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worthy of me; this speech does not bind me to hate, persecute, and destroy all the kindred I have ; no, but rather to love and honour them, to spend and be spent for them : yet if those persons, or if it be possible for aught else to be more dear and precious than they, stand in my way to hinder me from coming to Christ, then it is time for me to hate them, then I must trample them under my feet. So that a man is no more bound to sell his goods, that is, to throw them away, than he is to hate his parents; only neither of them may by any means offend us, or annoy us, in our journey to Christ.
59. Now to bring this home to our purpose: Can any face be so impudent as to profess he hath already sold all, himself to boot, and is ready to part with them when God shall call for them, who contents himself only with knowing and hearing stories of him, and reserves his heart to his own use, which is all that God requires ? Can he with any reason in the world be said to sell all for the gospel of Christ, that sees Christ himself, every day almost, hungry, and does not feed him; naked, and does not clothe him; in prison, and does not visit him ? For, inasmuch as they do not these offices of charity to his beloved little ones, they deny them to him. Will he be found to be worthy of Christ, that for his sake will not renounce one delightful sin, which an heathen would easily have done, only for the empty reward of fame? that for his sake will not forgive his brother some small injury received, nay, perhaps some great kindness offered, as a seasonable reproof, or loving dissuasion from sinning; that for his sake will not undergo the least trouble in furthering his own salvation ?
60. Far from us, beloved Christians, be so barren a profession, a profession having only the vizard and
form of godliness, but denying the power thereof! No; let us, with thankful hearts and tongues, recount and consider what God hath done for our souls; how he hath given us his word, abundantly sufficient to instruct us; how he hath spoken the word, and great is the multitude of preachers. Yet withal let us consider that it is in our power to turn these unvaluable treasures of God's favours into horrible curses. Let us consider how God hath sent out his word, and it will not return unto him empty; it will be effectual one way or other, it will perform some great work in us. God doth but expect what entertainment it finds upon earth, and will proportion a reward accordingly: on them which detain the truth in unrighteousness he will rain snares, fire and brimstone ; but to such as, “with meek hearts and due reverence,” receive it into good ground, and express the power thereof in their lives, there remaineth an exceeding eternal weight of joy and glory. Let us therefore walk as children of the light, and not content ourselves with a bare empty profession of religion: let him that but nameth the name of the Lord depart from iniquity. Brethren, consider what I say, and the Lord give you understanding in all things! To God, &c.
Psalm xiv. 1.
The fool hath said in his heart, There is no God. I WILL not be ashamed to be so far my own plagiary, as for your sakes, that you may be the better able to go along with me in what remains of this text, briefly to discover unto you, how far I have already, in another auditory, proceeded in it.
2. First, therefore, I conceived (by attending to the course and series of the psalm, and by comparing this place with many others in holy scripture in different language, expressing the same sense) that this fool in my text was not a man utterly ignorant and devoid of the knowledge of God and his word: for he is supposed by the Psalmist to be a man living within the pale of the church, and outwardly professing the true religion and worship of God. And thereupon, secondly, that his atheism was no heathenish, philosophical atheism, no problematical maintaining an opinion, that there is no God; for even among the very heathens we read not of above three or four of any account, which have proceeded to this excelling degree and height of impiety.
3. But this person (whether Doeg the Edomite, or whosoever he were) is such an one, as though in his profession and even serious thoughts, he do not question a Deity, but would be a mortal enemy to any one who should dare to deprive and rob Almighty God of any of his glorious attributes; yet, notwithstanding, in his heart (that is, in the phrase of the scripture,) in
the propension and inclination of his affections, and, by consequence, in the course and practice of his life, he denies and renounces God: he accounts the spending a little time in thinking and meditating on the providence or mercy or severity of God, to be an employment very ungainful and disadvantageous to him, a business likely to trouble and spoil many of his ungodly projects, and to hinder him in his fortunes; and for this reason he will put God far away from him; he
l will not suffer him to be (as the Psalmist saith, Psalm x. 4.) in all his crafty purposes.
4. I yet willingly confess, that this saying in the heart, There is no God, may reasonably be interpreted to be a secret whispering suggestion, an inward persuasion, by fits, which a wretched worldling may have, that since he has thrived so well by his carelessness in observing God's word, and obstinate opposing himself to his will, it may be possible there is indeed no God at all; or if there be, that he will not vouchsafe to descend so low as to take notice what is done here on earth, or to observe how each particular person behaves himself in this life. Now, because I will not set up one of these expositions against the other, I will hereafter, as occasion shall offer itself, make use of them both.
5. Having therefore conceived the sense of the text to be such as I have now told you; in the words I observed two general parts. First, the cause of atheism, and, by consequence, all the abominations following through the whole psalm, intimated in the person nabal, i. e. the fool, which is folly, i. e. ignorance, or rather incogitancy, inconsideration. Secondly, the effect of this folly, which is atheism, and that seated not in the brain, but in the heart or affections. I have already gone through the former part, namely, the cause
of atheism, which is folly ; in the prosecution whereof, I endeavoured to discover wherein this folly doth consist: and that is not so much in an utter ignorance of God, and his holy word, as a not making a good use of it, when it is known; a suffering it to lie dead, to
1 swim unprofitably in the brain, without any fruit • thereof in the reformation of a man's life and conver
sation. And there I shewed, first, what extreme folly it was for a man to seek to increase the knowledge of his master's will, without a resolution to increase proportionably in a serious active performance thereof. And, secondly, the extreme unavoidable danger and increase of guilt, which knowledge without practice brings with it. To both which considerations I severally annexed applications to the consciences of them that heard me, and should have proceeded to
6. The second general part; which is the effect and fruit of the folly or inconsideration of nabal (the fool) in my text, which is atheism practical, not of the understanding, but the will and affections. But the time being spent in the prosecution of the former general part, I was forced to reserve this second general to be the employment of another hour.
7. Only thus much I then made promise of, (which debt I purpose now to discharge to you,) namely, to demonstrate by infallible deductions out of God's word, that many who profess religion, and a perfect knowledge of God's word, yet whilst they allow him only the brain, and not (what he almost only requires) the heart and affections, may prove in God's account very atheists. Or, to bring it nearer home, I promised to shew how that many the ordinary courses and most uncontrolled practices of men of this age do utterly contradict, and formally destroy, the very foundations