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would have given thee every good thing; but now thou art fatherless, or rather worse, thou hast the Devil for thy father, and better is it to be without one. When the Devil is thy father, his works thou must do. When " the Spirit of God departed from Saul, presently the evil spirit entered into him.” If the good spirit be gone out, the evil spirit soon comes in: he comes and takes possession, and is therefore called “the God of this world :" and while we are in that state, 66 we? walk after the course of him that worketh in the children of disobedience." We would account it a terrible thing for ourselves or any of our children to be possessed of a devil; but what it is to be possessed of this devil thou knowest not. It is not half so bad to have a legion possess thy body, as to have but one to possess thy soul. He becomes thy God, and thou must do his work; he will tyrannize over thee. What a fearful thing therefore is this, that as soon as God departs from us and forsakes us, and we him, that the Devil should presently come in his room, and take up the heart? Mark that place in Eph. chap. II. ver. 2. “ Where in times past ye walked according to the course of the world, according,” &c. As soon as God leaves a man, what a fearful company assail him? They all concur together, the world, the flesh, and the Devil: these take God's place.
The world is like the tide, when a man hath the tide with him, he hath great advantage of him that rows against the tide.
But here is the Devil too. The world is as a swift current, and besides this comes the Devil and fills the heart, the “ prince of the power of the air.” While thou wert carried with the world thou wentest with the stream, and hadst the tide with thee; but now the Devil being come, thou hast both wind and tide; and how can he choose but run, whom the Devil drives?
But this is not all: there must be something in thine own disposition too, that it may be completely filled ;
p 1 Sam. chap. 16. ver. 14.
9 Ephes. chap. 2. ver. 2.
though there be wind and tide, yet if the ship be a slug, it will not make that haste that another ship will: therefore here is the flesh too, and the fulfilling the desires thereof, which is a quick and nimble vessel, and this makes up the matter. So that if we consider the wind and tide, and lightness of the ship, it will appear how the room is filled : and how woful must the state of that man be? It is a fearful thing to be delivered up unto Satan, but not so fearful as to be delivered up to one's own lusts. But by the way observe this for a ground: God never gives us up, God never forsakes us till we first forsake him. He is still beforehand with us in doing us good; but in point of hurt we ourselves are first, in the point of forsaking we are always beforehand with God. If it should be proposed to thee, whether thou wilt forsake God or the Devil, and thou dost forsake God and choosest the Devil, thou deservest that he should take possession of thee. When a man shall obstinately renew his gross sins, doth he not deserve to be given up? Observe the case in our first parents. God told the woman one thing, the Devil persuades her another ; she hearkens to the Devil, and believes him rather than God; and when we shall desire to serve the Devil rather than God, the God that made us, and that made heaven for us, do we not deserve to be given up to him? For “ his servants we are whom we obey.” And thus we see how fearful a thing it is to be delivered up to ourselves and to the Devils. First they forsake God: God comes and offers himself unto them, I will be thy God, thy Father, thou shalt want nothing: yet notwithstanding Israel “would not hear, they would have none of me." And then if thou wilt have none
of I will have none of thee, saith God. Then see what follows, God commits the prisoner to himself: “ It gave them up to their own heart's lusts,” &c. And there is no case so desperate as this, when God shall say: If thou wilt be thine own master, be thine own master. Thus, to be given up to a man's self, is worse than to be given up unto Satan: to be given up unto Satan may be for thy safety, but there is not a mountain of God's wrath greater, than to give a man up unto himself. We would fain go over the hedges; but when God loves us, “He" hedges up our ways.” If God love us he will not leave us to ourselves, though we desire it. But when God shall say, Go thy ways, if thou wilt not be kept in, be thy own master, this is a most fearful thing: and this is the third woe. First the soul is polluted with sin; it forsakes God, and God forsakes it: then the world, the flesh, and the Devil, these fill up the room; and then what follows, when these three rule within ? But all kinds of sin: and so all kinds of punishment, which is the
* Psalm 81. ver. 11.
* Rom. chap. 6. ver. 16. * Psalm 81. ver. 12.
4. And this woe brings in all the curses of Almighty God, an Iliad of evils. Sin calls for its wages, viz. death, death. That is the payment of all: “ The wages of sin is death.” And this is the next thing which I shall open and explain.
Now in handling hereof, I will first shew how death in general must of necessity follow sin, that thou who hast forsaken the fountain of life, art liable to everlasting death. And for this see some places of Scripture: “Thet wages of sin is death.” Consider then, first, what this wages is. Wages is a thing which must be paid: if you have an hireling, and your hireling receive not his wages, , you are sure to hear of it, and God will hear of it too: “He which keeps back the wages of the labourer, or the hireling, their cry will come into the ears of the Lord of Sabaoth.” As long as hirelings' wages are unpaid, God's ears are filled with their cries, Pay me my wages, pay me my wages. So sin cries, and it is a dead voice, Pay me my wages, pay me my wages, “the wages of sin is death.” And sin never leaves crying, never lets God alone, never gives him rest, till this wages be paid. When Cain had slain Abel, he thought he should never have heard any more on it; but sin hath a voice : “ The voice of thy brother's blood cries unto me from the ground.” So the Lord saith concerning Sodom : “ Because’ the cry of Sodom is great, and their sin very grievous, therefore I will go down and see, whether they have done according to the cry that is come up into mine ears.” As if the Lord had said, It is a loud cry, I can have no rest for it, “therefore I will go down and see,” &c. If man had his ears open, he would continually hear sin crying unto God, Pay me my wages, pay me my wages, kill this sinful soul: and though we do not hear it, yet so it is. The dead and doleful sound thereof fills heaven: it makes God say, "I will go down and see,” &c. Till sin receive its wages God hath no rest. Again: “Sina taking occasion by the commandment, deceived me, and by it slew me.” I thought sin not to have been so great a matter as it is. We think on a matter of profit or pleasure, and thereupon are enticed to sin; but here is the mischief, sin deceives us. It is a weight, it presses down, it deceives men, it is more than they deemed it to be.
* Rom. chap. 6. ver. 2, 3.
u Hos. chap. 2. ver. 6.
The committing of sin is, as it were, running thyself upon the point of God's blade. Sin at first may flatter thee, but it will deceive thee: it is like Joab's kiss to Amasa. Amasab was not aware of the sword that was in Joab's hand, till he smote it into his ribs that he died.” When sin entices thee on by profits and pleasures, thou art not aware that it will slay thee: but thou shalt find it will be bitterness in the end.” A sinner that acts a tragedy in sin, shall have a bloody catastrophe. “ What fruit had you then in those things whereof you are now ashamed ?" Blood and death is the end of the tragedy. “The end of those things is death.” “Thed sting of death is sin.” What is sin? “ It is the sting of death:” death would not be death, unless sin were in it. Sin is more deadly than death itself; it is sin enableth death to sting, enableth it to hurt and wound us. So that we may look on sin, as the barbarians looked on the viper on Paul's hand : “they expected continually when he would have swollen” and burst. Sin bites like a snake, which is called a fiery serpent, not that the serpent is fiery, but because it puts a man into such a flaming heat by their poison: and such is the sting of sin, which carries poison in it, that had we but eyes to see our ugliness by it, and how it inflames us, we should continually every day look, when we should burst with it. The apostle useth another metaphor: “Sine when it is accomplished bringeth forth death.” ůtokúel, saith the original, sin goeth, as it were with child, with death. The word is proper to women in labour, who are in torment till they are delivered. Now as if sin were this woman, he useth it in the feminine gender, αμαρτία. . So it is with sin, sin is in pain, cries out, hath no rest till it be delivered of this dead birth, till it have brought forth death: that is, sin grows great with child with death, and then it not only deserves death, but it produceth and actually brings forth: this is generally
z Gen. chap. 18. ver. 20.
a Rom, chap. 7. ver. 11.
Now consider with yourselves, death is a fearful thing. When we come to talk of death, how doth it amaze us? The priests of Nob are brought before Saul for relieving David, and he saith, “ Thou shalt surely die, Ahimelech.” And this is your case, you shall surely die: death is terrible even to a good man.
As appears in Hezekiah, who though he were a good man, yet with how sad a heart doth he entertain the message of death? The news of it affrighted him; it went to his heart, it made him “ turn to the wall and weep.” How cometh it to pass that we are so careless of death? That we are so full of infidelity, that when the word of God saith, “ Thou shalt die Ahimelech," we are not at all moved by it? What, can we think these are fables? Do we think God is not in earnest with us? And by this means we fall into
• James, chap. 1. ver. 15.