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And therefore since GOD fees our most secret Sins, and will judge us for them; let us maintain a constant Awe for God in our greateft Retirements ; let us remember, that God is always present with us, that he fees when no other Eye fees, that he abhors our most recret Sins, that it is a great Contempt of God to retain a Reverence for Men, and to cast off the Reverence of God; to be ashamed that Men should know and see that Wickedness which we are not ashamed to commit, though we know God looks on.
But then on the other hand, we must remember, that at the Day of Judgment God will reward all the good we do, how private and secret soever it be; as our Saviour assures us, with reference to our private Devotions private Alms, and private Fasts: 6 Mat. That our Father, wbo seetb in secret will reward us openly.
It is too often feen, that Men make Religion it self minister to their Lusts and secular Interests; as the Pharisees did all their Works, to be seen and to be admir'd of Men; and therefore their great care was for what is external and visible, they prayed in the Corners of the Streets, and gave their Alms with the sound of a Trumpet, and disfigured their Faces, that they might appear unto Men to fast. This was all vain Glory and Hypocrisie ; and when they were admired by Men for it, they had the Reward they aimed at, and all the Reward they must expect.
But true Religion does not court the Applause of Men: A good Man must set a good Example to the World in his publick Conversation; but such Acts of Vertue as may be private, he is contented should be known to none but God and his own Conscience.
This is highly acceptable to God, for it is to do good only for God's fake, and that satisfaction we take in doing good : Here is no mixture of secular Ends, but God is the whole World to us : That he sees it, is more than all Humane Applause,though the whole world were the Theatre; we expect our Reward from him, and from him only, for we let no body else know it; which is such a Perfection of Obedience, of Faith, of Hope and Trust in God, as deserves the greatest
Rewards. Those who industriously conceal the good they do from Men, can expect nothing from Men for it, neither Praise nor Rewards, and therefore can have no other Motive to do good, but the Love and Reverence of God, and Faith in him, or the Pleasure they take in doing good for Goodness fake, which are such Noble and Divine Principles of Action, as command Reverence from all Men, when they are discovered, do great Honour to the Divine Nature, and will procure great Rewards: Which is a mighty Encouragement to the most secret Vertues, to the most secret Acts of Devotion and Charity, That our Father who Seeth in secret, will reward 70s openly in the Presence of men and Angels,
VI. We shall be judged for the Sins of our Thoughts; and though all Men will confess this also, yet few consider it.
Good God! could we look into one anothers Thoughts, how should we blush, and be confounded to see each other! Men, who seem to make Conscience of their external Behaviour and Conversation, make very little Conscience of governing their Thoughts and secret Paffions. Those who
so modeft as to blush at any indecent Word or Action, too often at the very same time burn with Lust, and entertain their Fancies with all impure and unclean Imaginations.
The most affable and courteous Men, whose Words and Behaviour are soft, endearing, and obliging, can yet cherish revengeful Thoughts, Anger, Malice, Hatred, and please themselves with the Imagination of fome Tragical Scenes, which they dare not a&t.
Nay, many times thofe who appear Humble to a Fault, who seem as free from Ambition as any Men in the World, who arrogate nothing to themselves, nay seem to admire every body but themselves, are yet very full of themselves, swoln with vain Conceits of their own Worth and Merit, and please themselves with their own Deserts, and that the World takes notice of their Deserts; and then'they consider, how they ought to be rewarded and preferred, and will be sure to choose very well for themselves; and thus entertain their deluded Fancies with vain and empty Scenes of Greatness and Glory,
The Pharisees thought all this very innocent : That to luft after a beautiful Woman , and please themselves with amorous and wanton Imaginations, were no Crime, if they did not commit Adultery ; that Anger, and Malice, and Revenge were very innocent, while confined to thought; but our Saviour teaches his Disciples better, Ye bave heard, it bath been said to them of old, Thou shalt not commit Adultery. But I say unto you, Whosoever looketh on a Woman to lust after her, bath committed Adulterý with her already in his Heart. You bave beard it bath been said unto them of old, Thou shalt not kill: And whosoever shall kil, shall be in danger of the Judgment. But I say unto you, Whosoever jhall be angry with his Brother without a Cause, Jhall be in danger of the Judgment, 5 Matth. 21, 22,
For indeed the Thoughts and Passions of the Soul defile the Man: They discover the Temper and Complection of the Mind : This is the conceiving of Lust, as St. James speaks; and while Men indulge themselves in wanton, luftful, proud, ambitious, fpiteful, and revenge.ful Thoughts, it is almost impossible but such Thoughts as these will influence their Actions, when a favourable Opportunity serves; and if they do not, yet we know what the Mens Hearts are; and God who dwells within us, and sees.our Thoughts, will judge the Secrets of Hearts. Men who act over the Scenes of Luft, and Pride, and Revenge in their Minds, are as unlike to God, who is essential Holiness, Purity, Love, as those who commit all those Yillanies, which they only please themselves
with the Fancy of. Our likeness to God conlists only in the Conformity of our Wills and Affections to him; for it is only a Spirit that can be like a Spirit ; and therefore while our Thoughts and Passions are so contrary and opposite to the Divine Nature, God can never own us, we are not his Children, we are not yet born of God, for we have nothing of his Image on Us.
And therefore let us take care of our Thoughts, of our Passions and secret Affections, for we must be judged for these, as well as for our external Actions; we may, sin with our Minds and Spirits, as well as with our Bodies ; and God who is a Spirit, requires the Worship and Obedience of our Minds and Spirits, and is as much offended with sinful and impure Thoughts, as with wicked Adions.
VII. We shall be judged for our Words too ; Thus our Saviour assures us, 12 Marth. 36, 37. But I say unto you, That every idle word that men Shall speak, they shall give an account thereof in the Day of Judgment. For by thy words thou shalt be justified, and by thy words thou shalt be condemned. I need not tell you what these idle words are; Prophane Atheistical Discourse, Blaspheming God and his Providence, Ridiculing his WorShip and Religion, the Docrines and Precepts of it, and those Miracles which were wrought by the Power of the Holy Ghost, for the Confirmation of Christianity, to which our Saviour particularly refers in this place; or obscene and wanton Discourse, which St. Paul calls corrupti Communication ,
which should never