Matthew Mead’s The Almost Discovered Christian Discovered (first printed 1661; SDG ed., 1993) was written “that the formal, sleepy professor may be awakened and the close hypocrite discovered” (p. xv).
Along the way, Mead notes 8 kinds of “counterfeit zeal” (pp. 55-60):
1. There is a blind zeal, a zeal without knowledge.
This was the zeal Paul had while a Pharisee and persecuting the godly.
2. There is a partial zeal.
It is to be “fire-hot” in one thing but “key-cold” in another. Many are “first-table Christians” yet neglectful of the second. While “others are mindful of the second-table, but neglectful of the first.” “So where zeal reaches to every command of God alike, that is a sign of a sound constitution of the soul.”
3. There is a misplaced zeal fixed upon unsuitable and disproportionate objects.
This is “a superstitious zeal” usually found in unconverted men “in whom grace never was wrought.” This is the zeal Paul had for “the traditions of his fathers” before his conversion.
4. There is a selfish zeal that has a man’s own end for its motive.
“Jehu was very zealous, but it was not so much for God as for the kingdom.”
5. There is an outside zeal.
Such was the zeal of the scribes and Pharisees who “would not eat with unwashed hands, but yet would live in unseen sins.”
6. There is a forensic zeal that runs out upon others.
“Many are hot and high against the sins of others and yet cannot see the same in themselves.” “It is easy to see the faults in others and hard to see them in ourselves.” “This zeal is the true character of a hypocrite. His own garden is overrun with weeds while he is busy in looking over his neighbor’s pale.”
7. There is a sinful zeal.
This is “a zeal against zeal.” It is a “devilish zeal.” It is a zeal against godliness and truth.
8. There is a scripture-less zeal that is not butted and bound by the Word, but by some base and low end.
“Many a man’s zeal is greater then and there, when and where he has the least warrant from God. The true spirit of zeal is bound by the Scripture, for it is for God and the concerns of His glory. God has no glory from that zeal which has not Scripture warrant.”
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