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sions and feelings as the marks of conversion; and, in consequence of this, to make a more distinct profession of godliness, and to desire to be looked upon as decidedly pious. The character, being thus assumed, must be kept up; and is sometimes kept up in forms and phrases, when, in the temper and general conduct, it is wofully denied. This is, indeed, delicate ground. We are not to discourage young beginners from avowing their love of the truth. We are not to make them afraid of witnessing a good confession. On the contrary, we should warn them against being ashamed of Christ, and encourage them to confess him before men. But though they should be ready to give every man a reason of the hope that is in them, we should instruct them to do it with meekness and fear. We should caution them against rash professions, which often end in looking back, after they have put their hand to the plough, and thus shewing themselves not fit for the kingdom of God. We should admonish them to count the cost, and not to begin to build till they have good reason to believe they can finish; for, perhaps, no source is more productive of hypocrisy in the end, than hasty professions in the beginning
Another source of hypocrisy is enthusiasm. This may appear to be quite the reverse. The feelings of enthusiasts are, it may be said, real, though deluded; and the very excesses to which they are led seem a pledge for their sincerity,
and may be thought to prove that, though mistaken in judgment, they are, at least, upright in principle. But experience proves that there is often a great measure both of real enthusiasm and real hypocrisy in the same characters. At first, indeed, the enthusiasm is comparatively pure and unmixed. But enthusiasts have generally their followers and admirers; and the desire of distinction among
these will lead them to extravagant pretensions to divine communications, which they partly believe, through a heated imagination, and partly exaggerate, through hypocrisy and love of applause. Hence the existence of such characters as a Boccold and a Muncer in former times, and a Southcote in our own.
Another very common cause of hypocritical profession, is the desire of compensating for some secret sin. A man, not without conscience, nor destitute of regard to religious character, is the slave of some lust. This is a bosom, a beloved sin. Part with it he cannot. It is dear to him as a right hand, or a right eye. What will he do then? Why, he will make compensation for it. His beloved indulgence he cannot forego; but he will be doubly assiduous in all other duties of religion. He will give more alms, attend the ordinances of religion more duly, and join the company of religious people. Alas, vain man! As long as that one sin of thine remains unmortified, thou hast no real religion; and therefore these outward expressions of it are nothing else than hypocrisy. Multiply them as much as thou pleasest, they are but so many hypocritical pretences. One thing is needful,—the sacrifice of thy bosom sin; which, as long as it is cherished, must be an insuperable bar of separation between thy soul and God. In vain dost thou please thyself with thy duties, for God does not accept them; and still more vainly dost thou try to bolster thyself by high doctrines. In vain dost thou try to comfort thyself with the persuasion, that those who are once in a state of grace, are always in a state of grace, and that the elect cannot finally perish. I do not now stop to enquire whether these doctrines are true. Let it be granted that they are so, and that they convey wholesome nourishment to those who are sound in faith and charity; to thee they are deadly poison; they serve to harden thy heart, and to embolden thee to go on prating about religion, decrying legal doctrines, and speaking highswelling words of vanity, about salvation by grace and faith, when, all the while, thou hast neither part nor lot in this matter, because thy heart is not right in the sight of God.
Again, the times in which a man lives have often a great influence in producing a certain appearance of religious conduct, without a corresponding inward measure of religion. At different periods, the temptation this way will be of different kinds. In the times of Oliver Cromwell, the fashion of the day led to a canting religious
phraseology; which species of hypocrisy was afterwards remembered with so much disgust that the nation fell into the opposite extreme, and the very mention of religion was almost exploded. In our times, a happier and a nobler taste prevails; and we behold, with joy, numerous religious institutions, highly calculated to promote the glory of God and the everlasting glory of mankind, supported by very general contributions, and encouraged by almost universal approbation. Such a fact we cannot contemplate without the sincerest pleasure; and we wish the contributors to the Bible Society, to the Society for Promoting Christian Knowledge, and to the various Missionary Societies, were ten times more numerous than they are. But, I ask, can we, from the general approbation of these institutions, fairly estimate the degree in which real personal religion prevails? Can we confidently conclude, that concern for spreading the Bible is the genuine expression of love for the Bible? Are the lives of those who give the Bible away regulated by that Holy Volume which they do so well in dispersing? Are none actuated in this thing by a less pure motive; by the mere influence of fashion, or a secret desire of credit? As the friend of the Bible Society, I wish you to support it; and as the friend of your immortal souls, I wish that support to be from the pure principle of love to God and man, unmixed with any baser considerations. And what I say of the Bible Society, I say also of Missionary
Societies. How gladly do I see some of you tributing as annual subscribers to this good work; others forming associations for smaller weekly payments; and with joy I remember your liberal congregational collections. But I must, in faithfulness, remind you that all this, nay, a hundred times more than all this, is nothing, unless it be the genuine fruit of faith in the Lord Jesus Christ, and love to the souls of your fellow-creatures. No action is truly religious unless it proceeds from these principles; and the most splendid work, if done to obtain praise from men, or to procure the credit of religion, is but an act of hypocrisy.
Endeavour then to put men entirely out of sight; care not, in any duty which you perform, or in any course of conduct on which you are deliberating, what men will think or say, but what God requires, and what will please him. Let your private duties ever keep pace with your public exertions in the cause of truth; that you may not appear outwardly splendid in showy performances, while inwardly meagre in faith, hope, and love. Let not your religion be a set of insulated acts, but a living principle,-a faith which worketh by love. Pray for the increase of this faith continually. It is the sight of Jesus, full of grace and truth, full of mercy and love, which is to win your hearts to love Him, and to make
you zealous of good works. Pray that you may daily increase in this knowledge of Jesus Christ, that