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6. Evil warrants itself sometimes by the difference of time and place, sometimes by measure and degree, fometimes by made and manner. Forasmuch
not be done at another; distinguish but of times, (they will fay) and then they think they shall be able to justify themselves. And then by measure and degree although it be one of the most difficult things in the world to afsign mode and measure, yet man will say it may be done in another place, though not in this; and in this manner, though not in that, or after any fashion, and to fuch a measure and degree. The suggard was for a little fleep, a little Number, &c. till evil had taken hold of him, and got an advantage upon him.
In many cases it is very hard to fix the utmost bounds of good and evil, because these part as day and night which are separated by twilight ; so that there is as dim day-light between both. It is a very nice point for a man to know how far he may go, and farther he may not.
7. Evil pleads fometimes the necessity of the case, and that it is unavoidable. The law of the time, the necessity of the case, this answers all objections to the contrary. Though I must tell you, there is no neeefsity at all to do that which is evil : for the worst that the world can do unto us, is not so bad, as to do evil. And we must rather expose to hazard the loss of our lives, and all we have, than give God an offence. For it is better to die in reconciliation to God, than to live ten thousand years in all the pleasures and jollity of this world. This we find was Herod's justification of himself, when he did
contrary to the
sense of his own mind. Hercut off John Baptist's head because of his oath, and be. cause of those that were with him at that time: But take this for a notion, necessity may put us upon inconveniencies, but necessity must never put us upon iniquity or make us consent to evil. There is no necessity of fin : for altho' we live no longer here, we shall live in a better state. We must not fave our lives, and destroy the cause of life. To live is to be in good temper of mind and regular in our actions and practice.
8. When evil hath once entangled us; there is another evil (and it may be a greater) thought neceffary to hide, or ext onuate it. For evil if it be lookt into, will be ashamed of itself. Upon this account it is that men are alhamed to own it, and sometimes with a lie deny it. When Gain had murdered his brother, to the very face of God himself, he tells a lie. So Annanias and Sapphira, when they had fold the poffeffion, and pretended that they brought all and laid it down at the apostle's feet, when as it was but a part. It had been an act of christian charity, to have brought any part, fo they had been sincere and hearty in it: but they are said to lie to the Holy Ghoft. Seldom one evil goes alone. Gehazi did. the first evil action in going after Naaman the Syrian and asking him for gold and change of raiment, without his master's commission : but then this puts him upon another lie to justify it, and then more followed, as you may see in the story.
9. Evil justifies itself by prescription and general practice ; so it was formerly, and so it is still. And this is taken for a justification. This was the practice of those Israelites that were not carried away captive, who dissembled with the prophet and with God himself ; who, tho’ they enquired what they should do, yet were resolved to do as their fathers did before them ; because then, they said, it was well with them, when they offered incense to the queen of heaven, and therefore they would do so aagain. Things that are in use and custom, men think they may do ; and what have been done before them. What, will they fay, shall I be wiser than my forefathers ? This is the answer of many Papists among us, who will hear nothing that is faid to them, because they will not damn those that went before them, nor pretend to be wiser than their ancestors ; others say, what ! shall we call into queftion common practice ? do not those that are wiser and more learned than I, do the same things ? nay, do not men of place and power do the same things? This is just like Ahab to Micaiah, 1 Kings xxii. Do not all the prophets speak fo and so ? let thy word be like unto theirs. Not a word of what God should say unto him, or what was true and right ; but let thy word be like unto the rest of the prophets. So it is with many men, they follow other mens practice, without considering what is right and fit to be done.
10. I shall observe in the last place, that which is most dangerous of all others, and that is this; when the first motion towards repentance and conversion
as lookt upon as if it were the sovereign remedy of repentance itself. As if forrow for fin, were the whole product of repentance, whereas indeed, that which is true repentance, must be accompanied with the forsaking of fin and bringing forth the fruits ofrighteousness. By which St. John means the reformation and amendment of our lives.
And that I may the better satisfy you in this, I „desire you to consider, that the first motions of repentance have been, where nothing that was good followed upon it. We read that Judas was sorry for his fin, in betraying our Saviour ; but what followed upon it? nothing but desperation and self-murder. Cain was fensible of the murder of his brother, and affected with the consequence that he thought would follow upon it ; for, faith he, every one that meets me will kill me : though this fear seemed very unreasonable at that time. We read in the 2 Pet. ii. 18. of some that were clean escapa ed from the pollutions of the world, that were again entangled, whofe last end was worse than their beginning. And that it is better not to have known the way of righteousness, than afterward to depart from the holy commandment. My caution therefore is, that if you look towards God, and your minds serve you to make any application to him ; that you pursue that good motion till you bring it into a settled state ; for otherwise the first motion towards repentance may prove an aggravation of . your sin, and heavier condemnation,
Thus I have given you ten instances of the deceitfulness of sin, And, as I told you at first, it will
trouble us less to be over-born and forced, than to be cheated. For the former we may not be able to help ; but we cannot be deceived, if we be but as wise as we should, and ought to be.
That one man is stronger and richer than another may not be in our power to help ; but if a man be not as wise and virtuous as another, it may be much his own fault. For this depends upon his own due care, and the improvement of those faculties that God hath given him. And I am of opinion, that we should all be wise enough one for another, if we were but equally honest. The truth is, if any one be dishoneft, he may deceive a good man : for such a man is given to charity, and apt to think of others as he finds himself, and so to have a good opinion, But if I am cheated a second time, I am a fool. We read of persons that lay under worldly disadvantages that yet arrived to great wisdom and understanding. The poor man by his wisdom saved the city, Ecclef. ix. 15. And we read of a wise woman that saved her husband, and a great many people. And poor Lazarus was wise for eternity. Therefore, as I said, we may be over-born by power without any great disparagement; but we cannot be cheated, but it must have an ill reflexion
ourselves. For no man makes a bargain unless he please, and he need not unless he will, If he want experience, why hath he not taken advice? So that, if he be cheated, it is owing to his weakness, willfulness, or rashness; for he might have prevented it. No man is ashamed that another is preferred before him in wealth and ability : but the meanest creature will