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preserved ;* and when the top-stone is put upon the edifice, the cry will be grace, grace unto it.’t The holy practice, which a contrite sinner is desirous of maintaining, can only spring from evangelic motives. Reason and moral suasion are weak barriers against our natural love of sin, and aversion to real Godliness. A man might as well think of stopping the course of the Ganges by means of an insignificant cockle-shell, as of resisting the more furious current of his own vile affections by any arguments drawn from the fitness of things. No principles, but those exhibited in the Gospel, can change the heart. The Gospel acts powerfully on the understanding, and produces a rational conviction that it is our interest, as well as our duty, to live soberly, . righteously, and Godly in this present world.' It produces demonstration in the conscience that sin is the cause of present torment, and leads to eternal ruin; that holiness brings present happiness, and is an essential preparative for, though not the meritorious cause of, eternal life. It acts with an invincible energy on the will, supplying effectual motives to produce obedience ; for the love of Christ, when experienced in the soul, has a constraining power, as much superior to the motives of Philosophy, as the light of the meridiansun is to the feeble glimmering of the glow-worm ; which is just sufficient to attract the notice of the traveller, but leaves him to pursue his journey in the dark. The influence of Gospel-truth turns duty into pleasure, and proves, to the sinner's full conviction, that “God's service is perfect freedom."
* 1 Pet. i. 5.
+ Zach. iv. 7. Where are the advocates for justification by works to be found, who live soberly, righteously, and godly in this present voorld >
Godliness, as the word implies, has God for its object. It includes obedience to all the precepts of the first table. Our church has explained her meaning, in the use of this word, by the answer she gives to the question, proposed in her catechism, respecting our duty towards God.* Faith in God is an essential part of Godliness. To • believe in Him” is not merely to acknowledge His existence; for this a man may do, and yet continue destitute of Godliness. . The devils believe and tremble.' But it is a belief of His goodness, as well as His Being; accompanied with such a trust in Him as leads to an expectation of happiness from Him. God, absolutely considered as an holy and just Being, cannot be to a sinner an object of confidence. To Adam, before the fall He was : but now, without a Mediator, it is impossible for us to approach Him. The fear of God is another ingredient in true Godliness. The generality of mankind fear the
* My duty towards God is to believe in Him, to fear Him, * and to love Him.'
reproach of the world more than the displeasure of God; and the loss of sensual gratification more than the loss of His favor. But true Godliness supposes such a fear of God, as outweighs all other considerations. It includes also a supreme love to God. What we love, in that we delight. In the company of a friend we experience pleasure; and, if that friend be absent from us, a correspondence with him is ardently desired, and carefully maintained. The lovers of God labor to maintain • fellowship with the Father and the Son thro' the Spirit;" and consider the intercourse, which they enjoy with heaven by prayer and praise, as their inestimable privilege, dearer than life and all its other enjoyments.
Righteousness is the duty we owe to our neighbour, and has respect to all the precepts of the second table. It is excellently summed up by the compilers of our liturgy in a few words, when they inform us in answer to a question put to a catechumen on the subject tható our duty towards our neighbour is to love him as ourselves; and to do unto all men, as we would they should do unto
us. How comprehensive a rule ! We act so far in a way becoming the Christian character, as we put it in practice. In every situation and res lation of life this Divine epitome of ethics, if closely attended to, will direct us how to walk and to please God.' It will unravel a thousand intricacies, and afford a satisfactory answer to almost every case of conscience that may occur.
Sobriety respects ourselves.-It is soundness of mind in opposition to distraction or madness.* Man, in his natural state, is distracted or mad. He is so represented in our Lord's beautiful parable of the prodigal son ; in which the unhappy spendthrift, when brought to a resolution of returning to his Father, is said to come to himself,' or to be restored to the use of his reason. Mad pess is the loss or perversion of reason. Every unconverted man acts irrationally. He prefers the baubles of time to eternal realities. Like one in a delirium, he is in the utmost danger, yet perceives it not. If we saw a man loaded with ignominious chains, and unwilling to part with them, we should pity his condition, and conclude him to be divested of reason. The love of sin is the heavy and ignominious chain, with which we are tied and bound ; yet are we by nature pleased with it, and unwilling to have it removed from us. Sobriety is also modesty or humility of mind in opposition to pride ; which is as contrary to the state of mind, for which our church teaches us to pray, as rioting and drunkenness. It would be an act of insobriety for a pauper, supported by: the parish, to consider himself and act as a person of independent fortune. It is equally so for a poor bankrupt sinner to justify himself before God. We then think soberly of ourselves as "we ought to think ;' when, renouncing our own righteousness, we adopt the language of the confession of our church, as expressing the genuine feelings of our own hearts.-Sobriety also signifies a sober, recollected mind, as opposed to intemperance or sensuality. It consists in a denial of worldly lusts. It is opposed not only to drunkenness, gluttony, and lewdness; but to all intemperate use of present things. Very awful are our Lord's words, Take heed to yourselves, • lest at any time your hearts be overcharged
* The Greek word oaPporetv is used in a threefold sense. 1. To be of a sound mind in opposition to distraction or madness, Mark v. 15. Luke viii. 95. 2 Cor. v. 13.
2. To be of a modest, humble mind, in opposition to pride. Rom. xii. 3.
3. To be of a cober, recollected mind, as opposed to intemperance or sensuality. Tit. ii. 6. 1 Pet. iv. 7.
with surfeiting and drunkenness, and cares of this life, and so that day come upon you una-, 6 wares.' A man may be intoxicated with the pleasures, profits, and honours of this world, who is otherwise sober, temperate, and chaste, A man of true sobriety has his affections set upon
things above, not on things on the earth.'t. His "treasure is in heaven, and there is his heart • also.' He is instructed to make it his main ob
. Luke xxi. 34.
+ Col. iii. 2.
Matth. vi. 21.