Tempt, vi. ‘ The next great work of the tempter is, to give us the fairest opportunities to sin, and to remove all impediments, and shew men encouraging hopes and invitations. He will shew the thief which way he may steal; and shew the covetous man which way he may thrive, and deceive, and over-reach ; and the ambitious man which way he may rise ; and the fornicator how he may obtain his desire, and sin unknown: and then he tells them how easy it is; now no one seeth you; you may do it without fear or shame. It is the devil’s great care to take all things out of the way that would affright, or hinder sinners ; that they may have
» Prov. v. 8. iv. 5. ii. 18, 19. vii. «7. ix- 16. 18. vi. 85. «7, ?8
fall opportunity to invite them. Therefore he is very desirous that public impediments should be all removed; especially in a godly magistrate and minister, and that the common disgrace of sinning may be taken off, and, if it may be, turned against religion; Or Fall on them that are the greatest adversaries to sin.’
Direct, vi. It is therefore a principal part of your Wisdom and Watchfulness, to avoid the opportunities of sinning, and keep out as many impediments as may be in your own way. It is a most foolish and sinful thing in soffte men, who think it a brave thing to have power to do hurt, though they pretend they abhor the doing of it: he that Saith he hateth oppression, yet would have a power to depress ; to have all men at His will and mercy he thinks is brave: so they that would not be gluttonous would have a tempting table still before them, presuming that their own will is a sufficient preservative against the sin : so they that would not be ensnared with lust, have yet a desire to appear as comely, and lovely, and desirable as may be, and to be as much beloved; that they may have other affections at command ; and also to have opportunity offered them, that they may sin if they will. And is thy will so well established, mortified and unchangeable; as tb be so far trusted ? O foolish sinner that no better knowest thyself, nor observest thy danger ? Nor perceivest that this Very desire to have the power to do evil sheweth a degree of the evil m thy heart, and that thou art not yet So far from it as thou must be, if thou Wouldst be safe. Contrive thyself (if thou be’ wise And love thyself) into the greatest difficulty of sinning that than canst. Make it impossible, if it may be done. The power is for the act. Desire not to be able to din, if thou “wouldst not sin ; not that natural power to do good should be destroyed because it is also a power to do evil, but cast as many blocks in the way of thy sinning as thou canst, till it amount to a moral impossibility. Desire the strictest laws arid governors, and to be still in the eye of others, and 6ontrive it that thou mayst have no hope of secrecy. Contrive it so that it may be utter shame and loss to thee if thou sin. If thou be tempted to fornication, never be private with her or him that is thy snare. If thou be tempted to deceive and rob those that trust thee, avoid the trust, or if ever thou have done it, restore and confess that shame may preserve thee.