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The Duties of the Divine Law.

“ How small, of all that human hearts endure, “ That part, which laws or kings can cause or cure.” These indeed are truths so plain and known that I need not dwell upon them, if unhappily there had not existed of late in this widely extended metropolis, a disposition more to question, than to observe the laws; a disposition not confined to the elevated and well-informed, to those whose education and habits of life, or rank in society, qualify them to deliberate and determine on the regulations proper for society; but breaking forth among the low, the profligate, and the ignorant, whom their several modes of living can have given a capacity competent only to obey the directions of constituted authority. These have taken upon themselves to judge where they can have no more evidence than ability; they must consequently err in decision, condemp where there is no offence, and acquit where there is not innocence.

A little beedless zeal or thoughtless vanity doth sometimes so mislead men, that they wander far from the right course, before they have any apprehension of the calamities which they

are The Duties of the Divine Law.

are approaching, or even a perception of their obliquity. They are actuated not by a desire to do wrong, but by an officious aspiring, or arrogant mind, which would be noted for something, and having fixed on its objects, persuades itself that they are laudable, or at least harmless. Let me not, however, be understood to impute these failings to my present hearers. If they have existence in any that are here, it is without my knowledge. But you will per- . mit me, my brethren, to enforce upon you a solemn caution against this course of thinking. It really tends, especially as it gains ground among the unprincipled and sordid, to the subversion of all law, and order; to level all distinctions; to destroy all mutual confidence and good-will ; to break the bonds that link men together in reciprocal beneficence and duty; to put in peril all that is dignified, graceful, and good: in fine, to build

up

the misery of man, upon resistance to the vill, and contempt of the power of God; which on earth, can have no better illustration than a well-ordered Christian commonwealth, where all people, in their respective stations, being indus

trious,

The Duties of the Divine Law.

trious, affectionate, and contented, are flourishing and happy.

You then, who are raised above the majority of your fellow-creatures by birth, fortune, education, or the fruits of an honourable industry, are imperatively called upon to employ your influence to dissipate these visions of error that have dazzled or blinded the weak-sighted, and to allay the spirit of turbulence which has been raised by the selfish and evil-minded. Your leisure and abilities cannot be better engaged thán, in temperate and prudent exertions, to restore efficiency to the laws, if

any where they have failed, and respect to established authority, if any where it has been brought into disrepute. In doing this, you will assuredly obey the commands of God;

will
promote the

peace

and happiness of men, in giving stability to the frame of society ; so that we may eat in peace the bread of industry, pluck the fruit of our own figtree, and drink the juice of our own vine.

After all, the highest advantages resulting from human polity constitute but a minor part of the happiness of a true Christian. He

for you

looks

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The Duties of the Divine Law,

looks for peace in the recesses of the bosom, where the wisest laws cannot penetrate. His are the gratulations of conscience, attested by the Divine spirit that informs it, for motives, and springs of thought, which the earthly legislator cannot supply; for affections which he cannot excite ; for a course of action which he can neither cause nor stimulate. Human laws as they can punish guilty intentions only, when they are manifested by well-attested actions, can deter from nothing but positive crime. But the law of the Almighty searches and purifies the heart; prompts the thoughts, and moderates the affections; influences all the concerns of life ; directs to rectitude of intention and kindness of will, in the most mi.. nute actions, as well as in the grandest designs. Thus we are made pure, upright and useful, acceptable to our Heavenly Father, where the eye of man cannot see, and the understanding of man cannot judge.

The Divine law enjoins one paramount and antecedent duty, in the breach of which, all others, if they be not entirely forgotten or neglected, will be very remissly and inefficient

ly

The Duties of the Divine Law.

ly discharged. This leading duty is the public and private worship of God; prayer, praise, and thanksgiving both at church and at home; attention to the exposition of his holy word, and the study of it in private. This duty is commanded by God, not as a reverence or homage that He wants, or merely because it is owing to Him, but more as a habit of the mind and conduct necessary to constitute the obea dient creature. Our Heavenly Father knows our necessities before we ask; yet they will not be relieved till we ask faithfully. The act of supplication is the condition upon which the objects of it will be granted; and a most wise condition this is, because the performance of it naturally disposes us to, and preserves us in, the gratitude, obedience, devotion, and resiga nation to God, without which it is unreasonable to think He can be pleased. As this indispensable duty is faithfully performed, God sends his grace and assistance for the fulfilment of all other duties. His law doth then reduce our thoughts, words, and actions to a conformity with it; doth overawe direct, temper, and prepare the soul, in its passage through time, to a blessed eternity.

The

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