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At their head must be placed the intentional hypocrite, who knows that he is utterly destitute of love to God and the Redeemer, who has no desire for holiness, but who assumes the mask of religion to cover his sinful purposes. Than this character, none is more hateful to God and to man; none secures a deeper damnation. It would be trifling with your understandings formally to prove to you, that the greatest strictness and frequency of external performances will not recommend him to God. His hypocritical designs convert his prayers into blasphemy; his communions, into sacrilege.

The cold formalist has the “ form of godliness without the power." His intention is not to delude men; he has felt, in some degree, the importance of securing future bliss. He is, therefore, strict in the performance of the external duties of religion; and to this he may add a blameless walk with men, and many moral virtues. But examine nearer, and you find that he has forgotten that Christianity is emphatically the religion of the heart. You find that, amidst this round of duties, he knows not what it is to enjoy communion with God and the Redeemer, through the Spirit; that he knows not what it is to be born of God, raised from the death of sin, quickened and led by the Spirit, created in Christ Jesus to good works. He attends the ordinances, not as a motive and assistant to vital piety, but as a substitute, which he hopes God will accept instead of the piety of the soul. He attends them as awful duties, rather than as privileges and delights. With all his external strictness, he is only a beautiful corpse, without a vivifying principle; and his religious performances and “ moral virtues are only sweet flowers strewed over this

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corpse, which hide the loathsomeness of it, but inspire not life into it.”*

The vain enthusiast has “the form of godliness without the power.” You will not here misunderstand me; you will not suppose that I am adopting the wicked and contemptible cant of those enemies of God and holiness, who stigmatize as enthusiasm all ardour in the cause of the Lord, all warmth for the blessed Redeemer. Only let your zeal be wellfounded, and it cannot be excessive. I am speaking of the stony-ground hearers, mentioned by our Lord, who received the word with joy; whose passions were all on fire, though their souls were unrenewed; who produced a beautiful but deceptive verdure, which withered when the sun arose, because they had no root in themselves. I am speaking of those mentioned by Paul in the sixth chapter to the Hebrews, who were strangers to regenerating grace, and who perished; but who, nevertheless, “ had tasted of the heavenly gift,” had some relish of the excellence and preciousness of Christ, and of the good word of God,” in which they had found some sweetness; and “ of the powers of the world to come,” having had some transports and ecstasies of soul in meditating on that future felicity which they supposed was their own. I am speaking of those who substitute ardours and glows of soul, which arise from natural causes, for supernatural grace; who live, not by faith on Christ, but on their spiritual frames; who invert the order of the gospel, and derive the only evidence of their peace with God from the joys they feel, instead of deriving their joy from the scriptural evidence applied by the Spirit, of their

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peace

with God. "Oh! how many such have glittered for a time, as meteors, in the church, and then have set in darkness!

The worldly-minded professor has the form of godliness without the power. How many, who, while they observe the exteriors of devotion, yet show that the world, in some of its forms, has the first plaee in their hearts.

Perhaps he is a covetous man; and then, though he may often deplore the corruption, the frivolity, and dissipation of the age, yet the love of wealth will engross his affections, produce an eagerness to acquire it, a proud trust and confidence in it, and a resolution to preserve and increase it by any means.

Perhaps he is devoted to worldly pleasure ; and, while he acknowledges the inconsistency of a covetous heart with the power of godliness, sees not how remote his own life is from that spirituality, that heavenly-mindedness, that superiority to earth, which mark the child of God. A circle of perpetual amusements, an immoderate pursuit of vain diversions, banish serious thoughts, render it unfit for communion with the Redeemer and the exercises of piety, lead to those vices and follies which mark the character of those who are “ lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God.” Perhaps he bows at the shrine of :* ambition, and intent only on earthly dignities, shows that he cannot be satisfied with that honour which cometh of God only.

The bitter sectarian has the form of godliness without the power. He thinks his zeal for a party a zeal for God; denouncing all who differ from him, he would confine the interest of the Redeemer upon earth to his own little sect. He forgets that unhal

lowed passions may mingle with the defence of the most sacred truths ; that strange fire may be offered even on the true altar of God; and that with the temper of hell we may combat for the doctrines of : heaven. Such was Jehu; zealous against idolatry,

though destitute of piety. Such were the pharisees, who would compass sea and land to make one proselyte, though they were the children of Satan. Such were those, who thought they did God service by killing his children.

The censorious professor has the form of godliness without the power. . He thinks better of himself, in proportion as he speaks worse of others. He cries, with a proud elation of soul, “ Stand by thyself; I am holier thou!" He has the temper of the pharisee, who exclaimed, “ God, I thank thee, that I am not as other men!” Instead of being occupied with his own heart, and exercising upon it all his severity, he is watching every little irregularity of conduct or temper

in others. Oh! how much does he want the humility, the meekness, the candour of the gospel! how little does he resemble that Redeemer, who has given us, as the test of our attachment to him, mutual love! Alas! the censorious professor acts as though Jesus had said, “By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye hate and revile one an other.' 66 If

any man among you,” saith the apostle, “ seem to be religious, and bridleth not his tongue, but deceiveth his own heart, this man's religion is vain.” (James i. 26.)

Finally, the unfruitful professor has the form of godliness without the power. He is the undutiful son in the parable, (Matt. xxi. 28.) who outwardly professes reverence for his father, but neglects his commands. His whole character is delineated by de

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claring of what he is not guilty; but what does he for God, for his Redeemer, for the cause of religion, for the benefit of his fellow-men? To these questions no answers can be given. He satisfies himself with crying, “ Lord, Lord;" but not doing the will of God, he shall not enter into the kingdom of hea

yen.

And now, my dear brethren, let us, in the presence of that God who beholds us, examine ourselves; let us apply to our own hearts the truths to which we have listened. Are there any of us who have hitherto lived destitute alike of the form and the power of godliness ? Let such blush and be confounded, that, though created, redeemed, supported by God, they have yet lived lives of practical atheism; lived precisely as they would have done, had the Saviour never become incarnate, nor the blood of atonement been shed. Oh! for such disregard to their obligations to the greatest and best of Beings; for such ingratitude to the blessed Jesus, let them be filled with penitential sorrow, and humbled in the dust! And let those of us, who have the form, fear not to probe our own souls. If we are reluctant to examine, to search the sincerity of our profession, it is indeed an unfavourable symptom. Let us not dream away our lives in false security, and indulge a vain hope which will perish when God taketh away the soul. Let us see whether we have indeed understanding, and deliberately chosen God as our portion; whether his will is our rule, and his glory our end; whether Christ is - formed in us the hope of glory;" whether we are renewed by the Holy Spirit; whether our conversation is in heaven; whether we are rich in good works ; more careful of being holy than of seeming so; lowly

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