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guilt; because these fins are contrary to the chiefest and most effential perfections of God. Lying is a sin that would fiy in the face of an Heathen, because it dire@ly contradicts those natural notions which every man hath of God and religion; therefore we find that there is hardly any thing that men are more ashamed of than to be taken in a lie, and it is esteemed the highest reproach to be charged with it; it argues such a direct contrariety to that which is the rule of perfection, the nature of God, and consequently so much imperfection and baseness; he that tells a lie out of fear, is at once bold towards God, and base towards men.
Upon these accounts God expresseth himself highly offended with those that practise lying and fallhood, and to have a deteftation of them; Prov. xii. 22. Lying lips are an abomination to the Lord. It renders us unlike to him, Eph. iv. 24, 25. Put on the new man, which after God is created in righteousness and true holiness, (or in the holiness of truth.) And from hence he infers, Wherefore putting away lying, Speak every man truth to his neighbour : for we are members one of another. Col. iii. 9, 10. Lie not one to another, seeing that ye have put off the old man with his deeds; and have put on the new man, which is renewed in knowledge, after the image of him that created bim ; that is, because we profess to be conformed to the image of God. More particularly, we Thould charge ourselves with truth and faithfulness towards God and men.
1. Towards God, in our oaths and vows and covenants. In our oaths, when we swear in any matter, we tell God that what we speak is truth, and invoke him to bear witness to it. To falsity in an oath, is one of the most solemn affronts that we can put upon the God of truth.
And so in our vows, which are a solemn promise to God, in such things in which we have no precedent obligation lying upon us. He that regardeth truth, will neither be rash in making a vow, nor careless to perform it; Eccles. v. 4. When shou vow: eft a vow to God, defer not to pay it, for he hath no
pleasure in fools. Not to perform what we have vowed, is an argument of 'folly, either of rashness in the making of it, or of inconstancy in not keep
Šo likewise in all our covenants with God, to serve him, and obey him, and keep his commandments, we should strictly charge ourselves with performance of these. There is a natural obligation upon us to these things, from the very law of our creation, though we should never folemnly make any such promise, nor enter into any such engagements, because it is a tacit condition of our beings : but the taking of this covenant solemnly upon us in baptism, strengthens the obligation, and makes our unfaithfulness the
greater fin. All our hopes of happiness, are founded in the faithfulness of God; and if thou be false to him, how canst thou expect he should be faithful to thee? It is true, indeed, that he abides faithe ful, he cannot deny himself ; but if thou hast any ingenuity in thee, this should be an argument to thee to be faithful to him; I am sure this can be no encouragement to thee to be unfaithful: for if thou breakest the covenant thou haft entred into, and neglectest the conditions upon which God hath fufpended the performance of his promise, thou dischargest the obligation on his part.
2. Towards men : We should charge ourselves with truth in all our words, and faithfulness in all our promises. It becomes us who worship the God of truth, to speak truth; to use plainness and sincerity in all our words; to abhor fallhood and dffimulation and those more refined ways of lying, by equivocation of words, and secret reservations of our minds, on purpose to deceive. Thofe that plead for these, it is a sign they do not understand the nature of God, and of religion; which is, to conform ourselves to the divine perfections. We ineet with many complaints in the Old Testament, of the want of truth and faithfulness among men: Psal. xii. 1, 2. Isa. lix. 13, 14, 15. Jer. vii. 2, 8, 9. 6. Hof. iv. 1. I am afraid there is as much reason for this complaint now; for we live in an age of
-ii. 4, 5,
greater light, which doth reprove and make manifeft this work of darkness; and methinks there is no fadder lign of the decay of Christianicy, and of the little power and influence that the gospel hath upon us, than that there is so little regard had by Chriftians to these moral duties; which, because moral, (however men may Night that word) are therefore of eternal and indispensable obligation, having their foundation in the nature of God.
To conclude all: That man that can dispense with himself as to moral duties, that makes no conscience of telling a lie, or breaking his word; what badge soever he may wear, what title soever he may call himself by, it is as impossible that such a man should be a true Christian, as it is to reconcile the God of truth and the father of lies.
S E R M O N CXLII.
The holiness of God.
1 Pet. i. 16.
N speaking to this attribute, I shall,
Î. Enquire what we are to understand by the holiness of God. II. Endeavour to thew that this perfection belongs
1. What we are to understand by the holiness of God. There is some difficulty in fixing the proper
notion of it; for though there be no property more frequently attributed to God, in scripture, than this of holiness, yet there is none of all God's attri. butes which Divines have spoken more sparingly of, than this.
The general notion of holiness is, that it is a sepa. ation from a common and ordinary, to a peculiar and
excellent use. And this notion of holiness is applicable either to things or persons. To things; thus the vessels of the tabernacle, and the vestments of the Prieits, were said to be holy, because they were separated from common use, and appropriated to the peculiar and excellent use of the service of God. Holiness of persons is two-fold; either relative and external, which signifies the peculiar relation of a person to God; such were called isbeis, Priests, or holy men: or else habitual and inherent; such is the holiness of good men, and it is a separation from moral imperfection, that is, from sin and impurity: And this is called óriórns, and the primary notion of it is negative, and signifies the absence and remotion of fin. And this appears in those explications which the scripture gives of it. Thus it is explained by opposition to fin and impurity; 2 Cor. vii. 1. Let us cleanse ourselves from all filihiness of the flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness, where holiness is opposed to all filthiness. Sometimes by the negation of lin and defilement: So we find holy, and without blame put together, Eph. i. 4. Holy and without blemish, Eph. V. 27. Holy, harmless and undefiled, Heb. vii. 26. It is true, indeed, this negative notion doth imply something that is positive; it doth not only lignity the absence of fin, but a contrariety to it: we cannot conceive the absence of fin, without the presence of grace; as take away crookedness from a thing, and it immediately becomes straight. Whenever we are made holy, every luft and corruption in us is supplanted by the contrary grace.
Now this habitual holiness of persons, which con. fifts in a separation from fin, is a conformity to the holiness of God; and by this we may come to understand what holiness in God is : And it signifies the peculiar eminency of the divine nature, whereby it is separated and removed at an infinite distance from moral imperfection, and that which we call fin; that is, there is no such thing as malice, or envy, or hatred, or revenge, or impatience, or cruelty, or ty. ranny, or injustice, or fallood, or unfaithfulness in PP 3
God; or, if there be any other thing that signifies fin and vice, and moral imperfection, holiness signifies that the divine nature is at an infinite distance from all thefe, and pofleffed of the contrary perfections.
Therefore all those texts that remove moral imperfection from God, and declare the repugnancy of it to the divine nature, do set forth the holiness of God: Jam. i. 13. God cannot be tempted with evil. Job viii. 3. Doth God pervert judgment; or doth the Almighty pervert justice ? Job xxxiy. 10. 12. Far be it from God that he mould do wickedness, and from the Almighty, that he should commit iniquity. rea, furely, God will not do wickedly, neither will the Almighty pervert judgment. Rom. ix. 14. Is there then unrighteousness with God? God forbid. Zeph. iii. 5. The just Lord is in the midst thereof, he will not do iniquity. And so falshood, and unfaithfulnels, and inconstancy, Deut. xxxii. 4. A God of truth, and without inquity. 1 Sam. xv. 29. The strength of ifrael will not lie. Tit. i. 2. In hope of eternal life, which God, that cannot lie, hath promised. Heb. vi. 18. That by two immutable things, in which it was impossible for God to 'lie. Therefore you shall find, that holiness is joined with all the moral perfections of the divine nature, or put for them: Hor. xi. 2. I am the holy One in the midt of thee; that is, the merciful One. Psal. cxlv. 17. The Lord is righteous in all his ways, and holy in all his works. Rom. vii. 12. The commandment is holy and juft, and good. Rev. iii. 7. These things saith be that is holy, ke that is true. Rev. vi. 10. How long, O Lord, holy and true? Psal. cv. 42. He remembred his holy promise; holy, that is, in respect of the faithfulness of it. Isaiah Iv. 3. The fure mercies of David, teisid, The boly mercies of David, which will not fail.
so that the holiness of God is not a particular, but an universal perfection, and runs through all the moral perfections of the divine nature ; fit is the beauty of the divine nature, and the perfection of all his other perfections : Take away tbis, and you bring an universal stain and blemish upon the divine nature i without holiness, power would be an op