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3. But the seeming Christian, is either a mere temporizer, that will be of that religion, whatever it be, that is most in fashion, or which the higher powers are of, or which will cost him least : or else he will run into the other extreme, and lift up himself by affected singularities, and by making a bustle and stir in the world, about some small and controverted point: and careth not to sacrifice the peace and safety of the church, to the honor of his own opinions. And as small as the Christian church is, he must be of a smaller society than it, that he may be sure to be amongst the best; while indeed he bath no sincerity at all, but placeth his hopes in being of the right church, or party, or opinion : and for his party or church, he burneth with a feverish kind of zeal, and is ready to call for fire from heaven; and to deceive him, the devil sendeth him some from hell, to consume them that are not of his mind : yet doth he bring it as an angel of light, to defend the truth and church of Christ. And indeed, when the devil will be the defender of truth, or of the church, or of peace, or order, or piety, he doth it with the most burning zeal: you may know him by the means he useth. He defendeth the church, by forbidding the people to read the Scriptures in a known tongue, and by imprisoning and burning the soundest and holiest members of it, and abusing the most learned faithful pastors; and defendeth the flock by casting out the shepherds, and such like means, as the murderers of the Waldenses, and the massacres of France and Ireland, and the Spanish Inquisition, and queen Mary's bonfires, and the powder plot; yea, and the Munster, and the English rage and phrenzies, may give you fuller notice of. He that hath no holiness, nor charity to be zealous for, will be zealous for his church, or sect, or customs, or opinions; and then this zeal must be the evidence of his piety. And so the inquisitors have thought they have religiously served God, by murdering his servants : and it is the badge of their honor to be the devil's hangmen, to execute his malice on the members of Christ; and all this is done in zeal for religion by irreligious hypocrites. There is no standing before the malicious zeal of a graceless Pharisee, when it riseth up for his carnal interest, or the honor, and traditions, and customs of bis sect; (Luke vi. 7.) “And they were filled with madness, and communed with one another what they might do
to Jesus;" Luke iv. 28. Acts v. 17. xii. 45. John xvi. 2. Rom. x. 2. Phil. iii. 6. Acts xxvi. 10, 11. The zeal of a true Christian consumeth himself with grief to see the madness of the wicked ; but the zeal of the hypocrite consumeth others, that by the light of the fire his religiousness may be seen.
You may see the Christian's servent love to God, by the fervent flames which he can suffer for his sake: and you may see the fervent love of the hypocrite, by the flames which he kindleth for others. By these he crieth with Jehu,“ Come and see my zeal for the Lord;" 2 Kings x. 16. 2 Sam. xxi. 2.
LV. 1. A Christian indeed, is one that most highly esteemeth and regardeth the interest of God and men's salvation in the world, and taketh all things else to be inconsiderable in comparison of these. The interest of great men, and nobles, and commanders; yea, and his own in corporal respects, as riches, honor, health and life, he taketh to be things unworthy to be named, in competition with the interest of Christ and souls. The thing that his heart is most set upon in the world is, that God be glorified, and that the world acknowledge him their King, and that his laws he obeyed, and that darkness, infidelity and ungodliness may be cast out; and that pride and worldliness, and fleshly lusts, may not hurry the miserable world unto perdition. It is one of the saddest and most amazing thoughts that ever entereth into his heart, to consider how much of the world is overwhelmed in ignorance and wickedness, and how great the kingdom of the devil is, in comparison with the kingdom of Christ; that God should forsake so much of his creation ; that Christianity should not be owned in above the sixth part of the world; and popish pride and ignorance, with the corruptions of many other sects, and the worldly, carnal minds of hypocrites, should rob Christ of so much of this little part, and leave him so small a flock of holy ones, that must possess the kingdom. His soul consenteth to the method of the Lord's prayer, as prescribing us the order of our desires. And in his prayers he seeketh first, (in order of estimation and intention, the hallowing of God's name, and the coming of his kingdom, and the doing of his will on earth as it is done in heaven; before his daily bread, or the pardon of bis sins, or the deliverance of his soul from temptations and the evil one. Mark him in his prayers, and
you shall find that he is above other men, taken up in earnest petitions for the conversion of the heathen and infidel world, and the undeceiving of Mahometans, Jews, and heretics, and the clearing of the church from those papal tyrannies, and fopperies and corruptions, which make Christianity hateful or contemptible, in the eyes of the heathen and Mahometan world, and hinder their conversion. No man so much lamenteth the pride and covetousness, and laziness and unfaithfulness of the pastors of the church : because of the doleful consequents to the Gospel and the souls of men, and yet with all possible honor to the sacred office, which they thus profane. No man so heartily lamenteth the contentions and divisions among Christians, and the doleful destruction of charity thereb It grieveth him to see how much selfishness, pride, and malice, prevail with them that should shine as lights in a benighted world, and how obstinate and incurable they seem to be, against the plainest means, and humblest motions, for the church's edification and peace; Psal. cxx. 6, 7. cxxii. 6. Phil. ii. 1–4. Psal. cxix. 136. Zeph. iii. 18. Ezek. ix. 4. Psal. lxix. 9. John ii. 17. He envieth not kings and great men their dominions, wealth or pleasure: nor is he at all ambitious to participate in their tremendous exaltation. But the thing that his heart is set upon is, “ that the kingdoms of this world may all become the kingdoms of the Lord; Rev. xi. 15; and that the Gospel may every where “ have free course and be glorified," and the preachers of it be encouraged, or at least “ be delivered from unreasonable, wicked men; 2 Thes. iii. 1, 2. Little careth he who is uppermost or conquereth in the world, or who goeth away with the preferments or riches of the earth (supposing that he fail not of his duty to his rulers) so that it may go well with the affairs of the Gospel, and souls be but helped in the way to heaven. Let God be honored, and souls converted and edified, and he is satisfied. This is it that maketh the times good in his account; he thinketh not as the proud and carnal church of Rome, that the times are best when the clergy are richest and greatest in the world, and overtop princes, and claim the secular power, and live in worldly pomp and pleasures; but when holiness most aboundeth, and the members of Christ are likest to their head, and when multitudes of sincere believers are daily added to
the church, and when the mercy and holiness of God shine forth in the numbers and purity of the saints. It is no riches or honor that can be heaped upon himself, or any others, that make the times seem good to him, if knowledge and godliness are discountenanced and hindered, and the way to heaven is made more difficult; if atheism, infidelity, ungodliness, pride and malignity do prevail, and truth and sincerity are driven into the dark; and when “ he that departeth from evil maketh himself a prey.” Psal. lix. 15. When “ the godly man ceaseth and the faithful fail from among the children of men ; when every man speaketh vanity to his neighbor, and the poor are oppressed, and the needy sigh, and the wicked walk on every side, when the vilest men are exalted.” Psal. xii, 1, 2. 5. 8. The times are good when the men are good; and evil when the men are evil, be they never so great or prosperous. As Nehemiah, when he was cup-bearer to the king himself, yet wept and mourned for the desolations of Jerusalem ; Nehem. i. 3, 4. ii. 2, 3. Whoever prospereth, the times are ill when there is a “famine of the word of the Lord, and when the chief of the priests and people do transgress and mock God's messengers, and despise his word, and misuse his prophets; 2 Chron. xxxvi. 14. 16. Amos viïi. 11, 12. When the apostles
charged to speak no more in the name of Christ ; Acts iv. 18. v. 40. It is a text enough to make one tremble, to think into what a desperate condition the Jews were carried by a partial, selfish zeal; “ who both killed the Lord Jesus, and their own prophets, and have persecuted us, and they please not God, and are contrary to all men; forbidding us to speak to the Gentiles that they might be saved, to fill up their sin alway, for the wrath is come upon them to the uttermost; 1 Thess. ii. 15, 16. When the interest of themselves and their own nation and priesthood, did so far blind and pervert them, that they durst persecute the preachers of the Gospel, and “forbid them to speak to the people that they may be saved;" it was a sign that “wrath was come upon them to the uttermost.” A Christian indeed had rather be without Jeroboam's kingdom, than 'make Israel to sin,' and make the basest of the people priests,' and 'stretch out his hand against the prophet of the Lord :' i Kings xii. 30, 31. xii. 4. He had rather labor with his hands, as Paul, and live in poverty
and rags, so that the Gospel may be powerfully and plentifully preached, and holiness abound, than to live in all the prosperity of the world, with the hindrance of men's salvation. He had rather be a doorkeeper in the house of God, than be a lord in the kingdom of satan. He cannot rise by the ruins of the church, nor feed upon those morsels that are the price of the blood of souls.
2. And the weakest Christian is in all this of the same mind, saving that private and selfish interest is not so fully overcome, not so easily and resolutely denied; Luke xiv. 26. 33.
3. But here the hypocrite sheweth the falseness of his heart. His own interest is it that chooseth his religion ; and that he may not torment himself, by being wicked in the open light, he maketh himself believe, that whatsoever is most for his own interest is most pleasing unto God, and most for the good of souls and the interest of the Gospel; so that the carnal Romish clergy can persuade their consciences, that all the darkness and superstitions of their kingdom, and all the opposition of the light of the Gospel of Christ, do make for the honor of God and the good of souls; because they uphold their tyranny, wealth, and pomp, and pleasure. Or if they cannot persuade their consciences to believe so gross a lie, let church and souls speed how they will, they will favor nothing that favoreth not their interest and ends. And the interest of the flesh and Spirit, and of the world and Christ, are so repugnant, that commonly such worldlings take the serious practice of godliness for the most hateful thing, and the serious practisers of it for the most insufferable persons : Acts vii. 57. xxi. 36. xxii. 22, xxiv. 5, 6. John xix. 15. The enmity of interests, with the ene mity of nature, between the woman's and the serpent's seed, will maintain that warfare to the end of the world ; in which the prince of the powers of darkness shall seem to prevail, (as he did against our crucified Lord :) but he shall be overcome by his own successes, and the just shall conquer by patience, when they seem most conquered. The name, and form, and image of religion, the carnal hypocrite doth not only bear, but favor, and himself accept; but the lise and serious practice he abhorreth, as inconsistent with his worldly interest and ends. For these he can find in his heart, with Ahab, to hate and imprison Micaiah, and prefer his four hundred flattering