Many come to God’s house disguised in manner and appearance. How good you all look!
When we sing and you take your books, how heavenly-minded! And when we pray, how reverent you are! How your heads are all bowed – your eyes covered with your hands! I do not know how much praying there is when you sit in a devout posture; though you assume the attitude and compose your countenance as those who draw near to supplicate the Lord. I am afraid there are many of you who do not pray a word or present a petition, though you assume the posture of suppliants. When the singing is going on there are many who never sing a word with the spirit and the understanding.
In the house of God I am afraid there are many who wear a mask, stand as God’s people stand, sit as they sit, pray as they pray, and sing as they sing- and all the while what are you doing? Some of you have been attending to your children while we have been singing tonight. Some of you have been casting up your ledger, attending to your farms, scheming about your carpentering and bricklaying; yet all the while if we had looked into your faces we might have thought you were reverently worshiping God.
Oh! Those solemn faces, and those reverent looks, they do not deceive the Most High God! He knows who and what you are! He sees you as clearly as men see through glass. As for hiding from the Almighty, how can you hide yourself from him? As well attempt to hide in a glass case, for all the world is a glass case before God. . . The eyes of God are on you continually; no veil of hypocrisy can screen you from him.
It is a melancholy and a most solemn reflection that there are many who profess to be Christians who are not Christians. . . .
I have tried, the Lord knows, to preach as plainly and as much home to the mark as I could, to sift and try you; but for all that the hypocrite will come in. After the most searching ministry, there are still some who will wrap themselves about with a ‘mantle of deception’. Though we cry aloud and spare not, and bid you lay hold on eternal life, yet, alas! How many are content with a mere name to live and are dead.
Many come here and even hold office in the Church, yes, the minister himself may even preach the Word, and after all be hollow and empty. How many who dress and look fair outside, are only fit to be tinder for the devil’s tinder box, for they are all dry and empty within! God save as from a profession if it is not real!
I pray that we may know the worst of our case. If I must be damned, I would sooner go to hell unholy, than as a hypocrite – that back-door to the pit is the thing I dread most of all. Oh! To sit at the Lord’s Table, and to drink of the cup of devils! To be recognized among God’s own here, and then to find one’s own name left out when God reads the muster-roll of his servants!
Oh! What a portion for eternity! I bid you tear off this mask, and if the grace of God is not in you, I beg you to go into the world which is your fit place, and abstain from joining the Church, if you are not really a member of the body of Christ.
“You, God, see me!” Write that on the palm of your hand, and look at it; wake up in the morning with it; sleep with it before you on your curtains. “You, God, see me!” (“A Hearer in Disguise” No. 584)