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SERM.can be, or as the frailty of our nature in VIII. this state will allow. It is said in the verse

w"v' 'immediately preceding the text, he that dwelleth in love dwelletb in God, for God is love; that's the greatest intimacy of fellowship we can have with the supreme being, and the nearest resemblance to his glorious character. I took notice before, from the words of our Saviour, that to be merciful is to be perfect, as our heavenly father is; or to make the nearest approach that finite frail beings can make to the original fountain and pattern of all moral excellence. But because the divine perfection is too high for us thoroughly to comprehend, though we should always be followers of him, as dear children, it has pleased God to bring virtue nearer to the level of our capacity in the exemplary life os our Lord Jesus Christ, who was holy, harmless, undefilea1, andseparate from sinners, and who in the days of his jkfi went continually about doing good. Since, then, we profess to abide in him, let us ivali as he did. I suppose it will not be thought any violence to the text, to comprehend in its meaning, that we have boldness in the judgment or confidence towards' Jesus Cbriji himself the judge, because the like mind is in us which was also in him, and we imi-SERM. tate his example of holiness and charity. VIII. Now surely it will be acknowledged a just' ~v~~~' ground of hope towards God, that we are like him, are made partakers of a divine nature, and conformed to the image of his Jon. It will appear at first view the high dignity of our nature, that it is capable of resembling its author, and the greatest glory we can possess, to imitate his purity and goodness without any sinful defect. This is what our hopes ultimately terminate upon> as the very essence of that glory which mall be revealed in us. Now, indeed, we come far short of it; and it * does not appear what *we Jhall be, but when he Jhall appear we floalt be like him, for we jhall fee him as he is. Our hopes therefore must be more lively and strong, or we must have the greater boldness the liker we are to him now, or the more we are in this world as he is. . In the last place, the apostle farther illustrates the great advantage of perfection in love, by its casting out tormenting and disquieting fear. There is indeed a religious principle commonly in scripture called the &ar of God, which is not here intended,

O 3 and * i John iii. 2.

SERM.and the description of the text does not VIII. at all belong to itj it is a dutiful affection tQ 'the deity, that reverence and honour we have, and ought to have for him as our gracious heavenly father, whereby we are inclined to keep all his commandments, and with the utmost caution to avoid offending him; far from being cast out by perfect Jove, as inconsistent with it, it is inseparable from it. The very object of it is -the divine goodness, as the prophet * Hosea speaks, they stall fear the Lord and bis goodness, and % it hath no torment, but diffuses serenity and joy thro' the soul. But the fear here spoken of, and which love casts out, is the servile dread of punishment, the distracting terror of divine vengeance, that fearfulness which, gs the prophet Isaiah fays,furprizes the hypocrites, and wherewith unreformed sinners are afraid; the language of which is, who can dwell with devouring flames and everlasting burnings? iVnd tho' even this conT sideration is set before impenitent sinners very reasonably, if possible, to alarm them and bring them to serious thoughtfulness about their condition, yet is it not a prin'£iple of itself sufficient to produce religious

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virtue; and when the more ingenuousaffec-Serm. tion of love thoroughly possesses the heart, VIII. it is cast out; not all at once, but by degrees. *~~~*~m~* These principles, directly opposite, may, low and imperfect measures of them, meet in the fame mind j but still as the one increaseth, the other will abate. He that feareth may have some small beginnings, and weak degrees of love, but when love becomes perfect, that fear is cast out.

I shall now conclude this discourse with the following reflections.

First, by what has been said, we are led to consider the genius, and admire the excellence of the christian religion. What can recommend any institution more than that it has provided a sufficient consolation against the fear of death and judgment? Death would not be fb terrible as it generally is to mankind, if it were not for the judgment which js expected to follow j but 'tis this which holds them in bondage, from a secret consciousness of guilt, and therefore dread of the divine displeasure. But, now the gospel has brought us comfortable tidings concerning those most important points j {leath is abolished, and it has brought life 9 4 and Serm. and immorality to clear light j it assures us ^J^^J indeed of judgment to come, but teaches us to meet it with boldness; not only in general there is a glorious foundation laid for our hope, God is propitious to sinners, and his favour may be obtain'd upon the gracious and practicable conditions of sincere repentance and the amendment of our ways; but we know how to apply this comfort to our own minds, and thereby fortify them against the terror which is otherwise natural to them. What can be more rational than trie doctrine of christianity, particularly, of my text upon this head ? Surely it is not the worse, but so much the more excellent for approving itself to our reason. What man, attending deliberately to the principles of natural religion, could place his hope towards God on any other bottom than the perfection of love to the supreme being himself, to goodness, and to mankind? Or can we have a surer claim to acceptance with God than a consciousness of our conformity to his glorious moral character, and our being in the world, as he is.'

Secondly, let us therefore, give all diligence to make cur calling and election Jure,

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