« ZurückWeiter »
SET FORTH IN A SERMON AT THE COURT, FEBRUARY 28, 1630 *; BEING
THE THIRD SUNDAY IN LENT.
BY JOSEPH EXON.
TO MY EVER MOST WORTHILY HONOURED LORD,
THE EARL OF NORWICH,
MY MOST HONOURED LORD:
I might not but tell the world, that this Sermon, which was mine in the Pulpit, is yours in the Press. Your Lordship's will, which shall never be other than a command to me, fetches it forth into the light before the fellows. Let me be branded with the Title of it, if I can think it worthy of the public view, in comparison of many accurate pieces of others, which I see content themselves daily to die in the ear. Howsoever, if it may do good, Į shall bless your Lordship for helping to advance my gain.
Your noble and sincere true-heartedness to your God, your King, your Country, your Friend, is so well known, that it can be no disparagement to your Lordship to patronize this HYPOCRITE; whose very inscription might cast a blur upon some guilty reputation. Go on still, most noble Lord, to be a great Example of Virtue and Fidelity to a hollow and untrusty age. You shall not want either the acclamations or prayers of Your Lordship's ever devoted, in all true duty and observance,
* The folio has 1629; but I have altered it, because the Third Sunday in lent of the year 1629 could not fall on Feb. 28, as Ashwednesday that year, was on the 18íh of February; whereas Ashwednesday of the year 1630, falling on Feb. 10, the Third Sunday in Lent, would of course fall, as above, on the 28th. It is not, however, unlikely, that the Bishop uses, on this and other occasions, the mode of computation then frequently practised; which we find thus mentioned in our older Prayer Books, at the foot of the Table of Moveable Feasts : “ The supputation of the year of our Lord, in the Church of England, beginneth the
2 TIM, üi. 5.
Having a Forin of Godliness, but denying the power thereof. It is an unperfect clause, you see ; but a perfect description of a Hypocrite : and that, a hypocrite of our own times, the last : which are so much the worse, by how much they partake more of the craft and diseases of age.
The Prophets were the Seers of the Old Testament: the Apostles were the Seers of the New. Those saw Christ's day, and rejoiced : these foresąw the reign of Antichrist, and complained. These very times were as present to St. Paul, as to us: our sense doth not see them so clearly, as his revelation. I am with you in the spirit, saith he to his absent Colossians, rejoicing, and behold, ing your order. He doth as good as say to us, “ I am with
you the spirit, lamenting, and beholding your misdemeanours. By these divine optics, he sees our formal piety, real wickedness : both which make up the complete Hypocrisy in my Text; Having a form of Godliness, but denying the Power ihereof.
I doubt not, but some will be ready to set this sacred prognostication to another meridian. And, indeed, we know a generation, that loves themselves too well; much more than peace and truth : so covetous, that they would catch all the world in St. Peter's net : proud boasters of their own merits,, , perfections, supererogations. It would be long, though easy, to follow all. We know where too many treasons are hatched : we know who, in the height of mind, exalts himself above all that is called God: we know where pleasure hath the most delicate and debauched clients : we know where devotion is professedly formal, and lives impure: and, surely, were we clearly innocent of these crimes, I should be the first that would cast this stone at Rome. But, now that we share with them in these sins, there is no reason we should be sejoined in the censure. Take it among ye, therefore, ye Hypocrites of all professions, for it is your own, ye have a Form of Godliness, denying the Power thereof,
What is a Hypocrite but a Player; the Zany of religion, as ye heard lately? A Player acts that, he is not: so do ye, act good, and are wicked. Here is a semblance of good, a Form of Godliness : here is a real evil, a denial of the Power of Godliness, There is nothing so good as Godliness; yea, there is nothing good, but it. Nothing makes Godliness to be good, or to be Godliness, but the power of it: for it is not, if it work not; and it works not, if not powerfully. Now the denial of good must needs be evil; and, so much more evil, as the good which is denied is more good: and therefore the denial of the Power of Godliness, must needs be as ill as the Form or Shew of Godliness would seem good, and as the Power of Godliness is good.
five and twentieth day of March.” In that case, by Feb. 28, 1629, he would mean what we should express by Feb. 28, 1630. Had he followed the method, usually employed, of giving those dates, which occurred between Jan. Ist., and Mar. 25th, and written Feb. 163., it would have removed all ambiguity. Editok.
This is, therefore, the perfect Hypocrisy of fashionable Christians: they have the Form; they deny the Power. Here is then a direct and professed opposition, betwixt pop@wois and dúveuss, the form and the power : and no less between the actions employed about them both; the one having, the other denying : having the form,'denying the power.
As all sin is originally from the Devil, so especially Hypocrisy : he is The Father of Lies : and what is Hypocrisy but a real lie? that is, his darling : and these two are well put together, èv ůrospíoet jeudoróywv, 1 Tim. iv. 2. in hypocrisy speaking lies. Now, as all things are more eminent in their causes and originals, than in the effects derived from them; so it must needs be said, that the greatest hypocrite in the world is the Devil. I know he hears what I say; but we must speak truth, and shame him. For Satan is transformed into an angel of light; saith the Apostle: not, he was; but, he is : so transformed, that he never did, never will put off that counterfeit. And, as all his Imps are partakers of the Satanical nature ; so, in every hypocrite, there is both the angel and the devil : the seeming angel is the form of Godliness; the real devil is the denial of the Power of Godliness. It must be in another sense, that that Father said, Innocentia ternpore posterior est quàm malitia. I am sure the angel of light was before the Satan; and now, because he is Satan, he puts on the angel of light.
Such shall be our method in this Hypocrite we treat of: first, we will begin with the ANGEL OP HYPOCRISY ; and then, shew you the DEVIL IN HIS TRUE SHAPE.
I. First then, here is a Form, and but A FORM, OF GODLINESS.
A form does well; but, if it be but a form, it is an immaterial shadow of piety. Such was this of these men: for they were una natural, traitors, heady, highminded, Oiardovou. Surely, if they were unnatural, they must needs be unchristian : if they were traitors to their king, they could be no subjects to God: if heady and high-minded, they had nothing to do with him whose first lesson was, Learn of me, for I am mcek. Nulla creatura humilior
“ No creature is more humble than God;" as Laurentius well: if they had pleasure for their idol, they could not have the Lord for their God. So as, even without God, they had yet a Form of Godlincss.
Godliness is a thing much talked of; little understood. While the Ancient School had wont to say, That it is not practical, not speculative, but affective; their meaning was, That it is in all these, in the heart, in the brain, in the hand; but most in the heart. It is speculative, in the knowledge of God; practical, in the service to God; affective, in our fear of him, love to him, joy in him. Shortly then, to apprehend God as he hath revealed, to serve him
as he hath required, to be affected to him as we ought, is God. liness; and the outward expression and counterfaisance of all these, is the form of Godliness.
To this outside of Godliness then belongs all that glorious pageant of fashionable profession, which we see made in the world; whether in Words, Gesture, Carriage.
1. First, here is a world of 'GOOD WORDS; whether to God, or of him.
Here are words of sacred compliment with God : for the Hypocrite courts God in his prayers: no man speaks fairer, no man Jouder, than he. Here is Saul's benedictus : here is the Pharisee's Lord, I thank thee : here is the colloguing Jews' Domine, Domine; Lord, Lord.
And, as to him, so of him. Here are words of religious protestation for God, like to the Jews' Templum Domini ; the Temple of the Lord: or Herod's Toouurow, Matth. ii. 8. I will worship The Babe. The man's secret fire of zeal smokes forth into the holy breath of a good confession. Here are words of fervent excitation to the frozen hearts of others; yea, if need be, words of deep censure of the cold moderation which he apprehends in his wiser brethren: so as he is comptus in verbo, it turpis in facto ; “ neat in words, if foul in fact;" as Bernard.
2. Yet more, here is a perfect scene of PIOUS GESTURES ; knees bowed, hands erected, turned up eyes, the breast beaten, the head shaken, the countenance dejected, sighs ascending, tears dropping, the Bible hugged and kissed, the ear nailed to the pulpit : what formality of devout Godliness is here unacted ? If the man were within, as he is without, there were no Saint but he.
3. Yet, this is not all to make up a perfect Form of Godliness : here is a smooth face of HOLY CARRIAGE IN ACTIONS.
Devout Saul will be saving the fattest of the Amalekitish flocks and herds, for sacrifice to the Lord his God. Good man! he will not have God take up with the worst. Every man is not of this diet: too many think any offal good enough for their Maker : but here is one, that holds the best fittest for those sacred altars; when, in the mean time, the Hypocrite had already sacrificed them to his own Mammon, and God must take up with the reversion.
Shall I tell you of another as good, as devout, as he? Do ye not remember, that Absalom would go to pay his vow in Hebron? The fair prince of Israel was courteous, before: now, he will be Godly too. It was piety, that he would make a vow to God: our gallants have somewhat else to do, than to make holy vows: at every word, they protest, and vow, and perhaps swear ; but, all like themselves, vainly and idly : but Absalom makes a solemn and religious vow. It was more piety, that he would perform it : this is not every man's care: too many care not how much they run upon God's score; this man will pitch and pay. Unnatural Parricide! First, he had stolen the subjects' hearts, and now he would steal his father's crown; and all this villainy must stalk under a beast's hide, a sacrifice at Hebron. Blood was in his thoughts, while the sacrifice was in his mouth.
The old word is, “ Full of courtesy, full of craft :” when ye see too glittering pretences, in unapproved persons ; suspect the inside. Had
but seen a Jew's Fast, you would say so; Isaiah lviii. 6. Here was nothing but drooping and ash-strawed heads, torn garments, bare feet, starved cheeks, scrubbed skins, pined maws, afflictive devotions; yet, a Jew still. But, had
you seen Herod's formality, you would have said it yet more: mark a little, and see Herod turned Disciple to John Baptist. What, Saul among the prophets? Herod among the Disciples ? Surely so; for he hears him, Tush, hears him? what's that? There are those, that hear and would not ; forced to hear by compulsion of laws: who may say to Authority, as the Psalmist says to God, Aurem perforasti mihi ; Mine car hast thou bored : their ear is a Protestant, while their heart is a Recusant. There are those, that hear and hear not; that come fashionably, and hear perfunctorily : whose ears are like the Psalmist's idols; for form only, not for use. There are those, that hear and care not: who is so deaf as the wilful ? there is auris aggravata, heavy ear ; Isa. lix. 1: there is auris surda, deaf ear; Mic. vii. 16. But Herod hears vidéws, gladly; with pleasure: he heard, because he loved to hear. Yea, so doth many a hollow heart still; ye shall have such an one listen, as if he were totus auris, “all ear;" as if he would catch every word from the preacher's mouth, ere it could get out : perhaps it is new ; perhaps, witty; perhaps, elegant; or, some way pleasing. Yea, there are some, not only willing, but greedy hearers: they have aures bibulas ; they hear hungrily and thirstily: but it is but to catch advantages; somewhat they hope may fall to pay the preacher. Herod is better than so : ouvelspel, he observed, he respected, he countenanced this rough-hewn chaplain. Yea, so doth many a lewd patron for his own turn; either the easy passage of his simoniacal subductions, or for a favourable connivancy at his guilty debauchedness. Good looks are good-cheap. Perhaps a meal's meat may come in, for a further obligation too: but here is no good action, the while. Herod is better than so, tornà émola, he did too, and did many things. Lo here, he doth not hear, but do: and not some things, but many. It may be this camel-haired monitor told him of some outrageous disorders in his court; those he was willing to amend : perhaps he told him of some bribery of his officers, unjust or hard measures offered by oppressive ministers to his poor subjects; those he was ready to reform : Fond &woic he did many things. One would think Bernard should not need to brand his Abailardus with intùs Herodes, foris Johannes ; “ Herod within, John without.” His very outside was generally good; else, he had not done many things. Here was a Foron of Godliness : but, let me tell you, a higher form, than many of us, for ought I see, care to climb up unto. There is hearing, and talking, and professing enough in the world; but where is the doing