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thority and friendship and reason do all take part with good, and cry down the evil, no wonder if the evil that is unmortified in men's hearts, do not much break out to their own or others' observations through all this opposition. The instance of King Joash is famous for this, who " did that which was right in the sight of the Lord, all the days of Jehoiada the priest that instructed him," (2 Kings xii. 2,) but " after his death, when the princes of Judah flattered him with their obeisance, he left the house of God and served idols, till wrath came upon the land: and was so hardened in sin, as to murder Zechariah the prophet of God, and son of that Jehoiada that had brought him out of obscurity, and set him upon the throne, even because he spake in the name of the Lord against his sin. (2 Chron. xxiv. 20. 22.)
Who would have thought that it had been in the heart of Solomon, a man so wise, so holy, and so solemnly engaged to God, by his public professions and works, to have committed the abominations mentioned 1 Kings xi. 4.?
If you say, 'That all this proveth not that there was any seed or root of such a sin in the heart before, but only that the temptation did prevail to cause the acts first, and then such habits as those acts did tend to;' I answer, 1. I grant that temptations do not only discover what is in the heart, but also make it worse when they prevail; and that is no full proof that a man had a proper habit of sin before, because by temptation he commits the act: for Adam sinned by temptation without an antecedent habit. 2. But we know the nature of man to be now corrupted, and that this corruption is virtually or seminally all sin, disposing us to all; and that this disposition is strong enough to be called a general habit. When grace in the sanctified is called a 'nature, (2 Peter i. 4,) there is the same reason to call the sinful inclination a nature too; which can signify nothing else than a strong and rooted inclination. Knowing therefore that the heart is so corrupted, we may well say, when the evil fruit appears, that there was the seed of it before. And the easy and frequent yielding to the temptation, shows there was a friend to sin within. 3. But if it were not so, yet that our hearts should be so frail, so defectible, mutable, and easily drawn to sin, is a part of self-knowledge necessary to our preservation, and not to be disregarded. 4. I am sure Christ himself tells us, that "out of the heart proceed
the sins of the life, (Matt. xv. 19,) and that the "evil things of evil men come out of the evil treasure of their hearts." (Matt. xii. 35.) And when God permitted the fall of good King Hezekiah, the text saith, "God left him to try him, that he might know all that was in his heart," (2 Chron. xxxii. 31,) that is, that he might show all that was in his heart, so that the weakness and the remaining corruption of Hezekiah's heart were shewn in the sin which he committed.
2. And as the sinful inclinations are hardly discerned, and long lie hid till some temptation draw them out; so the act itself is hardly discerned in any of its malignity, till it be done and past, and the soul is brought to a deliberate review. For while a man is in the act of sin, either his understanding is so far deluded, as to think it no sin in its kind, or none to him that then committeth it; or that it is better venture on it than not, for the attaining of some seeming good, or the avoiding of some evil: or else the restraining act of the understanding is suspended, and withdrawn ; and it discerneth not practically the pernicious evil of the sin, and forbiddeth not the committing of it, or forbids it so remissly and with so low a voice, as is drowned by the clamour of contradicting passion: so that the prohibition is not heard. And how can it be then expected, that when a man hath not wit enough in use, to see his sin so far as to forbear it, he should even then see it so far as rightly to judge of himself and it? And that when reason is low, and sensuality prevaileth, we should then have the right use of reason for self-discerning? When a storm of passion hath blown out the light, and error hath extinguished it, we are unlikely then to know ourselves. When the sensual part is pleasing itself with its forbidden objects, that pleasure so corrupts the judgment, that men will easily believe that it is lawful, or that it is not very bad: so that sin is usually least known and felt, when it is greatest and in exercise, and one would think should then be most perceptible. Like a phrensy or madness, or other deliration, that is least known when it is greatest and most in act, because its nature is destructive to the reason that should know it: like a spot in the eye, that is itself unseen, and hindereth the sight of all things else. Or as the deeper a man's sleep is, the less he knoweth that he is asleep. Somnium narrare vigilantis est,' saith Seneca: It is men awake that tell their dreams.
And thus you see that through self-ignorance it comes to pass, that both secret habits, and the most open acts of sin are ofttimes little known. A man that is drunk, is in an unfit state to know what drunkenness is, and so is a man that is in his passion: you will hardly bring him to repentance till it be allayed. And so is a man in the brutifying heat of lust: or in the childish use of such recreations as he doteth on: or in the ambitious pursuit of his deluding honours: and therefore abundance of unknown sin, may remain in a soul that laboureth not to be well acquainted with itself.
And as I have showed you this in general, both of habits and acts of sin, let us consider of some instances in particular, which will yet more discover the necessity of studying ourselves.
1. Little do we think what odious and dangerous errors may befal a person that now is orthodox! What a slippery mutability the mind of man is liable unto! How variety of representations causeth variety of apprehensions: like some pictures that seem one thing when you look on them on one side, and another thing when on another side; if you change your place, or change your light, they seem to change. Indeed God's word hath nothing in it thus fitted to deceive: but our weakness hath that which disposeth us to mistakes. We are like an unlearned judge that thinks the cause is good which he first hears pleaded for, till he hear the confutation by the other party, and then he thinks the other hath the best cause, till perhaps he hear both so long, till he know not whose cause is the best: The person that now is a zealous lover of the truth, (when it hath procured entertainment by the happy advantage of friends, acquaintance, ministers, magistrates, or common consent being on its side) may possibly turn a zealous adversary to it, when it loseth those advantages: When a minister shall change his mind, how many of the flock may he mislead!
When you marry, or contract any intimate friendship with a person of unsound and dangerous principles, how easily are they received!
When the stream of the times and authority shall change, and put the name of truth on falsehood, how many may be carried down the stream!
How zealous have many been for a faithful ministry, that have turned their persecutors, or made it a great part of
their religion to revile them, when once they have turned to some sect that is possessed by the malicious spirit, (especially the Papists and Quakers are famous for such language of reproach: though the former excel the latter much in the slandering part, and the latter excel in the open bawling and incivility of speech.)
And O that we could stop here, and could not remember how faithfully and honestly some have seemed to love and obey the word of God, and to delight in the communion of saints, that by seducers have been brought to deny the Divine authority of the Scriptures, and to turn their backs on all God's public ordinances of worship, and excommunicate themselves from the society of the saints, and vilify or deny the works of the Spirit in them! Little did these men once think themselves, whither they should fall, under the conceit of rising higher: and little would they have believed him that had told them what a change they would make. Had these men known themselves in time, and known what tinder and gunpowder was in their hearts, they would have walked more warily, and it is likely have escaped the snare; but they fell into it, because they feared it not: and they feared it not, because they knew not or observed not, how prone they were to be infected.
2. Little do many think in their adversity, or low estate, what seeds are in their hearts, which prosperity would turn into very odious, scandalous sins, unless their vigilancy, and a special preservation, do prevent it. Many a man that in his shop, or at his plough, is censuring the great miscarriages of his superiors, doth little think how bad he might prove, if he were in the place of those he censureth. Many a poor man that freely talks against the luxury, pride, and cruelty of the rich, doth little think how like them he should. be, if he had their temptations and estates. How many persons that lived in good repute for humility, temperance, and piety, have we seen turn proud, and sensual, and ungodly, when they have been exalted! I would mention no man's case. by way of insulting or reproach, but by way of compassion, and in order to their repentance that survive. I must say that this age hath given us such lamentable instances, as should make all our hearts to ache and fear, when we consider the erimes and their effects. Would the persons that once
walked with us in the ways of peace, and concord, and obedience, have believed that man that should have foretold them twenty years ago, how many should be puffed up and deluded by successes, and make themselves believe, by the ebullition of pride, that victories authorized them to deny subjection to the higher powers, and by right or wrong to take down all that stood in their way, and to take the government into their own hands, and to depose their rightful governors, never once vouchsafing to ask themselves the question that Christ asked, Luke xii. 14, " Man, who made me a judge, or a divider over you?" As if authority had been nothing but strength, and he had the best right to govern, that could make the greatest force to compel obedience. Little were the seeds of all this evil discerned in the heart, before prosperity and success did cherish them, and bring them to that, which with grief we have long observed. They would have said as Hazael, “ Am I a dog that I should do this?" If one had told them before, that when God hath charged every soul to be subject on pain of condemnation, and they had vowed fidelity, they should break all these bonds of commands and vows; and all because they were able to do it: when they would not justify him that should do any mischief to themselves, and think it warrantable because he was able: when the ministers of the Gospel, and their dearest friends, bore witness against the sin, the heart could not, by all this be brought to perceive its guilt; or that it was any sin to overturn, overturn, overturn, till they had overturned all, and left not themselves a bough to stand upon. And how hardly to this day, do the notable discoverings of God, and the plainness of his word, and the continued witness of his servants, prevail for kindly true repentance! The unrighteous usage of magistracy and ministry, and the licentious indulgence of the open enemies and revilers of both, and of all the ordinances and churches of the Lord, do proclaim aloud to all that fear God, The depths and deceits of the heart are wonderful, and you little think what an hour of temptation may discover in you, or bring you to: O therefore know yourselves, and fear, and watch.'
3. A man that in adversity is touched with penitent and mortifying considerations, and strongly resolveth how holily and diligently he will live hereafter, if he be recovered or