RPM, Volume 18, Number 37, September 4 to September 10, 2016

Sermons on John 17


By Thomas Manton

That they all may be one; as than, Father, art in me, and I in thee, that they also may be one in us: that the world may believe that thou hast sent me.�"John 17:21.

Having proved the point, I shall examine why Christ should be so [Pg. 44] earnest to have the world convinced, that he should put this into his prayer, 'That the world may believe that thou hast sent me.' The reasons are, partly in respect of himself, partly in respect of the elect partly in respect of the world. First, In respect of himself.

1. It is much for Christ's honour that even his enemies should have some esteem of him, and some conviction of his worth and excellency. Praise and esteem in the mouth of an enemy is a double honour, more than in the mouth of a friend. The commendations of a friend may seem-the mistakes of love, and their value and esteem may proceed from affection rather than judgment Now it is for the honour of God and Christ that his enemies speak well of him, and that they give an approbation to the gospel. Many spake highly of God that never received him for their God. Nebuchadnezzar was forced to confess, Dan. ii. 47, 'Of a truth it is that your God is a God of gods, and Lord of kings;' Deut. xxxii. 31, 'Their rock is not as our rock, even our enemies themselves being Judges.' His enemies speak well of him. The church commendeth God, as they have cause, 'Who is like unto the Lord our God in all the world?' But now they might seem partial, and therefore God will extort praise from his enemies; those that are apt to think of Christ as an impostor and seducer shall see the reality of their religion. It was an honour to Christianity 'that the people magnified the apostles,' though they had not a heart to run all hazards with them, Acts v. 13.

2. It is for the clearing of his process at the last day. The heathens, being convinced by God's works, are \~anapologhtoi\~, 'without excuse.' Rom. i. 20;' God hath not left himself without a witness.' Acts xiv. 17. So those that live within the sound of the gospel, though they do not come under the power and dominion of the Christian faith, yet they have such a conviction of it as shall tend to their condemnation at the great day. All those whom the Lord arraigns at the last day, 'they will all be speechless.' and have nothing to say for themselves, Mat. xxii. 12. At the day of judgment our mouths will be stopped, as being condemned in our own conscience; then the books shall be opened; and one of the books opened is in the malefactor's keeping, the sinner's conscience; they are \~autokatakritio\~. God's providence is justified by the conviction of their own hearts. It is a question which is the greatest torment, the terribleness of the sentence which shall be passed upon wicked men, or the righteousness of it. You know the apostle tells you, 'When the Lord Jesus shall come in flames of fire, to render vengeance to the world.' 2 Thee, i. 7, 8, there are two sorts of persons he shall meet with,�"'Them that know not God.' that is, heathens, which did not lake up what they might know of God from the course of nature, from the knowledge of their eye and ear; and' Them that obey not the gospel.' them that lived within the sound of the gospel, and heard much of it; they were convinced, they had some kind of knowledge and belief of it, yet they would not let their hearts be subject, and give up themselves to it. It clears the Lord's process; if men continue ignorant and opposite to the grace of the gospel, by this means they are left without excuse; therefore, that he might be clear when he judgeth, the world shall be [Pg. 45] convinced and brought to a temporal persuasion 'that thou hast sent me;' the old conviction that remaineth with them shall justify God.

Secondly, With respect to the elect; for all is for the elect's sake. The world would not stand if it were not for their sakes. Time would be at an end but that God hath some more that are not called, and the number of the elect is not fully accomplished. When all the passengers are taken in, the ship launcheth forth into the main; so we should all launch forth into the ocean of eternity if all the elect were taken in. He prays with respect to them, 'that the world may believe.' How doth this concern them?

1. Their conviction conduceth to others' conversion. Many of the Samaritans possibly would not believe if Simon Magus, their great leader, had not been convinced: Acts viii. 10, 'To him they all gave heed, from the least to the greatest, saying, This man is the great power of God.' If the word can gain such a one but to the conviction of the truth, though he be an enemy to it in his heart, yet it is a mighty means to further the conversion of the elect. The conviction of the World, it is a rational inducement, it is a door by which the gospel entereth. It is no small advantage that Christianity hath gotten such esteem as to be made the public profession of the nations; that potentates have counted it the fairest flower in their crown to be styled the defender of the faith, the catholic king, the most Christian king. By all kind of means is this to be promoted, to bring men to a general confession. Though it be no great benefit to them as to the world to come, yet it is a help to the elect, that they are under such a conviction; for if Christianity were still counted a novel doctrine, a hated doctrine, and were publicly hated, maligned, opposed, and persecuted, what would become of it?

2. For the safety of the church. Though God doth not change their natures, yet he breaketh their fierceness, that they may not be such bitter enemies; and so persecution is restrained; and when there is a restraint, and he ties their hands by conviction, we enjoy the more quiet. Alas! what wolves and tigers would we be to one another if the awe of conviction and the restraints of conscience were taken off! We owe very much of our safety, not to visible force and power, but to the spiritual conviction that is on the hearts of men, by which God bridles in the corrupt and ill-principled world, that they cannot find in their hearts so much to molest it as otherwise their natures would carry them to, but that the gospel may have a free course, and the gathering of the elect may not be hindered; for God's conviction is the bridle he hath upon them, to keep them from doing hurt; though they be not converted, yet they shall be convinced. Acts v., Gamaliel being convinced, the apostles obtained liberty of preaching; Pliny, moved by the piety of Christians, obtained a mitigation of the persecution from Trajan; and such halcyon days might we expect if Christians would walk more suitable to the privileges of the mystical union; they would dart a great deal of reverence in the minds of men, and would be more safe than they are; for when the wall of visible protection is broken down, a Christian merely subsists by the awe that is upon the consciences of men. Wicked carnal men, as they have a slavish fear of God; which is accompanied with hatred of God, so the; [Pg. 46] have a slavish fear of the saints, only their hatred is greater than their fear. When you abate of the majesty of your conversation, and behave not yourselves as those that are taken into the mystical body of Christ, and have the communion of the Spirit, when you do not walk up suitably to your spiritual life and privileges, then the hatred of your enemies is increased, and their fear lessened; whereas otherwise their fear which ariseth from thence is a mighty restraint How often are we disappointed when we expect to beat down opposite factions by strife and power I More good is done by conviction, and the church hath greater security and peace, when they subsist by their own virtue, rather than by force of arms. I remember, in ecclesiastical history, when Valens the Emperor railed against all the defenders of the godhead of Christ, he did not meddle with Paulinus, out of reverence to him, for he was a very holy strict man; none durst lay hands upon him.

3. Many times they profess and join to the church, and so we have benefit by their gifts and abilities, authority and power; for God doth his church a great deal of good by carnal men. Conviction may bring them as far as profession; and the temporary faith of a magistrate, though carnal, may be a protection to Christianity; as a hedge of thorns may be a good fence about a garden of roses. If they are men of parts, they may help to defend the Christian doctrine, as a living tree may be supported by a dead post; and the gifts of carnal men are for the use of the body, as the Gibeonites joined to Israel, and were made hewers of wood and drawers of water; or as the carpenters who helped to build Noah's ark perished in the flood; or as negroes that dig in the mines of knowledge. God may employ them to bring up that which may be of great use and profit to the world; they may help to build an ark., for others, though they themselves perish in the water. We would not refuse gold from a dirty hand, neither are we to slight the benefit of carnal men's parts; for the common profession of Christianity that they are under, though they are slaves to their lusts, yet it is a real benefit and help to the saints.

4. They serve for a warning to the saints. When this conviction is strong upon them, and grows to a height, by the stings of conscience and horrors of them that die in despair, God warneth his people. Though we would bear off the stroke, yet God knows how soon this fire may be kindled in our own breasts; when men see what convictions will do, being stifled and not complied with, and men live not according to their light, it is a warning to others. As a slave is many times beaten to warn a son of his father's displeasure, and naturalists tell us a lion will tremble to see a dog beaten before him; so do the children of God tremble at the convictions of wicked men. Oh! the horrors of their conscience declare what God hath wrought upon them, though few take little notice of it.

Thirdly, In respect to the world itself, this conviction serveth both to lessen and increase their judgment. The terms seem to be opposite.

1. Sometimes to lessen their judgment Certainly the degrees of eternal punishment are not equal; there is \~perissoteron\~ \~krima\~, Mat. xxiii. 14, 'a greater judgment;' there is a hotter and a cooler hell; there are few stripes, and many stripes. In the world to come, 'it is more [Pg. 47] tolerable for some than for others.' Mat. xii. 41. The condition of the Ninevites was made more tolerable by the conviction wrought by Jonah's preaching, because there was a temporal repentance; they humbled themselves for a while, though they were frighted to this religiousness. Aristides, Cato, and other moral heathens, their condition will be more tolerable than those men that live in a way of brutish and filthy excess. So there are many convinced that have helped the church, and been friendly to religion; when others have oppressed and opposed the ways of God, they have been a hiding-place, a shelter, a countenance, a protection to the people of God; these shall not lose their reward: they have many blessings in this world, though they continue carnal, and live and die in their sins. I suppose the more they comply with these convictions, their condemnation shall be lessened, though not taken away. This advantage they have, ut mitius ardeant, they shall have a cooler hell.

2. Sometimes to increase their judgment Those that maliciously oppose this conviction, they hasten their own condemnation, and heighten it. Then it will be a sin to them with a witness, when they knew their master's will and did it not: James iv. 17, 'Therefore to him that knoweth to do good, and doeth it not, to him it is sin.' They carry this conviction to hell with them, and it is a part of their torment; this is the worm that never dies. Oh! what a terror will it be for them to think, I had a better estate discovered to me; I knew somewhat of the ways of God; and now I am shut out for ever and ever! There is 'a worm that never dies,' as well as 'a fire that shall never be quenched,' Mark ix. 44. There may be a conviction, so much as to enable a man to speak to others, yet he may be a worker of iniquity, and cast out of Christ's presence. How will this increase their torment! Their knowledge serveth but to damn them the more. The characters are indelible, and are not extinguished by death. To all other torments there is added the gnawing of conscience. Look, as in the elect there is such a spark kindled as shall never be extinguished; their knowledge they get here is not abolished, but perfected, and the joys of the Spirit begin their heaven; a witnessing excusing conscience to the elect is the beginning of heaven; so in hell, conscience will be always raging and expostulating with you�"0 fool that I was, to neglect so great salvation which others enjoy! If I had lived civilly at least, it had been better with me than now it is. As they know more of God than others do, so their judgment will accordingly be greater. And you know not how soon God may kindle this fire in your bosoms, who for the present sleep on carelessly in your sins.

Use 1. This may serve to persuade us that the conviction of the world is a great blessing, and conduceth much to the advancement of Christ's kingdom, without any visible force, with mere spiritual weapons, in despite of all opposition which can be made thereunto. The corrupt and ill-principled world cannot stand out against the evidence of the truth, when it is soundly preached, and in the demonstration of the Spirit. We have too slight an opinion of the weapons of our spiritual warfare: 2 Cor. x. 4, 'The weapons of our warfare are not carnal, but mighty through God for the pulling down of strongholds.' Surely they are more mighty to pull down strongholds than [Pg. 48] we are aware of. The Spirit of the Lord, though he will not convert, yet can so put to silence, and bridle the opposition that carnal men make, that it shall be ineffectual. It concerneth God in honour to go thus far on with the world for the promoting of his kingdom, and that they may not go on with a high hand to oppose and crush it And this doth also evince the truth of the Christian religion, such convictions accompanying the preaching of it And God doth not wholly discontinue this dispensation now. There are ordinary operations of the Spirit, where the gospel is preached, which do convince the world. The careless professor owns the same creed, the same Bible, and the same baptism, and that is a mighty help and advantage.

Use 2. It informeth us of the love and care of Christ; he would omit no blessing that conduceth to the church's good. He would have those convinced whom he doth not convert, that we may have no stumbling-block in our way to heaven. It was a question, 'Have any of the rulers believed in him?' John vii.48. Alas! when the powers of the world are against the people of God, the world is apt to think hard of Christ, and many stumble at this rock of offence. Now, that we may have the help of their power, and authority, and countenance, and the gifts of carnal men, the Lord will put them under some conviction of the truth of Christianity. Christ would not only give us the benefit of our fellow-saints, but of carnal hypocrites, as the moon hath no light in itself, yet it giveth light to others; though they have no grace in their hearts, yet they have notable parts, and they do a great deal of good, and that our pilgrimage might not be wholly uncomfortable. If all the world were divided into two ranks, as Jeremiah's basket of figs, Jer. xxiv., were either very good or very naught, there were no living in the world, if all were pagans or Christians. No; some must come under a temporary faith, that the people of God may live more commodiously. It is the wisdom of providence that there is a middle party, that are as a screen between the extremely wicked and the saints; they are not so bad as the worst, because they are convinced more, though not converted. Christians in Christ all things are ours, not only the elect, who are our companions and fellows in the same grace, but also the reprobates are ours. The more civil and convinced sort of the world are for our good, and do much serve the uses of the church; and the worst sort of reprobates serve for our exercise and trial, for the awakening more serious grace in us by their oppositions, and for the heightening our privileges; the more evil they are, the more cause have we to bless a good God that hath made us better.

Use 3. It presseth us not to slight, nor yet to rest in these convictions, and in this temporary faith.

1. Do not slight your convictions and remorses of conscience. Though all convinced men are not converted, yet there are none converted but they are first convinced. A temporary faith, taken up upon common inducements, makes way for a saving faith; as the priming of a post makes it receptive of better colours. Whereas, on the other side, slighted convictions, though you smother them now, will be felt another day; it is but a wound skinned over, and slightly healed, that festers into a dangerous sore. Twenty years were past, [Pg. 49] and there was no remembrance of Joseph; bat when his brethren were in distress, conscience wrought: Gen. xlii. 21, 'And they said one to another, We are verily guilty concerning our brother, in that we saw the anguish of his soul, when he besought us, and we would not hear him; therefore is this distress come upon us;' they were convinced of some wrong done to him. Convictions are forgotten, smothered, neglected; conscience speaketh no more, but it writeth when it doth not speak; and when the mists of the soul are a little cleared and scattered, all is legible; that which they thought was forgotten cometh to light, and those old convictions break out with violence, to our horror and trouble; therefore slight them not.

2. Do not rest in these convictions. Thus it may be with reprobates; they may be convinced of the best way, almost persuaded, but not altogether. The young man was not far from the kingdom of heaven; he was near, but never entered. Some civil men are upon the borders of grace. Do not rest in this estate.

How shall I know I am only convinced, and not converted to God? Ans. Thus:

1. If sin be discovered, but not mortified; if there be no endeavour to get it removed. As a March sun raiseth aguish vapours, but cannot scatter them, as when the sun gets up into its height, so conviction discovers sin, but doth not help us to mortify it: Rom. vii. 9, 'For I was alive without the law once, but when the commandment came, sin revived, and I died.'

2. When we have wishes, but no practice, slight and cold desires. Oh! when shall this sensual heart be made heavenly! this worldly heart put into a better frame! But no serious looking after it, nor waiting upon God, that we may obtain those things we desire. Balaam had his wishes and good moods: Num. xxiii. 10, 'Oh, that I might die the death of the righteous t and that my latter end may be like his!' Vellent sed nolunt; they would and they would not�" empty velleities. They would fain have grace, but they will not be at the cost of continual attending upon God till he work it in their hearts. And they are ineffectual glances; wishing without working obtains nothing. These are like early blossoms in the spring, that put forth lustily, but are soon nipped, and never come to fruit.

3. Negatives without positives. Men do not hate Christ, nor the people of God; but do they love them? 1 Cor. xvi. 22, 'If any man love not the Lord Jesus Christ,' &c. It is not enough not to hate Christ, but are your hearts carried towards him? So many do not oppose the ministry of the gospel. Ay I but they neglect the message of the gospel, they content themselves with a few flying thoughts about Christ, heaven, and the blessed things that are to come, like the glance of the sunbeam upon a wave: Heb. ii. 3, 'How shall we escape if we neglect so great salvation?' It is not said, If we contemn, resist, undermine it. No; they are not of that rank, but they are of a more plausible rank and sort of people; they would countenance the profession of godliness, but neglect the duties of it There are two sorts of men�"some are well-willers to good things, some open malicious persecutors. In some, natural hatred is more allayed, though all hate it, but there is a despite in neglect; as the neglect of things worthy [Pg. 50] and great argue a scorn and contempt, as well as the malicious refusal. To be neutral and cold, indifferent to God and sin, is to be an enemy.

4. There is an inward approbation many times, without an outward profession, or without such a constitution of soul as to choose these things for our portion. Alas I many that are convinced approve things that are excellent: Rom. ii. 18, 'Thou knowest his will, and approvest the things that are more excellent, being instructed put of the law;' Acts v. 13, 'And of the rest durst no man join himself to them; but the people magnified them.' An honourable esteem they had, but they could not endure the severity of discipline, as being afraid because of the case of Ananias, who paid so dearly for a little dissembling. So many are not far from the kingdom of God; they approve things that are good, but they have no mind to take hazard and lot with Christ.

5. If there should be a profession, there is no power. The net draws bad fish as well as good. There are mixtures in the church. Many revere godliness, but were never acquainted with the virtue and power of it. Many have an excellent model of truth, and make a profession as plausible and glorious in the world as possibly you can desire; yet they never knew the virtue of this religion, it never entered into their heart: 1 Cor. iv. 20, 'For the kingdom of God is not in word.' Stands not in plausible pretences. 'but in power:' 1 Thess. i. 5, 'For our gospel came not unto you in word only, but also in power.' You know the state of men were represented by Christ in the parable of the two sons: Mat xxi. 28-30, 'A certain man had two sons, and he came to the first, and said, Son, go to work to-day in my vineyard. He answered and said, I will not: but afterwards he repented and went. And he went to the second, and said likewise: and he answered and said, I go sir, and went not.' Oh! there be many that say, 'I will go,' that pretend fair, that are convinced so far as to make a profession, yet never bring their hearts seriously to addict themselves to God, to walk in his ways and keep his charge; there is no real change of heart, no serious bent of soul towards God.

6. If there be some real motions, as there may be in temporary believers, for we must not think all is hypocritical, yet it is not entire: Mark vi. 20, 'Herod did many things, and heard John Baptist gladly.' His heart and his profession went a great way together, till he was to part with his bosom lust. John was safe till he touched upon his Herodias; then conviction grows furious, and he turneth into a devil. Therefore take heed of mere conviction.

Use 4. To press the children of God to express such fruits of their union with Christ that they may convince the world Christ prays not only that the world may be convinced, but that it might be by those that are real members of his mystical body, that they may have a hand to further it What are the fruits of the mystical union, that you may convince the world?

1. Love and mutual serviceableness to one another's good. When we live as members of the same body, that have a mutual care for one another, then we shall bring a mighty honour and credit to religion, and can with power give testimony to the truths of Christ: [Pg. 51] Acts ii. 44, 'And all that believed were together, and had all things common.' When Christians were of one mind and heart, they had all things common. Oh! it is a mighty convincing thing when all those that profess godliness labour to carry on the same truths and practices. Divisions breed atheism in the world. The Lord Jesus knew it, and therefore he prays, 'Let them be all one, Ac., that the world may believe that thou hast sent me.' We never propagate the faith so much as by this union. Divisions put a great stop to the progress of truth. When contrary factions mutually condemn one another, it is a wonder any are brought off from their vain conversations. The world is apt to think there is no such thing as religion, and one sort is no better than another; they see the world cannot agree about it, therefore they stay where they are.

2. Holiness and strictness of life and conversation; there is a convincing majesty in it; natural conscience doth homage to it wherever it findeth it; therefore live as those who are taken up into fellowship with God through Christ Herod feared John Baptist Why? Because he was a strict preacher? No; but because he was a just man, Mark vi. 20. When you live thus holily, and 'accomplish the work of faith with power.' then the Lord Jesus is 'glorified in you,' 2 Thee. i. 11,12.

3. When you can contemn the baits of the world, and allurements of sense, this is a mighty argument to convince the world that you have higher and nobler principles you are acted by, and better hopes you are called to. Though you have not divested and put off the interests of flesh and blood, for you are not angels, yet you can be faithful to God and Christ The world admireth what kind of temper men are made of: 1 Peter iv. 4, 'They think it strange that you run not with them into all excess of riot.' They have the same interests and concernments, and yet how mortified! how weaned are they from those things which others go a-whoring after! Sure they have a felicity which the world knoweth not of; they dread and admire this, though they hate you.

4. A cheerfulness and comfortableness in the midst of troubles and deep wants, when you can live above your condition, 'take joyfully the spoiling of our goods,' Heb. x. 34, and bear losses with an equal mind; for you are not much troubled with these things; then you live as those that are called to a higher happiness.

5. To be more faithful in the duties of your relations. The fruits of the mystical union run to every part of the spiritual life. None commend their religion so much as those that make conscience of the duties of their relations, that they may carry themselves as becomes Christians, husbands and wives, parents and children, masters and servants. So poor servants make the doctrine of the Lord Jesus Christ comely: Titus ii. 10, 'That ye may adorn the doctrine of God our Saviour in all things.' And the apostle saith, men that do not obey the word, may without the word be won by the conversation of their wives, 1 Peter iii. 1. Worldly men have been much gained by the lives of religions persona Thus you propagate the truth by carrying yourselves usefully in your relations. This hath been ever the glory of religion, as it was in the primitive times. Austin makes this [Pg. 52] challenge, Ubi tales imperators? &c. Let all the religions in the world show such emperors, such captains, such armies, such managers of public treasury, as the Christian religion. The world was convinced there was something divine in them. Oh! it is pity the glory of religion should fall to the ground in our days, and that the quite contrary should be said: None such careless parents as those that seem to be touched with a sense of religion 1 None so disobedient to magistrates, none such disobedient children to parents, as those that seem to be called to liberty with Christ! Therefore, if you would honour Christ, and propagate the truth, keep up this testimony and convince the world.

6. A constancy in the profession of faith. You should live as if Christ and you had one common interest. Sure they believe Christ was sent from God, and able to reward them, else why should they sacrifice all their interests for his sake? It is said, Rev. xii. 11, 'The saints overcome by the blood of the Lamb, and the word of their testimony, and they loved not their lives unto the death.' Religion had never thrived, and spread its branches far and near, had it not been watered by the blood of the martyrs. Christ began and watered the plant by his own blood; and then the martyrs kept watering it till it began to be rooted and had got some esteem in the world; and now it spreads its boughs, and yields a shadow and refreshing to the far greatest part of the world. When men take up principles that will not warrant suffering, or are changeable and pliable to all interests, and wriggle and distinguish themselves out of their duty upon all occasions, it doth mightily dishonour Christ, and make religion vile, and harden the world, and feed their prejudices against the truth. What is the reason the ways of God have so little honour in the eyes of the world, so little power upon the hearts of men? Professors are so fickle and changeable, this maketh them suspect all, and so return to their old superstitions and vanities.

Now, that you may do so, I shall bind it upon you by some further considerations.

1. Consider you are God's witnesses to keep up truth in the world, to bring them on to conversion, or at least to some temporary faith: Isa. xliii. 10, 'Ye are my witnesses, saith the Lord, that I am he.' God appealeth to those that have most communion with him, for the truth and reality of his grace. If a man would be satisfied in a thing that he knoweth not, to whom should he go for satisfaction but to those that have most experience? Well, if the world would be satisfied is union with Christ a notion or a real thing, ye are my witnesses: 2 Cor. iii. 3, 'Ye are manifestly declared to be the epistle of Christ.' In an epistle a man writes his mind. The scriptures they arc Christ's epistle, and so are Christians. The world, that will not study the scriptures, are to be convinced and preparatively induced by your lives. Every Christian is to be a walking Bible. It is a dangerous temptation to atheism when Christians, that pretend themselves near and dear to God, are scandalous, and let loose the reins to every corrupt affection. He that took a Christian in an act of filthiness cried out, Chrtstiane! vbi Deus tuus? In the scripture there is Christ's mind in words; in a Christian there is Christ's mind written in deeds in his [Pg. 53] conversation. You are to be a living reproof; as 'Noah condemned the world by preparing an ark.' Heb. xi. 7. There was something in it, when he was so busy in preparing an ark, with so great cost and charge; it was a real upbraiding of their security and carelessness; so when men are so diligent and busy in working out their salvation with fear and trembling, it is a real reproof to the carnal and lazy world.

2. Consider, if you do not convince the world, you justify the world; as Israel justified Sodom, Ezek. xvi. 52. The wicked hold up their ways with greater pretence, and are hardened in their prejudices. You put an excuse into wicked men's mouths. What a sad thing will it be when they shall say, Lord, we never thought they had been thy servants, they were so wrathful, proud, sensual, self-seeking, factious, turbulent, hunting after honours, and great places in the world: Rom. ii. 23,24, 'Thou that makest thy boast of the law, through breaking of the law dishonourest thou God? for the name of God is blasphemed among the Gentiles through you.' Carnal professors will blush at the last day, when they shall consider how many they have hardened by their examples, unsettled by their loose walking; how you have disgraced Christ, and taken up his name for a dishonour to him. It is this that makes the Hams of the world to laugh; you cannot gratify them more.

3. Consider the great good that cometh by it. For the present, you stop the mouth of iniquity: Titus ii. 8, 'That he that is of the contrary part may be ashamed, having no evil thing to say of you.' It is the duty of Christians not only to approve themselves to God, but, as far as they can, to wicked men, to take off all advantage from the world, to confute their slanders, to muzzle the mouths of carnal men, that they may have no occasion to speak against the ways of God and the professors of Christianity. Carnal Christians open profane mouths; their slanders shall be put upon your score, who give them too much matter and occasion to speak. Do not say, They are dogs; what care I if they bark? The awe that is upon wicked men is one means of the church's preservation; therefore you must justify wisdom: Mat. xi. 19, 'But wisdom is justified of her children.' Justification is a relative word, it implieth condemnation; the world condemns the ways of God, and people of God, of fancy, fury, faction. Now you must justify them; at least, you will leave them without excuse, and furnish matter for the triumphs of God's justice at the last day, and so will have further cause to applaud the counsels of God, when you sit on the bench at the last day. For as in the last day you shall, together with Christ, judge the world by your vote and suffrage�"1 Cor. vi. 2, 'Know ye not that the saints shall judge the world?'�"so now you must convince them by your conversations. It is a sad thing men walk so as it cannot be said, Where is the malefactor, and where is the judge? You should condemn them, as by the difference of your lives, so by the heavenliness of your hearts.

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