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joyless that heart which the spirit of life never animates! When fin entered into paradise, the angels of God forsook the place. So from the soul that is polluted with guilt, peace and joy and hope, those good angels, vanilh and depart. What succeeds to this family of heaven ? Confusion, shame, remorse, despair.
S E R M ON
PSALM lxxviii. 1.
Give ear, O my people, to ту
This is the call which God addressed to his ancient people, and which at sundry times and in divers manners he addresses to the world. It is the voice of the Almighty to mankind in every age. His voice all nature hears, and his law all nature obeys. The sun moves in the path marked out to hint by his Creator ; the moon keeps her appointed course, and the host of heaven proceed from age to age in their original beauty. The seasons know their time, and the earth obeys the law impressed upon it at first. The elements confess their Lord ; the tempest hears his voice, and the sea submits to the mandate which faid, “ Hitherto fhalt thou “ come, and no farther ; here fall thy waves be “ staid.” The orders of celestial spirits, the principalities and powers of heaven, obey the command of their King, minister to the purposes of his provi. dence, and in acts of goodness, or on errands of mercy, perform his pleasure.
Throughout all nature, one being alone is deaf to the voice and disobedient to the command of God, that is, the finner. He alone has departed from his sphere, has rebelled against the law of his nature, and rejected the universal dominion of the Deity in the universe. To recall him from this rebellious state, to replace him in his original station, and restore him again to the kingdom of God, is the end of true religion. For this purpose Moses and the prophets were inspired, Jesus and the apostles were fent. For this purpose the heaven was opened, the Almighty appeared, and the voice uttered to the world, “ Give ear, my people, to my law.”
Your obligation to obey this law will appear, if you consider that it is the law of your nature, that it is the law of heaven, that it is the law of society, and the law of happiness. In the first place, It is the law of
your nature. When God created man, he did not leave him to ad at random, or to live in a state of anarchy. He gave him a law, the emanation of eternal wisdom and the transcript of Divine perfection. The same fingers that upon Mount Sinai wrote the commandments upon tables of stone, had written them beforehand upon the living tables of the human heart. The foundation of morality is laid deep in human nature ; its principles result from the constitution of our frame ; and its authority will be supreme, while there is a mind to discern, or a heart to feel, or a conscience to judge. Darkness is not more different from light, nor bitter from sweet, than good is from evil, and virtue from vice. You are no more mafters of the emotions that rise in the mind, than of the sensations which rise in the body. You can no more give the law to internal nature than to external nature. You may as well call the sun to come down from the firmament, as aim to extinguish the light of heaven which shines in the breast. Inferior ani. mals are incapable of morality. They have no law
but instinct ; they are left to obey the call of appetite, and to follow blindly the prevailing impulse. But it is not fo with man. Reason is his law; and the dictate of virtue is the dictate of nature. The question with him is not, what is the call of appetite? but, what is the voice of reason? Not what is the prevailing impulse ? but, what is the impulse which ought to prevail ?
If, therefore, you disown the obligation of this law, you renounce your nature and unman yourself. If you claim an exemption from the authority of reason and sentiment and conscience
if the license to indulge every appetite and every palfion without restraint or control; you may ;-but first come down from your rank in the scale of being; break off all intercourse with rational creatures ; depart from the society of men ; go to your equals; herd with the animals of the field, and eat grass with the brutes that perish : there display humanity degraded : exhibit thyself a monument of folly and guilt, to be pointed at by the hand of scorn, and to be shunned like the pestilence. If ever, like the Monarch of Babylon, thou shalt rise from thy degraded state ; if ever thine understanding shall re. turn, and thou shalt be able to lift up thine eyes to heaven, like him thou wilt praise and extol and glorify the King of heaven, and give ear to that law which he promulgates to the armies in heaven and to the inhabitants of the earth.
In the second place, Your obligation to obey this law will further appear when you consider that it is the law of Heaven.
It comes to you not only recommended by your
our authority, but it comes enforced by a higher authority, that of God himfelf. The appearances of the Almighty to confirm the law, the prophets and the gospel, were made for the instruction and improvement of those who saw them, and are recorded for the instruction and improvement of those who read them. The mighty God, even the Lord, hath fpoken, and called the earth from the rising of the fun to where he goeth down. The first promulgation of the law was from Mount Sinai. To strike a rude and barbarous people, to reclaim a perverse and obstinate generation, it was requisite that the arm of power should be stretched out, and that the majesty of terror should be displayed. Accordingly, when the law was given from Sinai, there was blackness and darkness and tempeft; there were thunders and lightnings and a thick cloud upon the mount; and when Mofes brought the people from the camp to meet with God, they trembled as one man; and hill Sinai was altogether on a flame, and the smoke thereof went up as the smoke of a furnace, for the Lord descended upon it in fire, and the mountain quaked ; and when the voice of the trumpet founded long, and waxed louder and louder, God called Moses up to the top of the mount, and gave the law.
The same precepts that were given upon Mount Sinai, Jesus Christ came to confirm and to extend. At his first public appearance, in his fermon on the mount, he republished, restored and perfected the law. The new dispensation indeed was different from the old. The God of Abraham dwelt in darkness, and was clothed with terror. The God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ dwells in light, and