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and make it your Business to be as pious, and charitable, and sober, as is possible? Why, whether you believe in Christ or no, these are the Dictates of Natural Religion; and you must thus frame your Life, otherwise you are not qualified for any Direction or Assistance from God Almighty. And if any Man among us do thus frame his Life, I shall think it very strange if such a Man be not a hearty Christian. Sure I I never yet heard or read of any Instance to the contrary:
The Truth of it is, Men that are of this Temper, Men that are thus honestly disposed, never fail to believe in Christ at last, tho’ at the Beginning they do not. All such shall come unto Christ, because the Father draweth them. All such, because they endeavour to do God's Will, shall know of Christ's Doctrine, that it is of God. All this our Saviour hath long before told us.
But here is our Case: It is not the virtuous, the good, the humble, the modest, the charitable, the piouslydisposed Souls that disbelieve Christianity among us, but another fort of Men: And I pray God the great Reason of their Unbelief be not this, that the Doctrines of the Gospel do not suit with those Principles of Liberty which they have espoused; nor with that Course of Life they are engaged in: and therefore since the Gospel is against VOL. V.
them, they will be against the Gospel. But Woe be to all such, for they are of all Mortals in the most hopeless Condition.
“ I pray God convert them from the Evil “ of their Ways, that they may understand “ the Things that belong to their Peace be“ fore they be hid from their Eyes.” And we ought all to joyn in this Prayer, not only for their Sakes, but for the Publick. For Atheism and Irreligion are infinitely mischievous to the Kingdom, as well as to those particular Persons who maintain and promote them. And I pray God that all of us, who do heartily embrace and believe the Christian Religion, may frame our Lives and Conversation fuitably to it, that so we may be no Disparagement to our holy Faith, but may rather adorn the Doctrine of God we do profess in all Things : This is the true Way to obtain happy, peaceful Days in this world, and the Way likewise that will infallibly bring us safe to the Kingdom of Heaven after this World is ended. May God Almighty grant us both these Blessings for the Sake of his dear Son our Lord Jesus ; To whom, &c.
Of Conformity to the Customs and Ways
of the World. How far allowable,
[Delivered in Two Sermons.]
ROM. xii. 2.
HE whole Verse is this : And
ge may frove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect Will of God; that is, ye that call your selves Christians must not follow the Ways of the Men of this World, nor frame your Conversation according to the evil Customs
fee before you; but you are to look upon your selves as Men of another World : your Minds are to be formed and acted with new spiritual Principles, that so
ye may both
Aise what the Gospel of Christ requires of you, which is that good, and acceptable, and perfect Law by which God would have you to frame your Lives.
This Point of not conforming to the World is fo essential to Christianity, that it is one of those Things which we all vow in our Baptism : for as we then promise to renounce the Devil and all his Works, so do we also promise to renounce the Pomps and Vanities of this World; and therefore, as there is the greatest Obligation that is pofsible laid upon us to practise this Duty, so it is of mighty Concernment to us that we do well understand it, otherwise we shall bring endless Scruples and Difficulties upon ourselves. For to think of living in this World, and not in many Things conforming to it, or complying with the Customs of it, will seem even to the best of Men an hard, if not impossible, Task; and consequently, if the Bounds and Limits of this Precept be not well understood, we must unavoidably be entangled in many Perplexities.
To fix these Bounds therefore shall be my Endeavour in the enfuing Discourse. And in order hereunto I shall do these four Things.
I. First of all I shall fhew what kind of
Conformity to the World is allowable to Chriftians.
II. What kind of Conformity to the
World is here forbidden.
III. I shall name some particular In
stances in which this Precept of not conforming to the World doth more especially seem to concern us at this Day.
IV. I shall give account by what Rules
and Measures we are to guide ourselves in this point of Conformity to the World, that what is lawful in itself may not be unlawful or sinful in us.
I. I begin with the first of these Points, that is, To shew what kind of Conformity to this World is allowable to Christians. And what I have to say upon this Head I shall comprize in two Propositions.
ift. First of all; No Man is bound to differ from the World merely for Difference fake.
2dły. That it is not only lawful, but expedient, that in Things which are not by the Law of God forbidden, we should frame our Conversation according to the Course of the World.
1st. No Man is bound to differ from the World in his Way of Living merely for Difference fake.