Εικόνες σελίδας
PDF
Ηλεκτρ. έκδοση

and as irreligious as ever; their religious affections are all gone, their religious practice is gone, and it is happened unto them according to the true proverb. The dog is turned to his own vomit again; and the sow that was washed to her wallowing in the mire.'

So it is with the hearers, that hear the word of God, and anon with joy receive it, but in time of temptation fall away. So it was with many of Christ's followers; they followed him for a while, and by and by left him.

There were some who seemed to believe in Christ and followed him for a while ; but Christ did not commit himself to them, he knew they were of an unstable mind, and would not be consistent with themselves. Some of them were for a while greatly affected with his preaching and with the miracles that he wrought, and it is said of them that they glorified God who had given such power to men, and said, “Never man spake like this man." John vii. 46. And it seems as though some of the same Jews who had their affections so raised when Christ was coming into Jerusalem, and who cried, “Hosannah to the son of David, blessed is he that cometh in the name of the Lord;" did presently after cry, “Crucify him, crucify him!". There are many professors like those, and like the Israelites, that sang God's praise, and soon forgat his works, and waited not for his counsel, that “turned back, and dealt unfaithfully like their fathers: they were turned aside like a deceitful bow;" that is, a bow that missed the mark to which it seemed to direct the arrow. The arrow seems to be pointed right, as though it would hit the mark, but yet the bow unexpectedly tends quite another way.

There are many disciples like Judas, who was at one time a disciple, and a traitor at another. It is commonly so that when false professors come to be tried by any remarkable allurements of the world, or by special difficulties which they meet with in

of duty, that their practice at such times is quite inconsistent with their practice at other times. While times are smooth, and the way plain, and the external practice of religion seems to be consistent with their worldly interests, they are very religious; but when times are changed, and they cannot be religious without seeing them crossed, they appear quite another sort of men.

Thus their practice at one time is inconsistent with their practice at another.

2. Their practice in some things is inconsistent with their practice in others at the same time.

First. Their moral and religious practice in some things does not consist with their irreligious and impure practice in others. False professors are very commonly widely different in this respect from those who are sincere and upright. Sincere Christians are universally holy; they have regard to all God's commands; it is

the way

their sincere desire, aim, and endeavour to do their duty in every respect. But it is generally far otherwise with hypocrites; in some things they are like Christians, in others like heathens. Sometimes they appear earnestly religious in duties that immediately respect God, as in attending ordinances, and in appearing devout in external duties of the first table; but in duties that respect their neighbour, there is but little appearance of Christianity. Some behave themselves like saints in God's house, and like devils at home. Some seem to be very religious abroad, in the house of God, and also at the houses of their neighbours, at private meetings, and in religious conferences; but if you follow them into their own families, and observe their carriage there towards those who dwell under the same roos, towards their wives, or husbands, or children, or servants, their behaviour there does not at all consist with the other. So some may carry themselves well in their families, and yet are wretchedly negligent of the religion of the closet. Sonie seem to be religious men, who are not honest men; some are honest men, and are not religious. They are willing to pay their debts, to speak the truth, and to avoid all knavish actions, all low and underground management; but as to religion, or to seeking God in the religious use of his ordinances, and in reading his holy word, in meditation and prayer, there is but little of this to be seen in them.

Some are honest men with respect to strict commutative justice, but they are not charitable men; they are selfish, covetous, close, and unmerciful. Some seem to be generous and liberal, and yet are very proud and haughty; their honour is their God. Some are very strict and exemplary as to all that can be seen of men, but secretly they live in some abominable practice. So their practice does not consist with itself; it is not of a piece. God complains of this sell-inconsistence in Israel of old. Hosea vii. 8. “ Ephrain hath mixed himself among the people; Ephraim is a cake not turned.” " He hath mixed himself among the people;' that is, he was conversant with the heathen nations, and mingled the religion and customs of an Israelite with those of the heathen; so that he was inconsistent with himself, he was partly an Israelite and partly a heathen. "He is a cake not turned,” alluding to their custom of baking cakes on the hearth, or in the sun ; where, if they were not turned, one side would be baked, and the other raw. So they on one side seemed to appear religious, and like saints, but on the other, wicked and impure. So it was with the Pharisees; in some things they appeared eminently religious, but in others they behaved themselves as some of the vilest of men. Matth. xxiji. 14. 23. “ Wo unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites ! for ye devour widows' houses, and for a pretence, make long prayers; therefore ye shall receive the greater damnation. Wo unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites ! for ye pay tithe of mint, and anise, and cumin, and have omitted the weightier matters of the law, judgment, mercy, and faith: these ought ye to have done, and not to leave the other undone." A true saint is sanctified throughout, in soul, body, and spirit; he has put off the old man with his deeds, and has put on the new man; he is all over a new creature. He has not only a new band and head, but he is a new man, all the members are new. But hypocrites are monsters; they have a saint's tongue, and a devil's heart. The members do not well consist together. They are inconsistent with themselves as they go about to serve two masters, God and Mammon, which Christ has taught us to be a great inconsistence. They are alike inconsistent as the Samaritans were, who would serve the God of Israel, and their own god too. 2 Kings xvii. 28, &c. “ Then one of the priests, whom they had carried away from Samaria, came and dwelt in Bethel, and taught them how they should fear the Lord. Howbeit every nation made gods of their own, and put them in the houses of the high places which the Samaritans had made, every nation in their cities wherein they dwelt."

There is the like inconsistence in them as was in Judas, who betrayed Christ with a kiss. How ill did those two things in Judas consist together, his coming to him, and kissing him; his seeming to show himself his friend, and at the same time betraying him to death ! But it was no greater inconsistency than is commonly found with hypocritical professors, who carry themselves as Christ's friends, and as though he were very dear to them in some things, and yet act the part of mortal enemies in others, and by their wicked behaviour do indeed betray his cause and interest.

Secondly. Their wicked practice in one thing is inconsistent with their wicked practice in others. It is a common thing for wicked men to quarrel with God for permitting those things which they allow themselves, and practice with delight. It is common for wicked men to ascribe the blame of their wickedness to God, therein following their first father, Adam. So men will often lay the blame of their being unconverted, and having lived so wicked a life, so carnal, careless, and evil a life, to God, and especially under conviction, to quarrel with God for it; and yet they approved of those things which they did themselves, with full consent and approbation.

And, again. It is common for wicked men to contend with men, and hate their neighbour for doing the same thing that they do themselves, and allow in themselves.

So an unjust man, a backbiter and reviler, a revengeful man, will condemn in others the sin which he allows in himself. And so, many other instances might be mentioned. And thus I have showed through all the instances proposed, how wicked men are inconsistent with themselves.

APPLICATION. 1. Hence we may see the woful ruin which sin has brought on the nature of man. Man was not thus in his first estate. If we had nothing but the light of nature, or the light of our own reason to guide us, that would be sufficient to lead us to conclude that man in his first estate was not made thus by his Creator, who has made other things in such excellent order and harmony. We see that God hath so made the world, that one thing sweetly harmonizes with another, all things are adapted to each other, the nature of one thing to the nature of another ; one thing to be subservient to another; and all things subject to the laws that the Creator has fixed.

We therefore, without the scripture, should have all reason to conclude that man, the most noble of all the creatures in the visible world, was not made in this state of woful inconsistency with himself; so that all the faculties of his nature are at war with each other, and at war with themselves; so that now there is nothing but the most dreadful confusion to be seen.

But the scripture teaches us plainly that God saw all things that he bad created and made, and behold, they were very good; and particularly that God made man upright, and that it is himself that has brought ruin on his own nature. In man's first estate all things were in perfect order in his nature. There shone such a light in his understanding as led him to right judgments of things, all the dictates of his understanding were consistent one with another. And then his reason, the

superior faculty, kept its place, and bare rule in him over the other faculties, and there was no principle or faculty of his nature but what was subject to its dictates, nothing rose up in rebellion against it. His will then was agreeable to his reason, and agreeable with itself; there was a perfect harmony between his outward appearance and his inward character; his mouth and his heart, and his mouth and practice then agreed together, and his practice then was of a piece; until he ate of the forbidden fruit, all was in perfect order, and peace, and decorum, both within and without.

But what was the consequence when man hearkened to the devil, and rebelled against his Maker? We learn, by what has been said under this doctrine, that then the Spirit of God departed from him, and with his influence, God's holy image also, the life, the crown, and glory of his nature left him, and all light, and regularity, and order were gone, and a worse darkness and confusion succeeded than was in the primitive chaos when it was without form and void, and darkness was upon the face of the deep. And such is the woful confusion of the nature of all men now in their fallen state. Now their reason determines one thing, and their governing practical judgment the reverse of it; and their judgment in some things is utterly inconsistent with their judgment in others. Now the will is in no consistency with the reason, but commonly determines directly contrary to its dictates. Men's wills are in such bondage and slavery to their lusts, that they are not only determined contrary to their own consciences to choose those things which their reason tells them are unjust, and vile, and unbecoming their nature, but also those things which their reason at the same time declares to be exceedingly against their own highest interest, even so as to tend to their everlasting perdition. Yea, their dispositions are not only contrary to their own reason and consciences, but contrary to themselves; there is not only war between faculty and faculty, but the very same faculty is at war with itself, so that they do in some respects choose and refuse the same things at the same time. There are some things that they seem earnestly to wish for, and yet indeed are at the same time utterly averse to, and refuse, and will by no means accept of when offered; yea, they will not have them though they are urged and entreated, and pleaded with for years together to accept of them. So inconsistent are their dispositions with themselves, that they will not have spiritual and divine things as they are, nor yet will they have them otherwise. They do not like God as he is, they find abundance of fault with him, they are urged to accept of him as their God, but they will by no means comply with it. They reject him, and have an enmity against him; they love to keep at a distance from him, and to have as little as possible to do with him, anıl will not hearken to him, or submit to him, but are ever maintaining a kind of warfare against him, because they do not like him as he is, And yet they would not like him if he were any otherwise. If it were possible that he could be altered from what he is in any respect whatsoever, they would refuse to accept of him as their God then. They are enemies to him because he is so holy and just a God, and yet they would not like him if he were unholy and unjust; they do not like his Almighty power, and yet they would not like him if he were weak. They also dislike his knowing all things, and yet they would dislike him if he were ignorant. They quarrel with God for the exercise

« ΠροηγούμενηΣυνέχεια »