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own capacity makes ; and in him they shall have what will satisfy all their desires.
3. Lastly, Eternally, i Thess. iv. 17. So shall we ever be with the Lord.'
I conclude this subject with a few inferences.
Inf. 1. Come out now from among the wicked world. A separation there will be betwixt the godly and the wicked. If it be in your favour, it will begin now. Leave them now, if ye
would not be left with them after the resurrection. 2. Beware of rash judging those that have any
lineaments of Christ's image upon them. Ye may judge and condemn the evil actions of the best of men, if ye be sure from the word that they are evil. But, O my soul! enter not into the secret of those who presumptuously take upon them to judge men's state, hearts, and consciences, upon slips of human infirmity and weakness.
3. Let none be ashamed to own Christ and his truths and ways before the world, remembering that the day cometh in which he will confess those that confess him, and deny those that deny him.
4. Though the day of judgment be an awful thought, it will be a happy day to believers, as they will then be for ever delivered from all moral and penal evils, and admitted into the greatest felicity in the enjoyment of their God and Redeemer for ever.
5. That there is no true happiness till we come to the enjoyment of God, nor full happiness till we arrive at the full enjoyment of him.
6. Lastly, Miserable is now, and at the resurrection will be, the state of the wicked, where the reverse of all the happiness of the saints will be found, and that in the most dreadful manner. Let us then all seek to be found among those who shall be partakers of the better and glorious resurrection.
OF THE DUTY WHICH GOD REQUIRETH OF MAN.
1 SAM. XV. 22.-And Samuel said, Hath the Lord as great
delight in burnt-offerings and sacrifices, as in obeying the voice of the Lord?
THIS text is a reproof given to one that wore a crown,
teaching him, that though he was Israel's sovereign, he was God's subject. Saul had been sent, by God's express command, on an expedition against the Amalekites, with a solemn charge utterly to destroy all that they had, and spare them not; but to slay both man and woman, infant and suckling, ox and sheep, camal and ass,' ver. 3. The expedition was crowned with success. Saul having destroyed all the people, took Agag their king prisoner, and saved the best of the cattle; and when quarrelled by Samuel for this his partial obedience to the heavenly mandate, he pretended that the people had spared the sheep and oxen, which had been devoted to destruction as well as the people, to sacrifice unto the Lord in Gilgal. The words of the text contain Samuel's answer to this silly apology: Hath the Lord (says he) as grcat delight in burnt-offerings and sacrifices, as in obeying the voice of the Lord? importing, that obedience to the voice and will of God is more acceptable to him than all the sacrifices in the world.
In the words we may notice,
1. The duty which God requires of men, which is obedience. This is required of man, of all men, rulers and ruled : those whom others must obey, must obey God.
2. What they are to obey, the voice of the Lord, whereby he manifests his will : it is his revealed will, whatever way he is pleased to notify it to them. Hence obedience in the text is called hearkening ; the souf first receiving the knowledge of God's mind, and then complying with it.
3. The excellency and eminency of this duty. (1.) God delights in it.
(2.) All other things must yield to it, but it to none. Burnt-offerings and sacrifices, even the fat of them, are nothing in comparison of this.
The text affords the following doctrine, viz.
Doct. ' The duty which God requireth of man, is obedi. .
ence to his revealed will."
In discoursing from this doctrine, I shall, 1. Explain it; and, II. Deduce a few inferences for application.
I. For explanation, let us consider the duty which man owes to God, of whom he requires it, the rule of it, the properties of it, and on what accounts we owe it. First, Let us consider the duty which man owes unto God. That is obedience. We are in a state of subjection to God. He is our superior, and his will we are to obey in all things
. He is our King, and we must obey him as his subjects, by complying with all his statutes and ordinances. He is our Father, and we must shew him all respect, reverence, and af. fection, as his dutiful children. He is our Lord and Master, and we must yield him the most cheerful and unlimited service, as is our reasonable duty. He is our supreme
Law. giver, and we must receive the law at his mouth, every law and
precept, every ordinance that is stamped with his authority, whatever is superscribed with a Thus saith the Lord, readily obeying it.
Secondly, Let us consider of whom the Lord requires this duty. Of every man without exception, capable of knowing his will. The greatest are as fast bound to this obedience as the meanest, the poor as well as the rich, Pagans as well as Christians, kings as well as subjects. No man can be free from this duty more than he can be a God to himself. Not a son or daughter sprung from Adam can plead an exemption from this duty of obeying the will of the Lord. It is an easy yoke wreathed upon the necks of all, and is imposed on them by an indispensable law.
Thirdly, Let us consider the rule of that obedience. It is the will of God. His will is our supreme law. Not the secret will of God; for that which God never revealed to man, cannot be his rule; but the revealed will of God, Deut
. xxix. 29. “ The secret things belong unto the Lord our God; but those things which are revealed, belong unto us and to our children. Men may fulfil the secret will of God, and
determination of his providence, and be deeply guilty, as we see the Jews did in crucifying the Lord of glory, Acts ii. 23. under the guilt of which heinous sin that people groan to this day. But conformity to God's revealed will is our duty. Whatever is revealed in the sacred scriptures as the will of God, whether relating to what man is to believe, or what he is to practise, is to be performed and done, and that at our peril.
Fourthly, Let us consider the properties of this obedience which God requires of man.
1. It is sincere obedience to his will. Hence David says, • I was upright before him,' Psal. xviii. 23. Hypocritical obedience may please men, but not God, the searcher of hearts. It was the commendation of the obedience of the Romans, that they obeyed from the heart that form of doctrine which was delivered them,' Rom. vi. 17. That sacrifice that wants the heart, will never be accepted on God's altar. God weighs not the affections of his people to him by their actions, so much as their actions by their affections, as in the case of Abraham's offering up Isaac, Heb. xi. 17.; in that of the Israelites offering to go into the promised land, Num. xiv. 40. compared with ver. 42, 44. which was an act of downright disobedience to the commandment of the Lord, notified to them by Moses. All obedience, without uprightness or sincerity, is a mere counterfeit, an empty pretence, which will be rejeeted with abhorrence.
2. It must be constant obedience. We must keep God's law continually, for ever and ever,' as the Psalmist resolved to do, Psal. cxix. 44. Man is ever doing something, yet he must always abide within the hedge of the law. Our obedience to God is all wrong when it comes only by fits, as heat in an ague, or is broke off like those that go to sea for pleasure, who come ashore when the storm rises. God is unchangeable, and we must be constant and steady in obeying his will; at no time daring to act contrary to it.
3. It must be tender obedience. We must abstain from all appearance of evil,' i Thess. V, 22. We must hate even the garment spotted with the flesh,' Jude 23. We must not rub on this hedge, nor come too near the borders of wickedness. We have to do with a jealous God, whom whorish looks will offend, Ezek. vi. 9. We cannot be too nice in obedience. We must not, in order to practice, examine whether it be a little or a great sin. All such distinctions are highly criminal, and inconsistent with the disposition of the person of a tender heart, who hates every sin of every kind, whether great or small, the wicked act'as well as the wicked thought. A tender, a relenting heart, a heart afraid of sin, and cautious of the least wrong thought or act, is that which God requires, and the obedience resulting from it is the tender obedience here required.
4. It must be ready obedience, like that of those of whom the Psalmist speaks, "As soon as they hear of me, they shall obey me,' Psal. xviii. 44. We must do, and not delay ; but be like the good David, who said, 'I made haste and delayed not to keep thy commandments,' Psal. cxix. 60. We are not to dispute, but obey ; 'not to confer with flesh and blood,' Gal. i. 16. It was Jonah's sin that he did not readily comply; and it was Abraham's commendation, that he did not dispute God's orders, but went not knowing whither he went,' Heb. xi. 8. The least intimation of God's will, either as to doing or suffering, must be immediately and readily complied with, notwithstanding all discouragements and carnal reasonings. God's call and command must drown the voice of carnal ease, and all arguments arising from Spare thyself. Does God say? we must immediately go whither he directs us : does he say, Come? we must instantly obey the summons, saying, Lord, we are here, ready to do what thou pleasest to order or enjoin us. Without this readiness and alacrity, all our obedience is stark naught, a matter of mere force and compulsion; and therefore unacceptable to the great God, whom we are bound to serve with a perfect heart and a willing mind.
5. It must be universal obedience, Psal. cxix. 6. in 'hav. ing a respect unto all God's commandments. The whole of the commands of God have the same divine stamp upon them. They are one golden chain : whošo takes away one link, breaks the chain; if the connection be destroyed, the whole machine falls asunder. Hear what the apostle James says on this head, chap. ii. 10, 11. “Whosoever shall keep the whole law, and yet offend in one point, he is guilty of all. For he that said, Do not commit adultery, said also, Do not kill. Now, if thou commit no adultery, yet
if thou kill
, thou art become a transgressor of the law. Obedience to one command will never sanctify disobedience to another.