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the lives of those who are called Christians. There are some whose religion, has a powerful efficacy on their hearts and lives to make them holy, others who have nothing but an idle form, having no more fanctifying power with it, than a painted fire has to burn: 2 Tim. iii. 5. “ Having a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof." The knowledge of some is confined to their heads, it never gets down to their hearts : Tit. i. 16. “ They profess that they know God, but in works they deny him." Others, by reason of their light, dare not venture on an ill thing, more than on a precipicé. Religion makes some persons godly, sober, and righteous, binds powerfully on them their duty to God, to themselves, and to their neighbour. The pretended religion of others, leaves them loose as to all those things. It never checks them when neglecting secret prayers, or prayers in the family, or when disposed to swear, drink, lie, defraud, &c.-This appears,
3. In the very different acceptance with God, which persons' prayers get. There are some whose duties are very pleasing to God, they have a sweet favour in his nostrils; their words are registered before him, their tears are bottled, their fighs and groans are regarded, their will is accepted for the deed. But there are others whom God abhors, and also their duties. The word is preached to them, but it never reforms them; yet they hold on with their attendance on ordinances, and it may be also with their prayers. What says the Lord of all such ? « He that turneth away his ear from hearing the law, even his prayer shall be an abomination.” “ For all these things hath my hand made, and all those things have been, faith the Lord ; but to this man will I look, even to him that is poor, and of a contrite fpirit, and trembleth at my word. He that killeth an ox is as if he flew a man; he that facrificeth a lamb, as if he cut off a dog's neck; he that offereth an oblation, as if he offered swine's flesh; he that burneth incenfe, as if he bleffed an idol. Yea, they have chosen their own ways, and their soul delighteth in their abominations." “ To what purpose is the multitude of
your facrifices to me? faith the Lord; I am full of the burnt-offerings of rams, and the fat of fed beasts, and I delight not in the blood of bullocks, or of lambs, or of he-goats," Prov. xxviii. y. Ifa. lxvi. 2. 3. and i. !1.--This appears,
4. From the very different sense and feeling which those have of the advantage of religion, the ordinances and duties thereof. Some are acquainted with the gain of religion, and, from their own experience, can give a solid reason why they follow it: 1 Tim. vi. Õ. « But godliness with contentment is great gain.” They have tafted of communion with God in duties, and of access to him, of the sanctifying influences of the Spirit in ordinances : Mic. ii.
« O thou that art named the house of Jacob, is the Spirit of the Lord straitened? are these his doings ? do not my words do good to him that walketh uprightly ?” But unto others all these things are in very deed but as empty huks: Prov. xiv. 10. « The heart knoweth his own bitterness, and a stranger doth not intermeddle with his joy.” They abide in the outer court of religion all their days; they fee not its intrinsic glory, nor taste of its kernel or marrow. They keep up a form of duties from custom, and an unenlightened conscience ; but they feel nothing in them kindly to draw their hearts towards God.
5. In the very different effects of the religion which those profefs. Grace is of a growing na
ture ; and it will grow, though not visibly at all times : Prov. iv. 18. “ But the path of the just is as the shining light, that shineth more and more unto the perfect day.” And the longer that faints have a standing in religion, they will be the more firmly rooted; though perhaps their affections be not always so vigorous, yet folid tenderness will display itself with them : Psal. xcii. 13. 14. Those that are planted in the house of the Lord, shall grow up and flourish in the courts of our God. They shall still bring forth fruit in old age; they shall be fat and flourishing." And if they fall, they will not lie still, but recover again : Psal. xxxvii. 24. « Though he fall, he shall not be utterly cast down; for the Lord upholdeth him with his hand.” But what are the effects which the religion of many has ? Some grow up to their false pitch, and there they stand without motion : Prov.
“ As the door turneth on his hinges, so doth the slothful upon his bed." They think they are right, and they seek no farther. Some, instead of growing better, grow worse and worse; the longer they live, they are the more unholy, more untender in the substantials of moral duties; and fome throw aside the mask altogether, and, in fight of the world, defert to the devil's camp, by falling into some profane course, apoftatising upon some temptation or other, and fo, as they were before loathsome before God, they become also loathsome before his people : Rev. iii. 16. “ So, then, because thou art lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will spue thee of my mouth."-This appears,
Lastly, In the very different passage which those have out of time into eternity. True, all must die, that is the point in which we all meet ; but as true is it, that it is the point where outside and in
inside Christians part for ever : Psal. xxxvii. 37. 38. “ Mark the perfect man, and behold the upright, for the latter end of that man is peace. But the transgreffors shall be destroyed together; the end of the wicked shall be cut off." Though they have lived in the same church together, under the fame ordinances, gone to prayers together, to one communion-table, when they come to that step where their ways part, they feparate, never to meet more. The one goes to the society of God, angels, and saints; and their unseen religion terminates in a glorious open reward, their grace in glory, their inward beauty in shining as stars in the firmament. The other gets his portion with reprobates, and those who had as little of the shew, as of the reality of religion : Psal. cxxv. 5. “ As for such as turn aside unto their crooked ways, the Lord shall lead them forth with the workers of iniquity.”—I shall point out,
II. WHAT are the causes of this difference which obtains betwixt Christians and others.-Among others, there is,
1. The very different way that persons come by their religion ; if we examine outside and infide Christians, how they came by the religion they severally have, it will be found, that the religion which they have is answerable to the way they came by it. Thus,
(1.) There is a difference in the weight which their entering on their religion had on their spirits. Some come very lightly by their religion; hence it fits lightly upon them, and often goes as lightly froin them. They venture upon building a tower, without deliberately counting the cost. To others it is not so easy, but they are brought to the utmost seriousness in the matter, Luke, xiv. 28. 29.;
hence they go to the bottom of the matter, while others satisfy themselves with superficial work.
(2.) There is a difference in the depth of their conviation and humiliation : Luke, vi. 48. 49. “ He is like a man which built an house, and digged deep, and laid the foundation on a rock, and when the flood arose, the stream beat vehemently upon that house, and could not shake it, for it was founded on a rock. But he that heareth, and doeth not, is like a man that, without a foundation, built an house on the earth, against which the stream beat vehemently, and immediately it fell, and the ruin of that house was great.” The plough of conviction lightly going over the fallowground of the heart, is sufficient to make an outfide Christian : Matth. xiii. 5. 20. « Some fell upon ftony places, where they had not much earth, and forthwith they sprung up, because they had no deepness of earth. But he that received the feed into ftony places, the same is he that heareth the word, and anon with joy receiveth it.” If he have as much of it as to let him fee the evil and danger of a life quite profane, without so much as the form of godliness, it is fufficient to make him put on the form. But it must be carried deeper, to make an infide Christian, even to the root of the most inward beloved lust, to the sin of one's nature, and to the discovery of Christ for fanctification, as well as justification.
(3.) There is a vast difference in their light and illumination in the knowledge of Christ: John, iv. 10..“ Jesus answered, and said unto her, If thou knewest the gift of God, and who it is that faith unto thee, Give me to drink, thou wouldest have asked of him, and he would have given thee living water." This is plainly intimated in the wise and foolish builders and virgins; so that an