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III.

mocked. We presume to call ourselves SERM. Christians, and unless we abandon the

very name and profession, we are, by our own consent, bound to obey the laws of the Gospel : and it is to be remarked, that these laws are so eminently consonant to the perfection of man's nature, and they tend to place us so very high in the estimation of our fellow creatures, that we are for the most part jealous enough of the service we have chosen, and it is not without offence that we submit to be told that we are not Christians. But what a mockery it is to pretend to be a Christian, without taking any pains to fulfil the terms of that everlasting covenant. In the ordinary concerns of life, we do nothing so preposterous: the soldier studies the art of war, knowing that the name alone will not stand him in any stead ; the husbandman does not look to reap, without the care and precaution of a previous sowing; in all cases, of this nature, the name is derived from the practice of the profession, and not made a substitute for the care and

application incumbent on those who pretend

to

SERM. to it.

But what are our exertions in the cause of Christianity ? Do we think to compass Heaven by a vain and hypocritical cry, of Lord, Lord!" How shall we answer for ourselves when enquiry comes to be made, not into the services of our lips, but how we have applied ourselves to do the will of our Father which is in Heaven?” To prove ourselves Christians, as well in deed as in name, we ought to have a long account to produce, of passions subdued, and appetites restrained; of vice discountenanced, and virtue approved ; of adversity patiently submitted to, prosperity gratefully acknowledged ; sins repented of, charities exercised, temptations resisted ; faith manifested, and the ignorance of foolish men, and the forwardness of the wicked, put to silence and shame by our well-doing, and Christian steadiness. Greatly do we deceive ourselves, if we imagine we can be Christians on any other terms. Be consistent, and lay down the name and title when you act contrary to your profession. Add not hypocrisy to heighten all your transgressions. Confess

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your

66

rages

yourselves to be rebels, and then commit SERM. your sins ; this would be at least ingenu- III: ous, and deserve the praise of consistency and truth; but you, that call yourselves ;

, Christians, do you without scruple fulfil the lusts of the flesh ; do

you,

that pretend to walk in the spirit of Christ, indulge yourselves in s

adulteries, fornication, uncleanness, lasciviousness ?” Do you live in

batred and variance, emulations, wrath, and strife?" Do you foment and encou

seditions and beresies, envyings, murders, drunkenness, revellings, and such like?" Above all, do you accustom yourselves to act without remorse, as the text expresses it, in open neglect of the good you pretend to approve, and committing the evils you are forced to condemn ? leaving undone what, as a Christian, you would and ought to do, and doing as an Infidel, what as a Christian you hate and abominate? These are the things which, in the day of judgment, will be enquired into; and every day of our lives here, gives us occasion to add to, or to rectify, the errors in our account. Not that we

are

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SERM. are to suppose ourselves so ill off, as to

imagine that the name of Christian will be a snare to us. Sin and wickedness indeed, it is most certain, are more hateful, more heinous, and more inexcusable in a Christian, than in those who have not partaken of the light of Christ's revelation j but then it only is so, because the duty of a Christian is made so plain and intelligible to him, his security is rendered so easy by faith and obedience, the promises of assistance are so abundant, the hope of pardon so lively, the rewards held out to him so transcendant, and his services put upon so easy and interesting a footing, that it is impossible he should err, but either through the most obstinate wilfulness, or the most gross neglect, that human frailty can give birth to.

If then we would be rash enough to think of laying down the profession of Christianity, in order to obtain more liberty of action, let us remember, that besides the guilt of apostacy, which we must necessarily incur, we must be content to give up all the hopes and expectations of Christianity;

we

we must not expect to be allowed to plead SERM. the merits of Christ to atone for our transgressions, nor to claim his promises of mercy and intercession. We must forego the prospects of becoming joint-heirs with him in the kingdom of God's glory, or of becoming one with the Father, in the vital union which is clearly foretold to the true believer. It is not given us to know the distinctions that will take place in the world to come; but we have unquestionably good ground to believe, that great distinctions will have place there. To every man God will render according to his deeds ; so that he that soweth sparingly shall reap sparingly, and he which soweth bountifully shall reap also bountifully. Though, then, we would not exclude those from hope in Christ at the last day, who, according to God's own eternal purposes have been kept from the light of the Gospel here below, yet it is no imputation either on his goodness or his justice, to suppose, thật the true Christian may be allowed to indulge hopes of a higher state of glory, than those who have not been

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blessed

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