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outside Christian has never been right in the head. All their insight into the excellency of Christ and religion, has left them fools, while others have been made really wise, their judgement rectified, their taste purified, so as to be capable to discern things concerning their souls in their native colours. Hence that glory in Christ has been seen by the one, which has darkened all created glory, made them content to part with all for him, while the other has always fome lust or other more dear to them than Christ and religion. There is,
(4.) A difference in the issue of their exercises about their foul's case. In the one they have ifsued in the change of their nature, the taking away of the heart of stone, Ezek. xxxvi. 26. the making of them new creatures, putting off the old man, and putting on the new. but in the other, whatever itir has been made in the affections, whatever griefs or joys they have had, the ftony heart has remained untaken away, Matth. xii. 5.; so, though they have become other men than they were before, yet not new men.--Another cause of difference is,
2. The different ways in which professors follow religion. This, if attended to, cannot fail to make a mighty difference.
(1.) Some make religion their business, their main businefs, in the world : Gen. V. 24. “ And Enoch walked with God, and he was not, for God took him.”. Religion is their all. They fee nothing they have to do in the world, but it is either their falvation-work, or their generation-work, so that they must observe God in all things. And this makes an inside Christian : Psal. cxix. 6. “ Then shall I not be ashamed, when I have a respect unto all thy commandments.” Others make religion but a bye-work; their main business is of another kind, how to please themselves, how to
advance their temporal intereft; and this makes an outside Christian. In regard to the one, all things else about him bow to his religion, he cuts and carves them as may best suit God's honour, and his soul's welfare ; whereas, as to the other, he makes his religion bow to his other designs, takes so much of it, and no more, as may leave him in quiet possession of some lust or other.
(2.) They follow religion from different principles, motives, and ends.
[1.] Some follow it from natural principles and motives; that which moves them to it is a natural conscience, in some fort enlightened by the word and providence, which will give them no reft in the utter neglect of religion. Fear of punishment, or hope of reward, are powerful enough to make an outward Christian. But an inside Chriftian has a gracious principle of love to God and holiness implanted in him, the law is written in his heart, he has a new nature, which inclines him unto universal holiness, and thereby he is kindly drawn to follow religion, upon a view of its inward beauty; and thus he fills up this character.
[2.] Some aim at approving themselves to men in their religion. They seek a name by it, they desire thus to advance their credit and reputation among the sober part of the world, Matth. vi. 2.; and seeming to be religious will satisfy, because men can judge no farther than the outward appearance. But others ftudy to approve themselves to God: 2 Cor. v. 9. « Wherefore we labour, that whether present or absent, we may be accepted of him.” Now, since God cannot be deceived with outward appearances, this engages them to be careful of the hidden man of the heart, and to value no approbation of any, if the Master approve them not. -- From what has been observed, we may learn,
That there is something in religion above nature's reach. O study to attain it! The mystery of godliness is a great mystery. It is no easy thing to be a Christian. The difference betwixt the godly and others lies not in externals, but in internals, things removed out of the view of the world, and open to God only. O labour to study internal religion, and to approve yourselves to God who searcheth the hearts ! Try yourselves. Conlider to which of the two sorts you belong, whether you
be real Christians or not. Never value yourselves on the outward part or letter of religion, for you may have that and be stript of all by apostacy to which you lie open, and will be turned out with the workers of iniquity at last, though you Aill keep on the malk. We must all appear before the tribunal of Christ. Study that religion which will be approved by him there. -I now proceed to consider,
III. What is the outside and letter of religion, which only makes an outside Christian? and what is the inside and spirit of it, which makes a Christian? Here I obferve,
1. That the outfide of religion is that part of it which lies open to the view of the world, by which men form their estimate, not God : 1 Sam. xvi. 7. “ But the Lord said unto Samuel, Look not on his countenance, or on the height of his stature, because I have refused him ; for the Lord feeth not as man feeth ; for man looketh on the outward appearance, but the Lord looketh on the heart." It comprehends all church-privileges, duties, whether of doing or suffering, and attainments lying open to the view of men. come a great length in this, and yet be nought in God's esteem.-I observe,
2. That the letter of religion is that part of it which is agreeable to the letter of the law, whether in externals or internals. And it comprehends not only the outside, which is open to man's view, but also internal dispositions, exercises, and attainments, as to the matter of them; for example, Judas's sorrow for sin, the ftony ground's joy at receiving the seed of the word, and the hypocrite's delight in approaching to God, Ifa. lviii. which have the matter, but not the form and manner, and so is like a body without the soul.-I observe,
3. That the inside of religion is that part of it, which is open to the all-seeing eye of God, Matth. vi. 4. “ That thine alms may be in fecret, and thy Father which seeth in secret, himself shall reward thee openly.” What persons go about, out of mere conscience towards God, as knowing that the world either is not, or cannot be witness to it, and though it was a witness, it does not know right or wrowy; but such setting themselves in the presence of God, are carried to their duty as if the eyes of all the world were upon them, Acts, xxiv. 16. But this is not all.-I observe,
Lastly, That the spirit or spirituality of religion is the internal grace, joined to the external performance ; it is the right manner, joined to the right matter of religion : John, iv. 24. “God is a Spirit, and they that worship him muft worship him in Spirit and in truth.” i Tim. i. 5. “Now, , the end of the commandment is charity out of a pure heart, and of a good conscience, and of faith unfeigned," as when heart-humiliation is joined with bending of the knees to God in prayer, and the duty is gone about from right principles, and directed to a right end.It remains that,
IV. I CONFIRM the doctrine,
That not the former, but the latter fort of religion, marks a true Christian, is evident, if we confider,
1. That there is nothing in the outside or letter of religion, but what one may reach in an unregenerate ftate, in which no man can ever please God, Rom. iii. 8. The hypocrite's mask may take in the whole outward man, and the devil's goats may resemble Christ's Theep, in all but the hidden man of the heart. All these are but acts of moral discipline, not requiring a new nature from whence to spring, but may arise from the old corrupt nature, affifted by external revelation, and the common influences of the Spirit. It will be farther evident, if we consider,
2. That the outside and letter of religion may be without any true love to God in the heart, which yet is the substance of practical holiness, and the comprehensive duty of the whole law: Ezek. xxxiii. 31. “ And they come unto me, as the people cometh, and they fit before thee as my people, and they hear thy words, but they will not do them; for with their mouth they shew much love, but their heart goeth after their covetousness." Love to God makes all duties run in a right channel ; but how can this be found, when the natural enmity is not overcome by regenerating grace ? Self-love may supply its place, so far as the outside and letter of religion go, and that upon this principle, Job, iii. “ Skin for skin, yea, all that a man hath will he give for his life.”This will also be evident, if we consider,
3. That the outside and letter of religion may consist with the reign of sin in the heart : 2 Tim.
“ Having a form of godliness, but denying the power of it.” Such in themselves are weak,