« السابقةمتابعة »
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 learn, ing, 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 to celestial felicity in the mansions of future glory, and it is HollNESS: without this, we read, no man shall see the Lord. Follow PEACE with ALL men, and HOLINESS, without which, no man shall 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 “sanc"tity, or holiness, imports discrimination, or distinc" tion from other things by way of exaltation and pre“ eminence.”+
God himself is originally, absolutely, and essentially VOLY; man, only by communication.
* Heb. xii. 14.
קרוש שבה להבדיל משאר הימיסי*
"ניכו כל לשיו קרושה הףא עניו הבדלז מאהר במעלה*
" To sanctify the sabbath, is to separate it from other days."
" “ Because all words of sanctity import a thing separated from “other things by way of pre-eminence or excellency."
Holiness I therefore understand 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 sin and impurity, like the metal from base alloy.
He, therefore, who would see the Lord, must, by obedience, seek the manifestation of the Spirit, 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 TAE DIVINE NATURE, having escaped the CORRUPTION that is in the world through lust.
The happy state of holiness constitutes the true dignity of human nature. This at once parifies 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 springs of all his activity. To express his conduct in scripture language, he does justice, loves mercy, and walks humbly with his God.
Rehaviour thus amiable and beneficent is the surest proof of holiness. Great pretensions, sanctimonious
• 2 Pet. i. 4.
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 unostentatiously 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 consecrated by the influence of the Holy Ghost.
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, self-dependent mortal, who walks through the world all solitary, who has not God for his friend and companion, may be compared to the forlorn savage, prowling for prey far from the solar beam, in the regions near the pole. How would he rejoice in the warm sunshine and sweet serenity of an Italian climate!
Of a good Heart.
HE most desirable treasure which a human being can possess, 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, so vitiated is their taste. A good heart communicates liberally the pleasures it enjoys; blessed or blessing in every emotion.
But what constitutes a good heart? The grace of God operating upon it. The mild, gentle, healing spirit of the gospel; or, to use the language of scripture, the UNCTION of the Holy Ghost, mollifying its hardness, 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.
All the irascible passions are, in their excess, diabolical. They are the fruitful sources of misery. They would unparadise the garden of Eden, and turn the cheerful light of Heaven into gloomy darkness, like the shadow in the valley of death. There is in the world much natural evil; there are pains, and diseases enough, to wean the heart from the immoderate love of it; but none of them are productive of wretchedness so great
* Beautiful is the description which Lactantius gives of the effect of Christianity in meliorating the disposition. I will transcribe his words:
" Da mibi virum, qui sit iracundus, maledicus, effrænatus : pau. “ cissimis Dei verbis tam placidum quam ovem reddam. Da cupi“ dum, avarum, tenacem : jam tibi eum liberalem dabo et pecuniam " suam plenis manibus largientem. Da crudelem et sanguinis appe“ tentem: jam in veram clementiam furor ille mutabitur. Da ir* justum, insipientem, peccatorem: Continuo et æquus et prudens et
innocens erit. Uno enim Lavacro malitia omnis abolebitur. Tanta “ DIVINæ SAPIENTiæ vis est; ut in hominis pectus diffusa, ma" trem delictorum, stultitiam, uno semel impetu expellat; ad quod
efficiendum, non mercede, non libris, non lucubrationibus opus est. • Gratis ista fiunt, facilè, cito; modo pateant aures et PECTUS “SAPIENTIAM SITIAT: num quis bæc pbilosopborum aut unquam " prestitit aut præstare potuit ?” LACT. Inst Lib. ii. C. 26.
Thus appears the superiority of CHRISTIAN PHILOSOPHY, in a moral view, over all other philosophy. Lactantius had been a heathen philosopher, and speaks experimentally.
and difficult of cure as the malignant passions of pride, envy and revenge. These estrange man from man, and convert the haunts of human creatures into dens of of foxes and wolves. Cheats, calumniators, robbers, murderers, in all their variety and degrees of flagitiousness, are characters naturally flowing from hearts unsoftened, unenlightened, unhallowed by the Spirit of Grace.
But behold the Christian. Gentleness and sweetness beam from his eyes, and illuminate his countenance with a mild lustre. Good humour predominates in all his demeanour. He has no concealed rage rankling in his bosom; he has no sinister and selfish views, under a studied openness of countenance. He converses with a generous frankness. His bosom is transparent. You are perfectly safe with him. He will serve you, if possible, as well as please you; but he will never injure you purposely, or give you the smallest pain. He feels complacency in all the good he sees around him, and delights in augmenting it. His treasure is within him. His interest is in Heaven. His ambition is for objects above the world; so that nothing in it is of value enough, in his estimation, to tempt him to resign the tranquility of innocence, to renounce the pleasures of a friendly and benevolent disposition. He has all the ingenuous simplicity of the infantine age, and you delight in him, as in the harmless babe, who sports around you, and expresses his pains and pleasures according to the dictates of uncorrupted nature.
Such is man, when his natural asperities are smoothed, and his inborn bitterness sweetened by the benign operation of celestial influence. Compared with the mere natural man, he is an angel. Is it not desirable thus to raise human nature, and thus to improve society; thus to render the earthly existence almost an anticipation of what our imperfect imaginations picture