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hath not done it: and where he will have the power of any corruption to be afflictive in any instance, two things may safely be ascribed to him.

1. He withholds the supplies of that grace whereby it might be effectually mortified and subdued. He can give in a sufficiency of efficacious grace, to repel any temptation, to subdue any or all our lusts and sins. For he can and doth work in us to will and to do, according to his pleasure. Ordinarily he doth so in them that believe; so that although their lusts may rebel and war, they cannot defile or prevail. But unto the continual supplies of this actual prevailing grace he is not obliged. When it may have a tendency unto his holy ends, he may and doth withhold it. When it may be a proud soul is to be humbled, a careless soul to be awakened, an unthankful soul to be convinced and rebuked, a backsliding soul to be recovered, a froward, selfish, passionate soul to be broken and meekened, he can leave them for a season unto the sore exercise of a prevalent corruption, which under his holy guidance shall contribute greatly unto his blessed ends. It was so in the temptation of Paul, 2 Cor. xi. 7-9. If a man, through disorder and excesses, is contracting many habitual distempers of body, which gradually and insensibly tend unto his death, it may be an advantage to be cast into a violent fever, which threatens immediately to take away his life. For he will hereby be thoroughly awakened unto the consideration of his, danger, and not only labour to be freed from his fever, but also for the future to watch against those disorders and excesses which cast him into that condition. And sometimes a loose, careless soul, that walks in a secure formal profession, contracts many spiritual diseases which tend unto death and ruin. No arguments or considerations can prevail with him, to awaken himself, to shake himself out of the dust,' and to betake himself unto a more diligent and humble walking before God. In this state, it may be, through the permission of God, he is surprised into some open actual sin. Hereon, through the vigorous actings of an enlightened conscience, and the stirrings of any sparks of grace which yet remain, he is amazed, terrified, and stirs up himself to seek after deliverance.

2. God may and doth, in his providence, administer ob

jects and occasions of men's lusts for their trial. He will place them in such relations, in such circumstances, as shall be apt to provoke their affections, passions, desires, and inclinations unto those objects that are suited unto them.

In this state any lust will quickly get such power in the mind and affections, as to manage continual solicitations unto sin. It will not only dispose the affections towards it, but multiply thoughts about it, and darken the mind as unto those considerations, which ought to prevail unto its mortification. In this condition it is hard to conceive how God should be in the thoughts of man in a due manner. However, this state is very different from the habitual prevalency of any secret sin or corruption, in the ordinary course of men's walking in the world, and therefore I do not directly intend it.

If any one shall inquire how we may know this difference, namely, that is between the occasional prevalency of any lust or corruption in conjunction with a temptation, and the power of sin in any instance habitually and constantly complied withal, or indulged in the mind; I answer,

1. It is no great matter whether we are able to distinguish between them or no. For the end why God suffers any corruption to be such a snare and temptation, such a thorn and briar, is to awaken the souls of men out of their security, and to humble them for their pride and negligence. The more severe are their apprehensions concerning it, the more effectual it will be unto this end and purpose. It is good, it may be, that the soul should apprehend more of what is sinful in it, as it is a corruption, than of what is afflictive in it, as it is a temptation. For if it be conceived as a predominant lust, if there be any spark of grace remaining in the soul, it will not rest until in some measure it be subdued. It will also immediately put it upon a diligent search into itself, which will issue in deep self-abasement, the principal end designed. But,

2. For the relief of them that may be perplexed in their minds, about their state and condition, I say, there is an apparent difference between these things. A lust or corruption arising up or breaking forth into a violent temptation, is the continual burden, grief, and affliction of the soul wherein it is. And as the temptation for the most part

which befalls such a person will give him no rest from its reiterated solicitations; so he will give the temptation no rest, but will be continually conflicting with it, and contending against it. It fills the soul with an amazement at itself, and continual self-abhorrency, that any such seeds of filth and folly should be yet remaining in it. With them in whom any sin is ordinarily prevalent, it is otherwise. According to their light and renewed occasional convictions, they have trouble about it; they cannot but have so, unless their consciences are utterly seared. But this trouble respects principally, if not solely, its guilt and effects. They know not what may ensue on their compliance with it, in this world and another. Beyond this they like it well enough, and are not willing to part with it. It is of this latter sort of persons of whom we speak at present.

2. We must distinguish between the perplexing solicitation of any lust, and the conquering predominancy of it. The evil that is present with us, will be soliciting and pressing unto sin of its own accord, even where there is no such especial temptation as that spoken of before. So is the case stated, so are the nature and operations of it described, Rom. i. Gal. v. And sometimes an especial particular lust, may be so warmed and fomented by men's constitutions within, or be so exposed unto provoking, exciting occasions without, as to bring perpetual trouble on the mind. Yet this may be where no sin hath the predominancy inquired after. And the difference between the perplexing solicitation of any corruption unto sin, and the conquering prevalency of it, lies in this; that under the former, the thoughts, contrivances, and actings of the mind, are generally disposed and inclined unto an opposition unto it, and a conflict with it, how it may be obviated, defeated, destroyed, how an absolute victory may be obtained against it. Yea, death itself is sweet unto such persons under this notion, as it is that which will deliver them from the perplexing power of their corruptions; so is the state of such a soul at large represented, Rom. i. In the other case, namely, of its predominancy, it disposeth of the thoughts actually, for the most part, to make provision for the flesh, and to fulfil it in the lusts thereof. It fills the mind with pleasing contemplations of its object, and puts it on contri

vances for satisfaction. Yea, part of the bitterness of death unto such persons is, that it will make an everlasting separation between them and the satisfaction they have received in their lusts. It is bitter in the thoughts of it unto a worldly-minded man, because it will take him from all his enjoyments, his wealth, profits, and advantages. It is so unto the sensual person, as that which finally determines all his pleasures.

3. There is a difference in the degrees of such a predominant corruption. In some it taints the affections, vitiates the thoughts, and works over the will unto acts of a secret complacency in sin, but proceeds no farther. The whole mind may be vitiated by it, and rendered in the multitude of its thoughts, vain, sensual, or worldly, according as is the nature of the prevailing corruption. Yet here God puts bounds unto the raging of some men's corruptions, and says to their proud waves, thus far shall ye proceed, and no farther.' He either lays a restraint on their minds, that when lust hath fully conceived, it shall not bring forth sin, or he sets a hedge before them in his providence, that they shall not be able, in their circumstances, to find their way unto what perhaps they do most earnestly desire. A woful life it is that such persons lead. They are continually tortured between their corruptions and convictions, or the love of sin, and fear of the event. With others it pursues its course into outward actual sins, which in some are discovered in this world, in others they are not. For some men's sins go before them unto judgment, and some follow after. Some fall into sin upon surprisal, from a concurrence of temptation with corruption, and opportunities; some habituate themselves unto a course in sin, though in many it be not discovered, in some it is. But among those who have received any spiritual light, and made profession of religion thereon, this seldom falls out, but from the great displeasure of God. For when men have long given way unto the prevalency of sin in their affections, inclinations, and thoughts, and God hath set many a hedge before them to give bounds unto their inclinations, and to shut up the womb of sin; sometimes by afflictions, sometimes by fears and dangers, sometimes by the word; and yet the bent of their spirits is towards their sin; God takes off his hand of

restraint, removes his hinderances, and gives them up unto their own heart's lusts, to do the things that are not convenient. All things hereon suit their desires, and they rush into actual sins and follies, setting their feet in the paths that go down to the chambers of death. The uncontrollable power of sin in such persons, and the greatness of God's displeasure against them, makes their condition most deplorable.

Those that are in this state, of either sort, the first or the latter, are remote from being spiritually minded, nor is God in all their thoughts as he ought to be. For,

1. They will not so think and meditate on God. Their delight is turned another way. Their affections, which are the spring of their thoughts, which feed them continually, do cleave unto the things which are most adverse unto him. Love of sin is gotten to be the spring in them; and the whole stream of the thoughts which they choose and delight in, are towards the pleasures of it. If any thoughts of God come in, as a faint tide for a few minutes, and drive back the other stream, they are quickly repelled and carried away with the strong current of those which proceed from their powerful inclinations. Yet may such persons abide in the performance of outward holy duties; or attendance unto them. Pride of, or satisfaction in, their gifts, may give them delight in their own performances, and something in those of others they may be exceedingly pleased withal; as it is expressly affirmed, Ezek. xxxiii. 31, 32. But in these things they have no immediate real thoughts of God, none that they delight in, none that they seek to stir up in themselves; and those which impose themselves on them they reject.

2. As they will not, so they dare not, think of God. They will not, because of the power of their lusts; they dare not, because of their guilt. No sooner should they begin to think of him in good earnest, but their sin would lose all its desirable forms and appearances, and represent itself in the horror of guilt alone and in that condition all the properties of the divine nature are suited to increase the dread and terror of the sinner. Adam had heard God's voice before with delight and satisfaction; but on the hearing of the same voice, after he had sinned, he hid himself,

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