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ing sinners, but they have no just ground to doubt. The case is clear in God's view; and ought to be in their own.
Let them impartially ask their hearts and they will tell them the truth, and justly condemn them for all their internal exercises and external actions.
6. It equally appears from what has been said, that christians have no right to think that they are sinners. Though they have been totally depraved, yet they are not now totally depraved. Though they have not yet attained, neither are already perfect ; yet they desire to be perfect and free from sin. Though, when they would do good, evil is present with them, and they often fail of that perfect obedience to the will of God, which they are conscious they habitually desire to perform, yet they have the witness in themselves, that their hearts have been changed, and that whereas they were once blind, they now see ; as they once hated God, they now love him ; as they once disobeyed God, they now obey him ; as they once loved their own interest more than his glory, they now seek his glory more than their own temporal, or eternal good. Such holy exercises all real christians have ; and these are the only criterion by which they are to assure themselves that they are of God, are his children and heirs of eternal life. They have no right to disbelieve the witness, which God has given them in their hearts and set up another standard to try their spiritual state. Their own standard will always lead them astray; and they will refuse to be comforted in the way God has appointed to give them comfort. God gives every christian evidence enough, that he is born of the Spirit, if he would only seriously and impartially attend to it. This is true, at the time he becomes a new creature, and ever afterwards. No christians, therefore, have a right to think they are sinners, and have no title to the great and precious promises of the gospel. They ought to go on their way rejoicing in God, in prosperity and adversity ; and even under the hiding of God's face. He requires them to rejoice in himself, always and evermore. Christians are always to blame, if they think they are not the children of God.
Finally, in the view of this subject, all are called upon to judge righteous judgment with respect to their own hearts. The only criterion has been exhibited. It is the criterion proposed by the beloved disciple John, who tenderly and sincerely wished, that both saints and sinners might know their own hearts. And if all, who are now present, would apply the criterion, which the apostle has given them, there would not go away from this house one doubting christian, nor one doubting sinner
THE HOLINESS OF GOD BINDS MEN TO BE HOLY.
I. Peter, 1. 16.–Because it is written, Be ye holy ; for I am holy.
This epistle is addressed to christians in general; and therefore its precepts and exhortations may be justly considered as applicable to christians in every age, as well as in every part of the world. It becomes christians now, as much as ever it did, to be holy in all manner of conversation, for the reason which the apostle assigns in the text. " Because it is writ. ten, Be ye holy; for I am holy.” We find this written in Leviticus xi. 44, where God says to his people “ I am the Lord your God : ye shall therefore sanctify yourselves ; and ye shall be holy, for I am holy.” The same sentiment is expressed in several other passages in the Old Testament. But since all men are equally the creatures of God and equally need his favor, this text equally applies to all men of all ages, characters and conditions ; and equally proves the duty and necessity of one man's being holy as well as another. For if the holiness of God be a reason why one man should be holy, it is as good a reason why every man should be holy. The creator's holiness lays all mankind under a moral obligation and necessity of being conformed to his moral image. Therefore, we may understand God as saying to all men, without distinction, “Be ye holy; for I am holy." Taking the words in this extensive sense, they suggest this important truth;
That God's being holy renders it absolutely necessary that men should be holy. I shall,
I. Show in what holiness consists;
III. That this renders it absolutely necessary, that men should be holy.
I. We are to consider in what holiness consists.
Holiness is a general term to express that goodness, or benevolence, which comprises every thing, that is morally amiable and excellent. · So that holiness properly means that love to God and man, which the divine law requires and all the moral exercises and affections, that flow from it. Universal benevolence leads the subject of it to regard all beings according to their apparent worth and importance ; and to seek their good according to the rank they hold in the scale of exist
This disposition will incline any being to treat himself and every other being perfectly right. For true benevolence is, in its own nature, universal, disinterested and impartial ; and leads those, who possess it, to seek the highest good of the universe at large, whether this general good will involve their own good, or the good of other individuals, or not. Holiness, which essentially consists in pure love, lies not in the understanding, conscience, or any intellectual power or faculty, but in the heart, which is the seat of moral perfection in every moral agent. And this holiness of heart stands diametrically opposed to selfishness, which is the essence of all moral evil.
Having concisely stated the nature of holiness, I proceed to show,
II. That God is holy. The scripture every where ascribes holiness to the Deity. It calls him the Holy
One, more than twenty times; and the Holy One of Israel, more than thirty times. It represents the church on earth as saying, “Who is like thee, O Lord among the gods ! who is like thee, glorious in holi
And it represents all the heavenly world as crying with joy, “Holy, holy, holy, is the Lord of hosts.” The scripture not only gives the epithet of ho
. ly to God, but represents his whole moral character as consisting in that pure love, or universal benevolence, which is the sum and comprehension of all holiness. We read, “ God is love.” That is, his whole moral excellence consists in love.
“ God is good unto all and his tender mercies are over all his works." That is, his love is universal. We read, “ He mak
, eth his sun to rise on the evil and on the good and sendeth rain on the just and on the unjust.” That is, his love is impartial. We are told that when Moses requested God to shew him his glory, he answered, “I
, will make all my goodness pass before thee.” And accordingly, The Lord passed before him and proclaimed himself, “ The Lord, the Lord God, merciful and gracious, long-suffering and abundant in goodness and truth, keeping mercy for thousands, forgiving iniquity and transgression and sin, and that will by no means clear the guilty.” Here God represents his goodness or universal benevolence, as his supreme glory and comprehensive of all his moral perfections, such as truth, justice, mercy, and grace. Thus God is perfectly holy in heart ; and this perfect holiness of heart renders all his character and conduct supremely holy. Here it may be proper to enter into particulars and observe,
1. God is holy in all his natural attributes. These are under the direction of his holy heart and always