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The deceit of sin, in drawing off the mind from its attendance unto particular duties, farther discovered — Several things required in the mind of believers with respect unto particular duties of obedience — The actings of sin, in a way of deceit, to divert the mind from them.
We have not as yet brought unto an issue the first way of the working of the deceit of sin, — namely, in its drawing away of the 233mind from the discharge of its duty, which we insist upon the longer upon a double account:—
First, Because of its importance and concernment. If the mind be drawn off, if it be tainted, weakened, turned aside from a due and strict attendance unto its charge and office, the whole soul, will, and affections are certainly entangled and drawn into sin; as hath been in part declared, and will afterward farther appear. This we ought therefore to give diligent heed unto; which is the design of the apostle’s exhortation: Heb. ii. 1, “Therefore we ought to give the more earnest heed to the things which we have heard, lest at any time we should let them slip.” It is a failure of our minds, by the deceitfulness of sin, in losing the life, power, sense, and impression of the word, which he cautions us against. And there is no way to prevent it but by giving of most “earnest heed unto the things which we have heard;” which expresseth the whole duty of our minds in attending unto obedience.
Secondly, Because the actings and workings of the mind being spiritual, are such as the conscience, unless clearly enlightened and duly excited and stirred up, is not affected withal, so as to take due notice of them. Conscience is not apt to exercise reflex acts upon the mind’s failures, as principally respecting the acts of the whole soul. When the affections are entangled with sin (of which afterward), or the will begins to conceive it by its express consent, conscience is apt to make an uproar in the soul, and to give it no rest or quiet until the soul be reclaimed, or itself be one way or other bribed or debauched; but these neglects of the mind being spiritual, without very diligent attendance they are seldom taken notice of. Our minds are often in the Scriptures called our spirits, — as Rom. i. 9, “Whom I serve with my spirit;” and are distinguished from the soul, which principally intends the affections in that distribution, 1 Thess. v. 23, “Sanctify you wholly, your whole spirit and soul,” — that is, your mind and affections. It is true, where the [word] “spirit” is used to express spiritual gifts, it is, as unto those gifts, opposed to our “understanding,” 1 Cor. xiv. 15, which is there taken for the first act of the mind in a rational perception of things; but as that word is applied unto any faculty of our souls, it is the mind that it expresseth. This, then, being our spirit, the actings of it are secret and hidden, and not to be discovered without spiritual wisdom and diligence. Let us not suppose, then, that we dwell too long on this consideration, which is of so great importance to us, and yet so hidden, and which we are apt to be very insensible of; and yet our carefulness in this matter is one of the best evidences that we have of our sincerity. Let us not, then, be like a man that is sensible, and complains of a cut finger, but not of a decay of spirits tending unto death. There remains therefore, 234as unto this head of our discourse, the consideration of the charge of the mind in reference unto particular duties and sins; and in the consideration of it we shall do these two things: 1. Show what is required in the mind of a believer in reference unto particular duties. 2. Declare the way of the working of the deceit of sin, to draw it off from its attendance thereunto. The like also shall be done with respect unto particular sins, and their avoidance:—
1. For the right performance of any duty, it is not enough that the thing itself required be performed, but that it be universally squared and fitted unto the rule of it. Herein lies the great duty of the mind, — namely, to attend unto the rule of duties, and to take care that all the concernments of them be ordered thereby. Our progress in obedience is our edification or building. Now, it is but a very little furtherance unto a building, that a man bring wood and stones, and heap them up together without order; they must be hewed and squared, and fitted by line and rule, if we intend to build. Nor is it unto any advantage unto our edification in faith and obedience that we multiply duties, if we heap them upon one another, if we order and dispose them not according to rule; and therefore doth God expressly reject a multitude of duties, when not universally suited unto the rule: Isa. i. 11, “To what purpose is the multitude of your sacrifices?” and, verse 14, “They are a trouble unto me; I am weary to bear them.” And therefore all acceptable obedience is called a proceeding according unto “rule,” Gal. vi. 16; it is a canonical or regular obedience. As letters in the alphabet heaped together signify nothing, unless they are disposed into their proper order, no more do our duties without this disposal. That they be so is the great duty of the mind, and which with all diligence it is to attend unto: Eph. v. 15, “Walk circumspectly,” exactly, accurately, that is, diligently, in all things; take heed to the rule of what you do. We walk in duties, but we walk circumspectly in this attention of the mind.
(1.) There are some special things which the rule directs unto that the mind is to attend in every duty. As, —
[1.] That, as to the matter of it, it be full and complete. Under the law no beast was allowed to be a sacrifice that had any member wanting, any defect of parts. Such were rejected, as well as those that were lame or blind. Duties must be complete as to the parts, the matter of them. There may be such a part of the price kept back as may make the tendering of all the residue unacceptable. Saul sparing Agag and the fattest of the cattle, rendered the destroying of all the rest useless. Thus, when men will give alms, or perform other services, but not unto the proportion that the rule requireth, and which the mind by diligent attention unto it might discover, the whole duty is vitiated.
235[2.] As to the principle of it, — namely, that it be done in faith, and therein by an actual derivation of strength from Christ, John xv. 5, without whom we can do nothing. It is not enough that the person be a believer, though that be necessary unto every good work, Eph. ii. 10, but also that faith be peculiarly acted in every duty that we do; for our whole obedience is the “obedience of faith,” Rom. i. 5, — that is, which the doctrine of faith requireth, and which the grace of faith beareth or bringeth forth. So Christ is expressly said to be “our life,” Col. iii. 4, our spiritual life; that is, the spring, author, and cause of it. Now, as in life natural, no vital act can be performed but by the actual operation of the principle of life itself; so, in life spiritual, no spiritually-vital act, — that is, no duty acceptable to God, — can be performed but by the actual working of Christ, who is our life. And this is no other way derived unto us but by faith; whence saith the apostle, Gal. ii. 20, “Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God.” Not only was Christ his life, a living principle unto him, but he led a life, — that is, discharged vital actions in all duties of holiness and obedience, — by the faith of the Son of God, or in him, deriving supplies of grace and strength from him thereby. This, therefore, ought a believer diligently to attend unto, — namely, that everything he doth to God be done in the strength of Christ; which wherein it consisteth ought diligently to be inquired into by all who intend to walk with God.
[3.] In this respect unto rule, the manner of the performance of every duty is to be regarded. Now, there are two things in the manner of the performance of any duty which a believer, who is trusted with spiritual light, ought to attend unto:—
1st. That it be done in the way and by the means that God hath prescribed with respect unto the outward manner of its performance And this is especially to be regarded in duties of the worship of God, the matter and outward manner whereof do both equally fall under his command. If this be not regarded, the whole duty is vitiated. I speak not of them who suffer themselves to be deluded by the deceitfulness of sin, utterly to disregard the rule of the word in such things, and to worship God according to their own imaginations; but of them principally who, although they in general profess to do nothing but what God requires, and as he requires it, yet do not diligently attend to the rule, to make the authority of God to be the sole cause and reason both of what they do and of the manner of the performance of it. And this is the reason that God so often calls on his people to consider diligently and wisely, that they may do all according as he had commanded.
2dly. The affections of the heart and mind in duties belong to the 236performance of them in the inward manner. The prescriptions and commands of God for attendance hereunto are innumerable, and the want hereof renders every duty an abomination unto him. A sacrifice without a heart, without salt, without fire, of what value is it? No more are duties without spiritual affections. And herein is the mind to keep the charge of God, — to see that the heart which he requires be tendered to him. And we find, also, that God requireth especial affections to accompany special duties: “He that giveth, with cheerfulness;” which, if they are not attended unto, the whole is lost.
[4.] The mind is to attend unto the ends of duties, and therein principally the glory of God in Christ. Several other ends will sin and self impose upon our duties: especially two it will press hard upon us with, — first, Satisfaction of our convictions and consciences; secondly, The praise of men; for self-righteousness and ostentation are the main ends of men that are fallen off from God in all moral duties whatsoever. In their sins they endeavour for to satisfy their lusts; in their duties, their conviction and pride. These the mind of a believer is diligently to watch against, and to keep up in all a single eye to the glory of God, as that which answers the great and general rule of all our obedience: “Whatsoever ye do, do all to the glory of God.” These and the like things, I say, which are commonly spoken unto, is the mind of a believer obliged to attend diligently and constantly unto, with respect unto all the particular duties of our walking before God. Here, then, lies no small part of the deceit of sin, — namely, to draw the mind off from this watch, to bring an inadvertency upon it, that it shall not in these things keep the watch and charge of the Lord. And if it can do so, and thereby strip our duties of all their excellencies, which lie in these concernments of them, that the mind is to attend unto, it will not much trouble itself nor us about the duties themselves. And this it attempts several ways:—
1st. By persuading the mind to content itself with generals, and to take it off from attending unto things in particular instances. For example, it would persuade the soul to rest satisfied in a general aim of doing things to the glory of God, without considering how every particular duty may have that tendency. Thus Saul thought that he had fulfilled his own duty, and done the will of God, and sought his glory in his war against Amalek, when, for want of attendance to every particular duty in that service, he had dishonoured God, and ruined himself and his posterity. And men may persuade themselves that they have a general design for the glory of God, when they have no active principle in particular duties tending at all that way. But if, instead of fixing the mind by faith on the peculiar advancing the 237glory of God in a duty, the soul content itself with a general notion of doing so, the mind is already diverted and drawn off from its charge by the deceitfulness of sin. If a man be travelling in a journey, it is not only required of him that he bend his course that way, and so go on; but if he attend not unto every turning, and other occurrences in his way, he may wander and never come to his journey’s end. And if we suppose that in general we aim at the glory of God, as we all profess to do, yet if we attend not unto it distinctly upon every duty that occurs in our way, we shall never attain the end aimed at. And he who satisfies himself with this general purpose, without acting it in every special duty, will not long retain that purpose neither. It doth the same work upon the mind, in reference unto the principle of our duties, as it doth unto the end. Their principle is, that they be done in faith, in the strength of Christ; but if men content themselves that they are believers, that they have faith, and do not labour in every particular duty to act faith, to lead their spiritual lives, in all the acts of them, by the faith of the Son of God, the mind is drawn off from its duty. It is particular actions wherein we express and exercise our faith and obedience; and what we are in them, that we are, and no more.
2dly. It draws off the mind from the duties before mentioned by insinuating a secret contentment into it from the duty itself performed, as to the matter of it. This is a fair discharge of a natural conscience. If the duty be performed, though as to the manner of its performance it come short almost in all things of the rule, conscience and conviction will be satisfied; as Saul, upon his expedition against Amalek, cries to Samuel, “Come in, thou blessed of the Lord; I have performed the commandment of the Lord.” He satisfied himself, though he had not attended as he ought to the whole will of God in that matter. And thus was it with them, Isa. lviii. 3, “Wherefore have we fasted, say they, and thou regardest it not?” They had pleased themselves in the performance of their duties, and expected that God also should be pleased with them. But he shows them at large wherein they had failed, and that so far as to render what they had done an abomination; and the like charge he expresseth against them, chap. xlviii. 1, 2. This the deceitfulness of sin endeavours to draw the mind unto, namely, to take up in the performance of the duty itself. “Pray thou oughtst, and thou hast prayed; give alms thou oughtst, and thou hast given alms; quiet, then, thyself in what thou hast done, and go on to do the like.” If it prevail herein the mind is discharged from farther attendance and watching unto duty, which leaves the soul on the borders of many evils; for, —
3dly. Hence customariness in all duties will quickly ensue, which 238is the height of sin’s drawing off the mind from duty: for men’s minds may be drawn from all duties, in the midst of the most abundant performance of them; for in and under them the mind may be subject unto an habitual diversion from its charge and watch unto the rule. What is done with such a frame is not done to God, Amos v. 25. None of their sacrifices were to God, although they professed that they were all so. But they attended not unto his worship in faith, and unto his glory, and he despised all their duties, See also Hos. x. 1. And this is the great reason why professors thrive so little under the performance of a multitude of duties:— They attend not unto them in a due manner, their minds being drawn off from their circumspect watch; and so they have little or no communion with God in them, which is the end whereunto they are designed, and by which alone they become useful and profitable unto themselves. And in this manner are many duties of worship and obedience performed by a woful generation of hypocrites, formalists, and profane persons, without either life or light in themselves, or acceptation with God, their minds being wholly estranged from a due attendance unto what they do by the power and deceitfulness of sin.
2. As it is in respect of duties, so also it is in respect of sins. There are sundry things in and about every sin that the mind of a believer, by virtue of its office and duty, is obliged to attend diligently unto, for the preservation of the soul from it. Things they are which God hath appointed and sanctified, to give effectual rebukes and checks to the whole working of the law of sin, and such as, in the law of grace, under which we are, are exceedingly suited and fitted unto that purpose. And these the deceit of sin endeavours by all means to draw off the mind from a due consideration of and attendance unto. Some few of them we shall a little reflect upon:—
(1.) The first and most general is the sovereignty of God, the great lawgiver, by whom it is forbidden. This Joseph fixed on in his great temptation: Gen. xxxix. 9, “How can I do this great wickedness, and sin against God?” There was in it a great evil, a great ingratitude against man, which he pleads also and insists upon, verses 8, 9; but that which fixed his heart and resolution against it was the formality of it, that it was sin against God, by whom it was severely forbidden. So the apostle informs us that in our dealing in any thing that is against the law, our respect is still to be unto the Lawgiver and his sovereignty: James iv. 11, 12, “If thou judge the law, thou art not a doer of the law, but a judge. There is one lawgiver, who is able to save and to destroy.” Consider this always: there is one lawgiver, holy, righteous, armed with sovereign power and authority; he is able to save and destroy. Hence sin is called 239a rebellion, a casting off his yoke, a despising of him, and that in his sovereignty as the great lawgiver; and this ought the mind always practically to attend unto, in all the lustings, actings, and suggestions of the law of sin, especially when advantaged by any suitable or vigorous temptation: “It is God that hath forbidden this thing; the great lawgiver, under whose absolute sovereignty I am, in dependence on whom I live, and by whom I am to be disposed of, as to my present and eternal condition.” This Eve fixed on at the beginning of her temptation, “God hath said, Ye shall not eat of this tree,” Gen. iii. 3; but she kept not her ground, she abode not by that consideration, but suffered her mind to be diverted from it by the subtlety of Satan, which was the entrance of her transgression: and so it is unto us all in our deviations from obedience.
(2.) The deceit of sin, of every sin, the punishment appointed unto it in the law, is another thing that the mind ought actually to attend unto, in reference unto every particular evil And the diversions from this, that the minds of men have been doctrinally and practically attended withal, have been an inlet into all manner of abominations. Job professeth another frame in himself, Job xxxi. 23, “Destruction from God was a terror to me, and by reason of his highness I could not endure.” Many evils he had mentioned in the foregoing verses, and pleads his innocency from them, although they were such as, upon the account of his greatness and power, he could have committed easily without fear of danger from men. Here he gives the reason that prevailed with him so carefully to abstain from them, “Destruction from God was a terror to me, and by reason of his highness I could not endure.” “I considered,” saith he, “that God had appointed ‘death and destruction’ for the punishment of sin, and that such was his greatness, highness, and power, that he could inflict it unto the uttermost, in such a way as no creature is able to abide or to avoid.” So the apostle directs believers always to consider what a “fearful thing it is to fall into the hands of the living God,” Heb. x. 31; and that because he hath said, “Vengeance is mine, I will recompense,” verse 30. He is a sin-avenging God, that will by no means acquit the guilty; as in the declaration of his gracious name, infinitely full of encouragements to poor sinners in Christ, he adds that in the close, that “he will by no means clear the guilty,” Exod. xxxiv. 7, — that he may keep upon the minds of them whom he pardoneth a due sense of the punishment that is due from his vindictive justice unto every sin. And so the apostle would have us mind that even “our God is a consuming fire,” Heb. xii. 29; that is, that we should consider his holiness and vindictive justice, appointing unto sin a meet recompense of reward. And men’s breaking through this consideration he reckons as the height of the aggravation 240of their sins: Rom. i. 32, “They knew that it is the judgment of God, that they which commit such things were worthy of death, yet continued to do them.” What hope is there for such persons? There is, indeed, relief against this consideration for humbled believing souls in the blood of Christ; but this relief is not to take off the mind from it as it is appointed of God to be a restraint from sin. And both these considerations, even the sovereignty of God and the punishment of sin, are put together by our Saviour: Matt. x. 28, “Fear not them which kill the body, but are not able to kill the soul; but rather fear him which is able to destroy both soul and body in hell.”
(3.) The consideration of all the love and kindness of God, against whom every sin is committed, is another thing that the mind ought diligently to attend unto; and this is a prevailing consideration, if rightly and graciously managed in the soul. This Moses presseth on the people: Deut. xxxii. 6, “Do ye thus requite the Lord, O foolish people and unwise? is not he thy Father that bought thee? hath he not made thee, and established thee?” — “Is this a requital for eternal love, and all the fruits of it? for the love and care of a Father, of a Redeemer, that we have been made partakers of?” And it is the same consideration which the apostle manageth to this purpose, 2 Cor. vii. 1, “Having therefore these promises, dearly beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from all filthiness of the flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God.” The receiving of the promises ought to be effectual, as to stir us up unto all holiness, so to work and effect an abstinence from all sin. And what promises are these? — namely, that “God will be a Father unto us, and receive us,” 2 Cor. vi. 17, 18; which compriseth the whole of all the love of God towards us here and to eternity. If there be any spiritual ingenuity in the soul, whilst, the mind is attentive to this consideration, there can be no prevailing attempt made upon it by the power of sin. Now, there are two parts of this consideration:—
[1.] That which is general in it, that which is common unto all believers. This is managed unto this purpose, 1 John iii. 1–3, “Behold, what manner of love the Father hath bestowed upon us, that we should be called the sons of God: therefore the world knoweth us not, because it knew him not. Beloved, now are we the sons of God, and it doth not yet appear what we shall be: but we know that, when he shall appear, we shall be like him; for we shall see him as he is. And every man that hath this hope in him purifieth himself, even as he is pure.” “Consider,” saith he, “the love of God, and the privileges that we enjoy by it: ‘Behold, what manner of love the Father hath bestowed upon us, that we should be called the sons of God.’ Adoption is an especial fruit of it, and how great a privilege is this! Such love it is, and such are the fruits of it, that the 241world knoweth nothing of the blessed condition which we obtain and enjoy thereby: ‘The world knoweth us not.’ Nay, it is such love, and so unspeakably blessed and glorious are the effects of it, that we ourselves are not able to comprehend them.” What use, then, ought we to make of this contemplation of the excellent, unspeakable love of God? Why, saith he, “Every one that hath this hope purifieth himself.” Every man who has been made partaker of this love, and thereupon a hope of the full enjoyment of the fruits of it, of being made like to God in glory, “purifieth himself,” — that is, in an abstinence from all and every sin, as in the following words is at large declared.
[2.] It is to be considered as to such peculiar mercies and fruits of love as every one’s soul hath been made partaker of. There is no believer but, besides the love and mercy which he hath in common with all his brethren, hath also in the lot of his inheritance some enclosures, some especial mercies, wherein he hath a single propriety, he hath some joy which no stranger intermeddleth withal, Prov. xiv. 10, — particular applications of covenant love and mercy to his soul. Now, these are all provisions laid in by God, that they may be borne in mind against an hour of temptation, — that the consideration of them may preserve the soul from the attempts of sin. Their neglect is a high aggravation of our provocations. 1 Kings xi. 9, it is charged as the great evil of Solomon, that he had sinned against special mercies, especial intimations of love; he sinned after God had “appeared unto him twice.” God required that he should have borne in mind that especial favour, and have made it an argument against sin; but he neglected it, and is burdened with this sore rebuke. And, indeed, all especial mercies, all especial tokens and pledges of love, are utterly lost and misspent upon us, if they are not improved unto this end. This, then, is another thing that it is the duty of the mind greatly to attend unto, and to oppose effectually unto every attempt that is made on the soul by the law of sin.
(4.) The considerations that arise from the blood and mediation of Christ are of the same importance. So the apostle declares, 2 Cor. v. 14, 15, “For the love of Christ constraineth us; because we thus judge, that if one died for all, then were all dead: and that he died for all, that they which live should not henceforth live unto themselves, but unto him which died for them, and rose again.” There is a constraining efficacy in this consideration; it is great, forcible, effectual, if duly attended unto. But I must not here in particular insist upon these things; nor, —
(5.) Shall I speak of the inhabitation of the Spirit, — the greatest privilege that we are made partakers of in this world. The due consideration how he is grieved by sin; how his dwelling-place is defiled 242thereby; how his comforts are forfeited, lost, despised by it, — might also be insisted on: but the instances passed through are sufficient unto our purpose. Now, herein lies the duty of the mind in reference unto particular sins and temptations:— It is diligently and carefully to attend unto these things; to dwell constantly upon the consideration of them; to have them in a continual readiness to oppose unto all the lustings, actings, warrings, attempts, and rage of sin.
In reference hereunto doth sin in an especial manner put forth and act its deceit. It labours by all means to draw off the mind from its due attendance unto these things, — to deprive the soul of this great preservative and antidote against its poison. It endeavours to cause the soul to satisfy itself with general undigested notions about sin, that it may have nothing in particular to betake itself unto in its own defence against its attempts and temptations. And the ways whereby it doth this may be also briefly considered:—
[1.] It is from the deceit of sin that the mind is spiritually slothful, whereby it becomes negligent unto this duty. The principal discharge of its trust in this matter is expressed by watching; which is the great caution that the Lord Jesus gave unto his disciples in reference unto all their dangers from sin and Satan: Mark xiii. 37, “I say unto all, Watch;” that is, “Use your utmost diligence and circumspection, that you be not surprised and entangled with temptations.” It is called also consideration: “Consider your ways,” — “Consider your latter end;” the want whereof God complains of in his people, Deut. xxxii. 29. Now, that which is contrary to these indispensable conditions of our preservation is spiritual slothfulness, as the apostle declares, Heb. vi. 11, 12, “And we desire that every one of you do show the same diligence to the full assurance of hope unto the end: that ye be not slothful.” If we show not diligence, we are slothful, and in danger of coming short to inherit the promises. See 2 Pet. i. 5–11, “And beside this, giving all diligence, add to your faith virtue; to virtue knowledge,” etc. “For if these things be in you, and abound, they make you that ye shall neither be barren nor unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. But he that lacketh these things is blind, and cannot see afar off, and hath forgotten that he was purged from his old sins. Wherefore the rather, brethren, give diligence to make your calling and election sure: for if ye do these things ye shall never fall: for so an entrance shall be ministered unto you abundantly into the everlasting kingdom of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ,” All this the mind is turned from, if once, by the deceit of sin, it be made slothful. Now, this sloth consists in four things:—
1st. Inadvertency. It doth not set itself to consider and attend unto its special concernments. The apostle, persuading the Hebrews 243with all earnestness to attend diligently, to consider carefully, that they may not be hardened by the deceitfulness of sin, gives this reason of their danger, that they were “dull of hearing,” Heb. v. 11; that is, that they were slothful, and did not attend unto the things of their duty. A secret regardlessness is apt to creep upon the soul, and it doth not set itself to a diligent marking how things go with it, and what is continually incumbent on it.
2dly. An unwillingness to be stirred up unto its duty. Prov. xix. 24, “A slothful man hideth his hand in his bosom, and will not so much as bring it to his mouth again.” There is an unwillingness in sloth to take any notice of warnings, calls, excitations, or stirrings up by the word, Spirit, judgments, any thing that God maketh use of to call the mind unto a due consideration of the condition of the soul. And this is a perfect evidence that the mind is made slothful by the deceit of sin, when especial calls and warnings, whether in a suitable word or a pressing judgment, cannot prevail with it to pull its hand out of its bosom; that is, to set about the special duties that it is called unto.
3dly. Weak and ineffectual attempts to recover itself unto its duty. Prov. xxvi. 14, “As the door turneth upon its hinges, so doth the slothful man upon his bed.” In the turning of a door upon its hinges, there is some motion but no progress. It removes up and down, but is still in the place and posture that it was. So is it with the spiritually slothful man on his bed, or in his security. He makes some motions or faint endeavours towards a discharge of his duty, but goes not on. There where he was one day, there he is the next; yea, there where he was one year, he is the next. His endeavours are faint, cold, and evanid; he gets no ground by them, but is always beginning and never finishing his work.
4thly. Heartlessness upon the apprehensions of difficulties and discouragements. Prov. xxii. 13, “The slothful man saith, There is a lion without, I shall be slain in the streets.” Every difficulty deters him from duty. He thinks it impossible for him to attain to that accuracy, exactness, and perfection which he is in this matter to press after; and therefore contents himself in his old coldness, negligence, rather than to run the hazard of a universal circumspection. Now, if the deceit of sin hath once drawn away the mind into this frame, it lays it open to every temptation and incursion of sin. The spouse in the Canticles seems to have been overtaken with this distemper, Cant. v. 2, 3; and this puts her on various excuses why she cannot attend unto the call of Christ, and apply herself unto her duty in walking with him.
[2.] It draws away the mind from its watch and duty in reference unto sin by surprisals. It falls in conjunction with some urging 244temptation, and surpriseth the mind into thoughts quite of another nature than those which it ought to insist upon in its own defence. So it seems to have been with Peter: his carnal fear closing with the temptation wherein Satan sought to winnow him, filled his mind with so many thoughts about his own imminent danger, that he could not take into consideration the love and warning of Christ, nor the evil whereunto his temptation led him, nor any thing that he ought to have insisted on for his preservation. And, therefore, upon a review of his folly in neglecting those thoughts of God and the love of Christ which, through the assistance of the Holy Ghost, might have kept him from his scandalous fall, he wept bitterly. And this is the common way of the working of the deceit of sin as unto particular evils:— It lays hold on the mind suddenly with thoughtfulness about the present sin, possesseth it, takes it up; so that either it recovers not itself at all to the considerations mentioned, or if any thoughts of them be suggested, the mind is so prepossessed and filled that they take no impression on the soul or make no abode in it. Thus, doubtless, was David surprised in the entrance of his great sin. Sin and temptation did so possess and fill his mind with the present object of his lust, that he utterly forgot, as it were, those considerations which he had formerly made use of when he so diligently kept himself from his iniquity. Here, therefore, lies the great wisdom of the soul, in rejecting the very first motions of sin, because by parleys with them the mind may be drawn off from attending unto its preservatives, and so the whole rush into evil.
[3.] It draws away the mind by frequency and long continuance of its solicitations, making as it were at last a conquest of it. And this happens not without an open neglect of the soul, in want of stirring up itself to give an effectual rebuke, in the strength and by the grace of Christ, unto sin; which would have prevented its prevalency. But of this more shall be spoken afterwards.
And this is the first way whereby the law of sin acts its deceit against the soul:— It draws off the mind from attendance unto its charge and office, both in respect of duty and sin. And so far as this is done, the person is said to be “drawn away” or drawn off. He is “tempted;” every man is tempted, when he is thus drawn away by his own lust, or the deceit of sin dwelling in him. And the whole effect of this working of the deceitfulness of sin may be reduced unto these three heads:—
1. The remission of a universally watchful frame of spirit unto every duty, and against all, even the most hidden and secret, actings of sin.
2. The omission of peculiar attending unto such duties as have an especial respect unto the weakening and ruin of the whole law of sin, and the obviating of its deceitfulness.
2453. Spiritual sloth, as to a diligent regard unto all the especial concernments of duties and sins.
When these three things, with their branches mentioned, less or more, are brought about, in or upon the soul, or so far as they are so, so far a man is drawn off by his own lust or the deceit of sin.
There is no need of adding here any directions for the prevention of this evil; they have sufficiently been laid down in our passage through the consideration both of the duty of the mind, and of the deceit of sin.
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