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ment of your professions. This you may be experimentally convinced of by an impartial consideration of your prayers, your faith, and the general cast of your whole life.
Your prayers are but seldom offered up to the absolute disposer of all things, and offered with such an unaccountable coldness of heart, as testifies no affection, scarcely, indeed, a bare dependence.
Your faith, for want of a thorough conviction, or of that close and keen attention, which the great things it sets before
you demand, amounts to little more than a mere opinion as to either the past or future facts suggested in your creed. Such an opinion is too weak to have any material effect on your practice, too feeble, by far to bring futurity even into competition with the present objects of sense and appetite. You see these in more than their own size and colouring; you taste them with more relish than they are naturally qualified to yield; you feel them with all the sensibility of your soul, as fraught with pleasure only, and with more of it than it is possible such things can afford to any but a very sensual mind. But in so great a degree of dimness and confusion does the eye of your faith present you with a view of things to come, that heaven hardly looks like happiness, or hell like misery, or either, like a reality. Nay, faith in you is enslaved to your senses; believes what they promise, though almost always against reason; hopes for happiness against all experience, in the pursuit of temporary, uncertain, unsatisfactory, and, therefore, insignificant things; and follows the views of fleshly appetite in a world, which whosoever trusts to, will find to be 'vanity and vexation of spirit,' at the last.
How unlike is your faith to that of a real Christian ! His faith draws his very senses into its service. He believes, and therefore hears God speaking in his word; feels God moving in his heart; sees the judgment seat of Christ, with the glories of heaven and the horrors of hell, almost as clearly as if they were displayed just before his eyes. Nay, he suffers the anguish of his Saviour's wounds with not much less pain than if the nails and spear had pierced his own flesh; and triumphs over sin and death in the resurrection of Christ, with an high degree of that joy, he knows be is to feel, when he shall arise from the grave himself.
As to the general cast and tenor of your life, this will make the melancholy truth, wherewith I am endeavouring to rouse you, still more indisputable. An insensible stupidity damps and flattens all you think or do in relation to religion. Here you know nothing. Here you feel nothing. But in regard to this world, you are all alive. How deeply read is your understanding here! How warmly engaged is your heart! I appeal to your own breast for the truth of these observations, and of this, as the summary of them all, that you are, at best, but a middling Christian, and yet, at the same time, probably a good farmer, mechanic, merchant, or manager of your temporal affairs.
Now, I know, you are ready to declare, with an affected humility, ' that it is the height of your ambition in religious matters, to be an ordinary or middling Christian. Let others, you say, set up for singularity and saintship; for your part, you wish to be found even among the lowest class of Christians, and aspire only to a bare acquittal. And yet you want not your share of ambition and pride too. Misguided man! How miserably you mistake that for humility, which is but lukewarmness and indifference. But where, pray, is the humility of vilifying those religious warmths in others which you never had either the sense or goodness to feel in yourself? Know, unhappy self-deceiver, that there is, there can be, no such mortal as a middling Christian. Neither the nature of our religion, as set forth in my text, and throughout the Scriptures, nor the inconceivable tenderness of Christ in suffering for us ; neither the exalted joys promised, nor the shocking torments threatened, will suffer a thinking mind to be indifferent. If you do not feel the force of what I am saying in the depths of your soul, what an insensible soul must that be! That you may perceive, I say not these things of myself, but by authority; hear them from him who loveth you, and hath laid down his life for you,' and nevertheless thus accosts you on the subject of your indifference to him, and attachment to the world ; . You cannot serve two masters, you cannot serve God and mammon. He that loveth father and mother more than me, is not worthy of me; he that loveth son or daughter more than me, is not worthy of me; and be that taketh not his cross and followeth after me is not worthy of me. He that findeth his life shall lose it, and he that loseth his life for my sake, shall find it.' Consider now, have you ever given up any of these things, or even much smaller things, such as houses or lands, for the sake of Christ or his gospel? or do you think yourself capable of doing it? You who daily sacrifice all the little regard you have for Christ to every moment of pleasure, or mite of gain?
If your eyes are now open, look about you, and tell us where you are; surely not with Christ, but against him, not even with a company of indifferents and neutrals, but of reprobates and devils, the sink and scum of the creation, who in their lusts, and even pride of their hearts, have wisely preferred rebellion to gratitude, infamy to glory, and hell to heaven. Do you not observe, how one of your company betrays the son of God, how another condemns him, how another spits in his face, how another buffets, how another scourges, how another crucifies him ? Dare not to call Judas a traitor, till you consider whether you have not more than once sold the Saviour of mankind for some pieces of silver. Dare not to censure Pilate as an unjust judge, before you have recollected, whether you never by your words acquitted, but in your deed condemned, the Redeemer, as he did, to please the world, and to promote or secure your interest with its great ones. Beware of charging the unbelieving soldiers who executed the sentence on Christ, with cruelty, till you seriously reflect, whether you,
his professed disciple, have not often spit in his face, buffeted him, scourged him, crucified him, by your sins, as well as they.
But here you will say, 'what can Christ expect from so poor a creature as me, dependent, while in this world, on the necessaries of life, and charged by Providence with a family, which it is my duty to take care of? Besides, hath not God given me my appetites and passions, and fitted the good things here below to these internal springs of desire and action which he himself hath impressed on my nature ? Must I not act as an inhabitant of this world, while I am here? And will it not be time enough to act as an inhabitant of the next world, when I find myself there?
Are pot you yourself a little startled at a plea, the same in substance with that of the declared infidel, and as agreeable to his oiher principles, as it is wholly repugnant to yours? Your principles tell you, that, “having food and raiment, you are therewith to be content.' Pray, is this all you seek for? It is true, the same principles teach, that, ‘if you provide not for your own, and especially for them of your own house, you have denied the faith, and are worse than an infidel.' But what are you obliged hereby to provide? Not surely unnecessary sums of money, 'the love of which is the root of all evil;' not great estates, not sounding titles, not sumptuous palaces, not luxurious tables; no, but' food and raiment only.' Every thing of this sort, you are, if occasion requires, to sacrifice to Christ, and not Christ to them, as is your general practice. If God hath given you your natural appetites and desires, he did not give you either the excess of those appetites, or your present habit of indulging them to the uttermost. If he stored the world with materials for your gratification, it was not, be sure, that you should • lade yourself with thick clay,' ill-gotten by fraud and oppression, and worse spent in pride and riot; but to try whether you could be “temperate in all things,' and use this world as not abusing it ;' and whether you could, in the midst of these things below, look up, and fix your affection on things above.' If you are a Christian, your principles tell you that while you are in this world, you are not to live like a man of this world;'
born of God, to overcome the world,' and to keep yourself unspotted from it, denying all ungodliness and worldly lusts.'
Thus, to the uttermost of your power, are you to act, while here, or you will never keep the commandments of God, nor enter into life,' nor have any opportunity of shewing, how readily you could conform to, or what a fine figure you could make in a better world, were you translated thither.
This, you see, Christ actually expects of you, because he knows it is, or puts it within your power. Your pleading poverty, therefore, or inability, is only done to cover your disinclination, ingratitude, and treachery. Besides, this part of your plea, I must tell you, sounds most scandalously from your mouth, who are apt to talk so high of your honour, of your understanding, and of your resolution, on
but if you are
some occasions, as if you had surmounted the infirmities of human nature, and needed neither man to teach you, nor even God to help you.
If you now perceive that you are not with Christ, but against him; if you see it with that shame, alarm, and terror, which ought naturally to accompany such a sight; the work of this day is done, and you are infinitely happier now in your grief, than you were a few hours ago in the midst of darkness and security. But, if you are still insensible, the charge of treachery and ingratitude, so clearly brought home to your door, must be resumed, and those crimes, as committed against the Saviour of the world, held to your eyes in their own enormous foulness, for how otherwise is it possible to rouse you?
Consider then seriously, if you can, as to the charge of treachery, that when you were baptized, you gave in your name to Christ; you covenanted with God through him your intercessor; you vowed abhorrence to his enemies ; you vowed fidelity, love, and obedience to him, during the course of your life. On this, he entrusted you with his name and honour, together with a title to all the infinite blessings, arising from peace with God, a peace purchased with his last agonies and blood. Consider now, on the other side, that your
whole life is little else than one continued breach of the covenant and vow you made; one continued insult on his name and honour; one continued exposure of both to the blasphemy of his enemies. You renounced those original adversaries of Christ, the devil, the world, and the flesh; what else have you, all along, loved, consorted with, or followed ? By this you spread a snare for the feet of the weak, and make your name of a Christian the bait. By this you give Christ a defeat, and the devil a triumph. If this is not treachery, then Judas himself was faithful. If this is not 'crucifying the Son of God afresh, and putting him to open shame,' then he was never crucified at Jerusalem, nor exposed to contempt between two thieves. And if this is not a degree of treachery, sufficient to match the hottest place of punishment, for what other crime is that place reserved ?
But you intend, you say, no such treachery to Christ, no such new crucifixion of your Saviour. How? Do not