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of no value at all in the Christian religion; for now, even now, you do not stick to say that even the duty of going to God by Christ is one of these, and such a one as, if absolutely considered in itself, is neither good nor evil.
How, then, if God should cast you into Turkey, where Mahomet reigns as lord? it is but reckoning that it is the religion and custom of the country, and that which is authorized by the power that is there; wherefore, it is but sticking to your dictates of human nature, and remembering that coming to God by Christ is a thing of an indifferent nature in itself, and then for peace' sake and to sleep in a whole skin, you may comply and do as your superior commands. Why? because in Turkey are your first sort of fundamentals all found; there are men that have human nature and the law of morals written in their hearts; they have also the dictates thereof written within them, which teach them those you call the eternal laws of righteousness wherefore you both would agree in your essential and immutable differences of good and evil, and differ only about these positive laws-indifferent things. Yea, and Mahomet also for the time, because by a custom it is made convenient, might be now accounted worshipful; and the circumstances that attend his worship, especially those of them that clash not with the dictates of your human nature, might also be swallowed down.
Behold you here then, good reader, a glorious Latitudinarian, that can, as to religion, turn and twist like an eel on the hook; or rather like the weathercock that stands on the steeple.
Dost thou profess the name of Christ, and dost thou pretend to be a man departing from iniquity? Then take
sufficiency of divine revelation before human reason and speculation, and to acknowledge with humble gratitude the rich rewards of an earnest and prayerful study of the English Scriptures.
heed thou dost not deceive thyself, by changing one bad way of sinning for another bad way of sinning. This was a trick that Israel played of old; for when God's prophets followed them hard with demands of repentance and reformation, then they would "gad about to change their ways." Jer. 2:36. But behold, they would not change a bad way for a good, but one bad way for another; hopping as the squirrel from bough to bough, but not willing to forsake the tree. Many times men change their darling sins, as some change their servants; that which would serve for such a one this year, may not serve for the year ensuing. Hypocrisy would do awhile ago, but now debauchery. Profaneness would do when profaneness was in fashion, but now a deceitful profession. Take heed, professor, that thou dost not throw away thy old darling sin for a new one. Men's tempers alter. Youth is for pride and wantonness; middle age for cunning and craft; old age for the world and covetousness. Take heed, therefore, of deceit in this thing.
Dost thou profess the name of Christ, and dost thou pretend to be a man departing from iniquity? take heed lest thy departing from iniquity should be but for a time. Some do depart from iniquity, as persons in wrangling fits depart from one another, to wit, for a time; but when the quarrel is over, by means of some intercessor they are reconciled again. Oh, Satan is the intercessor between the soul and sin; and though the breach between these two may seem to be irreconcilable, yea, though the soul has sworn it will never more give countenance to so vile a thing as sin is, yet he can tell how to make up this difference, and to fetch them back to their vomit again, who, one would have thought, had quite escaped his sins and been gone. 2 Pet. 2:18-22. Take heed, therefore, O professor, for there is danger of this, and the height of danger lies in it; and I think that Satan, to do this thing, makes use of those sins again to begin this rejoinder, which he findeth most suitable to the temper and constitution of the
sinner. These are, as I may call them, the master-sins ; they suit, they agree with the temper of the soul.
as the little end of the wedge, enter with ease, and so make way for those that come after, with which Satan knows he can rend the soul in pieces. Wherefore,
To help this, take heed of parleying with thy sins again, when once thou hast departed from them: sin has a smooth tongue; if thou hearken to its enchanting language, ten thousand to one but thou art entangled. Take heed, therefore, of listening to the charms wherewith sin enchanteth the soul. In this, be like the deaf adder; stop thine ear, plug it up to sin, and let it only be open to hear the words of God.
THE UNHOLY PROFESSOR.
A professor that hath not forsaken his iniquity, is like one that comes out of the pest-house, among the whole, with his plague-sores running upon him. This is the man that hath the breath of a dragon; he poisons the air round about him. This is the man that slays his children, his kinsmen, his friend, and himself. What shall I say? Α
man that nameth the name of Christ, and that departeth not from iniquity, to whom may he be compared? The Pharisees, for that they professed religion but walked not answerably thereto, unto what doth Christ compare them but to serpents and vipers; what does he call them but hypocrites, whited walls, painted sepulchres, fools, and blind, and tells them that they made men more the children of hell than they were before? Matt. 23. Wherefore, such a one cannot go out of the world by himself; for as he gave occasion of scandal when he was in the world, so is he the cause of the damnation of many. The apostle did use to weep when he spake of these professors, such an offence he knew they were and would be in the world. Acts 20:30; Phil. 3:18, 19.
These are the chief of the engines of Satan; with these
he worketh wonders. One Balaam, one Jeroboam, one Ahab, O how many fish such bring to Satan's net. These are the tares that he strives to sow among the wheat, for he knows they are mischief to it. Wherefore let every one that nameth the name of Christ depart from iniquity."
Those that religiously name the name of Christ and do not depart from iniquity, how will they die; and how will they look that Man in the face, unto the profession of whose name they have entailed an unrighteous conversation; or do they think that he doth not know what they have done, or that they may take him off with a few cries and wringing of hands, when he is on the throne to do judgment against transgressors. O, it had been better they had not known, had not professed; yea, better they had never been born. And as Christ says it had been good, so Peter says it had been better, Mark 14:12; 14: 22; 2 Pet. 220, 21-good they had not been born, and better they had not known and made profession of the name of Christ.
We read that the tail of the dragon, or that the dragon by his tail, did draw and cast down abundance of the stars of heaven to the earth. Rev. 12:4; Isa. 9:14, 15. The prophet that speaketh lies either by opinion or practice, he is the tail, the dragon's tail, the serpentine tail of the devil. Isa. 9:14, 15. And so in his order, every professor that by his iniquity draweth both himself and others down to hell, he is the tail. Nor can Satan work such exploits by any, as he can by unrighteous professors. These he useth in his hand as the giant useth his club; he, as it were, drives all before him with it. It is said of Behemoth, that "he moveth his tail like a cedar." Job 40:17. Behemoth is a type of the devil; but behold how he handleth his tail, even as if a man should swing about a cedar. This is spoken to show the hurtfulness of the tail, as it is also said in another place, Rev. 9:5, 10, 19. Bet
ter no professor than a wicked professor; better openly profane, than a hypocritical namer of the name of Christ ; and less hurt shall such a one do to his own soul, to the poor ignorant world, to the name of Christ, and to the church of God.
There is the sin of professors; there is a profession that will stand with an unsanctified heart and life. The sin of such will overpoise the salvation of their souls, the sin-end being the heaviest end of the scale: I say, that being the heaviest end which hath sin in it, they tilt over, and so are, notwithstanding their glorious profession, drowned in perdition and destruction.
The iniquity that cleaveth to men that profess, if they cast it not away, but countenance it, will all prove nettles and briars to them; and I will assure thee, yea, thou knowest, that nettles and thorns will sting and scratch but ill-favoredly. "I went," saith Solomon, "by the field of the slothful, and by the vineyard of the man void of understanding; and lo, it was all grown over with thorns, and nettles had covered the face thereof, and the stone wall thereof was broken down." Prov. 24:30, 31.
Suppose a man were, after work all day, to be turned into a bed of nettles at night; or, after a man had been about such a business, should be rewarded with chastisements of briars and thorns; this reward for work would be but little help, relief, or comfort to him. But this is the reward of a wicked man, of a wicked professor from God: nettles and thorns are to cover over the face of his vineyard, his field, his profession, and that at the last of all; for this covering over the face of his vineyard with nettles and thorns, is to show what fruit the slovenly, slothful, careless professor will reap out of his profession when reaping-time shall come.
Nor can he whose vineyard, whose profession is covered