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of profaneness, and promoter of godliness ; it being much easier to drive others from their sin, than to forsake their own, and to drive on others to a godly life, than to practise it themselves : and by their owning godliness, and disowning sin, they persuade themselves the more effectually that they are truly godly. The Church cannot well spare the gifts and services of hypocrites, and many ungodly men. As bad or sick physicians may be God's instruments to cure our bodies, and a wicked carpenter may make a good house; so a wicked minister may well expound and apply the Scriptures; and he that refuseth the grace of Christ, may prevail with others to accept it; the sign-post that stands out of door itself, may invite others into the house; and the hand upon a post that goes not one step of the way, may point it out to others. There is more self-denial required to the forsaking of their own sins, than to persuade others to forsake theirs ; a covetous man cares not how liberal others.be; nor a glutton, drunkard, or fornicator, how temperate and chaste his neighbours be. And hence it is that many of these that refuse a holy life themselves, are willing their children or servants should embrace it. The end of the balance that goeth down itself, doth cause the other to go up. Other men's souls are more beholden to hypocrites than their own. They are like the common mariners, that enrich the merchant by fetching home his treasure, when they have nothing but a poor maintenance themselves; or like tailors, who make ornaments for others, which they never wear themselves ; or like carpen-. ters, that build fair houses which they never dwell in; or like the cook, that dresseth meat which he eateth not. God giveth hypocrites their usual gifts, for the service of the Church more than for themselves. He sometimes maketh those to be nursing fathers to his Church that are butchers of their own souls, and makes those his instruments to undeceive others, that deceive themselves. And thus far their religion is not vain.
But 1. It is vain as to God's special acceptation. True religion pleaseth God; but the self-deceiver's opinion he abhorreth, He hath no pleasure in fools. (Eccl. v. 4.) He asketh such, To what purpose is the multitude of their sacrifices? (Isaiah i. 11,) X and saith, he is full of their burnt offerings, and delights not in them. When they come to appear before him he asketh them, Who required this at their hands, to tread in his courts? and bids them, bring no more vain oblations; incense is an abomination to him ; the calling of their assemblies he cannot away with, and their solemn meetings are iniquity; (ver. 12, 13;) their *
appointed feasts his soul hateth, they are a trouble to him, he is weary to bear them. When they spread forth their hands, he will hide his eyes; when they make many prayers, he will not hear; because they do not forsake their sins, (ver. 14,) because they turn away their ear from hearing his law, their prayer is abomination to him. (Pro. xxviii. 9. and xv. S. and xxi. 27.) When they have sinned, instead of repenting and forsaking it, they think to please God by their religion, and stop the mouth of justice with their services; whereas they do but provoke him more, by adding hypocrisy to iniquity. Were they truly willing to let go their sins, and to please God by universal obedience, he would willingly accept them, and be pleased with their services. But when men’s religion, their prayers and other duties, are not used against their sins, but for them, not to kill them, but to cover them, not to overcome them, but as it were to bribe God to give them leave to sin, because they are not willing to forsake it, this is the self-deceiving religion of hypocrites, that is in vain.
2. And this religion is in vain, as to any promoting of a work of sanctification upon his soul. It weaneth him not from the world; it crucifieth not the flesh, with its affections and lusts; it doth not further his self-denial, nor driveth him to Christ, by a faith unfeigned; it never raiseth him to a heavenly life, nor kindleth the love of God within him; it is dead and ineffectual, and cannot produce these high effects. Yea, on the contrary, it hardeneth him in sin and self-deceit; it hindereth his repentance; it emboldeneth him in his fleshly, worldly life, and quieteth him in the neglect of Christ and heaven.
3. Moreover this kind of religion is vain as to any solid peace of conscience. It affordeth him none of the well-grounded, durable comforts of the saints; but, on the contrary, keep sout solid comfort by feeding him with airy, delusory conceits; and making him to be but his own comforter, upon fancies and confidence of his own, when the Spirit of Christ is not his comforter; nor doth the word of God speak any peace at all unto him.
4. Lastly, his religion is in vain, as to his salvation. As he had but an image of true religion, so he shall have but an image of heaven. Some dreams and self-created hopes of happiness may accompany him to the door of eternity, but there they will leave him to everlasting horror.
V. Use. 1. From what hath been said, you may see the reason why an outside, formal, seeining religiousness, is a thing so common in the world, in comparison of the life and power of godliness.
It is an easier thing to bring men to the strictest opinion, than to bring them to the affectionate and deep reception and practice of the truth. A strict opinion may be held without any great cost and trouble to the flesh. It is the practice that bereaveth a sinner of the pleasure of his sin. It is the common trick by which most hypocrites cheat their souls, to turn to the side and opinion, and assemblies and company, which they think to be the best; that so they may persuade themselves, the more easily, that they are as good as those opinions and that company doth import, and that they are truly such as those they join with. As men are taken by others for such as those they correspond with ; so hypocrites take themselves for such. As if it would prove that a man is sound, because he dwelleth with them that are so ? Or as it would prove a man rich or honourable, that he converseth with such? As God will not save any nations on earth, because they are such nations; nor will he save men because they are of such or such a trade, or because they are skilled in this or that art or science; no more will he save men for being of this or that party or sect, in matters of religion. One thinks when he hath lived a fleshly life, he shall be saved for hearing or saying the common prayer, or because he is for prelacy and ceremonies; another thinks he shall be saved, because he can pray without a book, or form of words, or because he frequenteth the private meetings of those that more diligently redeem their time for spiritual advantages than others do; another thinks he shall be saved because he is mocked as a Puritan or as too strict, as others are that are serious believers, and diligent in the things of God; and another thinks that he shall be saved because he is re-baptized, or because he joineth with some separate congregation, which pretendeth to be more strict than others. But none shall be saved, on any such account as these. Cain could not be saved, for being the first born in the family of Adam; Ham could not be saved for being in the ark and family of Noah; nor Esau for being in the house of Isaac; nor Absalom for being the son of David'; nor Judas for being a disciple in the family of Christ. Even Mary that brought him forth, could not have been saved by him, if she had not had a better title; and had not borne him in her heart. (Mark iii. 34, 35.) When they talk to him of his mother and his brethren, Christ looked upon those that sat about him, and told them that, whosoever shall do the will of God, the same is his brother, his sister, and his mother. It is no outward badge and livery, but a heart-title, that must
prove you the heirs of heaven. You may be snatched out of the purest Church on earth, and from the purest ordinances, and out of the arms of the most upright Christians, and cast into hell, if you have no better evidences than such, to show for your salvation. If ever you be saved, it must not be because you are Papists, or Protestants, Lutherans, or Calvinists, Arminians, Autinomians, Anabaptists, Independents, Presbyterian, or Prelatical; formally and merely as such; but because you are true Christians, that have the Spirit of Christ, (Rom. viii. 9,) and are conformed to him, in his sufferings, death, and resurrection, and live in sincere obedience to his will. But hypocrites that want the inward life and power of religion, and are conscious of their wilful sins, would fain borrow something from the parties which they join with, or the opinions which they take up, or the formal outward worship which they perform, or the alms which they give, to make up the want, and cheat their souls with a self-created confidence, that they shall be saved.
But more specially you may hence observe the reason that popery hath so many followers, and that it is so easy a thing to make an infidel, whoremonger, or drunkard, to turn a papist, when yet it is not easy to bring them to faith, and chastity, and temperance, much less to the unfeigned love of God, and to a holy, heavenly life. Though I doubt not but there are many sincere-hearted Christians among the papists, yet popery itself is of an hypocritical strain, and is notably suited to the hypocrite's disposition. It is revived Pharisaism: I marvel that they tremble not when they read themselves so lively characterized by Christ, with the addition of so many terrible woes, as in Matt. xxiii., and other places, frequently they are : “Woe to the scribes, pharisees, hypocrites.” They bind heavy burdens of external observances, to lay upon the consciences of their proselytes : tliey make broad their phylacteries; and in variety of holy vestures, they make ostentation of such a religion, as a peacock may have when he spreads hịs tail. They contend for superiority and titles to be called rabbi, pope, cardinal, patriarch, primate, metropolitan, archbishop, diocesan, abbot, prior, father, &c., to the great disturbance of all the nations of the christian world. They must needs be the fathers and masters of our faith : they shut the kingdom of heaven against the people, forbidding all to read the scriptures in their vulgar tongue, without a special license from their ordinary: and commanding them to worship God in a strange tongue which they do not understand: by the numbers of their masses and prayers for the dead, they delude the souls, and devour the patrimony of the living. In temples, and altars, and images, and ornaments consisteth no small part of their religion: they make more of tithing mint, anise and cummin, than of judgment, mercy, and faith, the weightier matters of the law. The outside they make clean, and appear as beautiful to men, as ceremonies and outward pomp can make them. They make it a part of their religion to murder the living saints, and keep holy days for the dead : they build the tombs of the prophets, and garnish the sepulchres of the righteous, and say, if we had lived in the days of our fathers, we would not have been partakers with them in the blood of the prophets. Thus, Matt. xxiii., is their description. They have their touch not, taste not, handle not, after the commandments and doctrines of men, their voluntary humility, and worshipping of angels, and other rudiments of the world, and things that have a show of wisdom in will-worship and humility, and neglecting of the body, not in any honour to the satisfying of the flesh, (Col, ii, 19-23.) How easy a thing is it to bring an ungodly man to be of a religion that consisteth in such things as these ! in eating fish on certain days instead of flesh; and saying over so many Pater Nosters, and Ave Marias, and naming so oft the name of Jesus; in worshipping a piece of consecrated bread with divine worship; in bowing and praying before an image ; in praying to the souls of such as the pope tells them are saints in heaven; in crossing themselves, and being sprinkled with holy water, and using Agnus Deis, and consecrated grains and annulets; in dropping of beads; in saying such words as a prayer at such a canonical hour, and such words the next canonical hour; in hearing a mass in Latin, and saying a Latin prayer; in being anointed with hallowed oil, and burning hallowed candles on the altars by day-light; in going sọ many miles to the chapel of a saint in pilgrimage; in carrying about them a bone, or some other supposed relic of a supposed saint; in confessing their sins so often to a priest, and doing penance, if he impose it on them. And so while they live in whoredom, or drunkenness, or swearing, or lying, or all these, and many other such, it is but confessing and doing penance, and to it again ; on which account (whatever some of them say for the necessity of contrition) it is usual with them, to venture upon the sins of whoredom, drunkenness, and the rest,