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On the Folly of Being Ashamed of Religion.

On the Folly of Being Ashamed of Religion.

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Published by GLENN DALE PEASE
BY REV. SYDNEY SMITH, A.M.


Whosoever, therefore, shall confess me before men, him will I confess
also before my Father, which is in Heaven ; but whosoever shall deny
me before men, him will I also deny before my Father, which is in Hea-
ven. — Matthew x. verse 32, 33.
BY REV. SYDNEY SMITH, A.M.


Whosoever, therefore, shall confess me before men, him will I confess
also before my Father, which is in Heaven ; but whosoever shall deny
me before men, him will I also deny before my Father, which is in Hea-
ven. — Matthew x. verse 32, 33.

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Published by: GLENN DALE PEASE on Jul 16, 2013
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O THE FOLLY OF BEIG ASHAMED OF RELIGIO.BY REV. SYDEY SMITH, A.M.Whosoever, therefore, shall confess me before men, him will I confessalso before my Father, which is in Heaven ; but whosoever shall denyme before men, him will I also deny before my Father, which is in Hea-ven. — Matthew x. verse 32, 33.There is no word which issues more frequently from themouths of those who have no great fondness for rehgion, andthe rehgious, than that of hypocrisy ; indeed, it is with themso very common a word, that it may be questioned, if theyhave any other by which to denote rehgion itself. Whoevertalks of religion is an hypocrite ; whoever frequents rehgiousworship is an hypocrite ; whoever is alarmed for, or defendsthe interests of religion, is an hypocrite. Hypocrisy is theterm,. by which bad men endeavour to designate and to dis-grace religion.However just such imputation may have been in ages past,it is not now worth while to determine ; rehgion might thenhave been held in greater honour among men, than unfortu-nately it is at present ; and, as the reality was more precious,the counterfeit might have been more common ; but appliedto the times in which we live, hypocrisy is so far from beinga frequent vice, that we much more frequently see menashamed of the religion they do possess, than pretenders toany degree of it which they have never attained ; the hypoc-risy of impiety is a common vice, the hypocrisy of religionis not ; it is most true that many men fear God, who wouldnot have the world believe that they fear him ; if the Gospelhas its open enemies, it has too its timid friends, and it is notevery one who would be pleased to confess to the world, the2^*
 
258 O THE FOLLY OF BEIG ASHAMED OF RELIGIO.vivacity of that hope, and the extent of that consolation whichhe derives from the rehgion of Christ.To some this may seem a good sign ; it may be urged thatmen are, therefore, better than at the first sight they appearto be ; that there is more of real religion in the world, thanthe despondency of the pious and the good allows them tosuppose ; but this is a most mistaken view, for why is Christdenied before men, if that denial does not carry with it a cer-tain appearance of bravery to the unthinking multitude ? whyare men ashamed of rehgion, if the name oif religion does notconvey with it some feeling of weakness and inferiority ?why are the most beautiful, and the most solemn feelings of the heart suppressed if there is not a lurking, half-formedimpiety in that mass of human beings, who are formed onlyby circumstances, and who take their morals and their religionfrom the temper of the times in which they live.This shame of appearing too rehgious, proceeds principallyfrom the fear of ridicule, of which ridicule unfortunately allthings are susceptible, exactly in proportion to their dignityand grandeur. But young pei-sons should leam at their firstentrance into life, the secret of converting this ridicule intorespect; the fool who laughs at you for your pious deport-ment, will redouble his contempt when he perceives that heis successful ; take care that your piety is genuine, that it isneither fanatical nor superstitious ; and when you have seenthat it is good, persevere in it calmly and immovably ; con-fess Christ before the world, not with the ostentation of aPharisee ; but with the firmness of a man ; God, who seeth insecret, will reward you openly; and the very wretch whomocked you, will be the first to honour your courage and torespect your zeal. It is the greatest of all mistakes to yieldone step of your life to the clamours of impiety ; the enemiesof rehgion are aware of the powerful weapon they wield, butthey are also aware that they are injuring man and offendingGod ; oppose them without insolence and without fear, andwhen you have repelled their aggression, you will, if that be
 
any object, secure their respect.But it may be asked, why we are bound to profess rehgionopenly among men ? Of what importance are those opinionswhich the world may form of our religion, if we really behevewhat religion teaches, and practice what it enjoins ? But thefact is, we are not only bound to be religious, but to be reli-gious in such a manner that we make others so ; we are boundO THE TOLLY Of BEIG ASHAMED OF RELIGIO. 259to make the faith appear honourable among men ; to give thetimid courage to profess it ; to let those who fluctuate anddoubt, perceive that firmness of character which is derivedfrom genuine piety; to teach those who would scoff' us out of our religion, that we are walking above the world, that theirscorn cannot reach us, but that if it did, we should be proudto bear every persecution malignity could inflict, to show ourhumble gratitude for all the religious blessings we enjoy.But, perhaps I have gone too far in animadverting on thissinful shame of rehgion, before I have pointed out the mostflagrant instances in which we are guilty of it. If, in such¦enumeration, I should mention any example, an individualinstance of which may appear to be of little moment, remem-ber what such instances would amount to, if they were com-mon, and what a total corruption would ensue from the gene-ral neglect of such duties.To come then to the ordinary scenes of life ; — that man isashamed of his religion who scruples to express his disappro-bation of any licentious and blasphemous conversation bywhich it is attacked. It is not in the power of every one toreason ; it is the privilege only of age or of authority, to re-buke ; but every one can make others understand that he isdispleased, that his finest feelings have been trampled upon,and his strongest opinion despised. It may poison viciousmirth, but it is the duty of every man to incur this temporary

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