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and diseasedness; what a folly and indeed a sign of hypocrisy) is it to think, “If I had but grace enough to save me, I would desire no more, or I would be well content.' Are
Are you content, if you have but life here, to difference you from the dead? If you were continually infants that must be fed, and carried, and made clean by others; or if you had a continual gout, or stone or leprosy, and lived in continual want and misery, you would think that life alone is not enough; and that 'non vivere tantum sed valere vita est :' that life is uncomfortable when we have nothing but life, and all the delights of life are gone. He that lieth in continual pain and want is weary of his life, if he cannot separate it from those calamities. He that knoweth how necessary strength is, as well as life, to do any considerable service for God, and how many pains attend the diseases and infirmities of the weak, and what great dishonor cometh to Christ and religion, by the faults and childishness of many that shall be pardoned and saved, would certainly bestir him with all possible care to get out of this sick or infant state.
2. By this you may see who are the Strong Christians, and who are the weak. It is not always the man of learning and free expressions, that can speak longest and most wisely of holy things, that is the strong, confirmed Christian; but he that most excelleth in the love of God and man, and in a heavenly mind, and holy life. Nor is it he that is unlearned, or of a weak memory, or slow expression, that is the weakest Christian; but he that hath least love to God and man, and the most love to his carpal self, and to the world, and the strongest corruptions, and the weakest grace. Many a poor daylaborer, or woman that can scarce speak sense, is a stronger Christian (as being strong in faith, and love and patience, and humility, and mortification, and self-denial) than many great preachers and doctors of the church.
3. You see here what kind of men they be that we call the godly; and what that godliness is which we plead for, against the malicious serpentine generation. The liars would make men believe that by godliness we mean a few affected strains, or hypocritical shews, or heartless lip-service or singular opinions, in needless scrupulosity, or ignorant zeal : yea, a schism, or faction, or sedition, or rebellion, or what the devil please to say. If these sixty characters describe
any such thing, then I will not deny, that in the way that such men call heresy, faction, schism, singularity, so worship we the God of our fathers. But if not, the Lord rebuke thee Satan, and hasten the day when the · lying lips shall be put to silence;" Psal. cxxxi. 18. cxx. 2. cix. 2. Prov. xii. 19. 22. x. 18.
4. By this also you may see how inexcusable the enemies of Christianity and godliness are, and for what it is that they hate and injure it. Is there any thing in all this character of a Christian, that deserveth the suspicion or hatred of the world? What harm is there in it? Or what will it do against them? I may say to them of bis servants as Christ did of himself: “Many good works have I shewed you from my Father; for which of these works do ye stone me?” John x. 32. Many heavenly graces are in the sanctified believer: for which of these do you hate and injure him! I know that goodness is so far in credit with human nature, that you will answer as the Jews did; “For a good work we stone thee not, but for blasphemy;" ver. 33. We hate them not for godliness, but for hypocrisy and sin. But if it be so indeed, 1. Speak not against godliness itself, nor against the strictest performance of our duty. 2. Yea, plead for godliness, and countenance and promote it while you speak against hypocrisy and sin. 3. And choose out the hypocrite whose character is here set before you; and let him be the object of your enmity and distaste. Let it fall on those that are worldlings and time-servers, and will stretch their consciences to their carnal interest, and can do any thing to save their skin; and being false to Christ, can hardly be true to any of their superiors, but only in subordination to themselves. As it is said of Constantius, that he commanded that all his servants should be turned out of their places that would not renounce Christianity. And when he had thereby tried them, he turned out all the apostates, and kept in the sincere, and told them, they could not be true to him, that were not true to their God and Savior. 4. And see that you be not hypocrites yourselves. You profess yourselves Christians; and what is it to be a Christian indeed, you
: may here perceive. If any that fall under the character of hypocrites, or worse, shall vilily or hate the sincere Christians as hypocrites, what a horrid aggravation of their hypocrisy will it be?
Indeed it is the best and strongest Christians that have most of the hatred both of the unbelieving and the hypocritical world. And for my own part I must confess, that the very observation of the universal implacable enmity, which is undeniably seen throughout the world, between the woman's and the serpent's seed (being such as is not found among any other sorts of men on other occasions,) doth not a little confirm my belief of the holy Scriptures, and seemeth to be an argument not well to be answered by any enemy of the Christian cause. That it should begin between the two first brothers that ever were born in the world, and stop in nothing lower than shedding the righteous blood of Abel, for no other cause, but because the works of Cain were evil, and his brother's righteous; 1 John iii. 12, 13. and that it should go down to the prophets, and Christ, and the apostles, and primitive saints, and continue to this day throughout the earth; and that the profession of the same religion doth not alter it, but rather enrage the enmity of hypocrites against all that are serious and sincere in the religion which they themselves profess: These are things that no good account can be given of, save only from the predictions and verities of the word of God.
5. Also you may hence perceive how exceedingly injurious hypocrites and scandalous Christians are, to the name of Christ, and cause of Christianity and godliness in the world. The blind, malicious enemies of faith and godliness, instead of judging them by the sacred rule, do look only to the professors, and think of religion as they think of them. If they see the professors of Christianity to be covetous, proud, usurpers, time-servers, self-exalters, cruel, schismatical, rebellious, they presently charge all this upon their religion ; and godliness must bear the blame, when all comes but for want of godliness and religion. And all the world hath not done so much against these and all other sins, as Christ hath done. What if Christ's disciples strive who shall be the greatest, is it long of him who girdeth himself to wash and wipe their feet? and telleth them, that “except they be converted, and become as little children, they shall not enter into the kingdom of God?" Matt. xviii. 3. and telleth them, that though the kings of the Gentiles do exercise lordship over them, and they that exercise authority upon them are called
benefactors, yet ye shall not be so ?” Luke xxii. 25, 26. Is it long of him that hath said to the elders, “Feed the flock of God which is among you, taking the oversight thereof, not by constraint but willingly ; not for filthy lucre, but of a ready mind; neither as being lords over God's heritage, but being examples to the flock? Who hath set the elders such a lesson as you find in Acts xx.
2 Tim. iv. 1-3. 1 Tim. v. 17. If any called Christians should be truly schismatical, factious, or turbulent, is it long of him that hath prayed the Father that they may all be one? John xvii. 21–23. and hath so vehemently entreated them “that they speak the same thing, and that there be no divisions among them, and that they be perfectly joined together in the same mind, and in the same judgment;" 1 Cor. vii. 10. and hath charged them to “ mark them that cause divisions and offenses contrary to the doctrine which they had learned, and to avoid them?” Rom. xvi. 16, 17. If any called Christians shall be seditious, or rebellious, or (as the Papists) believe, that the clergy are from under the jurisdiction of kings, and that the pope hath power to excommunicate princes, and absolve their subjects from their allegiance, and give their dominions to others, as it is decreed in the general council at the Lateran under Innocent the Third, Can. 3. is all this long of Christ, who hath paid tribute to Cæsar, and hath commanded that every soul be subject to the higher powers, and not resist, and this for conscience sake? Rom. xi. 1-3. and hath bid his disciples rather to turn the other cheek, than to seek revenge? Luke vi. 29. and hath told them that they that use the sword (of rebellion, or revenge, or cruelty) shall perish by the sword? John xviii. 11. If any Christians will under pretence of religion, set up a cruel inquisition, or kill men to convert them, or become selflovers, covetous, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy, without natural affection, truce-breakers, false-accusers, incontinent, fierce, despisers of those that are good, &c. is this long of him that hath forbid all this? 2 Tim. ii. 2–5. If for their own domination, lust or covetousness, men called Christians, will be worse than heathens and wolves to one another, is this long of him that hath made it his sheep-mark, by which we must be known to all men to be his disciples, that “ we love one
another ?” John xiï. 35. and hath told them, that if they “ bite and devour one another, they shall be devoured one of another ?" (Gal. v. 15.) and hath blessed the merciful, as those that shall find mercy (Matt. v. 7.,) and hath told men that what they do to his little ones, shall be taken as if it were done to bimself (Matt. xxv.), and hath commanded the “ strong to bear with the infirmities of the weak, and not to please themselves" (Rom. xv. 1-3.), and “to receive one another as Christ received us” (ver. 7.), and hath told those that offend but “one of his little ones,” that it “were good for that man that a millstone were hanged about his neck, and he were drowned in the depths of the sea” (Matt, xviii, 6.,) and hath told him that “smiteth his fellow servants, that his Lord will come in a day when he looketh not for him, and shall cut him asunder, and appoint him his portion with the hypocrites, where shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth ;" chap. xxiv. 48–51. I wonder what men would have Christ do, to free himself and the Christian religion from the imputation of the sins of the hypocrites, and the weak distempered Christians. Would they have him yet make stricter laws (when they hate these for being so strict already,) or would they have him condemn sinners to more grievous punishment, when they are already offended at the severity of his threatenings? O what an unrighteous generation are his enemies that blame the law, because men break it, and blame religion, because many are not religious enough. As if the sun must be hated, because that shadows and dungeons do want light; or life and health must be hated, because many are sick and pained by their diseases ! But Christ will shortly stop all the mouths of these unreasonable men; and 0 how easily will he justify himself, his laws, and all his holy ways, when all iniquity shall be for ever silent. And though " it must needs be that offences come, yet wo to the world because of offences, and wo to the man by whom they come.”
The wrong that Christ receiveth from hypocrites and scandalous Christians (of all ranks and places) is not to be estimated. These are the causes that Christianity and godliness are so contemptible in the eyes of the world! that Jews, and heathens, and Mahometans, are still unconverted and deriders of the faith ; because they see