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comes out abundance of watery stuff that before appeared not; when the pond is empty, the mud, filth, and toads come to light. The snow covers many a dunghill, so does prosperity many a rotten heart. It is easy to wade in a warm bath, and every bird can sing in a sun-shiny day. Hard weather tries what health we have; afflictions try what sap we have, what grace we have. Withered leaves soon fall off in windy weather; rotten boughs quickly break with heavy weights.
Afflictions are like pinching hosts, that will search us; where we are most unsound, we shall the soonest complain; and where most corruptions lie, we shall the most shrink. We try metal by knocking; if it sound well, then we like it: so God tries his by knocking, and if under knocks they yield a pleasant sound, God will turn their night into day, and their bitter into sweet, and their cross into a crown; and they shall hear that voice, Arise, shine, for the glory of the Lord is risen upon thee, and the favours of the Lord are flowing in on thee.
Rem. 7. Solemnly consider that the affliction, wrath, and misery which attend the ways of wickedness, are far greater and heavier than those are, which attend the ways of holiness. O the galling, girding, lashing, and gnawing of conscience, that attend souls in a way of wickedness! The wicked, says Isaiah, are like the troubled sea, when it cannot rest, whose waters cast up mire and dirt. There is no peace to the wicked, saith my God. There are snares in all their mercies, and curses and crosses attend all their comforts, both at home and abroad. What is a fine suit of clothes with the plague in it? And what is a golden cup when there is poison at the bottom? Or what is a silken stocking with a broken leg in it? The curse of God, the wrath of God, the hatred of God, and the fierce indignation of God, always attend sinners walking in a way of wickedness. Turn to Deut. xxviii. and read from ver. 15, to the end of the chapter; and turn to Levit. xxvi. and read from ver. 14. to the end of that chapter; and then you will see, how the curse of God haunts the wicked, as it were a fury, in all his ways. In the city it attends him; in the country it hovers over him; coming in, it accompanies him; going forth, it follows him; and in travel, it is his comrade; it fills his store with strife, and mingles the wrath of God with his sweetest morsels. It is a moth in his wardrobe, murrain among his cattle, mildew in the field, rot among sheep, and ofttimes it makes the fruit of his loins, his greatest vexation and confusion. There is no solid joy nor lasting peace, nor pure comfort, attending sinners in their sinful ways. There is a sword of vengeance, that every moment hangs over their heads by a small thread; and what joy and content can attend such souls, if the eye of conscience is but so far open, as to see the sword? O the horrors and terrors, the tremblings and shakings, that attend their souls.
Dev. 10. The tenth device that Satan has to draw the soul to sin, is by working them to be frequent in comparing themselves and their ways with those who are reputed or reported to be worse than themselves. By this device the devil drew the proud Pharisee to bless himself in a cursed condition; God, I thank thee that I am not as other men are, extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even as thispublican. 'Why,' says Satan, ' you swear but petty oaths, as by your faith and troth, but such and such swear by wounds and blood; you are now and then a little wanton, but such and such do daily defile and pollute themselves by actual uncleanness and filthiness; you deceive and over-reach your neighbours in things that are but as toys and trifles, but such and such deceive and over-reach others in things of the greatest concernment, even to their ruin and undoing; you do but sit, and chat and sip with the drunkard, but such and such sit, and drink and are drunk with the drunkard; you are only a little proud in heart and habit, in looks and words.'
Now the remedies against this device of the devil, are these—
Rem. 1. The first remedy is, solemnly to consider this, that there is not a greater nor a clearer argument to prove a man a hypocrite, than to be quick-sighted abroad and blind at home; than to see a mote in another man's eye, and not a beam in his own; than to use spectacles to behold other men's sins, rather than looking-glasses to behold his own; rather to be always holding his finger upon other men's sores, and to be amplifying and aggravating other men's sins, than mitigating his own.
Rem. 2. Spend more time in comparing your internal and external actions with the rule, with the word, by which you must be judged at last; than in comparing yourselves with those that are worse than yourselves. That man who comparing himself with others that are worse than himself, may seem to himself and others to be an angel, yet, comparing himself with the word, may see himself to be like the devil, yea, a very devil. Have not I chosen twelve? and one of you is a devil. Such men are as like him, as if they were spit out of his mouth.
Satan is called the God of this world, because, as God at first did but speak the word, and it was done; so, if the devil do but hold up his finger, give the least hint, they will do his will, though they undo their souls for ever. What monsters would these men appear to be, did they but compare themselves with a righteous rule, and not with the most unrighteous men; they would appear to be as black as hell itself.
Rem. 3. Seriously consider that though thy sins be not as great as others, yet without sound repentance on thy side, and pardoning mercy on God's, thou wilt be as certainly damned as others, though not equally tormented with others. What, though hell shall not be so hot to thee as others, yet thou must as certainly to hell as others, unless the glorious grace of God shines forth upon thee in the face of Christ. God will suit men's punishments to their sins; the greatest sins shall be attended with the greatest punishments, and less sins with less punishments. Alas, what a poor comfort will this be to thee when thou comest to die, to consider, that thou shalt not be equally tormented with others, yet must be for ever shut out from the glorious 'presence of God, Christ, angels, and saints; and from those good things of eternal life, which are so many that they exceed number; so great that they exceed measure; so precious that they exceed estimation. Sure it is, that the tears of hell are not sufficient to bewail the loss of heaven; the worm of grief gnaws as painful, as the fire burns. If those souls, Acts xx. 37, wept, because they should see Paul's face no more, how deplorable is the eternal deprivation of the beatifical vision!
But this is not all, thou shalt be not only shut out of heaven, but shut up in hell for ever; not only shut out from the presence of God and angels, but shut up with devils and damned spirits for ever; not only shut out from those sweet, surpassing, inexpressible, and everlasting pleasures that are at God's right hand, but shut up for ever under those torments that are easeless, remediless, and endless. Ah, souls, were it not ten thousand times better for you to break off your sins by repentance, than to go on in your sins, till you feel the truth of what now you hear?
The God of Israel is very merciful. O that you would repent and return, that your souls might live for ever! Remember this—grievous is the torment of the damned for the bitterness of their punishment, but most grievous for the eternity of the punishment; for, to be tormented without end, this is that which goes beyond the bounds of all description. o how do the thoughts of this make the damned to roar and cry out for unquietness of heart, and tear their hair, and gnash their teeth, and rage for madness, that they must dwell in everlasting burnings for ever!
Dev. 11. The eleventh device that Satan has to draw the soul to sin, is by polluting and defiling the souls and judgments of men with such dangerous errors, as do i» their proper tendency tend to carry the souls of men to all looseness and wickedness; as woful experience abundantly evidences. O, how many are there filled with these, and such like Christ-dishonouring and soul-undoing opinions, that ordinances are poor, low, carnal things, and not only to be lived above, but without also; that the scriptures are full of fallacies and uncertainties, and no further to be heeded than they agree with that Spirit that is in them; that it is a poor low thing, if not idolatry too, to worship Gpd in a Mediator; that the resurrection is already past; that there was never any such man or person as Jesus Christ, but that all is an allegory, and nothing signifies but light and love, and such good frames born in men; that there is no God nor devil, heaven nor hell, but what is within us; that there is no sin in the saints, they are under no law but that of the Spirit, which is all freedom; that sin and grace are equally good, and agreeth to God's will: with a hundred other horrid opinions, which have caused wickedness to break in as a flood among us:
Now the remedies against this device of Satan are those that follow—
Rem. 1. Solemnly consider that an erroneous, vain mind is as odious to God, as a vicious life. He that had the leprosy in his head, was-to be pronounced utterly unclean. Gross errors make the heart foolish, and render the life loose, and the soul lightin the eye of God. Error spreads and frets like a gangrene, and renders the soul a leper in the sight of God.
It was God's heavy and dreadful plague upon the Gentiles to be given up to a mind void of judgment; or an injudicious mind, or a mind rejected, disallowed, abhorred of God; or a mind that none have cause to glory in, but' rather to be ashamed of, I think that in these days God punishes many men's former wickedness, by giving them up to soul-ruining errors. Ah, Lord, this mercy I humbly beg, that thou wouldst rather take me into thine own hand, and do any thing with me, than give me up to those sad errors, to which thousands have married their souls, and are in a way of perishing for ever.
Rem. 2. Receive the truth affectionately, and let it dwell in your sozds plenteously. When men stand out against the truth, when truth would enter and men bar the door of their souls against truth, God in justice gives up such souls to be deluded and deceived by error, to their eternal undoing. Because they received not the love of this truth, that they might be saved, God shall send them strong delusion, (or as the Greek has it, the efficacy of error,) that they should believe a lie; that they all might be damned, whovbelieved not the truth; but had pleasure in unrigh* teousness, 2 Thess. ii. 10—12. Ah, sirs, as you love your souls, do not tempt God, do not provoke God, by your'
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