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out all the darts of fiery indignation, in the punishing of whom he will express his Almighty power.
31. But I cannot allow myself any longer time to prosecute the former part of my proposition, viz. To shew how much men deceive themselves, who think they indeed believe the fundamental points of their faith, when, by their practice and course of life, they live in an habitual exercise of such sins as are utterly repugnant and destructive of such a belief. And this I think I have performed but yet only in general terms, not descending to a view of some more eminent and particular sins and enormities for that therefore which remains of the time that your patience will allow me, I will spend it in acquitting myself of the other part of my promise, namely, in instancing in some extraordinary uncontrolled practices of these times, and discovering how utterly they do destroy the very grounds and foundations of our religion, and how impossible it is they should consist with a true sincere profession of Christianity.
32. As first, for example, how ordinarily do we meet with this practice, for men which are above others in wealth and power, to employ both these to their utmost abilities for the maintaining of an unjust cause against a poor inferior adversary? am sure this is no news to you; you do not startle at the hearing of such a crime as this; and yet, if it be well considered, what can be imagined more monstrous and abominable? For, give me leave to suppose, or put the case, that some one of this company were guilty of this sin:
33. If I should ask him, Whence, and from whom he had his riches or power? whom he would acknowledge for his benefactor? I make no
question but he would give me a good religious answer, and say, that "he would not sacrifice to his net, nor burn incense to his drag;" but that God, who gave a blessing to his cares and endeavours, had advanced him to such a place and fortune in the world. Again, if I should ask him, In what esteem and value (he thought that) God holds his faithful servants? or, whether he would take it well to have them oppressed and trampled on by others more potent than themselves? he must needs answer again, that God is no accepter of persons, neither riches nor poverty are a means to procure his favour; but that in all conditions of men," he that loveth righteousness, and hateth iniquity, shall be accepted by him."
34. If these be his answers (as, without all contradiction, unless he will profess himself an atheist, such must be the effect of them), then let him consider, what a woeful condition he has concluded himself to be in, and what reason he has to thank God for his honour or riches! Does he think, that God has furnished him with strength and weapons for this end, that thereby he might be able to make war with himself, that he might have the power to overrun and lay waste those whom God loveth as the apple of his own eye? 'Can he imagine, that God has been so beneficial and liberal to him, in preferring him to a rank and degree above others not inferior to him in the riches and treasures of God's grace, and therefore as dear unto him as himself, for this end, that thereby he may prove a more able and fit instrument for the devil to wreak his malice and hatred upon those whom God loves?
35. Therefore, if there be ever such a person in
this auditory (yet I hope there is not, but and if there be), what shall I say unto him? Let him consider, what a hard task he has undertaken, to war against God! Let him consider, what a strange reckoning he is likely to make unto God, when he shall at last (as undoubtedly he will) require of him an account of his stewardship! Behold, Lord, thou hast given me five talents, and what have I done with them? Why, lo, I have made them ten talents. But how, by what courses? Why, I have unjustly and injuriously robbed and wrung from my fellow-servants those few talents which thou gavest them: I have gained thus much by my violent maintaining of a cause which thou hatest, and which myself could not deny but to be most unjust. This is surely a sore evil under the But since I hope it little concerns any one here to have such a crime as this dissected curiously, and purposely insisted upon, it shall suffice me to say, that they who are guilty of it are far from knowing of what spirit they are, when they say they are Christians, since even a very heathen would abhor to countenance or entertain such a vice as this.
36. In the second place, How can ye believe (saith Christ), who seek honour one of another, and not that honour which is of God?" If these words of Christ be true, that they who too earnestly desire applause and reputation among men, neglecting in the mean time seriously to endeavour the attaining to the honour which is of God, that is, obedience and submission to his commands, which is that wherein a Christian ought especially to place his honour and reputation; if such men as these do in vain, and without all
ground of reason, reckon themselves in the number of true believers; again, if the chief badge and KpTnptov, whereby Christ would have his servants to be distinguished from the world, be a willingness to suffer injuries, a desire rather to have the other cheek stricken, and to have the cloak go the same way with the coat, than to revenge one blow with another, or go to law for a matter of no great moment, for recovering of that which a man might well enough lose, without endangering his estate:
37. If these things, I say, be true; suppose Christ (according to the vision of Ezekiel, Ezek. ix. 5, 6.) should command his angels utterly "to slay through all Jerusalem," that is, the church, "old and young, maids, and little children, and women, excepting only those upon whom his mark and badge were to be found;" what destruction and desolation would there be! How would the sanctuary of God be defiled, and his courts be filled with the slain! How would many (who now pass, both in their own and other men's opinions, for good Christians enough) be taken for Mahomet's servants, whose religion it is, by fury and murder to gain proselytes to their abominable profession! Suppose our garments should be presented to God with the same question that Jacob's sons sent their brother Joseph's, Num hæc est tunica filii tui? "Is this thy son's coat?" Would they not rather be taken for the skins of savage beasts? so unlike are they to that garment of humility and patience, which our Saviour wore, and which he bequeathed us in his legacy!
38. We are so far from seeking that honour
which is of God, from endeavouring to attain unto, or so much as countenancing, such virtues, which God hath often professed that he will exalt and glorify, such as humility, and patiently bearing of injuries, that we place our honour and reputation in the contrary; that is counted noble and generous in the world's opinion, which is odious and abominable in the sight of God. If thy brother offend or injure thee, forgive him, saith Christ; if he proceed, forgive him: what until seven times? Aye, until seventy times seven times. But how is this doctrine received now in the world? What counsel would men, and those none of the worst sort, give thee in such a case? How would the soberest, discreetest, well-bred Christians advise thee? Why thus; If thy brother or thy neighbour have offered thee an injury, or affront, forgive him! by no means; of all things in the world take heed of that: thou art utterly undone in thy reputation then, if thou dost forgive him. What is to be done then? Why, let not thy heart rest, let all other business and employment be laid aside, till thou hast his blood. What! a man's blood for an injurious passionate speech, for a disdainful look! Nay, this is not all: that thou mayst gain amongst men the reputation of a discreet well-tempered murderer, be sure thou killest him not in passion, when thy blood is hot and boiling with the provocation, but proceed with as much temper and settledness of reason, with as much discretion and preparedness, as thou wouldst to the communion: after some several days' meditation, invite him, mildly and affably, into some retired place; and there let it be put