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of his life, and briefly assign a universal rule, by which he may properly estimate his duties. There will, perhaps, at some future period be a suitable opportunity for declamations; or I shall leave to others an office for which I am not calculated, I am naturally fond of brevity; and, perhaps, were I desirous of speaking in a more copious manner, I should not succeed. And if a more prolix method of teaching were most acceptable, yet I should scarcely be inclined to make the trial. The plan of the present work, however, requires me to treat a simple doctrine with all possible brevity. As the philosophers have certain principles of rectitude and honour, whence they deduce particular duties and the whole circle of virtues; so the Scripture is not without its order in this respect, but maintains an economy superlatively beautiful, and far more certain, than all the systems of the philosophers. There is only this difference, that the philosophers, being ambitious men, they have sedulously affected an exquisite perspicuity of method, in order to make an ostentatious display of their ingenious dexterity. But the Spirit, whose teaching is void of affectation, has not so exactly or perpetually observed a methodical 'plan; which nevertheless, by using it in some places, he sufficiently indicates ought not to be neglected by us.
II. This Scripture plan, of which we are now treating, consists chiefly in these two things. The first, that a love of righteousness, to which we have otherwise no natural propensity, be instilled and introduced into our hearts: the second, that a rule be prescribed to us, to prevent our taking any devious steps in the race of righteousness. Now in the recommendation of righteousness, it uses a great number of very excellent arguments, many of which we have before noticed on different occasions, and some we shall briefly touch on in this place. With what better foundation can it begin, than when it admonishes us that we ought to holy, because our God is holy? (w) For when we were dispersed like scattered sheep and lost in the labyrinth of the world, he gathered us together again, that he might associate us to himself. When we hear any mention of our union with God, we should remember, that holiness must pe the bond of it: not that we attain communion with him by
(w) Lev. xix. 2. 1 Peter i. 16.
the merit of holiness, (since it is rather necessary for us in the first place to adhere to him, in order that, being endued with his holiness, we may follow whither he calls) but because it is a peculiar property of his glory, not to have any intercourse with iniquity and uncleanness. Wherefore also it teaches, that this is the end of our vocation, which it is requisite for us always to keep in view, if we desire to correspond to the design of God in calling us. For to what purpose was it that we were delivered from the iniquity and pollution of the world, in which we had been immerged, if we permajt ourselves to wallow in them as long as we live? Besides, it also admonishes us that, to be numbered among the people of God, we must inhabit the holy city Jerusalem; (x) which, he having consecrated it to himself, cannot without impiety be profaned by impure inhabitants. Whence these expressions: “He shall abide in the tabernacle of the Lord, that walketh uprightly and worketh righteousness,” &c. (y) because it is very unbecoming the sanctuary which he inhabits, to be rendered as filthy as a stable.
III. And as a farther incitement to us, it shews, that as God the Father hath reconciled us to himself in Christ, so he hath V impressed in him an image, to which it is his will that we should be conformed. (2) Now let those who are of opinion that the philosophers have the only just and orderly systems of moral philosophy, shew me in any of their works, a more excellent economy than that which I have stated. When they intend to exhort us to the sublimest virtue, they advance no argument, but that we ought to live agreeably to nature: but the Scripture deduces its exhortation from the true source, when it not only enjoins us to refer our life to God the author of it, to whom it belongs; but after having taught us, that we are degenerated from the original state in which we were created, adds, that Christ, by whom we have been reconciled to God, is proposed to us as an example, whose character we should exhibit in our lives. What can be required more efficacious than this one consideration? indeed what can be required besides? For if the Lord has adopted us as his sons on this condition, that we exhibit in our life an imitation of Christ the
(3) Isaiah xxxv. 10. () Psalm xv. 1,2. xxiv. 3, 4. (3) Rom. vi. 4, &c. viii. 29.
bond of our adoption; unless we addict and devote ourselves to righteousness, we not only most perfidiously revolt from our Creator, but also abjure him as our Saviour. The Scripture derives matter of exhortation from all the blessings of God which it celebrates to us, and from all the parts of our salvation. It argues, that since God hath discovered himself as a Father to us, we must be convicted of the basest ingratitude, unless we on our part manifest ourselves to be his children; that since Christ hath purified us in the laver of his blood, and hath communicated this purification by baptism, it does not become us to be defiled with fresh pollution; that since he hath united us to his body, we should, as his members, solicitously beware lest we asperse ourselves with any blemish or disgrace; that since he who is our head hath ascended to heaven, we ought to divest ourselves of all terrestrial affection, and aspire thither with all our soul; that the since the Holy Spirit hath dedicated us as temples to God, we should use our utmost exertions, that the glory of God may be displayed by us; that we ought not to commit any thing which may profane us with the pollution of sin; that since both our soul and our body are destined to hea. venly incorruption and a never-fading crown, we ought to exert our most strenuous efforts to preserve them pure and uncorrupt till the day of the Lord. These, I say, are the best foundations for the proper regulation of the life, such as we cannot find in the philosophers; who in the recommendation of virtue, never rise above the natural dignity of man.
IV. This is a proper place to address those, who have nothing but the name and the symbol of Christ, and yet would be denominated Christians. But with what face do they glory in his sacred name? For none have any intercourse with Christ, but those who have received the true knowledge of him from the word of the Gospel. Now the apostle denies that any have rightly learned Christ, who have not been taught that they must put off the old man, which is corrupt according to the deceitful lusts, and put on Christ. (a) Their knowledge of Christ, then, is proved to be a false and injurious pretence, with whatever eloquence and volubility they may talk concern
ing the Gospel. For it is a doctrine not of the tongue, but of the life; and is not apprehended merely with the understanding and memory like other sciences, but is then only received, when it possesses the whole soul, and finds a seat and residence in the inmost affection of the heart. Let them, therefore, either cease to insult God by boasting themselves to be what they are not, or shew themselves disciples not unworthy of Christ their master. We have allotted the first place to the doctrine which contains our religion; because it is the origin of our salvation: but that it may not be unprofitable to us, it must be transfused into our breast, pervade our manners, and thus transform us into itself. If the philosophers are justly incensed against, and banish with disgrace from their society those who, while they profess an art which ought to be a rule of life, convert it into a sophistical loquacity; with how much better reason may we detest those sophists who are contented to have the Gospel on their lips, whilst its efficacy ought to penetrate the inmost affections of the heart, to dwell in the soul, and to affect the whole man, with a hundred times more energy than the frigid exhortations of the philosophers?
V. Yet I would not insist upon it as absolutely necessary, that the manners of a Christian should breathe nothing but the perfect gospel: which nevertheless ought both to be wished and to be aimed at. But I do not so rigorously require evangelical perfection, as not to acknowledge as a Christian, one who has not yet attained to it: for then all would be excluded from the Church: since no man can be found who is not still at a great distance from it: and many have hitherto made but a very small progress, whom it would nevertheless be unjust to reject. What then? let us set before our eyes that mark, to which alone our pursuit must be directed. Let that be prescribed as the goal towards which we must earnestly tend. For it is not lawful for you to make such a compromise with God, as to undertake a part of the duties prescribed to you in his word, and to omit part of them at your own pleasure. For in the first place, he every where recommends integrity as a principal branch of his worship; by which he intends a sincere simplicity of heart, free from all guile and falsehood; the opposite of which is a double heart: as though it had been said, that the beginning of a life of uprightness is spiritual, when the internal affection of the mind is unfeignedly deyoted to God in the cultivation of holiness and righteousness. But since no man in this terrestrial and corporeal prison has strength sufficient to press forward in his course with a due degree of alacrity, and the majority are oppressed with such great debility, that they stagger and halt, and even creep on the ground, and so make very inconsiderable advances; let us every one proceed according to our small ability, and prosecute the journey we have begun. No man will be so unhappy, but that he may every day make some progress, however small. Therefore let us not cease to do this, that we may be incessantly advancing in the way of the Lord: nor let us despair on account of the smallness of our success: for however our success may not correspond to our wishes, yet our labour is not lost, when this day surpasses the preceding one: provided that, with sincere simplicity, we keep our end in view, and press forward to the goal, not practising self-adulation, nor indulging our own evil propensities, but perpetually , exerting our endeavours after increasing degrees of amelioration, till we shall have arrived at a perfection of goodness: which indeed we seek and pursue as long as we live, and shall then attain when, divested of all corporeal infirmity, we shall be admitted by God into complete communion with him.
Summary of the Christian Life. Self-denial.. ALTHOUGH the Divine law contains a most excellent and well-arranged plan for the regulation of life, yet it has pleased the heavenly Teacher to conform men by a more accurate doctrine to the rule which he had prescribed in the law. And the principle of that doctrine is this; that it is the duty of the faithful to “present their bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable