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reluctancy; and thou sinnest presumptuously, obstinately, readily, delightfully, and customarily. Thou hast, by thy making a trade of sin, contracted upon thy soul a kind of cursed necessity of sinning, that thou canst as well cease to be or cease to live, as thou canst cease to sin. Sin is by custom become as another nature to thee, which thou canst not, which thou wilt not, lay aside, though thou knowest that if thou dost not lay sin aside, God will lay thy soul aside for ever; though thou knowest that if sin and thy soul do not part, Christ and thy soul can never meet. If thou wilt make a trade of sin, and cry out, 'Did not David sin thus, and Noah sin thus,and Peter sin thus 1' No,their hearts turned aside to folly one day, but thy heart turns aside to folly every day: and when they were fallen, they rose by repentance, and by the actings of faith upon a crucified Christ: but thou fallest, and hast no strength nor will to rise, but wallowest in sin, and wilt eternally die in thy sins, unless the Lord be the more merciful to thy soul. Dost thou think, O soul, this is good reasoning—such a one tasted poison but once, and yet narrowly escaped, but I do daily drink poison, yet I shall escape. Yet such is the mad reasoning of vain souls. David and Peter, sinned once foully and fearfully; they tasted poison but once, and were sick to death; but I taste it daily, and yet shall not taste of eternal death. Remember, O souls, that the day is at hand, when self-flatterers will be found selfdeceivers, yea, self-murderers.
Rem. 3. Seriously consider that though God does not, nor ever will, disinherit his people for their sins, yet he has severely punished his people for their sins. David sins, and God breaks his bones for his sin. Make me to hear joy and gladness, that the bones which thou hast broken may rejoice,]]. 8. Because thou hast done this, the sword shall never depart from thy house, 2 Sam. xii. 10. Though God will not utterly take from his people his loving kindness, nor suffer his faithfulness to fail, nor break his covenant, nor alter the thing that is gone out of his mouth, yet will he visit their transgression with a rod, and their iniquity with stripes, Psalm lxxxix. 32—34. The scripture abounds with instances of this kind. This is so known a truth among all that know any thing of truth, that to- cite more scriptures to prove it, would be to light a candle to see the sun at noon.
The Jews have a proverb, that there is no punishment comes upon Israel, in which there is not one ounce of the golden calf; meaning that that was so great a sin, as that in every plague God remembered it; that had an influence you every trouble which befel them. Every man's heart may say to him in his sufferings, as the heart of Apollodorus in the kettle,' I have been the cause of this.'
God is most angry, when he shews no anger. God keep me from this mercy. This kind of mercy is worse than all other kind of misery. One writing to a dead friend has this expression, 'I account it a part of unhappiness not to know adversity; I judge you to be miserable, because you have not been miserable.' It is mercy that our affliction is not execution, but a correction. He who has deserved hanging, may be glad if he escape with a whipping. God's corrections are our instructions, his lashes our lessons, his scourges our school-masters, his chastisements our advertisements; and to denote this, both the Hebrews and the Greeks express chastening and teaching by one and the same word, because the latter is the true end of the former, according to that in the Proverb,' Smart makes wit, and vexation gives understanding;' whence Luther fitly calls affliction,' The Christian man's divinity.' So says Job, chap, xxxiii. 14—18; God speaketh once, yea, twice, yet man perceiveth it not: In a dream, in a vision of the night, when deep sleep falleth upon men, in slumberings upon the bed; then he openeth the ears of men, and sealeth their instruction, that he may withdraw man from his purpose, and hide pride from man. He keepeth back his soul from the pit, and his life from perishing by the sword.
When Satan shall tell thee of other men's sins to draw thee to sin, do thou then think of the same men's sufferings to keep thee from sin. Lay thy hand upon thy heart, and say, ' O my soul, if thou sinnest with David thou must suffer with David.'
Rem. 4. Solemnly consider that there are but two main ends of God's recording the falls of his saints. And the one is, to keep those from fainting, sinking, and despair, under the burden of their sins, who fall through weakness and infirmity. And the other is, that their falls may be as landmarks, and warn others that stand to take heed lest they fall. It never entered into the heart of God to record his children's sins, that others might be encouraged to sin, but that others might look at their standings, and so hang the faster upon the skirts of Christ, and avoid all occasions and temptations that may occasion the soul to fall, as others have fallen when they have been left by Christ, The Lord has made their sins as land-marks, to warn his people to take heed how they come near those sands and rocks, those snares and baits, that have been fatal to the choicest treasures, to wit, the joy, peace, comfort, and glorious enjoyments of the bravest spirits and noblest souls that ever sailed through the ocean of this sinful troublesome world; as you may see in David, Job, Peter. There is nothing in the world that can so notoriously cross the grand end of God's recording the sins of his saints, as for any from thence to take encouragement to sin; and whereever you find such a soul, you may write him Christless, graceless, a soul cast off by God, a soul that Satan has by the hand, and the eternal God knows whither he will lead him.
Dev. 5. The fifth device that Satan has to draw the soul to sin, is to present God to the soul, as one made by all of mercy. 'O,' says Satan, ' you need not make such a matter of sin; you need not be fearful of sin nor so unwilling to sin, for God is a God of mercy, a God full of mercy, a God that delights in mercy, a God that is ready to shew mercy, a God that is never weary of shewing mercy, a God more prone to pardon his people than to punish his people; and therefore he will not take advantage against the soul; and why then should you make such a matter of sin?'
Now the remedies against this device of Satan, are these,—
Rem. 2 . The first remedy is seriously to consider that it is the sorest judgment in the world to be left to sin upon any pretence whatsoever. O unhappy man! when God leaveth thee to thyself, and doth not resist thee in thy sins! Wo, wo to him at whose sins God does wink! When God lets the way to hell be a smooth and pleasant way, that is hell on this side hell, and a dreadful sign of God's indignation against a man, a token of his rejection, and that God does not intend good unto him. That is a sad word, Ephraim is joined to Idols, let him alone, Hos. iv. 17. He will be uncompellable and incorrigible; he has made a match with mischief; he shall have his belly full of it; he falls with open eyes, let him fall at his own peril. And that is a terrible saying, So I gave them up unto their own hearts' lusts, and they walked in their own counsels, Ps. lxxxi. 12. A soul given up to sin, is a soul ripe for hell, a soul posting to destruction. 'Ah, Lord! this mercy I humbly beg, that whatever thou givest me up to, thou wilt not give me up to the ways of my own heart. If thou wilt give me up to be afflicted, or tempted, or reproached. I will patiently sit down, and say, " It is the Lord; let him do with me what seemeth good in his own eyes." Do any thing with me, lay what burden thou wilt upon me, so that thou dost not give me up to the ways of my own heart.'
Rem. 2. Solemnly consider that God is as just as he is merciful. As the scriptures speak him out to be a very merciful God, so they speak him out to be a very just God; witness his casting the angels out of heaven, and his binding them in chains of darkness, till the judgment of the great day; and witness his turning Adam out of paradise, his drowning of the old world, and his raining hell out of heaven upon Sodom; and witness all the crosses, losses, sicknesses, and diseases that are in the world; and witness Tophet that was prepared of old; witness his treasuring up of wrath against the day of wrath, unto the revelation of the righteous judgments of God; but above all, witness the pouring forth of all his wrath upon his bosom Son, when he did bear the sins of his people, and cried out, My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?
Rem. 3. Seriously consider that sins against mercy will bring the greatest and sorest judgments upon men's heads
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and hearts. Mercy is alpha, justice is omega. David, speaking of these attributes, places mercy in the foreward, and justice in the rearward, saying, My song shall be of mercy and judgment, Psalm ci. 1. When mercy is despised then justice takes the throne. God is like a prince, that sends not his army against rebels before he has sent his pardon,.and proclaimed it by a herald of arms. He first hangs out the white flag of mercy; if this wins men in, they are happy for ever; but if they stand out, then God will put forth his red flag of justice and judgment. If the one is despised, the other shall be felt with a witness. See this in the Israelites. He loved them and chose them, when they were in their blood and most unlovely. He multiplied them, not by means but by miracles; from seventy souls, they grew in a few years to six hundred thousand; the more they were oppressed, the more they prospered; like camomile, the more you tread it, the more you spread it; or to a palm tree, the more it is pressed, the further it spreads; or to fire, the more it is raked, the more it burns. Their mercies came in upon them, like Job's messengers, one upon the neck of another. He put off their sackcloth and girded them with gladness, and compassed them about with songs of deliverance; he carried them on the wings of eagles, he kept them as the apple of his eye. But they, abusing his mercy, became the greatest objects of his wrath. As I know not the man that can reckon up their mercies, so I know not the man that can sum up the miseries that are come upon them for their sins; for as our Saviour prophesied concerning Jerusalem, that a stone should not be left upon a stone, so it was fulfilled forty years after his ascension, by Vespasian, the emperor, and his son Titus, who having besieged Jerusalem, the Jews were oppressed with a grievous famine, in which their food was old shoes, old leather, old hay, and the dung of beasts. There died, partly of the sword and partly of famine, eleven hundred thousand of the poorer sort; two thousand in one night were embowelled, six thousand were burned in a porch of the temple; the whole city was sacked, and burned, and laid level with the ground, and ninety-seven thousand taken captives, and applied to base and miserable service,