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p. i o. These are searsul bands ; but besides these there are,
2. The devil's bands, which he puts on his prisoners in their natural state, to secure them, that they may not come out of it to Christ, may not be converted, may not be turned from their sins unto God. These are many; such as,
(1.) The band of prejudices. These are so sixed on natural men, that Jesus says, Matth. si. 6. "Blessed is he whosoever shall not be offended in me." Satan dresses up religion and true holiness in such a monstrous shape, that they are affrighted at it, they cannot wish it, they can never get a heart to it; and therefore they entertain Christ's message, as Nabal did David's, I Sam. xxv. 11. 'Shall we,' say they, 'give up with that pleasant or prositable way, in which we are, and betake ourselves to a way that rrtust needs be a continual weariness?' This is a strong band, but when the eyes are opened, and God's ways are tried in earnest, it would break like an untwined thread: Prov. iii. 17. " Her ways are ways of pleasantness, and all her paths are peace." Come and see. —There is,
(2.) The band of ill company. Satan does as the Romans did with some of their prisoners, he binds his prisoners together, so that one helps to hold sast another, to their ruin: Prov. xiii. 20. "A companion of fools shall be destroyed." Thus there are bundles of drunkards, swearers, Sabbath prosaners, despisers of what is good, worldlings, to whom the world is the chief good; and every one of the bundle is a snare to the soul of another. With an eye to this is the terrible sentence given, Matth. xiii. 30. " Gather ye together sirst the tares, and bind them in bundles to burn them.'* Therefore is the gospel-invitation, Prov. ix. 5. 6.
"Come, eat of my bread, and drink of the wine which I have mingled. Forsake the foolish, and live, and go in the way of understanding.''—-— There is,
3. The band of earthly-mindednese. This held them sast who were bidden to the gospel-supper, Luke, xiv. 16.—20. The wretched world had its bands on every one of them, so that they could not stir to come. They must look to this and the other business, that they do not lose their advantage; and while the devil's servant is thus busy here and there, looking well to this and that, tho immortal foul, with the keeping of which God charges him, is lost. The pleasures of the world, like Syren songs, arrest them like iron setters covered with silk; these secure them. The cares of the world, like a thicket, entangle them, they cannot get leisure for them to mind their souls; and the weary eaith ever interposing betwixt them and the Sun of Righteousness, they are thus kept
in a dark prison There is,
4. The band of unbelief. This is such an one as no less than the arm of the Lord can take off: Isa. liii. 1. "Who hath believed our report? and to whom hath the arm of the Lord been revealed?" Men hear the word, but they do not believe it; they believe not the doctrine of the gospel, they co'int it foolishness, 1 Cor. i. 23* The promises they do not believe, they count them but sair words, and will not quit their certainty in a sinsul course for the hope of them, Heb. iv. 1. 2. 11. The threatenings they consider as mere scarecrows, and in spite of them promise themselves peace: Deut. xxix. 19. " And ft shall come to pass, when he heareth the words of this curse, that he bless himself in his heart, saying, I shall have peace, though I walk in the imagination of mine heart,
0.2 ta to add drunkenness to thirst." They believe not their need of Christ, and therefore they flight and reject him.—There is,
5. The band of flothsulness. This ties down the natural man in his prison-bed, saying, Prov. vi. 10. "Yet a little sleep, yet a little slumber, a little folding of the hands to sleep." It hangs so heavy upon his legs, that he cannot move them in the way of God: Prov. xxvi. 13. "The slothsul man saith, There is a lion in the way." "A lion is in the streets, yet his seet are swift to evil," Isa. lix. 7. This band is so heavy on his head, that he cannot lift up his eyes; and on his hands, that he cannot lift them to his mouth for his soul's behoof: Prov. xxvi. 15. "The slothsul hidethhis hand in his bosom; it grieveth him to bring it again to his mouth." This is a hellish gulph on earth, that swallows up convictions, resolutions, motions of good, and the like. They could be content to be better, if God would work with them as with stocks and stones, which are at no pains for their own polishing. They can spend whole days, and even nights, for the world and for their lusts; but to spend a day, or a considerable part of a day, in clearing their accounts, and laying down their measures for eternity, this is what they cannot be troubled with.—There is,
6. The band of delays. This held Felix sast, when the rest of the bands on him were like to give way, Acts, xxiv. 25. When trembling under Paul's preaching, he said, "Go thy way for this time; when I have a more convenient season, I will call for thee." The prisoners, many of them, ar.e not resolved not to come out, onfy they put it off, resolving to do it asterwards. The young put it off till they be old, the old till death come to their bed-side. Some make one resolution, and
some some another, to turn to the Lord; and though the time comes which they had set, yet they still 'put it off again to another time; and so on, till death comes at length, and sweeps them off, ere they have power to execute their good purposes.— There is, »
7. The band of delusion: Isa. xHv. 20. "He seedeth on ashes; a deceived heart hath turned him aside, that he cannot deliver his foul, nor say, Is there not a lie in my right-hand ?"—They are under a searsul delusion as to their state, like Laodicea, Rev. iii. 17. "Because thou sayest, I am rich, and increased in goods, and have need of nothing; and knowest not that thou art wretched, and miserable, and poor, and blind, and naked." As one is resused admission by mistake, so Christ is often kept at the door; for the poor deluded (inner thinks he is in already.—They abide sast in the g^ll of bitterness, because they imagine themselves to be got out of it already. They remain unconverted, because they reckon themselves already converted. This is a most dangerous case, which should stir us all up to an impartial examination of our state: Isa. 1. 11. "Behold, all ye that kindle a sire, that compass yourselves about with sparks: walk in the light of your sire, and in the sparks which you have kindled. This ye shall. have of mine hand, ye shall lie down in sorrow." —There is,
Lastly, The band of divers lusts: 2 Tim. iii. 6.. "Laden with sins, led away. with divers lusts." They are laden with them, as ever a prisoner was with irons, so that by them Satan holds them sast. Unmortisied lusts crawl up and down, preying on their souls, and keeping them in a state of death. They hang about them, crying, Give, give, so that they can get nothing done to purpose for eterQ 3 nit ji. nity. And so many unmortisied lusts as there are about a man, Satan has so many handles to hold him by. A lust of covetousness, of pride, sensuality, and the like, will hold a man sast.
This part of the subject may be improved in an use of lamentation.
This is a lamentation, and may be for a lamentation, over all the unconverted, as bound men in the prison of a natural state. Thou art little concerned with it, but the misery of the case deserves tears of blood. Fcr—thou art laid up in custody at the instance of God's law and justice, as a debtor and criminal. As a debtor, thou shalt not be let out till thou hast paid the utmost sarthing. But, alas! thou hast nothing wherewith to pay; men and angels cannct help thee; their united stock is not sufficient to pay off the debt of sin. As a criminal, thou canst not be let out, till thou abide thy trial; and terrible will it be whenever God calls thee to it; when thy indictment is read, and thou art tried for thy lise according to law, what canst thou say? thy crimes are undeniable. —Thou canst not get out by force or fraud, slight or might. Thou art God's prisoner, as the ofsended party. What canst thou do or say that is not known to him who sees all things? Whither canst thou flee, where his hand will not sind thee ■ out.—Thou art Satan's prisoner as thy jailor. He has malice enough to prompt him to watch and keep thee, power enough to hold thee still. His iron-bands and chains are upon thee-in the prisonhouse, how canst thou escape? Look to the bands on thee in the prison; look on them, and mourn, and lament thy case. There are bands on thee of God's laying on, and who but he then can take them off? for he shutteth, and no man can open, Rev. iii. 7. Thou art bound under she curse of