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the all-seeiug eye of God, Matth. vi. 4, " That thine alms may be in secret, and thy Father which seeth in secret, himself shall reward theo openly." What persons go about, out of mere conscience towards God, as knowing that the world either is not, or cannot be witness to it, and though it was a witness, it does not know right or wrong; but such setting themselves in the presence of God, are carried to their duty as if the eyes of all the world were upon them, Acts xxiv. 16. But this is not all.-I observe,
Lastly, That the spirit or spirituality of religion is the internal grace, joined to the external performance; it is the right manner, joined to the right matter of religion: John iv. 24,“ God is a Spirit, and they that worship him must worship him in spirit and in truth.” 1 Tim. i. 5, “Now, the end of the commandment is charity out of a pure heart, and of a good conscience, and of faith unfeigned," as when heart-humiliation is joined with bending of the knees to God in prayer, and the duty is gone about from right principles, and directed to a right end.—It remains that,
IV. I confirm the doctrine,
That not the former, but the latter sort of religion, marks a true Christian, is evident, if we consider,
1. That there is nothing in the outside or letter of religion, but what one may reach in an unregenerate state, in which no man can ever please God, Rom. iii. 8. The hypocrite's mask may take in the whole outward man, and the devil's goats may resemble Christ's sheep, in all but the hidden man of the heart. All these are but acts of moral discipline, not requiring a new nature from whence to spring, but may arise from the old corrupt nature, assisted by external revelation, and the common influences of the Spirit.--It will be farther evident, if we consider,
2. That the outside and letter of religion may be without any true love to God in the heart, which yet is the substance of practical holiness, and the comprehensive duty of the whole law : Ezek. xxxiii. 31, " And they come unto me, as the people cometh, and they sit before thee as my people, and they hear thy words, but they will not do them; for with their mouth they shew much love, but their heart goeth after their covetousness." Love to God makes all duties run in a right channel; but how can this be found, when the natural enmity is not overcome by regenerating grace ? Selflove may supply its place, so far as the outside and letter of religion go, and that upon this principle, Job iii.“ Skin for skin, yea, all that a man hath will he give for his life."--This will also be evident, if we consider,
3. That the outside and letter of religion may consist with the
reign of sin in the heart: 2 Tim. iii. 5,“ Having a form of godliDess, but denying the power of it.” Such in themselves are weak, and can never turn sin off the throne in the soul. Hence it is that every hypocrite is a slave to some lust or other; whatever be his attainments, this always remains true of him, Mark x. 21. This kind of religion is ever like the legs of the lame, unequal.—This will be evident, if we consider,
4. That men are in religion only what they are before God, not what they are before men. When God directs Abraham to a holy walk, he says, " Walk before me," Gen. xvii. 1. If God did not observe the hearts, the insides of men, the principles of their actions, an outside religion would be sufficient. But what does it avail before the all-seeing God, to cleanse the outside of the platter, while the inside is full of ravening, while that is wanting which God chiefly requires and delights in ? Psalm li. 6, how is it possible that the man should be approved of God ?—This will be evident, if we consider,
Lastly, That the great difference of accepted and unaccepted performances, dispositions, &c., does not lie in the letter but in something else. Cain and Abel both offered, the one acceptably, the other not. Gen. iv. 3, 4, 5, where lay the difference? The apostle shows it, Heb. xi. 4, “ By faith Abel offered unto God a more excellent sacrifice than Cain, by which he obtained witness, that he was righteous, God testifying of his gifts; and by it he being dead yet speaketh.” Peter and Judas both mourned, and we need not hesitate to say, that the mourning of the latter in itself was fully as hearty as that of the former, but they differed in their kind, the one was godly sorrow, the other was the sorrow of the world. The trial of men's works is not only by what they have wrought, but how they have wrought: John jii. 21, “ But he that doth truth cometh to the light, that his deeds may be made manifest, that they are wrought in God."
V. I now come to make some brief improvement.-We inser,
1. What are those Christians, who do not so much as approve themselves to men, by the outside, and letter of religion. Those surely have nothing of God, and shall never see heaven, if they change not their course of life: Matth. v. 20, " Except your righteousness shall exceed the righteousness of the Scribes and Pharisees, ye shall in no case enter into the kingdom of heaven.” are there among us this day, whose way of life is a scandal to Christianity, who are in the church, as boils, botches, and sores, are in the body, serving for nothing but to grieve the spirits of others who have any concern in them? What sort of Christians are
prayerless persons, liars, Sabbath-breakers who loiter away whole Sabbaths, unclean persons ? &c. 1 Pet. iv. 18," And if the righteons scarcely be saved, where shall the ungodly and sinners appear ?" The day will come, when such will see that it had been their happiness to have lived and died among Pagans.- We infer,
2. That those also are a sad sort of Christians, who, if they can approve themselves to men, make it none of their business to approve themselves to God: Rev. iii. 1, “I know thy works, that thou hast a name that thou livest, and art dead.” How many are there, with whom their credit goes farther than their conscience ! And therefore, if they can carry their wickedness, so as none but God may see it, they value not his eye on them: Numb. xxxii. 23, “But if you will not do so, behold you have sinned against the Lord; and be sure your sin will find you out.” This practical atheism will be bitterness in the end, when the day comes, when God shall judge the secrets of men by Jesus Christ according to the gospel, Rom. xi. 16. Ah! how many cast a fair cloak of profession over reigning lusts; but bebold their end : Psalm cxxv. 5, “ As for such as turn aside unto their crooked ways, the Lord shall lead them forth with the workers of iniquity; but peace shall be upon Israel.”
II. I shall consider this point more particularly, and shew, ia some particulars, how far one may go, and yet be an outside Christian, and in what respects the inside Christian goes beyond him, and these jointly, in the following propositions.
I. That he is not a true Christian who only bears the visible bad. ges of Christianity, but he who, with the visible badges, also partakes of the invisible grace.
II. That he is not a true Christian, whose outward man is only cleansed from the gross pollutions of the world, but he whose inward man is also cleansed.
III. That he is not a true Christian who only performs the duties of external obedience, but he who, with them, joins the duties of internal obedience.
IV. That he is not a true Christian, who has inside religion only in the letter, but he who has it also in its spirituality.-These I shall illustrate in their order.-I observe,
I. That he is not a true Christian, who only bears the visible badges of Christianity, but he who, with the visible badges, also partakes of the invisible grace.—Mark xvi. 16, “He that believeth, and is baptised, shall be saved ; but he that believeth not shall be damned.” The visible badges of Christianity are the sacraments, baptism, and the Lord's Supper; by partaking of these, we are distinguished from Pagans; but there is an invisible grace, without which these avail nothing to salvation.-For,
1. One may be baptised in the name of Christ, and yet be no true Christian, but even at the last only an outside one ; as in our text, “For he is not a Jew which is one outwardly, neither is that circumcision which is outward in the flesh.” We find some have been bred Jews or pagans, and, by their own free choice, have turned Christians, and received the seal of the covenant, and after all been naught : Acts viii. 13, 21, " Then Simon himself believed also; and when he was baptised, he continued with Philip, and wondered, beholding the miracles and signs that were done. But Peter said to him, Thou hast neither part nor lot in this matter, for thy heart is not right in the sight of God!" How much more may persons amongst us be such, who were baptised in their infancy with water, which was not their choice, but a benefit they had by their parents' care, and from Christianity's being the religion of our country! And how little it avails many, and what good they make of it, may be learnt from this, that the impressions of their baptismal engagements are so slight on them that they never mind them, many baptised persons pass year after year, without preparing themselves for the Lord's table. But he is a true Christian, who has the invisible grace signified by baptism. See the difference betwixt outside and inside Christians in this, Matth. iii. 11, “I indeed baptise you with water unto repentance : but he that cometh after me is greater than I, whose shoes I am not worthy to bear; he shall baptise you with the Holy Ghost, and with fire.” 1 Pet. iii. 21, “ The like figure whereunto even baptism doth also now save us, (not the putting away of the filth of the flesh, but the answer of a good conscience towards God), by the resurrection of Jesus Christ.” The outside Christian may be baptised with water, but the inside is baptised with the Holy Ghost, working like fire, burning up the lusts of the flesh. He is born of water, and the Spirit, working like water, to the washing away of the natural filthiness of the spirit with which he was born, on whose conscience Christ's blood is sprinkled, on whose soul Christ's spirit has savingly operated to his spiritual cleansing. In this the inside goes beyond the outside Christian.
2. In like manner, persons may be admitted to the Lord's table, and yet not be true Christians. Though this be only the privilege of saints, yet a person may be a communicant, who is nothing more than an outside Christian. While others are debarred, they may be admitted to an external partaking of the children's bread, and yet be but dogs in the sight of the heart-searching God: Luke xii. 26, " Then shall ye begin to say, We have eaten and have drunk in thy presence, and thou hast taught in our streets.” Matth. xxii. 13, “And he saith unto him, Friend, how camest thou in hither, not having
a wedding-garment ? and he was speechless. Then said the king to the servants, bind him hand and foot, and take him away, and cast him into outer darkness, there shall be wailing and gnashing of teeth.” A competency of knowledge, with an appearance of seriousness of an holy life, will entitle persons to this privilege before the church, who can judge only by the outward appearance; but he is a true Christian who is admitted to communion with God in that ordinance : Cant. v. 1," I am come into my garden, my sister, my spouse, I have gathered my myrrh with my spice, I have eaten my honeycomb with my honey. Eat, О friends, drink, yea, drink abundantly, 0 beloved.” In this matter, the inside Christian goes beyond the outside one. The outside Christian gets the token from men, the inside Christian has also the Lord's token. The one only eats the bread of the Lord, the other, with it, eats that bread which is the Lord : John vi. 57, “ He that eateth me, he shall live by me;" he feeds by faith on a crucified Christ, unites with him, as partaking of his Spirit, of all the benefits of his purchase, to his spiritual nourishment, and growth in grace. The one is held in the outer court, the other is admitted into the inner, and is there feasted in greater or lesser measures. The lusts of the former are strengthened by the abuse of that ordinance, those of the latter are weakened by the holy use of it.--I observe,
II. That he is not a true Christian, whose outward man only is cleansed from the gross pollutions of the world, but he whose inward man is also cleansed. Saving grace penetrates to the inside, and stays not in the outside only: Psalm xxiv. 34,“ Who shall ascend into the hill of the Lord ? and who shall stand in his holy place? He that hath clean hands, and a pure heart, who hath not lifted up his soul unto vanity, nor sworn deceitfully.” A person may be clean from gross pollutions of the outward man, and yet be but an outward Christian; no swearer, liar, Sabbath-breaker, fornicator, &c., and yet no Christian, Luke xxviii. 11. Negative holiness and outside religion, though the want of it will damn the profane, 1 Cor. vi. 9, 10, yet the having it will not keep the outside Christian from ruin. A blameless life in the world, though good in itself, yet comes not the length of true Christianity. There are several things beside saving grace, that may in some measure cleanse the conversation from gross pollutions.--Among others, there is,
1. Good education, and good company, as in the case of Joash under the tatorage of Jehoiada. This may chain men's lusts, though it cannot change their nature; their heart is of an apish nature, apt to follow example. Though readily the worst example is the most taking, yet good example has a mighty influence, especially when porsons are brought up with it from their childhood. There is,