize ; and not having Time or Power to recollect themselves 'under some terrifying Apprehensions have acted such Things, as were most contrary to their fettled Difpositions, and they on Deliberation would have abhorred the Thoughts of St. Peter, though he was of a bold Spirit naturally, yet being intimidated by a sudden Fear of Death, cowardly denied his Lord and Master; but on one piercing Look he foon recovered himself,--- lamented his Offence with the bitterest Compunction, and being readmitted to Favour and strentghened in Spirit after
wards (d) Pl. xix. 12. (e) St, Lule xviii, 13,
wards laid down his Life for Christ's Sake SERM. and the Gospel's. And so may others in . VII. like Circumstances hope, that God will look graciously upon them, if they behave in like penitent Manner,---will forgive them their Transgressions, and give them Power to go on steadily and with Vigour in his Service.
The Breaches of Duty, we have hitherto taken a View of, as they have a very small, if any, Consent of the Will leading to the Commission of them, may perhaps be thought not wholly inconsistent with the Singleness of Heart proper to good Servants; and consequently such as will not cut them off from the favourable. Indulgence of the kindest Master.
But this inferior Degree of Undutifulness is not the worst, we may be charged with For what shall we think of known, willful, and premeditated Faults, ---Faults, which no earthly Master would pass by, but utterly discard so wicked a Servant, as is guilty of them, be his Sorrow never so deep, his Promises of better Behaviour never so vehement? What shall we say of these? Will God forgive his offending Creature in those Instances, where Man will not his offending