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A Fondness for worldly Esteem
a great Hindrance to religious Truths.
JOHN V. 44. How can ye believe, who receive Ho
nour one of another, and seek not the Honour which cometh from God only?
E may observe that our Lord does not only in a general way instruct his Hearers in
the Preparations necessary to believe in, and follow him; but as Occasions offer, he specifies the par
ticular Hindrances, and draws from them Personal Directions. There were doubtless in that Age Persons under all sorts of Indispolitions and ill Habics in regard to religious Truths, and as these came in our Lord's way, they give him a handle of applying himself in a proper and suitable manner to them. So that besides general and comprehensive Rules of Behaviour, such as, Deny your selves, repent and believe the Gospel, and the like, we may find particular and special Instructions, adapted to those many Inventions, which Men have fought out unto themselves ; We may hear our Lord speaking to the present State of our own Souls, and in whatsoever way of Wickedness our Feer have wandered, our infallible Guide points out to us, a short and sure Way of our Return into the Paths of our Duty and Happiness
. The Scripture therefore may very reasonably bear this Testimony
of it self, that it is profitable for Doctrine, for Reproof, for Corre&tion, for Instruction in Righteousness, that the Man of God may be perfeet, and throughly furnished unto every good Work. So indeed is the manifold Wisdom of God express’d, so modelled and varied in the Scriptures, that, like the Aaming Sword, it turns every way to keep the Way of the Tree of Life. It applies it self to every Age and Condition, every Disposition and Capacity, every Want and Exigence, and draws us with all the Cords of a Man.
The Words of my Text are one of these particular Instructions addres’d to those who receive Honour one of another, intimating, First
, That whilst they continue in that Practice, it is very difficult for them to believe in Christ.
And Secondly, That in order to believe in Christ we should not seek
the Praises of Men, but that Honour which comes from God only.
First, The Words of my Text intimate to us, that whilst we receive Honour one of another, it will be very difficult for us to believe in Christ.
We are not more sensible of our Being, than we are of a Principle implanted in us to preserve it; and that this Principle does not prompt us barely to continue our Existence, but to extend and enlarge, and make it as happy and comfortable as we can. We cannot conceive it possible for the Almighty to bring a racional Being into Existence, without making this Principle or Inclination a Part of his Constitution. From a Consciousuels of our own Powers and Perfections mult arise a Complacency in them, and Desire to improve them : Perfections without Consciousness, and Conscious
ness without Complacency would be imparted in vain.
From this Love of our Being and the Perfection of it we naturally de. fire all those inward Qualifications and outward Conveniences, which we think may best preserve, improve and render our Existence happy.
As we are social Creatures, and receive much Good or Evil under that Relation, so we naturally avoid all the Evils and pursue all the Happiness which we apprehend in Society.
Now the Love and Good-will, the Praise and Admiration of the Society around us, do so evidently and powerfully contribute to the Preservation, Grandeur and Happiness of our Natures, that the Man who does not perceive, and is not influenced by the Fitness and Suitableness of these things, to answer these ends, must be the. most dull and stupid Creature in the World; There is not a more strict