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bit of the flesh of the body, which might be done while the fpirit remained overgrown with unmortified lufts, and the foul quite defiled. The fpirit is here opposed to the letter, which laft cannot be well understood of the body, but of circumcifion, and therefore the spirit alfo; q. d. and circumcifion of the heart, which is circumeifion in the fpirit or grace of it, (not in the letter, or external rite of circumcision), is the true circumcifion. So they have the fpirituality of it, which is as the foul thereof, as well as the letter, which is as the body thereof. The fpirit of circumcifion is the invisible grace fignified by it, and joined with it, when it is effectual; the letter of it is the sensible sign or external rite.
men's or not.
(2.) They are fuch as have God's approbation, commendation, and praife, whether they have There is an allufion here to the word Judah, from whom that people, now called Jews, had their name; it fignifies 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 difcern what is within; but the true Jew, the real Chriftian, is one approved even by the heart-fearching God, according to the reality, and not the appearance. From this fubject I take this
DOCTRINE, That he is not a true Chriftian, 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 fpirituality thereof, alfo approves himself to the heartfearching God.
In illuftrating this important truth, I shall,
II. Confider it more particularly.--I fhall,
I. SPEAK to this point more generally.--Here I propose,
I. To fhew that there is such a difference in the vifible church, that there are fome who are only Christians outwardly, and that there are others who are alfo Chriftians inwardly.
II. To inquire what are the caufes of this difference ?
III. To point out what is the outside and letter of religion, which only makes an outfide Christian, and what the infide and spirit of religion is which. makes a genuine Christian.
IV. To confirm the doctrine.-I am,
I. To fhew that there is fuch a difference in the vifible church, that there are fome who are only Chriftians outwardly, and that there are others who are alfo Chriftians inwardly.
This difference appears many ways. It appears, 1. In the very different characters given those who profefs the fame faith and true religion. The preachers of the gospel are fishers of men, but they are not all good that come by profeffion into the net, Matth. xiii. 47. 48. The tares and the wheat grow together in the field of the church, the goats and the theep go together all the day, till the great Shepherd separate them. And as to virgin-profeffors, fome are wife, and have oil in their veffels, 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.
the lives of thofe who are called Christians. There are some whose religion, has a powerful efficacy on their hearts and lives to make them holy, others who have nothing but an idle form, having no more fanctifying power with it, than a painted fire has to burn 2 Tim. iii. 5. «Having a form of godlinefs, but denying the power thereof." The knowledge of fome is confined to their heads, it never gets down to their hearts: Tit. i. 16. “They profess that they know God, but in works they deny him." Others, by reafon of their light, dare not venture on an ill thing, more than on a precipice. Religion makes fome persons godly, fober, and righteous, binds powerfully on them their duty to God, to themselves, and to their neighbour. The pretended religion of others, leaves them loose as to all those things. It never checks them when neglecting fecret prayers, or prayers in the family, or when difpofed to fwear, drink, lie, defraud, &c.-This appears,
3. In the very different acceptance with God, which perfons' prayers get. There are fome whofe duties are very pleafing to God, they have a sweet favour in his noftrils; their words are registered before him, their tears are bottled, their fighs and groans are regarded, their will is accepted for the deed. But there are others whom God abhors, and also their duties. The word is preached to them, but it never reforms them; yet they hold on with their attendance on ordinances, and it may be alfo with their prayers. What fays the Lord of all fuch?" He that turneth away his ear from hearing the law, even his prayer fhall be an abomination." "For all these things hath my hand made, and all those things have been, faith the Lord; but to this man will I look, even to him that is poor, and of a contrite fpirit, and trembleth at my word.
word. He that killeth an ox is as if he flew a man; he that facrificeth a lamb, as if he cut off a dog's neck; he that offereth an oblation, as if he offered fwine's flesh; he that burneth incenfe, as if he bleffed an idol. Yea, they have chofen their own ways, and their foul delighteth in their abominations." "To what purpose is the multitude of your facrifices to me? faith the Lord; I am full of the burnt-offerings of rams, and the fat of fed beafts, and I delight not in the blood of bullocks, or of lambs, or of he-goats," Prov. xxviii. 9. Ifa. ixvi. 2. 3. and i. 11.-This appears,
4. From the very different fenfe and feeling which those have of the advantage of religion, the ordinances and duties thereof. Some are acquainted with the gain of religion, and, from their own experience, can give a folid reason why they follow it: 1 Tim. vi. 6. "But godlinefs with contentment is great gain." They have tafted of communion with God in duties, and of access to him, of the fanctifying influences of the Spirit in ordinances Mic. ii. 7. "O thou that art named the house of Jacob, is the Spirit of the Lord straitened? are these his doings? do not my words do good to him that walketh uprightly?" But unto others all these things are in very deed but as empty hufks: Prov. xiv. 10. "The heart knoweth his own bitternefs, and a stranger doth not intermeddle with his joy." They abide in the outer court of religion all their days; they fee not its intrinfic glory, nor taste of its kernel or marrow. They keep up a form of duties from cuftom, and an unenlightened confcience; but they feel nothing in them kindly to draw their hearts towards God.This appears,
5. In the very different effects of the religion. which those profefs. Grace is of a growing naM 2
ture; and it will grow, though not visibly at all times: Prov. iv. 18. "But the path of the just is as the fhining light, that shineth more and more unto the perfect day." And the longer that faints have a standing in religion, they will be the more firmly rooted; though perhaps their affections be not always fo vigorous, yet folid tenderness will difplay itself with them : Pfal. xcii. 13. 14. "Those that are planted in the house of the Lord, fhall grow up and flourish in the courts of our God. They shall still bring forth fruit in old age; they fhall be fat and flourishing." And if they fall, they will not lie ftill, but recover again: Pfal. xxxvii. 24. "Though he fall, he shall not be utterly caft down; for the Lord upholdeth him with his hand." But what are the effects which the religion of many has? Some grow up to their falfe pitch, and there they ftand without motion: Prov. xxvi. 14. "As the door turneth on his hinges, fo doth the flothful upon his bed." They think they are right, and they seek no farther. Some, inftead of growing better, grow worse and worfe; the longer they live, they are the more unholy, more untender in the substantials of moral duties; and fome throw afide the mask altogether, and, in fight of the world, defert to the devil's camp, by falling into fome profane courfe, apoftatifing upon fome temptation or other, and fo, as they were before loathfome before God, they become alfo loathsome before his people: Rev. iii. 16. “So, then, because thou art lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will spue thee of my mouth."-This appears,
Laftly, In the very different paffage which those have out of time into eternity. True, all must die, that is the point in which we all meet; but as true is it, that it is the point where outside and in