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1 CORINTHIANS II. 11.
Lett Satan should get an advantage of us; for we are not ignorant of his devices.
IN the fifth verse, the apostle shews that the incestuous person had by his incest saddened those precious souls that God would not have saddened. Souls that walk sinfully are Hazaels to the godly, and draw many sighs and tears from them. Jeremiah weeps in secret for Judah's <ins, and Paul cannot speak of the belly-gods with dry eyes, Phil. iii. 18. And Lot's righteous soul was burdened, vexed, and racked by the filthy Sodomites, 2 Pet. ii. 7, 8. Every sinful Sodomite was a Hazael to his eyes, a Hadadrimmon to his heart. Gracious souls use to mourn for other men's sins, as well as their own; and for their souls and sins, who make a mock of sin and a jest of damning their own souls. Guilt or grief is all that gracious souls get by communion with vain souls.
In the sixth verse, he shews that the punishment which was inflicted upon the incestuous person was sufficient, and therefore they should not refuse to receive him who had repented, and sorrowed for his former faults and follies. It is not for the honour of Christ, the credit of the gospel, or the good of souls, for professors to be like those bloody wretches, who burned some that recanted at the stake, saying, that they would send them into another world while they were in a good mind.
In ver. 7, 8, 9, 10, the apostle stirs up the church to forgive him, to comfort him, and to confirm their love towards him, lest he should be swallowed up with overmuch sorrow, Satan going about to mix the detestable darnel of desperation, with the godly sorrow of a pure, penitent heart. It was a sweet saying of one, 'Let a man grieve for his sin, and then joy for his grief.' That sorrow for sin which keeps the soul from looking towards the mercy-seat, and which keeps Christ and the soul asunder, or which shall render the soul unfit for the communion of saints, is a sinful sorrow.
In the eleventh verse, he lays down another reason to work them to shew pity and mercy to the penitent sinner, who was mourning and groaning under his sin and misery; Lest Satan should get an advantage of us; for we are not ignorant of his devices.
A little for the opening of the words. Lest Satan should get an advantage of us; lest Satan over-reach us. The Greek word signifies to have more than belongs to one. The comparison is taken from the greedy merchant, who seeks and takes all opportunities to beguile and deceive others. Satan is that wily merchant, who devours not widow's houses, but most men's souls.
We are not ignorant of his devices, or plots, or machinations, or stratagems. He is but a titular Christian, who has not personal experience of Satan's stratagems, his set and composed machinations, his artificially moulded methods, his plots, darts, depths, whereby he out-witted our first parents, and fits a penny-worth still, as he sees reason.
The main observation that I shall draw from these words, is this doctrine, that Satan has his several devices to deceive, entangle, and undo the souls of men.
I shall prove the point—shew you his several devices and the remedies against them—lay down some propositions concerning them—and shew how it came to pass, that Satan has so many devices to deceive, entangle, and undo the souls of men.
For the proof of the point, take these few scriptures. Put on the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil, Ephes. vi. 11. The Greek word that is here rendered wiles, is a notable, emphatical word.
It signifies such snares as are laid behind one, such treacheries as come upon one's back unawares. It denotes the methods or way-layings of that old subtle serpent, who, like Dan's adder in the path, bites the heels of passengers, and thereby transfuses his venom to the head and heart. The word signifies an ambushment, or stratagem of war, whereby the enemy sets upon a man ex insidiis, at unawares.
It signifies such snares as are set to catch one in one's road. A man walks in his road, and thinks not of it; on the sudden he is catched by thieves, or falls into a pit.
It signifies such as are purposely, artificially, and craftily set for taking the prey at the greatest advantage that can be; the Greek pe8o§ela.s, being derived from jM-ra and 080$, signifies properly a way-laying, circumvention, or going about, as they do who seek after their prey. Julian, by his craft, drew more from the faith than all his persecuting predecessors could do by their cruelty. So Satan does more hurt in his sheep's skin, than by roaring like a lion.
Take one scripture more for the proof of the point, and that is in 2 Tim. ii. 26; And that they may recover themselves out of the snare of the devil, who are taken captive by him at his will. The Greek word that is here rendered recover themselves, signifies to awaken themselves. The apostle alludes to one who is asleep or drunk, who is to be awakened and restored to his senses. And the Greek word that is here rendered taken captive, signifies to be taken alive. The word is properly a warlike word, and signifies to be taken alive as soldiers are taken alive in the wars, or as birds are taken alive and ensnared in the fowler's net. Satan has snares for the wise, and snares for the simple; snares for hypocrites, and snares for the upright; snares for generous souls, and snares for timorous souls; snares for the rich, and snares for the poor; snares for the aged, and snares for youth. Happy are those souls that are not taken and held in the snares that he has laid.
Take one proof more, and then I will proceed to the opening of the point, and that is in Rev. ii. 24; But unto you I say, and unto the rest in Thyatira, as many as have not this doctrine, and which have not known the depths of Satan, as they speak, I will put upon you none other burden. Those poor souls called their opinions the depths of God. when indeed they were the depths of Satan. You call your opinions depths, and so they are, but they are such depths as Satan has brought out of hell; they are the whisperings and hissings of that serpent, not the inspirations of God.
THE DEVICES OF SATAN TO DRAW THE SOUL TO SIS.
The next thing that I am to shew you, is the several devices of Satan, and herein I shall first shew the several devices that he has to draw the soul to sin. I shall instance in these twelve, which may bespeak our most serious consideration.
Dev. 1. His first device to draw the soul to sin, is to present the bait and hide the hook; to present the golden cup and hide the poison; to present the sweet, the pleasure, and the profit that may flow in upon the soul by yielding to sin, and by hiding from the soul the wrath and misery that will certainly follow the committing of sin. By this device he took our first parents. And the serpent said unto the woman, Ye shall not surely die; for God doth know, that in the day ye eat thereof, then your eyes shall be opened, and ye shall be as Gods, knowing good and evil, Gen. iii. 4, 5. Your eyes shall be opened, and ye shall be as Gods; here is the bait, the sweet, the pleasure, the profit. O, but he hides the hook, the shame, the wrath, and the loss that would certainly follow. There