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you in my Text, and requireth our moft careful fearch and confideration.
When Satan and the World have wounded us by their Deceits, Religion is it that helpeth us to a cure. He that is Deceived by pleafures, and profits, and the vain-glory of the world, must be undeceived and recovered by Religion, or he muft perish. But that Religion it felf fhould become his deceit, and the remedy prove his greatest mifery, is the moft ftupendious effect of Satans fubrilty, and a finners fraudulency, and the faddeft aggravation of his deplorable calamity. And yet, alas, this is fo common a cafe,that where the Go. fpel is Preached, it seems to be Satans principal game, and the high-way to hell. There is no other Name by which we can be faved, but by Jefus Chrift, the only Mediator, between finful man,
and the offended Majefty: and yet what is there in all the world, that is more abused to the deceiving of mens fouls, then the Name & Grace of Jefus Chrift? Men that might be faved by an effectual Faith, are cheated and destroyed by false Faith and prefumption. The merciful nature of God, is the groundwork of all the comforts of the godly and yet there is nothing that is more abused, to the deceiving of mens fouls; that will profefs that they truft in the mercies of God, while they are labouring to be miferable,by the refufing and refifting the mercy that would fave them. The free promises of the Gospel do fupport true believers; but are abufed to the deceiving of the prefumptuous world. And fo the Apostle telleth us that many do by their Religion: They will have a Religion to deceive themfelves; but not to fave them. B 4
It is the Hypocrite that is the fubject in my text, who is described by this double property. 1. That he feemeth to be Religious. 2. That his obedience anfwereth not this Jeeming or profeffion the inftance is given in the bridling of his tongue, because that was the point that the Apostle had fome fpecial reafon to infist on, with thofe to whom he immediately directed his Epifle. Though its plain in ver. 22, 23, &c. that it is the whole work of obedience that he implyeth, where he inftanceth in this particular. The fin of the tongue which he fpecially intendeth to reprove, was the bitter reproaching of their brethren, upon the account of their differences in matters of Religion, and the vilifying of others, and uncharitable paffionate contendings and cenfures, upon pretence of knowing more then others; as appeareth in the third Chapter throughout.
The Predicate is double: one by way of fuppofition; viz. that this hypocrite doth but deceive his own heart: The other by way of affertion; viz. that his Religion is:
Whether 9pxos and Spnoncia be: fetcht as far as from Orpheus the Thracian, as Erafmus and many others imagine, is of no great moment to our understanding of the text, it being evident that it is the: worshipping of God, that is here meant by [Religion]; and it is men addicted to his worship, that are: called Religious. The feeming here fpoken of, refers both to himself and others he that feemeth to himfelf to be Religious, or is judged fo by other men.. By bridling the tongue, is meant, reftraining it from evil fpeech.. By deceiving himfelf, is meant, the miftake of his judgement concerne ing the fincerity,and acceptableness B. S
and reward of his Religion, and the fruftrating of his own expectations hereupon. His Religion is faid to be [in Vain] in that it fhall not attain the ends of an unfeigned trueReligion,of which more anon. The fence of the Text then, is contained in these two Propofitions. 1. There is a feeming Religiousnefs, which is but felf-deceiving, and will prove in Vain.
2.Where fincere obedience doth not accompany the profeffion of Religion, and in particular, when fuch men bridle not their tongues, their Religion is but Vain and felf-deceiving.
These two being contained in the text, the former comprized in the latter, I fhall handle them together, and fhew you, 1. What this feeming Religion is, and how it differeth from true Religion. 2. Wherein this felf-deceiving by a feeming Religion doch confift. 3. Whence it is that men are fo