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they do not constantly maintain that vigilance and self-denial, and exercise those active and passive graces, which are necessary, in order to mortify depraved inclinations and habits, and to promote the spirituality, health, vigour, comfort, and stability of their minds. And hence they frequently have occasion to cry, "My leanness, my leanness!" But how can inert Christians expect to thrive more abundantly, unless they devoutly aim at improvement in the Divine life? Do such persons promise themselves the enjoyment of bodily health without food and exercise? It would be as unreasonable to look for all the perfection of manhood in a babe, as to expect that a negligent person should prosper in religion like one who is earnestly intent upon "growing in grace, and in the knowledge of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ"."
Sanctification, then, exists in proportion to the measure of grace vouchsafed, and the diligence with which it is improved. Happy are they who, faithful to the light which has been given them, endeavour to increase it, by aspiring after universal purity of thought, speech, and conduct! They will undoubtedly obtain "the blessing from the Lord, and righteousness from the God of their salvation"."
5. The nature and importance of sanctification will be more distinctly understood by a brief consideration of the gracious work which is wrought, at the time of their conversion, by the Holy Ghost, on the hearts of the Saints and faithful in Christ Jesus.
6. The crucifixion of sin is effected by grace. "For this purpose the Son of God was manifested, that he might destroy the works of the devil. This object, Christ in part accomplished, by his triumph over Satan on the cross; and is now carrying ii 2 Pet. iii. 18. * Psalm xxiv. 5.
K 1 John iii. 8.
on, by the holy agency of his Spirit," who cleanses the thoughts of men's hearts by his inspiration, that they may perfectly love God, and worthily magnify his holy name."
When the heart is, in any degree, sanctified by the infusion of Divine grace, sin appears exceedingly hateful. The light which is communicated makes the darkness more manifest; so that the soul is thereby enabled to discern good from evil, righteousness from iniquity.
Now sin, whatever shape it may assume, becomes abhorrent to the new principle of holiness which predominates in the breast; and it is firmly opposed, as particularly injurious to the soul, in robbing it of peace, and defiling it, so as to render it "a vessel of wrath, fitted for destruction." Viewed in this light, it is no marvel if a believer should discover the same irreconcilable enmity to unrighteousness, as Hannibal evinced towards the Romans, against whom he swore, on their own altars, eternal vengeance.
Ashamed of his former unprofitableness, the Christian determines not to live the rest of his time in self-gratification, but in holy obedience to the Divine will". Hence his strenuous endeavours to mortify corrupt desires and propensities, "that the whole body of sin (the depravity of his nature) might be destroyed, that henceforth he should not serve sin"." No iniquity is spared. Love to God prompts him to extirpate, if possible, all remains of corruption; to pluck out the right eye, and to cut off the right hand mm ; that is, to renounce the darling lusts, which were once as dear to him as those invaluable members of his body. That he might not
'Collect for the Communion Service. m Rom. vi. 6.
1 Pet. iv. 2.
Mat. v. 29, 30.
give any quarter to his sins, he brings them daily to the cross, that there they may suffer a gradual and certain death. Thus they who are Christ's, crucify the depraved lusts and affections of the flesh; reckoning themselves to be dead indeed unto sin, but alive unto God, through Jesus Christ our Lord nn "
7. The life of righteousness is no less an effect of grace, than the mortification of sin. Sanctification being a renewal of the heart, and a consecration of all the faculties of the mind to holy and religious uses, the subjects of this grace act agreeably to their regenerate state. They who have been called out of darkness into marvellous light feel desirous to walk worthy of their high vocation, in order that they may be the sons of God, without rebuke, in the midst of a crooked and perverse nation. "They give all diligence, to add to their faith, virtue; and to virtue, knowledge; and to knowledge, temperance; and to temperance, patience; and to patience, godliness; and to godliness, brotherly kindness; and to brotherly kindness, charity P." To abound in these holy fruits, and to cherish habits of piety, is the ardent wish of a "heart which is right with God." Knowing that he is unspeakably pure, a man who is sanctified by the Spirit cannot be happy unless he becomes more like unto God; and it will ever be a cause of deep regret to his mind, that he is so defective, both in spirit and practice, with regard to the righteous law of his Maker, to which he labours to be entirely conformed. And though a state of sinless perfection is not attainable on earth, yet he feels a prevailing desire to approach
it as nearly as possible, in order that he may be fitted to serve God more perfectly in heaven".
8. The importance and blessedness of sanctification is so supremely great, as to render it worthy of every man's most ardent pursuit. Its importance may be inferred from the rank which it holds in the New-Covenant dispensation. Sanctification is the principal object of our calling and election; an especial promise of the Gospel; an advantage resulting from the application of redemption by the blood of Christ; the end to be answered by our regeneration and adoption, and absolutely necessary to our glorification 9.
The value of sanctification is apparent, in its enabling us to serve God in his earthly courts below. They only who delight to do his will, and to yield a cheerful obedience to his commands, are regarded by God as his children and beloved friends. Others are aliens and outcasts, in whom he can take no pleasure, so long as they are destitute of those holy affections which dispose the righteous to love and honour him.
And, oh! how sweet is the peace which they enjoy who fear the Lord! Their consciences being disburthened of a load of guilt, and being pacified towards him, are at ease, whilst they have a most comfortable assurance and foretaste of joys that cannot be expressed".
Nor is present satisfaction the only benefit to be derived from the pursuit of a religious life. The godly man is the lawful heir of heaven", which, in due. time, he will possess evermore. "It is their Father's good pleasure to give his people the kingdom "," and
1 John iii. 3. q 1 Pet. i. 2. John xvii. 17. 1 Thes. iv. 3. 2 Pet. i. 1-8. Heb. x. 14-23. Eph. i. 4, 5. Heb. xii. 14. "Psalm iv. 3. $ Luke xii. 32.
the enjoyment of those sublime pleasures which he has prepared for them. "For whom he did foreknow, he also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the first-born among many brethren. Moreover, whom he did predestinate, them he also called; and whom he called, them he also justified; and whom he justified, them he also glorified'."
9. Unrenewed characters, who are destitute of sanctification, should be aware of the perils of their situation. With hearts full of wickedness, and averse to all that is good, how wretched is their condition! If they die in their present state of alienation from and enmity to God, they must be undone through all eternity.
And are you, Reader, in this unpardoned and unsanctified state? And do you dream of happiness without conversion? "Know ye hot that the unrighteous shall not inherit the kingdom of God? Be not deceived: neither fornicators, not idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor abusers of themselves with mankind, nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners, shall inherit the kingdom of God"."
Jehovah must cease to be holy and just, and alter the constitution of heaven, before he can approve, of evil, or permit the wicked to dwell in his presence.
Think not, then, careless sinners, that a little reformation, or an occasional abstinence from vicious courses, will avail you any thing at the last day. If, indeed, you would possess a joyful hope" of entering into life," you must surrender at discretion, and give up yourselves unreservedly to God. You must be born again, and possess a new heart and a * Rom. viii. 29, 30. v. 1-6. 1 Cor. vi. 9, 10.