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vernment, the fall and finfulness of man, the method of falvation by a glorious Redeemer, &c. but the know. ledge of these things must have a suitable influence upon his heart and life, so that his temper, disposition, and practice, are reduced to the obedience of the Gospel. When his knowledge is directed by prudence and discretion, in such a manner, whereby he becomes employed in boly exercises and holy duties, then may be be properly denominated wife or religious. Wbo is a wise man, and endued with knowledge among you? Let bim bew, out of a good conversation, bis works with meekness of wisdom. Indeed, none, in a fcriptural sense, can be deemed truly wise or knowing, who have not acquainted themselves with God, who have not known and felt their deplorable stare by nature and practice, who have not cordially acquiesced in the plan of salvation, revealed in the Gospel, and devoted themselves to godly contemplations, and to the works of righteousness. All the knowledge, besides this, which the world styles wisdom, is foolishness with God.
Having mentioned these few things to manifeft that the term wisdom, in our text, expresses the same idea with the phrase true religion, I shall now proceed to confider its origin and fruits, as they are here exhibited be. fore us.
First, We are here taught, that true religion is from above. It is of a heavenly and divine original, it cometh down from the Father of Lights. All who are fanctified are said to be the workmanship of God, whose glorious and principal dwelling is in the heavens. Chrift Jesus, the great author of religion, came down from above. The Holy Ghoft, the Comforter and Sanctifier of all that believe, defcendeth from on high. The ora. cles of truth--the words of eternal life—the law and the Gospel, are likewise from the same source : Holy men, by the inspired influences of Heaven, were moved to write and speak those things. When God is pleased to make effectual application of his word or providences to the awakening and converfion of a soul, this precious grace descends from above. Thus all wisdom, religion, grace, and goodness, are of a heavenly and divine original ; and that which is from any other fountain, is not that religion or wisdom which will save the soul. Hence it is said, The Lord giveth wisdom; out of his mouth cometh knowledge and understanding. But this being a thing generally allowed, that all true religion proceeds from God, or descends from above, I would not spend time in labouring this point, but proceed to consider its nature and fruits, · as here described.
We have it represented to our view in eight branches or particulars,—a shining groupe of constituents. All the heathen writers combined could not produce such a constellation of virtues. He, who laboriously cons their mighty works, will no where find such a collection ; and when he has turned over and spread abroad their mountains of rubbilh, no such beautiful gems strike his eager fight! Attend to the Divine description. It is pure, peaceable, gentle, easy to be entreated, full of mercy, good fruits, without partiality, and without hypocrisy.
The first constituent or branch of true religion, or that wisdom which is from above, is purity. It is first pure, without any undue mixture of maxims, or aims that would debase it—it is free from gross iniquities or moral defilements--not allowing habitually of any known sin, but studious of virtue and holiness, in all manner of conversation. The original word, which is here rendered pure, fignifies also chase and modeft ; therefore, this term expresses a sweet, modest, decent, chaste, and pure deportment, arising from right principles and proper views.
When true religion is here characterized as pure, we muft not from hence conceive that a religious person is instantly made perfect, that he feels no more the motions of corrupt inclinations and affections, and is no longer guilty of sin, but only that he receives a pure principle or bias, whereby he is enabled to check his evil propensities, to govern and restrain his corruptions, so that fin hath no longer that dominion over him which it formerly held.
This principle, received in regeneration, tends to fill the soul with defires after, and will at last issue in perfection, Some may here refer to the interrogation of the Royal Preacher, saying, Who can say my heart is clean.? I am pure from my fin? It is a fad and humiliating truth, There is none doth good perfe&tly, no not one. There are none whose hearts or lives are completely clean or perfectly free from fin; yet through the boundless riches of Divine grace, there are many who can rejoice in God, who giveth them the victory over their corruptions, and enables them to foil their spiritual adversaries. As pone ought to carry their opinions of religious purity to so great a height as perfection in this life ; on the other hand, every one may easily observe, that there is something more intended hereby than a bare abstinence from the outward and gross acts of criminal sensuality. There is more meant than an unimpeached character or a fair external behaviour before men. Men may be, and often are outwardly orderly and regular in their carriage, and yet poffefs no real and vital piety.-Our Lord speaks of some who had this beautiful and ornamented conduct, that were the reverse of fincerity and purity. He represents them under the strong figure of wbited sepulcbres, wbicb appear beautiful outwardly, but within are full of dead mens bones, and of all uncleanness. Wherefore they, who are the subjects of this purity wbich descendeth from above, are first made pure in heart. Blesséd are the pure in heart, for they fall fee God; blessed are the undefiled in the way, &c. These look upon all intemperance, injustice, dishonesty, and sensuality as forbidden by God, waring against the soul, condemned by the gospel of Christ Jesus, and standing in arrayed opposition against their cternal interest. The fear of God, love to the precious Redeemer, a pleasure and delight in propriety, integrity and uprightness, lead them to hate evil. A fixed averfion of the soul from iniquity, is a cardinal constituent of true purity. The hearts, the thoughts, and inclinations of the careless and secure, are entirely disposed to sinful pleasures, and sensual gratifications. They are governed by pride, ambition, covetousness, custom, inconfi. deration, vanity, or some base lust or other. Hearken to St Peter's declaration, Their eyes are full of adultery, and they cannot cease from fin. Or shall we go farther back into antiquity and retail the account found there : Every imagination of the thoughts of their beart is only evil continually. But when true religion enters the foul, and takes possession of it, another turn to the temper, bias and difpofition is given. The thoughts and inclinations of the heart become now prevailingly fixed upon God and divine things, upon the honour of Jesus, the advancement of his kingdom, and their own immortal interests.
The breathings of the new born soul are, Lord, create in me a clean beart, and make me of pure bands. They are now full of holy purposes, defires, and withes. They long for the entire mortification of the deeds of the flesh, to yield themselves up foul and body to the service of God, and to be holy and perfect as he is holy and perfect. The heart being thus initiated into purity by the incorruptible feed of Divine principles sown from above, true religion will then display itself in a purity of life, by
avoiding avoiding those things, which may dishonour Ged, wound the conscience, or injure the sacred cause of real piety, Its votaries will avoid, as far as possible, all loose, profane, and vicious company. They will not take the abandons ed and notoriously wicked for their chosen companions.
They will hate the stains on the forehead, and the garments spotted by the flesh. They will be governed by a dictate of common sense, arising from the gleam of nature's light, when the same is adopted and confirmed by Divine counsel, knowing by experience, That evil communication corrupts good manners. : Intemperate passions, inordinate appetites, they will diligently guard against. Drunkenness, with all its beastly train, they will carefully shun. The exhortation of our Saviour, with a sweet and an abiding influence, rests upon their minds. Let us walk bonestly as in the day, not in rioting and drunkenness, not in chambering and wantonness. The impurity of revelling, rioting; the baseness of chambering, and wanton looks, wanton hints, words and behaviour, must not put the present theme of modefty and chastity to the blush. Every thing which wears the aspect of uncleanness, dishonour, dishonesty and uprighteousness, will be objects of their peculiar detestation. A ribaldry of conversation will be the abhorrence of their souls; they will not indulge themselves in filthy communication or filthy speaking, nor will they patiently bear it in others. Railing, wbi. fpering, backbiting, reviling and slandering, wound their pure feelings. They cannot allow their own tongues this unkind and unchristian latitude, and their souls are often pained with such ebullitions from the mouths of others. Their desire is so pure, that they would with to speak evil of none; and when they are called by authority, or a just occasion, it is with uneasiness they undertake the difa. recable task. Your talking, glorying, boaking, fault