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God; we can no otherwise be so, than by repouncing every thing, that is foolish and vain, in every part of our common life. If we are to be in Christ new creatures ; we must show that we are so, by having new ways of living in the world. If we are to follow Christ; it must be in our common way of spending every day.
Thus it is in all the virtues and holy tempers of Cbristianity; they are not ours, unless they be the virtues and tempers of our ordinary life. So that Christianity is so far from leaving us to live in the common ways of life, conforming to the folly of customs, and gratifying the passions and tempers, which the spirit of the world delights in ; it is so far from indulging us in any of these things, that all its virtues, which it makes necessary to salvation, are only so many ways of living above and contrary to the world in all the common actions of our life. If our common life is not a common course of humility, self-denial, renunciation of the world, poverty of spirit, and heavenly affection ; we do not live the lives of Christians.
But, though it is plain, that this and this alone is Christianity, a uniform, open, and visible practice of all these virtues ; yet it as plain, that there is little or nothing of this to be found, even among the better sort of people. You see them often at church, and pleased with fine preachers; but look into their lives, and you see them just the same sort of people, as others are that make no pretence to devotion. The difference between them, is only the difference of natural temper. They have the same worldly cares, and fears, and joys; they have the same turn of mind, equally vain in their desires. You see the same fondness for state and equipage, the same pride and vanity of dress, the same self-love and indulgence, the same foolish friendships and groundless hatreds, the same levity of mind and trifling spirit, the same vain ways of spending their time in visiting and conversation, as the rest of the world that make no pretepce to devotion.
I do not mean this comparison betwixt people seemingly good and professed rakes; but betwixt people of sober lives. Let us take an instance in two modest women; let it be supposed, that one of them is careful of times of devotion, and observes them through a sense of duty, and that the other has no hearty concern about it, but is at church seldom or often, just as it happens. Now it is a very easy thing to see this difference betwixt these persons. But, when you have seen this, can you find any farther difference betwixt them ? Can you find that their life is of a different kind ? Are not the tempers, and customs, and manners of the one, of the same kind, as of the other? Do they live, as if they belonged to different worlds, had different views and dif. ferent rules and measures of their actions? Have they not the same goods and evils, are they not pleased and displeased in the same manner, and for the same things ? Do they not live in the same course of life? Does one seem to be of this world, looking at things temporal,and the other of another world, looking wholly at things eternal ? Does the one live in pleasure, delighting herself in show or dress; and the other in self-denial and mortification, renouncing every thing, that looks like vanity of person, dress, or carriage? Does the one follow public diversions, and trifle away her time in idle visits and corrupt conversation; and does the other study the art of im. proving her time, living in prayer and watching, and such good works, as may make her time turn to advantage, and be placed to her account at the last day? Is the one careless of expense, and glad to be able to adorn herself with every costly ornament of dress? And does the other consider her fortune, as a talent, given her by God, which is to be improved religiously, and no more to be spent in vain ornaments, than it is to be buried in the earth ?
Where must you look, to find one person of religion, differing, in this manner, from another, that has none ? Yet, if they do not differ in the things, here related, can it with any sense be said, the one is a good Christian, and the other not?
Take an instance among the men. Leo has a great deal of good nature, has kept, what they call good com
pany, hates every thing, false and base; is very generous and brave to his friends, but has concerned himself so little with religion, that he hardly knows the differ. ence beiwixt a Jew and a Christian.
Eusebius, on the other hand, had early impressions of of religion, and buys books of devotion. He can talk of all the feasts and fasts of the church, and knows the names of most men, that have been eminent for piety. You never hear him swear, or make a loose jest; and, when he talks of religion, he talks of it, as of a matter of the last concern.
Here you see that one person has religion enough, to be reckoned a pious Christian, and the other is so far from all appearance of religion, that he may fairly be reckoped a Heathen ; yet, if you look into their life ; if you examine their ruling temper in the great articles of life, or the great doctrines of Christianity; you will find the least difference imaginable.
Consider them with regard to the use of the world; because there is what every body can see.
Now to have right potions and tempers with relation to this world is as essential to religion ; as to have right notions of God. It is as possible for a man to worship a crocodile, and yet be a pious man; as to have his affections set upon this world, and yet be a good Christian.
But if you consider Leo and Eusebius in this respect, you will find them exactly alike ; seeking, using, and enjoying all, that can be got in this world, in the same manner and for the same ends. You will find that riches, pleasures, indulgences, state, equipage, and honor are just as much the happiness of Eusebius, as of Leo. Yet, if Christianity has not changed a man's temper with relation to these things, what can we say, it has done for bim?
For, if the doctrines of Christianity were practised; they would make a man as different from other people, as to all worldly tempers, sensual pleasures, and the pride of life, as a wise man is different from a fool; it would be an easy thing, to know a Christian by his outward course of life. For it is notorious, that Cbristians
are now, not only like other men in their frailties and infirmities, this might be in some degree excusable ; but the complaint is, they are like heathens in all the main and chief articles of their lives. They enjoy the world, and live every day in the same temper, and the same designs, and the same indulgences, as they did, who knew not God, nor of any happiness in another lise. Every body, that is capable of any reflection, must have observed, that this is generally the state even of devout people, whether men or women. You may see them different from other people so far, as to times and places of prayer; but, generally, like the rest of the world in all the other parts of their lives. That is, adding Christian devotion to a heathen life. I have the authority of our blessed Saviour for this remark, where he says, Take no thought, saying, what siall we eat, or what shall we drink, or wherewith shall we be clothed ? for after all these things do the Gentiles seek. But, if to be thus affected, even with the necessary things of this life, shows that we are not yet of a Christian spirit, but like the heathens ; surely to enjoy the vanity and folly of the world, as they did ; to be like them in the temper of our lives, in self-love and indulgence, in sensual pleasures and diversions, in the vanity of dress, the love of show and greatness, or any other gaudy distinction of fortune, is a much greater sign of a heathen temper. Consequently they, who add devotion to such a life, must be said to pray, as Christians, but live, as heathens.
An inquiry into the Reason, why the generality of Christians
fall so fur short of the Holiness and Devotion of Christianity.
It may now be reasonably inquired, how it comes to pass, that the lives even of the better sort of people are thus strangely contrary to the principles of Christianity.
But, before I give a direct answer to this, I desire it may be inquired, how it comes to pass, that swearing is so common a vice among Christians ; (it is indeed not yet so common among women, as it is among men. But among men this sin is so common, that perhaps there are more than two in three that are guilty of it through the whole course of their lives, swearing more or less, just as it happens, some constantly, others only now and then, as it were by chance. Now I ask how comes it) that men are guilty of so gross and profane a sin, as this? There is neither ignorance, por human infirmity, to plead for it. It is against an express commandment, and the most plain doctrine of our blessed Saviour. Do but find the reason why the generality of men live in this notorious vice; and you will have found the reason, why the generality even of the better sort of people live so contrary to Christianity. Now the reason of common swearing is this; men have not so much, as the intention to please God in all their aetions. For let a man have so much piety, as to intend to please God in all the actions of his life; and he will never swear more. It will be as impossible for him 10 swear, while he feels this intention within himself; as it is impossible for a man, that intends to please his prince, to abuse him to his face.
It seems but a small part of piety, to have such a sincere intention, as this; and that he has no reason to look