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I will have mercy and not sacrifice. The ostentation of hypocrites is ever confined to the works of the first table of the law, which prescribes our duties to God. The reason is twofold: both because works of this class have a greater pomp of sanctity, and because they interfere less with their desires. The way to convict a hypocrite therefore is to send him from the works of sacrifice, to the works of mercy. Whence the text: Pure religion and undefiled before God and the Father is this, to visit the orphans and widows in their affliction ; and that other, He who loveth not his brother whom he hath seen, how shall he love God whom he hath not seen? 'There are some however of a deeper and more inflated hypocrisy, who deceiving themselves, and fancying themselves worthy of a closer conversation with God, neglect the duties of charity towards their neighbour, as inferior matters. which error the life monastic was, not indeed originated (for the beginning was good), but carried into
For it is rightly said that the office of prayer is a great office in the Church; and it is for the service of the Church that there should be companies of men relieved from cares of the world, who may pray to God without ceasing for the state of the Church. But this institution is a near neighbour to that form of hypocrisy which I speak of: nor is the institution itself meant to be condemned; but only those self-exalting spirits to be restrained. For both Enoch, he who walked with God, prophecied, as we know from Jude, and endowed the Church with the fruit of his proph
ecy; and John the Baptist, whom some would have to be the founder of the life monastic, exercised much ministry both of prophecy and baptism. For it is to those others, who are so officious towards God, that that question is applied : If thou be righteous what givest thou him, or what receiveth he of thine hand ? The works of mercy therefore are the works whereby to distinguish hypocrites. With heretics on the contrary it is otherwise : for as hypocrites seek by a pretended holiness towards God to cover their injuries towards men; so heretics seek by a certain moral carriage towards men to make a passage for their blasphemies against God.
Whether we be beside ourselves, it is to God; or whether
we be sober, it is for your cause. Here is the true image and true temper of a man who has religion deeply seated in his heart, and is God's faithful workman. His carriage and conversation towards God is full of excess, of zeal, of extasy. Hence groans unspeakable, and exultations, and raptures of spirit, and agonies. His bearing and conversation with men on the contrary is full of mildness and sobriety and appliable demeanour: whence that saying, I am become all things to all men, and the like. Contrary it is with hypocrites and impostors : for they in the Church and towards the people set themselves on fire, and are carried as it were out of themselves, and becoming as men inspired with holy furies, they set heaven and earth together. But if a man should look into their times of solitude, and separate meditations, and conversations with God, he would find them not only cold and without life, but full of malice and leaven; sober towards God; beside themselves to the people.
OF THE KINDS OF IMPOSTURE.
Avoid profane novelties of terms and oppositions of sci
ence falsely so called. Avoid fond and idle fables. Let no man deceive you with high speech.
There are three kinds of speech, and as it were styles of imposture. The first kind is of those who, as soon as they get any subject-matter, straightway make an art of it, fit it with technical terms, reduce all into distinctions, thence educe positions and assertions, and frame oppositions by questions and answers. Hence the rubbish and pother of the schoolmen. The second kind is of those who through vanity of wit, as a kind of holy poets, imagine and invent all variety of stories and examples, for the training and moulding of men's minds: whence the lives of the fathers, and innumerable figments of the ancient heretics. The third kind is of those who fill everything with mysteries and highsounding phrases, allegories and allusions : which mystic and Gnostic style of discourse a great number of heretics have adopted. Of these kinds, the first catches and entangles man's sense and understanding, the second allures, the third astonishes: all seduce it.
The fool hath said in his heart, There is no God.
First, he hath said in his heart; it is not said, he hath thought in his heart; that is, it is not so much that he feels it inwardly, as that he wishes to believe it. Because he sees that it would be good for him that there were no God, he strives by all means to persuade himself of it and induce himself to think so; and sets it up as a theme or position or dogma, which he studies to assert and maintain and establish. Nevertheless there remains in him that sparkle of the original light whereby we acknowledge a divinity, to extinguish which utterly, and pluck the instinct out of his heart, he strives in vain. And therefore it is out of the malice of his will, not out of his natural sense and judgment, that he makes this supposition: as the comic poet says Then came my mind over to my opinion ; as though himself and his mind were not one. And so it is true that the Atheist has rather said in his heart than thinks in his heart that there is no God.
Secondly, he hath said it in his heart: he hath not spoken it with his mouth. But note that this is from fear of law and opinion : as one says, It is a hard matter to deny the Gods in a public assembly, but in a familiar conference it is easy enough. For if this restraint were removed, there is no heresy which strives with more zeal to spread and sow and multiply itself, than Atheism. Nor shall you see those who are fallen into this phrensy to breathe and importunately inculcate anything else almost, than speech tending to Atheism ; as in Lucretius the Epicurean ; who makes his invec
tive against religion almost as the burthen or verse of return to every other subject. The reason appears to be that the Atheist, not being well satisfied in his own mind, tossing to and fro, distrustful of himself, and finding many times his opinion faint within him, desires to have it revived by the assent of others. For it is rightly said that he who is very anxious to approve his opinion to another, himself distrusts. it.
Thirdly, he is a fool who has said this in his heart; which is most true: a fool, not only as wanting wisdom in divine matiers, but humanly also. For first, you will find those wits which are prone to Atheism to be commonly light and scoffing and rash and insolent: of that composition in short which is most opposed to wisdom and gravity. Secondly, among statesmen, the deeper wits and larger hearts have not made pretence of religion to the people, but have in their private and inward opinion paid respect to it, as those who have attributed most to providence and fortune : while those. on the contrary who have ascribed everything to their own arts and industries, and to immediate and apparent causes, and sacrificed (as the prophet says) to their own nets, have been paltry politicians, and mountebanks, and incapable of great actions. Thirdly, in physics likewise I maintain this — that a little natural philosophy and the first entrance into it inclines men's opinions to Atheism ; but on the other hand much natural philosophy and a deeper progress into it brings men's minds about again to religion. So that Atheism appears to be convicted on all sides of folly and ignorance: and it is truly the saying of fools, that there is no God.