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Annie Oakley
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Annie Oakley
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The Holy Spirit also testifies to us about this.
First He says: “This is the covenant I will make with them after those days, declares the Lord. I will put My laws in their hearts and inscribe them on their minds." Heb.10:15

"Blessed are the undefiled in the way, who walk in the law of the LORD." Psalm 119:1

The Psalmist begins with a description of the way to true blessedness, as Christ began His Sermon on the Mount.

Our own desires and inclinations are not our rule. Oh, how miserable should we be if our lust were our law, if the bent of our hearts were our rule! Jude 16, ‘Walking after their own lusts,’ is the description of those that were monsters of men, that had outgrown all feelings of conscience. The laws of men are not our rule. It is too narrow and short to commend us to God, to be punctual to the laws of men and no more: Ps. xix. 7, ‘The law of God is perfect, converting the soul.’ To convince us of sin, to humble the heart, to reduce and bring us back to God, there is no rule for this but the law of God. Men make laws as tailors do garments, to fit the crooked bodies they serve for, to suit the humours of the people to be governed by these laws; surely they are not a sufficient rule to convince us of sin, and to guide us to true happiness. A civil orderly man is one thing, and a godly renewed man another. It is God’s prerogative to give a law to the conscience and the renewed motions of the heart.

~ Thomas Manton. Works of Thomas Manton, Volume 6; Sermon 1 Psalm 119

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Annie Oakley
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Annie Oakley
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There are many false rules with which men please themselves, and are but so many byways that lead us off from our own happiness. For instance, good meaning, that is a false rule; the world lives by guess and devout aims. But if good meaning were a rule, a man may oppose the interest of Christ, destroy his servants, and all upon good meaning: John xvi. 2, ‘Those that kill you will think they do God good service.’ Men may grossly err that follow a blind conscience. Custom, that is another. It is no matter what others have done before us, but what Christ did before them all. If custom carried it, most of Christ’s institutions would be out of doors. Example of others; that is no good rule. It is not for us to go where others have gone before; but what is the true way: Mat. vii. 14, ‘The broad way, that leads to destruction, and many walk therein.’ The path to hell is most beaten; we are not always to follow the track; they are dead fishes which swim down the stream: we are not to be led away with custom and example, and do as others do. Our own desires and inclinations are not our rule.

~ T.Manton


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Annie Oakley
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Annie Oakley
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Secondly, there is a conformity to this rule. If you would be blessed, there must be a sincere, constant, uniform obedience. The will of God must not only be known but practised. Many will conclude that God’s law in the theory is the only direction to true blessedness; but now, to take it for their rule, to keep close to it, not one of a thousand doth that.

1. Then, sincere obedience is required: ‘Blessed is the undefiled in the way.’ At first hearing of these words, a man might reply, Oh, then, none can be blessed, if that be the qualification; ‘for who can say, My heart is clean?’ Prov. xx. 9. I answer—This undefiledness is to be understood according to the tenor of the second covenant, which doth not exclude the mercy of God and the justification of penitent sinners: Ps. cxxx. 3, 4, ‘If thou, Lord, shouldest mark iniquities, who shall stand? But there is mercy with thee.’ There is no escaping condemnation and the curse, if God should deal with us according to strict justice, and require an absolute undefiledness. Well, then, this qualification must be understood, as I said, in the sense of the second covenant; and what is that? Sincerity of sanctification. When a man doth carefully endeavour to keep his garments unspotted from the world, and to approve himself to God; when this is his constant exercise, ‘to avoid all offence both towards God and man, Acts xxiv. 16, and is cautious and watchful lest he should be defiled; when he is humbled more for his pollutions; when he is always purging his heart, and doth endeavour, and that with success, to walk in the way of God,—here is the undefiledness in a gospel sense: Ps. lxxxiv. 11 ‘The Lord will be a sun and a shield,’ &c. To whom? ‘To those that walk uprightly.’ This is possible enough; here is no ground of despair. This is that will lead us to blessedness, when we are troubled for our failings, and there is a diligent exercise in the purification of our hearts.

2. A constant obedience. Wicked men have their good moods and devout pangs in the way to heaven, but they are not lasting. They will go with God a step or two. But it is said, ‘He that walketh in the law of the Lord.’ A wicked man prays himself weary of prayer, and professeth himself weary of holiness. A man is judged by the tenor of his life; not by one action, but as he holdeth on his way to heaven, Job xxvii. 10. Many run well for a while, but are soon out of breath. Enoch walked with God three hundred and sixty-five years.

3. A uniform and an entire obedience: Exod. xx. 1, ‘God spake all these words.’ He commandeth one thing as well as another, and conscience takes hold of all. To single out what pleaseth us is to make ourselves gods.

A servant does not choose his work, but the master. A child of God is uniform in one place as well as another, at home and abroad, in all the passages of his life, in prosperity and adversity, ‘whether he abound, or whether he be abased,’ Phil. iv. He is not like Ephraim as ‘a cake not turned;’ but there is a uniformity. Doth he make conscience of piety and worship, and will he not make conscience of honesty and just dealing with men? Will he make conscience of his actions, and will he not of his words? He doth not give up himself to idle speech and vain discourse. A hypocrite is best when he is taken in pieces, but a sincere man is best when he is taken altogether. A Christian is always like himself.

~ Thomas Manton


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