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ence of the Divine Spirit. Its motive is the purest and the noblest
FAMILY SBRMONS.-No. CXXXIX. love to God and man: its object 1 Sam. xv. 22.— And Samuel said, is the grandest and most sublime- Hath the Lord as great delight the promotion of the glory of God in burnt offerings and sacrifices in the well-being of his creatures, as in obeying the voice of the It is this motive, and this object, Lord? Behold, to obey is better wbich can alone secure to it the
than sacrifice, and to hearken character of innocency.
than the fut of rums. There are various means by which this wisdom may be acquired The events which occasioned these and cultivated. To improve our words are highly memorable, and selves in it, we must gain a large afford much useful instruction. We acquaintance with our own hearts, are informed by Moses, (Exodus with inankind in general, with the xvii. 8.) that when the people of sacred Scriptures, and with their Israel quitted Egypt, they were Divine Author. There is much in- attacked by the Amalekites, whom formation to be derived by a mi- they defeated in a contest at Re. nister from the first of these sources. phidim. The Almighty, in order To know the secret operations of to punish the Amalekites for their his own mind, and the state of his unjust and unprovoked attack feelings under various kinds of upon his people, decreed that be treatment, and in different circum- would " utterly put out the res stances, will greatly assist him in membrance of Amalek from under his intercourse with others—will heaven.” Nearly four hundred teach him how to conduct himself years had now elapsed, yet the in a manner calculated to benefit ihreatened vengeance had not been his people, how to sympathize with executed. This is a remarkable the distressed, how to make allow- instance of the unity and extent ances for prejudices and infirmities. of the Divine Providence. A thouA knowledge also of the manners sand years are with the Lord but of the world, and of the various as a day. We must not, therefore, principles of human action, will presume to judge our Creator on contribute largely to the accession account of events which to us are of wisdom, and will thus afford mysterious; for if we could look back great assistance in every pastoral to the past, and pierce the thick transaction. But the richest and mists of the future, if in short we fullest treasures of wisdom are to " knew even as we are known," be found in the oracles of Divine our faith would no longer be tempt. Truth. There we meet, not only ed 10 waver at many things wbich with the wisest directions, but with may now appear inexplicable. In numerous examples, in which are the case before us, it is probable . brought to view, in the most im- that among the descendants of partial and undisguised manner, Amałek, the curse was either forihe secret workings of good and gotten, or remembered only to be evil principles. But above all, we despised. They probably could should approach the Source of all not perceive the largeness of the wisdom; we should be acquainted Divine plans, and might perbaps with the nature, character, works, think either tbat Jehovah had not and purposes of "the only wise spoken, or that be could not or God." And this knowledge is to would not perform his threatening. be acquired by reading and medi- The wicked frequently draw infertation, by active devotedness to his ences of this kind from the ordinary service, and by diligent prayer. occurrences of life. Perceiving
CAMBRO-BRITON. that God is long-suffering and will.
eth 'not the death of a sinner; and be acceptable, must be such as having themselves pursued an evil God commands: it may therefore course for years with impunity, be useful to consider, first, the while “ vengeance against their evil ture and extent of true obedience, works is not speedily executed,” and, secondly, to euforce the practheir hearts are fully set in them tice of it upou our consciences, by to do evil.” Thus, that suspension a few scriptural arguments. of punishment which was designed First, Let us consider the nature to excite gratitude, and to lead them and extent of true obedience to God. to repentance, serves, like all other Among the many scriptural tests by blessings when misimproved, only which it may be distinguished, we to aggravate their punishment. shall select four. I. It must be Let us correct such a 'mistaken without reservation or partiality. view of the Divine proceedings. 2. It must correspond to our knowThe threatenings of God are con- ledge of the Divine will. 3. It must ditional; Ninevell, which was to be the obedience of faith. 4. It must have been destroyed in forty days, be filial and affectionate. repented at the preaching of Jonah, i. Our obedience to God must and was preserved. To the peni- be without reservation or partialitent, mercy is freely offered ; but ty.—This appears clearly from the who shall estimate the weight of history which has been narrated. God's procrastinated wrath on him We see that obeying the commands who, "being often reproved, har- of God in part, is not sufficient; deneth his neck," and makes even we must devote ourselves wholly the long-suffering of his Creator a and unfeignedly to his service. If motive for continuing in sin ? we willingly indulge in any one sin,
Notwithstanding the express even supposing we were free from command of God to Saul, utterly all others, we should incur a guilt to destroy the spoils taken from the similar to that of Saul, who slew the Amalekites, be reserved a part of Amalekites, but spared Agag their them under the pretence of offer- king. It is little to relinquish ing a sacrifice, It is probable that grosser offences, while we encouthis excuse was insincere, and that rage the most seductive, our daily covetousness and not piety was the besetting sin. We should in most real spring of his conduct. The cases judge of our obedience raprophet Samuel, who, no doubt, ther by our conquests over what saw his motive, made a reply which are called lesser sins, than over ought ever to be present to the notorious vices; for the minds of all who profess to wor- latter are often forsaken even by
“ Hath the Lord as those wbose hearts are unrenewed, great delight in burnt-offerings and the former are conquered by sacrifices as in obeying the voice none but the true Christian. St.. of the Lord ? Behold, to obey is James tells us, that he who is guilty better than sacrifice, and to hearken of one violation of the law of God than the fat of rams ?" These is guilty of all; doubtless bewords shew the inefficacy of rely cause any one wilful act of disoing on any outward observances, bedience argues that want of rewhile the heart is perverse and dis- verence for the Lawgiver which, obedient. They are not of private under stronger temptation, would interpretation, but contain an uni- lead to the greatest crimes. versal truth, and are as applicable 2. Our obedience must be reto us as to the king of Israel. Obe: gulated by our knowledge of the dience to God still remains the Divine will.—The more we know, great duty of man, without which the more is required from us; and all external sacrifices are vain, therefore conscience enlightened Now, our obedience, in order to by Scripture must be our guide.
Things otherwise indifferent are no honour, is never the part of true longer such when God has
obedience. ed his will respecting tbem. The 3. True obedience is the obeChristian, for instance, is required dience of faith.-—“ Without faith to do some things from which the it is impossible to please God;" for Jew was exempt; and the Jew was “ whatever is not of faith is sin.” bound to many ceremonial duties If we are not conscious of desiring which the Christian is not called to act according to what we believe upon to perform. The obedience to be the prescribed line of duty, of each, therefore, to be accept- and in the discharge of which we ablé, must correspond to his know- can hope for God's blessing, our acledge of God's will. If Saul, with- tion is not performed in faith. Our out any particular revelation re- church teaches consistently with specting the Amalekites, had re- Scripture, that “works done before served part of the spoil for Je- the grace of Christ, and the inspirahovah, and had offered it humbly tion of his Spirit, are not pleasant to and sincerely, his sacrifice would God; forasmuch as they spring doubtless bave been accepted; for not out of a lively faith in Christ it would have corresponded to his Jesus.” Even under the Jewish knowledge ; but when he liad fur. dispensation, faith was indispensather inforavation, this very act be- ble to true obedience ; and though came an offence, because it was a it could not be extended to some violation of an express command. things which, since the coming of Let us, in all our conduct, apply Christ, are revealed to us, yet it this rule of obedience. There are was to be perfect in its kind. It perhaps many things which we embraced the promises of God, once thought innocent; but as we and had especial reference to the learn more of the Divine will, we promised Messiah, who was to be begin to find them to be inconsis. revealed to bear the sins of mantent withi pure and unreserved obe- kind. It was faith which rendered dience to our Maker. In such a the ceremonial observances acts case we must excuse them no long. of true obedience. St. Paul, when er; 'whatever we once thonght of he bebeld the glorious cloud of them, they are now at least sin; witnesses, and described their inand even if we could persist in mortal acts, ascribed them all to them without offence to our Chris- this principle. The same actions tian brethren, that is not enough: if performed without faith would we bave only reason to suspect that bave been unaccepted. When they are improper, to us they are Abraham, for example, was comimproper; and while we continue manded to offer his son, he was them, we shall wound our own willing to comply. God had prosouls, and render our obedience mised, that in Isaac-should bis seed partial and iosincere. * Also to do be blessed. He believed this proany thing that we know or suspect mise ; but how could it be fulfilled 10 be evil, in hopes that a greater if Isaac was sacrificed? Here was good may arise from it, is not act- the trial of his faith ; but so firmly ing according to our knowledge. was he persuaded that the promise Saul perhaps imagined, that reserv. of God could not be made ineffecing a small part of the spoil, though tual, that when every human hope God had commanded the whole to was apparently about to be extinbe destroyed, was but a trifling sin guished, he accounted that God compared with so great an act of was able to raise
Isaac even from devotion, as making a magnificent the dead." Let us suppose
the sacrifice to Jehovah. But thus to same action performed without this violate one command of God under motive. He might have reasoned colour of doing something to his thus:~"The task is cruel; but
how shall I disobey? If I do not whether as such he is entitled to this, a worse thing may bap- our submission to his laws. He pen: resistance would be vain-I made us expressly to shew forth will offer him." Would an action his praise. Other motives also so performed have been acceptable rise before us; for God has proto God? If an earthly parent ex
mised heaven to those who serve pects the confidence of his child, him, and threatened eternal punishwithout which even an act of duty ment to those who forsake his ways. would fail to please him, how much Amongst the inhabitants of the cemore is this implicit trust due to lestial world, God is obeyed with a our Father which is in heaven, and holy delight; bow then shall we whose wisdom and whose love are hope to be admitted there, if we equally conspicuous in all the in. have no desire to serve and glorify junctions which he has seen fit to our Maker while upon earth 3 But Jay upon us.
yet nobler and more delightful mo4. True obedience must be filial tives remain to incite the Christiani and affectionate.-" Love is the to devotedness to his God. After fulfilling of the law." If our heart pursuing too long the road which be devoted to God, our services, leads to destruction, he now finds however feeble, will not be scorn- it a delight to walk in the narrow ed; but no act can be well-pleas- way of God's commandments, which, ing to him if this priociple be absent. though often arduous, he knows By this, among other tests, we may conducts to life everlasting. He distinguish between the true dis- considers obedience to God as a ciple of Christ and the pharisee. debt of gratitude, a service of pleaThe obedience of the one flows sure, and a test of his religion. from love to God-that of the other 1. It is a debt of gratitude ; from much lower principles; the and this not merely because God one is a child—the other a slave. is his Creator and Preserver, but beAnd to take the illustration before cause he is his Father, his Redeemer, employed with regard to faith, his Comforter and Sanctifier. This what earthly parent would be sa- is the most endearing tie which can tisfied with obedience unprompted unité man with heaven. For when by affection, and influenced only we view the Son of God laying by baser motives? Or what child aside his glory, and becoming obewould consider bis obedience ge- dient unto death for us miserable nuine or acceptable, if he were sinners; when we view the Father conscious that it flowed not from giving his Son for this purpose, his heart? And shall God be satis- and the Holy Spirit regenerating fied with less than an earthly parent? and sanctifying us that we may beAn obedience thus filial will also come possessors of the benefit; can combine the other qualities before we but feel a measure of gratitude mentioned; for it will prompt us sufficient to prompt us to run the to submit to all the known coin- way of God's commandments, and mands of God implicitly and with- to become bis willing and devoted out reservation.
servants to the end of our mortal Other characteristics of true obe. lives? dience might be enumerated, but 2. The Christian loves to obey these may be sufficient for the pur. God, because his service is a serpose of self-examination : let us vice of pleasure.-“ My yoke, " now consider a few of the MOTIVES said our Lord, “ is easy, and my which should induce us to obey burden is light.” The child of God; for he requires of us no ser- God cannot be happy but when vice but what is reasonable. he is obedient; for be well knows
In the first place, he is our Crea. that he bad neither profit nor plealor, and it cannot be a question sure in the ways of sin, But the
CHRIST. OBSERV, No, 223. 3L
ways of religion he finds to be ways fallen and disobedient, we find ourof pleasantness, and all her paths selves excluded from beaven, and peace. If therefore there were no exposed to the penalties of eternal other motive but the pleasure arising wrath.-And here, with wbat effect from dutiful obedience, this alone do the doctrines of the Gospel meet would be sufficient to make him our case!. We need an atonement; say to the world, “ Choose ye this an atonennent is provided : Christ day whom ye will serve ; but as for became obedient unto the law,. to me, I will serve the Lord.”
deliver those who were under the 3. But he has also another power- law. He who knew no sin became ful motive for endeavouring to sin for us, that we might be made be obedient to the commands of the righteousness of God in him. God—that his habitual conduct is It is required of us that we should the visible test of his religion.- believe this obedience of Christ Men must judge of bis principles to be full, perfect, and sufficient. by his actions : if therefore his ac. Many irreligious persons acknowtions are not such as become a ser- ledge themselves to be deficient be. yant of God, his professions will fore God, but imagine that their be in vain. And in examining hisobedience, though imperfect, will own heart also, he will find that be accepted, and that the deficienreadiness to perform the commands cy will be compensated for by the of God, and to submit to his will, obedience of Christ. They reason is one of the surest marks of a truly thus :- I owe, as our Lord teaches, religious character. Momentary five hundred pence: I can pay feclings may mislead him; but if only a part, a very small part perthis be the general bias of his mind, baps; but my Surety will discharge and be correspondingly evidenced the rest. This is the argument of in his actions, he has a strong proof the pharisee, and may perhaps seem ibat his faith is sincere, and his at first to be reasonable. But obedience genuine and acceptable. what if we can pay none ? Our
Having thus shewn the nature and Surety must then discharge the extent of true obedience, and endea- whole, or we cannot be set free. voured to enforce it by scriptural And this is exactly our case : our motives, the solemn question re. obedience by nature is not only curs, “ Am I thus obedient ?" Let imperfect but false ;, it has done of us forget the world, and centre our the properties of ibat obedience thoughts in our own bosoms, while which God requires : our bope, we make a reply to so important therefore, must be grounded solely an inquiry. But perhaps we are on the merits and death of our allready to say, that if God will ac- sufficient Redeemer. By virtue of cept nothing but an obedience such bis atonement only can man be as bas been described, wbo can be justified before God.-And bere saved ? The objection is reason- we perceive farther how essential able, and, if followed up, will lead is the doctrine of the Holy Spirit's us to see the necessity of that mer. influence. The true Christian ciful provision which is afforded us wishes to obey God; but be finds his in the Gospel. For it is true, that unassisted efforts ineffectual; tempas human oature now exists, notation arises; sin often prevails; his man can perfectly obey the will of spirits sink, and he acknowledges God, or has the desire to do so. himself to be a disobedient and Hence we learn a proof of our unprofitable servant. This should fallen state ; for we cannot sup- keep him bumble ; it should teach pose that God would have ori- him to pray for more of the sanctiginally placed us under requisi- fying influences of God's Holy Spitions which he did not give us rit. Every action performed under powers to perform. Being thus those blessed influences is an act