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tempted to pride, God calls forth humility to prick that swelling, puffing bladder: when they are tempted to wrath and passion, he stirs up meekness; when to murmuring and repining against the dispensations of God, he puts patience upon its perfect work. Briefly, there is no sin whatever, that the Devil can by his temptation stir up in the heart, but God also can stir up a contrary grace to it, to quell and master it. This is the method of God's Exciting Grace in the preventing of sin, that when the Devil calls forth a particular corruption out of the stock of corruption, God calls forth a particular grace, contrary to it, from the stock of grace.

But yet there are some particular graces, that are more especially employed about this service, and which God doth most frequently exercise, and set on work to keep his children from the commission of sin.

[1] God hinders the commission of sin, by keeping up the lively and vigorous actings of Faith.

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Indeed if faith fail, all other graces must fail, by consequence. Faith is the soul's steward, that fetcheth in supplies of grace from Christ, in whom is the treasure of it; and distributes them to all the other graces of the soul. Therefore, when Christ tells St. Peter, Luke xxii. 31. that Satan had desired to sift him by his temptations, lest he should be thereby discouraged and dejected, presently he adds, in v. 32. But I have prayed for thee, that thy faith fail not and wherefore his faith, rather than any other grace, but because other graces must take their lot with faith, and must be strong or weak, victorious or languishing, as faith is. And therefore it is called the shield of faith: Eph. vi. 16: now the office of a shield is, to defend, not only the body, but the rest of the armour also; and so doth faith, when it is dexterously managed: it keeps both the soul, and its graces also, from the attempts of the Devil. I might be large here, in shewing you how faith preserves from sin as, by deriving virtue and strength from the death and blood of Christ; by pleading God's engagements and promises to tread Satan under our feet; by urging and importuning Christ to fulfil in us the end of his coming into the world, which was to destroy the works of the Devil; and many such ways I might name, by which faith prevents sin, and destroys it.

But, waving them, I shall only mention Two particulars, wherein this energy of faith, in keeping men from sin, is the most conspicuous.


1st. Faith preserves from sin, by bringing in and presenting to the soul eternal Rewards and Punishments.

And that is the peculiar office of Faith. These, indeed, are future unto sense, but they are present unto faith: for faith is the substance of things not seen: Heb. xi. 1. It gives them a being, before they are; and what we hope for or fear, as to come, by faith it is enjoyed or felt, as already present. What a mighty advantage is this, to preserve men from sinning! Would sinners treat with the Devil, or hearken to a temptation, if they should now see the whole world on flame, angels hastening them to judgment, and Christ upon his throne? here, Heaven, to receive and crown them; there, Hell, with all its horrors, to torment them? Would any of you dare to sin, if all this were before your eyes? Believe it, when faith acts lively, all this is as truly present to the soul, as it is certain it shall onee be; and, therefore, no more than we would commit a sin if sentence were now passing upon us, either of absolution or of eternal damnation, at the judgment-seat of God; no more shall we sin, while faith sets these things evidently before our eyes, and makes them as real to us as they are sure.

2dly. Faith preserves from sinning, by representing that God, who must hereafter be our Judge, to be now our Spectator aud Observer.

It is only an eye of faith, that can discover things future as present, and things spiritual as real. God is a spiritual being, and therefore is invisible to the dull eyes of flesh; but the quick eye of faith can see him who is invisible; as it was said of Moses, Heb. xi. 27. It fixeth its eye upon the all-seeing eye of God, and fills the soul with awful thoughts of God's omnipresence and omniscience; that all things are naked and bare before him, in whose company we are wherever we are, and with whom we have to do whatever we are doing. Now consider with yourselves: would you commit such or such a sin, to which possibly you are tempted, if some grave person were in the room with you, whom you did much respect? And, what! shall the presence of a mortal man keep you from sinning, and shall not the presence of the Great God much more? Shall we dare to sin, when God's eye is fixed upon us; when he views not only our outward actions, but also our inward thoughts, more clearly than we can see the faces one of another? It was the wise counsel, that a heathen-man gave to a scholar of his, That if he would preserve himself from doing any thing that was in

decent, he should suppose some sober and reverend man present with him; and this would keep him from doing that, which he would be ashamed to do before him. Truly, we need not make any such supposition: the Great and Holy God is present with us, in reality; and the eye of faith discovers him so to be: he is always looking on us; yea, always looking into us: and, certainly, this, to one that can exercise the discerning eye of faith, will be a more effectual means to keep a man from sin, than if all the eyes of men and angels were upon him.

[2] As the exercise of faith, so the sprightly and vigorous exercise of Divine Love, is an excellent preservative against sin. Love will not willingly do any thing, that may offend and grieve the object loved. Love is an assimilating affection: it is the very cement, that joins God and the soul together in the same spirit, and makes them to be of one heart and of one mind: it is the loadstone of the soul, that toucheth all other affections, and makes them stand heaven-ward. When once God hath wrought the love of himself in our hearts, this will constrain us to love what he loves, and to hate what he hates. Sin is the only thing, that God hates; and those, that love him, will not, cannot but hate sin: their love to God will constrain them to do it: Ps. xcvii. 10. Ye, that love the Lord, hate evil. And, ceri tainly, the hatred of evil is the best security against the committing of it will any one take a toad or a serpent into his bosom, to lodge it there? Truly, as utterly impossible it is, while the Exciting Grace of God stirs up and quickens our Love to him, that we should ever embrace a vile lust and lodge it in our hearts; since our sight of the beauty of holiness hath made it ugly, and our love to God hath made it hateful.

[3] To mention no more, A Holy Fear and Caution lest we should sin is a most excellent preservative against sin.

None are so safe, as those, that are least secure. Fear is the best preservative of grace. Whereas those, that are rash and venturous and confident of their own strength, run themselves into many temptations, and come off with wounded and smarting consciences. Stand in awe, says the Psalmist, and sin not: Ps. iv. 4. The timorous and trembling Christian stands firmest, because such an one is apt, upon every occasion, to suspect his own strength, and to call in God's. And, indeed, when we consider the treachery of our own hearts and the subtlety of the Devil, this holy fear and jealousy is no more than is needful ;

and it is less than sufficient. A man, that is to wade through a deep river, will first try his footing, before he takes his step: we are to wade through the depths of Satan, as the Apostle calls them and, certainly, it is but a requisite caution, first to try our ground, before we venture upon it; to look about, and consider whether such and such an action be grounded upon a command and secured to us by a promise; whether, if we do it, we shall not lay ourselves open to such and such temptations; or, if we do lie open to them, whether or not we are in God's way, and may expect his protection and preservation. Truly, such circumspection as this is will prove our best security: and, though we are not able, by all our own strength and diligence, to preserve ourselves; yet, when God sees us so industriously solicitous to avoid sin, he will then come in by his almighty grace, that helps not the slothful, but the laborious, and he will keep us from those sins that we cannot keep ourselves from. 3. Now for the Application of this.


(1) If it be so, that it is the Almighty Power of God only, that can keep us from sin, this may then be convictive of that error, that now-a-days is very rife in the world, that ascribes our preservation in our standing, not so much to the Almighty Grace of God, as to the Liberty and Freedom of our own Wills.

Truly, this is an opinion, that proceeds much from the pride and stomach of such, who are loth to be too much beholden to the grace of God for their salvation. It is true, no man sins, nor does any man abstain from sin, but it is with his will; but yet, still, there is an almighty influence from God: an influence of Common Providence to the wicked, without which they could not so much as will; and an influence of Special Grace to the godly, without which they could not abstain from sin. It is God, saith the Apostle, that worketh in us both to will and to do, of his own good pleasure. It is not, whether or not the will be free in abstaining from sin: that, is acknowledged: but, whether the motion of the will be principally and primarily from God, or from itself; and this, the Apostle concludes to be from God. From him it is, that we both will and do: he gives the first beginning he adds the progress: and he concludes. He first begets grace: then, he increases it: and, at last, he crowns it. All is from God.

(2) This may instruct us, to Whom we ought to ascribe the praise and the glory of our preservation from those foul and horrid sins, that we see others daily fall into.

Not unto us, O Lord, not unto us, but unto thy name, be all the praise and glory. We have natures, as sinful as the worst of men ever had; and, that such sinful natures should not produce as wicked lives, whence proceeds this, but only from the miracle of God's grace? for it is a miracle, that, when the fountain is as bitter, when our hearts are as bad as the hearts of others, yet the streams should not be so. Whence is it, since we have the same corrupt hearts with Cain and Judas and all the wicked rabble in the world, whence is it, that we have not committed the same impieties with them, or worse than they have done? Why, God hath either restrained or sanctified us. But Sanctifying Grace is not enough: for, whence is it, that we have not been drunken, with Noah; adulterers or murderers, with David; abjurers of Christ, with Peter? are we more holy than they, or are we more sanctified than they? No: it is only our gracious God's vouchsafing to us a constant influence of Exciting Grace, that hath thus kept us from those sins, into which he suffers wicked men to fall; and, not only them, but sometimes his own dear children too. It is not a difference in our natures, it is not a difference from Inherent Grace within us, that makes this difference in our lives; but it is only a difference from the unaccountable Exciting, influencing Grace of God: there lies the difference. Well then, let not the strong man glory in his strength; but let him, that glorieth, glory in the Lord, for he is our strength and our deliverer. What have we, that we have not received; and if we have received, why do we boast as though we had not received? It is not what we have of ourselves; but it is what we have received from God, and what we do daily receive in a way of special influence, that makes us to differ from the vilest and most profligate sinners in the world: and, therefore, let us ascribe the glory of all to the Almighty Grace of God.

(3) To shut up all, If our preservation from sin be from God, beware then how you provoke him to withdraw and suspend the influence of his grace, whereby you have been preserved, and still are.

Indeed, if we belong to him, he will never so far depart from us, as utterly to forsake us: but, yet, he may so far depart from us, as that we may have no comfortable sense of his presence, nor any visible supports from his grace. We may be left a naked and destitute prey to every temptation; and fall into

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