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of this hand a Phow cuteir lives in all of the wild bra&erson * ta
THE GREAT IMPOSTOR.
141 Of this misprision, thirdly, arises a fearful disappointment of all his hopes, and a plunging into unavoidable torments: wherein it is miserable to see, how cunningly the traitorous hearts of many men bear them in hand all their lives long; soothing them in all their courses; promising them success in all their ways; securing them from fear of evils; assuring them of the favour of God and possession of heaven, (as some fond bigot would brag of his Bull, or Medal, or Agnus Dei; or, as those priests, that Gerson * taxes, who made the people believe that the Mass was good for the eyesight, for the maw, for bodily health, and preservation) till they come to their death-beds : but then, when they come to call forth the comforters they must trust to, they find them like to some unfaithful captain, that hath all the while in garrison filled his purse with dead pays, and made up the number of his companies with borrowed men; and, in time of ease, shewed fair; but, when he is called forth by a sudden alarum, bewrays his shame and weakness, and fails his general when he hath most need of him: right thus do the perfidious hearts of many, after all the glorious brags of their security, on the bed of their last reckoning, find nothing but a cold despair, and a woeful horror of conscience; and, therefore too justly may their hearts say to them, as the heart of Apollodorus the tyrant seenied to say unto him, who dreamed one night that he was flayed by the Scythians and boiled in a caldron, and that his heart spake to him out of the kettle, εγω σοι τετων αιτία, “ It is I that have drawn thee to all this.” Certainly, never man was, or shall be frying in hell; but cries out of his own heart, and accuses that deceitful piece as guilty of all his torments : for, let Satan be never so malicious, and all the world never so parasitical, yet if his own heart had been true to him, none of these could have hurt him. Let the rest of our enemies do their worst, only from the evil of our own hearts, good Lord deliver us.
III. It were now time for our thoughts to dwell a little upon the meditation and deploration of our own danger and misery, who are every way so environed with subtlety. If we look at Satan; his old title is, that old serpent; who must needs therefore now, by so long time and experience, be both more old and more serpent. If we look at Sin, it is as crafty as he; Lest any of you be hardened through the deceitfulness of sin : if at our own Hearts, we hear (that which we may feel) that the heart is deceitful above all things. O wretched men that we are, how are we beset with Impostors on all hands! if it were more seasonable for us to bewail our estate, than to seek the redress of it. But since it is not so much worth our labour, to know how deep the pit is into which we are fallen, as how to come out of it, hear rather, I beseech you, for a CONCLUSION, how we may avoid the danger of the deceit of our false heart: even just so as we would prevent the nimble feats of some cheating juggler; Search him, Watch him, Trust hiin not.
* Qui publicè volunt dogmatizare seu prædicare populo, quod si quis audit missanı in illo die non erit cæcus, nec morietur morte subitanea, nec carebit sufficienti sustentatione, &c.
1. Look well into his hands, pockets, boxes, sleeves; yea, under his very tongue itself. There is no fraud so secret, but may be descried. Were our hearts as crafty as the Devil himself, they may be found out: We are not ignorant, saith St. Paul, of Satan's devices, voyuete á UTĂ: much more then may we know our own. Were the hearts of men, as Solomon speaks of kings, like unto deep waters, they have a bottom, and may be fathomed. Were they as dark as hell itself, and never so full of windings, and blind ways, and obscure turnings, do but take the lanthorn of God's Law in your hand, and you shall easily find all the false and foul corners of them: as David saith of the sun, nothing is hid from the light thereof. Prove yourselves, saith the Apostle. It is hard, if falsehood be so constant to itself, that by many questions it be not tripped. Where this duty is slackened, it is no wonder if the heart be over-run with spiritual fraud. Often privy searches scare away vagrant and disorderly persons : where no enquiry is made, is a fit harbour for them. If ye would not have your hearts, therefore, become the lawless Ordinaries of unclean spirits, search them oft : leave not a straw unshaken, to find out these Labanish Teraphims, that are stolen, and hid within us. And, when we have searched our best, if we fear there are yet some unknown evils lurking within us, as the man after God's own heart prays against secret sins, let us call him in that cannot be deceived; and say to God, with the Psalmist, Search thou me, O Lord, and try me. Oh, let us yield ourselves over to be ransacked by that all-seeing eye, and effectual hand of the Almighty. All our daubing, and cogging, and packing, and shuffling lies open before him; and he only can make the heart ashamed of itself.
2. And, when our hearts are once stripped naked and carefully searched, let our eyes be ever fixedly bent upon their conveyances and inclinations. If we search, and watch not, we may be safe for the present; long we cannot: for our eye is no sooner off, than the heart is busy in some practice of falsehood. It is well if it forbear while we look on; for, The thoughts of man's heart are only evil continually; and many a heart is like some bold and cunning thief, that looks a man in the face, and cuts his purse. But surely, if there be any guardian of the soul, it is the eye: The wise man's eye, saith Solomon, is in his head; doubtless, on purpose to look into his heart: My son, above all keepings, keep thy heart, saith he. If we do not dodge our hearts then in all our ways, but suffer ourselves to lose the sight of them, they run wild ; and we shall not recover them, till after many slippery tricks on their parts, and much repentance on ours. Alas, how little is this regarded in the world! wherein the most take no keep of their souls, but suffer themselves to run after the ways of their own hearts, without observation, without controlment. What should I say of these men, but that they would fain be deceived and perish? For, . after this loose licentiousness, without the great mercy of God, they never set eye more upon their hearts, till they see them either fearfully entoiled in the present judgments of God, or fast chained in the pit of hell in the torments of final condemnation.
3. If our searches and watches should fail us, we are sure our distrust cannot. It is not possible our heart should deceive us, if we trust it not. We carry a remedy within us of others' fraud; and why not of our own? The Italians, not unwisely, pray God, in their known proverb, to deliver them from whom they trust: for we are obnoxious to those we rely upon; but nothing can lose that, which it had not. Distrust therefore can never be disappointed. If our heart then shall promise us ought, as it hath learned to prof. fer largely of him that said All these will I give thee, although with vows and oaths; ask for his assurances : if he cannot fetch them froin the evidences of God, trust him not. If he shall report ought to us; ask for his witnesses: if he cannot produce them from the records of God, trust him not. If he shall advise us ought; ask for his warrant : if he cannot fetch it from the Oracles of God, trust him not. And in all things so bear ourselves to our hearts, as those, that think they live among thieves and cozeners ; ever jealously and suspiciously, taking nothing of their word; scarce daring to trust our own senses; making sure work in all matters of their transactions. I know I speak to wise men, whose counsel is wont to be asked, and followed, in matter of the assurances of estates; whose wisdom is frequently employed in the trial, eviction, dooming of malefactors: Alas, what shall it avail you, that you can advise for the prevention of others' fraud, if, in the mean time, you suffer yourselves to be cozened at home? What comfort can you find in public service to the state against offenders, if you should carry a fraudulent and wicked heart in your own bosoms? There is one above, whom we may trust; whose word is more firm than heaven. When heaven shall pass, that shall stand. It is no trusting ought besides, any further than he gives his word for it. Man's epithet is homo mendax ; and his best part, the heart, deceitful. Alas, what shall we think or say of the condition of those men, which never follow any other advice than what they take of their own heart? Such are the most, that make not God's Law of their counsel : as Isaiah said of Israel, Abiit vagus in via cordis sui ; Isaiah lvii. 17. Surely they are not more sure they have a heart, than that they shall be deceived with it, and betrayed unto death. Of them may I say, as Solomon doth of the wanton fool, that follows a harlot; Thus with her great craft she caused him to yield, and with her flattering lips she enticed him : and he followed her straightways, as an or that goes to the slaughter, or as a fool to the stocks for correction; Prov. vii. 21, 22. Oh, then, Dear Christians, as ever ye desire to avoid that direful slaughter-house of hell, those wailings, and gnashings, and gnawings, and everlasting burnings, look carefully to your own hearts; and, whatever suggestions they shall make unto you, trust them not, till you have tried them by that un.failable rule of righteousness, the Royal Law of your Maker,
which can no more deceive you than your hearts can free you from deceit.
4. That we may avoid not only the events, but the very enterprises of this deceit, let us countermine the subtle workings of the heart. Our Saviour hath bidden us be wise as serpents. What should be wise but the heart ? And can the heart be wiser than itself? Can the wisdom of the heart remedy the craft of the heart? certainly it may. There are two men in every regenerate breasts the old and the new : and of these, as they are ever plotting against each other, we must take the better side; and labour that the new man, by being more wise in God, may out-strip the old. And how shall that be done? If we would dispossess the strong man that keeps the house, our Saviour bids us bring in a stronger than he; and, if we would overreach the subtlety of the old man, yea, the old serpent, bring in a wiser than he, even the Spirit of God, the God of Wisdom. If we would have Ahitophel's wicked counsels crossed, set up a Hushai within us : the foolishness of God is wiser than the wisdom of men. Could we but settle God within us, our crafty hearts would be out of countenance, and durst not offer to play any of their deluding tricks before him, from whom nothing is hid; and if they could be so impudently presumptuous, yet they should be so soon controlled in their first motions, that there would be more danger of their confusion than of our deceit. As ye love yourselves therefore and your own safety, and would be free from the peril of this secret broker of Satan, your own hearts, render them obediently into the hands of God: give him the keys of these closets, of his own making: beseech him, that he will vouchsafe to dwell and reign in them; so shall we be sure that neither Satan shall deceive them, nor they deceive us ; but both we and they shall be kept safe and inviolable, and presented glorious to the appearance of our Lord Jesus Christ : to whom, with the Father, and the Holy Ghost, be all honour and glory, for ever and ever. Amen.
JACTATISSIMÆ CHRISTI ARCÆ.
CONCIO SYNODICA, AD CLERUM ANGLICANUM
(PROVINCIÆ PRÆSERTIM CANTUARIENSIS)
* IN ÆDE PAULINA, LONDINENSI :
FEB. 20m. 1623.
BRINGING AN OLIVE OF PEACE
A SERMON PREACHED IN LATIN,
IN THE CONVOCATION HELD IN ST. PAUL'S CHURCH,
TO THE CLERGY OF ENGLAND,
AND ESPECIALLY THAT OF THE PROVINCE OF CANTERBURY:
BY JOSEPH HALL, D.D. AND DEAN OF WORCESTER.