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there. In their way of life, their manner of spending their time and money, in their cares and fears, in their pleasures and indulgences, in their labour and diversions they are like the rest of the world. This makes the loose part of the world generally make a jest of those that are devout, because they see their devotion goes no farther than their prayers, and that when they are over, they live no more unto God, till the time of prayer returns again ; but live by the same humour and fancy, and in ag full an enjoyment of all the follies of life, as other people. This is the reason why they are the jest and scorn of careless and worldly people; not because they are really devoted to God, but because they appear to have no other devotion, but that of occasional prayers.
Julius is very fearful of missing prayers; all the parish supposes Julius to be sick, if he is not at church. But if you was to ask him why he spends the rest of his time by humour or chance ? why he is a companion of the silliest people in their most silly pleasures? why is he ready for every impertinent entertainment and diversion ? If you was to ask him why there is no amusement too trilling to please him ? why he is busy at all balls and assemblies? why he gives himself up to an idle gossiping conversation ? why he lives in foolish friendships and fondness for particular persons, that neither want nor deserve any particular kindness ? why he allows himself in foolish hatreds and resentments against particular persons, without considering that he is to love every body as himself ? If you ask him why he never puts his conversation, his time, and fortune under the rules of religion, Julius has no more to say for himself, than the most disorderly person.
For the whole tenor of Scripture lies as directly against such a life, as against debauchery and intemperance : He that lives in such a course of idleness and folly, lives no more according to the religion of Jesus Christ, than he that lives in gluttony and intemperance.
If a man was to tell Julius that there was no occasion for so much constancy at prayers, and that he might, without any harm to himself, neglect the service of the church, as the generality of people do, Julius would think such a one to be no Christian, and that he ought to avoid his company. But if a person only tells him that he may live as the generality of the world does. that he may enjoy himself as others do ; that he may spend his time and money as people of fashion do, that he may conform to the follies and frailties of the generality, and gratify his tempers and passions as most people do, Julius never suspects that man to want a Christian spirit, or that he is doing the devil's work.
And yet if Julius was to read all the New Testament from the beginning to the end, he would find his course of life condemned in every page of it.
And indeed there cannot any thing be imagined more absurd in itself, than wise and sublime, and heavenly prayers added to a life of vanity and folly, where neither labour nor diversions, neither time nor money, are under the direction of the wisdom and heavenly tempers of our prayers. If we were to see a man pretending to act wholly with regard to God in every thing that he did, that would neither spend time nor money, or take any labour or diversion, but so far as he could act according to strict principles of reason and piety, and yet at the same time neglect all prayer, whether public or private, should we not be amazed at such a man, and wonder how he could have so much folly along with so much religion?
Yet this is as reasonable as for any person to pretend to strictness in devotion, to be careful of observing times and places of prayer, and yet letting the rest of his life, his time and labour, his talents and money be disposed of, without any regard to strict rules of piety and devo tion, for it is as great an absurdity to suppose holy prayers, and divine petitions, without an holiness of life suitable to them, as to suppose an holy and divine life without prayers.
Let any one therefore think, how easily he could confute a man that pretended a great strictness of life without prayer, and the same arguments will as plainly confute another, that pretends to strictness of prayer, withont carrying the same strictness into every other part of life.
For to be weak and foolish in spending our time and fortune is no greater a mistake, than to be weak asd foolisk in relation to our prayers.
allow ourselves in any ways of life that neither are nor can be offered to God, is the same irreligion as to neglect our prayers, or use them in such a manner, as makes them an offering unworthy of God.
The short of the matter is this, either reason and religion prescribe rules and ends to all the ordinary actions of our life, or they do not : If they do, then it is as necessary to govern all our actions by those rules, as it is necessary to worship God. For if religion teaches us any thing concerning eating and drinking, or spending our time and money, if it teaches us how we are to use and contemp the world; if it tells us what tempers we are to have in common life, how we are to be disposed towards all people, how we are to behave towards the sick, the poor, the old and destitute; if it tells us whom we are to treat with a particular love, whom we are to regard with a particular esteem: if it tells us how we are to treat our enemies, and how we are to mortify and deny ourselves, he may be very weak, that can think these parts of religion are not to be observed with as much exactness, as any doctrine that relates to prayers.
It is very observable, that there is not one command in all the gospel for public worship; and perhaps it is a duty that is least insisted upon' in scripture of any other, The frequent attendance at it is never so much as mentioned in all the New Testament. Whereas that religion or devotion, which is to govern the ordinary actions of our life, is to be found in almost every verse of scripture. Our blessed Saviour and his apostles are wholly taken up in doctrines that relate to common life. They call us to renounce the world, and differ in every temper and way of life, from the spirit and way of the world. To renounce all its goods, to fear none of its evils, to reject its joys, and have no value for its happiness. To be as new born babes, that are born into a new state of things, to live as pilgrims in spiritual watching, in holy fear, and heavenly aspiring after another life. To take up our daily cross, to deny ourselves, to profess the blessedness of mourning, to seek the blessedness of poverty of spirit. To forsake the pride and vanity of riches, to take no thought for the morrow, to live in the profoundest state of humility, to rejoice in worldly sufferings. To reject
the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life ; to bear injuries, to forgive and bless our enemies, and to love mankind as God loveth them.
To give up our whole hearts and affections to God, and strive to enter through the straight gate into a life of eternal glory.
This is the common devotion which our blessed Saviour taught, in order to make it the common life of all Christians. Is it not therefore exceeding strange, that people should place so much piety in the attendance of public worship, concerning which there is not one precept of our Lord's to be found, and yet neglect these common duties of our ordinary life, which are commanded in every page of the gospel ? I call these duties the devotion of our common life, because if they are to be practised, they must be inade parts of our common life, they can have no place any where else.
If contempt of the world, and heavenly affection, is a necessary temper of Christians, it is necessary that this temper appear in the whole course of their lives, in their manner of using the world, because it can have no place any where else.
If self-denial be a condition of salvation, all that would be saved must make it a part of their ordinary life. If humility be a Christian duty, then the common life of a Christian is to be .a constant course of humility in all its kinds. If poverty of spirit be necessary, it must be the spirit and temper of every day of our lives. If we are to relieve the naked, the sick, and the prisoner, it must be the common charity of our lives, as far as we can render ourselves able to perform it. If we are to love our enemies, we must make our common life a visible exercise and demonstration of that love. If content and thankfulness, if the patient bearing of evil be duties to God, they are the duties of every day, and in every circumstance of our life. If we are to be wise and holy as the new-born sons of God, we can no otherwise be so, but by renouncing every thing that is foolish and vain in
very part of our common life. If we are to be in Christ new creatures, we must shew that we are so, by having new ways of living in the world. If we are to follow
Christ, it must be in our common way of spending every day.
Thus it is in all the virtues and holy tempers of Christianity, they are not ours, unless they be the virtues and tempers of our ordinary life. So that Christianity is so far from leaving us to live in the common ways of life, conforming to the folly of customs, and gratifying the passions and tempers which the spirit of the world delights in, it is so far from indulging us in any of these things, that all its virtues which it makes necessary to salvation, are only so many ways of living above, and contrary to the world in all the common actions of our life. If our common life is not a common course of humility, self-denial, renunciation of the world, poverty of spirit, and heavenly affection, we do not live the lives of Christians.
But yet though it is thus plain, that this and this alone is Christianity, an uniform, open, and visible practice of all these virtues ; yet it is as plain, that there is little or nothing of this to be found, even amongst the better sort
You see them often at church, and pleased with fine preachers; but look into their lives, and you see them just the same sort of people as others are, that make no pretences to devotion. The difference that
you find betwixt them, is only the difference of their natural tempers. They have the same taste of the world, the same worldly cares, and fears, and joys; they have the same turn of mind, equally vain in their desires. You see the same fondness for state and equipage, the same pride and vanity of dress, the same self-love and indulgence, the same foolish friendships and groundless hatreds, the same levity of mind and trifling spirit, the same fondness of diversions, the same idle dispositions and vain
ways of spending their tinte in visiting and conversation, as the rest of the world, that make no pretences to devotion.
I do not mean this comparison betwixt people seemingly good and professed rakes, but betwixt people of sober lives. Let us take an instance in two modest women: let it be supposed, that one of them is careful of times of devotion, and observes them through a sense of duty, and that the other has no hearty concern about it,