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are slaves of Satan, and under the wrath and curse of God, that are indeed so, past all controversy? but tell not him of it that makes no doubt but he is a member of Christ, a child of God, and an heir of heaven. He loveth to hear a minister rouse up the profane and grossly sensual offenders, and seems in pity to wish for their conversion, and perhaps will exhort them to turn and mend their lives himself. But he little thinks that he is faster in the prison of Satan than they, and that he is himself in the same condeinnation.
Do you go about to tell him of the necessity of the fear of God, and of loving him above all, and of trusting him, and serving him as our only Lord ? Why, all this he will confess, and perhaps is as forward to say as you, and verily thinks that he is one that doth it, you may as soon make him believe that he is not an Englishman, as that he is not a Christian, and that he loveth not himself, as that he loveth not God; even while he loveth not to think of him, to speak of hin, to call upon him, to obey him; while he loveth not his word, his ways, or servants, or while he loveth the world and the pleasures of sin more heartily, and seeketh them more eagerly, and cleaveth to them more tenaciously, yet if you would persuade him that he hath not a heart as true to God as any all, you will lose your labour.
Do you tell him of hypocrisy ? he will tell you that it is the thing he hateth : who speaks against it more than he ? And because the world shall see he is no hypocrite, he will call them all hypocrites that are faithful to God and to their souls, and will not sit down in his truly hypocritical vain religion, but will be more holy and diligent than he. What can you say to such a man in order to his conversion, which his self-deceiving religion will not frustrate? Do you tell him of hell-fire, and of the wrath of God against the ungodly? All this he can hear as calmly as another man; for he thinks that he is none of the ungodly, he hath scaped the danger; let them be afraid of it whom it doth concern. If you tell him of his sins, he can tell you that all men are sinners; we are imperfect; and you shall never persuade him that his reigning, deadly sins are any other than such human frailties and infirmities as may stand with grace. Do you put
Ꭰ him upon the inward practice of religion, and the fuller devoting of his soul to God, and the life of faith, and a heavenly mind? He will tell you, that in his measure, he doth all this already; though none of us are so good as we should be; and his heart being unseen to you, he thinks you must believe him. Do you
blame him for his slightness and formality in religion, and put him upon a more serious, diligent course, and to live as one that seeketh heaven with all his heart, and soul, and might? Why, he thinks
you do but persuade him to some self-conceited overzealous party, and draw him from his moderation to be righteous over much, and to make too much ado with his religion. Unless he be an hypocrite that falleth into the schismatical strain, and then he will make a greater bustle with his opinions and his outside services then you can desire. So that one with his mere book-prayers, forins, and ceremonies, and the other with his mere extemporate words, and affected outside seeming fervour, and both of them by a mere opinionative, lifeless, carnal kind of religion, subject to their fleshly ends and interests, do so effectually cheat their souls that they are armed against all that you can say or do, and you know not how to get within them, or fasten any saving truths upon their hearts.
3. Thts vain religion is not vain as to the preserving of his reputation in the world. It saveth him from being numbered with the filthy rabble, and from being pointed at as notoriously vicious, or branded with the disgraceful characters of the scandalous. Men say not of him, " There goeth a drunkard, a swearer, a curser, a fornicator, or a profane ungodly wretch,' He may be esteemed civil, ingenuous, discreet, and perhaps religious, and be much honoured by wise, religious men; though most commonly his formal, or opinionative, heartless kind of religion is discerned or much suspected by experienced, judicious Christians, by his sapless, unexperienced, common and carnal kind of discourse and duty, sticking most in opinions, parties, or some outside things, and by his temporizing, and reserve, and uneven kind of conversation; yet it is not always so; but sometime he is
; as far unsuspected as the best; perhaps he may be esteemed a reverend preacher, or a discreet, religious, well-accomplished gentleman, and may be set in the head of church or commonwealth, as a leader of the saints on earth, that shall be thrust into the place of hypocrites, and not come near the meanest of the saints in heaven.
4. Lastly, (but better than all this,) his religion is not vain as to the good of others. He may, by the perfume and odour of his gifts, be kept from stinking to the annoyance of others, while he is dead in sin. He may be very serviceable in the church of God; a judicious, earnest expounder of the Scripture, and preacher and defender of the truth ; in his place as a magistratę, or master of a family, he may be a severe corrector
of profaneness, and promoter of godliness; it being much easier to drive others from their sin, than to forsake their own, and to drive on others to a godly life, than to practise it themselves : and by their owning godliness, and disowning sin, they persuade themselves the more effectually that they are truly godly. The Church cannot well spare the gifts and services of hypocrites, and many ungodly men. As bad or sick physicians may be God's instruments to cure our bodies, and a wicked carpenter may make a good house ; so a wicked minister may well expound and apply the Scriptures; and he that refuseth the grace of Christ, may prevail with others to accept it; the sign-post that stands out of door itself, may invite others into the house; and the hand upon a post that goes not one step of the way, may point it out to others. There is more self-denial required to the forsaking of their own sins, than to persuade others to forsake theirs; a covetous man cares not how liberal others be; nor a glutton, drunkard, or fornicator, how temperate and chaste his neighbours be. And hence it is that many of these that refuse a holy life themselves, are willing their children or servants should embrace it. The end of the balance that goeth down itself, doth cause the other to go up. Other men's souls are more beholden to hypocrites than their own. They are like the common mariners, that enrich the merchant by fetching home his treasure,' when they have nothing but a poor maintenance themselves ; or like tailors, who make ornaments for others, which they never wear themselves ; or like carpen'ters, that build fair houses which they never dwell in; or like the cook, that dresseth meat which he eateth not. God giveth, hypocrites their usual gifts, for the service of the Church more than for themselves. He sometimes maketh those to be nursing fathers to his Church that are butchers of their own souls, and makes those his instruments to undeceive others, that deceive themselves. And thus far their religion is not vain.
But I. It is vain as to God's special acceptation. True religion pleaseth God; but the self-deceiver's opinion he abhorreth. He hath no pleasure in fools. (Eccl. v. 4.) He asketh such, To what purpose is the multitude of their sacrifices? (Isaiah i. 11,) and saith, he is full of their burnt offerings, and delights not in them. When they come to appear before him he asketh them, Who required this at their hands, to tread in his courts ? and bids them, bring no more vain oblations; incense is an abomination to him ; the calling of their assemblies he cannot away with, and their solemn meetings are iniquity; (ver, 12, 13;) their
prove you the heirs of heaven. You may be snatched out of the purest Church on earth, and from the purest ordinances, and out of the arms of the most upright Christians, and cast into hell, if you have no better evidences than such, to show for your salvation. If ever you be saved, it must not be because you are Papists, or Protestants, Lutherans, or Calvinists, Arminians, Antinomians, Anabaptists, Independents, Presbyterian, or Prelatical; formally and merely as such ; but because you are true Christians, that have the Spirit of Christ, (Rom. viii. 9,) and are conformed to him, in his sufferings, death, and resurrection, and live in sincere obedience to his will. But hypocrites that want the inward life and power of religion, and are conscious of their wilful sins, would fain borrow something from the parties which they join with, or the opinions which they take up, or the formal outward worship which they perform, or the alms which they give, to make up the want, and cheat their souls with a self-created confidence, that they shall be saved.
But more specially you may hence observe the reason that popery hath so many followers, and that it is so easy a thing to make an infide!, whoremonger, or drunkard, to turn a papist, when yet it is not easy to bring them to faith, and chastity, and temperance, much less to the unfeigned love of God, and to a holy, heavenly life. Though I doubt not but there are many sincere-hearted Christians among the papists, yet popery itself is of an hypocritical strain, and is notably suited to the hypocrite's disposition. It is revived Pharisaism: I marvel that they tremble not when they read themselves so lively characterized by Christ, with the addition of so many terrible woes, as in Matt. xxiii., and other places, frequently they are: “Woe to the scribes, pharisees, hypocrites.'
“They bind heavy burdens of external observances, to lay upon the consciences of their proselytes : they make broad their phylacteries; and in variety of holy vestures, they make ostentation of such a religion, as a peacock may have when he spreads his tail. They contend for superiority and titles to be called rabbi, pope, cardinal, patriarch, primate, metropolitan, arch. bishop, diocesan, abbot, prior, father, &c., to the great disturbance of all the nations of the christian world. They must needs be the fathers and masters of our faith : they shut the kingdom of heaven against the people, forbidding all to read the scriptures in their vulgar tongue, without a special license from their ordinary: and commanding them to worship God in a strange tongue which they do not understand: by the numbers of their masses and prayers for the dead, they delude the souls, and devour the patrimony of the living. In temples, and altars, and images, and ornaments consisteth no small part of their religion : they make more of tithing mint, anise and cummin, than of judgment, mercy, and faith, the weightier matters of the law. The outside they make clean, and appear as beautiful to men, as ceremonies and outward pomp can make them. They make it a part of their religion to murder the living saints, and keep holy days for the dead : they build the tombs of the prophets, and garnish the sepulchres of the righteous, and say, if we had lived in the days of our fathers, we would not have been partakers with them in the blood of the prophets. Thus, Matt. xxiii., is their description. They have their touch not, taste not, handle not, after the commandments and doctrines of men, their voluntary humility, and worshipping of angels, and other rudiments of the world, and things that have a show of wisdom in will-worship and humility, and neglecting of the body, not in any honour to the satisfying of the flesh. (Col. ii. 19-23.) How easy a thing is it to bring an ungodly man to be of a religion that consisteth in such things as these ! in eating fish on certain days instead of flesh; and saying over so many Pater Nosters, and Ave Marias, and naming so oft the name of Jesus; in worshipping a piece of consecrated bread with divine worship; in bowing and praying before an image ; in praying to the souls of such as the pope tells them are saints in heaven; in crossing themselves, and being sprinkled with holy water, and using Agnus Deis, and consecrated grains and annulets; in dropping of beads; in saying such words as a prayer at such a canonical hour, and such words the next canonical hour; in hearing a mass in Latin, and saying a Latin prayer; in being anointed with hallowed oil, and burning hallowed candles on the altars by day-light; in going so many miles to the chapel of a saint in pilgrimage; in carrying about them a bone, or some other supposed relic of a supposed saint; in confessing their sins so often to a priest, and doing penance, if he impose it on them. And so while they live in whoredom, or drunkenness, or swearing, or lying, or all these, and many other such, it is but confessing and doing penance, and to it again ; on which account (whatever some of them say for the necessity of contrition) it is usual with them, to venture upon the sins of whoredom, drunkenness, and the rest,