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Fourthly. He has a name to live only, whom difficulties or apprehended dangers cause to turn back, or who, as Solomon says, “faints in the day of adversity.” Most men are fond of a religion that will cost them nothing. If the stream of the times run that way, and there be no immediate opposition between their duty and their interest, they will readily profess themselves Christians. Like swallows, they will stay all the summer; but when cold winds and storms foretell the approach of winter, when they are called upon to forsake Christ, or the world, by and by, they are offended. Will the hypocrite always pray? If he can do it safely, he may persevere : But as soon as prayer becomes dangerous, when he finds himself only pointed at or persecuted for his singularity and devotions, he throws it aside as a burden and a disadvantage, and follows the multitude to do evil. Hence afflictions are called tempțations, because they try a man's work of what sort it is; whether it be hay or stubble, or gold, and silver, and precious stones. It also discovers the foundation upon which he is building ; whether it be sand, or that rock of ages which the roughest storms can never overthrow. If, therefore, we cannot resist the world, and arow ourselves disciples of Christ, then we possess no real religion ; and with all our pretensions, have nothing better than a name to live.
Thus I have answered, in as plain and familiar a manner as I could, the interesting inquiry which has been proposed. If what has been suggested has been the means of convincing some, and renewing any almost forgotten impressions in others, I am persuaded that they will readily join with me in saying, “ Not unto us, O Lord, not unto us, but unto thy.
name be the glory.” As for the Christian who was alarmed at the first mention of those startling words, I would hope that by this time his fears are subdued, and that his sorrow is turned into joy.
III. I now proceed to show the folly and danger, of being satisfied with a name to live while you are dead.
Consider then, that while this is your character, your services cannot be acceptable to God. Acceptable! Far from being acceptable, will be the longest and loudest prayers from a cold and unanimated heart, “ If ye offer the blind for sacrifice, is it not evil and if ye offer the lame and the sick, is it not evil ? Offer it now unto thy governor, will he be pleased with thee, or accept thy person ? saith the Lord of hosts.” Go, inlist thyself in the service of thy country. Take the prince's pay, wear his livery, and then treat him with scorn ; or, in case of any attempt upon his crown or life, secretly assist his enemies, or at least connive at their desperate measures; and at the same time be the loudest in thy professions of duty and loyalty. See now if he will thank thee; or ask thy conscience if thou have any claim to preferment or favour. If flattery be hateful, with what flaming indignation must all such fawning worshippers be regarded by God, who is acquainted with their works, who sees the treachery of their hearts, and knows that their prayers come forth out of feigned lips! He has spoken of no sins with more abhorrence, than of such hypocritical services.
Consider, again, that while you indulge this lifeless religion, you will never attain to holiness. If you be unjust, you will be unjust still; and if you
be filthy, you will continue so for ever, unless
you forsake this barren profession.
Besides, it can never give true satisfaction. It may silence, but it cannot satisfy conscience. You may cry peace and safety, when destruction is near. Hav. ing blinded your eyes, and hardened your hearts, you may appear with all that ease and cheerfulness, as if your interest in the favour of God were secure. You may hear the most awful threatenings of his word, as calmly as if they belonged not to you; and embrace the promises as confidently as if God's mark were imprinted on your foreheads. whatever be your pretensions to enjoyment, you must sometimes feel a painful anxiety. I appeal to your consciences, whether, in the midst of your most jovial moments, the hand-writing upon the wall has not appeared, and damped your festivity; and whether you have not affected a smiling countenance to hide the anguish of your spirit. Is this happiness then, which the most trifling accident in. terrupts, and a moment's reflection destroys ? Is this like the pleasure which proceeds from real and substantial religion, from an enlightened understanding, and self-approving conscience? Is your hope, which is only supported by fancies and presumptions, to be compared with that which “ maketh not ashamed ;" proceeding from the love of God, shed abroad in the heart? Does this happiness resemble that joy unspeakable, and full of glory, which' animates the genuine Christian, when the Father of mercies smiles upon him, and “the Spirit himself witnesseth with his spirit, that he is one of the children of God ?" u Knowest thou not, since man was placed upon the
earth, that the triumphing of the wicked is short, and the joys of the hypocrite but for a moment?” What, sinner, wilt thou do, when God takes away thy soul, and thou appearest with all the guilt of thy sins in the immediate presence of a Being of infinite justice and holiness? If thou wilt hope under the threatenings of God's word, will thy confidence continue when they begin to be executed ? Flatterers and prosperity may cherish thy deceit for the present: but what will maintain it, when the eyes of God, like a flame of fire, will penetrate through every disguise ?
I shall only add, that, with nothing but a name to live, we shall never obtain an admission into hea.
“ In that day many shall say, Lord, Lord, open to us."
If that will not avail, they will immediately exclaim, “ We have eaten and drunken in thy presence, and thou hast taught in our streets." If the door still continue shut against them, they will redouble their importunity, and say,
" Have we not prophesied in thy name, and in thy name cast out devils, and in thy name done many wonderful works?” But all this will not procure for them admittance. Depart from me, says God; I know you not; because, with all your pretended devotion and zeal, you have been workers of iniquity.”
But I trust that enough has been said to evince the folly and danger of being contented with a religious profession. They who do this, walk in a vain show, and disquiet themselves in vain : and vanity and vexation are all which they shall possess. I hope that conscience, as the character of the nomi. nal professor has been displayed, has led you to ask
" Is it I?" I should imagine that by this time you would all be afraid of self-deceit; and be willing to discover your hypocrisy while it may be cured, and to know the danger while it may be avoided.
Let me therefore exhort you to set apart some time, to inquire seriously, whether you be Christians or not; or, in other words, whether
be professors by chance or choice. This is no trifling question. Enter into your closets, and ask your hearts, , “ Am I in reality what I profess!" If, upon inquiry, conscience condemn you, delay not a moment to throw aside your profession, but to exchange forms and names for real religion. Acknowledge your inability to obtain this yourselves, any more than you can put life into a picture or a statue. However, lie not still, wishing and complaining; but go to God in Christ, from whom, by fervent prayer, needful grace may be obtained. Wait patiently for the Lord, and hope in his word; for he will not suffer the seed of Jacob to seek him in vain. But if, upon serious and strict examination, your heart condeinn you not, rejoice in the Lord, O ye righteous, and shout for joy, all ye who are upright in heart. It is meet that you should make merry, and be glad, for you were dead, and are alive again. You were lost, and are found. But I say, rejoice in the Lord, () ye righteous, for it is in him alone that you have righteousness and strength; and to him you owe it, if you be called, and chosen, and faithful. Recollect the misery of your
former condition, when you were in the gall of bitterness, and fast bound in the bonds of iniquity. Remember,