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suitableness which is in it to the satisfaction of its corrupt lusts, now set at some liberty by the inadvertency of the mind. It presents its' wine sparkling in the cup,' the beauty of the adulteress, the riches of the world unto sensual and covetous persons, and somewhat in the like kind, in some degrees to believers themselves. When therefore, I say, sin would entangle the soul, it prevails with the imagination to solicit the heart, by representing this false-painted beauty, or pretended satisfactoriness of sin: and then if Satan with any peculiar temptation fall into its assistance, it oftentimes inflames all the affections, and puts the whole soul into disorder.
(3.) It hides the danger that attends sin, it covers it as the hook is covered with the bait, or the net spread over with meat for the fowl to be taken. It is not indeed possible that sin should utterly deprive the soul of the knowledge of the danger of it. It cannot dispossess it of its notion or persuasion that the wages of sin is death,' and that it is the judgment of God, that they that commit sin are worthy of death.' But this it will do; it will so take up and possess the mind and affections with the baits and desirableness of sin, that it shall divert them from an actual and practical contemplation of the danger of it. What Satan did in and by his first temptation, that sin doth ever since. At first Eve guards herself with calling to mind the danger of sin; if we eat, or touch it, we shall die, Gen. iii. 3. But so soon as Satan had filled her mind with the beauty and usefulness of the fruit to make one wise, how quickly did she lay aside her practical prevalent consideration of the danger of eating it, the curse due unto it; or else relieves herself with a vain hope and pretence that it should not be, because the serpent told her so. So was David beguiled in his great transgression by the deceit of sin; his lust being pleased and satisfied, the consideration of the guilt and danger of his transgression was taken away; and therefore he is said to have despised the Lord;' 2 Sam. xii. 9. in that he considered not the evil that was in his heart, and the danger that attended it in the threatening or commination of the law. Now sin, when it presseth upon the soul to this purpose, will use a thousand wiles to hide from it the terror of the Lord, the end of transgressions, and especially of that peculiar folly which it solicits the mind unto. Hopes of pardon shall be used to hide it, and future repentance shall hide it, and present importunity of lust shall hide it, occasions and opportunities shall hide it, surprisals shall hide it, extenuation of sin shall hide it, balancing of duties against it shall hide it, fixing the imagination on present objects shall hide it, desperate resolutions to venture the uttermost for the enjoyment of lust in its pleasures and profits shall hide it. A thousand wiles it hath, which cannot be recounted.
(4.) Having prevailed thus far, gilding over the pleasures of sin, hiding its end and demerit, it proceeds to raise perverse reasonings in the mind, to fix it upon the sin proposed, that it may be conceived and brought forth, the affections being already prevailed upon, of which we shall speak under the next head of its progress.
Here we may stay a little, as formerly, to give some few directions for the obviating of this woful work of the deceitfulness of sin. Would we not be enticed or entangled, would we not be disposed to the conception of sin, would we be turned out of the road and way which goes down to death? Let us take heed of our affections, which are of so great concernment in the whole course of our obedience, that they are commonly in the Scripture called by the name of the heart, as the principal thing which God requires in our walking before him. And this is not slightly to be attended unto. Prov. iv. 23. saith the wise man, “Keep thy heart with diligence,' or, as in the original,' above' or before all keepings;' Before every watch, keep thy heart. You have many keepings that you watch unto; you watch to keep your lives, to keep your estates, to keep your reputations, to keep up your families; but, saith he, above all these keepings, prefer that, attend to that of the heart, of your affections, that they be not entangled with sin; there is no safety without it. Save all other things and lose the heart, and all is lost, lost unto all eternity. You will say then, What shall we do, or how shall we observe this duty ?
[1.] Keep your affections as to their object.
1st. In general. This advice the apostle gives in this very case, Col. iii. His advice in the beginning of that chapter is to direct us unto the mortification of sin, which he expressly engageth in, ver.5.‘Mortify therefore your members which are on the earth.' Prevent the working and deceit of sin which wars in your members. To prepare us, to enable us hereunto, be gives us that great direction, ver. 2. 'Set your affections on things above, not on things of the earth.' Fix your affections upon beavenly things; this will enable you to mortify sin; fill them with the things that are above, let them be exercised with them, and so enjoy the chiefest place in them. They are above, blessed and suitable objects, meet for, and answering unto, our affections. God himself, in his beauty and glory; the Lord Jesus Christ, who is ‘altogether lovely, the chiefest of ten thousand ;' grace and glory; the mysteries revealed in the gospel; the blessedness promised thereby. Were our affections filled, taken up, and possessed with these things, as it is our duty that they should be, it is our happiness when they are, what access could sin with its painted pleasures, with its sugаred poisons, with its envenomed baits, have unto our souls ? how should we loath all its proposals, and say unto them, Get ye hence as an abominable thing? For what are the vain transitory pleasures of sin, in comparison of the exceeding recompense of reward which is proposed unto us? Which argument the apostle presses, 2 Cor. iv. 18.
2dly. As to the object of your affections in an especial manner; let it be the cross of Christ, which hath exceeding efficacy towards the disappointment of the whole work of indwelling sin. Gal. vi. 14. 'God forbid that I should glory, save in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, whereby the world is crucified unto me, and I unto the world.' The cross of Christ he gloried and rejoiced in; this his heart was set upon, and these were the effects of it; it crucified the world unto him, made it a dead and undesirable thing. The baits and pleasures of sin are taken all of them out of the world, and the things that are in the world, namely, *the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life.' These are the things that are in the world; from these doth sin take all its baits, whereby it enticeth and entangleth our souls. If the heart be filled with the cross of Christ, it casts death and undesirableness upon them all, it leaves no seeming beauty, no appearing pleasure or comeliness in them. Again, saith he, It crucifieth me to the world; makes my heart, my affections, my desires dead unto any of these things. It roots up corrupt lusts and affections, leaves no principle to go forth and make provision for the flesh to fulfil the lusts thereof. Labour, therefore, to fill your hearts with the cross of Christ. Consider the sorrows he underwent, the curse he bore, the blood he shed, the cries he put forth, the love that was in all this to your souls, and the mystery of the grace of God therein. Meditate on the vileness, the demerit, and punishment of sin, as represented in the cross, the blood, the death of Christ. Is Christ crucified for sin, and shall not our hearts be crucified with him unto sin? shall we give entertainment unto that, or hearken unto its dalliances, which wounded, which pierced, which slew our dear Lord Jesus? God forbid. Fill your affections with the cross of Christ, that there may be no room for sin. The world once put him out of the house into a stable, when he came to save us ; let him now turn the world out of doors, when he is come to sanctify us.
[2.] Look to the vigour of the affections towards heavenly things; if they are not constantly attended, excited, directed, and warned, they are apt to decay, and sin lies in wait to take every advantage against them. Many complaints we have in the Scripture of those who lost their first love, in suffering their affections to decay. And this should make us jealous over our own hearts, lest we also should be overtaken with the like backsliding frame. Wherefore be jealous over them, often strictly examine them and call them to account, supply unto them due considerations for their exciting and stirring up unto duty.
The conception of sin through its deceit. Wherein it consisteth. The consent
of the will unto sin. The nature thereof. Ways and means whereby it is obtained. Other advantages made use of by the deceit of sin. Ignorance.
Errors. The third success of the deceit of sin in its progressive work, is the conception of actual sin. When it hath drawn the mind off from its duty, and entangled the affections, it proceeds to conceive sin in order to the bringing of it forth. • Then when lust hath conceived, it bringeth forth sin.' Now the conception of sin, in order unto its perpetration, can be nothing but the consent of the will; for as without the consent of the will sin cannot be committed, so where the will hath consented unto it, there is nothing in the soul to hinder its actual accomplishment. God doth indeed, by various ways and means, frustrate the bringing forth of these adulterate conceptions, causing them to melt away in the womb, or one way or other prove abortive, so that not the least part of that sin is committed which is willed or conceived; yet there is nothing in the soul itself that remains to give check unto it, when once the will hath given its consent. Ofttimes when a cloud is full of rain, and ready to fall, a wind comes and drives it away. And when the will is ready to bring forth its sin, God diverts it by one wind or other; but yet the cloud was as full of rain as if it had fallen, and the soul as full of sin as if it had been committed.
This conceiving of lust or sin then, is its prevalency in obtaining the consent of the will unto its solicitations. And hereby the soul is deflowered of its chastity towards God in Christ, as the apostle intimates, 2 Cor. xi. 2, 3. To clear up this matter we must observe,
1. That the will is the principle, the next seat and cause of obedience and disobedience. Moral actions are unto us, or in us, so far good or evil as they partake of the consent of the will. He spake truth of old who said, 'Omne peccatum est adeo voluntarium, ut non sit peccatum nisi sit voluntarium;''Every sin is so voluntary, that if it be not voluntary it is not sin. It is most true of actual sins. The formality of their iniquity ariseth from the acts of the will in them, and concerning them. I mean, as to the persons that commit them; otherwise in itself the formal reason of sin is its aberration from the law of God.
2. There is a twofold consent of the will unto sin.
(1.) That which is full, absolute, complete, and upon deliberation. A prevailing consent, the convictions of the mind being conquered, and no principle of grace in the will to weaken it. With this consent the soul
into sin as a ship before the wind with all its sails displayed, without any check or stop. It rusheth into sin like the horse into the battle.
Men thereby, as the apostle speaks, 'giving them