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SERMON VII.

ON CHRISTIAN HOLINESS.

HEB. XII. 14. Followholiness, without which no man shall see

the Lord.

A GREAT part of mankind live in the world without considering the purpose for which they were sent into it, and without improving their characters by those religious attainments which ought to be the great business of human life. The generality of people grow up from infancy to manhood, without considering whether they are maintaining such a conduct as becometh saints; and if they are upon the whole decent and respectable, entertain no doubt that they are true Christians, who shall at last attain the kingdom of heaven. During the period of their years which has passed, they may have lived entirely according to the dictates of prudence and discretion, without any concern whether religious principles should not also regulate their conduct, or without any intention to acquire the tempers and habits recommended in the gospel.-If, indeed, they have been guilty of any gross enormity, and indulged any flagrant vice, they deem it necessary to relinquish these, in order to secure their reputation in the world. They dare not therefore continue addicted to drunkenness, uncleanness, swearing, stealing, or any notorious offence against the laws of propriety; but if they be overtaken in such faults, are ready to return from the error of their way, and careful to avoid a relapse for the future.But such characters are nevertheless indifferent about the great things which concern the

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well-being of their souls; they have neither God nor religion in all their thoughts; they set no value upon their spiritual improvement, nor ever enquire what they must do to be saved. Their hearts are entirely immersed in the pursuit of the world and its enjoyments, while preparation for heaven, and the anticipation of future glory never occupies a moment's consideration. Their affections are placed supremely on objects of a temporal nature, while spiritual and divine things are never suffered to make any impression on their minds. Their thoughts are daily employed concerning what they shall eat, and what they shall drink, and wherewithal they shall be clothed; but seldom or never do they meditate on the nature of their state as rational and immortal beings, nor investigate their sinfulness and depravity, nor form purposes of ceasing to do evil, and learning to do well. They may be diligent in business, and faithful in the discharge of their social duties; but perhaps do not deem it necessary to be “ fervent in spirit serving the Lord.” They may live in habits of friendship and intimacy with all their neighbours, and be esteemed for their kindness and generosity; yet they neglect to hold any intercourse with God by the sacred exercises of prayer and devotion.-In short, they may act their part in society with the most unblemished reputation ; but if death should transport them to another world, they would be altogether unprepared for engaging in those sublime enjoyments which constitute the pleasures of saints made perfect; and therefore as they are unqualified for heaven, must be cast down to hell. If this be the condition of many persons who have a name to live as professing Christians, while they are dead in trespasses and sins ; surely there is some necessity for a change in their dispositions and habits, before they can be meet for the inheritance of the saints in light.

For it is the unalterable decree of God, that without holiness no man shall see him and be happy. As the subject of holiness, then, is one of the utmost im

grace, be

I. The nature and progressive state of Christian holiness.

II. The means which may, through divine effectual to produce such a mental reformation.

III. The necessity of holiness for rendering us acceptable in the sight of God both here and hereafter.

IV. The application of the subject.

1. The state of mind implied in holiness, is one to which every true Christian must be brought before he can attain the favour of God, or the salvation of his soul. It includes the possession of those right dispositions that were originally intended to be the dignifying ornaments of our natures in priineval innocence. If our first parents had continued in their integrity, and if we had inherited that original righteousness with which they were endowed, there would have been no necessity for conversion from sin to holiness. But as our natures are perverted by the fall; hence the scripture represents the whole dispensation of religion, and the means of grace as intended to renew us in the spirit of our minds, and restore in us that image of God in which we were at first created, This image consists in that right disposition of all our faculties to their proper office in the Christian life.

The mental faculties are generally distinguished into those of the understanding, the will, and the affections. Each of these when transformed by righteousness and true holiness, are henceforth directed to suitable objects. The understanding is employed in investigating those great truths which concern the well-being of the soul; in contemplating the importance of religion, and the necessity of holiness; the vanity of this world, and the awful realities of the world to come. The judgment of the converted man is often exercised in discovering the real value of many enjoyments within his reach. When comparing temporal and spiritual possessions, he is persuaded, that the former may be desirable as means of advancing his worldly comforts; but that the latter are the one thing needful;" and therefore while he deems it requisite to provide for the meat which perisheth, he is more care, ful to attain that which endureth unto everlasting life. In short, he regards increase in holiness, and the favour of God as' more desireable than thousands of gold and silver.

His will also receives a new direction, for he is determined, through the strength of divine grace, to“ keep a conscience void of offence,” to acquire more and more conformity to the laws of God, by studying to regulate his life by their injunctions as he has opportunity. He is no less disposed " to avoid every appearance of evil,” to resist the sins which easily beset him, “ to watch and pray that he enter not into temptation, and to keep himself unspotted from the world.” He determines to pursue such a course of conduct as may be well pleasing in the sight of God, and to perform every duty required of him, however difficult and unpleasing to flesh and blood. He regards it as his meat and his drink, to engage in such spiritual and holy exercises as may kindle his devotion, inflame his love, animate his virtue, and confirm his obedience.

His affections also are so far changed, that “ he delights in the law of the Lord after the inward man,” and receives more satisfaction from the approbation of God, and the hope of heaven, than the men of the world enjoy, when their corn, and their wine, and their oil, do most abound. The objects which he esteems most highly, are spirtual and eternal. Universal holiness in heart and life is the great subject of his desire; the divine precepts are more valuable in his estimation, than gold, yea, than much fine gold; sweeter also than honey and the honeycomb. The treasures also on which his heart is fixed are in heaven. There dwells that Saviour, “whom, having not seen, he loves; and in whom, though he see him not, yet believing, he rejoices with joy unspeakable, and full of glory.” There also are those mansions of bliss, where he expects to rest from his labours, and be rendered happier than he can now conceive; there he anticipates “ a fulness of joy, and pleasures for evermore.”

As his inclinations are decidedly determined to pursue spiritual enjoyments as the chief good; hence there will

be a corresponding effect produced on his turn of thought, and tenour of conduct. The man who is brought from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan urto God, directs his meditations to such subjects as are connected with his edification and growth in grace. Often does he contemplate the perfections of God, as manifested in the works of creation around him; often does he ruminate on that over ruling providence, which directs all things to promote the purposes of the divine glory, and often does he recal to his remembrance the favourable interpositions which have occurred in his own experience; often will he think with admiration on the unparalleled love of his Redeemer, who came into the world to seek and to save us who were lost; often will he appreciate the invaluable privileges procured by the death of Christ, and bestowed by the ministration of the Holy Ghost; and often will he be led to conclude, that he should walk worthy of so many mercies, and adorn the doctrine of Christ his Saviour, by a life and conversation becoming the gospel. As he feels that by pious meditation, the truths of religion are impressed upon his mind, and influence his conduct; therefore he resolves to devote a certain portion of his time for such a useful exercise, and studies to become acquainted with the law of God after the inward man. Every day his heart will be enlivened by the discoveries which it makes, and he will esteem the spiritual employment of his faculties in such a manner more than his necessary food.

From constant reflexion on the important doctrines and duties of religion, he will be so firmly “rooted and grounded in the faith,” that such a man will perceive the excellence of Christianity, and the beauty of holiness, and be constrained to direct his conduct according to the precepts prescribed in the gospel. He will perceive how reasonable, how necessary, and how suitable is every duty required of him both towards God and man; that the keeping of the divine commandments is attended with great delight in the present world, and a glorious reward in the world to come. Therefore, he resolves, that whatever others do, he will serve the

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