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are the dispositions of our minds, under comfortable impressions the contrary to this? Are we kept by them in the ways of religion? Is our stedfastness in God maintained? Do they strengthen and establish us in our holy calling, and invigorate our resolutions, to be the Lord's for ever? Do they render sin more odious? Christ more precious? his ordinances more estimable? his yoke more easy? his burden more divine? Are we actuated by them to appreciate more justly the vanities of life; and with more ardor to pant after victory over it? If these be some of the results of comfortable impressions under the preached gospel, they cannot be diabolical; they are more than human! they are heavenly, and from above, even from the Father of Lights! They are those which Satan cannot produce, which mere nature cannot experience. Leading to God, and making like him, they shall infallibly be crowned by him with the joys and felicities of the beatific vision!


1. CAN a person be a hypocrite in religion, and not know that he is one?

2. Is the person a hypocrite who is afraid that he is, and wishes not to be one?


It is pretty well known, I believe, that the word HYPOCRITE is borrowed from the stage, and signifies one who personates another. That this may be done with propriety, and to advantage, the actor must be well ac

quainted with the temper, circumstances, foibles, and excellencies of the character he represents. Should any one attempt to act Richard the Third, Hamlet Prince of Denmark, or any other given character, who is totally ignorant of the history of those men, he would render himself ridiculous. In like manner, for a person who is altogether unacquainted with the sentiments, life, and conversation of genuine Christians, to assume the appearance of the real saint, he would expose himself to the censure of every discerning Christian. Such an one would know, at first sight, that he was not the person he pretended to be; and therefore he could not impose upon any whose senses are exercised to discern between that which is feigned, and that which is real. It will follow, then, that as knowledge of the character is absolutely necessary in the former case to personate with propriety, and to gain applause; so also in the latter. But as no one who represents on a stage a man who has been dead a hundred or a thousand years, can be supposed so mad as to think that he is the very person whom he acts, but must needs know that he is not; so we may warrantably conclude that a real hypocrite must know that he is not a true Christian. It may be objected, that the cases are not quite parallel: that the human heart is so deceitful, the insinuations of the enemy of souls so fascinating, and men so naturally prone to entertain a good opinion of their state, that it is possible for them not only to impose upon others, but even to deceive themselves. Granted. And such is the conflict in many unrenewed persons, between conscience and appetite, that it is not easy for then or others to distinguish between that contest, and VOL. III.


the opposition which is in the breast of every renewed man, between what is commonly denominated the old and new creature. And there is still greater danger of a person deceiving himself that sits under a minister who seldom or ever draws the character of a genuine Christian with judgment, never describes his principles, motives, and ends; the sources of his sorrows, fears, and hopes; nor the habitual frame of his mind, and general tenor of his conduct. The situation of a person is equally disadvantageous who attends a minister that is often insinuating that the knowledge of the goodness of our state is not attainable in the present life: that persons may be real Christians, and not be sensible of it till they quit the stage of mortality: that a man may be a true believer, though guilty of this and the other violation of the Divine law. But, allowing all these things, any person, even by a superficial examination of himself, may easily find from what principles he acts, by what motives he is stimulated, and what ends he has in view, in making a profession of religion, and attending to its various duties. By comparing these with the description given in the word of God, of the principles, motives, and ends of a genuine Christian, he may perceive whether they coincide with it. If they do not, he has no scriptural warrant to conclude that he is a child of God, but that he is yet in the gall of bitterness, and bond of iniquity. If, indeed, he has adopted the sentiment, that it is impossible for a man in this life to know whether his state be good or bad, he may, it is very likely, flatter himself that all is well. Because in the hearing of sermons which exhibited sin in its horrid nature, and tremendous consequences, the pun

ishment due to it, and the unspeakable torments which await hypocrites and unbelievers, he has been greatly alarmed; and in hearing or reading discourses which described the happiness of saints, their distinguishing privileges, and the joys they shall be put in possession of, he has found his passions greatly moved, his affections wonderfully raised, and his mind astonishingly elevated; he is apt to consider himself the subject of a gracious change, and thinks he is entitled to comfort. But these impressions, being like the morning cloud and early dew, soon he finds from their transitory nature, and from what he criminally indulges and perpetrates in secret, that there is nothing of genuine religion in them. When his hopes of happiness from that quarter are cut off, and no expectation arises from any thing he has done or resolves to do, he is miserable in his mind beyond what language can express, or fancy imagine, and frequently wishes he had never been born, or that he had been any thing but a rational creature.

Should it be asked, What then is the hypocrite's end in making a profession of religion, and what are his principles and motives of action? It may be answered, self-interest, or applause, or both. The following observations may, perhaps, solve the question. It is either to obtain the name of a Christian, or, if he passes for one, to preserve that name; to rise higher in the esteem of the people of God, or to hush the clamors of a guilty conscience. The hypocrite is a base person, and acts from base principles. All his religion originates in self, and terminates in self. He acts from no better principle than self, and has not in view a more exalted end. He reads, he studies, he prays, or, it may

be, even preaches about religion, with no other design than to secure the good opinion that Christians have formed of him. And as he appears to the best advantage in these religious exercises when he has a crowd about him, who admire his gifts and apparent graces (for he has no taste for secret prayer and self-examination,) so the good opinion of others confirms his good opinion of himself. If compliments are paid him on account of his abilities, (for there are some Christians weak enough to tell a Christian brother, or minister, how much they are edified by his conversation or preaching; how much they covet his gifts and graces,) decency, or good manners teaches him to reply, "that it is out of character to praise a man in his hearing." But, O! how he is inwardly pleased, how he is secretly gratified with the encomiums passed upon him! He says to himself, "If they admire me for this, I will give them greater reason to do it." He sets to work, reads, meditates, and commits to memory in private what he intends to say in public, merely to gain the applause of professors, and to ingratiate himself into their favor. If this end be not gained, O how he is mortified! how he is disappointed! Moreover, the hypocrite is a wicked person. Whilst he makes a splendid profession, and is apparently fired with ardent zeal for God and godliness, he always cherishes some diabolical lust, and gratifies it whenever he has an opportunity. And the sin in which professors of this description generally land, is that of uncleanness. In fine, as a pleasing and evangelical author observes,* he is that in the church which a knave is in the state: The one is not fit for civil soci* M'Ewing's Essays.

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