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us to no other reason of obedience, yet he does not, nor ever did so but as he proposes his law as an effect of infinite wisdom and goodness, so he pleads that all his commands are just and equal in themselves; good and useful to us; and that our compliance with them is our present, as well as it will be our future happiness: and that this is so, appears from all the considerations of it.
I. Look upon it formally as a law prescribed to us; and it is so because the obedience it requires is propor. tioned to the power which we have to obey. The command, as we shewed before, may be considered either as it belonged to the old covenant or the new. In the first way, the strength of grace which we had originally from God under the law of creation, was sufficient to enable us to all that holy obedience which was required; and our not doing so was from wilful rebellion, and not from any impotency in us: and in the latter way, there is, by virtue of the covenant of grace, a supply of spiritual strength given in by the promise, enabling believers to answer the commands of holiness. No believer fails in the performance of obedience merely for want of spiri tual strength; for God gives unto us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of him that hath called us to glory and virtue.' 2 Pet. i. 3.
It is true, that strength is administered by certain means, which, if they neglect, they will come short of it; but in the diligent use of them, none shall ever fail of that ability which shall render the commands of the gospel easy and not grievous to them. Our apostle expressly affirms, and so may we, that he could do all things; that is, in the way and to the end required in the gospel,' through Christ that strengthened him.'
On the supply of this grace, the command becomes equal and just, meet and easy to be complied with; for none can refuse a compliance with it, but their so doing is contrary to that disposition of the new nature which God has implanted in them: so that in them to sin, is not only contrary to the law without them, but also to that which is in their own inclination and disposition, which in such cases hath a sensible violence put upon it by the power of corruptions and temptations. Wherefore, though the command for holiness seem grievous to unregenerate persons, because it is against the habitual
bent and inclination of their whole souls, yet it neither is, nor can be so to them who cannot neglect it, without offering violence to the inclinations of the new creature.
Besides, actual grace for every holy act and duty, is administered to us according to the promise of the gospel. So God told Paul, that hisgrace was sufficient for him:' and he worketh in us to will and to do, of his own good pleasure.' Now, though this actual working grace be not in the power of men's wills, but depends on the faithfulness of God, yet I must say that where it is sought by faith and prayer, it is never so restrained from any believer, but that it shall be effectual to him, unto the whole of that obedience which is required of him. How just and equal then is the command of holiness! How reasonable is it that we should comply with it, and how great is their sin and folly who neglect it! for not only the authority, but the wisdom and goodness of God in giving such a command, oblige us to holy obedience.
2. The command is equal, and so to be esteemed from the matter of it, or the things that it requires. Things they are that are neither great nor grievous, much less perverse, useless, or evil. There is nothing in the holiness which the command requires, but what is good to him in whom it is, and useful to all about him. What they are, the apostle mentions in Phil. iv. 8. They are things true, honest, just, pure, lovely, and of good report: and what evil is there in any of these things, that we should decline the command that requires them? The more we abound in them, the better it will be for our relations, our families, our neighbours, the whole nation, and the world; but best of all for ourselves.
It is therefore incumbent on us, in the first place, to endeavour after holiness with respect to the command of God, and because of it. I know not what vain imaginations possess the minds of some, that they have no need of respect to the command, nor to the promises and threatenings of it, but to obey, merely from the power and guidance of an inward principle: nay, some have supposed, that a respect to the command would vitiate our obedience, rendering it legal and servile. But I hope, that darkness which hindered men from discerning the harmony there is between the principle of grace in us, and the authority of the command upon us, is much removed
from all sincere professors. It is a respect to the command which gives the formal nature of obedience to what we do; and without a proper regard to it, there is nothing of holiness in us. Some would make the light of nature their rule; some look no further for their measure than what carries the reputation of common honesty among men; but he who would be holy indeed, must always mind the command of God with that reverence and those affections which become him to whom God speaks immediately: and that this may be effectual, let us consider, (1.) How God has multiplied his commands, to testify not only his infinite love and care towards us, but also our eternal concern in what he requires. He has given us not a single command, but line upon line, precept upon precept.' Almost every page of the Bible is filled with commands, or directions for holiness; and there is not the least particular duty or instance of holiness, but it falls under some special command of God. Is it not then our duty always to consider these commands, to bind them to our hearts, that nothing may separate them?
(2.) We may do well to consider what various enforcements God is pleased to give to those multiplied commands. They are accompanied with exhortations, intreaties, reasonings, expostulations, promises, threatenings, all made use of to fasten the command upon our minds and consciences. God knows how slow we are to receive due impressions from his authority; and he knows by what ways and means the principles of our internal faculties are apt to be wrought upon, and therefore applies those engines to fix the power of the command upon us. I shall instance only in those peculiar promises whereby God inforces his command for holiness.
It is not for nothing that it is said, Godliness hath the promise of the life that now is, and of that which is to come.' There is in all the promises a special respect to it; and it gives them in whom it is, a special interest in all the promises. This is, as it were, the text on which our Saviour preached his sermon on the mount; for all the blessings he pronounced, consist in giving particular instances of holiness, annexing a special promise to each of them. • Blessed,'saith he, are the pure in heart;' heart purity is the spring of all holiness; and why are such persons blessed?- they shall see God;' he appro
priates the promise of the eternal enjoyment of God to this qualification of purity of heart. So also it has the promises of this life, both in things temporal and spiritual. In things temporal, we may select that special instance given us by the psalmist: Blessed is he that considereth the poor.' Wisely to consider the poor in their distress, so as to relieve them according to our ability, is a great act and duty of holiness. He that doth this, saith the psalmist, is a blessed man. In what respect?
The Lord will deliver him in the time of trouble. The Lord will preserve and keep him alive, and he shall be blessed on the earth, and thou wilt not deliver him into the hand of his enemies; the Lord will strengthen him on the bed of languishing, and thou wilt make all his bed in his sickness.' Many special promises in the most important concerns of this life, are given to the right discharge of this one duty; for Godliness hath the promise of this life.' It is so with respect also to spiritual things. So the apostle Peter having repeated a long chain of graces, adds for an encouragement, If ye do these things, ye shall never fall.' The promise of permanence in obedience, with preservation from all such fallings into sin as are inconsistent with the covenant of grace, is affixed to our diligence in holiness: and who knows not how the Scripture abounds in instances of this nature! We conclude therefore, that together with the command of God, we should consider the promises with which it is accompanied, as an encouragement to the cheerful performance of that obedience which the command itself makes necessary.
Wherefore, the force of this argument is obvious to all. God has positively declared his will, interposing his sovereign authority, commanding us to be holy, and that on the penalty of his utmost displeasure; and therewith he has given us redoubled assurance, that be we else what we may, without sincere holiness, he will neither own us, nor have any thing to do with us. Be our gifts, places, usefulness, or profession, what they may, unless we are sincerely holy, we are not, we cannot, we shall not be accepted with God.
And the Holy Ghost is careful to obviate a deceit in this matter, which he foresaw would put itself on the minds of men; for whereas the foundation of our salva
tion, the hinge on which the whole weight of it turns, is our FAITH, men might be apt to think that if they have faith, it will be well enough with them, although they are not holy. Therefore, because this pretence of faith is great, and apt to impose on the minds of men who would willingly retain their lusts, with a hope and expectation of Heaven, we are plainly told in the Scripture, that that faith which is without holiness, without works, without fruits, which can be so, or it is possible that it should be so, is vain; not that faith which will save our souls,' but equivocally so called, that may perish for ever with those in whom it is.
Necessity of Holiness, from God's sending Jesus
E have yet other arguments to plead to the same purpose; for one principal design of God in sending his Son into the world was, to recover us to a state of holiness which we had lost. For this purpose was the Son of God manifested, that he might destroy the works of the Devil.' 1 John iii. 8.-The Son of God was manifested by his incarnation, in order to the work he had to accomplish in our nature: and this was to destroy the works of the Devil, the principal of which was, the infecting of our nature with a principle of sin and enmity against God; and this is not done away but by the introduction of a principle of holiness. Unless this be done, there is no new creation, no restoration of all things, no one end of the mediation of Christ fully answered:-but we shall consider this matter a little more distinctly.
The exercise of the mediation of Christ is confined to his threefold office. Whatever he does for the Church, he does it as a priest, or as a king, or as a prophet; and we may consider how each of these offices has an influence into holiness, and makes it necessary unto us.