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VOL. they may be furnished with talk upon such and
such subjects. They are not one straw the poorer
And it is plain, the great temptations that
2. THERE is also more of glory in the shew, and glittering in the appearance of religion (in some times more than others, and it may be
in our times as much as any) than there is in the SERM. discharge of the duties of justice and charity to
XIII. men. He that acquires to himself the reputation of a godly man, by an ability to discourse of godly matters, having gotten a great stock of notional knowledge, gains thereby also the reputation of a man of a very refined mind. As the Gnofticks in their age, an age of errors, were men of much pretence; had very high and sublime notions; but as to their morals they were as bad men as ever the world knew, if you will take the testimony concerning them, not from their professed enemies the Christians, who opposed themselves to them, but even from a Heathen who characterizeth them at large t. There were not a viler sort of men, as to matters concerning the duties of the fecond table, and what lay between man and man. But they were men of high speculative knowledge, had very airy, and sublime notions, wherewith they did seduce and captivate not a few. A great reputation was acquired by them of that kind, when they could recommend themselves as persons, who had made it their business to separate from the rest of the world, to give themselves up to the study of all wisdom as the wise man's expression is m.
AND as those men looked big and talked high in those former ages upon this account, I mean the reputation they had acquired for their knowledge and wisdom, which they boasted of; so many do now, and think to make a glitter in the
places + Plotinus.
m Eccles: vil. 25.
VOL. places where they live, as men of high, notional I.
knowledge in matters of religion: but in comparison of this they think that to do good in the place where a man lives, to be a useful member of a civil, or a Christian society, to observe the strict rules of justice, charily, and compassion, are mean things and very low matters, compared with that glorious shew and glitter, which the appearance of a great measure of notional, speculative knowledge casts upon men in their own eyes, and the eyes of them that are about them. Thus knowļedge puffeth up, while true love would edify. But in the mean time that which so puffeth up makes a better shew, than that which does sub ftantially, and solidly edify the soul.
It is too apparent a truth, which hath been hinted to you thus far, that there are persons, who upon such accounts as these, are easily induced to pretend to religion, and to make a shew of love, and devotedness to God, who are strangers to the effects of love to their brother. But from this so very apparent truth men are apt to induce as manifest and gross a falfhood; that is, because there are those who pretend love to God, that are found manifestly peccant as to the exer: cise of that duty which love to man would command, and ought to be the spring and principle of, that therefore all pretences to stricter religion than ordinary are hypocritical. No man who makes a more strict profession than his neighbours, and is more frequently conversant in the exercises of religion than they are, but he must needs be a
pharisee and a mere pretender, only because some Serm such persons are too manifestly capable of being XIII. convicted as such, But this is no more reasonable, than because there is some counterfeit coin in the world, that therefore all is to be rejected as false, and not current; or because spectres and ghosts have been seen to walk in human shape, therefore there are no true men ; or as if, because some do hypocritically pretend loyalty and devotedness to the government, while they carry on conspiracies against their Rulers, that therefore there is no way for others to approve themselves blameless, but presently to turn open and contemptuous rebels. This is strange kind of logick!
And in truth, none are honest men in their account, but such as will swear, and drink, and run into all wickednefs and excess of riot with them. Of such a one they will be ready to say, « A very honest Gentleman!" and then all the talk Aies against such and such persons that addict themselves to a course of religion. And if some who are the notorious scandals of it have shewn themselves to be what they are, then those who make it their business to keep up a course of stricte ness in piety and religion, have the common infamous brand of hypocrites put upon them.
Now at this rate we must certainly quite turn the tables. Virtue must be called vice, and vice be called virtue, and the names of things be utterly altered. And we must account, that God's children and the devil's are to change families, fathers, and states one with another. For we
VOL. shall have none left to be called honest men, or I.
the children of God, but such as are no better than good-fellows; and all serious fearers and fincere lovers of Goo must be abandoned for none of his, only because some false brethren creep in among them.
AND yet it very greatly concerneth those, who are actually and truly of the family and houfhold, or the Church of God by faith in Jesus Chrift, though men do never so causlessly and injuriously fcandalize the whole fraternity, upon the delinquencies of fome false pretenders, to learn instruction by it, and to be abundantly more wary in all manner of conversation, upon the account of their calling him Father. All therefore that I shall by way of use leave with you at this time is the admonition of the Apostle, If ye call upon the Father, who without respect of person's judgeth according to every man's work, pass the time of your fojourning in fear »,