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then God deserts them; they treacherously serM. destroy reason and conscience, the two guards which he has given them to protect them from evil, and then he interferes not to prevent the devil from entering into them; that evil spirit then takes possession, but not before the habitation is swept and garnished for his reception.
We ourselves are our greatest enemies; no such formidable perils await us from any other quarter ; God is our friend, and is earnestly desirous of our happiness; nor can the devil approach us without our having first laid ourselves open, and encouraged, in a manner, his attacks.
Let us then fear no dangers from God, but expect all assistance, if we do but endeavour to deserve it; neither let us be depressed by any apprehensions of the devil, for, unless by our own voluntary weakness, he will not be suffered to do us any injury. Let us place our chief guard on ourselves ;
SERM. let us exert our utmost vigilance against XV.
our own evil passions; it is these, which being pampered by indulgence, and suffered to gain dominion over us by habit, can alone destroy us.
It is in vain that we impute our guilt either to the general depravity of human nature, or to our own particular situation; such excuses will not be suffered to avail us. With respect to the first indeed, al. lowance will probably be made for it, but then it will be on the supposition that we have used every effort to subdue it; and we must remember likewise, what aid we have been promised from heaven to assist us; if we do not succeed, at least in a degree, we may be sure that we have not done all that was in our power.
With regard to any particular situation, and the fancied difficulties, with which our virtue may have to contend, let us recollect that the whole of human life is a state
of probation ; that no temptations have be- SERM.
XV. fallen us but such as are common to man; w that those trials which we meet with, are such as are allotted us by our Creator, and that it is in combating and subduing these that our spiritual warfare consists. We are not to say, if we had been born rich or powerful, if such or such misfortunes had not befallen us, if we had not been entangled in such or such unfavourable circumstances, we should, in that case, have retained our integrity; no—we are to do our duty in that state, in which it has pleased God to place us, assured that thus alone we can work out our salvation,
BINS OF MEN ARISING FROM A WANT OF
THE FEAR OF GOD,
Prov. xvi. LATTER PART OF V. 6. By the fear of the Lord men depart from
The wickedness, which is so prevalent SERM. amongst the human race, owes its existence to various causes; there are, however, two which have a more general and extensive influence than the rest; one of them, more particularly, in a greater or less degree, enters into the production of every 9.4