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formed, which of them, upon the whole, contributes most to human happiness; and, confequently, whether there be any just ground for boasting, that christian morals are much more excellent and perfect, than
any other system of morals that hath been exhibited to men.
As these precepts are confidered to be purely christian ; so, by their being fuch, Christians are laid under a particular and special obligation to pay ftri&t obedience to them, in honour of their Lord; as, by such obedience, they are to be distinguished and known from the Servants of all other masters. Not to commit theft or murder has no peculiarity, gives no diftinguishing character, as it is paying obedience to laws, that have, in common, been given by many law-givers ; whereas, for a man of fortune to fit down to meat with a collection of
poor, lame, blind people, exclusive of all of his own rank, is something extraordinary, it gives a distinguishing character, and plainly bespeaks a Christian ; that is, a disciple or follower of Jesus Chrift; as it is paying obedience to a law which is peculiarły lis, it not having been given by any other lawgivers. Such acts of obedience render a man as remarkable as a city that is set on an bill,
which cannot be bid, but must be seen and observed by all that pass by, even at a dif
And tho'a proper obedience paid to other laws, grounded on other principles, may constitute a good man ; yet it is a strict adherence to those laws that are peculiarly Christian, which constitute a good or a true Chritian, when a good Christian is contradistinguished from a good man.
This being the case, it may very naturally and justly be expected, that those people, who have voluntarily chosen Jesus Christ to be their master and lawgiver, should be particularly carcful to pay obedience to such precepts as are peculiar to their feet, and which their fourder's honour is more immediately interested in ; but alas ! this expectation, how justly soever raised, is totally disappointed. The Christians of this age are so far from paying a ftri&t regard to those precepts peculiarly christian, that it is plain, from their whole conduct, they pay 10 regard to them at all; but as totally negleet them, as if those rules of life had never been given them; and this total neglect runs through their whole lives, without any appearance of remorse of conscience either living, or dying. And this is the case, not only of the thoughtless multi
tude, who follow the common cry, and of course join with the religious party that prevails ; but also of the learned, the sober and sagacious, and even of those who pretend to have obtained patents from heaven, for being masters and users in Christ's school: for tho', in the exercise of their ministry, they read those rules of life, in our solemn assemblies, as given by Jesus Christ ; yet the event thews, they are no more influenced by them, than the reading the stories of Balaam and his Afs, of Bell and the Dragon, or of Tobit and his Dog. And this very naturally leads to the question, viz. how can these things be? Is it to be conceived, that a Right Reverend, or even a moft Reverend Father in God, and in Christ Jesus, our Lord, having provided a most costly entertainment, should sit down to meat with his most wealthy relations, friends, and neighbours, exclusive of the poor, the maimed, the lame, the blind, when conscious to himself that he is thereby violating and contemning the law of his master, whom he professes greatly to honour, and to be under the highest obligations to, and is sensible that he is as answerable for his disobedience in this, as in any
other parts of his conduct ? I say again, how can
these things be ? and yet, perlaps, this is the case every day. Were it to be supposed that these men are concealed Infidels, who believe nothing of the matter, or that they really think the rules of life, which Christ hath given his disciples, to walk by, are greatly improper, and thereby satisfy themselves in the total neglect of them; this would be deemed greatly cenforious, and therefore, the fuppofition is not to be made ; but then, surely, it lies upon our first-rate Divines to fhew their dexterity, in unfolding this riddle. However, St. James hath informed us, that such fruitless faith is dead and useless ; and, consequently, not better than infidelity, but, perhaps, much worse ; as he that knoweth (and acknowledgetb) his master's will, and doth it not, shall be beaten with more stripes. Let not then our modern believers insult, and triumpb, over Deists and Infidels, because those very Deists and Infidels, with the men of Sodom and Gomorrah, will rise up in judgment against them and condemn them. And were our Commentators, after the example of the Scribes and Pharisees, to attempt to make void these laws of Christ, by their traditions, such attempts would prove abortive, to
chose attentive minds, who would carefully and candidly examine the matter, and who are not prepared and disposed, by preconceived opinions, to be misled. Christ faith, When thou makest a dinner, or a supper, call not, or thou shalt not call, thy friends, nor thy brethren, neither thy kinsmen, nor thy rich neighbours; but when thou makest a feast, call, or thou shalt call, the poor, tbe maimed, the lame, the blind. These words are not a loftinefs of language, in which much more is exprefed than was intended to be understood; they are not hyperboles, or figures of speech, but plain rules of life, that do not admit of a double meaning, or any palliating sense being put upon them, which if they are obeyed at all, it must be in their plain, literal, and most obvious fense. Again, Christ faith, swear not at all. This likewise is a plain, and most express prohibition, without any restriction or limitation, in and by which all kinds of swearing are forbid. Besides, the swearing this precept was directly and immediately levelled against, was such as the law of Moses had allowed and appointed, which was not idle and prophane, but religious swearing. Again, Christ faith, but I say unto you, that ye reo