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love mercie, humble yourselves before the SERM, Lord your God: and take upon you the obligation of his reasonable and excellent laws and commandments: Then he will receive you graciously, and love you freely. All your fins fhall be blotted out: they shall be as if they never were. They will be remembered against you no more,
And all this is of abfolute neceffity. Nothing else will avail for our acceptance. We cannot fubftitute any thing elfe in the room of true virtue and goodneffe. Long abftinence, painful mortifications of the body, at certain feasons, will not fuffice: nor fome fhort transports of devotion, however warm and lively: nor any zeal for the externals of religion, or for the right faith, and for spreading the principles of religion in the world. Nothing but a regular courfe of fincere and undiffembled virtue, in the feveral branches of righteoufneffe, mercie and piety, can recommend us to the favour and acceptance of a wife and holy God.
Wherewith fhall I come before the Lord, and bow my-felf before the high God? Will the Lord be pleafed with thousands of rams, or F 4
SERM. with ten thousands of river of oyle? Shall I give my firft-born for my tranfgreffion, the fruit of my body, for the fin of my foul?
Or, fhall I faft twice in the week, and pay tithes of all that I poffefs?
Shall I confess my fins once, or twice, or every month, in the year, to a person in holy orders, and fubmit to all the bodily pains and penances, he appoints?
Shall I encrease the number and length of my prayers to a double, or treble proportion more than ordinarie? and hear, or read over an abundance of fermons, and other treatises of religion?
Shall I erect a coftly and magnificent edifice, wherein men may meet, and unite together in the worship of the great God and King of the world?
The point is already refolved. Natural reason and divine revelation agree in one and the fame anfwer to this folicitous and important enenquirie. He hath fhewed thee, o man, what is good. And what does the Lord require of thee, but to do justly, to love mercie, and walk bumbly with thy God?
I have now explained the words of the SERM. text, and added an inference or two by way III. of reflexion. But I propofe to difcourfe again upon this fubject, and farther fhew the nature and extent, the excellence and importance of virtue, or moral righteousneffe.
Serm. II. upon the Text.
The Nature, Excellence, and Importance of moral Righteousneffe.
MICAH. vi 8.
He hath fhewed thee, o man, what is good. And what doth the Lord require of thee, but to do justly, and to love mercie, and to walk humbly with thy God?
HAVE already fhewn the coherence, and diftinctly explained the feveral particulars in the text. It will not be unfuitable to this
portion of Scripture, if we proceed to confider, in a more general way, the nature, ex
tent, and obligation of virtue. In doing this SERM. IV. I fhall obferve the following method.
I. I will endeavor to fhew the nature and extent of virtue, or moral righteoufneffe.
II. I fhall fhew the excellence and importance of virtue, or righteoufneffe and true holineffe.
III. After which I fhall conclude with
But I do not intend a difcourfe, or differtation upon this fubject, containing abstruse and profound notions, for the entertainment of metaphyfical minds, and fuch as have thought, or read much concerning these matters, and have penetrated far into the fpeculative points of religion. But my intention is to explain this matter, fo far as I am able, in a clear and intelligible way, for the fake of meaner capacities, and fuch as are but little acquainted with these points.
For one main reason of this design is, that I have been apprehenfive, that we, in the modern language of our ordinarie difcourfes,