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gross sin, are all interwoven together to the making up a covering for his hypocrisy. And as the spider draws all out of its own bowels, so the hypocrite weaves all his confidence out of his own inventions and imaginations. 2dly, It resembles it in respect of its weakness; it is too fine spun to be strong. After the spider has used all its art and labour in framing a web, yet how easily is it broke, how quickly is it swept down! So after the hypocrite has wrought out an hope with much cost, art, and industry, it is yet but a weak, slender, pitiful thing. He does indeed by this get some name and room amongst professors; he does, as it were, hang his hopes upon the beams of God's house. But when God shall come to cleanse, and, as it were, to sweep his sanctuary, such cobwebs are sure to be fetched down. Thus the hypocrite, like the spider, by all his artifice and labour only disfigures God's house. An hypocrite in a church is like a cobweb in a palace; all that he is or does serving only to annoy and misbecome the place and station that he would adorn.
Sundry other scripture-expressions there are, that cast much light and evidence upon this truth; as in Job xx. 5, The triumphing of the wicked is short, and the joy of the hypocrite but for a moment. The hypocrite takes a great deal of pains, and by much ado pieces up his broken evidences for heaven, bolsters up his decaying hopes, and by many shifts keeps up a contented heart for the time of a transitory life. But, alas ! what is hope lengthened out for a few moments, to an eternity of despair! when he shall be swallowed up in that black abyss of darkness and despondency, from whence he
shall never enjoy the least glimmering hope of an after-delivery. Could he prolong his hopes beyond the years of Methuselah, yet all these together put into the balance with perpetuity are but as a moment, as an instant, that vanishes as soon as present. Hence in Job xiii. 16, Job making mention of God says, that the hypocrite shall not come before him. Such an one indeed, while he jogs on in a formal, seemingly pious course, may think that every step sets him nearer and nearer to God; but it is with him here, as with a man out of his way, the further and faster he goes, the wider he is from his intended journey's end. Again, in Job xxvii. 8, there is a pathetical interrogation made; What is the hope of the hypocrite, when God taketh away his soul? A sad exchange certainly! But that which begins in vanity must needs determine in vexation of spirit, horror of conscience, and eternal confusion. And, to shew yet further how contemptible and vain a thing it is, we have the wise man emphatically comparing it to a candle, in Prov. xxiv. 20, where he tells us, that the candle of the wicked shall be put out. And what is a lamp or candle, but a diminutive, dwindling, contracted light at best? made only to measure out a few moments, and to burn for a little time, both shining and spending itself at once : so that although it should not be blown out, or extinguished by any violent accident, yet it would at length go out of its own accord, and that with an offensive farewell too left behind. In like manner, though God should not, by any severe and boisterous dispensation of judgments, forcibly rend and tear the hypocrite's hope out of his heart; yet through its own native weakness, having lasted its term, and,
like a lamp or candle, having consumed its little stock, it must die, and sink, and drop away of itself. In short, we have Christ's own word, assuring us that it cannot last, in Matth. xv. 13, Every plant (says he) that my heavenly Father hath not planted, shall be rooted up. But the hypocrite's hope is a slip of his own planting, of his own watering and dressing; and therefore, when God shall come to purge his garden, such weeds and nuisances are sure to be cast out. Thus we see the whole current of the scriptures directly set against the hypocrite's confidence; we may read its doom almost in
every page and period of God's word: so that if this be certain, that the word of God shall stand and abide, then this must be also as certain, that the hypocrite's hope shall perish.
2. That the hypocrite's hope of future happiness shall assuredly perish, may be proved from the weakness of the foundation upon which it is built. And we know, that in all buildings, if this be rotten, the superstructure cannot be lasting ; if the supporters reel, that which is supported must needs shake. I have already shewn, that ignorance and misapprehension were the grounds upon which the hypocrite's fairest confidences were raised, and the only pillars upon which they were borne up: and can we imagine, that errors and mistakes are such foundations, as to rear upon them an hope that must stand and last to eternity? I have made it appear, that all the hypocrite's hopes are taken up from erroneous, mistaken conceptions of God, of sin, of the gospel, and of repentance, faith, and conversion. And are these, think we, likely to bear him out ? Because the hypocrite builds an unreasonable, presumptuous confi
dence upon God's mercy, do we think that this will secure him from the dreadful blow of his justice ? Because the hypocrite never truly apprehended sin, will it therefore follow that he shall never smart for sin ? Will shutting our eyes against a danger secure us from it? Because the gospel, through the deceit of his ignorant mind, seems to favour and release him from duty, will this warrant him in the neglect of it: Will ignorance of the spirituality and strictness of the gospel discharge him from the curse of the law ? Or because he falsely thinks he has repented, will this entitle him to the privileges of the penitent? Because he mistakes the nature of faith, shall he therefore inherit the portion of believers ? Thus we see how the whole fabric of his hope bears upon the false and treacherous bottom of ignorance and mistake, which support and hold together all the parts and parcels of it.
And as ignorance is one of its main foundations, so it equally rests upon another altogether as weak and as uncertain ; which is self-love. For as wicked and as confident as such persons are, they are yet afraid to be damned; and therefore they are willing to believe that they shall not. And howsoever they live here, they are very desirous to be happy hereafter; and therefore they find their hearts very prone to be persuaded that they shall be so. For I challenge the most confident and improved hypocrite in the world to shew any other ground for his hope of ever coming to heaven, but only because he thinks so, and because he would have it so. But can bare thought or desire alter the reality and state of things ? Well, therefore, may we conclude, that that which is founded only upon ignorance and self
love must needs end in disappointment and shame. And thus much for the first thing, which was the proof of the proposition : I proceed now to the
Second, which is to shew what are those critical seasons and turns, in which more especially the hypocrite's hope will be sure to fail him. I shall mention two.
1. The first is in the time of some heart-breaking, discouraging judgment from God. And here we must know, that the hypocrite has two supports upon which jointly he casts the whole burden of his spiritual estate; namely, his hope in God, and his enjoyment of the creature. With the former he quiets his conscience, with the latter he comforts his heart. For whatsoever he pretends, and howsoever he seems to place all his expectations above ; yet he draws all his content, his delight and satisfaction from the world. Like a tree, though he seems to flourish upwards and rise towards heaven, yet his root is in the ground, and he lives from beneath. He cannot place his joys entirely in God, but he must have something else besides. Ananias and Sapphira will cast in their estate into the common stock of the church; but the public faith will not satisfy them, unless they reserve a secret portion to themselves. The hypocrite cannot hope for another world any longer than he enjoys this. Wherefore when God strips him of all his temporals, then he is utterly cast down, his heart breaks, his hope fails, and his confidence of future happiness vanishes before his present afflictions. He can look up to heaven no longer than he stands firm upon the earth. Had Job been an hypocrite when he was brought so low, and utterly spoiled of all earthly comforts, no