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{hed abroad in the heart, it naturally transforms us into his image and likeness; or, as the apostle expresses it, ** Beholding• as in a glass, the glory of the "Lord, we are chariged into the same image, from "glory to glory, as by the Spirit of the Lord." The foul that is actuated by this Divine principle, views the character of God as that persect pattern, to which its temper and conduct ought to be conformed. It is true, in this state of mortality, our resemblance to the Deity must, after all our exertions, be very impersect; but still we ought to be endeavouring to advance in the scale of virtue, and make progress in persection. A persect and complete example is set before us, that, by aiming at that which is most eicellent, we may arrive at the greatest height in religion of which our natures are capable.

Thus, then, you see the meaning of the precept in the text. Our Saviour requires us to cultivate a fi> . cere and prevailing love to God, and to be continually aspiring aster a nearer and more perfect resemblance of him.

It now only remains that we direct you to a fuitable improvement.

1. How amiable and excellent is the religion of Jesus! How gloriously distinguished from the ancient religions of the heathen world, and from those that . now prevail in the dark places of the earth, which . are sull of the habitations of cruelty! What unworthy conceptions had the heathens of their god> • How corrupt and vicious was their worship! Their religious rites were inhuman and barbarous; and their . manners agreeable to the characters of their gods. But the gospel gives us the most rational and consistent . notions of the Supreme Being, It establishes his per. sect holiness, and his abhorrence of all manner of sis' . By whatlovely titles is he represented in the New Testament! How does it abound with declarations of his love to the children of men! He is described as a pure Spirit, insinitely persect, the Father of all, who is above all, and through all, and in all; the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ; the Father of mercies, and God' of all confolation; nay, he is faid to be Love itself, and to dwell in love.

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2. The best, and most substantial practice of religion, consists in the imitation of God's moral persections, those Divine qualities which the scripture comprehends under the name of Holiness. In the imitation of God in these qualities, pure and undesiled religion consists. Of this, even fome of the wiser heathens were sensible; and the holy scriptures often represent it as the end and design of the gospel. How much, therefore, is it to be wished, that none who pretend to religion would substitute, in the room of this persection, either that which is merely external, as an outward prosession and the enjoyment of churchprivileges, or those things which are rather the means of religion, than religion itself.

3. Let us reverence and adore this all-persect God. He is insinitely removed from every kind and degree of impersection, and possessed of the highest excellence. How ought our fouls, then, to prostrate themselves before him! With what seriousness and veneration ought we to worship him! With what reverence and humility should we, at all times, think and speak of him! Worldly grandeur excites our admiration; the thoughts of earthly majesty compose us to reverence: How much more should these effects be produced by those excellencies which are insinitely beyond our comprehension? Let us, therefore, admire and venerate the All-persect Jehovah. Let us particularly beware of pronouncing his facred Name in a careless manner, and of profaning his holy day Let us tremble at the thought that we have sinned against him, and be concerned, for the suture, to love him with all our hearts, and serve him with submifCon and cheersulness.

Lastly, Let us all be exhorted to imitate God in his jmitable persections; such as, his holiness, justice, goodnefo, and truth.

(i.) Let us imitate him in his purity and holiness: "As he," fays the apostle, " who has called you, is "holy, fo be ye holy in all manner of converfation." Holiness is a persection frequently ascribed to God in scripture. He is styled, Glorious in holiness, the Holy One of Israel. Holiness is the beauty of his nature, and the glory of his other persections. Let us, then, endeavour to resemble him in it: " I am the ** Lord your God," fays he to the children of Israel: ** ye shall therefore fanctify yourselves-, and ye (hall "be holy, for I am holy (a)." Let us, therefore, cultivate a deep and rooted aversion to all manner of fin, since it is that abominable thing which God hates *vith a persect hatred; and lei us daily aspire after that holiness, that purity of heart and lise, which a* jbne is the image of God, and the beginning of fuure happiness.

(2.) In his justice or righteousness. iThis perfection is alfo frequently ascribed to God in scripture, and fo constantly supposed to belong to him, that he appeals to the reafon and judgment of mankind, for the equity of his conduct. Not but that clouds and darkness may fometimes be round about him; it may be often difficult to reconcile the dispenfations of his providence with his persections, or one providence "tt'ith another: still, however, justice and judgment are the habitation of his throne. Let us then endeavour to resemble God in this venerable - attribute. And, how (hall we do fo, but by being strictly just and righteous as he is? Let us then vrender to all their due: let us give to God that religious sear, • Worship and obedience, which we owe him. Let us

never

(*) Lev. xi. 44.

never do that to another, which we would not that another should do unto us. Let us not deceive. o» defraud our brother, in any matter; and if we are called to determine controversies, let us always judgerighteous judgment. Thus we shall approve ouri selves to God, through Jesus Christ: For the Righte^ ous Lord loveth righteousness, hi$ countenance doth behold the; upright. Nay, this is? the distinguishing character of his children; " In this," fays the apostle John, " the children of God are manisest, and the "children of the devil: whofoever doth not righte* "ousness, is not of God, neither he. that loveth not "his brother (a)."

(3.) In his goodness, love, and mercy. These are illustrious attributes of God, in which he particularly glories. He is good to all; his tender mercies are ovpr all his works; creation, providence, and redemption abound with discoveries of it. He is rich in ra-ercy to the miserable; his. grace triumphs ovep great unworthiness, and; consersT)enesits on the vilest? osfenders. Here, then, is a pattern worthy of our imitation; an example fo amiable and attractive* that methinks it should immediately engage our attention* But, besides this, it is alfo recommended to us by the highest authority: " Beloved," fays the apostle John, "let us love one another; for love is of God," nay, "God is love."—Be ye kind one to another," fays the apostle Paul, " tender-hearted, forgiving one an"other, even as God, for Christ's fake, hath for"given you." Shall any then pretend to resemble God, who is destitute of kind assections to his sellowcreatures?

(4.) In his truth and faithsulness. Truth and faithsulness are Divine persections; but falsehood and deceit are properties of the devil. Would you then

f':mble God? Be true and faithsul. Never give t to another, as truth, which you know to be false, {«) I John iii. 10.

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false, with an intention to deceive him. Never invoke the God of Truth to bear witness to a falsehood; for this is one of the most aggravated provocations you can give him. But let us,' on the contrary, inwardly abhor all manner of salsehood and dissimulation. Putting away lying, let us speak the truth every man to his neighbour, and be religiously caresul to sulsil our engagements, and perform our promises, especially those made in the presence os God. "When thou vowest a vow," says Solomon, « deser not."

. And, now, to conclude, would you show yourselves Christians indeed? Would you do honour to religion, and adorn the doctrine of God your Saviour! Would you retrieve the credit of your prosession, and make your religion appear to the world in its natire beauty? In a word, would you reap the joys os holiness yourselves, and recommend it effectually to others? Then be persuaded to imitate God in his moral persections: pray for the Holy Spirit to form you into a resemblance os him, and be always rising Hi a real conformity, till at last you arrive at the stature of persect men in Christ Jesus.

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