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142 THE UNHOLY SUPPORT SATAN'S EMPIRE, of religion is hypocrisy. It is true this is an unjust inference, but it is a common one; and they who give occasion for it, more effectually than scoffers or infidels, hinder men from embracing the gospel of salvation. And doing so, they act the same part as the most bitter persecutors. At what did they in reality aim, but to support paganism or antichrist, and to keep mankind from the true way of life and peace? For what end but this were their dungeons, their racks, and flames occasionally employed ? And this end the inconsistent professor of religion, by his unholy deportment, daily promotes. Some who have began to seek the way of peace, disgusted by his conduct, give up the pursuit; and he queuches in their hearts the little spark of grace, occasions them to resist the Holy Spirit, contributes to their damnation, and becomes a partaker of their sins. Others, always careless, from the same cause, are sealed up under carelessness and impenitence of heart.
§ 11. While leading a careless or unholy life, the incon. sistent professor of religion really imitates the devil, upholds his kingdom, and most effectually does him service. He imitates Satan. That enemy of God and man, it is said, can appear as an angel of light; but he is a devil still. So he who professes religion while he does not practise it, may appear in his conversation a child of God; but he is still a child of Satan. He upholds the kingdom of the wicked one. Satan endeavours to uphold that kingdom, by preventing men from discerning the worth and excellency of the gospel. The holy Scriptures declare this. Who so successfully hinder mankind from discerning the real nature of religion, as its un holy professors ? Religion, as exhibited in the lives of some of its faithful followers, is a fair and beautiful form, adorned with graces so divine and heavenly, that it is sufficiently powerful, if not to captivate every heart, yet to extort respect and admiration even from its foes; but the religion of an unholy professor of the gospel, when seen, like a hideous monster, excites abhorrence and disgust; and mankind are ready to exclaim, If this is religion, we are better without it. Thus are they hindered from discerning its heavenly excellences; and taking a monster for it, are prevented from seeing its al worth. The unholy man or woman that occasions
(6) 2 Cor. iv. 3, 4.
AND CAUSE INCALCULABLE MISCHIEF. 143 this mischief, is indeed one of the most faithful servants of the wicked one. The profligate cannot so effectually serve Satan as the hypocrite. The profligate is like an enemy without the walls of a fortress; he appears in his true colours, and men are aware of him ; but the unholy professor is like a treacherous wretch, that has crept into the fortress only to betray it. A drunkard, a dishonest man, a liar, a miser, out of the church of Christ, can never render Satan half the service they can render him when within its walls.
$ 12. If you profess religion and neglect holiness, you may be a source of mischief and misery for ages and ages. It is
impossible to tell where the evil of a sinful example, or even F. of one sinful action, may terminate. One open crime, and
much more an unholy life, in a professor of religion, may be a means of propagating vice and misery, and dealing to many death and damnation for generations to come. How easily may this be the case, when a young person is influenced by
such causes to neglect the Saviour. The impressions he felt : are destroyed, his desires are quenched, and his soul is un
done. But he, perhaps, becomes the head of a family. Had he followed Jesus, his children would have been trained up for God; but now their eternal welfare is slighted, and they rise up heathens like their father. Perhaps the same course of
irreligion and vice is acted over again by their descendants, u and again by theirs, each new generation copying the ex
ample of the former. This is not uncommon. Thus sin and 2: misery are propagated from age to age. And that professor
of the gospel, who by his crimes prevented the ancestor of - such a family from following the Saviour, is, in an awful de
gree, a cause of all this sin and misery! Ah! how watchful should a Christian be, that no one at the judgment-bar may be able to stand forth and say, “My ruin is owing to that sin, by which you wounded your friends and disgraced your profession; but for that I should have sought the Saviour, but through that I pronounced religion hypocrisy, and neglectful
of it lived and died.” of $13. Neglecting holiness you would expose others and [ yourself to that awful woe, which the Lord has denounced
against those, who slight his gospel on account of the sins of others, and against those who are the cause of this neglect. 144. NECESSITY OF FOLLOWING AFTER HOLINESŚ. • Woe unto the world because of offences ! for it must needs be that offences come; but woe to that man by whom the offence cometh." Let the unholy professor of religion tremble at this heavy woe, denounced by such gentle lips!-this woe which, heavier than a mill-stone round the neck, will sink him in a direful ocean of eternal wrath. O, let the unholy professor of the gospel meditate terror, while he meditates on these words, “ Woe unto that man by whom the offence cometh.”
$ 14. Such are a few of those awfully momentous motives, that urge the Christian to make advancing holiness his fervent desire, his incessant pursuit, his daily prayer. If you would improve life's little span; if you would glorify God and honour Christ; if you would recommend religion to mankind, and lead them to the abodes of bliss, you must follow after consistent holiness. Without it, the more zeal you display for the gospel, the more mischief will you do. If you would not be shut out of heaven; if you would not be another Judas, another traitor to the blessed Saviour ; if you would not defeat the labours of gospel ministers, more effectually than is done by bitter persecutors; if you would not rob God of his right; if you would not lie to God, and become a poor perjured wretch; if you would not uphold the kingdom of the devil, carry on his designs, and be his most faithful servant; if you would not contribute to spread sin and misery and damnation for ages to come; if you would not expose others, and yourself, to one of the most tremendous woes ever de nounced from heaven against sin and sinners, if you would not commit all these hideous sins; if you would not do all this complicated mischief; in short, if you would not be a pest to earth, an enemy to the cross of Christ, a friend of the devil, an agent of hell, and a curse to yourself, you must follow after holiness.
(c) Matt. xviii. 6, 7.
ON THE MORTIFICATION OF SIN.
81. W ERE man what Adam was, what angels are, or
what the spirits of the just will be, holiness would cost no pains, and require no labours. But during the present state, so much corruption works within, that the daily morti. fication of sin is essential to growth in grace.
The Scriptures contain many impressive admonitions respecting this duty. “ Let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us." “ If ye live after the flesh, ye shall die; but if ye through the Spirit do mortify the deeds of the body, ye shall live." “ Abhor that which is evil.” “ As strangers and pilgrims, abstain from fleshly lusts, which war against the soul."
That inbred corruption, which is the fruitful parent of all man's actual transgressions, is described in the Bible as “ the old man."e Not as something light and trifling, which attaches itself to man; but as that which is so incorporated with his fallen nature that it becomes as it were “the man." It is represented also as the body of sin, in which all sins are united, as all the members of man are in a human body.
Freed by divine grace from the “ dominion" of sin, the Christian is not freed from its more open assaults, or secret guile. It is like an enemy defeated, and trodden under foot, yet not dead; still possessed of life, and only wanting an opportunity to rise again, and ready then to act with vigour. Or like an enemy nailed to a cross, that if not kept there till his strength is exhausted, and life expires, may live again, and be a worse enemy than ever. Hence the important admonitions, to mortify sin, to mortify the deeds of the body. The sense of the original word is, to kill, to destroy. It contains
(+) Heb. xii. 1.
(d) 1 Pet. ii. 11.
(6) Rom, viii. 12, 13.
(c) Rom. xii. 9. (0) Rom. vi. 17, 18.
SELF-ACQUAINTANCE NECESSARY therefore a direction, to aim at the utter destruction of sin. The Scriptures do not, however, represent this enemy as soon dead. Our old man is cricified. Crucifixion was a lingering death. So sin does not die at once. Long will it linger; perhaps seem dead, then show again that life is not gone; then seem expiring, yet not expire. To the cross must it still be fastened, and wound after wound be inflicted on it, and never should it be presumed to be quite dead, till it dies finally, and dies eternally.
$ 2. If you would live to God, you must mortify sin. Aim not merely at avoiding sin in your outward conduct, but seek and pray to kill the root of it in your heart. That you may do this, cherish self-acquaintance. Watch the motions of your own heart. If a stranger to yourself, sin cannot be mortified; however it may be checked in your outward conduct, it will reign and triumph in your heart. Pride will be filling you with self-conceit and self-importance. Self-love will promote covetousness, and make you indifferent to the miseries of others. It will pollute your motives, and when God's glory is the ostensible object, your own praise will be the true, though hidden, spring of action. When afflicted, you will be disposed to murmur. When others are more prosperous or applauded than you, instead of rejoicing in their happiness, you will be disposed to envy them. All this is the effect of sin that lies unmortified, and perhaps hidden, in the heart. Hence too you will be studying for this world, when you should be meditating on a better; and planning for earth, when you should be reaching after heaven. The natural effect of all this is a cold, heartless, barren form of religion, where the life, and soul, and vital heat are wanting. This cannot be avoided unless you mortify sin, nor can sin be morti. fied without self-acquaintance.
To mortify sin, it is necessary that you have a deep impression of the evil of those innumerable sins, the sins of the heart. These are hidden from the eye of man. Human laws take no cognizance of them; but the great Searcher of hearts looks upon them with the same abhorrence, as that with which he looks on finished crimes. Sin in the seed, in the bud, the blade, or the ear, is in his sight equally hateful. For as it is said, “Sin aims always at the utmost every time it rises up to tempt or entice, might it have its own course, it would go