Immagini della pagina

for good Chriftians, when they are all the while unfound at bottom. Many pass undiscovered till death and judgment bring all to light. Those self-deceivers icem to come even to heaven's gate with full confidence of their admission, and yet are shut out at last, Mat. vii. 22.

Brethren beloved, I befeech you deeply to lay to heart, and firmly retain this awakening confideration, '“ that multitudes miscarry by cherishing " fome secret fin, that is not only hidden from “ others, but for want of searching their own “ hearts, even from themielves.” A man may be free from open pollutions, and yet perish at lait by some secret unobserved iniquity. And there be these twelve hidden fins, through which fouls go down by numbers into the chambers of death; these you must search carefully for, and note them as black marks, wherever they be found, discovering a graceless and unconverted state: And as you love your lives, read carefully, with a holy jealousy of yourselves, left you should be the perfons concerned,

1. “ Grofs ignorance." O, how many poor souls doth this fin kill in the dark! Hof. iv. 6.; while they think verily they have good hearts, and are in the ready way to heaven! This is the murderer that despaches thousands in a filent manner, when, poor hearts! they suspect nothing, and see not the hand that destroys them. You shall find, whatever excules you have for ignorance, that it is a foul-undoing evil, Isa. xxvii. 11. 2 Tbef: i. 8. 2 Cor. iv. 3. Ah! would it not have grieved a man's heart to have feen that woeful spectacle, when the poor Protestants were shut up, a multi:


tode together in a barn, and a butcher comes with cruel hands, warmed in human blood, and leads them one by one, blindfold, to a block where he few them, poor innocents ? one after another by scores in cold blood ? But how much more fhould your hearts bleed, to think of the hundreds in great congregatione that ignorance doth butcher in secret, and lead blindfold to the block? Beware this be none of your case: Make no plea for ignorance; if you spare that fin, know that it will not spare you: And would a man take a murderer to his bosom?

“ Secret reserves in closing with Christ.”. To forsake all for Christ, to - hate father and “ mother, yea, a man's own life" for him; “ This is a hard saying,” Luke xiv. 26. Some will do much, but they will not be of the religion that will undo them; they never come to be entirely devoted to Chrift, nor fully to resign to him: They must have the sweet fin; they mean to do themselves no harm; they have secret exceptions for life, liberty, or estate. Many take Christ thus, hand over-head, and never consider his self-denying terms, nor cast up the coft: And thus error in the foundation mars all, and secretly ruins them for ever, Luke xiv. 28. Mat. xviii. 21. 3.

Formality in religion.” Many stick in the dark, and rest in the outfide of religion and in the external performances of holy duties, Mat. xxiii. 25.; and this oftentimes doth most effectually deceive men, and doth more certainly undo them than open looseness, as it was in the Pharifee's case, Mat. xxii. 31. They hear, they fait, they pray, they give alms, and therefore will not

believe but their case is good, Luke xviii. 11., whereas refting in the work done, and coming short of heart-work, and the inward power and life of religion, they fall at last into the burning, from the Aattering hopes and confident persuafions of their being in the ready way to haven, Mat. vii. 22, 23. O dreadful case, when a man's religion fhall serve only to harden him, and effectually to delude and deceive his own soul !

4. The prevalence of false ends in holy du: “ ties," Mat. xxii. 25. This was the bane of the Pharisee: O how many pror fouls are undone by this, and drop into hell before they discern their mistake! They perform good duties, and so think all is well; but perceive not that they are actuated by carnal motives all the while. It is too true, that even with the truly fanctified many carnal ends will frequently creep in; but they are the matter of his hatred and humiliation, and never come to be habitually prevalent with him, and bear the greatest sway, Rom. xiv. 7.; but now, when the main thing that doth ordinarily carry a man out to religious duties shall be really fume carnal end, as to satisfy his conscience, to get the repute of being religious, “ to be seen of inen," to sew his own gifts and parts, to avoid the reproach of being a profane and irreligious person, or the like; this discovers an unfound heart, Hof, x. 1. Zech. vii. 3. 6. O profes. for! if you would avoid self-deceit, see that you mind not only your acts, but withal, yea, above all, your ends.

5. “Trusting in their own righteousness,Luke xviii

. 9. This is a foul-undcing mischief, Rom. x. 3. When men do trust in their own righteousness, they do indeed reject Chrift's. Beloved, you had need

be watchful on every hand; for not only your sins, but your duties may undo you. It may be you never thought of this; but so it is, that a man may as certainly miscarry by his seeming righteousness and fupposed graces, as by gross fins; and that is, when a man doth trust in these as his righteousness before God, for the satisfying his justice, appeasing his wrath, procuring his favour, and obtaining of his own pardon ; for this is to put Christ out of office, and make a faviour of our own duties and graces. Beware of this, o professors! you are much in duties; but this one hy will spoil all the pintment. When you have done most and best, be sure to go out of yourselves to Christ, reckon your own righteousness but rags, Psalm cxliii. 2. Pbil, üi. 9. Ifa. lxiv, 6. Neb. xiii. 22.

6. “ A secret enmity against the ftrictness of re “ ligion,” Many moral persons, punctual in their formal devotion, have a bitter enmity against preciseness and hate the life and power of religion, Pbil. iii. 6. compared with Asts xi. 1. They like not his forwardness, nor that men fould keep such a ftir in religion; they condemn the strictnets of religion as fingularity, indiscretion, and intemperate zeal; and with them a lively preacher, or a lively Christian, is but a heady fellow. These men have not holiness as holiness (for then they would love the height of holiness) and therefore are undoubtedly rotten at heart, whatever good opinion they have of themselves.

7. “ The resting in a certain pitch of religion." When they have so much as will save them (as they suppose) they look no farther, and fo hew themselves sort of true.grace, which will ever put men upon aspiring to farther perfecting, Phil, iï. 13

8. "The predominant love of the world," This is the sure evidence of an unsanctified heart, Mark X. 22. 1 John ii. 15.

But how close doth this fin lurk oftentimes under the fair covert of outward profession! Luke viii. 14. Yea, such a power of deceit is there in this fin, that many times when every body else can see the man's worldliress and covetousness, he cannot see it himself, but hath so many colours and excuses, and pretences for his eagerness on the world, that he doth blind his own eyes, and perish in his felfdeceit. How many professors be there, with whom the world hath more of their hearts and affections than Christ, “ who mind earthly things," and thereby are evidently after the flesh, and like to end in destruction! Rom. viii. 5. Phil. iii. 19. Yet ask these men, and they will tell you confidently, they prize Christ above all; God forbid else! and see not their own earthly-mindedness, for want of a narrow observation of the workings of their own hearts. Did they but carefully search, they would find that their grertelt content is in the world, Luke xii. and their greateit care and main endeavour is to get and secure the world, which are the certain discoveries of an unconverted finner, May the profeffing part of the world take earneft heed that they perish not by the hand of this fin unobserved. Men may be, and often are, kept off from Chrift as effectually by the inordinate love of lawful comforts, as by the most unlawful courses, Matt. xii. 5. Luke xiv, 18. 24.

9. “ Reigning malice and envy against those “ that disrespect them, and are injurious to them," 1 John ii. 9. 11. O how do many, that seem to be religious remember injuries and carry grudges,


« IndietroContinua »