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invisible? Do you walk with God?" as the character of a truly good man is sometimes drawn in scripture. Can you say with David, "mine eyes are ever towards the Lord?" Psal. xxv. 15. That you "walk in his fear all the day long? That your hearts are directed into the love of God? That you trust in him at all times?" That you can take his word in any case? That you are willing to obey him without exception, and to submit to him without a murmur? That his honor and approbation are the scope you propose to yourselves? That you would gladly be as like him, as he allows you to be? That a day in his courts, or an hour spent in converse with him, is better than a thousand elsewhere? That you cannot content yourselves with appearing to men to perform religious duties in an unexceptionable manner, unless you can have hope, that the God who sees in secret will approve you openly; This is real godliness, that to which Christianity was designed to recover us. Such worshippers God desireth; and if this be our temper, it is a good presage whither we are going, even to a world, where "God shall be all in all;" where the highest regards will be paid him by all the inhabitants, but after the manner of that perfect state, and freed from all the imperfections of ours.
GODLINESS; OR, THE CHRISTIAN TEMPER TOWARDS GOD.
2 Pet. i. 6.
IN the last discourse the nature of godliness, in the most strict sen so of the word was considered; or the right temper of the soul toward God. I am now in the second place to shew—
II. The obligations, which lie upon Christians to exercise themselves unto godliness: or to maintain and exercise a constant pious regard to God.
1. This is one principal end of the gospel. As the bias of innocent nature was in the first place to the performance of that duty which is owing to God; so any designs of man's recovery from the apostacy, could not fail to take in this as a principal part, his restoration to godliness. The sin and the misery too, from which above all things we needed relief, was °or alienation from God. It was impossible for the rational nature to be set right, and yet remain disaffected to God. When therefore he set a saving design on foot, this must I,o his first intention and scope, to bring man back to his due affection and allegiance to his own blessed self, and to have the mind of man cured of all hostility and unsuitableness of temiKT towards the God that made him. For this end "Christ suffered for sins, the just for the unjust, that he might bring us to God," 1 Pet. iii. IS. We were gone off from him, prone to live without him, unmindful of trie relations and obligations wherein we stood to him, and destitute of impressions aiid affections correspondent to his perfections and to the concern we have with him. Now the great intention of the blessed Jesus, in submitting to suffer for us, was to atone for this horrid provocation, to procure the divine Spirit to renew us, and to encourage and dispose us by all "to arise and return to our Father." The good will of God to us, his readiness to receive us upon our return, his gracious intentions for those who do return, are all manifested in the gospel for this very purpose, to revive godliness in creatures who had lost it. We are allowed to know, that "there is forgiveness with him, that he may be feared, Psal. cxxx. 4. that he may be religiously feared again by apostate creatures. "The grace of God bringing salvation, hath appeared to all men, teaching us on the one hand to deny all ungodliness, and on the other to live godly in this world," Tit. ii. 11, 12. that is, to live in the exercise of the fear and love of God, and of all these holy dispositions toward him, wherein godliness consists. The whole gospel is "a doctrine according to godliness," 1 Tim. vi. 3. and tending to form that temper in us. All the truths it reveals, the precepts it contains, and the promises and tlneateuings with which they arc enforced, have this for their chief scope and aim, to recal us to live to God.
2. All other seeming virtues, without godliness, can never be acceptable to God; and then they will be of little service to us. It will be a poor reward of them, to secure thereby a fair character among men, or to obtain the highest ends which can be served by them in this short and momentary life; if they will turn to no good account in the future world; if our judge after all shall give us our portion with hypocrites, and rank us among the workers of iniquity. And he will certainly do so, if true godliness be wanting, whatever splendid appearances may be in our character; and that upon two accounts.
Because of the partiality qf stick seeming goodness. While regard appears to be paid to some parts of duty, a most important part to God himself is neglected. "He that keeps the whole law, and offends in one point, is guilty of all," says St James, chap. ii. 10. Though a man should observe many points of his duty, and yet statedly and allowedly neglect others, which are equally plain and obvious; this cannot be a genuine or acceptable obedience. What he attends to and performs, though in fact it is his duty, yet he cannot be supposed to do it merely for that reason; otherwise he would mind the other branches of his duty also. Thus, let men be ever so sober and regular in the conduct of themselves, let their behaviour be ever so unexceptionable to their fellow-creatures; yet, if they remember not their Creator, if they live without God in the world, their goodness is all partial, and therefore insincere. Can you think that the great God will dispense with the neglect and contempt of himself, because people maintain a decency in their behaviour to their fellowcreatures? If he will not accept him, who "breaks [with a stated allowance] one of the least of his commandments," Matt. v. 19- shall any one flatter himself, that he will overlook the open contempt of the first and great commandment, the fear and love and service of himself? You value yourselves, it may be, upon doing nobody wrong; but will you rob God, and yet hope to be guiltless? Your first and greatest regards are due to him; your obligations to these are written in nature and scripture, as with the point of a diamond. And therefore in any nation, especially in a Christian one, he that feareth not God whatever righteousness he seemeth to work, is not accepted with him. This is farther evident,
Because there is no religion in any appearances of goodness, farther than they proceed from a regard to God, as the principle of them. The regularity and usefulness of men's outward actions is all that can recommend them to other men, because they are not capable judges of the springs and principles that animate them: But God sees not as man sees; he judges not according to outward appearance; but mainly regards the temper of mind, from which men's actions flow, and particularly the respect they have to himself in all they do; and he proceeds by that measure in his acceptance. We are required to "do, whatever we do, as unto the Lord, and not as unto men," Col. iii. 23. Now when we restrain our appetites and passions, when we are just and meek, and charitable and beneficial to others; out of a respect to God, obedience to his will, in imitation of his example, with an eye to his glory: this consecrates every moral duty, and makes it truly an act of religion, so that it "is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Saviour," 1 Tim. ii. 3. But if godliness
be not the foundation and principle of such actions, they are but the body without the soul; when God comes to pass his judgment on them, he may say, did ye these things at all unto me * You did them out of humour, or to be seen of men, or to serve some wordly aim ; and then verily you have your reward : expect no reward from me, since you did them not to me. 8. Godliness is a necessary foundation of all the other branches of the Christian temper, and the only principle which can carry it through. Therefore we find the fear of God so often made use of in scripture to express the whole of religion and goodness; and it is said to be “the beginning of wisdom,” Prov. ix. 10. Hence, as the whole chain of graces and duties enters into the character of a true Christian, so he is under the strongest obligations to cultivate a right temper of mind towards God, as the necessary principle of all the rest. And that it is such a principle, may appear from several consideratlollS. A sincere regard to God, and that only, will engage us to make conscience of every Christian duty. Other motives may sway in particular instances; but nothing will be sufficient to carry us through the whole of the Christian life, besides religion properly so called. A submission to God’s authority, an aim at his glory, a belief of his eye upon us, an expectation of his judgment, a sense of his love to us, and a strong affection to him in our souls thereupon, will have a vital influence upon every part of duty. If we go upon this ground, “of esteeming all his precepts concerning all things to be right,” as David did, Psal. cxix. 128. that will carry us through the whole compass of duty; for his commandment is exceeding broad, and reaches to every case, wherein we can be concerned to act. A supreme regard to God's honour, will engage us to be of this temper “that whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest,” or honourable, “whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report, if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, we shall think on these things,” Phil. iv. 8. An apprehension of his constant observation, will quicken our endeavours, will reach to every place, and frame, and duty, and animate us to preform it in the best manner we can. And the love of God ruling in us will