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he takes in from thence is conveyed, and, as it were, drained through the apprehensions of his mind : and the mind, or reason, not only apprehending its present state, but also caring for the future, it is accordingly put to seek out for a good that may bear proportion to both these conditions, that is, both a present and a future; and a present good it takes in and enjoys by actual possession, and a future only by its hope. Now it is natural for every man, both in his desires and designs, to build chiefly upon the future; and that, I suppose, for this reason, because he looks upon the future only as his life. For so much of our life as is past is gone, and to be reckoned with that which is not; and the present we know is a narrow, indivisible point, enjoyed and spent in an instant; so that all our treasure and reserve is wrapt up in the future.
And that men's desires chiefly run out after things future is clear, because the most ardent and natural of all desires, which is that of knowledge, chiefly catches at and pries into futurities. Man naturally looks forward: the eye of the soul is like that of the body, though it passes through things immediately before it, yet it always terminates in something distant. When a man is dejected upon the sight and consideration of what he is at present, he is naturally apt to relieve himself with the hope and expectation of what he shall or may be hereafter; and it is not to be questioned, but that all the world live more by hope than by fruition. Whence it is, that a person condemned, or mortally wounded, will say that he is a dead man; because he dates his death, not from the expiration of his life, but of his hopes. And this is so evident, that though in things of a most different
nature, yet the truth is still the same. For as in temporals- no man looks upon himself as rich or happy in the present possession of lands, unless they are secured, and made over to him for ever; so in spirituals, a man that is acted but by his bare reason, finds no relish or satisfaction in any thing at present, but as it is seasoned and set off with an expectation of a future blessedness.
Every man naturally carries on some particular design, upon the event of which he builds his satisfaction; and the spring that moves these designs is hope. Hopes of the future are the causes of present action : for that the hypocrite performs some duties, wades through some afflictions, and that he makes some imperfect essays of obedience, it is all from the strength and activity of his hope: this first excites and quickens him to the work, and then animates and upholds him in it. Otherwise, the natural weakness of his mind would quickly cause him to quit the field, and put an end to such uncomfortable labours; for when the sight and expectation of good fails, it is natural for endeavour to cease. Hope is that which antedates and prepossesses a future good; that sets it in the view of the will, which alone puts all the faculties in motion. From hence therefore it follows, that the hypocrite has his hope, for he has his course, and his way, according to which he acts ; and without hope there can be no action.
(2.) The other argument, proving that hypocrites have their hopes, shall be taken from that peace and comfort that even hypocrites enjoy; which are the certain effects, and therefore the infallible signs of some hope abiding in the mind. We may take a view of the profound peace and security enjoyed by
hypocrites in several instances : and first, we have the old world, though polluted with a general corruption, yet enjoying a general peace before the flood, so that, in Matt. xxiv. 38, 39, they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, and knew not till the flood came, and took them all away. Strange was the security of conscience that had seized upon these sinners; it was so great, that though death and destruction were even at the door, yet they ruffled it in the highest actions of jollity that human life was capable of. And in the 25th of Matthew we have the foolish virgins at so firm a peace with their own conscience, that they could even sleep securely; shutting both heart and eyes against all thought of danger. And in Amos vi. 3, 4, we have some putting far away from them the evil day, lying upon beds of ivory, and stretching themselves upon their couches : free from all thought or care; unless possibly how to make their visits, or to contrive some revel, or to prepare and dress themselves for some ball or lewd meeting. Also in Zech. i. 11, we have the angel of God giving an account of the state and posture of an unsanctified world. Behold, says he, the whole earth sitteth still, and at rest. To all which scriptures we may add, by way of overplus, the verdict of our daily experience and observation. For who so much at ease and quiet, who so jocund and free from anxious distracting cares, as those that are visibly strangers to the sincerity of religion, apparently unacquainted with the ways of God ? From which temper and state of mind, we may undeniably collect and argue, that they have their hopes. For where there is comfort, there must be hope :
since it is built upon this foundation, it grows out of this stock, as it is in Job viii. 11, Can the rush grow up without mire? or can the flag grow without water? The hypocrite's hope is indeed both a water that will fail, and a mire that will defile him ; yet it is this alone, that for a while gives growth and greenness to his comforts. If the heart of man were not pitched upon some bottom, it would of necessity be continually sinking. Now hope is the great and only bottom of an hypocrite's tranquillity. It is this alone that feeds all his contents, that gives continual supplies to all his satisfactions. And if hope did not (as it were by main force) stand and guard the heart, a deluge of despairing thoughts would immediately and irresistibly break in upon it. For if sinners were assured of wrath, and had certain presumptions of future vengeance, despair and rage would waste the world, and men would sin with an high hand, that they might not only merit, but, as it were, even revenge their future sufferings.
Whence it is, that though God's decree concerning the final estate of every impenitent sinner be certain, yet it is also secret, to prevent despair. And because God may intend even those that stand sentenced by it the transitory reprieve of a little worldly comfort, he keeps them in ignorance of it; and so long, they keep themselves in hope. However, every reprobate is in this respect before God, like a condemned person with a veil drawn before his eyes. For if a man did really apprehend his case utterly hopeless, he could not master the apprehensions of common humanity so far, as to admit of the least comfort. For did we ever see a condemned
person (if in his wits) dancing and ranting the day before his execution ? Certainly that man must needs be far overgrown with stupid ignorance or epicurism, who could eat and drink heartily to-day, when he knew that to-morrow he should die. Assuredly if it were not for hope, the heart of the merriest and most secure hypocrite in the world would break.
Other reasons of the point might be assigned; but I think these two sufficiently prove, that hypocrisy and hope may dwell together, that danger and confidence of safety are consistent, and that a man's persuasions both may be and often are much better than his condition. I come now to the
Second general thing proposed, which is to shew by what ways and means the hypocrite comes first to attain this hope.
I shall instance in four.
(1.) The first is by misapprehending God. The first foundation of this hope is laid in ignorance : for as hereafter it must end, so here it begins, in darkness. Caution, experience, and accurate meditation are apt to check hope; because they lay open the difficulties of the thing we hope for. But the persons here spoken of fetch their hope not from their judgment, but their fancy. The sum of the hypocrites creed and hope may be delivered in that of Tacitus, fingunt creduntque; they first feign things, then believe them. And their grand, leading mistake, which draws after it all the rest, is about God.
It is indeed our unhappiness in this state of weakness and mortality, that the most advanced in knowledge and improved in piety have yet but