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less can we suppose the whole body of the people to be course. They will by no means, by no importunity, no naturally Jews; for the apostle does manifestly describe arguments whatever, be dissuaded from practices so unthem by the common national taint of that island, that is, justifiable, and detestable in their own naiure. They are as “liars, evil beasts, slow bellies,” (Tit. i. 12.) according resolved to run on whatever it costs them; to continue in to the character given of them by one of their own poets. * sin, and in the profession of religion at the same time, Thus are the people described, whom the apostle speaks which is the greatest absurdity imaginable. of, namely, the natives of Crete, who were converted from 3. They are said, lastly, to be mpos nav čoyov à yalov kóóriuos, paganism to the profession of the Christian religion, with reprobate to every good work ; which signifies a disinclinawhich they mingled many of the Judaical sentiments. tion to every thing that is good, to every thing that is This therefore being premised, our way is plain and clear worthy of praise. The word may be taken, as it is obto the things I intend to insist upon; which are especially served, either actively or passively, and so may signify not these two-That men may profess the true religion, and only to be disapproved by others, but to disapprove themyet lead very ill lives; and-That they who do so, by just selves; in which latter sense we must, at present, princiinterpretation, may be said to deny the religion they pro- pally understand the phrase. They disapprove all that fess. - I propose to speak to these two observations jointly, which claims their approbation and esteem; and are disin this order.
affected to all that good which the religion they profess I. I shall show what sort of profession that must be, would oblige them to the practice of. The cxpression which can be meant in such a case.
therefore does not so much signify their omission of what II. What the persons who make it may be notwith is good, as their disinclination to it; but it further denotes standing, in the temper of their spirits, and the course of that if they do any thing at all in religion, it is what they their practice.
neither delight in, nor can endure. “Every good work” IN. I shall show whence it is, that men should make is an expression of such latitude, that it may comprehend profession of a religion, to which the temper of their spirits all the works of piety, mercy, and common justice. And and the course of their walking are so repugnant. And, so it is fit we should understand it in this place. What
IV. The vanity of such a profession, and how little it ever they do of this kind, their hearts are averse to it, and signifies to entitle persons to the reputation or proper re- they bear a disaffected mind to it all. And such as are wards of such a religion.
here described, persons may be found to be, notwithstandI. I shall show what sort of profession that must be, ing their profession. which can be meant in this case, or was made by such III. We are next to consider, whence it is, or what inpersons as the apostle speaks of.
ducements men have to make profession of a religion, 1. It must be understood to be, in the main, but a nomi- which they are resolved to contradict in the course of their nal profession. These professors indeed own the Christian lives and conversations. And many things may be condame, call themselves by it; and not only do so, but also sidered as inducements or reasons in this case, which conclaim the privilege of being called Christians by others : cur partly in all those who are mere professors; though like those who said they were Jews, when they were not, some are of greater force than others to particular persons, but were of the synagogue of Satan, Rev. ii. 9. And St. whom we shall distinguish from the generality of men of Paul, in the second chapter of his epistle to the Romans, this character. speaking of these professors, uses the very same style, al- 1. One reason why such men join a profession of reliluding to those who called themselves Jews, or were com- gion to a vicious life, is their unapprehensiveness and irremonly so called by others : “ Thou art called a Jew, and verence of an invisible Lord and Judge; whom because restest in the law, and makest thy boast of God," &c. but they do not see, they stand in no awe of. Therefore it is says he, in the close of that chapter, “He is not a Jew that they are not ashamed of that incongruous and inconthat is one outwardly; neither is that circumcision which sistent behaviour towards him, of which they would be is outward in the flesh; but he is a Jew, that is one in ashamed in their deportment towards men. The following wardly-whose praise is not of men but of God," Rom. ii. expression of the apostle gives us a great deal of light 10 17, 29.
this purpose, “If a man love not his brother whom he hath 2. This profession could be only formal; that is, wholly seen; how can he love God, whom he hath not seen ?" 1 made up of the external form of that religion to which John iv, 20. Wherein is implied a greater dificulty of they pretended. So, in like manner, many now profess loving God, than a Christian brother; on this account, bethe Christian religion, and make a show or appearance of cause God is not seen. Man continually falls under our being religious by frequenting Christian assemblies; by sight and view, we converse with him daily in a way that owning themselves to be members of the catholic, or some is obvious to our natural sight, while God is invisible. protestant church; and by wearing the badge and cogni- | And as it is in the point of love, so is it in all other natuzance of such and such a party. The bare having a name, ral affections; for as men with greater difficulty admit the is all we can suppose to be in such a profession as this. impressions of Divine love into their hearts, ihan those of And therefore to these professors may be applied what our a visible object, so they do of Divine fear; and for this Lord says to the church in Sardis ; " Thou hast á name reason, I say, because God is not seen. Men would be that thou art alive, when thou art dead," Rev. ini. 1. And ashamed continually to profess to one another, what they so it is, in like manner, with all others; who content them- contradict in practice. Who would not be ashamed to selves with making a show of religion, and performing declare himself perpetually such a one's friend ; and yet, such external rites, as are the distinguishing badge of the in the mean time, take all opportunities to do him all the several parties of the Christian world.
mischief he can ? But as to their carriage to an unseen II. I am now to show you, what such persons may be, God, men are not ashamed of such an incongruity as this. notwithstanding their profession, both in temper and prac- 2. This inconsistent conduct proceeds from the power tice; which shall be done briefly by opening the terms of and malignity of sinful inclinations; more especially in the lext. They may be, for all that, abominable, disobe- things that relate to and terminate on God. Sin has filled dient, and to every good work reprobate ; that is, in one the world with enmity, which, it is true, works in men word, inclined to all evil, and averse to all good. To these one against another: but more directly, and with greater two things do these several expressions amount.
virulence, against the blessed God himself; insomuch that 1. They are said to be deduktoi, abominable, or shame-they care not what dishonours they throw on his sacred fully addicted to all manner of evil. The word, in the name, nor what affronts they offer to his high authority original, denotes the heinousness of those practices, in and righteous laws. And though it must be acknowwhich they allow themselves; and is derived from a word ledged, the working of this enmily is great among men that signifies to send forth an offensive smell. For all towards one another; yet, it is manifest, it is in general sentiments of right and good, are not so totally lost and much greater towards the Almighty : for were it as comobliterated among mankind, but that there are some things mon a thing to stab a man, as it is to wound the name of which even pagans would detest.
God and to affront his government, the world had been at 2. They are said to be also ateicis, disobedient, which an end long before this. expression imports perseverance and obstinacy in an evil 3. It is natural for men to have somewhat of religion, while a disaffection still remains against that which is true: /fluence their actions. Hence it is that there is in many a whence it is that they resist, and overthrow the profession profession of the true religion, with a repugnant, inconthey make by a most repugnant practice. It is manifest, sistent practice. as to the former, that all must be of some religion or other; 5. With some others, a profession of religion may proand so they come to profess, as external circumstances ceed from mere sinister designs. They make a profession lead them. It has been noted by heathens, that no society of religion, because it suits with their interests and private of men can live without religion. Divers have taken no- views; and serves to raise and establish their reputation, tice of it. It is a common passage of Cicero; “There is and by consequence to increase their gain. They could no nation so barbarous as to be without religion." It not do so well without it in such a country, and among seems as if none such had fallen within the compass of his such a people; so that gain and godliness with them are observation. Maximus Tyrius also tells us, that “ For a commensurate to each other. Therefore, since a profesman to be without any religion at all. were as monstrous sion alone serves their turn, and answers their purpose, and unnatural, as for an ox to be without horns, or a bird what need is there of any more? What need has any to be without wings.". And so Plutarch in like manner man of more than will answer his end?" I will have no observes, that " Though there be many towns and cities more to do with religion, but to serve my secular interest," without coin, without government, as it happens some- will such a one say, if he speaks his own sense: “I detimes; yet," says he, “I never heard or read, in my life, of sign not to be saved by religion ; but to live creditably in a city without a temple. And I believe it is as impossible, the world, and to suit my designs with those with whom I that there should be a society of men without religion, as live.” Again, to build a city without foundations."'d
6. With others it may proceed from a regard to their Hence many persons, both ancient and modern, have ancestors, from whom a religion has been transmitted to thought religion to be the specific difference of man, and them. This is a thing that has descended from father to not reason; because there are so many apparent specimens son; " I must therefore be of the religion of my fathers." of this in beasts, that in some instances it is hard to dis- This shows the reason why a religion so received, be it tinguish by this only between the brutal and human ever so good, should be so ineffectual; and have so little nature: whereas religion is peculiar to man, wherein no command of the hearts and lives of men: for its efficacy, other sort of creatures do participate. For it is very plain and the grounds for receiving it, do as it were measure that man, by his self-reflecting power, discerns himself to one another. The apostle Paul, speaking of the manner be a depending creature; which necessarily prompts him in which the Christian religion was received by the Thesto pay homage to some superior being, on whom he thinks salonians, says, They received it not as the word of man, himself dependent. And therefore, if many of the pagans but of God, which effectually worketh in them that behave worshipped for deities, those creatures which they lieve, 1 Thess. ii. 13. Hence it appears plain, that where thought most useful to them: it was not that they supposed the religion of Jesus as coming from God is embraced on them to be deities in reality, but because they looked upon the authority of the Divine word, and where men have them as representing the Deity, in those respects, wherein their souls overawed by this apprehension, there it works it was most beneficial to them.
effectually; but on the contrary, where it is received with. But now, while men are naturally addicted to profess out grounds, there it becomes ineffectual. Many are some religion, as it comes in their way, that which they Christians on the same grounds, and for the same reason, have ihe best opportunity to know; so at the same time that others are pagans, Mahometans, or any thing else. they have, generally, a most rooted disaffection to sincere And were they to give a true account of their faith, it would religion, such as should command their hearts, and govern be this; “ The religion that my forefathers were of, musi their lives and practice. This is to be resolved in some be mine also." This is an argument, which, mutatis mu. measure into the justice and sovereignty of God. Into tandis, serves as well to make the Mahometan religion his justice, in not continuing to give that grace which men true, as the Christian. And if it is so professed, without Tesist and contend against : and though it is of infinite grounds or reasons, it is no wonder if it be without efficacy mercy that his grace does overcome in some instances, yet on men's lives and practice. that it does not in all, is to be attributed to his sovereign 7. With others a profession of religion is taken up as a dominion: in which he is not to be prescribed unto, as to novelty. A veneration for antiquity has a great influence his dispensations to his creatures, who have made them on some; while others are as fond of novelty. This was selves obnoxious to his displeasure. He is just, where he the case, it is likely, of many of those unsound Christians, withholds any benefit; he is sovereignly gracious where whom the apostle speaks of in this epistle to Titus he gives that assistance and power, which shall prevail Christianity at this time could be but newly planted in against this enmity in the hearts of men. And when per- Crete, it could be only in its infancy; and therefore many sons must have something of religion, and will have only embraced it as a new thing, and were pleased with it on that of it which is most tolerable, and does not bear hard this account. Thus we may see, men of different tempers upon corrupt nature; no wonder then, I say, if they take are swayed to the same end by contrary inducements. up with the bare name, and content themselves with the And we may add in the last place, mere form of godliness. But to profess at such a rate is 8. That nothing but custom can make the profession of the most easy thing in the world.
religion to appear tolerable, where it is attended with a re4. This may in some cases proceed, particularly in the pugnant and contradictory practice. Were there but few Christian world, from an inward conviction of the import- | instances of this kind, a man would not have the boldness ance and excellence of religion, arising from the light of to venture on an open course of wickedness, repugnant to Scripture, joined with the inefficacy of it. Very plain it is, the religion commonly professed where he lives, whilst he that the light by which the truth of the Christian religion continued to make a profession of it himself. But it is is discovered to any one, carries mighty conviction of its very obvious to common experience, that many do emulate excellence along with it. It does so to any one who views one another in that, which is most indecorous and unbethe weight and importance of the Christian religion, and coming, even in that which is contrary to the common considers also the evidences of it which are superadded. reason of all. How many gainful sorts of wickedness have A religion that came with triumphant evidence and glory ceased to be shameful now-a-days from their being cominto the world! spoken at first by the Son of God, and mon! For when the restraint of shame is taken off from confirmed by them who heard him; God bearing them the mind, it is a most easy thing then for a man to be Fitness by signs and wonders of the Holy Ghost, Heb. ii. wicked. Thus influenced by custom they justify one ano 3, 4. Some do consider these things, and thereupon the ther in what their own sedate thoughts would condemn, light is so convincing, that they cannot withstand it. nor if they would but allow themselves to think. And hence aroid receiving this religion as divine; but then, alas! it it is that men are able to reconcile two of the most inconis too faint and impotent to govern their hearts and lives.sistent things in the world; a profession of the most pure It is, powerful enough to convince their judgments and religion with the most impure conversation. consciences; but too weak to change their minds, and in-| I should have proceeded to the fourth general head of b Tuscul. Disput. Lih. 1.
d Plut. adversus Colotem. See this point handled at large by the Author in C Max Tyt. Dissert. 17. Sect. 5.
I his Living Temple, part 1. chap. 2.
discourse, but shall conclude with one dreadful and tre- say, that it is of no avail to entitle them to the reputation mendous reflection. What apparent danger are we in, of of it amongst men, nor to any reward of it from God. losing that religion from among us, which is more gene- These two things we shall distinctly consider. rally professed at this day! principally because of the re- 1. Such a blasted, self-confuted profession as this, of sistance and opposition which is made against it, by the which we are speaking, is of no significancy for securing practices of those who profess it. For pray do but con- the reputation of being religious amongst men. If it were sider-What does God send his Gospel among a people indeed so far available as to secure them such a reputation, for ? Does he aim at any end in this, or does he not? or to procure them that esteem from men, which is due to And can that be a wise, intelligent agent, who aims at no those who are in reality what they profess themselves to end? Or can we suppose him to act wisely who aims at be, that would be but a poor thing, and very little to their no proportionable and suitable end? What then can we service. It is a small thing, says the aposile St. Paul, to think the great God designed as his end, in sending the be judged by man's judgment, 1 Cor. iv. 3. All must Gospel into the world; in planting it in this, or any other finally stand or fall by the judgment of a superior Judge, nation? There are certainly fruits that he expects to re- whose judgment will control and reverse all false judgceive; and therefore we find how express the threatenings ments passed before. Every man must then give an acare, when these fruits are withheld. Nothing less is count of himself to God. He is not a Jew who is one threatened than the taking of the kingdom of God from outwardly, but he is a Jew that is one inwardly, whose them, and the giving it to a nation bringing forth the fruits praise is not of men, but of God, Rom. ii. 28, 29. If one thereof, Matt. xxi. 43. Oh the little correspondency of the could never so effectually recommend oneself to man, it hearts and spirits of men to the design of the Gospel ! is “not he who commendeth himself that is approved, And what a tremendous and melancholy prospect does this but whom the Lord commendeth," 2 Cor. x. 18. And afford us!
therefore I should not think this much worth insisting on, I should not be so afraid of comets and blazing stars, e but only with design to lay the ground of an argument nor of all the malice and subtlety of earth and hell com- | from the less to the greater'; that if such a profession of bined together; I should never be afraid of these things, I religion cannot do that which is less, to wit, entitle one to say, even though the subtlety of our enemies was a thou- the reputation of it amongst men; much less can it do sand times greater than it is, if I could but see such a love that which is greater, that is, procure the rewards which of the Gospel, joined to the enjoyment of it, as to form the God has promised to the constant and sincere. heart and influence the practice. But when I find it is We must understand here, that by such evil practices, God's way, and express threatening, that where the truth as can be supposed to overthrow a profession, and annul is not loved, there to give them up to strong delusions the significance of it, cannot be meant such things as are even to believe a lie, that they might be damned, who reasonable to be imputed to the infirmities which are incibelieved not the truth but had pleasure in unrighteous- dent to the best, and consistent with the most perfect buness, (2 Thess. ii. 10, 11, 12.) then, I confess, I fear, I man character: but it must be understood of open hostremble.
tilities against Christ and his religion ; for doubtless the I know not why we should think ourselves exempt from words abominable, and disobedient or unpersuadable, as a danger of this kind, when we consider how generally in the word ancilais signifies, amount 10 so much. By the effectual the Gospel is among us. Alas! why should we former is to be understood, the heinousness and grossness expect God to be indulgent towards us, in this respect, of their wickedness; and by the latter, their obstinacy in above all mankind ? What have we the Gospel for, if we an evil course. It is true, though the last expression the never intend our spirits should be formed by it ? If we apostle makes use of in describing the persons whom he have no design it should govern our lives, have not we of censures as reprobate to every good work, denotes an evil this nation reason to fear, inasmuch as we do noi conform habit of mind, not always falling under human cognizance our practice to our religion, that we shall be suffered to and censure; yet there is enough in the two former, beconform our religion to our practice? We know there is sides the symptoms there may be of the latter, to show a religion, too near at hand, that will allow and square what the men really are. A profession therefore I say, in well enough with the most vicious practice imaginable. men of such a character, can signify nothing, even to this Live as loosely as you will, and confess your sins to a | lower purpose, that is, to entitle them to the reputation of priest, and his absolution solves all. Surely we have rea- religion amongst men. And this will appear from being son to fear lest our acting contradictory to the end and de
cung contradictory to the end and de- viewed in several lights. sign of our religion should even lead us to embrace that 1. Such a contradicted profession is not wont to do so sottish one of the church of Rome.
in other cases. No man can take him to be a friend, who calls himself one against a continued series of actions, which manifestly imports habitual hatred, enmity, and malice. No one will call him a good subject, whatever
he pretends, who is at present in open hostility against his SERMON II.*
2. Such a profession in other cases not only gives no
reputation amongst men, but brings a disgrace, and casts In our last discourse we considered the various reasons a reproach upon the person making prelences. When a and inducements, that lead many persons to make a pro- man's actions are continued, palpable and manifest against fession of religion, even while they are contradicting it in his profession, as in this case, it brings, I say, a reproach their lives and practice. To which one more might have upon him for pretending to it. And it is so far from being been added; and that is, they have a foolish thought that to his reputation, that he draws upon himself the suspicion by the good they profess, they shall some way or other of being either false, or foolish : of being false, that he expiate the badness of their conduct. Such a hope as this, would design to deceive; of being foolish, that he could as fond as it is, too apparently ohtains with a great part of hope to succeed in such a case, or, indeed, of both these the world. And this I mention, not only as a thing too together. evident, and considerable in itself, but as it most fitly leads 3. A mere profession among men, in every common to what I intend in this discourse : which is
case, is so far from securing reputation to him who makes IV. To show the vanity of such a profession, and by it, that it even sinks the reputation of the man that credits consequence the fondness and folly of such a hope as is it. A very judicious person this to be so easily imposed here spoken of. And in treating on this subject I shall upon! Therefore he who attempts in such a way to impose show, that such a profession in persons of so immoral a upon another, either he, upon whom he makes the attempt, character, signifies nothing either to procure them the re- will but regard him as a fool; or will be so accounted putation or the rewards of the religion that they profess, himself, because it is supposing him to be one who is or unto which they pretend; I would be understood to capable of being so imposed upon. Which is no less e N. B. The author here alludes to the famous comet which appeared
* Preached January 23, 1680. in December, 1680 ; and perhaps at the very time when this Sermon was preached.
than an attempt to blast the reputation of him, whom he | understanding, and consider whether there be not as rie endeavours to deceive.
diculous an absurdity in pre ending to religion, against a 4. A series or course of actions is always to be taken as series of actions which have a contrary tendency. Do we more significant and expressive of the habitnal sense and not all know that religion, in the common notion of it, has temper of a person's mind, than words can be thought to a tendency to blessedness; even to glorify God, and to be. Words only speak a man's present sense of things, enjoy him for ever in glory, the end ? Can there be a but a continued course of action shows his habitual sense greater contrariety supposed in any one thing to another, of them; and is therefore the far greater and more con- than there is in a course of pickedness to the glorifying siderable thing on all accounts.
and enjoying God? Or can any man think, without as If I am to form a judgment of another man, it is of palpable absurdity as is possible in any case, that whoremore importance to know what the bent of his mind is dom, drunkenness, and debaucheries of all sorts, are means now, than to know what it was, at this or that particular and instruments for the glorifying God, and saving a man's time. It is manifest that a series of actions is more sig- own soul? To say, I am a Christian, is to say, I am nificant and expressive; whether you compare words and going to God, to glorify to enj 'y him for ever. But you actions together with relation to the same thing, or apply can suppose no case wherein contrary actions can be opthem severally to contrary things.
posed to a profession, with more absurdity than in this. If you apply words and actions to one and the same 6. We are expressly forbidden, in the Holy Scriptures, thing, let it be for instance to kindness and good-will: to treat and behave ourselves towards Christians that are suppose then you have for your object a very indigent and only so in name and profession, in the same manner as we distressed person, one exposed to cold and pinched with are obliged to act towards those that are sincere. We are hunger; let one say to him in this case, “ Come, be filled, even directed to turn away from those who have a form of be warmed;" pray what would that signify in comparison godliness but deny the power of it, 2 Tim. iii. 5. When of giving him the things which are needful for the body, | persons are unpersuadable and obstinate in an evil way Jam. ii. 16. as the apostle speaks in the same case. Which and vicious course, and will not hear the church, they are is the most significant expression, such fair words, or such to be counted as heathens and publicans, (Matt. xviii. 17.) effectual actions ?
and are not to enjoy the reputation of Christians, even Again; Let words and actions be applied together to the amongst men, according to the law and judgment of Christ same thing, and to signify ill-will. An unkind word may himself in this very matter. signify but a sudden passion, and no one will infer habitu- 9. And lastly; The common profession of religion, in al haired from an angry word; but a course of actions which they seem to bear a part, suffers by their inconsistent may import not only unkindness, but a malicious temper conduct and behaviour; and it is very unreasonable, of mind.
therefore, they should gain by it. They would gain honour Then if we apply these iwo ways of expressing a man's from the profession of Christianity, and yet bring a remind, that is, words and actions, to contraries, the one to proach and scandal upon it. And is it to be supposed signify kindness, the other unkindness; if it be manifestihat their profession, in such a case, should honour them? that words are less significant and actions more, surely They do the greatest indignity imaginable to the worthy then that which has less significance in it, is never to be name which they profess; nay, it is blasphemed by them, believed against that which has greater. Again,
and through their means is evil spoken of by others. 5. No man's words are to be believed against his works. But yet it may be said, as to all this; "Are we not then If a man should say and unsay the same things, it may to call such Christians as profess themselves to be such ? be a hundred times in a day, would you give any credit Are we not to give them the name ?" Truly controversies at all to his words? It is impossible you should. For in about names are always to little purpose. It is no great any case where I am to exercise human faith, if there be matter by what name such persons are called. I am willmuch to be said for and against the thing, I must believe, ing to give them all that their profession reasonably can be according to the greatest evidence, and cannot do otherwise; understood to entitle them to. They are by profession I necessarily must take that side in my belief on which Christians. But what can that signify to any man's being the stronger probability lies. But in this case what shall in reality what he does profess himself to be? I will I do? I can here take neither side: for how can a thing therefore say, such a one is a professing Christian ; and be greater or better than itself? I have therefore nothing to what can they make of this? What advantage is it? They do here. I can exercise no faith; for I am not to believe are called Christians, just with the same propriety that a man's word against his word; when there is equal evi you would call the picture of a man, a man. Though perdence on the one hand and the other. I am much less to haps not altogether with that propriety neither; for truly believe his word against his actions, for that would be be a good picture is more like a man, than such persons are lieving according to the less evidence. And further, like real Christians. It is a very bad picture indeed, that
6. If a profession were to prevail amongst men, against would not be more like the person it pretends to represent, a series of actions, it would take away the ground and than many such men are to true, sincere Christians. Posfoundations of all public human judgments. For suppose sibly we may call the carcass of a man, a man, when it is a man arraigned of murder, the business to be inquired rotten and stinking. “Such a man (you say) lies buried into is, what evidence there is of malice prepense. This there;" but you know very well that the corpse is not the is the matter to be tried. For the bare taking away the person himself. And yet there is more propriety in using life of a man, is not the crime to be punished. But the such language in this case; because such a one was a thing to be inquired into is, what evidence there is, orman, but he whom we speak of never was a Christian, and what inducements to believe, that the thing was designed God only knows whether he ever will be one! or purposely done. If against plain facts, and apparent We call such persons Christians, in like manner as in circumstances, to the contrary a man's word should be be-a play, or theatrical representation. One we call the lieved, there could then be no such thing as a human Grand Seignior, and another an Emperor, according to judicature in the world.
the parts they act. In this manner, I say, we may call the 7. Actions cannot be opposed to a mere verbal or a persons before spoken of, Christians; for they perform a scenical profession, with greater absurdity, in any case part, and make a show on the stage of the world in perwhatsoever, than in the matter of religion. You can sup-forming cheap and easy acts of Christianity. Or it is pose no case wherein actions can be opposed to actions, something like the compliments of one person to another, and words or a profession to a course of actions, with to whom he would pretend friendship; and under that greater absurdity than in this present case, If we were to pretence hides the greatest malice, till he can have an opThink of things manifestly absurd, we could advance nothing | portunity of showing it with effect. that is more so. Suppose, for instance, a person upon al Now if such a profession as we have been speaking of, journey should pretend to be in his right road, and he is will signify so litile to the purpose mentioned in the betold he is going a quite contrary way, and one should ginning of this discourse, the giving of a man the reputation follow him, from day to day, and still see him going wrong, of being religious among men; how much less can it sig. :hough he still says he is on his journey and is going nify to that higher purpose, the entitling him to a reward right; what can be more absurd ? Now let us use our from God! Surely it is less possible to deceive him. And whatever advantage is gained in this world by such | wicked saith within my heart, there is no fear of God bean empty, inconsistent profession, it is infinitely less than fore his eyes.". It speaks that language, carries that sigthe final reward of God, which will be given to those, who nification with it in the mind and judgment of any common · both profess and practise religion in sincerity.
observing spectator. What sentiment then must it beget But before I proceed to this important point, suffer me in the mind of God, who sees immediately, and without to exhort you all seriously to consider of something better, the intervention of any argument, beholding things just as than such an empty, self-confuted profession as this, to be they lie in themselves ! But besides this double argument, a support to you, in such time as we have lying before us. from the less to the greater, there are several other conSurely, in a season of distress, there are no sort of persons siderations, that will evince the same thing. As, whose case is to be lamented so much as theirs, who have 1. Is it the declared rule of God's righteous judgment, nothing for a support but only this pitiful thing, this empty, to deal with men finally according to their works, and not self-confuted thing, we have been speaking of. Oh! the merely according to their profession; according to what cold comfort it will give a man's heart, when he comes to they do, and not to what they pretend. It is the constant suffer affliction, to say, “I have been called a Christian tenor of Scripture, (of which you cannot be ignorant who and a protestant: I have professed on the right side, and I are wont to read your Bibles.) that God will in the last have gone on in the right way; but, alas ! all the while have day “render to every man according to his works,"b as it been fighting against the very design of religion I have is in sundry places. And in the epistles to the Asian professed, by a contrary life and conversation !" Will churches, our Saviour putting on the person of a judge, this bear up the sinking heart of such a one in a season, thus addresses himself to the one and the other of them; when the guilt of his former course, through a long tract " I know thy works.”c Immediate cognizance is taken of of time under the Gospel, stares him all at once in the face ? them, even of those which are most latent; much more of
Labour then to do more than barely to profess to know those which are apparent and manifest, as the works we God; since a bare profession will signify nothing with him, have spoken of are. Upon this account he makes himself and but little with men. And truly it must signify very known to them by the description of one "who trieth the little to yourselves, to your own comfort and consolation heart, and searches the reins, that he may render to every in an evil day; when gloominess, blackness, and darkness one according to their works."d And he is further reprecover all on every side. There may then possibly, if such sented as one who has "eyes as a flame of fire,"e searcha time should come, be room enough for consideration. | ing into the very things wherein it takes place. And we Labour therefore to know God in good earnest. They that are told that in that very day, it is not the saying unto know his name, will put their trust in him, Psal. ix. 10. him, "Lord ! Lord! that shall entitle any one to the kingTo have such a refuge as the eye of God in such a world dom of heaven; but the doing of the will of God the Faas this is, what solace and satisfaction does it give the soul ther who is in heaven." Where our Saviour also further of a man! especially when there is nothing but darkness assures us, that those who shall make this profession, withand terror on every hand.
out a suitable life and conversation, will be rejected in this To conclude, I shall only take notice to you of one pas awful manner, “Depart from me! I know you not.'? sage in the book of Daniel. "And such as do wickedly But under what notion, or for what reason, are they thus against the covenant shall he (the king there spoken of) to be abandoned ? As workers of iniquity. Thus we see corrupt by flatteries; but the people that do know their their evil works will cast the balance against all their preGod shall be strong, and do exploits" or wonders, Dan. tences to that which is good. xi. 32. These passages refer to the time when Antiochus 2. We are further to consider, that it is an unreasonable fell with fury upon the Jews. A great many of them, thing to imagine, that God will give men a title, without when the aspect of the times was frowning upon their reli- giving them a capacity for enjoying the rewards of ihe gion, did then prevaricate, and do wickedly against the blessed state. Certain it is, that mere profession qualifies covenant; that is, turned from their religion and complied no one for this happiness; iherefore it is not reasonable, with his idolatry; but of such of the people as knew their that it should entitle any one to it. A man is never a God, it is said, ihat they should be strong and do exploits. whit the more capable by his profession of dwelling with It is a great matter to know God in such a time. He that God, in another world; of immediately beholding with has the knowledge of God possessing and filling his soul, satisfaction his blessed, glorious face. To what purpose is will have God represented to him as the all in all ; and a title, where there is no capacity ? It would not consist this whole world will be before him as a vain shadow, a with the wisdom of God, to divide these things, which piece of pageantry, a dream, a vision of the night. He must necessarily concur to one end, namely, to his own who is invisible will be always with us, when we once glory, and the person's fitness for the enjoyment of Him. come to be of the number of those who know God, in the Men are wont to be wiser. A title with them fails, when manner we profess to do it.
a capacity does. They cease to be entitled to an estate, who by a natural incapacity cannot enjoy it, as for instance, fools and lunatics. Again,
3. Their profession is so far from entitling them to the
rewards of another world, which belong to those who are SERMON III.*
sincerely of the true religion; that, being joined with a wicked life and evil practices, it provokes God so much
the more highly against them, engages the Divine wrath 2. I now proceed to show, that a bare profession of re- and vindictive justice, so much the more directly to their ligion cannot entitle any one to the rewards of it with God. ruin. And this on several accounts. As, And the argument is capable of being drawn, as was for- (1.) Because such a profession demonstrates, that these merly intimated, from the less to the greater. If it cannot persons sin against so much the more light; otherwise entitle one to a reputation amongst men, much less can it what makes them profess at all? They who profess relito the reward of it with God. And it will be conclusive gion, as a great part of the world do not, certainly must be two ways. In the first place, that the gain and advantage supposed to know more. We do not call them professors of the rewards of it with God, is unspeakably greater than of the Christian religion, who were born among pagans, the reputation it can give us among men. If then it can. and always have lived as such among them. They who not entitle one to the less, it cannot to the greater. And | profess Christianity, are supposed to live (and do so for then in the next place, that to deceive men, by such a the most part) in the enlightened region; in that part of profession, is infinitely less difficult than to deceive God. the world through which the Gospel light hath diffused it
They who cannot deceive men by such a profession, joined self. This is therefore a most horrid thing, for the works with a practice so grossly wicked as is here expressed by of darkness, and of the night, to be transacted, where the the apostle, can surely much less deceive God. There is, Gospel has made it broad day. And if they, who have even in the minds of men, a judgment concerning them opportunity to know more than others, are, after all, vicious contrary to that profession; " The transgression of the and immoral, doth not this highly increase their wicki • Preached February 13th, 1680.
d Rev. Ü. 23.
e Rev ii. 18. a Ps. Xxxvi. 1. b Rom. ii. 6. c Rev. ii. 2, 9, 13, 19. iii. 1, 8, 15,
f Matt. vii. 2.
& Ver. 23,