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“put off the old man, which is corrupt according to the deceitful lusts, and has put on the new man, which after God is created in righteousness and true holiness ;" who has a crucified the flesh with the affections and lusts,” who “ mortifies his members which are upon the earth,” who, though he “is in the world, is not of the world,” who is not conformed to this world, but transformed by the renewing of his mind,” who is “dead unto sin,” “ buried with Christ, and like as Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Fatḥer, even so he also walks in newness of life.”
You can judge from these general expressions what a vast difference there must be between this man and the person who has nothing but worldly principles to guide and influence him; he is like another being. If I had time to go into all the particular features of his temper and life, you would admire. the amiable and holy and perfect character which the gospel has drawn. But I can only briefly enumerate some of his most prominent virtues, each in a single word ; and I wish you would consider how much those single words imply:-He is humble, pious, charitable, pure, meek, patient, contented, self-denying, zealous in doing good, thankful, spiritually-minded, chaste, a peace-maker, just, honest, sincere, merciful,
kind, liberal. Is not this quite contrary to what mankind in general are? Is it not quite contrary to what every man would be by nature? Yet this is to be a christian, this is what the gospel requires of us all, as we hope to be saved; not only to put away all iniquity, but to aim at the attainment of all this holiness. Do I say that we must acquire all these virtues in perfection? that no deficiencies will be overlooked ? that no allowance will be made for human infirmity? Oh no, for then indeed I should imitate the Scribes and Pbarisees, who bound heavy burdens and grievous to be borne, and laid them on men's shoulders; I should, (as far as was in my power) shut the gates of heaven and discourage you from striving to enter in. But I say this, that we must endeavour to attain as high a degree of perfection in this character as we can possibly reach, that we must not aim at any low mark, that we must not be contented with that common-place morality which passes current in the world, under the name of mere decency and propriety of conduct, that morality which suffers many glaring and palpable vices to pass uncondemned, as mere failings and errors, which allows a great deal of sensuality, a great deal of selfishness, a great deal of pride, a great deal of covetousness, a great deal of uncharitableness, a great deal of almost every evil feeling and desire and habit that can be named. No, we must not allow one tittle of any of these things; we cannot but be conscious of our imperfections, but we must not allow them, or rest satisfied under them, apologize for them, be indifferent to their existence; we must repent of them, be humbled by the knowledge of them, pray earnestly for the forgiveness and the correction of them; this is the christian's view of his state, and of what is required of him. The world forms an opposite estimate; it is so lenient that it accounts almost all sins to be infirmities; he is so rigid, that he considers all infirmities to be sins.
My brethren,-I am sure I have not overstated the truth. I am sure that I have not so mis-represented the gospel, as to make it appear to require more of us than it authorises me to express; or more than any one who sincerely wishes, and earnestly endeavours to lead a christian life, requires of himself. ye perfect, as your Father which is in heaven is perfect.” holy, for I am holy.” If texts are wanted, these are sufficient to prove that no man does well to be satisfied with the progress he has already made, or to look with complacency on the defects which yet remain. But texts are not necessary. The christian's principles naturally urge him forward. He loves his Saviour, and therefore
“ Be ye
desires to obtain a nearer and nearer resemblance to his perfections ;-he,loves holiness, and therefore the higher the degrees of it to which he can arrive, the greater is his happiness ;-he longs for heaven, and therefore the more he can realize of its pure and spiritual enjoyment, the more does he anticipate an inheritance of future bliss ;-he hates sin, and therefore the more thoroughly he can be cleansed from its corruption, rescued from its power, and delivered from its misery, the more glorious, the more joyful his triumph ;-he hates Satan,- the enemy of God, the author of man's ruin,--and therefore the more successfully he can resist all his temptations, the better hope has he of never falling under his dominion, or sharing with him in his everlasting punishment.
Are these your sentiments ? Are these your endeavours ? Is this your conduct? yourselves; try your principles in this manner; search your hearts, and examine your lives. If you live in any known sin, that sin you love; and if you love
any sin, you do not love God, who hates it, and forbids it. You are not endeavouring to imitate the example of Christ, who was free from all spot of sin ;- you are not anxious to carry into effect the purpose of his sufferings on your behalf, which was to “ redeem you from all iniquity.” At best, you are but attempting to
serve two masters ; in which you will never succeed, -in which you will never find happiness on earth ; nor will you, by means of such a divided service, come to salvation hereafter.
But now that I have shown you how perfect a character the true christian endeavours to be, bow shall you become true christians ? What says the text ? : All the graces and virtues of the christian disposition and life are “ the fruit of the Spirit.” The apostle further says, “ Walk in the Spirit, and ye
shall not fulfil the lusts of the flesh ;” and again,—“ If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit.” The christian state then is a spiritual one, and cannot be attained to without spiritual aid. We can know nothing of these things but by revelation; and the Scriptures, which we profess to believe, state nothing more plainly, scarcely any thing more frequently, than that we must have the assistance of God's Holy Spirit, not only to enable us to do the things that we would, but to dispose us to approye and desire the things that are right. And this aid is not to be indolently waited for, but to be a subject of earnest, incessant prayer: and to prayer the most explicit and merciful promises are made, that we may be encouraged to practice it without doubting or restraint. If we ask why prayer is necessary, or how can it be effectual