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OF THE UNITY OF OBEDIENCE TO THE
MATT. XXVIII. 20.
Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you.
In order that the world might believe that God the Father sent his Son from heaven to redeem our fallen race, and might obtain a true knowledge of the blessings which he purchased for us, our divine Master formed his church into one harmonious body, compacted together by the use of the same sacred ordinances, and the profession of one common faith. But to the establishment of his religion-the unfolding of the ample design of his sacred mission-something more than this was to be required of his disciples. For, if what the Scripture declares be true that faith, without works, is dead, being alone; that the grace of God, that bringeth salvation, hath appeared unto all men, teaching us that, denying all
ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly, in this present world; and, that our Saviour, Jesus Christ, gave himself for us, that he might redeem us from all iniquity, and purify unto himself a peculiar people, ZEALOUS of good works; (Tit. ii.)—if such be the inefficacy of a barren faith, such the great purpose of Christianity, and such the character of real Christians; it must be deemed essential to the very being of the church of Christ, that the faith of its members should manifest itself in an uniform course of obedience to his laws.
And the necessity of such obedience, our Lord himself, in his general charge to the apostles, expressly connects with the profession of the true faith. Go ye, and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them, in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost; this clause is declarative of that one faith, which the apostles were to deliver to their converts; but the next enjoins obedience-teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you.
The obedience which Christ demands of
these disciples is in conformity with his own example, in fulfilling the will of his heavenly Father. And this sacred lesson is inculcated throughout the whole period of his public ministry. When he first entered upon the work of his mission, by submitting to the baptism of John, he declares Thus it becometh us to fulfil all righteousness. (Matt. iii. 15.) And from henceforth we find him regular and constant in attending the established form of worship in the synagogue, and in the temple, exhorting liis followers to observe and do whatsoever was commanded by those who sat in Moses' seat, or upon whom the ministerial office lawfully devolved; and enforcing that great truth, that he came not to destroy, but to fulfil the law. And, as the disciple is not greater than his master, he gives this general charge to all who receive his doctrine-Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me--follow my example-for I am meek and lowly in heartI have, in all things, submitted to the will and appointment of my Father; submit ye, therefore, to me to me who lay down my life for your sake! And this submission is required as a testimony of our love and gra
titude to our divine Benefactor. If we are his true disciples, surely we cannot refuse it. If a man love me, he will keep my words and his obedience shall not go unrewarded; for, my Father will love him, and we will come to him and make our abode with him. (John, xiv. 23.) And again: If ye keep my commandments, ye shall abide in my love; even as I have kept my Father's com mandments, and abide in his love. (John, xv. 10.)
Obedience is, therefore, required, not only as a testimony of love and gratitude to our blessed Lord, but also as the very condition upon which we obtain the love of God, and secure to ourselves the great promises of the Gospel. Wherefore our Saviour exposes the folly and delusion of those who pretend to be his disciples, without a sincere and predominant purpose of obeying his laws. Why call ye me Lord, Lord, and do not the things that I say? And then he proceeds, by a forcible similitude, to illustrate the difference between a true and false professor-Whosoever cometh to me, and heareth my sayings, and doeth them whosoever professeth to be my disciple, and
hath faith productive of obedience—I will shew you to whom he is like He is like a man who built an house, and digged deep reflected deeply on the nature and efficacy of true faith-and laid the foundation upon a rock: and when the flood arose, the stream beat vehemently upon that house, and could not shake it; for it was founded upon a rock. But he that heareth and doeth not, is like a man that, without a foundation, built an house upon the earthupon a mere superficial and unstable faithagainst which the stream did beat vehe mently, and immediately it fell; and the ruin of that house was great. (Luke, vi. 46, &c.)
Here we perceive that an attention to Christian obedience is compared to the act of that man who digs to the rock of true evangelical faith, and lays a solid foundation upon it. And the necessity of such an operation is admitted, in general, by most pro fessors of Christianity. Many of them, how ever, take a very imperfect view of this primary and most comprehensive duty: they think that nothing more is required by it, than an habitual regard to the great pre