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armour wherein they trust, and shames them with the humiliating conviction of their nakedness. Hence also it is that the determined votaries of iniquity calumniate not only the servants of religion, but religion itself. Sometimes, like the Jews, who through aversion to the doctrine of John the Baptist denominated him a morose fanatic, they describe the restraints which Christianity imposes on the evil inclinations of men as a yoke of intolerable bondage, They declaim against the Gospel as a system of hardship and rigour; as making no allowance for human infirmities; as prohibiting the indulgence of innocent desires, and the enjoyment of the ease and consolations of social life. If they are not thus open
in their censures, they betray their secret thoughts by invectives against every one who delineates the corruption of human nature, the guilt and consequences of sin, and the import and extent of human duty, faithfully and zealously according to the Scriptures ; and by their own representations of religion as neither unfolding those views of the depravity and helplessness of man, nor urging those demands of constant watchfulness and stedfast purity, which the persons whom they deride as righteous
overmuch discover in every page of the Word of God. At other times, as the enemies of Christ reviled him as addicted to finful indulgences, they misrepresent some of the leading doctrines of the Gospel as virtually affording encouragement to immorality: and with singular eagerness set themselves in array against the fundamental principle of redemption, that man is to be justified in no respect or degree by works of his
own, but entirely by faith in Christ, as though it rendered good works unnecessary and fubverted and swept away the ground-work of holiness. It is thus that, by multifarious and contradictory slanders, wicked men labour to render true religion absurd, contemptible, and odious, in order to provide an apology for their own disobedience and unbelief. If you discover in your own bosom those dispositions, which you perceive to have always prevailed in the breasts of the wicked ; are you not constrained to infer that your mind exhibits a substantial resemblance to theirs ? If you discern a lurking inclination to be disfatisfied with the doctrines and precepts of the Bible; if you detect a secret pleasure in raising or hearing objections against parts of the Scriptures ; if you perceive
yourself gladly snatching at pretexts for depreciating the principles and censuring the conduct of religious men; is it not evident that you have not a warm and cordial love for religion? Your heart is not right with God. Delude not yourselves by whispering to your consciences that, although you must admit the truth and the relevancy of the preceding observations, you occafionally make respectful mention of religion, and pay a decent regard to her ordinances and to many of her injunctions. The Scribes and Pharisees talked, according to their own views of the subject, largely of religion ; and in some points were punctilious observers of the law. But
know that their religion was not the religion of the Scriptures. You know that in body and soul they were devoted to wickedness. See that your religion be the religion of Christ Jesus. See that you love that religion. If you do not feel pain when it is contemptuously treated, if you are not grieved when its followers are calumniated; in the bottom of
love it not.
Secondly: If, through the influence of divine grace, you have been brought to the love of religion, wonder not, nor be
discouraged, when you hear the truths of the Gospel Nandered, or yourself made the theme of evil-speaking for their fake. Thus it always has been; and thus, until Chrise tianity shall have established a more general dominion over the hearts of those who avow themselves her subjects, it always will be. Evil men, whether regarding the man of piety as a fool and a fanatic; or conscious that he is a far more religious character than themselves, and feeling his superiority as a reproach; will assuredly be on the watch to contrive opportunities of degrading him in public esteem, of fixing some name of obloquy upon him, and of disparaging those views of religion which have conducted him to excellence in holiness. If you are a zealous servant of God, prepare to behold
your purest intentions misconstrued; prepare to hear yourself reproved and vilified for actions, which, according to a more equitable interpretation, might have been deemed worthy of praise. Prepare yourself to hear principles ascribed to you the reverse of those which you hold, the reverse of those which you publicly maintain. Prepare to hear epithets and appellations borrowed from obnoxious fects; fects, it may be,
from whose errors you may have been the instrument in the hand of God of rescuing or guarding weaker brethren; prepare to hear them borrowed for the purpose of fixing the odium of those errors upon yourfelf. What is the lesson which this
expectation should teach you? It should teach you how great is the folly of solicitude for the applause of men. When you deserve blame, encomiums may be poured out upon you ; when you have the fairest claim to approbation, you may be repelled with censure and contempt.
But let the servant of Christ not only be indifferent as to general applause. Let him be jealous over himself, if it should fall to his lot. Wo unto you, faid our Lord, to his disciples, when all men speak well of you: for so did their fathers unto the false prophets*. If you are thus praised by the world; examine yourself. Is it not because you are conformed to the evil principles and practices of the world ? Is it not because you live to the world, not unto Christ? The world will love its own. Men will praise thee, faith David, when thou doft well to thyself t. If you are successful in your worldly plans; if you give the reins
* Luke, vi. 26. + Pfalm, xlix. 18.