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of charity, no communion of everlasting interests, no reversionary equality between the wise and the ignorant, the master and the slave, the Greek and the Barbarian.
A religion was wanted which should be of general application. Christianity happily accommodated itself to the common exigence. It furnished an adequate supply to the universal want. Instead of perpetual but unex piating sacrifices to appease imaginary deities, Boris Gods such as guilt makes welcome it presents “one oblation oncé offered, a full, perfect, and safficient sacrifice, oblation, and satisfaction for the sins of the whole world." It presents one consistent scheme of morals growing out of one uniform system of doctrines; one perfect rnle of practice depending on one principle of faith ; it offers grace to direct the one and to assist the other. It encircles the whole sphere of duty with the broad and golden zone of coalescing cha, rity, stamped with the inscription, “a new Command. ment give I unto you, that you love one another." Chris: tianity, instead of destroying the distinctions of rank, or breaking in on the regulations of society, by this univer: sal precept, furpishes new fences to its order, additional security to its repose, and fresh strength to its subordinations.
Were this command, so inevitably productive of that peculiarly Christian injunction of “ doing to others as we would they shonld do unto us,” uniformly observed, the whole frame of society would be cemented and consolidated into one indissoluble bond of universal brotherhood, This divinely enacted law is the seminal principle of justice, charity, patience, forbearance,
short, of all social virtue. That it does not produce these excellent effects, is not owing to any defect in the principle, but in our corrupt nature, which so reluctantly, so imperfectly obeys it. If it were conscientious. ly adopted, and substantially acted upon, received in its very spirit, and obeyed from the ground of the heart, human laws might be abrogated, courts of justice abolished, and treatises ofinorality burnt; war would be no longer an art, nor military tactics a science. We should suffer long and be kind, and so far from “seeking that which is another's," we should not even seek oor own." ...
But let Bot the soldier or the lawyer be alarmed. Their craft is in no dauger. The world does not intend to
act upon the divine principle which wonld injnre their professions ; and till this only revolution wbich good men desire actually takes place, onr fortunes will not be secure without the exertions of the one, nor onr lives with. ont the protection of the other.
All the virtues have their appropriate place and rapk in Scripture. They are introduced as individually beautiful, and as reciprocally connected, like the graces in the
mythologic dance. But perhaps no Christian grace ever • sat to the hand of a more consumnjate master than chari.
ty. Her incomparable painter, St. Paul, has drawn fier at full length in all her fair proportions. Every attitude is full of grace, every lineament, of beauty. The whole delineation is perfect and entire, wanting nothing. A
Who can look at this finished piece without blnshing at his own want of likeness to it? Yet it this conscious dissimilitude induce a cordial desire of resemblance, the łmiliation will be salntary. Perhaps a more frequent contemplation of this exquisite figure, accompanied with earnest endeavours for a growing resemblance, wonld gradually lead us, not barely to admire the portrait, but would at length assimilate us to the divine original."
CHRISTIANITY then,as we have attempted to shew in the preceding chapter, exhibits no different standards of goodness applicable to different stations or characters. No one can be allowed to rest in a low degree and plead his exemption for aiming no higher. No one can be se cure in any state of piety below that state which would not liave been enjoined on all, had not all been entitled to the means of attaining it.
Those who keep their pattern in their eye, though they may fail of the highest attainments, will not be satisfied with such as are low. The striking inferiority will excite compunction; compunction will stimulate them to press on, which those never do, who, losing sight of their stand. ard, are satisfied with tlie height they have reached.
He is not likely to be the object of God's favour, who takes his determined stand on the very lowest step in the scale of perfection; who does not even aspire above it, whose aim seems to be, not so much to please God as to escape punishment. Many however will doubtless be accepted, though their progress has been small; their difficulties may have been great, their patural capacity weak, their temptation'strong, and their instruction de fective.
Revelation has not only furnished injunctions but mo. tives to holiness ; not only motives, but examples and au. thorities. “Be ye therefore perfect" (according to your measure and degree)" as your father which is in heaven is perfect.”. And what says the Old Testament? It ac, cords with the New "Be ye holy, for I the Lord your God am holy."
This was the injunction of God himself, not given ex. clusively to Moses, to the leader and legislator, or to a few distinguished officers, or to a selection of eminent men, but to an immense body of people, even to the whole assembled host of Israel; to men of all ranks, professions, capacities, and characters, to the minister of religion, and to the uninstructed, to enlightened rulers, and to feeble women., “God," says an excellent writer, * "had antecedently given to his people particular laws suited to their several exigences, and various conditions, but the command to be holy was a general (might he not have said a universal law,"
“Who is like unto thee, O Lord, among the Gods? Who is like unto thee, glorious in holiness, fearful in praises, doing wonders?" This is perhaps the sublimest apostrophe of praise, (repdered more striking by its in. terrogatory forn,) which the Scriptures have recorded. It makes a part of the first song of gratulation which is to be found in the treasury of sacred Poetry. This epithet of holy is more frequently affixed to the name of God than any other. His mighty vame is less often invoked, than his holy name. To offend against this attribute is represented as more heinous than to oppose any other. It has been remarked that the impiety of the Assyrian monarch is not described by his hostility against the great, the Almighty God, but it is made an aggravation of his crime that he had committed it against the Holy One of Israel.
When God condescended to give a pledge for the per, formance of his promise, he swears by his holiness, as if it were the distinguishing quality which was more especially binding. It seems connected and interwoven with all the divine perfections. Which of bis excellences can we contemplate as separated from this? Is not his justice stamped with sanctity? It is free from any tiocture of vipdictiveness, and is therefore a holy justice. His mer. cy has none of the partiality or favouritisin, or capricious fondness of human kindness, but is a holy mercy. His holiness is not more the source of his mercies than of his punishments. If his holiness in his severities to us wanted a justification, there cannot be at once a more substantial and more splendid illustration of it than the noble passage already quoted, for he is called " glorious in holiness” immediately after he liad vindicated the honour of his name, by the miraculous destruction of the army of Pharoal.
Is it not then a necessary consequence growing out of his perfections," that a righteous God loveth' righteouse ness," that he will of course require in his creatures a desire to imitate as well as to adore that attribute by which he himself loves to be distinguished? We cannot indeed, like God, be essentially holy. In an infinite being it is a substance, in a created being it is only an aceident. God is the essence of holiness, but we can have no holiness, nor any other good thing, but what we derive from bin It is his prerogative, but our privilege. :
If God loves holiness because it is his image, he must conseqnently hate sin because it defaces his image. If he glorifies his own mercy and goodness in rewarding virtue, he no less vindicates the honour of his holiness in the punishment of vice-A perfect God can no more approve of sin in his creatures than he can commit it himself. He may forgive sin on his own conditions, but there are po conditions on which he can be reconciled to it. The infinite goodness of God may delight in the beneficial purposes to which his infinite wisdom has made the sins of liis creatures subservient, but sin itself will always be abhorrent to liis nature. His wisdom may turn it to a inerciful end, but his indignation at the offence cannot be diminished. He loves man, for he cannot but love his own work; He kates sin for that was man's own invention, and 10 part of the work which God had made. Eveu iu
the imperfect administration of human laws, impunity of crimes would be construed into approbation of them. *
The law of holiness then, is a law binding on all persons withont distinction, not limited to the period por to the people to whom it was given. It reaches through the whole Jewish dispensation, and extends with wider demands and higher sanctions, to every Christian, of every denomination, of every, age, and every conntry.
A more sublime motive cannot be assigned why we should be holy than because “ the Lord our God is holy." Men of the world have no objection to the terms virtue, morality, integrity, rectitude, but they associate some. thing overacted, not to say hypocritical, with the term holiness, and neither use it in a good sepse when applied to others, nor would wish to have it applied to themselves, but make it over, with a little suspicion, and nota little derision, to puritants and enthnsiasts.
This suspected épithet however is surely rescued from every injurious association, if we consider it as the chosen attribute of the Most High. We do not presume to apply the terms virtue, probity, morality, to God, but we ascribe holiness to him because he first ascribed it to bimself, as the aggregate and consummation of all his
Shall so imperfect a being as Man then, ridicnle the application of this term to others, or be ashamed of it himself? There is a cause indeed which should make him ashamed of the appropriation, that of pot deserving it. This comprehensive appellation includes all the christian graces, all the virtues in their jost proportion, order, and harmony ; in all their bearings, relations, and dependencies. And as in God, glory and holiness are united, so the Apostle combines " sanctification and honour” as the glory of Man.
Traces more or less of the holiness of God may be Torind in his works, to those who view them with the eye of faith : They are more plainly visible in his Providences; but it is in his word that we must chiefly look for the manifestations of his holiness. He is every where described as perfectly lioly in himself, as a model to be "nitated by his creataires, and, though with an interval inimeasurable, as imitable by them. The great doctrine of Redemption is inseparably con
* Nore-See Charnock on the Attributes.