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ESSA Y S.
ON HYPOCRISY AND OPEN PROFLIGACY, AND THE COMPARATIVE INFAMY AND DEMERIT OF EACH.
Men are often found to pursue the same end by very different means, and means which are considered as directly opposite, Aye bowing, and always erect, are very contrary deportments both of body and mind; and yet by each men have risen to rank, and wealth, and
power. Constant integrity and persevering industry accomplish with some the purpose in view, while undeviating duplicity and fraud shall with others be equally successful. And thus it is also in the two great classes of vice, hypocrisy and profli
gacy. Selfishness is the common character of both; and to gratify self, without much, if
any thing, of sympathy for the rights or wrongs of others, is the one end, which the hypocrite and the profligate have equally in view. But though in point of moral difference neither has much reason to throw a stone at the other, the world does not hate them both so cordially as they hate each other. In looking at each other, they see not the common character of mind, which an indifferent observer acknowledges in both; the baseness of the hypocrite is the proud theme of the profligate's abuse, and the hypocrite is shocked at the unblushing impudence of the profligate : in fine, this alternate abuse diverts the attention of each from self ; I am no hypocrite, and I am no profligate, is a lullaby to each ; while the injured and indignant public would commit them both in one coverture to the depths of the Red Sea, the sacred receptacle of all evil dæmons. It may be necessary, as a preliminary, to
define the terms, hypocrisy and profligacy. By the latter, I understand that character of mind, which openly and in the face of the world pursues the gratification of its own passions and interest, without regard to moral principle, or those who may severely suffer from such a conduct. By hypocrisy, I understand a character of mind, which, equally disregarding moral principle and sympathy, studiously affects both, and under a fair appearance, which does and must invite confidence, more successfully accomplishes the unjust and sordid purposes of the base heart within. This comprehensive definition will extend the field of profligacy and hypocrisy much beyond the narrow limit, to which these two characters are generally confined ; as if by the profligate were understood merely a sensual libertine, and by the hypocrite a sanctified villain. By the one, the man who lives only to devour women and wine; by the other, the man whose prayer has an eye to man more than God, whose religion is worn on his face
more than in his heart. This
may an unfavourable impression, which from the title announced may perhaps be already entertained, that I mean to deliver a sermon instead of an essay.
Now before a philosophical and literary society this would be rather ridiculous, almost as much so, as if attending a town-meeting on parish affairs, or of the subscribers to a general hospital, any one, because he was a parson, should preach a sermon to them in all the solemn style of the pulpit. This grievous imputation I mean to avoid, as much as the nature of my subject will admit, wherein I
your interdict of religion, an interdict which I must presume to proceed from no irreverence for a subject, which even the politics of the state acknowledge and cherish; but because each of you, knowing well your regular attendance every week on the doctrine of the pulpit, come here to discuss other topics, to meet with information and instruction on other interesting subjects. I may be allowed, however, to