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3. Fleshly lusts steal into the throne by degrees. An excess of wickedness strikes at first sight with horror. No prodigal designed to waste a great estate in a day; yet many from immense riches have fallen into extreme poverty. This expence is for his pleasure, this for his honour, this will not be ruinous ; thus proceeding by degrees, till all be squandered away, he becomes voluntarily poor.
An intemperate person begins with lesser measures, and is not frequently overtaken : conscience for a time resists, and suspends the entireness of his consent to the temptation : he drinks too much for his time, for his health and estate, but he will not totally quench his reason : yet by degrees he becomes hardened, and freely indulges his appetite till he is drowned in perdition. A lascivious person begins with impure glances, tempting words and actions, and proceeds to unclean mixtures.
4. Sensual lusts stupify conscience; they kill the soul in the eye, and extinguish the directive, and reflexing powers. “Wine and women take
the heart;" that it is neither vigilant nor tender. Chastity and temperance, joined with prayer to the Father of lights clarify and brighten the mind, and make it receptive of sanctifying truths ; but carnal predominant passions sully and stain the understanding by a natural efficiency, and by a moral and meritorious efficiency. When the spirits that are requisite for intellectual operations, are wasted for the use of the body, the mind is indisposed for the severe exercise of reason. Although the dispositions of the body are not directly operative upon the spirit, yet in their present state of union, there is a strange sympathy between the constitution of the one, and the conceptions and inclinations of the other. Luxury and lust fasten a rust and foulness on the mind, that it cannot see sin in its odious deformity, nor virtue in its unattaintable beauty. They raise a thick mist that darkens reason, that it cannot discern approaching dangers. The judicative faculty is by the righteous judgment of God, impaired and corrupted, that it does not seriously consider the descent and worth of the soul, its duty and 'accounts for all things done in the body; 'but as if the spirit in man were for no other use, but to animate the organs
of intemperance and lust, they follow their pleasures with greadiness. *
* Nox & amor vinumque nihil moderabile suadent, Illa pudore caret, liber amorque metu. Ovid,
It is said of the young man, enticed by the flatteries of the harlot, that he goes after her like an ox crowned with garlands, that insensibly goes to be sacrificed. He looks to the present pleasure, without considering the infamy, the poverty, the diseases, the death and damnation, that are the just consequents of his sin. The sensual are secure: the effects of carnal lusts were visible in the darkness of heathenism.
Lusts alienate the thoughts and desires of the soul from converse with God: his justice makes him terrible to the conscience, and holiness distasteful to the affections of the unclean. We read of the Israelites, they were so greedy of the onions and garlic, and flesh-pots of Egypt, that they despised the food of angels; the manna that dropped from heaven. Till the soul be defecate from the dregs of sense, and refined to an angelic temper, it can
never taste how good the Lord is," and will not forsake sensual enjoyments. The conversion of the soul proceeds from the enlightened mind, and the renewed will, ravished with divine delights that overcome all the pleasures of sin. There are, for our caution, recorded in the scripture, two fearful examples of the enchanting power of lust. Samson enticed by his lust, became a voluntary slave to a wretched harlot, that first quenched the light of his mind, and then the light of his body, and exposed him to the cruel scorn of his enemies. Solomon by indulging his sensual appetite, lost his wisdom, and was induced by his idolatrous concubines, to adore stocks and stones; and became as very an idol as those he worshipped, “ that have eyes and see not, ears and hear not:" he rebelled against God, who had made him the richest and wisest king in the world, and miraculously revealed his goodness to him. Dreadful consequence of sensuality!
5. There is a special reason that makes the recovery of the sensual to sobriety and purity, to be almost impossible. The internal principle of repentance, is the enlightened conscience, reflecting upon past sins, with heart-breaking sorrow and detestation. This is declared by God concerning Israel ; " then shall ye remember your evil ways, and your doings not good, and shall loath yourselves in your own sight, for your iniquities, and your abominations.” Ezek. 36. 31. The bitter remembrance of sin is the first step to reformation. Now there no sinners more averse and incapable of such reflections, than those who have been immersed in the delights of sense. The unclean wretch remembers the charming objects, and exercise of his lusts with pleasure ; and when his instrumental faculties are disabled by sickness or age, for the gross acts, he repeats them in his fancy, renews his guilt, and the sin is transplanted from the body to the soul. The intemperate person remembers with delight the wild society wherein he has been engaged, the rich wines wherein he quenched his cares, the ungracious wit and mirth that made the hours slide away without observation. * Now it is a rule concerning remedies applied for the recovery of the sick, that physic is ineffectual without the assistance of nature; but the case of the sick is desperate, when the only medicine, proper for his cure, increases the disease, and brings death more certainly, and speedily. Those who are defiled by carnal lusts have a spe·cial curse; they provoke God to withdraw his grace, according to that fearful threatening, “ my spirit shall not always strive with man, for he is flesh ;” and after so desperate a forfeiture, they are seldom redeemed and released from the chains of darkness wherein they are bound. Accordingly Solomon frequently repeats this observation ; " the strange woman flatters with her words : her house inclines to the dead, and her paths to the dead. None that go unto her return again, neither take they hold of the path of life. The mouth of a strange woman is a deep pit: he that is abhorred of the Lord shall irrecoverably fall therein."
If it be said, that this representation of the deplorable state of the unclean, seems to cut off all hopes of their reclaiming and salvation, and may induce despair: I answer, with our Saviour, in another instance, “ with men it is impossible, and not with God; for with God all things are possible." Mark 10. 27. He can open and cleanse, adorn and beautify, the most obstinate and impure heart. He can, by oinnipotent grace, change a brutish soul into an angelic, and plant a divine nature, “that abhors and escapes the corruption in the world through lust." 2 Pet. 1. 4. Notwithstanding the severity of the threatening, yet the divine mercy and grace has been exercised and magnified in the renewing such polluted creatures. The apostle tells the Corinthians, “they were fornicators and adulterers, but they were washed, sanctified and justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ.”
* Repugnante natura nihil medicina proficiet. Cels,
1. Let them address their requests to God, that he would cleanse them from the guilt of their sins in the blood of Christ, the only fountain of life; and “ baptize them with the Holy Ghost as with fire,” to purge away their dross and pollutions. An unholy life is the offspring of an unclean heart. The loose vibrations of the impure eye, the enticing words of the impure tongue, the external caresses and incentives of lust, are from the heart. The heart must be purified, or the hands cannot be cleansed.
2. Suppress the first risings of sin in the thoughts and desires. Sins at first are easily resisted; but indulged for a time, are difficultly retracted.
3. Abstain from all temptations to these sins. As wax near the fire is easily melted, so the carnal affections are suddenly kindled by tempting objects. The neglect of this duty fills the world with so many incorrigible sinners, and hell with so many lost souls. Men venture to walk among snares and serpents without fear, and perish for the neglect of circumspection.
4. Do not presume that you will forsake those sins hereafter, which you are unwilling to forsake at present. There is in many, a conflict between conviction and corruption : they love sin, and hate it; they delight in it, and are sorry for it; they cannot live without it, nor with it, in several respects : now to quiet conscience, and indulge their lusts, they please themselves with resolutions of a future reformation. The tempter often excites men to consent for once, and obtains his aim : but it is a voluntary distraction to think men may, without apparent danger, yield to a present temptation, resolving to resist future temptations : for if when the strength is entire, a temptation captivates a person, how much more easily will he be kept in bondage when the enemy is more tyrannous and usurping, more bold and powerful, and treads upon his neck, and he is more disabled to rescue himself? The enlightened natural conscience is armed against sin; and if men regarded its dictates, if they believed and valued eternity, they might preserve themselves from many defilements : but God has never promised to recover sinners by special grace, who have neglected to make use of common grace, In short, consider what is more tormenting than all the pleasures of sin, that are but for a season, can be delightful, the reflection of the guilty accusing conscience, and the terrible impression of an angry God for ever,
Anger is a last of the flesh. No passion less capable of counsel. Directions
to prevent its rise and reign. Motives to extinguish it. The lust of the eyes, and pride of life, are joined with the lusts of the flesh Covetousne 59 considered. It is radically in the understanding, principally in the will, virtually in the actions. The love of it produces many vicious affections. It is discovered in getting, saving, and using an estate. The difficulty of curing covetousness, made evident from the causes of it; and the unsuccessfulness of means in order to it. It is the root of all evil. Excludes from heaven. It is the most unreasonable passion. The present world cannot afford perfection or satisfaction to the immortal soul, The proper means to mortify covetousness.
. ANGER is another lust of the flesh. Of all the
passions none is less capable of counsel, nor more rebellious against the empire of reason : * it darkens the mind, and causes such a fierce agitation of the spirits, as when a storm fills the air with black clouds, and terrible flashes of lightning. It often breaks forth so suddenly, that as some acute diseases, if checked at first, become more violent, there is no time for remedy, nor place for cure; so there is such an irrevocable precipitancy of the passions, that the endeavour to repress their fury, enrages them. It is astonishing what enormous excesses and mischiefs are caused by it! How many houses are turned into dens of dragons, how many kingdoms into fields of blood, by this fierce passion ?
To prevent its rise and reign, the most necessary counsel is, if possible, to quench the first sparks that appear, which are seeds pregnant with fire. But if it be kindled do not feed the
* Nescio utrum magis detestabile vitium sit, ac deforme, Sen. de Ir,