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2 Cor. i. 12. I Joba iij. 21.
I John iii.
SERM. run with them to the same excess of riot, or are anyLXVI. wise better than themselves; it is inevitable for a 1 Pet. iv. 4. staunch man not to be stigmatized for a hypocrite
We have certainly more reason to be satisfied with the sure conscience and sense of our own integrity, than to be moved with the presumptuous assertions of any wretch devoid of justice or charity: his censure, being plainly injurious and contrary to all rules of equity, which prescribe that no man should judge of things unknown or uncertain, is utterly despicable.
The testimony of God, (who is greater than our 1 Thess. ii. hearts,) perfectly knowing our sincerity, may abun
dantly support us ; it is a great wrong to him for us Col. iii
. 23. to value the rash suspicions of men, when we are Eph. vi. 5. i Cor. iv.4. secure of his knowledge, who seeth all our works, Ps. xxxvii. and trieth our hearts; who hath said, that if we
commit our way to him, and trust in him, he will bring forth our righteousness as the light, and our judgment as the noonday.
It is certainly better to be called hypocrite by men for doing our duty, than to be treated as a hypocrite
by God for neglecting it; for all those who upon any Matt. xxiv. account do violate God's laws shall have their por
tion with the hypocrites in that disconsolate place where is weeping and gnashing of teeth. And good reason; for indeed by thus avoiding hypocrisy, we really do incur it; by seeking to preserve an opinion of sincerity, we forfeit the reality of it; by the practice of disavowing the fear of God and care of goodness, we do constitute ourselves certain hypocrites and impostors; dissembling our thoughts, smothering our conscience, deluding our neighbours with false conceits of us, feigning that indifference which
we have not, pretending to act without regret or re- SERM. morse, which we cannot do ; seeming otherwise than LXVI. we are, signifying otherwise than we mean, doing otherwise than we judge fit, or like to do; that is, if we be not stark infidels, or utterly void of conscience.
This is hypocrisy turned the wrong side outward, disguising a man in a fouler shape, and uglier garb, than that which is natural and true.
And if we compare the two hypocrisies, (that of pretending conscience which we want, and this of denying conscience which we have ; that of seeming better than we are, this of seeming worse than we may be,) this in nature may well seem more vile, in tendency more dangerous, in effect more mischievous than the other.
There is in both the same falsehood, the same prevarication, the like contempt and abuse of God; but the hypocrite of whom we speak doeth worse things, more directly wrongful to God, more prejudicial to goodness, more harmful to the world.
The specious hypocrite, counterfeiting goodness, and having a form of godliness, without the power and reality of it, doth yield to God some part (the exterior part) of his due honour and respect; but the sneaking hypocrite, disowning goodness, doth apparently desert, slight, and affront God: the one serveth God with his face and his voice, though his heart be far from him ; the other doth not so much as sacrifice a carcass of obedience to him : that may bring some credit and advantage to goodness, strengthen its interest by his vote and countenance; this by not avowing it doth assuredly weaken its reputation and cause : that hypocrisy, as such, is a
SERM. private and single evil, whereby a man doth indeed LXVI.
prejudice himself, but doth not injure his neighbour, yea, may edify him by the appearing (which in this respect is the same with the real) goodness of his example; but this hypocrisy is a general mischief, a scandalous evil, a contagious pestilence, whereby a man not only harmeth himself, but wrongeth many others, seducing them into dissoluteness, infecting the world with base indifference to good, and easiness to comply with sin.
It is indeed a sad thing, that God and goodness should be deserted upon this account; that most men should be so uncharitable, so unjust, so imprudent, as to suspect all good men of hypocrisy; as if it were incredible that any man should heartily love or fear God, (when it is rather strange that any man should do otherwise ;) that any man in good earnest, or otherwise than in pretence and for sinister respects, should embrace virtue; (when it is marvellous that a reasonable man should decline it;) that so many, of themselves inclinable to goodness, should be so weak as to be deterred from it by so vain an apprehension; and that the name of hypocrisy should drive away piety; that it should become desirable, that hypocrites might abound in the world, lest religion both in truth and show should be discarded.
In fine, we may otherwise suppress this odious imputation than by deserting goodness; we may demonstrate ourselves serious and sincere by an inflexible adherence to it in the continual tenor of our practice; and especially in some instances of duty, which are hardly consistent with hypocrisy : for no man can hold long in a strained posture; no man will take much pains, or encounter great difficulties,
or sustain grievous hardships and afflictions, cross SERM.
LXVI. his appetites, forego gains and honours, for that which he doth not heartily like and love: he may Matt. xxiii. counterfeit in ceremonies and formalities, but he will 23. hardly feign humility, meekness, patience, contentedness, temperance, at least uniformly and constantly. Even the patient enduring this censure will confute it, and wipe off the aspersion of hypocrisy.
PROVIDE THINGS HONEST IN THE SIGHT
OF ALL MEN.
2 Cor. viii. 21.
Providing for honest things, not only in the sight of the
Lord, but also in the sight of men. SERM. 6. ANOTHER great impediment of good converLXVII.
sation before men is a desire of seeming courteous and civil. Men usually conform to sinful practices, because they would not be held clowns, rude and distasteful in conversation; they would not give offence to their company, by clashing with their humour ; by preferring their own judgment, and seeming to be in their own conceit wiser and better than those with whom they converse; by provoking them to think they are held fools, or worse, by such noncompliance.
This is an ordinary snare to easy and ingenuous natures; but the ground of it is very unreasonable : for although in matters of indifference, where duty and sin do not fall into consideration, to be limber and ductile as can be, (which is the temper of the best metal,) to have no humour of our own, or to resign up all our humour to the will of our company, to condescend unto, and comport with, any thing; to raise no faction or debate, but presently