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Some of those heathens, who wrote fine morality, it is well known, practifed, and even obliquely recommended, with all the charms of wit and eloquence, vices which degrade man below the brute.
Of Holiness its true Meaning, and absolute Ne
ET a man's mind be holy, and he will not
doubt one moment of the truth of Christ. ianity. It is not enough that it be learned or fagaçious; it must be holy; and then the more learned or the more fagacious, so much the more firmly will its belief be fixed, and so much the better enabled to extend the faith. Bacon, Boyle, Locke, Newton, Milton, Addison, Lord Chief Justice Hale, possessed intellects as vigorous as ever fell to the lot of human beings; but they were educated piously as well as learnedly, according to the manners of their times. They lived holily; the Spirit of Grace took early possession of their hearts, and they became not only believers but defenders of the faith. Not to their learning, but to their holiness, be the glory. They saw God by the eye of faith, not of philosophy *.
There is one qualification, without which we shall never be admitted to the favour of God, or
* Such men (when in the church, i. e. when ordained ministers) highly reverence the true use of every thing that is outward in religion; but, like the Psalmist's daughter, the are all glorious within.... they break open the whited sepulchre, they awaken the hearts, and shew all its filch and rottenness of death; but they leave it not, till the kingdom of beaven is raised up within it,
to felicity in the mansions of future glory, and it is HOLINESS: without this, we read, no man shall see the Lord. Follow PEACE with ALL men, and HOLINESS, without which, no man skall see the Lord*.
No words can be plainer and more express than these. A question naturally arises in the mind of every thinking man, in what consists this quality, which is indispensably necessary to securing the beatific privilege of enjoying the divine presence ? What is holiness?
The excellent Joseph Mede informs us, that
fanctity, or holiness, imports discrimination, or diftinction from other things by way of exaltation and pre-eminence t.”
God himself is originally, absolutely, and efsentially HOLY; man, only by communication.
Holiness I therefore underftand to be that state, in which God vouchsafes to man his HOLY SPIRIT, and discriminates him from those who, rejecting his offers of grace, presumptuously adhere to the world and its vanities; who neglect religion entirely, and who live without God' in the world, despisers of his grace. To be holy, is to be refined, by the Spirit of God, from the corruptions of the world ; to be separated from fin and impurity, like the metal from the base alloy.
He, therefore, who would see the Lord, must, by obedience, seek the manifestation of the Spirit,
* Heb. xii. 14.
."קדוש שבת לְהבדילו משאר הימים " כי כן כל לשון קרושה הוא ענין הבדלו
?“ To fanétify the fabbath, is to separate it from other days."
מאחר במעלח: 8
“ Becaufe all words of fanctity import a thing separated from other “ things by way of pre-eminence or excellency.”
Vide Mede's Works, vol. i. f. 8.
by prayer obtain the divine assistance, and thus be admitted to a participation of the divine nature: according as his DIVINE POWER hath given unto us all things that pertain unto life and godliness, through the knowledge of him that hath called us to glory and virtue ; whereby are given unto us exceeding great and precious promises, that by these we might be PARTAKERS OF THE DIVINE NATURE, having escaped the CORRUPTION that is in the world through luft *.
The happy state of holiness constitutes the true dignity of human nature. This at once purifies and elevates it. The man who possesses it, enjoys this world with calm complacency, while he rises superior to it, and hopes for a better in reversion. He acts rightly, yet never rigidly; he always tempers justice with kindness and mercy; his whole behaviour is gentle, flowing from an internal principle of benevolence. The fear of God and the love of man operate on his heart as the main fprings of all his activity. To express his conduct in fcripture language, he does justice, loves mercy, and walks humbly with his God.
Behaviour thus amiable and beneficent is the surest proof of holiness. Great pretensions, sanctimonious deportment, a rigid observance of external ceremonies, and a pertinacious adherence to particular doctrines, are all consistent with an unholy state, with self-deceit, and with hypocrisy. But he who is kindly affectioned to his fellow-creatures with brotherly love ; he who is unoftentatiousy pious, and displays the fruits of the Spirit by good works, he can entertain little doubt of SEEING God; seeing the truth of his word, and enjoying his presence in the living temple of his heart, thus confecrated by the influence of the Holy Ghost.
* 2 Pet. i. 4.
A delightful serenity attends that state of holiness, which arises from an humble confidence in God; such as would render it devoutly to be wished for, if its consequences extended only to the pleasurable enjoyment of this life. It causes our journey to resemble a passage through those charming countries, where the air is genially soft, the sky clear, and the prospect variegated with every beauty of nature. The cold, shivering, selfdependent mortal, who walks through the
world all folitary, who has not God for his friend and companion, may be compared to the forlorn favage, prowling for prey far from the solar beam, in the regions near the pole. How would he rejoice in the warm sunshine and sweet ferenity of an Italian climate?
Of a good Heart.
He most desirable treasure which human
being can poffefs, whether he has regard to his own happiness or to those around him, is a GOOD HEART. In every situation, and under all circumstances, this will furnish a store of sweets which the wicked cannot obtain, and delicious though it is, would not relish, fo vitiated is their taste. A good heart communicates liberally the pleasures it enjoys ; blessed or blessing under all. circumstances and in every period of life *.
* Natural evil will, indeed, interrupt the felicity and impede the beneficence of the best men; and here we can only weep over human nature, and wait with patience for tha state when tears Thall be wiped: from all eyes.
But what constitutes a good heart? The grace of God operating upon it. The mild, gentle, healing fpirit of the gospel; or, to use the language of scripture, the UNCTION of the Holy Ghost, mollifying its hardnefs, and preserving it from corruption. This it is which forms a good heart, and a good heart is a land of Canaan to itself, a land flowing with milk and honey.
* Very pleasing is the description which Lactantius gives of the effect of Christanity in meliorating the difpofition. I will transcribe his words:
“ Da mibi virum, qui fit iracundus, maledicus, effrænatus : pau" ciffimis Dei verbis tam placidum quam ovem reddam. Da cupidum, “ avarum, tenacem : jam tibi eum liberalem dabo et pecuniam fuam
plenis manibus largientem. Da crudelem & fanguinis appetentem ;
jam in veram clementiam furor ille mutabitur. Da injuftum, infipi. “ entem, peccatorem: continuò et æquus, & prudens, & innocens erit. " Uno enim Lavacro malitia omnis abolebitur. Tanta DIVINÆ SA-, “ PIENTIÆ vis eft; ut in hominis peetus diffusa, mairem deli&torum, “ julritiam, uno semel impetu expellat ; ad quod efficiendum, non mer. “ cede, non libris, non lucubrationibus opus eft. Gratis ifta fiunt, facilè, “ cito; modo pateant aures et PECTUS SAPIENTIAM SITIATI num " quis bæc philosophorum aut unquam præftitit aut præftare potuit ?"Give me a man who is choleric, abusive in his language, headftrong, and unruly; with a very few words, (the words of God,) I will render him as gentle as a lamb. Give me a greedy, miserly, closefitted man; and I will presently return him to you a generous creature freely bestowing his money by handfuls.
Give me a cruel, blood-thirsty wretch ; instantly his ferocity Thall be transformed to a truly mild and merciful disposition.
Give me unjuft man, a foolish man, a sinful man ; and on a sudden, he thall become honest, wise, and virtuous. In one LAVER (the laver of regeneration) all his wickedness thall be washed away. So great is the efficacy of the divine (or Christian) Philofophy; that when once admitted into the human heart, it expels FOLLY, the parent of all vice; and in accomplishing this great end, there is no occasion for any expence, no absolute need of books or deep and long Itudy or meditation. The benefit is conferred gratuitously, casily, expeditiously; provided that the ears and the heart thirit after the wisdom (from above). Did any, or could any, of the heathen philosophers accomplish such important purposes as these?
LACT. Inft. Lib. ii. C. 26. Thus appears the superiority of CHRISTIAN PHILOSOP-H Y, in a moral view, over all other philosophy. Lactantius had been a heathen philosopher, and spoke experimentally.