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54. Are not you then most shamefully perjured, when you are so far from renouncing the vanities of this world for Christ his sake, that you will not be withdrawn from the crimes of it? when the base lust of an harlot, or the furious excess of wine, or that untempting, undelightful, and therefore more unpardonable sin of swearing and blasphemy, shall be of sufficient force with you every hour, not only to withdraw all manner of respect and obedience from Christ, but even to make you crucify him again, and to put him to open shame?
55. And do not please yourselves in this conceit, that because God does not exact of you now the forfeiture of your vow and promise, as he did of Ananias and his wife, that therefore your case is much better than theirs : for let me tell you, as our Saviour on such an occasion told the Jews, Think you, that you are less sinners than they, whose blood Pilate mingled with the sacrifices; or those upon whom the tower of Siloe fell? so let me say unto you: Think you, that because God shewed so terrible an example upon Ananias and Sapphira, for their lying to the Holy Ghost, by taking them away suddenly by a fearful death, and hath not yet shewed the like upon you, that your sin comes much short of theirs, and that you may notwithstanding escape? I tell you nay, but except ye repent, ye shall likewise perish. Alas! what a trifle was that judgment which befell them, to those plagues which are reserved for wilful, obstinate sinners !
56. I beseech you, therefore, brethren, even by the bowels of Jesus Christ, that you would consider what it is you do, when you allow yourselves in the practice of any one habitual sin: it is no less than a wilful wiping off the water wherewith you were baptized; it is no less than an abjuring of Christ; nay, it is no less than a devoting and sacrificing yourselves to devils.
57. In the second place, where will those appear that are so far from denying all for Christ, that for his sake they will not leave one delightful, profitable sin ; they will rather deny Christ himself than the least troublesome pleasure, running into all excess of riot ; nay, they will sell Christ cheaper than Judas did; they will sell him, and take no money for him ? What else do those that spend their time in idle, vain lying, in fruitless oaths, in unnecessary blasphemy? They can be content to see Christ himself almost every day naked, and do not clothe him ; hungry, and do not feed him; in prison, and do not visit him; for inasmuch as they perform not these works of charity to his beloved little ones, they deny them to himn. Will they be found worthy of Christ, that for his sake will not do so much as a heathen hath done in an humour, or for the unprofitable reward of fame? that for his sake will not forgive their brother some small injury received ; nay, perhaps some great kindness offered, as a seasonable correction, or loving dissuasion from sin; that, for his sake, will not take the least pains in furthering their own salvation ?
58. Lastly, what will become of me, and you, (beloved fathers and brethren of the clergy,) we to whom God hath intrusted the exercise and managing of three or four of his glorious attributes? For to us is committed the gospel of Christ, which is the wisdom of God hidden from the world : and to us is committed the gospel of Christ, which is the power of God to salvation, and which worketh mightily in them which believe, even according to the mighty working whereby he raised Christ from the dead : and to us is committed the gospel of Christ, even the dispensation of the riches of his glorious mercy and compassions. 59. What then will become of us, if we, notwithstanding these great engagements, these inestimable prerogatives, shall turn this wisdom of God into foolishness, by exalting and deifying our own carnal wisdom; if we shall weaken and make void this almighty power, by the violent opposition of our sinful lusts and affections; finally, if we shall be too sparing and niggardly in the dispensing of these his mercies; if we shall render his goodness suspected to our hearers, as if those frequent and plentiful offers of pity and compassion were only empty, histrionical expressions, and not professions of a mind heartily and sincerely inclined unto us?
60. I will tell you what will become of us; and I shall the better do it, by telling you, first, what an excessive weight of glory we, especially, shall lose by it: They that be wise (saith Daniel) shall shine as the brightness of the firmament; and they that turn many to righteousness, as the stars for ever and ever. Not as those vulgar, ordinary stars, that have light enough only to make them visible; but like those more noble lights, which are able to cast a shadow through the whole creation, even like the sun in his full strength. And the preferment we are likely to gain is very answerable to our loss; we shall be glorious, shining firebrands, of the first magnitude, in whose fearful, horrible destruction, God will shew what he is able to do.
Rom. viii. 34.
Who is he that condemneth? It is Christ that died, yea rather,
that is risen again. IF
F I durst appear in this place with any ends and projects of mine own; if, whilst I preach unto you Jesus Christ, I could think it worth my labour to lose a thought about the purchasing of a vain, fruitless reputation and opinion amongst my hearers; surely I should by no means omit so commodious and tempting an opportunity, as this argument of Christ's resurrection may suggest unto me; it being a business, in the effecting whereof, above all the works which God ever made since he began to work, he most especially glorified almost all his Divine attributes ; it being a deliverance, even of God himself, from destruction and rotten
2. It is an argument so pleasing to St. Paul, that in many places he seems to magnify it even to the undervaluing and disparagement of whatsoever Christ before either did or suffered. In a sermon of his (Acts xiii.) preached at Antioch, he makes it the complement and fulfilling of whatsoever God before had promised to the fathers, and of all the prophecies, which, since the beginning of the world, had been delivered by God's messengers. To make which good, the apostle himself in that place, (whereas he needed not to strain so far; there were then extant prophecies enough, purposely and precisely declaring the glory and power of Christ's resurrection,) he notwithstanding, as it would seem,
mistakes that famous prophecy of Christ's birth, in those words of the second Psalm, Thou art my Son, this day have I begotten thee ; and seemingly misapplies them to his resurrection. Why, was he then indeed the carpenter's son? was it a confession, and not humility, that he called himself the Son of man? were the torments of his passion and death (as himself seems to intimate, John xvi. 21.) only the pangs and throes of his new birth?
3. By no means ; he was, even in the extremest degree, and lowest point of his humiliation ; yea, when himself, in that last terrible agony, did seem to call it in question; yet then also he was indeed the only-begotten eternal Son of God; or, if he had not, most miserable and desperate had been our case. But by his resurrection he did declare, unquestionably and without all contradiction, unto the world, his glory and majesty; or, to speak in St. Paul's words, Rom.i, he was mightily declared to be the Son of God, by his resurrection from the dead.
4. But we now celebrate a feast, a season of joy and exultation, which we use not to do upon the memory of God's most wonderful acts and exploits, though never so much expressing the glory of his majesty and power, unless they have been beneficial unto us; unless they have very nearly concerned our safety and happiness.
5. And surely this great deliverance of Christ from the dominion and power of hell and the grave, when God called his Son the third time out of Egypt, this victory of his, did in a high degree import us, and advance our welfare; it had some more than ordinary influence upon our salvation; otherwise, this season dedicated to the memory thereof, would not have been so acceptable to the primitive Christians, to make them (as it were in revenge and faction against the late me