- Direction. When thy heart is deeply affected with the sin and misery of thy hypocritical heart, thou must be convinced of thy insufficiency to make a cure on thyself. Hypocrisy is like a fistula sore. It may seem a little matter by the small orifice it hath; but is therefore one of the hardest among wounds to be cured, because it is so hard to find the bottom of it. O take heed thy heart doth not put a cheat upon thyself. It will be very forward to promise it will lie no more, be false and hypocritical no more; but, take counsel of a wise man, who bids thee not rely on what it saith: ‘He is a fool that trusts his own heart.’ O how many die, because loath to be at pains and cost to go to a skillful physician at first. Take heed of self-resolutions and self-reformations. Sin is like the king’s-evil; God, not ourselves can cure it. He that will be tinkering with his own heart, and not seek out to heaven for help, will in the end find [that] where he mends one hole, he will make two worse; where he reforms one sin, he will fall into the hands of many more dangerous.
- Direction. Betake thyself to Christ, as the physician on whose skill and faithfulness thou wilt rely entirely for cure. Si pereundum inter peritissimos—if thou perish, resolve to perish at his door. But for thy comfort, know that never any whom he undertook miscarried under his hand; nor ever refused he to undertake the cure of any that came to him on such an errand. He blamed those hypocrites, John 5:40,43, because they were ready to throw away their lives, by trusting any empiric who should come in his own name without any approbation or authority from God for the work, but ‘would not come to him that they might have life,’ thought he came in his Father’s name, and had his seal and license to practise his skill on poor souls for their recovery. And he that blamed those for not coming, will not, cannot, be angry with thee who comest. It is his calling; and men do use to thrust customers out, but invite them into their shops. When Christ was on earth, he gave this reason why he conversed so much with publicans and sinners, and so little among the Pharisees, because there was more work for him, Matt 9:11, 12. Men set up where they think trade will be quickest. Christ came to be a physician to sick souls. Pharisees were so well in their own conceit, that Christ saw he should have little to do among them, and so he applied himself to those who were more sensible of their sickness. If thou, poor soul, beest but come to thyself so far, as to groan under thy cursed hypocrisy, and directest these thy groans in a prayer to heaven for Christ’s help, thou shalt have thy physician soon with thee, never fear it. He hath not, since he ascended, laid down his calling, but still follows his practice as close as ever. We find him sending his advice from heaven in that excellent receipt to Laodicea—what she should do for her recovery out of this very disease of hypocrisy—‘I counsel thee to buy of me gold tried in the fire, that thou mayest be rich; and white raiment, that thou mayest be clothed,’ &c., Rev. 3:18; as if he had said, ‘Laodicea, thou tradest in false ware, deceiving thyself and others with appearances for realities, counterfeit graces for true; thy gold is dross, thy garments rotten rags, which do not hide but discover thy shame. Come to me, and thou shalt have that which is for thy turn, and better, cheap also.’ For though here is mention of buying, no more is meant than to come with a buyer’s spirit, valuing Christ and his grace so high, that if they were to be bought, though with all the money in thy purse, yea blood in thy veins, thou wouldst have them; and not go home and say thou wert hardly used neither. It is the thirsty soul that shall be satisfied, only look thy thirst be right and deep.
(1.) Look that thy thirst be right, a heart‑thirst and not simply a conscience‑thirst. It is a very different heat that causeth the one and the other. Hell-fire may inflame the conscience, so as to make the guilty sinner thirst for Christ’s blood to quench the torment which the wrath of God hath kindled in his bosom! But it is heaven‑fire, and only that, which begets a kindly heat in the heart, that breaks out in longings of soul for Christ and his Spirit with sweet cooling dews of grace to slack and extinguish the fire of lust and sin.
(2.) Look that thy thirst be deep. Physicians tell us of a thirst which comes from the dryness of the throat, and not any great inward heat of the stomach; and this thirst may be quenched with a gargle in the mouth, which is spit out again, and goes not down. And truly there is something like this in many that sit under the preaching of the gospel. Some light touches are now and then found upon the spirits of men and women, occasioned by some spark that falls on their affections in hearing the word, whereby they on a sudden express some desires after Christ and his grace in such a way that you would think they would in all haste for heaven; but, being flighty flashes and weak velleities, rather than strong volition and deep desires, their heat is soon over and their thirst quenched; with a little present sweetness they taste, while they are hearing a sermon of Christ—which they spit out again as soon as they are gone home almost—as well as may be, though they never enjoy more of him. Labour therefore for such a deep sense of thy own wretchedness by reason of thy hypocrisy, and of Christ’s excellency by reason of that fullness of grace in him which makes him able to cure thee of thy distemper; that, as a man thoroughly athirst can be content with nothing but drink, and not a little of that neither, but a full satisfying draught, whatever it costs him, so thou mayest not be bribed with anything besides Christ and his sanctifying grace—not with gifts, professions, or pardon itself, if it could be severed from grace; no, not with a little sprinkling of grace; but mayest long for whole floods, wherewith thou mayest be fully purged and freed of thy cursed lust which now so sadly oppresseth thee. This frame of spirit would put thee under the promise—heaven’s security—that thou shalt not lose thy longing. If thou shouldst ask silver and gold, and seek any worldly enjoyment at this rate, thou mightst spend thy breath and pains in vain. God might let thee roar, like Dives, in hell, in the midst of those flames which thy covetous lust hath kindled, without affording a drop of that, to cool thy tongue, which thou so violently pantest after. But if Christ and his grace be the things thou wouldst have, yea must have, truly then thou shalt have them. ‘Blessed are they which do hunger and thirst after righteousness: for they shall be filled,’ Matt. 5:6.