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Now the remedies against this device of the devil, are these—
Rem. 1. The first remedy is to dwell, till your hearts are affected, upon those commands of God that expressly require us to shun the society of the wicked. And have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, hut rather reprove them, Ephes. v. 11. Enter not into the path of the wicked, and go not in the way of evil men. Avoid it, pass not by it, turn from it and pass away. Prov. iv. 14, 15; 1 Cor. v. 9—11; 2 Thess. iii. 6; Prov. i. 10—15. Turn to these scriptures, and let your souls dwell upon them till a holy indignation be raised in your souls against fellowship with vain men. God will not take the wicked by the hand, as Job speaks; why then should you? God's commands are not like those that are easily reversed, but they are like those of the Medes, that cannot be changed. If these commands be not now observed by thee, they will at last be witnesses against thee, and milbtones to sink thee, in that day when Christ shall judge thee.
Rem. 2. Seriously consider that their company is very infectious and dangerous, as is clear from the scriptures above-mentioned. Ah, how many have lost their names, and lost their estates, and strength, and God, and heaven, and souls, by society with wicked men? As you shun a stinking carcase; as the seaman shuns sands, and rocks, and shelves; as you shun those that have the plague-sores running upon them; so should you shun the society of wicked men. As weeds endanger the corn, as bad humours endanger the blood, or as an infected house the neighbourhood, so does wicked company the soul.
Bias, a heathen man, being at sea in a great storm, and perceiving many wicked men with him in the ship calling upon the gods, ' O,' says he, ' forbear prayer; hold your tongues. I would not have the gods take notice that you are here; they surely will drown us all, if they should.' Ah, sirs, could a heathen see so much danger in the society of wicked men; and can you see none?
Rem. 3. Look always upon wicked men under those names and notions that the scripture sets them out under. The scripture calls them lions for their fierceness, and bears for their cruelty, and dragons for their hideousness, and dogs for their filthiness, and wolves for their subtleness. The scripture styles them scorpions, vipers, thorns, briars, thistles, brambles, stubble, dirt, chaff, dust, dross, smoke, scum. It is not safe to look upon wicked men under those names and notions that they set out themselves by, or that flatterers set them out by; this may delude the soul; but the looking upon them under those names and notions that the scripture sets them out by, may preserve the soul from frequenting their company, and delighting in their society. Do not tell me what this man calls them, or how such and such count them; but tell me how the scripture calls them, how the scripture counts them. As Nabal's name was, so was his nature; and as wicked men's names are, so are their natures. You may know well enough what is within them, by the apt names that the Holy Ghost has given them.
Rem. 4. The fourth remedy against this device of Satan, is solemnly to consider that the society and company of wicked men, have been a great grief and burden to those precious souls that were once glorious on earth, and are now triumphing in heaven. Woe is me that I sojourn in Mesech, that I dwell in the tents ofKedar! My soul hath long dwelt with him that hateth peace, Psalm cxx. 5, 6. So Jeremiah; O that I had in the wilderness a lodging place of wayfaring men, that I might leave my people, and go from them, for they be all adulterers, an assembly of treacherous men, Jer. ix. 2. So they vexed Lot's righteous soul by their filthy conversation; they made his life a burden; they made death more desirable to him than life; yea, they made his life a lingering death. Guilt or grief is all the good gracious souls get by conversing with wicked men.
"•THE DEVICES OP SATAN TO KEEP MAN FROM HOLY DUTIES.
The second thing to be shewed, is the several devices that Satan hath, as to draw souls to sin, so to keep souls from holy duties; to hinder souls in holy services, and to keep them otf from religious performances. And he shewed me Joshua the high priest, standing before the angel of the Lord, and Satan standing at his right hand to resist him, Zech. iii. 1. The truth of this I shall shew you in the following particulars.
Dev. 1. The first device that Satan has to draw souls from holy duties, and to keep them off from religious services, is by presenting the world in such a dress, and in such a garb to the soul, as to ensnare the soul, and to win upon the affections of the soul. He represents the world in its beauty and bravery, which proves a bewitching sight to a world of men. It is true, this took not Christ, because Satan could find no matter in him for his temptation to work upon; but he can no sooner cast out his golden bait, than we are ready to play with it, and to nibble at it; he can no sooner throw out his golden ball, than men are apt to run after it, though they lose God and their souls in the pursuit. O, how many professors in these days have for a time followed hard after God, Christ, and ordinances, till the devil has set before them the world in all its beauty and bravery, which has so bewitched their souls, that they have grown to have low thoughts of holy things, and then to be cold in their affections to holy things, and then to slight them, and at last, with the young man in the gospel, to turn their backs upon them! O the time, the thoughts, the spirits, the hearts, the souls, the duties, the services, that the inordinate love of this wicked world does eat up and destroy, and has eaten up and destroyed. Where one thousand are destroyed by the world's frowns, ten thousand are destroyed by the world's smiles. The world, siren-like, sings us and sinks us; it kisses us and betrays us, like Judas; it kisses us and smites us under the fifth rib, like Joab. The honours, splendour, and all the glory of this world, are but sweet poisons that will much endanger us, if they do not eternally destroy us. O the multitude of souls that have surfeited of these sweet baits, and died for ever. Now the remedies against this device of Satan, are these— Rem. 1. The first remedy is to dwell upon the impotency and weakness of all things here below. They are not able to secure you from the least evil; they are not able to procure you the least desirable good. The crown of gold cannot cure the headache, nor the velvet slipper ease the gout, nor the jewel about the neck take away the pain of the teeth. The frogs of Egypt entered into the rich men's houses of Egypt, as well as the poor. Our daily experience evidences this, that all the honours and riches that men enjoy cannot free them from the cholic, the fever, or less diseases. Nay, that which may seem most strange, is, that a great deal of wealth cannot keep men from falling into extreme poverty. Judges i. 7. you will find seventy kings with their fingers and toes cut off, glad, like whelps, to lick up crumbs under another king's table; and shortly after, the same king that brought them to this penury, is reduced to the same poverty and misery. Why then should that be a bar to keep thee out of heaven, which cannot give thee the least ease on earth?
Rem. 2. Dwell upon the vanity, as well as upon the impotency, of all worldly good. This is the sum of Solomon's sermon, Vanity of vanity, and all is vanity. This our first parents found, and therefore named their second son Abel, or Vanity. Solomon, who had tried these things and could best tell the vanity of them, preaches this sermon over again and again, Vanity of vanity, and all u vanity. It is sad to think how many thousands there are who can say with the preacher, Vanity of vanity, all it vanity; nay, swear it; and yet follow after these things, as if there were no other glory or felicity, but what is to be found in these things they call vanity. Such men will sell Christ, heaven, and their souls, for a trifle, who call these things vanity, but do not cordially believe them to be vanity, but set their hearts upon them, as if they were their crown, the top of all their royalty and glory. O let your souls dwell upon the vanity of all things here below, till your hearts are so thoroughly convinced and persuaded of the vanity of them, as to trample upon them, and make them a footstool for Christ to get up and ride in a holy triumph in your hearts.
Chrysostome said once, that if he were the fittest in the world to preach a sermon to the whole world, gathered together in one congregation, and had some high mountain for his pulpit, from whence he might have a prospect of all the world in his view, and were furnished with a voice of brass, a voice as loud as the trumpet of the archangel, that all the world might hear him, he would choose to preach upon no other text than that in the psalms, O mortal men, how long will ye love vanity, and follow after leasing?
Tell me, you that say all things under the sun are vanity, if you do really believe what you say, why do you spend more thoughts and time on the world, than you do on Christ, heaven, and your immortal souls? Why do you then neglect your duty toward God, to get the world? Why do you then so eagerly pursue after the world, and are so cold in your pursuing after God, Christ, and holiness? Why then are your hearts so exceedingly raised, when the world comes in and smiles upon you; and so much dejected and cast down, when the world frowns upon you, and, with Jonah's gourd, withers before you?
Rem. 3. Dwell much upon the uncertainty, the mutability, and inconstancy of all things under the sun. Man himself is but the dream of a dream; but the generation of a fancy; but an empty vanity; but the curious picture of nothing; a poor, feeble, dying flash. All temporals are as transitory as a hasty, headlong torrent, a shadow, a ship, a bird, an arrow, a post that passeth by. Why shouldst thou set thine eyes upon that which is not? says Solomon: and says the apostle, The fashion of this world passeth away. Heaven only has a foundation; earth has none; but is hanged upon nothing, as Job speaks. The apostle willed Timothy to charge rich men