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I come now to another observation with which I present you, and that is this, namely, “thatEVERY ONE THAT IN AWAY OF PROFESSION AND RELIGION NAMES THE NAME OF CHRIST,SHOULD DEPART FROM INIQUITY.”
I say, that every one that in a way of profession and religion, nameth the name of Christ, should depart from iniquity. This truth needs more practice than proof. For I think there are none that have either Scripture or reason by them, but will freely consent to this.
Nor is there any thing ambiguous in the observation that we need now to stand upon the explaining of. For, What iniquity is, who knows not?
That is cleaves to the beset, who knows not?
That it is disgraceful to profession, who knows not? And, therefore, that it ought to be departed from, who knows not?
But because the motives in particular may not be so much considered as they ought, and because it is Satan’s design to tempt us to be unholy, and to keep iniquity and the professing man together; therefore I will in this place spend some arguments upon you that profess, and in a way of profession do name the name of Christ, that you depart from iniquity; both in the inward thought, and in the outward practice of it. And those arguments shall be of four sorts, some respecting Christ, some his Father, some ourselves, and some the world.
I. ARGUMENTS THAT RESPECT CHRIST. First , The Christ, whom you profess, whose name you name, and whose disciples you pretend to be, is holy. Hebrews 7:26. “Be ye holy, for I am holy.” This is natural to our discourse: for if Christ be holy, and if we profess him, and in professing him, declare that we are his disciples, we ought therefore to depart from iniquity, that we may show the truth of our profession to the world. Secondly , They that thus name the name of Christ, should depart from iniquity, because this Christ, whose name we name, is loving. Those that have a loving master, a master that is continually extending his love unto his servants, should be forward in doing his will, that thereby they may show their sense, and acception of the love of their master. Why this is his will, “that we depart from iniquity,” that we throw sin away; that we fly “every appearance of evil.” 1 Thessalonians 5:22. Thirdly , They that thus name the name of Christ should depart from iniquity, because of the honor and reputation of the Lord. It is a disparagement to Christ, that any of his servants, and that any that name his name, should yet abide by, and continue with iniquity. “A son honoreth his father, and a servant his master; if then I be a Father, where is mine honor? and if I be a Master, where is my fear? said the Lord of Hosts unto you, O priests, that despise my name; and ye say, wherein have we despised thy name?” Malachi 1:6. Fourthly , They that name the name of Christ, should depart from iniquity, because of his name, that his name may not be evil spoken of by men. For our holiness puts a lustre and a beauty upon the name of Christ, and our not departing from iniquity draws a cloud upon it. Wherefore we ought to depart from iniquity, that the name of the Lord Jesus may be glorified, and not reproached through us. Fifthly , They that name the name of Christ should depart from iniquity, because of the gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ. That the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ, which they profess, may not be evil spoken of by our neighbors. The gospel is called holy, therefore let them be holy that profess it. 2 Peter 2:21. The which they can by no means be, if they depart not from iniquity. Men cannot serve the designs of the gospel, and their own worldly and fleshly designs. But they that profess the name of Christ, should be tender of his gospel, that they keep that in good esteem and reputation in the world. The which they can by no means do, unless they depart from iniquity. Sixthly , They that name the name of Christ should depart from iniquity, because the very profession of that name is holy. The profession, is an holy profession. “Be ye clean that bear the vessels of the Lord:” the vessels, that is, the profession, for by that, is as it were, carried about the name, and gospel of Jesus Christ. We must therefore lay aside all iniquity, and superfluity of naughtiness, and do as persons professing godliness, as professing a profession, of which Christ is the priest, the High-priest. Timothy 2:10; Hebrews 3:1. It is a reproach to any man to be but a bungler at his profession, to be but a sloven in his profession. And it is the honor of a man to be excellent in the managing of his profession. Christians should be excellent in the management of their profession, and should make that which is good in itself, good to the church and to the world, by a sweet and cleanly managing of it. Seventhly , They that profess the name of Christ, or that name it religiously, should to their utmost depart from iniquity, because of the Church of Christ which is holy. He that religiously professeth the name of Christ, has put himself into the Church of Christ, though not into a particular one, yet into the universal one. Now, that is holy. “What agreement then hath the temple of God with idols?” aye, or any pillar, or post, or pin, or member of that temple. 2 Corinthians 6:16. One black sheep is quickly espied among five hundred white ones, and one mangey one will soon infect many. One also among the saints, that is not clean, is a blemish to the rest, and, as Solomon says, “one sinner destroyeth much good.” Ecclesiastes 9:18. Eighthly , They that profess the name of Christ, or that name that name religiously, should depart from iniquity, because of the ordinances of Christ, for they are holy. Men of old before they went in to meddle with holy things, were to wash their hands and their feet in a vessel prepared for that purpose. Exodus 30:17-21. Now since they that name that name religiously do also meddle with Christ’s appointments, they must also wash and be clean. Cleanse your hands, ye sinners, if you mean to meddle with Christ in his appointments; wash, lest God cut you off for you not departing from iniquity. Ninthly , They that name the name of Christ religiously, should depart from iniquity, because of Christ’s observers. There are many that keep their eye upon Christ, and that watch for an opportunity to speak against him, even through the sides of those that profess him. “Behold, this child is set for the fall and rising again of many in Israel: and for a sign that shall be spoken against.” Luke 2:34.
Some take occasion to speak against him because of the meanness of his person; here some again speak against him, because of the plainness of his doctrine; also some speak against him, because of the meanness of his followers; and some speak against him, because of the evil deeds of some that profess him. But if he that gives just occasion of offense to the least of saints had better be drowned in the sea with a mill-stone about his neck: what think you, shall his judgment be, who, through his mingling his profession of Christ’s name with a wicked life, shall tempt or provoke men to speak against Christ?
II. I COME NOW TO THOSE ARGUMENTS THAT RESPECT GOD THE FATHER. First , Then, they that profess the name of Christ should depart from iniquity because of God the Father; because God the Father has made Christ to be to us what he is; to wit, the Apostle and High-priest of our profession. “He that honoreth not the Son, honoreth not the Father, which hath sent him.” 1 Corinthians 1:30; John 5:23; John 15:8. Nor can the Father be honored by us, but by our departing from iniquity. All our talk and profession of Christ, adds no glory to his Father, who has made him our King, and Priest, and Prophet, if it be not joined to a holy conversation. Wherefore, if you profess the name of Christ, and would hold the word in hand, that you have believed in him, depart from iniquity, for the Father’s sake that hath sent him. Secondly , As it is the Father which hath made Christ to us what he is; so it is the Father who hath called us to partake of Christ and all his benefits.
He has called us “into the fellowship of his Son Jesus Christ;” that is, to partake of all that good that is in him as Mediator, and to be done by him for those that trust in him. Nor had we ever come out of a cursed and condemned condition to Christ, for life and blessedness, but by the call of the Father; “for it is not of works, but of him that calleth.” Romans 9:10,11. Now since he has called us to this privilege, (even us whom he has called), and left others in their sins to perish by his judgments, it is meet, we should depart from iniquity. Especially since the call by which he called us, is heavenly, and holy, and because he has not only called us to glory, but to virtue. Hebrews 3:1; 2 Peter 1:2,3. Thirdly , We that religiously name the name of Christ, should depart from iniquity, because God the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ has commanded us so to do. “Wherefore girt up the loins of your minds, be sober, and hope to the end, for the grace that is to be brought unto you at the revelation of Jesus Christ. As obedient children, not fashioning yourselves according to your former lusts in your ignorance; but as he that has called you is holy, so be ye holy in all manner of conversation: because it is written, Be ye holy, for I am holy.” 1 Peter 1:13-16. Fourthly , They that religiously name the name of Christ, should depart from iniquity, that they may answer the end for which they are called to profess his name: The Father has therefore called them to profess his name, that they might be “trees of righteousness, the planting of the Lord, that he might be glorified.” Dost thou then profess the name of Christ? Bring forth those fruits that become that holy profession, that you may be called trees of righteousness, and that God may be glorified for, and by your professed subjection to the gospel of his Son. Isaiah 61:3. Fifthly , They that name (as afore) the name of the Lord Jesus Christ, should depart from iniquity, that they may show to the world the nature and power of those graces, which God the Father has bestowed upon them that do religiously name the name of Christ. And the rather, because, he that religiously nameth that name, declareth even by his so naming him, that he has received grace of the Father, to enable him so to do. Now he cannot declare this by deeds, unless he depart from iniquity: and his declaring it by words alone signifies little to God or man. Titus 1:16. Sixthly , We therefore that religiously name the name of Christ should also depart from iniquity, because the Spirit of the Father will else be grieved. Ephesians 4:30. The countenancing of iniquity, the not departing therefrom, will grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by which you are sealed to the day of redemption: and that is a sin of a higher nature than men commonly are aware of. He that grieveth the Spirit of God shall smart for it here, or in hell, or both. And that Spirit that sometimes did illuminate, teach and instruct them, can keep silence, can cause darkness, can withdraw itself, and suffer the soul to sin more and more; and his last is the very judgment of judgments. He that grieves the Spirit, quenches it, and he that quenches it, vexes it; and he that vexes it, sets it against himself, and tempts it to hasten destruction upon himself. 1 Thessalonians 5:19. Wherefore take heed, professors, I say take heed, you that religiously name the name of Christ, that you meddle not with iniquity, that you, tempt not the Spirit of the Lord to do such things against you whose beginnings are dreadful, and whose end is working of judgments is unsearchable. Isaiah 63:10; Acts 5:9. A man knows not whither he is going, nor where he shall stop, that is but entering into temptation; nor whether he shall ever turn back, or go out at the gap that is right before him. He that has begun to grieve the Holy Ghost, may be suffered to go on until he has sinned that sin which is called the sin against the Holy Ghost. And if God shall once give thee up to that, then thou art in an iron cage, out of which there is neither deliverance nor redemption. Let every one, therefore, that nameth the name of Christ, depart from iniquity, upon this second consideration.
III. IN THE NEXT PLACE, I COME NOW TO THOSE ARGUMENTS THAT DO RESPECT THYSELF. First , Those that religiously name the name of Christ should, must depart from iniquity, because else our profession of him is but a lie. “If we say we have fellowship with him, and walk in darkness, we lie.” 1 John 1:6.
And “walk in darkness;” that is, walk in iniquity, and depart not from a life that is according to the course of this world. “He that saith, I know him, and keepeth not his commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him.” 1 John 2:4. The truth that he professes to know, and that he saith he hath experience of, is not in him. Every man that nameth the name of Christ, is not therefore a man of God, nor is the word in every man’s mouth, truth; though he makes profession of that worthy name. 1 Kings 17:24. It is then truth in him, when his mouth and his life shall agree. Revelation 2:2,9; Revelation 3:9. Men may say they are apostles, and be liars: they may say, they are Jews, that is Christians, and lie, and be liars, and lie in so saying. Now this is the highest kind of lying, and certainly must therefore work the saddest sort of effects. Thus man’s best things are lies. His very saying, ‘I know him,’ ‘I have fellowship with,’ ‘I am a Jew,’ ‘a Christian,’ is a lie. His life giveth his mouth the lie: and all knowing men are sure he lies. 1. He lies unto God: he speaks lies in the presence, and to the very face of God. Now this is a daring thing: “I know their lies,” saith he: and shall he not recompence for this? See Acts 5:4; Revelation 21:8,27; Revelation 22:15; and take heed. I speak to you that religiously, name the name of Christ, and yet do not depart from iniquity. 2. He lies unto men; every knowing man; every man that is able to judge of the tree by the fruit, knows that that man is a liar, and that his whole profession as to himself is a lie, if he doth not depart from iniquity. Thus Paul called the “slow bellies,” the unsound professors among the Cretians, liars. They were so in his eyes, for that their profession of the name of Christ was not seconded with such a life as became a people professing godliness. Titus 1:12-16. They did not depart from iniquity. — But again, 3. Such a man is a liar to his own soul. Whatever such an one promiseth to himself, his soul will find it a lie. There be many in the world that profess the name of Christ, and consequently promise their soul the enjoyment of that good, that indeed is wrapt up in him, but they will certainly be mistaken hereabout, and with the greatest terror, will find it so, when they shall hear that direful sentence, “Depart from me, all ye workers of iniquity.” Luke 13:27. Christ is resolved that the loose-lived professor “shall not stand in the judgment, nor any such sinners in the congregation of the righteous.”
They have lied to God, to men, and to themselves; but Jesus then will not lie unto them: he will plainly tell them that he hath not known them, and that they shall not abide in his presence. But, Secondly , Those that religiously name the name of Christ should depart from iniquity, else, as they are liars in their profession, so they are selfdeceivers.
I told you but now such lie to themselves, and so consequently deceive themselves. “But be ye doers of the word, not hearers only, deceiving your ownselves.” James 1:22. It is a sad thing for a man, in, and about eternal things, to prove a deceiver of others; but for a man to deceive himself, his ownself, of eternal life, this is saddest of all: yet there is in man a propenseness so to do. Hence the apostle Paul says, “be not deceived,” and “let no man deceive himself.” And says, James 1:26, “If any man among you seem to be religious, and bridleth not his tongue, but deceiveth his own heart, this man’s religion is vain.” These words (“but deceiveth his own heart”) I have much mused about: for they seem to me to be spoken to show how bold and prodigiously desperate some men are, who yet religiously name the name of Christ: desperate, I say, at selfdeceiving.
He “deceiveth his own heart”; he otherways persuadeth it, than of its ownself it would go. Ordinarily men are said to be deceived by their hearts; but here’s a man that is sad to deceive his own heart, flattering it off from the scent and dread of those convictions, that by the word sometimes it hath been under; persuading it that there needs no such strictness of life be added to a profession of faith in Christ, as by the gospel is called for: or that, since Christ has died for us, and rose again, and since salvation is alone in him, we need not be so concerned, or be so strict to matter how we live. This man is a self-deceiver: he deceives his own heart.
Self-deceiving, and that about spiritual, and eternal things, especially when men do it willingly, is one of the most unnatural, unreasonable, and unaccountable actions in the world. 1. It is one of the most unnatural actions. For here a man seeks his own ruin, and privily lurks for his own life. Proverbs 1:18. We all cry out against him that murders his children, his wife, or his own body, and condemn him to be one of those that has forgot the rules, and love of nature. But behold, the man under consideration is engaged in such designs as will terminate in his own destruction. He deceiveth his own soul. 2. This is also the most unreasonable act. There can no cause, nor crumb of cause that has the least spark or drachm of reason, or of any thing that looks like reason, be shown why a man should deceive himself, and bereave his soul of eternal life. Therefore, 3. Such men are usually passed over with astonishment and silence. “Be astonished, O ye heavens, at this! and be ye horribly afraid, for my people have committed two evils; they have forsaken me the fountain of living waters, and hewed them out cisterns, broken cisterns, that can hold no water.” Jeremiah 2:11,12,13.
But above all, as to this head, this is the most amazing place, where it is said, that the self-deceiver makes his self-deceiving his sport: “sporting themselves with their own deceivings.” 2 Peter 2:13. These are a people far gone, to be sure, that are arrived to such a height of negligence, carelessness, wantonness, and desperateness of spirit, as to take pleasure in, and make a sport of, that which will assuredly deceive them for ever. But this is the fruit of professing Christ, and not departing from iniquity. The wisdom and judgment of God are such, as to give such over to the sporting of themselves in their own deceivings. Thirdly , those that religiously name the name of Christ, should depart from iniquity, because of the scandal that will else assuredly come upon religion, and the things of religion through them. Upon this head I may begin to write, with a sigh; for never more of this kind than now. There is no place where the professors of religion are, that is clean, and free from offense and scandal. Iniquity is so entailed to religion, and baseness of life to the naming of the name of Christ, that one may say of the professors of this age, as it was said of them of old, “All places are full of vomit and filthiness, so that there is no place clean.” Isaiah 28:8.
Are not now a-days, the bulk of professors like those that strain at a gnat and swallow a camel? Yea, do not professors teach the wicked ones to be wicked? Matthew 23:24. Ah! Lord God, this is a lamentation, and will be for a lamentation. Jeremiah 2:33. What a sore disease is now got into the church of God, that the generality of professors should walk with scandal!
No fashion, no vanity, no profuseness, and yet no niggardliness, but is found among professors. They pinch the poor, and nip from them their due, to maintain their own pride and vanity. I shall not need to instance particulars, for from the rich to the poor, from the pastor to the people, from the master to his man, and from the mistress to her maiden, all are guilty of scandal, and of reproaching, by their lives, the name of the Lord.
For they profess, and name that worthy name of Christ, but are not as they should be departed from iniquity. 1. Hence the name of God is polluted and reproached, even till God is weary and cries out, “Pollute ye my name no more with your gifts, and with your idols.” Ezekiel 20:39. ‘O do not pollute my name,’ says God: ‘rather leave off profession, and go every one to his wickedness!’ Tell the world, if you will not depart from iniquity, that Christ and you are parted, and that you have left him, to be embraced by them to whom iniquity is an abomination. It would far better secure the name of God from scandal and reproach, than for you to name the name of Christ, and yet not to depart from iniquity. Then though you sin as now you do the poor world would not cry out, ‘Ay! this is you religion!’ Then they would not have occasion to vilify religion because of you, since you tell them that Christ and you are parted. But, 2. If you will not leave off to name the name of Christ, nor yet depart from iniquity, you also scandal the sincere professors of religion; and that is a grievous thing. There are a people in the world that have made it their business ever since they knew Christ, to cleanse themselves from all filthiness of flesh and spirit, and that desire to perfect holiness in the fear of God; and you scandalous professors mixing yourselves with them, “make their gold look dim.” You are spots and blemishes to them; you are an evil mixing itself with their good, and a scandal to their holy profession. Peter 2:13. Jude 1:12. They are you that make the heart of the righteous sad, whom God would not have sad. They are you that offend his little ones. Oh! the mill-stone that God will shortly hang about your necks, when the time is come that you must be drowned in the sea and deluge of God’s wrath! 3. If you will not leave off to name the name of Christ, nor yet depart from iniquity, you continue to extend your scandal also to the word and doctrine of God. They that name the name of Jesus religiously, should so carry it in the world, that they may adorn the doctrine of God their Savior; but thou that professest and yet departest not from iniquity, thou causest the name and doctrine which thou professest to be blasphemed and reproached by the men of this world. And that is a sad thing; a thing that will bring so heavy a load upon thee, when God shall open thine eyes, (and he will open them either here, or in hell-fire), that thou wilt repent it with great bitterness of soul. 1 Timothy 6:1; Titus 2:5,10. The Lord smite thee to the making of thee sensible to thy shame, and to conversion, if it be his blessed will.
Amen. But, 4. If thou wilt not leave off to name the name of Christ, nor yet depart from iniquity, thou wilt bring reproach, scorn and contempt upon thyself. “For sin is a reproach to any people.” Proverbs 14:34. (1.) These are they that God will hold in great contempt and scorn. See the first of Isaiah. (2.) These are they that his people shall have in great contempt. “Therefore (saith he) have I also made you contemptible and base before all the people, according as you have not kept my ways, but have lifted up the face against my law.” Malachi 2:9; Jeremiah 25:9,18. (3.) Such shall also be contemned, and had in derision of the men of this world. They shall be a hissing, a bye-word, a taunt, and a reproach among all people. “For him that honoreth me, saith God, I will honor; but he that despiseth me, shall be lightly esteemed.” 1 Samuel 2:30.
I remember that Philpot used to tell the Papists that ‘they danced barebacked in a net,’ because of the evil of their ways; and the Lord bids professors have a care, “that the shame of their nakedness does not appear,” or lest they walk naked, and their shame be discovered. For those professors that depart not from iniquity, however they think of themselves, their nakedness is seen of others. And if it be a shame to the modest to have their nakedness seen of others, what bold and brazen brows have they who are not ashamed to show their nakedness, yea, the very shame of it, to all that dwell about them? And yet thus doth every one that religiously names the name of Christ and yet doth not depart from iniquity. Fourthly , Those that religiously name the name of Christ, and do not depart from iniquity, are the cause of the perishing of many. “Woe, saith Christ, to the world because of offenses.” Matthew 18:7.
And again, “Woe to that man by whom the offense cometh.” These are they that cause many to stumble at sin, and fall into hell. Hark, you that are such, what God says to you. “You have caused many to stumble at the law,” and at religion. Malachi 2:8. Men that are for taking occasion, you give it them; men that would enter into the kingdom, you puzzle and confound with your iniquity, while you name the name of Christ, and do not depart therefrom. “One sinner destroyeth much good.” These are the men that encourage the vile to be yet more vile; these be the men that quench weak desires in others; and these be the men that tempt the ignorant to harden themselves against their own salvation. A professor that hath not forsaken his iniquity, is like one that comes out of the pest-house, among the whole, with his plague sores running upon him. This is the man that hath the breath of a dragon; he poisons the air round about him. This it the man that slays his children, his kinsmen, his friend, and himself! What shall I say? A man that nameth the name of Christ and that departeth not from iniquity; to whom may he be compared? The Pharisees; because they professed religion, but walked not answerable thereto. Unto what doth Christ compare them, but to serpents and vipers; what does he call them, but hypocrites, whited-walls, painted sepulchres, fools, and blind; and tells them that they made men more the children of hell than they were before. Matthew 23. Wherefore such a one cannot go out of the world by himself: for as he gave occasion of scandal, when he was in the world, so is he the cause of the damnation of many. “The fruit of the righteous is a tree of life.” Proverbs 11:30.
But what is the fruit of the wicked, of the professors that are wicked? why, not to perish alone in their iniquity. Job 22:20. These, as the dragon, draw many of the stars of heaven, and cast them to the earth with their most stinking tail. Revelation 12:4. They cast many a professor into earthly and carnal delights, with their most filthy conversation.
One Balaam, one Jeroboam, one Ahab, O how many fish bring such to Satan’s net! These are the tares that he strives to sow among the wheat, for he knows they are mischief to it. “Wherefore let every one that nameth the name of Christ depart from iniquity.” Fifthly . Those that religiously name the name of Christ, and do not depart from iniquity; how will they die? And how will they look that Man in the face, unto the profession of whose name, they have entailed an unrighteous conversation? Or do they think that he doth not know what they have done; or that they may take him off with a few cries and wringing of hands, when he is on the throne to do judgment against transgressors? O! it had been better they had not known, had not professed: yea, better they had never been born. For as Christ said of Judas, so may it be said of these; “It had been good for that man, if he had never been born.” And as Christ says, “it had been good,” so Peter says, “It had been better.” Mark 14:22; Peter 2:20, 21. Good they had not been born, and better they had not known and made profession of the name of Christ!