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justice of God on the one hand, or of the exceeding sinfulness of fin on the other. But a real child of God, whether drawn by love, or driven by fear, to the hope which the Gospel fets before him, for present pardon and acceptance, has a juft conception of both; and, while the conscience remains tender, cannot forget either. Therefore he sets God, in his essential holiness, always before him; and endeavours to " walk as in his strict Observer's fight!” But when, by mistaken conceptions of the Gospel, and of the Chriftian's calling and privileges, the grace of the Gospel is opposed to its precepts; or the privileges of the Christian are strenuously claimed, while his duty is overlooked and neglected; then the professor, because he is not under the law, so as to be saved by his obedience to its precepts, concludes, he is without law to God, and under none to Christ; forgetting that our gracia ous Redeemer is the Author of eternal life to those only who obey him: and that as none can find present rest to their souls, but such as take his easy yoke upon them, and gladly bear his burden; so of such as would not that he should reign over them, he faith, * bring them forth, and flay them before my face, and cast them into outer darkness."
These truths being forgotten or disregarded, and the contrary sentiments entertained, with the additional supposition, that the work of salvation is so of grace, that being once begun (which, alas! it is too often supposed to be on very light grounds) it will be carried on even to glory, be the conduct of the subject what it may: and where there is also connected with this another idea, that religion is not so much (if at all) a personal, as an imputative thing; such conceptions once embraced, have a natural tendency to hinder the work of holiness, as they weaken the practical fear of God which prompts to it; and where they gain their full influ. ence, occasion the very mention of righteousness or holiness in the believer, to be abhorred; and are in some the occasion of their so speaking and acting, as if they judged it most for the honour. of the Redeemer, to continue in sin, that grace might abound! And in all that hold them, these sentiments weaken (if not destroy) that very fear, which is essentially necessary for the perfecting of holi. ness. Yea, and where they are not made the occasion of any such conduct as would be openly reproachful, they imperceptibly damp the pursuit after holiness, as they enervate that fear, which ever proves as a guardian angel to the soul, and preserves in it an aver. fion to evil in every farin and degree: that fear, which fills the mind with fanétifying awe, and animatcs.it to a close and in. ward walking of the soul with God, and makes it contract a relish For a nearer conformity to Him in all things. Where this fear of God is loft, or even but weak, the soul wants that grand motive to perfećt holiness, which-St. Paul urges upon us in the text, and proporcionably loses its views of the necessity or possibility of it: which leads nie to the third reason proposed above, why so few
aim at, or attain to holiness, viz. Because they neither see the necessity, nor possibility, of perfe&ting holiness.”
(1.) They see not the necesity of holiness. If their views of things be right, there can be no necessity of perfonal, much less of perfect holiness. For if all religion be imputative, or (which comes nearly to the same) if all our holiness be in Cbrilt, and this is to be ours by an imputation of it to us, it is certainly a complete and perfect holiness, and supersedes all necessity for any other. But then what becomes, 1. of all those precepts, which enjoin holiness upon believers ? 2. Of all those promises of it made to them? And, 3. of those declarations, which amount nearly to threats of exclusion from all the privileges, to which believers are entitled in time and eternity ? If they be not to be applied personally, they all fall to the ground at once.
To mention but a few of each. 1.“ Be ye perfect, as your Father which is in Heaven, is perfect,” by Mewing you have his holy Nature in you, namely, love; and by manifesting this in your life, even to your enemies; and not in word only, but after his example, " who causeth the sun to shine, and the rain to fall, on the just and unjust, the evil and the unthankful.” So Mew your love in “ doing good to them that hate you, in blessing them who curse you, and in praying for those who despitefully use you." “ Be ye holy, for I am holy,"...“ holy in all manner of conver. sation;" "'Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, &c.” “And thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself.” It is easy to see, that these are not impuied to us, but tempers implanted in us, producing the fruits of holiness: therefore holiness is necessary, absolutely necessary for believers.
2. The promises : “ I will circumcise thy heart, that thou mayest love the Lord thy God, &c. and that thou mayeft love thy neighbour as thyself.” Again, that promise, to which the text refers : “ I will sprinkle clean water upon you, and ye shall be clean ; from all your filthiness, and from all your idols will I cleanse you. I will take away the stony heart out of your fleih, and I will give you a heart of flesh ; ". not by imputation, but implantation. For “ I will put my Spirit within you,” (that you may be a holy people] “ and ye Shall walk in my statutes, and keep my judgments [ordinances,] and do them." And that pre. ceding the text: “I will dwell in you, and walk in you; and I will be your God, and you shall be my people; and I will be a Father unto you, and ye shall be my sons and daughters, faith the Lord Almighty:" With many others of the like kind, which must all fall to the ground, and the word of promise becomes of none effect, if holiness be not necessary for a believer,
3. The declarations, which almost amount to threats, to an exclusion of believers from all their privileges in time and eternity, if they be not holy. “If any man love not the Lord Jesus Christ, let him be Anathema, Maran-atha. He that loveth not, knoweth not God, for God is Love. But he that dwelleth in love, dwell,
tion"..; for I amraying fory
eth in Got, and God in him. He that hareth his brother, is in darkness, is a murderer: and ye know that no murderer hath eter. nal life abiding in him." Now, if love, the love of God and mad, is the very essence of holiness; and he who has it not, : knows not God, is a liar, hath not the truth in him; or, as St. Paul expresses it, “ is nothing," however he may boait of knowledge, eloquence, miracle-working faith, zeal for a party, and boundless charity, even to the giving of all his goods to feed the poor: do we go too far in saying, that such a one is threatened with an exclusion from the believer's privileges here? And are we not equally warranted in declaring, that he is in the same predica. ment with respect to those of the life to come, when the same authority has told us, that such as want love are accurled: that they who are deftitute of holiness shall not see God!
The necessity then of personal holiness, is indisputable, and so evident to all who believe the Scriptures, that one would wonder, how any serious mind should not discern it. Yet it is a fact, though a melancholy one, that many, very many, to whom we find no difirculty of giving the appellation of serious persons, see no kind of need for it; and therefore do not aim at, and consequently cannot obtain it. But we cannot, even from the Christian charity we feel for those brethren, give up the possibility or necessity of a believer's holiness. Therefore we proceed to thew,
2. The possibility of our attaining holiness. This is evident, j. From the commands of God, who would be justly charged as a hard master, were it impossible for us to do what he enjoins, But he requires that we should be holy: Therefore we may be assured, that it is possible for us to attain the blesling of loving him with all our hearts, and our neighbour as ourselves.
2. This is possible; else were the promifes vain, and worse than vain, even delusory, as holding out to us what we can never attain. And who would, to justify themselves in sloth, or the love of sin, expose themselves to the dangerous effects of calling the veracity of God in question, and so robbing God and man; God of his highest glory, and man of his chief felicity ?
3. The possibility of this is evident, when you consider, firft, That it was the end of the incarnation and birth of Christ, to save his people from their fins : to deliver them froin their enemies, that they might serve God in that perfect love which casts out fear, in holiness all the days of their life: and to destroy the works of the Devil, for which St. John expressly says Christ was manifested. Secondly, That it was the end of the death of Christ, to redeem us from all iniquity : And, thirdly, the end of his Ascension, 10 save to the utiermost all who come to God by him.
This is surely possible, if not for man, yet for the great Agent who is to effect it, the Holy Spirit. Will any suppose he cannot fo renew us in holiness, by dwelling in us, and walking in us? And is it not plain, that it is He, who breathes desires into every believing heast aftes this great blessing, (unless he be grieved or
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quenched,) equal to those he breathed into the Saints of old. Listen to them. “As the hart panteth after the water-brooks, so panteth my soul after thee, O God. My soul thirsteth for God; for the living God. My heart and my fleih crieth out for God. I shall be satisfied, when I awake with thy likeness. Let Israel hope in the Lord, for with the Lord there is miercy, and with him is plenteous redemption : and he shall redeem Israel from all his iniquities!”. And all those prayers put up by St. Paul for the Ephesian, Philippian, and Thessalonian churches, are sure evi. dences of its possibility. Yet it is still a tru:h, that many attain it not, because they see neither the necessity nor possibility of it. And this is no wonder at all, when we consider, first, That a vast majority imbibe wrong notions of the Gospel. Secondly, from hence they use little or no self denial. Thirdly, They hereby lose tenderness of conscience; and with it, that fear of God, récom. mended in my text: and, of consequence, fourthly, make litile; very little real application to the Blood of Jesus, which alone can cleanse from sin. Fifthly, Hereby they lose their communion with God: and having by all these errors and faults grieved the Spirit of God, they become short-fighted, and cannot see afar off. Having lost their spiritual strength, they become weak, and like unto other men; and fo losing their relish for holiness, fall into too great conformity to the world. And rather than own they are fallen believers, they maintain their profession of faith, and coldly or presumptuously lay claim to the Christian's privileges. They now shelter themselves under the mistaken interpretations put upon fundry passages of Scripture, especially the 7th to the Romans : and joining to these all they can glean up of the miscarriages of professors of religion, ancient or modern, especially of the abetiors and professors of holiness, they secure themselves in the delusion, that holiness is impossible and unnecessary; and confe. quently, not only neglect this great salvation, but despise all who enforce it as the Christian's privilege. And as these Laodiceans make, alas ! a large majority of the professors of our day, it is no wonder so few posless the blessing.
4. The fourth reason for this is, many who are of a different spirit from the above, and therefore do aim at, but do not attain to holiness, seek it not by faith, but as it were by the deeds of the law. And as by these no flesh living can be justified, so neither can any believer by them be fully fančtified, or made holy: no, nor can he make any great proficiency in perfecting holiness, even though aimed at in the fear of God. 1. They seek, it as it were by the deeds of the law. That is, they look for and expect it on account of their being, 1. Diligent in attending upon every means of grace. 2. By carefully observing their own hearts and lives, that no word or work, temper or affection, may be allowed, which would dishonour God, or hurt their consciences. 3. By exer. cising self-denial in all things, and mortifying every member of the old man. 4. By being in all respects merciful towards all
now lhelmpluoully la maintain their And rather holiness, and lik
men: to their bodies, in visiting, helping and relieving them, as
their ability enables them; to their souls, in advising, reproving, . and encouraging them, as opportunity allows.
That the uniform practice of these things is the duty of every believer, must be granted by all who acknowledge the Bible. Yet they who have used them diligently, are best able to testify, how far they have answered the end of perfecting .holiness; and if I may be allowed the liberty to speak for them, I would deliver their sentiments as follows:
1. “ All these things have I steadily done from my firft receiv“ ing of the grace of God, which is, (perhaps) five, ten, twenty, " or thirty years ago. And what lack I yet, seeing I feel myself " far, very far from holiness; yea, from any very sensible advance “ in perfecting holiness. 2. Indeed I do find, 'I am enabled to 6 keep up a sense of my acceptance and adoption, and a measure 66 of consciousness of the Divine presence, and daily communion “ with God: for which I am thankful. 3. I do also find a clear “ discovery of the world's vanity; of sin's odiousness; of what " is true religion, conformity to God; of the beauty of holiness; “ and I experience a more ardent desire for it; and all these in a “ larger measure than I have ever done before. 4. Yet, alas! " I must own, I do not find one evil affection entirely removed, “ one wrong temper totally destroyed, or my will wholly subjected “ to the will of God. And although by a continual attention I “ am enabled to keep all in subjection, yet I perceive my nature “ unclean; yea, I perceive in it more impurity than I ever saw “ before; and such a continual propensity to wander from the “ God I love, as I could not believe was in me, if I did not see 66 and feel it as I now do. And so strong is the warfare I often " experience between the flesh and the spirit, between nature and “ Grace, that I fear the conquest will be very difficult, if ever “ gained."
All this is not to be wondered at; because you hoped, when the work was so complete as you desired it should be, and saw it ought to be, then the Lord would give you that holiness, the beauty whereof had so attracted your soul: yea, that he would enable you to attain this, by delivering you from one evil afier another. But you had no direct attention to the Lord Jesus for the accomplishment of that salvation in your soul, through an immediatè exertion of his power, and through faith alone in him. Therefore you are not a partaker of it, nor can be while you so seek as by the deeds of the law, as above ftaled, without this faith. Which leads us to the consideration of the second part of this reason, viz.
2. They seek it not by faith : that is, they do not, in the use of all įhe above means, expe&t to receive it as a free gift from God through Christ alone. Therefore they do not come in confidence that he is able, willing, now, thus to save all who fo come to God by him. But if the soul now feels all its own vileness and helpe