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ing influence upon us beyond all temporal motives; and in case of a competition with such motives, be allowed to carry the day. And the promises particularly suitable to our present case, ought to be called to mind from time to time, and lived upon ; the promises of divine conduct, in the sense of the weakness of our understanding and judgment; of strength, when we think of our inability for service or suffering ; of grace answerable to our day and work, when we are called out to hard services : of proper supplies, when we are in our outward burthens and wants ; of acceptance and pardon upon. our sincerity, when we are proceeding in our way, and yet cannot but be sensible of our imperfections ; and of grace to enable us to persevere, while we are endeavouring it, and yet think of the oppositions in our way. Hereby we shall make the proper use of God's promises, according to God's intention in delivering them, and our own occasion for the relief they contain. The worth and excellence of the promises, should also excite our care to have the terms of them fulfilled in us; and those of grace and glory, as the greatest and the best, should have the main influence upon us. This is walking by faith in the promises.
5. The terrors of the Lord should be represented to our minds for our admonition and caution. They are left upon record to keep saints awake, as well as to rouse sinners out of their lethargy; and we should attend to them, to quicken us when we are apt to be remiss : to excite our care and caution, lest after our profession and hopes, we should “at last be cast aways,” i Cor. ix. 27. Or to recover us to repentance, when we have fallen ; or to fortify us against compliance in an hour of temptation.
6. Christ should be made use of and applied to, in his several offices, through the whole course of the Christian life, for the several purposes for which he is offered.
We are to “ live the life we live in the flesh by the faith of the Son of God,” Gal. î. 20. His doctrine and example should often be set in our view by faith, as our great teacher and pattern. Under the sense of our guilt and unworthiness, our reliance ought to be on the perfection of his sacrifice, and the prevalence of his intercession; and the acceptance of our persons and services, is only to be expected for his sake. are to rely upon his grace as our head for constant supplies.
Another necessary exhortation from our present subject remains, : 3. Let us persevere in walking by faith, till we arrive at sight. “ Believing to the saying of the soul, stands opposed to drawing back, which is declared to be unto perdition." Heb. x. 39. Faith comes short of sight; but if we are governed by it, it brings us every day nearer to sight. And by how much the nearer we see the day approaching, so much the more should faith take wing, entering into that which is within the veil. If our hands hang down, when the shadows of the evening come upon us, our hope must sink too; and if we have any faith left, it must reproach us, that when we are in nearer view of Canaan than formerly, we flag, and suffer ourselves more to be carried away by sense. not abate or decline in the life, which is animated by faith; but “knowing the time, let us awake out of sleep,” if we have suffered meaner principles to gain the ascendant over us ; and if we are yet pressing forward with full sails toward the haven, let it be our care that we do not relax our zeal and application ; but live as faith dictates, till the rewards of faith are obtained.
To enforce all this, it may be proper to consider, that
A life of faith is highly reasonable. It is to govern ourselves by matters which are at once of the highest importance and reality : the greatest concerns we can have in view ; with the testimony of God, to support and warrant our concern about them.
It is at present the most satisfactory and comfortable life. To have no view beyond sense, must ever make this world a howling wilderness; and we cannot have any satisfactory view of a future rest, by any other light than that of faith. This therefore alone can minister to us the great solace of life. And besides that, to live by rule, is a rest to the mind ; which we shall most securely do, by living under the conduct of faith. And in all turns the divine perfections, providence and promises, are a fountain of peace and serenity, which cannot be equalled either by the most agreeable present enjoyments, or by the best prospects we can form on the measures of human policy.
To walk by faith, bears the nearest resemblance to the life of heaven, of any thing we can attain, while we are pro
bationers. A believer lives upon the same objects, as those above live upon in full happiness; the same God and Redeemer; only these objects are very differently perceived above and here. “ Now we see them through a glass darkly, but then face to face ; now we know in part, but then shall we know even as we are known," 1 Cor. xiii. 12. The Christian's portion is the same in both worlds; but now he hath it in title, and there will have it in possession : now he sees it afar off; then he will have it at hand, and in full enjoyment.
Whatever imperfection attends this life now, will soon be over and at an end. Though faith is not sight, yet it will very quickly be turned into sight. It is as sure a presage of the perfect light of heaven, as the morning light is of the clear shining of noon-day.
And this walk upon the foundation of believing, has been the walk of “the excellent of the earth,” in every age of the world. As many of them as successively have arrived at glory, have “through faith and patience inherited the
promises," Heb. vi. 12. It is the design of the apostle, in the whole eleventh chapter to the Hebrews, to shew that faith conducted the principal worthies of the Old Testament, to all their commendable actions in life, and to the heavenly rewards at the end of it. And the apostle in the text declares, that this was the animating principle of himself and other servants of God, under the New Testament ; so he had before observed, chap. iv. 13. “ that we have the same spirit of faith, with good men, under the Mosaical dispensation.
We have the same principle of faith to rule in us, which inspired them with all their excellencies: but we have fuller discoveries to employ and support our faith ; and therefore should be stronger in it, and perform greater things under its influence,
GODLINESS; OR, THE CHRISTIAN TEMPER
2 Per. i. 6.
And to patience, godliness.
HE Christian, spirit has been considered in several general representations : I would now enter upon
the particular branches, which constitute it; and this of godliness naturally comes first to be treated of, or the religious regard we owe to the blessed God. The mention of this is so introduced in the words before us, that it will directly suit my design, which is to recommend it as a most important part of that temper, to which we are called by Christianity.
The apostle had observed ver. 3. what great and good things are conferred upon us by the divine power, even “ all things that pertain unto life and godliness ; meaning probably all things pertaining to a godly life : and then in ver. 4. that we have “exceeding great and precious promises given us, for this very end, that by them we might be partakers of a divine or godlike nature.” In the following verses he presses those, who professed Christianity, to pursue this end; to exercise and cultivate the various graces of the Christian life, ver. 5, &c. And besides this; or rather, as such benefits, such promises are given you for such an end ; so do ye “ also for this reason, or in like manner giving all diligence on your part," add, or join together as in a choir, the following excellencies. “ Add to your faith,” to your inward persuasion of these good tidings of the gospel, virtue, or boldness and resolution in maintaining faith and a good conscience.“ And to virtue, knowledge;" a gradual advance in the knowledge of the truths and duties of Christianity, with which you are in some measure already acquainted.
6. And to knowledge, temperance ;” in the moderate use of the good things of this present life. “ And to temperance, patience ;" in bearing cheerfully the evils of life.
And to patience, godliness ;” such a regard to God, as will carry you through the whole of your course.
Here we are now to stop, in the account which the apostle gives of this chain of graces.
’Euceßsia, which in this place, as well as in many others, is translated godliness, most strictly signifies right worship or devotion ; and on the other hand in some places, it is taken so largely, as to import the whole of practical religion, or a disposition to universal goodness. But here I apprehend it is to be understood in a middle sense ; neither to be confined to mere acts of worship, nor to be extended to the whole compass of our duty; but plainly to signify such a temper and behaviour towards God, as becomes his excellencies, and our relations to him : or more briefly, a disposition to pay all proper regards to God. It is often used in the same sense in other places of the New Testament. So it stands distinguished from honesty, when the apostle sums up a good life in this, “to live in all godliness and honesty," 1 Tim. ii. 2. And the grace of God is said to teach us, “to live soberly, righteously, and godly in this present world,” Tit. ii. 11, 12. Where sobriety includes all our personal duties and selfgovernment ; righteousness all that we ought to do, as we stand related to our fellow-creatures; and godliness our inclination to all that which is more immediately due to God. And just in the same sense I understand it here. then to observe,
That godliness is a temper of mind, to which we are particularly called by Christianity.
Upon which head I would shew, 1. Wherein godliness or piety consists. 2. The indispensible obligations, under which Christians lie to this.
I. We are to inquire, what are the regards due from us to the blessed God, or wherein the right temper of the soul towards God consists.