- False Ground. ‘Sure,’ saith another, ‘I am not a hypocrite; for I perform secret duties in my closet. The hypocrite is nobody, except on the stage. That is the brand of the hypocrite—he courts the world for its applause, and therefore does all abroad.’
Answer. Though the total neglect of secret duties in religion speaks a person to be a hypocrite, yet the performing of duties in secret will not demonstrate thee a sincere person. Hypocrisy is in this like the frogs brought on Egypt. No place was free of them, no, not their bed-chambers. They crept into their most inward rooms. And so doth hypocrisy into closet duties, as well as public. Indeed, though the place be secret where such duties are performed, yet the matter may be so handled, and is by some hypocrites, that they are not secret in their closets; like the hen that goes into a secret place to lay her egg, but by her cackling, tells all the house where she is, and what she is doing. But where this is not, it is not enough; for we must not think but some hypocrites may and do spin a thread finer than other. In all arts there are some exceed others, and so in this trade of hypocrisy. The gross hypocrite whose drift is to deceive others, his religion commonly is all without doors; but there is a hypocrite that labours to keep a fair quarter with himself, and is very desirous to make conscience on his side, to procure which, he will go to the utmost link of his chain, and do anything that may not separate him and his beloved lusts. Now secret prayer and other duties may be so performed, as that they shall not more prejudice a man’s lusts than any other. It is not the sword, though very sharp, that kills, but the force that it is thrust withal. Indeed, there are some secret duties, as examination of our hearts, trying of our ways, and serious meditation of the threatenings of the word against such sins as we find in our own bosoms, which with close application of them to ourselves would put sin hard to it. But the hypocrite can lay this sword so easily and favourably on, that his lusts shall not cry ‘Oh!’ at it, therefore still there needs a melius inquirendum—a further search before thou canst come off.
- False Ground. ‘Sure I am not a hypocrite, for I do not only pray, and that in secret too, against my sins, but I also fight against them, yea, and that to good purpose, for I can show you the spoils of my victories, that I have got over some of them. There was a time I could not by the ale-house, but my lust bade me stand, and pulled me in; but now I thank God, I have got such a mastery of my drunken lust, that I can pass by without looking in.’
Answer. It is good when thou dost say, and I wish all thy drunken neighbours could speak as much, that—when the magistrate will not, or cannot, spoil that drunken trade—they that keep those shops for the devil, might even shut up their windows for want of customers; but is it not pity that what is good should be marred in the doing? Yet it is too common, and may be thy case.
- Let me ask thee, how long it hath been thus with thee? Lusts, as to the actings I mean, are like agues, the fit is not always on, and yet the man not rid of his disease. And some men’s lusts, like some agues, have not such quick returns as others. The river does not move always one way. Now it is coming, anon, falling water; and, though it doth not rise when it falls, yet it hath not lost its other motion. Now the tide of lust is up, and anon it is down, and the man recoils and seems to run from it; but it returns again upon him. Who would have thought it to have seen Pharaoh in his mad fit again, that should have been with him in his good mood, when he bid Moses and the people go? But alas! the man was not altered. Thus, may be, when a strong occasion comes, this, like an easterly wind to some of our ports, will bring in the tide of thy lust so strongly, that thy soul that seemed as clear of thy lust as the naked sands are of water, will be in a few moments covered, and as deep under their waves as ever. But the longer the banks have held, the better; yet, shouldst thou never more be drunk as to the outward fulfilling of the lust, would this not be enough to clear thee from being a hypocrite? Therefore,
- Let me ask thee what was the great motive to take thee off? That which keeps thee from the ale-house now, may be as bad, in some sense, as that which heretofore drew thee to it. It is ordinary for one lust but to spoil another’s market. He that should save his money from guzzling it down his throat, to lay in more finery on his back, what doth this man, but rob one lust to sacrifice it to another? Whether was it God or man, God or thy purse, God or thy pride, God or thy reputation, that knocked thee off? If any but God prevailed with thee, hypocrite is a name will better now become thee than when in the ale‑house. Again, if God, what apprehension of God were they that did it? Some, the wrath of God for some particular sin hath so shaked them, that, as one scared with an apparition in a room, cares not for lying there any more, so they dare not, at least for a long time, be acquainted with that practice again. And as it is not the room but the apparition, that the one dislikes, so it is not the sin, but the wrath of God that haunts it, which the other flees from. In a word, may be thou hast laid down this sinful practice; but didst thou hate it and love God, and so leave it? Thou art become strange to one; have you not got acquaintance with another the room of it? Thou hast laid down the commission of an evil; but hast thou taken up thy known duty? He is a bad husbandman that drains his ground, and then neither sows nor plants it. It is all one if it had been under water, as drained and not improved. What if thou cease to do evil, if it were possible, and thou learnest not to do well? It is not thy fields being clear of weeds, but fruitful in corn, that pays thy rent and brings thee in thy profit; nor thy not being drunk, unclean, or [guilty of] any other sin, but thy being holy, gracious, thy having faith unfeigned, pure love, and the other graces, which will prove thee sound, and bring in evidence for thy interest in Christ, and through him, in heaven.