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is, that believers may fall into some of the sins here mentioned. Some have done so, as is left on record. The apostle says not, those who have committed any of these sins, but such sinners shall not inherit the kingdom of God, that is, who live in these, or any of these sins, or any like unto them. There is no provision of mercy made for such sinners. These and the like are sins which in their own nature, without the consideration of aggravating circumstances (which yet indeed really in believers they can never be without), are able to plunge a soul into depths. These sins cut the locks of men's spiritual strength; and it is in vain for them to say, we will go, and do as at other times.
Bones are not broken without pain; nor great sins brought on the conscience without trouble. But I need not insist on these. Some say that they deprive even true believers of all their interest in the love of God, but unduly; all grant that they bereave them of all comforting evidence, and well-grounded assurance of it. So they did David and Peter, and herein lies no small part of the depths we are searching into.
Secondly, There are sins which though they do not rise up in the conscience with such a bloody guilt as those mentioned, yet by reason of some circumstances and aggravations, God takes them so unkindly, as to make them a root of disquietness and trouble to the soul all its days. He says of some sins of ungodly men,' As I live, this iniquity shall not be purged from you until ye die.' If you are come to this height, you shall not escape: I will not spare you. And there are provocations in his own people, which may be so circumstantiated, as that he will not let them pass, before he have cast them into depths, and made them cry out for deliverance. Let us consider some of them.
1. Miscarriages under signal enjoyments of love and kindness from God, are of this sort. When God hath given unto any one expressive manifestations of his love, convinced him of it, made him say in the inmost parts of his heart, this is undeserved love and kindness, then for him to be negligent in his walking with God, it carrieth an unkindness with it, that shall not be forgotten. It is a remark upon the miscarriages of Solomon, that he fell into them after God had appeared unto him twice. And all sins under or after
especial mercies, will meet at one time or other especial rebukes. Nothing doth more distress the conscience of a sinner, than the remembrance in darkness of abused light; in desertions of neglected love. This God will make them sensible of. Though I have redeemed them,' saith God, yet they have spoken lies against me;' Hos. vii. 15. So chap. xiii. 4—7. When God hath in his providence dealt graciously with a person, it may be delivered him from straits and troubles, set him in a large place, prevented him with many fruits and effects of his goodness, blessed him in his person, relations, and employments, dealt well with his soul, in giving him a gracious sense of his love in Christ, for such a one to fall under sinful miscarriages, it goes to the heart of God, and shall not be passed over. Undervaluations of love, are great provocations. Hath thus requited my kindness? saith David. I cannot bear it. And the clearer the convictions of any in this kind were, the more severe will their reАections be upon themselves.
2. Sins under or after great afflictions, are of this importance also. God doth not afflict willingly, or chasten us merely for his pleasure. He doth it to make us partakers of his holiness. To take so little notice of his hand herein, as under it, or after it, not to watch against the workings and surprisals of sin,-it hath unkindness in it; I smote him,' saith God, and he went on frowardly in the ways of his own heart. These provocations of his sons and daughters he cannot bear with. Hath God brought thee into the furnace, so that thou hast melted under his hand, and in pity and compassion hath given thee enlargement? if thou hast soon forgotten his dealings with thee, is it any wonder, if he mind thee again, by troubles in thy soul?
3. Breaking off from under strong convictions, and dawnings of love before conversion, are oftentimes remembered upon the conscience afterward. When the Lord by his Spirit shall mightily convince the heart of sin, and make withal some discoveries of his love, and the excellencies of Christ unto it, so that it begins to yield, and be overpowered, being almost persuaded to be a Christian ; if then through the strength of lust, or unbelief, it goes back to the world, or self-righteousness; its folly hath unkindness with
it, that sometimes shall not be passed by. God can, and often doth put forth the greatness of his power, for the recovery of such a soul; but yet he will deal with him about this contempt of his love, and the excellency of his Son, in in the dawnings of them revealed unto him.
4. Sudden forgetfulness of endearing manifestations of special love. This God cautions his people against, as knowing their proneness thereunto, Psal. Ixxxv. 8. God the Lord will speak peace to his people and his saints; but let them not turn again to folly. Let them take heed of their aptness to forget endearing manifestations of special love. When God at any time draws nigh to a soul by his Spirit, in his word, with gracious words of peace and love, giving a sense of his kindness upon the heart by the Holy Ghost, so that it is filled with joy unspeakable and glorious thereon; for this soul, upon a temptation, a diversion, or by mere carelessness and neglect, which oftentimes falls out, to suffer this sense of love to be as it were obliterated, and so to lose that influencing efficacy unto obedience which it is accompanied withal, this also is full of unkindness. An account hereof we have, Cant. v. 1-6. In the first verse the Lord Jesus draws nigh with full provision of gospel mercies for his beloved; I am come unto thee,' saith he, O my sister;' I have brought myrrh and spice, honey and wine with me: whatever is spiritually sweet and delightful; mercy, grace, peace, consolation, joy, assurance, they are all here in readiness for thee; ver. 2. The spouse in her drowsy indisposition takes little notice of this gracious visit; she is diverted by other matters, and knows not how to attend fully and wholly to the blessed communion offered unto her; but excuseth herself as otherwise engaged. But what is the issue? Christ withdraws, leaves her in the dark, in the midst of many disconsolations, and long it is before she obtain any recovery.
5. Great opportunities for service neglected, and great gifts not improved, are oftentimes the occasion of plunging the soul into great depths. Gifts are given to trade withal for God. Opportunities are the market-days for that trade. To napkin up the one, and to let slip the other, will end in trouble and disconsolation. Disquietments and perplexities of heart are worms that will certainly breed
in the rust of unexercised gifts. God loseth a revenue of of glory and honour by such slothful souls; and he will make them sensible of it. I know some at this day, whom omissions of opportunities for service, are ready to sink into
6. Sins, after especial warnings, are usually thus issued. In all that variety of special warnings which God is pleased to use towards sinning saints, I shall single out one only. When a soul is wrestling with some lust, or temptation, God by his providence causeth some special word, in the preaching of the gospel, or the administration of some ordinance thereof, peculiarly suited to the state and condition of the soul, by the ways of rebuke or persuasion, to come nigh and enter the inmost parts of the heart. The soul cannot but take notice that God is nigh to him, that he is dealing with him; and calling on him to look to him for assistance. And he seldom gives such warnings to his saints, but that he is nigh them in an eminent manner to give them relief and help, if, in answer unto his call, they apply themselves unto him; but if his care and kindness herein be neglected, his following reproofs are usually more
7. Sins that bring scandal, seldom suffer the soul to escape depths. Even in great sins, God in chastening takes more notice ofttimes of the scandal, than the sin; as, 2 Sam. xii. 14. Many professors take little notice of their worldliness, their pride, their passion, their lavish tongues; but the world doth, and the gospel is disadvantaged by it; and no wonder if themselves find from the hand of the Lord the bitter fruits of them in the issue.
And many other such aggravations of sins there are, which heighten provocations in their own nature, not of so dreadful an aspect as some others, into a guilt plunging a soul into depths. Those which have been named, may suffice in the way of instance; which is all that we have aimed at, and therefore forbear enlargements on the several heads of them.
The consideration of some aggravations of the guilt of these sins, which bring the soul usually into the condition before laid down, shall close this discourse.
1. The soul is furnished with a principle of grace,
which is continually operative and working for its
preservation from such sins. The new creature is living and active for its own growth, increase, and security, according to the tenor of the covenant of grace; Gal. v. 17. It lusteth against the flesh.' It is naturally active for its own preservation and increase, as new-born children have a natural inclination to the food that will keep them alive, and cause them to grow; 1 Pet. ii. 2. The soul then cannot fall into these entangling sins, but it must be with a high neglect of that very principle which is bestowed upon it for quite contrary ends and purposes. The labourings, lustings, desires, crying of it, are neglected. Now it is from God, and is the renovation of his image in us; that which God owneth and careth for; the wounding of its vitals, the stifling its operations, the neglect of its endeavours for the soul's preservation, do always attend sins of the importance spoken unto.
2. Whereas this new creature, this principle of life and obedience is not able of itself to preserve the soul from such sins as will bring it into depths; there is full provision for continual supplies made for it, and all its wants in Jesus Christ. There are treasures of relief in Christ, whereunto the soul may at any time repair and find succour against the incursions of sin. He says to the soul, as David unto Abiathar; when he fled from Doeg : ‘Abide with me, fear not; he that seeketh my life, seeketh thy life; but with me thou shalt be in safety.' Sin is my enemy no less than thine; it seeketh the life of thy soul, and it seeketh my life; abide with me, for with me thou shalt be in safety. This the apostle exhorts us unto, Heb. iv. 16. • Let us come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need.' If ever it be a time of need with a soul, it is so when it is under the assaults of provoking sins. At such a time there is suitable and seasonable help in Christ for succour and relief. The new creature begs with sighs and groans, that the soul would apply itself unto him. To neglect him with all his provision of grace, whilst he stands calling unto us, 'open unto me, for my head is filled with dew, and my locks with the drops of the night;' to despise the sighing of the poor prisoner, the new creature by sin appointed to die, cannot but be a high provocation.