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UNCLEANNESS INCONSISTENT WITH A PROFESSION
OF THE GOSPEL.
1 Thess. iv. 3. - This is the will of God, even your sanctifica
THERE is no subject, upon which the holy scriptures give us more satisfactory information, or information, the glory of which is more peculiarly their own, than on the nature and attributes of the divine Being, the Creator and Governor of the Universe, “ the Author and Giver of all good things.” It is their great distinction, mot only that they direct our attention to the one true God, as the only proper ob
ject of religious worship; but that they also represent him, as possessed of every possible perfection, and infinite in all his glorious attributes. In this respect the efforts of reason have fallen vastly below the discoveries of revelation. The Heathens, as the Apostle tells us in a passage connected with my text, “knew not God :” they knew him not, as that infinitely perfect Being, as that one “ Lord God Almighty, that is, and that was, and that is to come;" as that “ High and Lofty One, which inhabiteth eternity, whose name is Holy b;" whom the sacred scriptures reveal to those, who are enlightened by “ the day-spring from on high.”
But the scriptures are given us, not for our information only, but for our improvement; they are “ profitable” not only “ før doctrine,” but “ for our instruction in righteousness,” in personal, practical righteousness. Whilst therefore they give us improved notions of the great and good God, it is for the purpose of leading us to imi
Rev. iv. 8.
Isaiah lvii, 1ő,
2 Tim. iii. 16.
tate his glorious perfections ; to strive to become like him ; to “be merciful as he is mercifuld;" to be “perfect as he is perfecto;" to be“ pure even as he is pure'.” Knowledge, even the best of all knowledge, the knowledge of God is of no value, it only “ puffeth ups," as St. Paul speaks, unless it lead to godliness : and therefore, when he reminds the Thessalonians of that superior information concerning the divine nature, which they as Christians possessed above the Heathens, from the number of whom they had been converted, it is for the purpose of pressing upon them the greater obligation to holiness, which was thereby imposed upon them. “ This is the will of God,” says he, “even your sanctification;" that is what God has intended, in admitting you to that clearer knowledge of himself, which you as Christians enjoy; even your continual improvement in holiness; “ that ye should abstain from .fornication; that every one of you should know how to possess his vessel in sanctification and honour;
a Luke vi. 36. • Matt. v. 18. 1 John iii. 3. ? 1 Cor. viii. 1.
not in the lust of concupiscence, even as the Gentiles which know not God.” And to the same effect, and following the same line of argument, he thus exhorts the Ephesians, contrasting their present advantages and obligations with the state of spiritual misery and blindness, from which they had been released by the Gospel : 66 This I say therefore, and testify in the Lord, that ye henceforth walk not as other Gentiles walk, in the vanity of their mind, having the understanding darkened, being alienated from the life of God through the ignorance that is in them, because of the blindness of their heart; who being past feeling have given themselves over unto lasciviousness, to work all uncleanness with greediness. But ye have not so learned Christ; if so be that ye have heard him, and have been taught by him as the truth is in Jesus; that ye put off concerning the former conversation the old man, which is corrupt according to the deceitful lusts, and be renewed in the spirit of your mind; and that ye put on the new man, which after God is created in righteousness and
true holiness h.” Such is the general purport of the declaration of the Apostle in the text, connected with its context ; “ this is the will of God” in bringing us to know him, “even our sanctification :” his "word” is designed to be “ a lamp unto our feet and a light to our paths,” and thus to conduct and guide us in the way of godliness : according to our knowledge so will our improvement be expected to be; so that if, under the day-spring of the Gospel, we live like Heathens, our sin will be more aggravated, in proportion as our light is greater, than theirs.
Having thus opened the meaning of the text, I would observe, that there are three considerations, brought forward by the Apostle in connection with it, which serve at the same time both as arguments, to prove that “ the will of God is our sanctification ;” and as motives, to stir up and animate our wills to a faithful obedience to the will of God. The first of these considerations is, that “ the Lord is the
Eph. iv. 17--24.
i Psalm cxix. 105,