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all filthiness of the flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God."
And perseverance in righteousness to the end of life is no less requisite to obtain final acceptance with God at his judgment seat. Accordingly, we are said “ to be created again in Christ Jesus unto good works, which he hath ordained before, that we should walk in them, to render us meet for the inheritance of the saints in light.” For, to those who by patient continuance in well-doing, seek for glory, God will render eternal life. “ Blessed are they who do his commandments, that they may have right to the tree of life, and enter in through the gates into the city.” It is not indeed by works of righteousness which we can do, that we can merit salvation : no: that is procured for us by the mediation of Christ; but then he is become the author of eternal salvation, only to those who obey him.
Indeed it is highly reasonable, that justification here, and glory hereafter, should be limited to those who are transformed by the renewing of their minds; because the holiness of God, and the heavenly inheritance require men to become new creatures. He who is of purer eyes than to behold iniquity, cannot look upon impenitent sinners with complacency, but is angry with the wicked every day. He cannot change his nature, so as to approve of ungodliness and worldly lusts; and therefore if we would be received into his favour, we must be assimi. lated in some measure to his image, which consists in righteousness and true holiness. If he were to dispense with righteousness in his creatures, and justify us while we continued in an unrenewed state of mind, he would henceforth manifest a disregard to rectitude, and leave men at liberty either to keep his commandments or not ; since the righteous and the wicked were equally acceptable in his sight. If he should reward with everlasting life those who pretend even to believe the gospel, and trust in Christ, while they do not bring forth fruits meet for repentance, nor amend the errors of their lives, then “ he would make Christ the minister of sin,” and the gospel dispensation an encouragement for men to continue
in it, that grace might abound.-Very different, however, is the intention of that plan of mercy, which teaches men, “ that denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, they should live soberly, and righteously, and godly, in the world.” God therein declares his readiness to pardon our sins that are past when we forsake them, through the merits of our Saviour ; but he requires us to “ bring forth fruit unto holiness, that in the end we may obtain everlasting
Besides, acceptance with God, and his pardoning mercy can only be the portion of those who are converted from the error of their ways, and who walk henceforth in the obedience of the just. According to the constitution of all governments, human and divine, only the penitent can expect forgiveness. No prince will extend his clemency to any subject that persists in rebellion, till he professes regret for his treasonable practices, and promises to return to his duty and allegiance. Neither will the King of kings receive us into the number of his subjects, till we have resolved to live in his fear, and keep his commandments, and walk in the same all the days of our lives.
For in every nation, it is only he who feareth God, and worketh righteousness, that is accepted of him.
Finally, if we would be received into his heavenly kingdom at last, we must be sanctified in soul, body and spirit. For as long as ungodliness and worldly lusts, such as hatred and envy, malice and revenge, covetousness and discontent, remain unsubdued; they will render uş unhappy in our own minds, and disqualify us for the enjoyment of those peaceful regions, where saints love one another with pure hearts fervently, and serve God in his temple, day and night, for ever and ever.
But if we be renewed after the image of him who created us, and become holy as God is holy, then shall we be fitted to see him as he is, and be satisfied with his likeness. Let us all then be persuaded of the necessity of a renewed nature and a holy life, if we would obtain the favour of God in this world, and be admitted to his presence in the
world to come.
From the whole of this subject as now explained, let us learn by way of application,
1. Whether we are renewed in the spirit of our minds, and sanctified in soul, body and spirit. Let us enquire whether we are in any measure different in our dispositions, sentiments and habits, from what we once were: whether we have become sensible of the importance of . religion, and regard the salvation of our souls as the one thing needful. Whether, if we have been addicted to sins of the flesh, or sins of the spirit, we have now renounced them, or at least are daily striving against their indulgence; and whether we have exchanged our former inconsiderate and careless mode of living, for a more serious and circumspect plan of daily behaviour. If we do, then, though not till then, we may conclude that we have passed from death unto life.
2. Let us impress upon our minds a deep conviction, that no opinions however sound, no observances however punctual, will be of any avail, unless we are renewed after the image of God, in righteousness and true holiness. Let us consider, that all our professions of faith, all our attendance on ordinances, and all our application to the means of grace, should produce in us the fruits of righteousness; and that if we expect salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ, “ we should purify ourselves even as he is pure.” Then, when our hearts are right in the sight of God, we shall be justified by his grace, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, and be found of him at last, without spot and blameless at his second coming.
3. As the Holy Spirit is the agent employed in beginning and contriving this good work in us; let us constantly pray for his sacred influences, to quicken us if we are yet dead in trespasses and sins, that he may raise us up to newness of life. And if we have reason to think that we are already converted, let us depend upon
him to help our infirmities, and perfect strength in our weak. ness, till our whole souls be rendered more and more meet for celestial glory.
ON DEATH AND IMMORTALITY,
1 THESS. IV. 13, 14. But I would not have you ignorant, brethren, concerning them which are asleep, that ye sorrow not, even as others which have no hope. For if we believe that Jesus died, and rose again; even so them also rohich sleep in Jesus will God bring with him.
THERE is no evil in human life more severe and afflicting than the death of our friends. To behold those with whom we have lived in the most tender bonds of affection, cut off from the land of the living, and become a breathless corpse, to witness the agonies of their dissolution, and hear their expiring groan; to see that countenance which once beamed upon us with looks of endearment, now inanimate and lifeless; and that soul which cheered and consoled us amidst the perplexities of life, now fled to some other mansions, to us unknown,-is a scene which the heart of man shudders to contemplate. To attend the earthly remains of our bosom friends, and deposit them in the grave, where they shall moulder into dust, and become a prey to corruption; to think that while the body returns to the earth as it was, the spirit has returned unto God who gave it; that it has entered into new and unexplored regions which eye hath not seen, nor imagination conceived; and has been appointed its station among kindred spirits in the invisible world, where it begins a new career of existence in its disembodied state, and experiences a happiness or misery hitherto untried —is an event which must impress all of us with
serious reflexions. To be bereft of our friends, who were our chief consolation, and the partners of our cares; who rejoiced in our prosperity, and soothed us in adversity, who partook of our joys, and shared in our sorrows; who contributed by every means in their power to promote the happiness of ourselves and our families, is an affliction which our natures cannot endure without the most poignant anguish. To be left in a world, where so many troubles await us, without the wonted assistance of those who were dearer to us than our own souls, is indeed one of those conditions in human life, which is most distressing and calamitous.
In the bitterness of grief for such a deplorable fate, we may be apt to bemoan ourselves in the pathetic language of Job: “O that I were as in months past, as in the days when God preserved me; when his candle shined upon my head, and when by his light I walked through dark
When the Almighty was yet with me, when my wife and children were about me. But now the thing which I greatly feared is come upon me, and that which I was afraid of is happened unto me: I was not in safety; neither had I rest; neither was I quiet, yet trouble came.” Such is the lamentation in which those who have suffered the loss of friends, indulge; and such is the frailty of human nature, that sorrow unavoidably oppresses the heart, on every recent instance of the dissolution of such as we have loved and esteemed, and with whom we have lived together like brethren in unity. And such feelings we must all experience sooner or later; as long as we and our friends are subject to death, and must part with one another, at least for a season. Therefore, the consideration of that event which we see daily happening around us, and which we also should be prepared to expect, must be at all times suitable to us while we remain in this uncertain world. To assist us in forming right apprehensions of the nature, design, and consequences of our own and others' dissolution ; we may distribute the words of the text into the following propositions,
I. That there are reasons sufficient, which should pre