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(1.) It introduces a suitableness between our minds and our duties; the law is written in our hearts, hence the commands of Christ are not grievous; they do not appear burdensome, or unsuitable to the new nature. Hence 'all the ways of Wisdom are pleasantness, and all her paths are peace.' (2.) It keeps up the heart to a frequency of holy acts and duties; and frequency gives facility. It puts the soul on reiterated acts of faith and love, or renewed holy thoughts and meditations. It is a spring continually bubbling up in daily exercises of prayer, reading, and holy discourse; or in acts of mercy, charity, and bounty to men. The heart is thus so accustomed to the yoke of Christ, that it is natural and easy and it will be found by experience, that the more we intermit any kind of duty, the more difficulty we find in it. (3.) It engages the assistance of Christ and his Spirit; it is the new creature which Christ careth for, and to which he - continually affords the supplies of his Spirit for its assistance; and when the strength of Christ is engaged, then his yoke is easy, and his burden is light.
By these things we may inquire after the habit or prin tiple of holiness in our own minds, that we be not deceived by false appearances.
(1.) Let us not think it sufficient to gospel-holiness, that we have occasionally good purposes of forsaking sin, and living to God. Afflictions, sense of guilt, and fear of death, usually produce this frame. Few are so profligate as not, at one time or other, to project an amendment of life; they will abstain from their old sins for a time, and perform some duties from which they expect relief to their consciences,-especially when the afflicting hand of God is upon them; and this produces that kind of goodness which is like the morning cloud, or the early dew things that make a fair appearance, but quickly vanish: and though this is most remote from evangelical obedience, yet hereby multitudes delude themselves into eternal ruin.
(2.) And we may learn from hence, not to be imposed upon by gifts, however useful, with a plausible profession thereon. These things go a great way in the world, and many deceive both themselves and others by them. By their help alone men may pray, and preach, and perform many duties, and so keep up an eminency in profession;
but all this may be without any holiness at all, and then they are apt to deceive the mind. Let them be examined by the nature and properties of that habit and principle of grace which is in all true holiness, as before explained, and it will quickly appear how far they come short of it.
Least of all can morality, or a course of moral duties, when alone, maintain any pretence hereto. We have had attempts to prove that morality is grace, and grace is morality, and nothing else. To be a holy man according to the gospel, and to be a moral man, is all one. Wherefore I shall proceed to the second thing proposed, and this is further to prove, that this habit, or gracious principle of holiness, is specifically distinct from all other habits of mind, whether intellectual or moral, natural or acquired; as also from all that common grace of which any persons not really sanctified may be partakers;—and this difference is manifest:
First, From the special fountain and spring of holiness, which is the electing love of God. He hath chosen us in Christ before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy.' God chooseth us from eternity, that we should be holy, that is, with a design to communicate holiness to us; it is therefore his special work, in pursuit of his special purpose.
Secondly, The special procuring cause of this holiness is the mediation of Christ. Evangelical holiness is purchased for us by Jesus Christ; is promised to us on his account; is actually impetrated by his intercession; and is communicated to us by his Spirit: for he it is who, of God, is made unto us sanctification: and this he is on several accounts.
(1.) He is made unto us sanctification, with respect to his priestly office, because we are washed from our sins by his blood, in the oblation of it, and the application of it to our souls. (2.) Because he prevails for the actual sanctification of our natures, in the communication of holiness to us by his intercession. His prayer (John xvii. 17.) is the blessed spring of our holiness: Sanctify them through thy truth; thy word is truth.' There is no grace wrought in us, bestowed on us, or preserved in us, but in answer to the intercession of Christ. (3.) He is the rule and measure of holiness to us; the instrument of it is his word and doctrine. The inbred dictates of the
light and law of nature, are not the rule of this holiness; nor is the written law itself so. It is the rule of original holiness, but not the adequate rule of that holiness to which we are restored by Christ; nor are both these together the instrument of producing holiness in us; but it is the doctrine of the gospel which is the adequate rule and immediate instrument of it. My meaning is, that the doctrine of Christ, in the preceptive part of it, is so the rule of all our obedience, as that all it requires belongs to it; and nothing else but what it requires does so: and the formal reason of our holiness consists in conformity thereto, under this consideration, that it is the word of Christ. Nothing belongs to holiness materially, but what the gospel requires; and nothing is so formally, but what we do, because the Gospel requires it; and it is the instrument of it, because God makes use of it as the external means of communicating it to us. Principles of natural light direct to and exact the performance of many material duties of obedience. The written law requires all duties of original obedience. But there are some duties of evangelical holiness which the law knows nothing of: such are, the mortification of sin, godly sorrow, daily cleansing of our hearts, communion with God by Christ, with faith and love towards him. For though these things may be contained in the law radically, as it requires universal obedience to God, yet they are not so formally; and it is not used to beget faith and holiness in us: This is the effect of the Gospel only. This is,
the power of God to salvation;' by the preaching of this it is that faith cometh ;' by the hearing of this we receive the Spirit ;' and all the external obedience required of us is, that our conversation be such as becometh the Gospel.'
(4.) He is so, as he is the exemplary cause of our holiness. The design of God in our sanctification is, that we may be conformed to the image of his Son.' He is proposed to us in the purity of his natures, the holiness of his person, the glory of his graces, the innocency and usefulness of his conversation in the world, as the great example which in all things we ought to conform to.
Examples are universally allowed to be the most effectual ways of instruction. But when to this power which they have naturally and morally, things are
instituted of God to be our examples, their force and efficacy is encreased. Now these both concur in the example of holiness given us in the person of Christ.
Jesus Christ is not only a perfect pattern of holiness, but he is the only one; there is no other complete example of it. The boasted examples of the heathens are full of flaws, and the best examples of the saints have their imperfections; but in this our great Exemplar, there was not the least variableness from the perfection of holiness. Jesus Christ is appointed for this purpose. One end why God sent his Son, was, that he might set us an example in our own nature, of that renovation of his image in us,-of that holy obedience which he requires of us. The angelical nature was not suited to this purpose; for what examples could angels have set us of patience in afflictions, or quietness in sufferings, seeing their nature is incapable of such things! Neither could we have had an example that was perfect in our own nature, but only in him who was holy, harmless, undefiled, and separate from sinners.
The example of Christ has a peculiar efficacy in it by way of motive, beyond all other instituted examples. We are often called upon to behold Christ,' and to look upon him; not only for the purpose of justification, but as the great pattern of holiness; so that by God's appointment, our beholding him is a means of the growth and increase of holiness in us. We all with open face, beholding as in a glass the glory of the Lord, are changed into the same image, from glory to glory, even as by the Spirit of the Lord.'
In this respect, therefore, is the Lord Christ made sanctification to us; and certainly we are most of us much to blame that we do not more abound in the use of this means. Did we abide more constantly in the contemplation of Christ, of the glory and beauty of his holiness as our great example, we should be more transformed into his image and likeness. But many who are called Christians, delight to talk of the virtuous actions of the heathen; and are ready to make them the object of their imitation, while they have no thoughts of the grace that was in our Lord Jesus Christ, nor endeavour after conformity thereto; and the reason is, because the virtue they seek is of the same kind with that which was in the heathens, and not of that grace which was in Christ Jesus; and we should at
ways consider how we ought to act faith on Christ, with respect to this end. Let none be guilty practically of what some are falsely charged with as to doctrine. Let none divide in the work of faith, and exercise themselves in only half of it. To believe in Christ for justification is but one half of the duty of faith. It respects Christ only as he died for us, as he made atonement for our sins. For this end he is first and principally proposed to us; but this is not all. He is also proposed to us as our example; and as it is a cursed imagination, that the only end of his life and death was to exemplify and confirm the doctrine of holiness which he taught, so to neglect his so being our example, in considering him by faith to that end, is evil and pernicious. Wherefore, let us be much in the contemplation of what he was, and what he did; how in all instances of duties and trials he carried himself, till an image of his perfect holiness is implanted in our minds, and we are made like him thereby.
5. That which principally distinguishes evangelical holiness, from all other natural or moral habits or duties is, that from Christ as our head, constant supplies of grace are received. On the proof hereof, the whole difference about grace and morality depends; for if that which men call morality be so derived from Christ, by virtue of our union with him, it is evangelical grace; if it be not, it is either nothing, or somewhat of another nature and kind; for grace it is not.
Whatever grace God bestows on any persons, is in and through Jesus Christ, as mediator. God himself is the absolute Fountain of all grace and holiness. From his own fulness he communicates to his creatures, either by the way of nature, or by the way of grace. In our first creation, God implanted his image in us: and had we continued in that state, the same would have been communicated by natural propagation. But since the fall and entrance of sin, it is not communicated by way of nature. If it were, there would be no necessity that every one who is born should be born again, as our Saviour affirms that there is. That which is born of the flesh, is flesh,' and nothing else. Now God communicates nothing in a way of grace to any, but in and by the person of Christ. In the old creation, all things were made by him; and so it is in the new creation, both in the