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the decree of God, and take possession of some gratification, which will bring the wrath and curse of the Lord upon him. Temptations to sin will look bright and captivating, as the garment, and the silver and the gold glittered be ■ fore the eye of Achan. And that same deceitfulness of sin, which opens the eye wide to gaze upon the exterior attraction of an accursed thing, by some mysterious mechanism, closes the ear to the rebukes of conscience, or to the denunciations of God. The eye is the great inlet to that mischief which works upon the heart. There is no safety, except in imitating Job, by making a covenant with our eyes, that we should not admit evil desires through them, to pollute and defile us. The senses must be kept under due restraint: and the prayer of David should often rise to our lips; Turn away mine eyes from beholding vanity, and quicken me in thy way. Set the Lord, O Christian, always before thee, if thou wouldest walk safely. Then, "let thine eyes look right onward, and let thine eyelids look straight before thee." Turn neither to the right hand, nor to the left, lest the lust of the eyes ensnare thee.
(2.) Inattention to this important caution, occasioned a mournful progress in the guilt of Achan. Undue admiration was productive of sinful desire. "When I saw among the spoils a goodly Babylonish garment, and two hundred shekels of silver, and a wedge of gold, of fifty shekels weight, then I coveted them." The moral law of God forbids the commission of all evil, whether against him, or our neighbour. The spiritual explanation of the Saviour has also shown, that the commandments may be broken, without the actual transgression—that murder may be the enmity of the spirit, and adultery the impurity of the heart. But even the literal precept discovers the mind of God in this respect: and while the first nine commandments forbid, with his voice, any unholy practice—the tenth, which cries, "Thou shalt not covet," lays the axe to the root of all improper desire; enjoining us, in whatsoever state we are, therewith to be content, without anxious wishes for any thing which our heavenly Father has seen good to deny.
No part of the divine law, separate from its blessed office of being a schoolmaster, to bring us to Christ, discovers a greater manifestation of divine love, than the tenth commandment, whether it respects our own peace, the welfare of our neighbour, the common good, or the glory of God. If sinful desires be entertained, they must pollute and distress the mind, even though the course of providence, or the operations of restraining grace, should hinder the
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perpetration of the contemplated sin. The great majority of men, however, practise upon themselves a gross and fatal delusion, by thinking nothing evil which is confined within the recesses of the heart. If the sovereignty of God were confined by those limits which bound human authority, and could take cognizance of external disobedience only, such a view might be correct. But, as the Lord seeth not as man seeth, —as he looketh upon the heart, such an opinion merely leads those who entertain it, to sport themselves with their own deceivings. That professor of the gospel of Christ who would adorn the doctrine of God his Saviour, in all things, and avoid the peril of making shipwreck of faith, and of a good conscience, must pray " that all carnal affections may die in him, and that all things belonging to the Spirit may live, and grow in him." Let the words of my mouth, and the meditations of my heart, be always acceptable in thy sight, O Lord, my strength, and my Redeemer! It must not suffice him, that the stream of evil gushes not forth to the light: its fountain must be dried up in the heart. Thence proceed evil thoughts, the leaders of all that terrible army of mischief, sin, and sorrow, which our Lord Jesus Christ has so forcibly described. Here then, must be the main conflict of a Christian. Little does that man know of spiritual warfare, of his own deceitful heart, of the divine requirement, or of his causes of danger, who does not feel, that safety and hope depend, under the salvation of the cross, upon the courage and constancy with which the battle is fought against the bosom sins that do most easily beset him. It is no easy task to take the child of our cherished, though sinful desire, as Abraham took his son, and to offer it upon the altar of a divine command. That unholy affection will not lie patiently upon the wood, and beneath the knife; nor resign itself to death, as a lamb that is brought to the slaughter, which is dumb. It will resist, remonstrate, plead. If it should see the tempted spirit in earnest for its extermination, it will only desire, as it were, a respite from present execution; and such a delay, as Jephtha's daughter required of her father: "Let me alone awhile, and then do to me according to that which hath proceeded out of thy mouth."1 Beware, however, that ye listen not to the seduction. If any unhallowed desire have arisen within you, go in prayer to God, through the mediation of Jesus, for the Almighty help of his Spirit, to enable you to subdue it: and, in the sufficiency of that grace,
rest not day nor night, until it be brought into subjection to the will of your God and Saviour. Carnal nature may plead for its indulgence, as Lot for Zoar," Is it not a little one?" But that wisdom which the Holy Ghost teacheth, will show you, that as the least neglected spark may enkindle a conflagration, to lay waste a city, so may an unobserved lust burst at length into a flame, which may consume the present and eternal peace of the offender. All our desires, if we wish them not to lead us into sin, must be kept in entire obedience to the revealed will and law of God. If they usurp a dominion over us, they instantly become our remorseless tyrants. While Hagar was a servant, no act of undutifulness is charged upon her: but when she is given unto Abraham's bosom, she taunts the patriarch's wife, disturbs his house, and gains an influence over him, so strong, that, until enjoined by the Most High himself, he cannot consent to part with her. One security alone remains: Keep thy heart with all diligence. Imitate Nehemiah, therefore, when he, and the captains of Judah were endeavouring to rebuild Jerusalem, while their enemies conspired to hinder them. "We made our prayer unto God, and set a watch against them day and night." A Christian should pass through the temptations around him, as Israel wished