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ger operate; the use of these instruments of holiness will necessarily cease.
Thus also, this regular and stupendous system of things will, in time, reach its latest period; the law of nature will be anulled by him who framed it; the chain of order will be broken, and worlds will rush against worlds in dreadful confusion. But amidst all this disorder in things which appear at present so stable and permanent; angels and men will still exist; they will still be subject to the authority of God; they will still be obligated to love and reverence, adore and obey Kim. This part of the divine law will be eternal. It is founded in the very nature of things; it necessarily arises from the relation that subsists between immortal creatures and their great Creator; it cannot cease to operate, so long as rational beings are continued in existence. Is it not our happiness, therefore, as well as duty, to yield a ready obedience to all the laws of God; but more especially to those which are of eternal obligation? For, consider, in the third place, the mischiefs which are occasioned by a perverse violation of them.
They were framed by infinite wisdom; they are enjoined by resistless power; and they all tend to the promotion of one great, benevolent purpose, the order and felicity of the universe. Neither men nor angels can annul, or even diminish them. Moral agents may indeed transgress, but not with impunity. Punishment is the necessary consequence of a violation of the law. The inanimate works of God go as they are impelled; the regularity of their movements is not interrupted; they perfectly perform their allotted task,
and fulfil the law of their nature. And hence it is, that every contemplative mind is compelled to admire the wonderful order and harmony of the worlds which are moving round us. But among rational creatures, who, because they were free agents, were capable of sinning, confusion and misery have been introduced. It was a violation of the law that expelled the angels from their habitations of glory, degraded them from their original state of dignity, and now reserves them in chains under darkness against the judgment of the great day. Man was created happy and immortalthe conditions of retaining this happiness and immortality were just and easy. But he violated the law of his God, and wretchedness was the immediate consequence. The mortal taste of that forbidden tree brought death into the world and all our woe, with loss of Eden; loss of that state of consummate felicity, in which we were originally placed by our merciful Creator. Man, in his present condition, presents to our view nothing more than the splendid ruins of his former grandeur. The body is indeed fearfully and wonderfully made; but it is subject to pain and wasting disease, to death and dissolution in the grave. The soul is dignified with great and surprising powers; but her faculties are too often weighed down by depraved appetite, or disordered by the turbulence of misguided passion-as, if the stars of the firmament were to wander from their appointed courses, in themselves they would remain glorious luminaries, however irregular their motions might be. In a word; whatever misery now preys upon mankind, it is altogether the result of disobedience to the divine law. Nor do the fatal effects of this disobedience terminate here. VOL. II. 41
We are taught, that they who wilfully transgress and die impenitent, will be consigned to the dreary abodes of everlasting wretchedness, where the worm of devouring anguish dieth not, and the fire of divine wrath is not quenched. These are alarming reflections. If such be the interesting consequences of our present conduct, surely every considerate person will endeavour to keep himself from presumptuous sins, lest they get the dominion over him; he will strive to be undefiled, and innocent from the great offence.
But this leads us to consider, in the last place, the happiness that results from steady and uniform obedience. Such indeed is the extent and spirituality of the divine law, comprehending our thoughts, words, and actions; the intentions of our hearts, as well as our external deportment: and so great, on the other hand, is the infirmity of our degenerate nature, that with the most sincere and strenuous exertions, our obedience can never be entirely perfect. For acceptance in the sight of God, we must still have recourse to the intercession of a Redeemer; not trusting in our own righteousness, but in his manifold and great mercies. But, since God has blessed us with the ability of seeing the wondrous things of his law; a law originally communicated by the voice of reason, and afterwards augmented and confirmed by immediate revelation; since the truth of this revelation was at first established by incontestable proofs, and has been preserved and transmitted down to us, not by uncertain tradition, but in permanent records; since it is so evidently well calculated to promote and secure our real good; since its sanctions are nothing less than everlasting happiness or misery; let us endeavour, so far as may be, to fulfil
all righteousness; let us be continually advancing towards the great standard of all perfection.
By sincere and uniform obedience, we follow the steps of our Lord and Master, who perfectly performed the work that was given him to do; we imitate the example of the glorious angels, who are represented as standing round the throne of God, ever attentive to his commands, and ready to fly and execute his will; we preserve our rank among intelligent beings, and by moving in our proper sphere, promote the order of the universe; we display the dignity, we secure the happiness of our nature: for all our glory, all our felicity entirely depends upon the favour of Almighty God; and this cannot be obtained but by a cheerful submission to his will. In a word, by obedience we obtain a right to rely upon the peculiar protection of our present Lawgiver and future Judge; we shall eacape the ignominy, the remorse, the excruciating punishment that will hereafter overwhelm the disobedient and refractory; we shall receive the approbation of our Lord, whose loving-kindness is better than life; and our labours will be crowned, at last, with a great reward; a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory.
Let me, therefore, conclude, with exhorting you all, to adopt the pious language of the Psalmist "Open "thou mine eyes, that I may see the wondrous things "of thy law!" And when, by devout attention and diligent study, under the influence of divine grace, you have learned what the Lord your God requires of you; be careful to walk in all his ordinances blameless; endeavour to perfect holiness in the fear of the Lord. Consider, that although he is exalted far above all height, he continually beholdeth the things that are in
On the Blessedness of keeping the Law of God.
Blessed is the man that walketh not in the counsel of the ungodly, nor standeth in the way of sinners, nor sitteth in the seat of the scornful. But his delight is in the law of the Lord; and in his law doth he meditate day and night. And he shall be like a tree planted by the rivers of water, that bringeth forth his fruit in due season: his leaf also shall not wither; and whatsoever he doeth shall prosper. The ungodly are not so; but are like the chaff which the wind driveth away. Therefore the ungodly shall not stand in the judgment, nor sinners in the congregation of the righteous. For the Lord knoweth the way of the righteous; but the way of the ungodly shall perish.
THIS psalm, which may be considered as a preface
or introduction to all the rest, describes, in very expressive language, the opposite characters, and the different states of the righteous and the ungodly: the blessedness of the one is said to consist in their regard for the law of the Lord, their abstaining from sin, and their continual advancement in goodness; a condition represented under the beautiful image of a flourishing tree planted by the rivers of water. The unhappy fate of the other is held forth to our view, by an allusion to