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relation of the child when he loves and obeys his parent : Love and obedience to the parent constitute the holiness of the child.
The principal relation of man is that which he bears to God. Man stands in the relation of a creature to God, who is his Creator ; and the conduct of a creature is in harmony with his relation when the will of his Creator is the rule of his actions : The revealed will of God then must regulate the will of man. Order requires us to submit ourselves to brim of whom we have received all we enjoy: All our enjoyments come from God; from him we derive life, motion, and existence, Acts xvii. 28. It is impossible then to resist his will without violating the laws of order. Our future prospects, as well as our present enjoyments, proceed from God, our own interest demands then, that we should submit to his will, in order to a participation of those future favours, which are the objects of our present hopes.
We have seen then in what respects holiness belongs to God, and in what respects it belongs to men. But although holiness does not belong, in the same sense, and in every respect, to beings so different as God and man, yet the holiness of God ought to be boch a reason and a rule for the holiness of man. Y e shall be holy, for I the Lord your God am holy. This is our third part, and with this we shall conclude the discourse.
III. The holiness of God, we say, is both a rule and a reason for the holiness of man. The words of the text include both these ideas, and will bear either sense. They may be rendered, Be ye holy as I am holy: and, according to this translation, the holiness of God is a rule or a model of ours. Or, they may be rendered, Ye shall be holy, because I am holy; and, according to this, the holiness of God is a reason or a motive of our holiness. It is not necessary now to inquire which of ihese two interpretations is the best. Let us unite both. Let us make the holiness of God the pattern of our holiness : and let us also make it the motive of ours.
1. Let us make the holiness of God the model of ours, The holiness of God is complete in its parts. He hath all virtues, or rather, he hath one virtue that includes all others : that is, the love of order. He is equally just in his laws and true in his word, his proinises are faithful, and his thoughts are right. Let this holiness be our pattern, be ye holy as
God is holy. Let us not confine ourselves to one single virtue. Let us incorporate them all into our system. Let us have an assortment of christian graces. Let us be, if I may express myself so, coinplete christians. . Let us add to our faith virtue, and to virtue knowledge, and to knowledge temperance, and to temperance patience, and to patience godliness, and to godliness brotherly kindness, and to brotherly kindness charity, 2 Pet. i. 5, 6, 7.
2. The holiness of God is infinite in its degrees. Nothing can confine its activity. Let this be our model as far as a finite creature can iinitate an infinite Being. Let us not rest in a narrow sphere of virtue, but let us carry every virtue to its most eminent degree of attainment. Let us every day make some new progress. Let us reckon all we have done nothing, while there remains any thing more to do. Let each of us say with St. Paul, I count not myself to have apprehended, but this one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before, I press toward the mark, Phil. ii. 13.
3. The holiness of God is pure in its motives. He fears nothing, he hopes for nothing; yet he is holy. He knows, he loves, he pursues holiness. This is the whole system of his morality. Let this be our pattern. We do not mean to exclude the grand motives of hope and fear, which religion hath sanctified, and which have such a mighty influence over beings capable of happiness or misery. But yet, let not our inclinations to virtue necessarily depend on a display of the horrors of hell, or the happiness of heaven. Disinterestedness of virtue is the character of true magnanimity, and christian heroism. Let us esteem it a pleasure to obey the laws of order. Let us account it a pleasure to be generous, beneficent, and communicative. Let us lend, agreeably to the maxim of Jesus Christ, hoping for nothing again, Luke vi. 35. and, in imitation of his example, let us lay down our lives for the brethren, 1 John ïïi. 16. . .
4. The holiness of God is uniform in its action. No ap, pearance deceives him, no temptation shakes him, nothing dazzles or diverts him. Let this be our example. Let us not be every day changing our religion and morality. Let not our ideas depend on the motion of our animal spirits, the circulation of our blood, or the irregular course of the humours of our bodies. Let us not be carried about with every wind of doctrine, Eph. iv. 14. Let us not be christians
at church only, on our solemn festivals alone, or at the approach of death. Let our conduct be uniform and firm, and let us say with the prophet, even in our greatest trials, Yet God is good to Israel, Psal. Ixxiii. 1. However it be, I will endeavour to be as humble on the pinnacle of grandeur, as if Providence had placed me in the lowest and meanest post. I will be as moderate, when all the objects of my wishes are within my reach, as if I could not afford to procure them. I will be as ready to acquiesce in the supreme will of God, if he conduct me through various adversities, and through the valley of the shadow of death, as if he led me through prosperities, and filled me with delights. Thus the holiness of God must be the model of ours: Be ye holy as I am holy.
But the holiness of God must also be the reason or motive of ours; and we must be holy because God is holy: Ye shall be holy, for I the Lord your God am holy.
We groan under the disorders of our nature, we lament the loss of that blessed but short state of innocence, in which the first man was created, and which we wish to recover: we must be holy then, for the Lord our Goil is holy. The beauty and blessedness of man in his primitive state consisted in his immediate creation by the hand of God, and in the bearing of his Creator's image, which was impressed, in a most lively inanner upon his mind. Sin hath defaced that image, and our happiness consists in its restoration : that is, in our being renewed after the image of him who created us, Col. iii. 10.
We wish to enjoy the favour of God: we must be holy then, because the Lord our God is holy. They are our iniquities that have separated between us and our God, Isa. lix. 2. and it is holiness that must restore a communion, which our sins have interrupted.
We tremble to see all nature at war with us, and wish to be reconciled to all the exterior objects, that conspire to torment us : we must be holy then, because the Lord our God is holy. Sin is a hateful object to a holy God. Sin hath armed every creature against man. Sin hath thrown all nature into confusion. Sin, by disconcerting the mind, hath destroyed the body. It is sin that hath brought deach into the world, and death is the sting of sin.
We wish to be reconciled to ourselves, and to possess that inward peace and tranquillity, without which no exterior objects can make us happy; we must be holy then, beca úse
the Lord our God is holy. We have remarked, in this disa course, that God, who is an independent Being, loves virtue for its own sake, independently on the rewards that accompany and follow it. Nevertheless, it is very certain, the felicity of God is inseparable from his holiness. God is the happy God, because he is the holy God. God, in the contemplation of his own excellencies, hath an inexhaustible source of felicity. Were it possible for God not to be supremely holy, it would be possible for God not to be supremely happy. Yes, God, all glorious and supreme as he is, would be miserable, if he were subject, like unholy spirits, to the turbulent commotions of envy or hatred, treachery or deceit. From such passions would arise odious vapours, which would gather into thick clouds, and, by obscuring his glory, impair his felicity. Even heaven would afford but imperfect pleasure, if those infernal furies could there kindle their unhallowed flames. The same reasoning holds good on earth; for, it implies a contradiction, to affirm that we can be happy, while the operations of our minds clash with one another : and it is equally absurd to suppose that the Almighty God can terminate the fatal war, the tragical field of which is the human heart, without reestablishing the dominion of holiness.
We desire to experience the most close and tender com munion with God, next Lord's-day, in receiving the holy sacrament; let us be holy then, because the Lord our God is holy. This august ceremony may be considered in several points of view : and one of them deserves a peculiar attention. The table of the Lord's supper hath been compåred, by some, to that which was formerly set, by the command of God, in the holy place : I mean, the table of shew bread, or bread of the presence, Exod. xxv. 30. God commanded Moses to set twelve loaves upon the table, to change them every sabbath, and to give those that were taken away to the priests, who were to eat them in the holy place, Lev. xxiv. 6, &c. What was the end of these ceremonial institutions ? The tabernacle at first was considered as the tent, and the temple afterwards as the palace of the Deity, who dwelt ainong the Israelites. In the palace of God it was natural to expect a table for the use of him and his attendants. This was one of the most glorious privileges that the Israelites enjoyed, and one of the most august symbols of the presence of God among them. God and all the people of Israel, in the persons of their ministers, were
accounted to eat the saine bread. The heathens, stricken with the beauty of these ideas, incorporated til mn into their theology. They adopted the thought, and ser, in their temples, tables consecraied to their g.ds. The prophet Isaiah reproacheth the Jews with forsaking the Lord, forgetting his holy mountain, and preparing a table for the best of heaven, ch. Ixv. 2.. And Ezekiel reckons among the virtues of a just man, that he had not eaten upon the mountains, ch. xviii. 6. It was upon tables of this kind that idolaters sometimes ate the remains of those victims, which they had sacrificed to their gods. This they called eating with gods; and Homer introduceth Alcinous, saying, The gods visit us, when we sacrifice hecatombs, and sit down with us at the same table.
This is one of the most beautiful notions under which we can consider the sacrament of the Lord's supper. There we eat with God. God sitteth down with us at the same table, and so causeth us to experie!ice the meaning of this promije, Behold, I stand at the door and knock; if any man hear my voice, and open the door, I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with me, Rev. iii. 20. But what do such close connections with a holy God require of us? They require us to be holy. They cry to us, as the voice cried to Moses from the midst of the burning bush, Draw not high hither, put off thy shoes from of thy feet; for the place whereon Thou standest is holy ground, Exod. iii. 5.
God is supremely holy: God supremely loveth order. Order requires you to leave veng-ance to God, to pardon your bitterest, and most professed enemics; and, what is more difficult still, order requires you to pardon your most subtle and secret foes. Would you approach the table of a holy God gnawn with a spirit of animosity, hatred, or vengeance?
God is supremely holy: God supremely loveth order. Order requires you to dedicate a part of those blessings to charity, with which Providence hath intrusted you; to retrench the superfluities of your tables, in oriler to enable you to assist the starving and dying poor. Would you approach the table of a holy God with hearts-hardened with indifference to that poor man, whoin God hath commanded you to love as yourselves ?.
God is supremely holy: God supremely loveth order. Order requires you to be affecied with the cukens of divine VOL. I.