Page images
PDF
EPUB
[ocr errors]

SERMON VI.

(PART 1.)

Preach'd on the ift of September, 1689, ,

at Lambeth Chapel.

1 Pet. V. 8, 9. Tour Adversary the Devil, as a roaring

Lion, walketh about, seeking whom he

may devour. Whom refift, stedfast in the Faith.

T is not the least Benefit of the Christian
Religion, that it makes known to Men

the Causes and Occasions of that depravity of Nature and proneness to Sin, that aversion to their Duty and readiness of complying with unlawful Suggestions, which all dilcover in themselves. All cannot but take notice, that it is not without (Labour and Difficulty, without assiduous Care and Vigilancy, that any habits of Piety or Virtue can be formed, that it cannot be without

struggling struggling against the natural Desires, and over-ruling the Propensity of the Soul; when negligence alone, or letting loose the Reins to the natural Appetite will produce an habit of Vice: Whereas if we consider the Nature and End of Man, we might rather hope the contrary; since the performance of his Duty is no more than the End of his Creation, and all things naturally tend to the acquisition of their End; and Vice being a deviation from that End, doth thereby become unnatural.

Yet the Experience of that Depravation of the Will of Man, which we complain of, is so undeniable, that it hath put Men in all Ages upon enquiring into the Causes of it. Some resolved it into Fate; others into the Contexture of the Body; some into the malign Influences of the heavenly Bodies; and not a few into the innate Principles of the Soul. But as all these Conceptions were gross in themselves, they could give no fatisfaction to the Mind of Man, and the matter would have still continued to have been unaccountable, without the assistance of Revelation.

Nor doth all Revelation clear this Doubt: In the Jewish Religion little Light was added to it; it is Christianity alone which fully manifests the Causes and Occasions of this Unhappiness; and as the discovery of Diseases facilitates the Cure of them, thereby en

ables

I

[ocr errors]

ables us to avoid, or at least overcome the Contagion of it,

The Occasions manifested by Revelation only, are two; the Corruption of our Nature succeeding the Fall of Adam, or Original Sin; and the Temptation of evil Spirits or Devils. The knowledge of both is of great Concernment to us, that so we may be able to apply fit Remedies to them; yet the Nature of both is little known by the ordinary Sort, and frequently mistaken by the more knowing Sort of Christians. I intendat this time to discourse of the latter, taking occasion from the Words of the Apostle, who enforceth his Exhortation of Sobriety and Vigilance, from the consideration of the constant Danger whereto Christians are exposed, by the perpetual Snares and Temptations of the Devil, who as their Adversary, walketh about seeking their Destruction ; from the violence of Rage and Force wherewith he assaults the Faithful, denoted by comparing him to the most terrible of Wild Beasts, when enraged, as a roaring Lion; and from the miserable Consequence of being seduced by him, which is, to be devoured by him; as utterly deprived of spiritual Life and Happiness, as that Man is of natural Life, who is devoured by a Wild Beast: For your Adversary the Devil, as a roaring Lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour. Whom refift, stedfast in the Faith.

Which Words will oblige me to treat of,

1. The Manner and Method of the Temptations of the Devil.

II. Our Duty, Ability, and Meas of refisting him.

First then, Altho' the Manner whereby the Devil tempeth us, be very obscure, as are all the Actions of immaterial Beings; and altho' it becomes us not to determine ralhly, what we do not certainly know; yet our enquiries herein will be lawful, while guided by Reason; and useful, because teaching us a Matter which doth so nearly concern us; rectifying our Mistakes, which may be fatal to us; and convincing the opposition of unbelieving Men, who mock at this Article of our Belief. And here it is not my present purpose to prove the Existence of such evil Spirits. For altho' the common and constant Opinion of Mankind herein, produced by their visible Effects, doth render it highly probable; altho' the Nature of Things, and the Existence of other immaterial Beings, differing only in accidental Qualities, prove it to be possible; and altho' Divine Revelation added to all these, hath put it beyond all doubt; yet it is not my design to improve and urge these Arguments; since we enquire not after the Existence of Deyils, but the Manner of their

Operation. Operation. It will however be necessary to speak somewhat of their Nature, and the Motives which induce them to busy themselves in tempting Men.

Their Nature is the fame with that of the blessed Angels, from whom they differ no otherwise, than as bad from good Men; save that as the Purity of Angels exceedeth that of the best Men; so the Wickedness of Devils exceedeth that of the worst Men. They were once, at their first Creation, of the fame Order with Angels, endued with the fame Faculties, and enjoyed the same Happiness; but when through Pride and Ambition they rebelled against God, disobeyed his Commands, forsook that Station wherein he had placed them, and aimed at higher Dignities, they were deprived of their former Happiness, and thrown down from Hea

That whereas before they were infinitely happy in reflecting upon the Purity of their own Nature, the Favour of God, and that perpetual Communication of Light and Joy, which the Angels may be suppoposed to receive from God in extraordinary Emanations; they having now debased their Nature, by violating the End of their Creation, drew upon themselves the displeasure of God, and being deprived of the Fruition of any Divine Illuminations, were reduced into that State of Darkness which the Scripture describeth.

yen.

The

« PreviousContinue »