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We are certain that neither Satan nor all his Angela have power, either to force any one of us into sin, or to hinder us repenting, or indeed of doing any one of us the least hurt.
Are they ever permitted to do us the least injury?
Only on such extraordinary occasions as are mentioned in Scripture. They are also allowed to entice us to sin, as we often entice one another.
Are we able to withstand these enticements?
They may be withstood by us just as effectually, and by the same methods, as those of evil men: "Resist the Devil ond he will flee from thee: draw nigh to God, and he will draw nigh to you."
Though we have it in our power effectually to resist, is not our danger nevertheless great ?
It is; as we have not only flesh and blood, our own bad inclinations, and the allurements of other bad persons to encounter, but the efforts of an invisible enemy likewise?
What was it, therefore, a great mercy in God to do? It was a great mercy to grant us the knowledge of this interesting, and otherwise undiscoverable circumstance of our condition, that we may increase our watchfulness in proportion.
But though the Devil has no power of his own over
We may give him as much as we will, and become slaves and vassals to him as long as we please.
sense his empire is very large.
On this account what do the Scriptures call him? "The Prince of the power of darkness," and even "the God of this world."
Of what was he, and indeed still is, in great propriety of speech, the God?
Of many heathen nations; who, instead of the righteous and good Maker of heaven and earth, worship deities of such vile and mischievous characters, as we justly ascribe to the evil one.
What approaches very near to this crime, even where faith in the true Deity is professed?
The pretended arts of magic, witchcraft, conjuring, fortune-telling, and such like wicked follies. For if any of the wretches, guilty of these things, either have, or imagine they have, any communication with the Devil, they plainly rebel against God, and endeavour at least to confederate with his enemy.
Is there any thing wrong in people merely pretending to have intercourse with him?
Certainly there is; as this pretence is very inconsistent with renouncing him. And even when they do not so much as pretend it, and would make us believe, that they have such extraordinary skill and power, derived from more innocent sources, though they profess no respect for his person, they imitate him in one of his worst qualities, as he is the father of lies.
What injury do lies of this kind do?
They corrupt the notions of religion; give persons unworthy opinions of God, and lead them to imagine, that other beings, as the Stars, or even mere names, as Chance, and Fate, share with him in the government of the world. What other sins are mentioned in Scripture as peculiarly the work of the Devil?
Pride, envy, malice, false accusations, &c.
What ought we therefore to ask ourselves?
Whether we renounce thein all in fact, for mere words are nothing; whether we carefully avoid them; or, whether we live in any of them, and love them: that is, whether we are the children of God, or of Satan. What is the second thing we renounce in our baptism?
pomps and vanities of this wicked world.
Do you understand by renouncing the world, that we are to give up all its pleasures?
No; the world which God created, was good; and so far as it continues good we renounce it not. Therefore, the innocent gratifications which he hath provided for us in it, we ought not to condemn, but to partake of them with moderation and thankfulness.
What ought to be maintained with prudent humility? The difference of ranks and stations, which is requisite for the due order of society.
What is every individual, as a member of this society, bound to do?
He is bound to take his proper part as providence directs him, in the various employments which furnish to himself and his fellow creatures not only the necessaries, but conveniences of life.
If you see that by care and industry you may raise yourself higher in society, is it allowable for you to do so?
Certainly, if it be done by lawful methods; and indeed may in fact be considered as the promised blessing of God upon industry.
If we meet with trials in our way, are we to fly from them?
As they are of God's choosing we have no right to fly from them, but trust in him for ability to go through them well; they who resolve to retire out of the reach of all such temptations, seldom fail to run into more. dangerous ones of their own creating. But though we
ought not to shun what our Maker hath appointed us to engage in we must remember we ought to engage in it only in such manner as he hath appointed, and to recollect continually, "that we are of God, and the whole world lieth in wickedness.
What was peculiarly meant by this renunciation at first? The idolatrous pomps, or public spectacles; and the immoral vanities of the heathen world.
Is the world then which calls itself christian, exempt from all things from which a true Christian must abstain? Most assuredly not; it is full of them.
All methods of being powerful or popular, inconsistent with our integrity; all arts of being agreeable at the expence or hazard of our innocence; all ways of encroaching on the property of others, and all immoderate desires of adding to our own: all diversions, entertainments, and acquaintances, that have a tendency to hurt our morals or our piety; making common practice the rule of our conduct, without considering whether it be right or wrong; filling our time in such a manner, either with business or amusements (be they ever so innocent in themselves) as not to leave room for the main business of life, the improvement of our hearts in virtue, the serious exercise of religion, and a principal attention to the great concerns of Eternity. These are
the Things in which consist that "friendship with the world, which is enmity with God."
Which then do you renounce, and which then do you choose, the World, or the Maker it?
God grant, that all who have taken the vow may say with sincerity in the words of the Psalmist, "I cried unto thee, O Lord, and said, Thou art my Hope, and my Portion, in the land of the living.
What more do we renounce at our baptism?
All the sinful lusts of the flesh.
What are meant by the sinful lusts of the flesh? Every unreasonable and forbidden gratification of any appetite.
What kind of inclinations may be innocently gratified?
Every inclination that is truly primitive in our nature, provided it be in a lawful manner, and in due subordination to the higher principles within us: but, when these bounds are trangressed, there begins sin.
Mention some of the sins we promised to renounce when we were baptized.
Every indulgence in eating or drinking, which obscures the reason, inflames the passions, hurts the health, impairs the fortuue, or wastes the time; all sloth, indolence, and luxurious delicacy; all wantonness, impurity, and indecency.
Can you mention any thing more that may be considered as included in the expression, lusts of the flesh? Yes; every other sin that hath its rise within the heart for in the language of religion, as the spirit signifies the inward principle of good, so doth the flesh that of all evil. Therefore, vanity and self-conceit,