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This skilful angler, I perceive, dresses his hook to answer both the day and the water ; and just now has on a lucid fly, at which the trouts are taking very fast. In like manner, Satan manageth his temptations to answer the time, constitution, and circumstances, of every one : Sometimes he fisheth with a golden hook, and with this he caught Gehazi, Judas, and Demas, with thousands in every age. .
When Satan draweth this hook along the surface of that shallow stream of human life called Poverty, the danger of it is most. conspicuous; for many, by too greedily snatching at it, like the fishes that are taken in an evil net, Eccl. ix. 12., come to be sus pended by a rope, or gibbet, as a warning to others; but alas! without grace all will not do; no man will be a warning to another. The devil so artfully manageth this hook, in such circumstances, alluring men to catch at it, by holding out to them the grandeur, usefulness, and convenience of riches, and what a noble thing it is to have money to swagger away with, and procure those pleasures which their hearts desire; persuading them, in order to obtain this great good,
which hath two daughters, crying, “ Give “ give,” are never satisfied with riches. Nor do they appear to do them any more good, or fill their desires one whit better than the blood or nutriment, which that reptile continually sucks, fills or satisfies it.'
Such an insatiable thirst for riches, which satisfieth not, but only increaseth more thirst, is truly deplorable, and those men of all others are most to be pitied, whose insatiable. thirst for riches continually tortureth their souls in this world, and destroyeth them in the next. : “ There is one alone, and there is “ not a second; yea, he hath neither child "nor brother : yet is there no end of all his “ labour, neither is his eye satisfied with “ riches, neither saith he, For whom do I « labour and bereave my soul of good? This " is also vanity; yea, it is a sore travail,". saith the wise man. And there is a sore “ evil which I have seen under the sun, " namely, riches kept for the owners thereof “ to their hurt.” And " there is an evil “ which I have seen under the sun, and it is “ common among men: a man to whom “ God hath given riches, wealth, and ho" nour, so that he wanteth nothing for his.
♡ soul of all that he desireth ; yet God giva “eth him not power to eat thereof, but a “ stranger eateth it: this is, vanity, and is
an evil disease," Eccl. iv. 8. v. 13. vi. 1, 2.
· While I am meditating, this angler has changed his hook, put on a bait, and sunk it with lead in the deep waters, giving the finny tribe an opportunity to swallow it in secret, without being obliged to come in view. Thus Satan often fisheth with the fleshly bait of uncleanness, in the stagnated pool of cor rupt nature; holding it out as most delightful, and a thousand times more satisfactory to the flesh, than its deluded prostitutes have ever been able to find.
Yet sensual men lust after it, and greedily swallow it in the secret intrigues of carnality, and so for a momentary pleasure risk an eternity of misery and woe; at which incomparable folly the devil himself cannot fail to be struck, and for which he will upbraid them in hell through all eternity. Though now he tempt them to commit that sin which he himself was never capable of; whereby many are destroyed, whose deeds never come to the light to be reproved ; and even few of
those whose deeds are made manifest, are ever recovered from this snare of the devil, we have reason to fear, if we consult the wisdom of Solomon, who saith, and not of himself, but by inspiration, when speaking of the strange woman, “ none that go unto " her return again ; neither take they hold « of the paths of life," Prov. ii. 19.
As the angler often makes use of one kind of fish for baits to deceive and ensnare another; so doth the devil in respect to men and women. Did he not make use of that lewd adultress mentioned in the Proverbs, as a bait to ensnare the young man void of understanding ? Hear the passage, and may every young man take warning by the sinful intrigue : “ For at the window of my house “ I looked through my casement, and be“ held, among the simple ones, I discerned « among the youths, a young man void of “ understanding, passing through the street “ near her corner, and he went the way to “ her house in the twilight, in the evening, “ in the black and dark night: and behold « there met him a woman with the attire of “ an harlot, and, subtle of heart. (She is “ loud and stubborn, her feet abide not in
.: * her house: Now is she without, now in
« the streets, and lieth in wait at every cor"ner.) So she caught him and kissed him, “and with an impudent face said unto him, “ I have peace-offerings with me; this day “ I have paid my vows. Therefore came I " forth to meet thee, diligently to seek thy “ face, and I have found thee. I have deck“ed my bed with coverings of tapestry, with “ carved works, with fine linen of Egypt. I “ have perfumed my bed with myrrh, aloes, “ and cinnamon. Come, let us take our fill “ of love until the morning, let us solace " ourselves with loves. For the good man “ is not at home, he is gone a long journey, “ he hath taken a bag of money with him, “and will come home at the day appointed. “ With her much fair speech she caused him “ to yield, with the flattering of her lips she “ forced him. He goeth after her straight“ way, as an ox goeth to the slaughter, or “ as a fool to the correction of the stocks : “ till a dart strike through his liver, as a bird " hasteth to the snare, and knoweth not that 5* it is for his life, Prov. vii. 6---23.
The sin of uncleanness is the bane of so.ciety, and that which degradeth human na