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the means most successfully to increase riches, and how to remove whatever may obstruct the main design. The spirit is captivated, and like a drudge in a mill is continually grinding for the satisfaction of the earthly appetite. When the more sensual voluptuous passions are predominant, the contriving thoughts are to make " provisions for the flesh to satisfy the lusts thereof." Rom. 13. 1. The understanding is debased to be the pander and caterer for the intemperate and incontinent appetites. The ambitious spirit lays the scene how to obtain his desired honour, and forecasts how to ascend to some place of eminence : so anger soured into revenge, envies at the excellencies and advancements of others, turns the mind to plot mischief...
The contemplative thoughts and musings of the mind, are also fixed on the darling. lust. As a holy believer, in whose heart the desire of enjoying God in heaven is the supreme affection, frequently ascends in his mind thither, and by solemn serious thoughts substantiates his future happiness, and has an unspeakably glorious joy in the lively hopes of it: thus the unrenewed heart turns the thoughts to the desired object, either in representing it in all its charms, or in reflections upon the enjoyment of what is past, or in expectation of what is to come, and pleases itself with the supposition instead of fruition. A proud person entertains vain-glorious thoughts of his own worth, and worships the vain idol himself: in his mind he repeats the echoes of praise, that his foolish flatterers lavish upon him. It is recorded of Nebuchadnezzar, that as he walked in his palace, he said, “ is not this great Babylon that I have built, for the house of the kingdom, by the might of my power, and for the honour of my majesty ?” His high towering words were the expression of his thoughts, and discovered pride to be the reigning passion of his heart. The sensual wretch surveys his carnal paradise, and personates the pleasures of sin by impure imaginations: his fancy runs riotously over tempting beautiés : by an active contemplation he contracts a new stain, and induces a new guilt upon himself: he commits the same - sin a thousand times, by renewing the pleasant thoughts of it, and by carnal complacence in the remembrance.
In the silence of the night, when a curtain of darkness is drawn over the visible world, and the soul not diverted by sensible objects, is most free in its operations, then the thoughts are con
versant about the beloved sin. It is said of the malicious and revengeful, “ they plot mischief upon their beds." The rich fool was contriving how to bestow his fruits and goods, and entertaining himself with the thoughts of festival voluptuous living, in the night wherein his soul was required. And in the morning the virgin thoughts are prostituted to the beloved lust. In the time of divine worship, when the pure majesty and special presence of God should unite the thoughts, and compose the soul to a holy solemn frame, then the beloved lust will be so impudent and outrageous as to break into the mind, the chamber of presence, and seat itself there. As Lot's wife led by an angel out of Sodom, turned a lingering eye towards it, so the carnal heart, even in religious service and addresses to God, reflects upon the sinful object, that has an attractive force upon it. It is charged against those fine hypocrites in Ezekiel ; " they sit before thee as my people, and hear thy words, but they will not do them; for with their mouth they show much love, but their heart goeth after their covetousness.” Ezek. 33. 31. It is reckoned as an high aggravation of their guilt, " yea in my house have I found their wickedness, saith the Lord.” Jer. 23. 11,
The familiar lust will haunt men in the divine presence. This makes them cold and careless in holy duties: this makes their devotion so faint and dilute, that God is infinitely provoked by them. In short, the darling lust does so entirely and intensely fix the mind upon it, that men's accounts are dreadfully increased by the swarms of wicked thoughts that defile their souls : and in the day of judgment, that is called the “ day of revelation,” there will be a discovery made to their everlasting confusion. low
4ly. The sin men desire to conceal from others, and from conscience, and are apt to defend or extenuate, and are impatient of reproof for it, has a special interest in their affections. Every sinner is a master of this art, to counterfeit the virtues he wants, and dissemble the vices that he allows. It is the observation of “ Solomon, God made man upright, but he sought out many inventions;" especially to palliate and hide, or to excuse his faults. Sin in its native deformity is so foul, that men employ a great deal of art and study, either to conceal it under a veil of darkness, or a deceitful mask of virtue, or by various excuses to lessen its guilt and ignominy. Adam patched up an apron of fig-leaves to cover his nakedness, a resemblance of his care to
hide his sin. : David could not expect to deceive God; but to hide his adultery with Bathsheba from men, he sends for Uriah from the army, that he might have gone home to his wife. It is observed of Cæsar and Pompey, whose ambitious spirits aspired to sovereign power, they made use of some ensigns of royalty, to accustom the people by degrees to them, yet were crafty to hide their design. „Cæsar sometimes appeared publicly with a wreath of laurel on his head; but lest the people from his wearing that appearance of a crown, should be jealous of his intention, pretended it was only to supply his want of hair, and cover his baldness. Pompey wore a white fillet curiously wrought about his leg, in pretence that his leg was hurt; but in truth, because it was a diadem, a royal ornament, * for which he was reproached by some strict observer. There are innumerable arts used to cover men's respective sins. I shall only instance in one that is usually practised: how do many, like the crafty lapwing that flutters at a distance from its nest, appear zealous against the visible sins of others, that under that shadowy deceit they may hide their own? Their words, feathered with severe censure, fly abroad, wounding the reputation of others for lesser faults, that they may not be suspected to be guilty of worse sins secretly cherished by them. .
But if the beloved sin be evident, satan assists the corrupt mind to frame such colourable pretences either to defend or excuse it, that it may not appear in a ghastly manner, attended with strict judgment and an everlasting hell." When a lust has enticed and drawn away the will, the mind is engaged to give colour to the consent, and either directly, or in an oblique way to represent the sin, that it may appear less odious and more amiable.: Sometimes the understanding is so perverted by the impression of pleasure, that conscience allows concupiscence. It is a repeated observation of a f wise philosopher, that vices were disguised under the resemblance of virtues, and virtues disparaged under the names of vices; from whence the understanding and
* Pompeio candida fascia crus alligatum habenti, dictum fuit, non refert in qua parte corporis sit diadema. Aul. Gell.
+ Vitia nobis sub virtutum nomine obrepunt. Temeritas sub titulo forti. tadinis latet. Moderatio vocatur ignavia, pro cauto timidus accipitur. In his magno periculo erratur, Senec. Fallit enim vitium specie virtutis & umbra. Juven. 14. Sat:
will, the mind and manners were depraved, and shame was cast upon the virtuous, and boldness given to the vicious. Profuseness is styled magnificence, violence valour, dissoluteness gentility, fraud and craft prudence. On the contrary, sincerity is blasted with the name of folly, patience reputed stupidity, and conscience superstition. The proud will set off the lofty humour and carriage as a decent greatness of spirit, and vilify the humble as low and sordid. The choleric will engage reason to justify his passion; he will alledge the provocation would anger an angel. The lukewarm in religion, will represent lukewarmness as a discreet temperament between the vicious extremes of a wildfire zeal, and a profane coldness and neglect. The earthlyminded will put flattering colours on covetousness, to make it appear a praise-worthy virtue, a prudent provision for time to come. If men are quite destitute of defence, they will by a mild construction extenuate the guilt of their darling sin. The incontinent person will make a canopy for his lust, as only a human frailty. The intemperate will excuse his excess, as free mirth and harmless society. Many apologies are made for the sins men indulgently commit; some will plead in excuse, a prone necessity of nature; some, the custom of the places they live in; some, their unsettled youth; any thing that may lessen the turpitude in the view of conscience, or in the opinion of others. Now pleading argues love, and love denominates the sin to be their own.* From hence it is that so many contract a desperate hardness, and are irrecoverably depraved. But if men cannot hide or excuse their beloved sin, they are impatient of reproof for it, and with secret discontent, or stormy passions, reject admonition. Some of fair tempers and conversation, if a minister or friend be faithful to their souls, and with holy zeal urges the divorcing command of God between them and their pleasant sins, and represents sincerely the guilt of their sinful course of life, they become fierce and vehement, and recoil upon their reprovers, as arrogating imperious authority, or for rigour and severity, or impertinence in admonishing them; and sometimes recriminate, that the reprover is as bad or worse himself: like a river that passes without noise, till it meets with the arches of a
* Hoc æque omnium est, vitia sua excusare malint quam effugere. Senec. Epist. 50.
bridge that stops its free current, then it swells and roars. In short, the indulgent sinner will endeavour to defend his bosom sin, or to subdue his conscience that it may not torment him for it.
5ly. The sin that the enlightened conscience reflects upon, with anguish and bitter remorse, is usually that which has been indulged, and whereby God has been most dishonoured. There is so deep an impression of the Deity in the soul, and our duty and accountableness, that it cannot be utterly defaced ; and though the rebellious will and affections control it for a time, yet it remains for the conviction and punishment of delinquents. Conscience is a spy in our bosoms, and observes in order to a discovery; and what is written in its register cannot be rased out. It is true, a spirit of slumber sometimes seizes upon the wicked, and conscience is so stupified, that they sin without reflection and remorse; but there are times wherein conscience is roused up like a lion, and tears “them in pieces” according to the fearful threatening, This is sometimes done by the powerful preaching of the word : the apostle describes “ the word of God” by its admirable efficacy; “It is quick and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder the soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.” When the word by a piercing application discovers the bosom sin, and the fearful judgment that attends it, so that the guilty cannot obscure the evidence of the one, nor avoid the terror of the other, then conscience bleeds afresh that was seared before. There is recorded a wonderful instance of this in the “ Acts of the Apostles:" when Paul the prisoner “reasoned of righteousness, temperance, and judgment to come,” Felix trembled : * the discoursing of those virtues” that were directly contrary to his habitual enormities, ripped up his conscience to the quick, and struck into consternation that lofty sinner. From hence it is that many decline a sharp and searching ministry, which is always the token of a guilty heart. The word shining upon the conscience (like the reflection of the sun upon the waters that made them appear like
* Per omnem sævitiam & libidinem jus regium servili ingenio exercuit. Tacit. Lib. 5. Hist.
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