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discoursing wits of the age, to have the oracles of reason in their breasts, and despise others as captives of a blind belief, yet their folly is palpable and penal, for having provoked God by their infidelity, they are left to the power of their lusts, and of the tempter, and sink deeper into darkness, and become more hardened and presumptuous. Those who embark with these distracted pilots in such dangerous seas, have a mind to perish for ever.
2. Hypocrisy is a spiritual pollution. In its theological consideration it implies a counterfeiting religion and virtue: an affectation of the name joined with a disaffection to the thing. “ The having a form of godliness, with denying the power of it.” Accordingly,
(1.) Every titular christian, who professes a subjection to Christ, and lives in habitual disobedience to his commands, is an hypocrite. The actions are the incarnate issues of the heart wherein they are formed, and the clearest discovery of it. A rebellious course of sin, declares a person to be an infidel, notwithstanding his owning Christ to be our king : his life is a continual lie: he vainly presumes that God is his Father, when his actions declare him to be a child of the devil. John 8. 41. 44.
(2.) Hypocrisy in a stricter sense is, when men presume their spiritual condition to be good, upon false grounds. It is observable, no man is a hypocrite to himself out of choice; he does not deliberately deceive himself: but one may be a hypocrite without his knowledge, by ignorance and error. think his inclination to some virtues, and his aversion from some vices, to be divine grace: but sympathies and antipathies proceed often from natural temper, and not from the renewed mind and will, from judgment and choice. A tame dog is as truly a beast as a wild wolf. A man that performs only some good things, and abstains from some evil, from natural conscience, is as truly in the state of polluted nature, as one that is wholly careless of his duty, and freely indulges every carnal lust. One may be exact in light matters, as the pharisees in tything mint and cummin, and neglect substantial duties; he may be zealous in the outward parts of religious worship, and neglect righteousness and mercy, and think to compensate his defects in the duties of one table, by strict observing the duties of the other :
this is pernicious hypocrisy. The subtility and strength of satan are employed to deceive men by an airy religion, by an opinionative goodness, to prevent their being awakened from their drowsy and deadly state. It is worthy of notice, the tempter has a double operation in the minds of men: he deceives the hypocritical with false hopes, by concealing or extenuating their sins, to induce them to presume of the favour of God, and to secure his quiet possession of them: he troubles the sincere with vain terrors, by concealing their graces, to discourage their progress in the way to heaven : he is an envious explorator, and searches to find out their defects, to accuse them to God; and he defanies God to them, as if he would not spare his sons that serve liim: he is triumphant in the unsanctified, and militant in the saints.
(3.) Some hide their crying sins under the colourable appearance of virtues; and pretend to holiness, that they may sin with less suspicion, and more security. He will speak of those sins in others with severity, which he freely indulges in himself. The characters of religion are drawn in his countenance, but his lusts are deeply engraven in his heart.
These our Saviour compares to painted sepulchres, that within contain sordid dust and rottenness. This is perfect hypocrisy ; a deadly pollution, that wounds the vitals, sears the conscience, quenches all goodness in the will; for this hypocrite is voluntarily so. Hypocrisy in the heart is like poison in a spring, that spreads itself through all the veins of the conversation. This sin our Saviour never speaks of but with detestation ; for this he denounced such a heavy woe against the pharisees, that used religion as a masking habit to appear glorious in the eyes of men, and disguised their worldly aims in devotions ; and “ made long prayers to be esteemed of men. This is so odious to God, that he forbids all the emblems and resemblances of it to the Jews, linsey-Woolsey garments, and miscelain corn. Our defects acknowledged with ingenuity, excite his compassion ; but counterfeit virtues excite his indignation : for what can be more provoking, than to appear to be like God in holiness, the glory of the Deity, for this end, to be secretly wicked, and to affront his omniscience, as if he could not discern them through all their close and dark concealments. A hypocrite is fearful of men, but faces God. Pride mixed with hypocrisy was the devil's original sin, “ he abode
not in the truth ;” and religious hypocrites are his natural children. The hottest climate in hell will be their habitation : for our Saviour threatens some sinners their portion with hypocrites; that is, aggravated damnation. This sin is difficultly cured, in that it is not easily discovered by men, and does not expose to shame; but is subservient to many carnal ends. Men cannot dive into the hearts of others, and cannot discern between the paint of hypocrisy, and the life of holiness. The mixture of beautiful colours in the countenance, may be so artificial, that at a distance it may be thought to be natural. Besides, hypocrisy turns the remedy into poison : for the frequent exercise of religious duty, which is the means to sanctify us, confirms and hardens hypocrites.
The effectual means to cure it, is a steadfast belief of the pure and flaming eye of God; who sees sin wherever it is, and will bring it into judgment.” A hypocrite may hide his sin from the eyes of others, and sometimes from his own conscience, but can never impose upon God. And as nothing so confounds men with shame, as to be found false and perfidious in their dealings; how 'much more will the hypocrites be covered with confusion at the great day, when they shall appear naked, with their loathsome ulcers, before innumerable angels and saints ? “ They will desire the rocks to hide them from that glorious assembly."
The steadfast belief of this great truth will cause frequent and solemn thoughts of God, as our inspector and judge: “I have set the Lord always before me; he is at my right hand, I shall not be moved :”, this was the effect of David's faith. This will produce sincerity in religion unrespective to the eyes of men; and preserve us from secret sins. It is the prescription of our Saviour; “ beware ye of the leaven of the pharisees, which is hypocrisy: for there is nothing covered, that shall not be revealed; neither hid, that shall not be known : whatsoever ve have spoken in darkness, shall be heard in the light; and that which ye have spoken in the ear in closets, shall be proclaimed on the house tops.” Luke 12, 1, 23.
3. Ewy at the good of others, and malice, wishing them evil, is a deep pollution of the spirit. This absolutely alienates men from the nature and life of God : for the clearest conception we have of the Deity is, that he is good, and does good. This is contrary not only to supernatural grace, but to natural consci
ence; and turns a man into a fiend. This vice is immediately attended with its punishment. The envious man is his own tormentor, and has the vipers fate in the fable, “ that in biting the file, wounded itself. Besides, this stops the descent of divine blessings, and turns the petitions of the envious' into imprecations against themselves.
To finish this head, it is observable, nothing more discovers the necessity of renovation, than the defilements of the spirit. As birds by incubation hatch their brood; so from sinful thoughts and desires actual sins proceed. Our Saviour tells us, “out of the heart proceed murders, adulteries, fornications, thefts, falsewitness, blasphemies, which defile a man.” Mat. 15. 19. It is above all things necessary, to keep the heart; “ for the issues of death flow from it.” The design, contrivance, and consent to sin, are in the heart ; the body is only the instrument of sin. To enforce this counsel, there are many motives.
(1.) God is infinitely dishonoured and displeased by the sins of our spirits : for the soul is of near alliance with God, and of incomparably more value than the vile body; therefore the defiling it is highly provoking. The soul is the place of his special residence ; and the entertaining sin in it, is a fouler indignity, than the bringing dung into the chamber of presence of a king. We should be more careful to approve our thoughts and desires to God, than our words and actions to men.
(2.) They are more easily contracted than those which are acted by the sensitive faculties: they secretly insinuate into the soul. External sins require fit time, and place, and means for their commission; and are often hindered by the moral restraints of fear and shame: but speculative sins may be committed without convenient circumstances. In whatever place, or company, men are, they may retire into their hearts, and please themselves with vicious thoughts and desires of future sins, and devices how to make provision for the flesh; with carnal representations and complacency of the sins they have committed: they may personate the pleasures of sin in the scene of fancy; and the imagination of old sins becomes a new temptation, and deeply stains their minds : and as it is usual, what pleases is favoured and defended, they by carnal discourse pervert scripture to countenance their lusts; which is the highest wickedness.
(3.) Spiritual sins are most frequently committed, being of quick dispatch, without the toil of the body: from hence their number is as the sand upon the sea-shore. They infinitely increase men's accounts with the high and eternal judge ; whose understanding is as searching as it is unsearchable. The judgment of the last day is distinguished from the process of inferior human courts, which are confined to take cognizance only of men's intentions by overt-acts; for then there shall be a revelation of the thoughts and secrets of the heart.”
(4.) Spiritual sins are more incurable than those that are done by the body : for when the sensitive faculties by diseases and age are disabled, then the vicious habits of the soul may be strong; and like the poison of a serpent, be more deadly by age.
Notwithstanding inward pollutions induce such a guilt, yet carnal men are apt to think that till sin be perfected in the gross act, it is not deadly: and for this they pervert scripture ; wherein it is said, “ that when lust hath conceived, it bringeth forth sin ; and sin when it is finished, brings forth death.” But in God's sight, the contemplative commission of sin, renders one as truly guilty as the actual ; and consent to the doing it, renders as obnoxious to his enlightened and impartial tribunal, as the performance. His pure and perfect law, the rule of our duty, forbids all defilements fleshly and spiritual, and that shall be the rule of our judgment. And as the soul is the first and principal agent in sin, it shall first receive the recompence of it: in the interval between death and the resurrection, while the body is without sense in the grave, the soul is tormented in hell.
Before I proceed to the next head, it will be useful to add, that many sincere saints are in perplexity from the injections of satan, fearing they arise from their own hearts.
Ist. They may be distinguished by their quality : unnatural thoughts against ourselves, and blasphemous of God, are usually from the tempter.
2dly. When they make terrible impressions upon our spirits, they are his fiery darts : for the native offspring of our hearts are conceived with freedom and complacency.
3dly. They are our infelicities, but induce no guilt when resisted by us.
A rape may be committed on the mind; and as
* Vitiorum ministeria sepuerunt, Sen,