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- Fourthly, Satan hinders the access of light, by helping erroneous minds to draw false conclusions, aud perverie inserences from the great and precious truths of the gospel; and thereby bringing them under prejudice and contempt: Thus he alfists the errors of mens minds about the doctrine of election: when he either persuades them, that it is an unreasonable doctrine, and not worthy of credit, that God should chuse some, and refuse others every way as good as those he hath chosen; or if there beany certainty in that doctrine, then men may throw the reins upon the neck of their lusts, and live at what rate they list. For "u God have chosen them to salvation, their wickednels shall not hinder it; and it he have appointed them unto wrath, their diligence and self-denial cannot prevent it.

Thus the doctrine of free grace is by the like sophistry of Satan turned into lasciviousness. if grace abound, men may (in the more freely; and the shortness of our time upon earth, which in its own nature awakens all men to diligence, is, by fcembtilty of Satan, turned to a quite contrary purpose, "Let "ns eat and drink, for to-morrow we die."

Fifthly, Satan darkens the minds of men, and (huts them up against the light, by blowing them up with pride, and self-conctitedness, persuading them that they know all these things already, and causing them to contemn the most weighty and precious truths of God, as trite and vulgar notions. The word cannot be received without meekness, and humility, of mind, Jam. i. 21. Plal. xxv. 8, 9. and pride is the nude of ignorance, 1 Tim. vi. 4. 1 Cor. viii. 7. The devil is aware of this, and theresore blows up the pride, and conceitedness of mens hearts, all that he can: And this temptation of his generally prtvails wherever it meets with a knowing head, matched with a graceless, and unsanctified heart. And thu- we lee by what wiles and policies, Satan keeps out the light, and prevents the access of it to the minds of men.

But if he miss his design here, and truth gets into the mind, Then

Secondly, He labours to obstruct the esficacy, and operation of the light; and, though it do shine into the understanding, yet «(hall be imprisoned there; and send down no converting influences upon the will, and afsections: And this design he promotes, and manages divers ways.

first, By hastening to quench convictions betimes, and nip them in the bud. Satan knows how dangerous a thing it is, and destructive to his interest, to sufser convictions to continua i?ng; and therefore it is said of him, Mat. xiii. 10. When aloy "one heareth the word of the kingdom, and understandeth it "not, then cometh the wicked one, and catcheth away that which: "was (own in his heart." Satan is compared in this scripture to the fowls in the air, which pick up the leed before it take any root in the earth. The devil is very jealous of this, and therefore labours all he can to destroy the word before it comes to operate upon the heart; which he doth sometimes by the cares of the world, and sometimes by vain companions, who prove mere quench coals unto the beginning convictions. One sinner deltroyeth much good.

Secondly, No sooner doth the god of this world observe the light of truth begin to operate upon the heart, but he obstructeth that design by procrastinations and delays, which delude and baffle convinced fouls; he persuades them if they will alter their course, it will be time enough hereafter, when such encumbrances aud troubles, in the world, are over; if he prevail here, 'tis a thousand to one but the work miscarries. Jam. i. 13, 14J If the hearer of the word be not a doer {i. e.) a present doer, while the impressions of it are fresh upon the soul, he doth but deceive himself. For it is with the heart, as it is with melted wax, if the leal be clapped to it presently, it will receive a fair impression; but if it be let alone, but for a little while, you can make none at all; it was therefore David's great care and wisdom to set about the work of religion under, the first impetus, or vigorous metion of his heart and affections. Pfal. cxix. 60. " F *' made haste, and delayed not to keep thy commandments." Multitudes of fouls have perished by these delays. It is a temp* tation incident to all that are under beginning convictions, especially young person?, whom the devil persuades that it were no better than madness in them to abridge, and deny themselves so much delight, and pleasure, and steep their youthful thoughts in such a melancholy subject as religion is.

Thirdly, If all this will not do, but convictions still continue* to 8ct ground in the conscience, then he endeavours, to scare, and fright them out of their convictions, by representing to them the inward terrors, troubles, and despairs into which they are about to plunge themselves, and that hence;*rth they must never expect a pleasant day, or comfortable hour. Thus doth the God of this world blind the minds of them that believe nor, both by hindering the access of light to the mind, aud the influence of it upon the heart.

Thirdly, There is yet one policy of Satan to keep souls in darkness, and that is, by the miiapplication of truth; persuading them, that whatsoever they read, or hear of the misery, and danger of christless, and unre"generate persons, doth not in the least touch or concern them, but the more notorious and prophane part of the world; and by this policy he blinds the minds of all civil and moral persons. Thus the "Pharisees "trusted in themselves that they were righteous, and despised o"tners." And so the Laodiceans thought themselves rich, and increased "with goods; this is, in a very sase and good condition *. Now there are divers things notably improved by Satan's policy, in order to these misapplications of truth. As,

First, The freedom of their lives from the most gross pollutions of the world. Mat. xix. 20. "All these thiugs have I "kept from my youth up." A civil, sober course of lise is a most esfectual blind before theeyes of many a man's conscience.

Secondly, It is the policy of Satan to prevent convictions by conviction: I mean essectual convictions, by convictions, that have been ineffectual, and are now vanished away. Thus the troubles that some persons have been under, must pass for their conversion, though the temper of their heart be the lame it was: Their ineffectual troubles are made use of by the devil to blind them in the true knowledge, and apprehension of their condition. For these men and women can speak of the troubles they have had for sin, and the many tears they have shed for it; whereby thorough conviction is efsectually prevented.

Thirdly, Gifts, and knowledge are improved by the policy of Satan, against the true knowledge of Jesus Christ, and our own estate by nature. As conviction, is improved by Satan's policy against conviction, so is knowledge against knowledge. This was the case of them in Rom, ii. 17, i3. "Thou art "called a Jew, and restest in the law, and makest thy boast of "God, and knowest his will, and approvest the things that are "excellent; being instructed out of the law, and art confident "that thou thyself art a guide to the blind," &c. And this is the temptation, and delusion of knowing persons, who are so sar from being blind in their own account, that they account themselves the guides of the blind : Yet who blinder than such men?

Fourthly, External reformation is improved by the policy of Satan against true spiritual reformation, and passes current up and down the world for conversion; though it serves only to strengthen Satan's interest in the soul, Matth. xii. 44. and for want of a real change of heart, doth but encreasc their sin and misery, 2 Pet. ii. 20. This is the generation that is pure in their own eyes, and yet are not washed from their fiithincss.

* See my Touchstone of Sincerity upon Rev. iii. 17, iS.

The cleanness of their hands blinds them in discovering thefoul' nefs of their hearts.

Fifthly, The policy of Satan improves diligence in some duties, against the convictions of other duties. The external duties of religion, as hearing, praying, sasting, against the great duties of repenting and believing. This was their case, Isa. lviii.

2, 3. "Yet they seek me daily, and delight to know my ways, "as a nation that did righteousness, and forsook not the ordi"nances of their God. They ask of me the ordinances of ju"siiee, they take delight in approaching to God. Wherefore "have we sasted, say they, and thou seest not? Wherefore "have we afflicted our souls, and thou takest no knowledge?" Thus duty is improved against duty, the externals against the internals of religion, and multitudes are blinded this way.

Sixthly, The policy of Satan improves zeal against aeal; and thereby blinds a great part of the world: he allows men to be zealous against a salse religion, if thereby he may prevent them from being zealous in the true religion. He diverts their zeal against their own sins, by spending it against other mens. Thus Paul was once blinded by his own zeal for the law, Acts xxii.

3. And many men, at this day, satisfy themselves in their own zeal against the corruptions of God's worship, and the superstitions of others, who never selt the power of true religion upon their own hearts; a dangerous blind of Satan.

Seventhly, The policy of Satan improves the esteem and respect men have from the people of God, against their great duty and interest to become such themselves, Rev. iii. 1. "Thou *' hast a name that thou livest, but thou art dead." It is enough to many men that they obtain acceptation among the saints, though they be none of that number; the good opinion of others, begets and confirms their good opinion of themselves.

Sightly, The policy of Satan improves soundness of judgment, 'against soundness of heart. An orthodox head, against an orthodox heart and lise; dogmatical saith, against justifying saith. This was the case of them before-mentioned, Rom. ii. tS, 19. ftlen satisfy themselves, that they have a found understanding, though, at the same time, they have a very rotten heart. It is enough for them that their heads are regular, though their hearts and lives be very irregular.

Ninthly, The policy of Satan improves the blessings of God, against the blessings of God, blinding us by the blessings of providence, Ib as not to discern the want of spiritual blessings; persuading men that the fmiles of providence, in their prosperity, success, and thiiviag designs in the world, are good evidea/

ces of the love of God to their souls, not at all discerning .how the prosperity of fools deceives them, and that riches are often. given to the hurt of the owners thereof. .

Tenthly, The policy of Satan improves comforts against comfort, false and ungrounded comforts under the word, against the real grounds of comfort lying in the soul's interest in Christ. Thus many men finding a great deal of comfort in the promises, are so blinded thereby, as never to look after union with Christ, the only solid ground of all true comfort, Heb. vi. 5, 9.

And thus you see, how the God of this world blindeth the minds of them that believe not, and how the gospel is hid to them that are lost.

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SERMON XXXV.

2 Cor. iv. 3, 4. But if our gofpel be hid, it is hid to them that are lost; in -whim the god of this world hath blinded the minds of them -which believe not, lest the light of the glorious go/pel of Chri/t, -who is the image of God, should shine unto them.

THE words have been opened, and this point observed:

Doct. That the understandings of all unbelievers are blinded by Satan's policies, in order to their everlasting perdition.

We have shewn already what the blinding the mind, or hiding of the gospel from it, is; it hath also been demonstrated that the gospel is hid, and the minds of many blinded under •it; yon have also seen what policies Satan uses to blind the minds of men, even in the clearest light of the gospel. It remains now that 1 open to you the dreadful nature of this judgment of God" upon the souls of men, and then make application of the whole.

There are many judgments of God inflicted upon the fouls, and bodies of men, in this world; but none of them are so d»eadful as those spiritual judgments are, which God inflicts immediately upon the soul: and among spiritual j udgments, sew or none are of a more dreadful nature, and consequence, than this of spiritual blindness; which will apppear by considering, ,

First, The subject of this judgment, wbich is the foul, and

Vol. HI." M

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