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it, and endeavoring to spread over it some colors of right. And they do this in every capacity and every respect, in which there is a right or a wrong. They do it, not only as social creatures under civil government, but also as moral agents under the government of God: in one case, to make a proper figure in the world, and delude their fellow creatures; in the other, to keep peace within themselves, and delude their own consciences. And the delusion in both cases being voluntary, is, in Scripture, called by one name, and spoken against in the same manner; though, doubtless, they are much more explicit with themselves, and more distinctly conscious of what they are about in one case than in the other.
The fundamental laws of all governments are virtuous ones, prohibiting treachery, injustice, cruelty; and the law of reputation enforces those civil laws, by rendering these vices every where infamous, and the contrary virtues honorable, and of good report. Thus far the constitution of society is visibly moral: and hence it is, that men cannot live in it without taking care to cover those vices when they have them, and make some profession of the opposite virtues, fidelity, justice, kind regard to others, when they have them not. But especially is this necessary, in order to disguise and color over indirect purposes, which require the concurrence of several persons.
Now, all false pretences of this kind are to be called hypocritical, as being contrary to simplicity; though not always designed, properly speaking, to beget a false belief. For it is to be observed, that they are often made without any formal intention to have them believed, or to have it thought that there is any reality under these pretences. Many examples occur of verbal professions of fidelity, justice, public regards, in cases where there could be no imagination of their being believed. And what other account can be given of these merely verbal professions, but that they were thought the proper lan
guage for the public ear; and made in business, for the very same kind of reasons as civility is kept up in conversation.
These false professions of virtue, which men have in all ages found it necessary to make their appearance with abroad, must have been originally taken up in order to deceive, in the proper sense: then they became habitual, and often intended merely by way of form; yet often still, to serve their original purpose of deceiving.
There is doubtless amongst mankind a great deal of this hypocrisy towards each other; but not so much as may sometimes be supposed. For part which has, at first sight, this appearance, is in reality that other hypocrisy before mentioned; that self-deceit, of which the Scripture so remarkably takes notice. There are indeed persons, who live "without God in the world; "* and some appear so hardened, as to keep no measures with themselves. But as very ill men may have a real and strong sense of virtue and religion, in proportion as this is the case with any, they cannot be easy within themselves but by deluding their consciences. And though they should, in great measure, get over their religion, yet this will not do. For as long as they carry about with them any such sense of things as makes them condemn what is wrong in others, they could not but condemn the same in themselves, and dislike and be disgusted with their own character and conduct, if they would consider them distinctly, and in a full light. But this sometimes they carelessly neglect to do, and sometimes carefully avoid doing. And as "the integrity of the upright guides him,"+ guides even a man's judgment, so wickedness may distort it to such a degree, as that he may "call evil good, and good evil; put darkness for light, and light for darkness; " and "think wickedly, that God is such a one as himself."§ Even the better
sort of men are, in some degree, liable to disguise and palliate their failings to themselves; but perhaps there are few men, who go on calmly in a course of very bad things, without somewhat of the kind now described in a very high degree. They try appearances upon themselves as well as upon the world, and with at least as much success; and choose to manage so as to make their own minds easy with their faults, which can scarce be without management, rather than to mend them.
But whether from men's deluding themselves, or from their intending to delude the world, it is evident, scarce any thing wrong in public has ever been accomplished, or even attempted, but under false colors; either by pretending one thing, which was right, to be designed, when it was really another thing, which was wrong; or, if that which was wrong was avowed, by endeavoring to give it some appearance of right. For tyranny, and faction so friendly to it, and which is indeed tyranny out of power, and unjust wars, and persecution, by which the earth has been laid waste; all this has all along been carried on with pretences of truth, right, general good. So it is, men cannot find in their heart to join in such things, without such honest words to be the bond of the union, though they know among themselves, that they are only words, and often though they know, that every body else knows it too.
These observations might be exemplified by numerous instances in the history which led to them; and without them it is impossible to understand in any sort the general character of the chief actors in it, who were engaged in the black design of subverting the constitution of their country. This they completed with the most enormous act of mere power, in defiance of all laws of God and man, and in express contradiction to the real design and public votes of that assembly, whose commission, they professed, was their only warrant for any thing they did throughout the whole rebellion. Yet with unheard-of hypocrisy towards men, towards God, and their own con
sciences, for without such a complication of it, their conduct is inexplicable; even this action, which so little admitted of any cloak, was, we know, contrived and carried into execution, under pretences of authority, religion, liberty, and by profaning the forms of justice in an arraignment and trial, like to what is used in regular legal procedures. No age indeed can show an example of hypocrisy parallel to this. But the history of all ages, and all countries, will show what has been really going forward over the face of the earth, to be very different from what has been always pretended; and that virtue has been every where professed much more than it has been any where practised: nor could society, from the very nature of its constitution, subsist without some general public profession of it. Thus the face and appearance, which the world has in all times put on, for the ease and ornament of life, and in pursuit of further ends, is the justest satire upon what has in all times been carrying on under it and ill men are destined, by the condition of their being as social creatures, always to bear about with them, and in different degrees to profess, that law of virtue, by which they shall finally be judged and condemned.
II. As fair pretences, of one sort or other, have thus always been made use of by mankind to color over indirect and wrong designs from the world, and to palliate and excuse them to their own minds, liberty in common with all other good things, is liable to be made this use of, and is also liable to it in a way more peculiar to itself; which was the second thing to be considered.
In the history which this day refers us to, we find our constitution, in church and state, destroyed under pretences, not only of religion, but of securing liberty, and carrying it to a greater height. The destruction of the former was with zeal of such a kind, as would not have been warrantable, though it had been employed in the destruction of heathenism. And the confusions, the persecuting spirit, and incredible fanaticism, which grew up
upon its ruins, cannot but teach sober minded men to reverence so mild and reasonable an establishment, now it is restored, for the preservation of Christianity, and keeping up a sense of it amongst us, and for the instruction and guide of the ignorant; nay, were it only for guarding religion from such extravagancies; especially as these important purposes are served by it, without bearing hard in the least upon any.
And the concurrent course of things, which brought on the ruin of our civil constitution, and what followed upon it, are no less instructive. The opposition, by legal and parliamentary methods, to prerogatives unknown to the constitution, was doubtless formed upon the justest fears in behalf of it. But new distrusts arose; new causes were given for them; these were most unreasonably aggravated. The better part gradually gave way to the more violent; and the better part themselves seem to have insisted upon impracticable securities against that one danger to liberty, of which they had too great cause to be apprehensive; and wonderfully overlooked all other dangers to it, which yet were, and ever will be, many and great. Thus they joined in the current measures, till they were utterly unable to stop the mischiefs, to which, with too much distrust on one side, and too little on the other, they had contributed. Never was a more remarkable example of the wise man's observation, that "the beginning of strife is as when one letteth out water."* For this opposition, thus begun, surely without intent of proceeding to violence; yet as it went on, like an overflowing stream in its progress, it collected all sort of impurities, and grew more outrageous as it grew more corrupted, till at length it bore down every thing good before it. This naturally brought on arbitrary power in one shape, which was odious to every body, and which could not be accommodated to the forms of our constitution; and put us in the utmost danger of having it entailed upon
Prov. xvii. 14,