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He also thereby doth farther promote the glory of God, instructing, exciting, and encouraging others to the like practice of deferring respect and service to God; for naturally men have such a capacity, such aptitude, such proclivity to religion, (or to the acknowlegement and worship of their Maker,) that when they behold others seriously and earnestly pursuing it, they are easily drawn to conspire therein ; especially those who are not utterly perverted and corrupted by ill custom.
And whereas good conversation hath a native beauty affecting beholders with delight; whereas the fruits of virtue have a pleasing sweetness, grateful to all who taste them; men from that sight and that sense will presently be moved to commend the wisdom, and to bless the goodness of him, who was pleased to institute so excellent a religion, to enact so beneficial laws, to prescribe so wholesome duties to us: for “when,' saith the most divine father," "an infidel shall see thee, a believer, to be kareoralyévor-staunch, sober, orderly, he will be astond, and will say, In truth, great is the God of Christians: What men hath he made! what persons out of what persons hatlı he made them! how from men hath he made them angels! If one abuse them, they do not rail ; if one smite them, they do not resent; if one injure them, they pray for him that doeth the offence; they know not to remember ill turns, they skill not to be vain, they have not learnt to lie, they cannot abide to forswear, or rather to swear at all, but sooner would choose to have their tongue cut out, than to let an oath slip out of their mouth.'
So may we really glorify God; and otherwise than by open practice we cannot do it; for glory doth require a public stage; it implying, as Seneca saith, the consent of many worthy persons' declaring their esteem; it being, as Cicero detineth it, • the agreeing praise of good men, with an incorrupted vote judging well of an excellent virtue.'
Wherefore toward our being enabled to glorify God, two things must concur; that we be good men, and that we be openly such.
That we be good men, because otherwise our commendation
• Chrys. avsp. e'. p. 524.)
will have no worth, or weight; for praise is not comely in the mouth of sinners:' it is no ornament to be commended by ill men, to whose words little regard is due, little trust can be given.
That we be good openly, avowing God in practice conducing to his honor; otherwise no glory can accrue to him from our goodness : we may serve God, and please him in private; but we cannot by that service glorify him; at least at present, and here in this world. It is true, the closest piety will yield glory to God at the last, when our Lord shall come to be glorified in his saints, and admired in them that believe;' but to design such a future glorification of God is not enough; it is our duty to glorify God now, that we may be rewarded for it, and that he may requite us with glory hereafter.
God himself telleth us in the psalm, “Whoso offereth praise, he glorifieth me;' and how can praise be offered, or to what purpose will it be offered, otherwise than apparently, either in word or deed, by oral or by real expression, to the ears or to the eyes
of men, so as to occasion in them the production of worthy conceptions and due affections toward God? In such a manper the holy man did offer it, who said, “I will declare thy name unto my brethren, in the midst of the congregation I will praise thee; I will praise the Lord with my whole heart, in the assembly of the upright, and in the congregation :' he did it sometimes with his mouth, which is a notable part of our conversation; but we may do it continually by our life ; for, • He,' saith St. Austin, “who praiseth God with his tongue, cannot do that always; but he that praiseth God by his manners can always do it.”
This motive is by the great masters of our Christian practice frequently urged; for,
St. Paul wisheth the Philippians' to be filled with the fruits of righteousness, which are by Jesus Christ unto the praise and glory of God;' he prayeth for the Thessalonians, that God would fulfil all the good pleasure of his goodness, and the work of faith with power, that the name of our Lord Jesus Christ
* Aug. in I. Ep. Joh. Tr. 8.
might be glorified in them;' he particularly doth incite the Corinthians to works of charity, that by that ministration men might be induced to glorify God, rendering him thankful praise for their beneficial obedience.
St. Peter likewise doth exhort all Christians 'to have their conversation honest among the Gentiles, that they might by their good works, which they should behold, glorify God, in the day of visitation,' (that is, perhaps, when they carefully do view and reflect on them.)
Our Lord himself thus chargeth his disciples, Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven ;' they did observe his command, and the effect did follow, many being converted to God no less by the radiant integrity of their life, than by the persuasive efficacy of their doctrine : and, • In this,' saith our Lord again, is my Father glorified, if ye bear much fruit:' what fruit was that? what but of good works, visible to the eye and perceptible to the taste ; otherwise how could men thence find cause to glorify God?
In fine, this is declared to be the peculiar design of our religion, or of the wbole Christian institution ; to this end we are made a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a peculiar people, that we should show forth the praises (or virtues) of him, who hath called us out of darkness to his marvellous light;' not only by our profession, but in our practice declaring his goodness.
On the other hand, by stifling our virtue and conscience, in an open compliance with sin, or neglect of our duty, we greatly shall dishonor God; for thereby in effect we deny him and desert him ; we injure his majesty, and disclaim our allegiance to him; we intimate our mean opinion of him, and small affection to him ; we betray our want of reverence to his excellency, of dread to his greatness, of love to his goodness, of hope in his promises and gracious overtures of mercy, of fear in regard to his severe justice and fierce menaces; so immediately we dishonor him, and we thereby also do countenance disrespect and disobedience to him; and our behavior tendeth to produce or to confirm the like irreligious dispositions of mind and impious
practices in others; so that with horrible disingenuity we cross the design of our creation, and violate our greatest obligations toward our Maker.
Indeed what greater affront or more heinous indignity can we offer to God, than openly before the world, by the most real expression of our works, to deny and disown him ; than to be notoriously ashamed or afraid to avow him for our Lord and Master ; than to express no sense of our duty to him, no reverence of his authority, no gratitude for his benefits to us; than visibly to prefer any other consideration or worldly advantage before a regard to his will and pleasure ?
In this open sin doth outgo private wickedness, and putteth down even the worst hypocrisy, (beside its own,) that it not only offendeth God, but sorely woundeth his honor, and exposeth his glorious name to contempt; by which consideration such miscarriages are frequently aggravated in holy Scripture ; so in the Prophets God complaineth of his people, for having by their scandalous crimes profaned his holy name among the heathen;' so St. Paul expostulateth with the Jew, Thou that boastest of the law, through breaking the law dishonorest thou God ?' so Nathan told David, that God would punish him, • because by his bad deed he had given great occasion to the enemies of the Lord to blaspheme.' But,
4. We should be careful of our good behavior in the sight of men, that we may thereby maintain the dignity and repute of our Christian profession, which by our naughty or negligent demeanor will be much disparaged and disgraced.
Most evident it is to reason that a visible practice, conformable to the rules of our religion, cannot otherwise than exceedingly commend and grace it; for how can the goodness of a rule more surely obtain its due commendation, than from its being applied to observable practice and experience ?
Assuredly charity, meekness, humility, patience, sobriety, discretion, and all Christian virtues, as in themselves they are very amiable and venerable to all men, as they yield great benefit and much pleasure to those whom their consequences do touch ; so they do ingratiate the law which prescribeth them, they bring esteem to the principles whence they are derived ; • he,' as the Apostle saith, that in these things serveth Christ,
is both acceptable to God and approved of men,' as the follower of a most excellent rule.
We may also consider that a conspicuous practice, according to our religion, is a demonstrative proof that we do seriously and firmly embrace it, or that we are heartily and steadily persuaded of its truth; which is no small credit to any profession; arguing that it hath a good foundation in reason, apt to bottom and sustain a solid faith.
And as thereby we pregnantly do evidence that we ourselves do highly value the noble privileges, the excellent promises, the precious rewards exhibited in the gospel ; so we thereby do breed a like esteem in others; on whom the authority of men apparently virtuous and conscientious infallibly will have a forcible influence.
Such a practice will have a great stroke toward evincing the truth and reality, the perfect excellency, the notable strength and efficacy of our religion; plainly showing that it is not mere name, an idle pretence, a weak fancy, a dry speculation, a chimerical dream ; but a vigorous and masculine principle, able to produce most worthy fruits of substantial goudness, profitable to men; conducible to our own welfare, and to the benefit of others.
As.gallant actions, becoming a noble rank, elevated above the vulgar level, do illustrate and dignify nobility itself; so doth a worthy conversation, beseeming our high station in the heavenly kingdom, our near alliances to God, those splendid titles and glorious privileges assigned to every faithful Christian in the evangelical charter, render our state admirable, and make it seem an excellent advantage to be a Christian.
Hence in the apostolical writings an observance of the evangelical laws is so much and often enforced by this consideration ; for on this account we are exhorted to a careful discharge of our duty, that we may adorn the doctrine of God our Saviour in all things ;' we are urged to have our conversation worthy of the gospel ;' to 'walk worthy of the vocation wherewith we are called, to behave ourselves • as worthily becometh saints,’ (that is, persons instituted in so holy a religion, and designed to so peculiar excellency in virtue ;) to walk as children of the light,' (that is, of truth and knowlege