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Opposed to the doctrine according to godliness are divisions and schism, pride and uncharitableness, contentions for forms at the expence of vital piety ; for things indifferent at the expence of things essential; for human systems to the denial of the unalienable right of private judgment, and implicit invasion of the prerogative of the head of the church.
Opposed to his doctrine are the pretensions to private revelation, which bring the oracles of God to the standard of every visionary. Thus a fight against God is maintained under a misguided zeal for him.
As little do the seclusion and austerities of a monastic life accord with his religion who went about doing good.
Any doctrine that interferes with the order of fociety, with the duties of our relations and stations, is contrary to that of Christ. This teaches to lead a quiet and peaceable life—to love our nation, and seek the good of Jerusalem-to cultivate the public, private and friendly affections, as they were conspicuous in the author of our religion.
Opposed to his religion is every doctrine of licentiousness—every doctrine addressed to the prejudices, passions and lufts of men—every doctrine which makes religion uncertain and mutable. Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, to-day, and forever. Truth is immutable. Godliness is the same in all times and places. 6. The wrath of God is revealed against all unright“ eousness, and ungodliness of men.” The grace
of God teacheth to crucify the flesh, with the affections and lufts—to strive for the mastery of our appetites.
The view we have taken of the truth as it is in Jesus, the doctrines to be believed and their practical de sign and influence, may suffice for our proposed delineation of religion.
The true Christian knows what and why he worships. The love of God and friendship of Christ teach him universal benevolence. He views with complacency
all the followers of God and of his Son. He has meat to eat, of which the world is ignorant. He learns obedience by all that he suffers, as did the blessed Jesus-never murmuring or defponding. He fees the beauty of holiness, the deformity and malignity of fin; and his inward affection to the former, and abhorrence of the latter, correspond to the nature of them. The administration of God is contemplated, not with acquiescence merely, but with delight. Observing the works and ways of God, his fervent prayer is, Thy will be done. This is godliness.
If the view we have taken of Christianity be juft, then doubtless this counsel is of God. No other could have exhibited the glorious harmony of his holiness, justice and mercy. No other could have laid fuch a foundation for the restoration of apoftates. No other could give the peace which passeth all understanding. No other could fupply with strength against fin. No other could give the lively hope of eternal life. How neceffary, how useful and important the doctrine of Christ?' No man ever fpake as he spake. Could he have done the works he did, if he were not a divine person? Could he otherwise have foreseen and foretold the various events, which came to pass according to his declaration, respecting himself and his religion and disciples ?—respecting the temple and city of Je. rusalem, and the people of the Jews ?- Therefore,
Secondly, we ought to give diligent and earnest beed to his doctrine. By receiving the record which God hath given of his Son, we set to our seal that God is true. 6 We receive the witness of men : The witness of “God is greater.” We receive his witness, when the gospel worketh effectually in us. Believers on the Son of God have the witness in themselves, in the fanctify. ing influence of the gospel. Their conversation in heaven is a good exemplification of their faith. A religion, which has such effect on its disciples, is manifested to be the doctrine according to godliness.
Thirdly, if the conversation of any professors is not as becometh the gospel, let the reproach fall on them, and not on their profesion. Did they walk worthy of their vocation, they would put to silence the ignorance of foolish men. That the name of Christ and his doctrine are reviled through them is for a lamentation. This is their condemnation. For the foundation of “ God ftandeth fure, having this seal, The Lord know“ eth them that are his. And, Let every one that “ nameth the name of Christ depart from iniquity.”
Would we, who profefs godliness, act up to this profeffion, let us reverence Jesus as sent of God, and separate ourselves from such as treat him with indifference and with scorn. “ What fellowship hath
righteousness with unrighteousness ? And what “ communion hath light with darkness ?" The asserters of the sufficiency of the light of nature, the revilers of the gofpel, would be thought to have an improved taste, a correct and enlarged mind. The gofpel has enlightened mankind fitting in darkness, with. out hope, thinking the Godhead to be like unto gold, or silver, or stone, or wood, graven by art and man's device. To whom but Christ, the light of the world, is it owing that the same ignorance on moral and religious subjects does not prevail in the present time throughout Christendom? Or whence is it, that the infidel has now a better understanding on such fubjects? He will not ask nor receive counsel from God only wise--will not acknowledge that he is obliged to Christianity for the light it has given him. Those who have no sense of the fall, corruption and imbecility of human nature--who fee no need of a Redeemer to atone for man's guilt, or of supernatural assistance to fet him free from the defilement of it-who trust in themselves that they are righteous, and will not submit to the righteousness of God, which is by faith of Jesus Christ, cherish vain imaginations.
Thou sayest, I am rich, and increased with goods, “ and have need of nothing; and knoweit not that “ thou art wretched, and miserable, and poor, and “ blind, and naked." The fick nigh unto death, and yet imagining themselves in found health, are not more difordered in their natural understanding, than sinners are in a moral sense, if they think themselves just persons. The first thing requisite in the religion of guilty, condemned, helpless creatures is to be sen, fible of their condition.
To us the gospel is preached, whether we will hear or forbear. What
What may be thought of the piety or virtue of any who have not heard of Christ is not the enquiry for such as have heard of him : But what must be thought of the piety or virtue of the latter, if they will not receive him, though his miflion has similar proof to that which we have for the existence and providence of God.
What doctrine did Jesus teach? What precepts did he give? How did he live ? All that he taught and enjoined, all that his own example enforced, is according to godliness. His religion is practical throughout : A practical faith or affent is the condition of it: Its great design is to call all men to repentance; to make them holy as God is holy, and thus meet for the enjoyment of him. The grace of the gospel restores the dominion of righteousness. The believer, the peni- . tent, yields himself to God as one alive from the dead. Being made free from fin, and become servants to God, ye have your fruit unto holiness, and the end everlasting life.
AN ENQUIRY ABOUT ETERNAL LIFE.
MARK X. 17.
AND WHEN HE WAS GONE FORTH INTO THE WAY, THERE CAME ONE RUNNING, AND KNEELING TO HIM, AND ASKED HIM, GOOD MASTER, WHAT SHALL I DO THAT I MAY INHERIT ETERNAL LIFE?
HE consideration of this question will afford useful instruction, first, in its immediate reference to the character and circumstances of the person who proposed it. Secondly, as an enquiry of universal concern.
First, With reference to the person who proposed it.
Three evangelifts, Matthew, Mark and Luke, have related the story of this young man's application to Christ: They all introduce it upon the occasion of young children being brought to Christ for his bleffing. The disciples reproved those who brought them; but he, approving of their being brought, was displeased with the disciples, and said, “ Suffer the little a children to come unto me, and forbid them not ; “ for of such is the kingdom of God. Verily I say “ unto you, Whosoever shall not receive the kingdom “ of God as a little child, he shall not enter therein. " And he took them up in his arms, put his hands up* on them, and blefled them.” St. Luke introduces