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drawn along to prison for his constancy in the christian faith, and felt such veneration for his character, that he instantly rose and expressed his reverence to this holy man. But the godly man frowned upon him, and turned away his face, as thinking such an apostate unworthy of the least respect from him. This struck Ustazanes to the heart, and drew from him many tears and groans; and thus he reasoned with himself: Simon will not own me, and will God, when I appear before his tribunal? Simon will not speak to me, will not so much as look upon me, and can I expect a good word or look from Jesus Christ, whom I have so shamefully betrayed and denied? Hereupon he threw off his courtly robes and put on mourning apparel, professed himself a christian, and died a martyr. Oh it is a piercing thing to an honest. heart, to be cast out of the favor of God's people. If you dishonor your profession, neither God nor his people will look kindly upon you.
4. Your very enemies should engage you to this pure and holy life, both as they are your bold censurers and your watchful observers. They censure you as hypocrites, and will you give them ground for such a charge? They say, your tongues only are more holy than other men's; and shall they prove it from your practice? They also observe you diligently, and are highly gratified by your falls. If your lives be loose and defiled, you will not only be a shame to your friends, but the song of your enemies. You will gratify all the enemies of God. For this they are watching. And they triumph in your falls, not only from the deep-rooted enmity between the friends and enemies of Christ, but because all your errors are as so many absolutions to their consciences, and justifications (as they think) of their ways and practices. For, as your strictness and holiness condemn them, as Noah, by his godly life, condemned the world, Heb. 11:7; so when you fall,you, as it were, absolve their consciences,
and loose the bonds of conviction you had made fast upon them. Oh, say they, whatever these men talk, we see they are no better than we. They can do as we do. They can deceive and cheat for advantage. They can comply with any thing for their own ends: it is not conscience, as we once thought, but mere humor, that made them so precise. And Oh! what a sad thing is this! Hereby you shed soul-blood. You fasten the bonds of death upon their souls. You kill those convictions, which, for any thing you know, might have ended in their conversion. When you fall, you may rise again; but they may fall at your example, and never rise more, never have a good opinion of the ways of God or of his people any more. Upon this consideration, David begs of God, "Lead me, O Lord, in thy righteousness, because of mine enemies," (or observers,) "make thy way straight before my face." Psalm 5:8. Thus you see how your very enemies should influence you to a holy life.
Now what think you of all this? Are you not obliged to this purity of life? Are all these bonds such that you can free yourselves from them at pleasure? If all these things are of no force with you, may it not be questioned, notwithstanding your profession, whether any spiritual principle, any fear of God, or love to Christ, be in your soul?
II. Consider, as you are more obliged than others to keep the issues of life pure, so God hath given you GREATER ASSISTANCES AND ADVANTAGES for it than others have. God hath not been wanting in helps and means. Even the heathen, who are without the Gospel, will be speechless and inexcusable before God; how much more will you be if your life be still unholy, who, besides the light of nature and the general light of the Gospel, have such a principle put within you, such patterns set
before you, such an assistant ready to help you; so many rods to quicken you and prevent your wandering.
1. Shall men of such principles walk as others do? Shall we lament for you, as David once did for Saul, saying, "There the shield of the mighty was vilely cast away, the shield of Saul; as though he had not been anointed with oil:" There the honor of a christian was vilely cast away, as though he had not been anointed with the Spirit? "You have received an unction from the Holy One," which teacheth you all things, 1 John, 2:20; an illumination far above that which is in other men. 1 Cor. 2: 12. "Ye are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works." Eph. 2: 10. This holy spirit, or principle, enkindled in the soul, has such a tendency to this holy life, that if you live not purely and strictly, you must offer violence to your own principles and new nature.
This principle affords you a twofold help to a life of holiness. It restrains from sin, as in Joseph; can I do this great wickedness and sin against God?" And it also inclines you powerfully to obedience. It is a curb to sin, and a spur to holiness. It is impossible for others to live spiritually and heavenly, because they have no new nature to incline them thereto. And, methinks, it should be hard for you to live carnally and sensually, and therein cross the very bent and tendency of the new creation which is formed in you. How can you neglect prayer, as others do, whilst the Spirit, by divine pulsations, is awaking and rousing up your sluggish hearts with such inward motions and whispers as Psalm 27: 8, "Seek ye my face;" yea, whilst you feel (during your omissions of duty) something within that bemoans itself, and, as it were, cries for food, and will not let you be quiet till it be relieved? How can you give your hearts to the world, as other men do, when all the while your spirit is restless, and aches like a bone
out of joint? And you can never be at ease till you come back to God, and say, as Psalm 116: 7, Return unto thy rest, O my soul." Is it not hard, yea, naturally impossible, to fix a stone and make it abide in the fluid air? Doth not all matter, in a restless motion, tend to its proper centre, and desire its own perfection? So doth this new creature also. You see how the rivers in their course will not be checked, but bear down all the obstacles in their way; a stop doth but make them rage the and run the swifter afterwards.
There is a central force in these material things, which never ceases to act. And such is the impulse of a renewed soul: "It shall be in him a well of water springing up." John, 4: 14. And is it not hard for you to keep it down, or turn its course? Was it not so with David and Jeremiah? If you do not live holy lives, you must cross your own new nature, and violate the law that is written in your heart. Till you were converted, says one, the flesh was predominant, and therefore it was impossible for you to live any other than a fleshly life; for every thing will act according to its predominant principle. Should you not then live a spiritual life? Should not the law of God, written in your hearts, be legible in your lives? Oh should not your lives be according to the tendency of your hearts? Doubtless this is no small advantage to practical holiness. But,
2. Besides this principle within, you have no small assistance for purity of life, by the excellent patterns before you. The path of holiness is no untrodden path. Christ and his servants have beaten it before you. The life of Christ is your copy, and it is a fair copy indeed, without a blot. Oh what an advantage is this, to draw all the lines of your actions according to his example! This glorious, grand example is often urged for your imitation: "Looking unto Jesus." Heb. 12: 2. He hath left you "an example, that ye should follow his steps."
1 Pet. 2:21. His life is a living rule to his people; and besides Christ's example, you have a cloud of witnesses, and these men of like passions, temptations, and constitutions with you; who have gone before you in exemplary holiness. The Holy Ghost intending therein your special help and advantage, hath inspired many to write the lives of the saints, and preserve for your use their holy sayings and heavenly actions. He bids you "take them for an example." James, 5: 10. Oh! what excellent men have gone before you! what renowned worthies have led the way! Men, whose conversation was in heaven, while they tabernacled on earth. While this lower world had their bodies, the world above had their hearts and their affections. Their actions and their designs were for heaven. Men that improved troubles and comforts, losses and gains, smiles and frowns, and all for heaven; their hearts, their language, and their lives were full of heaven. Oh what singular help is this! Where they followed Christ, and kept the way, they are set before you for your imitation; and where any of them turned aside, you have a mark set upon that action for your caution and prevention. Does any strange or unusual trial befall you? Here you may see "the same affliction accomplished in your brethren." 1 Pet. 59. Here is a store of good company to encourage you. Do the world and the devil endeavor to turn you from your duty, by loading it with shameful scoffs or sufferings? You may look to Jesus, who despised the shame; and to your brethren, who counted it their honor to be dishonored for the name of Christ. Acts, 5:41. Is it a dishonor to thee to be ranked with Abraham, Moses, David, and such as were the glory of the age in which they lived? Art thou at any time in discouragement, and ready to despond under any burden? Oh, how mayest thou be animated by such examples! Some sparks of their holy courage cannot but steal into thy