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Now, beloved, if this hypocrisy, this resting in outward performances, were so odious to God under the law, a religion full of shadows and ceremonies ; certainly it will be much more odious to do so under the gospel, a religion of much more simplicity, and exacting so much the greater sincerity of the heart, even because it disburdens the outward man of the performance of legal rites and observances. And therefore if we now under the gospel shall think to delude God Almighty, as Michal did Saul, with an idol handsomely dressed instead of the true David ; if we shall content and please ourselves with being of such or such a sect or profession; with going to church, saying or hearing of prayers, receiving of sacraments, hearing, repeating, or preaching of sermons, with zeal for ceremonies, or zeal against them; or indeed with any thing besides constant piety towards God ; loyalty and obedience towards our sovereign; justice and charity towards all our neighbours; temperance, chastity, and sobriety towards ourselves ; certainly we shall one day find, that we have not mocked God, but ourselves; and that our portion among hypocrites shall be greater than theirs.
In the next place, let me entreat you to consider the fearful judgment which God hath particularly threatened to this very sin, of drawing nigh unto him with our lips, when our hearts are far from him : it is the great judgment of being given over to the spirit of slumber and security, the usual forerunner of speedy desolation and destruction, as we may see in the xxixth chap. of Isaiah, from the 9th to the 14th verse, Stay yourselves and wonder; cry ye out, and cry: they are drunken, but not with wine ; they stagger, but not with strong drink. For the Lord hath poured out upon you the spirit of deep sleep, and hath closed your eyes :
the prophets, and your rulers the seers, hath he covered: and after, at the 14th verse, The wisdom of their wise men shall perish, and the understanding of their prudent men shall be hid. Certainly this judgment, if ever it were upon any people, we have cause to fear it is now upon us.
For if the spirit of deep sleep were not upon us, how could we sleep so securely even upon the brink of the pit of perdition ? How could we proceed on so confidently in our mirth and jollity, nay, in our crying sins and horrible impieties ; now when the hand of God is upon us, and wrath is gone out, and even ready to consume us? And if the wisdom of our wise men were not perished, how were it possible they should so obstinately refuse the security offered of our laws, liberties, and religion, by the king's oath, by his execrations on himself and his posterity, in case he should violate it; by the oaths of all his ministers, not to consent to, or be instruments in, such a violation; by the so much desired triennial parliament, from which no transgressor can possibly be secure; and instead of all this security, seek for it by a civil war, the continuance whereof must bring us to destruction and desolation; or else he hath deceived us by whom we are taught, that a kingdom divided against itself cannot stand ?
Now what was the sin which provoked this fearful judgment ? What but that which I have laboured to convince you of, and to dissuade you from, even the sin of hypocrisy? As we may see
at the thirteenth verse, Wherefore saith the Lord, Forasmuch as this people draw near me with their mouth, and with their lips do honour me, but have removed their heart far from me, and their fear towards me is taught by the precepts of men: there
fore, behold, I will proceed to do a marvellous work amongst them; for the wisdom of their wise men shall perish, &c.
Consider, thirdly, what woes, and woes, and woes, our Saviour thunders out against the Scribes and Pharisees for their hypocrisy: Woe be unto you, Scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites; and again and again, Woe be unto you, Scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! Beloved, if we be hypocrites, as they were, tithe mint and cummin, and neglect the weighty matters of the law, judgment, and justice, and mercy, as they did; make long prayers, and under a pretence devour widows' houses, as they did; wash the outside of the dish and platter, while within we are full of ravening and wickedness; write God's commandments very large and fair upon our phylacteries, but shut them quite out of our hearts; build the sepulchres of the old prophets, and kill their successors; in fine, if we be like painted sepulchres, as they were, outwardly garnished and beautiful, but within full of dead men's bones and rottenness; we are then to make account, that all these woes belong to us, and will one day overtake us.
Consider, lastly, the terrible example of Ananias and Sapphira, and how they were snatched away in the very act of their sin; and that their fault was, (as the text tells us,) that they lied unto God. Beloved, we have done so a thousand thousand times: our whole lives (if sincerely examined) would appear, I fear, little less but a perpetual lie. Hitherto God hath been merciful to us, and given us time to repent; but let us not proceed still in imitating their fact, lest at length we be made partakers of their fall.
God of his infinite mercy prevent this in every one of us, even for his Son our Saviour Jesus Christ's sake; by whom, and with whom, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, be all honour and glory to the eternal Father, world without end. Amen,
SE R M O N II.
PSALM XIV. I.
The fool hath said in his heart, There is no God. IF you will turn over some few leaves, as far as the fifty
, third Psalm, you shall not only find my text, but this whole Psalm, without any alteration, save only in the 5th verse, and that not at all in the sense neither. What shall we say ? Took the Holy Spirit of God such especial particular notice of the sayings and deeds of a fool, that one expression of them would not serve the turn ? or does the babbling and madness of a fool so much concern us, as we need to have them urged upon us once and again, and a third time in the third of the Romans ? Surely not any one of us present here is this fool. Nay, if any one of us could but tell where to find such a fool as this, that would offer to say, though in his heart, There is no God, he should not rest in quiet, he should soon perceive we were not of his faction.
2. We that are able to tell David an article or two of faith, more than ever he was acquainted with! nay, more; can we with any imaginable ground of reason be supposed liable to any suspicion of atheism, that are able to read David a lecture out of his own Psalms, and explain the meaning of his own prophecies much clearer than himself, which held the pen to the Holy Spirit of God? Though we cannot deny but that in other things there may be found some spice of folly and imperfection in us : but it cannot be imagined, that we, who are almost cloyed with the heavenly manna of God's word, that can instruct our teachers,