« AnteriorContinuar »
Firjl, By withstanding his usurp'd Power and Dominion.
Of the two sirst I treated in the last Exercise $ in which I gave you some Encouragements and Directions, the better to excite and enable you to both.
It remains now, that t proceed to the tfbird way of resisting him; which is, by renouncing the Works of the Devil: of which I shall discourse from these words of St. John; For this purpose was the Son of God manifested., that he might destroy the Works of the 2)evil.
I shew'd the last time, how our Saviour was manifested to destroy the Power of the Devil. For, at his coming into the World, the whole World lay in Wickedness; Vices had their Temples and their Votaries too ; evil Spirits had gotten possession of the Minds and Bodies of Men; and by their false and feign'd Oracles, for a long time commanded and beguil'd the World: we read, that they made their very Children to pass thro' the Fire to Moloch, and sacrisic'd their Sons and Daughters unto Devils. Yea, so far had Satan deceiv'd Mankind, that he made them td worship their Very Sicknesses and Diseases; and Men became Idolaters to their own Insirmities. But Christ, who was that Seed of the Woman that was to bruise the Serpent's Head, divested Satan of this Power; he cast out Devils, and dispossess'd whole Legions of evil Spirits; he spoil'd Principalities and Powers, and threw^down spiritual. Wickednesses from their high Places, making a mew of them openly on the Crofs, and triumphing over them in it, Col. 2. 15. Hence we read how Michael and his Angels sought with the Dragon and his Angels; which was Christ's dispossessing and driving out Satan: and the Issue of the Combat was, that he heheld Satan like Lightning fall from Heaven, Luke 10. 18. And the Author to the Hebrews. declares, 'That Christ destroy'd him that had the 'Power of Death, which is the Devil; Heb. 2. 14. By all which it appears, that the Son of God was manifested to dissolve the Kingdom of Darkness, to destroy the Power of Satan, and to rescue Mankind from that vile Bondage and Slavery that they were in to him.
Now St. John adds here a farther End of his Manifestation, which was not only to subdue the Power, but to destroy the Works of the Devil. And this he did, not only in his own Person, and by his own Power, but by the Assistance of his Grace, in the Person of all his Followers 5 who are thereby enabled not only to abandon their evil Deeds, but to become a peculiar People, zealous of GoodWorks. For the better clearing whereof, I must enquire,
I. What is here meant by the Works of the Devil?
II. How the Son of God is said to have destroy'd them? And,
Lastly, Conclude with an Exhortation and Encouragement to renounce them.
I. All Sin in general may be justly styl'd the Works oftha Devil ; for the 2)evil Jinneth from the beginning, faith St. John, and whosoever committeth Sin, is of the Devil.
He was the sirst Author, and is still the Instigator to all manner of Wickedness, which may be therefore truly reckons to be his Works. All Sin is a disowning the Authority of God, and a throwing off" Obedience to his Laws; of which the Devil giving the sirst instance, and still continuing to draw in others to do likewise, all such Practices may be intitled to him; and they that do so, may be justly laid to do the Works of the Devil.
But there are some particular Sins, that more especially owe their beginning to this evil Spirit, and carry the more particular Marks and Lineaments of their Father the Devil; which are therefore more especially to be forsaken and renounc'd by us.
I shall mention some of the chief of them, that you may the better know what is meant and promis'd by Renouncing the fDevil and all his Works. And,
(1.) Idolatry of all forts, which is giving the Honour due to God to any Creature, is a Work of the Devil. This we sind invaded and usurp'd by this grand Apostate, who not only arrogated the divine Honour and Worship to himself, but was likewise the Author of all the Pagan Idolatries. He tempted our blessed Saviour with the Promise of the Kingdoms and Glories of the World, to fall down and worship him; which our Saviour repel'd with that express Command of the divine Majesty, Thou shalt wcrjbty the Lord thy God, and him only Jbalt thou serve $ Mat. 4. to. Hereby the Son of God destroy'd this Work of the Devil, and hath given us both a Precept and Precedent to renounce it.
(2.) All recourse to Witches, Wizards, or Fortune-tellers, about the Lofs, Fortunes, or Recovery of any Persons or Things; and likewise, the making use. of Spells, Charms, ot Enchantments to thofe ends; is a Work of the Devil. The Knowledge and Dispofal of future contingent things, is the incommunicable Property of God, who challenges this as his Prerogative, and upbraids the Idols of the Heathens for lack of it; Let them shew things to come. So that to ascribe this to Conjurers, Charmers, Necromancers, or the like; or to betake ourselves to them for any Discovery, Help or Assistance in these things ; is to rob God of the Honour of his Attributes, and to give his Glory to another. Yea, this strikes directly at the Authority of our Maker, and invades his Sovereignty, which is the Work and Business of evil Spirits; and by seeking to them, we comply with their Designs, and set up Satan's Kingdom against Christ's, which is a manifest Breach of this part of our Vow. To prevent which, read the strict Charge given by God Almighty in this matter, 2)eut. 18. 10, II, 12, ij» 14. where this Sin is condemn'd as a diabolical Invention, and an Abomination to the Lord; and is therefore to be renoune'd as one of the Works of the Devil.
(3.) Pride is another Work of the Devil to be renoune'd by us: This is suppos'd to be the sirst Sin of those evil Angels, and the Occasion of their Fall; for affecting to be equal, if not superior to the Most High, they were for their Pride cast down from thofe blessed Mansions of Light and Glory in which they were sirst seated, into the black Abyss of eternal Darkness. And this shews us the Evil and Danger of this Sin, which is the great Cause of all the Mifery, Trouble and Disturbances of the World: and likewise how much we are concern'd to avoid this Loftiness and Elation of Mind, lest being lifted up with Pride, we fall into the Condemnation of the Z)evil.
(4.) Envy is the Work of the Devil, which we are engag'd to renounce; this is an evil Eye at another's Prosperity. Accordingly these apostate Spirits, being uneafy at the Happiness of Mankind, sought by all ways to work their Ruin ; and being fallen themselves, labour'd to draw them into the fame Condemnation. This Temper made them indeed Devils, and where 'tis found, 'tis truly diabolical j bolical: which should teach us by all means to mortify and renounce it; and instead of it, to endeavour to be like God,In all the ways of Benesicence and Charity.
(5.) Lying is another Work of the Devil that we are to renounce: When be speaketb a Lie (faith the Apostle) be speaketh of himself; for be is a Liar from the beginning, and the Father of i,t : John 8. 44. He deceiv'd our sirst Parents with a Lie; Te shall not surely die, (said he) when God had told them they should: yea, he made them believe they should be like Gods, by doing that which made them like Devils. Thus did he ruin Mankind at sirst with a Lie and hath continu'd to beguile the World ever since with his Lies and Impostures. This should warn all Christians to abhor this evil Practice of Lying, which makes them not the Children of God, but to be of their Father the Devil. But especially they should avoid that sort of it* that consists in slandering and false accusing, which makes them most nearly resemble him, who is therefore call'd eAaSo^©-, The Calumniator or Accuser of the'Brethrent Rev. 12. 10;
Lastly, To tempt or draw any into Sin, is a Work of the Devi], and such a one too, as carries a more especial Character or Stamp of Satan upon it; for he is styl'd the '•Tempter, and they that any way sollicit or importune others into any kind of Sin, are of their Father the Devil, and imitate him in his prime Work and Business; which is to go up and down, seeking whom be may devour.
In a word, all such as delight themselves iri the Love ot1 Practice of any known Sin, or draw others into it, are the Imps of Satan, and do the Works of the Devil.
But how hath the Son of God destroy'd the Works os' the Devil? Or what kind of Victory hath he given us over them?
In answer to which, I say; That he hdth not at present so* far destroy'd them, as to root out the very Being of Sin, o( totally free us from the Assaults and Temptations of Satan: No, this is referv'd for the Happiness and Perfection of our future State. But he has broken their Power, and vanquished the Domirtioh of them; insomuch that Sin shall not reign, tit our mortal Bodies^ nor force us to obey it in the LuftS thereof: and tho Satan may tempt us, yet without our own Consent he cannot prevail, or overcome us"
Vot. h G And
And this Victory we have gain'd over them, not by any natural Strength or Ability of our own, but wholly by the Efficacy and Assistance of divine Grace: for tho our own Power be tto weak, yet his Grace is sufficient for us; the Son of God having instructed us in the Wiles, and by the gracious Aid of his holy Spirit, fortify'd us against ths Works of the Devil.
And now we may fee what Encouragement we have to renounce theDevil and all bis Works, since his Power is vanquished, and his Works are all destroy'd for us. To which may be added,
1. That this is no more than what we have all solemnly vow'd and promis'd to do, having disclaim'd Satan, and bid an open desiance to all his Works. And if we consider the time when this was done, together with the manner of doing it, you will easily fee the Strength and Firmness of this Obligation; 'twas at the time of our Admission into the Church, and Entrance upon Christianity; 'twas when we listed ourselves in Christ's Service, giving up our Names to him, and taking his upon us; then it was that we disclaim'd this deadly Foe, entring into a holy War against him, and promising our Saviour to be saithful and constant in his Service: And can any thing import us more than to answer such a solemn Engagement? Must it not be a ihamesu! thing for us now to be found working the Works of Satan, and forsaking Christ, to whom we have promis'd all Fidelity? What is this, but to desert the Captain of our Salvation, and basely fly to the Enemy we have rerounc'd? than which nothing can be more persidious. Again,
2. Our Text expresly declares the great End of Christ's coming into the World, to be the Destruction of Satan's Kingdom: For this purpose ixas the Son of God manifested, that he might destroy the Works of the Devil. Yea, this was the End not only of his Life, but his Death too: For he gave himself, saith the Apostle, to redeem us from all Iniquity, and to purify to himself a peculiar 'People, zealous of good Works; Tit. 2. 15. And is it sir, think you, to disappoint the Saviour of the World in the main End of his coming into it? and to defeat the Designs of his Good-will and Kindness unto Mankind? Shall we give up ourselves to the Rage and Cruelty of that roaring Lion which ho came on purpofe to destroy, and yield ourselves willing a * Bond