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truction of all our carnal lusts and appetites. The sum of the whole matter is briefly contained in these words of our blessed Saviour, the wicked “shall go away into everlasting punishment, but the righteous into life eternal.”
Before I proceed further, however, I think it proper, my brethren, to explain myself fully on one point, namely, my views of the cause and method of salvation; and this, not because I have not done it often before, not because I do not at least allude to those first principles every time I address you, not because there is any good reason therefore, that you should misunderstand me; but because it is most important that you should be free from error in this respect, and because it is from the contemplation of the subject, which I have at present in hand, (the necessity of a holy life) that this error is most likely to arise.
These are days in which there is a very general spirit of inquiry on the subject of religion. There is much knowledge on the subject, much reading, much talk about it. I will not say that there is not a corresponding improvement in heart and life; I pray God there may be, for else the rest is vain. But we know what discussions and controversies there are, about what is true doctrine, what false? What is the gospel, what is not? This spirit prevails to such an extent, that many listen to sermons, not for the purpose, and with the hope of practical improvement, so much as to satisfy themselves, whether the preacher is right in his views; and they will go away at one time and say, “ to day I have heard the gospel ;” at another, “to day we have been treated with nothing but the law and morality;" accordingly one is an evangelical sermon, the other merely moral; the former therefore is approved of, the latter condemned. I must tell you therefore in what cases I think this distinction may be fairly made, and in what it appears to me incorrect and uncharitable.
To insist entirely on the Christian virtues, though they be described ever so truly according to the representations of scripture, and enforced ever so earnestly as necessary to salvation, and at the same time to keep wholly out of view, or rarely or feebly to bring forward, the great and distinguishing doctrines of Christianity, the method of escape from the punishment due to sin, the peculiar motives to holiness suggested in the gospel, and the necessity of spiritual influence for the attainment of that holiness, this is to preach morality improperly ; it is to aim at making men no better than virtuous heathens, and I am afraid it would make them no better than virtuous heathens ; for I am sure that the Christian doctrines and principles, heartily entertained, can alone produce that beautiful and perfect state of morals exhibited in the truly Christian life. But when the preacher is not guilty of this suppression, or of this languid and infrequent exhibition, of Christian principles, when he is laying the foundation again and again, continually reminding the hearers of it, occasionally insisting with earnestness on that alone, declaring and proving from scripture that salvation is not of works but of grace, that faith in our blessed Redeemer is the only ground of their hopes, that love and gratitude towards God are the best motives to obedience, and that men are not sufficient of themselves, but that their sufficiency is of God, and that without the aid of his Holy Spirit, they cannot lead a godly life, cannot ultimately arrive at heaven; in this case, to press in the most forcible and emphatic manner, the duties of holiness in general, to exhort to the diligent cultivation of all the several virtues of Christianity in detail,- to warn sinners that they will never be saved, without a thorough renewal of mind, and reformation of conduct,—to bid men prove the genuineness of their faith, the sincerity of their profession, the strength of their principles, the reasonableness of their hopes, by diligently striving to guide themselves in all the
circumstances of life, according to the rule of the Christian precepts, this is to preach such morality as the gospel requires, such as is essential to salvation ; and if there be occasionally a whole sermon on that subject alone, it is uncharitable to esteem it otherwise than as a strictly evangelical sermon.
For what is the gospel ? Some one will say, the sum of its contents is this,--that man is a corrupt, sinful being, unable to save himself, and that Christ therefore became an atonement for him, and died for his salvation. Most true; thanks be to God for his unspeakable gift! This is a most important and indispensable part of the gospel, but not the whole; it is equally a part of the gospel, equally important, equally indispensable, that man must forsake all sin, hate all sin, endeavour to practice all Christian virtue, or he will never be saved. Is it too much to say this is equally important? How can it be less important? If you cannot be saved without the merits of Christ, nor without holiness, what distinction will you draw between these doctrines, as to their relative importance to yourselves? or do you fancy that you can be saved without holiness? Some men appear to think so; else how can they profess the Christian religion, and now and then cast a look towards heaven, and not be alarmed at their own sinfulness, not be troubled about their deficiency in all the material points of the Christian temper, character, and conduct? How can they live a vicious, worldly, careless life, and entertain the faintest hope of salvation? How can they be so void of all the distinguishing features of Christ's disciples, and not either renounce their faith, or look upon themselves as lost and reprobate? How can they be content with no more of religion than the form, and show, and profession of it, and yet complacently and tranquilly await the approach of death, not merely as if it could by no possibility bring any danger along with it, but as if it would certainly transfer them to a state of happiness?
My brethren, be not deceived; do not attempt to deceive yourselves. Whatever may be
your name, your faith, your hope, your opinions, your professions, all will avail nothing. You must be classed with heathens, with infidels, with atheists. Your principles are not better than theirs; your prospects are not brighter than theirs; your portion hereafter will not be happier than theirs, if you are not holy. And what is it to be holy? If you constantly and seriously read the scriptures, which you profess to believe, you would understand better what this means. You would there find not only sin in general con