Abernathy - Houston-Packer Collection BX9178.A33 S4 1748 v.4

SERMONS O N VARIOUS SUBJECTS. Containing, I. Temptations to Evil not from God. II. Men tempted to Evil by their own Lulls. III. Of Natural, Moral, and Civil Liberty. IV. Of Chriftian Liberty. V. On the fame Subjeft. VI. Of the Kingdom of God. VII. Of believing in Chrift. VIII. Of Inability to do good arifing from vicious Habits. IX. A Sermon addreffed particu- larly to young Perfons. X. How divine Worship is to be acceptably performed. XI. The Evil and Folly of Covet - oufnefs. XII. The proper Improvement of temporal Poffeffions. XIII. Of the Bleffednefs of the Pure in Heart. XIV. Of the Bleffednefs of the Peace- Makers. XV. A Converfation becoming the Gofpel recommended. By YOHN ABERNETHY', M. A. VOL. IV. LONDON: Printed for D, BR OWN E, without `Temple -Bar ; C. DAVIS, in Holborn } and A. Ma L L A R, oppofite Katherito flrret in the Strand. M. DCC.Id.

CONTENTS. StRMOIV I. Temptations to Evil not from GOD. James i. 13, 4, Let no man fay when he is tempted, I am tempted of God, for God cannot be tempted with evil, neither tempteth he any Haan. But every man is tempted, when he is drawn away of his own lift and enticed. Page z SERMON IL Men tempted to Evil by their own Lulls. James i. i 4 But every man is tempted, when he is drawn away of his own lull and enticed. p. 27 SERMON III. Of NTatúral, Moral, and Civil Liberty. Galat. v. r. Stand fall therefore in the liberty wherewith Chrifl bath made us free. P. 54 Az SE R-

CONTENTS. SERMON IV. Of CHRISTIAN LIBERTY. Galat. V. L. Stand fait therefore in the liberty wherewith Chrill bath made us free. P. 84 SERMON V. On the fame Subje &. p. 117 SERMON VI. Of the Kingdom of GOD. Rom. xiv. 17. For the kingdom of God is not meat and drink, but righteoz fnefs, and peace, and joy in the Holy Gh Jt. P. 155 SERMON VII. Of believing in JEsus CHRIST. I John iii. 23. And this is his commandment, that we fhould believe in the name of his Son Jefus Ghr. p. 181 S E

CONTENTS. SERMON VIII. Of Inability to do Good arifing from vicious Habits. Jerem. xiii. 23. Can the Ethiopian change his fkin, or the leopard his (pots ? Then may ye alfo do good that are accuflomed to do evil, p. 206 SERMON IX. A Sermon addreffed particularly to young People. Pfalm xxxiv. I I, 12, 13, 14. Come, ye children, hearken unto me : I will teach you the fear of the Lord. What man is he that defireth life, and loveth many days that he may fee good? Keep thy tongue from evil, and thy lips from fpeaking guile; de- part from evil and do good, feek peace and purfue it. p. 236 SERMON X. How divine Worfhip is to be ac- ceptably- performed. Ecclef Keep thy f òc-t God, c» d verfe I to 8. roefl to the houfe of .dy to hear, than to give

CONTENTS. give the f cr fce of fools : For they confider not that they do evil. Be not rafh with thy mouth, and let not thine heart he hafty to utter any thing before God : for God is in hea- ven, and thou upon earth : therefore let thy Words be few. For a dream cometh through the multitude of bufinefs, and afool's voice is known by multitude of words. When thou vow f a vow unto God, defer not to pay it : for he hath no pleafure in fools : pay that which thou haft vowed. Better is it that thou fhouldell not vow, than that thou fhouldell vow, and not pay. Suffer not thy mouth to caufe thy flefh to fin, neither fay thou before the angel, that it was an error : LJ"herefore fhould God be angry at thy voice, and dellroy the work of thine hands ? For in the multitude of dreams and many words, there are alfo diverfe vanities: but fear thou God. p. 268 SERMON XI. The Evil and Folly of Covetoufnefs. Luke xii. is. And he Paid unto them, take heed and beware of covetouf of for a man's life confifieth not in the abundance of the things which he p fefth. P. 294 S E R-

CONTENTS. SERMON XII. The proper Improvement of temporal Poffeffions. Luke xvi. 8, 9, I0, I I, 12. And the Lorer commended the unjujl *ward becaufe he had done wifely ; for the children of this world are in their generation wifey than the children of light. And I fay un- to you, make to yourfelves friends of the mammon of unrighteoufn fs, that when ye fail, they may receive you into everlafling habitations. He that is faithful in that which is leajl, is faithful alfo in much. If, therefore, ye have not been faithful in the unrighteous mammon, who will commit to your trufl the true riches? And if ye have not been faithful in that which is another's, who (hall give you that which is your own. P. 325 SERMON XIII. Of the Bleífednefs of the Pure in Heart. Mat. v. 8. Bl fed are the pure in heart, for they fkall fee God. P. 35° 5 SER-

CONTENTS. SERMON XIV. Of the Bleffednefs of the Peace - Makers. Matt. v. 9. 13lfd are the peace - makers; for they fhall be called the children of God. P. 377 SERMON XV. A Converfation becoming the Gofp el recommended. Philip. i. 27. Only let your converfation be as it becometh the gopel of Chri/l, P. 405 SER-

[ti SERMON I. TEMPTATIONS t0 EVIL, not from GOD. JAMES I. 13, 14. Let no man fay when he is tempted, I am tempted of God, for God cannot be tempted with evil, neither tempteth he any man. But every man is tempted, when he is drawn away of his own la jI and enticed. AS we are here in a ftate of trial and S E R M. infirmity, having indeed an eternal L happinefs in profped, but our way to it be -, fet with difficulties from without, betides the difcoúragement which arifeth from our own .kveaknefs, nothing is more reafonable and fit for us then ferioufly to confider thofe diffi- culties, and all the difzvantagesof every kind which necef arily attend our prefent condi- tion ; and likewife, on the other hand, the en- couragements whereby we are animated to a perfevering zeal in a Religious courfe, that we may know how to maintain our integrity, V o 1,; IV. B and

2 Temptations to Evil, not from God. S E R M. and bear up againft the former, as well as I. make a proper improvement of the latter to `"V`) the true intention and end of them. Efpe- cially the fcripture doftrine concerning af- fli Lion is of great confequence to the right conduft of the chriftian life. We are taught that it is inevitable, and our own ob- fervation of the Rate of mankind in this world leadeth us to expert it. Now, af- flic`i:ion is an evil of which God himfelf is the author, very confiftently with the perfefl purity of his nature, and with the tendereft compaßìon for his fervants : Whom he loveth, he rebuketh and chafleneth ; and the defign is worthy of fupreme goodnefs as well as rec- titude, for it is to try the virtues of the af- flifted in order to ftrengthen them, that they may be found unto praife, and honour, and glory, at the appearing of yefus Chrifl, as St. Peter fpeaketh, i epift. i. 7. For this reafon the apoftle James would have chriftians fubmit chearfully in all thefe trials, or temptations as he calleth them ; ver. 3. of this chapter, My brethren count it all joy when you fall into divers temptations; and the reafon he giveth is juft that which I have mentioned, that fuch temptations are the means of our growth in religion ; knowing that the trial of your faith worketh patience

Temptations to Evil, nct from God. 3 patience : But let patience have her perfec`l S E R M. work, that ye may be perfe8 and entire, I. wanting nothing. And as the conclufion of `'""4 a difcourfe on the mutability of human affairs, whereby he endeavoureth to reconcile every particular perfon to the changes which happen to himfelf, he faith in the verfe im- mediately preceding the text, blefed is the man that endureth temptations. But there is another kind of temptation here fpoken of, of which God is not the author or caufe; on the contrary, the apoftle forbiddeth them that are tempted to fay they are tempted of God, to allege it in words, to avow any fuch opinion or what- ever may have a tendency to fupport and abet it, or even to entertain any fuch furmife in their hearts : The meaning of this, certain- ly, is a folicitation to fin; when the inten- tion is not to prove the fincerity of feeble virtue in order to confirm and increafe it but to fubvert and deftroy it ; to draw the weak and unwary into wickednefs which leadeth to their ruin. This is what the perfef ly holy and good God is not capable of; but that men are fo tempted, and often fuccefsfully, experience witneßèth ; fnares are laid for them, in which they are unhappily caught, and betrayed into heinous trangref B 2 fions,

Temptations to Èvil, not from God: S E R M. fions, fatal to their fouls, which tend to;. I. and iffue in their death or final deftru Lion. It is of great importance to know whence this danger arifeth, that being duly apprifed of it, we may be upon our guard againft it, in order to preferve our integrity that we may attain at the Taft to the true end of our being, and the end of our faith, the per- feftion of righteoufnefs and the falvation of our fouls. The fcripture in many of its de- clarations fpeaketh of an envious and wick- ed being, or rather a multitude of them, who having early made defection from their duty, and lifted themfelves in a rebellion againft the divine government, and having left their fir/t happy habitation, are referved in chains under darknefs to the judgment of the great day. In the mean time they are permitted by providence to go to and fro through the earth, and walk up and down in it, as fatan is reprefented as fpeaking con- cerning himfelf in the book of yob; and we are told their principal employment, a very wicked one, is to draw men into fm. They, being rebels againft God, and molt malicious enemies to mankind, are the con - duEtors of the oppofition to goodnefs in this earth, and tempters ; rather, to make the enmity appear the more formidable, they are repre-

Temptations to Evil, not from God. ç reprefented as in a confederacy and mifchie- S E R M, vous affociation, ranged under the infernal I. government of one head, who is eminently `"` . called the tempter, and is always ready to take every opportunity of enfnaring unwary mortals, having many of his minifters in all places fully inftru&ed in his hellifh arts, whereby they lie in wait to deceive. But after, all, St. names teacheth, that our greateft danger iS not from them ; it is fomething in aurfelves, we have reafon to be moft afraid of, as the fource of the moft prevailing temptations ; and but for it, we Mould have nothing to apprehend from the poifoned arrows of enemies without ; their molt fub- tle devices and moil furious afl'aults would be utterly ineffectual. This is what the apoftle calleth every man's own lulls, meaning his lower appetites and paflions, whereby he is drawn away and inticed. There are, there- fore, thefe two points contained in the text, which I (hall diftintly confider. Firfi, That Cod in all his works and ways:, the whole of his adminiftration to- wards mankind, ftandeth perfeftly clear of tempting them to moral evil ; he is not in the lea$ degree, or by a fair conftru Lion, in any part of his B 3 con-

6 Temptations to Evil, not from God. SE R M. condu &, accefîäry to any one of their I offences. This St. fames of erteth with great earneftnefs as a principle of the utmoft importance to be believed, and deeply imprefl'ed on our minds. Let no man fay (let him reject with abhor- rence any fuggeftion that bath fuch a tendency) that he is tempted of God ; for God is not tempted with evil, nei- ther doth he tempt any man. Secondly, The true and the molt ufeful account of the origin of fin to every par- ticular perfon ; that which really is the fpring of prevailing temptation, is his own loft. Fin i, That God in all his works and ways, the whole of his adminiftration to- wards mankind, ftandeth perfectly clear of tempting them to moral evil ; he is not in the leaft degree, or by a fair conftruftion, in any part of his condut, acceffary to any one of their offences. For our better under- ¡landing this doctrine, let it be obferved, that it bath an immediate and neceffary con - nefioh with the true chara Ier of the Deity. Reafon teacheth us, and the fcripture very expreffly, that he is a being of the molt per - fed moral reëtitude or holinefs; which at-. 4 tribute,

Temptations to Evil, not from God. 7 tribute, fo far as we can underftand, princi- S E x pally exerteth itfelf in his utter averfion to I the fins of his creatures, and his approba- `^"--j tion of moral goodnefs in them. This the facred writers continually inculcate, teaching us that he is of purer eyes than that he can behold iniquity, that he beholdeth the righteous with a pleafant countenance, but evil cannot dwell with him, and wickednefs is an abomi- nation to him; if it be fo, it is impoífible he fhould be a tempter, for that importeth, at leaft, that the fin of the tempted would be agreeable, indeed that he defireth it, and is folicitous to have them brought into the fnare. But all religion refteth upon this principle, utterly inconfiftent with his tempt- ing any man or any creature, that God is only pleafed with rational agents doing that which is right, and difpleafed with their do- ing what is wrong in a moral fenfe: If that be denied, piety is intirely fubverted, and all pra &ice of virtue on the foundation of piety. By this argument, which is the molt plain and fatisfying, the apoftle fupporteth his affertion in my text, let no man fay, I am tempted of God ; fir God is not tempted with evil him[e1J and confequently neither doth he tempt any man. A being who is wholly uncapable of any moral turpitude, B 4 can-

-40.11111111111 8 Temptations to Evil, not from God. S E R M. cannot folicit any others to it, nor give them I. the leaft countenance in it, which mull al- ways neceffarily fuppofe a corrupt affection. Another of the divine attributes is goodnefs, equally effcntial to his character, and of equal importance and neceffity to the pur- pofes of religion : Without believing it, we can neither love him, nor truft in him, nor do good in imitation of him. But if God be good, he cannot tempt any man ; for that proceedeth from the ntmoft malevo- lence, Peeing it aimeth at the unhappinefs, nay, the utter ruin of the human nature. Perhaps there may be a fond, blind affec- tion in one man tempting another, directed by the bias of his own depraved heart, to- wards criminal pleafure, or imagined advantr age of fome kind or other, in which he would have the tempted to participate ; but the mind which comprehendeth the true intereft of mankind, and feet li what the molt enlarged underftanding mull fee, the infeparable con - netion between virtue and happinefs, and between vice and extreme mifery ; fuch a mind, I fay, could not be imagined to fo- licit any man to fin, will that he fhould fin, or do an at with defign to induce him to it, without a malicious intent to deftroy him. Secondly,

Temptations to Evil, not from God. q Secondly, Let us proceed to confider the S ER Ivr works of God which relate to man, and we I. (hall be convinced that far from having tendency, or (hewing a defign, to draw him into fin, which is tempting him, on the contrary, they provide againft it in the bell manner. And, firft, if we look into the human conftitution, which is the work of God, curioufly formed according to a well - laid defign in his benevolent counfels, one of the moft obvious and important appear- ances in it is, an indelible fenfe of moral good and evil, the work of the divine law written in the heart of man, fo plainly and fo deep, that the very weakeft, who bath the ufe of reafon, can difcern it; and not the ftrongeft temptations, nay, fcarcely the longeft courfe of cuftomary indulgence in profligate vice, have been able to wear it out. This fenfe of right and wrong difco- vereth itfelf early ; it is not the refult of mature reflection, clofe reafoning, and long Rudy, but it plainly appeareth that the gra- cious author of our being intended to pre- vent us with it, that we fhould not be led affray before our arriving at the full exercife of our underftanding, which was defigned to be the principal guide of the rational life, or of our free anions ; the underflanding, however,

C ro Temptations to Evil, not from God. SE R M. however, advanceth (lowly to its maturity ; 1. but in every ftep of its progrefs, if we ufe it aright, it cafteth a growing light upon, and ítrengtheneth what I may call the virtuous pre- fenfation originally planted in our minds ; for doth not reafon teach any man who calmly attendeth to it, that the God of na- ture, by prepofeffing the mind fo power- fully in favour of the things which are pure, and honeft, and virtuous, hath not led us away from our true intereft and happinefs, but direly to the profecution of it ? To this fenfe of good and evil, there is added in our conftitution a ftrong inforcement of the choice, and the practice of the former, in that high pleafure of felf- approbation which is naturally and infeparably annexed to it, which is the greateft enjoyment that we are capable of; and a ftrong motive to our efchewing the other, that is, moral evil, in that inward felf- condemning and remorfe, which as naturally and neceffarily follow it, and is of all pains the moft intolerable. Muft it not be acknowledged, then, that the frame of our nature prompteth to the prac- tice of virtue as its proper end, and that the defigning caufe of it did not intend to tempt us to evil, but to provide againft our being tempted ? It is true that liberty is a part of the

Temptations to Evil, not from God. i z the conflitution, which importeth a power S E R M, of doing evil, and by which it is that we I. are rendered capable of it. This, as well as `--`'"'" the other capacities of our nature, is derived from God ; but there is no rational pretence for alledging that gift to be a temptation, becaufe liberty is not an inclination to evil, but meerly the mind's power of determin- ing itfelf to that, or the contrary, according as the motives to the one or the other íhould appear flrongefl ; and that the author of the conflitution hath cart the ballance on the fide of virtue, we may fee from what hath been already faid, fnce he hath given us virtuous inflints, with a fenfe of moral obligations, and added a very powerful fanc- tion to them. Befides, liberty is abfolutely neceffary to the pra Lice of virtue, as well as to the being of moral evil ; nór could we without it have been capable of rational happinefs. It muff be confeffed that our {late is itnperfeél ; we are made frail and mutable creatures, liable to temptations, and many are actually miffed by them ; nor have we any pretence for denying that it was agreeable to the divine perfeft goodnefs and wifdom, to create fuch a fpecies of be- ings, and in fuch a condition. But feeing we are free agents, and weak, inflead of tempting

12 Temptations to Evil; not from God. S ER M. tempting us to fin, or even leaving us by his L conftitution in a Rate of indifference to it, he hath done all which was confiftent with our freedom to prevent our falling into it. And thus it appeareth, that in the frame of our nature the foundations of virtue are laid ftrong and deep, and that we are not tempt- ed to evil, but rather warned and fortified againft it. Again ; if we confider the adminiftration of providence, and the divine condu& to- wards all men, we thall find that the fame defign is regularly purfued by methods be- coming the wifdom of God, and bell fuited to our condition ; the defign, I mean, not of tempting us to fin, but preferving us from. it. As God fent men into the world, a fpecies of rational beings, fitted by the ex- cellent faculties wherewith he endued them for rendering him very important fervice, and enjoying a great meafure of happinefs, and an higher kind than any other inhabi- tants of this earth are capable of; for con- templating the order and beauties of the world, and offering to the author of it the praife due to him for the manifeftation of his wifdom and goodnefs, in the inanimate and brutal parts of the creation, for imita- ting the moral perfections of the fupreme Being

Temptations to Evil, not from God. i 3 Being himfelf, and thereby partaking of S E R nR. thofe pleafures which bear the nearefi re- I. femblance to his own eternal and immutable blef ednefs ; fo he conflantly careth for that favourite workmanfhip of his hands. Of all the nations of men, who are made to dwell on the face of the earth, none are without witnefs of their maker's mercies, for he continually Both them good, finding them rainfrom heaven, and fruitful feafons, and filling their hearts with fa'od and glad - nefs. Now if fuch lenity and kindnefs be the charater of the divine adminifiration, what is the tendency of it ? Is it to tempt men, to lead them to fin, which is rebel- lion againfi himfelf, and againfi their own reafon ? That hath been the event, indeed, with many of them, but by a moft ungrate- ful abufe of his goodnefs and forbearance, which naturally ought to have led them to repentance. But when men had wilfully corrupted their ways, and turned the bounty of God into lafcivioufnefs, giving themfelves up to work wickednefs with greedinefs, providence hath fometimes interpofed in a different manner, that is, by awful judg- ments, very terrible defolations fuddenly fpread over nations or cities. But how have filch difpenfations been conducted, and with what

14. Temptations to Evil, not from God. S ER M. what manner of appearance, on the part of I. the fovereign ruler ? They bore the marks 1/4"It ' of his difpleafure for the fins of men fo vi- fìble, that the molt ftupid have found them- felves obliged to acknowledge it. Is this tempting them ? is it not rather Ming the belt and moi effeE}ual methods for reclaim- ing them from fm ? And, laftly, if we confider the revelation of the gofpel, and that whole divine fcheme contained in it, which God in love to man- kind hath formed for our falvation, we mufì fee that the whole defign of it is directly oppofite to the defign of tempting ; it is to turn every one of us from our iniquities. To this purpofe have we not only our Saviour's clear inftru lions, and the excellent exam- ple of his life, but he gave himfelf for us a facrifice, and fuffered a moft painful and ig- nominious death to redeem us from fin, to purify unto himfelf a peculiar people zealous of good works. All the promifes, which are in him yea and amen, have this tendency and this deign, namely, that we fhould cleanfe ourfelves from the filthinefr of thefefh and fpirit, and perfet`l holinefs in the fear of God. In a word, every part of chriftianity was intended for the fame end, all its mo- tives and all its rules ; but it is particularly worthy

Temptations to Evil, not from God. r; worthy of our notice, that the fympathy ofS E Ra our Saviour with his difciples, whom he fo I. loved as to die for them, is reprefented as `^'""j efpecially exerting itfelf for their fupport under temptations ; thus we are told, Heb. ii. i 8. in that he himfelf bath fufered, be- ing tempted, he is able to fuccour them that are tempted. And chap. iv. 15. We have not an high prieft which cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities, hut was in all points tempted as we are, yet without lin. We are therefore encouraged to come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need, grace to refill and conquer tempta- tions. For this purpofe is the affiftance of the Holy Spirit given to chriftians, all whofe operations on their minds, declared in fcrip- ture, have this tendency, that they may be enabled to refift and to conquer temptations. And the difpofition of things by divine pro-. vidence, and ordering all the circumftances in our condition, is reprefented in fcripture as carrying on the fame defign. Sometimes, indeed, we are told that providence Puffer- eth men to fall into fnares, nay, and layeth Bumbling- blocks in their way; but the Brongeft exprefíions of this fort mean no more than that feeing (inners violently break through

16 Temptations to Evil, not from God. S E R M. through the reftraints from finful coùrfes I. which providence had laid them under ; for thus the fcripture teacheth, and our own experience confirmeth it; they are then fuf- fered to walk in their own counfels, which is the true meaning of the fcripture expref- fions referred to concerning wicked men, who are permitted to go Rill further on in their evil ways, and abandoned to the hard - nefs of their hearts. But for the general tenor of the divine adminiftration towards men, it defignedly favoureth their efcape from temptations, and direteth them to the paths of virtue, if they had wifdom to ob-. ferve it ; and, efpecially, the fcripture aß'it- reth us, that the condu t of providence to- wards chriílians, is quite contrary to tempt- ing them ; it tendeth to fupport them againft temptation, and to enable them to overcome it ; i Cor. x. 13. There bath no temptation taken you but fuck as is common to men, and therefore refiftible by human firength, fo kind hath providence been ; but depend al- ways for the future on God's care, for he is faithful, and will not fuer you to be tempted above that ye are able ; not only he will not tempt you himfelf, but not fuffer others to tempt you above your abilities ; and will, with the temptation, which he permitteth, 3 make

Temptations to Evil, not from God. i make a way for of cape, f that you may le SE R M, able to bear it. I have now endeavoured to I. confirm the apoftle's affertion in my text, that God, who is not himfelf tempted with evil, infinitely pure, perfectly averfe to every kind and degree of moral turpitude, and above the poffibility of being drawn into it, doth not tempt any man ; on the contrary; that the tendency of all his works and ways towards mankind, in the conftitution of the human nature, in the difpofitions of provi- dence, and the gofpel grace, is to preferve them from evil, and to refcue them when fallen into it; to recover degenerate and corrupted mankind to integrity, to lead them in the way of righteoufnefs and virtue, to the perfefion of it, as the proper end of their being, and their higheft happinefs. The next obfervation relateth to the ne- ceffity and importance of this doctrine The apofile delivereth it as a point he lay- eth great ftrefs upon ; let no ma¢fay, when he is tempted,, I am tempted of God ; let every chriftian be always aware of the evil tendency of fuch a furinife, and take heed that he doth not entertain it. And having, to eftablifh us in this belief, traced our fins and temptations to their true fpring, and given an account of them quite different V o L. IV, C from

li /8 Iretnptations to Evil, tiol from Cod. S E R M. from their being originally from God, name - I ly, that they take their rife from the lulls of the heart, the conception whereof intro - duceth fin, which, when it is finifhed by the confent of the mind, endeth in death; the apoftle, I fay, then repeateth an earneft cau- tion againft this error, fo folicitous he was to preferve chriftians from it, ver. i6. Do not err, my beloved brethren, that is, by im- puting, in any manner or degree, your fins or temptations to God ; in oppofition to which he declareth, ver. 17. every good and every perfect gift is from above, and cometh down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variablencfs, neither fhadow of turning. All the moral capacities and af- fe Lions of our nature, and all the gifts of grace, are from the eternal Father, the pure fountain of intelleaual light and happinefs, who cannot be fo inconfiftent with himfelf, as to be the author of darknefs, fin, and mifery ; for there is no fhadow of turning with him, there is really no poffibility, and we ought never to imagine an appearance of his turning from good to evil. The neceffity and importance of this doc- trine may be further illuftrated by confider - ing, on the one hand, the danger of men's falling into oppofite fentiments or prefump- tions

Temptations to Evil, not from Gods 19 fions in their minds, which have a very bad S ER M. tendency ; and on the other hand, the great L advantage to the ends of religion which will "m`. arife from an inviolable adherence, and a careful attention to it. Some, indeed, to fhun the dangerous miftake of imputing fin and temptation to God as in any refpeét its caufe, have run into the oppofite equally abfurd extreme of withdrawing moral evil altogether from under God's government of the world, and deriving it from an original independent evil principle ; which fcheme, as it deftroyeth the true notion of vice (con - fequently of virtue) reprefenting it not as the voluntary ad of imperfect intelligent beings, but as flowing from an independent necef- fity of nature ; fo, under a pretence of re- fped to the goodnefs of God; which at the fame time it rendereth infufficient, it deni -. eth his fupreme power and univerfal domi- nion. The generality of chrif tians, owning the unity of God, do alfo acknowledge his perfeEt purity and goodnefs, and in words, at leaft, deny him to be the author of fin ; but I am afraid the opinions received among fome of them, are not perfeftly confìftent with thefe true principles, and that in their confequences, at leaft, they tend to the errors againft which the apoftle here warneth us. C 2 For

20 Temptations to Evil, not from God. S E R M. For inftance, to reprefent the nature of men L as fo corrupted, without any perfonal fault of theirs (of which original depravity, there- fore, fuppofed to be conveyed with our very being, a man's confcience cannot accufe him) that they are under a fatal neceffity of finning, and that it is utterly impoß'ible for them to do any thing which is good. What thoughts can a man have of this, but that it is the appointed condition of his being, to be refolved ultimately into the will of his maker, juft like the fhortnefs of his under - ftanding, the imperfection of his fenfes, or even the frailty of his body ? Thefe latter fort of infirmities may very well be attribu- ted to God as the author of them, without any difhonourable imputation, but criminal weakneffes, guilt imputed, to which men were no way confenting, and fin fo infepa- rably cleaving to their nature, as to be their very conftitution, and utterly unavoidable; this, I doubt, cannot be accounted for with- out giving men fome handle to fay they are tempted of God ; nor doth the difficulty feem to be folved, and the divine purity and goodnefs upon this principle vindicated by the hypothefis of an original offence, in which no man, who was not then in being, can think he had any participation. The

Temptations to Evil, not from God. 21 The counfels of God concerning mens SE R M. fins, and the agency of his providence about I. them, not in over-ruling the ifhue, but in afcertaining, and by its influence determin- ing them, as intending events, ought alfo to be confidered with the utmoft caution. That from eternity he forefaw all things which ever come to pafs, even the worft anions of his creatures, is a principle which, I hope, may be maintained with great fafety; for liimple prefcience hath no manner of effect on the futurity of things, more than bare knowledge bath on what is prefent ; and to fuppofe that he a ±ually doth, and had before determined to bring good out of the evil works to the being, of which he is no way accefläry, is moll worthy of his perfeEt reaitude and goodnefs. But a pe- remptory decree concerning the being of of fuch evil works, and in purfuance of it, a pofitive influence on the agent, nay, and as it is called, an inward ph;/ical predeter- mination to effeEt them ; thefe notions, I am afraid, cannot well enough be reconciled to the moral perfeétions of the deity, though I do not queflion but fome have gone into them with very pious intentions, and even from a miflaken refped to his abfolute fu- premacy and independence. My brethren, C 3 let

li 22 Temptations to Evil, mot from God. S E R M. let us always be fenfible of the weaknefs of I. our own underftandings, and with the greateft charity to others, afraid for ourfelves, of en- tering into abfirufe fpeculations out of our depth, particularly fuch as may have even a remote tendency to difparage the moral cha- rafter of the Supreme Being, the belief of which, in the fulleft and cleareft manner, is the true foundation of religion, and of a conftant abhorrence of all fin. It is natural for men to make excufes for their faults, which tend indireUly to lay blame even upon their maker; of this we have an early example in the reprefentation which Mofes giveth of the divine proceedings to the con - viftion of Adam after his fall ; when he was challenged for his tranfgreffion, he en- deavoureth, in forne meafure, to excufe him- felf by laying the fault, firft, on another, who was inftrumental in it, and more re- motely on God himfelf; let us not cover our tranfgrefl ons like Adam, which job difclaitneth, chap. xxxi. 33. efpecially by fuch pretences as tend to reproach the ho- linefs of God, by infinuating that he hath any the leafs accefìion to them, but acknow- ledge that we ourfelves are the compleat eaufes of all the moral evil ever committed by us, This

Temptations to Evil, not from God. 23 This leadeth us to the other confideration S E R M. for illufirating the neceflity and importance I. of the apoftle's doctrine in the text, namely, the great advantage and ufefulnefs of it to the ends of religion ; and with this illuftra- tion I (hall conclude the prefent difcourfe, recommending to you the feveral particulars which (hall be mentioned, as the proper practical improvement of this fubje t. And, firft of all, that God is not tempted with evil, neither tempteth any man, tendeth to preferve in our minds the higheft efieem and reverence for him. It is not poffible for us to have a veneration for a tempter, it is a charaaer in which corruption and ill - will meet, and they are both detefiable. In proportion Rill as we believe and confider God's hatred of fin, and that he is fo good as unalterably to will the prevention of it and to do always every thing which is fit and reafonable to be done, and worthy of his other perfections, in order to it; our refpect for him, as the heft and molt ex- cellent of all beings, will remain and in- creafe; and it will diminifh as we entertain any contrary notions, and with it all reli- gious difpofitions will be abated. Secondly, This doarine tendeth to beget and con- firm in us an utter abhorrence of fin, becaufe C 4 i t

24 Temptations to Evil, not from God. S n . it is the thing God hateth, and will have 1 nothing to do, no kind of communication with it. The opinion which many of the Heathens had of their deities as immoral, tended to fpread vice among them, and make it honourable ; let this be a prefervative to us from it, that our God is perfecaly free from all moral turpitude himfelf, and he is too good and too pure to give any kind of it the leaft countenance in his worfhippers. But how often do men mifconftrue the di- vine conduca, fo as to find a pretence for imagining that, at leali, he is not difpleafed with their fins, whereby they harden them - (elves in wick_ednefs ? Thus in Pfal. 1. 21. finners are reprefented as abufing God's pa- tience to their encouragement in finful cour- fes, as if it were to be underftood that he countenanced and abetted them, which is a kind of tempting. I kept ílence, and thou thought ß that I was fuch an one as thyfelf. But let us always cherifh this perfuafion in cur minds, that fin is an abomination to him, and that he would have all his reafon- able creatures to abftain from it, without which it is impofl'ible to pleafe him. Thirdly, let us remember that though we are in a Bate of infirmity, and mull expel to be tempted, yet this is our comfort and encouragement, that

Temptations to Evil, not from God, 25 that God is no party to thefe temptations, S E R M. but declareth himfelf in oppofition to them. I. The directly oppofite interefis of moral good and evil, in this world, have their oppofite friends and abetters ; but fupreme power and wifdom cannot be on the fide of evil. The caufe, therefore, of virtue (hall finally triumph, which may encourage us refolutely to adhere to it. This is not merely a plea- fing fpeculation. In the general, every good man ftruggling with temptations, may apply it to his own cafe, and betake himfelf to God, as not an unçoncerned fpeaator of what the fcripture calleth a fpiritual warfare, and the good fight of faith .; but as utterly averfe to the defign of temptations, and as the the friend of confliaing virtue, who, accord- ing to his promife, will not fuller his fer- vants to be tempted above their ability. St. Peter telieth us, that the Lord knoweth how to deliver the godly out of temptation, 2 epift. ii. 9. and he biddeth us hope from the power of God, as well as his wifdom ; for who, faith he, i epift. iii. 13. is he that will harm you, if ye be followers of that which is good. Let us therefore always put ourfelves under the divine proteaion, and pray, as our Saviour bath taught us, lead us not into temptation ; either by thy good z providence

; 26 Tésnptations to Evil, not from God. SE R M. providence prevent the occafions of tempta. L tion, or fupport us fo againfl their power, that they may not prevail to draw us into fin. Laftly, what we are taught concern- ing God, may be applied as a pattern for our imitation. I-Ie tempteth no man ; let us follow him as dear children, and never tempt any man ; let no one lay a flumbling- block, or an occajion of falling befòre his bro- ther ; let no one be fo much as indifferent whether his brother fland or fall ; it is glo- rious, it is god -like, to do all in our power for promoting pure religion, to inftru .1 the ignorant, to comfort the feeble - minded, and to ftrengthen our weak fellow -chrib fiians, S E R-

i27 SERMON II. Men tempted to Ev i r. by their own Lus-rs. JAMES I. 14. But every man is tempted, when he is drawn away of his own Iz ft and enticed. T is very necefl'ary for chriflians, and S E R M, I very ufeful to the conduct of life, to un- II. derftand aright the doarine of temptations, to know whence they proceed and derive their force, and how we may arm ourfelves in the belt manner againft them. We meet with them fo often, and are in fo great dan- ger of being drawn into fin through their influence, it muff be highly advantageous to be well acquainted with their true nature and tendency, and with the utmofl extent of their power, that fo we may take proper precautions againft them, and be always pre- pared to make our defence. Upon this fubje t St. James teacheth us two very im- portant leans; Firf?,

Aumui 28 Men tempted to Evil by their own Lulls. SR ui. Firfl, That God, in all his works and II. ways, the whole of his adminiftration to- wards mankind, idandeth perfe ily clear of tempting any of them to moral evil ; he is not in the leaft degree or in any part of his conduct, by a fair conftruEtion upon it, ac- ceffary to any one of their offences : Which the apoftle afferteth with great earneftnefs as a principle of the utmoft importance to be firmly believed and deeply imprefed on our minds ; let no man fay (let him reject with abhorrence any fuggeftion or furmife which bath fuch a tendency) that he is tempted of God, for he is not tempted with evil, neither does he tempt any man. This I endeavoured to explain and prove in a former difcourfe, and made fome practical reflections upon it. The fecond inftruction relating to tempta- tions, now to be confidered, amounteth to this, that the true and moil ufeful account of the origin of fin to every particular per- fon, that which really is the fpring of pre- vailing temptation, is his own luft ; but every man is tempted when he is drawn away of his own lull and enticed. Not but that there are other tempters, both of mankind and other fpecies of beings ; they may fo- lick to fin, they may ufe perfuafions and a variety

Men tempted to Evil by their own Lulls. 29 variety of fubtil deceitful arts ; but there S ER :vr, temptations which give all others their great- II. eft force, and are themfelves the muff dan- gerous, are from within ; our own luffs, as they are called, that is, our lower appetites and pallions. For explaining this Subjeel, I will Firfl, Confider more particularly what is meant by luft. Secondly, How men are tempted by it, being dravvn away and enticed to evil. Thirdly, Shew that here we may reff our inquiry, as to all valuable purpofes of it, concerning the origin of fin in oui- felves. Fir/l, What is meant by Tuff. To un- derftand this we muff look into the inferior part of the human conffitutioú. Since it pleafed God to form man as he is, com- pounded of flefh and fpirit, it was neceffary there fhould be in his nature affeffions fuit- able to both : That the animal life itfelf, Iow as it is, fhould have enjoyments annexed to it, was worthy of its Maker's goodnefs, and his wifdom is manifefled as providing in the belt manner for the Prefervation of his own work by the fenfes, appetites, and inffinffs planted

jo Men tempted to Evil by their own Lulls. S ER M. planted in the human foul, whereby it is II. determined with promptnefs and pleafure to ferve the neceffary purpofes of the prefent life. Hence arifeth a diverfity of interefis in the fame perfon. The fuperior powers and affections of his nature muft be duly exercifed and their proper objects purfued, otherwife the principal ends of his being are not attained, nor his higheft happinefs : At the fame time the body demandeth force part of his cares. It is very evident, that the wife Author of our frame intended a har- mony in it, which appeareth to be defigned in all his works, and in order to this, a fubordination of the body and its concerns to thofe of the mind. But man being a free agent, it is in his power to violate the order of nature, by giving a greater at- tention than is fit to his lower interefls, and by neglecting to cultivate his fuperior capacities and determinations, and to purfue their true ends. This leadeth us to a true notion of what the apoftle calleth tuft ; it fignifieth the whole of thofe affections and pafiïons which take their rife from the body and the animal part of our nature, and which terminate in the enjoyments and con - veniencies of our prefent Efate, as diftinguiíh- ed from the moral powers and pleafures of the

Men tempted to Evil, by their own Lulls. 3 i the mind, and the perfetion of them, S ER M. which requireth our chief application as be- II. ing our principal concern and ultimate hap- pinefs. That inferior part of our conftitu- tion, in itfelf innocent and necefrary for fuch beings, yet giveth the occafion whereby we, abufing our liberty, are drawn away and enticed to evil by various ways; fuch as, vehement defires beyond the real value of the obje &s ; an immoderate indulgence in the gratification of thofe defires, either in inftances which are prohibited by reafon and the laws of God, or even within the licenfed kinds, above the proper limits which the end of fuch gratification hath fixed; all tending to weaken the devout and virtuous affections which are the glory of our nature and the diftinguifhing excellence of man; to enervate the'mind, and violate confcience, or that fenfe of right and wrong which God hath placed in us as the guide of our a Lions. Other affe &ions alfo tempt us, as forrow, which often through our weaknefs exceed - eth in proportion the event which is the occafion of it ; fear of force future appre- hended calamity or difrrefs, often magnified by the imagination ; and anger, which ought only to aim at our own defence againft in- juries, but for the molt part is accompanied with

II -a 3 z Men tempted to Evil by their own LuJts, S ER M, with a keen delire of hurting the injurious, II. All thefe, when entertained and refling in d- -v-- -r the mind, break its compofure, marr its enjoyments, unfit it for its belt exercifes, and frequently precipitate men into thefe actions and courfes which their own confci. ences difapprove. We may farther obferve, that befídes the original affeêtions, appetites, and paffions, planted in our natures of the lower kind, and relating only to the animal life, and the prefent outward Bate of things, whence temptations arife, luft alto comprehendeth fecondary defires, and which may be faid to be contrafted, being occafioned by ob- fervation, experience, and cuftom. And the principal objects of them are thofe things which we find, or imagine, to be the means of gratifying our original delires, or which are firppofed to have fome conneftion with the objets of our original affections. For example, as wealth and power are known to afford various enjoyments, and the more plentiful means of gratifying all the defires of men, both of the private and public, the virtuous and the fenfual kind, therefore are they the obje&s of defires, which become ítrong tufts, whereby multitudes are drawn away and enticed to evil. To conclude this head,

Men tempted to Evil by their own Lu s. 3.3 head, I think the apoflle St. yohn's divifion S L R tvt of luft is the molt ufeful to the purpofe of II inftruding chriftians how they fhould con- duft themfelves fo as to avoid temptations. He exhorteth us, i epift. ii. is. not to love the world, neither the things of the world; and what thofe things are, he explaineth in the following words, ver. i6. Jr ò all that is in the world, the lulls of the flefh, the lulls of the eyes, and the pride of lifè, is not of the Father, but is of the world. What in the prefent Rate of trial and weakncfs you ought to guard againft an exceffive fondnefs for, as being ordinarily in the greateft danger from it, which worldly men eagerly purfue, but they are miffed by it from the love and imitation of God, and obedience to his laws; that is, either fenfual enjoyment in any branch of it, the gratification of carnal de- fires, whereby you may be led into a vo- luptuous courfe of life, intemperance of any kind, luxury or lafcivioufnefs, making pro - vifion for the flefh to fulfil the affefions of it ; or filver and gold, {lately houfes, fine equipage, and gay apparel, or any thing of a like kind, which pleafeth the eye and the fancy; or, laftly, worldly honours and gran- deur, the applaufe of men, high flations, fplendid titles, and places of power, where - VOL.IV, D by

34 Men tempted to Evil by their own Lulls. S E R M. by force are raifed to a condition of emi- II. nency above others : Thefe are the lulls of 1"-"--' men's hearts, by which they are drawn away and enticed to fin. It is not neceffary to enlarge on the other affeions and paf- fions of the human nature, which are in a different manner the fources of temptation, on thofe forrows which work death, on thofe fears which bring them into fnares, and that wrath of man which worketh not the righte- oufnefs of God ; nor yet on the inclinations and propenfities of various kinds which can- not be called fo ftritly natural, but are con - tra led and acquired from different occafions and caufes, as education, cufloms, and opi- nions which men have gone into. What hath been already faid may be eafily ap- plied to all thefe, and is fufficient to explain them fo far as the prefent defign requireth, that is, that we may underftand what is meant by lull, comprehending the whole compafs of the affections, paffions, and pro - penfities of every kind that are in the heart, diftina from the rational and moral powers of the foul, and whereby, as the occafion of it, men are milled from their duty. I come now, Secondly, To confider how men are tempt- ed by luft, being drawn away and enticed. And

7l4'en tempted to Evil by their own E2 f s. And here what I would principally obferve SE R ra; is, that lulls are only the occafions or temp- II. tations to moral evil, not neceffitating caufes. ``Y`°"/ The mind is free, and voluntarily determi- neth itfelf upon the fuggeftions of appetites and paffions, not irrefìf'<ibly governed by them ; to fay otherwife, is to reproach the conftitution and the author of it ; and for men to lay upon him the blame of their own faults, which yet their confciences cannot help taking to themfelves. But experience íheweth, that whereas the motions of appe- tite and pail-ion are common to men, forne fuffer tharnfelves to be hurried away by them without any refiraint, always to their felf condemnation, and the difapprobation of the reft of mankind who know it, while other men of like paffions peremptorily re- jeft their folicitations in forbidden inflances, always to their praife and the inward fatif- faftion of their own mind. Let us refle t on what paffeth in our own heart on fuch occafions, to which none of us can be orangers ; and we fhall be convinced that we have the power of controuling the in- clinations and tendencies which arife in our mind, or not contenting to them, and a power of fufpending our confcnt till we have farther confidered the motives of aftion, D 2 and

36 Men tempted to Evilly their own LuJls. S E R M. and that this is a power often exerted by us, II. The moft vehement defires of meat and `"` drink are refifted upon an apprehenfion of danger; the love of money, and the love of honour, are checked, and their ftrongeft folicitations fometimes utterly denied, thro' the fuperior force of contrary paíiìóns, or upon motives of confcience. Are not we confcious of a power to apply the attention of our minds to motives which urge to ac tions directly oppofite to thofe which our appetites tempt us to, or to a refolved for- bearance of thofe actions ; and do not our hearts often reproach us for not thus enga- ging our attention ? All which clearly fhew- eth that we are under no conftraint by our own lufts, and that temptation only, in the ftriéteft and molt proper fenfe, proceedeth from them, not fm itfelf .neceffarily, nor any otherwife than by an abufe of our free- agency, by a voluntary, and therefore cri- minal confent. Not only fo, but the op- pofite affections, the virtuous and good, though they do not neceffarily produce the praEtice of virtue (we find ourfelves able to refill them, and very, often do it) yet are they of greater force in the human conftitu- tion than the lower inclinations, or, what St. Paul calleth the law of the mind, is fu- perior

Men tempted to Evil by their own Lufis. 37 perior to the law in the members, and hath S E x M. a greater fanEfion added to it ; a much higher IL pleafure is the reward of obedience to it, and the moft fevere penalty of bitter felf- reproaches is annexed to difobedience ; whereas thwarting the oppofite law pro- duceth inward fatisfation and peace. We mufì:, therefore, conclude, that the firft mo- tions of luft, or of appetite and paffion in the mind, are not fins; and it is a dangerous miftake to think they are, tending to caufe- lefs fcruples and uneafinefs in the minds of good men, and which is worfe, to difho- nourable and unbecoming thoughts concern- ing God ; I fay, they are not fins for the reafons which have been infinuated, namely, that they are not in our power, I mean, as to their being or not being. And we are füre our wife, equitable, and good lawgiver doth not require impoffìbilities; and becaufe they are the natural growth of our confl:itu- tion ; and if they are to be reckoned fins at all; they are the fins of the conftitution,, which every one may fee where it will end, and to whofe account it muff be charged, not the fins of the free- agent, on whole will they do not depend. Let us fuppofe the cafe of one man tempting another; he reprefenteth to his mind the idea of pleafurq D 3 ax