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ever afterwards. No christians, therefore, have a right to think they are sinners, and have no title to the great and precious promises of the gospel. They ought to go on their way rejoicing in God, in prosperity and adversity; and even under the hiding of God's face. He requires them to rejoice in himself, always, and evermore. Christians are always to blame, if they think they are not the children of God.
Finally: In the view of this subject, all are called upon to judge righteous judgment with respect to their own hearts. The only criterion has been exhibited. It is the criterion proposed by the beloved disciple John, who tenderly and sincerely wished that both saints and sinners might know their own hearts. And if all who are now present would apply the criterion which the apostle has given them, there would not go away from this house one doubting christian, nor one doubting sinner.
SERMON X XVIII.
THE HOLINESS OF GOD BINDS MEN TO BE HOLY.
BECAUSE it is written, Be ye holy; for I am holy. -1 PETER, i. 16.
This epistle is addressed to christians in general; and therefore its precepts and exhortations may be justly considered as applicable to christians in every age, as well as in every part of the world. It becomes christians now, as much as ever it did, to be holy in all manner of conversation, for the reason which the apostle assigns in the text. “ Because it is written, Be ye holy, for I am holy." We find this written in Leviticus, xi. 44, where God says to his people, "I am the Lord your God; ye shall therefore sanctify yourselves; and ye shall be holy, for I am holy.” The same sentiment is expressed in several other passages in the Old Testament. But since all men are equally the creatures of God, and equally need his favor, this text equally applies to all men of all ages, characters and conditions; and equally proves the duty and necessity of one man's being holy as well as another. For if the holiness of God be a reason why one man should be holy, it is as good a reason why every man should be holy. The Creator's holiness lays all mankind under a moral obligation and necessity of being conformed to his moral image. Therefore we may understand God as saying to all men, without distinction, “Be ye holy, for I am holy.” Taking the words in this extensive sense, they suggest this important truth:
That God's being holy renders it absolutely necessary that men should be holy. I shall,
I. Show in what holiness consists.
III. That this renders it absolutely necessary that men should be holy.
I. We are to consider in what holiness consists.
Holiness is a general term to express that goodness, or benevolence, which comprises every thing that is morally amiable and excellent. So that holiness properly means that love to God and man which the divine law requires, and all the moral exercises and affections that flow from it. Universal benevolence leads the subject of it to regard all beings according to their apparent worth and importance, and to seek their good according to the rank they hold in the scale of existence. This disposition will incline any being to treat himself and every other being perfectly right. For true benevolence is, in its own nature, universal, disinterested and impartial, and leads those who possess it to seek the highest good of the universe at large, whether this general good will involve their own good, or the good of other individuals, or not. Holiness, which essentially consists in pure love, lies not in the understanding, conscience, or any intellectual power or faculty, but in the heart, which is the seat of moral perfection in every moral agent. And this holiness of heart stands diametrically opposed to selfishness, which is the essence of all moral evil.
Having concisely stated the nature of holiness, I proceed to show,
II. That God is holy. The scripture every where ascribes holiness to the Deity. It calls him the Holy One, more than twenty times; and the Holy One of Israel, more than thirty times. It represents the church on earth as saying, “ Who is like thee, O Lord, among the gods; who is like thee, glorious in holiness!"
And it represents all the heavenly world as crying with joy, " Holy, holy, holy, is the Lord of hosts.” The scripture not only gives the epithet of holy to God, but represents his whole moral character as consisting in that pure love, or universal benevolence, which is the sum and comprehension of all holiness. We read, “God is love.” That is, his whole moral excellence consists in love. We read, "God is good unto all, and his tender mercies are over all his works.” That is, his love is universal. We read, “He maketh his sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sendeth rain on the just and on the unjust.” That is, his love is impartial. We are told that when Moses requested God to show him his glory, he answered, “ I will make all my goodness pass before thee.” And accordingly, “ The Lord passed by before him and proclaimed, The Lord, the Lord God, merciful and gracious, long suffering, and abundant in goodness and truth, keeping mercy for thousands, forgiving iniquity and transgression and sin, and that
will by no means clear the guilty.” Here God represents his goodness, or universal benevolence, as his supreme glory, and comprehensive of all his moral perfections, such as truth, justice, mercy and grace. Thus God is perfectly holy in heart; and this perfect holiness of heart renders all his character and conduct supremely holy. Here it may be proper to enter into particulars and observe,
1. God is holy in all his natural attributes. These are under the direction of his holy heart and always exercised in a holy
The almighty power of God is a natural attribute. But this is holy. He never exerts this attribute but in a holy manner, or to answer some holy and benevolent purpose. Hence his omnipotence is represented as a holy omnipotence. “O sing unto the Lord a new song; for he hath done marvellous things: his right hand and his holy arm hath gotten him the victory.” The wisdom of God is one of his natural attributes, by which he is capable of forming the best designs and devising the best means of accomplishing them. This natural perfection is always under the influence of perfect holiness, and is never exercised to form any other but holy and benevolent purposes. It is said, “ He is a God of truth and without iniquity, just and right is he.” Job demands, “ Doth God pervert judgment? or doth the Almighty pervert justice ?" Elihu says, " Far be it from God that he should do wickedness, and from the Almighty that he should commit iniquity.” The perfect holiness of God governs his unerring wisdom, and disposes him to devise and adopt none but perfectly holy, just and benevolent designs, which render his wisdom a perfectly holy wisdom. And for the same reason, his sovereignty is a holy sovereignty. Though he has a natural right to do what he will with his own, yet his perfect holiness renders it morally impossible for him to exercise his sovereignty in a manner contrary to the eternal rule of right. The Sovereign of the universe, who is perfectly holy, cannot do wrong. Though he may have mercy on whom he will have mercy, and whom he will he may destroy, yet in forming the vessels of mercy and vessels of wrath he exercises no other but a holy and benevolent sovereignty. Thus all the natural perfections of God are glorious in holiness.
2. God is holy in all his purposes, as well as in all his essential attributes. He designed from eternity to exert and display all the perfections of his
nature. It was the benevolence of the Deity which prompted him to form any designs, and to pursue any course of external conduct. The great plan which he formed before the foundation of the world, is a scheme of perfect holiness, and designed to promote the largest measure of holiness in the universe that infinite wisdom and power can produce. All his designs, strictly speaking, are only so many constituent parts or branches of his one great design. They all centre in the highest good of the intelligent universe. And this renders every one of his designs as really holy as another. They all originate in holiness, and tend to promote it.
3. God is holy in his word; which is an expression of his holy heart from beginning to end. All his commands are holy, just and good, and expressive of his love to holiness. His laws require nothing but holiness of mankind, and forbid nothing but what is unholy and sinful. His promises are all holy, and designed to manifest his cordial approbation of the holy affections of his dutiful creatures. All his threatenings are also holy, and designed to reveal his holy displeasure and wrath against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men. God has said nothing in his word but what flowed from a holy heart, and tends to promote some holy purpose. The whole word of God is perfectly holy, and adapted to promote holiness in the hearts and lives of all to whom it is given. Accordingly, Christ, in his prayer to his Father for his disciples, said, “ Sanctify them through thy truth; thy word is truth." And with this agree the declarations of David. “ The law of the Lord is perfect, converting the soul; the testimony of the Lord is sure, making wise the simple. The statutes of the Lord are right, rejoicing the heart; the commandment of the Lord is pure, enlightening the eyes. — The judgments of the Lord are true, and righteous altogether."
4. God is holy in all his works. So says the Psalmist. “ The Lord is righteous in all his ways, and holy in all his works." The works of the Lord are great and numerous and wonderful; and all the fruits and effects of his holiness. God was holy in creating the heavens and the earth, and in forming angels and men. He was holy in calling into existence every created object. His holiness was as really concerned and displayed in creating things without holiness and without life, as in creating those which possess both. He created just so many creatures, of just such a nature, of just such a size, and of just such a duration, as would best subserve the purposes of his holiness. He made every thing in weight and in measure, and his holiness determined what these should be. He made nothing to no purpose, and nothing to an ill purpose. He had a holy, benevolent and important purpose in every thing he made. And though all things that he has made are not holy, yet he is holy in making all things.
'i' his leads me to observe farther, that God is holy in governing whatever he has made. He upholds and directs all things by his constant and powerful agency. He causes the regular