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has graciously indulged to us, above This SBRM. ancient People, from the Cost and Care I. of the various Sacrifices they were bound me to, with the long and frequent Journeys, and other very burthensome Circumftances required to that Purpose. Such Ease gives us the more Scope for Beneficence; and prompts our Gratitude to a more cheerful Application to that rational, 'voluntary, noble Service ; in which the Duty of the first and greatest Commandment, and of the second, (which is like unto it,) is eminently united, and discharged by the very fame Acts, and all the Law fulfilled in one Word. : So excellent and comprehensive is Charity.
Tbirdly, I would remark the lamentable Abfurdity of the Hope of those who would reconcile themselves to the Favour of God by dedicating fome of the Fruits of their Fraud or Violence to him. Perhaps many rich Endowments and magnificent Structures have owed their Foundation to this Thought. But the Divine Justice will not regard these Peace-Offerings. Repentance, Reformation, and Restitution, are what it infifts upon : Nor is that Charity,
SerMi which proceeds not out of a pure Heart 1. and a good Conscience. And if any
Docintrine favours the contrary Persuasion, it is
interested and deceitful, cherishes the Body and wounds the Soul of Religion ; which must abhor all such tithing and consecrating of Mens Sins. And so God declares by the Prophet Isaiah, I the Lord love Judgment : I hate Robbery for BurntOffering
Lasily, Let no Man make a wrong Use of what hath been said, to encourage himself in a Conclusion which does not follow from it. For there may be some, that because Justice and Charity, and Sobriety, (they sec) have Right to the principal Place, would therefore allow none at all to the other Offices of Reliligion and Piety. They would reckon, that holding the fubftantial Part by the Conviction and Strength of Reason, they may exempt themselves from the Trouble of observing what has been instituted as Helps and Incitements for the Service of -weaker People. But there is nothing vainer than this philofophifing ; which would make Man wiser than God, who
surely furely knows the Weakness of his Crea- SERM. ture, has appointed these Affiftances for 1. all, and will himself affist them only in the Use of his own Appointments. And where the Presumption I speak of obtains, I fear it is a common Case (and what Wonder ?) that these wise Men find their Endeavours of keeping the Commandments in their own Way ineffectual ; and so throw up one Part of their Duty after the other, as impossible to be performed.
The true Conclusion therefore of the whole Matter is : We prefer the End to the Means; and nevertheless embrace the Means (with great Thankfulness to the gracious Appointment,) that we may obtain the End : For, according to our Lord's Decision, one ought to be Done, and the other not to be left Undone.
And because in his Person and Sufferings alone both Obedience and Sacrifice have been united and perfected, Let us pray,
that our Services of either Kind may for the Sake of them find Acceptance : And to Him for the same, with the Father and the Holy Spirit, be all Honour and Glory World without End.
Of the Distinction between Moral
and Positive Duties.
MAT T. xii. 7.
meaneth, I will have Mercy, and
condemned the Guiltless. SERM.
HESE Words, I will II.
bave Mercy and not Sacrifice, (which are cited from the vith Chapter and fame Verse of Hofea) I consider'd in
last Discourse on the ixth and the 13th of this Evangelist; where our Lord alledged them on a different Occasion. I then endea. vour'd to shew, from the Sentence itself,.Serm. explain’d by correspondent Places in the II. Old Testament ; and from the two several Applications of it in St. Matthew : That by Sacrifice, because it was a principal Part of External Honour and Worship, the Prophet intended to express all the Conditions and Circumstances of them; whatever was to be done or refrain’d in Pursuance of Ceremonial Institutions; and by Mercy, (for a like Reason) the whole Kind of Moral Duties, both Justice and Charity, and all the Dictates of the uniform and everlasting Law.
This I supported by the Reason of the Thing; and made it appear, that the Nature of the latter was unchangeable, but the former subjected to Change ; and never acceptable to the Lawgiver himself, unless in Conjunction with the latter, to which they were design'd as Helps and Means, and derived their whole Value from answering that End. And upon this Examination it fell in our Way to observe, that the Judicial or Political Constitutions were of the fame Nature, and upon the same Foot with the Ceremonial; ow'd their