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would approve ourselves to be sincere. It will forbid us to profess, or act, any thing in matters of belief or worship, different from the inward persuasion of our minds. The charge which the apostle Paul lays upon Peter, is observable to this purpose, Gal. ii. 11–14. “When Peter was come to Antioch, I withstood him to the face, because he was to be blamed. For before that certain came from James, he did eat with the Gentiles; but when they were come, he withdrew and separated himself, fearing them which were of the circumcision. And the other Jews dissembled likewise with him, insomuch that Barnabas also was carried away with the dissimulation. But I saw that they walked not uprightly, according to the truth of the gospel.” The case was this: Peter was persuaded that it was a truth of the gospel, that there was no difference to be made between those who embraced Christianity, whether they received circumcision or not. He was one of the first of the Jewish converts whom God took care, in the most solemn manner, to convince of this truth in the case of Cornelius, Acts x. He had acted for a time agreeable to this sentiment, conversing freely with the converted Gentiles, without any regard to the ceremonial distinction of meats; but when some converted Jews, who were tenacious of the law of Moses, came down where he was, lest he should offend those bigots, he withdrew from the Gentile converts, as if they were unfit for the free society of Christians of the circumcision ; and this had such an influence as to carry other Jewish converts, even Barnabas himself, to the same dividing practice. This St Paul calls “dissimulation, not walking uprightly according to the truth of the gospel;” and declares, that “Peter was to be blamed” for it. And, without doubt, it was an entrenching upon Christian sincerity, seeming to profess, contrary to his inward persuasion, that ceremonial distinctions were yet in force, when he knew that they were abolished. The gospel, we see, will not countenance an action that, in fair construction, is repugnant to our principles, much less will it allow us to make a contrary profession. And the same honest agreement between our words and hearts, should run through our behaviour to men. As far as we are conducted by sincerity, we shall not pretend to friendship where really we have none, nor make promises of kindness where none is intended, nor act an unfriendly part behind
men's backs, after professions of regard and respect to their faces. Especially, we shall not make pretence of friendship, on purpose to have the greater advantage for imposing on men, or use crafty insinuations to draw things from them in the freedom of discourse, on design of divulging those very things afterwards to their disadvantage. Sincerity requires fair and open dealings in all our concerns with them. But this last hath been the subject of a particular discourse already.*
II. I am to shew of what importance it is that this qualification should attend us in all the exercises of the Christian temper and duty.
1. It is expressly required by divine precept in the several branches of our duty. The new man in general, which Christianity teaches us to put on, is, "after God created in true holiness," Eph. iv. 24. The first and great commandment of godliness is thus prescribed, Matt. xxii. 37- "Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind;" Josh. xxiv. 14. "Fear the Lord, and serve him in sincerity and truth." And the gospel eminently inculcates the same thing: "The hour cometh, and now is," says Christ of the evangelical dispensation which was then beginning to dawn, "when the true worshippers shall worship the Father in spirit and in truth; for the Father seeketh such to worship him. God is a Spirit, and they that worship him, must worship him in Spirit and in truth," John iv. 23, 24. And this is the first thing pressed upon Christians in their approaches to God, Heb. x. 22. "Let us draw near with a true heart." The "love to Christ," upon which we can hope for divine "grace with us," must be "in sincerity," Eph. vi. 24. And the same qualifications is insisted on, in our love to our neighbour, 1 John iii. IS. "My little children, let us not love in word, neither in tongue, but in deed and in truth." Thus, he that giveth in acts of charity, is required to do it with simplicity, with integrity, and unfeigned affection, Rom. xii. 8, 9- "Let love be without dissimulation." The same temper should be carried into every relation, and attend the performance of all our relative duties,
See Sermon XXXII.
as it is particularly mentioned in the case of servants, Eph. vi. .5. "Servants, be obedient* in singleness of heart, as unto Christ."
2. It is indispensably necessary to our acceptance with God. How can that be expected to meet with a favourable regard from God, which was not in intention done to him? Nor can any persuasion, or practice, how agreeable soever it may be in itself to the rule, be a faith that " gives glory to God," or "the obedience of faith," which is not the fruit of honest and impartial inquiry into the mind of God: indeed it is not the homage of a reasonable creature, or of a Christian, but a rash and bold adventure, that shews little of a conscious concern whether we be right or wrong, and might have happened the one way as well as the other. Partial obedience cannot be founded upon an upright regard to God's authority, James ii. 10. "Whosoever shall keep the whole law, and yet offend in one point," that is, live in the stated disregard of one known eommand, "is guilty of all," that is, of contemning the authority upon which all is built. The apostle adds the reason, ver. 11. "For he that said> Do not commit adultery, said also, Do not kill. Now, if thou commit not adultery, yet if thou kill, thou art become a transgressor of the law." 'Die same holds good in any other precept. And to expect the acceptance of any outward regards, while the heart is wanting, is an argument of high contempt to God, as if either he had not knowledge to discover, or holiness to detest, vile hypocrisy. Whereas that is so much abhorred by God, that the "portion of hypocrites" expresses the severest punishment, Matt. xxiv. 51. Such only have their sins pardoned now, "in whose spirit there is no guile." Psal. xxxii. 2. And they only will have them all "blotted out, when the times of refreshing shall come from the presence of the Lord;" and, therefore the apostle prays for the Philippians, "that they might Ik; sincere, and without offencer till the day of Christ," Phil. i. 10. Gospel-sincerity will appear to be of the greatest consequence in the judgment-day.
S. This qualification alone can minister solid satisfaction to ourselves upon reflection. If men could always discern hypocrisy, they would detest it: but this may be out of the cognisance of creatures. One man may possibly reach his ends with another by disguise; but how low and empty a satisfuctidn will that produce, if he cannot be satisfied from himself? So the truly good man alone is, Prov. xiv. 14. Consciousness of his own sincerity win be a perpetual feast to him. "Our rejoicing is this," says St Paul, "the testimony of our conscience, that in simplicity and godly sincerity, not with fleshly •wisdom, but by the grace of God, we have had our conversation in the world," 2 Cor. i. 12. If our consciences can bear us this testimony, it will be a spring of joy within ourselves, that depends not upon other people's estimation; we "shall have rejoicing in ourselves alone, and not in another," Gal. vi. 4. It will be a peace that no man can take away, and which will give comfort and confidence toward God: "We shall assure our hearts before him; for if our heart condemn us, God is greater than our heart, and knoweth all things. Beloved, if our heart condemn us not, then have we confidence towards God," 1 John iii. 19—21. We may then eutertain a just assurance of his favour and acceptance, and have the greatest freedom and hope in all our applications to him, as it follows, ver. 22. "And whatsoever we ask, we receive of him, because we keep his commandments, and do those things that are pleasing in his sight." Happy they are now in every condition, who can appeal to God and conscience for their integrity, while the hypocrite must ever be either afraid or ashamed of himself.
4. Sincerity will be the easiest method of conduct. What art and pains are needful to wear a disguise tolerably! It is uneasy to a man while he wears it; and odds, but that upon some opportunity he throws it off, and shews himself in his proper colours. When the heart is one way, and the behaviour another, under some present unnatural influence, the restraint must be unpleasant and maintained with difficulty; and, therefore, the best way to secure, in all weathers, the appearance of piety, and purity, and charity, and of every virtue, is to make sure of a hearty disposition to be what we would seem to be.
5. Herein we shall copy after the most illustrious and ex. cellent examples. By this the saints, enrolled in the records
of scripture, where the Spirit of God hath embalmed their • names, "obtained a good report." This was the glory of Noah and Job, that they were upright men, and of the excellent of the earth, in their several generations, who have
finished their course well, and whose “end was peace,” Psal. xxxvii. 37. But, above all, the Lord Jesus shone in this character. He was most sincere in pursuing the pleasing of God as his governing aim, so that he could say, “I do always those things that please him,” John viii. 29. He executed every thing which was given him in charge, without exception, or reserve, fulfilling all righteousness, performing every thing which was the duty of the human nature as such ; submitting to all the ceremonial observances, which were of divine appointment, and remained in force during the Jewish economy, and completely discharging all that was incumbent on him, by virtue of the peculiar law of the Mediator. So impartial and universal was his obedience, that he could solemnly appeal to his Father at the close, John xvii. 4. “I have finished the work which thou gavest me to do.” And as “he did no sin, neither was guile found in his mouth,” 1 Pet. ii. 22. this is observed concerning him, where the apostle particularly represents him as going before us, “shewing us an example,” Ver. 21. Insincerity, on the other hand, is most directly the image of the devil, that false and lying spirit, who, from his craft and deceitfulness, is called “the old serpent,” and represented as assuming all shapes and disguises to carry on his designs, sometimes “transforming himself into an angel of light,” full of cunning and subtlety, of wiles and stratagems. This view, which the scripture gives of the spirits of darkness, should strongly possess our souls with the deformity and vileness of an insincere temper and behaviour. The subject we have been upon may very fitly be applied various ways. 1. As a subject of sorrow for the evident violations of sincerity among those who wear the name of Christians. Indeed we cannot without arrogance, pretend to fix the charge of hypocrisy upon any man, as long as he maintains a fair and regular appearance; every man, especially every Christian, should be very careful that he assume not the province of God, the Searcher of hearts, by arraigning, or suspecting other men's sincerity, when they seem religious in the judgment of charity. But without entering into the secret things which belong to God, too many flagrant instances of insincer-.