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doing our Duty, and doing more than our Duty, between Evangelical Precepts and Evangelical Counsels, is vain and idle. For I would ask this Question : Are these extraordinary Performances that we are not bound to, these that you call Evangelical Counsels, or Directions to Perfection, but not ftrict Precepts; I say, are these true Instances or Expressions of our Love to God, or of our Love to our Neighbour, or are they not? If you will say they are not, how can they recommend us to God? What Reason hath he to be pleased with them, or take any Notice of them? You may as well say, that, to sit down and say over the Letters of the Alphabet an hundred times a Day, or to go about the Streets, and count all the Signs between the one End of the City and the other ; I say, you may as well imagine, that thefe Works are meritorious, as that the other are, whatsoever they be, fuppofing they be not Instances and Expressions of our Love to God; and therefore certainly there can be no Merit or Su. pererogation in Works of that Nature.
Well, but you will say, these Works yoų talk of, are really Instances and Expressions of your Love to God. You fast lo often, for God's sake. You go so many Pilgrimages, for God's fake. You say so many Prayers more than you are obliged to, for God's sake. You renounce the World, and vow a perpetual Poverty, for God's sake.
All these Things you do out of the pure Love of GOD. Yet every one of these Things is more than you are in Duty bound to by the Laws of Christianity. Why, all this seems very well; but yet it will be spoiled by asking one Question more, and that is this: Do you think you can love God more than you can do? Da you think you can do Things to please Him more than it is in your Power to do? If you say you cannot (as indeed all Men in their Wits must acknowlege ; for no Man can do more than he can do), then all these fine Things are come to nothing, for you were bound to do, for the Love of God, all these Things that you have now talked of (supposing, indeed, that they did really recommend us to God, and were such Expressions of our Love as He delights in, which for myPart I shall never believe of them); I say, you were bound to do all these
Things, becaufe you are bound to love the LORD your God with all your Heart, and with all your Soul, and with all your Mind. It is your indispensable Duty; nay, as our Saviour tells you, it is the first and great Commandment. Now, if you can do more than all this amounts to, for the expressing your Love to God, I will yield, that you may do more than GoD requires of you, and consequently may merit something from him. But, till you can love Gop more than with all your Heart, and Soul, and Strength, I am fure you cannot do any
thing for the expressing your Love to God, which it is not your Duty to do. And if it be your Duty to do it, where are your Works of Supererogation ?
This, I think, is enough to have said in Confutation of these absurd Opinions, though abundance more might be offered, to shew how reasonable they are. But my Text hath led me thus far, and I will not go farther than it leads me, especially upon so invidious an Argument.
As for us, let us all endeavour to love God, and to serve him with all our Hearts, in all those Instances which he hath recommended to us by our Lord Jesus. Let us do our Duty to Him, and to our Neighbour, as well as we can; and, when we have done our best, let us earnestly beg of Him to forgive us our Failings, to pardon our Infirmities, to pass by all the Slips, and Faults, and Miscarriages, we have been guilty of towards him. I am sure, all of us, even the best of us, do need his Pardon; nay, do need it every Day. Nor have we any other Merits to plead but those of Christ Jesus. Nay, though we could be so happy as to live without Sin in the World, and todo our whole Duty, yet still we merit nothing from God's Hands, still we have no way in the World obliged him, still the Case between God and us is but the same as it is between the Master and the Servant, in our Saviour's Parable, with which I shall con-.
clude, because indeed it is the Sum of all that I have said, and may serve for a Recapitulation of my whole Discourse upon this Point.
You may find it in the xvisth Chapter of St. Luke's Gospel, and the 7th Verse:Which of you (faith he) having a Servant plowing, or feeding Cattle, will say unto him by-and-by, whon he is come from the Field, Go and hit down to Meat? And will not rather say unto him, Make ready wherewith I may sup, and gird thyfelf, and serve me,till I have eaten and drunken, and afterwards thou shalt eat and drink? Doth be thank that Servant because he did the Things that were commanded bim? I trow,ngt. Splikewise ye, when ye have done all those Thing's which are commanded you, say, We are unprofitable Servants; we bave done that Thing which was our Duty to do. Thus far our Saviour. From whence we may gather, that those that do aļl these Things which God hath commanded them, are but unprofitable Servants; and therefore how unprofitable must they be, that do not an hundredth Part of that which God hath commanded us! And yet I doubt this is the Case of even good People among uş. May God forgive the best of us all our Neglects and Miscarriages, and inspire us both with Power and Will to serve him better; and this for the only Merits of his dear Son Jesus Christ. To whom with the Father and the Holy Ghost, &c.
& ER, 234
Matt. XXII. 37, 38, 39, 40. 37. Yesus said unto him, Thou shalt love the
Lord'thy God with all thy Heart, and with
all thy Soul, and with all thy Mind. 38. This is the firft and great Commandment, 39. And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt
love thy Neighbour as thyself. 40. On these two Commandments bang all the
Law and the Prophets. 179997, HE Method I have proposed in
treating of this Text was,
First, To explain the Duty here $123 commanded, that is to say, what is implied in loving God with all our Hearts and Souls.
Secondly, To shew upon what Accounts this may be truly said to be the first and great Commandment.
Thirdly, To make fome Application of this Doctrine, by drawing some useful Inferences from it. And,
uly faido Zon what Am