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· absolute dependence on Christ alone for life and salvation. Yet they are such as render it as necessary for us to be holy as to be justified. He who thinks to please and enjoy God without holiness, makes him an unholy God, putting the highest indignity imaginable upon him.-God deliver poor sinners from this deceit! There is no remedy; you must leave your sins, or your God.
Hence also we evince the folly and falsehood of those clamorous accusations, wherein the most important truths of the Gospel are charged as inconsistent with, and as repugnant to holiness. The doctrine of Christ's satisfaction, say the Socinians, ruins all endeavours after an holy life: for when men believe that Christ has satisfied the justice of God for their sins, they will be careless about them, yea, live in them:-but as this supposition transforms believers into monsters of ingratitude and folly, so it is built on this foundation, that if Christ take away the guilt of sin, there is no reason in the nature of the things, nor in the Scripture, why we should be holy, or keep ourselves from the power and filth of sin, or glorify God in the world; which is an inference weak, false, and ridiculous. The Papists and others lay the same charge against the doctrine of justification through the imputation of the righteousness of
Christ. And as it is wonderful to consider with what virulent railing this charge is managed by the Papists, so with what scorn and scoffing, with what stories and tales, some among ourselves endeavour to expose this sacred truth to contempt, as though all who believe it must consequently be negligent of holiness and good works. Now, although I deny not that such men may find a great strength of connexion between these things in their own minds, seeing there is a principle in the corrupt heart of man to turn the grace of God into lasciviousness,' yet this sacred truth is both doctrinally and practically the great constraining principle to holiness and fruitfulness in obedience, as shall in due time be proved, For the present, I shall only say that these objectors are wholly mistaken as to our apprehensions concerning the God whom we serve. God in Christ, whom we worship, hath so revealed his own holiness to us, and what is necessary for us on account thereof, as that we know it to be a foolish, wicked, and blasphemous thing for any one to think to please him, or come to the enjoyment of him, without that holiness which
he requireth, and from his own nature cannot but require. That the grace of mercy, or love of this God, who is our God, should encourage those who truly know him to sin, or countenance them in a neglect of holy obedience to him, is a monstrous imagination.
Moreover, from what has been said, we may all blame ourselves for our sloth and negligence in this matter. It
is to be feared that we have none of us endeavoured, as we ought, to grow up into this image and likeness of God. Why are we so negligent in the pursuit of our principal interest and happiness? Why do we suffer every thing, why do we suffer any thing, to divert our minds from this design? Wherefore, that I may contribute something to the awakening of our diligence herein, I shall add a few motives and directions, that herein we may be found ' perfecting holiness in the fear of the Lord.'
First, In our likeness to God consists the excellency and pre-eminence of our nature, above that of all other creatures in the world, and of our persons above those of other men, who are not partakers of his image. With reference to other things, this is the highest excellence that a created nature is capable of. Other things had external impressions of his greatness and goodness upon them; man alone, in this lower world, was capable of the image of God in him. By the loss of the image of God, our nature lost its pre-eminence, and we are reduced into order among perishing beasts ;'-for, notwithstanding some feeble relics of this image are yet abiding with us, we have really, with respect to our proper end, more of the bestial nature in us than of the divine. Wherefore, the restoration of this image, by the grace of Jesus Christ, is the recovery of that pre-eminence of our nature which we had foolishly lost. God having exalted our nature, by union with himself, in the person of his Son, requires of us to preserve its dignity.
Again This is that which gives pre-eminence to the persons of some above others: The righteous is more excellent than his neighbour.' It is seldom so on account of civil wisdom, wealth, or power; nothing can establish this general rule but likeness to God. Hence such persons are called the Saints in the Earth, and the Excellent,'-the more holy, the more honourable. Wicked men are said to be vile; and the righteous are said to be precious and
valuable ;'—and hence it is that there has often been an awe on the spirits of outrageous sinners, from the appearances of God in holy persons. Wicked men, exasperated by their secular interests, prejudices, and lusts, may revile and persecute them; but secretly in their hearts they have an awe from the likeness of God in them; whence they will sometimes dread them, sometimes flatter them, and sometimes wish they were not, even as they deal with God himself. Why then do we weary ourselves about other things? Why do we spend our labour in vain, and our strength for that which is not bread? Such, all endeavours after any other excellency will at length appear.
Secondly, According to our growth and improvement in this likeness to God, are our approaches towards glory. We are drawing every day towards our natural end; and if we do not also draw nearer to our supernatural end in glory, we are most miserable. Now, men do but deceive themselves, if they suppose that they are approaching towards glory in time, if they are not making nearer to it in grace. It is some representation of future glory, that therein we shall be like, or equal to the angels: but that respects one particular only of that state: it is a far more excellent description of it, that we shall be like God: when he shall appear, we shall be like him; for we shall see him as he is.' And it is the highest folly for any to think that they shall love that hereafter which now they hate that that will be their glory which they now abhor. But this will be our glory: To behold the face of God in righteousness, and to be satisfied with his likeness.' How then shall we make approaches towards this glory spiritually, which may answer the approaches we make to our end naturally? We have no other way but growing in that likeness of God in holiness. Hereby alone are we transformed into his image, from glory to glory:'-from one glorious degree of grace to another, till one great change shall issue all grace and holiness in eternal glory and in our desires for Heaven, we consider not so much our freedom from trouble as from sin; nor is our aim, in the first place, so much at complete happiness as perfect holiness. As, therefore, we would continually tend towards our rest, as we would have assured pledges and foretastes of it in our own souls, this is the design which we ought to pursue. Our duty is, to be always perfecting holiness, in the fear of the Lord.'
This duly pursued, is continually transforming the soul into the likeness of God.
Thirdly, It is only from our conformity to God that we can be truly useful in the world. God is good, and doth good; he is the great Preserver and Benefactor of the whole creation. They who are like God, and they only, are useful in the world. There may indeed be much useful good done by others, on various convictions, and for various ends; but there is one flaw or other in all they do. Either superstition, or vainglory, or selfishness, or merit, gets into all the good that is done by unholy persons, and brings death into the pot;' so that though it may be of some use to individual persons, it is of none to the general good of the whole. He only who bears the likeness of God, is truly useful, represents God in what he doth, and spoils it not by false ends of his own. If therefore we would keep up the pre-eminence of our nature and persons,-if we would make daily accessions towards glory and blessedness,-if we would be of any real use in the world, our great endeavour ought to be, to grow up more and more into this likeness of God, which consists in our holiness.
It may be asked, What must we do, that we may grow up more and more into this likeness to God? I answer, That there are some graces of holiness that are effectually assimilating, and others that are declarative, or expressive of this likeness.
Faith is a
Those of the first sort, are faith and love. part of our holiness, as it is a grace of the sanctifying Spirit; and it is a principle of our holiness, as it purifies the heart. The glorious perfections of God shine forth in the face of Jesus Christ, and by faith we behold them; and the effect is, we are changed into the same image.' This is the great mystery of growing in holiness.
Love has the same tendency and efficacy. He who would be like God, must love him; and he who loves God sincerely, will be like him. Every approach to God by ardent love and delight, is transfiguring; and it exerts itself by contemplation,-admiration, and delight in
Love works by contemplation. It is in the nature of it to be meditating on the excellencies of God in Christ ; yea, this is the life of it. A heart filled with the love of
God, will night and day be exercised in thoughts of his glorious excellencies, rejoicing in them. Sing unto the Lord, O ye saints of his, and give thanks at the remembrance of his holiness.' And love will do the same, as to all his other perfections. This will promote our likeness to him; our minds will be changed into the image of what we contemplate, and we shall endeavour, that our lives may be conformed thereto.
Love works by admiration also. That is the voice of love, How great is his goodness! how great in his beauty! The soul, ravished, as it were, with a view of the glorious excellencies of God in Christ, has no way to express its affections but by admiration: and this beauty of God is that sweetness and holy symmetry of glory (if I may be allowed to speak so improperly) in all the perfections of God, being all in a sweet correspondency exalted in Christ, which is the proper object of our love. To see infinite holiness, purity, and righteousness, with infinite love, goodness, and mercy, all equally glorified in and towards the same things and persons, one glimpse whereof is not to be attained in the world without Christ, is that beauty of God which attracts the love of a believing soul, and fills it with holy admiration. And this is a most effectual furtherance of our conformity unto him.
Love gives delight in obedience. The instance of Jacob is well known; his seven years service seemed short, and therefore easy to him, for the love he bare to Rachel. He did that with delight, which afterwards he would not undergo for the greatest wages. But we have a greater instance -Our Lord Jesus Christ says, concerning all the obedience required of him, Thy law, O God, is in my heart; I delight to do thy will.' And yet we know how terrible to nature were the things he did and suffered, in obedience to that law. But his unspeakable love to God and men, rendered it all his delight. Hence follows intention and frequency in all the duties of it; and where these are, holiness will thrive; and consequently we shall do so in our conformity to God.
Again: These are graces which are declarative of this assimilation, or which evidence our likeness to God. The first of these is goodness, kindness, love; with readiness to do good, to forgive, and this towards all men,