Experience teaches, that although the fear of hell at first startles and frights men, yet it is soon over, and is no preserver against sin. I knew one set before him the torments of hell, to keep him from sin; and finding that would not do, he added vows and curses to keep him from sin. I knew another, who wished the d$vil to take him, soul and body, if he did not do the thing he spake of; and yet I knew he did it not. Another wished he might sink into hell immediately, if he did the thing he spake of; yet he did do it before he went from the place. The reason is, because the lusts of men are stronger than the fear of hell, resolutions, and curses.
Because men are not given up to the. lusts of their own hearts, it may be that they find that liberty to sin ia the greatest misery and bondage in the world : it hath all misery in it, whether they sin with more or less fear; and could they enjoy all the pleasures of sin for a season, they will find they have made a bad bargain of it. What fruit had ye of those things whereof ye are now ashamed ? Rom. vi. 21. If I sin, thou markest me, Job x. 14. Be sure your sin will find you out, Numb, xxxii. 23. In keeping thy commands there is great reward, Psalm xix. 11; in breaking them a great punishment, loss of inward peace and comfort, a guilty accusing conscience, disgrace, affliction, losses, crosses, and death; The bloody and deceitful man shall not live out hay his days, Psalm lv. 23. I will curse your blessings, Malachi ii. 1. See Deut. xxviii.— the whole chapter.
TOBMENÏg OF-ftELl. M
Men sin because they are led captive by ike devil of his mil,"-STittCii. 26; iii. 6. Also men sin be* call se they are under the law; so long as a man is tinder the law, sin will have dominion over him, Rom. vi. 14. Sin shall not have dominion over them that are under grace. »
Men sin because they havé not received power from on high against sin; until they receive that power, they canàôt but sin ; thon hàst led captivity captive, and given gifts for men, Psalm Ixviii. 18. Until Christ, by his spirit, sets the soul at liberty, it ià in bondage, and enthralled to base lusts; but ijf the Son make you free, ye shall be free indeed j John viii. 36, but not till then; see Ecci. viii. 11. The punishment of the magistrates keeps men from abusing others, more than the fear of hell; men would be exceedingly dissolute if under no discipline of superiors.
Men go to sin fdr comfort, sweetness, and satisfaction ; bat when satisfied, they go not to sin. To aôt for life is no love to God, nor sel£denial, not any spiritualness, nor will it do them good ; it is not accepted of God, nor will it continué; those who are thus restrained do oftentimes exceed all others in sin. The spiritual soul, which lives in tfie enjoy, ment of the love of God, needs no such weights to procure Its motion; he acts from a new life and principle to the glory of God, and the good of others. And in this work and labor of love is more sweetness than is in all the pleasures of sin, whieh are but for a season.
' It is a great ignorance for any to think, th^t it is in the power of any man to sin as much as he will. If this be proved, all objections are answered; and this the scripture proves, that without the will of God men cannot do anything, not so much as go to a city, unless God yrili, James iv. 13, 15. God worketh, governeth, and disposeth all things, after the counsel of his own will, Eph» i. 11. Actsxviii. 21. Rom. ix. 18. Who hath resisted his will? God's wijl is done, Luke xi. 2. Heh. ii. 4. Eph. i. 5. Acts xiii. 22. The measure of men's sins is set; men eannot do more nor less than their measure; they fill up their measure always, 1 Thess. ii. 16. It was determined how many times jPeter should deny Christ, Luke xlxii. 31, 84, compared with ver. 61. God saith, if you will believe him, the wicked shall do wickedly, Dan. xii. 10. They marmot cease from sin, 2 Pet. ii. 14. Thtf which is determined shall be done, Dan. xi. 26. He that restraineth the clouds,' that they idrop not down rain, he made a decree for ,the rain, Job xxxjii, and the earth that it bring; not. forth grass, Deut. xxix. 23. He that stilleth the winds and the tempest, Psalm cvii. 2$, 30, that saith to the waves of the sea, hitherto shall thou come, but no further, and here shall thy proud waves be itaid, Job xyxviii. 11, he restraineth men from doii^g their wiHs when he pleases; they would go further, but he restraineth' them, Job xviii., that they cannot do the things tbey had appointed to do, Gen. xx. 6; x*xi. 24; xxxv. 5; Rev. xx. 3, 12. O Lord, I know the way of man is not in himself; it is not in man that walketh to direct his steps, Jer. x. 23. Prov.iv. 12. The preparation of the heart,
and the answer of the tongue is from the Lord, Pr<)v. xvi. 1. A man9 8 heart deviseth his way, but the Lord directeth his steps, Prov. xv. 9. The heart of the king is in the hand of the Lord: as the rivtrs of waters, he turneih it withersoever he wUl, Prov. xxi. 1. Man's day8 are determined, Job vii. 1; xiv. 5, 14. And the bounds of his habitation, Acts xvii. 24; so are his works and sins. Surely the wrath of man shall praise thee, and the remainder of wrath shalt thou restrain, Psalm lxxvi. 10.
Setting aside the opinions and conjectures of men's devised fables, 1 am fully satisfied with the testimony of the word of God, (besides their own testimony, which is sufficient against themselves,) with which \ see through the thick darkness of the inventions and traditions of men.
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