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is this insincerity, this aiming at success of party under pretense of aiming at success of principles, peculiar to religions bodies; we find it in politics, in rival schools of philosophy, and every-where. The history of persecution furnishes a notable instance, or, rather, a large class of instances. Religious bodies when proscribed and down-trodden have seen clearly the beauty, obligation, and utility of toleration, of liberty of thought and conscience; have argued cogently and remonstrated with wounded feelings against the narrowness, cruelty, and folly of attempting to serve the cause of truth and God by fines, fetters, stripes, and death; but no sooner had they waxed powerful in numbers and influence, and been established in authority, than they verily believed themselves in conscience bound, for the sake of truth, social good, and the salvation of souls, to punish all heretics, and propagate their own faith by sword and fagot. Hypocrites, though self-deceived!
A third instance of hypocrisy is the strictness with which men have insisted on minor details of virtue and piety, and their looseness in respect to the great fundamental principles of morality. "Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye pay tithe of mint and anise and cummin, and have omitted the weightier matters of the law, judgment, mercy, and faith; these ought ye to have done, and not to leave the other undone. Ye blind guides, which strain at a gnat and swallow a camel." Those men clamored against the sin of violating the sanctity of the Sabbath by healing the sick, and against the sin of eating with publicans and sinners, overlooking the sublime words of their own Scriptures, "I will have mercy, and not sacrifice." They sacrificed the spirit to the letter, moral principle to the minutest points of ritual, and the plain sense of God's word to tradition. There are men now who devour widows' houses, and make long prayers, in private as well as in public; who dare not go to bed without first kneeling before God, whose law of justice and charity they habitually break; men who make a great ado against a glass of wine or a cigar, and yet, with scarce a twinge of conscience, cheat in trade or backbite a neighbor; men who would feel condemned and humiliated if they failed to pay their pew rent and partake of the Lord's Supper monthly, and yet cherish malice the year round; men who would not be caught in a theater for thousands Fourth Series, Vol. XXXII.—42
of dollars, and yet are full of bitterness and almost cursing against their brethren, and feel only the holier on this account. These cases are possible only through defect of honesty. And yet, such are the windings and twistings of the human heart, the apology often made for minor faults by comparing them with those of greater gravity savors also of hypocrisy. "It is better to whirl and hug in the dance than to spend the evening in talking and hearing slander. A Sunday excursion of pleasure is not so bad as defrauding employes of their wages and grinding the poor. We do not attend prayer-meetings, but we do pay our debts and help the needy." But mark the lesson of the great Teacher: "These," less duties, "ought ye to have done, and not to leave the other undone." In setting forth the transcendent worth of the grand principles of righteousness which underlie all particular precepts, the Master did not' command, nor allow, the omission of less weighty matters of the law or of conscience.
A like sign of insincerity is the attention men pay to the outer form of religion, while careless of its spirit. When they do their alms they sound a trumpet before them, when they pray they love to be seen of men, and when they fast they put on a sad face. They cleanse the outside of the cup and platter, but within are full of extortion and excess. It may be thought that all these are cases of arrant hypocrisy; that these persons assume for worldly purposes a show of virtue and piety which they are fully conscious that they do not possess. But this is a mistake. Though their chief motive is the pride of goodness and love of praise, they credit themselves with wonderful charity and demotion, and promise themselves favor and reward from God. When circumstances have stripped off the sheep's clothing from a wolf and the lion's skin from an ass, the wolf and ass have ofttimes been as much astonished at the disclosure of their real nature as the bystanders, and have suffered the loss of self-respect as keenly as the loss of reputation. How little we discern the earthly and selfish motives of our own moral, benevolent, and pious behavior! and yet how quickly detect, or, without knowing, suspect, these motives in our fellows! Consider, too, the large number who look more to reward from God than to worldly reputation, and yet seek his favor not by cultivating the spirit of purity and love, but by a merely exterior morality, and by zeal in building churches and like good works. They say, "Lord, Lord," but do not the Father's will, and they vainly trust to be accepted in the judgment. Hypocrisy has blinded their minds to the truth; thorough sincerity would soon show them their error.
A very bad, and yet common, form of hypocrisy consists in a pretended zeal for the right and indignation against iniquity, when the real prompting is selfishness and hate. We seek to arouse the virtuous feeling of our neighbors against injustice and corruption, and we seem to be aflame with such sentiments ourselves, whereas the secret motive is a personal advantage we hope to secure, of' .a personal grudge we hope to gratify. So general is this insincerity, that when a man is very angry and very much disgusted with certain conduct, the suspicion arises that his own interests have been touched, or else that he is envious, jealous, or resentful at the persons whom he censures so severely in the name of righteousness. How sharp men are in criticism; how dreadful in denunciation of the faults of their personal, political, and denominational opponents; how keen and unsparing in exposing all the shams, sophistries, and hollow excuses by which those faults would be concealed or extenuated! And all this they profess to do through mere love of virtue and fair dealing; and they persuade themselves—strange infatuation—that they deserve honor of the public for the noble spirit they have displayed and the service they have rendered to the cause of pure and lofty morals. "And the ruler of the synagogue answered with indignation, because that Jesus had healed on the Sabbath-day, and said unto the people, There are six days in which men ought to work: in them, therefore, come and be healed, and not on the Sabbath-day. The Lord then answered him and said, Thou hypocrite, doth not each one of you on the Sabbath loose his ox or his ass from the stall, and lead him away to watering? And ought not this woman, being a daughter of Abraham, whom Satan hath bound, lo, these eighteen years, be loosed from this bond on the Sabbath-day? And when he had said these things all his adversaries were ashamed." Their shallow and false reasonings were so exposed, and the real motives of their accusation against the pure and merciful Jesus., that they felt humbled and ashamed of themselves; but
so little love of truth and holiness had they, and so much of pride and vain glory, that they soon fell back into self-admiration, and into haughty contempt and hot indignation toward others who omitted a punctilio and overstrained interpretation of the law, while their own hearts were empty of the love on which rest all the commandments. "Now Moses in the law commanded us, that such should be stoned; but what sayest thou?" High respect for Moses and desire to know present duty were the avowed motives of the question, yet in their hearts they sought only a ground of accusation against the holy Teacher. "He that is without sin among yon, let him first cast a stone at her;" and at this reply they were convicted by their own consciences, and silently went out one by one, beginning at the eldest, even unto the last. "Why was not this ointments old 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." Many excuse themselves from giving to missions on the plea that the money is needed at home, and yet give meagerly whatever may be the appeal, and spend freely for their own gratification, or invest largely that they may build up a fortune. "Wherefore all this waste?" they ask, as they look at costly churches; and perhaps the funds might have been more usefully expended, but these critics keep their money in their own pockets instead of bestowing it liberally for the relief of the necessitous whom they profess to pity, and to whose benefit they would convert the superfluous cost of cathedrals; and in some cases they may even impoverish honest laborers by their trickery and extravagance.
Responsibility for belief cannot be rationally disputed, though it is limited, and we should be careful to rest it on the right ground. No one can be justly blamed for involuntary, unavoidable ignorance and error. Our knowledge is scant, our judgments are fallible. We are accountable for the talents committed to our keeping, five, two, or one, and for these only; but the faithful use and consequent improvement of these is a duty. We are under obligation to add to our knowledge, correct our mistakes, invite and welcome light; to examine and judge earnestly, cautiously, candidly, patiently. Men say that they cannot change the constitution of their minds; that conviction belongs to the logical faculty and not to the will; that they must believe according to the evidence; that they have no control of their opinions. But experience teaches' that we do possess power over our attention; that we may elect or refuse to investigate a subject; that we may either content ourselves with what we already know and believe, or collect diligently all possible information ; that we may weigh the whole evidence, or fix our mind on a part and turn it away altogether from the remainder; that we may be guilty of nearly all the unfairness and one-sidedness in arguing a question in our own mind that arc usually suggested by the phrase " special pleadings." Attention has been beantifully described as a natural prayer for the enlightenment of reason; and with this natural prayer we should •join, on moral and religious questions, earnest supplications for the wisdom from above, the illumination of the Holy Spirit. Ignorance is no justification where we might and should have known; the plea of following conscience cannot avail if we tike not pains to instruct conscience, or fail to inquire, with that simplicity of soul which thrusts self aside, and asks only, 'What wilt thou have me to do? if we listen rather to pride, passion, self-interest, or self-will. Willful blindness, self-stultification, imposing on ourselves sophistries so gross that we would promptly detect and denounce them if employed by opponents of our own cherished opinions or purposes, believing what we would like to be true rather than what is proven, are facts too frequent and obvious to. be denied. The guilt is not in following conscience, but m not following it fully; the sincerity is not complete, not profound, not thorough, but partial and superficial.
We are very incompetent judges in the case of others, how far their darkness and errors are voluntary and, therefore, guilty. To them we should be lenient, while seeking to set them right; but our own hearts we should search with all diligence and honesty, and not accept lightly the plea for our mistakes that they proceeded from lack of light or weakness of judgment. There is one historical case to which we can apply these principles, because we have revelation as our guide —the case of Saul the Pharisee and Paul the Christian. Sincerity, in the popular, less profound sense, must be granted to Saul. He blasphemed Jesus because he believed him an im