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were not an holy God, but altogether such an one as themselves, liking ways of sin as well as they, or as though they thought him a weak being, and not able to do them any great matter of hurt, or as though they thought they were stronger than he, and should be able to make their part good with him another day? 1 Cor. x. 22. “Do we provoke the Lord to jealousy? are we stranger than he ?"
How does that wickedness, which many persons who are brought up under gospel light commit in secret, those abominable secret practices of which many young people are guilty, agree with their professing that God is every where present ? These things they do not commit openly for fear of human punishment, or for fear of shame and disgrace among men; and yet they commit them boldly and live on them in the sight of God, upon whose favour they profess that their happiness infinitely more depends than on the esteem of men.
They profess to believe that there is another world, and a future judgment, and that they must in a little time stand before the judgment-seat of God, to give an account of themselves to him, and that then the hidden things of darkness shall be brought to light, and the counsels of the heart made manifest; and that then God will call them to a strict account of their improvement of their time, and all their talents, and that for every idle word, men must give account in the day of judgment, and that then every man shall have his state everlastingly, and unalterably fixed by the sentence of the great Judge, according to the things done in the body; that they who have done well shall be invited into heaven, where they shall enjoy honour and glory, and pleasure unspeakable for evermore, and that they who have done evil, shall be sentenced and sent down to hell, into everlasting fire, with the devil and his angels, where they shall endure unspeakable torments, as in a furnace of fire without any end, or any hope, and that they shall have no rest day nor night; and that their souls shall be fixed in one or other of those states in a little time, as soon as ever the body dies.
Now how does their practice consist with such a profession, while they live idle, careless lives, little troubling themselves about the good of their souls, and have their hearts and pursuits after the vanities of the world, just as if they never expected any other world but this, going on in sins against the plainest commands, and loudest warnings, and fullest light, and conviction of their own conscience? How does this consist with the profession of a belief, that they must in a little time be called to give account of themselves to God? Would any spectator who should judge only by their practice, in the least imagine that these men expected within a few years to burn in everlasting fire, if they did not please and serve an infinitely holy God, and to be received to an everlasting paradise of blessedness if they did ; could he be persuaded to think that such men are in heart, as they profess to be, the followers of the meek, holy and humble Lamb of God, of him who laid down his life for his enemies ?
2. If we look at the profession which some of them make of special and distinguishing experiences of the influence of God's grace in their hearts, their practice is very inconsistent with their profession. · Persons may make a profession of such experiences, and yet be carnal and wicked men. So did some of the Galatians of whom the 'apostle was afraid, lest he had bestowed upon them labour in vain; they professed great experience of the sweetness and blessedness which is to be had iu religion and experienced in the truths of the gospel. Gal. iv. Il. 15. "I am afraid of you, lest I have bestowed upon you labour in vain. Where is then the blessedness ye spake of? for I bear you record, that, if it had been possible, ye would have plucked out your own eyes, and have given them to me. At their first seeming conversion, they appeared to be exceedingly lifted up with their new light, and full of joy and comfort, and full of affection ; but by this expostulation of the apostle it appears that their lives afterwards did not well agree with their profession. Some wicked men may profess that they have seen their own utter insufficiency and helplessness, their own vileness and wickedness, and have been brought to God's footstool self-emptied and self-abased, as wretched, iniserable, poor, blind, and naked. But yet how ill does their walk and life agree with such a profession! In this none appear fuller of themselves than they ; none seem to manifest more of a spirit of self-sufficiency, and of dependence on their own righteousness, or more high conceit of their own goodness, or are more ready to say to others, “Stand by thyself, come not nigh to me, for I am holier than thou ;” none appear in their walk and conversation further from lying in the dust as being poor in spirit than they. So it was with the Pharisees, they pretended to be extraordinarily emptied of themselves, and to have a low thought of themselves, in their wearing a rough garment, and in so often keeping days of fasting ; and yet none were more self-righteous and selfsufficient than these very men, who are set forth in sacred history as living examples of self-righteousness to all succeeding ages.
So some of them may profess that they have had great discoveries made to their souls of God's glory and excellency, and that they have seen how much more glorious God is than all earthly things. But if it be so, wby do not they cleave to God, and follow him, rather than other things? If they have known God to be so
much more excellent than the things of the world, because they have had acquaintance with God, why do they in their practice cast off God for the sake of the things of the world; why do they in their practice prefer a little of the world, a little worldly gain, a little worldly honour, or a little worldly convenience, or pleasure, before God ? Certainly, is God be more excellent than the whole world, as they profess that they have seen him to be, then surely he is worth more than so small a part of the world.
So they may tell what love they have found in their hearts to God, how they have found their hearts drawn out in love to him at different times. But if they love him so well, why do they take no more care to please him ; why are they so careless of his honour, and of their duty to him; why do they allow themselves in practices which they know he hates, and utterly forbids ?
So they may profess that they have seen the truth of the gospel, and that they not only think, but know, that the scripture is the word of God. But if it be so, why do they not take more heed to it? why do they live not only as if they were not certain of it, but as if they were certain of the contrary? If they know that those commands which are in the Bible are the commands of God, then they are worthy of the greatest regard; if they know that those promises and threatenings which are found there, are the promises and threatenings of God, then surely they should be of great weight with us. Why do they seem to be of so little weight with them?
So they may tell how God has manifested his love to their souls, bas given his Spirit to witness with their spirit that they are the children of God, and that they have much communion with God. But if God has done such great things for them, and they are admitted to such unspeakable privileges above others, surely they ought to do more than others. They should not appear more carnal, and careless, and unchristian in their temper and walk than other men who make no such pretences. Thus wicked men's practice is very often inconsistent with their profession, agreeably to Tilus i. 16. “They profess that they know God, but in works they deny him; being abominable and disobedient, and to every good work reprobate."
VI. Their practice is inconsistent with their hope of eternal life. Men in general who live in Christian countries, hope to go to heaven, and there to possess eternal glory with God, and Christ, and holy saints and angels, though some of them have a much more confident hope than others. Some of them think that God has already made over this glory to them by firm promises, they look on heaven as their own, they think they belong to that world, and have an inheritance reserved there for them.
But the practice of wicked men is very inconsistent with such a hope, it is very displeasing to that God, and that glorious Redeemer with whom they hope to spend their eternity in heaven. Though they live wickedly, yet they hope in a little time to go to be with an infinitely holy God, to be received by him with perfect approbation and delight, to be near to him, and to dwell in the courts of his love. They hope to enter into that same holy of bolies, into which Christ the forerunner of saints has entered, and there to dwell, there to be as a pillar in the temple of God, to go no more out. Yea, they hope there to sit in that heavenly holy of holies, to be admitted to a higher privilege than the high priests were of old in the earthly holy of holies, who were admitted only to appear in the holy of holies once a year. What holiness was expected of the high priests of old who were admitted to this privilege! What holiness then may well be expected of those who hope to be admitted to a so much greater privilege! Their wicked life is very unsuitable to that state of heaven. Those who are in heaven are all perfectly boly, and so must they become if ever they go to heaven; they will perfectly hate all wickedness, and perfectly delight in the contrary. How disagreeable therefore is the hope of spending eternity in such a heaven, to their wallowing like swine in the filth and mire of sin, and feeding with such eagerness and delight on the loathsome objects of their lusts, as worms feed with pleasure on the loathsome carcass !
Their wicked life is very unfit for the company of heaven, with which they must spend an eternity, if ever they arrive there, even with the holy angels and saints. Heb. xii. 22, 23. “But ye are come unto mount Sion, and unto the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, and to an innumerable company of angels; to the general assembly and church of the first born, which are written in heaven, and to God the judge of all, and to the spirits of just men made perfect.” How disagreeable is a carnal, worldly, sensual, impure life, to a hope of being one of such an assembly as this to all eternity!
Their wicked life is very disagreeable to the eternal business of heaven, which consists in employing their faculties altogether on holy objects, in employing their understandings in viewing and contemplating the holy perfections of God, and his wonderful works, and their wills and affections in loving God, and delighting themselves in him, and their whole souls in praising and serying him. Rev. xxii. 3, 4. “ And there shall be no more curse : but the throne of God and of the Lamb shall be in it; and his servants shall serve him: and they shall see his face; and his name shall be in their foreheads." How inconsistent is a life spent in this world in the service of lust and of the devil, to a hope of spending eternity in such a holy manner as this !
Their wicked life is unfitted for the pleasure and entertainment of heaven, which consist in delighting and rejoicing in God, in loving him, and in holy communion with him. How unsuited to
a hope of enjoying such an happiness as this throughout eternity, is it to place all one's delight and happiness here in hoarding up worldly pelf, in gratifying the bodily appetites, and sensitive desires, and in those pleasures that are common to the cattle and the swine ?
Wicked men hope to spend their eternity in that world, which is a world of perfect peace and love, and to dwell there for ever, where are no jars nor strise, but perfect agreement, harmony, and love for ever. Yet many of them live a life of malice and contention in this world, are very often in one strise or other, and always carry about in their breasts a malice and hatred towards some of their neighbours, and towards some of those same persons with whom they pretend to hope to spend their eternity in such perfect love and amity. If we in our thoughts compare the life that many men actually live in this world, with that life which they hope to live in another world, how ill do they consist together; how disagreeable and shocking is the comparison, or the union of them in our thoughts! How many are there who now are drunkards or unclean persons, or who live in the neglect of secret prayer, and who cast off fear and restrain prayer before God; and how many that are mere earth worms in covetousness and eagerness after the world; how many proud men whose God is their earthly honour; how many wrathful men who spend their days in hatred of their neighbour; how many such are there who hope in a little time to be with an infinitely holy God, in his glorious presence, in his holy of holies, and with Jesus Christ, and in the arms of his love, and to be of the assembly of holy angels and saints in perfect purity, holiness and love, loving, contemplating, and admiring God's glory, and enjoying unspeakable blessedness in communion with God! Thus wicked men's practice disagrees with their hopes.
VII. The practice of wicked men is inconsistent with itself.
1. Their practice at one time is inconsistent with their practice at another. They are not of a piece with themselves at different times, but are such as the apostle James compares to “a wave of the sea, driven of the wind and tossed;" and such as he called “ double-minded.” At one time they are of one mind, with respect to the things of religion; and at another, of another; and so have one mind against another. It is so with false professors of religion; they are not steadfast in God's covenant, nor in the practice of religion. At one time they may seem to be much affected with the things of religion, and greatly engaged in their spirits about it, as though they could even pluck out their own eyes for God and Christ's sake, may be full of religious conversation, and may seem forward in religious deeds. But, if we observe them, all their goodness is as the morning cloud, all their religiousness is over, and they appear as carnal, and senseless, VOL. VIII.