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long-suffering, and abundant in goodness and truth,” Exod. xxxiv, 6. The Psalmist observes : “ The righteous Lord loveth righteousness: his countenance does behold the upright,” Ps. xi. 7. And in another place: “ Rejoice before the Lord, for he cometh to judge the earth : with righteousness will he judge the world, and the people with equity,” Ps. xcviii. 9. In one of the prophets it is written : " Let .

-“ him that glorieth, glory in this: that he knoweth me, that I am the Lord which exercise loving-kindness, judgment and righteousness in the earth.” “ For in these things do I delight, saith the Lord,” Jer. ix. 24. Our blessed Lord recommends it to us, “ to be perfect, even as our Father which is in heaven is perfect,” Matt. v. 48; that is, to imitate him in truth, righteousness, and goodness : to aim at a holiness resembling the holiness of God. And, says St. Paul :

That ye put on the new man, which after God is created in righteousness and true holiness," Eph. iv. 24.

This clearly shows the excellence of real holiness, that it is the perfection of the divine nature: and that by becoming truly holy, we gain a resemblance of God himself.

3. The excellence and importance of real holiness, or moral righteousness, are evident from the frequent declarations in scripture concerning its absolute necessity to our acceptance with God, and our obtaining the heavenly inberitance. We have seen at large, how the necessity of this holiness to acceptance with God, is represented in this text and context. In the New Testament, where future recompenses are more insisted on, it is plainly declared, that “ without holiness no man shall see the Lord,” Heb. xii. 14. And “ blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.” And " he that hath this hope in him, puritieth himself, as he is pure.

4. Virtue, or true holiness, is represented in scripture as the end of all ordinances, and of all the revelations of God's will made to mankind. “ Jesus Christ


himself for us, that he might redeem us from all iniquity, and purify unto himself a peculiar people zealous of good works,” Tit. ii. 14. And " for this purpose was the Son of God manifested, to take away our sins,” and “ to destroy the works of the devil,” 1 John jii. 8. Through the knowledge of Christ, God has “ given us all things conducive“ to life and godliness,” or suited to promote a godly life: that we might “ be partakers of the divine nature," 2 Pet. i. 3, 4. And St. Paul expressly says, that “ Charity is the end of the commandment,” I Tim. i. 5.

5. This farther appears from the earnestness with which

true holiness is recommended in every part of the word of God; and from the preference which is constantly given to such holiness above obedience to ritual ordinances. This is evident to every one who is at all acquainted with the scriptures.

God himself says, he “ desired mercy, and not sacrifice : and the knowledge of himself, more than burnt offerings,” Hos. vi. 6.

The several branches of moral righteousness are the things principally insisted on by our blessed Lord in that which is called his sermon on the mount. The like things are also earnestly recommended to christians in the latter part of all the apostolical epistles.

Our Lord declared, the love of God and our neighbour, and not ritual ordinances and appointments, to be the sum and substance of the law and the prophets, Matt. xxii. 40. It is also the sum of his own doctrine, and of the preaching and writings of his apostles,

From all which particulars we evidently discern the excellence and importance of virtue, moral righteousness, or righteousness and true holiness.

III. I shall now conclude with some inferences by way of application.

1. We hence perceive the ground of the preference which is always given by wise men, and by the scriptures, to righteousness and true holiness above obedience to positive precepts, or ritual appointments. The obligation of these is founded in the will of God: but the former are reasonable in themselves, having a real excellence. And besides, they are also the will and commandment of God: and his will more especially, above, and in preference to all other laws and commandments.

2. We perceive also why men's characters are chiefly determined by the practice of virtue and true holiness, or the contrary; and why future rewards and punishments are to be dispensed accordingly. As our Lord declares, “ the wicked will go away into everlasting punishment, and the righteous into life eternal,” Matt. xiii. 49; xxv. 46. So it will be. And we now perceive, why it must, and should be so. The righteous have fulfilled the will of God, and performed that obedience which was the end of positive appointments

, the others not. The righteous, the virtuous, have acted right, with sincerity, in their state of trial. They have attained some resemblance of the divine nature, and some preparedness for the heavenly state, of which the others are destitute.

3. What has been said upon this argument may be of use to show the mistake of those who despise, and speak lightly of morality. Possibly, they do not thereby mean the same thing which those do who magnify it and earnestly recommend it. But they should consider that morality, in its more proper sense and meaning, is not merely honesty in the traffick and commerce of this world; nor is it only outward action. But virtue, or morality, in its comprehensive meaning, as before observed, takes in the love of God and our neighbour, or every thing that is fit and reasonable in itself. Its laws and precepts regulate thoughts, as well as outward actions. It is true holiness. It is the image of God in man: it is a meetness for the rewards and happiness of another life.

4. We may conclude from what has been said upon this subject, that the promoting of virtue, or righteousness and true holiness, or a right moral conduct, will be one great design of any revelation that comes from God : forasmuch as these things are truly excellent, and useful in their natural and genuine tendency. And since these things are always obligatory, it is very probable, that one great design of revelation will be to perfect men in virtue, or moral righteousness, to encourage and enforce that righteousness by new and powerful motives and arguments, and to deter men from the contrary, unrighteousness. And, as before observed, we do evidently perceive this to be the great design, the sum and substance of the law, the historical writings, the book of Job, the Psalms, and Prophets of the Old, and of the Gospels, the Acts, and the Epistles of the New Testament.

5. He that has some just sentiments of God, and a serious regard to moral obligations, is in a great measure fitted and prepared for revelation. For he must be disposed to pay a regard to one who speaks in the name of God, and gives proof of a divine commission by works of mighty power, and teaches a doctrine enforcing real holiness. This is what our Lord declares when he says: “ If any inan will do his will, he shall know the doctrine; whether it be of God, or whether I speak of myself,” John vii. 17. And when one had acknowledged, " that there is one God, and that to love the Lord with all the heart, and his neighbour as himself, is inore than all whole burnt-offerings and sacritices;" he declared, that he was “ not far from the kingdom of God," Mark xii. 32–34. This is what he teaches also,

" when he says: “ No man can come unto me, except the Father which hath sent me draw him:" and,

every man



that hath heard and learned of the Father, cometh unto me,” John vi. 44, 45.

6. From what has been said, it appears to be a dreadful thing for any man to lessen the obligation of virtue and true holiness, or moral righteousness: or to abate men's regard thereto by any means whatever, or with a view to any particular and favourite scheme of his own, or of other men's invention. Our blessed Lord has declared, that such shall be called the least in the kingdom of heaven,” Matt. v. 19. And he freely reproved the scribes and pharisees, who taught for doctrine the commandments of men, and made void the law of God by traditions, which they received, and recommended, Matt. xv. 16.

7. We are likewise carefully to avoid misrepresentations of the Divine Being, and to be very cautious of admitting any principles derogatory to the moral perfection and righteousness of God, the creator and the governor of the world. We are not only to be concerned for the honour of God, as perfect in knowledge and power : but we should also maintain his moral perfection, as a Being perfectly true, righteous, good, merciful. Are these perfections in some men ? Would men want what is their greatest glory and excellence, if they should be arbitrary and unequal ? And can we suppose the divine government to want justice and equity ? Are great and good men merciful and forgiving? And can we deny those properties to God, the source of all being and perfec. tion? It is easy to observe, that in scripture the greatness and majesty, and the goodness and mercy of God, are often joined together. “ Thus saith the high and lofty One, that inhabiteth eternity: I dwell in the high and holy place: with him also, who is of a humble and contrite spiritFor I will not contend for ever. Neither will I be always wroth. For the spirit should fail before me, and the souls that I have made,” Is. lvii. 15, 16. And Elihu strongly argues :

“ Far be it from God, that he should do wickedness, and from the Almighty, that he should commit iniquityYea surely God will not do wickedly, neither will the Almighty pervert judgment," Job. xxxiv. 10, 12.

8. We may hence infer the difficulty of describing par, ticularly and exactly the services and enjoyments of good men in the heavenly state. They will be then perfect in boliness, and complete in happiness. Consequently a love of God and fellow-creatures will abide, and be in great perfection. But many branches, various exercises of virtue, necessary and reasonable on earth, can have no place in heaven, where we are to be as the angels of God.


Particular descriptions therefore of the future happiness of good nen, however agreeable and entertaining, will be for the most part conjectural and uncertain. We know enough from reason and scripture, to fill us with great hopes and expectations, and inspire us with the utmost zeal and diligence in perfecting holiness. The future happiness is, we know, the perfection of soul and body: it is freedom from all the imperfections of this condition. It is immortality, everlasting life, a glorious kingdom, a crown of glory that fadeth not away, an inheritance incorruptible, and undefiled, reserved in heaven. We are then to see God, and to be like unto Jesus Christ. But it is observable, that neither Jesus Christ, nor his apostles, have delivered particular and precise representations and descriptions of the glories of the other world, or of the services and enjoyments of good men therein. And St. Paul, who was caught up into the “ third heaven and paradise," 2 Cor. xii. 3-5, absolutely declines a representation of the things he had seen and heard, and considers them as unspeakable.

9. By what has been said we may be led in some measure to the knowledge and understanding of those words of St. Paul: “ Then cometh the end, when he shall have delivered up the kingdom to God, even the Father: when he shall have put down all rule, and all authority and power. And when all things shall be subdued under him, then shall tlie Son also himself be subject unto him that put all things under bim, that God may be all in all," 1 Cor. xv. 24-28.

Notwithstanding these expressions of the apostle, certainly Jesus Christ, the second Adam, will continue to be the head of his church and people, and the glory of the human nature, and will in all things have the pre-eminence, 1 Cor. xv. 45. There will for ever be given to him honour, respect, and gratitude, for what he has done for us. His people will be with him. And his presence with them will be a main source of their happiness. For, as St. Paul says: “ So shall we ever be with the Lord,” 1 Thess, iv. 17. And our Lord prayed, saying : “ Father, I will, that they also, whom thou hast given me, be with me, where I am, that they may behold the glory which thou hast given me,” John xvii. 24.

The meaning of that passage I apprehend to be this: that the design of Christ's undertaking is then accomplished, And as the motives and arguments taken from his life on earth, from his death, resurrection, and ascension, were especially suited to a state of weakness and imperfection, temptation and affiction; those motives and considerations



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