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Concerning our imitation of the di
MATT. v. 48.
is in heaven is perfect.
IN these words we have, first, the absolute per- SERN.
fection of the divine nature supposed, not only CXXXI. in those before mentioned, of goodness, and
pre and m mercy, and patience; but in all other excellencies whatsoever.
Secondly, The perfection of God is propounded as a pattern for our imitation.
In the handling of these two particulars, I propounded co proceed in this method.
I. To shew how we are to conceive of the divine perfection.
II. To lay down some rules, by which we may rectify and govern our opinions concerning the attributes and perfections of God.
III, To shew how far we are to imitate the perfections of God, and particularly what those divine qualities are which our Saviour doth here more especially propound to our imitation.
IV. To clear the true meaning of this precept ; and to shew that the duty here intended by our SAviour is not impossible to us, and then to draw fome useful inferences from the whole.
sert: The two first I have already spoken ; to I now CXXXI. proceed to the third particular, which is, to shew
how far we are to imitate the perfections of God,
So that in our imitation of the divine perfection, we are to keep within the station of creatures, not affecting an independency and sovereignty like the most High, and to be omnipotent as he is, “ to “ have an arm like God, and to thunder with a
voice like him," as the expression is in Job: buc to endeavour to resemble him, pro modulo creaturæ, “ according to the rate and capacity of a creature, in those divine qualities, and in such measures and,
degrees, as our finite and dependent nature is ca-serM. pable of.
. CXXXI. More especially and chiefly in the moral perfections of the divine nature, such as are his goodness, and mercy, and patience, his justice, and truth, and faithfulness; these, and only these, the scripture seems to comprehend under the name of holiness; not all the excellencies of the divine nature in general, but those which we call moral excellencies and perfections, such as those which I have named; for with these, and hardly with any other, is the holiness of God joined in fcripture, as“ holy " and righteous, holy and true," &c. And therefore when God says, “ be ye holy, for I am holy,” it signifies that we are to imitate God, in his goodness, and mercy, and patience, and righteousness, and faithfulness, and truth; for these are the holiness of the divine nature, which set him at the greatest distance from that which we call moral impurity and fin. · For that which our Saviour here in the text more peculiarly recommends to our imitation, is the goodness of God, of which his mercy and pacience are two eminent branches. The mercy of God is his goodness to those that are in misery, or are liable to it. The patience of God is his mercy in sparing those who have deserved punishment, and are liable to it. And the goodness of God is then greatest, when it is exercised towards the evil and unthankful ; those who are so far from deserving it, that they have given great and just provocations to the contrary. And this affectionate temper of mind, which is so remarkable in God towards the unworthy and unthankful fons of men, our Saviour recommends to our imitation here in the text. “ Be A 3
SERM.“ ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which
particle of inference, therefore, hath a plain relation