then Peter thus began, now I plainly perceive that God is no respecter of persons: but in every nation, he that feareth him, and acts justly, is acceptable to him.
pure and unadulterated religion, in the eye of God our father, consists in taking care of orphans and widows in their distress: and in keeping clear of the vices of the age.
but you, my brethren, improve yourselves in your most holy faith, present your addresses by the holy spirit, and thereby cultivate the divine favour, in the expectation of eternal life by the mercy of Jesus Christ our Lord.
Do you on your part employ all your care in adding to your faith, fortitude: to fortitude, knowledge: to knowledge, temperance: to temperance, patience: to patience, piety: to piety, fraternal affection: and to fraternal affection, universal benevolence. read more.
for if you are possess'd of these virtues and improve therein, they will prevent the knowledge you have of our Lord Jesus Christ from being useless to others, and unprofitable to yourselves. but he that is destitute of them is blind or short-sighted, having forgot he was purified from his past sins.
which is the most important commandment of the law? Jesus said to him, "thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind." this is the first and most important precept, read more.
and the second has an affinity with it, "thou shalt love thy neighbour as thy self." these two precepts comprehend the substance of all the law and the prophets.
Sentence of death therefore shall not pass upon those christians who do not lead a vicious life. for the christian dispensation of a spiritual life has set me free from the legal state of sin and death. God having sent his own son invested with a body like that of sinful men, as a sacrifice for sin, thereby destroyed its power; which the law could not effect, human nature being in such a corrupted state. read more.
so that the moral obligations of the law might be fulfilled by us, in living according to the spiritual, and not the carnal tenor thereof: for they that are sensually affected, abandon themselves to sensuality, but the spiritual pursue their spiritual entertainments. now sensual inclinations lead to death; but spiritual affections to a life of tranquillity. because a sensual disposition of mind is averse to God: for it is not subject to the divine law, nor indeed can it be. so that they who are in a carnal state, cannot be acceptable to the divine being. as for you, you are not in such a state, but in a spiritual one, provided the divine spirit dwell in you. now if any man have not the spirit of Christ, he is none of his. and if Christ be in you, tho' the body is mortal in consequence of sin; the spirit gives life by justification. for if the spirit of him that raised up Jesus from the dead, dwell in you; he that raised up Christ from the dead, shall likewise restore your mortal bodies to life, by his spirit that dwelleth in you. You are, therefore, brethren oblig'd to oppose your sensual passions; for if you lead a sensual life, you will be miserable: but if through the spirit you mortify the affections of corrupted nature, you will be happy. as many as are actuated by the spirit of God, they are the sons of God. for the spirit you have received is not servile to keep you still in fear; but it is the spirit of adoption, whereby we cry Abba, that is, father. the same spirit testifies to our spirit, that we are the children of God. and if children, then heirs; heirs of God, and joint-heirs with Christ; although we now suffer with him, that we may also be glorified with him. for I consider, that the sufferings of this present life are infinitely over-ballanc'd by that glory which shall hereafter be discovered to us.
Brethren, my hearty desire and prayer to God for Israel is, that they may be saved. for I bear them witness, that they have a zeal for God, but not guided by true knowledge. because being ignorant of the justice which is of God, and going about to establish a justification of their own, they have not submitted themselves to that which is of God. read more.
for the end of the law was to bring men to Christ, that every one who believeth, might be justified. For Moses describes the justice that was to be had by the law, thus : "the man who performeth the things here required, shall have life thereby." but the justification which is by faith, speaks in this manner; "say not in thine heart, who shall ascend into heaven, in order to bring Christ down from above? or, who shall descend into the deep, in order to bring up Christ again from the dead?" what does it say "more? the word is nigh thee, let it be in thy mouth and in thy heart:" that is the word of faith which we preach. for if you openly confess, that Jesus is the Lord, and sincerely believe, that God has raised him from the dead, you shall be saved. for with the heart man believeth unto righteousness, and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation. for the scripture saith, "whosoever believeth on him, shall not be ashamed." In reality there is no difference between the Jew and the Gentile: they have all the same Lord, who is bountiful to all that call upon him. "whoever shall call upon the name of the Lord, shall be saved."
but the fruit of the spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, sweetness of disposition, beneficence, faithfulness, meekness, temperance: against such there is no law. now they who belong to Christ, have crucified the animal nature with the affections and passions thereof. read more.
if we live by the spirit, let us regulate our actions by the spirit:
Don't allow any one to return evil for evil, but strive to do all the good you can to one another, and to all the world. be always chearful. pray upon all occasions. read more.
be thankful to God for every thing, for so christians are oblig'd to be. don't abuse the gifts of the spirit. don't despise the prophetic gift. bring every thing to the test: if it be proof, abide by that: if it has the least appearance of evil, reject it. Now may the God of peace make you intirely holy: may every part of you, your spirit, soul, and body be preserved irreprovable at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.
If, agreeably to the scriptures, you observe that royal law, "thou shalt love thy neighbour as thy self," you do well. but partiality is iniquity; and the law will convict the offender of transgression. for he that violates but one precept of the whole law, is as obnoxious to punishment, as if he had broke thro' all the rest. read more.
he that said, "do not commit adultery," said too, "do not kill." though you should not commit adultery, yet if you kill, you are a transgressor of the law. speak and act as those, who are to be judged by the law of liberty. for he that has not shewed mercy, shall be condemn'd without mercy: while the merciful shall triumph at his trial. What advantage is it, my brethren, for a man to say he has faith, if he has no beneficence? can such a faith save him? suppose one of your brethren should be destitute of cloths, and of his daily nourishment, and one of you should thus address him; "go and prosper, I wish you a warm fire, and a full meal:" without relieving his wants, would he be the better for your wish? just so faith, if it be not operative, is intirely lifeless. it will be said, "you have a speculative faith, but mine is practical. where is your faith, if no effects appear? as for me, my actions will vouch for my faith. you believe there is but one God, very well: the demons believe as much, and tremble." Vain man, must I show you how lifeless a thing faith is, without its effects? was not our father Abraham treated as just, in consequence of his actions, when he had attempted to sacrifice his son upon the altar? don't you see his actions and his faith conspir'd, and that his faith had its perfect effect in his conduct? it was then, that those words of scripture were accomplished, "Abraham believed God, and he was regarded for it as a man of virtue, and was the favourite of God." you see then, that a man is accounted just for his actions, and not for his bare faith. was it not likewise for her actions, that Rahab, formerly a loose liver, was accounted as just, for having entertain'd the messengers of Joshuah, and dismiss'd them the securest way? as the body then without the soul is a meer carcase, so faith without its effects is lifeless.