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The examination is : Have we renounced the devil and all his works? This inquiry will serve to make what has been set forth more plain and practical. Have we renounced the devil, and all his works ? that is, the devil as a prince, who by nature holds an absolute dominion over us. Have we seen the devil holding a dominion over the world ? Have we seen that the most of mankind are in subjection to it? Have we seen him leading all those without exception who are not delivered by Christ captive at his will ? Have we seen that ourselves are his natural-born subjects ?
Have we seen his dominion over ourselves and others with abhorrence and detestation ? Have we gone over from him ourselves unto Christ, and declared against him, to win others from him unto the Lord ? Brethren, have we thus seen, hated, and forsaken the kingdom of the devil ? Take notice, this cannot be the case, if we be not renouncing the works of the devil, those works whereby the devil holds his dominion upon earth.
earth. Wherefore are none of you committing sin ? What ! my dear brethren, none of you committing drunkenness, or swearing, or sabbath-breaking, or fornication ? What! not one who is guilty of any of these things ? No; nor one covetous person, one proud, one revengeful, person here; nor one liar, nor one lover of pleasures, nor one living after the course of this world ? What! is not sin practised by any of us ? Can we all
say, I am clean, every one for himself in the presence of God? Well, whosoever cannot, whosesoever conscience pronounces him guilty, may know, and must be told, that he is of the devil. It is not I that
upon my own authority. It is God that says, “Whosoever committeth sin is of the devil," belongs to him, and is his servant.
You do not, I am sensible, like to think yourself to be, or to be told, that you are the devil's child.
forsake sin, for till you do that, while you commit sin, you are of the devil ; every drunkard is of the devil, every whoremonger of the devil, every swearer, every liar, of the devil, every covetous, vain, carnal, proud, revengeful person, is of the devil. Nay, sirs, but we are all still either of the devil or not; and this one word shall prove us, “He that committeth sin is of the devil, for whosoever is born of God doth not commit sin." And is it true, then, that every soul living in sin is the devil's child and
must by grace
O that ever that monster should have so many children where Christ is named, and among those who are baptized into his name! Nay, you say, but I trust I am not committing sin. Well; but are you not carelessly encouraging it in the world ? I do not ask whether you designedly encourage it. To do this is to be a very devil incarnate. And yet (it must be spoken out) we have heard of such things particularly, such as encouraging, forcing, and deceiving others into the great sin of drunkenness ; but, I ask, are you not carelessly encouraging sin in the world ? But how shall this be determined ? Why, if you care not though Satan have the upper hand of Christ in the world, if you do not so much as consider whether your conduct be for the encouragement of Christ's kingdom or the devil's, if you will not forego the veriest trifle for the cause of Christ, and because you see it does, or fear it may, encourage sin in the world ; I beseech you, is not this carelessly, at least, being an encourager of it, and can you then be Christ's friend? Can you be doing Christ's work? Are you not plainly doing the devil's ? And, if you are serving the devil's interest, judge yourself whose servant you are. Permit me to ask further ; while you are thus careless about the cause of Christ, are you not also an enemy to it? You know that persecution is the devil's work for the maintenance of his kingdom ; and if you set yourself against those who profess to serve Christ for no other reason than because they profess to do so, do not you evidently lend your hand to the devil, and, in fact, however ignorantly, avow yourself to be his friend, while you thus declare yourself to be the enemy of Christ ? Suffer me to deal freely where your souls are at stake. From what motive can any one set himself, by foolish jests, banter, ridicule, or whatever influence, to discourage those who desire to live after the commands of Christ, and, if they are not to be sneered nor frightened from their purpose, to look upon them with disgust and an evil eye, or to be ready to do them a bad turn ? I beseech you, what manner of spirit is this? Does it come from above or below ? Is it the mind of Christ or of his adversary ?
And now, what says Conscience upon this inquiry ? Are we, or are we not, renouncing the devil and all his works ? If we are not declared enemies of the kingdom of sin, if we live in
the practice of it, if our examples encourage it, if we are enemies to and opposers of serious Scripture godliness, (if, as I might have added above, but I chose not to detain you,) if while we are living after the course of the world we are propping ourselves by vain superstitions, and putting our faith in the devil instead of Christ, then it is manifest whose subjects we are, and that we have not yet renounced the devil and his works. But if to see the extent and cruelty of Satan's dominion be our grief and abhorrence ; if we determinately forsake the practice of sin ourselves, and will not wittingly by our example give it the least countenance in others ; if in deed as well as word we stand up for the cause and the people of Christ, and discountenance every thing great or little that makes for the kingdom of the devil, then it is not less manifest on the other part that we have indeed renounced the devil and all his works.
And shall I now need say anything more to such as have been found in their own consciences the servants of Satan? To think of being in subjection to that monster, who is the avowed open enemy of the God that made him, the very height and summit of all malignity and sin, whose heart knows nothing but cruelty, revenge, fury, and most malicious pleasure in our ruin ; to think of serving his interests too, of being employed night and day in promoting his hellish designs in the world, of being given up in all the actions of life to enlarge and establish his kingdom ; to think of being made use of as his tools, presumptuously to oppose, and, as it were, to brave God to his face; to publish abroad the devil's triumph ; to hinder, hurt, and wound the cause of that gracious Jesus, who so kindly came and died to save us, and to be set up against all those that own and follow him! To think of this! What need of arguments ? What can be said more? If there were no hell wherewith the devil will reward such faithful services, what need be said more? 0, sirs ! if you would but think whom you serve, and what dishonourable services you are employed in, you could not be easy, you would by grace change masters, and flee unto Jesus to deliver you from the power of the devil. The Lord God Almighty, in whose hands ten thousand devils are but as the dust of a balance, enable you to do so!
And you the children of God, the followers of the Lamb,
who hath delivered you from the snares of the devil; will you, can you stand by and see these your poor brethren led captive by Satan, employed in his work, and going down to his dark dreadful habitation? Can you see this -and not mourn over them, and pray for them? Ah, mourn and pray for these immortal souls! Where, where is your pity ? Where is your zeal, if you do not mourn, and pray, and labour for them ? Methinks we should pray down heaven upon their heads, to consider what a condition they are in, how fast Satan holds them in his chain! You know how often, how earnestly, I have pleaded with them. And do not you still fear, as I do, that they will not now be prevailed upon ? O, if you have any love for Christ or them, if you would wish to see them with you in the bosom of Abraham, in the arms of Jesus, pity them and pray for them ! Ah, you know their time is short! How suddenly will they be where I tremble to think of their dwelling for ever, unless something be now done for them! Now, now, pity and pray for them! Sirs, you will not, you cannot surely stand still in such a cause! O, that I had the tongue of a Paul to provoke you! O, that I had but a little of his zeal for Jesus! Why, sirs, it is the cause of Jesus. It is the cause of Jesus against Satan. Why are we not more ready to spend and be spent for Jesus ? To you, and, alas ! to me among the rest, he has intrusted his cause, his interest, his honour in this place. It is by you the kingdom of Satan must be confronted and confounded in this place. What then are we doing ? Shall we still continue so little to bestir ourselves ? Up, my friends! Satan is a vanquished enemy! Jesus thrust him headlong from heaven. 0, watch, pray, live, die, for the confusion of the kingdom of the devil, and for the advancement of the kingdom of the Lord Jesus !
ActS xvi. 30.
What must I do to be saved ?
The intimate connexion there is between the three things we are called upon as Christians to renounce should be carefully attended to, that we may preserve upon our minds the clearest conviction of the necessity lying upon us to renounce them all. The devil reigns by means of our corrupt affections; and the power and prevalence of these is maintained by being fixed upon the world and engaging us in the pursuit of the things of it. As long as the world is allowed to have the ascendancy, the corrupt principle does in that very ascendancy hold the direction of us, and we remain the subjects of Satan. Wherefore the actual renunciation of one of these is in fact the renouncing them all. When the devil is dethroned, the flesh does not rule, and the world has lost its influence. When the affections are withdrawn from the world, the flesh is in a state of subjection, and the devil cast out. When the flesh is mortified, the world is rejected, and the devil has lost his power. You see, turn it which way you will, it is but saying over again the very same thing; and, therefore, that the renunciation of any one of these three things is impossible while either of the other are submitted to. If
have not renounced the dominion of the devil, you are actually serving the world and the flesh; if you are a friend of the world, the devil and the flesh are your masters; and to yield to the flesh is inevitably connected with living after the course of the world, and serving the devil.
I am now to speak of renouncing “ the pomps and vanities of this wicked world.” Concerning which my method shall be, as before, first, to explain the matter, and, secondly, to improve it.