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inflame their love to God. As even angelic powers will enlarge by use, and by their contemplation of the divine glory; so their love will admit of increase. It must also strengthen their sensible confidence in God. It must increase their humility too. What service can they decline, when the Son of God stooped so much lower than they? A little lower in his birth, much in death!

It must enhance their abhorrence of all sin : the daring nature of which so appeared in men crucifying the Lord of glory: and its unspeakable demerit, in such an atonement being required. No wonder God spared not their former companions, when he spared not his own beloved Son. It must increase their gratitude for preservation from falling, and the sense they have of their dependance. If they had never seen sin, they would scarcely have felt it possible for any thing to tempt any one to it. And if they had never seen Jesus suffer, they could not have had so deep a sense of its evil. Not the expulsion of Lucifer or of Adam, nor the flood, nor the fire rained on Sodom and Gomorrah, was equal to this! It must greatly increase their heartfelt union to all the saved, and make them wait on them with unutterable pleasure.

It must lead them more decidedly to justify God in the condemnation of sinners, both of their race and ours. Especially those who despise what they stoop from heaven to look into. Is Jesus seen of angels, and despised and rejected of men? They veil their faces with reverence, and you hide yours with disgust! O black ingratitude! Sin beyond devils !

CXXXI.
GODLINESS AND CONTENTMENT.

1 TIM. vi. 6.

But godliness, with contentment, is great gain. ONE would wonder how any one who did not avow himself an atheist could ridicule the very name of godliness; and yet many such are to be found ; while others would be

ashamed to be openly charged with laying claim to the character. But is it indeed a disgrace for a rational creature to venerate or love his Maker ? to delight in the contemplation of his character ? to set a high value on his favor ? to acknowledge him in all his ways ? to obey his will ? to engage in his service ? and to imitate his moral perfections ? Or, is it to be taken for granted that all who pretend to godliness are hypocrites ? No doubt there have been miscreants, who, under the form of godliness, deny the power : such the Apostle condemns, 2 Tim. iii. 5. and also in the words before our text. But let every man bear his own burden. Can you prove all to be hypocrites, who profess to be more in earnest about religion than yourself? Pray, then, what are you? Are you also an hypocrite, or an enemy, or an atheist ? Do you know God, love him, glorify and enjoy him? or do you defy or disregard him?

Some, however, who cannot claim the character of the godly, dare not despise it. At times they wish to possess it; yet they so far misconceive of it, as to dread it. While they fear the consequences of not possessing it at last, they also fear the consequences of sustaining it now : fear the toil, the reproach, the cross connected with it. We dare not disguise the truth. You must labor, and suffer reproach. 1 Tim. iv. 10. You may meet with persecution. 2 Tim. iji. 12. . “Yea, all that will live godly in Christ Jesus, shall suffer persecution." But we maintain that you will gain more than you lose. You will find “godliness is profitable unto all things, having the promise of the life that now is, and of that which is to come." 1 Tim, iv. 8. In the world you may have tribulation ; in Jesus you shall have peace. And as for.godliness itself, it is not that gloomy thing many suspect. Its most painful exercises have more pleasure than pain; or, if they have not, it is owing to a mixture of sin.

Let us, therefore, First, Consider the general nature of true godliness. It may be summed up in four particulars : the knowledge, love, service, and imitation of God.

It includes the spiritual knowledge of God; here it originates. To know the Lord, is often put for the whole of

religion. Knowledge, not merely of his existence, but of his attributes : his moral character. Not only of his greatness, but his goodness. Knowledge of God in Christ. He hath revealed him. Those who thus know will trust in him. Knowledge, not merely of his government, as to its extent and stability: nor merely of his grace, as to its benefits to individuals : but of the excellency of both, so as to have a heartfelt conviction that he is worthy of the throne, and that his gospel is worthy of all acceptation.

The love of God is the very essence of godliness. Yet not of any imaginary being so called, but of the living God, truly discovered to us, so as to approve of his true character, and delight therein. Not pleased with a false idea of him, nor regarding him merely as our benefactor ; but loving him as he really is in himself. Love and gratitude are easily distinguished ; though we do not mean they should be separated. A good man may receive an occasional benefit from one whose general character he cannot approve; or, a bad man may feel thankful for a favor from one whose general character he dislikes. But, where both unite, one will strengthen the other. Here, greatness, excellence, and kindness, are all combined.

Godliness includes the service of God also. If we know and love him, we shall be willing to serve him ; to conform to his law, and submit to his providence; to be under his command, and resigned to his disposal; to lay ourselves out for his glory. Not only engaging in acts of devotion, as prayer, praise, hearing, &c. but in such a temper towards men as he enjoins : righteousness, truth, mercy, meekness, &c. The other is the cheapest sort of service; but the latter is the surest sign of our regard to God.

It includes also the imitation of God. Not in his natural, but in his moral perfections. Righteousness, holiness, truth, beneficence. Oh, what an honor, to be called to imitate God! What an additional advantage have we, from the example of Christ ! A pattern of humility, self-denial, resignation, &c. of all human graces, except those which imply imperfection. No room for repentance, mortification, &c. but strong motives to perform them. We owe our salvation most immediately

to his exercise of those graces which we find the most difficult; as love to enemies, &c.

SecondLY: The connexion between godliness and contentment, or its tendency to promote it. Godliness teaches us to realize

the universal superintendance of the blessed God. An infinitely wise, great, sovereign, holy, just, good and faithful being. One who cannot be tempted with evil, cannot be controlled, cannot be mistaken, unjust, or false : who cannot but have a benevolent end in all his operations.

Godliness teaches us the greatness of our obligations to God; and consequently excites us to attend to our own business. Mind your duty; leave events to him. Let him govern; do you obey. It teaches us the exceeding evil of sin ; and consequently leads us to realize how unworthy we are of any good, and how much we have deserved the sorest evil. All the good we enjoy, is of unmerited mercy : all the evil we endure, is less than our desert. Reprieved criminals have little room to complain : pardoned rebels less. It teaches an entire dependance on the Mediator, who is God manifested in the flesh; and so teaches us to compare our sufferings with his : while it sweetens them by the hope of enjoying what he has purchased by his obedience unto death. Godliness leads us to confide in the divine promises, for whatever we truly want, in time or for eternity.

It teaches us to regard invisible objects as certain realities; to treat God himself as the supreme good; to account that his favor will make ample amends for all losses, crosses, and trials; to think that all is good which affords us an opportunity to glorify him now, that compels us to watch and pray, to cry to him for constant aid, to seek rest in him, and that prepares us to enjoy him for ever.

THIRDLY : The great gain arising from this conjunction of godliness and contentment.

Godliness itself is the best inherent good, and is connected with the greatest objective good. It is a most blessed, des ble thing, to have the mind so engrossed by God, as to become indifferent to all other objects. It is spiritual gain ; suited to the nature of an immortal mind, and which

truly enriches it. This is honest gain; no one need be ashamed of it, nor will it ever prove a destructive snare to the soul. It is superlative gain, far above all other riches or possessions; it insures an exceeding great and eternal weight of glory

It is satisfying gain; which will amply compensate for all the pains of seeking it. It is gain that cannot be lost, or taken away. Durable riches, with which we shall not part at death. It is therefore eternal gain. Having this true riches, we shall be sure to have enough till death; and then we shall enter into perfect felicity.

Let us therefore examine, whether we possess true godliness. Do we know God ? love, serve, resemble, and enjoy him? Can we, at least, say that this is our chief desire ? Do we treat godliness as great gain ? and long for it more than for all riches ? Oh, that we may ever do so ; and be more concerned about it than we are respecting any temporal object. Be thankful, even for every trial which promotes godliness in your souls: and think all to be loss which has a contrary tendency.

If ever it should appear to be the case, that we must either forego some worldly gain, be it ever so great; or else infringe upon godliness, were it ever so little; may we never hesitate for a moment which to choose : but imitate Moses. Heb. xi. 25, 26.

Let us encourage no discontent,-except with ourselves, for being so little devoted to God, conformed to his image, and resigned to his will.

Consider how much ungodliness there is in being discontented with the allotments of his providence. Not that it is unlawful submissively to desire some change of circumstances; nor is it sinful to feel losses, or other distressing providences. But we should seek whatever appears most desirable, only in such methods as God approves ; knowing it will not be truly advantageous without his blessing ; and should readily resign ourselves to his disposal, who can do us good by the most painful events. Undervaluing his favor is the worst cause of melancholy. Treat him as God; as your all-sufficient portion.

Let us be willing to follow the Lord fully, though we should lose everything but God and our souls. Mr.

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