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But tho' to enter therefore upon all the particular Devices of Satan whereby he leads Men into Sin, be a Work as needless as it would be infinite ; yet fome general Remarks there are, which we may do well to make in order to our fecurity.
And ift. It is commonly the first step which the Devil takes towards the leading Men into Sin, to persuade them to a Carelessness and Indiffe: rence in their Duty. Whil ft Men are Warm and Vigorous in the Practice of Piety, zealous of God's Honour, and sincere in the pursuance of what makes it; 'tis plain the Enemy can get but very little Advantage of us. But if instead of this, we live only in a form of Godliness, and regard not the Power of it: If we are negligent and unconcerned for Religion, and take but little Notice of what it requires of us ; We are then ready for the Tempter to make his Affault upon us : And 'twill be no hard matter to deceive that Man into the commission of Sin, who is already but very little affected with the Sense of his Duty, nor takes any great Care for the fulfilling of it.
2dly, Another Device whereby the Devil often gets an Advantage of us, not only to hinder our Piety, but even to lead us into the greatest Violations of it, is by the Customs and Opinion of the World. Í have before observed what Slaves we are, the very best of us, to these Things. They Corrupt our Practice, and Debauch our very Reason and Understanding. And we may at this Day find many Things in the praĉtice of Mankind, become the Praise and Accomplishment of a Gen
tleman, tleman, which, were we to examine them by the Rules of the Gospel, would be seen to have no part in the Charakter of a Christian. And then I need not say how fatally dangerous that must be to lead us into Sin, which is able fo far to deceive our very Consciences, as not to be thought to carry any Guilt or Shame in the Commission of it.
And these are such Devices whereby the Devil often times draws Men into Sin; I will add only two more, whereby, when once Men are engaged in a Course of Sin, he is wont to strengthen and confirm them in it : viz. ist. An unreasonable Hope of God's Mercy; And 2dly. A vain dependance on their own future Repentance : That is to say, They Sin on now, in prospect of amendment hereafter ; and then they make no doubt but that they shall find Favour and Mercy with God, as well as other Sinners in the like CircumItances have done before them.
But, O God! what a desperate Reliance is this, whereon to venture all the Hopes and Glories of Eternity! For tell me, O Sinner! whoever thou art that thus projectelt a future Amendment, after thou hast taken thy fill of Pleasure, and art no longer able to pursue thy Sins and thy Debaucheries : What security hast thou, that That God whom thou fo despisest shall continue thy Life to thee, and give thee any such Time and Opportunity to Repent? Canst thou command the Sun that it should stand still, and put a stop to thy Days, that thou may it the more freely follow thy Revels and thy Delights? Or canst thou hope, when thou lyest down on thy last Bed, with Hezekiah, to add a new Series of Years to thy expiring Breath, by then lifting up thy prophane Heart, and thy de
ceitful Voice, to That God whom thou haft so long continued to offend?
Nay, but couldst thou do this, and so arrive to the time thou hast assigned for this Work; Art thou fure thou shalt then be in a Capacity of fulfilling it? There is a time when there Thall be no more any Opportunity for Repentance, tho' we should have otherwise leisure enough for the accomplishing of it. And sure if any, such is the most likely to be that Season, which Wicked Men have lay'd out for their return to their Duty, in order to their going on for the present in their Evil Doings. Nor is there any Reason why that Man should expect Grace to repent at the last, who all his Life long has negle&ted and despised the Offers of it.
I will not now fay how unfit a time that of Old Age and Sickness is for so great an undertaking : When the Soul as well as Body is Feeble and Impotent ; when the Memory is decay'd, the Reafon fails, and our Affections are dull, our Zeal is cold, and all our Thoughts taken up with the Horrors of Hell, and the Sense of thosé Infirmities under which the Body Labours. But sure I am, all these Things ought to convince Men of the desperate Folly, and even Madness of such a Procrastination; and to engage them, whilst they have yet the time, to lay hold upon that Mercy, which it may be they shall hereafter neither have Grace nor Opportunity to implore.
* But I must not pursue these things any further ; nor shall I make any Application of what I have already offered : But, without more enlargement, will conclude all with the Words of the Church.
* See this more at large, Serm. VI, VII,
O God, * O God, who knowest us to be set in the midst of
Jo many and great Dangers, that by reason of the frailty
, of our Nature we cannot always stand upright": Grant to us such strength and protection, as may support us in al dangers, and carry us through all temptations ; through Jesus Christ our Lord. To whom, fc.
* Colle&t for the ivth Sunday after Epiphany,
Of. Stedfastness in Religion.
Preached before the Prince and Princess
of Denmark, August 5. 1688.
2 PE T. III. 17, 18. Te therefore, Beloved, seeing ye know these
Things before, beware, lest ye also being led away
with the Error of the Wicked, fall from your own Stedfastness. But grow
in Grace, and in the Knowledge of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ: To bim' be Glory, both now and for ever. Amen.
HESE Words are not only the Clofe of this Epistle, but also the Application of all that the Apostle before had written in it. And for the Understanding of
them, we must observe, that the Defign of St. Peter, in this Address to the Christians, dispersed abroad among the fems, and now under