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they paid so much regard to the day, as to affemble and receive instruction. But how many a. mong us waste the fabbath in indolence, or profane it by unnecessary labours and vain amusemenţs ? How many contemptuously turn away from the stated instructions of the sanctuary, and fay of God's worship, What a weariness is it ?..
Only one judgment, the incursion of ravenous beasts, brought these Samaritans to consideration, But what good effect has been produced among us by a series of remarkable dispensations both corrective and merciful ? We may well be ashamed and afraid when we reflect, how much they did, and how little we do, to avert the displeafure, and procure the favour of God.
But still let it be remembered, that they came short of a sincere and acceptable service, because, while they feared the Lord, they served their graven images. The motives, which governed them in their religion, were of a worldly nature. They were more concerned to rid the land of wild beasts, than to rid themselves of their sins. And instead of directing their service to the one supreme God, they divided it between him and their own false divinities.
We fee, then, that men may make the appearance of a reformation, and yet fall short of sincere repentance. Let us not rest in external forms, partial amendments, and divided services ; but devote ourselves wholly and without reserve to God, and walk before him in fimplicity and godly fincerity. The fincerity of the heart is the life and soul of religion. And fince, without this, men may seem to do much in religion, let us take good heed to ourselves, that we rest not in the form of godliness, when the power of it is wanting. There are those who seem to themselves to
be religious, when all their religion is vain. See that
ye be pot deceived. God requires truth in the inward parts. “If any man be in Christ, he is a new creature ; old things are passed away, and all thing are become new.
This brings us to another obfervation from our text, That true and acceptable religion is pure and simple, directed to God and to him only.
This abservation we will referve to be illustrated in another discourse.
True Religion pure and fimple.
II. KINGS xvii. 40, 41.
How beit, they did not hearken, but they did after their former manner. So
these nations feared the Lord and served their graven images, both their children, and their children's children : as did their fathers, so did they unto this day.
HE Affyrians, who were sent to re-people Samaria, after the native inhabitants had been carried to Aflyria, found themselves dangerously infested with lions. This calamity they imputed to their ignorance of the religious service, which Jehovah, whom they called the god of the land, required of them. A Jewish priest was sent from Affyria to instruct them in the character and wore fhip of the true God. Under his ministration, they were so far reformed, that they feared the Lord; but still, attached to the notions in which they had been educated, they worshipped their graven images. And thus did their children af. ter them from one generation to another.
Hence we have remarked, I. The powerful influence of custom and education in matters of religion. And,
II. The general sense of mankind, that there is such a thing as religion, and that it is a matter of universal and indispensable obligation.
We now proceed to remark, III. That true religion is pure and simple, free from corrupt mixtures, and uniformly directed to one great end.
These Assyrians “ feared the Lord.” They acknowledged the God of Israel ; but, at the same time, they served their own gods; and therefore the service, which they paid to the true God, was of little value.
As there is one God, the sole author and gov. ernor of the universe, and the fountain of all ex. cellencies any where seen, and of all blessings any where enjoyed, so we are required to give him our highest regards, and to serve him with undi. vided affection; and we are forbidden to worship any other object in opposition to him, or in conjunction with him. And to us, who have been taught the unity of the godhead, nothing is more obvious than the necessity of directing all our religious honours and services uniformly to this allperfect being. We easily fee, that those Samari. tans, by mingling idolatry with the worship of the true God, utterly corrupted their religion. But let us enquire, whether we, in some other way, may not be guilty of the fame corruption.
When we are under any remarkable and fe. vere affliction, we perhaps think of God, acknowledge his power and fear his anger ; we are more strict and conftant in attending on his worship ; we pray oftener and desire the prayers of others. But do we, at the same time, search our hearts, mortifyour lusts, subdue our passions and renounce our fins ?-If not, what is our religion better than the motley religion of the Samaritans ? The man,
who, in a time of affliction, only becomes more engaged in the external forms of devotion, and is Itill unbounded in his avarice, unjust in his dealings, intemperate in his enjoyments; ungova. erned in his passions, profane in his language, or sensual in his affections, is but like those who feared the Lord and served their own gods.
We are required to love and fear God with all our heart. Our external services are of little value farther than they are animated with an inward regard to him. If our hearts be principally set on riches, honours, pleasures, or any earthly objects, we are as really guilty of idolatry, as they who. worship an idol ; because we transfer to them the regards which are due to him. Hence the covetous man is called an idolater; and they who serve divers lusts and pleasures, are said to make them their God. How much so ever we may do in a way
of external service to God ; if the world, or any thing which belongs merely to the world, be. supreme in our hearts, we are like those who feared the Lord, and served their own gods. man can serve two masters. If he love the one,
he will hate the other. He cannot serve God and mammon. The friendship of the world is enmity with God. If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him."
God has given us a revelation to instruct us in his will and in the terms of his favour and accept
If we believe this revelation to be from him, we must take it as it is, and obey it with. out reserve, neither presuming to supply its supposed defects by our own invention, nor to retrench its supposed redundancies by our own wisdom. If esteeming some of its precepts too fevere, we relax them; or some of its doctrines too mysterious, we reject them; or if imagining