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&c. shall inherit the kingdom of God," 1 Cor. vi..9, 10. " Whoremongers and adulterers God will judge,” Heb. xiii. 4. And such are reckoned up among those who “shall have their part in the lake which burns with fire and brimstone," Rev. xxi. 8. and who are without the heavenly Jerusalem, chap. xxii. 14, 15. On the contrary, the promise of the future blessedness is most plainly made to the pure in heart : “ Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God,” Matt. v. 8. And this very representation of the heavenly felicity, that it principally consists in the sight and fruition of a holy God, shews that his constitution, limiting that happiness to the pure in heart, is founded in the nature and reason of things. We cannot relish it, or be made happy by it, any more than be. allowed to share in it, without a heart refined from the dregs of sensuality. Saints themselves have but an imperfect relish for it here, since they are not divested of all remains of sensual inclinations ; but because they will be made perfectly righteous in the future state, and raised to their full resemblance of God in spirituality; therefore, the enjoyment of him then will give them full satisfaction. So the psalniist joins these circumstances together in his prospect of the other life: “ As for me, I will (or shall) behold thy face in righteousness, I shall be satisfied when, I awake with thy likeness,” Psal. xvii. 15, In the same manner St John speaks of our future condition : “We know, that when he shall appear, we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is,” i John iii. 2. But observe how thereupon he infers the necessity of present aspirings and endeavours after a resemblance of divine purity, in all the expectants of heaven, ver. 3. “And every man that hath this hope in him, purifieth himself
, even as he is pure,” that is, every man who makes heaven his hope and real desire in this justest view of it, as a state of likeness to God, and of the nearest enjoyment of him, cannot fail to have a prevailing and a growing relish for purity now.
Let us all, then, by way of application, seriously inquire, what the temper of our own souls is in reference to the subject we are upon. The vast moment and importance of it appears from what has been last offered. And, upon the inquiry, we shall either see reason to judge that an impurespirit prevails in us, or to hope that our hearts are in a good measure made clean: and even then, we shall hardly fail to discern great defects in our purifi cation, in a higher or lower degree.
If you see reason but to fear that an impure spirit hath the dominion, seriously consider what a holy God must judge of you ; he can look upon you no otherwise than as altogether alienated from him, and “from the life of God,” of a temper most opposite to his nature and will. And can you
thinki that “for these things he will not bring you into judgment ?" That he will not call his reasonable creature to a severe account, for so base a prostitution of his noble powers ? Especially a reasonable creature under the gospel, which contains the strongest engagements, and proposes the most effectual assistances, for recovering impure souls. Can you entertain the least hope of standing in the judgment, when you are to be judged by this gospel? And yet, how far soever your impurities have proceeded, if you are awakened to a serious conviction of your sin and danger, despair not either of a cure or of a pardon, if you take the course prescribed in the gospel. It is left upon record, for encouragement to the chief of sinners, when they are awakened, that the apostle, after he had reckoned up some of the grossest sensualities, and deelared that they would certainly exclude from the kingdom of God, yet plainly signifies, that he only means this without repentance; and immediately gives instances of the effectual recovery even of such offenders : “Such were some of you, but ye are washed, but ye are sanctified, but ye are justified, in the name of the Lord Jesus, and by the Spirit of our God," 1 Cor. vi. 11. Here is a sufficient provision for all the washing that even you need; for your sanctification by the grace of the Holy Spirit, and for your justification and pardon through the blood of Christ. Here were souls sunk into the lowest impurity, but effectually relieved in the name of the Lord Jesus, and by the Spirit of our God. And these will be as effectual for
But what course must be taken, in order to your being washed by these means ? Apply to God by earnest prayer.
The text directs you ; go to God and say, Create in me a clean heart, O God. Go with the humble serious cry of the publican, “God be merciful unto me a sinner, Luke xviii. 13. Go with the prodigal son, acknowledge your guilt and unworthiness, and say, “ Make me as one of thy hired servants,” Luke xv. 18, 19. And, in dependence on
the grace which God has so many ways encouraged you to ask, set yourselves to break off your sins by repentance : “ Cast off the works of darkness, and put on the armour of light; awake from the dead, and Christ shall give thee light.” Eph. v. 14.
If you can justly hope that purification is begun in heart and life, adore divine grace which has made you to differ, and has plucked you as brands out of the burning. If, by God's blessing upon a pious education, you have grown to a sincere abhorrence of impurity, without any remarkable sallies of youth by the way, you have particular reason to be thankful for this, as it has prevented many miseries to soul and body in this life, whish give no small uneasiness to some other converts.
If you are recovered from a sensual course, yet the happy change
your circumstances should greatly affect you, while you see so many around you proceed in the way to destruction to their lives end. Aspire after greater and higher measures of purity, still endeavouring farther to “cleanse yourselves from all filthiness of flesh and spirit.'
And remember that the hopes you have of your present state should not make you secure, but “watch and pray, that ye enter not into temptation.” The case in the text, of a man so eminently good before, is a standing admonition against security. If you
have fallen into any sensualities since you came to the knowledge of the truth, David's example in this psalm will give you proper directions of conduct. There must be particular and solemn repentance, answerable to the aggravating circumstances which attend such a sin in you. You should not be easy, till at least you recover the ground you have lost, both in your holiness and your comfort. And if
have “caused the enemies of the Lord to blaspheme,” you have all the reason in the world to submit, as David did, to any penal rebukes of God for it, in any way which he takes to vindicate his own honour, and to do all you can for the same purpose, by a repentance as public as your offences.
And as the best have reason to own the imperfection of their purity in the present state, though they are kept from the greater transgressions, so they have reason to walk humbly with God, daily to review and make up their accounts with him, to be always upon their guard against greater of
fences, and while they dwell in the body, to pursue the work of mortifying the deeds of it.
To close all, the young have peculiar reason to reckon this subject to concern them. The evils I am cautioning against, are called by way of eminency youthful lusts.
That age of life is more than any other addicted to impurities, and therefore the guard should be answerable. On the other hand, it may truly be said to be a crime, more aggravated in those advanced in years, if they should retain the same vicious turn of mind; and it is possible that they may have a most impure heart, even when they have outlived the serviceableness of their bodies to the dictates of a carnal mind. Young and old are concerned in this subject, and should often make this prayer.
LUKE XXI. 34.
Take heed to yourselves, lest at any time your hearts be
overcharged with surfeiting, and drunkenness, and cares of this life, and so that day come upon you unawares.
N these words, it may be proper to observe,
1. The person who spoke them ; Christ himself, our Lord and Master, the author and finisher of our faith ; which at first view claims a peculiar regard to them from all who wear his name. They contain one of his solemn commands, which he esteemed of great importance to be inculcated ; and, therefore, I hope that no Christian will think himself unconcerned in them, or that they are an unfit subject of gospelpreaching
2. The persons to whom they are peculiarly directed. Christ spoke them to his own disciples. Many of his discourses were delivered to them and the multitude promiscuously. But what we have in this chapter, was the subject of a conference between him and his professed disciples alone. St Luke, indeed, only observes of the rise of this discourse, ver, 5. that some, without any mark of distinction,
spake of the temple, how it was adorned with goodly stones, and that upon Christ's foretelling the utter desolation of it,
" they (the same persons, whoever they were,) asked him when these things should be?” &c. ver. 7. But Matthew, in his parallel account, informs us, Matt. xxiv. 1. that they were