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to the Wicked by their Virtue or Religion, our Saviour has plainly told us, Wo unto you, when all Men hall speak well of you.
But farther : Times of Ease and Prosperity, though attended with no other Evil, yet naturally abound in Vice, and a Neglect of the Things pertaining to Salvation : And it is counted a very wise Thing to fit still, and give way to the Torrent, and not to create ourselves and others Trouble by opposing a general Corruption : And perhaps it may be wise. But, I beseech you, is it Wisdom towards God, or Wisdom towards the World? Is it seeking that Honour which comes from above, or the Honour which comes from Men ? Can you imagine that the Man, who has not Courage enough to venture a little of his Ease and worldly Tranquillity by expressing his Resentment at the Corruptions that surround him, would have Resolution enough to expose his Life in a Day of Trial for the sake of the Religion which he professes ?
Let us examine ourselves on this Head: If we think it an happy Choice to facrifice the Honour of God, and of Religion, to a corrupt Generation, and to skreen ourselves from the Indignation of the World by a professed Indifference, is it not directly preferring the
Good-will of Men to the Good-will of God? And can we complain, if we are left to seek our Recompence from the World, whose Servants we are?
In a word : Whenever Men act in Opposition to the Truth, or dissemble the Truth in Compliance with the World ; when they wink at Iniquity, and make a Way for it to escape with Impunity; when they give Credit to Vice and Irreligion by a professed Indifference, and help to establish Iniquity by affecting to seem easy and contented under the Growth of it: 'In all these cases, the Words of the Text belong to them ; They receive Honour one of another, and seek not the Honour which cometh from God only.
MARK viii. 38.
shall be ashamed of me, and
T the thirty-fourth Verse of this
ed the People and his Disciples
to him, declares openly to them
upon what Terms the Profession of the Gospel was to be undertaken. He allures them not by the Hopes of temporal Prosperity, nor promises any Countenance or Assistance from the Great and Powerful; but foretels them of the Evils and Calamities that
Thould attend his Followers, and of the Sufferings prepared for them in this Life ; against which the Providence of God stands not engaged for their Protection, since his Will is, that all the Faithful should, after the Example of the Author and Captain of their Salvation, be made perfect through Suffering. Whosoever, says our Lord, will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his Cross, and follow me. How strong the Expression of denying himself is, and how much it includes, we learn from the next Verse, where our Saviour himself extends it even to the parting with our Lives for his and the Gospel's fake: Whosoever will save his Life, shall lose it; but whosoever shall lose his Life for my fake and the Gospel's, the same shall
You see, by comparing these Passages together, that the Text immediately relates to the Times of Persecution, and expresses the Duty of a Christian to resist even unto Blood in Maintenance of his holy Religion, whenever the Providence of God calls him to such Trial. This indeed is not our Case at present, and therefore I shall not spend the Time in fortifying your Minds against Terrors, removed, I hope, at a great Distance from us :
But it must be owned, that an adulterous and sinful Generation has more Ways than one of making Men ashamed of Christ, and of his Words. Though our Eyes have not beheld any frightful Scenes of Persecution, yet we have seen, and daily see, many who are ashamed of Christ. If the Temptation to this Crime be now less than in Times of Distress, the Guilt is certainly greater, and in Equity the Punishment must be so too. Which Reason will bring the Threatening of the Text home to every Man, who, in Compliance with a corrupt Age, does either wickedly reject, or basely diffemble the Faith of the Gospel.
But that we may not rafhly accuse either the Age in general, or any Men in particular, of this great Crime, but rather open a Way by which Men may easily examine their own Consciences
upon this Head, and avoid the like Evil for the future; let us,
First, Inquire into the Nature of the Crime of being ashamed of Christ and of his Words; and,
Secondly, Into the several Temptations that lead to it.
The Duty opposed to this Crime is expressed in the Language of Scripture by