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his mouth, that they might lay hold of it to obtain farther favour from him; so these Spies of hell do watch every kind word and every kind look of thine towards sin, and want no skill to improve them, to obtain yet greater matters from thee. Now if God did not appear to deliver us from these subtle wiles and methods of the Devil, how soon would he make fools of the wisest and most experienced Christians!
"Secondly, consider the mighty disadvantages that we lie under to oppose the temptations of the Devili of which though they be many and great, yet I shall name but two, which may be found even in the best of men.
"First, our inadvertency and heedlessness, through which we are often surprised into sin, and captivated by the cunning craftiness of our enemies which lie in wait" to deceive. How seldom is it that we stand upon our guard, or if we do, that we are completely armed! Sometimes our shield, sometimes our helmet, sometimes our sivord of the Spirit is wanting. How seldom is it that we attend all the motions of the enemy! Indeed a Christian should look round about him, for he is every where beset and encompassed round about with enemies; and whilst he is vigilant toward one part, the Devil falsifies his thrust and wounds him in another. But if he cannot wound on the right-hand by presumption, he will try what he can do on the left by despair. If he cannot prevail by his temptations to cause us to neglect and cast off holy duties, he will tempt us to pride ourselves in the well-performing of them. If he cannot make us fall, he will tempt us to be high-minded because we stand, and so make our very standing the occasion of our woeful downfall; and because we are apt to think ourselves better
than others, he will tempt us to be supercilious despisers and contemners of others.
"Now, O Christian, it is a very hard matter, and thou wilt find it so, thus to turn thee about to every assault; and that man had need to have his spiritual senses well exercised that shall be able dexterously to do it. Now when so great circumspection is scarce sufficient for our security, how can they possibly escape without fearful wounds and gashes in their consciences, who are supinely negligent of their souls, and mind not which way their thoughts, their passions, their affections incline, and so give the Devil a handle to turn their souls by which way he will! Certainly if we do not buckle our spiritual armour close to us, but suffer the joints of it by our heedlessness to lie open, the Devil may easily wound us wheresoever and in whatsoever part he pleaseth. And truly if, through this inadvertency and want of circumspection, Adam in the state ofinnocency and the state of uprightness fell, when the Devil had no immediate access or admission into the inward faculties or powers of his soul—yet if Satan, who was but a young, unpractised, and inexperienced Devil, could prevail with him by his wiles to ruin himself and to betray the great trust which God had deposited in his hands for all his posterity,—how much greater, may we think, is his advantage over us, into whom he may insinuate himself and his temptations, and when we are busy about other things strike and wound us at unawares.
"Secondly, besides this inadvertency, the Devil hath another grand advantage to lead us into evil, and that is because we are naturally prone and inclined of ourselves to those very sins to which he tempts us. It is very hard for that place
to escape that hath enemies without and traitors within. So stands the case with us, we are not only beleagured, but betrayed; there are in our hearts multitudes of lusts that hold intelligence with the Devil and espouse his cause. Yea, there is no one sin, how vile and profligate soever, but it may find partisans in our base and wicked hearts, wherein are the seeds and principles of all impieties; and therefore as things of a like nature presently concorporate (as we see one drop of water diffuseth itself and runneth into another) so temptations to sin meeting with a sinful nature are presently entertained, and as it were embodied together; for whilst we pursue what Satan tempts us unto, we do but pursue what our own natural lusts and corruptions inclined unto before, waiting only for an opportunity of being called forth into act.
"And therefore considering both the advantages the Devil hath against us, and the great disadvantages under which we lie, (he a spirit, we but flesh—he wise and subtle, we foolish and ignorant—he experienced, we raw and unpractised—he diligent and watchful, we careless and negligent—he laving a close siege to us without, and we betraying ourselves within)—it must needs be ascribed only to the goodness and grace of God to deliver us from the commission of that evil, to which we are so fiercely and cunningly tempted."*
In a situation so helpless as ours, and under circumstances apparently so desperate, what hope of safety or deliverance can arise? None, assuredly, from any exertion of our own wisdom or strength. But "the right-hand of God's
* Bishop Hopkins on the Lord's Prayer, p. 146, &c*
"majesty" is all sufficient for our defence, if it be employed on our behalf. The Apostle, therefore, after that he has exhorted Christian believers to the use of that armour which is provided for them, as a concluding piece of advice directs them to "pray always with all prayer "and supplication in the Spirit, and to watch "thereunto with all perseverance." With this injunction the fervent use of our collect is an act of compliance. Let the reader thus call on God for defence, not only at the stated times of public worship, but also when he sitteth in the house, and when he walketh in the way, when he lieth down, and when he riseth up. For not a moment occurs in which he is free from imminent danger, unless the right-hand of the Divine majesty be stretched forth for his defence.
While we are offering up in sincerity the prayer which is here provided for our use, let us rest satisfied that "when the enemy comes "in like a flood, the Spirit of the Lord will lift "up a standard against him," and that "our "God will bruise Satan under our feet shortly." Our prayer is addressed to "Almighty God." It is ottered in His name, who hath conquered for us all the powers of darkness; and, through Him that loved us, we also shall be made more than conquerors in all our conflicts, and shall attain the palm of victory.
THE FOURTH SUNDAY IN LENT.
Grant, we beseech thee, Almighty God, that we, ,who for our evil deeds do worthily deserve to be punished, by the comfort of thy grace may mercifully be relieved, through our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. Amen.
THE Divine declaration, which is made by the pen of the prophet Hosea, is equally applicable to all mankind as it was to the antient Israelites. "O Israel, thou hast destroyed thy"self; but in me is thy help." For we have all, without a single exception, "erred and strayed "from God's ways like lost sheep. We have all "followed the devices and desires of our own" corrupt "hearts" in opposition to the will of God. "We have all offended against His holy laws." And we are all obliged, after a recital of every commandment, to cry, " Lord, have mercy upon "us;" for "we have provoked most justly thy "wrath and indignation against us."
The fallen state of man and the redemption by our Lord Jesus Christ are the two grand topics of Divine Revelation, and surely they are the most interesting subjects which can be proposed to a rational, sinful, and immortal creature. But alas, there are multitudes of persons, even in the midst of this Christian country, who are utterly ignorant both of their woe and weal—of their misery by nature and of the great salvation which is provided and revealed in the Gospel. "What
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