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that they know not the dangers they are exposed to by having the desires of their hearts granted. And lastly, if people make an ill use of God's favours, then they are no longer favours, but snares and temptations, and to be dreaded, rather than enjoyed.
And the conclusion will be, that no man ever was or ever will be happy, who goes out of the way of his duty to increase his substance; or who will not be persuaded, that God's providence is our best inheritance.
Grant, O God! that we may so pass the waves of this troublesome world, that we may at last come to the land of everlasting life, through Jesus Christ our Lord.
To whom, with the Father and the Holy Spirit, be all honour, adoration, and praise, world without end. Amen.
THE PERPLEXITY AND DANGER OF THE
JAMES i. 8.
A DOUBLE-MINDED MAN IS UNSTABLE IN ALL
Double-minded man; that is, a man who has two minds or wills, one for God, and another for the world; a mind or desire to go to heaven, and yet a great desire for every satisfaction this life can afford; such a man is unstable-[that is, doubtful, perplexed, unsettled] in all his ways, or all his life long.
Now, does any body doubt that this is not the character of most men; and, perhaps, of very many who are looked upon to be very good Christians, and in the sure way to heaven?
I appeal to the consciences of all that hear me, if this has not been their case, if it be not so now? Whether their hearts are not frequently divided betwixt the love of virtue and the pleasures of sense? Whether they are not one while under the power of religion, and another under the dominion of sin? He must know very little of himself and of religion, who is not sensible of this struggle; and he must still have a less value for his own happiness, who does not desire, at least, to bring his mind to a greater certainty, and to resolve, one way or other, either that the care of his soul ought to be his great concern, or that he may follow
* See Matth. vi. 24. James iv. 4. Heb. x. 23 1 John fi. 24.
the desires of his heart, and the ways of the world, without any great hazard.
A very little consideration, one would think, might convince any man, that if religion (as we all seem to believe) be necessary to obtain the favour of God, and to escape that punishment which our sins have deserved, why then so much must be necessary as may enable us to obtain those ends. And yet, as easy as it is to see this, people will not be persuaded, but that a great deal less religion and concern for their souls will serve their turn, than God hath expressly required; and are but too apt (with those mentioned in the book of Deuteronomy, chap. xxix. 19,) to bless themselves in their hearts, saying, We shall have peace; though we walk in the imaginations of our hearts. Notwithstanding the dreadful curse there pronounced against all that shall thus flatter themselves.
I know not, therefore, whether one can do a. greater service to the souls of men, than to endeavour to set this matter in a true light. That such as have any true concern for themselves, may be convinced how very dangerous it is, as well as perplexing, to have two minds or hearts, one for God and another for the world: since the man, whose character this is, is as sure to be undone, as if he had no religion at all.
To be more effectually convinced of this, let us first consider, that God, being the author of all good to us, expressly requires this of us, that we should love him with all our heart and soul; that this love should prevail over all other passions, and should direct us in all our ways.
And if the love of God rule in our hearts, these will certainly be the effects: we shall desire to know the will of God, that we may obey him more faithfully; we shall fear nothing so much as to displease him; we shall check our hearts when they run out upon things that cannot profit us. In one word; we shall keep our minds intent upon the place and happiness we were made for, that we may not wander out of our way upon every temptation we meet with.
Now, this is that single eye, that singleness of heart, so much recommended by the Spirit of God; by which we are able to make a right judgment of things; by which we are able to see, that the happiness of heaven ought to be our chief aim; that we cannot serve and please God as we ought to do, if our hearts are too much set upon the things of this present world; that if we are distracted betwixt self-love and the love of God, we shall be miserable both here and hereafter;-and that, how far soever we come short of this singleness of mind, so far we shall come short of that peace and happiness we strive for.
For this is God's gracious design in disappointing us so constantly, whenever we look for happiness any where but in him, and in the knowledge of his ways; that finding nothing but uneasiness in every thing else, we may at last think fit to seek for peace where it may be found, namely, in the way of God's commandments. And having once surrendered our hearts and affections, and all that belongs to us, into the hands of God, we shall then find by experience,