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cheap and common duties, left its galling reproofs should alarm their fears, and anticipate the horrors of approaching judgement. Thus they dream of safety, when destruction is fast coming upon them ; and, with “ untempered mortar,” rear up for themselves “ a refuge of lies,” which, ere long, shall be tumbled down, and bury them in its ruins. For awakening such persons from their fatal security, I have chosen this passage of Holy Scripture, wherein the Apostle gives us a part of the character of deceiving hypocrites, or rather, indeed, a comprehensive description of them in few words : They have a form of godliness, but deny the power thereof. Their religion is a mere carcass, a body without the soul, a lifeless picture or image of godliness: they assume the garb and air of sanctity, but are strangers, nay, enemies, to the thing itself. That the following discourse may be “ profitable for doctrine, “ for reproof, for correction, and for in“ struction in righteousnefs," I fhall, in the
First place, Endeavour to open the nature
of true godliness, and to show wherein the life and power of it consist.
Secondly, I shall enquire, whence it is, that any who deny the power of godliness Ihould fubmit to the drudgery of practising the forms of it?—and then point out the improvement which both saints and finners ought to make of this subject.
GODliness, in general, is the subjection or devotedness of the soul to God himself. It is the practical acknowledgement of his unlimited sovereignty, and the unreserved dedication of the whole man to his service; or, to speak in the emphatical language of this Apostle, it is “ Christ formed” in the heart, by the powerful energy of the Holy Spirit: in consequence whereof, the person becomes“ a new creature,” both with regard to his, temper and practice; “ he par“ takes of the divine nature ;” and “ those “ members” which were formerly the “ fer“ vañts of fin,” are now employed as “ in“ struments of righteousness unto God.”
It is not a cold assent to the truths of rea ligion ; it is not a natural softness and bene
volence of temper; it is not the abstaining from gross fins, or the giving to God a corner of our hearts, and some vacant portions of our time, while the bulk of both is alienated from him,—that will intitle us to the character of godly men. - As he only is God, who is universal Lord, fupreme in wisdom, in power, and in goodness; fo that only is godliness which reveres and honours God, in a way suited to that high and incommunicable character. --Genuine piety expresseth itself thus: “ Whom have I “ in heaven but thee, O Lord ? there is “ noné upon earth that I desire besides thee.” We are not godly, whatever we profess or feem, if, in our most deliberate and affectionate choice, we do not prefer the one true God, and the enjoyment of his favour, to all that can be found throughout the wide extent of his works; if we make not his will the meafure of ours, his law the fovereign guide of our conduct, and his glory the ultimate end of our obedience. But more par ticularly, in the .
· First place, Godliness includes a fupreme love to God himself, and a constant prevail- VOL. I.
H .. ing
ing desire to please him, mixed with a holy reverential awe, or fear of offending him. I have joined these together, because they appear to be of equal necessity and use, to constitute that frame and temper of mind wherein the efsence of piety or true godliness doth consist. - Fear is necessary to keep God in our eye: it is the office of love to enthrone him in our heart. Fear cautiously avoids whatever may offend : love yields a pronipt and liberal service. Fear regards God as a witness and judge : love Cleaves to him as a friend, nay a father.Fear maketh us watchful and circumspect : love renders us active and resolute.-- In short, they go hand in hand, and mutually affist each other : Love keeps fear from being servile and distrustful; and fear keeps love from being forward and secure : and both spring from one root, namely, Faith in
God, as a being possessed of infinite perfecCtion, and related to us as our Creator and Governor, our Redeemer, and our Judge.
This distinguisheth true godliness from every counterfeit, or false appearance of it. The seeming religiousness of the for
malift, malift, is either assumed to impose upon the world, without any regard to God at all, or else it flows entirely from a tormenting fear of future wrath : in his heart there is an aversion from God and his service, at the very time he is professing to honour him with his body; reluctant, and hefitating at every step; he proceeds no farther in the road of duty, than he thinks may suffice to escape damnation : he doth more than he would do, were he nor forced by necessity; and if left to his own choice, he would rather live at large like the beasts that perish, and render no homage to God at all.
Secondly, The power of godliness consists in the conquest of our corrupt and rebellious pafsions. These indeed still live and fight within us; and will continue to do fo, in one degree or other, till death pull down these earthly tabernacles : but if we are truly sanctified, their strength shall gradually languish and decay: victory is sown in that new nature we have got; for “ whatsoever is born of God overcometh “ the world : Jesus our Lord shall ere