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but I reserve both the one and the other to the next opportunity.
S E R M
R Μ Ο Ν
home of h caa fuo:1 men and bafo Job thin he Pal laze Co the Ch=
The siris cf men not chargeable upon God;
but upon themselves.
James i. 13. 14.
Gosi: for God cannot be tumftest with evil, reither
The second fermon on this text..
be to re te ir ki ei t
Hen I made entrance upon these words, I told
you, that next to the belief of a God and a providence, nothing is more fundamentally necessary to the practice of a good life, than the belief of thelé two principles, That God is not the author of the fins of nien; and, That every man's fault lies at his own door. And both these principles St James does clear ly and fully assert in these words :
1. God tempts no man to fin.
The first of these I have largely spoken to in my former discourse; and from what I then said, I shall only draw a few useful inferences, before I proceed to the secord, viz. thele which follow.
1. Let us beware of all such doctrines, as do any ways tend to make God the author of fin; either by laying a neceflity upon men of finning, or by laying secret designs to tempt and seduce men to lin. Nothing can be farther from the nature of God, than to do any such thing, and nothing can be more dif
honourable to hiin, than to imagine any such thing of himn. He is of purur eyes than to bikill evil; and can we think, that he who cann.t endure to see it, should have any hand in it? We find that the holy men in fcripture are very careful to remove all thoughts and fufpicion of this from Gui. Elihu, Job xxxvi. 3. before he would argue abat God's providence with Job, he resolves, in the first place, to attribute ngthing to God that is unworthy of him. I will (fay's he) afcribe rightesusness 19 29y maker. So likewile Śt Paul, Rom. vii. 7. What shall we fry then? Is the law fin? God forbid. Is the lawu fin? that is, haath God given men a law to this end, that he might draw them into fin? far be it from hin. Gal. ii. 17. Is Christ the minister of fin? God forbid.
You see then how tender good men have always been of afcribing any thing to God, that might fesin to render him the author of sin. So that we have reason to take heed of all doctrines that are of this tendency; such as are the doctrines of an absolute and irrespective decree to damn the greatest part of mankind; and in order to that, and as a means to it, efficaciously to permit them to fin.
For if these things be true, that God hath absolutely decreed to damn the greatest part of men, and to make good this decree, he permits them to fin, not by a bare permission of leaving them to themselves, but by such a permission as thall be efficacious; that is, he will so permit them to sin as they cannot avoid it: then those who are under this decree of God, are under a neceflity of finning; which necellity, since it does not proceed from themselves, but from the decree of God, does by consequence make God the author of fin. And then that other doctrine, which is fubfervient to this, That God does by a physical and natural influence upon the minds and wills of men, determine them to every action that they do, to bad actions as well as good, I know they who say so, tell us that God only determines men to the action, but not to the evil of it. For instance, when Cain killed his brother, God determined him (they say)
hid ter he mi: an fai yea tee w! ing
to the natural action of taking away a man's life, which in many cafes may be done without fin. Very true : but if in these circumstances the natural action could not be done without committing the sin, he that determined him to the natural action, deterinined him likewise to the sin.
I am far from any thought that those that maintain these doctrines, had any intention to make God the author of fin: but if this be the neceffary consequence of these doctrines, there is reason enough to reject them, how innocent foever the intention be of those who maintain them.
2. Let us not tempt any man to sin. All piety pretends to be an imitation of God, therefore let us endeavour to be like him in this. It is true indeed, we may be tempted with evil, and therefore we are likely enough to tempt others; but we ought not to do so. It is contrary to holiness and goodness, to the temper and disposition of the most perfect being in the world. God tempts no man; nay, it is the proper work and employment of the devil; it is his very trade and profeffion; he goes about seeking whom he may betray into sin and destruction, To this end he walks up and down the earth, waiting all opportunities and advantages upon men, to draw thein into fin; so that we are his factors and instruments, whenever we tempt men to fin.
Let those consider this, who are so active and busy to seduce men into any kind of wickedness, and to instruct them in the arts of iniquity, who tempt men into bad company and courses, and take pleasure in debauching a virtuous person, and make it matter of great triumph to make a sober man drunk, as if it were fo glorious an action to ruin a foul, and destroy that which is more worth than the whole world. Whenever you go about this work, remember whose instruments you are, and whose work you do, and what kind of work it is. Tempting others to sin is in scripture called murder, for which reason t'e devil is said to be a murderer from the beginning, because he was a tempter: Whosoever committeth fin, is of the
devil : but whosoever tempts others to fin, is a fort of devil himself.
3. Since God tempts no man, let us not tempt him. There is frequent mention in fcriptare of mens tempting God, i.e. trying him as it were whether he will do any thing for their fakes that is misbecoming his goodness, and wisdom, and faithfulness, or any other of his perfections. Thus the Israelites are faid to have tempted God in the wilderness forty years together, and in that fpace more remarkably ten times. The meaning of which expreffions is, that when God had promised Abraham to bring his feed into the land of Canaan, that people by their great and repeated provocations of God, did often provoke him to have destroyed them, and consequently to have failed of the promise which he made to the fathers. The devil likewise tempted our Saviour to tempt God, by casting himself down from the pinnacle of the temple, in confidence that the angels would take care of him: but our Saviour answers him, It is written, Thou shall not tempt the Lord thy God. From which intance it appears, that men are said to tempt God, whenever they expect the protection of his pro. vidence in an unwarrantable way. God hath pro. mised to take care of good men, but if they neglect themselves, or willingly cast themselves into danger, and expect lis providence and protection, they do not trust God, but tempt hiin; they try whether God's providence will countenance their rashness, and provide for them when they neglect themselves, id protect them from those dangers to which they wilfully expose themselves.
So likewise if we be negligent in our callings, whereby we should provide for our families, if we lavilh away that which we should lay up for them, and then depend upon the providence of God to supply them, and take care of them, we ternpt God to that which is unworthy of him ; which is to give approbation to our folly, and to countenance our iloin and carelessness. We cannot seduce God, and draw him to do any thing that misbecomes him ; but we tempt him, in expecting the care and lection of VOL.V.
his providence, when we wilfully run ourselves into danger, and neglect the means of providing for our own safety. And thus I have done with the first great principle contained in the text, viz. That God is not The author of the fins of men. I proceed now to the
II. Second, That every man is his own greatest templer : But every man is tempted, when he is drawn away of his own luft, and enticed. God does not tempt any man to sin : but every man is then tempted, when by his own lust, his irregular inclination and defire, he is seduced to evil, and enticed ; xai deneze Sijpes:os, is caught as it were with a bait, for so the Greek word signifies.
In which words the Apostle gives us a true account çf the prevalency and efficacy of temptation upon pnen. It is not because God has any design to ensnare jnen in sin ; but their own corruption and vitious inclinations seduce them to that which is evil. To inStance in the particular temptations the Apostle was speaking of, persecution and suffering for the cause of religion, to avoid which, many did then forsake the truth, and apostatized from their Christian profeffion. The true cause of which was not the providence of God, which permitted them to be exposed to those sufferings; but their inordinate love of the good things of this life, and their unreasonable fears of the evils and sufferings of it: they valued the enjoyments of this present life more than the favour of God, and that eternal happiness which he had promised to them in another life; and they feared the perfecutions of men, more than the threatenings of God, and the dreadful punishments of another world.
They had an inordinate affection for the ease and pleasure of this life, and their unwillingness to part Frith these, was a great temptation to them to quit a heir religion; by this bait they were caught, when it came to the irial.
And thus it is proportionably in all other forts of Temptations. Men are betrayed by themselves, and the temptation without hath a party within them, with which it holds a secret correfpondence, and