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we are under the strongest obligations to yield a ready and unlimited obedience to all the commands of God.
But in the present case, our obligation to follow holiness will appear more fully, if we consult the different laws and institutions of religion, which God has been pleased at sundry times, and in diverse manners, to reveal to mankind. There we shall find, that however different such institutions might be in their outward forms, yet they all agreed in this, of having a direct and powerful tendency to promote holiness and purity in the hearts and lives of their professors. This was the reason, the original intention of their being divulged to the world. And in order to obtain the blessings promised under the different dispensations, holiness was the necessary qualification required of all their votaries. Not only was internal holiness required of the Israelites, when they came up to the altar; but even external purity was necessary to render their persons and offerings acceptable in God's sight. Although all their sacrifices and purifications had an immediate tendency to promote true holiness,
-to purify their hearts,-to reform their lives; when the end is not attained, God is said to look upon them with abhorrence; for he is holy in his nature, and the Sanctifier of all hearts demands perfect holiness in all those who would approach unto him. +
This noble design is still more evident in the Christian dispensation; for of all the different systems which have appeared in the world, the religion of Jesus is best fitted to produce holiness in the lives of its professors. Its object is to teach men to deny all ungodliness and worldly affections, and to live soberly, righteously, and godly in the present world. We cannot indeed open the New Testament, without seeing, in almost every page, the most ardent and cogent exhortations, to cultivate this heavenly disposition. We find this great duty inculcated under a variety of different appellations, many of which are figurative and highly metaphorical, but all agreeing in this, that the very life and substance, the end and design of the whole is, to turn men from the practice of sin and wickedness, to a course of piety and virtue,--to serve the
living God. Thus we are told, that in "Christ Jesus neither circumcision avail"eth any thing, nor uncircumcision, but “a new creature," i. e. True religion is not placed in any outward forms, rites, and ceremonies, but in a life which is renewed in righteousness and true holi十一
Such then is the design of God in revealing to us his mind and will,—such is our duty in the gospel of truth; and for this gracious end he sent his well-beloved Son, our Saviour, into the world. But this is not all. When our blessed Saviour was about to leave this earth, he promised to send the Holy Spirit, the Comforter, to apply the benefits of his death and sufferings to the souls of believers, to renew and sanctify their natures, to aid them in the performance of every duty, and to establish them in holiness and comfort thro' faith unto salvation. What then must be the importance of holiness, when the Spirit of God is continually employed in working this change in our hearts,—when the Son of God descended from his heavenly abode, took our nature upon him, suffered and died to redeem us from all
iniquity, and purify unto himself a peculiar people zealous of good works! Has he not also instituted the ordinances of the gospel to enforce the same course of godly conversation upon us? Shall we then presume to make light of those means which God has so graciously appointed for our improvement in holiness, and in which his goodness is in so wonderful a manner displayed? Shall we dare to contemn or neglect the laws and institutions of that gospel, which the Son of God came down from heaven to make known to mankind, and the truth of which he sealed with his blood.
Second, I come now to shew, that holiness is necessary to our happiness in any stage of our existence.
Though it is plain from the conduct of Providence, that this world was never designed for a state of rewards and punishments, yet it is very evident, that virtue even in this life is in no inconsiderable degree attended with its own reward. Though the great end and tendency of holiness be to fit and prepare men for happiness in a future state, yet it is pleasing to observe how it also diffuses over
the mind a present serenity and satisfaction. Holiness is the great and neverfailing source of inward peace and tranquillity, in which all our comfort on earth chiefly consists. This is the state to which philosophy pretended to conduct her followers as the summit of human enjoyment, and the nearest approach to happiness that men could make here below. But to this state religion will most effectually lead us, and to these paths of peace will be our best and surest guide. "Wisdom's
ways are ways of pleasantness, and all "her paths are peace." Since then inward peace and satisfaction are of so much value, and since holiness has such a powerful tendency to produce this effect, one would think that every wise man would be disposed to follow holiness, even for his own interest in this life; that had he no other inducement to determine his choice, still he would readily be tempted to adopt that plan which assuredly brings rest to the mind. If we have at any time. performed a good action, if we have done justly or shewn mercy, we need not labour to work in ourselves a conviction that we have acted becomingly; for peace