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Stedman and Hutchinson, comps. A Library of American Literature:
An Anthology in Eleven Volumes. 1891.
Vols. IX–XI: Literature of the Republic, Part IV., 1861–1889

An Exposition of Hypocrites

By John Cotton (1585–1652)

[The New Covenant. 1654.]

ALL the men in the world are divided into two ranks, godly or ungodly, righteous or wicked; of wicked men two sorts: some are notoriously wicked, others are Hypocrites; of Hypocrites two sorts (and you shall find them in the Church of God): some are washed Swine, others are Goats.

The Swine are those of whom our Saviour Christ saith: “That they return unto their wallowing in the mire;” like unto these are such men who at the hearing of some sermons have been stomach-sick of their sins, and have rejected their wicked courses; but yet the swine’s heart remaineth in them, as a Swine when he cometh where the puddle is will readily lie down in it, so will these men wallow in the puddle of uncleanness when their conscience is not pricked for the present; but these are a grosser kind of Hypocrites.

There is another sort that go far beyond these, and they are Goats, so called, Matt. xxv. 32, 33, and these are clean beasts such as chew the cud, meditate upon Ordinances, and they divide the hoof; they live both in a general and particular calling, and will not be idle. They are also fit for sacrifice; what then is wanting? Truly they are not sheep all this while, they are but Goats, yet a Goat doth loathe that which a Swine will readily break into. But where then do they fall short of the nature of sheep? A difference there is, which standeth principally in these particulars:—

1. The Goat is of a Capricious nature, and affecteth Eminency; his gait also is stately. Prov. xxx. 30. Agur reckoneth the he-goat among the four things that are comely in going. And they are full of Ambition; they cannot abide swamps and holes, but will be climbing upon the tops of mountains; there is not that plain, lowly, sheepish frame that attendeth unto the voice of the Shepherd, to be led up and down in fresh pastures; they attend upon their ends and will outshoot God in his own Bow, and therefore when they have done many things for Christ he will say unto them: “Depart from me, ye workers of iniquity.” More Eminency they did affect than they were guided unto. Thus it was with Jehu, who in his zeal for God thought to promote himself, and herein he will not be persuaded of his sin, and therefore going into crooked ways he cometh at length to cleave unto the sins of Jeroboam, the son of Nebat, who made Israel to sin; yet notwithstanding you may receive a Goat into Church-fellowship for all his capricious nature, and he will be a clean creature, and of much good use. The five foolish (Matt. xxv. 2), were all of them Virgins, all of them abhorring Idolatry, and all go forth to meet the Bridegroom, and yet they are foolish and never shall you make them wise, to be all for Christ, only hearing and obeying his voice.

2. They are of a Rankish nature, all of them, specially the old Goats will have an unsavory relish, far from that pleasant sweetness that is in a sheep; and herein Hypocrites are greatly different from the sheep of Christ as the Prophet speaketh, Ezek. xxxiv. 21, and they mar the pastures with their feet, and will be at length muddling the fair waters of the Sanctuary also; and in your best sanctification they fall far short of a sheep-like frame of spirit, diligently to hear the voice of the Shepherd; this will not be found in the sanctification of the best Hypocrite under Heaven, they may go far, and yet fall away, and this is no Arminianism, but if you search the Scriptures diligently, you will find these things to be true.