Page images

all. If Satan be always roaring, we should be always watching and resisting him. And certainly he that makes strong and constant resistance of Satan's temptations, shall in the end get above his temptations, and for the present is secure enough from being ruined by his temptations.

For a close of this, remember that it is dangerous to yield to the least sin, in order to be rid of the greatest temptation. To take this course were as if a man should think to wash himself clean in ink, or as if a man should exchange a light cross made of paper, for an iron cross which is heavy, toilsome, and bloody. The least sin set home upon the conscience, will more wound, vex, and oppress the soul, than all the temptations in the world canI therefore never yield to the least sin, to be rid of the greatest temptation. Sidonius Apollinaris relates, that a certain man named Maximus, arriving at the top of honour by indirect means, was the first day very much wearied, and fetching a deep sigh, said, ' O Damocles, how happy do I esteem thee for having been a king but the space of a dinner! I have been one a whole day, and can bear it no longer.' I will leave you to make the application.




The Devices of Satan against the Great and Honourable.

I Shall begin with the honourable and the great, and shew you the devices that Satan has to destroy them. I will instance in those only that are most considerable.

Dev. 1. His first device to destroy the great and honourable of the earth, is by working them to make it their business to seek themselves; to seek how to greaten themselves, to raise themselves, to enrich themselves, to secure themselves, as you may see in Pharaoh, Ahab, Rehoboam, Jeroboam, Absalom, Joab, Haman. But vere the scriptures silent, our own experience abundantly evinces this way and method of Satan to destroy the great and the honourable; to bury their names in the dust and their souls in hell, by drawing them wholly to mind themselves, and only to mind themselves, and in all things to mind themselves; and always to mind themselves. All, says the apostle, seek their own. All comparatively, in respect of the paucity of others that let fall their private interests, and drown all self-respects in the glory of God and the public good. . Now the remedies against this device, are these—

Rem. 1. Solemnly consider that self-seeking is a sin that will put men upon a world of sins; upon sins not only against the laws of God and the rules of the Gospel, but against the very laws of nature, that are so much darkened by the fall of man. It put the pharisees upon opposing Christ, and Judas upon betraying Christ, and Pilate upon condemning Christ. It put Gehazi upon lying, and Balaam.upon cursing, and Saul and Absalom upon plotting David's ruin. It put Pharaoh and Haman upon contriving ways to destroy those Jews that God did purpose to save by his mighty arm. It puts men upon using wicked balances, and the bag of deceitful weights. It puts men upon ways of oppression, and selling the righteous for silver, and the poor for a pair of shoes. I know not any sin in the world, but this sin of self-seeking will put men upon it, though it be their eternal loss.

Rem. 2. Seriously consider that self-seeking does exceedingly abase a man. It strips him of all his royalty and glory. Of a lord, it makes a man become a servant to the creature, aye, often to the worst of creatures, yea, a slave to slaves; as you may see in Judas, Demas, Balaam, and the scribes and pharisees. Self-seekers bow down to the creatures, as Gideon's many thousand bowed down to the waters. Self-seeking will make a man say any thing, do any thing, and be any thing, to please the lusts of others, and to get advantages over others. Selfseeking transforms a man into all shapes and forms; now it makes a man appear as an angel of light, anon as an angel of darkness; now self-seekers are seemingly for God, anon they are openly against God; now you shall have them crying Hosanna in the highest, and anon, Crucify him, crucify him; now you shall have them build with the saints, and anon you shall have them plotting the overthrow of the saints, as those self-seekers did in Ezra and Nehemiah's time. Self-seekers are the basest of all persons; there is no service so base, so poor, so low, but they will bow to it. They cannot look either above or beyond their own lusts, and the enjoyment of the creature; these are the prime and ultimate objects of their intend ments.

It is said of Tiberius, that whilst Augustus ruled, he was no way tainted in his reputation; and that whilst Drusus and Germanicus were alive, he feigned those virtues which he had not, to maintain a good opinion of himself in the hearts of the people; but after he had got himself out of reach of contradiction and controlment, there was no fact in which he was not faulty, no crime to which he was not necessary. My prayer shall be that Tiberius's spirit may not be found in any of our rulers, lest it prove their ruin, as it did his; and that wherever it is, it may be detected, loathed, and ejected, that so neither the state nor souls be ruined by it. . Rem. 3. Solemnly dwell upon those dreadful curses and woes that are from heaven denounced against self-seekers. Woe unto them that join house to house, that lay field to field, till there be no place, that they may be placed alone in the midst of the earth ! Isa. v. 8. So Habakkuk, Woe to him that increaseth that which is not his, and to him that ladeth himself with thick clay! Woe to him that coveteth an evil covetousness to his house, that he may set his nest on high, that he may be delivered from the power of evil. Thou hast consulted shame to thy house by cutting off many people, and hast sinned against thy soul. For the stone shall cry out of the wall, and the beam out of the timber shall answer it. Woe to him that buildeth a town with blood, and establisheth a city by iniquity, Hab ii. 6, 9, 10, 11, 12. The materials of the house built up by oppression, shall come as joint-witnesses. The stones of the wall shall cry, 'Lord, we were built up by blood and violence;' and the beam shall answer, 'True, Lord, even so it is.' The stones shall cry, 'Vengeance, Lord, upon these self-seekers ;' and the beam shall answer, 'Woe to him, because he built his house with blood.' So Isaiah, Woe unto them that decree unrighteous decrees, and that write grievousness which they have prescribed; to turn aside the needy from judgment and to take away the right from the poor of my people; that widows may be their prey, and that they may rob the fatherless, Isa. x. 1,2. So Amos; Woe to them that are at ease in Zion, and trust in the mountain of Samaria, which are named chief of the nations, to whom the house of Israel came! Ye that put far away the evil day, and cause the seat of violence to come near; that lie upon beds of ivory, and stretch themselves upon their couches, and eat the lambs out of the flock, and the calves out of the midst of the stall; that drink wine in bowls, and anoint themselves with the chief ointments: but they are not grieved for the affliction of Joseph, Amos vi. 1, 6. So Micah; Woe to them that devise iniquity, and work evil upon their beds! when the morning is light, they practise it, because it is in the power of their hand. And they covet fields, and take them by violence; and houses, and take them away. So they oppress a man and his house, even a man and his heritage, Mic. ii. 1,2. By these scriptures, you see that self-seekers labour like a woman in travail, but their birth proves their death; their pleasure, their pain; their comforts, their torment; their glory, their shame; their exaltation, their desolation. Loss and disgrace, trouble and shame, vexation and confusion, will be the certain portion of self-seekers.

When the Tartars had taken in battle the duke of . Muscovy, they made a cup of his skull, with this inscription, 'All covet, all lose.'

Rem. 4. Solemnly consider that self-seekers are selflosers and self-destroyers. Absalom and Judas seek themselves, and hang themselves. Saul seeks himself, and kills himself. Ahab seeks himself, and loses himself, his crown and kingdom. Pharaoh seeks himself, and overthrows himself and his mighty army in the Red Sea. Cain sought himself, and slew two at once, his brother and his own soul. Gehazi sought change of raiment, but God changed his raiment into a leprous skin. Haman sought himself, and lost himself. The princes and the presidents sought themselves in the ruin of Daniel, but ruined themselves, their wives, and children. That which self-seekers think should be a staff to support them, becomes, by the hand of justice, an iron rod to break them; that which they would have as springs to refresh them, becomes a gulf utterly to consume them. The crosses of self-seekers shall always exceed their mercies! their pain, their pleasure; their torments, their comforts. Every self-seeker is a selftormentor, a self-destroyer; he carries a hell, an executioner in his own bosom.

Rem. 5. Dwell much upon the famous examples of those worthy saints who have denied themselves, and preferred the public good before their own particular advantage; as Moses; And the Lord said unto Moses, Let me alone that I may destroy them, and blot out their name from under heaven; and I will make of thee a nation mightier and greater than they, Deut. ix. 14. O but this offer would not take with Moses; he being a man of a brave public spirit, is hot in his desires and prayers, that the people might be spared and pardoned; says he, Pardon I beseech thee the iniquity of this people, according unto the greatness of thy mercy; and as thou hast forgiven this people from Egypt until now. And the Lord said, I have pardoned according to thy word, Numb. xiv. 19, 20. Ah, should God make such an offer to many that write themselves Moses, and are called by many Moses, I am afraid they would prefer their own advantage above the public good; they would not care what became of the people, so that they and theirs might be made great and glorious in the world; they would not care, so that they might have a Babel built for them, though it were upon the ashes and ruin of the people. Baser spirits than these are not in hell, no, not in hell; and I am sure there are no such spirits in heaven. Such men's hearts and principles must be changed, or they will be undone for ever.

« PreviousContinue »