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Si»mon now > yeS, verjiy. and for the very Rea\SV\j son assigned by our Lord in the following Verse, for that God is a Spirit; which Argument concludes as strongly for spiritual Worship in the former as in the latter Cafe; and yet without any way lessening the Propriety, or weakening the Force of it, as urged upon the Occasion. before us; as will appear in its proper Place.
. But may it not be asked here, Wherein was the Law a Spiritual Religion? In the Moral or Ceremonial Part of it? Be it answered, Both in the one and the others' as to the Aim and Direction of it. Thst; appears from the Ends assigned for its Delivery, two of which, as the most princi-' pal, and given by St. Paul, I shall briefly touch upon. .:'
And, first, The Law (/. e. the Moral) was given as a Rule of Life, and to shew Men both their Sin, and their Duty: For such was the Corruption and Blindness of our Nature after the Fall, by the infatuating Power of Sin, that the human Race had, in many Particulars, lost the Distinctions of moral Good and Evil; nay, had erred in that great fundamental Point, the
Knowledge and Worship of the One True SETM0fi, God: And therefore, in Reply to that .x~v-nj Question — Wherefore servetb the Law ?GaI- "i• St. Paul answers, It was added because of 'Transgressions. He elsewere declares, that by the Law is the Knowledge of Sin; and Rom. iii. instances in himself for the Truth of the Assertion: — 1 had not known Sin, but by Rom. vii. the Law j for I had not known Lufl, except the Law had said, Thou shalt not covet.
Some of the Heathens have indeed said many fine things on the Side of Virtue; but their Systems are all wretchedly defective, as theirs could not but be, who neither knew the Malady of human Nature, nor its Cure j nay, were Strangers to the Love of God, which is the Foundation of all true Morality, and grossly ignorant of his Nature and Attributes. Their Virtues therefore were, for the most part, of a political Nature, tallying well enough with the Interests of Civil Society, but little perfective of the Soul, and oftentimes the Result of Pride and Selfishness, Humour and affected Singularity. Some Virtues were passed over by all, and some Vices stood both uncondemned, and practised by most of them: And as to those few great Names among
I them, ,
Sermon them,who rose above the common Levels and (^ry-v. are distinguished by the Sublimity of their . .:;...: Sentiments, and their nearer Approaches to Truth \ their Doctrines an d Precepts wanted the Sanction of Authority, and therefore could go but a little way in gaining upon the Belief and Practice of the World.
At what a low Ebb the Religion of Nature was in St. Paul's Time, when human Learning was near its Zenith, may be judged of from his Discourse to the AOsxvii. Men of Athens, and from the first Chapter ~3' of his Epistle to the Remans. What (hocking Degeneracy and Corruption. dp they there stand charged with! What Blindness and Ignorance with regard to the first Principle of all Religion! The World, i Cor. i. fayS be, by Wisdom knew not God. All the Learning of the Schools, and the io much boasted Philosophy of Greece and Rome, had not taught- them the first Article of Nature's Creed, nor done so much for them as the Light of Nature, dim as it was, and the Law of Conscience, rnigfit have done; for in the visible things oj God Rom. i ^ey mignt have clearly seen his eternal 21. Power and Godhead; and the Lawwrittep in their Hearts, if carefully attended to, . ..- would,
Would, in many Cases, have served them Sermon for a Monitor and Judge, their Confci- . />/xj ences bearing Witness, and their 'ThoughtsRom. ". accusing or excusing them: But becoming Rom. j, vain in their Imaginations, . their foolish11 • Heart was darkened -, and, professing themselves wife, they became Fools. And yet these are the Men, whom the World makes such a Stir about; and to know their ignorant Conjectures is accounted so great a Part of our Wisdom. Some of the wiser and more virtuous Heathens, particularly among the Platonifts, are excepted from this general Rule, as both their Lives and their Writings challenge our Admiration and Esteem.
If we go back to the Time of the Delivery of the Law, we (hall, in like manner, find the whole World over-run with Idolatry and Superstition; nor had all the Learning of the Egyptians secured them from the common Infection: So weak a Fence has human Reason ever been against the Corruptions of human Nature j and of such absolute Necessity is a Divine Revelation, not only to enforce Obedience ^o, but also to furnish fallen Man with the Knowledge of, the Divine Will. I 2 What
Sermon what shall we say then of those mighty ,Men of Reason, who, in these latter Days, pretend to have found out a complete System of Duties, without being at all obliged to Revelation for the Discovery? who know so dextrousty how to delineate the Religion of Nature by the Sufficiency of their own Skill, and to lay a Foundation for every Virtue in some new-invented Fitness and Congruity of Things: Sure, I think, we may fay, that they themselves are an Instance of the Defect of their Schemes, by the want of at least one Virtue, and that is Humility; which would lead them to acknowledge the Helps they have received, and that, if they fee farther than their Forefathers, it is not owing to the greater Sharpness of their Sight, but to the Eminence of their Station: They stand upon holy Ground, and are indebted to the Scriptures (though they are not ingenuous enough to own it) for their Elevation. But to return.
Such was the State and Condition of the World, with respect to Religion, when it pleased Almighty God to reveal the Law by Moses to the Children of Israel -, to point, out to them the Nature.of Sin (by • which