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thers. This noble teftimony of Christian love, has the most powerful influence in warming the heart, and enlivening the affections in prayer. It happens frequently, that those who have hardly a word to fay for themfelves, and whose defires are quite heavy and languid as to what regards their own intereft, no fooner come to fupplicate for others, than they are enabled to pour out their whole fouls before God with the greatest fulness of expreffion, and enlargement of affection; as if it were the purpose of God, to invite us to this excrcife, by honouring it with a particular mark of his acceptance and approbation. Oh that it would pleafe God to revive among profeffing Chriftians a fpirit of prayer, that when they cannot unite in fentiment, they may unite in prayer; that when impiety and immorality are bold and infolent, they may oppose them by prayer; and that when they are flandered, infulted, or abufed by their enemies, they may find unspeakable comfort in imitating their dying Saviour, loving them that hate them, bleffing them that cuife them, and praying for them who defpitefully use them and perfecute them. conclude with the words of the apoftle, Jude, ver. "Now unto him that is able to keep you from falling, and to prefent you faultlefs "before the prefence of his glory with exceed
ing joy, to the only wife God, our Saviour, "be glory and majefty, dominion an power, "both now and ever. Amen."
Obedience and facrifice compared.
I SAMUEL XV, 22.
Hath the Lord as great delight in burnt-offerings and facrifices, as in obeying the voice of the Lord? Behold, to obey is better than fa crifice; and to hearken, than the fat of rams.
Hat obedience is due to God from all his intelligent creatures, I fuppofe none here present will deny. It is the original unchangeable law of creation, which every after-discovery served not to undetermine, but to support and confirm. It was the religion of man in his primitive state of innocence; and it shall be the religion of heaven, when we fhall fee our Maker as he is. The very excellence of truth itself lies in its influence on holiness, and the very purpose of every facred inftitution is to form our minds to a habit of obedience, and subjection to the will of God.
In the mean time, it is of the utmost moment, that we have clear and juft conceptions of the nature and principles of obedience, and that we guard against the errors that are often commit. ted on this fubject. Some, from a partial or exceffive attachment to one branch of duty, are
apt to difparage another; and fome are apt to make a merit of their zeal or diligence in one duty, as if it would procure indulgence for them in the wilful neglect of another. From the language in the remarkable paffage of scripture which I have chofen for my text, it is plain, that facrifices, or the outward worship of God, are fometimes made a cover for the neglect of obedience. Nor are there wanting other paffages where complaints are brought against the fame mistake. On the other hand, this passage where the text lies, and another expression akin to it in the gospel, "I will have mercy, and not "facrifice," have been often grofsly misapplied, to bring contempt upon every pofitive inflitution, and even upon the whole exercises of pie. ty; and that by fuch perfons as do very little honour either to themselves or their opinions, by the perfection of their obedience. I have cho. fen these words, with a view to the information and conviction of both these forts of perfons, and for the instruction and edification of those who defire to walk in the straight path of duty, without turning to the right hand or to the left. In difcourfing further upon them, I propose,
1. To open a little, and make a few remarks on the history which gave occasion to the words of the prophet.
2. To fhew in what refpects it is, that obedience is oppofed and preferred to facrifice, or juftly called better, as in the words of the text. 3. In the last place, To make fome application of the fubject.
I. FIRST, then, I am to open a little, and make a few remarks upon the hiftory which gave occafion to the words of the prophet. This will be the more proper, that the setting this part of the facred ftory in a clear light, will both afford us fome excellent inftructions, and also obviate the cavils of unreasonable men. The people called Amalekites were derived, and had their name, from one Amalek, the fon of Efau's eldest son Eliphaz, by a concubine, (Gen. xxxvi. 12.). The first mention we have made of them as a people, was their being engaged in a very unjust war with the children of Ifrael, (Ex. xvii. 8.). This provoked God to determine, or at leaft upon this occafion he was pleased to intimate, their being devoted to utter deftruction; as Exod. xvii. 14. 15. 16. "And the Lord faid "unto Mofes, Write this for a memorial in a "book, and rehearse it in the ears of Jofhua: "for I will utterly put out the remembrance of "Amalek from under heaven, And Mofes built "an altar, and called the name of it Jehovah"niffi. For he faid, Becaufe the Lord hath "fworn, that the Lord will have war with Ama"lek from generation to generation."
The injuftice and impiety of this action of the Amalekites, which provoked God, not only to threaten, but to fwear their deftruction, may be learned from the account of this matter given us in Deut. xxv. 17. 18. 19. "Remember what "Amalek did unto thee by the way, when ye "were come forth out of Egypt: how he met "thee by the way, and fmote the hindmost of
"thee, even all that were feeble behind thee, "when thou waft faint and weary; and he fear. "ed not God. Therefore it fhall be, when the "Lord thy God hath given thee rest from all "thine enemies round about, in the land which "the Lord thy God giveth thee for an inherit. "ance to poffefs it, that thou shalt blot out the "remembrance of Amalek from under heaven; "thou shalt not forget it." From this it appears, that the Amalekites attacked the Ifraelites unprovoked, and without any caufe; for the Ifraelites neither intended to poffefs themselves of their country, nor were they so much as paffing by their borders, which might have given them fome cause of fufpicion. Without any thing of this fort, they came out of their own country, to attack the Ifraelites in the wilderness, either in confequence of the old grudge between Efau and Jacob, or from a principle of covetousness, to feize upon the riches which they heard the children of Ifrael had brought out of Egypt.
It is further obferved, that they cut off those that were faint and weary, when the distressed condition of that people feemed rather to call for compaffion and help. This was unjuft and cruel; and discovers them to have been a favage and profligate people; efpecially if one circumftance more be taken notice of, that they did all this in open defiance and contempt of God. They had no doubt heard, that he interested himself in a particular manner in the prefervation of the Ifraelites, and was, in a literal sense,