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'ceal his adultery, but by plunging himself into the guilt of murder.
And thus it is proportionably in all other vices. The ways of sin are crooked paths, but the way of holiness and virtue is a highway, and lies so plain before us, that wayfaring men, though fools, shall not err therein, Isa. xxxv. 8. There needs no skill to keep oneself true and honest'; if we will but resolve to deal justly, and to speak the truth to our neighbour, nothing in the world is easier; no artifice and reach are required to enable us to speak as we think, and to do to others as we would be done by.
And as the ways of sin are full of intricacy, so likewise of trouble and disquiet; no man's conscience ever troubled him for not being dishonest; no man's reason ever reproached him for not being drunk ; no man ever broke his sleep, or was haunted with fears of divine vengeance, because he was conscious to himself that he had lived soberly, und righteously, and godly in the world. But with the ungodly it is not so: there is no one knowingly wicked, but he is guilty to himself; and he that carries guilt about him, has received a sting into his soul, wbich makes him restless, so that he can never have perfect ease and pleasure in his mind.
Sixthly, If we will but put a religious and a wicked course of life in equal circumstances ; if we will but suppose a man as much accus
tomed to the one, as he has been to the other, I doubt -not but the advantages of ease and pleasure will be found to be on the side of religion; and if we do not put the case thus, we make an unequal comparison ; for there is no one when he first begins a wicked course, but feels a great deal of regret in his mind ; the terrors of his conscience, and the fears of damnation, are very troublesome to him. It is possible, that by degrees he may harden his conscience, and by a long custom of sinning may, in a great measure, wear off that tender sense of good and evil that makes sin so uneasy: but then if, in the practice of a holy life, we may, by the same degrees, arrive to far greater peace and quiet of mind than ever any wicked man found in a sinful course; if by custom virtue will come to be more pleasant than ever vice was, then the advantage is plainly on the side of religion; and this is truly the case. It is troublesome at first to begin any new course, and to do contrary to what we have been accustomed to; but let us habituate ourselves to a religious life, and the trouble will go off by degrees, and unspeakable pleasure succeed in the room of it. It is an excellent rule which a wise heathen (Pythagoras) gave to his scholars, pitch upon the best course of life;" resolve always to do what is most reasonable and virtuous, “ and custom will render it the most easy.” There is no difficulty
in a good life, but what may be conquered by custom, as well as the difficulties of any other course; and when we are once used to it, the pleasure of it will be greater than of any other
So that, upon consideration of the whole, there is no reason why we should be deterred from a holy and virtuous life for fear of the labour and pains of it; because every one that is wicked takes more pains in another way, and is more industrious only to a worse purpose. Now he who can travel in deep and foul ways ought not to say that he cannot walk in fair. He who ventures to run upon a precipice, when every step he takes is with danger of his life and his soul, ought not to pretend any thing against the plain and safe paths of religion, which will entertain us with pleasure in the course of our journey, and crown us with happiness at its end.
OBLIGATIONS OF CHRISTIANS TO A HOLY LIFE.
2 Tim. ii. 19. Let every one that nameth the nume of Christ
depart from iniquity. We all call ourselves Christians, and would be very much offended at any man that would
deny us this title; but let us not deceive ousselves with an empty and insignificant name: if we call ourselves Christians, let us make good our profession by a suitable life and practice; and to persuade us thereto, I shall do these two things:
First, Show what obligation the profession of Christianity lays upon men to live holy lives.
Secondly, Endeavour to persuade those who call themselves Christians to answer this obligation.
1. As to the obligation which the profession of Christianity lays upon men to lead holy lives, he who calls himself a Christian, professeth to entertain the doctrine of Christ, to live in the imitation of his holy example, and to have solemnly engaged himself to all this.
1. He who calls himself a Christian, professes to entertain the doctrine of Christ; to believe the whole gospel ; to assent to all the articles of the Christian faith, to all the precepts, promises, and threatenings of the gospel. Now the great design of this doctrine is to take men off from sin, and to direct and encourage them to a holy life. It teaches us what we are to believe concerning God and Christ; not to entertain our minds, but to better our lives ; for every article of our faith is a proper argument against sin, and a powerful motive to obedience. The whole history of Christ's appearance in the world; the dis
courses and actions of his life, and the sufferings of his death; all tend to the destroying of sin: so St. John tells us, For this purpose was. the Son of God manifested, that he might destroy the works of the devil, 1 John jii. 8. But this is most expressly declared to us by St. Paul, The grace of God that bringeth salvation hath appeared to all men, teaching us, that denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly, in this present world; looking for that blessed hope, and the glorious appearing of the great God and our Saviour Jesus Christ; who gave himself for us that he might redeem us from all iniquity, and purify unto himself a peculiar people, zealous of good works, Tit. ii. 11-13.
The gospel strictly commands holiness, and that universal ; to cleanse ourselves from all filthiness of flesh and spirit, 2 Cor. vii. 1; to abstain from all kind of evil, 1 Thes. v. 22 ; to be holy in all manner of conversation, 1 Pet. i. 15. It requires us to endeavour after the highest degrees of holiness that are attainable by us in this imperfect state, to be holy as he that hath called us is holy, 1 Pet. i. 15; to be perfect as our Father which is in heaven is perfect, Matt. v. 48.
All the promises of the gospel are so many encouragements to obedience and a holy life; having therefore these promises, let us cleanse ourseltes from all filthiness of flesh and Spirit, and