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SERMON XVI.

SINNERS VAINLY ATTEMPT TO DISSOLVE THEIR

OBLIGATIONS.

PSALMS, II. 3.- Let us break their bands asunder; and cast away their cords from us.

This psalm contains a prediction of Christ's coming to set up his spiritual kingdom in this world ; and of the opposition, that should be made to his holy and gracious design, by all characters and classes of men. “Why do the heathen rage and the people imagine a vain thing ? The kings of the earth set themselves and the rulers take counsel together, against the Lord and against his anointed, saying, Let us break their bands; and cast away their cords from us.” By the Lord's anointed, David here means Christ, which name properly signifies anointed. Accordingly, he again calls him anointed in the forty-fifth psalm.“ Thy throne, O God, is forever and ever : the sceptre of thy kingdom is a right sceptre. Thou lovest righteousness and hatest iniquity, therefore God, thy God hath anointed thee with the oil of gladness above thy fellows." The Father, Son and Holy Ghost were equally united and concerned in setting up the kingdom of Christ upon the earth. And therefore all the opposition of Jews and gentiles, of rulers and subjects, of high and low, was pointed against the one God in three persons. The reason, why sinners of all descriptions were united in opposing this holy spiritual kingdom, was because it came clothed with divine power and authority, which laid them under infinite bonds to return to God from whom they had revolted and to become reconciled to those bonds forever. The idea of being bound they could not endure ; and unitedly engaged to free themselves, if possible, from their obligations to God. They said in words and actions, “ Let us break their bonds asunder, and cast away their cords from us." This is equally the spirit and language of sinners at the present day. They wish to break loose from God and throw off every divine restraint. The plain import of the text may be expressed in this general observation,

That sinners endeavor to free themselves from all obligations to God. I shall,

1. Show what obligations they are under to God;

II. Show that they endeavor to free themselves from such obligations; and,

III. Show that their endeavors will be in vain.

I. I am to show what obligations sinners are under to God. These are of various kinds.

1. They are under natural obligations to God.--Their nature, as dependent creatures, forms an intimate connection between them and their maker. Their dependance is constant and absolute. They cannot exist a moment without the immediate exertion of divine power. When God brought them into being, he gave them no power to preserve themselves in existence. They are no less dependent on God for preservation than they were for creation. This is true of all created beings. They have no self-supporting, or self-preserving power. In God they live, and move, and have their being. There is precisely the same connection between God and all his creatures, as there

is between cause and effect; and it is well known, that an effect can exist no longer than the cause, which produced it, continues to operate. My hand supports my book, which would instantly fall, if I should withdraw my hand.

hand. The hand of God supports my existence ; and if he should withdraw his hand, I should no longer exist. This is true of all the children of men. They are continually in the hand of God; and must be so as long as they exist. Their dependance is absolute and universal. It respects all their natural

powers and faculties, whether corporeal or mental. They are not sufficient to think, or speak, or act of themselves, independently of the presence and efficiency of God. They are as near to God and as depend ant on him as omnipotence can make them. This natural dependance is a natural bond, cord, or obligation, by which God binds them to himself as closely and strongly as possible. And there is no idea more familiar to their minds, than this of dependance. It springs up in their minds in infancy, increases in childhood and youth and becomes stronger and more familiar through every stage of life. As soon as any one realizes, that he is a creature of God, he cannot help believing that he is under a natural obligation to him, by reason of his entire dependance on him for life and breath and all things.

2. Sinners are under a moral as well as a natural obligation to God. He is a being possessed of every natural and moral excellence. His heart is full of love and good will to all his creatures of every character, condition or capacity; and all his natural perfections are under the influence of his perfect and uni. versal goodness. He has never said, nor designed,

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nor done any thing, but what his perfect goodness dictated. And he never will do any thing contrary to the perfect benevolence of his heart. He never will feel, nor express any justice, but benevolent justice; nor any mercy, but benevolent mercy; nor treat any creature in any other manner, than a benevolent man

His moral perfections are equal to his natural. He is as infinitely holy, just and good, as he is infinitely wise, knowing and powerful. And all these moral perfections he is every where displaying before the eyes of all mankind in all the works of creation and providence, which lay them under moral obligations to love, adore and obey him. So the apostle declares in the first of Romans. Speaking of the heathens themselves, who were destitute of divine revelation, he says, “ Because that which may be known of God is manifest in them; for God hath shewed it unto them. For the invisible things of him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even his eternal power and Godhead; so that they are without excuse : because that when they knew God, they glorified him not as God, neither were they thankful.” The moral perfections of God are supremely amiable, and bind all mankind to love him supremely. The supreme moral excellence of God lays every intelligent creature, who is capable of seeing it, under moral obligation to glorify him as God. As every sinner is capable of knowing that God is perfectly good, so he is under moral obligation to love him for his goodness. And as he is capable of seeing that all the favors he enjoys come from his kindness and benificence, so he is under moral obligation to thank him for every blessing, which he receives from his hand. The whole

earth is full of the goodness of God; and all men feel the happy influence of it, which binds them to feel and express supreme love to his character, and cordial obedience to every intimation of his will.

3. Sinners are under legal, as well as natural and moral obligation to God. His absolute supremacy gives him an independent right to assume the character of lawgiver. It properly belongs to him to give law to all his intelligent creatures. This right he has exercised towards mankind. He has expressly required them to love him with all the heart, with all the soul, with all the mind, and with all the strength. This is the fundamental law of his kingdom, and virtually comprises all the precepts, prohibitions and threatenings contained in his word. This is a legal obligation, which God has laid upon sinners, in addition to the obligation arising from his moral character, prior to law. His moral character binds those, to whom he has never given law, by a mere moral obligation ; but his revealed will binds all those, to whom it is made known, by a legal obligation. Hence the apostle says, “ Whatsoever things the law saith, it saith to them, who are under the law." No law can bind those, to whom it is not given and made known. But every law binds those, to whom it is given and made known, in exact proportion to the authority of the lawgiver; for all legal obligation arises solely from the authority of the law-giver. The law of God binds men in exact proportion to his authority over them ; and since his authority over them is absolute and unlimited ; his law binds all, to whom it is given, with an infinite obligation to obedience. As his law is contained in his word ; so it is sent to all, to whom his word

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