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are habitually disposed to the practice of universal righteousness, and do actually perform the Gutward duties of religion. He, that demands the heart, or our purest and most ardent affections, requires us likewise to keep his statutes, to do his wil, to let our light shine before men, in holy examples and practical godliness, that they may be induced to imitate our good conversation in Christ, and glorify our Father in heaven.
It is of high importance to realize in what manner we ought to observe the ways of God. We are to do it with a watchful eye, or with an attentive mind. His word and works are too interesting to merit only a cursory survey, and too deep and intricate to be seen and understood at a single glance. They are great and “wond. erful, sought out of all them that have pleasure therein." The deep things of God are to be sought out with attention, and contemplated with profound reverence. The reason wliy men are so ignorant of God and his holy law, is because they are not attentive to his ways and works, do not apply their thoughts to the subjects they are daily called to examine ; but, through criminal negligence, lose the ideas and impressions they at times gain from a partial and cursory
view. If the mind were seriously angaged in contemplating them, and in seeking instruction in duty from them, its apprehensions would be enlarged, and its admiring thoughts dwell upon the amazing grandeur, proportion, contrivance, wisdom, and goodness, which run through the whole, and impress a sense of our obligation to serve and obey their author.
Believing, as we may with the highest reason, that the good of man is one great object of the divine administration, ought we not to contemplate the parts of it, which fall under our notice, especially chese that more particularly relate to ourselves, with the most profound reverence and gratitude ? When we see the heavens declaring the glory of God, the firmament showing his handy work, day unto day uttering speech, night unto night imparting knowledge, and the volume of inspiration opening to us the treasures of wisdom and grace, teaching us our duty, and pointing out the way to eternal life, can we avoid feeling some grateful emotions, which will incline us to that obedience which will be acceptable to the author of such blessings ?
We add, the ways of God are to be observed with entire submission to him, as the righteous. governour of the world. Knowledge is no further useful, than it relates to and influences practice. To know the works of God, to observe his ways in the kingdoms of nature, providence, and grace, to understand his laws and statutes, will be of very little advantage, unless it influ. ence and direct our inward temper, and outward conduct. In observing and contemplating the ways of God, we are to seek moral instruction, to strive to know what is the mind and will of the Lord, that we may keep his statutes and his judgments. This is one part of the duty enjoined in the text. “My son, give me thine heart, and let thine eyes observe my ways."
III. The third thing proposed is, to consider the reasonableness of this requisition ; which we have contemplated in two distinct branches, though they are inseparably connected.
1. It is altogether reasonable to give your hearts to God in the most full and unreserved manner ; because he is infinitely worthy of your supreme love. Every possible perfection centres in him. To be admired and adored, his character and attributes need only to be perceived and contemplated. There is no real excellence but what is essential to God, and, in whatever subject it may appear, proceeds from
him, as its underived and eternal fountain. All that is lovely and desirable in man, or in the highest angel, is but a faint resemblance of his infinite amiableness and perfection in natural and moral excellence. If, then, God be infinitely lovely on account of his purity, holiness, and other essential attributes, it must be fit and reasonable for him to require, and for us to give to him, our hearts, or best affections. There is no other object worthy of supreme love, and, when we bestow it on any other, we go contrary to the dictates of reason ; for these teach us to love that object in the highest degree, which is most worthy and excellent. To do this is rational, and would be natural, if the heart were not corrupted, and its moral powers perverted. But, until we can do this, our corruption will remain ; and, though we possess rational faculties, we shall act contrary to reason. Supreme love to God is founded as well in the reasonableness of the thing, as in the authority of a divine command. · But, it may be asked, is it not natural, and therefore reasonable, that we should love ourselves more than, or in preference to, any other object? I grant it is very natural for depraved man to do it ; but not that it is reasonable, un
less it can be proved that he possesses greater real excellence and amiableness than any other object; which it would be impious to suppose. Besides, that is an improper and injurious love of ourselves, which is inconsistent with supreme love to God, or which he hath not so woven into our nature, as to be an essential part of our constitution. - When love is a rational affection and exercise of the mind, and not merely a natural passion, goodness and excellence will be its object ; and as these are essential to the Deity, and exist in him in the highest perfection, he is the proper object of our supreme love.
But we need not rest the argument on his inherent perfections. His propriety in us, his authority over us, and his communicative goodness to us, prove the perfect justice and reasonableness of his claim to our hearts. We are his workmanship, formed and sustained by his hand, for the purpose of promoting his glory. As our creator, preserver, and benefactor, he has a right to our best affections. In demanding these, he requires no more than his own. He made us what we are, that is, dependent creatures, and gave us all our powers and facul