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THERE were in the apostolic age infidious
age insidious teachers, who introduced and kept alive “ questions “ whereof cometh envy, strife, railings, evil surmi« fings, perverse disputings. Not consenting to whole“ some words, even the words of our Lord Jesus “ Christ,(and to the doctrine which is according to ic
godliness,"} they were “ proud, knowing nothing men of corrupt minds, deftitute of the truth, speak
ing lies in hypocrisy, making shipwreck of faith, “ lovers of their own selves, having a form of godli“ ness, but denying the power." In opposition to teachers of this description, Paul exhorts Timothy, “ Hold fast the form of found words, in faith and “ love. Continue in the doctrine of Christ, avoid
ing profane and vain babblings—not giving heed to commandments of men that turn from the truth."
From this connection of the words, from the contrast to the doctrine of Christ, the doctrine according to godliness, we may form a correct judgment of the faith once delivered to the saints. “ Follow righteous“ ness, faith, charity, peace, with them who call on
“ the Lord out of a pure heart. But foolish and un “ learned questions avoid, knowing that they do gen“ der strifes. Take heed unto thyself, and unto thy « doctrine."
The prevailing sickness ;* my advanced years ; a warm affection to the flock; a particular wish that the youth, on whom our hopes are placed, may embrace pious paths, constrain me to address a course of fermons more especially to the younger part of the congregation. I shall, however, in the structure of them, and in the selection of subjects, have regard to hearers of every age. May a divine influence accompany the composition, delivery and hearing of them.
It is proposed to begin with a discourse on the view given us of the gospel as the doctrine according to godlinefs.
In thus describing the religion of Jesus Christ, the apostle would distinguish it from all falfe religion—the exhibition of the truth in opposition to the hidden thing's of dishonesty, walking in craftiness, corrupting the word of God, and handling it deceitfully.
In his epistle to Titus, recommending to “ adorn the doctrine of God our Saviour in all things,” he proceeds to give a fummary of this doctrine. " the grace of God that bringeth salvation hath
ap“peared to all men, teaching us, that, denying un“godliness and worldly lufts,
we should live foberly, “ righteously, and godly, in this present world; look
ing for that blessed hope, and the glorious appearing 66 of the great God and our Saviour Jefus Christ; who
gave himself for us, that he might redeem us from • all iniquity, and purify to himself a peculiar people, “ zealous of good works.” Salvation by grace is the inscription on the gospel plan. Grace is dispensed thro’a Mediator, giving himself for our sins. The great design of his expiatory facrifice was to promote holiness. Holiness is the qualification of the gospel.
Poffefsing this qualification, our hope in Christ is well founded. Thus the doctrine of Salvation is adorned, and is made to appear what it really is, the doctrine according to godliness—not according to any scheme of natural religion ; nor according to any human device; nor according to the reveries of enthusiasm-but sound and uncorrupted doctrine, worthy of an holy and merciful God, most neceffary and useful to man.
In the same letter to Titus, a summary of Christian doctrine is given us in the following language.“ The “ kindness and love of God our Saviour toward man “ appeared, not by works of righteousness which we “ have done; but according to his mercy he saved us, “ by the washing of regeneration, and renewing of “ the holy Ghost--that being justified by his grace, “ we should be made heirs according to the hope of “ eternal life. This is a faithful saying, and these
things I will that thou affirm conftantly, that they “ who have believed in God should be careful to main“ tain good works.”
Hence it appears that godliness includes faith and practice-truths to be believed, and duties to be performed. Both may be comprehended in this general language: Holiness of heart and life founded on the faith of Chrift. For godliness is to live by the faith of the Son of God. Faith is the afsent of the understanding to revealed truth, and the assent of the heart, or a practical faith.
We will consider, first, the principal truths contained in the religion of Jesus Christ, which evince it to be the doctrine according to godliness. SECONDLY, the rules of life, which prove the same thing.
First, the principal truths, or articles of Christian faith.
We wish to speak on this point as the Holy Ghoft teacheth, and not to teach for doctrine the commandments of men. To speak in the words which man's wisdom teacheth would be the doting about questions, and strifes
of words, against which the apostle enters an express caution; and which he mentions as opposed to the wholesome words of our Lord Jesus Christ, and the doctrine which is according to godliness.
Three truths claim special attention: The death of Christ as our ransom—the energy of the holy Spiritimmortality in soul and body.
1. Redemption by the blood of Christ.
In a passage already recited, the apostle declares that Jesus Christ gave himself for us. And chap. ii. 5, 6. of the first letter to Timothy, " There is one Mediator “ between God and men, the man Christ Jesus, who
gave himself a ransom for all.” Similar declarations frequently occur in his other epistles. It shall suffice to quote the following. “In whom we have redemption “ thro' his blood, Whom God hath set forth to be a
propitiation, through faith in his blood. Christ hath
given himself for us, an offering and a sacrifice to “ God for a sweet smelling favor." The sentiment of his vicarious sufferings runs through a great part of the epistle to the Hebrews. This sentiment, and indeed the whole gospel, proceeds upon the supposition that man has lost original rectitude. “How can man “ be justified with God? Who can bring a clean thing “ out of an unclean ?" A view of God, glorious in holiness, will be accompanied with sober thoughts of ourselves, as polluted by the condition of our birth, needing a ransom. The finner, who beholds the
purity of God, has a view of sin as exceeding odious. He loathes and abhors himself. “ The whole world is “ become guilty before God. Judgment is come up“ on all to condemnation."
From this judgment, the ransom, which the Mediator paid, is the only deliverance. God “ hath made “ him, who knew no sin, to be a sin-offering for us, " that we might be made the righteousness of God in “ him.” This is a doctrine according to godliness : It reflects the highest honor on the wisdom, holiness, government and mercy of God: It exhibits fin as the accursed thing, the demerit of which is awfully displayed in the crucifixion of THE HOLY ONE AND THE JUST. For if these things be done in the green tree, what fball be done in the dry?
You may imagine that abfolute grace might have pardoned fin. But God's thoughts are not as our thoughts. He hath determined the case otherwise, if Christianity be true : And no presumption of its falsehood arises from the assurance it gives us, that Christ crucified is the only foundation God hath laid for the absolution of finners. Will you undertake to prove, that his law would have appeared to be holy, just and good, if remiffion of sin had been dispensed without any such provision or medium as the sacrifice of Christ? Infinite wisdom always has the highest reasons for its appointments. We therefore infer, from the ransom which God hath provided for sinful man, that the plan is infinitely wife, while the reasons of it are far above our comprehension. But from what do we reason or infer, if we say that some other plan would have been as wise, or wiser? What do we know of the possibilities in the divine power and wisdom? Shall we call in question the propriety of his revealed counsel? Shall we reject it against ourfelves ? It assures us, that he “ will magnify the law, and make it honorable. My “ righteous servant shall justify many; for he shall “ bear their iniquities. The Lord is well pleased for “ his righteousness? sake." Pardon for finners, reconciliation for enemies, through the cross of Christ, does not frustrate the grace of God; but displays it in harmony with perfect holiness and the stability of his government. “ It is a faithful saying, and worthy of all " acceptation, that Christ Jesus came into the world “ to save finners."
2. In connection with his expiatory sacrifice we mentioned, secondly, the energy of the holy Spirit.
“ Except a man be born of the Spirit, he cannot en