by Thomas Brooks, 1650
Showing Hypocrites to be the prime objects of God's
wrath—and the grounds of it—with the special lessons that we are to learn
from it. Expressed in a sermon preached before the Parliament of England;
upon their last thanksgiving day, being the 8th of October 1650, for that
recent great victory which the Lord Almighty gave our army over Scotland's
army in a battle at Dunbar on September 3, 1650.
"The sinners in Zion are terrified; trembling grips the godless: Who of us can dwell with the consuming fire? Who of us can dwell with everlasting burning?" Isaiah 33:14
The Epistle Dedicatory
To the Senators of the Parliament of England, assembled at Westminster,
The glorious appearances of God in these recent times do with open mouth speak out God to be about to manifest himself in some more choice and remarkable way than heretofore. When little worms [Isaiah 41:14; the word signifies a very little worm] and dead men do thresh the mountains, and make them smoke and quake—then surely God is a-coming down to "judge the earth with righteousness, and the people with equity," and to set his mountain high upon the top of all the mountains in the world, and "to stain the pride of all glory, and to bring into contempt all the honorable of the earth," Isaiah 23:9. This design he is driving on for certain, and will, in spite of all opposition, accomplish it.
The wheel of providence runs swiftly, and one glorious providence does but make way for another; which should heighten our hopes, and strengthen our faith, and raise up our souls to lay out all that we have received from God, for the helping forward the design of God. Worthy Senators, never had any men on earth such glorious advantages and opportunities to act high for God and his saints, as you have. Ah, how many are there now triumphing in heaven, who, when they were on earth, would have thought it a heaven to have enjoyed the least of those advantages and opportunities which you enjoy, so that they might have put out themselves for God and his people to the uttermost! Ah, sirs, "Whatever your hand finds to do, do it with all your might; for in the grave, where you are going, there is neither working nor planning nor knowledge nor wisdom." Eccles. 9:10. Your time is short, your task is great, your Master is urgent, and your reward is sure. The devil makes all the haste he can to outwork the children of light—in a speedy despatch of deeds of darkness, because he knows his time is short. He will not let slip any opportunity whereby he may do mischief. Oh may you not let slip any opportunity wherein you may honor a good God, and be serviceable to your generation.
Suetonius reports of Julius Caesar, that seeing Alexander's statue, he fetched a deep sigh because he had done so little work on it—in such a long time. Ah that none of you had cause to sigh, that you have done no more for God, his truth, his ways, his people! Yet let me say, They are blessed who do what they can, though they cannot but underdo. Says Bernard, "They are surely written all in God's book, who do what they can, though they cannot but underdo." Oh, that you would arise in Christ's strength, and do all you possibly can for God, though you cannot do what you would and what you should!
Worthy Senators, give me permission to breathe forth a few desires before you—
First, Oh, that you would look to your own communion with God! Keep up that, increase in that—and that will more and more fit you for all that high and hard service that you may be put upon. Communion with God is the life of all your graces, the sweetener of all ordinances, providences, and mercies, the strengthener of your hearts and hands, the soul of your comforts, and the crown of your souls. Nothing can compare with communion with God—to fence you against temptations, to sweeten all afflictions, and to make you own God, and stand for God, and cleave to God, in the face of all troubles and oppositions. A man high in communion with God, is a man too big for temptations to conquer, or troubles to subdue. Communion with God, it makes bitter things sweet, and massive things light. Those who have but little communion with God—are usually as soon conquered as tempted, as soon vanquished as assaulted.
Secondly, Oh, that you would make more quick despatch of the business which is before you! Julius Caesar's quick despatch is noted in three words, "I came, I saw, I overcame!" The more quick you are in despatch of business, the more angelic you are. It is your highest honor to be like those glistening courtiers which attend the King of kings. Proverbs 3:12, "Hope deferred makes the heart sick." The word that is here rendered "deferred," signifies to draw out at length. Men are short breathed and short spirited, and when their hopes are drawn out at length, this makes their heart sick. Oh, that there were no such sick souls that lie languishing at hope's hospital! It was the saying of Antonius the emperor, "Clemency is a kingdom's best preserver."
Thirdly, Oh, that you would do good to those who have rendered you evil for good! Such a spirit as this is, is most suitable to the commands of Christ, Romans 12:21; Mat. 5:44; and most suitable to the example of Christ, Mat. 23:54. "In revenge of injuries, he is the loser, who gets the most revenge," says Basil. Christ weeps over Jerusalem, though it was his and his saints' slaughter-house; and he receives to salvation, those three thousand bloody souls who had embrued their villainous hands in his innocent blood, Acts 2. Joseph weeps over those malicious and bloody brethren who would have slain him, and who did sell him for a slave. Moses stands up in the gap for those who called and counted him a murderer and a destroyer, though he was their Savior and deliverer. Elisha provided a table for those who had provided a grave for him.
Though the Scots had provided graves for you—yet, Honored Senators, show mercy to them, so far as it will stand with the duty of your places, and with the safety of this commonwealth. Though Rome was most unthankful to Camillus for his conquest of their opponent; yet he buried that wrong, and freed it the second time from the Gauls. Thrasybulus, after his return to Athens, from whence he was banished by tyrants, he made a law that no man should remember any former injuries done unto him.
Fourthly, Oh, that you may rule more for God, and govern more for God! God is all ear to hear, all hand to punish, all power to protect, all wisdom to direct, all goodness to relieve—he is omnia super omnia—and all grace to pardon. God is optimum maximum—the best, and the greatest. He is the horn of plenty, and the ocean of beauty, without the least spot of injustice. Oh, that you may govern so sweetly and so prudently—that you may be termed the delight of mankind. Nothing is more difficult than to rule for God, nor anything is more excellent—than to rule for God. Dioclesian's motto was, "He who rules—but not for God, has his reward here—but he who rules for God shall have a glorious reward at last." "Well done, good and faithful servant, enter into the joy of your Lord," Mat. 25:21. This is a joy too big to enter into us; we must enter into it; a joy more fit for the Lord than the servant; and yet the faithful servant shall have the honor and the happiness to enter into it—even into your Master's joy.
Fifthly, Oh stand constantly upon your watch to avoid evil! Watch to do good, watch to discover your enemies, watch to prevent your enemies, watch to suppress your enemies, watch to countenance and watch to encourage all those who hold to Christ the head, and that walk according to the law of the new creature. Watch to discountenance and watch to suppress profaneness and wickedness, watch to heal the wounded, and watch to bind up the broken, and watch to relieve the oppressed, and watch to raise the dejected. Watch to do good to all those who are good, and watch to be good among those who are bad, and watch to do good even to those who are bad. Oh watch your eyes that they behold no vanity, and watch your ears that they hearken not to unjust and unrighteous causes, and watch your hands that they touch not the golden wedge, and watch your lives that they cause not God's laws and your own to be slighted and despised. But, above all, watch your souls, that in the day of Christ they may be saved. The soul is a jewel worth more than heaven. Oh watch it! If that is lost—you are eternally lost! If that is lost—all is lost. Of all losses--the loss of the soul is the most incomparable, irreparable, and irrecoverable loss! It is the greatest folly in the world to watch to save a state, and not to watch to save your souls.
John the Third, king of Portugal, was advised by one, every day to spend a quarter of an hour's time in meditating upon that scripture, "What good will it be for a man if he gains the whole world, yet forfeits his soul? Or what can a man give in exchange for his soul?" Matthew 16:26. It is and shall be my desire and prayer, that you may watch to save the state—but above all, that you may watch to save your souls! [He who feasts his body and starves his soul, is like him who feasts his slave and starves his wife, says Ephraem Syrus.]
Honored Senators, I had other desires to have breathed
out before you—but having made too bold, I fear, with your patience, I shall
send them up to heaven, hoping and waiting for a comfortable answer from
thence. I humbly ask all who shall read this sermon—to cast a covering of
love over all the mistakes of the printer; I having not the least time
to wait upon the press to correct what by accident, may be found amiss. Now,
honored worthies, that you may do gloriously in your generation, that you
may prize Christ above all, and live in him as in your all, and triumph
through him over all enemies within you and without you, and eternally reign
with Christ after all—is and shall be the earnest desire and prayer of him
who is, honored and worthy Senators, your most humble and devout servant in
all humble service for Christ,
Preached before the Parliament of England on their recent day of thanksgiving for their victory over the Scots.
"The sinners in Zion are terrified; trembling grips the godless: Who of us can dwell with the consuming fire? Who of us can dwell with everlasting burning?" Isaiah 33:14
"I will send him against a hypocritical nation; and against the people of my wrath will I give him a charge, to take the spoil, and to take the prey, and to tread them down like the mire in the street!" Isaiah 10:6
I will not spend that short time that is left me, about that which will turn least to your souls' account, therefore I will very briefly open the words of my text: "I will send you against a hypocritical nation." The word which is rendered "hypocritical" signifies to pollute, or defile. Of all sins, the sin of hypocrisy is the most defiling sin. It defiles men's prayers and praises; it defiles all duties and ordinances. "I will give him a charge, to take the spoil and to take the prey." The word which is rendered "charge" signifies to give command with authority and power, to bind, and to tread them down "like the mire of the streets."
The main thing the words hold forth is this—That of all sorts of sinners, God will be most severe in his judgments against hypocrites. Or thus: Hypocrites are the proper objects of Gods wrath, and such as he will most severely punish.
I shall, in the handling of this point, briefly point out to you those scriptures that speak out this truth, and then open it to you. The scriptures that speak out this truth are these, Job 15:34; Isaiah 33:14, and 9:17; Mat. 23, and 24:51.
For the opening of the point, I shall endeavor these two
1. For the reasons of God's severity against hypocrites, I shall give you only these six—
Reason 1. Because of all sorts of sinners, hypocrites are most dangerous to human society.There are no sorts of sinners upon earth so dangerous to human society as hypocrites are: Job 34:30, "That the hypocrites reign not, lest the people be ensnared;" "that the hypocrite king it not." There are no sorts of men on earth that delight to king it as hypocrites do. "That the hypocrite king it not, lest the people be ensnared." There are no men in the world so skillful and careful to lay snares and traps to ensnare the silly birds, as hypocrites are to ensnare others. Proverbs 11:9, "A hypocrite with his mouth destroys his neighbor." The breath of the hypocrite is poisonous; he breathes out nothing but poison. The word which is rendered "destroy" signifies utterly to destroy. It is used for corruption both in religion and manners. Hypocrites destroy people by their vices and corruptions: Mat. 23:13, "Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You shut the kingdom of heaven in men's faces. You yourselves do not enter, nor will you let those enter who are trying to."
Reason 2. Because, of all sorts of sinners, there are none so hardened against the Lord Jesus Christ as hypocrites are.None stout it against Jesus Christ as hypocrites do. If Christ calls upon the profane man, he hearkens; if he entreats, he yields; if he knocks, he opens. But as for the hypocrite, Christ may call and cry, entreat and beseech—and yet the hypocrite will not hear, nor yield, nor open to him: Mat. 21:31-32, "Truly I say unto you, that the publicans and the harlots go into the kingdom of heaven before you; for John came unto you in the way of righteousness—and yet you believed him not—but the publicans and the harlots believed him." Christ comes to the harlot's door, and to the profane man's door, and knocks, and they open to him, and kiss him, and embrace him, and receive him—but as for the hypocrite, though Christ does knock, and call, and cry out to him—yet he will not hear; nay, though he takes his soul and hangs it over the scotching flames of hell, and says to him, "Ah hypocrite! Is it good to dwell in everlasting burnings?" yet he will not yield; and though he takes him and show him the glory of heaven, and the happiness of sincere souls—yet he will not yield nor open to Christ, though he misses heaven, and is cast into the hottest and the lowest place in hell.
Reason 3. Because hypocrites yield the greatest assistance to Satan, Christ's grand enemy.One hardened and seared hypocrite is more advantage to carry out Satan's design, than a thousand loose profane people. A hypocrite is Satan's firstborn; he is Satan's darling; he leans upon the devil's bosom, as John did upon Christ's. There are none so active for Satan, nor none have those advantages to carry on his work, as the hypocrite has, Mat. 23:15. They "compass sea and land to make a proselyte." They are very active to enlarge the dominion of Satan, and therefore no wonder God is so severe in his judgments against them.
Reason 4. Because hypocrites are false to the marriage-bed; and therefore God is so severe against them.They pretend love to Christ—and yet they give up their hearts to other lovers besides Christ, Ezek. 33:31; Isaiah 29:13. You know in law nothing gives a man who wants to divorce his wife, as adultery—or falseness to the marriage-bed; and Christ will take that advantage to cast off hypocrites forever.
Reason 5. Because they are the very worst of sinners.They are often in Scripture compared to the very worst of things—to vipers, serpents, wolves, etc., which speaks them out to be the worst of men. They are secret enemies, which are of all enemies the worst; as Leo the emperor said, "A close enemy is far worse than an open; a close enemy kisses and kills—but an open enemy shoots off his warning-piece before he shoots off his murdering-piece."
Again, hypocrites are doomed to the worst of judgments, as that they shall not come before God: Job 13:16, "An hypocrite shall not come before God;" he shall not be taken up into spiritual enjoyment of God on earth, nor into glorious communion with God in heaven. Hypocrites are doomed by Christ to the greatest torments in hell: Mat. 23:14, "Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites; for you shall receive the greater damnation." The darkest and the lowest place in hell is theirs. Hypocrites are hell's free-holders. Of all sinners, hypocrites sin against the greatest light, and against the greatest knowledge, against the greatest discovery of God—which speaks them out to be the worst of sinners. Yes, though they do know sins against knowledge to be very dangerous, though they know them to be wounding and wasting sins—yet hypocrites will persevere in their sin. The hypocrite will rather go to hell with his lusts, than to heaven without his lusts. Though he be convinced that he and his beloved sins must part, or Christ and his soul will never meet—yet the hypocrite will say, Farewell Christ, and welcome sin! A hypocrite will persevere in religious duties—and yet persevere in a resolved way of wickedness, Jer. 7:9; Ezek. 33:30-32. A hypocrite will sin and pray, and he will hear and swear, etc.; like Louis the Eleventh, king of France, he would swear, and then kiss the cross, and swear again, and then kiss the cross. A hypocrite has two hands, the one to embrace, and the other to stab with, as Joab; he has two tongues, with Judas, the one to salute Christ, and another to betray Christ; he has two faces, with Janus, one looks backward, and the other forward. A hypocrite has two hearts, with the Israelites, he can cry, "Hail king Solomon, hail king Adonijah;" like Apuleius' parrot, "Hail Augustus the emperor, hail Antony," all which speaks them out to be the worst of sinners.
Reason 6. Because hypocrites fight against Christ with his own weapons.They fight against God with his own gifts that he has bestowed upon them, as David fought against Goliath with his own sword; or as Jehu fought against Jehoram with his own men. Thus did the scribes and Pharisees, Spira and Judas, fight against Christ to their own eternal overthrow. The hypocrite will fight against God with that knowledge, wisdom, light, and understanding which God has given him, though he dies eternally for it. Julian the apostate fought against Christ with his own weapons; and through the strength of his abilities he prevailed more by persuading than by enforcing, and by enticements than by torments, to the ruin of Christians. Hypocrites fight against God with his own weapons, and dare heaven, and therefore God will cast them to hell.
2. The second thing that I am to do, is to discover to you, what hypocrites are, whom God is so severe in his judgment against. The Greek word signifies stage-players. A hypocrite is a slave in king's robes; he is a devil in angel's apparel; he is a wolf in a sheep's skin. As Cicero says of Epicurus, that he was no philosopher in truth—but put on the bare name of a philosopher; so I may say, a hypocrite is no saint, no holy man in truth—but one who puts on the name of a saint, and outwardly appears to be a saint, though inwardly he is a devil incarnate. The Hebrew word which is rendered a hypocrite, signifies to dissemble, and defile, or pollute. Hypocrites are the greatest dissemblers in the world; they dissemble with God, with men, and with their own souls; and as they are the greatest dissemblers, so they are the greatest defilers in the world; they defile all places and company where they come; they defile all duties, mercies, and ordinances they touch. But I shall show you more fully what he is in these six following things—
[1.] First, Hypocritical hearts are proud, vain-glorious hearts.Every man's silver is but brass, compared to theirs; and every man's light is but darkness, compared to theirs; and no men's duties and abilities are comparable to theirs. The proud and vain-glorious hypocrite, Jehu-like, says, "Come, see my zeal for the Lord," 2 Kings 10:16. A sincere heart loves to do much for Christ, and not to be seen by any but Christ. Jehu's zeal is but the shadow of zeal, as all hypocrites' virtues are but the shadows of virtues—and yet the hypocrite, Narcissus-like, falls in love with his own shadow. The hypocrite loves to see the hat move, and the knee to bow, and men to cry, "Rabbi, rabbi!" in the market-place, Mat. 23:5-7. [A sincere heart is like the red rose, which though outwardly it be not so fragrant as the damask—yet inwardly it is far more cordial: a sincere heart is like the violet, which grows low, and hides itself and its own sweetness, as much as can be, with its own leaves.]
Charis, a soldier, was so proud because of the wound he gave Cyrus, that shortly after he went mad, says Plutarch; and Menecrates was so proud because he cured many patients which others could not, that he called himself Jupiter. Just so, hypocrites are proud, and swell with the thoughts of their own worth and doings, that they cry up and set up themselves above others: Luke 18:11-12, "God, I thank you that I am not as other men are," etc. "I fast twice in the week, I give tithes of all that I possess;" Isaiah 65:5, which say, "Stand aside, come not near to me, for I am holier than you."
[2.] Secondly, Hypocrites, they do always cover their cruel and bloody intentions with specious and religious pretenses.Herod, a notorious hypocrite, covers his intentions of murdering Christ, with pretenses of worshiping Christ; and those in Ezra 4 cover their intentions of pulling down the temple, with pretenses of help in building the temple. They pretend to build the temple—and yet they intended to pull down the temple; and so did Jezebel, in 1 Kings 21; and so Ishmael covers his bloody intention of murdering, with weeping, Jer. 41. A hypocrite will draw a fair glove upon a foul hand; he is like the serpent which stings without hissing; they will kiss, and kill you; they will kiss, and betray you; they will stroke you, and cut your throat. There is nothing more evident in experience and Scripture than that hypocrites have all along covered their bloody and cruel designs with religious pretenses. Parsons, when he had plotted that matchless villainy the Powder-plot, he sets out his book of resolutions as if he had been made up all of devotions. Hypocrites are like the Italians, who will hug and embrace you in those arms they intend to imbrue in your dearest blood.
[3.] A hypocritical heart is a subtle heart, a deceitful heart.What is said of Jonadab, 2 Sam. 13:2, that he was a very subtle man, that may I say of all hypocrites; they are very subtle men; by good words and fair speeches they deceive the hearts of the simple, drawing them unawares into the lion's paw, as Mohammed did. The hypocrite is a cloud without rain, a blossoming tree without fruit, a star without light, a shell without a kernel. The hypocrite is like the fruit of Sodom, that without is very fair—but within is nothing but dust. The hypocrite is like the images Lucian speaks of, that were bravely wrought over with silver and pearl—but within are filled up with the basest things—as pieces of wood, pitch, mortar, etc.; whereas a sincere heart is like Brutus' staff, thorn without and gold within; or like that ark, gold within and goat's hair without.
[4.] Fourthly, again, Hypocrites never do good out of love to God—but out of designs to advantage themselves.Mat. 23:14, and 6:1-3. Jehu makes a great deal of stir; he pretends to be very zealous for God; he destroys idolaters—but not idolatry; and all this was only that he might come to the crown. Mr. Knox reports of some noblemen in Scotland who seemed very forward for Reformation—but their design was merely for spoil, and for their private advantage—but they were very licentious, they greedily gripped the possessions of the church, and would not lack their part of Christ's coat. And Mr. Blair, a great Counselor of Scotland, being under great horrors of conscience, professed that he pretended to religion only to get wealth. I have read of a prince that was of no religion but that which was for his own advantage, and which would advance his own interest. Truly there is no hypocrite that breathes, who does any good—but he has some carnal and selfish design in it.
[5.] Fifthly, A hypocrite will not acknowledge God in his own righteous judgments.Job 36:13, "The hypocrite cries not when God binds him." The Hebrew word which is here rendered "cry," signifies to make no noise. A hypocrite will not acknowledge the justice and the righteousness of God against him; he will not cry, he will make no noise. Although God's hand is sore upon him and against him, he will not say, This is the justice and the righteousness of God; though God's hand be lifted up against him—yet he makes no noise; though God binds him and deals with him as prisoners are bound and dealt with—for so the Hebrew signifies—yet they will make no noise. In Isaiah 26:11, "When your hand is lifted up, they will not see—but they shall see and be ashamed." The word signifies to "see" with the greatest exactness and curiosity that can be, to see with the eye and contemplate with the mind: the hypocrite will not see. "Ay—but," says God, "before I have done with him, I will make him see with his eye, and contemplate on my judgments with his mind. He shall see!"
Jer. 5:10-12, "Go up upon the walls, and destroy—but make not a full end: and take away her battlements; for they are not the Lord's." The word which is rendered "battlements," signifies the young suckers that grow up about a plant; and by a similitude here may be understood the leaning rails on the top of their houses. The battlements were to compass the house round about, to keep men from falling off; for among the Jews their houses had flat roofs, on which men walked, and from thence they called and spoke to the people: to which Christ alludes in Mat. 10:27. The height of the battlement was not to be less than ten hands'-breadths, and it was to be strong, that men might lean thereon, and not fall to maim any. Take away her battlements, take away her succours, her towers, her leaning-places, for they are not the Lord's. But why will God strip them of their strength, and supports, and leaning or resting-places? Ver. 11, "For the house of Israel and the house of Judah have dealt very treacherously against me, says the Lord." "They have deceived me, they have deceived me;" so it is in the Hebrew, to show that they have most notoriously and frequently dealt guiltfully, deceitfully, and fraudulently with God. But how does this appear, that they have dealt thus with God? It is answered in ver. 12, "They have lied about the Lord; they said, "He will do nothing! No harm will come to us; we will never see sword or famine." The Hebrew word that is rendered here "lied," signifies "to deny." So it is used in Gen. 18:15, "Then Sarah denied, saying, I laughed not." It is the same word that is here rendered lied. "They have denied the Lord, and said, It is not he;" they have denied the justice and righteousness and severity of God in his judgments against them; and this is evident in the third verse of this chapter, "O Lord, are not your eyes upon the truth? you have stricken them." The Hebrew word signifies "to smite," "to wound," "to kill." Lord, you have smitten them, you have wounded them, you have killed some of them—but they have not grieved. The Hebrew word signifies "to pain," to make sick." "Though I have dealt thus severely with them—yet they are not pained, they are not sick—but bear up hard against all the blows and wounds I have given them. You have consumed them—but they have refused to receive correction." The Hebrew word that is here rendered "refused," signifies to refuse with the greatest pride, disdain, and scorn that may be, Ezek. 17:14. Oh! says God, though I have consumed them—yet they proudly, disdainfully, and scornfully refuse to receive correction. The word that is here rendered "correction" signifies both chastening and teaching, the one being the end of the other. Though my rod has been heavy upon them—yet they have proudly and scornfully refused to be taught by my rod; they have made their faces harder than a rock; they have refused to return.
[6.] Sixthly, Hypocrites despise those who, in their apprehension, are in outward form below them, and envy those who, in the spirit and power of holiness and godliness, do excel them.Luke 18:11-12, "God, I bless you that I am not as this publican: I fast twice in the week." He pleads his negative righteousness, and he stands on his comparative goodness, "I am not as this publican: I fast twice in the week,"—on Thursdays, because on that day Moses went up to mount Sinai; and on Mondays, because on that day he came down, says Drusius. Hypocrites are better at showing their worth than their needs; they are as notable at discommending others, as they are at commending themselves; at abasing others, as at exalting themselves; at lessening others, as at greatening themselves. They envy every sun that outshines their own. Let a man excel them in his enjoyments of God, in his communion with God, in working for God, etc., he shall be envied and hated to the death, John 11:47-48.
Androgeus, king of Crete, was slain for envy. Just so, Socrates, who was the wisest man on earth, and in many moral excellencies did outshine all others, which the eye of envy could not endure. This occasioned him to say, "My accusers nor my crime cannot kill me—but envy alone, which has and will destroy the worthiest ever." The emperor Adrian oppressed some, and slew others, who excelled in any art or faculty, that he might be held the only skillful artist. Aristotle is said to have burnt and abolished the books of many philosophers, that he might be the more admired. Just so, do hypocrites envy all who excel them in any spiritual or moral excellencies.
There are divers other characters that I might give of those hypocrites who God is so severe in his judgments against, as:
(1) Hypocrites are most zealous about the external part of duties, and regard not the spiritual part of duties, Isaiah 1:11-18; Mat. 23:25-27; John 18:28.
(2) Hypocrites are seemingly for one thing and really for another, as Herod, Pilate, and Judas were.
(3) Hypocrites are uneven-carried hearts; they do not carry themselves evenly in all places, nor in all companies, nor at all times. Witness the scribes and pharisees. A sincere heart is like a dice, which is every way even, and, like itself, turn it or throw it how you will. But the hypocrite is like the cameleon, that changes his colours—now he is this, and now he is that; sometimes you shall have him an angel at home and a devil abroad, and sometimes a devil at home and an angel abroad. Hypocrites are like Cicero: they will speak to please Pompey—and Caesar too.
(4.) Hypocrites will rather use spectacles to behold other men's sins, than looking-glasses to behold their own, Mat. 7:3-5. Hypocrites mind not Conradus' motto, "Observe all men's carriages—but especially your own."
(5.) Hypocrites trade not with God upon the credit of Christ's love, blood, righteousness, and intercession—but upon the credit of their own prayers, tears, desires, and endeavors, Isaiah 58:3.
(6.) Hypocrites usually hold not on in religious duties under the lack of outward encouragements, and against outward discouragements, John 6:66; Job 27:10.
(7.) Hypocrites are heartless in all religious duties, Isaiah 29:13; Hosea 7:14; Ezek. 33:31-32.
(8.) Hypocrites are not only heartless in duties—but they
are also partial in duties. The lesser duties they will do, the greater
duties they will not do, Mat. 23:23. Just so, Saul, Herod, Judas, and
It shall suffice that I have named these things. Let us now come to the PRACTICAL APPLICATION of the point, which is the main thing that I have in my eye.
The main thing that my heart is most upon is to present unto you those choice things that the great and glorious appearance of God against the hypocritical nation, and for your safety, does bespeak of you; and they are these—
[1.] First, Thankfulness.Oh bless that God that has given you life, when your enemies had passed upon you the sentence of death. Of all the mercies that you have had, is not this the most big-bellied mercy? Ah, the mercies which are in the belly of this mercy, the city mercy, the country's mercy, the family mercies, the soul mercies, which are in the belly of this mercy! Are not all your former mercies, and all future desired mercies, to be found in the belly of this mercy? Besides, is it not an unexpected mercy? Your army at that time did not expect it until they were engaged; many of your friends here did not at that time look for it; and most men, when the first news of it came, could not believe it. And will not you be thankful for it? Was it not a mercy that came in after solemn appeals and prayers made to the God of your mercies, that he would deal with you according to the righteousness of your cause, and according to the uprightness of his people, who were in their sincere desires and endeavors, tender of his glory? And will you not be thankful for it? Was it not a mercy given in upon the account of Christ pleading at the right hand of his Father, for those who were as sheep appointed for the slaughter? And will you not be thankful for it? Has not his giving in of this mercy been a means to weaken the hands, the hopes, the counsels, the strength of your enemies? And will you not be thankful for it? Has not the giving in of this mercy, given you a further and a greater advantage to honor God, and lift up Christ, and make sure of the things which belong to your peace, and to do good to the saints, and to serve your generation? And will you not be thankful for it? Can you look upon it as clothed with all its glorious circumstances, and not be thankful for it?
O beloved, to have so great a mercy at such a time, when your enemies were strongest, and your army weakest, and under many needs, and trials, and weaknesses, etc., this should engage you to everlasting thankfulness. That worms and dead men should thresh the mountains, is a mercy which bespeaks the greatest thankfulness; and yet, oh how few are there, who return thanks to God for this mercy! Among the ten lepers who were cleansed, only one returned to give thanks—but were it not well if there were one out of twenty that in good earnest did return thanks for this so great a mercy?
A thankful man is worth his weight in gold. Most men in our days forget their own mercies. Too many are like Pythagoras' scholars, who speak not in five years, or rather, like the dumb man in the Gospel, they speak not at all. Many men in our days have a spiritual palsy in their tongues, so as they cannot call mercies mercy—but, with the murmuring Israelites, they call mercies miseries, and saviors destroyers, and deliverers murderers. When the Jews would not be thankful for mercies, the prophet calls out, "Hear, O heavens, and hearken, O earth," Isaiah 1:2; and Jeremiah calls out, "O earth, earth, earth," Jer. 22:29; and Micah calls out to the mountains, and the foundations of the earth, chapter 6:2. And truly if for this mercy you will not be thankful, I think the heavens and the earth, and the foundations thereof—will another day be witness against you.
The manifestations of God in his providence are the most precious things in the world; and had we as many tongues as Argus had eyes, they were all too little to set forth the goodness of God for his mercy. It was a good saying of Augustine, "If God gives prosperity, praise him, and it shall be increased. If God gives adversity, praise him, and it shall be removed, or at least sanctified." It is sad to think that among so many who pretend to be pious, there should be so many who have such a spiritual palsy on their tongues, as that they cannot be thankful for the works of the Spirit. The elephant to turn up the first twig toward heaven when she comes to food—out of some instinct of gratitude: and shall not Christians be thankful for greater mercies? When Tamerlane had taken Bajazet, among other questions he asked him whether ever he had given God thanks for making him so great an emperor. He sincerely confessed that he had never thought of it. Ah, it were well if we had none such among us, who never think of the great things that God has done for them!
[2.] The second thing that the glorious appearances of God for you does bespeak of you—is to be greatly magnanimous for God.Beloved, God does expect that all his people in the land, should appear magnanimous for him. God does now expect that all his people should be taken up with those things that have most of God, and most of Christ, and most of heaven in them—and for these his people should be most magnanimous. Your feet should be where other men's heads are. It was a good saying of one, "Great men should do great things, and count themselves nothing." As Cleopatra said to Mark Antony, "It is not for you to be a-fishing for gudgeons—but for towns, and forts, and castles!" So I say, "It is not for you, for whom God has done such great things, to exercise yourselves about poor, base things—but about high, noble, and honorable things, that may answer to those great things God has done for you!"
It was an excellent saying of Pacunius, "I hate the men who are idle in deed—and philosophical in word." When Demosthenes was asked what was the first part of an orator, he answered, "Action!" what the second, he answered, "Action!" what the third, he answered, "Action!" Oh, that Severus the emperor's motto might be still in your eye, and still upon your hearts, "Let us be doing!"
[3.] The third thing that the glorious appearance of God for you does bespeak of you—is to take heed of great sins after these great mercies.Ezra 9:13-14. David, Lot, Solomon, and Noah, fell foulest after great mercies. Of all sins, sin after great mercies are most provoking to the God of mercy. 1 Kings 11:9, "The Lord was angry with Solomon, because his heart was turned back from the Lord God of Israel, who had appeared to him twice." The Hebrew word that is rendered "angry" is from a root that signifies to snuff and look pale with anger, to show how greatly God was angry with him. O beloved, if God snuff with anger against Solomon, because his heart was turned back from that God, who had appeared gloriously to him twice, what tongue can express how the anger of the Lord will burn against you—if your hearts should be turned back from him who has appeared gloriously, not only twice—but many hundred times to you, and for you?
I beseech you seriously consider that great sins after great mercies will cloud the face of God, and make the greatest wounds in conscience, and embitter present mercies, and prevent future mercies, and cloud your evidences, and weaken your graces, and raise your fears, and heighten your enemies' hopes, and strengthen their hands; and therefore take heed of great sins after great mercies.
Boleslaus, king of Poland, when he was to speak or do anything of importance, he would take out a little picture of his father that he carried about him, and kiss it, and say, "Dear father, I wish I may do nothing unworthy of your name." Ah souls! this should be your constant wish and endeavor—that you may do nothing unworthy of that glorious God, who has done such glorious things for you.
[4.] The fourth thing that the glorious appearance of God for you does bespeak of you, is to own God, and cleave to God in the face of all discouragements, who has owned you in the face of all your weakness and unworthiness and unrighteousness before the whole world.God, by his owning of you, does with open mouth bespeak you to own him. Caleb owns God, and follows God in the face of all discouragements; and this was a praise and an honor to him, Num. 14:24. The word that is rendered "followed" is taken from a ship under sail, which is carried strongly with the wind, as if it feared neither rocks nor sands. Just so, Caleb followed the Lord in the face of all discouragements, without any slavish fears; and this was his crown, and for this he shall enjoy that mercy that most were shut out from. You for whom God has done such great things, must be resolved to worship none but the God of heaven and earth—come life, or come death. Thus did those worthies in Dan. 3 and those in Heb. 11. And thus did Chrysostom, Luther, Calvin, Carraciolus, and Basil the Great, with many more—own Christ and cleave to Christ in the face of all discouragements. And why should you degenerate from their examples, which is your highest honor to follow?
Oh let not God have cause to say, "Lo, here is a commonwealth, that I have owned in the face of all their sins, unworthiness, and unrighteousness; and yet they have disowned me when troubles and trials have been upon them!" There is nothing that pleases God more than men's owning of him in the face of all discouragements: Jer. 2:2, "Go and cry in the ears of Jerusalem, saying, Thus says the Lord, I remember the kindness of your youth, the love of your espousals, when you went after me in the wilderness, in a land that was not sown." It is nothing to follow God in a paradise—but it is a glorious, God-taking thing to follow him in a wilderness.
[5.] Fifthly, The glorious appearances of God for you do bespeak you to set some character of favor and love upon the instruments of your mercy.I need not tell you that it was the custom of the Romans to reward and crown their soldiers for their good services—but because I understand your hearts have been and are drawn out this way, I shall say no more to this—but sit down satisfied, that you will honor those whom God has honored, and bless them whom God has blessed, though all the world should slight and curse them.
[6.] Sixthly, The glorious appearances of God for you do bespeak you to improve your time and opportunities, for the honor and advancement of the glory of that God, who has taken all opportunities to set all his glorious attributes, at work for your good, and for all our safety and security.Oh do much for that God in a little time, who has done exceedingly much for you in so short a time. Time is a jewel more worth than a world. Time is not yours to dispose of as you please; it is a glorious talent that men must be accountable for as well as any other talent. Cato, a heathen, held that an account must be given not only of our labor—but also of our leisure. You have no lease of your lives, and death is not bound to give you warning before it gives you that deadly blow which will send you to everlasting misery or everlasting felicity. Of all talents, time is the hardest well to improve. Chilo, one of the seven sages, being asked what was the hardest thing in the world to be done, answered, "To use and employ a man's time well." It was a notorious reproach to Domitian the Roman emperor, that he spent much of his time in killing of flies. And it was a reproach to Artaxerxes, that he spent his time in making handles for knives. And it was a reproach to Solyman the great Turk that he spent his time in making notches for bows. And it was a reproach to Archimedes that he spent his time in drawing lines in the dust, when he should have been fighting for his life with his sword.
Ah, sirs! Was their spending their time so vainly such a reproach to them, and will your misspending your time be an honor to you? Oh spend your time so as God may have much honor, the commonwealth much good, and your souls much comfort and boldness when you shall stand before the judgment-seat, where princes must lay their crowns, and parliament-men must put off their robes. Oh, cry out with Titus Vespasian, "O my friends, I have lost a day! I have lost a day!" Bernard brings in the vain person thus lamenting himself: "Oh what a wretch! what a beast! what a mad devil was I! so woefully to waste the marrow and fat of my precious time in sinful pleasures and delights!" I have read of one who, upon his dying-bed, would have given a world for time, he crying out day and night, "Call time again! oh, call time again!"
The desires of my soul to God for you shall be, that you may so improve your time, that you may never have cause lamentingly to cry out, "Call time again! oh, call time again!" Ah, beloved, have not you need to improve your time, who have much work to do in a short time: your souls to save, a God to honor, a Christ to exalt, a hell to escape, a race to run, a crown to win, temptations to withstand, corruptions to conquer, afflictions to bear, mercies to improve, and your generation to serve.
[7.] The glorious appearances of God for you, do bespeak you to rest and rely upon God in future distress, notwithstanding all your unrighteousnesses, weaknesses, and disadvantages.O beloved, this glorious appearance of God in the mount for you, does forever bespeak you to rest and rely upon him in your longest day of trouble, and in your darkest night of sorrow. David, in the day of sore distress, does heighten his confidence by former experiences; and so do those worthies in 2 Cor. 1:8-10. There is nothing which engages God to act high for his people when they are low, like resting and relying upon him; as you may see in that 2 Chron. 13:16-18 verses compared. It is a scripture worthy to be written in letters of gold. Abijah and his people slew five hundred thousand chosen men, because they relied upon the Lord God of their fathers. The Hebrew word that is rendered "relied," is from a root that signifies to "lean" or "rest" upon the Lord, as a man leans or rests upon a staff. Oh, nothing engages God to act for a people like leaning upon God, chapter 14:8-15 compared with 7-9th verses of the 16th chapter. Now if you would lean upon God in your distress, then keep open the eye of your faith. Just so long as faith sees in God a fullness of abundance—and a fullness of redundancy, the soul cannot but lean on God.
[8.] Eighthly, Another thing that the glorious appearances of God for you do bespeak of you and the whole nation, is to set light by all worldly glory.You are not ignorant how that hypocritical nation began to pride themselves, and to exalt themselves, and glory in their arm of flesh—but in the things wherein they did deal proudly, the Lord was above them, and has laid their glory in the dust. Oh it is high time to set light by all earthly glory, when God has taken counsel to stain the pride of all glory, and to bring into contempt all the honorable of the earth, Isaiah 23:9. The word which is rendered "purposed" may be read counseled: the Lord has agreed upon it in counsel, to stain. In the Hebrew it is "to pollute" the pride of all glory, etc.
Severna the emperor, finding the emptiness and insufficiency of all earthly happiness, cries out at last, "I have tried all things, and find no solid contentment in anything!" Charles the Fifth, in his old age, he curses his honors, and curses his victories, etc., saying, "Get you hence, get you far away!" Severus' soldier could say, when one asked him why he did not wear his crown as the other soldiers did, "A Christian ought not to wear his crown, in this life."
[9.] The ninth thing that the glorious appearances of God for you do bespeak of you—is to live to him who has given you your lives as a prey.God calls with open mouth upon you, and upon all the saints in England, to live to him who has with his glorious arm saved you—when your proud enemies had passed the sentence of death upon you. God has therefore given you your lives for a prey, that you may no longer live to yourselves, nor to the lusts of the flesh—but to him who lives forever, as the apostle speaks in 2 Cor. 1:8-12. Deut. 10:12, "And now, O Israel, what does the Lord your God require of you—but to fear the Lord your God, to walk in all his ways, and to love him, and to serve the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul?" The Hebrew word which is rendered "require," "What does the Lord your God require of you," signifies to ask, to request, to petition. Oh God does ask, and request, and as it were petition men who they would live out all his goodness, and live up to all those glorious things which he has done for them.
Cyprian, Jerome, and others, complained of the Christians in their time, who they were angels to see to—but wolves in their daily lives. Oh, that we had no cause to complain of such in our days! Plutarch laughed at the folly of such in his time, as would be accounted as wise as Plato—and yet would be drunk in the company of Alexander. But Oh, that our eyes were a fountain of tears—that we might weep for those who pretend to be Christians—and yet live like heathens. Seneca, a heathen, gave this advice to his friend Lucilius, that he should live with men as if God saw him, and pray to God as if men heard him. He liked not such as are always about to live better—but never begin to live better. I shall conclude this with that counsel Periander king of Corinth gave: "Live in such a way," says he, "that you may have honor by your life, and that men may count you happy after death!"
[10.] The tenth thing that the glorious appearances of God for you does bespeak of you, and that is that you be constantly careful to decline those sins which was the Scots' overthrow and ruin;and I think that all those who are got above their pride, and passions, and envy, etc., will judge the sins that did usher in their ruin to be these—
(2.) Resting and boasting in an arm of flesh.
(3.) Their sinful compliances with those against whom wrath is gone forth: as Isaiah 14:19-22; Jer. 31:2.
(4.) Their hatred and malice against those who in an outward form did differ from them, though they were never so precious to Christ, and eminent in the power and practice of godliness, which sin shall not go unpunished, Isaiah 60:14, 66:5, and 26:10-11.
(5.) Their self-love and covetous desires to enrich themselves, and make themselves great upon others' ruins, and under the pretense of being the king and covenant.
(6.) Their ingratitude to God, who has pulled them as brands out of the fire.
As you would avoid their judgments, take heed of their sins. I hope that none of you who hear me this day are of Radbode, who said that he would rather perish with the multitude, than go to heaven with a few. You are wise, and know how to apply it.
[11.] The next thing that the glorious appearances of God for you do bespeak of you, is to endeavor with all your might to make a conquest of all those enemies that are within you.Now that the Lord has made so glorious a conquest over those proud enemies that rose up against you—I beseech you consider, of all conquests, the conquest of enemies within, is the most honorable and the most noble conquest; for in conquering of those enemies that are within, you make a conquest over the devil and hell itself. Of all conquests, that is the highest and the greatest, which is over enemies within you! Proverbs 16:32, "He who is slow to anger is better than the mighty; and he who rules his spirit than he who takes a city." The word which is rendered "rules," signifies to "conquer, and overcome." It is this conquest which lifts a man up above all other men in the world.
And as this is the most noble conquest, so it is the most necessary conquest. You must be the death of your sins, or they will be the death of your souls. Sin is a viper, which always kills where it is not killed. There is nothing gained by making peace with sin—but misery here, and hell hereafter. Every yielding to sin is a welcoming of Satan into our very bosoms. "Put to death, therefore, whatever belongs to your earthly nature: sexual immorality, impurity, lust, evil desires and greed, which is idolatry." Colossians 3:5.
Alexander and many of the Persian kings conquered and commanded the whole world—and yet were commanded by their concubines, and by enemies within, which was the ruin of their souls. Valentinian the emperor said upon his death-bed, that among all his victories, one only comforted him; and being asked what that was, he answered, "I have overcome my worst enemy, my own naughty heart." Ah! when you shall lie upon a dying-bed, then no conquest will thoroughly comfort—but the conquest of your own sinful hearts. None were to triumph in Rome, who had not gotten five victories; and he shall never triumph in heaven that subdues not his five senses, says Isidorus. Ah, souls! what mercy is it to be delivered from an enemy without, and not to be eternally destroyed by an enemy within?
[12.] The next thing that the glorious appearances of God for you do bespeak of you, is to persevere in well-doing.As God holds on in doing you good, so you must persevere in well-doing for his glory. "Be faithful to the death, and you shall have a crown of life," Rev. 2:10. "To him who overcomes, I will give the right to sit with me on my throne, just as I overcame and sat down with my Father on his throne," Rev. 3:21. It is said of Sceva, that he so long resisted Pompey's army, that he had two hundred and twenty darts sticking in his shield, and lost one of his eyes—and yet he did not give up until Caesar came to his rescue. So, beloved, you must never leave standing for God, and contending for God, and acting for God, who still stands and contends and acts for you against all those who rise up against you. It was a good saying of Mr. Bucer, "That piety which has an end, is no true piety." He who in an Olympic race—shall run after flies or feathers, or faint before he comes to the goal—will lose not only his pains—but also the crown for which he runs. My desires to the Lord shall be, that we may all so run as that we may obtain the crown.
[13.] Lastly, The glorious appearances of God for you, bespeak you to show mercy to others.Now God has showed such great mercy towards you, oh let "the sighing of the prisoner" come before you, and the desires, the tears, the cries, the wounds, and the blood of poor distressed souls move your compassion towards them, so that you may do for all to the uttermost what you are able, so that their sorrows may be turned into joy, and sighing and mourning may flee away, and their souls may arise and call you blessed. The only way to have full barns, is to have charitable hands. Whatever we lay out for others, we do but lay up for ourselves. Whatever we scatter to the poor, we gather for ourselves. Not getting—but giving, is the way to wealth. The poor man's hand is Christ's treasury, Christ's bank. Oh let not Christ's hand and Christ's treasury be empty!
O, shall the Persians, and many Indians, erect hospitals, not only for lame and diseased men—but also for aged, starved, or hurt birds, beasts, and such like creatures; and will not you do much more for those who have ventured their blood to save yours, and who are the price of the blood of Christ? It is storied up of Stephen, king of Hungary, and of Oswald, once king of England, that their right hands, though dead, never putrified, because much exercised in giving and relieving the poor and afflicted. Surely the names and souls of such who look to do this duty from a right principle, to a right end, shall never die—but live forever; which that all you may do—shall be my constant desire and prayer at the throne of grace.