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thq expence of his neighbours. Accordingly, he interprets and construes every thing they do in the worst sense. In a word, he condemns his neighbour with great severity, while in the mean time he himself is guilty of the fame, or perhaps of greater crimes. "But, thinkest thou,. O man, that judgest "them which do such things, and dost the fame, "that thou shalt escape the judgment of God?"
6. and Lastly, It never happens that hypocrites are faithsul to the interests of religion, in a time of persecution; for, their hearts not being right with God, it is no wonder if they be not stedfast in his covenant. While indeed the sun shines, and the eye of the world smiles on their prosession; when religion is the fashion of the times, and they can procure respect or wordly advantage by it; nothing can apparently exceed their zeal and activity in the service of God. But if the clouds arise, and the winds of persecution-blow, like dry leaves in autumn, they fall from their seeming stedfastness. And this we sind our blessed Lord expressly marks as a fymptom os hypocrify, when, by the emblem of stony-ground hearers, he represents them as only enduring for a while; but asterwards, adds he, when tribulation or persecution arise because of the word, presently they are offended. .
Thus I have endeavoured to give you fome distinguishing characters of the. hypocrite; the marks by which he may be known, and by which we may know whether we ourselves be sincere in our religious prosession. I now proceed,
IL To enforce our Saviour's caution in the text, or to show you the evil and danger of hypocrisy.
It ia questioned by fome, whether hypocrites or profane perfons be most hatesul in the sight of God, or do most harm in the church. How hatesul they are in the sight of God, will appear afterwards. As to the harm they do in the church, though it be not^ fo great while their hypocrify is concealed, yet certainly the character of the hypocrite is of pernicious tendency* when it is exposed in its proper colours to public view. For they lay a stumbling block in the 'way of others; they harden the profane; they grieve the generation of God's children, and expose religion; to ridicule and contempt.—Hypocrites are fo hatesul in the sight of God, that ©ur blessed Saviour pronounces a woe against them no less than eight times in one chapter,-" Woe unto you," fays he, " Scribes,. "Pharisees. and hypocrites (in)." He exhorts his hearers, in nis excellent sermon on the Mount, to beware of such as come to them in sheeps clothing, but inwardly are ravening wolves. And when' he threatens impenitent sinners with the severest punishments, he fays, they shall have their portion with the hypocrites, in that lake' that burneth with sire and biimstone, where there is nothing but weeping and wailing, and gnashing of teeth.
Now, if we inquire into the reafon of God's extreme hatred and aversion to hypocrites, we may easily discover it: For,
i. Hypocrites make a mock of God. They affront' - his insinite knowledge, and-think to impose upon him by a specious appearance; for while they honour him with their lips, their hearts are far from him. Theyhave a form of godliness; but they deny, nay they are enemies to the lise and power of it. 'With their feet they tread the courts of the Lord, and even sit at his table, but at the fame time they trample upon his ordinances, and prostitute them to their own base and fordid ends. Now, how great an indignity must it be, to ofser an affront to the omniscient Jehovah? who requires truth in the inward parts; from whose eye nothing can be hid; who has expressly declared that he will bring every secret thing into judgment.
(«) Matt. Jtxiii,
This is, in effect, to rob him of one of his most glorious attributes, and to deal with him as if he were a. •Being that might be imposed on. And must not such a disingenuous behaviour, such a base trifling with the Almighty, excite his just and dreadsul indignation?
2. No other sinner, in fo direct a manner, deprives the Supreme Being of that glory and honourto which he is entitled. The unclean perfon, for instance, is willing that God be glorisied, provided he be allowed to gratify his sensuaL appetites. The eovetous man will pay homage and respect to God, provided he may be allowed to retain and increase his ✓wealth. The revengesul perfon has no objection that God should be honoured; only let him be avenged of his enemy, or the perfon who has injured him. But the hypocrite, prostitutes every thing that is most facred and valuable, to procure to himself honour and esteem. Nothing, surely, is more facred than prayer to God, than religious fasting, than giving of Christian charity, and partaking in the holy supper. But the hypocrite, prostitutes all these; he fasts for no other end, but that he may appear to the world to be amortisied perfon; he prays, only that he may seem to: be devout; he gives alms for-the fake of ostentation; and he appears at the table of the Lord, that he may. be thought a sincere Christian. Now,- what is this, but an erwleavour to dethrone the Majesty of heaven, and to exalt him who is created, above that glorious Being ivho created him? And O how hatesul and provoking must this be to Him, who is fo jealous of his own honour, and will not give his glory to another J
3. Hypocrites are the more inexcufable, and worthy of condemnation, since frequently, under the colour and false pretext of piety and charity, they seduce, and even fometimes corrupt weak and well meaning perfons. And, in this respect, they ara more dangerous than those who are. openly- profane.y for the openly prosane cannot impose upon any but such as have no mind to be religious: Whereas, hypocrites, under a specious outward appearance, conceal the deformity of vice, insinuate themselves into the affections, and by good words and sair speeches deceive the hearts of the simple. I do not indeed deny, that a prosane person gives a more pernicious example to the world, and may do more mischief by such an example; but the hypocrite sometimes dees more prejudice to religion, by undermining it, than the prosane person by all his open assaults. The former, is an open and declared enemy, and therefore has it less in his power to bring calumny and reproach either on religion itself, or on those who have devoted themselves to the observance of its precepts: But the latter, is a concealed enemy; he kisses when he would betray, and makes it almost impossible for those who have received no impressions of seriousness on their own minds, to determine concerning the effects os religion on the minds of others. Arid, sinally, it is much easier to guard against such as are openly prosane and licentious, than against persons'of this character; because we are ready to esteem them sincere and upright in their prosession.
4. T/he hypocrite is a character which God will most certainly punish with great severity. For, as he cannot be deceived by the most artsul appearances, and as he has a persect knowledge of the hearts of all men, he will not sail, in due time, to make the hypocrite appear in. his proper colours. This is what our Saviour expressly tells us in the verse immediately following the text; " There is nothing" say; he, ** covered that shall not be revealed, neither hid that shall not be known." The day is approaching when he will take off the mask with which hypocrites are now covered, the mask of all their counterseited piety, when he will expose them, with all their deformities about them, in the open light of day; and then, instead of that self-applause which they were wont to seel from successsul dissimulation, they shall be covered with eternal consusion. Even on earth, there arc times when God removes the deceit of the hypocrite, and discovers him to the world. Affliction and persecution have often made him known. But, if he should go down to destruction by a private road, carrying this miserable comfort with him, that no one knows or- thinks that he is gone thither; yet the last and great day will expose him to public view; and then it will be found, to his eternal disgrace, that while he thought he was imposing upon others, he was falling a facrisice to his own deceit; for the righteous and omniscient Judge will then unveil the hypocrite before the assembled world; and all shall point at him, and fay, " Lo, this ** is the man that made not God his hope; this is he u that wore a garment of righteousness to deceive; "but God has now stript him naked, and all men see "what he is."
Having thus shewn you a sew of the principal characteristics of hypocrify, and the evils of it, I shall now, as was proposed, conclude with fome practical application.
Since then you have heard what an odious character that of the hypocrite is, let us put the matter to a serious trial, whether we are merely Christians in name, or sincere and upright in Out prosession. This is an inquiry in which we are at all times much interested; but never more than on thk occasion, when we are to make a folemn approach to God in the facrament of the Supper; for, by this approach, we prosess to be his sincere and devoted servants: And: if you are not fo in good earnest, what a dreadsul hazard do you run? Your prosession of obedience will be an abomination in his sight, and you will eat and drink judgment to yourselves.—But, on the other hand, if, upon a fair and impartial examination of