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It is of great importance in the Christian life to obtain a right knowledge of ourselves. This can only be obtained by earnest prayer for divine illumination, by a diligent study of the Word of God, and by frequent and impartial self-examination. Whilst thoroughly searching our hearts, we shall find much within us to mortify our pride; but the more we are enabled to discover the hidden evils of our hearts, and to crucify the flesh, with the affections and lusts, the more we shall value and delight in the Gospel plan of Salvation. At the Cross of Christ we shall learn to know ourselves, and Him, of whom Moses in the Law, and the Prophets did write. We shall see, in letters of glory, those messages of grace, which proclaim a free pardon and everlasting life to all who believe in, and receive, Christ crucified. Oh! that I could, at this moment, throw wide the doors of a willing mind to admit the Lord of Glory, that he may henceforth reign as King supreme over every affection of my heart. Come, Lord Jesus, come quickly!
Though the heart be renewed by divine grace, the infection of nature doth remain in them that are regenerated, and too often rebels, notwithstanding the watchfulness and care of the believer.
says St. Paul, " (that is, in my flesh) dwelleth no
good thing." This indwelling sin may not, through grace, be suffered to break out into open acts of vice, but it struggles and fights within: "When I would do good, evil is present with me." "I find a law in my members, warring against the law of my mind."* This inbred evil excites to pride, sloth, spiritual indifference, earthly-mindedness, fleshly lust, self-confidence, carnal ease, and a thousand other evils destructive to our peace, and grieving to the good Spirit of our God.
To whom, then, can I look for deliverance from these evils, but to Him who hath said, "My grace is sufficient for thee." "A new heart will I
*Rom. vii. 18, 21, 23.
give you, and a new spirit will I put within you." This is the great and gracious promise of the New Covenant, for which I am encouraged to pray in the name, and through the merits, of the blessed Jesus. Lord, vouchsafe this blessing, the earnest of every other blessing which flows to our ruined world through the death and intercession of thy dear Son.
XXVI.—ON HYPOCRISY,—AND DEADNESS TO THE
"Ye also outwardly appear righteous unto men, but within ye are full of hypocrisy and iniquity."-Matt. xxxiii. 28.
"Ye are dead, and your life is hid with Christ in God."-Col. iii. 3.
THE Bible addresses the hypocrite, and the sincere worshipper of God, in words which cannot be misunderstood. Each is painted in his true colours, by that hand which cannot err. He who looketh at the heart cannot be deceived by outward appearances. He sees through the veil which conceals the motive from our view. Man may deceive his fellowman, and often does. That charity which hopeth all things forbids mistrust, till facts expose a character which even charity can no longer screen. How often is religion wounded in the house of her friends. The falls of the sincere, as well as the scandals of hypocrites, give occasion to the enemies of the Lord to blaspheme, and bring a reproach upon that Gospel, whose command is, "Abstain from all appearance of
There is scarcely a grace in the true believer, which does not find its counterfeit in the hypocrite. A hypocrite is nothing but a semblance of something excellent. He sustains a part, and personates a
* Ezek. xxxvi. 26.
+1 Thess. v. 22.
character, which is not his own. Were there no excellencies in religion, or were those excellencies not held in estimation, there would be no hypocrites. Hence we find, in seasons of fiery persecution, but few, if any, who will be hardy enough to risk their worldly interest, ease, or reputation, to obtain a name which is branded with obloquy, and followed by death. But when religion obtains credit in the world, when the profession of it raises a person in the general esteem, and when it opens the door to some valuable place, or preferment, then these hypocrites abound, like summer flies, fluttering in the beams of the mid-day sun.
If we may use an old adage,—“All is not gold that glitters. There is a living faith, and a dead faith; a blessed hope, and a false hope; a fervent love, and a verbal affection; "with their mouth they show much love;"* a filial fear, and a slavish fear; a spiritual joy, and animal excitement; a peace which passeth understanding, and a delusive peace; a godly sorrow, and a worldly sorrow, which worketh death; a genuine humility, and an hypocritical humiliation. We read also of a desire to be something when we are nothing; and of a vain endeavour to appear fair in the eyes of men, and yet, to stand, on acceptable terms with the Great Searcher of hearts.
Alas! that we should take such pains to impose upon ourselves, and deceive others. Wretched, indeed, is our state, when insincerity and deception are hourly needed to prevent exposure and contempt. Truly pitiable is that man, who, conscious of his falls, and dreading to have them known, is alive to every whisper. Oh! how invaluable is simplicity and godly sincerity; a heart full of the love of Christ, and a life on which slander cannot justly breathe! Such an one is conscious of much evil over which to lament. He mourns in secret, with Daniel, over his transgressions; with Paul, over the sin which warreth in his members; with Isaiah, he
cries out, "Woe is me! for I am undone; because I am a man of unclean lips; "* and with Peter, 66 I am a sinful man, O Lord."+ But before men his walk is blameless. He shines as a light in the world. He dares to be singular, though made a by-word and a proverb of reproach.
Lord, have mercy upon me, a poor, fallen, miserable sinner! Oh! suffer me not to lie on the couch of carnal security, or to be bound by the chains of that false hope and false peace, which Satan throws around the souls of countless millions. Without thy almighty power I must perish; for nothing, O blessed Jesus, but thy grace can rescue my soul from death and hell. When I look into my heart, I may well turn from the sight. What swarms of evils do I discover, unknown and unseen by the world. I do indeed loathe and abhor myself. O give me grace to repent before thee in dust and ashes. I sigh for deliverance. I long for thy presence. I want the enjoyment of thy favour. It appears like winter in my soul. Darkness covers me. I know, and precious is the knowledge, that Thou, O blessed Jesus, art the Saviour and Friend of sinners. Be pleased to say, "I am thy salvation," and the joyful tidings conveyed by the Holy Spirit to my soul, will cause light, and life, and joy, and gladness, abound within me. Methinks I hear the distant sound of mercy sweetly advancing towards me; oh! let me believe, and not despair. Let me trust, and not be afraid. Let me lie at the foot of thy Cross, and there behold thy bleeding wounds, till every wound in my soul be healed, and all be holiness and peace
As the hypocrite lives for the world, so does the true believer live unto God. The one is ever seeking the praise of men; the other, the approbation of God his Saviour. The hypocrite's hope perishes with the earth; the hope of the believer will be realised when sublunary things shall have passed away. O!
that I could feel my heart dead to all things here below, and alive only unto God.
This desire to die unto all things here below, may appear to many, to be inconsistent with our natural state, as inhabitants of earth, where various objects require our close attention, and call forth continual application: where relative duties demand our anxious care; and public duties our active labours. Yet still the desire is Christian. "Ye are dead, and your life is hid with Christ in God."
Without this spiritual deadness to the world, I shall never be able rightly to fulfil the duties which God requireth of me. A heart, glued to the world, a heart enchained by its pleasures, profits, and cares; a heart, in which the world sits enthroned, can never be a heart acceptable unto God. Such a heart can never serve God and Mammon. Two masters so opposite in their commands, can never, by the same servant, be wholly and universally obeyed. A man might as readily hope to reach the North Pole, while steering towards the south, as to think of attaining to the favour of God, whilst seeking, with all his powers, the favour of the world.
The first and great commandment is," Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart.”* But how can I even aim at this high command, if created objects have the upper, or equal place in my affections? To be dead to the world, is to be weaned from it; to live above it, and not to be captivated by it. This deadness to the world may exist with the greatest vitality, as regards the fulfilment of relative duties. I may be all alive and active in the performance of duties which are more immediately connected with the world, and yet, at the same time, as respects my heart and affections, be dead to it. Oh! this is a great attainment—to be in the world, and yet not of the world. Without this, I cannot be a Christian. Jesus said to his
disciples, "If ye were of the world, the world would
豪 Matt. xxii. 37.