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Of the Distinction between Moral
and Positive Duties.
MATT. ix. 13.
meaneth, I will have Mercy, and
T was a miserable Cor- Serm.
1. ductive of the vileft Consequences, which many of the Heathen of Old
fell into, when they perfuaded themselves, that the Deity received Sensible Satisfaction from their Gifts and VOL. I. B
& SERM. Sacrifices ; was fairly repaid by them for I.
Favours already done ; or else indebted to his Worshipper, and obliged to bestow new ones on him to clear the Score: A Folly that falls below that of Atheism, with a Pride surpassing all other Blasphemies ! Such Delusions are the just Objects of our greatest Pity and Indignation at once : For we see some Christians approach with equal Steps, to their Idolatry, and to this absurd and pernicious Imagination bred out of it. Indeed so it has ever proved, that such as cominunicate to Creatures the Honour which God has reserved to himfelf, communicate again to him in their Imaginations (I speak of the Generality) the Imperfections and Infirmities of the Creature. And though they do not with the wicked Man in the goth Pfalm, think Him altogether such an one as themselves ; yet with his Substitutes or Favourites they will be more free, and (whatever may be said to the contrary) suppose them still, in many Respects, Men of like Passions. Hence springs a corrupt Hope, ruinous to all the Ends of Religion, of pleasing whom they invoke by infinite Services and
Submissions, instead of Repentance" and Serm. á good Life, and fo obtaining the blessed I. Rewards of Obedience and Righteousness mo without the Practice.
But instead of reproaching these, let us rather praise God for his Mercy, that hath restored, and preserves to us the Purity of Religion; keeping us undefiled in the true Notion of Himself and his Worship, the very Fountain of all moral Goodness, all Justice and Mercy amongst Mankind. For our one Lord and only Worship, that in the Beginning made, and now fills Heaven and Earth, we can never fuppose to receive any Addition from his own Creatures. We never cán fuppofe, that he needs, or designs, or gains any Thing to himself from ought in the Universe ; who is the Creator; Upholder, Disposer, and everlasting Sovereign Proprietor of all Things and all Persons therein. His Laws therefore are not like thofe of earthly Superiors, intending the common Benefit of Governor and Subject, but are framed and given for the fole Benefit of the latter. For, If thou finnest, what doft thou against him? or if thy Tranfgreffons be
SERM. multiply'd, what dof thou unto him ? If
I. thou be righteous, what givest thou bim,.or no what receiveth be of thine Hand ? Tby
Wickedness may hurt a Man as thou art, and thy Righteousness may profit the Son of Man; as ye read, Job xxxv. 6, 7, 8. Whatsoever accordingly he hath appointed by any Revelation of his Will to be offer'd or done in his Service; was and is merely for the Advantage of the Doers and Givers : For fo he innobles them by his Condescension; accepting his own as theirs, and styling their Use and Service his own. For it is not to be imagined, that any Oblation, Worship, or Praise contributes in any other Sense to the Glory of God, than as it includes the Understanding of his Goodness to us, and making it understood by others, and so serves to render it the more diffusive and efa fectual.
But if such Appointments are by falfe Opinions perverted from their End, or become unfruitful to it, through the Prevalence of Immorality, fo that they ng longer serve to fix and quicken Men in their Obedience to his everlasting Laws of