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Bunyan Characters First Series: 18. JUDGE HATE-GOOD

By Alexander Whyte


      'Hear, O heads of Jacob, and ye princes of the house of Israel . . . who hate the good and love the evil.'--Micah.

      The portrait of Judge Hate-good in The Pilgrim's Progress is but a poor replica, as our artists say, of the portrait of Judge Jeffreys in our English history books. I am sure you have often read, with astonishment at Bunyan's literary power, his wonderful account of the trial of Faithful, when, as Bunyan says, he was brought forth to his trial in order to his condemnation. We have the whole ecclesiastical jurisprudence of Charles and James Stuart put before us in that single satirical sentence. But, powerful as Bunyan's whole picture of Judge Hate-good's court is, it is a tame and a poor picture compared with what all the historians tell us of the injustice and cruelty of the court of Judge Jeffreys. Macaulay's portrait of the Lord Chief Justice of England for ferocity and fiendishness beats out of sight Bunyan's picture of that judge who keeps Satan's own seal in Bunyan's Book. Jeffreys was bred for his future work at the bar of the Old Bailey, a bar already proverbial for the licence of its tongue and for the coarseness of its cases. Jeffreys served his apprenticeship for the service that our two last Stuarts had in reserve for him so well, that he soon became, so his beggared biographer describes him, the most consummate bully that ever disgraced an English bench. The boldest impudence when he was a young advocate, and the most brutal ferocity when he was an old judge, sat equally secure on the brazen forehead of George Jeffreys. The real and undoubted ability and scholarship of Jeffreys only made his wickedness the more awful, and his whole career the greater curse both to those whose tool he was, and to those whose blood he drank daily. Jeffreys drank brandy and sang lewd songs all night, and he drank blood and cursed and swore on the bench all day. Just imagine the state of our English courts when a judge could thus assail a poor wretch of a woman after passing a cruel sentence upon her. 'Hangman,' shouted the ermined brute, 'Hangman, pay particular attention to this lady. Scourge her soundly, man. Scourge her till the blood runs. It is the Christmas season; a cold season for madam to strip in. See, therefore, man, that you warm her shoulders thoroughly.' And you all know who Richard Baxter was. You have all read his seraphic book, The Saints' Rest. Well, besides being the Richard Baxter so well known to our saintly fathers and mothers, he was also, and he was emphatically, the peace-maker of the Puritan party. Baxter's political principles were of the most temperate and conciliatory, and indeed, almost royalist kind. He was a man of strong passions, indeed, but all the strength and heat of his passions ran out into his hatred of sin and his love of holiness, and an unsparing and consuming care for the souls of his people. Very Faithful himself stood before the bar of Judge Jeffreys in the person of Richard Baxter. It took all the barefaced falsehood and scandalous injustice of the crown prosecutors to draw out the sham indictment that was read out in court against inoffensive Richard Baxter. But what was lacking in the charge of the crown was soon made up by the abominable scurrility of the judge. 'You are a schismatical knave,' roared out Jeffreys, as soon as Baxter was brought into court. 'You are an old hypocritical villain.' And then, clasping his hands and turning up his eyes, he sang through his nose: 'O Lord, we are Thy peculiar people: we are Thy dear and only people.' 'You old blockhead,' he again roared out, 'I will have you whipped through the city at the tail of the cart. By the grace of God I will look after you, Richard.' And the tiger would have been as good as his word had not an overpowering sense of shame compelled the other judges to protest and get Baxter's inhuman sentence commuted to fine and imprisonment. And so on, and so on. But it was Jeffreys' 'Western Circuit,' as it was called, that filled up the cup of his infamy--an infamy, say the historians, that will last as long as the language and the history of England last. The only parallel to it is the infamy of a royal house and a royal court that could welcome home and promote to honour such a detestable miscreant as Jeffreys was. But the slaughter in Somerset was only over in order that a similar slaughter in London might begin. Let those who have a stomach for more blood and tears follow out the hell upon earth that James Stuart and George Jeffreys together let loose on the best life of England in their now fast-shortening day. Was Judge Jeffreys, some of you will ask me, born and bred in hell? Was the devil his father, and original sin his mother? Or, was he not the very devil himself come to earth for a season in English flesh? No, my brethren, not so. Judge Jeffreys was one of ourselves. Little George Jeffreys was born and brought up in a happy English home. He was baptised and confirmed in an English church. He took honours in an English university. He ate dinners, was called to the bar, conducted cases, and took silk in an English court of justice. And in the ripeness of his years and of his services, he wore the honourable ermine and sat upon the envied wool-sack of an English sovereign. It would have been far less awful and far less alarming to think of, had Judge Jeffreys been, as you supposed, a pure devil let loose on the Church of Christ and the awakening liberty of England. But some innocent soul will ask me next whether there has ever been any other monster on the face of the earth like Judge Jeffreys; and whether by any possibility there are any such monsters anywhere in our own day. Yes, truth compels me to reply. Yes, there are, plenty, too many. Only their environment, nowadays, as our naturalists say, does not permit them to grow to such strength and dimensions as those of James Stuart, and George Jeffreys, his favourite judge. At the same time, be not deceived by your own deceitful heart, nor by any other deceiver's smooth speeches. Judge Jeffreys is in yourself, only circumstances have not yet let him fully show himself in you. Still, if you look close enough and deep enough into your own hearts, you will see the same wicked light glancing sometimes there that used so to terrify Judge Jeffreys' prisoners when they saw it in his wicked eyes. If you lay your ear close enough to your own heart, you will sometimes hear something of that same hiss with which that human serpent sentenced to torture and to death the men and the women who would not submit to his command. The same savage laughter also will sometimes all but escape your lips as you think of how your enemy has been made to suffer in body and in estate. O yes, the very same hell-broth that ran for blood in Judge Jeffreys' heart is in all our hearts also; and those who have the least of its poison left in their hearts will be the foremost to confess its presence, and to hate and condemn and bewail themselves on account of its terrible dregs.

      HATE-GOOD is an awful enough name for any human being to bear. Those who really know what goodness is, and then, what hatred is,--they will feel how awful a thing it is for any man to hate goodness. But there is something among us sinful men far more awful than even that, and that is to hate God. The carnal mind, writes the apostle Paul to the Romans--and it is surely the most terrible sentence that often terrible enough apostle ever wrote--the carnal mind is enmity against God. And Dr. John Owen annotating on that sentence is equally terrible. The carnal mind, he says, has 'chosen a great enemy indeed.' And having mentioned John Owen, will you let me once more beseech all students of divinity, that is, all students, amongst other things, of the desperate depravity of the human heart, to read John Owen's sixth volume till they have it by heart,--by a broken, believing heart. Owen On Indwelling Sin is one of the greatest works of the great Puritan period. It is a really great, and as we nowadays say, a truly scientific work to the bargain. But all that by the way. Yes, this carnal heart that is still left in every one of us has chosen a great enemy, and it would need both strong and faithful allies in order to fight him. The hatred that His Son also met with when He was in this world is one of the most hateful pages of this hateful world's hateful history. He knew His own heart towards His enemies, and thus He was able to say to the Searcher of Hearts with His dying breath, They hated Me without a cause. Truly our hatred is hottest when it is most unjust.

      'Look to yourselves,' wrote the apostle John to the elect lady and her children. Yes; let us all look sharply and suspiciously to ourselves in this matter now in hand, and we shall not need John Owen nor anybody else to discover to us the hatred and the hatefulness of our own hearts. Look to yourselves, and the work of the law will soon be fulfilled in you. Homo homini lupus, taught an old philosopher who had studied moral philosophy not in books so much as in his own heart. 'Is no man naturally good?' asked innocent Lady Macleod of Dunvegan Castle at her guest, Dr. Samuel Johnson. 'No, madam, no more than a wolf.' That is quite past all question with all those who either in natural morals or in revealed religion look to and know and characterise themselves. We have all an inborn propensity to dislike one another, and a very small provocation will suddenly blow that banked-up furnace into a flame. It is ever present with me, says self-examining Paul, and hence its so sudden and so destructive outbreaks. So the written or the printed name of our enemy, his image in our mind, his passing step, his figure out of the window; his wife, his child, his carriage, his cart in the street, anything, everything will stir up our heart at the man we do not like. And the whole of our so honest Bible, our present text, and the illustrations of our text in Judge Jeffreys' and Judge Hate-good's courts, all go to show that the better a man is the more sometimes will we hate him. Good men, better men than we are, men who in public life and in private life pursue great and good ends, of necessity cross and go counter to us in our pursuit of small, selfish, evil ends, and of necessity we hate them. For, cross a selfish sinner sufficiently and you have a very devil--as many good men, if they knew it, have in us. Again, good men who come into contact with us cannot help seeing our bad lives, our tempers, our selfishness, our public and private vices; and we see that they see us, and we cannot love those whose averted eye so goes to our conscience. And not only in the hatred of good men, but if you know of God how to watch yourselves, you will find yourselves out every day also in the hatred of good movements, good causes, good institutions, and good works. There are doctors who would far rather hear of their rival's patient expiring in his hands than hear their rival's success trumpeted through all the town. There are ministers, also, who would rather that the masses of the city and the country sank yet deeper into improvidence and drink and neglect of ordinances than that they were rescued by any other church than their own. They hate to hear of the successes of another church. There are party politicians who would rather that the ship of the state ran on the rocks both in her home and her foreign policy than that the opposite party should steer her amid a nation's cheers into harbour. And so of good news. I will stake the divine truth of this evening's Scriptures, and of their historical and imaginative illustrations, on the feelings, if you know how to observe, detect, characterise, and confess them,--the feelings, I say, that will rise in your heart to-morrow morning when you read what is good news to other men, even to good men, and to the families and family interests of good men. It does not matter one atom into what profession, office, occupation, interest you track the corrupt heart of man, as sure as a substance casts a shadow, so sure will you find your own selfish heart hating goodness when the goodness does not serve or flatter you.

      Now, though they will never be many, yet there must be some men among us, one here and another there, who have so looked at and found out themselves. I can well believe that some men here came up to this house to-night trembling in their heart all the way. They felt the very advertisement go through them like a knife: they felt that they were summoned up hither almost by name as to judgment. For they feel every day, though they have never told their feelings to any, that they have this horrible heart deep-seated within them to love evil and to hate good. They gnash their teeth at themselves as they catch themselves rejoicing in iniquity. They feel their hearts expanding, and they know that their faces shine, when you tell them evil tidings. They sicken and lose heart and sit solitary when you carry to them a good report. They feel as John Bunyan felt, that no one but the devil can equal them in pollution of heart. And their wonder sometimes is that the Searcher of Hearts does not drive them down where devils dwell and hate God and man and one another. They look around them when the penitential psalm is being sung, and they smile bitterly to themselves. O people of God, they say, you do not know what you are saying. Leave that psalm to me. I can sing it. I can tell to God what He knows about sin, and about sin in the heart. Stand away back from me, that man says, for I am a leper. The chief of sinners is beside you. A whited sepulchre stands open beside you.--Stop now, O hating and hateful man, and let me speak for a single moment before we separate. Before you say any more about yourself, and before you leave the house of God, lift up your broken heart and with all your might bless God that He has opened your eyes and taught you how to look at yourself and how to hate yourself. There are hundreds of honest Christian men and women in this house at this moment to whom God has not done as, in His free grace, He has done to you. For He has not only begun a good work in you, but He has begun that special and peculiar work which, when it goes on to perfection, makes a great and an eminent saint of God. To know your own heart as you evidently know it, and to hate it as you say you hate it, and to hunger after a clean heart as, with every breath, you hunger,--all that, if you would only believe it, sets you, or will yet set you, high up among the people of God. Be comforted; it is your bounden duty to be comforted. God deserves it at your hands that you be more than comforted amid such unmistakable signs of His eminent grace to you. And be patient under your exceptional sanctification. Rome was not built in a day. You cannot reverse the awful law of your sanctification. You cannot be saved by Jesus Christ and His Holy Spirit without seeing yourself, and you cannot see yourself without hating yourself, and you cannot begin to hate yourself without all your hatred henceforth turning against yourself. You are deep in the red-hot bosom of the refiner's fire. And when you are once sufficiently tried by the Divine Refiner of Souls, He will in His own good time and way bring you out as gold. Be patient, therefore, till the coming of the Lord. And say continually amid all your increasing knowledge of yourself, and amid all your increasing hatred of yourself, 'As for me, I will behold Thy face in righteousness; I shall be satisfied when I awake with Thy likeness.'

      * LECTURE DELIVERED IN ST. GEORGE'S FREE CHURCH EDINBURGH

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See Also:
   INTRODUCTORY
   1. EVANGELIST
   2. OBSTINATE
   3. PLIABLE
   4. HELP
   5. MR. WORLDLY-WISEMAN
   6. GOODWILL, THE GATEKEEPER
   7. THE INTERPRETER
   8. PASSION
   9. PATIENCE
   10. SIMPLE, SLOTH, AND PRESUMPTION
   11. THE THREE SHINING ONES AT THE CROSS
   12. FORMALIST AND HYPOCRISY
   13. TIMOROUS AND MISTRUST
   14. PRUDENCE
   15. CHARITY
   16. SHAME
   17. TALKATIVE
   18. JUDGE HATE-GOOD
   19. FAITHFUL IN VANITY FAIR
   20. BY-ENDS
   21. GIANT DESPAIR
   22. KNOWLEDGE
   23. EXPERIENCE
   24. WATCHFUL
   25. SINCERE

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