« PoprzedniaDalej »
on all his members, that, being justified by his grace, they should be made heirs according to the hope of eternal life. (Tit. iii. 5, 6.) They are not new creatures, old things being
) not past away, and all things with them become new and therefore it is certain they are not in Christ. (2 Cor. v. 17.) They have not put off the old man with his deceitful luşts, and deeds, nor have they put on the new man, which after God is created in righteousness, and true holiness. (Eph. iii. 22-24; Col. ij. 9, 10.) They have but patched up the old unsanctified hearts, and smoothed over their carnal conversations with civility and plausible deportment, and so much religion as may cheat themselves, as well as blind the eyes of others : but they are strangers to the life of God, (Eph. iv. 18,) and never were made partakers of the divine nature, which all the chil
of God partake of, (2 Pet. i. 4,) nor of that holiness, without which none shall see the Lord. (Heb, xii. 14.)
3. Though he make a slight and customary confession of his sins, unworthiness, and misery, yet he is not kindly humbled at the heart, nor made truly vile in his own eyes, nor contrite and broken-hearted, nor emptied of himself, as seeing himself undone by his own iniquities, crying out unclean, and loathing himself for all his abominations, weary of his sin, and heavy-laden, as all must be that are fit for Christ. Read Isa, lvii, 15, and lxvi. 2; Psalm li. 17, and xxxiv. 18; Lev. xiii. 44, 45; Ezek. xxxvi. 31, and xx. 43, and vi. 9; Matt. xi. 28; Rom. vii. 24.
4. This man's religion must needs be vain, for he wanteth the life of faith itself, and heartily believeth not in Christ. He hath but an opinion of the truth of Christianity, through the advantage of his education and company; and thereupon doth call him selfa Christian, and heartlessly talk of the mystery of redemption as a common thing: but he doth not with a humble, broken heart, betake himself to Christ as his only refuge from the wrath of God, and everlasting misery, as he would lay hold on the hand of his friend, if he were drowning. The sense of the odiousness of sin, and of the damnation threatened by the righteous God, hath not yet taught him to value Christ, as he must be valued by such as will be saved by him. These hypocrites do but talk of Christ, and turn his name as they do their prayers, into the matter of a dry and customary form. They fly not to him as the only physician of their souls, in the feeling of their festering wounds : they cry not to him as the disciples in the tempest, “Save, Master, we perish. They value him not practically, (though notionally they do,) as the pearl for which they must sell all." (Matt. xiii. 44-46.) Christ doth not dwell in his heart by faith, nor doth he long with all the saints to comprehend what is the breadth, and length, and depth, and height, and to know the love of Christ which passeth knowledge. (Eph. iii. 17-19.) He counteth not all things loss for Christ, and the excellency of his knowledge; nor doth he count them as dung, that he may win Christ, and be found in him, not having his own righteousness, but that which is through the faith of Christ; (Phil. iii. 8–10;) nor can he truly say, that he desireth to know nothing but a crucified Christ, (1 Cor. ii. 2,) and that “the life that he now liveth in the flesh, he liveth by the faith of the Son of God, that loved him, and gave himself for him.” (Gal. ii. 20.) He is not taken up with that admiration of the love of God in Christ, as beseems a soul that is saved by him from the flames of hell, and that is reconciled to God, and made an heir of life everlasting. He hath not understandingly, deliberately, seriously, and unreservedly, given up himself and all that he hath to Christ; and thankfully accepted Christ and life, as given on the gospel terms to him. This living effectual faith is wanting to the hypocrite, whose religion is vain.
5. This vain religion doth never practically show the soul the amiableness and attractive goodness of God, so far as to win the heart to a practical observation of him, and adhering to him, above all; nor so far as to advance him, above all the creatures, in the practical judgment, will, and conversation; nor doth he cause the soul to take him for its portion, and prefer his favour before all the world, and devote. itself and all unto his interest and will, and give him the superlative and sovereign honour, both in heart and life. (Psalm Ixiii. 3, and xxx. 5, and iv. 6, 7, and xvi. 5, and xvii. 4; Matt. x. 37.)
6. This vain religion is always without that serious belief of the life to come, which causeth the soul to take it for its happiness and treasure, and there to set its desires and its hopes, and to make it his principal care and business to attain it, and to make all the pleasures and profits and honours of the world to stoop to it, as preferring it before them all. (Matt. vi. 20, 21, and ver. 33; Luke xviii. 22, 23, and xiv. 33; Col. iii. 1-5; Phil. iii. 18–20.) The hypocrite taketh heaven but for a reserve, and as a lesser evil than hell, and seeks it but in the
second place, while his fleshly pleasures and interest have the pre-eminence, and God hath no more but the leavings of the world; and he serveth him but with so much as his flesh can spare.
7. This vain religion consisteth principally in external observances. If he be a formalist that hath it, his religion lieth in his beads and prayer-books, in going so oft to church, and keeping holy days and fasting days, and saying over such and such words, and using such and such gestures and ceremonies, and submitting to church orders, and crying down sectaries and preciseness, and jeering at the simplicity of plain-hearted Christians that never learned the art of dissimulation. Their religion is but a pack of compliments, a flattering of God, as if they would mock him with cap and knee who will not be mocked; (Gal. vi. 7 ;) while they draw near to him with their lips, their hearts are far from him. (Matt. xv. 7–9.) They wash the outside, and pay tithe of all, and give some alms, and forbear disgraceful sins, which would make them be esteemed ungodly among men. (Matt. xv. 2, 3; Mark vii. 4, 8; Matt. xxiii. 25, 26, &c., vi. 1, 4, 6, &c.; Isa. i. 11-14, lviii. 1, 2.) But these self-deceivers are strangers to the inward spiritual work of holiness: their hearts are not busy in the worship of God, by fervent desire and exercise of other graces, while their tongues are put into an artificial pace, , and they are acting the part of men that seem to be religious.
If they be cast into the sectarian mould, they place their religion in the strictness of their principles and parties, and in contending for them, and in their affected fervour, and ability to speak and pray extempore : but the humble, holy, inward workings of the soul toward God, and its breathings after him, and the watch that it sets over the heart, this hypocrite is much a stranger to.
If he be brought up among the orthodox in well-ordered churches, he placeth his religion in the holding of the truth, and taking the right side, and submitting to right order, and using God's ordinances : but the most of an upright man's employment is at home, within him; to order his soul, and exercise grace, and keep down sin, and keep out of the world, and keep under the flesh and carnal self, and do the inward part of duty; and he is as truly solicitous about this as about the outward works, and contenteth not himself to have said his prayers, unless, indeed, his heart have prayed; nor to have heard, unless
he' have profited, or heard with obediential attention and he makes conscience of secret duties, as well as of those that are done in the sight of men; but this the hypocrite comes not up to, to trade in the internal spiritual part.
8. The religion that is vain is without an universal hatred of known sin, and an actual conquering of it, so far as to live out of gross sin, which some call mortal, and to be weary of infirmities, and to be truly desirous to be rid of all; and to be willing to use God's means against it. Thus it is with the sincerely religious, but not with these hypocrites that deceive themselves. (John iii. 19, 20; Rom. vii. 24; Luke xiii. 3, 5; Rom. viii. 1–14; Gal. vi. 7, 8.) The hypocrite hath not only some particular sin, which all his religion makes him not willing to see to be a sin, or to forsake; but his very state is sinful in the main, by the predominancy of a selfish carnal interest and principle; and he is not willing of close plain dealing, much less of the diligent use of means himself to overcome that sin, because he loveth it.
9. This vain religion is not accompanied by an unfeigned love to a life of holiness, which every true believer hath; delighting to meditate in the law of God, with a practical intention to obey it, and delighting in the inward exercise of grace, and outward ordinances as advantages hereunto; desiring still more of the grace which he hath tasted, and grieving that he knoweth, and trusteth, and loveth, and feareth, and obeyeth God so little, and loving to reach higher, to know, and love, and fear him more. (Psalm i. 2, and cxix. 1-5, 9, 10, &c; Heb. xii. 14; 2 Peter iii. 11; Matt. vii. 13, 14.) But the self-deceiver either hath a secret dislike of this serious diligence for salvation, and loving God with all the soul and might, (because he is conscious that he reacheth it not himself,) for, at least, he will not be brought to entertain any more than will stand with his carnal ends.
10. A vain religion doth not so far reveal the excellency of Christ's image in his servants, as to cause an entire love to them as such; and to delight in them above the most splendid and accomplished persons that are strangers to the life of grace, and
, so far to love them as, when Christ requireth it, to part with our substance, and hazard ourselves for their relief. Thus do the truly religious. (Psalm xvi. 2. and xv. 4; 1 John ii. 14; Matt. x. 40; xi. 42; and xxv. 34, 35, 40, 42, 45, 46.) But the hypocrite either secretly hateth a heavenly, holy life, and, consequently the people that are such, (because they seem to con
demn him by overgoing him, and differing from him; or, at least, he only superficially approveth of them, but will forsake both Christ and them in trial, rather than forsake his earthen god. I have now showed you what the self-deceiver wants, in which you may see sufficient reason why his religion is but vain.
II. We are next to show you how these hypocrites do deceive themselves, and wherein their self-deceit consisteth. It may seem strange that a man of reason should do such a thing as this, when we consider that truth is naturally the object of the understanding, and that all men necessarily love themselves, and therefore love what they know to be simply good for them. How then can any man that hath the use of reason be willing to be deceived, yea, and be his own deceiver, and that in matters of unspeakable consequence! But it is not as falsehood, nor as deceit, that they desire it, but as it appeareth necessary to the carnal ease and pleasure which they desire.
The way by which they deceive their own hearts consisteth in these following degrees :
1. The hypocrite resisteth the spirit of grace, and rejecteth the mercies offered in the gospel ; and so, by his refusal, is deprived of a part in Christ, and of the life of grace, and the hopes of glory which were tendered to him.
2. But withal, he is willing of so much of this mercy as consisteth with his sinful disposition and carnal interest : he is willing enough to be happy in general, and to be saved from hellfire, and to be pardoned, and to have such a heaven as he hath framed a pleasing imagination of.
3. And therefore he maketh him up a religion of so much of Christianity as will stand with his pleasures, profits, and reputation in the world, that so he may not be left in despair of being saved, when he must leave the world that he most loved. The cheap and the easy parts of Christianity, and those that are most in credit in the world, and that flesh and blood have least against; these he will cull out from among the rest, and make him a religion of, passing by the dearer and more difficult and spiritual parts.
4. Having gone thus far, he persuadeth his own heart that this kind of religion which he hath patched up and framed to himself is the true religion, the faith, the hope, the charity, the repentance, the obedience, to which salvation is promised; and that he is a true Christian, notwithstanding his defects; and