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that his spots are but such as are consistent with grace; and that his sins are but pardoned infirmities; and that he hath part in Christ, and the promises of life, and shall be saved, though he be not of the preciser strain. When he committeth any sin, he confidently imagineth that his confession and his wishing it were undone again, when he hath had all the pleasure that sin can give him, is true repentance; and that, as a penitent, he shall be forgiven: and thus, while he thinketh himself something, when he is nothing, he deceiveth himself. (Gal. vi. 3.) He hath a counterfeit of every grace of God; a counterfeit faith, and hope, and love, and repentance, and zeal, and humility, and patience, and perseverance: and these he will needs take to be the very life and image of Christ, and the graces themselves that accompany salvation.
5. Having got this carcass of religion without the soul, he makes use of all those things to confirm him in his deceit, which are appointed to confirm true Christians in their faith and hope. When he reads or thinks of the infinite goodness, love, and mercy of God, he thinks God could not be so good and merciful, if he should refuse to save all such as he. When he readeth of the undertaking and sacrifice of Christ, and how he is a propitiation for the sins of the whole world, he confidently, hence, concludeth that a Saviour so gracious, that hath done and suffered so much for sinners, cannot condemn all such as he. When he readeth of the extent and freeness of grace
in the promises of the gospel, he concludeth that these promises belong to him, and that grace could not be so free and so extensive, if it did shut out all such as he. When he observeth the mercies of God upon his body, in his friends, and health, and credit and prosperity, he concludeth that surely God loveth him as a child, in that he dealeth so fatherly with him. If he suffer adversity, he thinks that it is fatherly chastisement of God, and therefore proveth him to be his son, and that he shall have his good things in the world to come, because he hath his evils here. If he suffer any thing for a good cause, or a cause that he taketh to be good, he taketh himself to be a confessor, and marked out for life eternal. If he give any considerable alms, he applieth all the promises to himself that are made to those that are truly charitable, though he giveth but the leavings of the flesh, and giveth but on common compassions, or for applause, or for some common end, and not as to Christ whom he honoureth in his members, as one that hath resigned all unto him. If he pray, from the lips only, or only for pardon, and such other mercies as flesh itself would be glad to have, without the inexpressible groans of the spirit for spiritual mercies, (Rom. viii. 26,) he presently applieth all the promises to himself that are inade to the upright that call upon God: and thus love, mercy, and Christ himself, are abused by him, to this damning work of self-deceit.
6. Moreover, he makes use of all the ordinances of God, to the deceiving of his own heart. The outward part of baptism persuades him that he is inwardly regenerate. He receiveth the Lord's supper that he may confirm his presumption, and increase his self-deceit, as the godly receive it to confirm and increase their saving faith. He joineth with the chureh in those prayers and praises that are fitted to the true believer's state that he may thence more confidently deceive his own heart, with the conceit that he is a true believer. And thus he turneth the bread of life, and all the helps and means of grace, to the strengthening of his sin, and the furthering of his perdition.
7. Moreover, this miserable self-deceiver does usually get into such company as may further his self-deceit, and maketh use of them to that end. If he get into any holy, well-ordered church of Christians, it is that, by his outward communion with the saints, he may seem to himself to have inward communion with them. If he get among able godly ministers, and other judicious Christians, and finds that he is well esteemed of by them, he is confirmed hereby in his presumption and selfdeceit: when, alas ! we must, in charity, judge of men as they profess and seem, and leave the infallible judgment of the heart to God. Usually, this self-deceiving hypocrite doth associate with some carnal or factious men, with whom he makes himself a party: and such will smooth him up, and make a saint of him, either because they are as bad themselves, and dare not condemn him, lest they condemn themselves, or because they are flatterers and daubers, or men that were never themselves acquainted with those saving operations of the spirit: which he wants, or because they are partial to one of their own faction. And thus a formal hypocrite may be stroked by formalists, and a schismatical hypocrite may be soothed up by those of his own sect (as lamentable experience telleth us that such do) to the increase of their pernicious self-deceit.
Yet more than so; if these hypocrites fall in company with the notoriously profane, from them they will fetch some con
firmation of their self-deceit: when they hear them swear and curse, and rant, and see them drunk, they secretly with the Pharisee rejoice and say, “ I thank thee, Lord, that I am not as this publican.” And this is one reason why such hypocrites are well content to have some servants in their families, or some neighbours or company about them that are notoriously profane, that their deluded consciences, considering that they are more civil and religious themselves, may hence gather comfort, that they are the servants of God, and in a state of grace.
Hence also it is, that those of them that go on the schismatical side, do purposely go into separated societies, that, by withdrawing from so many, and (as they speak) coming out from among them, they may seem to themselves to be fellow-citizens with the saints, and to be of the little flock that shall have the kingdom. This is the use that self-deceivers make of their companions.
8. Moreover, the hypocrite confirmeth his self-deceit, by observing the great numbers of ungodly persons, worse than he, that are in the world : this makes him think that God should be unmerciful, and heaven be empty, if all such as he should be shut out : the damnation of so many seemeth so incredible to him, that it much increaseth his confidence and self-deceit.
9. And he deceiveth himself also by a mis-observing and mis-applying the faults and infirmities of the servants of the Lord, and the scandalous lives of many hypocrites like himself. When he readeth of Noah's drunkenness and incest, and David's adultery and murder, and Peter's denial of his Master, with cursing and swearing, he considereth not how much these singular actions were contrary to the scope of their lives, nor by what serious repentance they did rise, and do so no more ; but he hence coneludeth that sure he is in a state of grace, that hath no such heinous sins as these: though indeed he hath more heinous continually within him, (even a love of the world and pleasure above God, a secret root of unbelief, a servitude to the flesh, &c.) when he seeth any about him that profess the fear of God, prove hypocrites or apostates, or fall into any scandalous sin, he strengtheneth his presumption by it, and concludeth that this profession of greater holiness than he himself hath, is but hypocrisy; and that he is as good as those that seem more devout, though he make not so much ado with his religion : or at least that he shall be saved, when those are so bad that are accounted better : if there be but a Ham in the Ark and family of Noah, an Ishmael in Abraham's house, an Esau in Jacob's, an Absalom in David's, a Judas among the disciples of Christ, these self-deceivers will thence fetch matter for their own delusion and perdition, as if the rest were all as bad, or sanctification were not necessary to salvation.
10. The self-deceiver also is confirmed in his presumption, by taking to himself the comforts that ministers hold forth, for truly humbled, upright souls, that are apt to be too much disquieted and cast down. Our congregations are mixed of godly and ungodly, and broken-hearted and hard-hearted, dejected and self-confident sinners (besides all those that are well settled in their spiritual peace). And as we cannot tell how to tell the wicked of their misery, nor open the hypocrite's selfdeceit, but the self-suspecting humbled soul, will mis-apply it to themselves, and be more dejected by it, and say, it is thus with me; so we cannot tell how to comfort the distressed, and clear up the evidences of a drooping soul, but the presumptuous hypocrite will lay hold upon it, and think that it belongs to him. Every comfortable book or scripture that he readeth, and every comfortable sermon or discourse which he heareth, is abused to increase his self-deceit.
11. It increaseth the hypocrite's self-deceit, when he findeth some partial reformation in himself, and that he hath mended many things that were amiss; this he takes for a true conver
s sion, and thinks that the civilizing and smoothing of his life, the change of his opinion, and the taking up a form of godliness, are true sanctification; and that he is not the man that once he was, and therefore is in a safe condition. Though, alas!
, he hath never yet known by experience the new heart, the new ends, the new resolutions, affections, and conversation of a saint,
12. Lastly, he deceiveth himself by misunderstanding the nature of hypocrisy. Because he perceiveth not that he is a gross dissembler, but meaneth as he speaks, so far as he goes, therefore, he thinks that he is no hypocrite; whereas, besides the gross hypocrite that knoweth that lie doth dissemble, and only deceiveth others, there are also close hypocrites, that know not they are hypocrites, byt deceive themselves. And these are they that my text here“ speaks of, when it saith, “ He deceiveth his own heart," It is hypocrisy (to seem better than one is, and to profess to be a sincere Christian when he is none,) though he confidently think that he is what he professeth himself to be.
III. But what is it that can move a reasonable creature to be. wilfully guilty of such self-deceit in the day-light of the gospel, when he hath so much help to see his way?
Answer. 1. They are first deceived by the vanities of the world, and the pleasures of sin, before they deceive themselves by their religion. Their religious self-deceiving is but subservient to their fleshly servitude, and the world's deceit. They are carnal from the birth, (for that which is born of the flesh only, is but flesh, John iii. 6,) and custom in sinning fixeth and increaseth their sinful disposition. Their hearts are engaged to their worldly accommodations, and to their vain glory, and the things that please the flesh; they are willing slaves to their concupiscence. And therefore they cannot ad, mit of that religion which would deprive them of that which they most dearly love. Christ speaks too late to them. They tell him they are promised already. Their affections are preengaged : sin hath taken up the chiefest rooms : and the heart that loveth sensuality and prosperity best, cannot love God best too: for it can have but one best. The nature of true sanctification is to take down the darling of a carnal heart, and to cross it in its dearest loves, and to lay that at our feet that before was our treasure, and to tame the body, and to bring it into subjection, which before was in the throne. The motions of such a change will not be accepta.ole, till they are made so effectual as to cause that change: the command will be unpleasant, till the heart be suited to the nature of the command. He that seeth what care and labour there is to gather a worldly treasure, and what a stir is made in the world about it, can never expect that all this should be vilified and despised at a word, and that any doctrine (how true and heavenly soever) can be welcome to these worldly men, that would debase their glory, and imbitter their delights, and make their idol seem but dung. The doctrine of Christ would take the old heart out of their bodies : and they will not easily leave their hearts. It doth not only command the drunkard to live soberly, and the glutton temperately, and the lascivious filthy sinner chastely, and the proud person humbly, and the covetous to live contentedly and liberally; but it commandeth the hearty forsaking of all for the sake of Christ, (Luke xiv. 33,) and the accounting them but as loss and dung that we may win him, (Phil. iii. 7-9.) and mortifying of that flesh which before we daily studied to please, (Col. iii, 4-5,) and the crucifying of its affections and lusts,