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And this is no small disadvantage which a man that hath only the form of religion lies under, that in effect he loseth all the pleasure and satisfaction of religion; or if he fancy any hope or comfort to himself, it is built upon a false foundation, which, when it is tried, will endure no thock. This is the comparison our Saviour useth in this very case, Matth. vii. 26. 27. Every one that heareth these sayings of mine, and doth them not, (here is a form of godliness without the power of it) Mall be likened to a foolish man, which built his house upon the fand; and the rain descended, and the floods cume, and the winds blew, and beat upon that house, and it fell, and great was the fall of it. But real and substantial religion is like a house built upon a rock, which no tempest can overthrow. Righteousness, faith Solomon, Prov. x. 25. is an everlasting foundation ; it is a continual spring of joy and peace. There is a certain unspeakable contentment and delight arising from a good conscience, and from the sincere discharge of our duty, which a hypocrite is a stranger to, and is never admitted to the taste of. Now what an uncomfortable thing is this, for a man to take the pains to seem to be religious, and yet to lose the real pleasure of religion !
III. The great end of all, of being religious, is the saving of our souls. And this end a mere form of religion will certainly miss of. No external garb of reli. gion will gain a man admission into heaven; there is no getting in there in masquerade, no prayers will then avail, tho’ never fo fervent and importunate. Many fall say in that day, Lord, Lord, open unto us; and yet he will bid them depart from him. Tho' we had heard Christ himself preach, and had received the blessed facrament with him, yet this will not avail. So our Saviour tells us, Luke xiii. 26. Then mall they begin to fay, we have eaten and drunken in thy presence, and thou hast taught in our streets, and yet he will say unto them, I know not whence you are. It is not a pretence to infpiration, no, though it were justified by miraculous gifts, that will then stand us in stead. Many Mall say in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name, and in thy name have cast out devils, and in thy name have done many wonderous works? And yet these shall
be rejected. Why, what should be the reason of all this Teverity? Our Saviocr gives us a plain account of it ; because they were workers of iniquity. Under all these several masks of religion, they were wicked in their lives.
It is not an orthodox faith, and the belief of all the articles of Christianity, that will save a man, without the works of a good life, Jam. ii. 14. What doth it profit a man, my brethren, tho' a man say that he hath faith, and hath not works ? Can faith fave him ? thou believest there is one God; thou doji well; the devils believe this too, but they are not so vain as to hope to be saved by this faith; no, they know the .contrary, and that makes them fear and tremble. Know then, 0 vain man, that faith without works is dead. Thou believest in one Lord Jesus Christ, that came down from heaven to fove us, that was conceived by the Holy Ghost, born of the virgin Mary, and became man that he might bring us to God; that suffered and died for our sins, and rose again for our justification, and is asčended into heaven, and fitteth at the right hand of God the Father almighty, and from thence he shall come again at the end of the world, to judge the quick and the dead; thou dost well to believe this : but if thou do not live accordingly, what will become of thee, when the Son of God shall come to judge the world? then the great enquiry will be, how we have lived ? what good we have done ? So our Saviour represents the proceedings of that great day. I was hungry, and ye gave me no meat; I was thirsty, and je gave me no drink; naked; and ye clothed me not; fick and in prison, and ye visited me not : therefore, depart, ye curfed, into everlasting fire. So that it seems here the bu. siness will stick, upon the good and bad actions of mens lives, and accordingly sentence shall be pronounced upon them. For God will render to every man according to his works; to them that by patient continuance in welldoing seek for glory, and honour, and immortality, eternal life : but to those that obey not the truth, but obey unrighteousness, indignation and wrath, tribulation and anguish upon every foul of man that doth evil, of the Jew firsi, and also of the Gentile : but glory and honour, and peace to every man that worketh good; to the Jew first, and also to the Gentile : for not the hearers of the law are just before God, but the doers of the law shall be justified. Still you see that it is to the patient continuance in well-doing, to the obeying of the truth, to the working of righteoulness, that eternal life is promised : and the wrath of God is threatened to them that obey unrighteousness, to every foul of man that doth evil. To the Jew first. Why fo? Because he had great advantage of coming to the know, ledge of the truth, which is so much the greater aggravation of his wicked life, and makes his sentence so much the heavier.
Indeed it shall be to men at the day of judgment likewise according to their faith, in a certain sense, that is, according to the doctrine of the gospel which they profess to believe, according to what our Saviour and his Apostles have taught, that the workers of iniquity Mall depart from him, that without holiness no inan shall see the Lord; and if we live after the fiel we hall die; that no whoremonger, nor adulterer, nor covetous, nor unrighteous per
fon, hall have any inheritance in the kingdom of God, and of Christ. This we profess to believe, and according to these declarations God will proceed with men at the great day. And he that believes this, and yet goes on in an impiety and wickedness of life, tho' his faith will not justify him, yet God will justify his faith, and make it good, when he shall judge the world in righteousness.
Thus you see plainly, that a form of godliness, without the power, is insignificant to all the great ends and purposes of religion ; nay, he that takes up in a form, does not only lose the advantages of religion, but he hath two great disadvantages by it.
I. He hath the trouble of making a shew of religion, without the real benefit of it.
II. He incurs a heavier sentence upon this very ac. count.
But these, with the application, I shall refer to the next opportunity
Of the form, and the power of godliness.
. . 2 T1 m. iii. 5. Having a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof.
The third sermon on this text.
Come now to shew, that he that takes upon him a
form of religion, without the power of it, doth not I only lose all the considerable advantages of religion, but he hath two great disadvantages by it.
I. He hath the trouble of making a shew and appearance of religion, without the real benefit of it.
II. He incurs a heavier sentence upon this account, that he hath a form of religion, and yet is destitute of the power of it.
1. He hath the trouble of making a shew and appear. ance of religion, without the real benefits of it. And it is no small trouble to personate and act a part well, it requires great art and attention, great guard and cau. tion. That which men are prompted to by an inward principle, is natural and easy, it is done with pleasure and delight; but whatever is artificial and counterfeit, is stiff and forced. Nemo fictam perfonam diu sustinere potest, « no man can dissemble always," one time or other he will be surprized, and forget himself, and let his mask fall. A form of religion is a dry unpleasalit thing, and a.continual burden to him that assumes it, and the more outwardly strict and holy he is, he is the more inwardly guilty ; his conscience never stings and galls him more, than when he is playing the hypocrite with God and men : whereas a truly good man, when he employs himfelf in acts of religion, or justice, or charity, he doth it naturally, and bath a mighty satisfaction of mind in the doing of it, and if he were permitted to
make his own choice, he would not do otherwise ; but a hypocrite puts a force upon himself all the while, and acts against his nature and inclinations, every thing that he does in religion goes against the grain, and becaufe it is unnatural mult be uneasy ; his outward conversation and demeanour is set, and in a frame; he does not move as he would, but as he must; and the secret propensions of his nature are under a continual restraint.
He hath indeed one advantage by his artificial garb, that he can more securely over-reach and defraud others by a shew of godliness, while men are not aware of his dissimulation. But this commonly does not last long, and only serves a man for a few turns: and when it is discovered, the man is lost, and no-body will truit him. But suppose he could serve himself of religion this way for some considerable time, where is the advantage? It amounts to no more than this, that the man hath the opportunity of being a greater finner, of making him. self more miserable, and treasuring up to himfelf more wrath against the day of wrath. So ihat he pays dear for all this in the end and issue, as well as in the way. He fpends many a tedious hour in the fervice of God, and the exercise of religion ; more it may be than many do, who fave their souls, and get to heaven. For as to the external part of religion, a hypocrite must do all that which a truly religious man does; he must frequent the church, and make as much few of devotion as the best ; nay, it may be he prays more, and fasts oftner, and is more busy, and keeps a greater stir in the outward part of religion, than the sincere Christian; for being conscious to himself of his own hollowness and insincerity in religion, he thinks himself obliged outwardly to over-act it in unseasonable and superstitious obfervances, and in all other arts of affected devotion; and when he goes abroad into the world, he is forced to lay great reItraints upon himself, and to be continually gathering his cloak about hiin, as being afraid left any body should fpy what is under it. So much inore troublefome it is for any man to seem to be religious, than to be fo indeed.
II. A mere form of religion does, upon fome accounts, bring a man under a heavier sentence, than if he