"If we Say that we have Fellowship with Him, and Walk in Darkness, we Lie,"
1 John i.6. -- "If we say that we have fellowship with him, and walk in darkness, we lie," &c.

There is nothing in which men suffer themselves to be so easily deceived as in this highest concernment of religion, in which the eternal interest of their souls lies. There is no delusion either so gross or so universal in any other thing, as in this thing, in regard of which all other things are nothing. This hath overspread the world, (to speak only of that part which pretends to Christianity,) a strong, pertinacious, and blind fancy of being in Jesus Christ and having interest in salvation. I call it a blind and ignorant fancy, for truly ignorance and darkness is the strongest foundation of such conceits. Papists call it the mother of devotion. It is true, in this sense it is the mother of a man's groundless devotion towards himself, that is, of delusion. This, together with self-love, which always hoodwinks the mind, and will not suffer a serious impartial examination of a man's self, these, I say, are the bottom of this vain persuasion, that possesseth the generality of men. Now, what it wants of knowledge, it hath of wilfulness. It is a conceit altogether void of reason, but it is so wilful and pertinacious, that it is almost utterly inconvincible, and so it puts souls in the most desperate forlorn estate that can be imagined. It makes them, as the apostle speaks, (Eph. v.6) {GREEK SMALL LETTER UPSILON}{GREEK SMALL LETTER IOTA}{GREEK SMALL LETTER OMICRON}{GREEK SMALL LETTER IOTA}{GREEK SMALL LETTER FINAL SIGMA} {GREEK SMALL LETTER TAU}{GREEK SMALL LETTER ETA}{GREEK SMALL LETTER FINAL SIGMA} {GREEK SMALL LETTER ALPHA}{GREEK SMALL LETTER PI}{GREEK SMALL LETTER ALPHA}{GREEK SMALL LETTER THETA}{GREEK SMALL LETTER EPSILON}{GREEK SMALL LETTER IOTA}{GREEK SMALL LETTER ALPHA}{GREEK SMALL LETTER FINAL SIGMA} children of impersuasion, -- it is rendered commonly, "children of disobedience." And, indeed, they are joined together. They are children of disobedience, carrying the manifest characters of wrath upon them, yet they are withal children of impersuasion, incapable of any persuasion contrary to these deluding insinuations of their own minds. Though they be manifest to all men to be sons of disobedience, living in rebellion against God, yet it is not possible to persuade them of it. They are as far from conviction of what they are, as reformation to what they should be. Notwithstanding, if men would but give an impartial and attentive ear to what the apostle says here, I suppose the very frame of his argument is so convincing, that he could not but leave some impression. If any thing will convince a child of impersuasion, the terms here propounded are finest, "God is light, and in him is no darkness." Hence it follows, by unavoidable consequence, as clear as the light, that no man can have fellowship with God that walks in darkness.

Those that delude themselves in this matter are of two kinds. They generally pretend to Christianity in general, and to an interest in salvation, but if we descend into the chief parts and members of Christianity, as holiness, fellowship with God, walking after the Spirit, and such like, these they do not so much as pretend to. And withal, they think they have a dispensation from such strictness, and make it a sufficient plea that they are not such, because they never professed to be such. Others again, though fewer, can pretend even to these higher points of Christianity, as communion with God, walking after the Spirit, and indeed in this they are more consonant to their profession of Christianity. But, as the apostle saith, there may be a practical lie in it too, if we consider and compare their practice with their profession.

I would speak a word, by way of preparation, to you who are of the first sort, that is, the very multitude of professing Christians, because you do not profess so much as others, and do not give out yourselves for the students of holiness, you think yourselves exempted from the stroke of all this soul piercing doctrine. You think readily it is not pertinent to apply this to you of walking contrary to your profession, and so committing this gross lie in not doing the truth. "If any man say I have fellowship with God," &c. And who will say that, say ye? Who will speak such a high word of himself as this? Therefore, since you do not presume so high, you think you have escaped the censure that follows.

But, I beseech you, consider what your professions import, and what you engage yourselves to even by the general profession of Christianity. I know you will all say you are Christians, and hope to be saved. Now, do ye understand what is included in that? If any man say that he is a Christian, he really says that he hath fellowship with God, if any man say he is a Christian, he says he hath fellowship with Christ, and is partaker of his Spirit, for, as the apostle (Rom. viii.9) declares unto you, "If any have not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of his, that is, he is no Christian. For what is it, I pray you, to be a Christian? Is it not to be a new creature, formed again by the Spirit of Christ?" 2 Cor. v.17. Therefore, in as far as you pretend to be Christians, and yet are not professors of holiness, and think you have a dispensation from such a walking in God and after Christ, you fall under a twofold contradiction, and commit a twofold lie: first, between your profession and practice, then in your profession itself, -- your practice is directly cross to the very general profession of Christianity. But besides that, there is a contradiction in the bosom of your profession. You affirm you are Christians, and yet refuse the profession of holiness. You say ye hope for heaven, and yet do not so much as pretend to godliness and walking spiritually. Nay, these you disjoin in your profession, which are really one, without which the name of Christianity is an empty, vain, and ridiculous appellation. There must be then a great darkness of misapprehension in your minds, that you take on the name of Christians, and will not know what it imports, and therefore in the mean time, you profess that which destroys and annuls your former profession. Now, certainly, this is a grosser lie, a flatter contradiction, than needs much inquiry into, to find it out. It is so palpable, that I wonder that these very common and received principles of truth do not use up within to testify against it, for if ye do not own the profession of holiness and communion with God, what advantage have you then of Christianity? Tell me, what will it serve you for? Can it save you? Can a bare, empty, contradicted, and blasphemed title save you? And if it do not save you, it will make your condemnation the greater. Let this then first be settled in our hearts, and laid down as a principle, -- that the most general profession of Christianity lays an inviolable bond and obligation upon us, to all that is imported in the particular expressions of a Christian's nature, walk, and society. Whether we take it so or not, thus it is: to be a Christian infolds all that can be said, and if it do not import these, it is not true to its own signification nor conformed to Christ's meaning. You may deprave the world as you please, and deform that holy calling so, as it may suit to your carriage, but according to this word, in this acceptation of it, you shall be judged, and if your Judge shall in that great day lay all this great charge upon you, what will it avail you now to absolve yourselves in your imaginations, even from the very obligation itself?

Let us suppose, then, that you are convicted of this, that Christianity, in the most general and common acceptation, is inclusive of fellowship and communion with God, and that you profess and pretend to both, then let us apply this just rule of the apostles, to examine the truth and reality of such a profession. The rule is straight, and so may be a trial both of that which is straight and crooked. Rectum sui et obliqui index: And here the application being made, there is a discovery of the falsehood and crookedness of most men's hearts. This golden rule of examination is a rule of proportion, so to speak, or it is founded upon the harmony that should be between profession and practice, words and deeds, and upon that conformity should intercede between those that have communion one with another. Now apply these to the generality of Christians, and behold there is no harmony and consent between their speaking and walking. Their calling and profession, as Christians, imports communion with God, who is the pure unmixed light, and yet they declare otherwise, that themselves are in darkness of ignorance, and walk in the darkness of sin, and so that communion must be pretended, where there is no conformity and likeness to God intended. The result then of all is this, herein is the greatest lie, and most dangerous withal, committed, -- it is the greatest lie, because it takes in all a man's conversation, which all alone makes up one great universal lie, a lie composed of infinite contrarieties, of innumerable particular lies, for every step, every word, and action, is in its own nature contrary to that holy profession, but all combined together, makes up a black constellation of lies -- one powerful lie against the truth. And, besides, it is not against a particular truth, but against the whole complex of Christianity. And error is a lie against such a particular truth as it opposeth, but the tract and course of an ignorant ungodly conversation is one continued lie against the whole bulk and body of Christianity. It is a lie drawn the length of many weeks, months, and years against the whole frame of Christian profession. For there is nothing in the calling of a Christian, that is not retracted, contradicted, and reproached by it. Oh! that ye could unbowel your own ways, and see what a cluster of lies and incongruities is in them, what reproaches and calumnies these practical lies cast upon the honour of your Christian calling, how they tend of their own nature, to the disgracing of the truth, and the blaspheming of God's name! These things ye would find, if ye would rip up your own hearts and ways, and if you found how great that he is, you could not but fear the danger of it, for it being no less than a denying of Jesus Christ, and a real renunciation of him, it puts you without the refuge of sinners, and is most likely to keep you without the blessed city, for "there shall in no wise enter therein anything that defileth, or maketh a lie," Rev. xxi.27. What shall then become of them whose life all along is but one continued lie?

sermon xi this then is
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