« VorigeDoorgaan »
to the trial, whether thy life or his must answer the injury.
39. Oh most horrible Christianity! That it should be a most sure settled way for a man to run into danger and disgrace with the world, if he shall dare to perform a commandment of Christ's, which is as necessary to be observed by him, if he have any hope of attaining heaven, as meat and drink is for the sustaining of his life! That ever it should enter into the heart of a Christian, to walk so exactly and curiously contrary to the ways of God; that whereas he every day and hour sees himself contemned and despised by thee, who art his servant, his creature, upon whom he might (without any possible imputation of unrighteousness) pour down the phials of his fierce wrath and indignation! yet he, notwithstanding, is patient and long-suffering towards thee, hoping that his long-suffering may lead thee to repentance, and earnestly desiring and soliciting thee by his ministers to be reconciled unto him! Yet, that thou, for all this, for a blow in anger, it may be, for a word, or less, shouldst take upon thee to send his soul, or thine, or, it may be, both, clogged and pressed with all your sins unrepented of (for thou canst not be so wild as to think thou canst repent of thy sins, and yet resolve upon such a business), to expect your sentence before the judgment-seat of God; wilfully and irrecoverably to deprive yourselves of all those blessed means, which God had contrived for your salvation, the power of his word, the efficacy and virtue of his sacraments, all which you shall utterly exclude yourselves from, and leave yourselves in such a state, that it
shall not be in God's power to do you any good! "O consider this, all ye that fight against God, lest he tear you in pieces, and there be none to deliver you.
40. In the third place, there is another great evil under the sun, and that is, when men are not content to dishonour Almighty God, and their glorious religion, by unworthy scandalous practices, but, to make themselves innocent, they will entitle God to their abominations: of this nature are those who are curious and inquisitive into Scripture, great students in it, for this end, that they may furnish themselves with some places, which, being violently wrested, and injuriously handled, may serve, at least in their opinion, to patronize and warrant their ungodly, irreligious courses. The time will come, saith Christ to his disciples, when they who hate and persecute you shall think they do God good service. And the time is come, when men think they can give no greater nor more approved testimony of their religion, and zeal of God's truth, than by hating and abhorring, by reviling and traducing, their brethren, if they differ from them in any, though the most ordinary innocent opinions: if men accord not altogether with them, if they run not on furiously with them in all their tenets, they are enemies unto God and his truth, and they can find Scripture enough to warrant them to disgrace and revile such, to raise any scandalous dishonourable reports of them, and to poison utterly their reputation with the world.
An Application to the Communion.
I have hitherto, as carefully as so short a time would permit (and yet, it may be, with greater earnestness than you could have been content I should), searched into the retired corners of our hearts, and there discovered a vice, which, it may be, you little expected, namely, atheism; a strange vice, I confess, to be found in Christian hearts. I have likewise exemplified in some particular practices of these times, most exactly contrary to our profession of Christian religion. If I should endeavour to discover all that might be observed of this nature, not my hour only, but the day itself, would fail me. Notwithstanding, I am resolved to make one instance more about the business for which we are met together, namely, the receiving of the blessed body and blood of our Lord Jesus Christ. I suppose you will all acknowledge with me, that that is a business of the greatest consequence that a Christian is capable of performing. I hope I need not to instruct you, how inexcusably guilty those men render themselves, who come with an unprepared heart, with an unsanctified mouth, to the partaking of these heavenly mysteries. "Who art thou (saith God by the Psalmist) that takest my word into thy mouth, when thou hatest to be reformed?" And if that be so great a crime for a man only to talk of God, to make mention of his name, when the heart is unclean and unreformed, with how much greater reason may Christ say, What art thou that takest me into thy mouth? What art thou that darest devour my flesh, and suck my blood, that darest
incorporate my flesh and blood into thyself to make my spotless body an instrument of thy lusts, a temple for the devil to inhabit and reign in? To crucify Christ once more, and put him to open shame? To crucify him so that no good shall follow upon it, to make the blood of the new covenant a profane thing? And thus far, if not deeper, is that man guilty, that shall dare to come to this heavenly feast with spotted and unclean affections.
"Let him deny himself."-LUKE ix. 23.
Good reason there is, that, according to that excess of value and weight, wherewith heavenly and spiritual things do surmount and preponderate earthly and transitory; so likewise the desire and prosecution of them should be much more contentiously active and earnest, than that of the other: yet, if men were but in any proportion so circumspect and careful in businesses, that concern their eternal welfare, as even the most foolish worldlings are about riches, honour, and such trifles, as are not worthy to take up the mind even of a natural man; we should not have the glorious profession of Christianity so carelessly and sleepily undertaken, so irresolutely and fearfully, nay, cowardly maintained; I might add, so treacherously pretended, and betrayed to the encompassing of base and unworthy ends, as now it is.
2. To what may we more justly impute this negligent, wretchless behaviour of Christians, than to an extreme incogitancy, and want of consideration in us, upon what terms it is, that we have entered into league with God, and to what considerable strict conditions we have, in our first initiation at our baptism, so solemnly submitted and engaged ourselves; without a serious resolute performance whereof, we have promised by no means to expect any reward at all from God, but to remain strangers, utterly excluded from the least hope of enjoying any fruit of those many