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were openly prophane and irreligious. He that makes a fhew of religion, flatters God, but all the while acts and defigns against him: whereas the prophane man deals plainly, and though he be a monstrous and unnatural rebel, yet he is a fair and open enemy; and the kiffes of a falfe friend are more hateful than the wounds of an open enemy. Upon this account it is, that our Saviour denounces fo many fevere woes against the Scribes and Pharifees, becaufe they were wicked under a thew of religion. Wo unto you Scribes and Pharifees, hypocrites and when he would fet forth the feverity of the Lord against the evil fervant, Matth. xxiv. 51. he expreffeth it thus, he fhall cut him afunder, and appoint him his portion with the hypocrites; there fhall be weeping and gnashing of teeth. As if the punishment of hypocrites were the rule and ftandard of the feverest punishment. He fhall appoint him his portion with the hypocrites.
I will not deny but that a prophane man is a worfe example to the world, and may do more mischief upon that account: but the hypocrite is more mischievous to himself, and of the two more odious to God, and fometimes does more prejudice to religion by undermining it, than the other does by all his open affaults and batteries. God cannot endure to be affronted: but he hátes to be mocked. So that, upon this account, it is like to go harder with the formal profeffors of religion, than with the open contemners of it.
And thus I have done with the four things I propounded to fpeak to, from thefe words; wherein a form of godliness does confift; wherein the power of it lies; by what marks and characters we may know when these are separated; and that a form of religion, without the power of it, is infignificant to all the great ends and purposes of religion; and not only fo, but it is greatly to mens difadvantage to affume a form of godlinefs, if they be destitute of the power of it.
All that now remains, is to draw fome inferences from this difcourfe, by way of application; and they fhall be thefe three.
First, To take heed of miftaking the form of religi on, for the power of it.
Secondly, To take heed of being captivated and feduced by thofe who have only a form of godliness. Thirdly, To perfuade men to mind the life, and power, and substance of religion.
Fift, To take heed of mistaking the form of religion, for the power of it. The Papifts have almoft confined the words religion and religious to cloitters and Monks; and they make a religious life to confift in Maffes and Ave-Maries, and Pater-Nofters, in the obfervation of canonical hours, and the diftinction of meats and habits, in coarse clothes, and a diffembled poverty, and feveral bodily rigors and feverities. As if to make a man a religious and good man, it were neceffary that he fhould be dreffed fantastically, and in a great many indifferent things be different from other men. Nay, fo far doth this fuperftition prevail, that a great many think that they should hardly get to heaven without it, or that it will be very much for their advantage, if they be buried in the habit of a religious man; as if to be put in a Monk's coul, would give a man the ftart of other people at the refurrection. But what reafon is there, that the name and title of religion should be appropriated to these usages? Does the fcripture any where conftitute religion in these things, or confine it to them? are not thefe voluntary things, which God ties no man to whence then come they to fwallow up the name of religion, and to engrofs it to themfelves, as if they were the very life and foul of Chriftianity; when the great Author of our religion Jefus Chrift, and his bleffed Apoftles, never fpake one word of them? What an abuse of language is this, to confine the name of religion to that which is not fo much as any part of it!
But the church of Rome is not alone guilty of this; among ourselves it is very ordinary to miftake the form of godlinefs for the power, though the mistake is not fo grofs, as in thofe particulars I have mentioned. How many are there, who talk as if the power of godliness confifted in nothing elfe but a daily task of devotion, in frequent hearing of fermons, and a strict obfervation of the Lord's day? Thefe are very good things; but they are but a form of godliness, and may be, and often are, with
out the power of it; they are but the means and inftruments of religion, but not the great end and defign of: it; that confifts in the renewing of our natures, and the reformation of our lives, in righteoufnefs and true holiness; in mortifying the flesh with the affections and lufts of it, fuch as are adultery, fornication, hatred, variance, wrath, fedition, envying, murder, drunkenness: for they which das fuch things, cannot inherit the kingdom of God; and in the fruits of the fpirit, fuch as are love, joy, peace; long-fuffering, gentleness, goodness, fidelity, meekness, temperance, as the Apostle reckons them up, Gal. v. 22. Thefe are real and fenfible effects of religion; and the means of religion, if they be fincerely ufed, do all tend to the beget. ting and increafing of these in us; fo that it is a grofs mi ftake to talk of the power of religion, without these. Whoever is deftitute of thefe, whatever attainments in religion he may pretend to, is got no farther than a form of godlinefs, he is not yet under the power of it. is the firft.
Secondly, Let us be cautioned against being captivated and feduced by thofe, who have only a form of godlinefs. This is the Apostle's exhortation here in the text, From fuch turn away; for of this fort are they which creep into houfes, and lead captive filly women. fame purpose is our Saviour's caution, Matth. vii. 15. 16. Beware of false prophets, which come to you in heeps clothing, but inwardly they are ravening wolves. And that we may know how to avoid them, our Saviour bids us to obferve their lives, Ye shall know them by their fruits. He does not bid us examine their opinions, and try their pretences to infpiration; that is a thing many times above the capacity of the ordinary fort of men; but their lives and actions are open to every man's view; and though it is poffible men may counterfeit cven in this, yet they feldom do it fo exactly, as not to betray themfelves fome time or other: however this of all other is the easiest and furest rule; By their fruits ye Shall know them.
Therefore if any man pretend to any new discoveries in religion, beyond what is plainly revealed in fcripture, though he appear in never fo fanctimonious a garb, be not moved with this: for the power of religion does not
confift in any thing now to be difcovered; but in those things which are clearly contained in the word of God, in the precepts and directions, and in the motives and arguments to a good life; and whoever lives according to these, is in the best way to heaven that any man can put himself into ; and he need not trouble himself about thofe new lights and opinions, which in every age appear like comets, and glare a-while, and draw people to gaze upon them, and then vanish. And none are fo much to be fufpected of a form of religion, as those who make frequent changes in it, and wander from one party and opinion to another. An outward form and fhape is easily changed; it is that which a man shifts and puts off at pleasure.
Thirdly, To perfuade men to mind the power, and life, and fubftance of religion. It was the commendation of Socrates, the beft of philofophers, that he did philofophiam de cælo deducere," bring down philofophy
from heaven to earth," that is, from contemplation to practice, and from being an art of talking and difputing to be an art of living,. This I defire may be the aim of all my difcourfes, to inftruct men in religion in order to the practice of it, to teach men to know God, in St. John's fenfe, 1 John ii. 3. Hereby we know that we know him, if we keep his commandments. This is the great end and fcope, to which all difcourfes of religion ought to be levelled. It was a good faying of Pacuvius, Ego odi homines ignava opera & philofophos fententia, "I "hate men that are unactive in their lives, and philofophers in their opinions." Chriftianity is the best philofophy, and the most perfect inftitution of life that ever the world was acquainted withal; and therefore it is much more odious to fee men Chriftians in their profeffion, and faulty and vitious in their lives; because the very defign of the Chriftian religion is to give men a perfect and plain law and rule of life, and to enforce this law by the moft powerful and prevailing arguments. So that as Tully fays concerning the philofopher who lived but a bad life, that he was utterly inexcufable, Quod in eo cujus magifter effe vult labitur, artem vitæ profeffus, delinquit in vita; "Because he failed "in that wherein he pretended to be a master, and while
"he profeffed to have an art of living better than other "men, he offended and miscarried in his life :" all defects in the practice, and in the virtues of a good life, may with much more reafon and juftice be upbraided toChriftians, to those who have learned Chrift, who have heard him, and been taught by him, as the truth is in Jesus; to those who are bleffed with the clearest and most perfect revelation which ever God made to the world, the holiest and most reasonable religion, which furnisheth us with the best counfels and directions, the most prevalent motives and arguments, and the greatest helps and advantages to a good life; a religion plain and fimple, that hath lefs of outward form and pomp, and more of fubftance and reality, than any religion that ever was known in the world.
What a fad thing is it, that a religion fo wholly fitted and calculated to the defign and purpofe of a good life, armed with fuch powerful confiderations to engage men thereto, fhould yet have fo little force and power upon the lives of men, as we fee it generally to have! As if the grace of God had never appeared to men, to teach them to deny ungodliness and worldly lufts, and to live foberly, and righteously, and godly in this prefent world.
There was hardly ever any age, wherein the form of religion did more abound, and there were greater variety in them; and it is to be feared that there was never lefs of the power and efficacy of it.
I will inftance in two great defects in the lives and practice of Chriftians, which are vifible to every one, but are fad indications how little the power of religion prevails among men; I mean the want of common honefty and integrity among men, and the want of peace and love; the first of which is, the great virtue of civil converfation, and the other, the great bond both of civil and ecclefiaftical focieties. Thefe are two great duties of religion frequently mentioned, and ftrictly charged upon the confcience of men in fcripture: and yet how rare is the practice of them in the lives of Chriftians? These are two main defects in religion, and a plain demonstration of a form of religion, without the powerof it.