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SERMON XXXI.

DEDICATION TO GOD ARGUED FROM REDEEMING MERCY."

1 Cor. vi. 19, 20.-What! know ye not that ye are not

your own? For ye are bought with a price : therefore glorify God in your body, and in your spirit, which are God's.

My first and last business with you to-day, is to assert a claim which perhaps you have but little thought of, or acknowledged. In the name of God I enter a claim to you, to the whole of you, soul and body, and whatever you possess; to every one of you, high and low, old and young, freemen as well as slaves; I enter a claim to you all as God's right, and not your own: and I would endeavour to bring you voluntarily to acknowledge his right, and by your own free act to surrender and devote yourselves to him, whose you are, and whom therefore you are bound to serve.

It is high time for me to assert, and for you to acknowledge, God's right to you; for have not many

behaved as if you thought you were your own, and had no master or proprietor? Have you not practically said, with those insolent sinners the psalmist mentions, Our lips are our own, who is lord over us ? Ps. xii. 4; for have you not refused to employ yonr tongues for the honour of God, and spoke what you pleased, without any control from his law? Have you not said by your practice, what Pharaoh was bold and plain enough to speak out in words, Who is the Lord that I should obey his voice ? Exod. v. 2. Have you not aimed at pleasing yourselves, as if you were not bound to please the supreme Lord of heaven and earth, whose authority confines the stubborn powers of hell in chains of everlasting darkness, and sets all the armies of heaven in motion to execute his sovereign orders? Have you not followed your own inclinations, as if you were at liberty to do what you pleased? Or if you have in some instances restrained yourselves, have not the restraints proceeded, not from a regard to his authority, but from a regard to your own pleasure or interest ? Have you not used your bodies, your souls, your estates, and all your possessions, as if they were your own absolutely and independently, and there were no God on high, who has an original and superior claim to you, and all that you are and have? Do not your own consciences convict you of these things? Is it not, then, high time for you to be made sensible whose right you are ? that you are not your own, but God's ?

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* This discourse is said by the author to be "Sermons preparatory to the Lord's Supper."

This reason would render this subject very seasonable at any time. But there is another reason which peculiarly determines me to make choice of it to-day; and that is, the greatest business of this day is to surrender and devote ourselves to God as his servants for ever. solemn a posture as at the Lord's table, in so affecting an act as the commemoration of that death to which we owe all our hopes of life and happiness, and with such solemn emblems as those of bread and wine in our hands, which represent the broken body and flowing blood of Jesus, we are to yield ourselves to God, and seal our indenture to be his. This is the solemn business we are now entering upon. And that we may perform it the more heartily, it

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is fit we should be sensible that we are doing no more than what we are obliged to do; no more than what God has a right to require us to do, seeing we are not our own, but his.

The apostle speaks of it with an air of surprise and horror, that any under the profession of Christianity should be so stupid as not to know and acknowledge that they are not their own, but God's. What! says he, know ye not, that ye are not your own ? As if he had said, can you be ignorant in so plain a point as this. Or can you be so hardy, as knowing the truth, to practise contrary to knowing it? Knowing you are not your own, dare you act as if you were your own ? Acknowledging that you are God's, dare you withhold from him his property? Will a man rob God? Shall not his professed servants serve him? Since your bodies and your souls are his, dare you use them as if they were absolutely your own, and refuse to glorify him with them?

The same claim, my brethren, is valid with regard to you, which the apostle here asserts with regard to the Corinthians. You are no more your own than they were; you are as much God's property as they were.

And his property in you depends upon such firm foundations as cannot be shaken without the loss of your being, and your relapse into nothing. If you made yourselves, you may call yourselves your own. But

you

know the curious frames of your bodies were not formed by your own hands, nor was it your feeble breath that inspired them with those immortal sparks of reason, your souls. A greater absurdity cannot be mentioned, than that a creature should be its own creator; for then it must act before it had a being. You owe your being to a divine Original, the Fountain of all existence. It was Jehovah, the uncreated, all-creating Jehovah, who so wonder

fully and fearfully formed your bodies, and who is likewise the Father of your spirits. And what right can be more valid than that founded upon creation? It is a right founded upon your very being, and which nothing but the entire loss of being can destroy. He that makes servants out of nothing, has he not a right to their service ? Did he form your souls and bodies, and may he not require you to glorify him with them? Can you call them your own, or dare to dispose of them as you please, without any regard to God, when you would have had neither soul nor body, nor been any thing at all, if it had not been for him? You think you have such a right to a thousand things as entitles you to the use of them; but show me one thing, if you can, to which you have such a right as God has to you, to your whole souls and bodies, to you, who have no master upon earth, and who are your own property in exclusion to all the claims of your fellow-creatures. Did you produce out of nothing any of those things you call yours ? No, you only bought them with money, or you formed them into what they are, out of materials already created to your hand. But it is Jehovah's right alone that is founded upon creation. And will you not acknowledge this right? Will not your hearts declare, even now, “My Maker, God, this soul and this body are thine; and to thee I cheerfully surrender them? The work of thine own hands shall be thine by my free and full consent; and I renounce all claim to myself that is not dependent upon and subordinate to thee.”

Again, the providence of God towards you has made you his absolute property; and on this footing he claims your service. You could no more support yourselves in being, than you could give being to yourselves at first. Who but he has preserved you alive for so many months and years; preserved you so frail and precarious, sur

rounded with so many dangers, and exposed to so many wants? Whose earth have you trod upon? Whose air have you breathed in? Whose creatures have you fed upon? The earth is the LORD's, and the fulness thereof, Ps. xxiv. 1; and consequently all the supports and enjoyments, all the necessaries and comforts of life, are his. Show me the mercy, if you can, which you created. Mention the moment, if you can, in which you supported your own life, independently of the Almighty. Show me that property of yours, if you can, which is so dependent upon you as you are upon him. This moment, if he should withdraw his supporting hand, you would instantaneously become as entirely nothing as you were ten thousand years ago. If he should now strip you of all that is his, and only leave you what is originally your own, he would leave you nothing at all. The earth, and all its productions, the air, the light, and your very being would be entirely vanished, and your place would be no more known in the creation. Oh! that you knew, oh! that you felt, oh! that you practically acknowledged, how entirely dependent you are upon God! And dare you call yourselves your own, when you cannot support yourselves in being or in happiness one moment? Oh! renounce so haughty a claim, and this day give up yourselves to God as his. A son honoureth his father: and since God is your Father, where is. his honour? The dull ox knows his owner, and the stupid ass knows his master's crib; and will not you know and acknowledge your divine Benefactor and Preserver ? He has nourished and brought you up as his children, and dare you rebel against him?

Thus you see the divine right to you may be made good upon the footing of creation and providence. But this is not the foundation of right which the apostle here

VOL. II.-16

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