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ticipation of the Lord's supper, than of him, who excommunicates himself and his whole family for
I have more reason to hope for him, who, having made great sacrifices for the doctrines of religion, violates the precepts of it, than for him, who both violates the precepts and abjures the doctrines. Not that I affirm, either that it is sufficient to perform small duties while we persist in a neglect of great obligations; or that the performance of the former is not detestable, when we perform them carelessly and hypocritically. This, I think, is the key of the passages just now quoted. These small duties are remains of spiritual life in such as practise them ; dying remains, I allow : but precious remains, however, and the state of these people is preferable to the condition of the other persons in question, whom death has enveloped in its dismal shade. Preserve, carefòlly preserve these precious remains, whatever just grounds of fear of your salvation may accompany them. Do not extinguish this wick, though it only smokes, Matt. xii. 20. Perhaps an idea of the sacrifices, which
have made for the doctrines of religion, may incline
you at last to submit to the precepts of it. Perhaps self-examination, superficial as it is, preparatory to the Lord's supper, may at some time or other lead you into reflections more deep and serious. Possibly, the sermons, which you now attend only to satisfy some transient emotions of conscience, may in the end arouse your consciences effectually.
III. Small duties compensate by their repetilion, for rehut is wanting to their importance. We are not called every day to make great sacrifices to order; we are seldom required to set up the standard of the cross in barbarous climes, to sound the gospel to the ends of the world, and to accomplish the
promises made to Jesus Christ, that he should have the heathen for his inheritance, and the uttermost parts of the earth for his possession, Psal. ii. 8. Seldom are we called to dare executioners, to triumph in cruel sufferings and death, to confess Christ amidst fires and flames. We are rarely called to the great actions that make heroes; to die for our neighbors; to sacrifice ourselves for the public good; and to devote ourselves for our country.
If we are seļdom required to perform great duties, thanks be to God! we are seldom tempted to come mit great crimes, to deceive a friend, to betray a trust, to reveal a state-secret, to make a sale of justice, to perplex truth, or to persecute innocence. But in what moment of each day do we not meet with opportunities to commit little sins, and to perform duties of comparatively small importance?
Are you confined at home? You have little inconveniences to suffer, little perverse humors to bear with, little provocations to impatience to resist, little disgusts 10 endure. in company
You have a few captious tempers to manage, idle reports to discountenance, a few pernicious maxims to combat, profane actions to sensure, sometimes you are obliged to resist iniquity boldly, and at other times to affect to tolerate it, in order to obtain an opportunity to oppose it on a future opportunity with greater probability of success.
Do you prosper? What a source of little duties is prosperity, if we sincerely love virtue? And what a source of little sins, if we are not always guarded against temptations to vice? Now a little air of self-sufficiency inclines to solitude, then a little eagerness to shine impels to society. Here a little necessary expence must be incurred, there another expençe must be avoided. Here some
thing is due to rank, and must be observed, there rank would be disgraced, and something must be omitted.
Are you in adversity, under misfortunes, or sickness. How many miserable comforters ? How many disgustful remedies ? What intolerable wearinesses ? So many articles, so many occasions to perform little duties, and to commit little sins.
Opportunities to commit little sins return every day, I may almost say, every moment of every day. A little sin is a little poison, slow indeed, but continually insinuating itself into the soul, till by degrees it issues in death. A man who does not watch against little sins, is liable to provoke God as often as an occasion to commit them presents itself. On the contrary, a man, who makes conscience of practising littleduties as well as great ones, finds every day, and every moment, opportunities of giving God proofs of his love. He hath not onIs a religion of times and circumstances, which is sometimes justly suspected: but a religion of influence, that diffuséth itself into every part of his life. There is not a moment, in which he doth not make some progress in his heavenly course. By his attention to every little duty, he discharges the greatest of all duties, that which St. Paul prescribes to all christians, Whether ye eat or drink, oř whatsoever ye do, do all to the glory of God, 1 Cor. x. 31. He is an exact imitator of Jesus Christ, the author and finisher of his fuith, who went about doing good, Heb. xii. 2. like him he can say, I have set the Lord aliväys before me, because he is at my right hand; I shall never be moved, Psal. xvi. 8. Had I not reason to affirm, that little duties compensate, by the frequency of their return, for what is wanting to constitute their importance ? IV. Oar third reflection leads us to a fourth. Little duties have sometimes characters more evident of real love to God, than the most important duties have. If hypocrisy, if false ideas of religion, sometimes produce little duties, it must be also allowed, that secular motives, interest and vain glory, sometimes give birth to great exploits. Pride without any mixture of love to order, is sometimes sufficient to engage us to make those great sacrifices of which we just now spoke. Sometimes nothing but an extreme and refined attachment to virtue can animate us to perform little duties. There is sometimes more genuine benevolence in accepting such tokens of gratitude as a poor man gives for a favor conferred on him, than in conferring the favor itself. There is sometimes more humility in receiving the praise from a man, whose esteem flatters our vanity a little, than in refusing to hear it. After all, though the love of God differs in many respects from mere worldly esteem, yet there are some resemblances. We often think ourselves obliged to render considerable services to people, for whom we have no great regard: but it is only for such as we hold in the highest veneration, that we feel certain little attachments, certain little attentions, certain solicitudes, which indeed, are called little in usual phrase, but which are strong demonstrations of the tender sentiments of the soul. It is just the same with divine love. But this is one of those truths of sentiment and experience, which each of you may understand better by consulting the history of his own life, and by watching the motions of his own heart, than by attending to our syllogisms and discussions.
Perhaps you may imagine God cannot, without debasing his Majesty, cast his eyes on those insignificant actions, which we are recommending to you. But, undeceive yourselves. What could be less considerable than those trlo mites, which the poor widow in the gospel cast into the treasury ? Mark xii, 42. Yet we know what Jesus Christ thought of that action. What service less considerable could be rendered Jesus Christ just before his death than to pour ointment on his head? The apostles had indignation within themselves at this unseasonable ceremony, chap. xiv. 3, &c. They were angry with the woman for diverting the attention of Jesus Christ from those great objects, with which his whole soul had been filled. But he reproved them. Why trouble ye the woman ? said he. She hath performed an action worthy of emulation. Verily I say unto you, wherrsoever this gospel shall be preached throughout the whole world, this also that she hath done shall be spoken of, for a memorial of her. What can be less considerable in itself than a cup of cold water? Yet Jesus Christ promises to reward even this with eternal life, when it is given from a principle of real piety. We said before, my brethren, and allow us to repeat it again, in a religion of love, whatever proceeds from a principle of love hath an intrinsic value.
I unite now the subjects of both the discourses, which I have addressed to you, on the words of my text, and, by collecting both into one point of view, I ask, What idea ought you to form of a religion, which exhibits a morality so pure and complete? What idea of the preaching of those ministers, who are called to instruct you in it? What idea of the engagements of such disciples as profess to submit to the discipline of it.
What idea ought you to form of a religion, that prescribes a morality so pure and complete? The christian religion requires each of us to form, as well as he can, just notions of primitive law; to