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Did he endure the cross,
bosom of his Father for this? and lay down his life for this? with all his sorrows and sufferings, his pangs and agonies, for the joy he should have in seeing the travail of his soul; and doth not this constrain you to guard your own life, and keep it pure? Oh! what will constrain you if this will not? But,
This is not all; as the weigher casts in weight af ter weight till the scales are counterpoised; so doth God cast in obligation after obligation, and argument upon argument, till thy heart, christian, be won to this heavenly life. And therefore, as Elihu said to Job, "Suffer me a little, and I will show thee what I have yet to speak on God's behalf." Chap. 36: 22. I now plead on behalf of the Holy Spirit, who hath so many times helped you to plead for yourselves with God. He that hath so often refreshed, quickened, and comforted you, he will be quenched, grieved, and displeased by an impure, loose, and careless conversation; and what will you do then? Who shall comfort you when the Comforter is departed from you; when he that should relieve your soul is far off! Oh "grieve not the Holy Spirit of God, whereby you are scaled to the day of redemption." Eph. 4:30. There is nothing grieves him more than an ungodly life, for he is a holy Spirit. As water damps and quenches the fire, so doth sin quench the Spirit. 1 Thess. 5: 19. Will you quench the warm affections and burning desires which he hath kindled in your bosom? If you do, it is a question whether you ever recover them again to your dying day. The Spirit is grieved when thy corruptions within are stirred by temptations, and break out to the defiling of thy life; then is the Holy Spirit of God, as it were, made sad and heavy within thee, as that expression, un λUTTE, (Grieve not,) Eph. 4:30, may be rendered. For thus thou resistest his motions, whereby as a loving constraint he would
lead and guide thee in the way of thy duty; yea, thou not only resistest his motions, but crossest his grand design, which is to purge and sanctify thee wholly, and build thee up more and more to the perfection of holiness. And when thou thus forsakest him, and crossest his design in thy soul, then doth he usually withdraw as a man that is grieved by the unkindness of his friend.
This is the fruit of a careless life. To this sad issue it will bring thee at last; and when it is come to this, thou shalt go to ordinances and duties, and find no good in them, no life-quickening comfort. When thy heart, which was wont to be enlarged and flowing, shall be withered and dry; when, like Samson, thou shalt go forth and shake thyself, as at other times, but thy strength is gone; then tell me, what are the awful results of resisting, quenching, and grieving the Holy Spirit of God by an impure and ungodly life?
2. You are under great obligations to your own souls, as well as to God, to keep your lives pure. As God hath bound you to purity of conversation, so you have bound yourselves. There are several things in you, and done by you, which wonderfully increase and strengthen your obligations to practical holiness.
Your clearer illumination is a strong bond upon your souls: "Ye were sometimes darkness, but now are ye light in the Lord; walk as children of light." Eph. 5:8. You cannot plead ignorance. You stand convinced in your own consciences before God, that this is your unquestionable duty. Christians, will you not all yield to this? I know you readily yield. We live, indeed, in a contentious, disputing age. In other things our opinions are different. One christian is of this judgment, another of that; but in this we all meet, in one mind and judgment, that it is our indisputable duty to live pure, strict, and holy lives. The grace of God, which hath appeared to you, hath taught you this truth clearly and convinc
ingly. Tit. 2: 11, 12." You have received how you ought to walk, and to please God." 1 Thess. 4:1. The inference, then, is plain and undeniable, that you cannot walk as others, in the vanity of their mind, without of fering violence to your own light. You cannot suffer the corruptions of your heart to break forth into practice, without wounding your own conscience: "He that knoweth to do good, and doeth it not, to him it is sin," James, 4:17; yea, aggravated sin; sin beyond that of the heathen; sin that sadly wastes and violates conscience. Certainly you have no cloak for your sin. Besides, what pleasure in sin can you have? Indeed, those who for want of light know not what they do, or whose consciences are seared and past feeling, may seek a little pleasure (such as it is) in sin; but what pleasure can you have, so long as light is ever breaking in upon you, and smiting you for what you do?
Again, you are a professor of holiness; you have given in your name to Christ, to be his disciple; and by this your engagements to a holy life are yet further strengthened: "Let every one that nameth the name of Christ depart from iniquity." 2 Tim. 2: 19. The name of Christ is called upon you, and it is a worthy name. James, 2:7. You bear his name as his spouse, or his child; and will you not live suitably to it? Oh how will that worthy name of Christ be blasphemed through you, if you adorn it not with a becoming deportment? Better you had never professed his name, than to pour contempt on Jesus Christ, by your scandalous conversation, before the eyes of the world. Oh, that is a heavy charge, "Through you is the name of God blasphemed among the heathen." Rom. 2:24. Unhappy man! that ever thou shouldst be a reproach to Christ! The mass of wicked men may sin, and sin again, and the world take little notice of it; but the faults of professors are like a blazing comet, or an eclipsed sun, on which all men gaze, and make their
observations. Oh then, what manner of persons ought you to be, who bear the worthy name of Christ!
But more than this, you have obliged yourself to this life of holiness by your own prayers. How many times have you lifted up your hands to heaven, and cried with David, "O that my ways were directed to keep thy statutes! Order my steps in thy word: and let not any iniquity have dominion over me." Psa. 119:5, 133. Were you in carnest with God when you thus prayed? Did you mean as you said? If your heart and tongue agreed in this request, doubtless it is as much your duty to endeavor to practise, as to desire to possess those graces of the Spirit. And more, all these prayers stand on record before the Lord, and will be produced against you as witnesses to condemn you for your hypocrisy and vanity. How often, also, have you in your prayers lamented and bewailed the sins of your life! You have said with Ezra, "O my God, I am ashamed, and even blush to look up unto thee." Chap. 9:6. And do not your confessions oblige you to greater circumspection and care for time to come? Will you confess and sin; and sin and confess? go to God and bewail your faults, and then return again to the commission of them? God forbid you should thus dissemble with God, trifle with sin, and add iniquity to iniquity.
You have also often reproved or censured others for their falls, which adds to your own obligation to walk circumspectly. Have you not often reproved your erring brethren; or at least privately censured them, (for these left-handed blows of secret censure are more common than the fair and open strokes of just and due reproof ;) and will you practise the same things for which you criminate and censure others? "Thou that teachest another, teachest thon not thyself?" Rom. 2:21. Will your rebukes ever do good to others, whilst you allow in yourself what you condemn in them? By these very
reproofs you are self-condemned; and out of your own mouth God will judge you. Your censures and reproofs of others will leave you without plea or apology, if you guard not carefully your own life. And will you be careless still? Fear you not the displeasure of God, nor the wounding and disquieting of your own conscience? Surely these things are of no light value with you, if you be a christian indeed.
3. You are further bound to a life of practical holiness on account of your brethren. If, through the neglect of your hearts, your lives be defiled and polluted, many innocent and upright ones will be reproached and grieved by it. This mischievous effect holy David ear. nestly deprecated: "O God, thou knowest my foolishness, and my sins are not hid from thee. Let not them that wait on thee, O Lord God of hosts, be ashamed for my sake: let not those that seek thee, be confounded for my sake, O God of Israel." Ps. 69 : 5, 6. As if he had said, Lord, thou knowest what a weak and foolish creature I am, and how liable to fall, if left to myself; and should I, through my foolishness, act unbecoming a saint, how would this reproach and sadden the hearts of thy people! They will be as men confounded at the report of my fall. The fall of one christian is a reproach to all the rest. Thy loose and careless life will cause them to estrange themselves from thee, as being ashamed to own thee; and canst thou bear that? will it not grieve and pierce your very heart to see a cloud of strangeness and trouble over the countenances of your brethren; to see yourself disowned and lightly esteemed by them?
This very consideration struck Ustazanes, a great favorite in the Persian court. Through fear, he had denied the christian faith, and complied with the idolatrous worship of the king. One day sitting at the courtgate, he saw Simon, the aged archbishop of Seleucia,