THE HYPOCRITE'S RELIGION

by Thomas Brooks
(1608−1680)

C
ounterfeit holiness is often made a stalking−horse to much unrighteousness; but certainly it were better with the philosopher to have honesty without religion, than to have religion without honesty. A hypocrite may exercise himself in some outward, easy, ordinary duties of religion; but when shall you see a hypocrite laying the axe to the root of the tree, or searching and trying his own heart, or severely judging his bosom sins, or humbly mourning and lamenting over secret corruption's, or doubling his guards about his own soul, or rejoicing in the graces, services, or excellencies of others, or striving or pressing after the highest pitches of grace, holiness, and communion with God, or endeavoring more to cast out the beam out of his own eye, than the mote out of his brother's eye, or to be more severe against his own sins than against the sins of others? Alas, a hypocrite is so far from practicing these things, that he thinks them either superfluous or impossible.

A hypocrite's obedience is always a limited and stinted obedience. It is either limited to such commands which are most suitable to his ease, safety, honor, profit, pleasure, etc., or else it is limited to the outward part of the command, and never extends itself to the inward and spiritual part of the command; as you may see in the scribes and Pharisees. Their obedience was all outward; they had no regard at all to the inward and spiritual part of any command. They did not murder, they did not commit adultery, they had an eye to the outward part of the command; but Christ charges them with unjust and adulterous thoughts, unchaste glances, contemplative wickedness, speculative uncleanness, etc., they having no regard at all to the inward and spiritual part of any command.

Common grace looks only to some particular duties, but saving grace looks to all. Renewing grace comes off to positives as well as negatives. It teaches us to deny all ungodliness and worldly lusts, and also to live soberly, righteously, and godly in this present world. These words contain the sum of a Christian's duty. To live soberly towards ourselves, righteously toward our neighbors, and godly toward God, is true godliness indeed and "the whole duty of man." (Micah 6:8)

A hypocrite has always a squint eye and squint eyed ends in all he does. Balaam spoke very religiously, and he multiplied altars and sacrifices; but the thing he had in his eye was the wages of unrighteousness. Jehu destroyed bloody Ahab's house, he executed the vengeance of God upon that wicked family; he readily, resolutely and effectually destroyed all the worshipers of Baal, but his ends were to secure the kingdom to him and his. Ahab and the Ninevites fasted in sackcloth, but it was merely that they might not feel the heavy judgments that they feared would overtake them. The Jews in Babylon fasted and mourned, and mourned and fasted seventy years, but it was more to get off their chains than their sins, it was more to be rid of their captivity than it was to be rid of their iniquity. As the eagle has an eye upon her prey when she flies highest, so these Jews in all their fasting, praying, mourning; they had only an eye to their ease, deliverance, freedom, etc.; in all their righteous duties they were acted from evil principles, and carried on by self respects; and therefore Daniel denies that in all that seventy year's captivity they had prayed to any purpose. "And this has come upon us, yet made we not our prayer before the Lord our God, that we might turn from our iniquities, and understand thy truth." (Daniel 9:13)

It is the end that dignifies or debaseth the action, that rectifies or adulterates it, that sets a crown of honor or shame upon the head of it. He that commonly, habitually, in all his duties and services, proposes to himself no higher ends than the praise of men, or rewards of men, or the stopping the mouth of natural conscience, or only to avoid a smarting rod, or merely to secure himself from wrath to come, he is a hypocrite. The ends of man's actions are always a great discovery, either of sincerity or hypocrisy. As great gifts, not sweetened with sincerety, are no ornaments to us; so great infirmities, not soured with hypocricy, are no great deformities to us. A hypocrite's ends are always below God; they are always below glorifying of God, exalting of God, walking with God, and enjoying communion with God. A hypocrite, in all he does, still proposes to himself some poor, ignoble, self−end or other.

But now mark, a sincere Christian.
  • If he prays or hears, or gives or fasts, or repents or obeys, etc., God's glory is the main end of all. The glory of God is his highest end, his ultimate end.

  • A sincere Christian can be content to be trampled upon and villified, so God's name be glorified.

  • The bent of such a heart is for God and His glory; nothing but sincerity can carry a soul so high, as in all acts natural, civil and religious, to intend God's glory.

  • A sincere Christian ascribes the praise of all to God; he sets the crown on Christ's head alone; he will set God upon the throne, and make all things else his servants, or his footstool. All must bow the knee to God, or be trodden in the dirt.

  • He will love nothing, he will embrace nothing but what sets God higher, or brings God nearer to his heart. The glory of God is the mark, the white, that the sincere Christian has in his eye.

  • The sincere Christian lives not to himself, but to Him Who lives forever; he lives not to his own will, or lusts, or greatness, or glory in this world, but he lives to His glory Whose glory is dearer to Him than his own life. As bright shining golden vessels do not retain the beams of the sun which they receive, but reflect them back again upon the sun; so the sincere Christian returns and reflects back again upon the Son of righteousness the praise and glory of all the gifts, graces, and virtues that they have received from Him.
The daily language of sincere souls is this: Not unto us. Lord, not unto us Lord, but to Thy name be all the glory.

A hypocrite never embraces a whole Christ; he can never take up his full and everlasting rest, satisfaction, and content in the person of Christ, in the merits of Christ, in the enjoyment of Christ alone. No hypocrite did ever long and mourn after the enjoyment of Christ, as the best thing in all the world. No hypocrite did ever prize Christ for a Sanctifier as well as a Savior. No hypocrite did ever look upon Christ, or long for Christ to deliver him from the power of his sins, as much or as well as to deliver him from wrath to come. No hypocrite can really love the person of Christ, or take the satisfaction in the person of Christ.

The inward nature of a Christian is to be judged by the universal contrariety of his inward man to all sin. Now this universal contrariety to all sin will beget a universal conflict with all sin. O Sirs! Remember this: Universal contrariety to sin can be found in no man, but he that is sincere; and this universal contrariety to sin argues an inward nature of grace, and this is that which differentiates a real Christian from a hypocrite, who may oppose some sins out of other principles and reasons. A hypocrite may be angry with this sin and that, which brings the smarting rod, and wounds his conscience, and disturbs his peace, and embitters his mercies, and strangles his comforts, and that lays him open to wrath, and that brings him even to the gates of hell, but he can never hate sin as sin.

A hypocrite hates some sins, but likes others. He loathes some, but practices others; like the angel of the church of Ephesus, that hated the deeds of the Nicolatitans, but [had left his First Love.] Many men detest theft that love coveteousness, abhor whoredom that like irreligiousness, etc. There is no hypocrite under heaven that can truly say, I hate every false way; but a sincere Christian hates all sinful ways, but his own first and most. An upright heart leaves no nest−egg for Satan to sit on, but the hypocrite always does.

Remember this forever, there are three things a hypocrite can never do.
  • He can never mourn for sin as sin.

  • He can never mourn for the sins of others as well as his own. Moses, Lot, David, Jeremiah, Paul and those in Ezekiel 9:4,6, mourned for others' sins as well as their own; but Pharaoh, Ahab, Judas, Demas, Simon Magus never did.

  • He can never hate sin as sin.


Thomas Brooks was born in 1608 into a Puritan family. During his life, he wrote over a dozen books.

In 1625, Brooks entered Emmanuel College, Cambridge, where Thomas Hooker, John Cotton, and Thomas Shepard were educated. Thomas Brooks was ordained as a preacher of the gospel in 1640, and became a chaplain to the parliamentary fleet, serving at sea. That ministry meant much to him as he stated: "I have been some years at sea and through grace I can say that I would not exchange my sea experiences for Englandís riches."

He even preached before Parliament, but was ejected in 1660. Like Thomas Goodwin and John Owen, Brooks preferred the Congregational view of church government. In 1662, he fell victim to the notorious Act of Uniformity. After being ejected from his living, Brooks continued to preach in London, and became the minister of a congregation at Moorfields, near St. Margaretís, New Fish Street, London.

Brooks stayed in London during the Great Plague of 1665, and faithfully tended his flock. He was licensed to preach in Lime Street in 1672, according to the terms of the Declaration of Indulgence, but his license was revoked in 1676.

Brooks died in 1680 and was buried in Bunhill Fields. John Reeve, who preached at his funeral, said that Thomas Brooks had "a sweet nature, great gravity, large charity, wonderful patience, and strong faith."


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