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but is at church seldom or often, just as it happens. Now it is a very easy thing to see this difference betwixt these persons.
But when you have seen this, can you
farther difference betwixt them? Can you find that their common life is of a different kind? Are not the tempers, and customs, and manners of the one, of the same kind as of the other? Do they live as if they belonged to different worlds, had different views in their heads, and different rules and measures of all their actions? Have they not the same goods and evils, are they not pleased and displeased in the same manner, and for the same things? Do they not live in the same course of life? Does one seem to be of this world, looking at the things that are temporal, and the other to be of another world, looking wholly at the things that are eternal ?Does the one live in pleasure, delighting herself in show or dress, and the other live in self-denial and mortification, renouncing every thing that looks like vanity either of person, dress, or carriage ? Does the one follow public diversions, and trifle away her time in idle visits and corrupt conversation; and does the other study all the arts of improving her time, living in prayer and watching, and such good works as may make all her time turn to her advantage, and be placed to her account at the last day? Is the one careless of expense, and glad to be able to adorn herself with every costly ornament. of dress ?-and does the other consider her fortune as a talent given her by God, which is to be improved religiously, and no more to be spent in vain and needless ornaments, than it is to be buried in the earth?
Where must you look to find one person of religion differing in this manner, from another that has none ? And yet, if they do not differ in these things, which are here related, can it with any sense be said, the one is a good Christian and the other not?
Take another instance amongst the men. Leo has a great deal of good nature, has kept what they call good company, hates every thing that is false and base ; is very generous and brave to his friends, but has concerned himself so little with religion, that he hardly knows the difference betwixt a Jew and a Christian.
Eusebius, on the other hand, has had early impressions
of religion, and buys books of devotion. He can talk of all the feasts and fasts of the church, and knows the names of most men that have been eminent for piety.You never hear him swear or make a loose jest; and when he talks of religion, he talks of it, as of a matter of the last concern.
Here you see that one person has religion enough, according to the way of the world, to be reckoned a pious Christian, and the other is so far from all appearance of religion, that he may fairly be reckoned a Heathen; and yet if you look into their common life, if you examine their chief and ruling tempers in the greatest articles of life, or the greatest doctrines of Christianity, you will find the least difference imaginable.
Consider them with regard to the use of the world, because there is what every body can see.
Now to have right notions and tempers with relation to this world, is as essential to religion, as to have right notions of God. And it is as possible for a man to worship a crocodile, and yet be a pious man, as to have his affections set upon this world, and yet be a good Christian.
if you consider Leo and Eusebius in this respect, you will find them exactly alike, seeking, using, and enjoying all that can be got in this world, in the same manner and for the same ends. You will find that riches, prosperity, pleasures, indulgences, state, equipage, and honour are just as much the happiness of Eusebius as they are of Leo. And yet if Christianity has not changed a man's mind and temper with relation to these things, what can we say that it has done for him ?
For if the doctrines of Christianity were practised, they would make a man as different from other people as to all worldly tempers, sensual pleasures, and the pride of life, as a wise man is different from a natural ; 'it would be as easy a thing to know a Christian by his outward course of life, as it is now difficult to find any body that lives it. For it is notorious that Christians are Dow not only like other men in their frailties and infirmities, this might be in some degree excusable ; but the complaint is, they are like heathens in all the main and chief articles of their lives. They enjoy the world, and
live every day in the same tempers, and the same designs, and the same indulgences, as they did who knew not God, nor of any happiness in another life. Every body, that is capable of any reflection, must have observed, that this is generally the state even of devout people, whether men or women. You may see them different from other people so far as to times and places of prayer, but generally like the rest of the world in all the other parts of their lives. That is, adding Christian devotion to an heathen life: I have the authority of our blessed Saviour for this remark, where he says, Take no thought, saying what shall we eat, or what shall we drink, or wherewithal shall we be clothed? for after all these things do the Gentiles seek. But if to be thus affected even with the necessary things of this life, shews that we are not yet of a Christian spirit, but are like the heathens; surely to enjoy the vanity and follý of the world as they did, to be like them the main chief tempers of our lives, in selflove and indulgence, in sensual pleasures and diversions, in the vanity of dress, the love of show and greatness, or any other gaudy distinction of fortune, is a much greater sign of a heathen temper. And consequently they who add devotion to such a life, must be said to pray as Christians, but live as heathens.
An Inquiry into the Reason, why the generality of Christians fall
so far short of the Holiness and Devotion of Christianity.
IT may now be reasonably inquired, how it comes to pass, that the lives even of the better sort of people are thus strangely contrary to the principles of Christianity,
But before I give a direet answer to this, I desire it may also be inquired, how it comes to pass that swearing is so common a vice amongst Christians; it is indeed not yet so common amongst women, as it is amongst
But amongst men this sin is so common, that perhaps there are more than two in three that are guilty of it through the whole course of their lives, swearing more or less, just as it happens, some constantly, others only now and then, as it were he chance. Now I ask how comes it that two in three of the men are guilty of so gross and profane a sin as this? There is neither ignorance nor human infirmity to plead for it: It is against an express commandment, and the most plain doctrine of our blessed Saviour.
Do but now find the reason why the generality of men live in this notorious vice, and then you will have found the reason why the generality even of the better sort of people live so contrary to Christianity,
Now the reason of common swearing is this : It is because men have not so much as the intention to please God in all their actions. For let a man but have so much piety as to intend to please God in all the actions of his life, as the happiest and best thing in the world, and then-he will never swear more.
It will be as impossible for him to swear, whilst he feels this intention within himself, as it is impossible for a man that intends to please his prince, to go up and abuse him to his face.
It seems but a small and necessary part of piety to have such a sincere intention as this; and that he has no reason to look upon himself as a disciple of Christ, who is not thus far advanced in piety. And yet it is purely for want of this degree of piety, that you see such a mixture of sin and folly in the lives even of the better sort of people. It is for want of this intention that you see men that profess religion, yet live in swearing and sensuality ; that you see clergymen given to pride and covetousness, and worldly enjoyments.
It is for want of this intention, that you see women that profess devotion, yet living in all the folly and vanity of dress, -wasting their time an idleness and pleasure, and in all such instances of state and equipage as their estates will reach. For let but a woman feel her heart full of this intention, and she will find it as impossible to patch or paint, as to curse or swear; she will no more desire to chine at balls and assemblies, or make a figure amongst
those that are most finely dressed, than she will desire to dance
upon a rope to please spectators: She will know that the one is as far from the wisdom and excellency of the Christian spirit, as the other.
It was this general tention that made the primitive Christians such eminent instances of piety, that made the goodiy fellowship of the saints, and all the glorious army of martyrs and confessors. And if you will here stop and ask yourself why you are not as pious as the primitive Christians were, your own heart will tell you that it is neither through ignorance nor inability, but purely because you never thoroughly intended it. You observe the same Sunday-worship that they did; and you are strict in it, because it is your full intention to be
And when you as fully intend to be like them in their ordinary common life, when you intend to please God in all your acuons, you will find it as possible as to be strictly exact in the service of the church. And when you have this intention to please God in all your act.ons, as the happiest and best things in the world, you will find in you as great an aversion to every thing that is vain and impertinent in common life, whether of business or pleasure, as you now have to any thing that is profane. You will be as fearful of living in any foolish way, either of spending your time or your fortune, as you are now fearful of neglecting the public worship.
Now who that wants this general sincere intention, can be reckoned a Christian? And yet if it was amongst Christians, it would change the whole face of the world; true piety and exemplary boliness would be as common and visible as buying and selling, or any trade in life.
Let a clergyman be but thus pious, and he will converse as if he had been brought up by an apostle; he will no more think and talk of noble preferment, than of noble eating or a glorious chariot. He will no more complain of the frowns of the world, or a small cure, or the want of a patron, than he will complain of the want of a laced coat, or a running horse. Let him but intend to please God in all his actions, as the happiest and best thing in the world, and then he will know that there is