Images de page
PDF
ePub

THE

NATURE and EXTENT

O F

VISIBLE RELIGION.

A SER MON.

MATTH. V. 16.

Let your light fo fbine before men, that they may fee your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven.

TH

Not

Here are two different divifions frequently made of practical religion. One, into our duty to God, and our duty to man. as though every part of our duty were not to be ultimately referred to God, and to be done from a regard to his authority enjoining it; but because there are fome duties, of the performance of which the Lord our maker, and fome of which our neighbour is the immediate object. Another common divifion is into the hidden and the apparent part; the inward frame and temper of the mind, and the outward life and conversation. Thefe two divifions, though they are near akin to one another, and often by indiftinct fpeakers in a great meafure confounded, yet are by no means one and the fame; and when the dif ference is not fufficiently attended to, it is followed

O 3

284 The nature and extent of visible religion.

lowed by many bad confequences. It is undeniable that God is chiefly delighted with truth in the inward parts; yet there are many of the duties we owe to God, which ought to have an outward expreffion, which without it will not be acceptable to him, but which are greatly neglected by those who imagine that a good life and converfation implies no more than the performance of a few of the most obvious and neceffary focial virtues.

The truth is, there are few things that feem to be lefs understood than the nature, extent, and obligation of visible religion. Some lean to one extreme, and fome to another. Reproaches are mutually thrown upon one another. Some are blamed for too much profeffion; and they are ready to retort the charge, and blame their accufers with at leaft equal juftice, for too little, or none at all. In the mean time, there are too few of any fort who have fuch a conduct and character as really adorns the doctrine of their Saviour, and ferves for the instruction of sinners, or the edifi. cation and comfort of those who fear God. For this reafon, I have chofen to infist a little upon thefe words of our Saviour to his disciples, in his excellent fermon on the mount, "Let your

light fo fhine before men, that they may fee "your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven."

I am fenfible that fome, and particularly one commentator of great eminence, underfland these words as addressed only, or chiefly, to the

« PrécédentContinuer »