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Be mindful of the words, which were spoken before
by the holy prophets ; and of the commandments of us the apostles of the Lord and Saviour. 2 Pet. ü. 2.
E have here obedience to the gospel, ena forced by the proof from prophecies; and there is not, I think, a more convincing proof. Cavils have been made againit the miracles of the gospel-against the purity of its precepts, and the mysteriousness of its doctrines; but. I fee not how any argument can well lie against prophecy. We have the strongest proof, that the books in which these prophecies are contained, existed many hundred years before the birth of Christ. We are well assured also, that they were ascribed to the Messiah by the ancient Jews. We never heard of any person to whom they could be ascribed, but our Jesus ; and with him they coincide as exactly as two parallel lines. I speak not of all the prophecies of the Old Testament; many of which are obscure, though easily reconcileable to the great events of the gospel ; but I speak of those prophecies only, which are so plain that no objection can reasonably be made to them. On the strength of these prophecies, therefore, St. Peter founds the obedience of his converts. His argument is, that if you believe the gospel on this evidence, it follows, that no farther cavil is admissible: the precept, however harsh, must be obeyed; and the doctrine, however mysterious, must be believed.
Pure religion, and undefiled, before God and the
Father, is this : To visit the fatherless and widows, in their affliction ; and to keep himself unspotted in the world.—James, i. 27.
This is certainly not a complete definition of religion. Of the three parts—of our duty to God, our neighbour, and ourselves, the first is wholly omitted; and neither of the others is derived, as we know they ought both to be, from faith in Christ. All therefore which St. James meant to shew in this passage was, the
great value he put on practical religion; which is indeed one of his chief topics through this whole epistle. -In obedience, therefore, to his doctrine, we should be very careful never to depreciate good works; nor to preach any doctrine, which may tend to make the common people think lightly of them ; as we are here assured, that pure and undefiled religion consists so much in them.-Our hearers, however, cannot be cautioned too
much, not to presume on these works ; nor to trust our falvation on any thing, but the merits of Christ. What merit of any kind our good works may have, is not for us to align. That must be left entirely to God.
Charity shall cover a multitude of fins.1 Pet. iv. 8.
HE meaning of this passage is rather obscure. Some contend, that charity covers, or blots out, our own sins; others, that it covers, or conceals, the sins of our neighbours. At present, however, I mean not to enter into the obscurities of the text; but only to take occasion from it to point out the various covers for fin, which men are commonly accustomed to plead.
The hardened profligate rushes headlong into wickedness; and though he must know, that hell and destruction follow bard behind, he goes madly on, without endeavouring to procure the least cover for his fins.
There are others, again, who have some little remains of conscience left-who would wish to go to heaven; but they are wary traders, and unwilling to pay too great a price. To give up all the pleasures of the world, and lead a strict,
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