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forc'd it with peculiar motives. It will always SERM. have great weight with every sincere disciple of 1. Christ, that this is, by his own express declaration, an essential part of that character, and an indispensable condition, without which we cannot expect his approbation: If any man will come after me let bim deny himself. Whatever you do in compliance with the christian institution, must pass for nothing, if this one duty be neglected. Tho' you believe the gospel and profess it zealously, contend for the faith, and be ever so afsiduous in attending all the
positive appointments of religion; what will all avail unless
you learn to deny yourselves ? Farther we may observe, that as divine wif, dom shines in all our Saviour's instructions, so particularly his .enforcement of this duty is adapted in the best manner to our state of infirmity and temptation. When men are vehemently urg'd to indulge their appetites and passions, as in the case of bad habits, or of some peculiarly strong worldly attachments, as when the interest of a tenderly beloved friend comes in competition with our duty ; fo that the foliciting affection is dear as a right hand or an eye, in that case the mind under a violent hurry and perturbation, cannot calmly attend to more ingenuous considerations, and therefore a stronger remedy is applied; the terrors of the
SERM.Lord are set against the allurements of the I. flesh, and we are dissuaded from gratifying
ourselves by the fear of future punishment. Thus our Saviour, lupposing an inward cause of offence to tempt us very violently, and that so strong is our affection, we are as unwilling to renounce it as to suffer the amputation of a bodily member, even that it self would be submitted to for faving life, and here a greater necessity is laid upon us ; for we have no other choice than either to bear the uneasiness of denying the present gratifications, or suffer the dreadful penalty of God's eternal displeasure, * It is better
for thee to enter into life maimed, or balt, or having one eye, than having two bands, and two feet and two eyes, to be cast into bell fire, where the worm dieth not and the fire is not quenched. And,
Lastly, The example of our great Master himself is propos'd to us.
It is said of him, Rom. xv. 3. that be pleas'd not himself. He had no irregular appetites to gratify ; but the same sensibility to the ease and innocent pleafures of life as other men : but he denied them, submitting to hunger and thirst, and weariness in attending the work his Father sent him to the world for, that is glorifying him
and * Mark ix. 43–48.
and doing good. He was denied to the honour SERM.
I. and esteem among men, which he had the best title to, enduring the contradiction of finners and bearing grievous reproach ; and even to life itself which he sacrificed to the cause of truth and holiness, and for the redemption of mankind. If then we abide in him, let us walk as he did, and follow his Example.
James ii. 12.
by the law of liberty.
LL men who have a just sense of the II.
dignity and privileges of the human nas
ture, consider liberty as an inestimable endowment which God has vouchsafed unto us, to be by all means presery'd inviolable, to be zealously asserted and earnesty contended for. The greatest part of the creatures which we see have no share in it; the whole system of inanimate things is necessarily subject to the di rection of almighty power, and is moved by the sovereign will of the Creator. The lower Species of animals have a kind of Freedom, but in a very narrow sphere, being active and determining themselves only according to their Instincts for the purposes of a very limited and short-liv'd existence. But, the author of nature having distinguished man with much
higher capacities and made him for nobler Serm. çnds, has given him suitable liberty, a pow. II. er of pursuing those ends by the light of his larger understanding, of comparing a great variety of motives to action, and making a choice upon the comparison. Every one feels himself possess'd of this privilege and rejoices in it; without it we cannot well conceive how we Thould have any taste for happiness; this, at least, is certain, that the highest, and the greatest variety of our enjoyments spring from pur acting voluntarily. But it is in its own nature capable of being abused; a liberty of doing right, is, in us at least, accompanied with a liberty of doing wrong; and if we may freely pursue our own happiness, we may also freely make ourfelves unhappy, which indeed is the case of very many; not that they have any such express intention, for it's impossible any intelligent being should not desire its own good, but thro? mistake, and inadvertency, and corrupt prejudices, they are led into wrong measures. · Nay, very often so it is, that thro' a supine indolence, neglecting to use and to improve those powers which ought to direct the exercise of their liberty, and giving up themselves habitually to be conducted by the lower spring of action in human nature, by appetites and passions, men lose in a great