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die.” That our obedience to the commandments of God be acceptable, it is necessary,
I. That it should proceed from love to him. This, as revelation teaches us, is the fulfilling of the law. We cannot conceive that law to be honoured and duly obeyed, where there is not an intentional subjection to the great Lord and Ruler of all, arising from a conviction of his infinite moral excellences, complacency in the perfection of his character, zeal for his glory, and gratitude for his unnumbered benefits. If the heart be properly affected towards God, as possessing in himself all worth, and beauty, and blessedness, as the only all-sufficient and everlasting portion of the soul, how easy and delightful will it be to give him the love and the obedience which are his due.
II. It is further necessary that this obedience should proceed from a deep and practical sense of God's authority over us. Without this, the service which we render will not be a reasonable, and, consequently, not an acceptable, service. It is under the influence of this abiding conviction, that our subjection to the will of God, in place of being a transient act of the mind, will be a fixed and practical habit, a consecration of heart and soul to his glory; a principle operating not at distant intervals, but like the affection of a dutiful child to its parent, or the constant obedience of a faithful servant to his master.
III. We must have respect in our obedience to all God's commandments. The perfect obedience which one of these commandments claims, is claimed by them all; and the wilful violation of one of them is a virtual violation of the principle upon which they are
all founded, and a dishonour to the authority by which they are all enacted. This is what is meant by the Apostle, when he says, “ He that is guilty in one point is guilty of all.” Along with the desire to know all the will of God, there must be the desire to practise his will as far as it is known. This is an unambiguous mark, by which sincere and universal obedience may be distinguished from that which is stinted and partial. “I am thy servant,” says the faithful servant of God; “ give me understanding that I may know thy testimonies. I love thy commandments above gold, yea, above fine gold. Therefore I esteem all thy precepts concerning all things to be right; and I hate every false way.” There is in his mind a deep conviction that all the will of God is good, and holy, and wise,—that his authority is right, and ought to be obeyed,-and that all the commandments which this divine authority may enjoin, ought, because it enjoins them, to be cordially fulfilled.
These are some of the characters of that obedience which we are bound to render to the law of God. To deepen our convictions of God's unquestionable right to receive and to demand it, and of our unalterable obligations to render it, we should reflect on such questions and statements as the following:
Has not the God, whose moral excellences are boundless, the Creator, Preserver, and Governor of all things, a title to rule the creatures which he has formed capable of knowing, loving, and serving him? What are the attributes requisite to give a supreme right to our unreserved obedience, which are not found in the God that made us, and who claims us as his? Is
he not possessed of infinite knowledge and wisdom, to discern and to arrange the plans that may best subserve the good of the universe ? Is he not the fountain of goodness, and in the exercise of his bounty diffusing his tender mercies over all his works? Is he not lioly and righteous, and therefore incapable of doing wrong, or of acting partially towards his creatures ? Is he not the God of all power, and, therefore, able to deliver and to defend those that trust in him? Is he not most perfect, and all-sufficient; and, therefore, removed beyond the possibility of governing his subjects by deceit or injustice? Is he not our compassionate Father, who has nourished us and brought us up as children, and who rules us for our profit, that we may be the partakers of his holiness? Do we not feel that in voluntarily acting in obedience to him, we are acting in conformity to the noblest, the only valuable purposes for which we have been made, while we are improving in the endowments of persons virtuous and happy? Does not our experience, as well as our conscience, proclaim, that to disobey the least of God's commandments, is to rebel against his authority, to displease Him, whose displeasure cannot be counterbalanced by the whole world, to loše our peace, and fill the mind with painful apprehensions ?
These, we are assured, are the deserts and the consequences of a single act of disobedience. When committed by our first parents, this act entailed suffering and misery on their posterity; and sin in them and in their offspring has spread desolation and death over the world. But the God of truth has solemnly
assured us, that we see but a few of the consequences of sin in the present life,-that remorse of conscience, and disease, and wretchedness, and the dissolution of the body, are only its first fruits,--that it leads to the worm that dieth not, and to the fire that cannot be quenched, -to a punishment that is everlasting, from the presence of the Lord, and from the glory
of his power.
Section II.--Obedience to God considered as a principle
of belief in the truths which he reveals. Another form of that obedience which we owe to God is, a belief in the doctrines which he is pleased to reveal. We cannot be more bound to obey his precepts, than we are bound cordially to credit all that his testimony seals as truth. There is no longer room for hesitation or doubt when we are satisfied that it is God who speaks. To reject his testimony is to do the highest dishonour to God, it is to make him
a liar.” That it is the duty of all men to believe all the doctrines which God reveals as his truth, is clear from the following considerations.
I. Because God commands all men to believe the doctrines of divine revelation. The right on his part to command our belief is not more manifest than is the duty on ours to obey. “This is his commandment that we believe on the name of his Son Jesus Christ. Repent and believe the Gospel. Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved. into all the world, and preach the Gospel-to every
creature ; he that believeth, and is baptized, shall be saved, and he that believeth not, shall be condemned.”
That which is the object of a command from God is obedience in moral and accountable creatures. Can we charge the righteous Lord and Ruler of all with demanding from us more than is meet, or, that which we are physically incapable of rendering? Do not his warnings, threatenings, and admonitions, imply that man is accountable for his belief, and that he is just as much bound to believe what God reveals, as to do what God commands? Were it otherwise, why should he be exhorted, to search the Seriptures, to prove all things, and to hold fast that which is good? Why should the Jews have been criminated by our Lord for not believing his word, and threatened, as the consequence of unbelief, with heavy judgments both in this life, and in that which is to come? Why should unbelief in the Gospel be represented as the greatest crime, as incurring the most aggravated guilt, and the most fearful condemnation?
II. The duties of believing what God reveals, and of receiving it in the manner which he prescribes, are the natural and immediate effects of love to him ; so that, if it be a duty to love God, it is a duty equally obvious and binding to believe his word. We are bound to love God supremely, because he is infinitely worthy of being beloved; but the attributes of infinite moral excellency which he possesses, and which render us criminal should we refuse him the love of our heart, render is not less criminal should we disbelieve