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Are you proof against the terrors of everlasting destruction ? If you would enjoy the one and escape the other, “ Do to others what you would have them do to you.'
I shall conclude with one or two reflections.
(1.) If this be the rule of our conduct, alas ! how little true morality is there in the world! Men seem to act as if they were entirely detached from one another, and had no connection, or were not at all concerned to promote each other's interest. Selfinterest is their pursuit, and self-love their ruling passion; if that be but promoted, and this gratified, they have little or no concern besides. Let their neighbours look to themselves, they have no business with them. If I shall only mention one particular case under this general rule, namely, commerce and bargaining, what a scene of iniquity would it open ! Men seem to make this their rule, to get as much for what they sell, and give as little for what they buy, as they can : they hardly ever think what the real value of the thing is, and whether the other party has a tolerable bargain of it : 'Let him look, say they, to that ; it is none of their care.' Alas! my brethren, where are the laws of justice and charity, when men behave in this manner ? And yet, alas ! how common is such a conduct in the commercial world !
(2.) We ought to examine our own conduct in this respect, and it will go a great way to determine whether our religion be true and sincere, or not. If we make conscience of social duty, it is a promising sign that God has written his law in our hearts. But if we can willingly indulge ourselves in any sinful and mean conduct towards men, we may be sure our religion is vain, whatever our pretension be. Let us feel then the pulse of our souls, whether it beats warm and full, both with the love of God and the love of our neighbour. Finally, brethren, whatsoever things arc true, whatsoever things are honest, or venerable, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report ; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, let us think on these things. Phil. iv. 8.
I COR. VI. 19, 20.-What ! know ye not that 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.
MY first and last business with you to day, is to assert a claim which perhaps you have but little thought of, or acknowledged. In the name of God I enter a claim to you, to the whole of you, soul and body, and whatever you possess ; to every one of you, high and low, old and young, freemen as well as slaves ; I enter a claim to you all as God's right, and not your own : and I would endeavour to bring you voluntarily to acknowledge his right, and by your own free act to surrender and devote your. selves to him, whose you are, and whom therefore you are bound to serve.
It is high time for me to assert, and for you to acknowledge, God's right to you ; for have not many of you behaved as if you thought you were your own, and had no master or proprietor? Have you not practically said, with those insolent sinners, the psalmist mentions, Our lips are our own, who is Lord over us ? Psa. xii. 4. for have you not refused to employ your tongues for the honour of God, and spoke what you pleased, without any con. trol from his law? Have you not said by your practice, what Pharaoh was bold and plain enough to speak out in words, Who is the Lord, that I should obey his voice ? Exod. v. 2. not aimed at pleasing yourselves, as if you were not bound to please the supreme Lord of heaven and earth, whose authority confines the stubborn powers of hell in chains of everlasting darkness, and sets all the armies of heaven in motion to execute his sovereign orders ? Have you not followed your own inclinations, as if you were at liberty to do what you pleased ? Or if you have in some instances restrained yourselves, have not the restraints proceeded, not from a regard to his authority, but from a regard to your own pleasure or interest ? Have you not
• The discourse is said by the author to be Sermons preparatory to the Lord's Supper.
used your bodies, your souls, your estates, and all your possessions, as if they were your own absolutely and independently, and there were no God on high, who has an original and superior claim to you, and all that you are and have ? Do not your own consciences convict you of these things? Is it not then high time for you to be made sensible whose right you are ? that you are not your own, but God's ?
This reason would render this subject very seasonable at any time. But there is another reason which peculiarly determines me to make choice of it to day ; and that is, the greatest business of this day is, to surrender and devote ourselves to God as his servants forever. In so solemn a posture as at the Lord's table, in so affecting an act as the commemoration of that death to which we owe all our hopes of life and happiness, and with such solemn emblems as those of bread and wine in our hands, which represent the broken body and flowing blood of Jesus, we are to yield ourselves to God, and seal our indenture to be his. This is the solemn business we are now entering upon. And that we may perform it the more heartily, it is fit we should be sensible that we are doing no more than what we are obliged to do; no more than what God has a right to require us to do, seeing we are not our own, but his.
The apostle speaks of it with an air of surprise and horror, that any under the profession of christianity should be so stupid as not to know and acknowledge that they are not their own, but God's. What ! says he, know ye not, that ye are not your own ? As if he had said, can you be ignorant in so plain a point as this? Or can you be so hardy, as knowing the truth, to practise contrary to knowing it? Knowing you are not your own, dare you act as if you were your own ? Acknowledging that you are God's, dare you withhold from him his property ? Will a man rob God ? Shall not his professed servants scrve him? Since your bodies and your souls are his, dare you use them as if they were absolutely your own, and refuse to glorify him with them?
The same claim, my brethren, is valid with regard to you, which the apostle here asserts with regard to the Corinthians. You are no more your own than they were ; you are as much God's property as they were.
And his property in you depends upon such firm foundations as cannot be shaken without the loss of your being, and your rePapse into nothing. If you made yourselves, you may call yourselves your own. But you know the curious frames of your bodies were not formed by your hands, nor was it your feeble breath that inspired them with those immortal sparks of reason, your souls. A greater absurdity cannot be mentioned, than that a creature should be its own creator ; for then it must act before it had a being. You owe your being to a divine Original, the Fountain of all existence. It was Jehovah, the uncreated, all. creating Jehovah, who so wonderfully and fearfully formed your bodies, and who is likewise the Father of your spirits. And what right can be more valid than that founded upon creation ? It is a right founded upon your very being, and which nothing but the entire loss of being can destroy. He that makes servants out of nothing, has he not a right to their service ? Did he form your souls and bodies, and may he not require you to glorify him with them ? Can you call them your own, or dare to dispose of them as you please, without any regard to God, when you would have had neither soul nor body, nor been any thing at all, if it had not been for him ? You think you have such a right to a thousand things as entitles you to the use of them ; but shew, me one thing, if you can, to which you have such a right as God has to you, to your whole souls and bodies, to you, who have no master upon earth, and who are your own property in exclusion to all the claims of your fellow-creatures. Did you produce out of nothing any of those things you call yours? No, you only bought them with money, or you formed them into what they are, out of materials already created to your hand. But it is Jehovah's right alone that is founded upon creation. And will you not acknowledge this right ? Will not your hearts declare even now, ' My Maker, God, this soul and this body are thine ; and to thee I cheerfully surrender them? The work of thine own hands shall be thine by my free and full consent; and I renounce all claim to myself that is not dependent upon and subordinate to thee.'
Again, the providence of God towards you has made you his absolute property ; and on this footing he claims your service. You could no more support yourselves in being, than you could give being to yourselves at first. Who but he has presarved you alive for so many months and years ; preserved you so frail and precarious, surrounded with so many dangers, and exposed to so many wants ? Whose earth have you trod upon ? Whose air have you breathed in? Whose creatures have you fed upon ?
The earth is the Lord's, and the fulness thereof, Ps. xxiv. I. and consequently all the supports and enjoyments, all the necessaries and comforts of life are his. Show me the mercy, if you can, which you created. Mention the moment, if you can, in which you supported your own life, independently of the Almighty. Show me that property of yours, if you can, which is so independent upon you as you are upon him. This moment, if he should withdraw bis supporting hand, you would instantaneously become as entirely nothing as you were ten thousand years ago. If he should now strip you of all that is his, and only leave you what is originally your own, he would leave you nothing at all. The carth, and all its productions, the air, the light, and your very being would be entirely vanished, and your place would be no more known in the creation. O! that you knew, O ! that you felt, o ! that you practically acknowledged, how entirely you are dependent upon God! And dare you call yourselves your own, when you cannot support yourselves in being or in happiness one moment ? O! renounce so haughty a claim, and this day give up yourselves to God as his. A son honoureth his father : and since God is your Father, where is his honour ? The dull ox knows his owner, and the stupid ass knows his master's crib ; and will not you know and acknowledge your divine Benefactor and Preserver ? He has nourished and brought you up as his children, and dare you rebel against him?
Thus you see the divine right to you may be made good upon the footing of creation and providence. But this is not the foundation of right which the apostle here has in view, or which I would chiefly insist upon. The ground of claim that he has here in view, is that of redemption by Jesus Christ ; ye are not your oson, says he, for ye are bought with a price. This is a ground of claim still more endearing. You are God's, not only because he made you, because he preserved you, but because he hath bought you ; bought you, saith St. Peter, not with corruptible things, as silver and gold, but with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot. 1 Pet. i. 18, 19. What an expensive purchase is this! a purchase by blood ! not by the blood of bulls and of goats, not by the blood of man, but by the blood of Jesus, which St. Paul does not scruple to call the blood of God himself; the church of God, says he, which he has purchased with his own blood. Acts xx. 28. This was the im. mense ransom ; this is what the apostle calls a price, by way of VOL. II.