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First, It is deceitful because it is weak. When we have the growth of a man, we have the weaknesses of a child. The heart of man hath not strength enough to think one good thought of itself; it cannot command its own attentions to a prayer of ten lines long, but, before the end thereof, it shall wander after something that is to no purpose. And no wonder then that it grows weary of an holy religion, which consists of so many parts as make the business of a whole life. And there is no greater argument in the world of our fpiritual weakness, and of the falleness of our hearts in the matters of religion, than the backwardness which most men have always, and all men have sometimes, to their prayers; so weary of their length, so glad when they are done, so inventive to excuse and frustrate an opportunity. And yet there is no manner of trouble in the duty, no weariness of bones, no violent labours ; nothing but begging a blessing, and receiving it; nothing but doing ourselves the greatest honour, of speaking to the great- est person, and greatest king of the world. B4.
And that we should be unwilling to do this, so unable to continue in it, so backward to return to it, fo without taste and relish in the doing it, can have no visible reason in the nature of the thing, but something within us, a strange sickness in the heart, a spiritual loathing, something that hath no name; but we are sure it comes from a weak, a faint, and a false heart.
And yet this weak heart is strong in palfions, violent in desires, irresistible in its appetites, and furious in its anger : here are strengths enough, one should think. But these are the strengths of a man in a fever ; notwithstanding which, we still sav. he is weak and fick unto death. This is not the strength of health, but of furiousness and disease. It is weakness in another kind. And so are the strengths of a man's heart. They are fetters and chains; strong, but they are the cordage of imprisonment; so strong, that the heart is not able to stir. And yet it cannot but be a mighty sadness, that the heart shall pursue a temporal interest with wit and diligence, and an unwearied industry; and shall not have strength, in a matter that concerns its
eternal interest, to answer one objection, to resist one assault, to defeat one art of the devil; but shall certainly and infallibly fall, whenever it is tempted to a pleasure.
This, if it be examined, will prove, to be a deceit indeed, a pretence, rather than true upon a just cause ; 'that is, it is not a natural, but a moral and a vicious weak. ness. And we may try it in one or two familiar instances. One of the great strengths, or rather weaknesses, of the heart is, that it is strong, violent, and active in a wrong caule. Take an extortioner, an oppreffor, a rebel, a traitor, any person that hath an ill cause to manage ; what he wants in the strength of his reason, he shall make it up with diligence, But a person that hath right on his side, is cold, indiligent, lazy, and unactive, trusting that the goodness of his cause will do it alone. But so, wrong prevails; while evil persons are zealous in a bad matter, and others are remiss in a good; and the same person shall be very industrious always, when he hath least reason so to be.
The heart, in like manner, is weak, in making judgement concerning its own acts, It doth not know when it is pleased or dif
pleased; it is peevish and trifling; it would and it would not; and it is in many cases impossible to know whether a man's heart desires such a thing or not.
Even in the matter of repentance: Suppose a man, that hath spent his younger years in vanity and folly, is by the grace of God apprehensive of it, and thinks of returning to sober counsels; this man will find his heart so false, so subtil and fugitive, so secret and undiscernable, that it will be hard to determine whether he repents or no. For if he considers that he hates fin, and therefore repents; alas, he fo hates it, that he dares not, if he be wise, tempt himself with an opportunity to act it. For in the midst of that which he calls hatred, he hath so much love left for it, that if the sin comes again, and speaks him fair, he is lost again, and falls into its embraces. And why else should it be necessary for us to pray that we be not led. • into temptation, but because we hate the fin, and yet love it too well; we disapprove of it, and yet follow it; we are angry at ourselves, and yet cannot be without it; we know it undoes us, but we think it pleasant. And when we are to execute
the fierce anger of the Lord upon our fins, yet we are kind-hearted, and spare the favourite fin, and have itill fonie kindnesses left towards it.
There have been persons in several ages of the church, who have thought themselves in so good an estate, that they made no question of their falvation ; being confident, only because they were confident; and yet they were, at the same time, extremely timorous and fearful. How many persons are there in the world, that fay they are sure of their salvation, and yet they dare not die? And if any man pretends that he is now sure he shall be saved, and that he cannot fall away from grace; there is no better way to confute him, than by advising him to get out of the world as fast as he can. For what should hinder him? not the fin'; for it cannot take him from God's favour : not the change of his condition; for he says he is sure to go to a better. Why does he not then resolve to die? The reason is plainly this, They say they are confident, and yet are extremely timorous; they profess to believe that doctrine, and yet dare not trust it; nay, they think they believe, but they do not. So