Изображения страниц
PDF
EPUB

told us that he will condemn them ? surely he that breaks his word is liker to be a deceiver, than he that keepeth it. Be it known to thee therefore (and O that thou wouldest know it while there is a remedy at hand) that if thou trust that Christ should save an unsanctified false-hearted person, whose soul was never renewed and revived by the Holy Ghost, and absolutely given up to God, and that setteth not up God and his service above all the interest of the flesh, and the commodities and contentments of the world, thou dost not then trust Christ, but thy own deceits and lies; and it is not Christ that is the deceiver, but thou art a deceiver of thyself, that makest thyself a false promise, and trustest to it; and when thou hast done, sayest, thou wilt trust to Christ : yea, trustest thyself against Christ, and trustets that he will break his word, and not that he will make it good. See whether he resolve not to condemn all such. Matt. x. 37, 38; Luke xiv. 27, 33; Matt. vii. 26, 27; James ii. 14; Heb. xii. 14; Rom. viii. 9. with the texts before cited, and abundance such. Christ will be a Saviour ; but he is the Saviour of the body, and not of the affixed hypocrites. (Eph. v. 23.) And his body is the church which is subject to him. (Verse 24.) “He will save to the utmost:" but whom? “even all that come to God by him,” (Heb. vii. 2, 5.) but not those that make the world their God, and would put God off with a few running heartless words and duties. It is the living fruitful branches that he will save : but the withered branches he cast

x eth forth, to be burned in the fire. (John xv, 2—7.) “No, man can serve God and Mammon: "nor live both to the Spirit and the flesh: he that hath two hearts, hath none that is acceptable unto God : he that hath two faces (a face of devotion in his formal customary services, and a face that smiles on the world and fleshly pleasures when he hath done) hath none that God will ever smile upon. The leaves of the barren fig-tree saved it not from the curse of Christ. (Matt. xxi. 18, 19.) “Hew it down and cast it into the fire," shall be the sentence of the most flourishing tree that is fruitless. (Luke xiii. 7.) “The earth which drinketh in the rain that cometh oft upon it, and bringeth forth herbs meet for them by whom it is dressed, receiveth blessing from God: but that which beareth thorns and briars is rejected, and is nigh unto cursing; whose end is to be burned.” (Heb. vi. 7, 8.) So that if thy religion be vain, the blood of Christ, and all the treasures of his grace will be vain to thee, that are saving unto others, An infidel may then as

well expect to be saved by the Christ whom he rejected, as thou. Nay it is Christ himself that will condemn thee : it is his own mouth that will say to such as thee, “Depart from me, ye that work iniquity.” And though thou couldest say, “Lord, Lord, I have prophesied, or cast out devils, or done many wonderful works in thy name,” he “will profess to thee that he never knew thee;" or owned thee. (Matt. vii. 22, 23.) If crying would then serve, I know thou wouldest not spare thy cries. But he must so pray as to be accepted and heard on earth, that looks to be accepted and regarded then ; when the miserable soul, with endless horrors in its eye, is looking round about for help, and findeth none; when all the creatures say, we cannot, and he that can shall say, I will not; who can apprehend the calamity of such a soul? what soul so sleepy and regardless now, that will not then cry, “Lord, Lord, open to us,” when the door is shut, and it is too late ? (Matt. xxv. 10-12.) Then if thou roar in the anguish of thy soul, and cry out to him that saveth others 'Condemn me not, O Lord, but save me also ! now Lord have mercy on a miserable sinner ! save me, or I am lost for ever: save me, or I must burn in yonder flame: turn not thy heart against an undone perishing soul; if thou cast me off, I have no hope !' a thousand such cries would be in vain, because thou hadst but a vain religion. (Prov. i. 24, &c.) “Because I have called and ye refused, I have stretched out my hand and no man regarded, but ye have set at nought all my counsel, and would none of my reproof: I also will laugh at your calamity; I will mock when your fear cometh; when your fear cometh as desolation, and your destruction cometh as a whirlwind; when distress and anguish cometh upon you; then shall they call upon me, but I will not answer; they shall seek me early, but they shall not find me : Therefore they shall eat of their own way, and be filled with their own devices,” saith the Lord.

And when hell hath once taken thee into its possession, if thou cry

and roar there ten thousand millions of ages it will be all in vain. Thy strongest and thy longest cries cannot procure thee a drop of water to cool thy tongue, tormented in those flames. (Luke xyi. 24-26.)

In a word, if thy religion be vain, all is vain to thee; thy life itself is vain, (Eccles. vi. 12.) Thou walkest in a vain show. (Psalm xxxix. 6.) Thou disquietest thyself in vain, in all thy labours; (Psalm xxxix. 6, and cxxvii. 1, 2;) and vanity and vexation is all that thou shalt possess. (Eccles. i. 2, 14 ; Prov: xxii. 3.) And if conscience, when thy day of grace is past, shall force thee upon the review to say, “My piety was but seeming and self-deceit, and all my religion was vain ;' it will be the voice of utter desperation, and will stab the heart of all thy hopes. This, and no better, being the self-deceiver's case, is not conscience now at work within you, and asking, as each of the disciples did, (Matt. xxvi. 24, 25,)“ Is it I ?" If thou have a heart within thee, beseeming a reasonable creature, by this time thou art afraid of self-deceit, and willing to be searched, and to know thy hypocrisy while it may be cured. For my part, I shall pronounce no one of you personally to be an hypocrite, as knowing that hypocrisy is a sin of the heart, which, in itself, is seen by none but God and him that hath it. But my business is only to help such to know and judge themselves. Could I name the man to you in the congregation that had none but a seeming, vain religion, I am persuaded you would all look upon him as a most unhappy, deplorable wretch. Alas ! sirs, hypocrites are not so rare among us, as some imagine. There are few, or none, but saints and hypocrites in this assembly, or in most of the assemblies in the land. I think here are none that make not a profession of the christian faith, and of love to God. All, therefore, that have not this faith and love, must needs be hypocrites, as professing to be what they are not. In your baptism you engaged and professed yourselves the disciples of Christ, and gave up yourselves in solemn covenant to God the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost. This covenant, you will say, you stand to yet; and none of

you

will be known to have renounced your Christianity. As Christians, you use to come to these assemblies, and here to attend God in the use of his ordinances, and some of you to renew your covenant with him in the sacrament of the Lord's supper. I meet with none that

'I am no Christian, nor a servant of the God of heaven; I am an infidel, and rebel against the Lord. I think there is none of you but would take it ill if I should call you such, or should deny you to be Christians and men fearing God. If, therefore, you are not such, indeed, you must needs be hypocrites. What say you? Is there any of you that profess yourselves to be ungodly, unbelievers, and servants of the devil; and will take this as your current title, disclaiming the love and service of the Lord ? I think you will not. If you are such as you profess, you are all saints, and shall be saved. If

any

of you be not such, they can be nothing else but hypocrites.

will say,

Seeing, therefore, that you are all either saints or hypocrites, come now to the bar, and refuse not a trial that may prevent the terrors of another kind of trial that you cannot refuse.

And here let me set before you your profession, and then try yourselves whether you are such as you profess yourselves to be or not. And I think I may take it for granted that the Articles of the Creed and the Baptismal Covenant is the least that every one of you do profess; and that the desires, implied in the petitions of the Lord's Prayer, you all profess to be your own desires, and that you take the Ten Commandments for part of the rule of your obedience. Let us peruse them briefly in the several parts. 1. Do you not all say

that
you

66 believe in God the Father Almighty, Maker of heaven and earth,” and that you will“ have no other Gods but him?" and are you not accordingly engaged in covenant with him ? You will not deny it. And what is the meaning of this much of your profession? It is no less than to take God for the only infinite good, to be loved with the chiefest love, and to take him for your absolute Lord and Governor, the owner of

you
and all
you have, to whom

you owe universal, absolute obedience; and that you are truly willing to love him above all, and fear him, and trust him, and obey him accordingly, though your flesh and all the world should be against it. He that meaneth not all this, doth dissemble or lie, when he saith he taketh God to be his God : for to be God, is to be this much to us.

And really is it thus with you as you profess? Speak but as men that dare not lie before the Lord that knows

your

hearts, Do you indeed love God as God, with your superlative love? Are your hearts set upon him? Do you make it your principal care to please him? Is it your delight to do his will? Is it sweeter to you to think and speak of him than of the world ? Doth it grieve you most to offend him? In a word, you are not such strangers to natüre but you know what love is : and you are not such strangers to your own hearts, but you

know what it is to love your pleasure, your profit, your honour, and your friend. Can conscience say before the Lord that you love him better than all these? If not more passionately, yet more deeply, effectually, and resolvedly—with a love that will cause you to deny and part with all for him. If you thus truly love him as God, and above all, how comes it to pass

seek the world more carefully and eagerly than him; and that you

that you

[ocr errors]

are more pleased with worldly thoughts, and speeches, and employments, than with divine? Were not the hypocrite justly blinded, and a wilful stranger to himself, he could not but know that he loveth not God as God, and above all. And to love him, in subordination to your flesh and its contents, is not at all to love him as God; as it is no degree of conjugal love to love a wife but as a servant, nor no degree of the love due to your sovereign to love him as an equal or as a slave.

And if really you take God for your absolute Lord and Governor, why is it then that you take no pleasure in his laws, but count them too strict, and had rather be at your own dispose ? Why is it that you obey your fleshly desires, before and against the God whom you acknowledge? Why will you not be persuaded to that holiness, justice, and charity, which you know hiş law commandeth you? Why do you wilfully continue in those sins which conscience tells, you God forbids ? Will you live in wilful disobedience, and love your sins, and loath your duty, and obstinately continue thus, and yet profess that you take God for your God, and, consequently. for your Lord and Governor? and yet will you not confess that you are dissembling hypocrites ?

2. Do you not all profess that you “ believe in Jesus Christ;" and have you not, in covenant, taken him for your Saviour and Lord? and do you so, indeed, or do you not, play the hypocrites ? If you believe in Christ, and take him for your Saviour, you then take your sins for the disease and misery of your souls, and you are so grieved for them, and weary of them, and humbled in the apprehension of your lost estate, that you fly to Christ as your only refuge from the wrath and curse of the offended Majesty, and value his justifying and healing grace before all the riches of the world; and you are willing to take his bitterest medicines, and use the means appointed by him for the destruction of your sin and the perfecting of his graces. And is it thus with you that have unhumbled hearts, that never felt the need of Christ, as condemned miserable men must do; and that love the sin that he would cure, and are unwilling to be mortified and sanctified by his grace? Unless a carcass be a man, such hypocrites as these are no true Christians, and have but a seeming, self-deceiving faith.

3. Do you not all profess“ to believe in the Holy Ghost;' " and are you not engaged to him in covenant as your Sanctifier; and do you not grossly play the hypocrites here? If not, how

« ПредыдущаяПродолжить »