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* ments awakening them, humbling them, and constraining them to some kind of worship and religion. Such a forced devotion as this was the humiliation of Ahab, 1 Kings xxi. and the supplication of Saul, I Sam. xiii. 11, 12. For God himself acting upon men, only from without them, is far from producing a living principle of free and noble religion in the soul.
Now, the better to discern this forced and violent religion, I will briefly describe it by three or four of its properties, with which I will shut up this point.
1. This forced religion is, for the most part, dry and spiritless. I know, indeed, that fancy may be screwed up to a high pitch of joy and frolicksomeness, so as to raise the mind into a kind of rapture, as I have formerly hinted in my discourse upon these words. A mere artificial and counterfeit Christian
may strongly acted by imagination, and the power of selflove, that he may seem to himself to be fuller of God than the sober and constant soul. You how the hypocritical Pharisees, swollen with selfconceit, gloried over the poor man that had been blind, but now saw more than all they:
66 Thou wast altogether born in sin, and dost thou teach us?” And, indeed, over the whole people : “ This people that knoweth not the law is cursed.” A counterfeit Christian may rise high as a meteor, and blaze much as a comet, which is yet drawn up, by mere force, from the surface of the earth or water.
And as to the external and visible acts and duties of religion, which depend much upon the temper and constitution of the body, it may easily be conceived and accounted, how the mimical and mechanical Christian may rise higher than these, and be more zealous,
watchful, and cheerful, than many truly religious and godly men, as having greater power and quickness of fancy, and a greater number of animal spirits, upon which the motions and actions of the body do mainly depend. The animal spirits may so nimbly serve the soul in these corporal acts, that the whole trans
be a fair imitation of the motions of the divine Spirit, and one would verily think there were a gracious principle in the soul itself. This seems to be notably exemplified in Captain Jehu, whose religious actions, as he would fain have them to be esteemed, 2 Kings x. 16. were indeed rather fury than zeal, and proceeded more from his own fiery spirits, than from that spirit of fire, or spirit of burning, which is of God, Isa. iv. 4. But commonly this forced devotion is jejune and dry, void of zeal and warmth, drives on heavily in pursuit of the God of Israel, as Pharaoh did in pursuit of the Israel of God, when his chariotwheels were taken off. God's drawing the soul from within, as a principle, doth indeed cause that soul to run after him; but you know the motion of those. things that are drawn by external force is commonly heavy, slow, and languid.
2. This forced religion is penurious and needy. Something the slavish-spirited Christian must do, to appease an angry God, or to allay a storming conscience, as I hinted before, but it shall be as little as may be. He is ready to grudge God so much of his time and strength, and find fault that Sabbaths come so thick, and last so long, and that duties are to be performed so often; so he is described by the prophet; “ When will the Sabbath be past, and the new moon gone
But yet I will not deny, but
that this kind of religion may be very liberal and. expensive too, and run out much into the branches of external duties, as is the manner of that bear no fruit; for so did the base spirit of the Pharisees, whose often fasting, and long praying, is recorded by our Saviour in the gospel, but not with approbation. Therefore, these are not the things by which you must take measure, and make estimate of your religion. But in the great things of the law, in the grand duties of mortification, self-denial, and resignation; here this forced religion is always very stingy and penurious. In the duties that do nearly touch upon their beloved lusts, they will be as strict with God as may be; they will break with him for a small matter. God must have no more than his due, as they blasphemously phrase it in their hearts; with the slothful servant in the gospel, “ Lo, there thou hast that is thine;" self and the world sure may be allowed the rest. They will not part with all for Christ. Is it not a little one ? let me escape thither, and take up my abode there, said Lot, Gen. xix. They will not give up themselves entirely unto God :-“ The Lord pardon me in this one thing,” cries Naaman; so they, in this or that, let God hold me excused. The slavish-spirited Christian is never more shrunk up
within himself, than when he is to converse with God indeed: but the godly soul is never freer, larger, gladder, than when he doth most intimately and familiarly converse with God. The soul that is free as to liberty, is free also as to liberality and expenses; and that not only in external, but internal and spiritual obedience, and compliance with the will of God: he gives him
self wholly up to God, knows no interest of his own, keeps no reserve for himself, or for the creature.
3. This forced religion is uneven, as depending upon inconstant causes. As land-floods, that have no spring within themselves, vary their motions, are swift and slow, high and low, according as they are supplied with rain,-even so these men's motions in religion, depending upon fancy for the most part, than which nothing is more fickle and flitting, have no constancy nor consistency in them. I know, indeed, that the spirits of the best men cannot always keep one pace, nor their lives be always of one piece; but yet they are never willingly quite out of the call or compass of religion. But this I also touched upon formerly. Therefore, 4. This forced religion is not permanent.
The meteors will down again, and be choked in the earth, whence they arose. Take away the weight, and the motion ceases; take away Jehoiada, and Jehoash stands still, yea, runs backward. But this I shall speak more to, when I come to speak of the last property
of religion,-namely, its perseverance.
The active and vigorous nature of true religion proved by
many scriptural phrases of the most powerful importance ; more particularly explained in three things ; 1. In the soul's continual care and study to be good. 2. In its care to do good. 3. In its powerful and incessant longings after the most full enjoyment of God.
I COME now to the second property of true religion, which is to be found in this phrase, “springing up,” or leaping up; wherein the activity and vigorousness of it is described. Religion, though it be compared to water, yet is no standing pool of water, but a “ well of water springing up.” And here the proposition that I shall establish, is, “ That true religion is active and vigorous.” It is no lazy and languid thing, but full of life and power : so I find it every where described in Scripture, by things that are most active, lively, vigorous, operative, spreading, powerful, and sometimes even by motion itself. As sin is, in Scripture, described by death and darkness, which are a cessation and privation of life, and light, and motion; so religion is described by life, which is active and vigorous; by an angelical life, which is spiritual and powerful; yea a divine life, which is, as I may say, most lively and vivacious. “ Christ liveth in me," and the production of this new nature in the soul is called a quickening, “ And you hath be quickened, who were dead in trespasses and sins;" and the reception of it, a “passing from death unto life.” Again, as sin and wickedness is described by