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every duty an abomination unto him. A sacrifice without a heart, without salt, without fire, of what value is it? No more are duties without spiritual affections. And herein is the mind to keep the charge of God; to see that the heart which he requires be tendered to him. And we find also that God requireth especial affections to accompany special duties. “He that giveth with cheerfulness;' which if they are not attended unto, the whole is lost.
[4.] The mind is to attend unto the ends of duties; and therein principally the glory of God in Christ. Several other ends will sin and self impose upon dar duties : especially two it will press hard upon us with: first, satisfaction of our convictions and consciences ; secondly, the praise of men. For self-righteousness and ostentation, are the main ends of men that are fallen off from God in all moral duties whatsoever. In their sins they endeavour for to satisfy their lusts; in their duties, their conviction and pride. These the mind of a believer is diligently to watch against, and to keep up in all a single eye to the glory of God, as that which answers the great and general rule of all our obedience; "Whatever you do, do it all to the glory of God.' These and the like things, I say, which are commonly spoken unto, is the mind of a believer obliged to attend diligently and constantly unto, with respect unto all the particular duties of our walking before God. Here then lies no small part of the deceit of sin; namely, to draw the mind off from this watch, to bring an inadvertency upon it, that it shall not in these things keep the watch and charge of the Lord. And if it can do so, and thereby strip our duties of all their excellencies which lie in these concernments of them, that the mind is to attend unto, it will not much trouble itself nor us about the duties themselves. And this it attempts several ways. 1st. By persuading the mind to content itself with
generals, and to take it off from attending unto things in particular instances. For example; it would persuade the soul to rest satisfied in a general aim of doing things to the glory of God, without considering how every particular duty may have that tendency. Thus Saul thought that he had fulfilled his own duty, and done the will of God, and sought his glory in his war against Amalek, when for want of attendance to every particular duty in that service, he had dishonoured God, and ruined himself and his posterity. And men may persuade themselves, that they have a general design for the glory of God, when they have no active principle in particular duties tending at all that way. But if, instead of fixing the mind by faith on the peculiar advancing the glory of God in a duty, the soul content itself with a general notion of doing so, the mind is already diverted and drawn off from its charge by the deceitfulness of sin. If a man be travelling in a journey, it is not only required of him, that he bend his course that way, and so go on; but if he attend not unto every turning, and other occurrences in his
wander and never come to his journey's end. And if we suppose that in general we aim at the glory of God, as we all profess to do, yet if we attend not unto it distinctly upon every duty that occurs in our way, we shall never attain the end aimed at. And he who satisfies himself with this general purpose, without acting it in every special duty, will not long retain that purpose neither. It doth the same work upon the mind in reference unto the principle of our duties, as it doth unto the end. Their principle is, that they be done in faith, in the strength of Christ; but if men content themselves that they are believers, that they have faith, and do not labour in every particular duty to act faith, to lead their spiritual lives in all the acts of them by the faith of the Son of God, the mind is drawn off from its duty. It is particular actions wherein we express and exercise our faith and obedience ; and what we are in them, that we are, and no more.
2dly. It draws off the mind from the duties beforementioned, by insinuating a secret contentment unto it from the duty itself performed, as to the matter of it. This is a fair discharge of a natural conscience. If the duty be performed, though as to the manner of its performance it come short almost in all things of the rule, conscience and conviction will be satisfied. As Saul, upon his expedition against Amalek, cries to Samuel, 'Come in, thou blessed of the Lord, I have done the commandment of the Lord. He satisfied himself, though he had not attended as he ought to the whole will of God in that matter. And thus was it with them, Isa. lviii. 3. Wherefore have we fasted, say
they, and thou regardest it not?' they had pleased themselves in the performance of their duties, and expected that God also should be pleased with them. But he shews them at large wherein they had failed, and that so far as to render what they had done an abomination. And the like charge he expresseth against them, chap. xlviii. 1,2. This the deceitfulness of sin endeavours to draw the mind unto, namely, to take up in the performance of the duty itself. Pray thou oughtest, and thou hast prayed; give alms thou oughtest, and thou hast given alms ; quiet then thyself in what thou hast done, and go on to do the like. If it prevail herein, the mind is discharged from farther attendance and watching unto duty, which leaves the soul on the borders of many evils. Por,
3dly. Hence customariness in all duties will quickly ensue, which is the height of sins drawing off the mind from duty. For men's minds may be drawn from all duties, in the midst of the most abundant performance of them. For in and under them, the mind may be subject unto an habitual diversion from its charge and watch unto the rule. What is done with such a frame, is not done to God, Amos v. 25. None of their sacrifices were to God, although they professed that they were all so. But they attended not unto his worship in faith, and unto his glory, and he despised all their duties. See also Hos. x. 1. And this is the great reason why professors thrive so little under the performance of a multitude of duties. They attend not unto them in a due manner, their minds being drawn off from their circumspect watch, and so they have little or no communion with God in them, which is the end whereunto they are designed, and by which alone they become useful and profitable unto themselves. And in this manner are many duties of worship and obedience performed by a woful generation of hypocrites, formalists, and profane persons, without either life or light in themselves, or acceptation with God; their minds being wholly estranged from a due attendance unto what they do, by the power and deceitfulness of sin. 2. As it is in respect of duties, so also it is in re
There are sundry things in and about every sin that the mind of a believer, by virtue of its office and duty, is obliged to attend diligently unto, for the pre
spect of sins.
servation of the soul from it. Things they are which God hath appointed and sanctified, to give effectual rebukes and checks to the whole working of the law of sin, and such as in the law of grace, under which we are, are exceedingly suited and fitted unto that purpose. And these the deceit of sin endeavours by all means to draw off the mind from a due consideration of, and attendance unto. Some few of them we shall a little reflect upon.
(1.) The first and most general is the sovereignty of God, the great lawgiver, by whom it is forbidden. This Joseph fixed on in his great temptation, Gen. xxxix. 9.
How can I do this great wickedness and sin against God? There was in it a great evil, a great ingratitude against man, which' he pleads also and insists upon, ver. 8, 9. but that which fixed his heart and resolution against it, was the formality of it, that it was sin against God, by whom it was severely forbidden. So the apostle informs us, that in our dealing in any thing that is against the law, our respect is still to be unto the lawgiver and his sovereignty : James iv. 11, 12. 'If thou judge the law, thou art not a doer of the law, but a judge; there is one lawgiver who is able to save and to destroy.' Consider this always, there is one lawgiver, holy, righteous, armed with sovereign power and authority; he is able to save and destroy. Hence sin is called a rebellion, a casting off his yoke, a despising of him, and that in his sovereignty, as the great lawgiver; and this, ought the mind always practically to attend unto, in all the lustings,'actings, and suggestions of the law of sin, especially when advantaged by any suitable or vigorous temptation. It is God that hath forbidden this thing, the great lawgiver, under whose absolute sovereignty I am, in dependance on whom 1 live, and by whom I am to be disposed of, as to my present and eternal condition. This Eve fixed on at the beginning of her temptation; 'God hath said, we must not eat of this tree, Gen. iii. 3. but she kept not her ground, she abode not by that consideration, but sufféred her mind to be diverted from it by the subtlety of Satan, which was the entrance of her transgression; and so it is unto us all in our deviations from obedience.
(2.) The deceit of sin, of every sin, the punishment appointed unto it in the law, is another thing that the mind ought actually to attend unto, in reference unto every particular evil. And the diversions from this, that the minds of men have been doctrinally and practically attended withal, have been an inlet into all manner of abominations. Job professeth another frame in himself, chap. xxxi. 23. • Destruction from God was a terror to me, and by reason of his highness I could not endure.' Many evils he had mentioned in the foregoing verses, and pleads his innocency from them, although they were such as upon the account of his greatness and power, he could have committed easily without fear of danger from men. Here he gives the reason that prevailed with him so carefully to abstain from them, “Destruction from God was a terror to me, and by reason of his highness I could not endure.' considered, saith he, that God had appointed death and destruction for the punishment of sin, and that such was his greatness, highness, and power, that he could inflict it unto the uttermost, in such a way as no creature is able to abide or to avoid. So the apostle directs believers always to consider what a 'fearful thing it is to fall into the hands of the living God' Heb. x. 31. and that because he hath said, “Vengeance is mine, I will recompense;' ver. 30. He is a sin-avenging God, that will by no means acquit the guilty; as in the declaration of his gracious name, infinitely full of encouragements to poor sinners in Christ, he adds that in the close, that he will by no means clear the guilty;' Exod. xxxiv. 7. That he may keep upon the minds of them whom he pardoneth, a due sense of the punishment that is due from his vindictive justice unto every sin. And so the apostle would have us mind, that even our God is a consuming fire,' Heb. xii. 29, that is, that we should consider his holiness and vindictive justice, appointing unto sin a meet recompense of reward. And men's breaking through this consideration, he reckons as the height of the aggravation of their sins, Rom. i. 32. They knew that it is the judgment of God, that they which commit such things were worthy of death, yet continued to do them.' What hope is there for such persons ? There is indeed relief against this consideration for humbled believing souls in the blood of Christ; but this relief is not to take off the mind from it, as it is appointed of God to be a restraint