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we also ourselves were sometime foolish, disobedient, deceived, serving divers lusts and pleasures, living in malice and envy, hateful and hating one another."--Reigning love to the pleasures of this world, and covetousness : Ezek. xxxiii. 31, " And they come unto thee as the people cometh, and they sit before thee as my people, and they hear thy words, but they will not do them; for with their mouth they shew much love, but their heart goeth after their covetousness.” But the gracious soul's obedience is universal ; all
; such in so far sincerely aim at every known daty, approve the holy law in every point; desiring their spirits to be conformed to it, not it to be brought down to then ; lamenting from the heart their shortcoming in all points.
3. The inside Christian's obedience is son-like obedience, the other is servile and slavish. The highest principle with the hypocrite is fear of punishment, and hope of reward, Hos. x. 11; their highest end is themselves, Flos. x. 1. Jehu professed zeal for the Lord, but in effect it was but zeal for a kingdom. The inside Christian serves God as a son does his father.—Prompted by love to him, next to his command : 1 Tim. i. 5, “Now, the end of the commandment is charity, out of a pure heart, and of a good conscience, and of faith unfeigned.”—Leaning on him for strength to perform his duty : Col. ji. 17, " And whatsoever ye do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God and the Father by him.". Aiming at his honour : 1 Cor. x. 31, “ Whether, therefore, ye eat or drink, or whatsoever ye do, do all to the glory of God.”
From this learn, that those are inevitably exposed to death, who come not the length of the outward duties of religion, of
mercy towards their neighbours, or of piety towards God. Lay this to heart, ye unrighteous, ye slighters of religion, prayerless persons, &c. Ye come not even the length of some who will fall short, and never see heaven. 0! if those who do all these things be lost, what will become of you ?—Ye that even come that length, lay no stress upon it, it will be but a broken reed to trust to. Duties are by no means sufficient confidences : nor in themselves, without internals joined to tbem, can they even be evidences of your safety. Examine not only what ye do, but how ye do it, for this last is that to which God chiefly looks.-I now come to the
IV. And last proposition, That he is not a true Christian, who has inside religion only in the letter of it, but he who also has it in its spirituality. We have pursued the nominal Christian through his outside religion, but we may not leave him here; for, as an hypocrite may go farther than mere externals, so the text pursues him for discovery, even in internals in the letter.-For explaining which, I observe,
1. That a man may carry his religion into internals, and yet be but a Christian in the letter. He may do and have that in religion which no eye but God sees or can see, and yet be no true Christian : Jer. xvii. 9, 10, “ The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked, who can know it? I the Lord search the heart, 1 try the reins, even to give every man according to his ways, and according to the fruit of his doings.” A person may form such a fine thread of hypocrisy, as to beguile every eye but the all-seeing eye : Jer. iii. 10, “And yet for all this, her treacherous sister Judah hath not turned unto me with her whole heart, but feignedly, saith the Lord.” Do not think that all hypocrisy is gross dissimulation, or yet that all a hypocrite's religion lies only in his outside, and in nothing within.-For,
(1.) A natural conscience may check for heart-sins, and sins that no eye sees but God's, Rom. ii. 15, “ Which shew the work of the law written on their hearts, their conscience also bearing witness, and their thoughts the mean time accusing, or else excusing, one another;" and consequently must press to inward duties, according to the light. Hence there may be sorrow and grief for what is hid from all the world; since the conscience perceives that God sees it, and that he will write his indignation on it. This fire has burned in many an unsanctified breast, yet it behoved it to have a vent, though to their own shame and loss.
(2.) An unsanctified desire of salvation, in the way of the covenant of works, may carry a man to internals in religion : Rom. X. 3," For they being ignorant of God's righteousness, and going about to establish their own righteousness, have not submitted themselves unto the righteousness of God.”—The covenant of works is engraved on man's heart naturally, and under the influence of it a man may do his utmost to conform to the letter of the law, in the inward as well as outward duties of it. Observe the case of the young man in Matth. xix. 16–20. It is no rare thing to see men eager to purchase heaven by their works.
(3.) Light may be strong, and kept strong by the common operations of the Holy Spirit, in an unholy heart. Thus, Balaam durst not entertain a thought of cursing Israel; though he would fain have gained the wages of unrighteousness, if his light would have suffered him. Our Lord Christ breaks up the outer door of our understanding often while the inner remains shut. This cannot miss to have some bond on the heart, as well as on the outer man.
(4.) Even in the internals of religion, there is a letter and a spirit; there is the body or matter of the thing, and the soul and spirit of it lying in the right manner of doing it. The former is not
beyond the power of nature, but the latter is; and therefore a hypocrite may come the length of the letter of internals of religion. He may have desires of good; Prov. xiii. 4, “ The soul of the sluggard desireth,” &c., though not holy desires; so in other cases.
2. The true Christian has inside religion, not in the letter only, but in the spirituality thereof : Phil. iii. 3, “ We-worship God in the spirit, and—have no confidence in the flesh.” He does not satisfy himself with the thing itself, but labours to get it, and maintain it as of the right stamp, such as God will approve. Here lies sincerity, that ornament of all religion, or rather the spirit and life of all, John i. 47. Now, this spirituality consists in two things.
(1.) In the graciousness of the principle, 1 Tim. i. 5. Their inward religion is the fruit of their new nature influenced by the Lord the Spirit; it is natural, and not violent or forced out by terrors, or from necessity, as screening them from the wrath of God. The new nature makes it their absolute choice, in whatever circumstancos they may be : whereas it is the choice of others, only because they cannot otherwise act safely.-It consists,
(2.) In the holiness of their aim : their chief aim is to please the Lord, Col. i. 10. The stress of their salvation is laid on the obedience of Christ, not their own, whether outward or inward; and hence their aim in all their duties, is not to please themselves, but him who has called them to be partakers of his glory. The hypocrite is servile in his aims to please God, as he is mercenary for his own profit, so that himself, and not God, is his chief end; but the sincere soul acts like a son, by virtue of the spirit of adoption.From all this we may learn,
That this shews they are not true Christians, whose religion lies all in externals, and have no concern about their hearts, Matth. xxiii. 25. A whited sepulchre is the emblem of a hypocrite, not of a true Christian. Persons also may be at much pains inwardly, who yet never come the length of the spirit of religion. What, then, will become of these, whose case is entirely confined to the outward man ?—Let those who carry religion inwardly also examine well, what are the principles and ends they act from, lest their inside religion be found a spiritless, lifeless corpse of religion, the mere product of their own exertions. Such may perceive whether or not they have the spirit of religion, by,
1. Their endeavouring to approve themselves to the Lord, as an all-seeing holy God, not in some things only, but in all things, Col. i. 10. Being content to know the whole word of God as to duty, and what they know not to be discovered to them, in order to their setting about it, Job xxxiv. 32; Psalm cxxxix. 23, 24. They will know it by,
2. Their endeavouring to purge their inward, as well as their outward religion, of all carnal and selfish motives, principles, and ends, John iii. 21. Self is an insinuating thing, and much of our spirituality lies in persons endeavouring to be spiritual in what they do. So short length do most come, we must be concerned to be purged from hypocrisy ; it is a good sign with those who are unsatisfied with their performance of duty, and are lamenting that they are not spiritual in it, Rom. vii. 22, 23.-They will know it,
3. By being denied to their outward, and also their inward religion, Phil. iii. Though they endeavour to do all as if they were to gain heaven by doing, yet they renounce all in point of confidence before the Lord, as naked and bare. This is a good sign, Matth v. 3.
In pursuance of this point touching inside religion, I shall offer the following observations touching the hypocrite's attainments in this respect, and at the same time shew wherein the true Christian goes beyond him.
1. A person may be under heavy exercise of soul after the commission of some sin, especially a gross sin, and yet be but a Christian in the letter. This is manifest in the case of Judas. Though there are some sins, which every unsanctified heart makes no bones of yet there are some which may stick in the throat even of a person void of the grace of God; nay, more, in this exercise of soul there may be, (1.) Great restlessness and anxiety of mind, which the person cannot divert, as he was wont to do. (2.) Indignation at himself, for doing as he has done. (3.) A taking shame to himself before men, by a plain and open confession of guilt, Matth. xxvii. 3, 4. Lastly, Strong resolutions to guard against that sin in all time to come. Thus, Exod. ix. 27, in which Pharaoh was morally serious, speaking as he thought in the time. But here there are four things wanting, which are to be found in the exercises of true Christians after their falls into sin.—There is,
(1.) Kindly humiliation of soul before the Lord. The Christian in spirit sees not only an evil in sin which affrights him, but a loathsomeness in it which turns his stomach at it, as being contrary to God's holy nature and will : Job xlii. 5, 6," I have heard of thee by the hearing of the ear, but now mine eye seeth thee: wherefore I abhor myself, and repent in dust and ashes. He owns himself unworthy of God's grace, and casts himself down at the Lord's feet, stopping his mouth from quarrelling with God, however he dispose of him, Psalm. li. 4.
(2.) The dishonour done to God, and the grieving his Spirit, is what does most touch the heart of the true Christian : Psalm li. 4,“ Against thee, thee only have I sinned, and done this evil
in thy sight; that thou mightest be justified when thou speakest, and be clear when thou judgest.” The consideration of God's glorious majesty, his loving-kindness and gracious benefits towards the person, furnish a quiver of arrows to pierce his heart, and he calls himself beast and fool for thus requiting the Lord.
(3.) No peace will that person have, but that which God himself speaks, and what flows from the application of the Redeemer's blood, Rom. i. 5. Others may be for peace at any rate, build up their peace on their sorrows, repentance, and confession ; but no peace for the true Christian, till he get it under the covert of the blood of Christ, Heb. ix. 14.
(4.) Their exercises under their trials drive them out of themselves to Christ for sanctification: Psalm li. 10, 11, “Create in me a clean heart, O God; and renew a right spirit within me. Cast me not away from thy presence; and take not thy holy Spirit from me;" whereas trials drive others into themselves, as resolved, that if God, for Christ's sake, will but pardon their sin, they will see to their own holiness of life ; after which, in some, they issue in faithless blind vows against such and such sins, not sensible of their own weakness, and not fleeing to Christ under a sense of it. But the true Christian will be equally concerned for sanctification of his spirit, as justification of his person by blood, knowing he equally needs both.-In like manner,
2. A person may have a great struggle in himself against sin, and against temptation to it, and yet be but only a Christian in the letter. It is a dangerous mistake to think, that every inward struggle against sin is the combat between the flesh and the spirit. Herod had no small struggle with himself, before he could yield to the beheading of John, Matth. xiv. 9. Pilate also, before he could yield to the condemning of Christ. Nay, a hypocrite may not only have this strnggle, but may carry the day against the temptation, in so much that he will not yield to it. This is clear in the case of Balaam, when all Balak's entreaties and rewards could not engage him to curse Israel. There are five things wherein the true Christian goes beyond the hypocrite in this respect.-- As,
(1.) His struggle arises from the new nature, with which he is endowed; he has an habitual bent to holiness, and an aversion to efil : Gal. v. 17," For the flesh lusteth against the spirit, and the spirit against the flesh; and these are contrary the one to the other, 80 that ye cannot do the things that ye would.” The hypocrite's struggle does arise only from a slavish fear, or at best from a civil disposition, which is easily overcome, as being but a part of the old nature, and so reaches but to some things.- Which brings me to observe,