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felves with making a shew of religion, and per-SÉRN. forming such external rites, as are the distinguish
1. ing badge of the several parties of the Christian world.
SECONDLY, I am now to shew you what such persons may be, notwithstanding their profession, both in temper and practices which shall be done briefly by opening the terms of the text. They may be for all that abominable, disobedient, and to every good work reprobate ; that is, in one word, inclined to all evil, and averse to all good. To these two things do these several expressions amount.
1. THEY are said to be abominable *, or shame. fully addicted to all manner of evil. The word, in the original, denotes the heinousness of those practices, in which they allow themselves; and is derived from a word that signifies to send forth an offensive smell. For all sentiments of right and good, are not so totally lost and obliterated among mankind, but that there are some things which even Pagans would détest.
II. They are said to be also disobedient, which expression imports perseverance and obstihacy
in an evil course. They will by no means, by no importunity, no arguments whatever be dissuaded from practices fo unjustifiable, and deteftable in their own nature. They are resolved to run an whatever it costs them; to continue in sin, and in the profession of religion at the same time, which is the greatest absurdity imaginable.
III, THEY * βδελυκτοι, , + απειθείς,
VOL. III. They are said, lastly, to be reprobate to II.
every good workt; which signifies a difinclination to every thing that is good, to every thing that is worthy of praise. The word may be taken as it is observed, either actively or passively, and so may signify not only to be disapproved by others, but to disapprove themselves; in which latter sense we must, at present, principally understand the phrase. They disapprove all that which claims their approbation and esteem; and are disaffected to all that good, which the religion they profess would oblige them to the practice of. The expreffion therefore does not so much signify their omifsion of what is good, as their disinclination to it; but it further denotes that if they do any thing at all in religion, it is what they neither delight in, nor can indure. Every good work is an expression of such latitude, that it may comprehend all the works of piety, mercy, and common justice. And so it is fit we should understand it in this place. Whatever they do of this kind, their hearts are averse to it, and they bear a disaffected mind to it all. And such as are here described, persons may be found to be, notwithstanding their profession.
Thirdly, We are next to consider, whence it is, or what inducements men have to make profession of a religion, which they are resolved to contradict in the course of their lives and conversations. And many things may be considered as inducements or reasons in this case, which concur partly in all those who are mere professors ; though some
are 1 προς πάν έργων αγαθών απόκιμοι.
are of greater force than others to particular per-SIR M. sons, whom we shall distinguish from the genera
I. lity of men of this character.
1. One reason why such men join a profession of religion to a vicious life, is their unapprehensiveness, and irreverence of an invisible Lord and Judge; whom because they do not see, they stand in no awe of. Therefore it is that they are not alhamed of that incongruous and inconsistent behaviour towards him, of which they would be alhamed in their deportment towards men.
The following expression of the Apostle gives us a great deal of light to this purpose, If a man love not his brother whom he hath seen; baw can be love God, whom he hath not seen'? Wherein is implied a greater difficulty of loving God, than a Christian brother; on this account, because God is not seen. Man continually falls under our fight and view, we converse with him daily in a way that is obvious to our natural sight, while God is invisible. And as it is in the point of love, so is it in all other natural affections; for as men with greater difficulty admit the impressions of divine love into their hearts, than those of a visible object, so they do of divine fear; and for this reason, I say, because God is not seen. Men would be ashamed continually to profess to one another, what they contradict in practice. Who would not be ashamed to declare himself perpetually such an one's friend ; and yet, in the mean time, take all opportunities to do him all the mischief he can?
But 1 John 1v. 20.
VOL. But as to their carriage to an unseen God, men
are not ashamed of such an incongruity as this.
II. This inconsistent conduct proceeds from the power and malignity of sinful inclinations ; more especially in things that relate to, and terminate on God. Sin has filled the world with enmity, which, it is true, works in men one against another: but more directly, and with greater virulence, against the blessed God himself; infomuch that they care not what dishonours they throw on his sacred name, nor what affronts they offer to his high authority and righteous laws. And though it must be acknowledged, the work. ing of this enmity is great among men towards one another ; yet, it is manifest, it is in general much greater towards the Almighty : for were it as common a thing to stab a man, as it is to wound the name of God and to affront his government, the world had been at an end long before this.
III. It is natural for men to have somewhat of religion, while a disaffection still remains against that which is true: whence it is that they resist, and overthrow the profession they make, by a most repugnant practice. It is manifest, as to the former, that all must be of some religion or other; and so they come to profess, as external circumItances lead them. It has been noted by Heathens, that no fociety of men can live without religion. Divers have taken notice of it. It is a common passage of Cicero; “ There is no nation “ so barbarous as to be without religion *.” I
seems Tufcul. Difput. Lib. ).
seems as if none such had fallen within the com. SERM,
1. pass of his observation. Maximus Tyrius also tells us, that “ For a man to be without any religiff on at all, were as monstrous and unnatural, as * for an ox to be without horns, or a bird to be « without wings*.” And so Plutarch in like manner observes, that " Though there be many 56 towns and cities without coin, without govern« ment, as it happens sometimes; yet, says he, $ I never heard or read in my life, of a city “ without a temple. And I believe it is as imşs possible, that there should be a society of men “ without religion, as to build a city without « foundations t."
Hence many persons, both ancient and modern, have thought religion to be the specific difference of man, and not reason; because there are so many apparent specimens of this in beasts, that in some instances it is hard to distinguish by this only between the brutal and human nature : whereas religion is peculiar to man, wherein no other fort of creatures do participate. For it is very plain that man, by his felf-reflecting power, discerns himself to be a depending creature ; which necessarily prompts him to pay homage to some superior being, on whom he thinks himself dependent. And therefore, if many of the Pagans have worshipped for Deities, those creatures which they thought most useful to them; it was not
that • Max. Tyr. Dissert. XVII. Sect. 5. Edit. Davif. Lond. 1740. quarto,
# Plut adversus Colotem. See this point handled at large by the Author in his Living Temple Pari i. chap. 4.