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MATTH. xxviii. 19, 20.
Go ye therefore, and teach all Nations, baptizing
them in the Name of the Father, and of the
Son, and of the Holy Ghoft. Teaching them to observe all Things, whatsoever
I have commanded you : and lo, I am with you alway, even unto the End of the World. Amen.
former Discourse on these Words I have shewn both what is meant by being baptized in, or rather into the Name of any one, particularly of the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost; and what Faith in them that Baptism obliges us to profess: endeavouring so to set forth our Christian Belief, as neither to decide concerning what is hidden from us, nor to omit what is made known to us. For the secret Things
belong unto the Lord our God: but those Things, which are revealed, belong unto us and to our Children for ever; that we may do all the Words of this Lawa: Let us now therefore go on to the practical Part of Christianity, comprehended under the
Second Branch of the Text, in which our Saviour directs his Apostles, what Duties they were to enjoin Men, in Consequence of their Faith. Teaching them to observe all Things, whatsoever I have commanded you,
Now of these, our Duties to the several Persons of the Holy Trinity are so closely connected with our Faith in them, that I thought it most natural to mention them together. And of the rest, it would be impossible at present to specify every one in particular. And therefore I shall only treat of the more general Heads and Divisions of them. By this Commission of our blessed Lord then, the Ministers of the Gospel are bound to teach, and the Professors of the Gospel to observe, the Precepts of Piety, as well as Morality; of revealed Religion, as well as natural ; difficult, as well as pafy Duties ; those of Self-Government, as well
a Dept. xxix. 29.
as of social Behaviour ; all Things whatsoever he hath commanded, and nothing else.
I. Precepts of Piety, as well as Morality. In some Ages of the World the Generality of Persons, and in all too many, have almost intirely disregarded Virtue, at least some Parts of it, while yet they seemed very zealous in Religion. That the Religion of such is vain b, requires little Proof. Indeed it must be, either mere Pretence, or gross Mistake. Either they have really none of that Devotion, which they profess, or it is Devotion to an unknown God. For did they at all apprehend his Nature aright; the Love of him could not but incline them to the Love of whatever was good ; and the Fear of him could not but deter them from whatever was evil. These Things are so easily demonstrable, and the Mischiefs of not attending to them have been so dreadful ; that whereever Knowledge and Liberty have prevailed, such wrong Notions of Duty to our Maker have (amongst the more considerable Part of the World at least,) quickly fallen into the Contempt and Hatred, which they well deserve. But then, as it is natural for the Warmth of Men to carry them too far; and James i. 26. c Acts xvii. 230
the Thoughtlessness of Men to confound Mat,
be sensible of our proper Dispositions, but that by exercising them we may improve in them, and others be excited to Imitation : then our Reverence to our Creator ought likes wise to be manifested openly ; because, though he sees the devout Thoughts, that lie hid in our Hearts, yet, by expressing them, we shall
both strengthen them in ourselves, and set an useful Example to those around us. Indeed the Connection of religious Duties with moral is so very close, that, as the Religion of those is always false, who think meanly of Virtue : fo the Virtue of those is never uniformly, if at all, true, who think meanly of Religion. For the Belief of a God, who observes and will recompense, being in all Cases the greatest, and in some the only, Support of right Conduct : they, who either disbelieve or disregard him, must frequently fall into wrong Conduct, amidst the various Temptations of Life. And the Truth is, the Generality of those arnongst them, who talk the most of Virtue, appear to concern themselves very little farther about it, than to oppose it, in their Talk, to Religion. Such indeed cannot be really, in any Degree, serious. But many who, in some Respects, are such, and imagine they are in all, would alsuredly find, on a careful Examination, that they are dangerously deficient in this Respect : and that cultivating and exerting dutiful Affection to the Author of their Being, is not only in itself the first and great Commandment, but hath a most powerful Influence on the Practice of that