« AnteriorContinuar »
Selves, the Gospel requires from us many Internal Qualities and Dispositions, a great Variety of Graces, Transcendently Good in Themselves, as well as the Noblest Principles and Foundations of Action; insomuch that they plainly carry along with them, an abundant Inirinsick Evidence of their own Divine authority: Their Perfection testifies their Origin, and their 1 endency shews that they are from Above; For they Improve and Refine our nature, and raise it to the utmost Perfection 'tis capable of, on this side Heaven.
That this Argument therefore may leave the more useful and lasting Impressions upon you, I shall pass on, from5 this General view of it, to a Short representation of as many of those Particular Graces, relating to it, as the Time will allow me to mention.
i. The First is Purity of heart. There is no true worth or excellence in the Fairest and most Beautiful outward behaviour, unless it be built upon a true Principle of Goodness Within. So curious a Gloss may possibly be laid, by an
Artful Artful hand, upon Hypocritical actions, that the most piercing eye of Man cannot reach to the Bottom of them, or, perceive any manner of Difference between Real holiness and these Counterfeit Images of it. But such masterly Appearances of Religion, which frequently gain the Admiration and Applause of Men, are ever an Abomination in the sight of God. Thofe who are most effectually restrain'd from Evil actions, or, excited to Good ones, by a Principle of Vain-Glory, or any other worldly view, freely entertaining and Indulging their minds with Evil Thoughts, may seem to be religious, but their religion is vain. They are not in Any respect obedient unto God; For the Visible part of their Lives is a Fraud put upon the World, to bribe Mankind into a good opinion of them; and their Inward parts are very Wickedness. Let us therefore continually revolve it in our Thoughts, that none but the pure in heart shall fee God, either in spiritual fellowship with him upon Earth, or the eternal enjoyment of him in Heaven.
2. The second Christian Grace that I shall mention is Humility in Mind and Thought. Be ye clothed with Humility, faith the Apostle, intimating, that this virtue should be Particularly and Eminently Conspicuous in us. And, lest we should be mistaken in the Nature of that Humility, which becometh the EkB of God, we are elsewhere taught, in a Metaphor of the like Import, to put on Humbleness of Mind. For 'tis in this, and in all other Graces, as in the Case of Purity, that the Soul is the Seat of them; And if they have not gain'd Intire Possession and Dominion There, the most plausible external representations of them are always Insignificant, and often Sinful. A Man of the Haughtiest Mind may possibly behave himself, in the most Condescending and Humble manner, for the sake of being Thought humble and condescending, and of securing to himself, by Artifice and Address, that Deference and Respect from the World, which he would be sure to forfeit, by an Insolent and Overbearing Demand of it: But does he not, all the while, offend God the .... ... more, more, by adding Hypocrisy to Haughtiness, and making the false Appearances of Humility Ministerial to his Pride? Humility then is, Principally, a Quality or Affection of the Soul; And 'tis under This view of it, that our Blessed Lord requires us to be Humble, and to become as little children: Not unlike to This is David's manner of expressing his Humility; My heart is not haughty My
foul is even as a weaned Child. How highly Necessary, Amiable, and Acceptable unto God this excellent Frame of Spirit is, himself hath declared by his Holy Prophet: * 'Thussaith the High and lofty one, that inhabit eth eternity, whose name is Holy, I dwell in the high and holy place-, with Him also that is of an Humble spirit. And as this Grace is Necessary to Qualifie us for receiving the Full Influences of the Holy Spirit, dwelling in us, here on Earth; So is it necessary to Qualifie us for the Attainment of happiness in Heaven. For if the Angels fell from Heaven by Pride; we can
* Ila. lvii. 15.
Dd t jiot not expect to be admitted There without Humility.
3. Meekness is a Distinguishing part of Chrtstian conversation; all Causeless or Immoderate anger, the Raging heats of Sudden passion, and the more settled and fixed Sullenness of Malice and Revenge, together with all Railing and Reviling, Turbulency and Clamour being directly Opposite to the Spirit of the Gospel, which breathes nothing but Peace and Gentleness, Mildness and Forbearance.
And this Virtue of Meekness is not only required of us, as it is the great condition of our receiving the IngrastedfVord, in the Best manner, and to the Best Purposes, or, as it is a Disposition of mind, Best fitting and preparing us to receive . Spiritual and Saving Knowledge; But it is recommended to us, in a Peculiar manner, by the Command and Example of our Blessed Lord, * Learn of me-, for I am meek. and lowly, and ye JJjall find rest unto your Souls. Since his Life was one uninterrupted Scene of Invincible
* Mat. xi. 29.
.( ,s Meekness,