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their hurtful natures under the Messiah. No; but rational beasts shall alter their dispositions. The ravenous Oppressor is the wolf: the tyrannical Persecutor is the leopard: the renomous Heretic is the asp: these shall turn innocent and useful, by the Power of Godliness: for then the carth shall be full of the knowledge of the Lord; Isaiah xi. 6, &c. Is it not a manifest change of nature, for the Ethiopian, to turn white; for the leopard, to turn spotless? This is done, when those do good which are accustonied to evil; Jer. xiii. 23. And this Godliness can do. Is it not a manifest change of nature, for the camel to pass through a needle's eye? This is done, when, through the Power of Godliness, ye Great and Rich Men get to heaven. Lastly, it is an easy thing to turn men into beasts; a cup too much can do it: but, to turn beasts into men, men into saints, devils into angels, it is no less than a work of Omnipotency. And this Godliness can do.
. But, to rise higher than a change: Is it not an act of Omnipotency, to create? Nature can go on in her track, whether of continuing what she actually finds to be, or of producing what she finds to be potentially in pre-existing causes; but, to make new matter transcends her power. This, Godliness can do: here is tevr xtícis, a new creature; 2 Cor. v. 17. There is in nature no predisposition to grace: the man must be no less new, than when he was made first of the dust of the earth, and that earth of nothing: Norus homo; Eph. iv. 24. How is this done? by creation: and how is he created ? in righteousness and holiness; holiness to God, righteousness to men: both make up Godliness. A regeneration is here a creation. Progenuit is expressed by creavit; James i. !8: and this, by the word of truth. Old things are passed; saith the Apostle: all must be new. If we will have ought to do with God, our bodies must be renewed by a glorious resurrection, ere they can enjoy heaven; our souls must be renewed by grace, ere we can enjoy God on earth. Are there any of us pained with our heart of stone ?
be well enough: the stone of the reins or bladder is a woe. ful pain, but the stone of the heart is more deadly. He can by this power take it out, and give us a heart of flesh; Ezek. xi. 19. Are there any of us weary of carrying our old Adam about us? a grievous burden I confess, and that which is able to weigh us down to hell : do we groan under the load, and long to be eased? none but the Almighty Hand can do it, by the power of Godliness creating us anew to the likeness of that Second Adam which is from heaven, heavenly; without which, there is no possibility of salvation: for flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God. In a word, would we have this earth of ours translated to heaven? it is only the Power of Godliness can do it. And, as this Power of Godliness is great, so no less beneficial: be
both here and hereafter. Here, it frees us from evil, it feoffs us in good. Godliness is an antidote against all mischief and misery: yea, such is the power of it, that it not only keeps us from evil, but turns that evil to good: All things work together to the best to them that love and fear God; saith the Apos
neficial every way,
tle. Lo, all things: crosses, sins; crosses are blessings, sins are advantages. St. Paul's viper befriended him; St. Martin's hellebore nourished him: Saluti fuere pestifera, as Seneca speaks. And what can hurt him, that is blessed by crosses, and is bettered by sins? It feoffs us in good; wealth, honour, contentment. The Apostle puts two of them together; Godliness is great gain with conteniment ; i Tim. vi. 6. Here are no ifs or ands; but gain, great gain, and gain with self-sufficiency or contentment. Wickedness may yield a gain, such as it is, for a time; but it will be gravel in the throat, gain far from contentment. Length of days are in the right hand of true wisdom, and in her left hand riches and honour; Prov. iii. 16. Lo, honour and wealth are but gifts of the left hand; common and mean favours: length, yea eternity, of days is for the right; that is the height of bounty. Godliness hath the promises of this life and of that which is to come; saith the Apostle: the promise, that is enough: God's promises are his performances: with men to promise and to pay are two things; they are one with God: To them, that, by patient continuing in well-doing, seek glory and honour and immortality, eternal life; Rom. ii. 7. Briefly, for I could dwell here always, it is Godliness, that only can give us the beatifical sight of God. The sight? yea, the fruition of him; yea, the union with him: not by apposition, not by adhesion, but by a blessed participation of the divine nature; 2 Pet. 1. 4., I can go no higher: no; the angels and archangels cannot look higher than this.
To sum up all then, Godliness can give wisdom to the fool; eyes to the blind, life to the dead: it can eject devils; change the course of nature; create us anew; free us from evil; feoff us in good, honour, wealth, contentment, everlasting happiness. O the wonderful, O the beneficial Power of Godliness!
And now, what is the desire of my soul, but that all this could make you in love with Godliness; that, instead of the ambitions of honour, the tradings for wealth, the pursuit of pleasure, your hearts could be set on fire with the zealous affectation of true Godliness?
Alas! the least overture of any of these makes us mad of the world: if but the shadow of a little honour, wealth, promotion, pleasure be cast before us, how eagerly do we prosecute it to the eternal hazard of our souls! Behold, the substance of them all put together offers itself in Godliness. How zealously should we embrace them; and never give rest to our souls, till we have laid up those true grounds of happiness, which shall continue with us, when all our riches and earthly glory shall lie down with us in the dust! Alas, Noble and Christian Hearers, ye may be outwardly great, and inwardly miserable: it was a great Cæsar, that said, “I have been all things, and am never the better.”
It is not your bags, ye Wealthy Citizens, that can keep the gout from your joints, or care from your hearts. It is not a coronet, ye Great Peers, that can keep your heads from aching: all this earthly pomp and magnificence cannot keep out either death or conscience. Our prosperity presents us as goodly lilies; which, while they are whole, look fair and smell sweet; but, if once bruised a little, as nasty both in sight and scent. It is only Godliness, that carr hold up our heads in the evil day; that can bid us make a mock at all the blustering storms of the world; that can protect us from all miseries, which if they kill, yet they cannot hurt us; that can improve our sufferings; and invest us with true and eternal glory. O then be covetous, be ambitious of this blessed estate of the soul: and, as Simon Macchabæus with three years' labour took down the top of mount Acra in Jerusalem, that no hill might stand in competition of height with the Temple of God; so, let us humble and prostrate all other desires to this one, That true Godliness may have the
sway in us. Neither is this consideration more fit to be a whetstone to our zeal, than a touchstone to our condition. Godliness? why, it is a herb, that grows in every soil. As Platina observes, that, for 900 years and upwards, none of those Popes to whom Sanctity is ascribed in the abstract, were yet held Saints after their death, except Celestine the Vth, which gave up the pontifical chair after six months' weary sitting in it; so, on the contrary, we may live ages, ere we hear a man profess himself God-less, while he is abominably such. He is too bad, that will not be thought Godly; as it is a brazen-faced courtesan, that would not be held honest.
That, which Lactantius said of the heathen philosophers, That they had many scholars, few followers, I cannot say of the divine. We have enough to learn, enough to imitate; but few to act. Be not deceived, Godliness is not impotent: wherever Godliness is, there is power
. Hath it then prevailed to open our eyes, to see the great things of our peace? hath it raised us up from the grave of our sins, ejected our hellish corruptions, changed our wicked natures, new created our hearts ? well may we applaud ourselves in the confidence of our Godliness.
But, if we be still old, still corrupt, still blind, still dead, still devilish; away, Vain Hypocrites, ye have nothing to do with God. liness, because Godliness hath had no power on you. Are ye godly, that care to know any thing rather than God and spiritual things? Are ye godly, that have neither ability nor will to serve that God, whom ye fashionably pretend to know? Are ye godly, which have no inward awe of that God, whom ye pretend to serve; no government of your passions; no conscience of
your actions; no care of your lives? False Hypocrites! ye do but abuse and profane that name, which ye unjustly arrogate. No, no; Godliness can no more be without power, than the God that works it. Shew me your Godliness in the true fervor of your devotions, in the effectual sanctification of your hearts and tongues, in the conscionable carriage of your lives; else, to the wicked saith God, what hast thou to do to take my covenant in thy mouth, seeing thou hatest to be reformed ? Psalm 1. 16.
2. Ye have heard the Power of Godliness; hear now the DENIAL of this power.
How then is it denied ? Surely there is a verbal, there is a real denial; et rebus et verbis, as Hilary. It is a mistaking of logicians, that negation is the affection of a proposition only: no; God and Divinity find it more in practice. This very power is as stoutly challenged by some men in words, as truly denied in actions. As one says of the Pharisees' answer concerning John's calling, verum dicebant, et mentiebantur; “they told truth, and yet lied;" so may I of these men. It is not in the power of words, to deny so strongly as deeds can: both the hand and the tongue interpret the heart; but the hand so much more lively, as there is more substance in acts than sounds: as he said, Spectamur agendo; we are both seen and heard in our actions. He, that says there is no God, is a vocal atheist; he, that lives as if there were no God, is a vital atheist: he, that should say Godliness hath no power, is a verbal atheist; he, that shall live as if Godliness had no power, is a real atheist; they are atheists both.
We would fly upon a man, that should deny a God, with Diagoras; though, as Anselm well, no man can do this interiùs," from within:" we would buru a man, that should deny the Deity of Christ, with Arius: we would rend our clothes at the blasphemy of that man, who, with the Epicures and Apelleians, should exempt the cares and operations of God from the things below: we would spit at a man, that durst say, There is no Poreer in Godliness.
These monsters, if there be such, hide their ugly heads; and find it not safe to look on the light. Faggots are the best language to such miscreants.
But these real denials are so much more rife and bold, as they can take the advantage of their outward safety and unconvincibleness.
Their words are honey; their life poison: as Bernard said of his Arnoldus. And these actions make too much noise in the world. That, which St. Chrysostom says of the Last Day, That men's works shall speak, their tongues shall be silent; is partly true, in the mean time: their works cry out, while their tongues whisper.
There is then really a double Denial of the Power of Godliness : the one, in not doing the good it requires; the other, in doing the evil it forbids; the one, a Privative; the other, a Positive denial.
(1.) In the FORMER, what power hath Godliness, if it have not made us good? A feeble Godliness it is, that is ineflectual. If it have not wrought us to be devout to God, just to men, sober and temperate in the use of God's creatures, humble in ourselves, charitable to others; where is the Godliness? where is the Power? If these were not apparently done, there were no Form of Godliness : if these be not soundly and heartily done, there is a palpable Denial of the Power of Godliness.
Hear this then, ye Ignorant and Seduced Souls, that measure your devotions by number, not by weight; or, that, leaning upon your idle elbow, yawningly patter out those prayers, whose sound or sense ye understand not; ye, that bring listless ears severed from your wandering hearts to the messages sent from heaven; ye, that come to God's board as a surfeited stomach to a honey-comb, or a
sick stomach to a potion ; shortly, ye, that pray without feeling, hear without care, receive without appetite: ye have a form of Godliness, but deny the power of it.
Hear this, ye, that wear out the floor of God's house with your frequent attendance; ye, that have your ears open to God's messengers, and yet shut to the cries of the poor, of the orphan, of the labourer, of the distressed debtor; ye, that can lift up those hands to heaven in your fashionable prayers, which ye have not reached out to the relief of the needy members of your Saviour; (while I must tell you, by the way, that hard rule of Laurentius, Magis delinquit dives non largiendo superflua, quàm pauper rapiendo necessaria :' “ The rich man offends more in not giving his superfluities, than the poor man in stealing necessaries;”) ye, that have a fluent tongue to talk unto God, but have no tongue to speak for God, or to speak in the cause of the dumb: ye have a form of Godliness, but deny the power thereof.
Shortly, ye, that have no fear of God before your eyes, no love to goodness, no care of obedience, no conscience of your actions, no diligence in your callings; ye have denied the power of Godli
This very privative denial shall, without your repentance, damn your souls. Remember, oh remember, that there needs no other ground of your last and heaviest doom, than, Ye have not given, Ye have not visited.
(2.) But the POSITIVE denial is yet more irrefragable. If very privations and silence speak, much more are actions vocal.
Hear this then, ye Vizors of Christianity, who, notwithstanding all your civil smoothness, when ye are once moved, can tear heaven with your blasphemies, and bandy the dreadful name of GOD in your impure mouths by your bloody oaths and execrations; ye, that dare to exercise your saucy wits in profane scoffs at religion; ye, that presume to whet your lawless tongues, and lift up your rebellious hands, against lawful authority whether in Church or State; ye, that grind faces like edge-tools, and spill blood like water; ye, that can neigh after strange flesh, and upon your voluptuous beds act the filthiness of Sodomitical Aretinisms; ye, that can quaff your drunken carouses, till
you have drowned your reason in a deluge of deadly healths; ye, whose foul hands are belimed with bribery, and besmeared with the price of blood; ye, whose sacrilegious throats have swallowed down whole churches and hospitals, whose maws have put over whole parishes of sold and affamished souls; ye, whose faction and turbulency in novel opinions rends the seamless coat, not considering that of Melanchthon, That schism is no less sin than idolatry, and there cannot easily be a worse than idolatry ; either of them both are enough to ruin any Church under heaven (now the God of Heaven ever keep this Church of ours from the mischief of them both!) ye, whose tongues trade in lies, whose very profession is fraud and cozenage; ye cruel Usurers, false Flatterers, lying and envious Detractors; in a word, ye, whoever ye are, that go resolutely forward in a course of any known