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Title: Is this your likeness? - A Scriptural Definition of Hypocrisy and Sincerity
Author: Church, John
Language: English
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Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

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Transcribed from the 1826 R. Weston edition by David Price, email
ccx074@pglaf.org  Many thanks to the Bodleian Library for allowing their
copy to be consulted.

                   [Picture: Public domain book cover]



                                    IS
                           THIS YOUR LIKENESS?


                                    A

                          Scriptural Definition

                                    OF

                        _HYPOCRISY AND SINCERITY_.

                                * * * * *

                              BY J. CHURCH.

                                * * * * *

                        WHAT SAITH THE SCRIPTURE?

       “TRUST ME I DRAW THE LIKENESS TRUE AND NOT AS FANCY PAINTS.”

                                * * * * *

                                 LONDON:

            PRINTED BY R. WESTON, QUEEN’S GARDENS, CROSBY ROW,
                                SOUTHWARK.

                                  1826.

                                * * * * *



IS THIS YOUR LIKENESS?


     “AS WE HAVE BORNE THE IMAGE OF THE EARTHLY SO SHALL WE ALSO BEAR THE
                           IMAGE OF THE HEAVENLY.”

THE great and excellent Mr. Toplady remarks on painting—

    1.  When a portrait painter takes a likeness, there most be an
    _original_ from whom to take it.  Here the original are God and
    Christ.  ‘When I awake up after thy likeness,’ &c.; and, we are
    “predestinated to be conformed to the image of his Son.”

    2.  The painter _changes_ the materials on which he will delineate
    his piece.  There are paintings on wood, on glass, on metals, on
    ivory, on canvass.  So God _chooses_ and _selects_ the persons, on
    whom his uncreated spirit shall, with the pencil of effectual grace,
    re-delineate that holy likeness which Adam lost.  Among these are
    some, whose natural capacities, and acquired improvements, are not of
    the first-rate: there the image of God is painted on _wood_.  Others
    of God’s people have not those quick sensibilities, and poignant
    feelings, by which many are distinguished: there the Holy Spirit’s
    painting is on _marble_.  Others are permitted to fall from the
    ardour of their first love, and to deviate from their stedfastness:
    there the Holy Spirit paints on _glass_, which, perhaps, the first
    stone of temptation may injure.  But the celestial Artist will, in
    time, repair those breaches, and restore the frail brittle Christian,
    to his original enjoyments, and to more than his original purity;
    and, what may seem truly wonderful, divine grace restores the
    picture, by breaking it over again.  It is the broken-hearted sinner
    to whom God will impart the comforts of salvation.

    3.  The ancients painted only in _water-colours_; but the moderns
    (from about A.D. 1320) have added beauty and durability to their
    pictures, by painting them in _oil_.  Applicable to hypocrites and
    true believers.  An _hypocrite_ may outwardly bear something that
    resembles the image of God; but it is only in fresco, or _water
    colours_, which do not last; and are, at best, laid on by the hand of
    dissimulation.  But (if I may accommodate so familiar an idea to so
    high a subject) the Holy Spirit paints in _oil_; he accompanies his
    work with unction and with power, and hence it shall be crowned with
    honour, and praise, and glory, at Christ’s appearing.

    4.  All pictures are _not of one size_.  There are various
    dimensions, from the miniature to the full length.  So in grace
    below.

    5.  All pictures are _not framed alike_; some are gilt, some are
    plain, and some have no frames at all.  Remember, that as the value
    of a picture does not depend on the frame, but on the execution of
    the piece itself, so your happiness and holiness does not depend on
    your outward station or condition, but on the work of grace wrought
    in your soul by the Holy Spirit.

    6.  Some pictures are highly varnished; some not.  Some believers are
    learned, elegant and polite.  Others, who yet are believers still,
    want those unessential embellishments.  See this contrasted in Mr.
    Hervey and Mr. Bunyan, yet both shine alike in the kingdom of God.

    7.  All pictures do not bear an _equally strong resemblance_ of their
    original.  Nor are all Christians equally conformed, at present, to
    Christ.  In some, the canvass is but preparing; they are only under
    the first drawings of the Spirit.  In others there are rude outlines,
    or a mere sketch, not yet filled up: but the colours are preparing,
    and, in due time, they will be laid on.  Others are so far advanced,
    that a few touches more will fit them for the skies.  And others,
    which are completely finished, are in heaven, to be part of the
    living furniture of God’s palace to all eternity.  And, what these
    are the rest shall be.

    8.  A fine painting is _seldom finished at once_.  Successive
    sittings are usually required, and repeated touches of the artist.
    Grace rarely does its work all at once.  The thief indeed, on the
    cross, received the divine image at a single sitting; and in others,
    whom God may call at the eleventh or even the twelfth hour, the work
    may be cut short in righteousness.  But, generally speaking, our
    consummation in grace resembles the progress of a building, which is
    gradually raised, and carried up from the foundation, part by part.
    Rome was not built in a day.

    9.  The _ground-work_ of a picture undergoes a _preparation_ before
    the colours are superinduced.  It is washed, or cleared, or boiled in
    oil, according to the nature of the material.  ’Ere we are
    susceptible of the image of the heavenly, the soul must experience a
    preparatory work of conviction.  Prejudices must be cleared away;
    enmity slain, &c.

    10.  To discern and admire the beauty of a picture, a person must
    have three things—_eyes_, _light_, and _taste_, (or a susceptibility
    of receiving pleasure from a beautiful object.)  The world,
    spiritually speaking, want all the three.  Hence their hatred of
    God’s children.

    11.  Some Christians are like paintings in _Mosaic_.  They have
    somewhat almost of every thing, except uniformity and consistency of
    conduct.  But, when their hearts come to be established with grace,
    they will be more of a-piece; and, when in heaven, they will be all
    of a-piece.

    12.  A number of heterogeneous, and seemingly contradictory,
    ingredients are used by painters in mixing their colours; but they
    are all useful, expedient, and necessary.  So are the various
    providences of God toward his people.

                                * * * * *

The providence of God having called me to a more intimate acquaintance
with the Lord’s tried ones than falls to the lot of ministers in general,
I have long heard the voices of their complaints and their fears; and
amongst the rest has been this—lest they should be nothing but hypocrites
after all their profession and experience; while with great grief I have
seen many who have no fears upon the subject, but appear to be bold,
hardened and presumptuous hypocrites.  I determined, by the Lord’s
assistance, in as clear and scriptural a manner as I possibly could, to
point out the sincere believer, with all his feelings, frames,
corruptions, infirmities, and temptations, his falls, recoveries and
conflicts, in direct opposition to an hypocrite, in his attainment,
confidence, hardness, deceit and pride, that my reader may be able in
looking on these pictures to decide to which of these he belongs—that the
poor in spirit may be comforted, and the hypocrite may, by divine light,
discover himself and be made sincere, is my humble aim.

In the many points in which these two differ would fill a volume.  I can
only in this small treatise shew some few guided by the word of truth, in
which it is impossible to err; and it is to be lamented, that in the
present state we cannot always find in the course of our observation who
_are_ and who are _not_ either the one or the other.  This can never be
fully known till that important period arrives spoken of by the prophet;
“Then shall ye return and discern between the righteous and the wicked,
between him that serveth God and him that serveth him not.”  Yet for our
own personal comfort and for the honour of that grace that has made us
sincere it is our business to search for scriptural evidences of that
sincerity, that we may rejoice in that super-abounding which has made us
to differ from those who are awfully denominated hypocrites in Zion.  The
best way to decide a character is by the word of God.  Many good men have
written upon the subject, but some of them have carried the subject too
far and distressed the Lord’s tempted people.  But, “what saith the
scripture,” should be our enquiry.  This should decide all subjects
relative to character, whether sincere or hypocritical.  Let us notice
what is said of such and take no man’s opinion besides.  The terms
hypocrite, hypocrisy, hypocritical, hypocrites, occur thirty-five times
in the Bible, and not one text can possibly belong to the humble
broken-hearted sincere seeker of the friendship and favour of God.  I
will quote all that is necessary, with one short remark on them.  Isaiah
32, vi.—“His heart will work iniquity to practice hypocrisy:” these are
those who set forth false doctrine, worship and discipline, in opposition
to the truth as it is in Christ, to make men believe, they are very holy,
devout and religious; for it is added, “to utter error against the Lord:”
this is hypocrisy.  Such are also described in Isaiah 9,
xvii.—Fearfulness, dread and surprise shall seize such characters.
Isaiah 33, xix.—The apostle Paul alludes to them.  1 Tim. iv.
2.—“Speaking lies in hypocrisy;” which plainly by the connection refers
to Anti-Christ, the man of sin, the lying system of popery.  But the
wisdom which is from above is pure and without hypocrisy.  James 3, xvii.
And the apostle Peter well knowing the hypocrisy that is in the hearts of
real believers, exhorts to lay aside all dissembling among each other, as
unbecoming their genuine character.—1 Peter ii. 1.  One of the awful
threatenings pronounced against Israel of old is this—“I will send him
against an hypocritical nation,” a people who professed the service of
God, but whose hearts were far from him, who in heart hated both God, his
ways, and his truths.—Isaiah x. 6.  Such was the degenerate state of that
nation.  “For every one is an hypocrite and an evil-doer.”—Isaiah ix. 17.
In heart, haters of Christ.  David met with such in his time, and
prophecied of their spite and hypocrisy to Christ.  Psalm xxxv. 16.—“With
hypocritical mockers in feasts they gnashed upon me with their teeth.”
Which was fulfilled in the same abominable characters; for the psalm
belongs to Christ, and contains a complaint of the conduct of the enemies
of his person, mission, miracles, work and truth.  In Job’s days there
were many; yea, congregations of them—the congregation of hypocrites
shall be desolate.  These persons are also called the tabernacles of
bribery, who hope to bribe divine justice with a few dead works of their
own—too proud to submit to the righteousness of the mediator—staying
themselves on their own supposed goodness, they hope to be saved in whole
or in part by it; “but the hope of the hypocrite shall perish.”—Job viii.
19.  And as he reject the mediator between God and man, “an hypocrite
shall not come before him.”—Job xiii. 16.  He may indeed rejoice in his
good name and false confidence, but that lamp will be out in death and
leave him in possession of all his guilt unpardoned.  “For what is the
hope of the hypocrite when God taketh him away, although he has gained
the applause of the world?”—Job xxvii. 8.  “The joy of the hypocrite is
but for a moment.”  Job xx. 5.  And every spiritual man who is divinely
acquainted with the truth shall oppose such characters and their false
foundations.  Job xvii. 8—“The innocent shall stir up himself against the
hypocrite.”  For as he is an hypocrite in profession, in heart and in
life, so also in the church and in the world; for if a man is not sound
in heart, towards God and truth, he cannot be very sincere towards his
neighbour; and whence arise so much slander, backbiting and evil speaking
in the churches but from such characters.  These troubled the churches in
the apostles’ days.  Paul, Peter, James, John and Jude bore their
testimony against them; for “an hypocrite with his mouth destroyeth his
neighbour.”—Prov. xi. 9.  And although many such may be in great power,
and have obtained that dignity either in a nation or in the church, by
their pretended humanity, care and tenderness towards a people, as
Absalom did, when he rose up in rebellion against his father, and by a
pretended affection for the people, and speedily vindicating their
cause—yet he reigned not long.  Job xxxix. 3—That the hypocrite reign
not, lest the people be ensnared.  Such in a profession got into the
churches of Corinth and Galatea, and was no small affliction to the mind
of Paul; for by artful insinuations they raised a prejudice in the minds
of the churches against the very apostle who had been the means of their
conversion.  Thus, like their father, the devil, they did his work first
by insinuation, (for a whisperer separateth chief friends) and then more
openly; but I would they were cut off that trouble you.  Let not the
hypocrite reign lest the people be ensnared, which was the case in both
churches, and is the very case at the present day.  Nearly twenty times
in the New Testament our Saviour accused the Pharisees of hypocrisy,
because they were really hypocrites, and nothing else.  The word,
according to the learned, comes from the Greek, _hypocrisis_, it is
counterfeiting religion and virtue—an affectation of the name and hatred
to the thing—the having the form of godliness but denying the power.
Thus, he is an hypocrite who pretends to be what he is not—who puts on a
false person like the actor in tragedy or comedy—as a beggar may act a
king, or a coward an hero.  But the chief enemies our dear Lord had were
the Pharisees, whose characters are drawn by an unerring hand; they
imposed many severe injunctions, rites and ceremonies above what the law
required; but they never did the least part of them themselves.  What
they did was only for ostentation to be seen of men; they hid their
crying sins, under the appearance of virtue, that they might sin with
less suspicion.  Whited sepulchres, within nothing but sordid dust.  They
were exact in trifling matters—zealous in all outward forms of religious
worship, but totally neglected all acts of justice, mercy and truth; they
studied an external purity of hands, pots and dishes, but strangers to
heart-felt purity; they pretended a deal of respect to the ancient
prophets, who were faithful to God and truth, yet hated, persecuted and
murdered the God of the prophets.  On them in one chapter the Saviour
pronounced eight awful woes—told them of their dreadful end—the
destruction of their temple and city—and then left that place for ever.
Hypocrites are said to pray only to God in the time of sickness: and will
God hear their cry?  No—the foolish virgins, after their long profession,
cried “Lord, Lord, open, to us:” but the Lord would not hear.

Having stated what the scripture says of hypocrites and hypocrisy, I only
appeal to any humbly enlightened believer—what has such a definition of
character to do with one is in any degree taught of God, is blessed with
the fear of God, has fled for refuge to the atonement and righteousness
of Christ, and who is most sincerely seeking, longing, looking, and
waiting for the manifestation of his love, favour and goodwill.  I must
say to such dejected ones, as Elihu to Job—“Although though sayest I
shall not see him, yet judgment is before him, therefore trust thou in
him.”  That there have been hypocrites in the church in all ages is very
evident.  Cain got into the first—Ham in Noah’s family—Ishmael and Esau
into the next—Corah, Dathan, Abiram, Nadab, and Abihu in the camp of
Israel—Saul and Ahithophel in David’s time.  Solomon detected, and in his
writings exposed many Judas amongst the apostles.  Alexander Hymenus,
Philetus, Hermogenes and Demas, with many false apostles and deceitful
workers in Paul’s days.  But this argues nothing against the religion of
the Son of God; and although ignorant and carnal persons pretend to
object to religion, because so many hypocrites profess it—this very
objection proves such persons to be hypocrites themselves.  What, would
any man throw away a handful of good silver because he had found one bad
shilling amongst them?  The carnal mind is enmity, but too proud to own
it; and all the outcry raised by the carnal world is merely designed to
conceal the wretched enmity of their hearts to the truth as it is in
Christ.

A question has been asked, can a person be an hypocrite and not know it?
I answer, no, by no means.  Did not Saul know he was acting the hypocrite
in his concession to David?  Did not Judas know that he was planning to
sell the Savour’s blood at the very time he eating the passover with him,
and hearing his most heavenly discourses?  Did not Jacob know he was
deceiving his Father, when he said, “I am thy son Esau?”  Did not David
know that he was not mad, when he pretended to be so to save his life?
Every person can tell, whether they most sincerely desire, from a feeling
sense of need, a sense of pardoning mercy, and the enjoyment of God’s
favour; or whether they profess religion for any other purpose, let it be
what it will.  It is to be lamented that many sincere characters have
been guilty of hypocritical actions, and yet be sincere.  Witness
Abraham, Jacob, David and others.  So also may hypocrites do many
praise-worthy actions, and yet be hypocrites.  Such are not real members,
but mere excressences of the Church like falling hair or the parings of
the nail.  When Satan suggests to a believer, he is nothing but an
hypocrite, his only remedy is by prayer and supplication to God, to make
him sincere—and as to the world charging him with being an hypocrite,
because they have fallen out with him, they are no judges neither of
sincerity nor hypocrisy, only let us before God, the Church and the
world, walk as consistently as possible, and let dogs bark on nor heed
their howlings, the love of Christ in the heart will suffer that

    She nor desires, nor seeks to know
    The scandals of the time;
    Nor look with pride on those below,
    Nor envy those that climb.

One of our old divines has reckoned up thirty-two different species of
hypocrites, and if there are as many thousand, it is an awful proof that
the heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked.  Who but
God knows it?  But that the professing Church abound with it, is too
evident; for instance:—

How many can shape their religion according to the times, like the Vicar
of Bray; he was a Papist in the reign of Henry VIII; when the nation
turned Protestant, the vicar turned also; when queen Mary came to the
throne he turned Papist, and after her death and Elizabeth succeeded, he
turned Protestant again; and being questioned about it, he said, he had
nothing to do but with his vicarage—Vicar of Bray I was, Vicar of Bray I
am, and Vicar of Bray I will be, whatever king reign.  Such alas, we
should find hundreds, were such changes again to take place in civil and
ecclesiastical affairs.  But are not such hypocrites?  When a church
clergyman swears to the doctrinal articles of that church, and declares
he is moved by the Holy Ghost to take upon him that office, and yet hates
some of the leading doctrines, and ridicules the work of God, the Holy
Spirit, upon the hearts of men as enthusiasm, he is an hypocrite.  When
Dissenters, Independents, or Baptists profess Calvinism, yet are shy of
the doctrines of truth, and swerve to the system of Arminianism, they are
hypocrites.  When such profest Calvinists sneeringly treat the grand
doctrines of truth, as high doctrines, and thereby raise prejudices in
the minds of their hearers against the truth as mere high notions, and
those that preach it, they are hypocrites.  When ministers accommodate
their sermons to different sects and parties, to please men contrary to
conscience, they are hypocrites.  This reminds me of an anecdote, too
true it is to be feared, when a minister came to a certain town to
preach, one of the managers of the chapel visited him, and told him, he
hoped he would not be very high in his sentiments; because, added he, you
will see an old gentlemen in such a seat with a gold headed cane—he
cannot bear the doctrine of the Trinity.  And in another pew sits an old
lady with a muff, she hates the doctrine of election, and as they are
great subscribers to the place, it is a pity to offend them.  And
besides, you know, Sir, you can preach about a good many things besides.
To comply to such Pharisees is the most arrant hypocrisy, and the man
that would thus accommodate such, is an HYPOCRITE.

Taking up the ministry, for a piece of bread, for popularity, for
respect, for a rich wife, or for any sordid purposes, such persons are
HYPOCRITES.

Setting out in the ministry with sound truth, but sound truth becoming
unpopular, and with a view to avoid reproach, as an Antinomian in
principle, mingling grace and works, law and gospel, Calvinism and
Arminianism, to keep up the name of being reputable, is HYPOCRISY.

Persons coming into a profession, taking up religion for connection,
trade, or for any other profit in temporal things, is an HYPOCRITE.

Pleading for holiness, morality, duty and consistency; yet living in
secret sin, as his real element, though unknown to others, is an
HYPOCRITE.

Searching out, spreading abroad, scandalizing, and rejoicing in the real
or supposed falls, sins and infirmities of others, to cover their own
sins, such are HYPOCRITES.

Pretenders to universal love to all, at the same time haters of truth,
those who preach it boldly, and profess it sincerely, are HYPOCRITES.

Making an outcry against one sin and living in another, for instance, a
covetous professor may storm against the sin of drunkenness; why, because
he loves his money so inordinately—yet will not scruple to drink
occasionally a little too much at another person’s expence, this is
HYPOCRISY.

Persons who would almost starve a wife, children, servants, and
apprentices at home, to gain money, that they may have a good name by
subscribing liberally to religious or civil society, are HYPOCRITES.

But, alas! there is no end to the hypocrisy of the human heart.  The only
cure is grace enabling a man to set God always before him, and cause him
daily to walk in simplicity and godly sincerity—thus to have his
conversation in this world.  I once more remark, when professors gives
themselves up to idleness, going from house to house, busy-bodies in
other men’s matters, presume upon the providence of God, and boast that
they live by faith—that this promise, and the other, has been applied to
them, and so expect to be fed as Elijah was by the ravens, such mumping
professors, are HYPOCRITES.

When persons unhumbled, unrenewed by grace, suddenly leap up into full
assurance of faith, without any chastening from the law or tenderness of
conscience, a few scraps of divinity in the head, and at the same time
treat with contempt the meek, the dejected, the broken-hearted seeker,
thinking lightly of contrition, godly sorrow and repentance, unto life or
obedience of faith, such are HYPOCRITES.

When a person, whether a public or private character, scandalizes another
on account, or rather envying his fame, usefulness or popularity, taking
every opportunity to degrade his person, actions, or reputation, although
unknown to the calumniator, he is an HYPOCRITE.

Those who pretend much love to God, while he is pleased to bless them in
providence, but leave their profession when God is pleased to cross them,
such are like children won with an apple and lost with a nut, such love
is soon kindled and soon quenched, turn enemies to God and his truths
when their expectations fail, such are HYPOCRITES.

When persons profess much love to a minister or fellow member in the
church, while in prosperous circumstances, but when trouble, persecution,
disgrace, disrepute or poverty befal them, they know them no more, like
the cuckoo who will abide with you during the summer, but when winter
approaches, will take his leave of you, nor perhaps, ever own you again.
Ah! how unlike the love of Christ.  In general you will find such to be
HYPOCRITES.

When persons shun those sins that would bring on them public scandal, and
at the same time in love with secret sins, and spare these, because no
one knows it, thinking small sins, if not known, will do no harm, yet
making a sad outcry against sin, especially the sins of their neighbours,
such are HYPOCRITES.

When persons boast and are proud of their own holy motives, sincerity of
heart, holiness of life, purity of conduct, and a good name in the world,
while destitute of the pardon of their sins, destitute of the faith of
God’s elect, whereby the righteousness of Christ is received, destitute
of the sanctifying teaching of the Holy Spirit, such are HYPOCRITES.

But while we view the wretched state and character of the hypocrite, as
set forth in God’s word, may we not pray in the devout language of
David.—“Who can understand his error; cleanse thou me from my secret
faults; keep back also thy servant from presumptuous sins, let them not
have dominion over me; so shall I be innocent from the great
transgression.”  And as expressed in the Litany of the Church of
England—“and from all hypocrisy, good Lord deliver us.”  The hypocrite
thus painted to the life, we cannot err in the description; many have
been painted by others very differently, and many have painted
themselves, and sat down to admire their likenesses; but though painted
like Jezebel at the window (2 Kings ix. 30), or their own righteousness
like the houses of the great painted with vermilion, or the hypocrites in
the times of Jeremiah and Ezekiel, and in our Lord’s day—Jeremiah xxii.
14—Ezekiel xxiii. 40—Matthew vi. 16.  Yet the Lord has threatened that
his hand should be upon all such pleasant pictures—Isaiah ii. 16—and that
he would despise their image because it is not the image of Christ, which
consists in righteousness, knowledge and true holiness.  The real
likeness of God’s sincere ones is drawn by the same unerring hand.

I bless God it is not left to the opinions of men; and should I attempt
it, no doubt it would meet with severe criticisms from some, and mere
cant from others; for a writer observes—“of all the cants which are
canted in this canting world, the cant of hypocrisy is the worst.”  Yet
the cant of criticism is the most tormenting.  I say not this because I
am afraid of advancing any truth for fear of censure; no, I consider
censure to be the tax that every public character has to pay to the
public if he is in any way useful.  I have often been grieved in reading
the lives of good men, written in such a strain as if they were truly
perfect in thought, word and deed, quite holy and unblameable in every
thing.  This is not the method the Holy Spirit has adopted—in the word,
the graces, and the failings, the falls and the renewings, the sighs, and
the songs of his people are well drawn by the pencil of truth.  What they
are in Adam the first, and what they are in Christ is clearly delineated.
But with all the infirmities they possess it is a mercy the Holy Spirit
has made them truly _sincere_; and this the apostle prays for—“that ye
may be _sincere_ and without offence in the day of Christ.”  And under
this divine influence he rejoices that in all simplicity and godly
_sincerity_ he had his conversation in the world; and hence that
important exhortation of pious Joshua, “only fear the Lord in _sincerity_
and truth.”  And the apostle also exhorts the Lord’s people to keep the
gospel feast in _sincerity_, and to remember the Lord’s poor, as a proof
their love was _sincere_ towards the Lord; to whom also he wishes much
grace and peace, even to all them that love our Lord Jesus in
_sincerity_.  And as an ornament, yea, a principal qualification of an
elder, he mentions in doctrine shewing gravity, _sincerity_, and as
new-born babes desire the _sincere_ milk of the word, that they may grow
thereby—not only the word but the milk of the word, that they may grow in
knowledge, faith and love.

The word sincerity signifies uprightness and truth.  Sincerity is opposed
to double mindfulness, when the sentiments of the heart are contrary to
the language of the month.  The language of Baalam in blessing the
Israelites was quite the reverse of his heart—he would most gladly have
cursed them for the wages of iniquity; and, like Joab who took Abner
aside to speak quietly to him but smote him under the fifth rib that he
died; and like Judas, with “Hail master,” and kissed him and betrayed him
into the hands of his enemies.  But while this is the case with the
hypocrite, God has blest his own children as they are regenerated with
_sincerity_ of principle, _sincerity_ of pursuit, and in their general
deportment _sincerity_ of action.  This is the genuine work of the Holy
Spirit, the Lord and giver of life, who is well acquainted with the
persons of God’s elect, who were chosen in Christ before the foundation
of the world, and predestinated to the adoption of sons—to know their
sonship in this world, and to be publicly owned by their ever adorable
Father before assembled worlds—eternally united to Christ as the Great
Head of the Church, viewed in him complete; and according to the well
ordered covenant of grace, brought into a state of pardon, a state of
peace and reconciliation, a state of justification and acceptance with
God in Christ, _by_ Christ, _through_ Christ, and _for_ Christ.  The
ever-adorable most holy God the Spirit graciously undertook to be their
teacher, to take eternal possession of them, to be in them as a well of
water springing up to eternal life—illuminating their minds, quickening
their souls with a principle of life, subduing their sins, shewing them
the salvation that there is in Christ, and at times giving them power to
enjoy it—this holy principle which makes its possessor _sincere_ is
sometimes denominated faith, and it is faith unfeigned—sometimes it is
called love, and it is love without dissimulation; and let the believer
be in whatever frame he may, he is still blessed with these in their
degree—these produce humble fear, holy desires, great anxiety, godly
sorrow, fervent breathings, self abasement, spiritual meekness, holy
obedience, love to all the truth and to those that love it—and if a
person is in possession of these, he is truly made by grace _sincere_.
What he is as a sinner he well knows, nor will ever alter his opinion of
himself.  Many deluded ones may fancy their sinful nature is getting
better, but while such rise in awful pride, the _sincere_ believer sinks
lower and lower in his own estimation in proportion as his spiritual
knowledge increases.  Knowledge and humility are twins in the believer’s
mind, and those who are thus favoured can never be barren—Song iv. 2.  In
a state of nature God’s elect in general differ nothing from the greatest
reprobate neither in principle nor conduct—they are enemies, ungodly,
proud, boasters, haters, malicious and slaves to Satan, the flesh, the
world and sin.  Of _this_ the Holy Spirit convinces them—of _this_ they
are ashamed—for _this_ they feel condemned by the holy law of God—from
_this_ they are turned, and being convinced they feel their need of a
Saviour, a surety, a better righteousness than their own, this makes them
_sincere_ in their pursuits.  To such as these the Lord speaks—“Hearken
unto me ye that follow after righteousness, ye that seek the Lord.”  And
as they follow after righteousness so they are said to follow holiness,
to follow the Lamb who is both the righteousness and the holiness of his
church, and are made sincere by grace.  In this pursuit they will not
rest.  To such as these the gospel invitation is given, even to the
_poor_, who are convinced that they are not able to pay the demands of
the law halt, who through temptation, unbelief, and erroneous characters,
waver in their minds about some of the great truths of God—lame and
maimed feel their own weakness, helplessness, wounded in spirit, nor can
they get on in the divine life—_blind_ about their interest in Christ for
a season.  Such are those who _sincerely_ know themselves to be what God
declares have a right to all the precious privileges of the gospel.  And
it is such as these the Lord has pronounced blessed in his sermon on the
mount in eight particulars; as the poor in spirit emptied of all supposed
goodness in themselves, mourning in mind on account of sin and abused
goodness—meek, humble, docile, teachable, hungry and thirsty, which
includes sensations of pain, desire and pursuit—merciful to the souls,
bodies, and names of others—pure in heart by receiving the atonement and
by the indwelling of the spirit—and the word peace-makers in the
church—loving to those who belong to God—hating variance, strife, and
pride, persecuted for imputed and imparted righteousness-sake, for
decidedness in the cause of Christ—though reviled, yet falsely, such have
their reward in heavenly smiles now and to all eternity in a better
world—these are those who are sincere—chastened, tempted, tossed,
dejected, broken in nature by the fall, and in heart by grace, sorrowing
on account of sin and over a suffering Saviour.  To those who are so
_sincerely_ tried the Saviour opened his commission in the synagogue,
taking his sweet text from Isaiah—“The spirit of the Lord God is upon me,
because he hath anointed me to preach the gospel to the poor; he hath
sent me to heal the broken-hearted, to preach deliverance to captives and
the opening of the prison doors to those that are bound, to set at
liberty those that are bruised, to comfort all that mourn.”  These are
characters to whom Christ can only be precious—the whole in their own
estimation need him not.  I came not to call such but sinners to
repentance; and being called into a state of repentance, that grace will
flow sweetly when love, mercy and goodness is felt.  This is the Holy
Spirit’s description of those that are _sincere_.  He has condescended to
exhibit their likeness, that we may see our own.  This is an act of
stupendous condescension; and taking this scriptural view, we can bless
the grace that has made us to differ from the Pharisee and the hypocrite.
Oh, to grace how great a debtor!  Daily I rejoice to be—and in the fine
language of the communion of the church of England, would daily pray—

Almighty God, unto whom all hearts be open, all desires known, and from
whom no secrets are hid, cleanse the thoughts of our hearts by the
inspiration of thy Holy Spirit, that we may perfectly (sincerely) love
thee, and worthily magnify thy holy name, through Jesus Christ our Lord.
Amen.  Every one that God has made honest in heart can say amen to this
prayer.

I remark once more, that the Lord’s people are in scripture called
believers, because they are blessed with the faith of God’s elect.  Here
they are made _sincere_.  Faith is a giving credit to what God says in
his word, and is perfectly satisfied with his truth, with the record God
has given of his Son.  It is also a divine persuasion the soul is
persuaded of the love, grace, and faithfulness of God—_it_ rests on what
God says, and is seen in its actings, which we sometimes call
exercises—_it_ flies to Christ in danger, sin, trouble and
threatenings—_it_ leans upon Christ amidst all weakness and sore
darkness—_it_ trusts in the person and work of Christ for pardon,
justification, and holiness, for comfort, knowledge, support, help and
deliverance—_it_ pleads with Christ upon the ground of his promises, and
appears before God only in Christ; and this faith is the work of God upon
the soul—_it_ evidences a person’s salvation, and sooner or later such
persons shall most sensibly enjoy the smiles of a covenant God, the light
of his countenance, and the fullest persuasion of his love.  When these
are seen and felt it is sense—but when they are not, then it is the
business of faith to be looking out of self to Jesus, to be waiting on
him and for him; and here also hope is engaged—it is expecting the
fulfilment of God’s promises, nor shall such wait, look or hope in vain.
We find even hope blessed in this exercise.

    For Lord if thou ne’er had’st design’d
       No covenant blessing for me,
    Ah, tell me how is it I find
       Such sweetness in waiting for thee.

And as faith and hope are thus engaged as soon as the Lord appears, to
our joy so love and rapturous joy and thankfulness follow.  We love him
because he first loved us.  I will love thee, O Lord my strength—I love
the Lord because he hath heard the voice of my supplication—she loved
much because much was forgiven, and here repentance flows as divine love
is felt—repentance is the tear of love dropping from the eye of faith;
and in these feelings how sweet is obedience—we can _run_ the way of his
commandments when his love enlarges the heart, but when it does not,
then, wait I say on the Lord, till power is felt again rising and
falling, ebbing and flowing, running and waiting in the spirit of our
minds, is the road the Lord leads his people in a time state; and it is a
mercy to know that the Lord has fulfilled that precious truth in us—thy
people shall be willing in the day of thy power, for this evidences us to
be his chosen people according to his word, and we need no clearer
testimony.  Conscience can bear witness when the blessed spirit gives
fresh light, that these things which I have written have been and now are
carrying on in the souls of those who are called by the grace of God; and
surely he that hath begun the good work will carry it on till it is
consummated in glory.  But this we know also, that a daily cross dead
weights, powerful besetting sins, heaviness and despondency, a tempting
devil, many cares and snares, losses and crossed darkness, weakness,
stupefaction, and reluctance to all that is good—stormy days and dismal
nights must be the lot of all who are taught of God.  The old man of sin
and Satan working upon it, will often cause the sad outcry of—Oh,
wretched man that I am, for the good I would I do not, and the evil in
thought word or deed I would not, that at times do I.  Blessed be God
however, in our worst moments Satan cannot rob us of this _will_ to do
that which is good; and most _sincerely_

I would believe unceasingly,

I would hope always firmly,

I would confide steadily,

I would love the sacred Trinity supremely,

I would be patient without a murmur,

I would commune with Christ at all times,

I would resist the devil always,

I would deny self continually,

I would fly from every sin,

I would hear without wandering,

I would pray without ceasing,

I would be always giving of thanks,

I would universally promote the Redeemer’s cause,

I would ever plead for his truth,

I would be always kind to his poor,

I would bring in the whole world to adore him,

I would get home this moment to see him,

I would have an increasing knowledge of him,

I would be overcome with his love,

I would bless him for what he is in himself,

I would be holy as an angel of light.

                                * * * * *

    Aspiring high, my spirit longs to rise,
    I would for ever dwell above the skies;
    So tir’d I am of sin and all I see,
    I sigh, I pant, dear Lord, to be with thee;
    Where I SINCERELY shall thy name adore,
    And all the glories of thy grace explore;
    Sound thy rich love and join the blissful song,
    _While_ vast _eternity shall_ roll along.

                      Reader—IS THIS YOUR LIKENESS?

                                * * * * *

                                 THE END.





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