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solemn one it is, one often hears profaned by a very unworthy sort of people, when they ask relief for God's sake. But surely the principle itself, which contains in it every thing great, and just, and good, is grievously forgotten amongst us. To relieve the poor for God's sake, is to do it in conformity to the order of nature, and to his will, and his example, who is the Author and Governor of it; and in thankful remembrance, that all we have is from his bounty. It is to do it, in his behalf, and as to him. For "he that hath pity upon the poor, lendeth unto the Lord."* And our Saviour has declared, that he will take as given to himself, what is given in a well chosen charity. Lastly, It is to do it under a sense of the account which will be required of what is committed to our trust, when the rich and poor, who meet here upon terms of so greal inequality, shall meet hereafter upon a level, before him who" is the Maker of them all."
† Matt. xxv. 40.
*Prov. xix. 17.
BEFORE THE HOUSE OF LORDS IN THE ABBEY-CHURCH OF WESTMINSTER.
On Friday, January 30, 1740-41,
Being the day appointed to be observed as the day of the
1 PETER ii. 16.
And not using your liberty for a cloak of maliciousness, but as the servants of God.
A history so full of important and interesting events, as that which this day recalls annually to our thoughts, cannot but afford them very different subjects for their most serious and useful employment. But there seems none which it more naturally leads us to consider than that of hypocrisy, as it sets before us so many examples of it; or which will yield us more practical instruction, as these examples so forcibly admonish us, not only to be upon our guard against the pernicious effects of this vice in others, but also to watch over our own hearts, against every thing of the like kind in ourselves; for hypocrisy, in the moral and religious consideration of things, is of much larger extent than every one may imagine.
In common language, which is for.red upon the com
Before the House of Lords, &c.
mon intercourses amongst men, hypocrisy signifies little more than their pretending what they really do not mean, in order to delude one another. But, in Scripture, which treats chiefly of our behaviour towards God and our own consciences, it signifies not only the endeavor to delude our fellow creatures, but likewise insincerity towards Him, and towards ourselves. And, therefore, according to the whole analogy of Scriptural language, "to use liberty as a cloak of maliciousness,' "* must be
* The hypocrisy laid to the charge of the Pharisees and Sadducees, in Matt. xvi. at the beginning, and in Luke xii. 54, is determinately this, that their vicious passions blinded them so as to prevent their discerning the evidence of our Saviour's mission; though no more understanding was necessary to discern it, than what they had, and made use of in common matters. Here they are called hypocrites merely upon account of their insincerity towards God and their own consciences, and not at all upon account of any insincerity towards men. This last, indeed, is included in that general hypocrisy, which, throughout the gospels, is represented as their distinguished character, but the former is as much included. For they were not men, who, without any belief at all of religion, put on the appearance of it only in order to deceive the world; on the contrary, they believed their religion, and were zealous in it. But their religion, which they believed, and were zealous in, was, in its nature, hypocritical; for it was the form, not the reality; it allowed them in immoral practices; and, indeed, was itself in some respects immoral, as they indulged their pride, and uncharitableness, under the notion of zeal for it. See Jer. ix. 6. Psal. lxxviii. 36. Job viii. 13, and Matt. xv. 7—14, and xxiii. 13, 16, 19, 24, 26, where hypocrite and blind are used promiscuously. Again, the Scripture speaks of the "deceitfulness of sin;" and its deceiving those who are guilty of it; Heb. iii. 13. Eph. iv. 22. Rom. vii. 11.: of men's acting as if they could "deceive and mock God;" Isa. xxix. 15. Acts v. 3. Gal. vi. 7. of their " blinding their own eyes;" Matt. xiii. 15. Acts xxviii. 27; and "deceiving themselves," which is quite a different thing from being deceived. 1 Cor. iii. 18. 1 John i. 8. Gal. vi. 3. James i. 22, 26. Many more coincident passages might be mentioned; but I will add only one. In 2 Thess. ii. 11, it is foretold, that by means of some force, some energy of delusion, men should believe the lie which is there treated of: This force of delusion is not any thing without them, but somewhat within them, which it is expressly said, they should bring upon themselves, "by not receiving the love of the truth, but having pleasure in unrighteousness. Answering to all this is that very remarkable passage of our Lord, Matt. vi. 22, 23, Luke xi. 34, 35. and that admonition, repeated fourteen times in the New Testament, "he that hath ears to hear, let him hear." And the ground of this
understood to mean, not only endeavoring to impose upon others, by indulging wayward passions, or carrying on indirect designs, under pretences of it; but also excusing and palliating such things to ourselves; serving ourselves of such pretences to quiet our own minds in any thing which is wrong.
Liberty, in the writings of the New Testament, for the most part signifies, being delivered from the bondage of the ceremonial law, or of sin and the devil, which St Paul calls "the glorious liberty of the children of God."* This last is a progressive state; and the perfection of it, whether attainable in this world or not, consists in that "perfect love "+ which St John speaks of; and which, as it implies an entire coincidence of our wills with the will of God, must be a state of the most absolute freedom, in the most literal and proper sense. But whatever St Peter distinctly meant by this word liberty, the text gives occasion to consider any kind of it, which is liable to the abuse he here warns us against. However, it appears that he meant to comprehend that liberty, were it more or less, which they, to whom he was writing, enjoyed under civil government; for of civil government he is speaking just before and afterwards: "Submit yourselves to every ordinance of man for the
whole manner of considering things; for it is not to be spoken of as only a peculiar kind of phraseology, but is a most accurate and strictly just manner of considering characters, and moral conduct; the ground of it, I say, 'is, that when persons will not be influenced by such evidence in religion as they act upon in the daily course of life, or when their notions of religion (and I might add of virtue) are, in any sort, reconcileable with what is vicious, it is some faulty negligence, or prejudice, which thus deludes them; in very different ways, perhaps, and very different degrees. But when any one is thus deluded through his own fault, in whatever way or degree it is, he deludes himself. And this is as properly hypocrisy towards himself, as deluding the world is hypocrisy towards the world: and he who is guilty of it, acts as if he could deceive and mock God; and, therefore, is an hypocrite towards him, in as strict and literal a sense as the nature of the subject will admit.
*Rom. viii. 21. † 1 John iv. 18.
1 Peter ii. 13.
Lord's sake; whether it be to the king, as supreme;_or unto governors, as unto them that are sent by him. For so is the will of God, that with well doing," of which dutiful behaviour towards authorities is a very material instance, "ye may put to silence the ignorance of foolish men : as free," perhaps in distinction from the servile state of which he speaks afterwards,* "and not using your liberty for a cloak of maliciousness," of any thing wrong, for so the word signifies; and therefore comprehends petulance, affectation of popularity, with any other like frivolous turn of mind, as well as the more hateful and dangerous passions, such as malice, or ambition; for all of which liberty may equally be "used as a cloak." The apostle adds, "But as the servants of God; as free-but as his servants," who requires dutiful submission to "every ordinance of man," to magistracy; and to whom we are accountable for our manner of using the liberty we enjoy under it, as well as for all other parts of our behaviour."Not using your liberty as a cloak of maliciousness, but as the servants of God."
Here are three things offered to our consideration : First, A general supposition, that what is wrong cannot be avowed in its proper colors, but stands in need of some cloak to be thrown over it: Secondly, A particular one, that there is danger, some singular danger, of liberty's being made use of for this purpose: Lastly, An admonition not to make this ill use of our liberty, "but," to use it "as the servants of God."
I. Here is a general supposition, that what is wrong cannot be avowed in its proper colors, but stands in need of some cloak to be thrown over it. God has constituted our nature, and the nature of society, after such a manner, that, generally speaking, men cannot encourage or support themselves in wickedness, upon the foot of there being no difference between right and wrong, or by a direct avowal of wrong, but by disguising
* Verse 16.