« PreviousContinue »
Who? It is that philosopher, who makes a parade of I know not what stoical firmness; who conceits himself su- , perior to all the vicissitudes of life; who boasts of his tranquil expectation of death, yea, who affects to desire its apa proach, for the sake of enjoying the pleasure of insulting his casuist, who hath ventured to foretel that he will be tersified at it. ..
Who? It is that voluptuary, whơ opposeth to all out cxhortations and threatenings, to the most affecting denunciations of calamities from God in this life, and to the most awful descriptions of judgment to come in the next, to all our representations of hell, of an eternity spent in the most execrable company, and in the most excruciating pain ; who opposeth to all these the buzz of amusements, the hurry of company, gaming at home or diversions abroad.
Study all these characters, my brethren, lay aside the spes cious appearances that men use to conceal their turpitude from themselves, and you will find that, to dare the Deity, to pretend by superior knowledge and strength to resist the wisdom and omnipotence of God, is not so rare a disposition as you may at first have supposed.
Let us abhor this disposition of mind, my brethren; let us entertain right notions of sin; let us consider him who commits it as a madman, who hath taken it into his head that he hath more knowledge than God the fountain of intelligence, more strength than he beneath whose power all the creatures of the universe are compelled to bow. When we are tempted to sin, let us remember what sin is : Let each of us ask himself, What can I, a miserable man, mean? Do I mean to provoke the Lord to jealousy ? i Cor. X. 22. Do I pretend to be stronger than he ? Can I resist his will ? Rom. ix. 19. Shall I set briars and thorns against him in battle ? He will go through them, he will burn them together, Isa. xxvij. 5. Let us seek those benefits in a communion with the great God, of which our fanciful passions can only offer the shadows. Let us not pretend to deceive him by the subtilty of our stratagems; but let us endeavour to please him by acknowledging our doubts, our darkness, and our ignorance; the flucttations of our minds about the government of the state, the management of our families, and, above all, the salvation of our souls. Let us not appear in his presence boasting of our naAural power : but let us present ourselves before him weak,
trembling, and undone. By the greatness of his compas-sion let us plead with him to pity our meanness and misery, Let our supplies be drawn from the fountains of his wisdom and power ; this is real wisdom; may God inspire us with it! This is substantial happiness; may God impart it to us! Amen. To him be glory and honour for ever.
THE HOLINESS OF GOD.
LEVITICUS xix. 1, 2.
And the Lord spake unto Moses, saying, Speak unto all
the congregation of the children of Israel, and say unto them, ře shall be holy : for I the Lord your God am holy.
Address to all the faithful, whom the devotion of this day
hath assembled in this sacred place, the command, which Moses, by the authority of God, addressed to all the congregation of Israel. However venerable this assembly may be, to which I am this day called by Providence to preach, it cannot be more august than that to which the Jewish legislator formerly spoke. That was composed of more than eighteen hundred thousand persons. There were magistrates, appointed to exercise justice, and to represent God upon earth. There were priests and levites, consecrated to the worship of God, and chosen by him to signify his will to the church. There were various ranks and degrees of men proportional to so great a multitude of people. God had given particular laws before, which were adapted to their different ranks, and to their various circumstances. But this is a general law: a law which equally belongs to magistrates, priests and levites: a law which must be observed at all times, and in all places. This is the law of holiness; Speak unto all the congregation of the children of Israel, and say unto them, Ye shall be holy : for I the Lord your God am holy.
I repeat it again, my brethren, I address to all the faithful, whoin the devotion of this day hath assembled in this Vol. I. T
sacred place, the same precept that God commanded Moses to address to all the congregation of Israel. The law of holiness, which I preach to day, commands you our supreme governors. Arbiters of your own laws, you see no mortal upon earth to whom you are accountable for your conduct, but there is a God in heaven, whose creatures and subjects you are, and who commands you to be holy. The law of holiness commands you, priests and levites of the new testainent. The sacred character, with which you are invested, far from dispensing with your obligation to holiness, inforceth it on you in a more particular manner. This law commands you all, my dear hearers, of what order, of what profession, of what rank soever you be. If you be a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a peculiar people, you ought also to be a holy nation, that ye may shew forth the praises of him who hath called you out of darkness into his marvellous light,' 1 Pet. ii. 9. Whatever prerogatives Moses had above us, we have the same law to prescribe to you, that he had to Israel, and the voice of heaven saith to us now, as it said once to him, Speak to all the congregation of the children of Israel, and say unto them, Ye shall be holy : for I the Lord your God am holy.
This discourse will have three parts. The term holiness is equivocal, and, consequently, the command, ye shall be holy, is so. We will endeavour to fix the sense of the term, and to give you a clear and distinct idea of the word holiness. This will be our first point.
Holiness, which, in our text, is attributed to God, and prescribed to men, cannot belong to such different beings in, the same sense, and in all respects. We will therefore examine in what sense it belongs to God, and in what sense it belongs to men; and we will endeavour to explain in what respects God is holy, and in what respects men ought to be holy : this will be our second part.
Although the holiness, that is attributed to God, differs in many respects from that which is prescribed to men, yet the first is the ground of the last. The connection of these must be developed, and the motive enforced, ye shall be holy, for
I the Lord your God am holy: this shall be our third part. This is the substance of all we intend to propose.
1. The term holiness is equivocal, and, consequently, the command, ye shall be holy, is so. Let us endeavour to affix a determinate sense to the term, and to give you a