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believer has received grace into his heart, and the hypocrite has excluded it. In the one case grace strives for admittance and reception, and in the other for protection and increase. The more Christ does to oppose sin, the more the strong man fears expulsion from his possession, and exerts himself to retain it.
Often when some crime awfully wicked has been devised and concerted, and the time fixed for the commission at hand, there has been an amazing struggle in the sinner's heart. His fears have been awakened, the dreadful consequences have presented themselves, and filled his mind with horror. Conscience makes the last effort, and loudly urges to desist. Greatly agitated, one moment he resolves to drop his horrid crime, and the next he determines upon
the commission. Now he inclines to one side, then to the other. In this critical juncture Satan doubles his diligence, plies every temptation, and vehemently urges him on. At last he prevails, and the crime is perpetrated !
4. There is scarcely any thing more hardening than a profession of religion covering reigning sin in the heart. This is evident in the case of Judas. While Pilate, a heathen, washed his hands, and declared he was free from the blood of that just man, a professed disciple betrayed him. We have also a proof of this in the chief priests. Professing to look out for the Messiah, and searching the Scriptures which testified of him, they should have known him. From the words and works of Christ they had strong convictions that he was the Messiah. But with
unrelenting malice they compassed his death, and influenced the populace to insist for his crucifixion; while poor Pilate, not favoured with their privileges, made a stand against them, though not as he should have done. He constantly declared he found no fault in him, nor any thing deserving death. Often have publicans and harlots entered into the kingdom of God, while chief priests and rulers have refused.
In the nature of things, no sinners can be equally hardened with those who cover lust with a profession of religion. Hypocrites are so accustomed to mock God, to make light of every sacred tie, to deceive their conscience, or lull it asleep, and trifle with religious duties, that nothing can be harder than their hearts, the devil himself hardly excepted. Scarcely could this hardness appear in a more striking light than in Judas. His kind Master, after eating the passover with his disciples for the last time, instituted the supper, and conversed about his sufferings and death. The hearts of the disciples were filled with sorrow, and Judas witnessed the affecting scene. One cannot but wonder how the perfidious wretch did not relent! Nominal Christians often witness melting scenes; but their hearts continue hard as the nether millstone. They have been invited in the most tender manner to receive Christ and improve salvation. The most alarming threatenings have been set before them, in a very affectting light, to warn them to fly from the wrath to come, and awakening dispensations of Providence have passed over them; but still their hearts continue hard and unaffected.
5. Christ often leaves his pretended "friends to make a discovery of themselves, and permits something to fall in their way which proves the occasion. Two can scarcely walk always together unless they are agreed. Christ's secret enemies seldom leave this world, without giving some shrewd evidences that they are not as friendly to him as they profess. Judas had dropt some hints before that the honour of Christ was not very dear to him, and that other objects had the preference. We have an instance of this, John xii. 3—6, “ When Mary took a pound of ointment of spikenard very costly, and anointed the feet of Jesus, and wiped his feet with her hair: and the house was filled with the odour of the ointment. Then saith Judas who should betray him, Why was not this ointment sold for three hundred pence and given to the poor? This he said, not that he cared for the poor ;
but because he was a thief, and had the bag, and bare what was put therein.” Christ and Judas had now been a long time together, and Judas thinks of parting. It is not an easy matter uniformly to dissemble and act against nature. As Judas had made some discoveries of his want of friendship, other hypocrites will do the same. On the other hand, now and then Christ gives some intimations that he knows and is dissatisfied with their conduct—that it neither escapes his notice, nor meets with his approbation.
At last, he permits something to fall in the way of hypocrites, which proves the occasion of a discovery. Sometimes he sends a storm, or measures out some adverse dispensation, and they discover their want
of love. The sunshine of prosperity fills the church with swarms of hypocrites; but the storm of persecution sweeps them away. At other times, a favourable opportunity occurs of gratifying their predominant lust, and they embrace it. The incidents and events calculated to discover false professors are various as their faces, equal in number with themselves, and all under Christ's direction.
The Lord Jesus has wise reasons for leaving close hypocrites to discover themselves. Such a discovery is a watchword to his own. It impresses them with the necessity of holy jealousy and frequent self-examination; of a lively faith and unceasing watchfulness; and of constantly abiding in him and receiving out of his fulness. It is a watchword to all. It warns them of the awful deceitfulness of the heart, and the indispensable necessity of regeneration. It is a vindication of himself and his doctrine, his holiness and honour. Unholiness in a greater or less degree will be seen about these hypocrites; and Christ will have it known that he neither encourages nor abets it. Thus Christ and the hypocrite part. Demas like, many forsake the Lord and his people, having loved the present world; and we may say of them, as in 1 John ii. 19, “ They went out from us, but they were not of us : for if they had been of us, they would no doubt have continued with us: but they went out, that they might be made manifest that they were not all of us."
6. When hypocrites have abused their privileges, and Christ gives up with them, Satan takes a more full possession, and then they stick at nothing. Judas
enjoyed the highest privileges, but abused them. He had seen much of Christ's goodness and power. Often had he witnessed his faithful zeal against hypocrites. Judas saw the days which many prophets and great men desired to see, but never saw; and heard the things which they desired to hear, but never heard. Instead of improving his exalted privileges, he waxed worse and worse. Having nearly reached the highest pitch of wickedness, he had now entered into the horrid resolution of betraying his Master for a piece of money. Christ gave up with him, as is evident from John xii. 25-27, “ The disciple who lay on Jesus's breast saith unto him, Lord, who is it? Jesús answered, He it is to whom I shall give a sop, when I have dipped it. And when he had dipped the sop, he gave it to Judas Iscariot the son of Simon. And after the sop, Satan entered into him, then said Jesus unto him, That thou doest, do quickly.” The amount of this affecting transaction is, as if Christ had said, Judas, take that sop, and it is the last article thou shalt have from me under the character of a disciple, if thou continuest in the horrid resolution of thine heart: take it, and while I point thee out to John as a traitor, and make a home and particular charge to thyself, know that yet there is room; believe and be saved: but if not, thy damnation is sealed. Satan is always present when the sons of God are together. He witnessed this last scene, and exerted himself to the utmost to get full and uncontrolled possession of Judas's heart. He got it. Then the traitor stuck at nothing, and neither will any in his situation. Then, like water