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concludes that all who profess religion are alike, he becomes as unjust and cruel to his neighbours, as his master is to him. The Bible condemns the master's injustice to the labourer, and the labourer's slander against the friends of religion.
One says his neighbour professes religion, but it is all a pretence; for all are agreed that this very religious man will over-reach his neighbour, by artifice and lies, and then swell with pride at his prosperity. Nothing is more mean and contemptible than to be purse-proud; but a man may be so blinded and hardened by covetous habits, by prosperous lies and dishonest tricks, as to deceive and flatter himself, by putting on the profession of religion. And it it is no uncommon thing, to see the hypocrite giving out a hymn, foremost at a prayer-meeting, and presenting part of the gains of dishonesty, at a collection, to that God, who hates robbery for burnt-offerings."
This is a stumbling-block to men of corrupt minds," who “ worse and worse," and excuse themselves by the conduct of “the hypocrites in Zion."
Look at Mr. C., said an infidel; he has no more real faith in the Bible than I have. What proof does he give of his faith? It is true, he attends as a hearer of the Gospel early and late; he often leads the prayers of others at their prayer-meeting; he quotes the Scriptures against the sins of others; he appears shocked at the unbelief and ignorance and folly of his neighbours; he talks of religion; attends the public societies for promoting religion; subscribes to the support of his minister, and invites him to his table: is very zealous for sound doctrine; he criticises sermons, books, and characters. All this makes" a fair show" of religion. But his unbelieving neighbour observes his "vain glory," his proud conceit of his own understanding, his proud, arbitrary, passionate, and malignant temper and censoffous conversation. He cannot endure the least contradiction, nor the softest censure; but reproves others without respect of persons, and always reproves them publicly, to display his own knowledge and faithfulness. Yet he can flatter his flatterers. His entire aim is to exalt himself. These are your saints! exclaims the unbeliever; who glories that he is not one of these hypocrites.
Mr. Q. hears the Gospel, and has heard it from his childhood; but he never understood, believed, or enjoyed it. To say the most, he has heard it as he heard a song, or a tune on an instrument. commends the sermon, as a very good or a very fine discourse, and there leaves it, as having done his duty, and returns to his worldly element. There are rare occasions in clear, descriptive, and impressive discourses, which resemble a good looking-glass-when he sees much of himself and is serious; but he turns from it to the favourite objects of his customary pursuit, and forgets what manner of man he is." His character is formed, not by the Gos
pel he hears, but by his temptations. He is cast in the mould of worldly interests, worldly amusements, and worldly company.
Let the persons who accuse a whole body of professed Christians of canting, that is of hypocrisy," first cast the beam out of their own eye, before they boast of discerning a mote in their brother's eye." Otherwise, the Searcher of Hearts will soon bring home the charge against them, which they level at others, "THOU HYPOCRITE!"
Nothing but truth before His throne
With honour can appear;
The painted hypocrites are known,
Lord, search my thoughts and try my ways,
Then shall I stand before thy face,
And find acceptance there!
You say you are no hypocrite, because you do not profess religion. You profess to be sincere, to be honest, to love justice and veracity. You profess to be humane, kind, and impartial. Why, then, do you watch for the imperfections of persons professing godliness? Why rejoice to hear unfavourable reports of them? Why circulate them to gratify the enemies of religion? Is this justice? Is this loving your neighbour as yourself? You speak fair to their faces, from fear or interest. Is this sincerity? Wherein does it differ from hypocrisy? You say, if a person thinks you in fault, you wish him to tell you so. Then, why are you angry at reproof--just reproof? Why resent it by backbiting? and why not tell others their faults to their faces? Is not this hypocrisy? If a man thinks you an infidel, because you swear and talk lewdly, devote the sabbath to visits, company, business, or pleasure; why are you angry with him for thinking you have no religion, when you have not even the form of it? You condemn a man as unjust if he does not pay his debts, especially to you; and are indifferent to your debts of gratitude, of love to God. You receive your health, your faculties, your food and raiment, and life from God; and neglect his word, his will, his sabbaths, his worship. Is not this monstrous hypocrisy? You use means to restore your health; you commend the sailor who throws overboard his valuable cargo to save his life. Why condemn others for using means to save their souls, and neglect the means of saving your own soul? Is not this hypocrisy? You condemn your servant for neglecting your business, and for idleness and trifling, and set him the example! Hypocrisy still! You have your children devoted to God in baptism, and set an example to them of violating their obligations.
"I thank God I am not as other men, nor even as this publican," said the conceited, censorious, cruel, slanderous, boasting pharisee. And with similar dispositions does Fastosus talk, when he hears a
report of the sin of any professor of religion. Without waiting to learn the truth or falsehood of the charge," report, saith he, and we will report." These are your saints-your sanctified ones! Thank God, exclaims Fastosus, with malignant pleasure, I am no hypocrite. Do you believe him? Does he believe himself? If he does, he deceives himself, without asking the question, " Is there not a LIE in my right hand?" Fastosus boasts of his charity; but "charity rejoiceth not in iniquity," as he does. "FOOLS make a mock, a laugh, at sin." Is not Fastosus "in the gall of bitterness and the bond of iniquity?" Is not his profession of charity vile hypocrisy? Fastosus glories in sincerity, because he does not profess religion. Is not this to "glory in his shame?" What is the Christian religion? consists in believing what God says, and doing what he commands. The Christian religion is the religion of Christ. To trust him as a Saviour, and obey him as our Lord, is religion. When it suits the interest or convenience of Fastosus, he speaks well of religion, and goes to a place of worship; but he swears-he often talks unchastely, so that modest men of the world blush in his company. He neglects the word of God-sports with its truths, and slanders those who believe and honour it, and calls them canting hypocrites, whilst he proves himself one. The Sabbath day, which is the principal support of religion, he prophanes, by devoting the greatest part of it to idleness, light conversation, feasting, visiting, travelling, settling his accounts, pleasure. A swearing, sabbath-breaking, dissipated worldling, calling himself a Christian! Can any hypocrisy exceed this? Negligent of his Bible and his soul," making light" of the Saviour, dulging his lusts, setting an evil example to his family and neighbours, raving against hypocrisy! He rails bitterly against it in others, indulges in it himself, and boasts of his sincerity! Fastosus sets an example of hypocrisy, and blames others for imitating him. If Fastosus prefers his business to religion, he also prefers being " a busy body in other men's matters," and neglects his own. He talks with "great swelling words" of the king, the parliament, the nation, and the parish, but cannot govern himself.
His favourite maxim is, "As ye would that men should do to you, do you even so to them;" and then takes a criminal liberty with the sentiments, religion, and conduct of his neighbour!
"Thou hypocrite! first cast out the beam from thy own eye; and then pull out the mote from thy brother's eye." Fastosus talks much of the fair dealing man-the honourable man-and boasts that he never said any thing of a man that he does not say to him. This proves that he loves his own lie, whilst he professes to hate lying in others; for he speaks fair and respectfully to his customers; and with cowardly hypocrisy rails against them and their religion, where they cannot defend themselves.
The fact is, as the very companions of Fastosus allow, that he does not understand religion, because he never studied it or felt it;
Yet they meet with this, they say, is to Fastosus may please
and he never studied it, because he dislikes it. persons to whom he professes to regard it; but cloak his real character, and serve himself. himself with the rattle of words, decency, sincerity, fair dealing, honourable, and defame and persecute the saints and the sanctified; but he who ordains his arrows against the persecutors," will not miss his mark when the moment comes, because the persecuting hypocrite wears a mask. Wait, reader: "Behold! the JUDGE is at the door." See this bravado, confined to his bed, with a sick stomach, a burning fever, an emaciated body, an enraged conscience, approaching death, and an opening to the judgment seat, and an eternal separation of saints and sinners-and then!-then let him, like one of similar character, exclaim, " If I were but sure the Bible was false, I should not care; but if it be true, as I fear it is, I am lost!--lost for ever and ever!" and, with a sigh, expired.
WHAT WAS THE CURSE UPON THE GROUND FOR MAN'S SAKE?-GENESIS iii. 17.
In answering this question, we may consider the curse of God1. In its nature. It is the righteous sentence of the law, condemning mankind to suffer punishment for their sins.
One part of this curse consists in rendering the earth less fruitful, its productions less wholesome, and as it requires more labour to procure them. Gen. iii. 14--17. "Cursed be the ground for thy sake," was the divine sentence; that is, for thy sin. The effects of this curse were, barrenness of wholesome and delightful fruits and herbs; and the spontaneous growth of useless and noxious weeds. "Thorns and thistles shall it bring forth to thee." Hence labour and fatigue, pain and disease. God "turned the fruitful land into barrenness" for the wickedness of Adam, "who dwelt therein."
The sin of Adam subjected the ground to this vanity. To what various labours has sin reduced man in obtaining his food! How he toils in ploughing, sowing, and reaping; in threshing, cleansing, and grinding the corn when produced; and in other labours in preparing his bread! The labours of mind and body for subsistence attend every act and profession. Some are destroyed by working in mines, by pernicious airs: impure waters, chilling damps, and destructive earthquakes, embitter and destroy the lives of others. In one place, ferocious animals endanger man's life; in another, the tamest animals shake off his dominion and kill him. Blight and mildew
destroy the fruits of his labour. In sorrow he is doomed to eat the fruit of the earth, until he returns to the dust.
If he obtains the best productions of the earth, in larger portions. than generally fall to his lot, they often lead him into temptations; feed his appetite, inflame his passions, bring him to an untimely end, if not destroy both body and soul. Thus has a righteous God "cursed our blessings."
Extensive, awfully extensive, as is this curse on the earth for man's sin, it has,
2. Its limits. We may sing of mercy mixed with judgment. This is apparent in the influence of that labour on the health of man, which the earth demands of him. The very sweat of his brow is made subservient to his health and comfort. He also obtains from the earth valuable metals and minerals, which promote his security, and afford him a thousand conveniences. A vast variety of plants are nourishing, and medicinal waters abound, to support life and restore health. Here grow flowers, which regale his senses; there trees, which administer to his support, his protection, and comfort. He still has dominion over the fowls of the heaven, the fish of the sea, and the beasts of the field.
It is true, these advantages are not obtained without labour; but as all were forfeited, and our habitations cursed, it is no small favour that we can procure enough for our subsistence, even by labour. Considering, however, the manner in which this curse on the earth is limited, by such various and multiplied advantages and comforts, filling our hearts with food and gladness, we ought gratefully to acknowledge, that, in a very great degree," the Lord our God hath turned this curse into a blessing;" especially, if we reflect that every thing short of Hell is a favour.
The reflections which this subject suggests, are
1. The malignant influence of sin on man's present condition.
2. The great forbearance and goodness of God towards all mankind. This is implied in the Apostle's charge even against the Pagans, "neither were they thankful." God might have doomed man to Hell at once, Gen. viii. 21.
3. That, however the curse on the earth be moderated, man may increase it. Isa. xxiv. 5, 6; Deut. xxviii. 15-20.
4. The wisdom and justice of God, in the relation between the natural and moral world; the state of the earth, and the character of man. God has no paradise for sinners! This corresponds with our condition being less healthful and less pleasant. Sickness, pain, and health attend us. Fruit less salubrious, seasons less temperate, noxious exhalations, sudden changes of atmosphere.
5. How greatly indebted to the MEDIATOR are men in general, especially believers, Gal. iii. 13; by him all things subsist, Col. i. If even a cumberer of the ground is spared, it is through his intercession, Luke xiii. 6-9. Through him, God is the Saviour or pre