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Fourthly, Satan hinders the access of light, by helping erroneous minds to draw false conclufions, and perverse inferences from the great and precious truths of the gospel; and thereby bringing them under prejudice and contempt: Thus he assists the errors of mens minds about the doctrine of election; when he either perfuades them, that it is an unreasonable doctrine, and not worthy of credit, that God should chuse fome, and refuse others every way as good as thofe he hath chofen; or if there be any certainty in that doctrine, then men may throw the reins upon the neck of their lufts, and live at what rate they lift. For if God have chofen them to falvation, their wickedness shall not hinder it; and if he have appointed them unto wrath, their diligence and felf-denial cannot prevent it.

Thus the doctrine of free grace is by the like fophiftry of Satan turned into lafcivioufnefs. If grace abound, men may fin the more freely; and the shortness of our time upon earth, which in its own nature awakens all men to diligence, is, by the fubtilty of Satan, turned to a quite contrary purpose, “Let us eat and drink, for to-morrow we die."


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Fifthly, Satan darkens the minds of men, and shuts them up against the light, by blowing them up with pride, and self-conceitedness, perfuading them that they know all these things already, and caufing them to contemn the most weighty and precious truths of God, as trite and vulgar notions. The word cannot be received without meeknefs, and humility, of mind, Jam. i. 21. Pfal. xxv. 8, 9. and pride is the nurfe of ignorance, 1 Tim. vi. 4. 1 Cor. viii. 7. The devil is aware of this, and therefore blows up the pride, and conceitedness of mens hearts, all that he can: And this temptation of his generally prevails wherever it meets with a knowing head, matched with a gracelefs, and unfanctified heart. And thus we fee by what wiles and policies, Satan keeps out the light, and prevents the access of it to the minds of men.

But if he miss his design here, and truth gets into the mind, Then

Secondly, He labours to obftruct the efficacy, and operation of the light; and though it do fhine into the understanding, yet it fhall be imprisoned there; and fend down no converting influences upon the will, and affections: And this defign he promotes, and manages divers ways.

First, By haftening to quench convictions betimes, and nip them in the bud. Satan knows how dangerous a thing it is, and deftructive to his intereft, to fuffer convictions to continue long; and therefore it is faid of him, Mat. xiii. 19. When any



"one heareth the word of the kingdom, and understandeth it not, then cometh the wicked one, and catcheth away that which was fown in his heart." Satan is compared in this fcripture to the fowls in the air, which pick up the feed before it take any root in the earth. The devil is very jealous of this, and therefore labours all he can to deftroy the word before it comes to operate upon the heart; which he doth fometimes by the cares of the world, and fometimes by vain companions, who prove mere quench coals unto the beginning convictions. One finner deitroyeth much good.

Secondly, No fooner doth the god of this world obferve the light of truth begin to operate upon the heart, but he obftructeth that defign by procrastinations and delays, which delude and baffle convinced fouls; he perfuades them if they will alter their course, it will be time enough hereafter, when fuch encumbrances and troubles, in the world, are over; if he prevail here, 'tis a thousand to one but the work mifcarries. Jam. i. 13, 14. If the hearer of the word be not a doer (i. e.) a prefent doer, while the impreffions of it are fresh upon the foul, he doth but deceive himfeif. For it is with the heart, as it is with melted wax, if the feal be clapped to it prefently, it will receive a fair impreffion; but if it be let alone, but for a little while, you can make none at all; it was therefore David's great care and wisdom to fet about the work of religion under, the first impetus, or vigorous motion of his heart and affections. Pfal. cxix. 60. “I "made hafte, and delayed not to keep thy commandments." Multitudes of fouls have perifhed by these delays. It is a temp tation incident to all that are under beginning convictions, especially young perfons, whom the devil perfuades that it were no better than madness in them to abridge, and deny themselves fo much delight, and pleasure, and steep their youthful thoughts in fuch a melancholy fubject as religion is.

Thirdly, If all this will not do, but convictions ftill continue to get ground in the confcience, then he endeavours, to care, and fright them out of their convictions, by representing to them the inward terrors, troubles, and defpairs into which they are about to plunge themfelves, and that hencerth they muft never expect a pleafant day, or comfortable hour. Thus doth the God of this world blind the minds of them that believe not, both by hindering the accefs of light to the mind, and the influence of it upon the heart.

Thirdly, There is yet one policy of Satan to keep fouls in darkness, and that is, by the mifapplication of truth; perfuading them, that whatfoever they read, or hear of the mifery,

and danger of christless, and unregenerate perfons, doth not in the leaft touch or concern them, but the more notorious and prophane part of the world; and by this policy he blinds the minds of all civil and moral perfons. Thus the " Pharifces "trufted in themfelves that they were righteous, and defpifed o"thers." And fo the Laodiceans thought themfelves rich, and encreased with goods; this is, in a very safe and good condition *. Now there are divers things notably improved by Satan's policy, in order to thefe mifapplications of truth. As,

First, The freedom of their lives from the most grofs pollutions of the world. Mat. xix. 20. "All these things have I kept from my youth up." A civil, fober courfe of life is a most effectual blind before the eyes of many a man's conscience.


Secondly, It is the policy of Satan to prevent convictions by conviction: I mean effectual convictions, by convictions, that have been ineffectual, and are now vanished away. Thus the troubles that fome perfons have been under, muft pafs for their converfion, though the temper of their heart be the fame it was: Their ineffectual troubles are made use of by the devil to blind them in the true knowledge, and apprehenfion of their condition. For thefe men and women can fpeak of the troubles they have had for fin, and the many tears they have fhed for it; whereby thorough conviction is effectually prevented.

Thirdly, Gifts, and knowledge are improved by the policy of Satan, against the true knowledge of Jefus Chrift, and our own estate by nature. As conviction, is improved by Satan's policy against conviction, fo is knowledge against knowledge. This was the cafe of them in Rom. ii. 17, 18. "Thou art "called a Jew, and restest in the law, and makest thy boast of "God, and knoweft his will, and approveft the things that are "excellent; being instructed out of the law, and art confident "that thou thyfelf art a guide to the blind," &c. And this is the temptation, and delufion of knowing perfons, who are fo far from being blind in their own account, that they account themfelves the guides of the blind: Yet who blinder than fuch men?

Fourthly, External reformation is improved by the policy of Satan against true fpiritual reformation, and paffes current up and down the world for converfion; though it ferves only to ftrengthen Satan's intereft in the foul, Matth. xii. 44. and for want of a real change of heart, doth but encrease their fin and mifery, 2 Pet. ii. 20. This is the generation that is pure in their own eyes, and yet are not washed from their filthinefs.

See my Touchstone of Sincerity upon Rev. iii. 17, 18.

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The cleanness of their hands blinds them in difcovering the foulnefs of their hearts.

Fifthly, The policy of Satan improves diligence in fome duties, against the convictions of other duties. The external duties of religion, as hearing, praying, fafting, against the great duties of repenting and believing. This was their cafe, Ifa. lviii. 2, 3. "Yet they feek me daily, and delight to know my ways, 66 as a nation that did righteousness, and forfook not the ordinances of their God. They afk of me the ordinances of justice, they take delight in approaching to God. Wherefore "have we fafted, fay they, and thou feest not? Wherefore "have we afflicted our fouls, and thou takeft no knowledge ?" Thus duty is improved against duty, the externals against the internals of religion, and multitudes are blinded this way.



Sixthly, The policy of Satan improves zeal against zeal; and thereby blinds a great part of the world: he allows men to be zealous against a falfe religion, if thereby he may prevent them from being zealous in the true religion. He diverts their zeal against their own fins, by fpending it against other mens. Thus Paul was once blinded by his own zeal for the law, Acts xxii, 3. And many men, at this day, fatisfy themselves in their own zeal against the corruptions of God's worship, and the fuperftitions of others, who never felt the power of true religion upon their own hearts; a dangerous blind of Satan.

Seventhly, The policy of Satan improves the efteem and respect men have from the people of God, against their great duty and intereft to become fuch themselves, Rev. iii. 1." Thou "haft a name that thou liveft, but thou art dead." It is enough to many men that they obtain acceptation among the faints, though they be none of that number; the good opinion of others, begets and confirms their good opinion of themselves.

Eightly, The policy of Satan improves foundness of judgment, against foundness of heart. An orthodox head, against an orthodox heart and life; dogmatical faith, against justifying faith. This was the case of them before-mentioned, Rom. ii. 18, 19. Men fatisfy themselves, that they have a found understanding, though, at the fame time, they have a very rotten heart. It is enough for them that their heads are regular, though their hearts and lives be very irregular.

Ninthly, The policy of Satan improves the bleffings of God, against the bleffings of God, blinding us by the bleffings of providence, fo as not to difcern the want of fpiritual bleffings; perfuading men that the fmiles of providence, in their profperity, fuccefs, and thriving defigns in the world, are good eviden

ces of the love of God to their fouls, not at all difcerning how the profperity of fools deceives them, and that riches are often given to the hurt of the owners thereof.

Tenthly, The policy of Satan improves comforts against comfort, falfe and ungrounded comforts under the word, against the real grounds of comfort lying in the foul's interest in Christ. Thus many men finding a great deal of comfort in the promises, are fo blinded thereby, as never to look after union with Christ, the only folid ground of all true comfort, Heb. vi. 5, 9.

And thus you fee, how the God of this world blindeth the minds of them that believe not, and how the gospel is hid to them that are loft.


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2 COR. iv. 3, 4. But if our gospel be hid, it is hid to them that are loft in whom the god of this world hath blinded the minds of them which believe not, left the light of the glorious gospel of Chrift, who is the image of God, fhould fbine unto them.


HE words have been opened, and this point obferved:

Doct. That the understandings of all unbelievers are blinded by Satan's policies, in order to their everlasting perdition.

We have fhewn already what the blinding the mind, or hiding of the gospel from it, is; it hath alfo been demonftrated that the gofpel is hid, and the minds of many blinded under it; you have allo feen what policies Satan ufes to blind the minds of men, even in the cleareft light of the gospel. It remains now that I open to you the dreadful nature of this judgment of God upon the fouls of men, and then make application of the whole.

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There are many judgments of God inflicted upon the fouls, and bodies of men, in this world; but none of them are so dreadful as thofe fpiritual judgments are, which God inflicts immediately upon the foul and among fpiritual judgments, few or none are of a more dreadful nature, and confequence, than this of fpiritual blindness; which will apppear by confidering,

First, The fubject of this judgment, which is the foul, and



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