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such strong corruptions, and by a seeming necessity for the quieting of his conscience; all this is not an easy work. But we must attempt it, and leave the success to grace. And, first, let me solemnly profess before you all, (for the removing of your prejudice, and the calming of your resisting hearts,) that it is none of my desire, by the discovery of your hypocrisy, to shame you before others, or
to make you seem more miserable than you are, or to disturb and grieve you any more than is necessary to the escaping of your exceeding danger, and than your own salvation and comforts do require. But when we know that religion is our business in the world, and that an endless world shall presently receive you; and that Christ is coming; and your souls are ready to quit their residence, and take their leave of your flesh till the resurrection, and when we know that hypocrisy and self-deceit is the thing that you are most in danger of, and that you must be saved from it, or be in hell for ever; and that the enemies of your souls will do all they can to keep their possession in peace, and to continue your deceit till you are past remedy ; what would you have us do in such a case ? would you
wish us to be silent, and betray your souls, and damn our own for fear of disquieting and displeasing you? How hard are your hearts, if you would wish us to do thus !
Be awakened, therefore, O atl ye self-deceivers and know that hypocrisy, as the harlot's paint, is but a base and borrowed beauty; that will vanish away when you draw near the fire; and that self-deceit will quiet you so short a time, that it is as good let go your delusory peace, and comfortable dream to day as to-morrow; and it is better now to begin and examine yourselves, than stay till the dreadful judge examine you, who is even at the door! The discovery of your case is the one half of your cure: and as you have been your own deceivers, let us in justice find you so equitable to yourselves, as to be willing of the light that must undeceive you; and to go along with us into your consciences, and help us in the search, and impartially pass a preventing judgment, that Christ may not pass à condemning judgment.
And in order to your conviction and recovery, I shall first acquaint you with your misery, that so it may awaken you to look about you, while there is time and hope. If it were God's way to work by ocular demonstrations, and the christian life were a life of sense, and
had heaven and hell this hour open to your sight, how little need should I have to plead this cause with you any further ? you would then see and hear that vengeance that would awake you; and make you presently fly into your hearts, and charge conscience to deal impartially with you, lest self-deceit should bring you to those flames. But it is a life of faith that we are to call you to, and a word of faith that we have to preach; but of things that are as sure as if you saw them.
And 1. If thy religion be vain, thy hopes and comforts, that are built upon it, are all but vain. How vain is that hope that will vanish when the enjoyment is expected, and will end in endless desperation! What though thou sit here with so great hopes and confidence of salvation as maketh thee even scorn the man that questions it, art thou ever the better when death awakeneth thee, and thy confident dream is at an end ? When thou art dying wilt thou hope? Perhaps thou mayest: but when thou art burning wilt thou hope? When thou art tormented wilt thou hope ? Desperation will then be essential to thy misery. The devils that now, feed thy hope by their deceits, will then as readily keep awake thy conscience, and exasperate thy despairing soul. If now thou wilt hope under the threatenings of God (that thou mayest be saved in thy present state) wilt thou then hope under his execution ? Thy flatterers and prosperity may cherish thy deceitful hopes for a time, but who will maintain them, when God commandeth desperation to torment thee? (Job xxvii. 8, 9.) “ For what is the hope of the hypocrite, though he hath gained, when God taketh away his soul? Will God hear his cry when trouble cometh upon him?” As Sands turneth it :
What hope hath the prevailing hypocrite,
Or from the depth of sorrows hea his cries? His worldly glory will then desert him, and leave him to the fruit of his deserts : his fruition will perish with his hopes. (Job xxvii. 22, 23.) “ For God shall cast upon him and not spare : he would fain flee out of his hand. Men shall clap their hands at him, and shall hiss him out of his place.” Or Sands turneth it :
God shall transfix him with his winged dart;
Hiss, clap their hands, and from his country chase. Hopes that are built by self-deceit have no foundation but sand and water, and in trial they will fail, and their fall will be
great and terrible. (Matt. vii. 23, 24; Job viii. 11-15.) “ Can the rush grow up without mire ? Can the flag grow without water? Whilst it is yet in his greenness, and not cut down, it withereth before any other herb: so are the paths of all that forget God; and the hypocrite's hope shall perish: whose hope shall be cut off, and whose trust shall be a spider's web. He shall lean upon his house, but it shall not stand : he shall hold it fast, but it shall not endure.” Or
Can bull-rushes but by the rivers grow ?
Deceive their trust, and crush them in their fall, &c. Job. xxxvi. 13. “ The hypocrites in their heart heap up wrath : they cry not when he bindeth them.” Or as the para. phrase :
For the deluder hastens his own fall,
They iņ the summer of their age shall die. And what we say of the hypocrite's hope, we may say also of all his pleasures and delights. He may now be as merry as the most righteous of his neighbours, and seem the most happy, because the most jocund; and abound with medicines against melancholy, and all wise and sober consideration : even his business, his cups, his wantonness and uncleanness, or, at least, his less disgraceful pleasures and recreations, which fortify his mind against the fears of death and judgment, and all the threatenings of God
As sleepy opium fortifies the brain,
Against the sense of sicknesses and pain. And if this mirth could always last, how happy a man were the self-deceiver ! But, saith Solomon, (Eccles. vii. 6.).“ As the crackling of thorns under a pot, so is the laughter of the fool.”
As thorns beneath a cauldron catch the fire,
This vanity in their distemper rules. And as Job xx. 4-9. “Knowest thou not this of old, since man was placed upon earth that the triumphing of the wicked is short, and the joy of the hypocrite for a moment? Though his excellency mount up to the heavens, and his head reacheth
to the clouds; yet he shall perish for ever like his own dung ; they which have seen him shall say, Where is he? He shall flee away as a dream, and shall not be found; yea, he shall be chased away as a vision of the night. The eye also which saw him shall see him no more; neither shall his place any more behold him," Or, as the aforesaid Paraphrase
This is a truth with which the world began,
Nor sumptuous roofs their builder entertain. Thus as the hypocrite's religion is vain, so all his hopes and joys will be vain, and will deceive him, as he deceived himself. As Zophar concludeth of him: (Job xi. 20 :)
“ But the eyes of the wicked shall fail, and they shall not escape, and their hope shall be as the giving up of the ghost.” Poor soul ! thy religion also is so vain, that it giveth thee no solid satisfaction or delight: thou art fain to go to thy lands,' or friends, or pleasures, or carnal accommodations for delight: thy religion, which should let thee into heaven, and there refresh thee with the foretastes of everlasting pleasures, and should daily fetch thee fresh delights from the face of God, alas ! is an impotent lifeless thing; acquainted with shadows, but strange to the invisible substance; acquainted with formal shows and ceremonies, but unacquainted with God; acquainted with the letter, but not with the spirit; familiar with the orders of the church, but strange to the foretastes of heaven. If thou hadst no other comfort but what thy dead religion brings thee from the face of God, thy pensive heart would be better disposed to consideration and recovery than it is. If thou hadst. a faith that brought thee in any solid, stablishing content, what needest thou be hunting abroad the world among thy crowd of vanities and deceits, to beg or borrow some short delight, which thou must return with griping usury? and what needest thou so many pitiful shifts to muzzle thy conscience, and to keep that peace a little longer, which will end in sorrow, and will part with thee as the devil went out of the possessed person (Mark ix. 26) that rent him, and left him as a dead
man? That religion is certainly vain, that is not sufficient to acquaint the soul with matter of solid comfort and content, but leaves that felicitating work to worldly transitory things, while itself is used only as a screen, to keep hell-fire from scorching the conscience, or as children's rackets, to quiet them when they are apt to cry.
2. But the vanity of a superficial religion will most appear in the hour of extremity; when their help, as well as their hope and comfort, will to them prove vain. Prosperity will not always last: as sure as winter followeth summer, and as the darksome night succeeds the day, sa sure will adversity take its turn: sickness will follow the longest health, and death succeed the longest life; and your house of darkness in the dust will hold you longer than your present habitations. And when thou seest all things fail, O what wouldest thou give for a hope and help that will not fail, that thou mightest be received into the everlasting habitations ! The conseience that is now asleep, will be shortly awakened in such a manner, that it will be utterly past the skill and power of thyself, and all the friends thou hast, to cast it asleep, or quiet it again. And then, what wouldest thou not give for a lenitive to pacify it! no wonder if thou sit here as senseless as if no harm were near thee: it is now in thy power not to believe that there is a hell for hypocrites, or that it is thy own inheritance ; but the day is near, (if a supernatural change prevent it not,) when it shall no more be in thy power, but sight and feeling shall convince thee whether thou wilt or
Now we must entreat thy own consideration, and solicit thee for thy own consent, to know thy grievous sin and misery, and yet leave thee unconvinced, because thou art unwilling to know the truth, and because we cannot show thee heaven and hell while we are speaking of them: but then God will not crave, but force thy consideration: nor will he ask thy consent to feel thy misery; but the less thou art willing, the more thou hast to feel. And which way then wilt thou look for help? which way ever it be, it will be all in vain, because thy religion was but vain; wilt thou look to thy duties and supposed honesty, whose sincerity now thou art so confident of? alas, this is the vain religion that could deceive thee, bnt cannot save thee. Thou art like a man in a falling house, that hath nothing to lay hold on, but that which is falling, and it is that will break him unto death. Or like a drowning man that hath nothing but a handful of water to lay hold upon; which is it that will