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is opposed to humility and self-denial, which Christ en. joins on all his disciples: it is opposed to that self-loath. ing that he requires. The selfish man will not be cover. ed with the vail of blushing: No; he feldom takes a look of luis failings. He looks more on his beauty than his defilement. He will not cry out with Agur, in the context, “ I am more brutish than any man; I have not the understanding of a man.” The motto of the humble man is, “ I abhor myself, and repent in duit and alhes.'' The motto of the self-conceited man is, “ God, I thank thee, I am not like other men." He looks on any thing of attainment through a magnifying glass; but upon his fins in a diminishing one.
5. The evil of self-conceit is great in respect of duties. The evil of it will appear very great, if we consider the ' following particulars, among several others. For it produceth rashness in adventuring upon duty; even the most folemn duty: becaule, being pure in their own eyes, they Itand upon no duty; while the poor, humble and self-abased creature is afraid left he milinanage his work. It produceth a superficial performance of duty : though they think very much of their duties, yet they perform them but overly ; for they imagine any fort of service for them is enough. And yet it produceth a kind of meritorious opinion of their duties: “ Wherefore have we fasted, and thou seest not? Wherefore have we afAicted our soul, and thou takest no knowledge ?"" Isa. lviii. 3, 4. As if God had been faulty, in not taking notice of their performances. We might mention a variety of other things to the same purpoie.
6. The evil of self-conceit will appear in respect of danger. The evil of it is exceeding great. Why fo? Here is great deceit; for, “ He that thinketh himself to be something, when he is nothing, deceiveth himself,” Gal. vi. 3. And this is the worst of all deceit. To deceive another, is certainly a great fault; but to deceive ourselves, what a terrible evil is it! For a man to kill and destroy another, is a fad thing; but to kill and destroy himself, is yet more dreadful!«The self-conceited person imagines he can perform any duty; that he can read, pray, communicate, believe, repeat; but he deceives himself.--To be deceived about earthly things is ill; but to be deceived and cheated out of our immortal souls, alas! that is worst of all. When a fell-conceited person hears the threatening, or the promise, he misapplies all: that threatening is not to him, he thinks; and yet that is his portion : that promise is to him, he imagines ; and yet he hath no part in that matter.-again, as such people are never likely to get good of ordinances; fo, they are not easily convinced of their miliake i and no wonder; for we are told, Jer. vii. 5. “ They hold fast deceit,” when we say all we possibly can say to them. They will still declare, that they have a good heart towards God, and that they have a great love to Chrift; though yet they never faw their ill heart, nor their strong enmity: “ They hold fast deceit." Self-conceited persons will come under a fad disappointment in the iffue; for, “ Fearfulness shall surprise the hypocrite in Zion. Who among us shall dwell with devouring fire? Who can abide with everlasting burning ?" Why will they be surprised witli fear and terror? What is the matter? Why, they had a good hope of lieaven; and so, the higher their hope, the more disinal their fall and disappointment. Oh! how many ride triumphantly to hell in a chariot of foul-destroying delusion! They imagine they are right enough; and that all is well; while it is quite otherwise with them.
: SERMON XVI.
Prov. xxx. 12. .. . There is a generation that are pire in their own eyes, and yet i is not washed from their filthiness.
[The ninth Sermon on this Text.]
THIS text affigns two or three differences between id the godly and the wicked, 1. They differ from each other in their number; there is a generation of wicked
men and hypocrites; a multitude of them : whereas the godly are but a little flok, an handful, a remnant, a few. 2. Th.y differ from each other in their judgment; par. ticularly in their judgment about themselves. Wicked men and hypocrites are proud, and pure in their own eyes ; whereas the godly are humble, and vile in their own eyes. 3. They differ from each other in their real qualities. The wicked and hypocritical generation are really vile and polluted, never wafhen from their filthi: ness; whereas the godly are purified in part, and cleansed froin their filthiness; at leafi, it is their exercise to get their.. defilement daily washed away with the blood of Christ.
It is remarkable, that as self-abasement and purity go together; (for, they that are impure and vile in their own eyes, are a people washed from their filthiness;} so, on the other hand, self-conceit and impurity go to. gether; for, the generation that are pure in their own eyes, are not washed from their filthiness. The former look upon themselves as impure, and yet are pure; the latter judge themselves pure, but are impure.
The doctrinal part of the subject having been finished in the preceding discourse, it remains now that we make fome practical improvement of the point.
V. The fifth thing we proposed in the method, was the application of the doctrine ; which we shall essay in several uses. · The first use that we make, shall be of Information.
If it be so, as has been affirmed, That self-conceit is . incident to a multitude of professors, then we may infer' the following things. .
1. Hence see the degeneracy of our nature, by reason of the fall. Alas! how corrupt is our nature now! The devil made our first parents fancy, that they should be as gods; and now he makes men dream that they are as gods; for, this felf-conceit is a deifying of ourselves. Self is the god that we adore naturally. Instead of law. ful self-love, unlawful self-conceit takes place. There is a lawful felf-love injoined;“ Thou shali love thy neigh. bour as thyself;” where, you see, it is our duty to love our.
felves; and then our neighbour as ourselves. And if the generation had a right and lawful love to themselves, either foul or body; they would not destroy their bodies by intemperance and infobriety, and ruin their fouls by wilsul fia and impenitency : but, instead of lawful felf. love, finful felf-love takes the throne. Self-conceit and self-admiration, felf-will and self-fatisfaction prevail.
2. See what is the great tendency of true gospel. preaching; namely, to discover and diminish all selfpurity and self-righteousness, that Christ alone may be exalted: yea, the design of it is to level and dash down all that self-conceited purity, whereby people are pure in their own eyes, that it may advance gospel-purity, by which we may be pure in God's fight. Some make a vaft noise about preaching up good works, and of their being friends to holiness and the law; while yet the tendency of their doctrine. may be only to make people pure and holy in their own eyes, and in the eyes of men: but that which a gospel-minister especially aims at, is, to get people pure in the fight of God. He cannot fatisfy himself merely in preaching up good works, and charity, piety, devotion, mercy, tenderness, honesty, civility, morality, &c. which is very commendable; and would to God there were more of these; but he goes farther, and labours principally to get the foundation of true holiness laid in the heart, self-purity mortified, the principles rectified, and Christ formed in the heart: other. wise, they build, without laying a foundation. It may be observed, with regret, there never were less morality amongst persons of all ranks, than since so many minifters laid aside evangelical preaching, and made the inculcating moral duties their principal theme. And many who extol moral virtues, are themselves the most inmoral perfons. The Pharisees set up for great friends to the law, when Christ appeared on the stage; and they flouted at him, as if he had been an enemy to good works, when he was telling them that they were but hypocrites : “ Think they (faith he), that I am come to destroy the law? Nay, Except your righteousness exceed the righteoufness of the Scribes and Pharisees, ye cannot enter into the kingdom of Godi'? Why, they were pure in their
own eyes ; they verily imagined they were friends to ho. linefs: yet they mide clean but the outside, and were not internally walhed fro:n their filthiness. The doctrine of the Pharisees was inuch about washings, and legal pu. rification: Yea, faith Chrift; but I tell you, you must be pure in heart, otherwise you cannot see God. Why, say the Pharisees, you must do good works, and bring forth good fruits : Yea, faith Chrift; but make the tree good, otherwise the fruit cannot be good. The princi. ples must be changed, the nature renewed, and the soul implanted into Ghrift; then, and not tiil then, can any do what is spiritually good. Till there be both' a spiri. tual habit of grace, wrought by the efficacious power of the Spirit of God; and a spiritual communication of heavenly influences, to excite that habit into exercise, there can be no pure act, no holy work acceptable to God: and whatever doctrine doth not aim at this, it comes so far thort of pressing holiness, that it may indeed make hypocrites; but can never direct people how to go one step beyond hypocrisy and felf-conceit : for, without this radical change, a man may well be pure in his own eyes, and in the eyes of others; but is not pure in God's eyes, nor washen from his filthiness.
3. Hence see the difference that there is between be. lievers and hypocrites. The hypocrite doth the same action externally that the sound believer doth ; he may pray and praise, and read, and hear, and what not. What doth the best believer that I do not ? faith the hypocrite. What can they do but I will do ? Yea, he may exceed the believer in the multitude of duties. But, behold! all the while he is a mass of impurity and pollution ; and only pure in his own eyes. He may indeed affest holiness, and seem to be one that is freed of self-conceit; but yet self is still his principle,' and self still his end. Whereas the toue believer, as such, hath no self-conceit, but what is his burden; no felf-motive, but what is his grief; no felf-ends or ains, but what are his exercise either sooner or later. And, in a word, there is as great a difference between the most refined hypocrite, and the poorest believer, as there is between a painted iinage, and a living man; yea, as there is be. . Vol. I.