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prosecution whereof, I shall mainly insist upon this: To demonstrate, by infallible deductions, out of God's word, that men who profess religion, and a perfect knowledge of God, yet, whilst they allow him only the brain, and not (what he only desires) the heart and affections, may prove, in God's account, very atheists. Or, to bring it nearer home, I will shew how that many of the ordinary courses, and the most uncontrolled practices, of men of this age do utterly contradict, and formally destroy, the very foundations and principles of the glorious religion which they profess. But this will require a much longer time than your patience can allow me: therefore, I will only add some few words of application of what hath been spoken, and so conclude.
56. That jewel which our Saviour so magnifies, (Matt. xiii.) and so commends the wisdom of the merchant for selling all, even utterly undoing himself, to purchase it, is the gospel of the kingdom of heaven which, though it be of most precious and inestimable value, worthy the selling of the whole world to buy it, yet is every man's money, every man has riches enough to adventure upon it, so he will but sell all that he has, so he will be content to turn bankrupt for it; and upon no other terms can he have it.
57. That advice which Christ gave the rich young man, that had a good mind to follow him, viz. That he should sell all that he had, and take up his cross, was not any extraordinary unusual trial, but we have all accepted the same offer upon the very same conditions: we must of necessity sell all, deny and renounce the keeping and possessing of any thing besides this pearl;
we must even sell ourselves, deny and renounce our own souls; they are both become God's own, and we are but borrowers of them. Now, if we be not masters of our goods, nor of ourselves, neither then may we do our own actions, we must not think our own thoughts. They were such fools as this great notorious one in my text, who in Psal. xii. say, "Our tongues are our own; we may say what we list." We are all bought with a price, yea, all that we have is bought.
58. Yet though we must sell all, and deny our ownselves, yet we need not part with our goods or riches, we need not make away ourselves. For example: when our Saviour says, "He that hateth not father, and mother, and brethren, and sisters," and all the world besides, "for my name's sake, and the gospel's, is not worthy of me;" this speech does not bind me to hate, persecute, and destroy all the kindred I have; no, but rather to love and honour them, to spend and be spent for them: yet, if those persons, or if it be possible for aught else to be more dear and precious than they, stand in my way to hinder me from coming to Christ, then it is time for me to hate them, then I must trample them under my feet, So that a man is no more bound to sell his goods, that is, to throw them away, than he is to hate his parents; only neither of them may by any means offend us, or annoy us, in our journey to Christ.
59. Now, to bring this home to our purpose: can any face be so impudent as to profess he hath already sold all, himself to boot, and is ready to part with them when God shall call for them, who contents himself only with knowing and hearing stories of him, and reserves his heart to his own
use, which is all that God requires? Can he with any reason in the world be said to sell all for the gospel of Christ, that sees Christ himself, every day almost, hungry, and does not feed him; naked, and does not clothe him; in prison, and does not visit him? for, inasmuch as they do not these offices of charity to his beloved little-ones, they deny them to him. Will he be found to be worthy of Christ, that for his sake will not renounce one delightful sin, which an heathen would easily have done, only for the empty reward of fame? that for his sake will not forgive his brother some small injury received, nay, perhaps some great kindness offered, as a seasonable reproof, or loving dissuasion from sinning; that for his sake will not undergo the least trouble in furthering his own salvation?
60. Far from us, beloved Christians, be so barren a profession, a profession having only the visard and "form of godliness, but denying the power thereof!" No; let us, with thankful hearts and tongues, recount and consider what God hath done for our souls, how he hath given us his word, abundantly sufficient to instruct us; how he hath spoken the word, and great is the multitude of preachers. Yet withal let us consider, that it is in our power to turn these invaluable treasures of God's favours into horrible curses. Let us consider how God hath sent out his word, and it will not return unto him empty: it will be effectual one way or other, it will perform some great work in us. God doth but expect what entertainment it finds upon earth, and will proportion a reward accordingly on them which detain the truth in righteousness, he will rain snares, fire,
and brimstone; but to such as, with meek hearts, and due reverence, "receive it into good ground," and express the power thereof in their lives, there remaineth an exceeding eternal weight of joy and glory. "Let us therefore walk as the children of the light," and not content ourselves with a bare empty profession of religion: "Let him that but nameth the name of the Lord, depart from iniquity." Brethren, consider what I say, and the Lord give you understanding in all things! "To God," &c.
"The fool hath said in his heart, There is no God." PSALM XIV. 1.
I WILL not be ashamed to be so far my own plagiary, as for your sakes, that you may be the better able to go along with me in what remains of this text, briefly to discover unto you, how far I have already, in another auditory, proceeded in it.
2. First, therefore, I conceived (by attending to the course and series of the psalm, and by comparing this place with many others in Holy Scripture in different language, expressing the same sense) that this fool in my text was not a man utterly ignorant and devoid of the knowledge of God and his word: for he is supposed by the Psalmist to be a man living within the pale of the church, and outwardly professing the true religion and worship of God. And thereupon, Secondly, That his atheism was no heathenish, philosophical atheism, no problematical maintaining an opinion, that "There is no God;" for, even among the very heathens, we read not of above three or four of any account, who have proceeded to this excelling degree and height of impiety.
3. But this person (whether Doeg the Edomite, or whosoever he were) is such an one, as, though in his profession, and even serious thoughts, he do not question a Deity, but would be a mortal enemy to any one who should dare to deprive and rob Almighty God of any of his glorious attri