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it not for their examples, who stay out. In all cases like this, he who helps not, hinders. A great part of mankind never move but with a crowd before them, and weigh the strength of a reason only by the numbers it hath already convinced. The fears of many, and the negligence of a yet greater body, I mean, more especially, as to considerable changes, either in religious opinions or professions, are seldom surmounted, but by the previous conversion of others more attentive, more sharp-sighted, and more resolute.
If a professed indifference to Christ and his religion is capable of doing so great disservice to both, and if therefore Christ will regard those, who do not declare for him, as his enemies, no less than those who declare against him, in what light must he look on such as bear his name, and make profession of his religion, while they either labour to pervert its principles, or, in the main of their lives, too plainly prefer the service of his enemy? These, undoubtedly, he must regard, not as neutrals, nor even as mere enemies, but as detestable traitors. Considered in this light, they do infinitely more damage to the credit and progress of his religion, than can possibly be done by those who never gave in their names to him, nay, or by those who openly vilify and oppose him.
It is true, Christ, properly speaking, cannot be betrayed, for he hath no secrets to be concealed; and therefore, in this respect, may safely set every Judas at defiance. But if any man, outwardly bearing the badge of Christianity, shall corrupt or enfeeble its fundamental articles in the minds of others, or shall deny its author in his actions, as often as he is tempted by worldly interests, or fleshly pleasure, or even shall shew himself indifferent, as often as the offers of the enemy seem, in his scales, to balance the promises of Christ, this man is a traitor, and wounds the Saviour of souls more sensibly by his professions, than Judas ever did in the midst of his kisses ; I say, by his professions, for did he deny himself to be a Christian, the open enemies of Christ could not, as they always do, throw the odium of his practices on the religion he declares for ; neither could other weak professors of Christianity so miserably stumble at his example, saying, as is too frequently their unhappy custom, ‘see how such a one acts, how he lies, cheats, gets drunk, converses with scandalous women, and does a thousand other things forbidden by Christianity. Do you observe, how he undermines the doctrine, into which he was baptized, and that whereby the sins of mankind are believed to be atoned ? Yet the man is much liked, passes for a very tolerable Christian, and hopes for heaven at the last. Why may not we act, and hope as he does ? There are but few men in the world, who fall not, more or less, into this snare, that is, are not, more or less, infidels or reprobates, purely because others, professing the same religion, and even that but nominally, have shewn them how to reconcile a practice and a profession, as opposite as light and darkness. So far common sense extends its conclusions from the doctrine of my text.
Let us however examine the point a little by other places of Scripture, that we may the more perfectly understand what it is to be for Christ,' and what, ' to be against him.'
If a man may be truly said to be with Christ, who only follows him, carries his name, and declares for him, then Judas was really a good Christian, and Christ himself knew not what a Christian is, for he says, 'Woe unto that man by whom the son of man is betrayed.' Should such a one say unto him, ' Lord, Lord, have I not prophesied in thy name, and in thy name cast out devils, and done many wonderful works?' all this will not prove him to be for Christ, who will nevertheless ‘profess unto him, I never knew you, depart from me, you that work iniquity.' Judas could say as much for himself, as you, and yet I have pronounced him the son of perdition. Here is profession for profession, than which nothing better can be reasonably hoped for. Not only they are against Christ, who deny him before men in words, but they also 'who profess that they know, but in works deny him, being abominable and disobedient, and unto every good work reprobate ;' of whom St. Paul tells us,' even weeping, that they are the enemies of the cross of Christ, whose end is destruction; whose God is their belly ; whose glory is their shame ; and who mind earthly things.' These are ' against Christ.'
Who then are for him ? They, no doubt, of whom he saith to the Father, I have given unto them the words which thou gavest me; and they have received them, and have known hereby, that I came out from thee; and they have believed, that thou didst send me. Thine they were, and thou gavest them me, and they have kept my word. They that are Christ's,' says St. Paul, have crucified the flesh, with the affections and lusts.'
But are there not a third, or middle sort of men, who, in the strictness of these expressions, are neither with our Saviour, nor against him? No, Christ, who best knows his own, absolutely denies the fact, in my text. It is true, of good men, some are better; and of bad men, some worse, than others. The good are not all equally the friends; nor the wicked, all equally the enemies, of Christ; and for these inequalities different degrees of reward and punishment are reserved in the determinations of our judge. It is also true, that the best of men sometimes fall into sin, and the worst, sometimes rise to acts of piety and goodness. But then he who is to pass sentence on us, knows perfectly well, where frailty ends, and presumption and perverseness begin ; knows, who, in the main of his life, is a good, and who, a bad man, that is, who is on his part, and who, against him.
A rational and free being, who knows there is a God, cannot stand suspended between virtue, which he is sensible is the will of God; and vice, which, he is sure, is his abhorrence. But farther, if he knows, that God hath not only given him being, but heaped on him all the blessings he enjoys here, or hopes for hereafter, and purchased him with his own blood from the dreadful punishment due to his sins, under such obligations to such a governor, and such a benefactor, he must surely be very wicked, if he is not in some degree virtuous. To do no good, under these circumstances, must be high ingratitude; to do evil, must be unnatural rebellion. Whosoever renounces this double obligation to obedience and gratitude, laid on him by the Saviour of mankind, is an infidel and an enemy; and whosoever pretends to receive it, but denies its power by acting, in the main, as if he regarded neither the duties nor motives it suggests to him, is a traitor to that Saviour.
Thus it appears, that from the throne of God, down to the nethermost hell, there is not, there cannot possibly be, one moral being, who is not either the friend, or enemy, of Christ. In the one or other of these lights, he must regard every man, and every man must regard himself, at the final judgment. On that great occasion, the judge will pronounce but two sentences, to the good,'come, ye blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world ;' and to the wicked, depart from me, ye accursed, into everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels.' At that day, there will be no man found, who will not tremble under the one, or triumph in the other, of these sentences; none who will not be a fit object of either. Here is no middle judgment between, come, and depart, nor a middle region, between heaven and hell, for the reception of him, who is neither called as a friend, nor rejected as an enemy to, Christ.
Well, but granting the truth, what is the use, some will ask, of this doctrine ? Hath it any tendency to increase the number of Christ's friends, or to diminish that of his enenemies ? After hearing all this, will not every one be just where he was ? Not every one, it is hoped. Our infinitely wise instructor undoubtedly had the edification of his hearers in view, when he spoke my text, and did not utter it merely as idle words. It will, I trust, be a great comfort and confirmation to every good man, to perceive by an infallible rule, that Christ regards him as his friend. What can so effectually encourage him to a steady perseverance, as thus beforehand to enjoy the happy judgment of the last day? It will be also as great a terror to every bad man, to know by the same infallible rule, that he himself is the enemy of Christ. What is so likely to work him to repentance, as the bitter foretaste of his future condemnation? All this, however, you will say, we knew before; and I can as easily answer, perhaps it was not duly laid to heart. What I have been saying was music to the conscious friend of Christ, music to be heard with pleasure on ten thousand repetitions. It cannot therefore be he, who peevishly says, 'all this we knew before.'
No, it must be you, who did not know, or knew it only in the spirit of slumber, that you are the ungrateful, and hereafter, if you do not awake in time, must be the miserable, enemy of that Saviour, who laid down his life for your soul. . You have, all along professed Christianity, but contented
yourself with such a kind or degree of it, as the vain and senseless practice of the world vouches for sufficient; that is, you come sometimes' to church, give a small matter to the poor, and now and then, communicate. You take care to keep within the verge of the laws, to preserve a tolerable character; and so to pass in your own, and the judgment of others like yourself, for a moderate Christian. But, in the mean time, you scruple not to take God's name in vain, to talk or act obscenely, to get drunk sometimes, and to dash your dealings in the world with too large a mixture of cunning, extortion, or oppression. If you have observed this, or somewhat like it, to be the general practice, the unhappy example serves you for a law, to which all the laws of God must give way in you, who set not up truly for a saint, but sneer at those who are more scrupulous, as hypocritical pretenders to that character. All this while, it is with you a matter of but little moment, whether you are' with Christ, or against him,'as is evident by your never, in any material instance, preferring his service or honour to the ordinary calls of worldly interest or pleasure.
If you are on Christ's part, what passion have you subdued, what appetite denied, what view of temporal profit or honour, though ever so inconsiderable, have you set aside, purely to please him? Or rather, what sense of his goodness, or your past ingratitude, do you even now feel, to prove to you, that you are not wholly indifferent about him, his religion, or your place among his followers ? On his own maxim, the cold, and almost contemptuous services you render him for the loss of his life and blood (loss, surely I may call it, in respect to you) could not entitle you to the name of his friend, were you as cold to this world, and the things of it. How far then must they be from giving you any claim to that honourable appellation, when all your warmth is bestowed on that which he abhors, which he commanded you to abhor, and you, in your covenant with God through him, renounced by a solemn vow? “You honour him,'it is true, and but a little, 'with your lips; but your heart is far from him.' Full well he knows it, for he is a searcher of hearts, and clearly sees where all the ardour of yours is placed, while he hath only the worthless compli