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NO CROSS, NO CROWN.
Sect. 1. Of the necessity of the Cross of Christ in general; yet
the little regard christians have to it. 2. The degeneracy of Christendom from purity to lust, and moderation to excess. 3. That worldly lusts and pleasures are become the care and study of christians, so that they have advanced upon the impiety of infidels. 4. This defection a second part to the Jewish tragedy, and worse than the first: the scorn christians have cast on their Saviour. 5. Sin is of one nature all the world over; sinners are of the same church, the devil's children: profession of religion in wicked men, makes them but
6. A wolf is not a lamb, a sinner cannot be (whilst such) a saint. 7. The wicked will persecute the good; this false christians have done to the true, for non-compliance with their superstitions : the strange carnal measures false christians have taken of christianity; the danger of that self-seduction. 8. The sense of that has obliged me to this discourse, for a dissuasive against the world's lusts, and an invitation to take up the daily Cross of Christ, as the way left us by him to blessedness. 9. Of the self-condemnation of the wicked ; that religion and worship are comprised in
doing the will of God. The advantage good men have upon bad men in the last judgment. 10. A supplication for Christendom, that she may not be rejected in that great assize of the world. She is exhorted to consider, what relation she bears to Christ; if her Saviour, how saved, and for what : what her experience is of that great work. That Christ came to save from sin, and wrath by consequence; not save men in sin, but from it, and so the wages of it.
Secr.1. THOUGH the knowledge and obedience of the doctrine of the cross of Christ, be of infinite mo. ment to the souls of men; for that is the only door to true christianity, and that path the ancients ever trod to blessedness: yet with extreme affliction, let me say, it is so little understood, so much neglected, and what is worse, so bitterly contradicted by the vanity, superstition, and intemperance of professed christians, that we must either renounce to believe what the Lord Jesus hath told us, Luke xiv. 27. “That whosoever doth not bear his cross, and come after him, cannot be his disciple:” or, admitting that for truth, conclude, that the generality of Christendom do miserably deceive and disappoint themselves in the great business of christianity and their own salvation.
Sect. 2. For, let us be never so tender and charitable in the survey of those nations, that intitle themselves to any interest in the holy name of Christ, if we will but be just too, we must needs acknowledge, that after all the gracious advantages of light, and obligations to fidelity, which these latter ages of the world have received, by the coming, life, doctrine, miracles, death, resurrection and ascension of Christ, with the gifts of his Holy Spirit; to which add the writings, labours, and martyrdom of his dear followers in all times, there seems very little left of christianity but the name : which being now usurped by the old heathen nature and life, makes the professors of it but true heathens in disguise. For though they worship not the same idols, they wor.
ship Christ with the same heart: and they can never do otherwise, whilst they live in the same lusts. So that the unmortified christian and the heathen are of the same religion. For though they have different objects, to which they do direct their prayers, that adoration in both is but forced and ceremonious, and the deity they truly worship is the god of the world, the great lord of lusts : to him they bow with the whole powers of soul and
What shall we eat? What shall we drink? What shall we wear ? And how shall we pass away our time? Which way may we gather wealth, increase our power, enlarge our territories, and dignify and perpetuate our names and families in the earth? Which base sensuality is most pathetically expressed and comprised by the beloved apostle John, in these words : “the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, which (says he) are not of the Father, but of the world that lieth in wickedness."a
Sect. 3. It is a mournful reflection, but a truth no confidence can be great enough to deny, that these worldly lusts fill up the study, care and conversation of wretched Christendom! and which aggravates the misery, they have grown with time. For as the world is older, it is worse ; and the examples of former lewd ages, and their miserable conclusions, have not deterred, but excited ours ; so that the people of this, seem improvers of the old stock of impiety, and have carried it so much farther than example, that instead of advancing in virtue, upon better times, they are scandalously fallen below the life of heathens. Their high-mindedness, lasciviousness, uncleanness, drunkenness, swearing, ly. ing, envy, backbiting, cruelty, treachery, covetousness, injustice, and oppression are so common, and committed with such invention and excess, that they have stumbled and embittered infidels to a degree of scorn. ing that holy religion, to which their good example should have won their affections.
a 1 John ii. 16.
Sect. 4. This miserable defection from primitive times, when the glory of christianity was the purity of its professors, I cannot but call the second and worst part of the Jewish tragedy, upon the blessed Saviour of mankind. For the Jews, from the power of ignorance, and the extreme prejudice they were under to the unworldly way of his appearance, would not acknowledge him when he came, but for two or three years persecuted, and finally crucified him in one day. But the false christians cruelty lasts longer : they have first, with Judas, professed him, and then, for these many ages, most basely betrayed, persecuted, and crucified him, by a perpetual apostacy in manners, from the self-denial, and holiness of his doctrine; their lives giving the lie to their faith.' These are they that the author of the epistle to the Hebrews tells us, “ crucify to themselves the son of God afresh, and put him to open shame:"9b whose defiled hearts, John, in his Revelation, stiles, the streets of Sodom, and Egypt, spiritually so called, where he beheld the Lord Jesus crucified, long after he had been ascended. And as Christ said of old, a man's enemies are those of his own house; so Christ's enemies now, are chiefly those of his own profession: “they spit upon him, they nail and pierce him, they crown him with thorns, and give him gall and vinegar to drink.” Nor is it hard to apprehend; for they that live in the. same evil nature and principle the Jews did, that crucified him outwardly, must needs crucify him inwardly; since they that reject the grace now in their own hearts, are one in stock and generation with the hard-hearted Jews, that resisted the grace that then appeared in and
Sect. 5. Sin is of one nature all the world over ; for though a liar is not a drunkard, not a swearer a whoremonger, nor either properly a murderer ; yet they are all of a church; all branches of the wicked root; all of a kin. They have but one father, the devil, as Christ
b Heb. vi. 6. Rer.si. 8.
c Matt. xxyii.
said to the professing Jews,' the visible church of that age: he slighted their pretensions to Abraham and Moses, and plainly told them, that he that committeth sin, was the servant of sin. They did the devil's works, and therefore were the devil's children. The argument will always hold upon the same reasons, and therefore good still: “his servants you are, saith Paul, whom you obey :”e and saith John to the church of old, “ let no man deceive you; he that committeth sin is of the devil.” Was Judas ever the better christian, for crying, Hail, Master, and kissing Christ ?! By no means : they were the signal of his treachery; the token given, by which the bloody Jews should know and take him. He called him Master, but betrayed him; he kissed, but sold him to be killed: this is the upshot of the false christian's religion. If a man ask them, Is Christ your Lord ? They will cry, God forbid else: yes, he is our Lord. Very well: But do you keep his commandments ? No. How should we? How then are you his disciples ? It is impossible, say they ; what! would you have us keep his commandments ? No man can. What! impossible to do that, without which Christ hath made it impossible to be a christian? Is Christ unreasonable ? Does he
where he has not sown ;h require where he has not enabled ? Thus it is, that with Judas they call him Master, but take part with the evil of the world to betray him; and kiss and embrace him as far as specious profession goes ; and then sell him, to gratify the passion that they most indulge. Thus, as God said of old, they make him serve with their sins, and for their sins too.i
Sect. 6. Let no man deceive his own soul; “
grapes are not gathered of thorns, nor figs of thistles :">k a wolf is not a sheep, nor is a vulture a dove. What form, people, or church soever thou art of, it is the truth of God to mankind, that they who have even the form of godli.
a John viii. 34 to 45.
e Rom. vi. 16.
f 1 John iii. 7, 8.