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that a man say. I have faith, and have not works? Can faith save him? But wilt thou know, O vain man, that faith without works is dead? As the body without the spirit is dead, fo faith without works is dead also.” The same apostle advances the following excellent maxim, ch. i. 26.“ If any man among you seem to be religious, and bridleth not his tongue, but deceiveth his own heart, that man’s religion is vain. Pure religion, and undefiled, before God and the Father, is this, To visit the fatherless and widows in their affliction, and to keep himself unspotted from the world."
A very great proportion of all the apostolic epistles consists of practical exhortations to all the most important duties of life; but I shall only quote a few passages, particularly expressive of the general design of the Gospel. The apostle Paul, writing to Titus, after reciting many particular duties, adds in general, ch. ii. 11. “ The
of God, that bringeth falvation, hath appeared unto all men; teaching us that denying ungodliness, and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and piously in this present evil world, looking for that blessed
hope, the glorious appearing of the great God, and our saviour Jesus Christ, who gave himself for us that he might redeem us from all iniquity, and purify unto himself a peculiar people zealous of good works."
“ His divine power,” says the apostle Peter, 2 Eph. i.
“has given us all things that pertain unto life and godliness (i. e. ą godly, or pious life) through the knowledge of him that hath called us to glory and virtue, whereby are given unto us exceeding great and precious promises, that by these ye might be partakers of a divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust. (And besides this, giving all diligence, add to your 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. For if these things be in you, and abound, they make that ye shall neither be barren nor unfruitful, in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. But he that lacketh these things is blind, and cannot see far off, and hath forgotten that he was purged
from his old sins. Wherefore the rather, brethren, give diligence to make your
calling and election sure; for if
do these things ye shall never fail. For so an entrance shall be ministered unto you abundantly into the everlasting kingdom of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ.”
I shall only add one more testimony to the moral design of the gospel. It is from the apostle John, 1 Eph. ii. 1, &c. " My little children, these things I write unto you that
ye sin not.--Hereby we know that we know him, if we keep his commandments. He that faith I know him, and keepeth not his commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him. But whoso keepeth his word in him verily is the love of God perfected. Hereby know we that we are in him. He that saith he abideth in him, ought himself also fo to walk even as he walked.” ch. iii. 2.“ Beloved, now are we the sons of God, and it doth not yet appear what we shall be. But we know that when he shall appear we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is. And every man that hath this hope in him purifieth himself even as he is pure. Whosoever committeth fin transgresseth Ꭰ Ꮞ
also the law; for sin is a transgression of the law. And ye know that he was manifested to take away fin, and in him was no sin. Whosoever abideth in him finneth not, Whosoever sinneth hath not seen him, neither known him. Little children, let no man deceive
He that doth righteousness is righteous, even as he is righteous. He that committeth fin is of the devil ; for the devil funeth from the beginning. For this purpose the Son of God was manifested, that he might destroy the works of the devil.'
We need no other evidence of what it was that, in the idea of these apostles, Paul, Peter, James, and John, was the principal object and design of the Gospel. It was to make men virtuous, in order to their being happy ; whereas none of the heathen religions had any such object. This, therefore, is a considerable and important part of the evidence of the divine origin of our religion, of its having come from a pure
and holy God, who intended thereby to make men, who are his offspring, and who were originally made in his image, pure and holy, like hiinself; proper objects of his favour, and fit heirs of a happy immortality.
While, therefore, we profess this religion, let us be careful to live up to this great end of it; that we may be Christians not in name only, but in deed and in truth; approving ourselves to be the disciples and friends of Christ, by doing whatsoever he has commanded us; that when he shall return, and take an account of his servants, we may be found of him without spot and blameless, and not be ashamed before him at his coming.