A Cabinet of Choice Jewels, or,
A Box of Precious Ointment
By Thomas Brooks, 1669
How far a hypocrite cannot go
Several have observed how far a hypocrite may go—but my design in this chapter is to show how far a hypocrite cannot go. [It is better that a hundred hypocrites should perish, than that one poor Christian should lack his portion.—John Cotton] Many have discovered at large what a hypocrite can do—but my scope in this chapter is to show what a hypocrite cannot do. Some have showed what a hypocrite is, and I shall now show what he is not. Some have showed the several rounds in Jacob's ladder, that a hypocrite may climb up to; but my business and work in this chapter, is to show you the several rounds in Jacob's ladder that no hypocrite under heaven can climb up to.
[1.] First, A hypocrite's inside never corresponds with his outside.A hypocrite's outside is one thing, and his inside another thing. A hypocrite is outwardly clean—but inwardly unclean. He is outwardly glorious—but inwardly inglorious.
"How terrible it will be for you teachers of religious law and you Pharisees. Hypocrites! You are so careful to clean the outside of the cup and the dish, but inside you are filthy—full of greed and self-indulgence! Blind Pharisees! First wash the inside of the cup, and then the outside will become clean, too. "How terrible it will be for you teachers of religious law and you Pharisees. Hypocrites! You are like whitewashed tombs—beautiful on the outside but filled on the inside with dead people's bones and all sorts of impurity. You try to look like upright people outwardly, but inside your hearts are filled with hypocrisy and lawlessness. Matthew 23:25-28. "You Pharisees are so careful to clean the outside of the cup and the dish, but inside you are still filthy—full of greed and wickedness!" Luke 11:39
Hypocrites are like apothecaries' gally-pots, having without the title of some excellent preservative—but within they are full of some deadly poison. They are like the Egyptian temples, which were beautiful outside—but within there was nothing to be found but serpents and crocodiles, and other venomous creatures. Hypocrites trade more for a good name—rather than for a good heart; for a good report—rather than for a good conscience. They are like fiddlers, more careful in tuning their instruments, than in watching their spirits. Hypocrites are like white silver—but they draw black lines; they have a seeming sanctified outside—but stuffed within with malice, worldliness, pride, envy, etc. They are like window cushions, made up of velvet and richly embroidered—but stuffed within with hay.
A hypocrite may offer sacrifice with Cain, and fast with Jezebel, and humble himself with Ahab, and lament with the tears of Esau, and kiss Christ with Judas, and follow Christ with Demas, and be baptized with Simon Magus; and yet for all this his inside is as bad as any of theirs.
A hypocrite is a Jacob on the outside—and an Esau within; a David on the outside—and a Saul within; a John on the outside—and a Judas within; a saint on the outside—and a Satan within; an angel on the outside—and a devil within. A hypocrite is a Jew outwardly—but an atheist, a pagan, a Turk inwardly, Romans 2:28-29.
I have read of certain idols, which on the outside were covered with gold and pearl—but within were nothing but spiders and cobwebs; a fit resemblance of hypocrites. Hypocrisy is but an outside, like cloth of arras, fair and beautiful without; but if you look to the inside, you shall find nothing but rags. That monk hit it, that said, To be a monk in outward show was easy—but to be a monk in inward reality was hard. To be a Christian in outward show is easy—but to be a Christian inwardly and really is very hard. A hypocrite's inside never corresponds to his outside; his inside is wicked, and his outside is religious. But let all such hypocrites know, that pretend sanctity is double iniquity, and accordingly at last they shall be dealt with. "You snakes! You brood of vipers! How will you escape being condemned to hell?" Matthew 23:33.
[2.] Secondly, No hypocrite is totally divorced from the love and liking of every known sin.There is still some secret lust or other, which as a sweet morsel he rolls under his tongue, and will not spit it out, Job 20:12-14. Every hypocrite tolerates some evil or other in himself, and takes liberty to transgress. A hypocrite will make hard work to daub up his conscience, and to secure himself from the checks thereof. After once the treasurer's bag was committed to Judas' custody, after once he was chosen into that sweet office, he quickly put conscience out of office, and never left stealing and licking his fingers, while there was any money in his bag to finger.
Herod knew much, and heard John Baptist, and had some temporary affections, and did many good things, Mark 6:20. But yet (1.) he kept Herodias his brother's wife, Mark 6:17; (2.) he took away the life of John the Baptist, Mark 6:27; (3.) he sets Jesus Christ at naught, and rejected him, Luke 23:11. As fair as Herod seemed to behave—yet he lived in a known notorious sin, and unjustly murdered the messenger of God, and mocked and rejected Jesus Christ as a vile person.
Some sin or other always reigns without control in a hypocritical heart. A hypocrite always reserves one nest-egg or another in his heart or life, for Satan to sit and brood on. Jehu did many brave things—but yet he kept up the worship of his golden calves. Naaman promises high—but yet he is for bowing in the house of Rimmon. The pharisees were very devout—but yet they loved the praises of men, and the uppermost seats in the synagogues. There is never a hypocrite in the world—but will do what he can to save the life of his sin—though it be with the loss of his soul. O sirs! Satan can be contented that hypocrites should yield to God in many things—provided they will be but true to him in some one thing; for he very well knows, that one sin lived in and allowed, gives him as much advantage against the soul as more. Satan can hold a man fast enough by one sin, as the fowler can hold the bird fast enough by one claw. Satan knows, that one sin lived in and allowed, will mar all a man's sweetest duties and services; as one dead fly will mar the whole box of precious ointment, Eccles. 10:1, and as one jarring string will bring the sweetest music out of tune.
It is said of Naaman the Syrian, that he was a valiant man, and a victorious man, and an honorable man, and a great favorite with his prince—but he was a leper, 2 Kings 5:1. Just so, it may be said of many hypocrites, they have such and such excellencies, and they perform such and such glorious duties—but they live and allow themselves in this or that sin—and that mars the beauty of all their services, Mat. 7:21-23. Satan knows, that one sin lived in and allowed, will as certainly damn a man as many; as one disease, one ulcerous part, may as certainly kill a man as many. Satan knows, that one sin lived in and allowed, will render a man as unclean in the eye of God as many.
If the leper in the law had the spot of leprosy in any one part of his body, he was accounted a leper, although all the rest of his body was sound and whole, Lev. 14. Just so, he who has the spot of the leprosy of sin allowed in any one part of his soul, he is a spiritual leper in the eye of God; he is unclean, though in other parts he may not be unclean.
If a swine does but wallow in one miry or dirty hole—it is filthy; and certainly, that soul that does but wallow in any one sin, he is filthy in the eye of God. Satan knows, that one sin lived in and allowed, will as effectually keep Christ and the soul asunder as many—as one stone in the pipe will as effectually keep out the water as many. Satan knows, that one sin lived in and allowed, will make way for many, as one thief can open the door to let in many more. Satan knows, that one sin lived in and allowed, will as certainly shut the soul out of heaven as many. One enemy may shut the door upon a man as well as many; and what difference is there between that man who is shut out of heaven for living in many sins, and he who is shut out of heaven for living but in one sin?
One sin lived in and allowed, will arm conscience against a man, as well as many. If there be but one crack in the honey glass, there the wasps will be buzzing. One sin allowed and countenanced, will spoil the music of conscience. One sin lived in and allowed, will make death as terrible and as formidable to the soul as many. One handwriting upon the wall made King Nebuchadnezzar's countenance to change, and his thoughts to be troubled, and the joints of his loins to be loosed, and his knees to be dashed one against another, Daniel 5:5-6. Now, all this Satan knows, and therefore he labors mightily to engage hypocrites to live in the allowance of some one sin. [It is most true what Seneca, the heathen says, "he who has any one vice reigning—has all others with it."]
O sirs! remember that as one hole in a ship will sink it, and as one stab at the heart will kill a man, and as one glass of poison will poison a man, and as one act of treason will make a man a traitor—just so, one sin lived in and allowed will damn a man forever. One wound strikes Goliath dead, as well as three-and-twenty did Caesar; one Delilah will do Samson as much mischief as all the Philistines; one wheel broken spoils all the whole clock; one vein's bleeding will let out all the vitals as well as more; one bitter herb will spoil all the pottage. By eating one apple, Adam lost paradise, Gen. 3; one lick of honey endangered Jonathan's life, 1 Sam. 14:33; one Achan was a trouble to all Israel, Joshua 7; one Jonah was too heavy for a whole ship, Jonah 1; so one sin lived in and allowed, is enough to make a man miserable forever. One millstone will sink a man to the bottom of the sea as well as a hundred; so one sin lived in and indulged will sink a man to the bottom of hell as well as a hundred.
I have read of a great Roman captain, who, as he was riding in his triumphant chariot through Rome, never took his eyes off a harlot who walked along the street; which made one say, Behold how this great captain, who has conquered such and such armies—is himself conquered by one silly woman! There is never a hypocrite in the world—but lies under the conquest of one base lust or another—but lives under the reign and dominion of one sin or another. That soul that can in sincerity of heart appeal to a heart-searching God, that it is otherwise with him, namely, that he does not live nor allow himself in any one sinful way or practice, that soul, I dare assure in the Lord's name, is no hypocrite, Psalm 139:23-24.
[3.] Thirdly, As a hypocrite's heart is never thoroughly subdued to a willingness to part with every lust—so neither is his heart thoroughly subdued to a willingness to perform all known duties.Sometimes he is all for public duties—but makes no conscience of closet-duties, or of family-duties. Sometimes he is all for the duties of the first table—but makes no conscience of the duties of the second table. And sometimes he is all for the duties of the second table—but makes no conscience of the duties of the first table. If he obeys one command—he willingly lives in the neglect of another; if he does one duty—he will be sure to cast off another. As he is not willing to fall out with every sin—so he is not willing to fall in with every duty. A hypocrite's obedience is always partial, it is never universal; he still baulks or boggles with those commands which cross his lusts.
The pharisees fasted, prayed, gave alms, and paid tithes, Mat. 23:23. Oh but they omitted "the weightier matters of the law—judgment, mercy, and faith," chap 6; and they were unnatural to parents, and under a pretense of praying, they made a prey of widows' houses, Mat. 15:4-6; under a pretense of piety, they exercised the greatest covetousness, unrighteousness, and cruelty—and that upon widows, who are usually the greatest objects of pity and charity. They made no bones of robbing the widow, under a pretense of honoring of God.
Just so, Judas, under a pretense of laying up for the poor, robbed the poor; he pretended to lay up for the poor—but he intended only to lay up for himself, and to provide against a rainy day, John 12:6. It is probable that he had no great mind to stay long with his Lord, and therefore he was resolved to make the best market he could for himself. Judas, under a cloak of holiness, practices the greatest unfaithfulness. Though the eagle soars high—yet still her eye is upon her prey; so though Judas did soar high in profession—yet his eye was still upon his prey, upon his bags; and so that he might have it—he cared not who went without it; so that he might be rich—he did not care though his Lord and his retinue grew ever so poor. Judas under all his shows and sanctity—had not so much as common honesty in him. [After some men have made a long and high profession, some one beloved lust or other, which they would never let go, parts Christ and them forever.]
Counterfeit holiness is often made a stalking-horse to much unrighteousness; but certainly it were better with the philosopher to have honesty without religion, than to have religion without honesty. A hypocrite may exercise himself in some outward, easy, ordinary duties of religion; but when shall you see a hypocrite laying the axe to the root of the tree; or be a-searching and trying his own heart; or severely judging his bosom sins; or humbly mourning and lamenting over secret corruptions; or doubling his guards about his own soul; or rejoicing in the graces, services, or excellencies of others; or striving or pressing after the highest pitches of grace, holiness, and communion with God; or endeavoring more to cast out the beam out of his own eye, than the mote out of his brother's eye; or to be more severe against his own sins than against the sins of others? Alas! a hypocrite is so far from practicing these duties—that he thinks them either superfluous or impossible.
A hypocrite's obedience is always a limited and stinted obedience. It is either limited to such commands which are most suitable to his ease, safety, honor, profit, pleasure, etc., or else it is limited to the outward part of the command, and never extends itself to the inward and spiritual part of the command; as you may see in the scribes and pharisees. Their obedience was all outward; they had no regard at all to the inward and spiritual part of any command; as is evident in that high charge that Christ gives in against them, Mat. 6. They did not murder, they did not commit adultery; they had an eye to the outward part of the command; but Christ charges them with unjust and adulterous thoughts, unchaste glances, contemplative wickedness, speculative uncleanness, etc., they having no regard at all to the inward and spiritual part of any command.
Common grace looks only to some particular duties—but saving grace looks to all duties. Renewing grace comes off to positives as well as negatives; it teaches us to cease to do evil, and it teaches us also to do good, Isaiah 1:16-17. It teaches us to deny all ungodliness and worldly lusts, and also to live soberly, righteously, and godly in this present world, Titus 2:11-13. These words contain the sum of a Christian's duty. To live soberly towards ourselves, righteously towards our neighbors, and godly towards God—is true godliness indeed, and the whole duty of man. There is never a hypocrite in the world that can sincerely appeal to God, and say, "Lord! you know that my heart is subdued to a willingness to perform all known duties. I would willingly do the best I can to observe all your royal laws. Lord! I sincerely desire, and really endeavor to have an eye upon every command of yours, and to live up to every command of yours; and it is the real grief of my heart, and the daily burden of my soul, when I violate any of your blessed laws," Psalm 119:6; Luke 1:5-6; Acts 13:22. He who can in uprightness thus appeal to God, shall never miscarry in the eternal world. But,
[4.] Fourthly, There is never a hypocrite who makes God, or Christ, or holiness; or his doing or receiving good in his station, relation, or generation—his grand end, his highest end, his ultimate end of living in the world.Pleasures, profits, and honors—are all that the hypocrite aims at in this world; they are his trinity which he adores and serves, and sacrifices himself unto, 1 John 2:16. A hypocrite's ends are corrupt and selfish. SELF is highest end of his work; for he who was never truly cast out of himself, can have no higher end than himself. A hypocrite is all for his own glory; he acts for himself, and from himself. "Just so that I may have the profit, the credit, the glory, the applause!" this is the language of an unsound heart. [John 6:26; Mat. 6:1, 5, 16; Gal. 4:17; Isaiah 58:3; Mal. 3:14; Zech. 7:5-7; Gen. 24:21-22.] A hypocrite will seem to be very godly when he can make a gain of godliness; he will seem to be very holy when holiness is the way to outward greatness and happiness; but his religious wickedness will double-damn the hypocrite at last.
Selfish ends are the operative ingredients in all a hypocrite does. SELF is the chief engine, self is the great wheel, which sets all a hypocrite's wheels a-going. When hypocrites take up religion, it is only to serve their own turns, to bring about their own carnal ends; they serve not the Lord—but their own bellies, Romans 16:18; Philip. 3:19. They use religion only as a stream to turn about their own mill, and the better to effect their own carnal projects. Simon Magus will needs be baptized, and he is very desirous to have power to bestow the Holy Spirit to others; but his aim being only to get a name, and to get money. Peter tells him to his face, that his heart was not right in the sight of God, Acts 8:21.
No man can go higher than his principles, and therefore a hypocrite having no higher principles than himself—all he does must needs be terminated in himself. Look! as all the rivers that come from the sea do return back again to the sea, from whence they come, so all those duties which arise from a man's self, must needs center in a man's self. A hypocrite always makes himself the end of all his service; but let such hypocrites know, that though their profession be ever so glorious, and their duties ever so abundant—yet their ends being selfish and carnal—all their pretensions and performances are but beautiful abominations in the sight of God. A hypocrite has always a squint eye—and squint-eyed aims and squint-eyed ends in all that he does.
Balaam spoke very religiously, and he multiplied altars and sacrifices; but the thing he had in his eye was the wages of unrighteousness, Num. 22-23, 2 Pet. 2:15. Jehu destroyed bloody Ahab's house, he executed the vengeance of God upon that wicked family; he readily, resolutely, and effectually destroyed all the worshipers of Baal—but his ends were to secure the kingdom to himself, 2 Kings 10. Ahab and the Ninevites fasted in sackcloth—but it was merely that they might not feel the heavy judgments that they feared would overtake them, 1 Kings 21, Jonah 3. The Jews in Babylon fasted and mourned, and mourned and fasted seventy years—but it was more to get off their chains than their sins, it was more to be rid of their captivity than it was to be rid of their iniquity, Zech. 7:5-6.
Look! as the eagle has an eye upon her prey when she flies highest, so these Jews in all their fasting, praying, mourning—they had only an eye to their own ease, deliverance, freedom, etc. In all their religious duties, they acted from evil principles, and carried on by self-respects; and therefore Daniel denies that in all that seventy years' captivity they had prayed to any purpose. "All this has come upon us—yet made we not our prayer before the Lord our God, that we might turn from our iniquities, and understand your truth," Dan. 9:13. It is the end which dignifies or debases the action; which rectifies it or adulterates it; which sets a crown of honor or a crown of shame upon the head of it. He who commonly, habitually, in all his duties and services, proposes to himself no higher ends than the praises of men, or rewards of men, or the stopping the mouth of natural conscience, or only to avoid a smarting rod, or merely to secure himself from wrath to come—he is a hypocrite. The ends of a man's actions are always a great discovery either of sincerity or hypocrisy. Look! as great gifts, not sweetened with sincerity, are no ornaments to us; so great infirmities, not soured with hypocrisy, are no great deformities to us. A hypocrite's ends are always below God; they are always below glorifying of God, exalting of God, walking with God, and enjoying communion with God. A hypocrite, in all he does—still proposes to himself some poor, ignoble, self-end or other.
But now mark, a sincere Christian, if he prays or hears, or gives or fasts, or repents or obeys, etc.—God's glory is the main end of all. The glory of God is his highest end, his ultimate end, Psalm 115:1; 1 Thess. 2:6. A sincere Christian can be content to be trampled upon and vilified, so that God's name is glorified. The bent of such a heart is for God and his glory; nothing but sincerity can carry a soul so high, as in all acts natural, civil and religious, to intend God's glory, Rev. 4:9-11. A sincere Christian ascribes the praise of all to God; he sets the crown on Christ's head alone; he will set God upon the throne, and make all other things his servants, or his footstool, Romans 14:7-8. All must bow the knee to God—or be trodden in the dirt. He will love nothing, he will embrace nothing—but what sets God higher, or brings God nearer to his heart. The glory of God is the mark which the sincere Christian has in his eye. The sincere Christian lives not to himself—but to him who lives forever; he lives not to his own will, or lusts, or greatness, or glory in this world—but he lives to God's glory, whose glory is dearer to him than his own life, 1 Cor. 10:38; Rev. 12:11.
Look! as bright shining golden vessels do not retain the beams of the sun which they receive—but reflect them back again upon the sun; so the sincere Christian returns and reflects back again upon the Sun of righteousness, the praise and glory of all the gifts, graces, and virtues that they have received from him. The daily language of sincere souls is this: "Not unto us, Lord, not unto us, Lord—but to your name be all the glory!" 1 Chron. 29:10, 18; Romans 13:7. A sincere Christian makes conscience of giving men their dues; how much more, then, does he make conscience of giving God his due, Psalm 96:7-8. Now glory is God's due. God desires nothing more than that we give him the glory due unto his name, as you may see in Psalm 29:1-2. There are three gives in those two verses: "Give unto the Lord, give unto the Lord, give unto the Lord the glory that is due unto his name." Glory is God's right, and he stands upon his right; and this the sincere Christian knows, and therefore he gives him his right, he gives him the honor and the glory that is due unto his name.
But please do not mistake me: I do not say that such as are really sincere do actually eye the glory of Christ in all their actions. Oh no. This is a happiness desirable on earth—but shall never be attained until we come to heaven. Bye and base ends and aims will be still ready to creep into the best hearts—but all sincere hearts sigh and groan under them. They complain to God of them, and they cry out for justice, justice upon them; and it is the earnest desires and daily endeavors of their souls to be rid of them; and therefore they shall not be imputed to them, nor keep good things from them.
Take a sincere Christian in his ordinary, usual, and habitual course—and you shall find that his aims and ends in all his actions and undertakings are to glorify God, to exalt God, and to lift up God in the world. If the hypocrite did in good earnest aim at the glory of God in what he does, then the glory of God would swallow up his bye-aims and carnal ends, as Aaron's rod swallowed up the magicians' rods, Exod. 7:10-12. Look! as the sun puts out the light of the fire—so the glory of God, where it is aimed at, will put out and consume all selfish and base ends. This is most certain—that which is a man's great end, that will work out all other ends. He who sets up the glory of God as his chief end, will find that his chief end will by degrees eat out all selfish and base ends.
Look! as Pharaoh's lean cows ate up the fat ones, Gen. 41:4, so the glory of God will eat up all those fat and worldly ends which crowd in upon the soul in pious work. Where the glory of God is kept up as a man's greatest end, there all selfish and base ends will be kept down. By what has been said, it is most evident that a hypocrite in all his transactions looks at himself, and designs the advance and advantage of himself. A hypocrite is as well able to make a world, and to unmake himself—as he is able to make the glory of God, the exaltation of God—his highest end, his utmost aim, in all that he does. But,
[5.] Fifthly, No hypocrite can live wholly and only upon the righteousness of Christ, the satisfaction of Christ, the merits of Christ—for justification and salvation.The hypocritical scribes and pharisees prayed and fasted, and kept the Sabbath, and gave alms, etc., and in this legal righteousness they rested and trusted, Mat. 6, Luke 18:11-12. Ponder upon Rev. 3:16-18. Upon the performance of these and such like duties, they laid the weight of their souls and the stress of their salvation—and so perished forever. A hypocrite rests upon what he does, and never looks so high as the righteousness of Christ. He looks upon his duties as so much good money laid out for heaven. He weaves a web of righteousness to clothe himself with. He never looks out for a more glorious righteousness to be justified by, than his own; and so puts a slight upon the righteousness of Christ: Romans 10:3, "For they, being ignorant of God's righteousness, and going about to establish their own righteousness, have not submitted themselves unto the righteousness of God."
The first step to salvation is to renounce our own righteousness; the next step is to embrace the righteousness of Christ, which is freely offered to sinners in the gospel; but these things the hypocrite minds not, regards not. The righteousness of a hypocrite is not only imperfect—but impure, a rag, a filthy menstrual rag; and therefore he who rests upon such a righteousness must needs miscarry to all eternity, Isaiah 64:6. O sirs! who will say that that man needs a Savior—who can fly to heaven upon the wings of his own duties and services? If a man's duties can pacify an infinite wrath, and satisfy an infinite justice—then farewell Christ, and welcome duties. He who will rest upon his own righteousness for eternal life and justification, must needs sit down on this side salvation; he who rests upon his duties, and who rests upon a gift of knowledge, a gift of utterance, a gift of memory, or a gift of prayer, though he may come near to heaven, and bid fair for heaven—yet he will never be able to get into heaven.
Now, how sad is it for a man to lose himself and his soul in a wilderness of duties, when he is upon the borders, yes, the very brink, of the holy land. He who rests upon anything in himself, or done by himself—as a means to procure the favor of God, or the salvation of his soul—will put such a cheat upon himself as will undo him forever. Non-submission to the righteousness of Christ keeps Christ and the hypocrite asunder. Christ will never love nor like to put the fine, clean, white linen of his own righteousness upon the old garment, the old rags of a hypocrite's duties, Rev. 19:7-8. Neither will Christ ever delight to put his new wine into such old bottles, Mat. 9:16-17. A hypocrite's confidence in his own righteousness turns his righteousness into filthiness, Proverbs 21:27.
But a sincere Christian—he renounces his own righteousness; he renounces all confidence in the flesh, Philip. 3:3; he looks upon his own righteousness as dung, yes, as dogs' meat, as some interpret the word in that Philip. 3:8. He will say no more to his duties, to the works of his hands, "You are my gods," Hosea 14:3. When he looks upon the holiness of God's nature, the righteousness of his government, the severity of his law, the terror of his wrath—he sees an absolute and indispensable necessity of a more glorious righteousness than his own—to appear before God in. A sincere Christian sets the highest price and value upon the righteousness of Christ: Psalm 71:16, "I will make mention of your righteousness, even of yours alone." Mark the emphasis doubled, "of your," and "yours alone." A sincere Christian is convinced of the nature, worth, and excellency of the righteousness of Christ, and therefore he cries out, "I will make mention of your righteousness, of yours alone."
The costly cloak of Alcisthenes, which Dionysius sold to the Carthaginians for a hundred talents, was indeed a cheap and beggarly rag in a sincere Christian's eye, compared to that embroidered mantle of righteousness that Christ puts upon his people. A sincere Christian rejoices in the righteousness of Christ above all: Isaiah 61:10, "I will greatly rejoice in the Lord, my soul shall be joyful in my God; for he has clothed me with the garments of salvation, he has covered me with the robe of righteousness, as a bridegroom decks himself with ornaments, and as a bride adorns herself with her jewels."
It is matter of joy, and a sign of great favor from the great Turk, when a rich garment is cast upon any who come into his presence. Oh then, what matter of joy must it be to a sincere Christian to have the rich and royal garment of Christ's righteousness cast upon him! Isaiah 28:16.
A sincere Christian rests on the righteousness of Christ as on a sure foundation: Isaiah 45:24, "Surely shall one say, In the Lord have I righteousness and strength." It was a very sweet and golden expression of one, when he thought himself to be at the point of death: "I confess," said he, "I am not worthy; I have no merits of my own to obtain heaven by; but my Lord had a double right thereunto; a hereditary right as a Son, and a meritorious right as a sacrifice; he was contented with the one right himself, the other right he has given unto me, by the virtue of which gift I do rightly lay claim unto it, and am not confounded."
A sincere Christian looks upon the righteous of Christ as that which renders him most splendid and glorious in the eyes of God: Philip. 3:9, "And be found in him, not having my own righteousness, which is of the law—but that which is through the faith of Christ, the righteousness which is of God by faith." A sincere Christian looks upon the righteousness of Christ as his only security against wrath to come, 1 Thes. 1:10. Wrath to come is the greatest wrath, wrath to come is the purest wrath, wrath to come is infinite wrath, wrath to come is everlasting wrath. Now the sincere Christian, he knows no way under heaven to secure himself from wrath to come—but by putting on the robe of Christ's righteousness, Romans 13:14.
The story tells us, if we may believe it, that Pilate being called to Rome to give an account unto the emperor for some misgovernment and mal-administration, he put on the seamless coat of Christ, and all the time he had that coat upon his back, Caesar's fury was abated. There is nothing that can abate the wrath and fury of a sin-revenging God—but the seamless coat of God's righteousness.
Well, for a close remember this—there is never a hypocrite in the world, who is more pleased, satisfied, delighted and contented with the righteousness of Christ, than with his own, etc. Though a hypocrite may be much in duties—yet he never lives above his duties; he works for eternal life, and he rests in his work, and this proves his mortal wound. But,
[6.] Sixthly, A hypocrite never embraces a whole Christ.He can never take up his full and everlasting rest, satisfaction, and contentment—in the person of Christ, in the merits of Christ, in the enjoyment of Christ alone. No hypocrite did ever long and mourn after the enjoyment of Christ, as the best thing in all the world. No hypocrite did ever prize Christ for a Sanctifier as well as a Savior. No hypocrite did ever look upon Christ, or long for Christ to deliver him from the power of his sins—as much or as well as to deliver him from wrath to come. No hypocrite can really love the person of Christ, or take satisfaction in the person of Christ. The rays and beams of Christ's glory have never warmed his heart; he never knew what bosom communion with Christ meant, 1 Thes. 1:10. A hypocrite may love to be healed by Christ, and to be pardoned by Christ, and to be saved by Christ, etc.; but he can never take any delight in the person of Christ; his heart never seriously works after union and communion with Christ.
The love of a sincere Christian runs much out to the person of Christ. Heaven itself without Christ, would be to such a soul but a poor thing, a low thing, a little thing, an uncomfortable thing, an empty thing. It is the person of Christ that is the sparkling diamond in the ring of glory, Cant. 5:10; Philip. 1:21, and 3:7-10.
No hypocrite in the world is sincerely willing to receive Christ in all his offices, and to close with him upon gospel terms. The terms upon which God offers Christ in the gospel are these, namely—that we shall accept of a whole Christ with a whole heart, 1 John 11:13; Mat. 16:24. Now, mark, a whole Christ includes all his offices; and a whole heart includes all our faculties. Christ as mediator is king, priest, and prophet; and so God the Father in the gospel offers him. Salvation was too great and too glorious a work to be perfected and completed by any one office of Christ. Christ as a prophet instructs us; and as a priest he redeems us and intercedes for us; and as a king he sanctifies and saves us.
The apostle hit it when he said, "He is made to us—wisdom, righteousness, sanctification, and redemption," 1 Cor. 1:30. Consider Christ as our prophet, and so he is made wisdom to us; consider him as our priest, and so he is made righteousness and redemption to us; consider him as our king, and so he is made sanctification and holiness to us.
A hypocrite may be willing to embrace Christ as a priest to save him from wrath, from the curse, from hell, from everlasting burning—but he is never sincerely willing to embrace Christ as a prophet to teach and instruct him, and as a king to rule and reign over him. Many hypocrites may be willing to receive a Savior Jesus, who are not willing to receive a Lord Jesus; they may be willing to embrace a saving Christ—but they are not willing to embrace a ruling Christ, a commanding Christ: "This man shall not rule over us," Luke 19:27. "O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, you who kill the prophets, how often would I have gathered your children together, even as a hen gathers her chickens under her wings—and you would not!" "And you will not come to me that you might have life." "He came to his own, and his own received him not." [Mat. 23:37; Psalm 2:2-3; John 5:40, 1:11; Isaiah 8:14; 1 Peter 2:7-8.]
A hypocrite is willing to receive Christ in one office—but not in every office; and this is that stumbling-stone at which hypocrites stumble and fall, and are broken in pieces. Certainly Christ is as lovely and as desirable and delightful, as eminent and excellent in one office as he is in another; and therefore it is a just and righteous thing with God, that hypocrites who won't receive him in every office, should have no benefit by any one of his offices. Christ and his offices may be distinguished—but Christ and his offices can never be divided, 1 Cor. 1:13. While many have been a-laboring to divide one office of Christ from another, they have wholly stripped themselves of any advantage or benefit by Christ.
Hypocrites love to share with Christ in his happiness—but they don't love to share with Christ in his holiness. They are willing to be redeemed by Christ—but they are not cordially willing to submit to the laws and government of Christ. They are willing to be saved by his blood—but they are not willing to submit to his scepter. Hypocrites love the privileges of the gospel—but they don't love the services of the gospel; especially those which are most inward and spiritual.
But a sincere Christian, he owns Christ in all his offices, he receives Christ in all his offices, and he closes with Christ in all his offices. He accepts of him, not only as a Savior Jesus—but also as a Lord Jesus; he embraces him, not only as a saving Christ—but also as a ruling Christ. [1 John 1:2; Mat. 2:6; Heb. 7:21, 26; Acts 3:22; John 12:46.] The Colossians received him as Christ Jesus the Lord, Col. 2:6; they received a Lord Christ—as well as a saving Christ; they received Christ as a king upon his throne—as well as a sacrifice upon his cross, 2 Cor. 4:5.
God the Father in the gospel offers a whole Christ. We preach Christ Jesus the Lord, and accordingly a sincere Christian receives a whole Christ, he receives Christ Jesus the Lord, Acts 5:31; he says with Thomas, "My Lord and my God," John 20:28; he takes Christ for his wisdom as well as for his righteousness; and he takes him for his sanctification as well as for his redemption. A hypocrite is all for a saving Christ, for a sin-pardoning Christ, for a soul-glorifying Christ—but has no regard for a ruling Christ, a reigning Christ, a commanding Christ, a sanctifying Christ; and this at last will prove his damning sin, John 3:19-20. But,
[7.] Seventhly, A hypocrite cannot mourn for sin as sin, nor grieve for sin as sin, nor hate sin as sin, nor make headway against sin as sin.Mark,
(1.) To hate sin is not merely to refrain from sin, for so Balaam did, even when he was tempted to it, Num. 22
(2.) To hate sin is not merely to confess sin, for so Pharaoh and Judas did, Exod. 10:16, Mat. 27:4.
(3.) To hate sin is not merely to be afraid to sin, for this may be where the hatred of sin is not.
(4.) To hate sin is not merely to mourn because of the dreadful effects and fruits that sin may produce, for so Ahab did, and the Ninevites did, etc.
He who fears sin for hell, fears not to sin—but fears to burn! He hates sin indeed—who hates sin as hell itself. (Augustine.) It was a saying of Anselm, "that if hell and sin were before him, he would rather fall into hell than fall into sin." Here was a true hatred of sin indeed. A hypocrite may be troubled for sin—as it blots his name, and wounds his conscience, and brings a scourge, and destroys his soul, and shuts him out of heaven, and throws him to hell; but he is never troubled for sin, he never mourns for sin, he never hates sin because it is contrary to the nature of God, the being of God, the law of God, the glory of God, the design of God, or because of the evil that is in the nature of sin, or because of the defiling and polluting power of sin.
True hatred of sin is universal; it is of the whole kind. He who hates a toad because it is a toad—hates every toad. And he who hates a man because he is holy—hates every holy man. And so he who hates sin because it is sin—hates every sin: Psalm 119:128, "I hate every false way." True hatred is ever against the whole kind of a thing. Every sincere Christian has in him a general hatred of every false way, and dares not allow himself in the least sin. "I do not practice what I want to do, but I do what I hate." Romans 7:15. Romans 12:9, "Abhor that which is evil." The Greek word is very significant. The word imports extreme detestation. The word signifies to hate evil as hell itself.
Though a hypocrite may hate some sins, "You abhor idols," Romans 2:22,—yet that is out of some peculiar and particular indisposition to a particular sin; but this hatred of this or that particular sin, arises not from an inward nature or gracious principle, as it does in him who is a sincere Christian. And the reason is this—because that contrariety to sin which is in a real Christian arising from this inward gracious nature—is to the whole species or kind of sin, and is irreconcilable to any sin whatever. As contrarieties of nature are to the whole kind—as light is contrary to all darkness, and fire to all water; so this contrariety to sin arising from the inward man, is universal to all sin. [Doctor Sibbes, in his "Soul's Conflict," makes the hatred of sin the surest and never failing character of a gracious soul.]
Though a sincere Christian has not a universal victory over all sin—yet there is in him a universal contrariety to all sin. Victory argues strength, contrariety argues nature. Hence it is that a hypocrite may hate one sin and love another, because there is not a gracious nature in him which would be contrary to all. The inward nature of a Christian is to be judged by the universal contrariety of his inward man to all sin. Now this universal contrariety to all sin will beget a universal conflict with all sin.
O sirs! remember this: universal contrariety to sin can be found in no man but he who is sincere; and this universal contrariety to sin argues an inward nature of grace, and this is that which differences a real Christian from a hypocrite, who may oppose some sins out of other principles and reasons. A hypocrite may be angry with this sin and that sin—which brings the smarting rod, and wounds his conscience, and disturbs his peace, and embitters his mercies, and strangles his comforts, and which lays him open to wrath, and that brings him even to the gates of hell—but he can never hate sin as sin. A hypocrite hates some sins but likes others—he loathes some but loves others—he opposes some but practices others, like the people of the church of Ephesus, who hated the deeds of the Nicolaitans—but loved lukewarmness. Many men detest theft—who love covetousness. Many abhor whoredom—who like worldliness, etc., Rev. 2:5-6. There is no hypocrite under heaven that can truly say, "I hate every false way." Nut a sincere Christian hates all sinful ways—his own first and most. An upright heart leaves no nest-egg for Satan to sit on—but the hypocrite always does. Mark,in true hatred of sin, there are six things observable:
(1.) First, True hatred of sin, includes an extreme DETESTATION.Every dislike is not hatred—but true hatred is an extreme loathing: "You shall cast them away as a menstruous cloth; you shall say unto it, Get you hence," Isaiah 30:22; "In that day a man shall cast his idols of silver, and his idols of gold, which they made each one for himself to worship—to the moles and to the bats," chapter 2:20. Their detestation should be so great that they would cast their most costly idols of silver and gold to the most dark, nasty, dusty corners. To testify the sincerity of their conversion to God, they would hate and abhor, abandon and abolish—their gold and silver idols—which they valued above all others.
(2.) Secondly, True hatred of sin, includes earnest SEPARATION.He who hates his sin would sincerely be separated from his sin; "For we who are in this tabernacle do groan being burdened," 2 Cor. 5:4. A sincere Christian finds no burden to lie so heavy and weighty upon his spirit as sin, and therefore he groans to be delivered from it. In the law, he who hated his wife did sue out a bill of divorce from her, Deut. 24:3. He who truly hates sin, puts in many a bill into the court of heaven that he may be forever divorced from his sin.
(3.) Thirdly, True hatred of sin, includes an irreconcilable ALIENATION.He who hates sin has his heart forever alienated from sin; he who hates sin can never be one with sin. Two angry men may be made friends; but if two men hate each other, all friendship is everlastingly broken between them. A man may be angry with sin, and yet made friends with sin again; but if once he comes to hate his sin, then all friendship with sin is everlastingly broken. When Christ and the soul come to be really one—then sin and the soul come to be everlastingly two, etc. [Lawyers often disagree at the bar—but are very well agreed when they meet at the tavern.]
(4.) Fourthly, True hatred of sin, includes a constant and perpetual CONFLICT."The flesh will be still lusting against the spirit, and the spirit against the flesh." Though sin and grace were not born together, and though sin and grace shall never die together—yet while a believer lives in this world, they must live together; and while sin and grace do cohabit together, they will still be opposing and conflicting one with another, Gal. 5:17, Romans 7:22-23. That man who truly hates sin—will everlastingly conflict with sin. He will die fighting against his sins, as one of the dukes of Venice died fighting against his enemies with his weapons in his hand. Well, Christians, remember this, though to be kept from sin brings most peace and comfort to us—yet for us to oppose sin, and for God to pardon sin, that brings most glory to God, 2 Cor. 12:7-9.
(5.) Fifthly. True hatred of sin, includes a deadly intention and DESTRUCTION, for nothing satisfies hatred but death and ruin.Saul hated David, and sought his life; he hunted him up and down as a partridge in the mountains; he left no stone unturned, nor any means unattempted, whereby he might revenge himself upon David, 1 Sam. 26:19-20; 1 Sam. 23:22.
Haman hated Mordecai, and nothing would satisfy him but to bring him to a shameful death, to see him hanged on a gallows fifty cubits high, Esther. 5:14, which was designed, says Lyra, to put Mordecai to the greater shame, for he hanging high, everyone might see him and point to him. Now when there was but one night between Mordecai and a shameful death, divine providence opportunely intervened and saved him from Haman's malice, and caused the mischief which he had plotted against Mordecai suddenly to fall upon his own head; for he who was highly feasted with the king one day, was made a feast for crows the next day.
Absalom hated Amnon and killed him, 2 Sam. 13:22-33. Julian the apostate hated the Christians with a deadly hatred. He put many thousands of them to death, and threatened and vowed that at his return from fighting against the Persians, he would put all the Christians in his empire to the sword; but God prevented him by cutting him off in that expedition.
A Christian who hates sin can't be satisfied but in the death and destruction of it. In all his duties the language of his soul is, "Lord, let my sins be destroyed; whoever escapes, let not my sins escape the hand of your revenging justice!" And in all ordinances the language of his soul is, "O Lord! when shall my sins be subdued and mortified? when shall my cursed corruptions be brought to an under dominion? yes, when shall they all be drowned in the Red Sea of my Savior's blood?"
(6.) Sixthly, True hatred of sin, includes a total AVERSENESS; true hatred is of the whole kind.But of this before.
To wind up all, ask your heart what is it that you abhor as the superlative evil? What is that which you would have separated as far from you as heaven is from hell? What is that your heart will never renew league or friendship with any more? What is that against which your soul does rise, and with which, as Israel with Amalek, you will have war forever? Exodus 17:16. What is that which you will be avenged of—and daily endeavor the mortifying and crucifying of? What is that which you set your heart against in the comprehensive latitude thereof, whether great or little, open or secret? If it is sin, if it is your sins, if it is all your sins—then assuredly here is a true hatred of sin, and assuredly here is a most distinguishing character of a child of God, of a sound conversion, and of a saving change.
It was not always thus with you; nor are these characteristics found in any hypocrite, or in any unconverted person upon the face of the earth. Sin was once to you as Delilah to Samson, Judges 14:3, 7; but now it is to you as Tamar to Amnon, 2 Sam. 13:15. Once it was a sweet morsel which you held fast and would not let it go, Job 20:12-13; but now it is the menstruous cloth, Isaiah 30:22, which you cast away, saying, "Get you hence." Now with Ephraim you cry out, "What have I to do any more with idols?" Hosea 14:8. Oh, if it is indeed thus with you, then you have cause forever to be much in blessing and in admiring of the Lord for his distinguishing grace and favor towards you.
O sirs! the world is full of baits, snares, and temptations; but while the hatred of sin burns in your breasts, you may throw the gauntlet to the world, the flesh, and the devil. Well, remember this forever—there are three things a hypocrite can never do: (1.) He can never mourn for sin as sin. (2.) He can never mourn for the sins of others as well as his own. Moses, Lot, David, Jeremiah, Paul, and those in that Ezek. 9:4, 6, mourned for others' sins as well as their own; but Pharaoh, Ahab, Judas, Demas, Simon Magus never did. (3.) He can never hate sin as sin. But,
[8.] Eighthly, No hypocrite is habitually low or little in his own eyes.No hypocrite has ordinarily low thoughts of himself—or a low esteem of himself. No hypocrite loves to lessen himself—to greaten Christ, to debase himself—to exalt Christ, 1 Cor. 8:1-2, John 7:49 and 9:34. No hypocrite loves to be outshined; all hypocrites love to write an I, not a Christ, upon what they do. The pharisee stood and prayed thus with himself: "God, I thank you that I am not as other men are, extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even as this publican; I fast twice in the week, I give tithes of all that I possess," Luke 18:11-12.
"I am not as this publican." All hypocrites stand much upon their negative righteousness, and their comparative goodness. There is no hypocrite in the world but sets down his penny for a pound, and always prizes himself above the market: 2 Kings 10:16, "Come with me and see my zeal for the Lord." Jehu's words were for the Lord—but his project was for the kingdom. The actor in the comedy said with his mouth, "O heaven"—but with his finger he pointed to the earth. Lapidaries tell us of a stone called the chelydonian stone, that it will retain its virtue no longer than it is enclosed in gold; a fit emblem of a hypocrite, of a Jehu. Jehu made a great blaze—but he was but a comet.
A hypocrite always loves the praise of men more than the praise of God, John 12:43. He loves more to be honored by men than to be honored by God: "How can you believe, who receive honor one of another, and seek not the honor which comes from God alone?" John 5:44. Nothing below that power which raised Christ from the grave can make a hypocrite purely nothing in his own eyes. A hypocrite is always a great thing in his own eyes; and when he is nothing, a great nothing in others' eyes; he cannot bear it. A hypocrite cannot endure to be outshined in gifts, in graces, in experiences, in duties, in communion with God, in spiritual enjoyments. A hypocrite's heart is full of pride—when his deportment is most humble. He always thinks best of himself, and worst of others; he looks upon his own vices as graces, and he looks upon other men's graces as vices, or at least as no true coin. [Attius the poet, though he was a dwarf—yet would be pictured tall of stature. The application to the hypocrite is easy.]
A proud spirit will cast disgrace upon that excellency which he himself lacks; as Licinius, who was joined with Galerius in the empire, he was so ignorant that he was not able to write his own name; he was a bitter enemy to learning, and as Eusebius reports of him, he called the liberal arts a public poison and pestilence. The emptiest barrels make the loudest sound, the worst metal the greatest noise, and the lightest ears of corn hold their heads highest. A hypocrite may well lay his hand upon his heart, and say, "Is it not so with me, is it not just so with me?"
But now sincere Christians, they are men of another spirit, of another temper, of another metal, of another mind; their hearts lie low when their gifts, and graces, and spiritual enjoyments are high. Abraham is but dust and ashes in his own eyes, Gen. 18:27. The higher any man is in his communion with God, the more low that man will be in his own eyes. Dust and ashes are poor, base, vile, worthless things; and such a thing as these was Abraham in his own eyes.
Just so, Jacob was a plain man, an upright man, and lo! what a low esteem had he of himself: "I am not worthy of the least of all the mercies which you have showed unto your servant," Gen. 32:10. In the Hebrew it is, "I am little before your mercies." [Gen. 31 from verse 38 to 41: the least mercy, says Jacob, is more worth than I, and more weighty than I.] When Jacob had to do with Laban, he pleads his merits; but when he has to do with God, he pleads nothing but grace, setting a very low esteem upon himself. He looks upon himself as less than the least of mercies, and as worse than the worst of creatures. The least of my mercies are greater than I deserve, and the greatest of my troubles are less than I deserve, says Jacob.
The language of a plain-hearted Jacob is this: "O Lord, I might with Job have been stripped of all my comforts and enjoyments at a clap, and set upon a ash-heap; I might with Lazarus have been begging my bread from door to door; or I might have been getting my bread with the peril of my life, because of the sword of the wilderness, Lam. 5:9; or I might have been with Dives in hell a-crying out for a drop of water to cool my tongue!" Luke 16:24.
A sincere Christian cannot tell how to speak good enough of God—nor poor enough of himself. Agur was one of the wisest and holiest men on earth, and see how greatly he debases himself: "Surely I am more brutish than any man, and have not the understanding of a man," Proverbs 30:1-2. Agur had seen Ithiel, God with me, and Ucal, God almighty—and this made him so vile and base in his own eyes; this made him vilify, yes, nullify himself to the utmost.
You know no man ever received a fairer or a more valuable certificate under the hand of God or the broad seal of heaven, for his being a soul famous in uprightness and holiness, than Job, as you may see, Job 1:8, "And the Lord said unto Satan, Have you considered my servant Job, that there is none like him in the earth, a perfect and an upright man, one who fears God and eschews evil." [Job was a paragon in regard of those perfections and degrees of grace, of integrity, of sanctity—which he had attained to, beyond any other saints in the world in his time and day.] Job was high in worth and humble in heart: Job 42:5-6, "I have heard of you by the hearing of the ear—but now my eye sees you, I abhor myself in dust and ashes!" This expression is the deepest act of abhorrency. Abhorrency strictly taken is hatred wound up to the height: "I abhor myself." The Hebrew word that is rendered abhor signifies to reject, to disdain, to despise, to cast off. Ah! says Job, I abhor myself, I reject myself, I disdain myself, I cast off myself, I have a very vile and base esteem of myself.
Just so, David was a man of great integrity, a man after God's own heart, and yet he looks upon himself as a flea; and what is more contemptible than a flea? 1 Kings 15:5, 1 Sam. 26:20. And as he looks upon himself as a flea, so he looks upon himself as a worm: "I am a worm, and no man," Psalm 22:6. The Hebrew word that is here rendered a worm, signifies a very little worm which breeds in scarlet—a worm that is so little that a man can hardly perceive it. A worm is the most despicable creature in the world, trampled under foot by man and beasts. He who was in God's eye a man after his own heart, is in his own eye but a despicable worm. A sincere Christian is a little nothing in his own eyes.
Just so, Paul, who had been caught up into the third heaven, and learned his divinity among the angels, as one speaks, and had such glorious revelations as could not be uttered—yet he accounts himself less than the least of all saints: Eph. 3:8, "Unto me who am less than the least of all saints." Less than the least of all saints is a double diminutive, and signifies lesser than the least, if lesser might be; not that anything can be less than the least. Paul's rhetoric and meaning is, that he was as little as could be; therefore he put himself down so little as could be—less than the least. Here you have the greatest apostle descending down to the lowest step of humility: great Paul is least of saints—last of the apostles—and greatest of sinners, 1 Tim. 1:15.
Just so, Peter, "Depart from me, for I am a sinful man, O Lord," Luke 5:8, or as the Greek runs, "a man, a sinner,"—a mixture and compound of dirt and sin; a mere bundle of vice and vanity, of folly and iniquity.
Likewise, Luther, "I have no other name than sinner, sinner is my name, sinner is my surname; this is the name by which I shall be always known. I have sinned, I do sin, I shall sin in infinitum," says Luther, speaking vilely and basely of itself. "Lord, I am hell and you are heaven," said blessed Hooper. "I am a most hypocritical wretch, not worthy that the earth should bear me," said blessed Bradford.
Thus you see by these several instances, that sincere Christians do as it were take a holy pleasure and delight to debase, humble, and vilify themselves. But this is a work hypocrites are mere strangers to. There is not a hypocrite under heaven who loves to debase himself, or who makes it his duty conscientiously to vilify and lessen himself—that Christ may be set up above all. Humility is a grace rarely attained unto. "Many," says Augustine, "can more easily give all they have to the poor, than themselves become poor in spirit." But,
[9.] Ninthly, No hypocrite will long hold out in the work and ways of the Lord—in the lack of outward encouragements, and in the face of outward discouragements.A hypocrite is a veiled apostate; and an apostate is an unveiled hypocrite. Job 27:8, "For what is the hope of the hypocrite, though he has gained—when God shall take away his soul?" Verse 10, "Will he delight himself in the Almighty? Will he always call upon God?" Or, as the Hebrew runs, "Will he in every time call upon God?" It may be he may formally call on God in time of prosperity; but can he seriously do it in time of adversity? Sometimes when the rod is upon them, then they will pour out a prayer to God: "In their affliction they will seek me early," Isaiah 26:16, Hosea 5:15. "When he slew them, then they sought him, and they returned and inquired after God," Psalm 78:34. But this was not the standing frame of their hearts: Verse 36, "Nevertheless, they did flatter him with their mouth, and they lied unto him with their tongues." Verse 37, "For their heart was not right with him, neither were they steadfast in his covenant."
When Pharaoh was upon the rack, he could roar a confession, and earnestly cry out for a prayer, Exod. 10:16-17, 19-20; but when the judgment was removed, Pharaoh was as proud, and hard-hearted, and blind as ever. When Adonijah was in danger of death, then he could hang on the horns of the altar, 1 Kings 1:50-51. When Ahab was threatened with utter desolation, then he could fast and lie in sackcloth; and so did the Ninevites. But all this was but like Ephraim and Judah's goodness, which as a morning cloud and as the early dew, passes away.
Will the hypocrite always, or in every time, call upon God? Will the hypocrite call upon God as often as providence calls him to call upon God? Will he call upon God as often as judgments call him to call upon God? Will he call upon God as often as conscience calls him to call upon God? Will he call upon God as often as it his duty to call upon God? Will he call upon God as often as others call upon him to call upon God? Oh no! The hypocrite will not always call upon God; he will not persevere in prayer; he will not hold on, nor hold out, in prayer. He is short-spirited; he cannot always pray and not faint. He shrinks back as sluggards do in work, or cowards in war, as the original word in Luke imports, Luke 18:1.
A hypocrite, for lack of an inward principle, can neither delight in God, nor always call upon God. If God comes not at his call, if he opens not as soon as he knocks—he is out of patience, and ready to say with that proud profane prince, "Behold, this evil is of the Lord, and why should I wait for him any longer?" 2 Kings 6:33. If a hypocrite obtains the mercy he desires, then he will throw off prayer, as he said, "Take away the net, the fish is caught." If he obtains not the mercy, then he will grow weary of his duty. "You have been weary of me," Mal. 1:13, Isaiah 43:22.
Prayer is too hard and too high a work for an unsound heart to hold on in. Prayer is heart-work, and that proves heavy work to him. The soul of prayer lies in the pouring out of the soul before God, and this is a work which a hypocrite has no skill in, 1 Sam. 1:15. It was a profane and blasphemous speech of that atheistic wretch, who told God he was no common beggar, he never troubled him before with prayer; and if he would but hear him that time, he would never trouble him again. Even such a spirit and such principles lie lurking in every hypocrite's bosom.
Doubtless he hit it who said, "How can you expect that God should hear you, when you will not hear yourself? or that God should give you a return in prayer, when you are not mindful what you ask in prayer?" But now a sincere Christian—he will go on in prayer, speed or not speed. If he prevails—he will love prayer the better all his days; if he does not for the present prevail—he will be so much the more importunate with God in prayer. It is as natural for a bird to live without air, and for a fish to live without water, and for a man to live without food—as it is for a sincere heart to live without prayer. "Oh," says Chrysostom, "it is more bitter than death to be robbed of prayer." And hereupon, as he observes, Daniel chose rather to run the hazard of his life, than to lose or give over his private prayers, Dan. 6.
Prayer is the key of heaven, and a sincere Christian loves much to be a-handling of that key, though he should die for it. Prayer is the gate of heaven—a key to let us into paradise. As that emperor said, "It behooves an emperor to die standing;" so may I say, it behooves a Christian to die praying. A hypocrite will never hold out to the end. Let but outward encouragements fail him, and his heart will quickly fail him in a way of duty. Hypocrites are like blazing stars, which, so long as they are fed with vapors, shine as if they were fixed stars; but let the vapors dry up, and presently they vanish and disappear. Let but the eye, the ear, the applause of men, fail the hypocrite, and he will be ready to throw all away. If a hypocrite cannot make some gain of his godliness, some profit of his profession, some advantage of his religion, he will be ready with Demas to turn his back upon all religious duties and services, 2 Peter 2:20-22, 2 Tim. 4:10.
Look! as a lame horse, when he is heated, will go well enough—but when he cools, will halt downright; even so a hypocrite, though for a time he may go on fairly in his way—yet in the end he will halt downright, and bid farewell, if not defiance, to all religious duties and services. Profit and applause are usually the baits which hypocrites bite at—and if they miss these baits, then farewell profession, farewell religion, farewell all! John 6:66. "From that time many of his disciples went back, and walked no more with him." Many hypocrites who had given up their names to Christ, and who for a time had been followers of Christ—at last deserted him and turned their backs forever upon him.
Matthew 13:5-6, "Some fell on rocky places, where it did not have much soil" (not much care to receive, not much understanding to apprehend, not much faith to believe, not much will to obey, or not much love to retain it), "It sprang up quickly, because the soil was shallow. But when the sun came up, the plants were scorched, and they withered because they had no root." This second ground goes beyond the former, for (1.) it receives the seed; (2.) immediately; (3.) with joy; (4.) it brings up the seed sown. It sprung up to sundry degrees: [1.] to external obedience and reformation in many things; [2.] to an outward profession; [3.] to a kind of faith; but when the sun of persecution beat hot upon them they withered and fell away; not all at once—but by little by little, as a leaf loses his greenness and withers by degrees.
In the Palatinate, when the sun of persecution began to scorch them, scarcely one professor of twenty stood out—but fell to popery as fast as leaves in autumn. The crystal looks like pearl—until it comes to the hammering; so a hypocrite looks like a Christian, and in many things acts like a Christian—until he comes to be hammered by sufferings, by persecutions, and then he discovers himself in his true colors; and with Hymeneus and Alexander, he makes shipwreck of faith and a good conscience, 1 Tim. 1:19-20, Hosea 5:2. In suffering times, hypocrites labor mightily to put out that light which shines in their bosoms, and when they have quenched that light, then farewell faith, farewell profession, farewell a good conscience, farewell all.
The wolf, though he often disguises and closely hides his nature—yet he cannot always do so; for at one time or other he will show himself to be a wolf; so though a hypocrite may disguise himself closely for a time—yet he will one time or other reveal himself to be a hypocrite. It is reported of the waters of Nilus, that having run many hundred of miles a pure and clear water, when it comes near the Mediterranean Sea, it begins to grow brackish and salty, and at last it falls into the sea and loses its name. Sooner or later this will be the case of all hypocrites; they won't retain their spiritual fairness, clearness, and sweetness long—but by degrees will grow brackish and salty, and lose their names, and all that seeming goodness and sweetness which once seemed to be in them.
But now a sincere Christian, he will hold on and hold out in the ways of the Lord, in the lack of all outward encouragements, and in the face of all multiplied discouragements. When the eye of men, the favor of men, the bounty of men, and all other encouragement from men fails—yet then a sincere Christian will hold up, and hold on in his work and way. "The righteous shall hold on his way, and he who has clean hands shall be stronger and stronger," Job 17:9. The righteous man shall go on in a way of righteousness to the end; no multiplied calamities or miseries shall ever cause him to decline the way of righteousness. From this way, a sincere Christian will never be withdrawn, either by any hopes or advantages on the one hand, or by any fears or dangers on the other. Sincere Christians have not taken up true religion on such slight grounds—as to be either flattered or frighted out of it. Sincere Christians reckon upon afflictions, temptations, crosses, losses, reproaches on the one hand; and they reckon upon a crown of life, a crown of righteousness, a crown of glory on the other hand—and hereupon they set up their staff, fully resolving never to depart from the good old way wherein they have found rest to their souls, John 16:33; Acts 14:22; 2 Tim. 4:8.
Sincere Christians take Christ and his ways for better or for worse, for richer or for poorer, in prosperity or adversity; they resolve to stand or fall, to suffer and reign, to live and die with him, Jer. 6:16. When all outward encouragements from God shall fail—yet a sincere Christian will keep close to his God, and close to his duty. "Even though the fig trees have no blossoms, and there are no grapes on the vine; even though the olive crop fails, and the fields lie empty and barren; even though the flocks die in the fields, and the cattle barns are empty, yet I will rejoice in the Lord! I will be joyful in the God of my salvation." Hab. 3:17-18. When all necessary and delightful mercies fail—yet he will not fail in his duty. Though God withholds his blessings—yet he will not withhold his service. In the lack of a livelihood, he will be lively in his duty; when he has nothing to exist by—yet then he will live upon his God, and joy in his God, and keep close to his God. Though war and poverty come—yet he will not be lacking in his duty.
Mark, there are three things in a sincere Christian which will strongly incline him to keep close to the Lord, and close to his ways in the lack of all outward encouragements, and in the face of all outward discouragements.
And the first is a forcible principle—divine love;
the second is a mighty aid—the Spirit of God;
and the third is a high aim—the glory of God, 2 Cor. 5:14; Philip. 4:12-13; Romans 14:7-8.
Look! as Ruth kept close to her mother in the lack of all outward encouragements, and in the face of all outward discouragements, "And Ruth said, Where you go I will go; and where you lodge I will lodge, and nothing but death shall part you and me," Ruth 1:16-17—so says a sincere Christian, "I will take my lot with Christ wherever it falls; I will keep close to the Lord, and close to my duty, in the lack of all outward encouragements, and in the face of all outward discouragements." Though outward encouragements be sometimes as a side wind, or as oil, or as chariot wheels—means to move a Christian to go on more sweetly, easily, and comfortably in the ways of God—yet when this wind shall fail, and these chariot wheels shall be knocked off—a sincere Christian will keep close to the Lord and his ways.
"All this is come upon us; yet have we not forgotten you, neither have we dealt falsely in your covenant. Our heart is not turned back, neither have our steps declined from your ways," Psalm 44:17-18. But what do they mean by saying, "All this is come upon us"? Why, that you may see in the foregoing part of the psalm: "But now you have tossed us aside in dishonor. You no longer lead our armies to battle. You make us retreat from our enemies and allow them to plunder our land. You have treated us like sheep waiting to be slaughtered; you have scattered us among the nations. You sold us—your precious people—for a pittance. You valued us at nothing at all. You have caused all our neighbors to mock us. We are an object of scorn and derision to the nations around us. You have made us the butt of their jokes; we are scorned by the whole world." verses 9-14.
Antiochus Epiphanes looked upon the Jews' religion as superstition; his wrath and rage was exceeding great, both against the Jews and against their religion; he practiced all manner of cruelty upon the miserable Jews—but yet there "was a remnant among them who were faithful to the Lord, and to his covenant, and to his laws, and to his ways, even to the death." Though in the time of the Maccabees many revolted to paganism—yet some maintained their constancy and integrity to the last.
That is a great word of the prophet Micah: "Even though the nations around us worship idols—we will follow the Lord our God forever and ever," Micah 4:5. This absolute and peremptory resolution to be really the Lord's, and forever the Lord's, is of the essence of true conversion. It is not the world's flatteries which can bribe off a sincere Christian from the ways of God; nor it is not the world's frowns which can beat off a sincere Christian from the ways of God; but a hypocrite will never, a hypocrite can never hold it out to the end. His anchor will never hold when the storm beats strong upon him. A hypocrite is hot at first—but soon tires and gives in. But,
[10.] Tenthly, No hypocrite ever makes it his business, his work—to bring his heart into pious duties and services.Mat. 15:8, Mark 7:6. He never makes conscience of bringing his heart into his work. A hypocrite is heartless in all he does: Psalm 78:34, "When he slew them—then they sought him; and they returned and inquired early after God." Verse 36, "Nevertheless they did but flatter him with their mouth, and they lied unto him with their tongues." Verse 37, "For their heart was not right with him, neither were they steadfast in his covenant." All lip-labor is but lost labor. When men's hearts are not in their devotion, their devotion is mere pretend. These hypocrites sought God, and inquired early after God—but it was still with old carnal hearts—which are no hearts in the account of God. They made lip work of it, and head work of it—but their hearts not being in their work—all was lost: their seeking lost, their inquiring lost, their God lost, their souls lost, and eternity lost!
Hosea 7:14, "And they have not cried unto me with their hearts, when they howled upon their beds." [The fox when caught in a trap, howls pitifully—but it is only to get out. They worshiped the Lord as the Indians do the devil, that he may do them no hurt.] When men's hearts are not in their prayers, all their praying is but as an hideous howling in the account of God. [As dogs and brute beasts do, when they are starving.] The cry of the heart is the only cry that God likes, loves, and looks for. He accepts of no cry, he delights in no cry, he rewards no cry—but the cry of the heart. Hypocrites are heartless in their cries—and therefore they cry and howl, and howl and cry—and all to no purpose. They cry and murmur, and they howl and repine; they cry and blaspheme, and they howl and rebel; and therefore they meet with nothing from heaven but frowns, and blows, and disappointments.
Isaiah 29:13, "The Lord says—These people come near to me with their mouth and honor me with their lips—but their hearts are far from me. Their worship of me is made up only of rules taught by men." Ezek. 33:31, "So they come pretending to be sincere and sit before you listening. But they have no intention of doing what I tell them. They express love with their mouths, but their hearts seek only after money." Though this people flocked to the prophet in troops, as men and women do to places of pleasure; and though they behaved before the prophet as if they were saints, as if they were the people of God, as if they were affected with what they heard, as if they were resolved to live out what the prophet should make out to them—yet their hearts ran after their covetousness. Though these hypocrites professed much love and kindness to the prophet, and paid him with smooth words, and seemed to be much affected, delighted, ravished, and pleased with his person, voice, and doctrine—yet they made no conscience of bringing their hearts into their duties.
A hypocrite may look at some outward, easy, ordinary duties of religion—but he never makes conscience of bringing his heart into any duties of religion. When did you ever see a hypocrite a-searching of his heart, or sitting in judgment upon the corruptions of his soul, or lamenting and mourning over the vileness and wickedness of his spirit? It is only the sincere Christian who is affected, afflicted, and wounded with the corruptions of his heart.
When one told blessed Bradford that he did all out of hypocrisy, because he would have the people applaud him, he answered, "It is true, the seeds of hypocrisy and vain-glory are in you and me too—and will be in us as long as we live in this world; but I thank God that I mourn under and strive against it." How seriously and deeply did good Hezekiah humble himself for the pride of his heart! "Out of the eater came meat," out of his pride he got humility, 2 Chron. 32:25.
O sirs! a sincere Christian makes it his great business to get his heart into all his religious duties and services, to get his heart into every way and work of God, Cant. 3:1-6. Jehoshaphat's heart was in the ways of the Lord, 2 Chron. 17:6. Likewise, David, "I will praise you, O Lord, with all my heart," Psalm 36:12. And so Psalm 119:7, "I will praise you with uprightness of heart." Verse 10, "With my whole heart have I sought you." Likewise, Jehoshaphat sought the Lord with all his heart, 2 Chron. 22:9. Isaiah 26:8, "The desire of our soul is to your name, and to the remembrance of you." Verse 9, "With my soul have I desired you in the night; yes, with my spirit within me will I seek you early." Lam. 3:41, "Let us lift up our heart with our hands unto God in the heavens."
Romans 1:9, "For God is my witness, whom I serve with my spirit in the gospel of his Son." Paul's very spirit, his very soul, was in his service. Philip. 3:3, "For we are the true circumcision, who worship God in the spirit, and rejoice in Christ Jesus, and have no confidence in the flesh." Romans 7:22, "I delight in the law of God after the inward man." Verse 25, "With the mind I myself serve the law of God."
A sincere Christian is always best when his heart is in his work, and when he cannot get his heart into his duties, oh! how does he sigh, and groan, and complain, and mourn at the foot of God! "Lord, my tongue has been at work, and my head has been at work, and my feet have been at work, and my eyes and hands have been at work—but where has my heart been this day? Oh! it is and must be for a sore and sad lamentation that I have had so little of my heart in that service that I have offered to you!" This is the daily language of an upright heart. [It is reported that when the tyrant Trajan commanded Ignatius to be ripped open—they found Jesus Christ written upon his heart in characters of gold. Here was a heart worth gold. That is the golden Christian indeed, whose heart is written upon all his duties and services.]
But now all the work of a hypocrite is to get his golden parts into his duties, and his silver tongue into his duties, and his nimble head into his duties; but he never makes conscience of getting his heart into his duties. If any beasts sacrificed by heathens—who looked closely into the entrails, was found without a heart—this was held ominous, and construed as very dreadful to the person for whom it was offered. Hypocrites are always heartless in all the sacrifices they offer to God, and this will one day prove ominous and dreadful to them. But,
[11.] Eleventhly, A hypocrite never performs religious duties from spiritual principles, nor in a spiritual manner.A hypocrite is never inclined, moved, and carried to God, to Christ, to holy duties—by the power of a new and inward principle of grace working a suitableness between his heart and the things of God. A hypocrite rests himself satisfied in the mere external acts of religion, though he never feels anything of the power of religion in his own soul. A hypocrite looks to his words in prayer, and to his voice in prayer, and to his gestures in prayer—but he never looks to the frame of his heart in prayer. A hypocrite's heart is never touched with the words his tongue utters. A hypocrite's soul is never divinely affected, delighted, or graciously warmed, with any duty he performs. A hypocrite's spiritual performances never flow from spiritual principles, nor from a heart universally sanctified. Though his works may be proper—yet his heart remains carnal; his practices always spring from selfish principles; and this will prove the hypocrite's bane, as you may see in that Isaiah 1:15, "When you spread forth your hands to heaven, I will hide my eyes; and when you make many prayers, when you abound in duty," adding prayer to prayer, as the Hebrew runs, "I will not hear, for your hands are full of blood." These were unsanctified ones; their practices were good—but their hearts were carnal still, Isaiah 1:10-16.
The same you may see in the scribes and pharisees, who fasted, prayed, and gave alms—but their hearts were not changed, renewed, sanctified, nor principled from above; and this proved their eternal bane, Mat. 6, 23; Luke 18. Nicodemus was a man of great note, name, and fame among the pharisees; and he fasted, and prayed, and gave alms, and paid tithes, etc.—and yet was a total stranger to the new birth; regeneration was a paradox to him. "How can a man be born when he is old? can he enter the second time into his mother's womb and be born?" [No man can understand spiritual mysteries by carnal reason.] John 3:4. This great doctor was so great a dunce, that he understood no more of the doctrine of regeneration, than a mere child does the darkest precepts of astronomy.
Look! as water can rise no higher than the spring from whence it came, so the natural man can rise no higher than nature, 1 Cor. 2:14. A hypocrite may know much, and pray much, and hear much, and fast much, and give much, and obey much—and all to no purpose, because he never manages anything he does in a right manner; he never carries on his work from inward principles of faith, fervency, life, love, delight, etc.Will the hypocrite delight himself in the Almighty? Answer. No! He cannot delight himself in the Almighty.
(1.)To delight in God is one of the highest acts of grace; and how can a hypocrite put forth one of the highest acts of grace, who has no grace? A hypocrite may know much of God, and talk much of God, and make a great profession of God, and be verbally thankful to God; but he can never love God, nor trust in God, nor delight in God, nor take up his rest in God, etc. [Job 27:10, Job speaks of the hypocrite, as is evident, verse 8.]
(2.)A hypocrite knows not God; and how then can he delight in that God whom he does not know? A hypocrite has no inward, saving, transforming, experimental, affectionate, practical knowledge of God; and therefore he can never take any pleasure or delight in God.
(3.)There is no suitableness between a hypocrite and God; and how then can a hypocrite delight himself in God? There is the greatest contrariety imaginable between God and a hypocrite. God is light—and the hypocrite is darkness; God is holiness—and he filthiness; God is righteousness—and he unrighteousness; God is fullness—and he emptiness, 2 Cor. 6:15-16. Now what delight can there be where there is such an utter contrariety?
(4.)Every hypocrite's heart is full of enmity against God; and how then can he delight himself in God? "The carnal mind is enmity against God, for it is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be," Romans 8:7. The best part of a hypocrite is not only averse—but utterly adverse to God and all goodness. "The eagle," says the philosopher, "has a continual enmity with the serpent." And just so, a hypocrite's heart is still full of enmity against the Lord; and therefore he can never delight himself in the Lord.
(5.)The stream, cream, and strength of a hypocrite's delight runs out to himself, and to this lust or that, or this relation or that, to this creature-comfort or that, to this worldly enjoyment or that, or else to his gifts and privileges, etc., and therefore how can he delight himself in the Almighty? A hypocrite always terminates his delight in something on this side God, Christ, and heaven. Look! as the apricot tree, though it leans against the wall—yet it is fast rooted in the earth; so though a hypocrite may lean towards God, and towards Christ, and towards heaven—yet his delight is still rooted fast in one creature-comfort or another, etc. God nor Christ is never the real object of a hypocrite's delight.
A hypocrite has no inward principle to delight himself in a holy God; neither can he sincerely, divinely, habitually delight himself in holy duties. A hypocrite may reform many evil things, and he may do many good duties, and yet all this while it is only his practices—but not his heart or principles—which are changed and altered. Mark, though a hypocrite has nothing in him which is essential to a Christian as a Christian—yet he may be the complete resemblance of a Christian in all those things which are not essential to him. A hypocrite, in all the externals of religion, may be the complete picture of a sincere Christian; but then if you look to his principles, and the manner of his doing of holy duties, there you will find him lame and defective, and as much unlike a sincere Christian, as ever Michal's image was unlike to David, 1 Sam. 19:13-16; and this will prove the great undoing, the great break-neck of hypocrites at last.
O sirs! it is considerable, that outward motives and natural principles have carried many heathen to do many great and glorious things in the world. Did not Sisera do as great things as Gideon? The difference did only lie here—that the great things which Gideon did, he did from more spiritual principles and raised considerations, than any Sisera was acted by. And did not Diogenes trample under his feet the great and glorious things of this world, as well as Moses? Heb. 11:24. The difference did only lie in this—that Moses trampled under his feet the mirthful and gallant things of this world, from inward gracious principles, namely—faith, love, etc., and from high and glorious considerations, namely—heaven, the glory of God, etc., whereas Diogenes did only trample upon them from selfish, low principles, and from mere outward, carnal, external considerations.
The favor of men, the eye of men, the commendations of men, the applause of men, and a great name among men—were golden apples, great things among the philosophers. The application is easy.
Mark, A sincere Christian, he looks to the manner as well as to the matter of his duties; he acts and performs duties, not only from strength of parts and acquired qualifications—but from strength of grace and infused habits. He acts from God and for God; he acts from a new heart; he acts from the law written in his heart; he acts from the love of God shed abroad in his heart; he acts from the divine nature communicated to him; he acts from the Spirit's indwelling in his heart; he acts from the fear of God established in his heart. [Romans 11:24; Ezek. 36:25; Jer. 31:33; Romans 3:5; 2 Cor. 5:19; 2 Pet. 1:4; Eph. 3:17; 2 Cor. 13:5.] These be the springs and principles of a sincere Christian's spiritual life and actions; and where they act and bear rule, it is no wonder if there are such motions and performances as the world may admire but not imitate.
Paul's life, after his conversion, was a kind of constant miracle. So much he did, and so much he suffered, and so much he denied himself, that if he lived in these days his life would be a miracle; but yet if we consider the principles that he was actuated by, the great wonder will be, not that he did so much—but that he did no more! "For," says he, "Christ lives in me, and the life which I now live in the flesh, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me," Gal. 2:20.
It was a great saying of blessed Bradford, that he could not leave a duty until he had found communion with Christ in the duty, until he had brought his heart into a duty-frame. He could not leave confession until he had found his heart touched, broken, and humbled for sin; nor petition until he had found his heart pleased with the beauties of the things desired, and carried out after them; nor could he leave thanksgiving until he had found his spirit enlarged and his soul quickened in the return of praises. And it was a great saying of another, "that he could never be quiet until he found God in every duty, and enjoyed communion with God in every prayer." "O Lord," said he, "I never come to you but by you, I never go from you without you!"
A sincere Christian who is pleased with Christ above all—cannot be satisfied nor contented with duties or ordinances, without enjoying Christ in them—who is the life, soul, and substance of them. But now hypocrites do duties—but all they do is from common principles, from natural principles, and from an unsanctified heart—and that mars all.
Remigius, a judge, tells this story, that the devil in those parts used to give money to witches, which did appear to be good coin—but being laid up a while, it then appeared to be nothing but leaves. Hypocrites make a great profession, and are much in the outward actions of religion; they make a very fair show—they hear, they read, they pray, they fast, they sing psalms, and they give alms; but these duties being not performed from a principle of divine love, nor from a principle of spiritual life, nor from a sanctified frame of heart—turn all into leaves! They are all lost, and the authors of them cast and undone forever and ever. But,
[12.] Twelfthly, No hypocrite in the world loves the word, or delights in the word, or prizes the word—as it is a holy word, a spiritual word, a beautiful word, a pure word, a clean word.Psalm 119:140, "Your word is very pure, therefore your servant loves it." There are no hearts, but men after God's own heart, who can love the word, and delight in the word, and embrace the word—for its holiness, purity, and spirituality. [Luther said he would not live in paradise if he might without the word—but with the word he could live in hell itself.]
Witness Paul: Romans 7:12, "Therefore the law is holy, and the commandment holy, and just, and good." Well—and what then? Why, says he, verse 22, "I delight in the law of God after the inward man." But is this all? No! says he, verse 25, "With the mind I myself serve the law of God." Holy Paul delights in the law as holy, and serves the law as holy, just, and good. A sincere heart is the only heart that is delights in the word—for its spirituality, purity, and heavenly beauty. None can any rejoice in the word as it is a holy word; nor can any taste the sweetness in the word as it is a pure word—but sincere Christians. Psalm 19:8-10, "The statutes of the Lord are right, rejoicing the heart. The commandment of the Lord is pure, enlightening the eyes. The fear of the Lord is clean" (that is, the doctrine of the word that teaches the true fear of God), "enduring forever. The judgments of the Lord are true and righteous altogether: more to be desired are they than gold, yes, than much fine gold; sweeter also than honey and the honeycomb; or, as the Hebrew has it, sweeter than the droppings of honeycombs." [These several titles, law, statutes, testimony, commandments, judgments, are used interchangeably for the whole word of God, commonly distinguished into law and gospel.]
The word of God, as it is a pure word, a spiritual word, a clean word, a holy word—so it rejoices a sincere heart—and so it is sweeter than the very droppings of honeycombs. The word, as it is a pure word, a holy word, is more sweet to a sincere Christian than those drops which drop immediately and naturally without any force—which is counted the purest and sweetest honey. There is no profit, nor pleasure, nor joy—compared to that which the purity of the word yields to a sincere heart!
Psalm 119:48, "My hands will I lift up to your commandments which I have loved." Sometimes the lifting up of hands betokens admiration. When men are astonished and ravished, they lift up their hands. I will lift up my hands to your commandments; that is, I will admire the goodness, spiritualness, holiness, righteousness, purity, and excellency of your commandments. Luther took such sweet pleasure and excellent delight in the word—that would not take all the world for one leaf of the Bible. Rabbi Chiia, in the Jerusalem Talmud, says, "That in his account all the world is not of equal value with one word out of the law." The martyrs would have given a load of hay for a few chapters of the Bible in English. Some of them gave their treasures for a Bible; they were so delighted and enraptured with the word, as it was a holy word, a pure word, a spiritual word.
Dolphins, they say, love music; and so do sincere Christians love the music of the word. It is upon record, that Mary spent a third of her time in reading the word, she was so affected and delighted with the holiness and purity of it. King Edward the Sixth being about to lay hold on something which was above the reach of his short arm, one who stood by espying an embossed Bible lying on the table, offered to lay that under his feet to heighten him; but the good young king disliked the notion, and instead of treading it under his feet, he laid it to his heart, to express the joy and delight that he took in the holy word.
But now never did any hypocrite, since there was one in the world—ever love God as a holy God—or love his people as a holy people—or love his ways as holy ways—or love his word as a holy word. There is no hypocrite in the world who can truly say with David, "Your word is very pure; therefore your servant loves it." Saul could never say so, nor could Ahab ever say so, nor could Herod ever say so, nor could Judas ever say so, nor could Demas ever say so, nor could Simon Magus ever say so, nor could the scribes and pharisees ever say so, nor could the stony ground hearer ever say so, nor could Isaiah's hypocrites ever say so, Isaiah 58. It is true, some of these did rejoice in the word, and delight in the word—but not as it was a holy word, a pure word; for then they would have rejoiced and delighted themselves in the whole word of God, every part of God's word being pure and holy.
Hypocrites are sometimes affected and delighted with the word, as it is dressed up with fine high notions, which are but mysterious nothings; they are pleased with the word, as it is clothed with arts and elegance of phrase; they are pleased with the word, as it is appareled with a spruce wit, or with silken expressions, or with some delicate elocution: Ezek. 33:32, "So you are to them as a very lovely song of one that has a pleasant voice, and can play well on an instrument;" or as the Hebrew may be read, "You are as one that gives jests." These hypocrites looked upon the solemnity and majesty of the word but as a dry jest. The prophet being eloquent, and having a pleasing delivery, they were much pleased with it, and it was as sweet and delightful to them as a tune of fine music; but they were not at all pleased or delighted with the spirituality, purity, and holiness of the word, as is evident in verse 31, "So they come pretending to be sincere and sit before you listening. But they have no intention of doing what I tell them. They express love with their mouths, but their hearts seek only after money."
It was a very smart reproof of Chrysostom to his hearers: "This is that," says he, "which is likely to undo your souls; you hear your ministers as so many minstrels, to please the ear, not to pierce the conscience." Augustine confesses, that the delight which he took before his conversion in Ambrose's sermons was more for the eloquence of the words than the substance of the matter. Hypocrites are more pleased with the wit, eloquence of speech, action, quickness of thought, smoothness of style, neatness of expression, and rareness of notion—than they are with the spirituality, purity, and holiness of the word—which they either hear or read.
These hypocrites are like those children who are more pleased with the fine flowers which are strewed about the dish, than they are with the meat that is on the dish; and who are more pleased with the red weeds and blue flowers which grow in the field, than they are with the good corn that grows there. But now look, as the prudent farmer is more pleased with a few handfuls of sound corn than he is with all the mirthful weeds that are in the field, so a sincere Christian is more pleased with a few sound truths in a sermon than he is pleased with all the strong lines, and high strains, and flourishes of wit; or than he is pleased with some new-coined phrases, or some quaint expressions, or some seraphical notions—with which a sermon may be decked or dressed up.
Some are pleased with the word as the profession of it brings in customers into their shops, and keeps up their credit in the world; others are pleased with the word as it seems to tickle their ears and please their fancies; some are affected with sermons because of the elegance of the style, delicacy of the words, smoothness of the language, and gracefulness of the delivery. And these deal by sermons as many do by their bouquets, which are made up of many picked sweet flowers, who, after they have smelt to them awhile, cast them into a corner, and never mind them more; so these, after they have commended a sermon, after they have highly applauded a sermon, they smell to the sermon, if I may so speak, and say, "It is sweet, it is sweet"—and shortly they throw it away, as a bouquet that is withered, and of no further use. But now a sincere heart savors the word, and relishes the word, and is affected and pleased with the word—as it is a holy word, a spiritual word, a pure word—which the most refined hypocrite under heaven never was affected or pleased with, nor can be, while hypocrisy keeps the throne in his soul. But,
[13.] Thirteenthly, and lastly, A hypocrite cannot endure to be tried, and searched, and laid open.A hypocrite hates the light, and had rather go to hell in the dark—than come to be weighed in the balance of the sanctuary, John 20. A soul-searching ministry is to a hypocrite a tormenting ministry. He knows he is like a velvet saddle, velvet without and straw within; he knows he is like a whited sepulcher, glorious without and dead bones within, Mat. 23:27-28; and therefore his heart rises and swells against such a man and such a ministry, that is all for the anatomizing and laying of him open to himself and to the world. But now look—as pure gold fears neither fire nor furnace, neither test nor touchstone, neither one balance nor another—so a sincere heart dares venture itself upon trial, yes, upon the very trial of God himself: Psalm 139:23, "Search me, O God, and know my heart; try me, and know my thoughts."
A sincere Christian prays his friends to search him, and he prays soul-searching ministers to search him; but above all, he begs hard of God to search him: "Search me, O God." The Hebrew word is, he commands God to search him. The original word signifies a strict, minute, diligent search: see Job 31:5-6. A sincere Christian is very willing and desirous that God should thoroughly search him, that God should search into every corner and cranny of his heart.
Psalm 26:2, "Examine me, O Lord, and prove me; try my thoughts and my heart." Every word here has its weight: "Examine me, O Lord." The Hebrew word signifies to melt, and so to test by that which makes the most intrinsic and exact discovery. O Lord, let my heart and thoughts be melted, that it may be known what metal they are made of, whether gold or tin. "Prove me." The Hebrew word signifies to view, as when a man gets upon some high tower or hill to see all from thence. "Mount aloft, O Lord, take the high tower, take the hill—that you may see what is in me!" "Try me, and know my thoughts." The Hebrew word properly signifies to take away, and is applied to Abraham's taking away of his son, Gen. 22:1. "Lord," says the prophet, "if, upon searching and examining of me, you shall find any sin, any creature, any comfort, any enjoyment that lies in your place, take it away, that you may be all in all to me."
A sincere Christian knows that God never brings a pair of scales to weigh the amount of his graces—but only a touchstone to try the truth of his graces; he knows if his gold, his grace, are true, though it be ever so little, it will pass for current with God, and therefore he is free to venture upon the closest search of God, Mat. 12:20.
Now look, as bankrupts do not care for casting up their accounts, because they know all is bad, very bad, yes, stark bad with them; so hypocrites, they care not to come to the trial, to the test, because they know all is bad, yes, worse than bad with them. They have no mind to cast up their spiritual estates, because at the bottom of the account they must be put to read their doom, "Undone, undone." And therefore, as old deformed women cannot endure to look into the mirror, lest their wrinkles and deformity should be discovered, so hypocrites cannot endure to look into the mirror of the gospel, lest their deformities, impieties, and wickednesses should be discovered and detected.
I have read of the elephant, how unwilling he is to go into the water—but when he is forced into it, he muddies it, lest by the clearness of the stream he should discern his own deformity. Just so, hypocrites are very unwilling to look into their own hearts, or into the clear streams of scriptures, lest their soul's deformity and ugliness should appear, to their own terror and bewilderment.
O sirs! look, as it is a hopeful evidence that the client's cause is good when he is ready and willing to enter upon a trial; and as it is a hopeful sign that a man's gold is true gold when he is willing to bring it to the touchstone; and that a man prospers when he is willing to cast up his books—so it is a hopeful evidence that a Christian is sincere with God when he is ready and willing to venture upon the trial of God, when he is willing to cast up his books, his accounts, that he may see what he is worth for another world, Gal. 6:4-5.
Augustine speaks of a holy writer, who prized that little time which he constantly set apart every day for the examination of his conscience, far more than all the other part of the day, which he spent in his voluminous controversies. Of all the duties of religion, a hypocrite dreads most that of self-examination, and that of venturing himself upon the search and trial of God.
Well, for a close, though a hypocrite may deceive all the world, like that counterfeit Alexander in Josephus' story—yet Augustus will not be deceived—the great God will not be deceived; for his eyes are quick and piercing into all things, people, and places. [Job 34:21-22; 2 Chron. 16:9; Proverbs 5:21, and 15:3.]
Look! as the eyes of a well drawn picture are fastened on you whichever way you turn—so are the eyes of the Lord fastened on you, O hypocrite, whichever way you turn. It was a worthy saying of one, "If you can not hide yourself from the sun, which is God's minister of light, how impossible will it be to hide yourself from him whose eyes are ten thousand times brighter than the sun?" The eye of God many times is very dreadful to a hypocrite, which makes him very shy of venturing upon the trial of God. No hypocrite since the world stood, did ever love or delight to be searched and tried by God.
And thus I have showed you the several rounds or steps in Jacob's ladder, which no hypocrite under heaven can, while he remains a hypocrite, climb up to. And so much for this chapter.