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en are now strengthened, because just so far as. he has evidence, that he now belongs to Christ, he has evidence, that he shall always belong to him. When he loses this holy frame, it often happens, that his hopes of heaven abate, because he has not now so much evidence to his mind, that he ever has known the truth in the love of it: But when he is raised up again, he is not only comforted by having evidence, that he now loves the Lord Jesus Christ; but by having just as much evidence, that he shall love and enjoy him forever. The doctrine is not designed to give comfort to backslidden christians. These ought
not to expect comfort, until they return from · their wanderings. To them who live near to
God, the doctrine is full of consolation. They view God as their everlasting portion. As such they confide in him. The dependence, which they make on the continuance of his love to them in Jesus Christ, runs through all that commun. ion which they have with him. They pour out their hearts into his bosom, not only as their present, but as their everlasting Friend. They view him as having graciously entered into cove. nant with them, to make them meet for the heay. enly inheritance, and afterwards to put thein in. to possession of it. Therefore it is, that we find in the mouth of the saint such a prayer as this, “ Thou shalt guide me by thy counsel, and afterward receive me to glory.".
4. This doctrine is of use to excite the unbe. lieving world, to pay attention to gospel invitations. We find it applied to this use in the 55th chapter of Isaiah. - In this very inviting portion
of scripture, the God of mercy calls on those who are spending their money for that which is not bread, to come to him, with the promise, that he will make an everlasting covenant with them, even the sure mercies of David. No mo. tive, without special influence from above, will induce a sinner to accept of gospel offers; yet the scriptures make abundant use of motives and arguments, to prevail with sinners to accept of these offers. And when it pleases God to call up their attention to the things which concern their peace, it is done in the view of motives. A alread of eternal misery, and a desire of endless happiness, unite to prompt the awakened sinner to pay a very serious attention to gospel truths. And in the economy of grace this serious atten. tion is of great importance. Here is a powerful inotive to keep up this attention, arid fix his mind upon the unspeakable importance of his becom. ing a true believer in Christ... It is this, That if he becomes a believer, he will be eternally saved; and that if he does not, he will be eter. nally punished. But when he is told, that if he does become a believer, he may still perish for. ever, the motive to lay hold of the hope set be. fore him is greatly weakened. The more uncertain any inheritance is when obtained, the less is the inducement to seek to obtain it.
If the doctrine, which has been adyocated in this discourse, is true, we can see that the children of men may, with great propriety, be urged to embrace the religion of the gospel, as a durable good, in distinction from all good things which are in our world. Riches make to themselves wings and fly away. The honor which cometh from men often degenerates into contempt. All sensitive enjoyments are short-lived ; But an interest in Christ is durable riches...it is that good part which shall not be taken away...it is the sure mercies of David. Let this subject excite the attention of our ruined, bankrupt world. Here are the true riches, yea durable riches and righteousness. Become possessed of these riches, and you can never die in poverty, unless the treasury of heaven can be drained. O why will men spend all their time in pursuit of unsatisfy. ing and transitory enjoyments, to the neglect of the pearl of great price, which, when once possessed, the promise and oath of the immutable God have secured to the possessor, beyond the possibility of its being lost, either by the malice or subtilty of his enemies; or even by his own folly! The salvation of Christ is an everlasting salvation. Let ruined sinners embrace it, and they will find themselves made rich, not for a few days, but for an eternity. But if you despise the mercy of God, which is offered you through the mediation of his Son, remember you are un. done for A WHOLE ETERNITY!
LEVITicus xix. 2. Speak unto all the congregation of the children of Israel, and say unto them, Ye shall be boly: for I the Lord your God am holy.
THIS command, in nearly the same words, is repeated several times in this book; and is referred to by the apostle Peter in the first chapter of his first epistle. In the text we notice, 1. The universality of the command...“ Speak unto all the congregation of the children of Israel.” The command was to be addressed to all indiscriminately ---to men and women-..-old and young.... those whose hearts were right, and those whose hearts were wrong. None were exempted. 2. We notice what is commanded---- Ye shall be holy.” This is not a prediction of the future character of the Israelites; but a command in the present tense. The meaning is this, It is your duty to be holy... You are required to be so. Peter quotes the passage in the imperative form, “ Be ye boly, for I am holy.” There can be no reasonable doubt about its being a command. But what is commanded ? They are commanded to be holy : But what is it to be holy? It is to resemble God in his moral perfection. That this, and nothing short of this, was the holiness
which God required of all the congregation, is made entirely clear by the concluding clause of the text. After he had required his people to be holy, he adds, “ for I the Lord your God am holy.” The God of Israel certainly required the same holiness in his people, which he possessed himself. That this is the true spirit of the requirement in the text, becomes evident, from the use which the apostle Peter makes of it. He is pressing upon those to whom he writes the importance of conformity of heart, and life to the perfect Pattern. “ As obedient children, not fashioning yourselves, according to the former Justs, in your ignorance : but as he which hath called you is holy, so be ye holy in all manner of conversation ; because it is written, Be ye holy, for I am holy.” 3. It is worthy of notice, that the holiness of God is brought into view in the text, as a reason annexed to the command en. joining holiness on his people ; “ Ye shall be hoa ly: for I the Lord your God am holy.” This implięs not only that it was their duty to possess the same holy character, which the Lord their God possessed ; but also that it was their duty to possess it, because he did. Holiness is in its .. own nature right. The Divine Being is neces.
sarily perfect. He is the exact moral standard. Just so far as any character conforms to this standard, it is right; and so far as it differs from it, there is some fault in it. When therefore any thing is required of rational creatures, it is sufficient to establish the excellency of the requirement, if it can be said, that compliance with it will make them resemble their Creator. Lastly,