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second place, while his fleshly pleasures and interest have the
I in his beads and prayer-books, in going so oft to church, and keeping holy days and fasting days, and saying over such and such words, and using such and such gestures and ceremonies, and submitting to church orders, and crying down sectaries and preciseness, and jeering at the simplicity of plain-hearted Christians that never learned the art of dissimulation. Their religion is but a pack of compliments, a flattering of God, as if they would mock him with cap and knee who will not be mocked; (Gal. vi. 7 ;) while they draw near to him with their lips, their hearts are far from him. (Matt. xv. 7-9.) They wash the outside, and pay tithe of all, and give some alms, and forbear disgraceful sins, which would make them be esteemed ungodly among men. (Matt. xv. 2, 3; Mark vii. 4, 8; Matt. xxiii. 25, 26, &c., vi. 1, 4, 6, &c.; y Isa. i. 11-14, lviii. 1, 2.) But these self-deceivers are strangers to the inward spiritual work of holiness: their hearts are not busy in the worship of God, by fervent desire and exercise of other graces, while their tongues are put into an artificial pace, and they are acting the part of men that seem to be religious.
If they be cast into the sectarian mould, they place their religion in the strictness of their principles and parties, and in contending for them, and in their affected fervour, and ability to speak and pray extempore: but the humble, holy, inward workings of the soul toward God, and its breathings after him, and the watch that it sets over the heart, this hypocrite is much a stranger to.
If he be brought up among the orthodox in well-ordered churches, he placeth his religion in the holding of the truth, and taking the right side, and submitting to right order, and using God's ordinances : but the most of an upright man's employment is at home, within him; to order his soul, and exercise grace, and keep down sin, and keep out of the world, and keep under the flesh and carnal self, and do the inward part of duty; and he is as truly solicitous about this as about the outward works, and contenteth not himself to have said his prayers, unless, indeed, his heart have prayed; nor to have heard, unless
he have profited, or heard with obediential attention and he makes conscience of secret duties, as well as of those that are done in the sight of men; but this the hypocrite comes not up to, to trade in the internal spiritual part.
8. The religion that is vain is without an universal hatred of known sin, and an actual conquering of itso far as to live out of gross sin, which soine call mortal, and to be weary of infirmities, and to be truly desirous to be rid of all; and to be willing to use God's means against it. Thus it is with the sincerely religious, but not with these hypocrites that deceive themselves. (John iii. 19, 20; Rom. vii. 24; Luke xiii. 3, 5; Rom. viii. 1-14; Gal. vi. 7, 8.). The hypocrite hath not only some particular sin, which all his religion makes him not willing to see to be a sin, or to forsake; but his very state is sinful in the main, by the predominancy of a selfish camal interest and principle; and he is not willing of close plain dealing, much less of the diligent use of means himself to overcome that sin, because he loveth it.
9. This vain religion is not accompanied by an unfeigned love to a life of holiness, which every true believer hath; delighting to meditate in the law of God, with a practical intention to obey it, and delighting in the inward exercise of grace, and outward ordinances as advantages hereunto; desiring still more of the grace which he hath tasted, and grieving that he knows eth, and trusteth, and loveth, and feareth, and obeyeth God so little, and loving to reach higher, to know, and love, and fear him more. (Psalm i. 2, and cxix. 1-5, 9, 10, &c; Heb. xii. 14; 2 Peter ii. 11 ; Matt. vii. 13, 14.) But the self-deceiver either hath a secret dislike of this serious diligence for salvation, and loving God with all the soul and might, (because he is conscious that he reacheth it not himself,) or, at least, he will not be brought to entertain any more than will stand with his carnal ends,
10. A vain religion doth not so far reveal the excellency of Christ's image in his servants, as to cause an entire love to them as such; and to delight in them above the most splendid and accomplished persons that are strangers to the life of grace, and so far to love them as, when Christ requireth it, to part with our substance, and hazard ourselves for their relief. Thus do the truly religious. (Psalm xvi. 2. and xy, 4; 1 John iii. 14; Matt. x. 40 ; xi. 42; and xxv. 34, 35, 40, 42, 45, 46.) But the hypocrite either secretly hateth a heavenly, holy life, and, consequently the people that are such, (because they seem to con:
demn him by overgoing him, and differing from him; or, at least, he only superficially approveth of them, but will forsake both Christ and them in trial, rather than forsake his earthen god. I have now showed you what the self-deceiver wants, in which you may see sufficient reason why his religion is but vain.
II. We are next to show you how these hypocrites do deceive themselves, and wherein their self-deceit consisteth. It may seem strange that a man of reason should do such a thing as this, when we consider that truth is naturally the object of the understanding, and that all men necessarily love themselves, and therefore love what they know to be simply good for them. How then can any man that hath the use of reason be willing to be deceived, yea, and be his own deceiver, and that in matters of unspeakable consequence! But it is not as falsehood, nor as deceit, that they desire it, but as it appeareth necessary to the carnal ease and pleasure which they desire.
The way by which they deceive their own hearts consisteth in these following degrees :
1. The hypocrite resisteth the spirit of grace, and rejecteth the mercies offered in the gospel ; and so, by his refusal, is deprived of a part in Christ, and of the life of grace, and the hopes of glory which were tendered to him.
2. But withal, he is willing of so much of this mercy as consisteth with his sinful disposition and carnal interest: he is willing enough to be happy in general, and to be saved from hellfire, and to be pardoned, and to have such a heaven as he hath framed a pleasing imagination of.
3. And therefore he maketh him up a religion of so much of Christianity as will stand with his pleasures, profits, and reputation in the world, that so he may not be left in despair of being saved, when he must leave the world that he most loved. The cheap and the easy parts of Christianity, and those that are most in credit in the world, and that flesh and blood have least against, these he will cull out from among the rest, and make him a religion of, passing by the dearer and more difficult and spiritual parts.
4. Having gone thus far, he persuadeth his own heart that this kind of religion which he hath patched up and framed to himself is the true religion, the faith, the hope, the charity, the repentance, the obedience, to which salvation is promised; and
1 that he is a true Christian, notwithstanding his defects; and
that his spots are but such as are consistent with grace; and that his sins are but pardoned infirmities; and that he hath part in Christ, and the promises of life, and shall be saved, though he be not of the preciser strain. When he committeth
. any sin, he confidently imagineth that his confession and his wishing it were undone again, when he hath had all the pleasure that sin can give him, is true repentance; and that, as a penitent, he shall be forgiven: and thus, while he thinketh himself something, when he is nothing, he deceiveth himself. (Gal. vi. 3.) He hath a counterfeit of every grace of God; a counterfeit faith, and hope, and love, and repentance, and zeal, and humility, and patience, and perseverance: and these he will needs take to be the very life and image of Christ, and the graces themselves that accompany salvation.
5. Having got this carcass of religion without the soul, he makes use of all those things to confirm him in his deceit, which are appointed to confirm true Christians in their faith and hope. When he reads or thínks of the infinite goodness, love, and mercy of God, he thinks God could not be so good and merciful, if he should refuse to save all such as he. When he readeth of the undertaking and sacrifice of Christ, and how he is a propitiation for the sins of the whole world, he confidently, hence, concludeth that a Saviour so gracious, that hath done and suffered so much for sinners, cannot condemn all such as he. When he readeth of the extent and freeness of
in the promises of the gospel, he concludeth that these promises belong to him, and that grace could not be so free and so extensive, if it did shut out all such as he. When he observeth the mercies of God upon his body, in his friends, and health, and credit and prosperity, he concludeth that surely God loveth him as a child, in that he dealeth so fatherly with him. If he suffer adversity, he thiuks that it is fatherly chastisement of God, and therefore proveth him to be his son, and that he shall have his good things in the world to come, because he hath his evils here. If he suffer any thing for a good cause, or a cause that he taketh to be good, he taketh himself to be a confessor, and marked out for life eternal. If he give any considerable alms, he applieth all the promises to himself that are made to those that are truly charitable, though he giveth but the leavings of the flesh, and giveth but on common compassions, or for applause, or for some common end, and not as to Christ whom he honoureth in his members, as one that hath resigned all unto him. If he pray, from the lips only, or only for pardon, and such other mercies as flesh itself would be glad to have, without the inexpressible groans of the spirit for spiritual mercies, (Rom. viii. 26,) he presently applieth all the promises to himself that are made to the upright that call upon God: and thus love, mercy, and Christ himself, are abused by him, to this damning work of self-deceit.
6. Moreover, he makes use of all the ordinances of God, to the deceiving of his own heart. The outward part of baptism persuades him that he is inwardly regenerate. He receiveth the Lord's supper that he may confirm his presumption, and increase his self-deceit, as the godly receive it to confirm and increase their saving faith. He joineth with the chureh in those prayers and praises that are fitted to the true believer's state that he may thence more confidently deceive his own heart, with the conceit that he is a true believer. And thus he turneth the bread of life, and all the helps and means of grace, to the strengthening of his sin, and the furthering of his perdition.
7. Moreover, this miserable self-deceiver does usually get into such company as may further his self-deceit, and maketh use of them to that end. If he get into any holy, well-ordered church of Christians, it is that, by his outward communion with the saints, he may seem to himself to have inward communion with them. If he get among able godly ministers, and other judicious Christians, and finds that he is well esteemed of by them, he is confirmed hereby in his presumption and selfdeceit: when, alas ! we must, in charity, judge of men as they profess and seem, and leave the infallible judgment of the heart to God. Usually, this self-deceiving hypocrite doth associate with some carnal or factious men, with whom he makes himself a party: and such will smooth him up, and make a saint of him, either because they are as bad themselves, and dare not condemn him, lest they condemn themselves, or because they are flatterers and daubers, or men that were never themselves acquainted with those saving operations of the spirit which he wants, or because they are partial to one of their own
faction. And thus a formal hypocrite may be stroked by · formalists, and a schismatical hypocrite may be soothed up by those of his own sect (as lamentable experience telleth us that such do) to the increase of their pernicious self-deceit.
Yet more than so; if these hypocrites fall in company with the notoriously profane, from them they will fetch some con