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2. A good natural temper and disposition. Many a person is more indebted to his natural temper, than to the tenderness of his conscience, for his cleanness from gross pollutions. It is evident, that several persons who have no real religion, nay, nor even the form of it, may be sober, as it would be a pain and a torment to them to go to the extravagant courses in which others indulge themselves. But no man is born a true Christian, as he is with his natural temper; religion in reality is a supernatural temper: 2 Pet. i. 4,“ Whereby are given unto us exceeding great and precious promises, that by these ye may be partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust.”There is,
3. Their being kept out of the way of temptation. It is a mercy to be so kept; but while people's corruptions are not tried with a suitable bait, they cannot so well know what influence the commandment has or has not upon them. The cleanness of the outward conversation of many is owing more to those circumstances in which they were placed in the world, than to any gracious disposition; as may appear from the case of some who kept right as long as they were not tried, but so soon as the trial of their corruptions comes they give way.—There is,
4. The workings of a natural conscience under the common influences and convictions of the Spirit, and a rousing ministry : Mark vi. 20," For Herod feared John, knowing that he was a just man, and an holy, and observed him: and when he heard him, he did many things, and heard him gladly.” The preaching of the word sometimes serves to embalm dead souls, who are never by it quickened. It also sets the natural conscience a-working to purify the outward man, while the inner is never renewed.
It brings on many 80 far, as that they are not far from the kingdom of God, who yet never have power to go forward to it.
5. Self-love may do it, in so far as a regard to their soul or body, credit or reputation, may move men to all this. Fear of punishment, and hope of reward, are powerful incentives, where God's authority is but little valued ; nay, some reigning lust, as covetousness, pride, or ambition : Matth. vi. 2, " Therefore, when thou dost thine alms, do not sound a trumpet before thee, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues, and in the streets, that they may have glory of men. Verily, I say unto you, they have their reward.” But what avails all this to salvation, while the hidden man of the heart is sunk in pollutions before the all-seeing God, while the man is as a painted sepulchre, fair without, but within fall of rottenness : Ezek. viii. 12, " Then said he unto me, Son of man, hast thou seen what
the ancients of the house of Israel do in the dark, every man in the chambers of his imagery? for they say, the Lord seeth us not; the Lord hath forsaken the earth.” It is a weak evidence to lean to outward religion. But the true Christian has this cleanness of the outward conversation, and besides goes farther than the outward Christian in that point, in two particulars.
(1.) The inside Christian joins internal purity to external: Psalm xxiv. 4, " He that hath clean hands, and a pure heart, who hath not lifted
up his soul to vanity, nor sworn deceitfully.” Matth. v. 8, “ Blessed are the poor in heart, for they shall see God.” He does not sit down contented with outside purity, as the other does, but his chief concern is the heart, the fountain of all impurity of life. And though the world cannot charge him with any gross pollutions, he finds he has work enough to do with the blind mind, the rebellious will, and the carnal corrupt affections. He accordingly strives to get them mortified : Gal. v. 24, “ And they that are Christ's have crucified the flesh, with its affections and lusts." Though the world sees not, yet, since God sees the disorder of his heart, that is enough to humble him, and give him new errands to Christ for his blood and Spirit.
(2.) Even his external purity is from religious motives, springs, and principles. Thus Joseph, Gen. xxxix. 9, “ How can I do this great wickedness, and sin against God ?" In this he serves God, while in it the outward Christian does but serve himself. It is God's authority that sways him to it; though his natural inclinations be to break out, yet the fear of God in his heart does restrain him. And if he be surprised into temptations, the offence and dishonour to God weighs more with him than all the shame and loss in the world which he incurs.
From all which we may learn, that certainly they are not true Christians, who are profane in their walk, whose conversation is not so much as cleansed from gross pollutions, such as cursers and Bwearers, drunkards, mockers at religion, obscene speakers, unclean persons, &c. Gal. v. 19, 20, 21. These bear the devil's mark on their foreheads, Isa. iii. 19; and have not so much as the rude draughts of the form of godliness.—Hence,
Let no man value himself on the cleansing of the outward man from those pollutions, for a person may go all that length, and much farther, and yet be a cast-away. Religion is much deeper than this is, and is more inward. What the world observes least, God looks most to. Therefore study the inwards of religion, truth and purity in the inward parts.
THE SAME SUBJECT CONTINUED.
Rom. ii. 28, 29, For he is not a Jew which is one outwardly, neither is that circumcision
which is outward in the flesh. But he is a Jew, which is one inwardly, and circumcision is that of the heart, in the Spirit, and not in the
letter, whose praise is not of men, but of God. Having, in the preceding discourse, considered the two first propositions which I laid down for illustrating the second doctrinal point, I go on to the
III. That he is not the true Christian who only performs the duties of external obedience, but he who also with them joins the duties of internal obedience. It is not the outward duties of obedience, but those which are inward, which constitute a true Christian. A hypocrite may go the whole round of outward duties, and thus have a form of godliness, so as, to the view of the world, he appears nothing short of the true Christian.--Thus, for instance,
1. A man may perform the external duties of righteousness and morality towards his neighbour, and yet be no more than an outward Christian. He may be just in his dealings with men: Luke xviii. 11, " The Pharisee stood and prayed thus with himself, Goa, I thank thee that I am not as other men are, extortioners, adjust, adulterers, or even as this publican.” He may be liberal and abundant in mercy towards the needy, 1 Cor. xiii. 3, and yet after all no true Christian. True Christianity makes a good neighbour, makes him abhor every unjust and dishonest thing, it renders him true to his word, and upright in his dealings in the world; but when a man has this and no more, he has but one half, and hardly the half, of what is necessary to make a true Christian.-Besides this,
2. A man may perform the outward duties of piety towards God, yet after all be but an outside Christian. For pointing out the hypocrite's attainments in this respect, I would have you consider,
(1.) That persons may attend public ordinances, and not only so, but they may be very punctual in their attendance; they may be far from loitering away Sabbaths at home, or from satisfying themselves with a partial attendance, as in Isa. Iviii. 2,“ Yet they seek me daily, and delight to know my ways, as a nation that did righteousness, and forsook not the ordinance of our God.” They may behave themselves gravely and attentively, and neither be sleepers
nor gazers, far less laughers at ordinances, and yet after all nought in God's esteem: Ezek. xxxiii. 31, “ And they come unto thee 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.” They may be at much pains in following ordinances from place to place : John vi. 24, 26,“ When the people, therefore, saw that Jesus was not there, neither his disciples, they also took shipping, and came to Capernaum, seeking for Jesus.—Jesus answered and said unto them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, ye seek me, not because ye saw the
Ι miracles, but because ye did eat of the loaves, and were filled." They may talk well of what they hear, and after all be but outside Christians : 1 Cor. xiii. 1, “Though I speak with the tongues of men or of angels, and have not charity, I am become as a sounding brass or a tinkling cymbal."-Consider,
(2.) That they may be praying persons, and so carry religion into their families, and into their closets : Jer. xii. 2, “ Thou hast planted, yea, they have taken root; they grow, yea, they bring forth fruit; thou art near in their mouth, and far from their reins." Even secret prayers, where no eye but the Lord's doth see, is a piece of bodily exercise, not beyond the walk of a hypocrite, which an awakened conscience may put a person upon at first, and other selfish principles may keep them at it. They may be persons of many prayers, not like those who pray some, but who indeed pray much : Heb. xii. 17, “For ye know bow that afterwards, when he would have inherited the blessing, he was rejected, for he found no place of repentance, though he sought it carefully with tears.”—Consider,
(3.) That they may not only do much, but they also may be sufferers for religion, suffering not only to the spoiling of their goods, but even unto death, and yet be naught in God's esteem; 1 Cor. xiii. 3, “ And though I give my body to be burned, and have not charity, it profiteth me nothing." Hypocrisy is such a salamandar, as can live in the fire of persecution, of which there have been many instances; namely, of such whom the violent wind of persecution has not been able to drive off the Lord's way, but the warm sun of prosperity has done their business, to their undoing.
3. They may join both the outward of the first and second tables, and yet be but outside Christians. There are some who are very upright in their dealings with men, yet have not so much as a form in regard to the duties of piety. Others who do not neglect duties of piety towards God, but they make no conscience of their duty to their neighbour, but where they apprehend their worldly interest will drive to it, right or wrong. Persons may even join
both together, and yet be vaught in God's esteem. " The Pharisee stood and prayed thus with himself, God I thank thee that I am not as other men are, extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even as this Publican; I fast twice in the week, I give tithes of all I possess,"
I Luke xviii. 12, “ Concerning zeal, persecuting the church; touching the righteousness which is in the law, blameless,” Phil. iii. 6.-All this may be, and yet not beyond the boundaries of Pharasaical righteousness : Matth. v. 20,“ Except your righteousness exceed the righteousness of the Scribes and Pharisees, ye shall in no case enter into the kingdom of heaven.” The reason of this is manifest, namely, that all these things being but bodily exercises, are within the compass of nature, and do not require any supernatural grace to the bare performance of them; if the conscience be in any measure awakened, persons may thus be influenced to perform them; and custom may so habituate them, that the performance may be consistent enough with the reign of sin in the heart. But he only is a true Christian who joins internal to external obedience: spiritual exercise to bodily exercise in religion. The inside exceeds the outside Christian in various particulars.--As,
(1.) The inside Christian performs the duties of evangelical obedience, in subjecting his whole heart and soul to the Lord, as well as the outward man. This is the spiritual service which declares a man to be a true Christian : “ God is a Spirit, and they that worship him must worship him in spirit and in truth,” John iv. 23, "For we are the circumcision, that worship God in the spirit, and rejoice in Christ Jesus, and have no confidence in the flesh,” Phil. iii. 3. The bulk of the hypocrite's religion lies in externals, but that of the true Christian's lies in internals, in faith, love, resignation, and other parts of unseen religion. Their chief labour is with the heart, to notice the risings of corruptions, their bewailing the defects which the world cannot perceive, and mourning over the sin of their nature, the spring of all evil: Gal. v. 24, “ And they that are Christ's have crucified the flesh, with its affections and lusts.”
(2.) The inside Christian is unreserved and universal in his obedience, which the outside Christian never is. They have still some lusts with which they can never part, they reign in them.Enmity against the power of godliness : 1 John iii. 12, “Not as Cain, who was of that wicked one, and slew his brother; and wherefore slew he him? because his own works were evil, and his brother's righteous.”—Self-seeking : John v. 44,“ How can ye believe, who seek honour one of another, and seek not the honour that cometh from God only ?"_Bitterness of spirit, which cannot digest the gospel command, of doing good for evil : Tit. iii. 3, “ For