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SERMON XLIX.

Before the COURT of TINWALD, 1736.

THE FOLLY OF UNDERTAKING ANY BUSINESS OF MOMENT WITHOUT REGARD TO THE

WILL AND HONOUR OF GOD.

PROV. xxi. 30.

THERE IS NO WISDOM, NOR UNDERSTANDING, NOR

COUNSEL, AGAINST THE LORD.

I

words are here made use of by the Holy Spirit, to convince us of the folly of undertaking any business of moment, without regard to the will and honour of God. There is no wisdom, that is no discretion, directing men what is fit to be done; no understanding, which can enable a man to see the issue of things; no counsel, able to give advice; where the will and honour of God is not consulted, and his blessing and direction is not prayed for.

And one may take it for granted, that this solemn meeting was, from the very beginning, appointed to be ushered in by proper supplications and prayers for the blessing of God upon this

government; and by proper instructions from his ministers, how his blessings are to be obtained and secured,

Woe unto them that take counsel, but not of me, saith the Lord.*

And the wisest men have found it so to their cost and shame, when they have neglected to take God along with them in their politics.

The whole race of the kings of Israel, from Jeroboam the son of Nebat, who taught Israel to sin, to Hoshea the last king of Israel, who with his whole people were carried into captivity, are a known and flagrant instance of this truth, That no happiness is to be expected, where the glory, the honour, and true worship of God are overlooked or despised.

They all went by this worldly wise maxim, that it would not be safe for them to let their people go to Jerusalem to worship, as God had expressly commanded, lest in time they should be tempted to submit to the kings of Judah; so they set up a worship of their own invention, which ended in an idolatry abhorred of God, and brought upon themselves and their people a miserable captivity, which continues to this very day.

We shall only mention one other instance of the truth and importance of these words just read to you; and this is one of whose wisdom it is said,t That the counsel of Ahitophel was as if a man had inquired at the oracle of God. And he certainly did give Absalom such counsel as would have ruined his father most effectually, it God had not turned his wisdom into foolishness.

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And that men might be convinced, that it was the work of God, and that he interposes in the affairs of men, the scripture tells us expressly, That it was God who had appointed to defeat the good counsel of Ahitophel, that he might bring evil upon Absalom, as also upon his wicked counsellor. Thus wicked counsels, sooner or later, fall upon the heads of those that give, and

upon

those that follow them. Now, this being a truth, declared by the God of truth, and found such by experience, it follows, (let foolish men despise it at their peril,) that in all our counsels we should, in the first place, have an eye and regard to the honour, and will, and laws of God, or we shall soon see and feel our mistake.

This, the apostle tells us, is the great end of civil power and government,--to be a terror to evil doers, and to encourage those that do well, that God in all things may be glorified. And consequently, all laws should be made, and counsels taken, with an eye to these two great ends -the glory of God, and the good of mankind.

Except the Lord build the house, they labour in vain that build it, saith holy |David, a king himself, and a great master-builder in Israel. And his son sets this down for an uncontested truth,* The throne, that is, the government of every nation, is established by righteousness ; that is, by righteous laws, and putting them faithfully in execution.

Now these are two things which every government should aim at:- In the first place, to

* inov, xvi. 12.

have RIGHTEOUS LAWS. In order to this, let it be considered, that God, the great proprietor of the world and all things in it, having given to certain persons power over the bodies, goods, estates, and even over the lives of their fellowcreatures ; lest these, finding themselves vested with such high powers, should forget themselves, and abuse their authority, as the Wise Man* saith wicked men will be apt to do, and say, Our strength and power shall be the law of justice; most nations have found it necessary, and have agreed, to have laws to direct both those that are to govern, and those that are to obey.

Now the two great ends of these laws should be, as was said before, first, the glory of God; and secondly, the good of mankind.

First; THE GLORY OF GOD.

Such are laws to secure, as far as possible, the honour of God, his name, his worship, his ordinances, from being made light of, and profaned, by men who are given over to a reprobate mind.

Such also are laws to secure true religion and its ministers from contempt, by punishing those that, forgetting themselves and their character, make the service of God to be despised; and by encouraging and securing the rights of such as serve faithfully at the altar against the sacrilegious attempts of covetous men.

Such are laws, which are proper to prevent wicked men from corrupting the principles and manners of weak and ignorant people; by punishing the crimes against the Majesty of the great God, with at least the same degree of

. Wisdom ii. II.

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