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monstration to them of their standing right in the sight of God.
And this is a language which too many Christians adopt, however unwarrantably, to their own use and service. They have embraced the evangelical doctrine of life and immortality; and, because they believe, they fondly think that they have eternal life. They forget the genuine characteristic of a disciple of Christ, which is obedience and a sincere regard to the laws of his gospel. Hereby, says he, shall all men be satisfied of the truth of
your profession that you are my disciples, if you are careful to maintain a purity of heart, and a firm obedience in outward life. All other pretensions to Christianity are false and unsafe: You may call me Lord and Master; but, so long as you neglect the great duties of justice and charity, according to the tenor of my everlasting gospel, ye cannot be my subjects. It is he that feareth God and worketh righteousness, who is my beloved and truest friend. Christians are called indeed of God; but then they are called by
righteousness unto God. It is but part of their happiness that they know: it is in the sincerity of their obedience alone that they can find a perfect happiness in his favour. Peculiar privileges, without peculiar circumspection in conduct, will only display more apparent folly here, and greater reason for condemnation hereafter.
2dly. The Jews magnified themselves very much on account of the law, which was given to them by Moses. They thought that the observance of it was so pleasing to God, that they should, by a punctual discharge of this part of their duty, be accepted by him, and be accounted righteous before him.
And is not this the case of many at this day? They profess the highest veneration for the sacred mysteries of religion; they allow the holy Scriptures to be a system of excellent truths, calculated for the happiness of the whole man in both worlds. They yield likewise an obedience to the ules which concern outward life, that they may make a fair appearance in the estimation of the world, and recommend themselves to the favour and esteem of their fellow-creatures. And this they conceive to be the full import of that glorious gospel, which requires truth and purity in the inward man.
3. The Jews gloried much in their temple. They thought that God had fixed his residence there; and that the stately beauty of the place would
his constant presence.
And this is a lively representation of a clamorous multitude in the present age, who please themselves with the delusive cry of—The temple of the Lord! The temple of the Lord! The sacred glory of Jerusalem's walls !-Nor is this the peculiar property of any one set of people: for there are some to be found in every denomination of Christians, who have a tincture of this false reasoning, and who think that they have a temple of their own, in which the Lord delighteth to dwell. llence these sacred fabrics, these venerable monuments of antient piety, are deserted; and the new-fangled tabernacles and little Zoars of modern enthusiasm are filled with the deluded followers of illiterate mechanics or tradesmen, transferred, by a strange kind of metamorphosis from the shop or shop-board to the pulpit. But how vain and foolish is it to build the hopes of salvation on the magnificence of a wall; or, as others do, on the seeming greater sanctity of this or that party: as if a material composition could infuse a principle of piety and sincerity; or the religion of our neighbours be equivalent to that inward holiness, which we ought to have ourselves. The lustre of another man's religion can never be so much reflected upon us, as to make us qualified subjects, for the kingdom of glory. As well might we expect the oil in the lamp of the wise virgins to supply the deficiences of the foolish ones, and gain them admission to the marriage, when the bridegroom cometh. It is therefore the greatest cheat of reason to build our hopes of happiness upon such false and precarious foundations. It is a sober, righteous, and
godly life alone, which can prepare us for Heaven; and all other dependences are so many idle delusions and baseless presumptions. If holiness and sincerity to the Lord be inscribed on the heart, it is of secondary consequence only where the knee bows itself to God; but if there be an immoral conduct in the life, not all the pomp of aspiring structures; not all the fancied superiority of devotion in this or that party, can refine the soul, or elevate it one degree towards Heaven.
If then it be clear from the whole tenor of scripture, that repentance, faith, and new obedience can alone qualify us for eternal happiness, may we not justly ask, whence is it, that so many who call themselves Christians, overlook these essential qualifications, and rest satisfied with the external forms and ordinances of the religion they profess?
To this inquiry we may answer in general, that this delusion arises from a want of right notions concerning God and religion. God is a spirit, and will be wor