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religious man, because he is fo zealous for that which they esteem to be fo confiderable a part of religion. Nay, fuch is the horrible partiality and injuftice of parties, that a very bad man that appears zealous for their way, fhall easily gain the efteem of a holy and religious man, though he have many vifible and notorious faults; though he be paffionate and ill-natured, cenfarious and uncharitable, cruel and oppreffive, fordid and covetous; when another, who quietly, and without any noife and bustle, minds the fubftantial parts of religion, and is truly devoted towards God, juft and peaceable, and charitable towards men, meek and humble, and patient, kind and friendly even to these that differ from him, fhall hardly efcape being cenfured for a lukewarm, formal, moral man, deftitute of the grace of God and the power of godliness.

So likewife zeal for or against indifferent circumstances of religion, is another form of godlinefs which many appear in. And commonly fuch perfons, the more deftitute they are of true piety and virtue, the greater stir they keep about these things, that they may feem to be fomething in religion; juft like thofe, who being confeious to themselves that they are defective in true and ufeful learning, that they may not seem to be fo, are always troublesome with the fhreds and ends of it.

Now, the indifferent circumstances of religion are things which no man ought to have the face to trouble himfelf about, that neglects the weighty and fubftantial duties of it. No man that hath a beam in his own eye, ought to be concerned for the mote that is in his brother's eye. Indeed he that is careful of the main parts of religion, may and ought to be concerned for the other in their due place, fo far as the order and decency of God's worship, and obedience to authority, and the peace of Chriftians is concerned in them. But to place all religion in a zeal for or against these things, is one of the thinneft and flighteft forms of religion.

VIII. Silliness and freakishness, and either a pretended or real ignorance in the common affairs and concernments of human life.

This may feem at first hearing to be a very odd form of religion, and indeed fo it is; yet in feveral religions,


men have appeared in it with great applause and acceptance. Among the Turks, idiots and madmen are mightily reverenced, it being always taken for granted that they are infpired. And, among the Papifts, the most eminent of their faints, if their legends do not belye them, especially St. Francis and St. Dominick, are magnified fcarcely for any other reafon, but for faying and doing the most filly and ridiculous things. What can be imagined more foolish and fantastical than St. Francis's ftripping himself of his cloaths, and running about naked? than his frequent preaching to the birds, and beafts, and fishes? Was ever any thing more naufeously ridiculous, than his picking up the lice which were beaten off his cloaths, and putting them in his bofom which is magnified in him as a profound piece of humility; as if naftinefs were a Christian grace. Thefe and many more fuch freaks which are related in his life, as inftances of his great fanctity, ferve to no other purpose, but to render religion ridiculous to any man of common fenfe. As if to be a spiritual man, and a mere natural, were all one, and as if this were a good confequence, that a man cannot chufe but be very knowing in religion, because he is very filly in all other things; and muft needs have abundance of grace, because he hath no wit. It is pity it fhould be fo, but I am afraid it is too true, that the greatest mifchiefs that have been done to the world, have been done by filly well-meaning men.

Laftly, Great noise and talk about religion.

This is as empty a form as any of the reft, and yet this does ftrangely please and fatisfy a great many. If a man do but mix fomething of religion with all his difcourfes, and be often fpeaking of God and heavenly things, this paffeth for a more than ordinary character of a religious man. And many deceive themselves with it, they have talked of religion fo long, till they believe they have it.

Not but that this is a good thing, provided it be ordered with difcretion and humility, and be not forced and affected, impertinent and troublefome. But then we must have a great care that other things be anfwerable. Our lives muft juftify our godly talk, and our

actions must give weight to our words; for nothing is more odious, than a religious and good difcourfe from the mouth of a bad man. This made our Saviour fo full of indignation against the Scribes and Pharifees; they were not what they appeared to be in their dif course and outward garb. They said and did not, therefore he compares them to whited walls and painted fepulchres, that were beautiful indeed without, but within were full of all uncleannefs and rottennefs.

It is true indeed, that out of the abundance of the beart the mouth fpeaketh; if religion be within, it will appear in mens words as well as actions; this is a fire that will break out: but the best men are very modeft, and make little noife, do nothing out of oftentation, and to be taken notice of, and had rather refrain from good words, than to make an unfeafonable fhew of religion.

Speech is intended to fignify the inward fenfe of mens minds, but it does not always do fo; men may be full of religious talk, when there is nothing of religion in their hearts, nothing anfwerable in their lives; men may speak like angels, and yet do like devils.

Therefore let no man deceive himself, or think to deceive others with this appearance of religion: for, let men talk never fo piously, every confiderate man knows that there is more of true religion in one good action, than in a thoufand good words.

And thus I have done with the first thing, viz, wherein a form of religion doth confift.

Secondly, Wherein the power of godliness doth confift. And because it is very material to be rightly informed in this, I will reduce the feveral particulars to these four general heads.

I. A due fenfe of God, and suitable affections towards him.

II. A fincere and diligent ufe of the means and inftruments of religion.

III. A firm and steady refolution of well-doing. IV. As the proper and genuine effect of all thefe, the practice of a good life, in the feveral parts and inftances of it.



I. A

I. A due fenfe of God, and fuitable affections towards him. This is the principle and fountain of all religion, from whence all actions of piety and goodness do fpring.

Under this I comprehend a lively fenfe of God's being; which the Apostle tells us is fundamentally neceffary to all religion: He that cometh to God must believe that he is. This is the great spring of all religious motions, and of our dependance upon him, the lively fenfe whereof will make us humble and thankful, and teach us to acknowledge him in all our ways, and to refer all our concernments to him; and of our fubjection to him, which will make us obedient to his laws, and submiffive to his pleasure; nothing being more reasonable than that he that gave us our lives fhould have the entire government and difpofal of them; than that he that made us what we are, fhould command us what we should do. In fhort, this comprehends faith in God, or a readiness to affent to what he reveals, with the fear and the love of God, which are the great principles of religion.

II. A fincere and diligent ufe of the means and inftruments of religion, fuch as prayer, reading, and hearing the word of God, and receiving the facraments. These are the means which God hath appointed for the improving of us in holiness and goodnefs; and we fincerely use these means, when we really aim at this end; when we pray, and read, and hear, and meditate on God's word, and receive the facraments, that we may truly become better, more holy and virtuous in all manner of converfation; and do not reft in the use of these means, as if a man were a religious and good man, because he prays often, and every day reads the Bible, and goes to all the fermons he can hear of, and takes all occafions to receive the facrament. The life of religion does not confift in the bare use of these, but in the real efficacy of them upon our lives. It is a very good caution which St. John gives us, Be not deceived, he that doth righteousness is righteous, even as he is righteous, 1 John iii. 6. Men are apt to impose upon themfelves, as if they could be righteous, and approve themselves to God, upon fome other terms, whereas


only they that fear God, and work righteousness, are accepted with him.

I do not fpeak this to undervalue the exercifes of religion, but to inform men of the true nature and defign of them. Be as diligent as thou wilt in the exercifes of piety and devotion, but be fincere in the use of thofe means; do not fatisfy thyfelf in the performance of thofe duties, unless thou find the effect of them upon thy heart and life, always remembering, that not the hearers of the word, but the doers of it, are bleed, that the prayer, and all the facrifices of the wicked are an abo

mination to the Lord.

III. A firm and steady refolution of well-doing. This is the refult of a true and fincere repentance, and the great principle of a new life; and if it be firm and stedfaft, it will derive its influence into all our actions; but if it be wavering and inconfiftent, it is only the occafion of a religious mood and fit, but not the principle of a religious ftate. Therefore it concerns us to ftrengthen this principle, and to be true to it, when we have once taken it up; for whenever we quit it, we break loofe from God and religion at once, and caft ourselves back into a much more dangerous ftate than we were in before.

There is no doubt, but that the devil and our own corrupt hearts will make many affaults upon fuch a refolution, and raise all their batteries against it, becaufe it is our main fort, and the great fecurity of our fouls, and fo long as we maintain that, we are fafe; and therefore it had need be a mighty refolution that is able to ftand out against fuch oppofition.

But what are we that we fhould take up fuch a refolution, and what is our ftrength? We are weak and unftedfast as water, reeds fhaken with the wind; we are not fufficient of ourselves, as of ourselves, for any thing that is good; the way of man is not in himself, nor is it in man that walks to direct his fteps: but we have a greater ftrength than our own to rely upon, and greater than that of any adverfe power that can set itself against we have God on our fide, and the affiftance of his grace to back and fortify thefe holy refolutions; fo that we have no reason to despair of success and victory, if


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