Front Page Titles (by Subject) CHAPTER LI.: of hypocrisy. - The Works of John Robinson, vol. 1
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CHAPTER LI.: of hypocrisy. - John Robinson, The Works of John Robinson, vol. 1 
The Works of John Robinson, Pastor of the Pilgrim Fathers, with a Memoir and Annotations by Robert Ashton, 3 vols (London: John Snow, 1851). Vol. 1.
Part of: The Works of John Robinson, Pastor of the Pilgrim Fathers, with a Memoir and Annotations by Robert Ashton, 3 vols.
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Hypocrites have their names from stage-players,* as rather playing than working that which is good and virtuous; and the same, only upon the stage, and to please lookers on. And as amongst stage-players the same persons act divers parts, at divers times, and those very different one from another; so is it with the actions of hypocrites. They hold no correspondence one with another; but some of them cover, and others discover their master's shame; as Noah's sons did their father's. And as such persons are never constant, for none can long play the counterfeit untired;* so neither are they free in any one kind of good; but have a goodness rather like the water in a dead pit, forced out at times with buckets; than of a living spring, which sends out its streams freely and constantly. Yea further, as Jacob, though for his father's blessing he covered his hands and neck very cunningly, was betrayed by his tongue and voice: so, hardly can a counterfeit carry his matters so close, but that ofttimes, even in one and the same work, there will be found a jar of the parts one with another; so as either the tongue will check the hands, or the hands the tongue, or both mutually; to the showing and shaming of all.
When great hypocrites and deep dissemblers are left of God to fall into any gross or scandalous evil, they seldom or never recover their former show of religion: neither, as one saith, will the lamb's-skin, which the wolf wears, being once shorn, ever grow again: but God in judgment leaving them in some special temptation to gross wickedness, in which they lose their credit in the world, which alone they sought, and so break the hedge which formerly restrained them, doth punish their former close dissimulation with after open profaneness. Young hypocrites commonly prove old atheists.
It may well be said, as it is in the proverb, that, Hypocrisy is spun with a fine thread: considering how hypocrites deceive, and overreach others, and ofttimes, weaker persons those, that are wiser than they; how much more, considering, how thereby they deceive themselves. In which latter there is a transgression and evil both in deceiving, and being deceived. For albeit a man may often without sin be deceived by another, yet never so by himself: seeing the spirit of a man may, if it do not always, know the things of a man. 1 Cor. ii. 11. This self-deceivableness ariseth in men either from presumption, when they think they need not; or from sloth, that they will not take the pains; or from an evil conscience, that they dare not try and examine themselves, and their works and estates with God, as they ought. Besides hypocrites by false appearances getting credit with others, come to esteem themselves better than they are, because others esteem them so.*
This hypocrisy is indeed not only a base, but a foolish evil. Base in dissembling the evil, which it hath, and is ashamed of: and in counterfeiting the good, which it hath not, and is ashamed to seem to want. And therefore notably proud people, scorning, as they used to boast, to dissemble, seldom come under this coat; but do usually appear to men, as void of grace and goodness, as they are before God. Foolish it is, if in nothing else, yet in covering from men that evil, which God seeth, and hateth, and will punish with infinitely greater both loss and shame and torment, than any, or all men will, or can: and not only the evil dissembled, but therewith the dissimulation also, which men legally do not. Great must the hypocrite's portion be in God's plagues: with whom, as the principal, the apparently evil, as but an accessary, hath “his portion appointed.” Matt. xxiv. 51.
It is one thing to do a work in hypocrisy, which onlv hypocrites do; and another thing to do it with hypocrisy, which is still ready, alas, to mingle itself with the work of God's grace in all our best actions; as Tobiah, and the rest of the heathen would have mingled themselves with the Lord's people in the building of his temple. The same may be said of unbelief, indevotion, and the like corruptions.
It is no marvel, that atheists and epicures judge all that make show of piety and godliness, specially above the size and custom of the times conceited, fantastical and very hypocrites; seeing they measure others by themselves. And knowing, that if they should make the semblance of godliness, which the others do, it should be no better in them than hypocrisy, and fancy; they conclude the same roundly upon others, from their own premises. And of this they are also desirous to persuade both themselves, and others: themselves, for a kind of envious comfort in evil, that others are as ill as they, and for their own hardening out of that imagination: others, for their miserable credit, when they are not thought lewd alone. They being themselves Sadducees, would fain think others, and have them thought Pharisees by others. A tang* of this also is to be found even in them who are not void of all goodness, towards such as a little overstep them in the ways of godliness.
Though hypocrisy be in itself a very odious thing, and so evil as it corrupts all good in him, in whom it reigns; making both his works of devotion and of mercy abominable to the Lord: yet considering how little true good is in the world; it were well, for others, at least, that there were more hypocrisy in many, than there is. Which would help both to repress in them many gross enormities, for shame, and to keep credit with men; which now, shamelessly, they practise: and also provoke them to many outward good works, for the good of others at the least, which now they wholly, and boldly neglect in professed godliness and dishonesty.
Besides, hypocrisy yields, though it intend it not, a full and loud testimony to true virtue and godliness; seeing no man, ordinarily, desires to seem but good. Now if it be a thing so desirable, even by their testimony, who want goodness, to appear good; how much more to be so indeed. What is the empty shadow to the solid body'? To shut up this head: as the shadow follows the body, so doth the name and fame of good, true goodness, with equally-minded men. And instead of a thousand compasses of device which men fetch about to obtain the name of good and virtuous, this one short, and right on way, of being good indeed would serve the turn for the procuring it from all indifferent and wise judges. The most compendious way to this honour is, that in truth a man be, as he would be accounted,† saith the heathen: how much more ought Christians, who are persuaded of God's providence in ordering this, and all his other blessings upon themselves, and others, thus both to say, and think, and proceed accordingly! And look what recompense of honour or other reward, this plain and homely uprightness, which of all other virtues, laudatur et alget, is denied from men, God who seeth and loveth it, will plenteously supply. “Blessed are the perfect in way: who walk in the law of Jehovah,” Psa. cxix. 1. To choose the right way of God's law first, and then to walk uprightly in it, is to be guided by God's own Spirit to heaven.