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man should dare to say, I know God in his absolute character, when he does not fear him, and, much more, I know him in Jesus Christ, when he does not obey him from the heart, he ventures to say what he knows to be false, and the truth is not in him.
Consider therefore, sinners, who live after the courses of the world, and have no heart to serve the Lord, that you are altogether faithless, and in fact as ignorant of the true God as are the Heathen who have not your advantages. You profess to know God, but in works you deny him, and therefore you know him not. You may conceit, perhaps, something from your supposed knowledge ; but that conceit is, you find, a lie. It is proved to be so every day by your conduct : and how dreadfully will it be proved to be no better another day ? O sirs, consider how dreadful it will be for you to go down to the grave with this lie in your hand, and then to have it proved to be such before the tribunal of Christ, in the presence of the assembled world, to your inconceivable confusion, and to the utter loss of your soul in the fire that never shall be quenched !
The conclusion of the whole is, let us all acquaint ourselves with God. Gloriously has he unfolded his perfections and will in the Gospel. There let us look, even on God manifest in the flesh ; nor ever take off our eyes, till in that glass we see God awful in justice, rich in mercy, unsearchable in wisdom, and the ever-blessed object takes our hearts along with it, transforming them into a conformity therewith in love, and desire, and holy fear, and the most complacential obedience. So shall we know that we know him in this world, and be assured of our interest in him, and be prepared for the enjoyment of him in the world that is to come. To which most blessed knowledge of God, may he vouchsafe to bring us all.
Romans i. 16.
I am not ashamed of the Gospel of Christ: for it is the power of God unto
salvation to every one that believeth.
Among the various things which hinder us from embracing, or living agreeably to the Gospel, shame is not the least considerable ; and without question has been the occasion of forcing back many from receiving a Saviour, whose followers are of that sect which is everywhere spoken against, and has perhaps more or less restrained all from that freedom and boldness of profession which their Bibles and consciences have demanded of them. It is indeed an easy matter for a proud heart to say, I would not regard what people should say of me: but when we come to make the word of God the rule of our conduct, and not the ways and customs of the world, as hereby we become singular, so we find the dread of particularity has a force we were not before aware of. If the Gospel of Christ be designed to reform the world, it must needs follow that the unreformed part of the world is in a state directly contrary to the Gospel ; and while these make up the bulk of mankind in every place, the general countenance will be on their side; and the few, who will venture to have more religion than the fashion of the times allows, must incur the censure of being odd and particular. Their lot must be the same with those of the same good character in the day of Amos, “They hate him that reproveth in the gate, and they abhor him that speaketh uprightly.'* If the Gospel was to lie a dead letter, a wicked world would find no fault with it: but whenever it appears in its power, and is manifested in the life, it makes the minds of the children of this world too uneasy to permit them to leave the professors of it at quiet. You may be particular as you please on any other head : nobody is hurt, and so no one blames. But here, as soon as you are particular by living conformably to the Gospel, all about you are troubled, cannot treat you with cordiality, but at last lose all conscience, and you find yourself become the object of dislike even where you have the greatest desire to please. It is no little matter therefore not to be ashamed of the Gospel, and consequently a point worthy our particular consideration. I am not ashamed of the Gospel of Christ: for it is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth. From which words we may treat of these two things :
* Amos v. 10.
First.-— When we may be said not to be ashamed of the Gospel of Christ.
Secondly.—Why we should not be ashamed of it.
First.-We may inquire when we may be said not to be ashamed of the Gospel of Christ. And this is the case,
First.-When we own it. We are ashamed of that we dare not own: but what we avow, we cannot be said to be ashamed of. To own Christ is to let the world see you belong to him. This is confession of Christ before men. But if you would be Christ's, yet decline acting in such a manner as to be thought his, you do not confess him, you deny him before men, and are plainly ashamed of him. The question is not whether you have more or less an inward shame upon your heart ; but whether you oppose that sinful shame of your heart, lament it, and are not restrained by it from owning Christ and his words. In that case it is plain enough you confess him ; and that you do it in direct contradiction to the strivings of your own spirit argues evidently that you prefer his honour to your own. Now it must be observed that all of us either own or disown the Gospel ; we must do the one or the other : and I am sure it behoves us to consider whether of the two we do. Do we own Christ to be the only Saviour of the world, and are all that know us acquainted with our steadfast persuasion that there is salvation in none other; that all the liberality, harmlessness, honesty, and sobriety in the world, will not bring any man to heaven, but that only through the merits of the Redeemer we can have the least ground of hope toward God? And do they know also that we arow the words of Christ, and the way of a Gospellife, and hold ourselves and all others obliged to walk as Christ also walked, though in the world, yet above it; in a spiritual, not a carnal life; and under the influence of a prevailing concern for God's glory in the world, and of an unfeigned regard for the salvation of our neighbours? Is this the reckoning others make of us? Then it is plain we must have owned Christ and his words. But if the world does not thus think of us, and we pass for those that are of the world, for those who will do as do others, and are not for more religion than is common, it is not less manifest in that case that we have not owned the Gospel ; a little inquiry into our conduct may convince us we have disowned it; and it is but too plain that we have been held in the fetters of a worldly shame of the Gospel of Christ.
Secondly.-We are not ashamed of the Gospel of Christ when we live agreeably to it. And whatever profession we otherwise make of it, however bold we may be to own it, and however warmly we may contend for it, yet, if we do not live it, all is but false fire, it is manifest that we do not love it, and our contention for the Gospel is not for the Gospel's sake, but our own, for the sake of our own pride and vanity We act under a mistaken zeal, propped up by passion, self, and conceit; and, were these false props taken away, should find it as hard a matter for us as for our neighbours not to be ashamed of the Gospel of Christ. I am not contending for cowardice and hiding the head, nor do I in the least desire to restrain that pure zeal which is begotten by humility, faith, and love: but since there is such a thing as mistaken zeal, vastly apt to deceive those who are under the guidance of it into a good, if not a high, opinion of their state, for this very reason, because they are bold in owning the Gospel, I am observing that all such confession as is not accompanied with a Gospel-life is not owning Christ, but self. “If I give my body to be burned, and have not charity, I am nothing. ** If, while we are not ashamed to own the Gospel, we be careful to live it, and to show the regard we bear to it by the effect it has upon our hearts and lives, engaging
1 Cor. xiii. 3.
us to a conduct wherein by the belief of the things revealed and promised, and conferred in Jesus Christ, we are manifestly influenced to a pure, holy, and self-denying conversation, then we may be assured that we are not ashamed of the Gospel of Christ. If we live as becometh the Gospel in the midst of an adulterous world, then there can be no question concerning the matter, it is plain that we are not ashamed of it.
Thirdly.--If we are not ashamed of the Gospel of Christ, we shall endeavour to recommend it to the world. When people are not for making a show of religion, as they will perversely call all profession, but industriously keep to themselves the little piety they think themselves possessed of, no way reproving the works of darkness, but fashioning their behaviour after the smooth easy way of the times ; such as these are perfectly strangers to a Gospel spirit, understand not the force of the precept, • Let your light shine before men, and have struck out of Christianity the two glorious distinguishing principles of it, concern for God's honour, and for the souls of others : so under the cloak of a false humility, and dread of ostentation, they are chained down, enslaved, and actuated by a worldly shame of the Gospel of Christ. Whereas they who are not ashamed of it, but glory in it, will desire and endeavour it may spread for the common welfare and for the glory of its Author, nor will be wanting to use their influence (whatever it be) toward promoting and enlarging it. And while they are so doing, they will not be without a proof that they are opposing the natural shame of their hearts under the influence of an evangelical spirit of zeal and charity.
Fourthly.—It will be a good mark of our not being ashamed of the Gospel of Christ, if we are not ashamed of any, because they are ill-liked by others for living in conformity with it. was a strong symptom of subjection to worldly shame in Nicodemus, who came to Jesus by night, that no one should know it; but it was a sign of a better spirit in Lydia, when she received Paul and Silas into her house. When Peter denied that he knew Christ, his worldly apprehensions had got the better of him ; but when he afterwards bore witness to his Master in the face of the Jewish council, grace prevailed against