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live in such a sin, then is the temptation great indeed ; and it is but few of the weaker sort, that are not carried down that stream. The Munster case, and the rebellion in which Munster perished in Germany, and many others; but especially abundance of schisms from the apostles' days till now, are too great evidences of men's sociableness in sinning. “We all like sheep have gone astray, and turned every one to his own way;" Isa. liii. 6. And like sheep in this, that if one that is leading, get over the hedge, all the rest will follow after ; but especially if the greater part be gone. And do not think that our churches are infallible, and that the greater part of the godly cannot err, or be in the wrong : for that would be but to do as the Papists, when we have sinned by fallibility, to keep off repentance by the conceit of infallibility.
9. We are in great danger of sinning, in cases where we are ignorant: for who can avoid the danger which he seeth not? And who can walk safely in the dark? Therefore we see that it is the more ignorant sort of Christians, and such as Paul calleth novices, that most err; especially when pride accompanieth ignorance, for then they fall into the special condemnation of the devil; 1 Tim. iii. 6. Study therefore painfully and patiently till you understand the truth.
10. But above all, we are in danger of those sins which are masked with a pretence of the greatest truths and duties, and use to be fathered on God and Scripture ; and go under the specious titles of holiness and of free grace. For here it is the understanding chiefly that resisteth, while the very names and pretences secretly steal in, and bring them into love and reverence with the will. And the poor honest Christian is afraid of resisting them, lest it should prove a resisting God. What can be so false that a man will not plead for, if he take it to be a necessary truth of God? And what can be so bad that a man will not do, if he take it once to be of God's commanding ? The aforesaid instances of the Munster and German actions, with those of the followers of David George in Holland, (who took himself to be the Holy Ghost, or the immediate prophet of his kingdom,) and Hacket and his Grundletonians; and the Familists, the Ranters, the Seekers, the Quakers, the Church-dividers, and the Kingdom and State-overturners in England, have given
so great a demonstration of this, that it is not lawful to overlook it or forget it. "The time cometh, that they that kill you, shall think that they do God service ;" John xvi. 2. And then who can expect that their consciences should avoid it? Why did Paul persecute the Christians, and compel them to blaspheme? Because he verily thought that he ought to do many things against the name of Jesus; Acts xxvi. 9. O! it is religious sins which we are in danger of ! such as come to us as in the name of God, and Christ, and the Spirit: such as pretend that we cannot be saved without them : and such as plead the Holy Scriptures: such as James iii. is written against, when a wisdom from beneath, which is earthly, sensual and devilish, working by envy and strife, unto confusion and every evil work, pretendeth to be the wisdom from above: when zeal consumeth love and unity, under pretence of consuming sin; which made Paul and John require us not to " believe every Spirit, but to try the Spirits whether they be of God;" 1 John vi. 1–3. 2 Thess. ii. 2. 1 Thess. v. 20, 21. And made Paul say, “ If an angel from heaven bring you another Gospel, let him be accursed;" Gal. i. 7, 8. And more plainly, 2 Cor. xi. 13, 14. “Such are false apostles ; deceitful workers ; transforming themselves into the apostles of Christ: and no marvel, for Satan himself is transformed into an angel of light; therefore it is no great thing if his ministers also be transformed as the ministers of righteousness, whose end shall be according to their works. And, Acts xx. 30. “ Also of your ownselves shall men arise, speaking perverse things, to draw away disciples after them.” And what need any disciple of Christ greater warning, than to remember that their Saviour himself was thus assaulted by the devil in his temptation with “ It is written.”
Yet let no Papist hence take occasion to vilify the Scripture, because it is made a plea for sin : for so he might as well vilify human reason, which is pleaded for all the errors in the world; and vilify the law, because lawyers plead it for ill causes ; yea, and vilify God himself, because the same and other sinners plead his will and authority for their sins : when contrarily, it is a great proof of the Scripture authority and honour, that Satan himself, and his subtilest instruments, do place their greatest hope of prevailing,
by perverting and misapplying it; which could be of no use to them, if its authority were not acknowledged.
11. We are in constant danger of those sins which we think we can conceal from men: therefore suppose
still that all that you do will be made known; and do all as in the open streets. It is written (by two) in the life of holy Ephrem Syrus, that when a harlot tempted him to uncleanness, he desired but that he might choose the place; which she consenting to, he chose the open market-place, among all the people ; and when she told him, that there they should be shamed, for all would see; he told her such a lesson of sinning in the sight of God, who is every where, as was the means of her conversion. Conceit of secrecy emboldeneth to sin.
12. We are in constant danger of sins of sudden passion and irruption, which allow us not season to deliberate, and surprise us before our reason can consider.
13. We are in danger of sins that come on by insensible degrees, and from small beginnings creep upon us, and come not by any sudden wakening' assaults : thus pride, and covetousness, and ambition, do infect men: and thus our zeal and diligence for God, doth usually decay.
14. Lastly, We are in much danger of all sins which require a constant, vigorous diligence to resist them; and of omitting those duties, or that part or mode of duty, which must have a constant vigorous diligence to perform it; because feeble souls are hardly kept (as is aforesaid) to constant vigorous diligence.
Quest. 2. Wherein differeth the sins of a sanctified person from other men's that are unsanctified ?'
Answ. 1. In a sanctified man the habitual bent of his will, is ever more against sin, than for it, however he be tempted into that particular act.
2. And as to the act also, it is ever contrary to the scope and tenor of his life ; which is for God and sincere obedience.
3. He hath no sin which is inconsistent with the true love of God, in the predominant habit: it never turneth his heart to another end, or happiness, or master.
4. Therefore it is more a sin of passion, than of settled interest and choice. He is more liable to a hasty passion,
or word, or unruly thoughts, than to any prevalent covetousness or ambition, or any sin which is a possessing of the heart instead of God; 1 John ii. 15. James iii. 2. Though some remainders of these are in him, they prevail not so far as sudden passions.
5. There are some sins which are more easily in the power of the will, so that a man that is but truly willing, may forbear them; as a drunkard may pass by the tavern or alehouse, or forbear to touch the cup; and the fornicator to come near, or commit the sin, if they be truly willing : but there be other sins which a man can hardly forbear though he be willing ; because they are the sins of those faculties over which the will hath not a despotical power : as a man may be truly willing to have no sluggishness, heaviness, sleepiness at prayer, no forgetfulness, no wandering thoughts, no inordinate appetite or lust at all stirring in him, no sudden passions of anger, grief or fear; he may be willing to love God perfectly; to fear him and obey him perfectly, but cannot. These latter are the ordinary infirmities of the godly: the former sort are, if at all, his extraordinary falls ; Rom. vii. 14, to the end.
6. Lastly, The true Christian riseth by unfeigned repentance, which his conscience hath but leisure and helps to deliberate, and to bethink him what he hath done. And his repentance much better resolveth and strengtheneth him against his sin for the time to come.
To sum up all ; 1. Sin more loved than hated. 2. Sin wilfully lived in, which might be avoided by the sincerely willing. 3. Sin made light of, and not truly repented of when it is committed. 4. And any sin inconsistent with habitual love to God, in predominancy, is mortal, or a sign of spiritual death, and none of the sins of sanctified believers.
How to live by Faith in Prosperity.
The work of faith in respect of prosperity, is twofold: 1. To save us from the danger of it. 2. To help us to a sanctified improvement of it.
1. And for the first, that which faith doth, is especially, 1. To see deeper and further into the nature of all things in the world, than sense can do: 2 Cor. iv. 17, 18. 1 Cor. vii. 29–31. . To see that they were never intended for our rest or portion, but to be our wilderness-provision in our way. To foresee just how the world will use us, and leave us at the last, and to have the very same thoughts of it now, as we foresee we shall have when the end is come, and when we have had all that ever the world will do for us. It is the work of faith, to cause a man to judge of the world, and all its glory, as we shall do when death and judgment come, and to have taken off the mask of splendid names, and shows, and flatteries: that we may use the world as if we used it not, and possess it as if we possessed it not, because its fashion doth pass away. It is the work of faith to crucify the world to us, and us to the world by the cross of Christ, (Gal. vi. 14.) that we may look on it as disdainfully as the world looked upon Christ, when he hanged as forsaken on the cross. That when it is dead, it may have no power on us, and when we are dead to it, we may have no inordinate love, or care, or thoughts, or fears, or grief, or labour to lay out upon it. It is the work of faith to make all worldly pomp and glory, to be to us but loss, and dross, and dung, in comparison of Christ, and the righteousness of faith ; Phil. iii. 7-9. And then no man will part with heaven for dung, nor set his God below his dung, nor further from his heart; nor will he feel any great power in temptations to honour, wealth, or pleasure, if really he count them at all but dung; nor will he wound his conscience, or betray his peace, or cast away his innocency for them.
2. Faith sheweth the soul those sure, and great, and glorious things, which are infinitely more worthy our love and labour. And this is the highest and most proper work; Heb. xi. It conquereth earth by opening heaven; and shewing it us as sure, and clear, and near. And no man will dote on this deceitful world, till he have turned away his eyes from God; and till heaven be out of his sight and heart, Faith saith, I must shortly be with Christ; and what then are these dying things to me? I have better things, which God that cannot lie hath promised me with Christ; Titus i. 2. Heb. vi, 18. I look every day when I