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for the advantage he can occalion where things of
interest of religion and the edification of Christians may SERM. receive any prejudice; that is, when our eating may be a scandal to others, that is, “a stumbling block," or “ an occasion of falling into sin.” And that this is the apostle's meaning, is evident from ver. 23. “ All “ things are lawsul for me, but all things are not expe“ dient, ó tárld oupe dégei, all things profit not; all es things are lawful for me, but all things edify not;" that is, though I know it is a thing very lawful in itfelf, to eat things which have been offered to idols, if they be bought in the market, or accidentally set before me at a feast; yet in some circumstances it may not be for the advantage of religion, and be so far from edifying, that it may be “ an occasion of sin” to them. For instance; I am invited to a feast, where things offered to idols are set before me, and one says, “ This " was offered in sacrifice unto idols;" a sufficient intimation to me, that he thinks it unlawful; and therefore I will forbear, because of the inconvenience to religion, and the manifold scandal that might follow upon it, by hindring others from embracing religion, or by tempring weak Christians, either to the doing of a thing against their.conscience, or to apoftatize from religion. In this case, he that abstains from these meats, and contents himself with others, “eats to the glory of God.”
And that this is the true notion of scandal and offence, not barely to grieve others, or do things difpleasing to them, but to do such things as are really hurtful to others, and may be a prejudice or hindrance to their salvation, and an occasion of their falling into sin: I say, that this is the true and proper notion of scandal, is evident from what follows immediately after the text; “ give none offence to the Jews, nor to the “ Gentiles, nor to the church of God: as I please all “men in all things; not seeking mine own profit, but C 3
SERM.“ the profit of many, that they may be saved. Give
" no offence to the Jews, nor to the Gentiles, nor to the
And thus I have, as briefly and clearly as I could, explained this phrase to you, of “ doing things to 5 the glory of God.”
The result of all is, that we glorify God by doing our duty; by all actions of worship and obedience to God, and by our repentance in case of fin and disobedience; by doing and by suffering the will of God; more especially by using our christian liberty, as to things lawful in themselves, so as may make moft for the honour and advantage of religion, for the unity and edification of the church, and the salvation of the
souls of men ; which is the proper notion, here in the SER M. text, of “ eating and drinking, and doing whatever. CCa.
van *« we do, to the glory of God.”
From all this discourse it will be evident, that three things must concur, that our actions may be said to be done “ to the glory of God.”
1. Our actions must be materially good; we must do what God commands, and abstain from doing what he hath forbidden. Sin is in it's nature a dishonour to God, a contradiction to his nature, and a contempt of his authority and laws; so that we cannot glorify God by transgressing our duty.
2. Our actions must not only 'be good, but they must be done with regard to God, and out of conscience of our duty to him, and in hopes of the reward which he hath promised, and not for any low, and mean, and temporal end. The best action in itself may be spoil'd, and all the virtue of it blasted by being done for a wrong end. If we serve God to please men, and be charitable out of vain glory, “ to be seen of men;" if we profess godliness for gain, and are religious only to serve our temporal interest, though the actions we : do be never 'so good, yet all the virtue and reward of them is lost, by the mean end and design which we aim at in the doing of them; because all this while we have no love or regard for God and the authority of his laws: we make no conscience of our duty to him, we are not moved by the rewards of another world, which may lawfully work upon us and prevail with us, but we are swayed by little temporal advantages, which if we could obtain as well by doing the contrary, we would as soon, nay, perhaps, much sooner do it.
And this is so essentially necessary, that no action, though never so good, that is not done with regard to God, and upon some of the proper motives and con
SERM. siderations of religion, such as are the authority of
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 name, " 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 fanctify 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.“ fo the glory 56 of God,” we must not only take care that they be lawful in themselves, but that they be not spoiled and vitiated by any bad circunstance ; 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, pro'bably redound to the dishonour and disadvantage of religion, by causing factions and divisions, by hindring some from embracing the true religion; or making others apostatize from it, or by being any other way an occasion to men of falling into sin, or any impediment to their salvation; in these and the like cases, 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 deny ourselves the use of things otherwise lawful ; S E R M. and if we do not do it we offend against a great rule, CCX. 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 sufficient, 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 the 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