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we are convinced of this, it is a great help to bridle contrary inclinations, and to carry us on cheerfully in our work. They are fit for God to give, they become such a being as God is: his laws carry the express print and stamp of his own nature upon them. We may know how agreeable they are to the nature of God, by supposing the monstrousness of the contrary : if he had forbidden us all love, and fear, and trust in himself, all respect and thanks to our Creator ; or bidden us to worship false gods, or change the glory of the incorruptible God into an image made like to a corruptible man, as birds, four-footed beasts, and creeping things, or that we should blaspheme his name continually, or despise bis glory shining forth in the work of his hands, and that we should be disobedient to our parents, and pollute ourselves, as the beasts, with promiscuous lusts, and fill the world with adulteries, robberies, and thefts, or slander and revile one another, and leave the boat to the stream, give over ourselves to our passions, discontents, and the unruly lusts of our corrupt hearts,—these are conceits so monstrous, that, if the beasts were capable of having such thoughts transfused into them, they would abhor them, and would infer such a manifest disproportion in the soul, as it would in the body to walk with our hands, and do our work with our feet. And they are fit for man to receive, if he would preserve the rectitude of his nature, live as such an understanding creature, keep reason in dominion, and free from being a slave to the appetites of the body. To be just, holy, temperate, humble, meek, chaste, doth not only concern the glory of God and the safety of the world, but the liberty of the reasonable nature, that man may act as a creature that hath a mind to know things that differ, and to keep him from that filthiness and pollution which would be a stain to him and infringe the glory of his being. There is no middle thing: either a man must be a saint or a beast; either conform himself to God's will, and look after the interests of his soul, or lose the excellency of nature, and become as the beasts that perish. Either the beast must govern the man, or the man ride upon the beast, which he doth when he taketh God's counsel.
2. Just; because it referreth all to God's precepts. I take it here, not strictly, but largely. How just it is for God to command, and how reasonable it is that we should obey the Supreme Being! His will is the reason of all things; and who should give laws to the world but the universal sovereign who made all things out of nothing? Whatsoever you are, you received it from the Lord; and therefore whatsoever a reasonable creature can do, you owe it to him: you are in continual dependence upon him ; for in him you live, and move, and have your being (Acts xvii. 28). And he hath redeemed you, called you to life by Christ : “ What? know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost, which is in you, which ye have of God, and ye are not your own for ye are bought with a price; therefore glorify God in your body and in your spirit, which are God's" (1 Cor. vi. 19, 20). You owe all your time, and strength, and service unto him; and therefore you should still be doing his will, and abounding in his work.
3. He enjoineth nothing but what is good : “Oh! that there were such a heart in them, that they would fear me, and keep all my commandments always, that it might be well with them, and with their children for ever" (Deut. v. 29); “ And the Lord commanded us to do all these statutes, to fear the Lord our God, for our good always, that he might preserve us alive, as it is at this day" (Deut. vi. 24). God hath tempered his sovereignty towards the reasonable creature, and ruleth us, not with a rod of iron, but with a sceptre of love: he draweth us with the cords of a man (Hos. xi. 4); that is, with reasons and arguments taken from our own happiness. Man being a rational and free agent, he would lead and quicken us to our duty by the consideration of our own benefit; and, when he might say only, 'Thus shall ye do, I am the Lord, yet he is pleased to exhort and persuade us not to forsake our own mercies, or to turn back upon our own happiness; and to propound rewards, that we may be encouraged to seek after him in that way of duty which he hath prescribed to us. The reward is everlasting glory, with the mercies of this life in order to it: God is, and “he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him” (Heb. xi. 6).
4thly, How indispensably obedience to his commandments is required of us. As long as the heart is left loose and arbitrary, such are the unruliness and self-willedness of man's nature : “ The carnal mind is enmity against God; for it is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be” (Rom. viii. 7). The carnalist will not be held to his duty, but leave that which is honest for that which is pleasing, and be governed by his appetite rather than his reason: therefore faith hedgeth up his way, showeth him that without holiness it is impossible to see God (Heb. xii. 14); that there is no coming to the end, unless we take the way; that there is no hope of exemption or excuse for the breaches of his law allowed, but the plea of the Gospel, which doth not evacuate, but establish, obedience to God's commands, requireth a renouncing of our former course, and a hearty resolution to serve God in holiness and righteousness all our days (Luke i. 74, 75). Our duty is the end of our deliverance. In the kingdom of grace, we are not our own masters, or at liberty to do what we will: Christ came, not only as a saviour, but as a lawgiver, he hath his laws to try our obedience : “And, being made perfect, he became the author of eternal salvation unto all them that obey him” (Heb. v. 9). He came, not to lessen God's sovereignty or man's duty, but to put us into a greater capacity to serve God: he came to deliver us from the curse and indispensable rigours of the law upon every failing; not from our duty, nor that we might not serve God, but serve him without fear, with peace of conscience and joy of heart; and requireth such a degree of grace as is inconsistent with any predominant lust and affection.
5thly, That God loveth those that obey his law, and hateth those that despise it, without respect of persons: “In every nation he that feareth him, and worketh righteousness, is accepted with him ” (Acts x. 35); • Thou hatest all workers of iniquity” (Psalm v. 5); “They that are of a froward heart are abomination to the Lord; but such as are upright in their way are his delight” (Prov. xi. 20). The more obedient, the more God loveth us; the less obedient, the less God loveth us. Therefore, unless we love what God loveth and hate what God hateth, do his commands carefully and avoid the contrary, we cannot be acceptable with him ; for God would not make a law in vain, but order his providence accordingly.
6thly, That one day we shall be called to an account for our conformity and inconformity to God's law. There are two parts of government, legislation and execution: the one belongeth to God as king, the other as judge. Laws are but a shadow and the sanction a mockery, unless there shall be a day when those that are subject to them shall be called to an account and reckoning. His threatenings are not a vain scare-crow, nor
his promises a golden dream; therefore, he will appoint a day when the truth of the one and the other shall be fully made good; and therefore faith enliveneth the sense of God's authority with the remembrance of this day, when he will judge the world in righteousness.
Secondly, The necessity.
Ist, The precepts are a part of the Divine revelation : the object of faith is the whole word of God, and every part of divinely inspired truth is worthy of all belief and reverence. The word worketh not, unless it be received as the word of God: “For this cause also thank we God without ceasing, because, when ye received the word of God, which ye heard of us, ve received it not as the word of men, but as it is in truth, the word of God, which effectually worketh also in you that believe” (1 Thes. ii. 13). Now, we cannot receive the word as the word of God, unless we receive all: there are the same reasons to receive one as the other ; therefore, if any part take good rooting, the whole is received. There may be a superficial affection to one part more than another; but, if there be a right faith, we receive all. It is the engrafted word that is effectual to the saving of our souls (James i. 21): if we would engraft the word, the precepts must stir up answerable affections as well as the promises. Every part must affect us, and stir up dispositions in us which that part is apt to produce : if the promises stir up joy and trust, the precepts must stir up love, fear, and obedience. The same word which calleth upon us to believe the free pardon of our sins, doth also call upon us to believe the commandments of God for the regulating and guiding of our hearts and ways.
2ndly, It is such a part as hath a necessary connexion with the promises, as without which they can do us no good ; therefore, if we mean to be happy, we must regard both : the one is as necessary and fundamental to our happiness as the other. Our consent to God's covenant is required, not as if we were to debate and alter the terins at our pleasure, but that we may take it as God hath stated it, and bind our duty upon us by our consent to God's authority. We cannot prescribe conditions and laws of commerce between God and us, but only God alone. Man did not give the conditions, or treat about the making of them what they should be, but is only bound to submit to what God was pleased to offer and prescribe. We are not left free to model and bring down the terms to our own liking; to take hold of them, not to appoint them: “For thus saith the Lord unto the eunuchs that keep my Sabbaths, and choose the things that please me, and take hold of my covenant” (Isa. lvi. 4): for, though he condescendeth to treat with us, yet still he keepeth the place of a sovereign; and therefore, if we believe promises, and do not believe God's commandments, it is not God's covenant, but one of our own devising, when we take, and leave, and part, and mingle, and chop, and change, at our own pleasures. The covenant requireth a total, universal, unlimited resignation of ourselves to the will of God: “I will be your God, you shall be my people.'
3rdly, The gratitude that resulteth necessarily from faith, or believing the promises, will put us upon this: it apprehendeth love, and leaveth the stamp of it upon the soul, and “worketh by love" (Gal. v. 6). Now, how are we to express our love to God? Not in a fellowlike familiarity, but dutiful subjection to his laws: “For this is the love of God, that we keep his commandments; and his commandments are not grievous" (1 John v. 3); and, “He that hath my commandments, and keepeth them, he it is that loveth me” (John xiv. 21): nor by glavering respects, or a fond remembrance and esteem of his memory (Matt. vii. 11). If we lire to God. not to the world, not to the flesh; if faith be lively, it will put us upon this :: “And that he died for all, that they which live, should not henceforth live unto themselves, but unto him which died for them, and rose again” (2 Cor. v. 15).
4thly, Our trust in the promises is always commensurable to our fidelity in the commandments. Faith in the one is maintained by faithfulness in the other, and assurance of acceptance with God cannot be greater than our care of obedience. When love to the world and the flesh tempt us to omit any part of our duty, then do we weaken our confidence thereby; and sin will breed distrust, if we be serious and mind our condition. “The fruit of righteousness is peace.” “Beloved, if our heart condemn us not, then have we confidence toward God” (1 John iii. 21); and, “ Being by interpretation king of righteousness, and after that also king of Salem, which is king of peace" (Heb. vii. 2): and Christ saith, “ Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls” (Matt. xi. 29). Confidence and comfort follow grace, as heat doth fire; and fears and doubts follow sin, as pain doth the pricking of a needle, or any sharp thing wherewith a man pierceth himself: therefore, when sensual objects oversway us, and take us off from obedience to the command, they will also make us doubt of the mercy of God, as well as transgress our duty. We cannot trust him when we have offended freely and without restraint; sin will breed shame and fear. At present, all sinners feel it not; yet, hereafter, that sin that now weakeneth the faith we have in the commandments, will in time weaken the faith we have in the promises. Every part of our trust in God's declared will cometh to be tried one time or another: our confidence in God's mercy is not fully and directly assaulted till the hour of death and the time of extraordinary trial: when the evil day cometh, then the consciousness of any one sin whereunto we have been indulgent, and of the delight and pleasure we took in transgressing God's commandments, will be of force to withdraw our assents from God's mercies : “ The sting of death is sin, and the strength of sin is the law” (1 Cor. xv. 56).
5thly, Faith in the promises, if it be not a conceit and a vain dream, it is not only an act enforced by our necessity, but done in obedience to God's will; therefore we believe, because God hath commanded it: “ And this is his commandment, that we should believe on the name of his Son Jesus Christ” (1 John iii. 23); “ This is the work of God, that ye believe on him whom he hath sent” (John vi. 29). It appeareth sensibly many times: a poor soul hath no other motive nor encouragement; it ventureth, notwithstanding all discouragements to the contrary, in the strength and sense of a command: as Peter, “ Master, we have toiled all the night, and have taken nothing: nevertheless, at thy word, I will let down the net” (Luke v. 5). Now, that which is done, if rightly done, merely in obedience to a command, cannot be the ground of disobedience in other things. We must not pick and choose: certainly, if we believe the promises on God's command, we will make conscience of other things commanded also; for he is truly obedient to no precept, that doth not obey all enforced by the same authority.
Thirdly, The utility.
Ist, That we may begin with God, to yielıl up our wills absolutely to his will; it is upon a belief that this is his will concerning us; for his will con
cerning our duty is revealed in his precepts: "He hath showed thee, O man, what is good; and what doth the Lord require of thee, but to do justly, and to love mercy, and to walk humbly with thy God?” (Mic. vi. 8.) Certainly, an obedient creature desireth to know no more but what God will have him to do; and therefore it is needful we should believe what is God's will, that we may resolve upon his will : “ I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service. And be not conformed to this world; but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect will of God" (Rom. xii, 1, 2). The first thing that we do in grace, is to arm ourselves with a resolution to obey God's will, though it be never so contrary to our own or to the wills of men, or the course of the world's fashions : “ Forasmuch, then, as Christ hath suffered for us in the flesh, arm yourselves likewise with the same mind; for he that hath suffered in the flesh, hath ceased from sin; that he no longer should live the rest of his time in the flesh, to the lusts of men, but to the will of God" (1 Peter iv. 1, 2). Now, that this resolution may be made knowingly and with the greater strength, not only with the strength of inclination or our own resolved, renewed will, but in the sense of God's authority, a strong belief is necessary that this course of life is pleasing to God.
2ndly, That we may hold on with God in an awful, watchful, serious course of godliness, it is necessary that the belief of the commandments be deeply impressed upon us. Alas! otherwise, we shall be off and on, forward and backward, according to the impulsion of our own inclinations and affections and the sense of our interest in the world. Many of the commandınents are crossing to our natural inclinations and corrupt humours, or contrary to our interests in the world, our profit, pleasure, and nothing will hold the heart to our duty but the conscience of God's authority: this is the Lord's will, then the gracious soul submitteth: “For this is the will of God, even your sanctification, that ye should abstain from fornication” (1 Thes, iv. 3); and, “For so is the will of God, that with well-doing ve may put to silence the ignorance of foolish men” (1 Peter ii. 15). That is reason enough, and instead of all reasons to a believer, to awe and charge his heart, that we may not shift and distinguish ourselves out of our duty ; that we may shake off sloth and negligence, much more deceits, and fraudulency, and corrupt affection. Many shists will be studied by a naughty heart that we may prefer our credit, esteem, honour, preferment in the world, to our loyalty to God. Nothing but a deep belief of the sovereignty of God, and the sight of his will, can be of sufficient power to the soul when such temptations arise, and our duties are so contrary to the inclinations of the flesh: “By faith Abraham, when he was called to go out into a place which he should after receive for an inheritance, obeyed; and he went out, not knowing whither he went" (Heb. xi. 8); and, “By faith Abraham, when he was tried, offered up Isaac; and he that had received the promises, offered up his only begotten son, of whom it was said, that in Isaac shall thy seed be called" (verses 17, 18); “In thee shall all families of the earth be blessed” (Gen. xii. 3). Oh! how have believers need to bestir themselves upon such an occasion, and to remember no evil can be compared with God's wrath, no earthly good with his favour; that transitory delights are dearly bought if they endanger the soul to compass them: “That the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory