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out before him all the business of life: always looking to him for all things, and always giving thanks unto his name, for all his unspeakable goodness to a wretch so infinitely unworthy. And, with a spirit of disinterested impartiality, and genuine benevolence, he views his fellow-men; gives them their places; takes his own, and loves them as himself: their welfare is dear to him; he is grieved at their miseries, and rejoices at their mercies, and delights to do all the good he can, to every one, in the place and station which God has set him in. And he finds that this new and divine temper is inwrought in his very nature; so that, instead of a forced religion, or a religion merely by fits, his very heart is habitually bent and inclined to such views and apprehensions; to such an inward temper, and to such an outward conduct.
This, this is the religion of the Bible; the religion which the law and the prophets, and which Christ and his apostles too, all join to teach; the religion which Christ came into the world to recover men unto, and to which the spirit of God does actually recover every believer, in a greater or lesser degree. Thus those who are dead in sin, are quickened; Eph. ii. 1. Have the law written in their hearts. Heb. viii. 10. Are mude new creatures, all old things being done away, and all things become new; 2 Cor. v. 17. And are effectually taught to deny all ungodliness and worldly lusts, and to live soberly, righteously, and godly in this present world. Tit. ii 12. And so serve God without fear, in holiness and righteousness, all the days of their lives; Luke i. 74, 75.
And this is specifically different from every sort of false religion in the world: for all kinds of false religion, however different in other things, yet all agree in this, to result merely from a principle of self-love, whereby fallen men, being ignorant of God, are inclined to love themselves supremely, and do all things for themselves ultimately. All the idolatrous religion of the heathen world, in which some took much pains, had its rise from this principle. They had some notion of a future state; of a heaven and a hell, as well as of temporal rewards and punishments, and so were moved by hope and fear, from a principle of self-love, to do something to pacify the anger of the gods, and recommend themselves to
the favour of their deities: and all the superstitions of the seemingly devout papist ; his pater-nosters, his ave-marias, bis penances, and pilgrimages, and endless toils, still arise from the same principle: so does all the religion of formalists, and legal hypocrites, in the reformed nations. It is a slavish fear of hell, and mercenary hope of heaven, which, from a principle of self-love, sets all a going; yea, the evangelical hypocrite, who mightily talks of supernatural, divine light; of the spirit's operations; of conversion, and a new nature, still, after all, has no higher principle in him than self-love. His conscience has been greatly enlightened, and his heart terrified, and his corruptions stunned: and he has, by the delusions of Satan, obtained a strong confidence of the love of God, and pardon of his sins; so that, instead of being influenced chiefly by the fear of hell, as the legal hypocrite is, he is ravished with heaven; but still, all is from self-love, and for self-ends: and, properly and scripturally speaking, he neither knows God, nor cares at all for him. And this is the very case with every graceless man living, of whatever denomination; whether a Heathen, or Jew, or Christian; whether Papist, or Protestant; whether Church-man, Presbyterian, Congregationalist, or Separatist; whether a Pelagian, Arminian, Calvinist, Antinomian, Baptist, or Quaker. And this is the case with every graceless man living, whatever his attainments may otherwise be; though he hath all knowledge to understand all mysteries, and can speak with the tongues of men and angels, and has faith to remove mountains, and zeal enough to give all his goods to feed the poor, and his body to be burned; yet he has no charity; he is perfectly destitute of this genuine love to God and his neighbour, and has no higher principle in his heart, from which all his religion proceeds, but a supreme love to himself. For, ever since our first parents aspired to be as gods, it has been the nature of all mankind to love themselves supremely, and to be blind to the infinite beauty of the divine nature; and it remains so to be with all, until renewed by divine grace: so that self-love is the highest principle from which unregenerate men do ever
act, or can act.
Here, therefore, we have true religion; a religion specifi cally different from all other sorts of religion in the world, standing in a clear view: yea, and we may be absolutely certain that this is the very thing which has been described: for this conformity to the moral law is, throughout all the Bible, by Moses and the prophets, by Christ and his apostles, represented to be the very thing in which the essence of religion originally consists. "Blessed be the name of the Lord for ever, who has given us so clear a revelation of his will, and so sure and certain a guide as his word." Come here, all you poor, exercised, broken-hearted saints, that live in this dark benighted world, where many run to and fro, and where there are a thousand different opinions, and every one confident that he is right; come here to the law and to the testi mony; come bere to Christ himself, and learn what the truth is, and be settled; be confirmed, and be established for ever; and remember, and practise upon those words of Jesus Christ, in John vii. 17. If any man will do his will, he shall know of the doctrine, whether it be of God. O, read the Bible; live lives of prayer and communion with God; yea, die to yourselves, the world, and sin, and return home to God through Jesus Christ; and love him, and live to him, and delight in him more and more; and be more and more disinterested and impartial; sincere and fervent, in your love to your neighbours; do all the good, to every one, that you can; in a word, be the servants of Gud, and grow up into his image, and your certainty of divine truths will proportionably strengthen and increase: for the more your understandings are free from that darkness and prejudice that sin has introduced, the clearer will you view divine truths, and the greater sense will you have of their inherent divine glory; and so your belief of their divinity will be the more unshaken.
Having thus gone through with what was proposed, a general improvement of the whole is all that now remains: and, indeed, much use may be made of these great truths, which have been thus explained and proved, for our instruction in some of the most controverted points in religion, and to clear up the believer's gracious state, and also to promote our humiliation, and thankfulness, and universal obedience.
RIGHT APPREHENSIONS OF THE LAW USEFUL TO CLEAR UP SOME OF THE MOST CONTROVERTED POINTS IN RELIGION.
USE I. Of instruction. We have seen what the law of God requires, and the infinite obligations we are under perfectly to conform to it; we have seen wherein a genuine conformity to the law consists, and how a genuine conformity to it differs from all counterfeits; and what has been said may help us to understand the following particulars:
1. Wherein consisted the moral image of God in which Adam was created. That Adam was created in the image of God, is expressly affirmed in Gen. i. 27. So God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him. And from these words we have just the same reason to believe that Adam was created in the moral, as that he was in the natural image of God; because they tell us in plain terms, without any distinction or exception, (nor is there any that can be gathered from any other text,) that he was created in the image of God; but the moral as well as the natural perfections of God are equally contained in his image. As to the political image of God, Adam, strictly speaking, was not created in that; because, as the scriptures inform us, it was after his creation that he was made Lord of this lower world; Gen. i. 28. And it is, I think, with less propriety, that this is, by divines, called the image of God; I do not know that it is any where so called in scripture; and God was the same he is now, before he sustained the character of supreme Lord and Governor of the world. His natural and moral perfections comprised his whole image before the world was created: and in this his image was his creature, man, created; not in part of his image, for there is no such intimation in all the Bible; but in his image, comprising his moral, as well, and as much, as his natural perfections.
Now, the moral image of God does radically consist in a temper of mind or frame of heart perfectly answerable to the moral law; the moral law being, as it were, a transcript of
the moral perfections of God. So that, from what has been said of the nature of the moral perfections of God, and of the nature of the moral law, we may learn wherein consisted that moral image of God in which Adam was created. He had a perfect moral rectitude of heart; a perfectly right temper of mind, and so was perfectly disposed to love God with all his heart, and his neighbours, (if he had had any,) as himself; was perfectly disposed to give God his place, and take his own; and consider God as being what he was, and be affected, and act accordingly; and to consider his fellow-men, (if he had had any,) as being what they were, and feel and act accordingly and in this image of God was he created, as the scriptures teach us; i. e. he was brought into existence with such a temper connatural to him.
Now here is a new-made creature in a new world, viewing God, and wondering at his infinite glory, looking all round, astonished at the divine perfections shining forth in all his works. He views the spacious heavens; they declare to him the glory of the Lord: He sees his wisdom and his power; he wonders and adores: He looks around upon all his works; they clearly discover to him the invisible things of God, even his eternal power and godhead; and he stands amazed. God makes him Lord of this lower world, appoints to him his daily employment, and puts him into a state of trial, setting life and death before him: and he sees the infinite wisdom, holiness, justice and goodness of God in all; he falls down and worships; he exults in God, and, with all his heart, gives up himself to God with sweetest delight;-all is genuine, natural, and free, resulting from the native temper of his heart.
Here he beheld God in his infinite glory, viewed his works, contemplated his perfections, admired and adored him with a sweetness and pleasure of soul most refined! Here he saw God in all the trees, plants, and herbs in the garden, his happy seat, while, out of love to God and duty, he attended his daily business; he ate and drank, and blessed his great benefactor! He saw that it was infinitely reasonable that he should love God with all his heart, and obey him in every thing, if eternal life had not at all been promised; both because God infinitely deserved it at his hand, and also in doing