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Enlarge this view, and suppose (what is, alas! but too unlikely soon to happen) the whole world partaking of the same spirit, and how profitable would godliness appear for all things, even in the present life! There would be no jealousy between subjects and their governors, no party spirit of animosity, no more war and bloodshed. The sword would be beat into the plough-share, and the spear into the pruning hook. Every man you met would be a brother. No scenes of cruelty would shock the eye; no cry of oppression would wound the ear. Tyranny and slavery would be only remembered with a sigh that human nature should once have suffered them. The voice of joy and praise would be heard in every cottage, and the sufferings which still remained in the earth would be alleviated by the affectionate tenderness of every neighbour and every stranger; for every stranger would be a friend. The wolf would indeed dwell with the lamb, and the leopard lie down with the kid.

But, alas! how different is the scene which now presents itself! The eye must yet be pained to behold the tumults and distractions of nations; the ear to hear the lamentations of misery and the groans of despair. Armies yet meet together with savage ferocity, and spread around them desolation and carnage. While we contemplate such scenes, let us read in them the inscription of Heaven, drawn indeed in bloody, but legible, characters; “Godliness is profitable for all things, having the promise of the life that now is, as well as of that which is to come."

All misery and evil came into the world by sin; and in proportion to its increase, in that proportion do they increase also. The real evils which God inflicts are comparatively few in number, and, with them all, he mingles something which may alleviate them or compensate their pressure. But the evils we bring upon ourselves, or which our fellow creatures bring upon us through their vices, are many and complicated. There is, however, one remedy of sovereign efficacy which

God in his pity, has given us against evil of every kind: Godliness is profitable for all things.” In proportion as godliness is practised, evil will be less abundant and less keenly felt; and blessings will spring up and multiply upon us. Let us see, therefore, that we are seeking after godliness with that earnestness which becomes its importance to ourselves and to mankind.

But it must be remembered, that godliness is not a cold assent to the truths of religion: it is not a natural softness and benevolence of temper; it is not the abstaining from gross sins, or the giving to God a part of our hearts and some vacant portions of our time, while the bulk of both is alienated from him, that will entitle us to the benefits which follow godliness: No: : godliness is the entire subjection and devotedness of the soul to God himself. It is the practical acknowledgment of his unlimited sovereignty, and the unreserved dedication of our whole selves to his service. To speak in the emphatical language of the Apostle, It is Christ formed in the heart by the powerful energy of the Holy Spirit; in consequence of which the person becomes a new creature both with regard to his temper and practice: he partakes of a Divine nature, and those members which were formerly the servants of sin are now employed as instruments of righteousness unto God. This is real godliness: this is what is profitable unto all things, having the promise of the life that now is, as well as of that which is to come. The form of godliness, too often and too fatally mistaken for it, brings no just peace to the mind; does not implant there the love of God; does not correct the faulty dispositions of the heart; is of no service in the distressing scenes of life; and is attended with no good to society. From this shadow of godliness the opinions of the world have been too generally taken respecting its substance, and its effects estimated: and hence it has appeared to be so barren of good and so useless to mankind, neither promoting their peace nor their virtue. Let us, therefore, seek for something more substantial. Under the deep impression of the corruption of our nature, let us breathe after the sanctifying influences of the Spirit of God; and pray earnestly to obtain the mind which was in Christ. Let us remember that the kingdom of God consists in righteousness, peace, and joy in the Holy Ghost; and that he that serveth Christ in these things is acceptable to God and approved of men.

I speak, I am persuaded, to many in this place, who highly honour and earnestly desire that godliness which produces such beneficial and blessed effects. Let them, then, take heed that they possess right views of its nature, and seek for it in a proper manner. True godliness is the gift of God. It is a seed implanted in the heart by his Holy Spirit, and watered by the dew of his heavenly grace.

It is not the produce of merely human resolution, the fruit of a corrupt nature. It is absolutely necessary, therefore that it should be sought from God by fervent prayer, cherished by the study of his word, and cultivated by constant communion with him. It is utterly impossible that we can be truly godly unless our hearts are right with God, unless we are deeply convinced of the supreme excellence of his nature, the amiableness of his character, the reasonableness of his commands, and the infinite superiority of his service above that of the world. The foundation of godliness is deeply laid in the just views of the soundest reason. It is not the impulse of caprice, the dictate of fear, or the effect of the love of change; but a deliberate conviction of the judgment, founded upon the most weighty considerations, and confirmed by the most unequivocal experience, that only in proportion as we know God aright and are conformed to his image can we be truly blessed. And it is intimately connected with the knowledge and love of Jesus Christ, the only begotten Son of God, our Saviour, in whom we may truly he said to have our spiritual life, in whose death we trust as our atonement for sin, on whose resurrection we found our hopes of eternal life, on whose intercession we rely for the acceptance of our prayers and unworthy services.

This is the principle of godliness; and when such a principle is implanted in the mind, though its full operation may be prevented by those innumerable temptations which assault us from within and without, from the world, the flesh, and the devil, yet it will influence the soul to obey and serve God with earnestness and constancy. There will be an increasing wish and desire to please him, greater readiness to make the sacrifices he requires, and greater faithfulness in acting up to the light we have received. Every thing else will yield to this prevailing desire of our hearts. We shall not attempt to serve two masters, but give ourselves up wholly to God. The soul cannot, indeed, be wholly turned from darkness to light, from sin to holiness, at

It is a change which begins here, and is carried on through the whole duration of life, but which is not perfected till we arrive at the kingdom of heaven above. “The path of the just is like the shining light, which shineth more and more unto the perfect day;" and the small measure of knowledge and grace to which we attain on earth, will be a seed springing up unto immortal life, in the everlasting glory of which it will assuredly terminate. Amen.


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