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mercy as a sanctuary to protect sin*—That this doctrine gives to the sinner, continuing in sin, •no reason to expect forgiveness: nay, the want of an habitual disposition to keep the divine commands^ is unequivocal proof of his being in a state of spiritual death, and of his having no evidence that he shall ever experience the blessing of pardon. Divine grace is a 'vital, active, influential principle, operating on the heart, restraining the desires, affecting the general conduct, and as much regulating our commerce with the world, our business, pleasures, and enjoyments, our conversations, designs, and actions, as our behaviour in publick worship, or even in private devotion.'
There are some, indeed, who 'retire from the world, not merely to bask in ease or gratify curiosity; but that being disengaged from common cares, they may employ more time in the duties of religion: tha| they may regulate their actions with stricter vigilance, and purify their thoughts by more frequent meditation. To men thus elevated above the mists of mortality, I am far from presuming myself qualified to give directions. On him that appears to pass through things temporary, with no other care than not to lose finally the things eternal, I look with such veneration as inclines me to approve his conduct on the whole, without a minute examination of its parts; yet I could never forbear to wish, that while vice is every day multiplying seducements, and stalking forth with more hardened effrontery, virtue would not withdraw the influence of her presence, or forbear to assert her natural dignity, by open and undaunted perseverance in the right. Piety practised in solitude, like the flower that blooms in the desert, may give its fragrance to the winds of heaven, and delight those unbodied spirits that survey the works of God and the actions of men; but it bestows no assistance upon earthly beings, and however free from taints of impurity, yet wants the sacred splendour of beneficence.'
He that is commanded to let his light so shine before men, that they may see his good works, and glorify his- Father which is in heaven, cannot descend from the conspicuous situation in which he is placed, without leaving his post, and incurring the charge of cowardice, if not of desertion. The wicked, indeed, flee when no man pursueth: but the rightepus are bold as a lion. They are to be steadfast, unmoveable, always abounding in the work of the Lord: and the man who is born of God, and mercifully reserved to bear testimony in the world to the riches of sovereign grace, will demonstrate, by his conduct, that sanctity of heart and of life is inseparably connected. 'They that are Christ's have crucified the flesh with the affections and lusts.— They reckon themselves to be dead indeed unto sin, but alive unto God through Jesus Christ. The heavenly seed, in this case, cannot but be productive of fruit. There are no barren trees in God's vineyard; or at least, none of his planting: and even in those persons who are naturally incapable, or who have no time allotted for demonstrating the salutary effects of divine culture, the same immortal principle is implanted; the image of Christ is stamped on the soul; and though the impress be not per
ceptible to human view, St will, nevertheless, hereafter appear with his likeness.
To be delivered from the condemnation and dominion of sin in the present life; to rejoice in the glorious liberty of the gospel, and to have a conscience void of offence towards God and towards man, are privileges that the heirs of glory ardently desire to enjoy, and which they consider as the summit of earthly blessedness. How shall we, that are dead to sin, live any longer therein ?' He that hath tasted the bitterness of sin, will fear to commit it; and he that hath felt the sweetness of mercy, will fear to offend it!'
As the saints are made, through grace, heirs according to the hope of eternal life, they zealously contend,- and constantly declare, that those who have believed in God, should be careful to maintain good works. But then that love of holiness, and this zeal for the honour of God, arise, not from an expectation of being justified, either in whole or in part, by their personal conformity to the moral law; but from a heartfelt conviction that these things are in themselves lovely, as well as good and profitable to men.
The believer, like the great apostle of the gentiles, 'counts all things but loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus; for whom he can cheerfully suffer the loss of all things, and reckons them but dung, that he may win Christ, and be found in him, not having his own righteousness, which is of the law, but that which is through the faith of Christ, the righteousness which is of God by faith.' Like his divine Master, he finds it his meat and his drink to do the will of his heavenly Father. But were he to do all that is commanded, or that inclination or gratitude might prompt him to perform; yet would he say, I am an unprofitable servant—I have done that only which it was my duty to do. He / feels sin to be his heaviest burden, and holiness his principal delight. He presses towards the mark, for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus: anxious that he may know him, and the power of his resurrection, and