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vation of our souls. Let us not appear in his presence boasting of our natural power: but let us present ourselves before him weak, trembling, and undone. By the greatness of his compassion let us plead with him to pity our meanness and misery. Let our supplies be drawn from the fountains of his wisdom and power; this is real wisdom, may God inspire us with it! This is substantial happiness; may God impart it to us! Amen. To him be glory and honor for ever.
The holiness of God.
Leviticus xix. 1, %.
And the Lord spake unto Moses, saying, Speak unto all the
congregation of the children of Israel, and say unto them, · Ye shall be holy : for I the Lord your God am holy,
T ADDRESS to all the faithful, whom the devo4 tion of this day hath assembled in this sacred place, the command, which Moses, by the authority of God, addressed to all the congregation of Israel. However venerable this assembly may be, to which I am this day called by Providence to preach, it cannot be more august than that to which the Jewish legislator formerly spoke. That was composed of more than eighteen hundred thousand persons. There were magistrates, appointed to exercise justice, and to represent God upon earth. There were priests and leyites, consecrated to the worship of God, and chosen by him to signify his will to the church. There were various ranks and degrees of men proportional to so great a multitude of people. God had given particular laws before, which were adapted to their different ranks, and to their various circumstances. But this is a general law : a law which equally belongs to magistrates, priests and levites : a law which must be observed at all times, and in all places. This is the law of holiness; Speak unto all the congregation of the children of Israel, and say unto them, Ye shall be holy : for I the Lord your God am holy.
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-I repeat it again, my brethren, I address to all the faithful, whom the devotion of this day hath assembled in this sacred place, the same precept that God commanded Moses to address to all the congregation of Israel. The law of holiness, which I preach to day, commands you our supreme governors. Arbiters of your own laws, you see na mortal upon earth to whom you are accountable for your conduct, but there is a God in heaven, whose creatures and subjects you are, and who commands you to be holy. The law of holiness cominands you, priests and levites of the new testament. The sacred character, with which you are invested, far from dispensing with your obligation to holiness, enforceth it on you in a more particular manner. This law commands you all, my dear hearers, of what order, of what profession, of what rank soever you be. If you be a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a peculiar people, you ought also to be a holy nation, that ye may shew forth the praises of him who hath called you out of darkness into his marvellous light, i Pet. ii. 9. Whatever prerogatives Moses had above us, we have the same law to prescribe to you, that he had to Israel, and the voice of heaven saith to us now, as it said once to him, Speak to all the congregation of the children of Israel, and say unto them, Ye shall be holy: for I the Lord your God am hoły.
This discourse will have three parts. The term holiness is equivocal, and, consequently, the command, ye shall be holy, is so. We will endeavor to fix the sense of the term, and to give you a clear and distinct idea of the word holiness. This will be our first point. .
Holiness, which, in our text, is attributed to God, and prescribed to men, cannot belong to such different beings in the same sense, and in all respects. We will therefore examine in what sense it belongs to God, and in what sense. it belongs to men; and we will endeavor to explain in what respects God is holy, and in what respects men ought to be holy: this will be our second part.
Although the holiness, that is attributed to God, differs in many respects from that which is prescribed to men, yet the first is the ground of the last. The connection of these must be developed, and the motive enforced, ye shall be holy, for I the Lord your God am holy : this shall be our third part. This is the substance of all we intend to propose. • I. The term holiness is equivocal, and, consequently, the command, ye shall be holy, is so. Let us endeavor to affix a determinate sense to the term, and to give you a clear and distinct idea of *** the meaning of the word koliness. The original term is one of the most vague words in the Hebrew language. In general, it signifies, to prepare, to set apart, to devote. The nature of the subject to which it is applied, and not the force of the term, must direct us to determine its meaning in passages where it occurs. An appointment to offices the most noble, and the most worthy of intelligent beings, and an appointment to offices the most mean and infamous, are alike expressed by this word. The profession of the most august office of the high priesthood, and the abominable profession of a prostitute, are both called holiness in this vague sense.
The poorest languages are those in which words are the most equivocal, and this is the character of the Hebrew language. I cannot think, with some, that it is the most ancient language in the world; the contrary opinion, I think, is supported by very sufficient evidence. However, it must be granted,
it hath one grand character of antiquity, that is, imperfection. It seems to have been invented in the first ages of the world, when mankind could express their ideas but imperfectly, and before they had time to render language determinate, by affixing arbitrary names to all the objects of their ideas.
This remark may appear at first useless, particularly in such a discourse as this. It is, however, of great consequence; and I make it here for the sake of young students in divinity; for as the writers of the holy scriptures frequently make use of terms, that excite several ideas, the reasons of their choosing such terms will be inquired : and on such reasons, as the fancies of students assign, some maxims, and even some doctrines will be grounded. I could mention more mysteries than one, that have been found in scripture, only because on some occasions it useth equivocal terms. An interpreter of scripture should indeed assiduously urge the force of those emphatical expressions, which the holy Spirit sometimes useth to signify, if I may so speak, the ground and substance of the truth: but, at the same time, he should avoid searching after the mar, vellous in other expressions, that are employed only for the sake of accommodating the discourse to the genius of the Hebrew tongue.
The force of the term holiness, then, not being fufficient to determine its meaning, its meaning must be sought elsewhere. We must inquire the object, to which he devotes himself, who, in our scriptures, is called holy. For, as all those words, ye shall be holy, for I am holy, are equal to these, ye shall be set apart, or ye shall be devoted, for I am set apart, or devoted, it is plain, they cannot be well explained unless the object of the appointment or designation be determined. This object is the matter of our present inquiry, and on