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ties; and therefore has an exclusive title to our purest affections and services.
Were man in a state of independence, there would be some reason to question his obligation to give his heart to God. But, my friends, you are every moment dependent upon God for what you possess and enjoy ; and every hour's experience of the sustaining hand of his providence, and of his communicative goodness, renews his reasonable demand of your grateful love.
The gift of his beloved Son for the redemption of your souls from the power of sin and
death, is a wonderful instance of his goodness · and grace. It claims the warmest affections
and gratitude. The blessings that flow from God, through Jesus Christ, who is able and ready to relieve all our moral necessities, and bring us to the possession of the joys of heaven, must impress on the mind a rational and lively sense of obligation to love the Lord our God with all the heart, soul, mind, and strength. The objects of such unbounded compassion, the subjects of such wonderful grace, can never exceed their duty in returns of love and grateful affection.
170 As, then, God is in himself infinitely worthy ; as he hath created you, and endued you with the powers and faculties you possess ; as he hath sustained you amidst the dangers to which you have been exposed ; as he hath, in a variety of ways, and in rich abundance, communicated his goodness, and made you partakers of his bounty ; and especially as he hath sent his Son into the world to redeem, sanctify, and save your souls ; can any thing be more. reasonable, than that you should give him your hearts, your purest love, your best affections ? On what rational principle, my young friends, could you refuse this, if it were demanded as a matter of mere gratitude and homage to so good a being, 60 kind a benefactor, so compassionate and gracious a Saviour ? But, how much more reasonable the requisition appears, when we reAect, that supreme love to God is the perfection of our own nature, entirely consistent with true love of ourselves, and promotive of our highest improvement and felicity ? If, then, this part of . the requisition be reasonable, it will appear,
2. That the other is equally so, and is justified upon the same general principles. All that this intends will naturally result from a sincere compliance with the demand God makes of our
hearts, or supreme love. Observing his ways, or keeping his commandments, is to act in conformity to, and under the influence of that internal principle of religion, which consists in a devotedness of the heart, and its affections to him. It is reducing the principle to practice, and thus proving its existence, and cherishing and strengthening it in the soul. This practical holiness, or conformity to the law and will of God, and attentive regard to his ways, are the ornament and happiness of the christian. They secure to him many advantages, have an infuence on beholders, prove the reality of his religious affections, and promote the divine glory.
The religion, that has not a practical influence, that produces no good effect in the life and con. versation, that does not regulate the external behaviour of a person, and engage him to be strict in outward acts of piety, in attending upon the ordinances and institutions God hath appointed, and in moral and social duties, is of very little value, and can never spring from true and supreme love to the Deity. It may be such as will sour the temper of a bigot, inflame the zeal of an enthusiast, and serve the purpose of a hypocrite; but it cannot give peace and joy 172 to the mind, nor receive the divine approbation. Though there may be a form of religion with. out the power, an apparent regard to divine ordinances without a sincere desire to honour God by keeping them, and an outward conformity to moral maxims without any religious fear and love; yet, if these external duties of religion and morality be neglected, when there is opportunity to practise them, it is certain the internal principle is defective, that the heart is not devoted to God, or inspired with supreme love to him. Obedience is better than sacrifice; and though it must flow from the heart, in order to be acceptable to God, it must appear by outward conformity to his command, to his law and will, or it cannot be acknowledged and approved. In true religion inward affections and outward actions are so blended, that they cannot be separated, even in idea, without taking from it, in the view of a well informed mind, some of its essential properties. A sanctified heart and a holy life are alike necessary to the character of a good man. It is therefore as reasonable to require obedience in outward conduct, as to demand the purest affections of the heart,
The phrase in the text, “ let thine eyes obó serve my ways,” intends either this external conformity to the law and will of God, or such a careful attention to the displays he hath made of himself in his word and works, as shall lead to the discovery of his will, and our duty. The first of these interpretations supposes an understanding and performance of the divine will; the second an inquiry into it, in order that it may be obeyed. In either sense it amounts to the same thing, and enjoins practical obedience.
It is, indeed, a most reasonable and useful exercise of our faculties, to observe the ways of God in the latter sense. The psalmist prayed that his eye might be turned away from behold. ing vanity. The reason is, because vain objects too easily attract the heart, and too deeply engage its affections. But he, who attentively observes the ways of God, and inquires into their design and tendency, is kept from beholding vanity, is not captivated by the allurements that often ensnare, debase, and ruin others. The objects to which his attention is directed fill him with admiration, impart instruction, and afford delight. He perceives such light and truth in God's word, and such instruction in the conduct of his providence, and in the ex