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God's way, and follows the multitude to do evil, their feet will slide. But the best preparation and security for a time of general calamity, is to walk with God in a declining time. We shall only add,
2. An use of exhortation.
We exhort you, then, to follow the Lord fully now. Our time is a declining time. There is a declining from the purity of gospel-doctrine and gospel-ordinances. There is a horrid declining in practice; the vail is falling off many faces, and the mask of religion. There is a general declining from holiness, and the power of godliness, on the spirits of professors in our day. It is a day of approaching calamity. Would you be safe ? Return now, and set your face against the stream; and the more you fee others going off from God, cleave the more to him. If you do so, you will be distinguished by special marks of favour in a day of public calamity; but if you also go away, your fin will afterwards find you out.
Remember, now you have heard your duty; it is the duty of communicants, and also of others. Remember that it is not enough to set fair off. It is only he that follows fully who will be brought safely to the promised land. It is only he that endureth to the end who will be saved. Be not, therefore, “ weary in this well-doing, for in due time ye shall reap, if ye faint not.”
THE CHRISTIAN DESCRIBED, THE HYPO.
CRITE DETECTED *,
Rom. ii. 28. 29. For he is not a few which is one
outwardly, neither is that circumcifion which is outward in the flesh. But he is a few, which is one inwardly, and circumcision is that of the heart, in the spirit, and not in the letter, whose praise is not of men, but of God.
THESE words are a reason why no man
ought to value himself on the externals of religion, for they will go but short way. However they please men, they will never please God. The scope of them is, to thew who are the people of God. The Jews of old were the people of God; the Christians are so now, being come in their room. The apostle here distinguishes the people of God into nominal and real ones, calling them Jews, because he was speaking to Jews ; the case is the same as to Christians.- In these words, he shews two things.
1. Who * Delivered in March and April, 1719.
1. Who are not true Jews, real Christians, or saints indeed, ver. 28.; for these are they whom he means by Jews, saying, “ He is not a Jew." Not those who are Jews outwardly, Christians and faints by profession, that is, who are only so, and no more; for God requires externals of religion as well as internals, though the former, separate from the latter, avail nothing. But those who have no more religion than what is outward, viz. what men see or may see, they have nothing of the reality of it.
The Jews valued themselves on circumcifion, as Christians on baptism; but true circumcifion is not what is outward in the flesh, nor baptism what is by water; that is, only so. These external rites signify an inward grace, without which they fignify nothing before God. Circumcision was in a hidden part of the body, yet it was on the body, and what might be feen; so religion might be in faints; yet being only what may be seen, will not constitute a person truly religious.--He shews,
2. Who are true Jews, real Christians, or faints indeed? There are two characters of these, which distinguished them from the other. They are,
(1.) Those who are so inwardly, or in the hidden part, which is open to God alone, as well as in the outward part, which appears to the world. These who have the hidden part of religion, which being hid from the world's view, they cannot certainly judge of. Those who have the true circumcision, the spiritual baptism, that is, the circumcision of the heart, Deut. X. 16. by which corrupt lusts are cut off, and the body of fin put off, Col. ii. 11. This is the spiritual, not fleshly circumcifion only. It touches on, reforms, and renews our spirit, our soul, the hidden, but most valuable part of a man. The carnal is but the cutting off a
indeed? Ted them free to inward Lione, a
bit of the flesh of the body, which might be done while the spirit remained overgrown with unmortified lusts, and the soul quite defiled. The spirit is here opposed to the letter, which last cannot be well understood of the body, but of circumcision, and therefore the spirit alfo ; 9. d. and circumcision of the heart, which is circumcifion iħ the spie rit or grace of it, (not in the letter, or external rite of circumcision), is the true circumcision. So they have the spirituality of it, which is as the foul thereof, as well as the letter, which is as the body thereof. The spirit of circumcision is the invisible grace signified by it, and joined with it, when it is effectual ; the letter of it is the sensible fign or external rite.
(2.) They are such as have God's approbation, commendation, and praise, whether they have men's or not. There is an allusion here to the word Judah, from whom that people, now called Jews, had their name ; it signifies praised, Gen. xlviii. 8. These are the true Judahs, whom not only their brethren, but their Father, even God, praises. Outward religion may gain praise of men, who cannot discern what is within ; but the true Jew, the real Chriftian, is one approved even by the heart-searching God, according to the reality, and not the appearance. From this subject I take this
Doctrine, That he is not a true Christian, who
only in the outward part, and in the letter of religion, approves himself to men; but he who, by the inner part of religion, and the spirituality thereof, also approves himself to the heart. searching God.
In illustrating this important truth, I shall, I. Speak to this point generally.
II. Consider it more particularly.--I shall,
I. Speak to this point more generally.--Here I propose, '
1. To shew that there is such a difference in the visible church, that there are some who are only Christians outwardly, and that there are others who are also Christians inwardly.
II. To inquire what are the causes of this difference ?
III. To point out what is the outside and letter of religion, which only makes an outside Christian, and what the inside and spirit of religion is which makes a genuine Christian.
IV. To confirm the doctrine.--I am,
I. To shew that there is such a difference in the visible church, that there are some who are only Christians outwardly, and that there are others who are also Christians inwardly.
This difference appears many ways. It appears,
1. In the very different characters given those who profess the same faith and true religion. The preachers of the gospel are fishers of men, but they are not all good that come by profession into the net, Matth. xii. 47. 48. The tares and the wheat grow together in the field of the church, the goats and the sheep go together all the day, till the great Shepherd separate them. And as to virgin-profefsors, fome are wise, and have oil in their vessels, with their lamps; others are foolish, Matth. xxv. who mock God with fair promises, befool even the godly, who looked well upon them, and, worst of all, befool themselves in the latter end, when the Bridegroom cometh.---This appears, 2. In the very different effects religion has on Vol. II. M