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· But as for man, we know his mind is dark, his will is perverse, his affections carry him so headlong, that he is fitted by his folly and corruption to such a work as the destroying of himself. Let no man say when he is tempted, that he is tempted of God; for God cannot be tempted with evil, neither tempteth he any man, (to draw him to sin,) but every man is tempted, when he is drawn away of his own lust, and enticed. Then when lust hath conceived, it bringeth forth sin; and sin, when it is finished, bringeth forth death. You see here that sin is the brat of your own concupiscence, and that death is the offspring of your own sin, and the fruit which it will yield you as soon as it is ripe.You have a treasure of evil in yourselves, as a spider hath of poison, from whence you are bringing forth hurt to yourselves, and spinning such webs as entangle your own souls.
2. It is evident that you are your own destroyers, in that you are so ready to entertain any temptation that is offered. Satan is scarce readier to move you to any evil, than you are ready to do as he would have you. If he would tenpt your understanding to error and prejudice, you yield. If he would hinder you from good resolutions, it is soon done. If he would kindle any vile affection or desire in you, it is soon done. If he would drive you on to evil thoughts, or deeds, you are so free, that he needs no spur. If he would keep you from holy thoughts, and words, and ways, a little does it, you need no curb. You examine not his suggestions, nor resist them with any resolution, nor cast them out as he casts them in, nor quench the sparks which he endeavours to kindle; but set in with him, and meet him half way, and embrace his motions, and tempt him to teinpt you.
3. Your destruction is evidently owing to yourselves, in that you resist all who would help to save you. God would help and save you by his word, and you resist it; it is too strict for you. He would sanctify you by his Spirit, but you resist and queneh it. If
any man reprove you for your sin, you fly in his face; if he tell you of your danger, you give him little thanks, but either bid him look to himself, or, at best, pat him off with heartless thanks.
4. Moreover, it is apparent that you are self-destroyers, in that you draw the matter of your sin and destruction even from the blessed God himself. You like not the contrivances of his wisdom: you like not his justice, but take it for cruelty: you like not his holiness, but are ready to think he is such a one as yourselves,(h) and makes as light of sin as you: you like not his truth, but would have his threatenings, even his peremptory threatenings, prove false. And his goodness, which you seem most highly to approve, you partly resist, as it would lead you to repentance; and partly abuse, to the strengthening of your sin, as if you might the more freely sin, because God is merceful.
5. Yea, you fetch destruction from the blessed Redeemer, and death from the Lord of life hiinsell. Nothing more emboldens you in sin, than that Christ has died for you: as if now the danger of death were over, and you might boldly venture; as if Christ were become a servant to Satan, and must wait upon you while you are abusing him. And because he is become the Physician of souls, and is able to save to the uttermost all that come to God by him; you think he must save you whether you will come to God by him or no. So that a great part of your sins are occasioned, by your bold presuinption upon the death of Christ. . .
6. He gives them to you as the tokens of his love, and furniture for his service, and you turn thetu against him to the pleasing of your flesh. You eat and drink to please your appetite, and not for the glory of God. Your clothes you abuse to pride. Your riches draw your hearts from heaven. Your honours and applause puff you up. If you have health and strength, it makes you more secure. Yea, other men's mercies are abused by you to your hurt. If you see
(k) Psal. I. 21.
their honours and dignity, you are, provoked to envy them. If you see their riches, you are ready to covet them. If you look upon beauty, you are stirred up to lust. And it is well if godliness be not an eye-sore to you.
7. The very gifts which God bestows on you, and the ordinances of grace, you turn to sin. If you have better parts than others, you grow proud and selfconceited. You take the bare hearing of your duty for so good a work, as will excuse you for not obeying it.—Your prayers are turned into sin, because you regard iniquity in your hearts, (*) and depart not from iniquity when you call on the name of the Lord. Your prayers are abominable, because you turn away your ear from hearing the law ? (l) and are niore ready to offer the sacrifice of fools, (thinking you do God some special service,) than to hear his word, and obey it. (1)
And thus I might show you, in many other cases, how you turn all that comes near you to your own destruction ? So clear is it, that the ungodly are self-destroyers, and that their perdition is of themselves.
Methink's now, upon the consideration of what is said, and the review of your own ways, you should consider what you have done, and be ashamed, and deeply humbled. If you be not, I pray you consider these following truths.
1. To be your own destroyers, is to sin against the deepest principle in your natures, even the principle of self-preservation. Every thing naturally desires its own welfare or preservation. And will you set yourselves to your own destruction? When you are commanded to love your neighbours as yourselves, it is supposed that you naturally love yourselves: but if you love your neighbours no better than yourselves, it seems you would have all the world damned.
2. How extremely do you cross your own intentions! I know you intend not your own damnation, even when you are procuring it; you think you are but doing good to yourselves, by gratifying the desires
O) Psal. Ixvi. 18. (k) Prov. xxviii. 9. (1) Eccles. v. 1.
you run bere against your if you should
of your flesh.But, alas, it is as a draught of cold water in a burning fever, which increases the disease. If indeed you would have pleasure, profit, or honour, seek them where they are to be found, not in the way to hell.
3. What pity it is that you should do that against yourselves, which none else in earth or hell can do.If all the world were combined against you, or all the devils in hell, they could not destroy you without yourselves. And will you do that against yourselves which no one else can do? You have hateful thoughts of the devil, because he is your enemy, and endeavours your destruction. And will you be worse than devils to yourselves ? But thus it is with you when you run into sin, and refuse to turn at the call of God; you do more against your own souls, than men or devils could do beside. And if you should set yourselves to do yourselves the greatest mischief, you could not devise a greater.
4. It will everlastingly make you your own tormentors in hell, to think that you brought yourselves wilfully to that misery. O what a griping thought will it be, to think with yourselves, That this was your own doing! that you were warned of this day, and warned again, but it would not do: that you wilfully sinned, and wilfully turned away from God: you had time as well as others, but you abused it: you had teachers as well as others, but you refused their instructions: you had holy examples, but you did not imitate them: you were offered Christ, and grace, and glory, as well others, but you preferred your fleshly pleasure: you had a price in your hands, but you had not a heart to lay it out! Can it choose but torment you to think of this your folly ? O that your eyes were opened to see what you have done in the wilful wronging of your own souls! and that you better understood these words of God: Hear instruction and be wise, and refuse it not. Blessed is the man that heareth me, watching daily at my gates, waiting at the posts of my doors. For whoso findeth me findeth life, and shall obtain the favour of the Lord. But he
that sinneth against me wrongeth his own soul: All they that hate me love death.(m)
Dear friends, I am so loth you should lie in everlasting fire, that I once more ask what you resolve on? Will you turn or die? As far as you are gone in sin, do but now turn and come to Christ, and your souls shall live. If it were your bodies which we had to deal with, we might know what to do for you. Though you would not consent, you might be held or bound, while the medicine was poured down your throats, and hurtful things might be kept from you. But about your souls it cannot be so: we cannot convert yoủ against your wills. There is no carrying madmen to heaven in fetters. You may be condemned against your wills; because you sinned with your wills; but you cannot be saved against your wills.
The wisdom of God has thought meet to lay man's salvation or destruction exceeding much upon the choice of his own will; that no man shall go to heaven who chooses not the way to heaven; and no man shall go to hell, but shall be forced to say, “ I have the thing I chose; my own will did bring me here. Now if I could but get you to be willing, to be thoroughly and resolutely willing, the work were more than half done. And, alas! must we lose our friends, and must they lose their God, their happiness, their souls, for want of this? I do again beseech you, as if it were on my bended knees, that you would hearken to your Redeemer, and turn, that you may live. All you that have lived in ignorance, and carelessness, and presumption, to this day; all you that have been drowned in the cares of the world, and have no desire after God, and eternal glory; all you that are enslaved to your fleshly desires of meats and drinks, sports and lusts; and all you that know not the necessity of holiness, and never were acquainted with the sanctifying work of the Holy Ghost upon your souls; that never einbraced your blessed Redeemer by a lively faith, and with admiring and thankful
(m) Prov. viii. 33, 34, 35, 36.